The summer heat is oppressive, sticky and disgusting, and people always want to talk about it as if the weather is remotely interesting. Soon, a hurricane is going to catch a bunch of people living in Hurricane Alley surprisingly unprepared. Stuff is blowing up in the Middle East on an hourly basis. George Bush is on vacation in Texas. Mel Gibson just ordered another gin and tonic. All of it may seem depressing, until you consider that every time these events occur simultaneously, football season is nigh.
It's true. It is almost upon us. Months and months of tediously passing the time with activities far less interesting and important than watching football, like spending time with your girlfriend, working on your savage tan, or taking care of orphans – finally almost over. You can say goodbye to all of your non-football friends in just a few short weeks, because you're on the verge of pissing them off for three solid months with your complaining about their weddings, skipping their four-year old's poorly-planned birthday party and changing whatever subject they want to discuss to this weekend's games, every time, every conversation. Wish them a pre-emptive happy new year now. You'll see them again next year when football goes away again.
Yes, football season is finally almost here. It's not "hey in 200 days we can stop pretending that the NBA regular season is watchable," almost here, or "hey lets watch the Tour de France because three hours of spandex in the French countryside is gripping" almost here. It is "a bunch of giant 19-year olds showed up on campus and OMG there are pictures of them on the Internet!" almost here.
Coaches get to coach again. Players get to play again. Fans…fans are fans all year. We're the only ones who don't take a break. But during the off-season, being a fan is like having a frosty, cold beer mug. You're not fooled – it's a mirage; it only looks like there's beer in it, however it's simply the memory of last season's beer. And you want this season's beer, badly. But you have to WAIT FOR IT. You keep thinking about last season's beer, and how much better this season's beer is going to be, except…WHY IS THIS SEASON TAKING SO DAMN LONG TO GET HERE? You remember how great the beer was in 2002, and you've got similar expectations this time around, and you're thinking this in ALL CAPS because it's true and it makes you angry and sad. Summer may have distractions, mosquitoes, barbecues and less clothing, but it doesn't have football. And don't you dare say, "but, but, but, Arena football". Don't you dare. Arena football is not even light imaginary beer.
And speaking of how great this season's beer is going to be, let's hear it for an entire off-season without a major Ohio State football scandal! Sure there were some minor incidents of off-the-field ugliness, but our threshold for this kind of pain is so high this century that a frighteningly low ACT score here and a minor misdemeanor there are practically blessings…which leads us to what is not a blessing, and that is Ohio State starting the season at number one in the Coaches Poll.
There are multiple things to be angry about in regard to the Coaches Poll. First, you're lucky if the actual head coach is the person doing the voting. Second, there is no business having a poll in August for teams that have never actually played together, let alone anytime in September. At this point you could have fictional cartoon characters like SpongeBob Square Pants or Stephen A. Smith putting out college football rankings and they would be about as legitimate as the actual Coaches Poll in August. Nobody should be ranked right now. Having polls in September was somebody's bad idea many years ago that has stuck and will probably stay with us forever. The first poll that matters shouldn't come out until October, until after they've played against and actually seen whom they're voting for. September should be the time when fans compare SpongeBob's rankings to Stephen A. Smith's while debating which one is more realistic and lifelike. The real thing should wait until the real thing has actually happened.
It's been heavily publicized that the Buckeyes are practically brand new on defense this year. However, they have Troy Smith and Ted Ginn. Therein lies how insulting the media is – anyone who is remotely serious about following football knows that teams do not win anything without a formidable defense, and that one quarterback and one receiver do not win games alone. The media is programmed to focus only on fireworks (good quarterback throwing to fast receiver!) and potential explosions (oh no, AJ Hawk was allowed to graduate!).
Troy Smith and Ted Ginn are great, but consider this: Troy Smith has had exactly one great September game in his career, and Ted Ginn has not bothered to show up until October rolls around. Anyway, this season Ohio State plays Texas, Penn State and Iowa in September. And as we just covered, Ohio State is ranked number one through the magic that is preseason polls. During the summer, this season's beer – as far away as it may seem, always goes down easy. Man, if only the Bucks still had AJ Hawk! Or Orlando Pace. Or Archie Griffin in his prime. That would be sweet. Those guys were good.
Anyway, we're officially on the verge, friends. All of the magazines that came out this summer are already outdated and incorrect because of kids who flunked out of school or were caught making thousands of dollars not working for a shady car dealership (and it wasn't in Columbus, hooray!). We're on the verge of new old Ohio State uniforms, of ballyhooed freshmen redshirting, of South African kickers wearing Mike Nugent's number, of making fun of Mark May all over again. We're on the verge of predicting the Heisman Trophy winner before a single game is played, and I'm past the verge of hating that. Best of all, we're on the verge of not having to wish it were football season.
Which, of course, means we're on the verge of complaining about play calling and officiating. Finally, thank God.
Drinking 35-40 imaginary beers on campus every night but not driving anywhere at firstname.lastname@example.org.