Bill Shanks

College football is special

Georgia quarterback Greyson Lambert (11) warms up prior to the Bulldogs’ Chick-fil-A Kickoff game against North Carolina on Saturday in Atlanta.
Georgia quarterback Greyson Lambert (11) warms up prior to the Bulldogs’ Chick-fil-A Kickoff game against North Carolina on Saturday in Atlanta. The Telegraph

There’s something majestic about this thing we call college football. Maybe it’s only something those of us in the South understand. But as it started the past couple of days, we have been reminded why we love it so much.

Some might say football is football, but they’re wrong. And this is not a knock on high school football, which is all local and personal, or the NFL. College football is just different, full of intangibles that sometime make it hard to understand or even articulate.

Perhaps the NFL has just gotten so corporate, with its billion-dollar stadiums and star-making marketing campaigns. It’s still fun to watch, but it’s not college football.

Maybe it’s the smack talk. Maybe it’s the joy we get in giving our friends who don’t root for our team the business. It’s all in fun, but it can get pretty heated at times.

Even in a state like Georgia, not everyone roots for the same team. With so many colleges bordering Georgia, people are going to like teams in Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee. You might have a group of friends who cheer for your team, but chances are you know others who don’t.

And what’s more fun than having a buddy cheer for one of your team’s rivals and then watch them squirm when his team gets beat by your team. There’s a personal enjoyment out of that, and we’ve all felt it.

College football is road trips, get-togethers and tailgating. Sure, you can do that with high school football and the NFL, but is it really the same? It’s about taking a Saturday afternoon and watching football for 12 hours, not even moving from your recliner unless you absolutely have to.

There has been an air of excitement leading up to this weekend like nothing I can remember. It probably has to do with the new coaches in Athens and Statesboro. The curiosity of how Kirby Smart will do at Georgia and how Tyson Summers will do at Georgia Southern has reached new levels.

Of course, for Georgia fans, that anticipation was also due to the return of running back Nick Chubb, who had a gruesome knee injury last season in Knoxville. And there’s that freshman quarterback everyone was hoping to see, as well.

The Georgia Dome was electric Saturday. You won’t feel that next week when Georgia hosts Nicholls State. Forget about starting the season against a cupcake team, I’ll take the good matchups like Georgia had with North Carolina every single season.

When Chubb ran the ball for the first time Saturday and got 6 yards, there was a roar you don’t hear anywhere else. And then a few plays later, when Greyson Lambert was sacked on the second play in a row, the other side was allowed to scream and holler.

There’s a passion with college football that we have here in the South. I doubt they have it in North Dakota or Idaho. We wear our team’s colors, display flags in our front yards and stick things on our cars. We’ll do anything and everything to let others know who is our team.

The bands, the cold weather, the traditions. Yeah, we just love this.

The scary thing is the season we wait on for months and months seems to be gone within a blink of an eye. A month from now, some teams will be halfway through their schedule.

But don’t worry. We will savor every moment of it. We’ll cheer and we’ll complain, and we’ll keep coming back for more. It’s just what we do here in the South.

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on “Middle Georgia’s ESPN” – 93.1 FM in Macon and 99.5 FM in Warner Robins. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.

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