Fall is Calling

Published 11:51 am Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The leaves on campuses, burnt orange and red as if kissed by the Devil himself, flutter peacefully to the ground as a crisp breeze chills the air. The smell of smoked meat wafts across the tailgating site in a haze of grey smoke that fills your nostrils with a delicious delight. In the distance, the band fires up the opening notes of the fight song, brass trumpets and flutes and drums harmonizing in perfection to provide the whole scene with its own fitting theme music. That’s when you know it’s here.

But there are other ways of knowing too. The sweat on your back that sticks to your shirt as you haul a cooler (without wheels, because your friend is a jerk) filled with cheap beer to your tent to join the rest of their companions, bourbon and vodka and ice. Someone forgetting to bring the potato salad and you spending the next 20 minutes questioning their character as a human being before realizing nobody likes potato salad anyway. That one guy who always wears a bow tie puking into a trashcan while the police officer next to him shoots you a crooked smile before turning a blind eye. The 45 year-old man, face painted and voice screaming above the noise of the scoreboard commercials, begging you to stand up and get loud because it’s third down and THIS IS IT! These also signal the start of things, the best time of the year, when Saturdays become the Sabbath and college football stadiums across the country transform into sacred cathedrals for the worshipping masses.

College football season is the best season, trumping summer in all its humid glory and winter with its holidays of gluttony and gift giving. It is the only time when masochists declare their insanity by publicly rooting for Kansas, while Alabama fans decry that week’s performance because they gave up 103 yards rushing in a 45-17 win.

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It’s the idea that eleven 18-23 year-olds, sprinting and smashing and suffocating their way down a long green field, affect the mood of millions of people week after week.  It is the greatest sport on earth, and it’s a 24-7 love affair.

With the season quickly descending upon us, there may be no better place to witness the festivities than in Vicksburg, the city that serves as an amalgamation of the best college football fans across the region all desperately waiting for the opening whistle to pierce the muggy air.

I can see it now. LSU fans chanting Tiger Bait in The Biscuit Company while Les Miles feasts on a plate of Bermuda Grass in Baton Rouge. The faint echo of cowbells reverberating throughout the air as an Ole Miss fan in 1311 orders a whiskey and coke and ceremoniously pours it into the red solo cup he brought with him. A Southern Miss fan stealing the whiskey and coke and downing it in one long gulp because he knows the Golden Eagles have to play ‘Bama in September. It’s a beautiful combination, watching these people coexist along the river, each team with its own goals and faults but each fan similarly returning every Saturday, rain or shine, to root them to victory.

The season will start two weeks from now and bars and barbecue parties across Warren County will spring to life. The refs will always be wrong, your team will always have the better quarterback, and that one guy in HR is really annoying about his fandom, but when foot meets leather on Aug. 28, the residents of Vicksburg will be able to agree on one thing: Thank God it’s finally here.

Cory Gunkel is a reporter and can be reached by email at cory.gunkel@vicksburgpost.com or by phone at 601-636-4545.