Posted Jan. 8, 2015

Sep 30, 2011

October Has Arrived. And With It, Perfection.


Of all the months on the sporting calendar, there is but one that, in the grand scheme of things, really does matter.

That month is October.

Now, perhaps if you are a longtime reader, and I know that some of you are, you just rolled your eyes. Perhaps you just said to yourself, "Oh. This. Again." Perhaps you feel that I'm getting lazy, that I'm recycling old ideas, that I've already written this column, and that you’ve already read it.

Well, I admit it: You’re right. At least to a certain extent.

Because, yeah, I have written this column before. And yeah, you've read it.

But I'm writing it again anyway. Because October is almost upon us, and when October is almost upon us—when this blessed sporting month is delivered to us via the relentless but in-this-particular-case gracious hands of time—there is but one thing to do here at The College Football Athenaeum.

My favorite month—the greatest month—is one day away.

And so I shall write The October Column.



After all of these college football years, after all of the games we've seen, after all of the tailgates we've lived, after all of the memories we've made, the very word itself—October—has taken on a sense of gravitas that lesser months simply cannot match.

On the dour end of the calendar, for instance, we have February, worst month of the year, which conveys a sense of cold and misery, which reeks of the post-holidays hangover, which is draped in dread, which is home to the overblown dramedy that is the “Super Bowl.” And then we have ... October. Blessed, blessed October, which brings joy and happiness, which is evocative of the harvests of years past, which splashes the North American continent in the unmatchable colors of fall, and which, most importantly, gives us college football in all of its autumnal glory: The mountains of Happy Valley and the woods of West Point and the hollows of Death Valley set ablaze in color, the hurricanes and heat and sultriness of September swept away, the meaningless “games” against FCS opponents thankfully placed in the past (for the most part), the conference races just beginning to take shape, the Heisman race ramping up, the stage set for nothing less than the arrival of new college football memories, new college football moments, new college football legends. Players. Coaches. Plays. Wins. Breakthroughs.

Ah, yes, my friends, October is here. And it shall be grand.

Nothing less than grand.


In a world of uncertainty, in a universe where the future remains truly unknowable, in a reality where nearly all predictions are mere folly, I can at the very least tell you this: Your college football life is about to get better. Much better.

And that's a promise.

Perhaps we will one day unravel the mysteries of String Theory. Perhaps we will one day fully come to grasp the mind-blowing but quite possibly true notion that everything that has ever happened and everything that will ever happen is happening at this very moment, that history is not linear at all, that time is an illusion, and that what we're about to see during the next 31 linear college football days should not surprise us in the least, because again, everything we're about to see during the next 31 linear college football days has already happened.

I mean, the reality is that, according to the scientists and the computer models and all of the evidence that the great minds of this world can gather, college football’s October of 2011—the games, the tailgates, the memories, the thrills, the joy—is over and done with. Really. It's true. Sorry to bum you out.

But here’s the good news: We are rather dull beings, and our simple minds thankfully still work in the comfortable old linear fashion. Which means, of course, that, at least in our dulllard realities, we haven't yet experienced everything there is to be experienced during the next 31 linear college football days. Fortunately, the October to come will be a surprise, because fortunately, we humans are built to be surprised, to be stunned, to be thrilled, to be entertained. We are built to be uplifted by the events of the world ... even if those events are nothing more than American collegiate football games, played in the great stadia of this great nation, each and every October.

Including this one.


A quick glance at the schedule tells us that the month to come will bring us the following: Alabama-Florida and Nebraska-Wisconsin. Oklahoma-Texas in the Red River Rivalry and Georgia-Florida in The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Florida-LSU and Ohio State-Nebraska, Penn State-Iowa* and Oklahoma State-Texas*, Michigan-Michigan State and Auburn-LSU, Wisconsin-Michigan State, and, well, Wisconsin-Ohio State.

