Baseball may be American’s pastime but football is now our passion. Football, whether it be the NFL or NCAA, gets the highest TV ratings of any sport. We haven’t seen live football since the Super Bowl in early February and now, here in late July, we are ready for it.
What has made matters worse this year has been the NFL lockout. While there’s usually relatively little football news to talk about — outside of April’s NFL Draft — from February to July, there’s been plenty of NFL news to talk about in that time span this year.
NFL lockout news has been blasted at us on SportsCenter for the past six months. Sports fans are more ready than ever for football. Count me in that group. I grew up in Oregon and I’m a huge Oregon Ducks fan. The Ducks are coming off a run to the national title game. Plus, I’m a Raiders fan and Oakland had its most respectable season since the Super Bowl year of 2002.
There’s reason for me to be excited about football. But something tells me, even if your favorite teams aren’t expected to be major players on the gridiron scene this fall, you’re probably still excited for football season.
If you really want to get your football juices flowing, head out to Golden Eagle Regional Park late Thursday morning and catch some of the team camp action, pitting local high schools Spanish Springs, Reno, North Valleys and Wooster. In a summer camp scenario, prep athletes can strap on the pads for a few days and get in some hitting, a far cry from the non-contact drills most teams run in the summer.
Here in northern Nevada, the Wolf Pack starts practice in less than three weeks and opens its season in about six weeks. Nevada is coming off its most successful season ever, rolling to a 13-1 record, a win over then undefeated and third-ranked Boise State, a Pack rival for years, as well as a win over Boston College in the Emerald Bowl.
Veteran coach Chris Ault and his team have to be among the favorites to win a WAC crown as perennial conference power Boise State has bolted to the Mountain West. If you can’t be excited for a new Wolf Pack football season now, when can you be?
If Nevada can survive the first month of its season, another stellar year is likely in the cards. However, that first month is tough as it features road games at Oregon, at Texas Tech and at Boise. Still, if Wolf Pack fans can see the big picture, they could really enjoy a fine fall campaign. It would be nice to see Mackay Stadium full, like on that cold night last Thanksgiving weekend when magic struck against Boise State.
Most college football programs start practice in the next three weeks. High school programs will start Aug. 11. It appears the NFL lockout is in its final days. Football is coming fans. Sit back and enjoy another fun ride.
Dan Eckles is the Sparks Tribune’s sports editor. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org