In keeping with the great lineman tradition, conditioning was the most hated enemy during my football playing days. There was nothing I despised more than running. But I liked playing football so I kept trucking through it anyway and I ended up sticking around long enough to notice something about assigned running: the runs closer to the end were usually your best ones on the day. You can (literally) see the finish line and that in turn allows you to empty everything left in the tank.
Today is August 1st. LSU reports for preseason practice on Wednesday. The first NCAA football game is on the 26th when Cal takes on Hawai’i in Australia. A day later Charleston Southern and North Dakota State start the FCS season. Exactly a month from now is kickoff Tuesday for the rest of college football. This is our last run. We are taking our last strides out of the long hot offseason and entering the even hotter football season.
A lot has been made about the MLB’s Opening Day version of the the American Dream where every team has a shot at winning a World Series. I honestly believe this to be more true to college football, where random is expected and the unexpected is just another eventuality, like Kansas State starting a white JUCO transfer at quarterback. While there are only 8-9 teams in the MLB who can withstand the sander that is the 162 game schedule and put themselves into position to even be in the playoffs, the pool of teams in college ball with a title bid resembles more of a NASCAR lineup. If you don’t believe me, go back and look at the media’s preseason prediction for the SEC Champion and look who actually won it. Predicting college football is an exercise in futility but it’s an exercise we do anyway. Ask me to pick the winner to the Red River Shootout and I’ll pick the worse team, ask me to predict the score to Bedlam and I will laugh in your face.
But with college football there is always one constant: hope. It may be hope for a lot of hardware at the end of the season or it may be hope for incremental improvement, but there is still always hope. And for LSU fans, it exists by the Costco-sized pallet this year. LSU running the table and Leonard Fournette taking home the Heisman he deserves isn’t off the table. And why would it be? An August without dreams is hardly an August worth having.
But the time for dreaming about the land of milk and honey is over, now it’s getting time to begin the journey there. This is what we’ve been waiting for since January 11th.
A while ago I was listening to Florence + The Machine’s The Dog Days Are Over for the millionth time, as I’m sure we all have at some point. But for whatever reason this was the first time I was truly listening to it, really pouring into every note and word. And despite listening to it countless times, I finally made an association with the lyrics. In my interpretation of the song, the protagonist realizes the happiness that has always surrounded her for the first time. After applying it to more important areas of my life, I took that focus to football season and found it fitting because even under massive disappointment, college football’s lone constant is that it never fails to provide happiness. When any other sport is going badly for your team, it can be pretty miserable to watch outside of it. Despite this, college football lacks the romanticism of baseball because college football by nature is a drunk unpredictable mess but it’s a fun drunk unpredictable mess and it doesn’t want to damper the mood of the party with anything more than an slurred “I love you man, you’re my best, no I mean best friend”.
So this football season, I’m going to ask one thing of you: no matter what happens on the field for LSU, enjoy everything else the sport has to offer. Soak as much of it up as possible because it’s only here for a little while, once the leaves start to fall it will begin it’s departure. So welcome to the 2016 college football season, enjoy it.
The dog days are over.
The dog days are done.
Can you hear the horses?
‘Cause here they come.