On Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, Alabama stomped Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship Game. On Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, we'll watch 16 college football games, notably Ole Miss-Vanderbilt and North Carolina-South Carolina.
That's a gap of 234 excruciating days. Saturday, May 4, was 117 days since Nick Saban got covered in confetti and lifted another crystal football over his head. It was also 117 days before kickoff on that August evening.
WE'RE HALFWAY HOME, EVERYBODY!
I've never died of thirst/starvation after being abandoned in the middle of an enormous desert, but I imagine that's what the college football offseason feels like. We freak out over signing day, when players who might not play for four years decide which schools they'll go to. We watch spring football games, where teams play games against nobody with scoring systems we don't understand. We gape at transfers. We pretend to enjoy all this news because it's somehow related to the sport we love, but really we're just biding our time, waiting for those brisk fall Saturdays with a marching band playing.
Well, good news. It's halfway done. We have made it this long, and now we just need to repeat what we just did, and then it will be college football again.
In celebration of our feat, here's a spin through what was actually a pretty damn weird first half to the college football offseason.
Most college football story
The NCAA investigation of Miami over the Nevin Shapiro scandal has dragged on for about a year and a half at this point, but it seemed ready to reach its boiling point in early 2013. But just when the NCAA seemed to be readying its hammer for its sanctimonious drop, blasting the Hurricanes to hell for something that happened under their last coach's watch, it outdid itself: the NCAA realized it had to investigate its own investigation for unethical practices, including putting one of Shapiro's lawyers on payroll. This led to the firing of the NCAA' s head of enforcement, and a meeting featuring "crying" and "shouting", as well as more and more calls for Mark Emmert's head.
Most important story
Patrick Vint: The assault on the NCAA
The botched Miami investigation, in which the NCAA purchased subpoena power from other attorneys, got the most headlines, but it's the lawyers targeting the NCAA that could bring down the entire collegiate sports system. The Ed O'Bannon suit was successfully expanded to include current players, which could send potential class action damages into the billions and uproot the NCAA's concept of amateurism. The Penn State suit is not nearly as big or wide-ranging, but Mark Emmert's Leviathan-like show of force against the Nittany Lions remains controversial. Athletic directors and commissioners are griping publicly about whether the NCAA even matters. Forget about whether Emmert keeps his job: The next 18 months are about whether there remains an NCAA at all.
I imagine you haven't forgotten about this one. The country's best linebacker, a Heisman finalist on a Notre Dame squad that went 12-0 in the regular season, claimed some of his play was inspired by a girlfriend, who died of leukemia. Of course, she never existed. The story drew questions about whether he was genuinely duped or complicit in leading on media members. It was insane.
Now that the smoke has cleared, the consensus is Te'o really believed he was talking to a real person for longer than most people would consider sensible, and that's as much detail as we're probably ever going to get. It all ended up somewhat happily: Te'o is now a San Diego Charger, and his former coach can make Spotify playlists about fake dead girlfriends without batting an eye.
Jack Hoffman is a seven-year-old who loves Nebraska football. Unlike most seven-year-olds, he has brain cancer. And unlike most seven-year-olds, he can say he scored a touchdown for the Nebraska Cornhuskers:
Runner-up: Auburn celebrates dying trees as only Auburn can.