|by David Hood|
Summer is finally here, schools have dismissed for a few months and families are planning their summer vacations and what they will be doing on the Fourth of July. Normal people are looking forward to getting their kids in summer swim programs and spending lazy days by the pool, while others are thinking about how many holes of golf they can play down on the coast.
The days are hot and sultry and the afternoons are marked by the ever-present threat of thunderstorms, the black clouds rolling across the landscape only to give way to the sight of steam rising off the blacktop and even more humidity.
For most of us, however, these cherished few months offer a chance for relaxation and getting away from the grind of our normal day-to-day lives.
But there are those of us who live for those 12 days in autumn when we can once again cheer on our favorite teams in college football. We don’t think ahead to conference championship games or bowl games, it’s all about those 12 days (Thursdays or Saturdays) when we get together with thousands of our best friends and watch a little college football. Some of us get up early on Saturday’s to watch College GameDay, and spend the entire day with a remote firmly in hand, channel surfing from game to game and waiting patiently on the day’s biggest game to start.
I have friends who count down the days until kickoff faithfully. One of my friends is Kevin Selman (who works on the chain crew for the Tigers) and he can probably tell you right down to the second how long until the Tigers kick it off against Georgia. I know people who have countdown clocks on their phones, and there are people whose first post on Facebook each morning talks about how many days until kickoff.
It’s summer, and we are already dreaming of one day in late August and of the days that follow.
Once the bowl game ends, the countdown to National Signing Day begins. Once National Signing Day is over, the countdown to spring practice and the spring game begins. Once the spring game is over, the countdown until kickoff begins, and we celebrate when the number of days remaining drops from triple digits into double digits.
From a media perspective, the time is a little shorter. The official beginning of football for us is the third week in July – the Clemson media has supper at head coach Dabo Swinney’s house, we have the media golf tournament and the ACC Football Kickoff in Greensboro will be held July 20-21st this year.
That’s right – we now sit at three weeks until the fun begins and the stories can begin to roll.
Gamedays are special – even for those of us in the media. My parking is in Lot 21, and I purposely avoid the media shuttle (unless it’s raining) so I can walk through shotgun alley and turn right to pass by Lot 6 and up and then into Lot 5 to check in with a few friends before heading up through Gate 13 and into the stadium to begin the work day.
The sights, sounds and smells I encounter on the way tell me another football game is about to happen - people throwing the football around their tailgates; the sight of the Paw Bearer parked in its customary spot; and the smell of food on the grill.
And while I know that Clemson fans love their basketball and baseball and can get passionate about both, sites like TigerNet exist and I have a job that I love because of those 12 days in autumn. We count down the days, we grind, we wait and begin to wonder if the heat of summer will ever give way to the first few games and hopefully, somewhere down the line, cooler temperatures. And then, before we know it, we mark the halfway point of the season and then the three-quarters mark and then the last few games are checked off the calendar as talk about possible bowl destinations begin. A frenzied holiday season ends with a bowl game, and the countdown starts all over.
Take heart, those of you whose very existence is enhanced by those twelve glorious and hopefully sun-splashed days in autumn. Enjoy this final calm before the storm and enjoy the final days of relaxation and peace before the chaos of the season begins. It will be here before you know it, and the Tigers and Bulldogs will kick it off on a sweltering afternoon in Sanford Stadium.
Is it the 12 days of Christmas? No, it’s even better. It’s the 12 days in autumn.
David Hood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org