You know that the shittiness of a boring sports summer (with apologies to Michael Phelps) is subsiding when the universities of America put on their pads and start beating the hell out of each other again. But as great as the sport of college football is, it doesn't naturally lend itself to many teams maintaining a national profile for the course of the season. You lose and you pretty much fall of the map, and even though some of these schools can still run the table in their leagues, a notable contingent of their fans, boosters, and alumni are already considering their seasons to be failures. Sometimes, like Pittsburgh's Dave Wannstedt, a first-game loss could mean the end of an already-shaky tenure at a school where expectations of prominence remain unrealized. For others, like Clemson's Tommy Bowden, dropping the first game represents a refreshing change of pace. The Tigers, who were somehow ranked 9th in the preseason AP, spared their faithful fans a couple of months' torment. Instead of blasting their way through a cupcake non-conference schedule and setting themselves up for a late-season choke job, they made their annual mission statement early. And that statement was, "We have no intention of being nationally competitive, this year, or ever." I expect it to be only a couple of day when those around Death Valley start muttering, "Well, we can still win the ACC." As if they ever could. Whatever. Some people will point to the inequity of it all and make this another argument for a playoff, as if that would solve all the percieved unfairness in the game. It won't. It's no coincidence that most people who share this view fall into one of two groups. They either root for one of the powerful SEC teams, whose elite would be favored in any multi-game postseason format, and rightfully so. The latter are simply assholes and pundits that want to see the bodies hit the floor in an equitable, more rhythmic fashion. Postseason tournaments are easier to write about, and easier to follow. And, ultimately, easier on the teams that hoe the road each fall for a national championship, mythical or otherwise. lThe drama and the excitement of the game come from living on that edge, knowing that a loss, any loss, will send a team out to the backyard for another season of relative obscurity. But this is the game we love. And if starting 0-1 were any easier, college football would become just another sport that we don't look forward to in the fall.