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It was 1995, and a middle school kid in the heartland screwed up in school. The kind of screw up that you figure normally warrants the powers that be to issue out stiff punishment the likes of which not seeing any rooms but the bedroom and the john would be reasonable to suggest.
But it was November in 1995, and the consequence was going to be chores. There was only one issue … ’twas the weekend of The Game, and Ohio State was unbeaten with only Michigan left to save the world from Ohio State potentially winning a national title. In the house of maize and blue, nothing short of incarceration was going to keep The Game off of television.
So that kid, he did his chores up until game time … and then he sat in front of the television, stars in the eyes, dancing around like a fool to Tim Biakabutuka’s 313 yards rushing and an epic Michigan upset during the days when all of that was a common theme and not just a distant memory.
The chores would be back until dinner time, but the three hour reprieve for the holiest of rivalries could interrupt it. Afterwards, he went to vacuum out the car humming “Hail to the Victors “…
Every year about this time, the leaves get a little more brown, the setting sun ends late-afternoon golf rounds just a bit early, the searing summer heat suddenly gets mixed in with a foreboding chill of the months ahead.
College campuses fill up with pretty girls in mini skirts, drunk by noon frat boys in tank tops, and a new crop of kids with no idea what the next four years will be like no matter how hard they prepare for it.
We live a finite amount of time, upwards of 70 years if we’re lucky, and only part of that can really understand the enjoyment this time of year brings.
Folks, college football is back upon us.
When you wake up this Saturday morning, wherever you are … from college dorm room to white picket fence house … crack open the window (and a frosty beverage) and let the smooth scent of pigskin waft through the window.
From tailgate to family gathering around the television in Any Home, USA, college football brings us all together. It’s binds regions in silly brotherhood (SEC! SEC! SEC!), creates friends we only see every autumn, and gives us story lines that will last for argument eternity (no way 2004 Auburn could have beaten that USC team … right?).
Be it Blacksburg, Va., or Eugene, Ore., we all wake up just a little more from our summer slumber, sports-wise, and the days all blend together under the heat of yard work, family vacations, golf tournaments, or day trips to the beach.
The off season is and always will be great, but college football is here for its yearly house call.
For this week, at long last, they Eyes of Texas open up and see a pretty 20-something coed locked arm in arm with a 75-year-old alum, draped in burnt orange signing Texas Fight in unison.
The Victors howl from 114,000 as a banner gets touched by maize and blue wing’d helmets, optimism year-early eternal. They’ll Cheer, Cheer for Old Notre Dame, yell War Damn Eagle so hard, the actual birds in the sky high above wonder what is with all the ruckus.
They’ll Bow Down to Washington, Dot the I, and hail Mighty Oregon.
Folks, we could live 1,000 lifetimes and never have enough. So as summer fades into fall and we spend our time growing up too fast … yesterday in the tailgate lot chucking a Nerf football, today grilling brats and drinking Sam Adams, tomorrow in a rocking chair recalling the unforgettable moments from all those years ago and passing them on to another little kid with those same wild stars flashing in his eyes … remember to take time to enjoy it.
For one day, it’ll be your middle school teen coming home with his tail tucked between his legs, and you already have bought tickets for the Big Rivalry Game and have your tailgate group meeting you there.
And for those three hours for that young fella, it’ll be like nothing happened. This time of year brings us all together, indeed, bridging generational, socioeconomic, or educational gaps.
We all love the crack of the pads, the crisp end of summer wind, and the onset of the new America’s Pastime.
As we go through this year, from me to you, thanks for reading. Cheers from my longneck to yours, and enjoy the ride. It flies by.
Glory, Glory (to old Georgia) college football.