College football is here. After 232 days, 14 hours and some change it is finally here, and I couldn't be more excited.
Not just because my hometown Vanderbilt Commodores get to launch the start of the 2012-13 college football season at home for the first time in school history, and the Tennessee Volunteers have the honor of playing in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff game Friday night — more importantly, it marks the point where after all these long months of practice talk, recruiting, preparation and off-season, story lines come to a head.
The stories range from a micro- to a macro-level and offer hours of discussion as the coming months play out.
Will the SEC finally be dethroned as the college football overlords? Will Matt Barkley capture the Heisman Trophy? How will Tennessee perform this season under extreme pressure to succeed? I could go on, but you get the picture.
It's having football on from the second I wake up Saturday afternoon until I get home late in the night.
It's the excitement felt on game day when sports fanatics and sorority girls who don't have a clue can feel the same amount of thrill when they see the Volunteers storm out of the 'T' on Saturday afternoons.
The heartache when my team comes a play, a yard, a missed kick from the win. The adulation when they pull off an upset and the revelry that follows.
That is what college football is about. The diehard fandom that rarely comes with any other sport in the United States, the deep seeded hatred schools have for one another and the bragging rights that come with giving your rival a beat down.
And though this feeling is felt across the country, it is especially evident here in the South. SEC country.
I'm ready for the pageantry and size of SEC football. The Circle Drill, The Grove, The Chapel Bell, Toomer's Corner, the Star Walk, the March Down the Hill.
Even though I'm not a fan of most of these schools, these are the things that make college football, and the SEC specifically, so great to be a part of. It's something more than just a game to so many. If you don't believe me, just look on your Facebook page and see all the posts about Tennessee's season opener. Some people waited six hours in line at the University Center just to get a ticket for the Georgia Dome. That's how much it matters.
After this off-season, with so much controversy, college football fans want to return to some sense of normalcy. Fans won't forget what happened at Penn State, but fans want something positive to dwell on, something to lift their spirits and put the game back into a good frame of mind. And with day one of the football season hours away, fans can start to look forward.
So, enjoy the year. Enjoy the tailgates, the fraternity houses, and the bars. But most importantly, enjoy the game and all that it gives us over the next five months.
— Austin Bornheim is a senior in journalism and electronic media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.