The College Football off season is a very strange thing. Shortly after the first of the year when it is staring you in the face, it seems daunting. It hovers over you like a dark cloud. How are you going to go 8-9 full months without the glory of College Football? It seems unthinkable. The beginning is the worst. Each Saturday taunts you. Then, before you know it, spring ball comes and goes. A little while later the temperature rises and all manner of polls, predictions and asinine guesses start flying. You look up and you are a mere weeks from the start of camp. During the months of July and August the anticipation is palpable. You can feel it in the air. Soon there will be fight songs, top 25 matchups, emerging stars, major disappointments, upsets and champions. Winners and losers. Coaches will be sacrificed to the masses, and others will take their place.  Everything the College Football scene annually gives us will once again be on display. As usual, I’m extremely excited.

Spring ball is the ultimate tease, not to mention incredibly misleading. Just because your team is wearing gameday colors and playing in their own stadium does not make it a game. Far from it in fact. I’ve been to several spring games and they are all about the same. They are enormous pep rallies. Fans get together, wave their pom poms, get drunk during the day, and talk about the fall. That alone is fine. I have no problem with that whatsoever. The problem is fans and media alike jumping to conclusions based upon a glorified scrimmage. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a young player put into the hall of freaking fame because they made a few plays in the damn spring game against some Redshirt Freshman walk-on from nowheresville.  Its completely ridiculous. Then come fall when they fail to contribute anybody and everybody is to blame. The fact is that spring football is fine for a team’s development but it scarcely resembles the action in the fall.  It will also not quench your desire for College Football. So chill out, relax and remember, its a scrimmage on an April day against the bottom of the roster, not a prime time tilt with Notre Dame.

I have a tradition that Im not terribly proud of. It concerns my favorite preseason magazine. You see, every year I go through the pain of going to a minimum of 3 or 4 stores looking for the Phil Steele College Football Preview. The pursuit of this publication is a tradition all its own. Each year I storm into Barnes and Noble with a head full of fury, ready to own my copy of the College Football bible. Every year I am rebuffed. It’s out of stock or the truck crashed on its way to the store and its contents went up in flames, or there was a Presidential order preventing its release. Its always something. I never get it on my first try. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know. Flustered, and majorly annoyed,  I go elsewhere and the same scene is repeated. My fuse gets shorter and shorter. Inevitably, I twist off on somebody. Don’t they understand the importance of this magazine? Then I get smart and start calling ahead. Some low level employee making $8.00/hr will tell me, with all the enthusiasm they can muster, whether or not they have it. Even then its a toss up. My wife suggests that I order the magazine direct. A very rational solution to an outrageous problem. I’ve looked into it, but the shipping alone is absurd. The magazine itself is not cheap. I don’t mind that cost. It’s worth it, but to then tack on a shipping charge? I’m too frugal or hardheaded for that. So I put myself through this same damn scenario every year. I’m a glutton for punishment.

Once the magazine is in hand I spend a serious amount of time pouring over its contents. Who are the surprise teams? Who has the toughest schedule? Which team lost the most in the draft? Turnovers=turnaround!! Its sensory overload for the first week or 2. There is so much information in this publication that there is just not enough time to get to it all. I have a wife and kids and 2 jobs and I need to sleep so that really puts me behind the 8 ball. I do the best I can, which is still better than most. But the Phil Steele College Football Preview stokes the flames for the College Football season like little else can. He presents things in such a logical and reasonable fashion that its tough to argue with some of his predictions. Is he always right? Hell no!! In fact he hedges his bets quite often, which is smart. But I dont get the magazine for accuracy. I get it first, and foremost, for the excitement it provides. There is nothing like reading up on a variety of teams that have some interest for you. Then you look ahead at the schedule and drool over upcoming matchups. Then you look ahead to those teams. It’s really great stuff. Well worth the pain and aggravation involved with securing the magazine.

Soon after come the practice reports. As a great man once said “we’re talking bout practice man. Not a game!! Not a game!! Practice.” How excited can you possibly be for a vague description of a practice? You would be surprised. Before your College Football appetite is fully satisfied it’s crazy how much you look forward to this inconsequential morsel of College Football information. Then you talk with your idiot friends about the contents of such reports. Each person seems to have a different spin on the very same paragraph of information. How many different ways can you interpret a strained hamstring from a 3rd string WR? Again, you would be surprised. They give you these little nuggets which do little to curb your appetite for the sport.  By the time the first game arrives I’m foaming at the mouth. I’ve got a blank stare about me the entire week leading up to the first game. When I crack that first beer and we get that first kickoff, its sheer ecstasy.