With the college football season a mere seven days away, it is interesting to take a look at the approach fans seem to take to the upcoming year.
No matter what expectations are, all across the spectrum, fans go into the summer believing their team will figure it out and somehow win all of them. Throughout the summer, this theory holds, with some of the rhetoric toning down from perfection to the what-if game. (For example, “Such-and-such team will be tough to beat, but I think we can do it if…)
Now, all of a sudden, the season is quickly approaching and there are problems everywhere. Not one position group is progressing as it should. Some players are surprising, some are disappointing, but it is occurring on the negative side more rapidly than on the positive side. Every injury could be a devastating blow to a team’s wildest hopes and dreams, which hang in the balance with every practice. All of the sure wins of June have become toss-ups or toughies in August.
It’s a gruesome process to watch, and it happens all over the country.
Some people like to fast forward years into the future and talk about sustainability or the future of coaches, players, and programs. This is a fine conversation to have about a particular program, but it neglects an important point that is often missed.
This season, with this team, in this year, is happening right now.
It’s simple, really: Every fan wants to win every week. Not a coach or player on any team feels differently about the issue. But fans are looking at the big picture in a way that sometimes causes us to totally miss the chance to appreciate what is happening before our eyes.
Every potential loss means a look ahead to next year, when there will be scores of question marks looking desperately for answers. Each graduating senior becomes a bigger loss next year with each game this team loses this season.
It doesn’t matter who the team is, frankly. The narrative is the same.
This is perhaps the most hype surrounding the Clemson football team in two decades. Maybe 2008 was thrown in there, but I’m not sure the excitement was amped up to this degree heading into whatever game that was to open the year back then. (I forgot on purpose.)
Part of me understands the concerns of people who look at this team and see a one-time shot at greatness. Tajh Boyd is gone after this season. Sammy Watkins will almost certainly follow him, barring something unforeseen, and there have been rumors about Martavis Bryant testing the NFL waters.
Chad Morris interviewed at some pretty important places during this past offseason, and he may not be as content to stay in Clemson for another go-around. The same could be said of Brent Venables.
But hand-wringing and worry about the future have little or nothing to do with this season. Happiness is so difficult to come by because we are always programmed to want more. Contentment is such a foreign concept in our culture that we resist it at all costs.
But I think this era of football—not just in Clemson, but in Columbia and in Athens—is special. It is to be cherished and relished for the very same reasons we might try to ignore it. Having three top ten teams in this so-called triangle is a blessing for college football fans, but it hasn’t always been this way. Chances are high it won’t be like this forever.
So let’s savor the moment. Resist the urge to worry and instead rejoice at the prospects of one of the greatest seasons in the history of Clemson University football. Rejoice at the opportunity to see Tajh Boyd lead this offense a dozen-plus times. Rejoice at the opportunity to see primetime matchups, conference championships, and perhaps a run at the national crown. Rejoice at the chance to see things happen this season that may never happen quite the same way again.
Just like everything else, these things are here only for a season. Then they are gone.