These games, all proven classics of the past and all safely assumed classics of the future, are guaranteed to thrill us, guaranteed to send chills down our collective college football spines, guaranteed to reinforce our belief that our game is the greatest game [and, yes, it is], guaranteed to make us wonder, "Oh my God does it get any better than this?" [The answer, of course, is: No].

But it will not stop there. And I can promise you that as well.

Because for every mind-bendingly entertaining Red River Rivalry showdown, there will be a fantastic-out-of-the-blue Syracuse-UConn game. For every Michigan-Michigan State bloodbath, there will an Oregon State-Utah thriller. For every Georgia-Florida classic, there will be a Tulsa-Rice all-timer.

There will be miracles.

There will be drama.

There will delirious crowds, delirious coaches, delirious players.

There will be Brent Musburger and there will be Verne Lundquist and there will be Brad Nessler.

There will post-game tailgates of utter and profound and real and ephemeral joy.

There will elation and relief and survival.

There will be all of this, and so much more, because it is October.

And yeah, life is about to get oh so much better.


There's another element to this, of course.

There are the games themselves, yes, and in a sense, that is what is most important. It is the games and the schools and the conferences and the schedules that, after all, provide the very framework for this wondrous month in the first place.

But there's not all there is.

As you've heard me say a million times already, and as I'll say at least a million times more, college football, more than any other American sport, is not just about the sport itself. It’s not just about football. It's not just about the rivalries. It's definitely not just about winning the Mythical National Championship Game.

It is about tradition.

It is about history.

It is about having a goddamned wonderful time, each and every Saturday, with family and friends both new and old, using American collegiate football as the backdrop.

Because when you get right down to it, you see, what college football really does is provide us with an opportunity to gather together, to eat and drink more than we usually might, to host big and often over-the-top parties, to lose ourselves in an otherwise meaningless contest, to pry ourselves, and blessedly so, from the stresses and worries and day-to-day challenges or our lives.

What college football does, and does especially well in October, is give us one wonderful day per week to escape, from pretty much everything, and simply live in the moment.

Those moments are great in September, yes. In November, they are monumental—huge, important, life-and-death. And in December and January, they carry the weight of history itself.

But in October, these moments are just more, well, perfect. I'm not entirely sure why that is, but it is true nonetheless.

Maybe it's the weather, and how that crisp Autumn air simply feels like college football.

Maybe it’s show of those the autumn leaves, and the way the oranges and reds and yellows that God almighty himself must have created after two or three martinis up in college footballl heaven pop against hose beautiful blue October skies—the skies of Happy Valley, the skies of Chapel Hill, the skies of Iowa City.

Maybe it's our inherent human nature to simply feel happier—and to simply be more receptive of good times—during the figurative harvestime, that precious window of time when all of the work of the past summer is over, when the long days are long behind us, when we settle down and settle in, when we slow our pace a bit, when we try to enjoy the last warm days of the year, when we look back on the year that was and try to make the most of the year that remains.

Maybe we love college football in October more than we love college football at any other time because October football has always been better, has always been a cut above, has always dlievered the goods, has always seemed to be the very time of year when Our Beloved Bame is at its very best.

Or maybe we love college football in October so much because we know precisely what college football in October has always been, and always will be.


miscellany: notes from the college football fringes

♦ Harvey Updyke Jr., the man who poisoned the Toomer's Corner oaks at Auburn last year (and, as a result, will go down as one of the more dispicable people in college football history), has officially apologized. Speaking to College Football Nation on  (where else?) the Paul Finebaum Show this past week, Updyke said he was "extremely sorry" (I love that!) for poisoning the trees, which now seem doomed to, you know, a slow, painful death. Said Updyke (and this is a precise quote): "I want the people that's Christians to understand that I've done a lot of good in my life." He apparently doesn't want the non-Christians to know this, though. And for the record, Paul Finebaum is Jewish.

