Even for a sport that elicits as much passion from its fans as college football, 2010 was a season marked more by controversy and animosity than any in recent memory. Until 2011, that is.
We've got Jim Tressel telling lies, Chip Kelly allegedly buying kids, Butch Davis looking for work, the Big 12 possibly busting up (again) and Harvey Updyke horticulturing. (Hell, maybe we should just throw every episode of the spectacularly absurd Paul Finebaum Show in that group, too.)
But something magical happened today - other than the launch of this site, of course. The calendar flipped to August 1. We're officially one month from Louisville-Morehead State. Obviously I can think of better matchups to kick things off, but even so, the start of the season is tantalizingly close.
On the heels of what seems to have been the longest offseason in history, there are countless reasons to be Coach O-level jacked up for 2011. With apologies to Bleacher Report, here are 50:
1. Holgo the Destroyer
Not only is America's favorite skydivin', beer-swillin', ruckus-raisin' offensive coordinator being given the keys to the West By God Virginia Mountaineers kingdom, his ascendancy to the throne resulted from the most poorly orchestrated (character) assassination plot since Stringer Bell broke the Sunday truce.
2. Gus Johnson
Rise and fire, fans of the Pac 12 and Big 12! Gus will be calling some of your games this fall for Fox.
5. Minnesota's Newest Golden Gopher
"Country Club" Tim Brewster has been replaced by a guy with the last name Kill hailing from DeKalb, Ill. Get ready for a long, cold winter, Gophers.
6. Popping Luke Fickell's Cherry
Will this be the climax of the new Ohio State coach's career? Plenty of Buckeye fans will tell you that Senator Sweater Vest got screwed in the Tatgate fallout.
7. Saturdays on the Couch
I've got my widescreen. Y'all can go ahead and take tailgating and beer-drinking and pretty girl-watching... OK, maybe I'll get up.
8. Tuesdays With the MAC
No longer will your Tuesday television options be dominated by reruns of Law & Order: LA or some iteration of Top Chef. Instead, treat yourself to the Battle for Michigan.
9. The Triple-Option
It may look antiquated to the rest of college football, but nothing beats the beauty of Navy matriculating the ball down the field with military-like precision.
10. No Possibility of Brett Favre
Right? We're sure?
Still the gold standard of social media, watching tweets about games roll in may beat actually watching the games themselves.
12. Tank Carder
Tank may look like a Chauncey, but his play lives up to his name.
13. Stephen Garcia
14. "The Process"
Millions of non-Alabama fans can't wait for Nick Saban to start sucking every drop of joy out of the sport.
15. An Unholy Alliance
Can ESPN's riches buy Texas a winning record this year?
16. Dr. Saturday's Screeds
Matt Hinton's writing is consistently top notch, whether games are being played or not. He really steps up his game during the season, though.
17. The Most Awkward 30 Seconds in Television
Lane Kiffin probably takes the cake.
18. Who is Paul Wulff?
Bet you couldn't pick this guy out of a lineup if it was him and five Korean grandmothers.
19. Where is Joe Paterno?
Will JoePa be on the sidelines? Up in the booth? Taking a halftime siesta? Battling the stomach flu?
20. Wisky-fed Beef
Last season the Badger brawlers on the offensive line mauled opposing defenses with typical Wisconsin-esque ruthlessness. If Bret Bielema's team wants to challenge for the Big Ten title again, the big uglies will play a big role.
21. Nerd Alert
Stanford will likely start the season in the top 10. Northwestern could sneak up on a weakened Big Ten. Vanderbilt's new coach is tearing up the recruiting trail.
This is the kind of year that Lewis Skolnick could get on board with.
22. Hilariously Awful Big Ten Marketing
If conference realignment can give us more promotional gems like the Leaders and Legends and the Game of Heroes, I say we keep the expansion wheel spinning in the Midwest.
23. Dashed Dreams in South Bend
Prepare yourselves for the onslaught of hype surrounding the Fightin' Irish in September, as well as the premature talk of a national championship, after a 5-0 start. Then revel in the meltdown when Air Force shoots the Irish down.
24. BCS Bucks in South Bend
Fear not, Irish faithful - you'll be playing in a BCS bowl game in January. Of course, you'll get boat-raced once you get there, but it's the journey, not the destination.
