At this time, in just three days, I'll be sitting in a bar (probably Mother's) in Gainesville, watching Tennessee and Appalachian State kick off the 2016 college football season, and I will be grinning like an idiot. But three days in August is the equivalent of two weeks in a normal month.
August is objectively the worst month for college football withdrawals, so I'm glad this trash is almost over with. The NBA Finals are done and there are no cool holidays in August. Even with the Olympics this year, and even with a super-fun long weekend in San Francisco, it seemed to drag on and on for me. June and July are the summer months that suffer least from these withdrawals; spring practice is well in the rear-view mirror, out of the part of your mind that causes you to check message boards weekly for recruiting news, and you're so excited for the beginning of summer and the Fourth of July and such that your brain isn't yet hung up on depth charts, kickoff times, Playoff projections, pre-season all-conference selections and the like.
But in August? Once fall camp starts around the first week of the month, there's a slow, daily trickle of not-particularly-noteworthy news to keep you tuning in each day, hoping for a drip of something good to satiate your college football thirst for the week. Mostly, though, you're just trying to avoid ACL tears.
Decent drips of news are so few and far between during fall camp szn that you wind up parched for weeks. Your team's second-string sophomore linebacker is suspended for the home opener because he -- gasp! -- smoked some weed in his dorm room with the door open. Your opponent's starting redshirt senior slot receiver keeps dropping the ball during route trees, and the media is talking about it nonstop since it happens during the half-hour of practice they're actually allowed to watch, even though he caught 50 balls last year when the lights were actually on. As you turn the corner into the second half of this awful month, as the humidity in the subway stations reaches its annual worst and as news blogs turn desperate to retain their click-through rates while fall camp fever begins to die down for most of the fanbase, you find yourself sweating more than usual as you continue to wait for the cooling breeze of kickoff. Not patiently, either.
Today was a day with a better-than-normal drip of news. The Monday before your team's first game is when most schools reveal their two-deep depth charts. You, of course, already know the depth chart by heart because you tracked the early reports on the freshmen early enrollees in spring, and you already know who's suspended for the opener because of some normal stupid college student shit over the summer. Having the official two-deep is nice, but it's not as nice as getting to your tailgate on Saturday and cracking open your first pre-noon beer of the season. That freshman middle linebacker is promising and you're excited to see him crack the rotation in garbage time, but no one really cares about that freshman middle linebacker until your starter gets hurt, and you're not thinking about your starter getting hurt, because your starter's gonna make the All-American team this year. He just is. Where's my 8am beer?
A lot can happen in three days when it's a week before a game. A lineman could twist an ankle. The coach could make a vague suggestion that someone new might return kicks this year. But nothing's going to stop these three days -- all that stands between me and a flight to Florida -- from feeling like forever. You know what fills these hours? Tracking tropical depressions as they become tropical storms, threatening to wreak havoc on your school's first game (if your school is in the southeast or the Carolinas, anyway). But you can only open up a new tab and Google "Invest-99L" so many times in a day before you realize that the weather's just weather, and you'll be a fan in all kinds.
On Thursday, though...on Thursday, Tennessee and Appalachian State will play what I'm considering the first game of the season. Everyone does this. Everyone targets a game and makes it their first game of the season. This one will be that game for a lot of people, because the Thursday slate isn't particularly strong, and that Cal-Hawai'i game that just took place in Australia sure as hell doesn't count. And once the season starts, you know it's gonna go by before you can even blink. It goes by unfairly fast.
All this to say, we're only four months away from the withdrawals setting in again. They won't be super strong at first. You'll be reeling from bowl season and from the championship game. You'll be in a good headspace because it's a new year. There's plenty of quality NFL football in front of you for another few weeks. Even when the NFL ends, the NBA will hit its All-Star break and you'll be fine with watching that until the Finals in June. But then August will be right around the corner again. August happens every year.
I'm very excited to watch the Florida Gators this season, and I'm going to do my best to make as many college football-related posts on this blog as I can throughout the fall. I want to savor the season, and the best way to do that, for me, is to write a bit about it as it goes along. Tomorrow I'm going to put up a crazy thing I worked on -- predictions for every single Power 5 game this year. We'll see how bad I do as the season progresses.
My plans for this opening weekend are reflective of my excitement, too. This will be the fourth straight year I fly from New York to watch the Gators' season opener. I'll be in Gainesville for a long weekend with a big group of 30ish friends -- this is the one weekend a year we all commit to meeting up -- which'll be capped by the game on Saturday and our fantasy football draft on Sunday. Then I'll trek over to Orlando to hang out with Katie and watch FSU's opener against Ole Miss.