Is it football season, or are you just happy to see me?

By By Tye Smith

By Tye Smith

The unbearable wait is almost over. In less than a week, seven months of pure torture will quickly become a distant memory. A collective sigh of relief will soon be heard from the homes of beer bellies and couch potatoes around the country.

Football season is here!

Preseason ratings for NFL games are the highest they have ever been. That’s right-preseason games featuring third- and fourth stringers are notching higher Nielsen ratings than the final day of the PGA Championship.

People are more interested in who will back up Marshall Faulk than seeing which no name might win the next major in golf-and justifiably so. Faulk will surely get injured at some point during the season, and fantasy owners everywhere need to know!

The upcoming NFL season has so many unanswered questions that many fans’ heads are about to explode. Can Mike Vick come back from his injury? Will Jake Plummer succeed as the new general in Denver? Can Emmitt Smith gain any yards as a Cardinal? Will Bill Parcells turn the Cowboys’ franchise around? Will Steve Mariucci help the Lions end their streak as one of the laughingstocks of the league? Are the Raiders too old? Is Jon Gruden the best coach ever?

The questions go on and on, but unfortunately the NFL season does not. By making fans wait seven months without anything but midgrade sporting events (NCAA basketball tournament aside), football has easily taken over as the number one pastime of Americans.

The NFL regular season features only 16 games per team, which means that every game counts. This is critical in a short attention span society where everyone is either stoned on anti depressants or already suffering from ADD that they got by watching too much Nickelodeon as a kid. As a society, we lack focus-so we love football.

If the week-to-week action isn’t good enough to maintain your interest, the hard hits and huge plays should do the trick. And if you need sex appeal, the cheerleaders in the NFL are hard to beat (not literally, Kobe).

The upcoming football season is exciting not only at the professional level, but maybe even more so at the collegiate level.

After Ohio State’s memorable march to an undefeated season and a miracle win over Miami, this year holds the promise that any team can be a champion. (With Maurice Clarett facing suspension, we know it won’t be Ohio State again.)

We need that kind of enthusiasm at the U. With a new coach, an even newer offensive system and admittedly little talent to run the system, positive thinking is the key. After all, the Utes have two good running backs! Last time I checked you only need one good running back, but we have two.

Maybe if the U had one good quarterback or even two good wide receivers, the optimism would be justified-but we don’t, so it isn’t. Let’s just say that there is a reason the Utes were picked by every major sporting publication to finish at the bottom of the conference-and they all know about Marty Johnson and Brandon Warfield.

Elsewhere in the Mountain West Conference, Colorado State is poised to win its fourth title in five years. Behind the leadership of senior quarterback/surfer guy Bradlee Van Pelt, the Rams look like the obvious choice to be conference champs.

On a sweeter note, it looks like Brigham Young University coach Gary Crowton won’t be seeing much more success than the red and white. After a dream season in 2001 (we’ll call it beginner’s luck), Crowton came crashing back to earth last season as the Cougars compiled one of the worst regular-season records in the school’s history. Anyway, it looks like the name of “Lavell Edwards Stadium” is safe for now.

Questions for the college season abound with the same quantity as the NFL, but they are less likely to make your head explode. Some are obvious: Will the U qualify for a bowl game? Or will Urban Meyer shoot himself before the season is over?

Less obvious questions include: Is Notre Dame head coach Tyrone Willingham naturally rigid, or is it possible that he is suffering from a rare form of rigor mortis? Will ex-Alabama head coach Mike Price marry the stripper he lost his job for? Can Mississippi State quarterback Eli Manning avoid playing like Phil Mickelson on the Sunday of a major? (We know his older brother can’t.) Is N.C. State quarterback Philip Rivers ever going to graduate? (It seems like he’s been starting for at least six years.) But most importantly, will I survive for one more week through the hell that is summer sports? Fortunately, all of these questions will be answered soon.

Are you ready for some football?

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