Tonight signifies many, many things. After eight months of build up, the college football spigot turns on tonight and sprays full force from now until January 6.
1. The promised land is here - After all the time spent on the road and on the phone recruiting, the college football season lasts 131 days. There will be college football on television for 71 of those nights. That works out to about four nights a week for the next 19 weeks. In the coaching profession we know that each and every week may be the last so enjoy the process and the journey. Savor every practice and game, and make sure to enjoy the season while it's here.
2. Clowney, Clowney and more Clowney - As Tim Tebow, Johnny Manziel and LeBron James have taught us, ESPN handles its spotlight athletes with what psychiatrists would call a pathological obsession. Expect his name to be uttered somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 times. In the first quarter. But from a coaching perspective, we're interested in seeing how Clowney has continued to evolve and what offenses are going to come up with to attack (or avoid) him.
3. The Joe Tessitore Magical Mystery Tour rides again - Wherever Tess goes, fireworks follow and he has the showmanship fitting for the event. The 2013 tour gets underway tonight with Ole Miss at Vanderbilt (9:15 p.m. ET, ESPN).
4. The return of this, this and this - No matter your opinion on what follows, this is unmistakable: anytime either of those things flash across your television screen, college football is about to happen.
5. Another chance to watch Johnny Manziel play football - Apparently some people thought this was in jeopardy.
6. The rise of the Pac-12 - From where we sit, this is the season where the Pac-12 begins asserting itself as the unquestioned shotgun rider to the SEC among the best conferences in college football. You can't have those coaches, brand-spanking-new facilities and resources and not improve.
7. The title defense to end all title defenses - No one in college football history (or, at least since the inception of the AP poll) has won four national championships in five seasons. Frank Beamer says Nick Saban has the best team he's ever played against, and this is a guy who choiced against the 2001 Miami squad. Is it up to Texas A&M, LSU, the SEC East champion and whoever opposes the Crimson Tide in Pasadena to stand in the way of history, or will Auburn, Arkansas, Ole Miss and/or Tennessee have something to say about this?
8. The next great Les Miles moment is just around the corner - Because you know something like this
or, God willing, even crazier is on its way sooner than later.
9. The game-chaging targeting ejection - We spent most of the offseason talking about it, and so did every defensive coaching staff in the country, and while every coach has spent a tremendous amount of time with player safety in the forefront of our minds and we never want to see anyone get hurt, we certainly hope this rule doesn't start to effect the outcome of games.
10. The end of one of the dumbest debates in the history of sports - After the final Selection Sunday of the BCS era, no longer will we have to endure the "would you take a 1-loss SEC team, or an undefeated Big East/Boise/whomever" ever again.