Since the NFL's lockout prevented me from getting my usual football preparation fix during the summer, and baseball season seems to go on for years, it means the arrival of college football is that much sweeter.
Tonight marks the beginning of the college football season, with 15 match-ups slated for this evening. Though only two teams in tonight's games rank in the top 25 (UNLV at No. 11 Wisconsin on ESPN, No. 20 Mississippi State at Memphis), it doesn't really matter. What does matter is how awesome it will be to finally see some people in pads hitting each other for real. The NFL preseason has been underway for weeks, but everybody knows those games are more for warm-up than anything.
The college game seems a lot purer, anyway. Despite Miami's recently-publicized troubles in their failure to follow NCAA guidelines, college players are - for the most part - playing because they simply like to play. There's no $500,000 bonus waiting in their locker if they catch a certain amount of passes, no Cadillac Escalade in the driveway and no endorsement deals. I may be a bit naive, but I guess deep down, I hope college players play to be the best and forget about pro careers and money - at least for a little while.
With college football, there's so much more excitement in the NFL because there's no (or shouldn't be) money involved. I care more about who is in the race for the Heisman than who just got a huge paycheck. I want more conference battles than free agency talks. And for me, NCAA Football is much more fun to play than Madden.
With the start of the college football season comes excitement, pride and history.
I, for one, can't wait.