Thursday, August 2, 2012

a newspaper column about the long, slow offseason

Pretty sure that this week's column for the St. Clair Times is a repeat of a column I wrote last year or the year before last. But each offseason keeps getting worse, and I can't help it. As always, feel free to respond here or on Twitter.
For football fans, the waiting is the hardest part

It’s probably just because I am older. Check that, it’s definitely because I am older.

Seems like the “offseason” becomes more interminable with each passing year, though.

I will confess at this point that I am something of a football junkie. Other people go crazy about Batman or the royal family; my passion is for football — of the Southern variety, primarily, although other flavors will do in a pinch. I love everything about it: the sights, the sounds, the smells … I even enjoy arguing about the lingering embarrassment of the postseason from time to time.

And that’s also why the offseason seems to last forever. Ever been trapped in a meeting or a classroom on a spring day, when all you can do is stare out the window and count the hours until you’re finally free? That’s how the college football offseason feels.

A typical college football season — for a devoted fan, anyway — works in a cycle that begins around the beginning of August and lasts until the spring game. That cycle encompasses the actual season, the postseason, the “recruiting” bonanza (unavoidable at this point) and the last preparations before the next season.

And then … there’s the offseason. One can fill the offseason with old youtube clips, and conversations about “what we’re gonna have next year,” but it’s not quite the same, really, and your relatives who aren’t football fans might think you’re a lunatic (note: you are probably a lunatic, anyway).

That’s not the worst of the summer, though. Aside from the dearth of activity, a steady succession of scandals and tragedy typically dominate the coverage from April until August.

And it seems to be worsening. Our fears as fans used to be that players would wind up in trouble with the law, or that someone might accept something untoward from an agent — or an agent’s representative — and land the program in hot water with the NCAA.

Today, however, a college football season is dawning under the shroud of the most unspeakable scandal I can imagine, with one of its most legendary coaches buried under a shattered legacy. And that lost legacy isn’t even remotely the worst thing to come out of the whole deal (not compared to the shattered lives of the abused children, anyway).

When the season finally started last September, I remember thinking I honestly wasn’t sure I was ready. We had just spent three months attempting to recover from the storms of April 27, after all; it was impossible to drive around Tuscaloosa last fall and avoid thinking about what had happened there only a few months prior.

I’m not so sure we’re ready to go crazy for football again this fall. I am pretty sure it’s better than the alternative, though.

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