The start of the 2007 season is a mere hours away and that means grown men are giving their school two-deep more attention than they give to their taxes. The sport's popularity is at an all-time high, powered by dedicated fans hitting up blogs and message boards, all contributing to the most lively sports discussion in the American corner of the internet. At the same time, there are some things we miss about old-time football. Here are five of them:
1. Mesh Jerseys
Mesh hats are back, so where are the stinking jerseys? Cheaper to produce and in theory, cheaper for fans to purchase, mesh jerseys even come standard with a lo-tech cooling system.
Some of the college football finest moments have come in mesh. Flutie's miracle heave, "The band is on the field", the Nittany Lions in '86, Byars one-shoe touchdown scamper -- all mesh-powered.
Unfortunately, you can bet that mesh won't be seeing the playing field any time soon until Nike or Adidas gives their blessing. Take solace: when mesh does come back (and it will), this will soon follow.
Don't get us wrong, we love the gear players wear today. Visors, armbands, gloves, Breath Right strips and custom tape jobs make the players the modern day gladiators that they are. Herbie has a pants party just thinking about some of these guys.
But where are the neck pads, skin-tone rubber arm pads and thigh pads that actually stuck out of the pants. Where are the janky old facemasks, elbow pads that were ripped off of a volleyball court and turf shoes. Freakin' TURF SHOES! Are we to believe that turf shoe technology no longer works? I think not.
3. Coach Tech
Remember when a coach didn't walk the sideline with a wireless headset that connected him to his assistants in the pressbox, his recruits and every one of the school's living legends? Remember when coaches didn't have the periodic table of play-options neatly printed and laminated, at their ready? We hardly do either.
We miss the days when a coach had to walk to a table during a timeout and have an operator connect him to the pressbox. Give us the coaches that would make play selections based off of crazy things like hunches and what Patton would have done in that situation.
4. Coach Shorts
There's something to be said for the style certain coaches employ on game days, but can you really even tell the head coach apart from the trainer on the practice field? Back in the day you could. You knew who the coach was on the practice field because he was the one wearing the most awesome shorts you had ever seen.
Perhaps no article of clothing represents its owner more so than coach shorts. They convey a special sense of fear to anyone that ever played football and say one thing: "I have the whistle and you will do what the whistle tells you to do."
Think Richard Linklater could have created this classic scene without the fear of a pair of coach shorts lurking in the pickup truck?
5. Toilet Paper
When putting together this list, this final item was the most perplexing. Where are the fans chucking toilet paper rolls around stadiums these days? Can anyone give me a good reason why one of the coolest traditions in sports has completely disappeared?
I know we're living in a different security climate, but it's toilet paper for Christ's sake. Surely fans that manage to sneak 32 ounce flasks into stadiums can find room for an extra roll (or three) of toilet paper. The rolls are cheap, completely harmless and must have their day in the stadium sun again.
Do your part. Take a few rolls to your next game.