"It’s a testament to our fans. As you said earlier on today, there is nothing like SEC fans. They wanted this network," said Mike Slive when the SEC Network was launched earlier this year. "They want to see our student-athletes, they want to see our coaches, they want to see the traditions. For me and for our presidents and our ADs -- tonight is just the culmination of lots of years of a lot of hard work. It’s so satisfying to be able to do this for all of our kids."
With such a tumultuous offseason that featured talks on the new College Football Playoff and the transformative future that the newly launched SEC Network will bring, I think people truly forgot how fun college football is.
You hear the talk all the time: coaches being fired, players getting paid, autonomy, cable providers, television rights, domestic-violence disputes, all of the negative and bombarding topics of the sport. They provide a basis to our emotions on a day-to-day basis, and in the summer, when there's no football, it's tough to feel that excitement, that amusement for the sport that endears us so much.
And even through the first few weeks of the season, that playoff talk continued. The final four predictions rung vibrant among the college football world, among the analysts, the coaches, the players. But then came yesterday. Tens of games, tens of magnificent games. Entertaining football, competitive football. And it was fun again.
I think about everything college football fans have endured over the last week or so. I think about the beginning, Marcus Mariota, Oregon and Arizona, and an Autzen stadium that sat silent as Rich Rodriguez ripped their hearts out for the second straight year. I think about how it preluded arguably the most upset-filled day ever. I think about Bo Wallace and his rifled back-shoulder throws across the field on Saturday to Laquon Treadwell. I think about Mississippi State, who sat just down the road from The Grove, and their victory, and Dak Prescott's impressive performance. And then I think about Kentucky's comeback victory, one that has ignited the program, one that quite possibly has changed the program.
There was so much passion Saturday. You saw it in Starkville on SEC Nation with fans sporting their maroon and white cowbells. You saw it at The Grove in Oxford with a technological advance in a champagne fountain underneath a zebra tent. You even saw it in South Bend as Notre Dame moved to 5-0 and fans dressed in kilts. Passion stormed onto campuses, passion filled stadiums, and that same passion that hung in the balance at each and every campus was built by the sport, allowing everything to come full circle.
You could sit at home on your couch -- like me -- and have passion too, just as much, and for as good a reason. Saturday was special, it encapsulated everything we love about watching sports, going to events, and enjoying weekends -- and it bottled it all into one.
Eleven of the Top 25 teams lost. Yes, eleven. And regardless of the fact that your team or your parents' team lost, just enjoy the beauty of it all. Enjoy the fact that students of the school to which they pay thousands and thousands of dollars can storm the field and enjoy the moment like they did in Oxford. Enjoy the fact that a player and a three-star running back in Kentucky's Jojo Kemp can single-handedly lead his team to victory. And enjoy the fact that last week was only week six; last week was just the beginning.