These are the dog days. The weather is overbearing in a way that makes us simply want to wave the white flag.
But, college football doesn’t allow for that. It doesn’t allow us to give int. College football offers hope at the end of this hot, desolate wasteland that we know as the “offseason.”
As the calendar flipped to August, I was reminded of one of my favorite football movies, “The Best of Times,” starring the late Robin Williams. You should put this on your list if only for the poetic diatribes and quotable lines. When describing the anticipation of the annual rebirth of football, Williams encapsulates the anticipation, the hope of a new season.
“It’s that time of year again…when the first leaf of autumn falls forlornly to the barren ground below.”
The hope he speaks of is found in an ideal unique to college football.
Tradition. A three-syllable word that defines the phenomena that is the sport we love. It’s more than just what happens between the lines. Coaches and players come and go, and the sport encompasses more than Xs and Os.
It is tradition.
It’s the Vol Navy sterngating in the shadows of Rocky Top. It’s the Sea of Red releasing balloons when their Huskers score for the first time. It’s Army and Navy desperately trying to “sing second.” It’s doing the Hokey Pokey at halftime in Blacksburg. It’s dotting the ‘i’, screaming “Bear Down,” “Boiler Up,” and striking the Heisman pose.
It’s the sight of beloved mascots like Ralphie, Tusk, Cam the Ram and Mike the Tiger. It’s the smells filling the State Fair on Oklahoma-Texas weekend, permeating from Dreamland on Friday afternoon, and wafting across The Grove on Saturday morning. It’s the deafening cheers in The Swamp, The Horseshoe, The Doak, “between the hedges” and down on The Farm. It’s the driving melodies of Texas Fight, Fight Tiger, Tiger Rag and Ragtime Cowboy Joe.
The autumn spectacle makes this sport special. It has survived world wars, financial recessions, and national tragedies.
The passion and traditions are cultural – inherited at a young age, carried through tenure as a co-ed, embraced as a seasoned alum, and then taught to the next generation.
No other sport offers the color and pageantry quite like college football. Lucky for us, it’s that time of year again…