Fifty-three days until college football season kicks off with a handful of Thursday night games. SEC Media Days 2013, the official unofficial beginning of preseason in these parts, begins nine days from today in Birmingham. Soon to follow, freshmen will report, then returning players, and the tailgate planning commences in earnest.
It's about this time that we ask each other the question that needs no answer
Are you ready?
I'm ready for Game Day and the whole ESPN crew, yes even Lou Holtz and his flapping gums, and even Mark May and his antagonistic barbs, and even Lee Corso and his cartoonish mascot heads. ESPN does college football better than it does anything else and does it better as a whole than any network ever. But as far as individuals, no one can or will ever touch Keith Jackson.
I'm ready to hear the Georgia Tech band strike up Ramblin' Wreck at Grant Field, one of the neatest places on Earth to watch college football, especially at night with the Atlanta skyline sparkling in the background.
I'm ready to see Vlad Lee playing every down at quarterback, and ready to see just how good the Yellow Jackets can be if Ted Roof can muster just a little defense to complement Paul Johnson's offense. Roof is one of the good guys in college football.
Speaking of good guys
I'm ready for the Gus Malzahn era to begin. Ready for football at Auburn to be fun again. To see near-empty sections of seats early in the fourth quarter was a sad sight. But enough of that. Time to look forward. I'm ready for Malzahn to prove that he was more than just the convenient hire to replace
Gene Chizik, but that he was the perfect hire. I really believe he could be.
I'm ready to watch Aaron Murray throw and watch Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall run their way into the Georgia and SEC record books. We may look back on this backfield as the best in Bulldog history. That's saying a lot for a school that produced Charley Trippi (technically, a single-wing tailback) and Frank Sinkwich, Eric Zeier and Garrison Hearst, and Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno.
I'm ready for those prickly Nick Saban press conferences, which could chill August air. I'm ready to see if Alabama can pull off the unprecedented in the BCS-era -- three consecutive national championships.
I'm ready for the playful banter among fans, but not the bitterness and hatred from delusional fans who extract some sense of personal accomplishment in their teams' success. It's a game, and these are college kids. The coaches and players win and lose the games.
I'm ready for Georgia's return to Clemson, for Alabama's first journey to College Station since the 1988 Hurricane Bowl, for the first Saturday in November in Jacksonville, for Auburn's return to Knoxville. And for Georgia at Georgia Tech, and for the Iron Bowl. Always ready for the Iron Bowl.
I'm ready for Upset Saturday. We don't know when it will be, but there will be a weekend -- perhaps a combination of Thursday and Saturday games -- when the college football picture gets shaken up like a snow globe. Everything we thought we knew about the teams and the season will be reconsidered.
I'm ready to watch South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney toss overmatched blockers like they were practice dummies, and watch Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel dart through defenses as if they were standing in mud.
I'm ready for BCS bashing and bowl speculation and hearing the rest of the college football world whine about the SEC's domination.
So to answer the question, yes, absolutely, I'm ready for some football.
-- Guerry Clegg is an independent correspondent. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org