Prologue: A Season of Anticipation

August 18, 2006

We’ve been here before. Yet, in so many ways we haven’t.We’ve had senior quarterbacks, second-year coaches, and high expectations.

But we’ve never had the wrong quarterback, who is still capable of Heisman buzz; we’ve never had a coach running the wrong offense, who still might destroy defenses; and we’ve never stared at a national championship a decade in the past and dream of duplicating it, yet still wonder if the division is ours.

It has been a long time since the college football scene looked so vulnerable. There are no dominant teams, there is no clear frontrunner, and there is no consensus to be sure. The number of first- or second-year players, much less starters, is staggering at quarterback throughout the nation. All of the dynamic offenses come saddled with defensive question marks, and nearly all of the dominant defenses come with freshmen quarterbacks attached. The iron is hot indeed.

This would be the perfect year to rise up and take the conference and national titles, but the schedule would seem to prevent that. Or does it? When every game looks winnable, it all comes down to mental focus and preserving health.

This year will be defined, as they so often are, by a coach and by a quarterback. There is no way that four years ago they could have known that they’d be working together, with one in Ohio and the other in North Carolina. Yet the hands of fate and Jeremy Foley have brought them together. They now prepare for the season, both needing each other in order to silence critics and bring glory back to the program.

There will be plenty of other stories throughout the year. The defensive line. The wide receivers. The running backs. The secondary. The anniversary. In the end, we will likely be back to the coach and the quarterback, pondering what has been, what is, and what will be in the future.

Who can say what accolades await? Who can tell what disappointments may lie ahead? Perhaps the season will not come down to anything more than a pop heard in a shoulder, or a twinge felt in a knee. Perhaps it will come down to a final play in a hostile stadium. Perhaps, or maybe there will be no suspense at all.

We will be there, with open arms and open eyes, crying foul at undeserved flags and celebrating every score. We will travel to the unwelcoming places to make sure that we are heard. We will defend our name, and we will sing the songs that we know and love since before we can remember.

We will hope. We will hope because it is the greatest of all. We will hope because others wish they could. We will hope because it’s all we know. And in four months, we will stand by a group of men, a coach, and a quarterback. We will congratulate them on a job well done. And we will say those words that have never been more true.

It’s great to be a Florida Gator.