Hope Returned

BY: DALTON

The blazing summer sun has significantly cooled and the sweeping winds bring a certain bite. But what is it exactly in the wind that you feel? Is it the changing of the seasons? Its certainly possible. With the season change comes cooler weather. But, I don’t think that’s what is giving this invisible gust its tinge. There is an energy that follows the late summer gales. From experience, that isn’t the start of school. No, this unidentifiable force is something that brings along the heights of Mt. Kilimanjaro and the depths of the Mariana Trench. This is no fleeting feeling. These winds bring something to stay. In the whirlwind of changing seasons, football stops, stays, and takes over every tangible breath.

Every new season brings the one thing that most fans lose after a couple months; hope. Maybe, just some way, there is a path for your favorite team to capture the championship. Whether it be through pure dominant force or that every other team had a slew of injuries, there is always a way. Sure, you can lie to everyone and say your team is “going through a rebuilding year” or that “if they catch a lucky break they might be able to contend”, but deep down in the pits of your soul, you’re thinking there’s a way. It’s this weird thing we do with sports. The saying goes “expect the best but prepare for the worst” and it is a mighty fine way to live life. In football though, its sort of flipped. Prepare for the worst but expect the best.

Do I know that the Lions will not win the Super Bowl this year? Yes. I do. It sucks. BUT, maybe.  What if Patricia’s defensive philosophies continue to grow and the Lions have a top 5 defense? What if Bevell is the coordinator that can finally maximize Stafford in his 10th and most important season? Hell, Kerryon Johnson was one of the best backs last year before he got hurt and in this fan’s mind that is certainly a sustainable pace. The Lions got better this off season, that’s not me just slurring my words while drunk on Honolulu Blue Kool-Aid. Sure, a lot of other teams in the NFL got better too, but that’s not fun to think about. Then I start thinking about past seasons. The Eagles came out of no where to win the Super Bowl, same thing with Ravens a few years back. I tell myself that the NFL is this weird and wacky league where anything can happen. If you come up and ask me how I think the Lions will do this year, I’ll probably tell ya 8-8 because I know that’s the right prediction. But, if you asked my soul, you may have to lock me up into an insane asylum. Hope. 

It feels like Michigan will never be able to beat Ohio State. I told myself after last year’s implosion that I’ll never get excited for Michigan football until they actually beat OSU. Then all of a sudden here comes Josh Gattis and this new offense that will be the best of all worlds. It will have big plays, tempo, ball control, and Speed in Space™. That receiving group is too good to fail. Don Brown says that he’s done some soul searching and knows what he did wrong. He is going to go to more zone and respect the speed of opposing offenses. Dax Hill is just Jabril Peppers but bigger. I mean, yea, the defensive line lost its stars, but the depth of this years team! Now there is nothing but anticipation and National Championship aspirations. That’s whats great about college football too. Each season can be drastically different. You’re not dealing with contracts and free agents. You’re dealing with boys turning in to men. A crap shoot on genetics. There is this aura of the unknown that blankets college football like Jourdan Lewis on George Rushing. Weird, right? 8 months ago I thought Michigan would never be able to cross the bottomless pit of morals that is Ohio State. I was corpse of a fan. Now? There isn’t a doubt in my mind that we run them off the field in November. Its crazy. Its wild. It cant be measured or captured. Hope.

While it is so much fun to let the mind run wild, wanna know the best part about football season? Its the ride. The ups and downs of a 12 and 16 game season. If your college loses on Saturday, maybe your favorite NFL can win on Sunday and salvage the weekend. If they both win, you cant wait until next weekend. If they both lose? Lord help you. It’s watching games that may help your team in a tie breaker down the road. Its rooting for The Citadel to put a scare into Florida to knock them down a couple spots in the polls. Think about that for a second. Not rooting for the Citadel to WIN, it would be awesome if they did, but rooting them to just keep it competitive for 75% of a football game so 12 humans in a remote location may read the narrative that your favorite team is inherently better than a different team based on nothing but perception. The texts between four different group chats that are all essentially saying the same thing, either the sky is limit or its crashing down harder than the NCAA on a student athlete who put non-approved peanut butter on his bagel. That’s a 4-game suspension! The tailgating hours and hours before a game. The copious amounts of food and beer consumed while telling war stories about the best and worst games you’ve been to in person. Giving a complete stranger a hug like you’re seeing a long lost sibling for the first time in years simply because a man, who gets paid more in a year than you’ll ever make,  kicked an oblong ball through two poles from 126 feet away as an arbitrary amount of time ticks off a digital display. The best part about football is everything about football. Will both of my favorite teams season end short of where I want them to? Probably not. But, hot damn, am I gonna have a good time along the way. 

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