It has been 273 days since we have been able to watch the sun rise over Squaw Creek from the tailgates of our vehicles, and know that it was one of those few, best days of the year. A college football Saturday.
The last one was nothing like this, of course. Back on November 20th, Iowa State won a game in ungodly frigid conditions on a field covered in icy marbles and kicked the crap out of what was arguably the worst team in any BCS conference. (But more importantly, OUR BCS conference.) Celebrations were had. Lots of alcohol was drunk. Teletubbies were .gif'd.
It was a small win, completely unimportant in the grand scheme of the juggernaut that is college football. Any time a league of any type that contains more than 100 different teams it will contain such moments. But what it represented was "the bottom" of an emotional slide and increasing desperation that had begun after Texas "didn't fumble" and "cut a bitch for loafing", and had persisted in a mixture of close teases (TTU, TCU) and revenge snuff films (Baylor, OSU, KSU, OU) that served to reinforce every ISU fan's inherent reactions to getting repeatedly kicked in our collective nuts.
The Kansas State loss will always hold a special place in my heart. Mostly because I spent way too much money to fly my wife and I across the country to get front row seats to that epic beatdown on the date of our 1-year anniversary. Any sucker can get his wife diamond earrings. It takes true love to put up with your football-obsessed wife's constant emasculation-through-football in a 41-7 beatdown. And surrounded by purple-clad fans who don't have the common decency to be jerks and assholes so you can rationally justify hating them so intensely.
(Happy anniversary, baby. I love you.)
But after 7 straight crushing defeats of the spirit, the Ice Bowl happened. Then we pulled out some crazy bullshit comeback win at West Virginia, and thank God for that because can you imagine how much worse it would be if we hadn't? How much darker would the "hopeful-for-5-win" previews would be? But that was then, and this is now. Those were small hopes borne out of desperation in the frigid Iowa winters. The sort of small fire that can keep a fan just warm enough from freezing to death in the long night of the offseason. Today, however, will be a warm, sunny, fall day.
Because new seasons breed optimism and hope. And while today's game likely has only abject terror to offer the Cyclone fan in terms of outcome, football has come again at last. Meat will be grilled, alcohol will be shared, and the best part of being an alumni fan begins. Even if it should all go wrong, we have this moment to savor.
The sun has risen over Squaw Creek. It's football season.