Ed. Note: I originally posted this article one year ago tomorrow, the day before the Elon game -- my last season opener as a student. I wanted to write something similar this year, but I'm not sure I could beat this. Enjoy.
There's something different about campus today. Maybe it's the yellow trash bins set up in anticipation of tailgaters. Maybe it's the construction workers, accomplishing more in the past two days than they have in two months in anticipation of alumni/donors arriving. It's more than just that though. Maybe it's the thought that this weekend is one day longer than the typical weekend with Labor Day on Monday.
There's a buzz in the air (pun intended) that's unusual even for a Friday. Classes are useless; nobody is paying attention. Everyone's just a little bit happier -- spirits are lifted. That look of despair and disappointment that this fifth year student is so used to seeing is nowhere to be found. The reason? You already know.
I'm no professional, but I can tell you that across the city, workers are checking the clock a little more often than usual today. Their days are approaching 5:00 pm in slow motion, meetings are dragging on longer, and they're hoping their manager decides to take a half day.
Tonight campus will be filled with kids celebrating the official beginning of fall (as far as any of them are concerned), and then will go to their inebriated slumber filled with dreams of the morning's festivities. Alarms will go off far earlier than normal, and yet typically exhausted college kids will be wide-eyed and bushy-tailed, partaking in drinks deemed acceptable at that time of the morning on only one type of occasion.
Alumni, parents, and the occasional sidewalk fan will flood campus, re-familiarizing themselves with a landscape that's been ever-changing over the last decade. For the alumni it would be like returning home, except that none of them ever truly left (for better or worse). It'll be one of the most majestic gatherings of the year as everyone returns to campus following a long summer devoid of reasons this good to return. It's an awe-inspiring occasion -- so many different people from such different backgrounds, brought together by their love for a school and a team.
Tomorrow is so much bigger than just a game. We all have an expectation for what the scoreboard will look like when the final whistle blows, but that's not why we're excited. Fall represents a special time of year when we get to share the fellowship of Christmas with a family we aren't related to, and we get to do it on a weekly basis. It gives us some of our fondest memories and sparks emotions rivaled in intensity by few other events in our daily lives.
Football is back.
Are you ready?