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
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