It’s the first day of practice, a preseason NFL game was on last night, and Madden releases today. Welcome to August.
The power rankings for individual off-season days used to be topped by the release of that year’s NCAA Football game. By the time actual practice started you could throw for 3,500 yards and go undefeated with any Vol quarterback from Heath Shuler to Justin Worley. I think I only bought Madden in 2000 when the Playstation 2 came out, and in 2005 on the Xbox 360, when you had to wait a whole year for a next-gen release in the college game. But since 2013, we’ve been stuck with Madden; child-like imaginations might find their way to an orange-tinted team (maybe the Browns this year!), but it ain’t the same.
Without the video game atop the off-season rankings, maybe your favorite day is the first time you get your hands on Phil Steele’s magazine (or Gameday on Rocky Top’s!). SEC Media Days always let you know things are getting closer. The announcement of kickoff times for the first three weeks lets you make tangible plans.
We don’t get an inside look at the first day of Tennessee’s practice, though Fan Day is available on Sunday. We’ll wait for names to pop in sound bites and behind paywalls, and hope some of those names are on the defensive line.
But, at least for me, one of my favorite days this time of year is driving through the neighborhood and seeing your local high school team practicing. I haven’t lived in Knoxville for 14 years now, and still miss the way orange slowly increases in the community over the course of August. But that idea of a group of people coming together around a team is still alive and well on every high school field this time of year.
This is the month when reason gives way to hope. Reality sets in for everyone in September. But no matter how long it’s been – and it’s been a while for us – hope is undefeated in the month of August.
We’ll start finding out what kind of hope this August will bring today.