♦ Some extremely geeky reporter this week apparently asked Florida coach Will "Out Of My Depth" Muschamp whether he felt like a "Padawan" as opposed to Nick Saban's full-fledged "Jedi." Replied Muschamp: "I watched 'Star Wars One' and after that I watched 'Empire Strikes Back,' and that's it. I ain't see nuthin' after that. And I don't know what a Padawan is. You didn't call me a bad name, did ya? I don't speak French, either."

♦ For the record, and as a longtime admirer of SABAN, find it deeply insulting that anyone referred to SABAN is a mere Jedi. The man is the galaxy itself.

♦ Penn State kinda-sorta starting quarterback Rob Bolden, on the Penn State quarterback "competition": "I feel like I am No. 1. I feel like I should be."

♦ Penn State kinda-sorta starting quarterback Matt McGloin, on the Penn State quarterback "competition": "I really don't consider myself anything. I'm a player and a part of the Penn State football team. If they want me to start, fine. If they want me to come off the bench, fine. I have been producing the past couple weeks. If I start, we might be able to move the ball quicker early on in the game. Whatever they want me to do, I'll continue to do."

♦ Ole Miss Chancellor Daniel Jones is apparently under a whole lotta pressure to fire athletic director Pete Boone (the man who hired The Right Reverend Houston Nutt, in case you were wondering) after the Rebs' less-than-stellar 1-3 start. How much pressure? Well, this much pressure. Wrote Jones this week: "Many are aware of anonymous, malicious and public attacks on athletics director Pete Boone. The Ole Miss family may not be aware, however, that as a part of this orchestrated campaign, I have received threats, promising that if I do not remove Pete Boone, 'It is going to get real ugly,' and threatening to expand the attacks to other athletics employees." I refuse to believe that any true Ole Miss fan would conduct themselves this way. So I'm going to blame Harvey Updyke instead.

♦ The remaining presidents of The Fast-Diminishing Big East are slated to meet in Washington, D.C., this weekend to discuss the (futile) task of saving their conference from (guaranteed) football extinction. And this tells you why the Big East is nearing football extinction. Because, let's face it, any self-respecting college president should not be spending his or her College Football Saturday in a Washington hotel conference room. There are games on, for Christ's sake.

♦ By the way, the Big East is eyeing the addition of Army, Navy and Air Force to strengthen its position survive going forward. This brilliant long-overdue decision comes on the heels of the league's decision, last year, to invite TCU as its ninth seventh member. Now, it should be pointed out that Your Editor was calling for the Big East to do all of this (and more) last November. I also called on the Big East to get rid of Paul Tagliabue as its "special consultant," not only because Paul Tagliabue was a horrible NFL (snore) commissioner, but also because Paul Tagliabue knows nothing about college football. And for the record, dear friends, there many, many rumors out there indicating that it was indeed Tagliabue who made the call to turn down ESPN's recent Big East television package deal. It wasn't a great deal, but it was a deal, and when the ESPN powers-that-be called the BIg East's bluff by not offering a better deal (why would they?), the door opened for Syracuse and Pitt to run for cover. The Orange and Panthers have since run. And the Big East still has Paul Tagliabue. All is well.

♦ Let me just say, at the risk of angering Red Sox Nation (hello, Krista), that I've found Boston's collapse over the past month to be one of the more gratifying sporting specatcles of my life. Only thing that could have made this more entertaining? If it had happened to the Yankees.

♦ Looking for picks, in which I predict great things for the Temple Owls and Guest Prognositcator Joe Borzyn shows off The World's Most Extensive Mini-Helmet Collection? Well, click here.

♦ Looking for this week's TCFA Podcast, in which Mike and I recap our experience at Ole Miss? Well, click here. Oh, and by the way, apologies for the cell-phoney sound from my end of things this time around, folks; we are currently rebuilding the TCFA Studios (seriously), and hence are enduring some technological bumps in the proverbial college football podcasting road. We expect to be delivering better-than-ever quality audio by next week. Because Sound Engineer Bobby is working on it. And there is nothing he cannot do, provided he has a few hours to spare and a few beers at hand.

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