25. S-E-C! S-E-C!
To the rest of America: You may not be winning, but at least you're not doing that.
26. Late Night in Ann Arbor
Well, maybe "late" for the Maize and Blue crowd who were alive the last time the Wolverines weren't two decades behind the rest of college football. Football under the lights, imagine that.
27. Trooper Taylor, Sideline Jester
More of this please, Coach Taylor.
28. The Boise State Debate
Are the Broncos still lovable underdogs? Considering Vegas is favoring Boise over the SEC's own Georgia in Atlanta in Week One, I think it's fair to say it has moved from the hunter to the hunted.
29. The Mouth of the Sooners
Given how boring today's college football stars are coached to be, Oklahoma's lippy linebacker Travis Lewis sticks out like a modern-day Brian Bosworth. The soul of Oklahoma's defense stole the show at the Big 12's media days this year, and the quips are sure to keep coming all season long.
30. Everett Withers
Probably the least-imposing name of a football coach this side of Clancy Pendergast.
31. Rutgers' Streak
Is it possible for the Scarlet Knights to continue their four-year streak as the country's most milquetoast football team? Wake Forest is making a strong run at the top.
32. Wait a Second
OK, if there's one thing that definitely is exciting about Rutgers, it's receiver-tailback-quarterback Mohamed Sanu. Sanu gives Greg Schiano a multi-dimensional threat when his team has the ball, and where he lines up is about as much of a surprise as you'll find out of the offense.
33. Paul Pasqualoni's Eyebrows
Scaring small children for more than 60 years!
34. Charlie Strong's Sophomore Season
Louisville's head coach did wonders in Year One in the Big East. More importantly, he's the only male under the age of 85 that can pull off the hoodless sweatshirt look.
35. Charlie Weis, Back Where He Belongs
Hide the women, children and "all you can eat buffet cards," citizens of Gainesville. Charlie Weis is back in college football!
36. Trooper Taylor Again
Because the guy is just that cool.
37. Trent Richardson's Guns
He might be the best back in college football. And quite frankly, if you had arms like that, you would signs autographs in a wife beater too.
38. Derek Dooley's Karma
You know you've had a tough first year when the NCAA changes rules on your behalf after the brutal losses you've suffered. But say what you want about the guy, the Vols' program is in the right hands.
39. Brandon Weeden, All Alone
America's favorite 28-year-old, washed-up ex-minor league ballplayer is back! But will Oklahoma State's quarterback be as good with Holgorsen on those West Virginia country roads?
40. Robert Griffin
The best athlete on Baylor's campus not named Brittney Griner.
41. Richt Man (Could End Up Poor Man)
Georgia coach Mark Richt's already smoldering seat will only get hotter if the 'Dawgs lose to Boise in the Georgia Dome. And if he loses to South Carolina a week later? The poor guy might not survive September.
42. Chris, Kirk and Lee
Well, not so much Lee. Speaking of which....
43. Verne Lundquist
Sure, he might not know the players' names, numbers or what team they're actually playing for. But he sure seems like a fun guy to get a beer - or 12 - with, no?
44. Ole Miss and the Art of Roster Management
Is it weird that Houston Nutt just called and offered our staff scholarships?
45. Purdue Boilermakers
You know what, nevermind. Can't think of one compelling reason to watch them this season.
46. The Wizzinator
South Carolina quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus got arrested last week for public urination. Who else would you want mentoring Stephen Garcia?
47. Jordan Jefferson
Oregon in Week 1, and at Mississippi State and West Virginia by the end of September? Buckle your seatbelts, Tiger fans, it's gonna be a wild ride.
48. Another Great 'Stache
New Indiana coach Kevin Wilson hasn't even coached a game, and he's still better than any coach in program history. Sorry, Gerry DiNardo, nothing personal.
(But what happened to the facial hair, Coach Wilson?)
49. Hawaii's Loverboy
Quarterback Bryant Moniz, college football's leading passer last year, was once a pizza delivery boy. Much to the delight of lonely, married women all over the islands.
50. BCS Bayou Bash
The last two times the big game was at the Super Dome, LSU took the title back down the road to Baton Rouge. Can the Mad Hatter make it three for three? Stranger things have happened, and they usually do when Les Miles is involved...