This time of year reminds me of one of my favorite scenes from Cheers.
As Norm walks in, Woody says, “How ’bout a beer, Mr. Peterson?”
“Isn’t it a little early, Woody?”
“Too early for beer, Mr. Peterson?”
“Too early for stupid questions, Woody.”
So what does that have to do with early August? It reminds me of another stupid question:
Are you ready for some football?
I’ve been ready.
Been ready since about three seconds after the Florida Gators strutted off the field with their second national championship in three seasons, shutting down Oklahoma’s supposedly unstoppable offense.
Been ready since the Pittsburgh Steelers hoisted their sixth Lombardi Trophy after yanking the glass slippers off the Arizona Cardinals.
Been ready since the first Wednesday in February, otherwise known as national signing day.
Been ready since spring football came to a close in Athens and Auburn.
My first sports editor, Steve Ademek, was from New Jersey. Great guy. But to him, any mention of football before it was absolutely necessary — which was either right before kickoff or, if he had his way, not until the last out of the World Series — was virtually a firing offense. That might play in Trenton, it won’t play in Tuscaloosa.
And their idea of football is the pro version. Yeah, it still beats basketball, hockey and anything involving a motor or a wheel.
But the NFL is to college football what Lloyd’s store-bought barbeque is to the Smoky Pig. Filling and moderately tasty, but far from satisfying.
I love baseball. “Pitchers and catchers report” are the most reassuring four words in winter. But let’s get a little perspective here. You think the Braves could pile 85,000 into any stadium, as Alabama did, to watch what amounts to an instrasquad scrimmage?
In the rain?
That Turner Field’s capacity is just over half that underscores the point.
When is the last time you heard two guys standing by the office copier discussing a game played five months ago? Or a game to be played eight months later?
When is the last time you saw a license plate that read: “Braves/Mets … A House Divided”?
When is the last time you walked into the office Monday morning and just couldn’t resist the urge to ask the resident Giants fan if he saw that hanging curveball from Barry Zito?
Yeah, I’m ready.
Ready to see Lane Kiffin, Tennessee’s brash new coach, make his first visit to Gainesville.
Ready to watch Florida’s Tim Tebow, maybe the most dominant college football player ever, attempt to become the first player to finish with three national championships and two Heisman trophies.
Ready to see if Joe Cox can prove that there’s life after Matthew Stafford. There’s something about this redhead from North Carolina that’s hard not to believe.
Ready to see if Alabama can rekindle the magic of ’08 and ready to see how Auburn will respond to its new coach, Gene Chizik.
I’m ready for the Third Saturday in October, the Red River Rivalry, the Iron Bowl and the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, even if Georgia and Florida officials want to bury that name.
I’m ready for this year’s Saturday afternoon shocker, when seven of the top 12 teams lose and the polls get shuffled like a deck of cards.
I’m ready for the Independence Bowl.
I’m ready for another round of debates between maintaining the bowl system or coming up with a playoff.
Thirty-four days until the first Saturday in September. How ready are you?
Contact Guerry Clegg at email@example.com