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College football is starting earlier than ever

NCAA Football: Washington State at Arizona State Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

A little over a decade ago, a sort-of college football tradition came to an end. For many years, there were always a few high-profile games staged the weekend before college football began in earnest. Games named Kickoff Classic and Pigskin Classic matched teams who were part of today’s Power Five leagues, and would whet fans’ appetites until the next Saturday.

As those games died off, the Thursday night before Labor Day became the big night on which many teams would kick off the season. Now it seems we’re starting to trend back in the other direction a bit, as there are a few games taking place on what’s being called Week Zero. Among them is Oregon State traveling to Colorado State, and Stanford facing Rice in Australia.

The reason a game in Australia needs to happen on that week is obvious, as the players and coaches face a karate kick to the circadian rhythm, which all but necessitates a bye week over Labor Day. Well, unless you’re Hawaii and you decide to TRAVEL ALL THE WAY FROM SYDNEY TO ANN ARBOR TO PLAY THE VERY NEXT WEEKEND. The things programs will do in order to keep themselves afloat is pretty astounding.

But what about games like OSU at Colorado State, Portland State at BYU and South Florida at San Jose State? The answer seems pretty simple. After seven-plus months of nursing a watered-down whiskey-and-Coke and playing wallflower at the club, it’s last call and college football fans are willing to hook up with anything that walks by before the lights come on. That is to say we’ll watch just about any kind of football on the airwaves or internet.

Would I normally watch Portland State face BYU? Heck no. What about this year, when it’s on Mother Ship ESPN no less? I’ll absolutely watch some of that. Same with USF-San Jose State, and especially OSU-CSU. These schools get far more exposure playing games that would be lost to the opening weekend ether if they were played the next Saturday.

That’s why I would love it if WSU did something like this. They would get to start training camp a week earlier, and would have another built-in bye somewhere in the season. That would be quite advantageous this year since WSU plays 12 in a row to start the season. It would also give the Cougs some exposure when fans are dying for any morsel of football.

Are there downsides? Kind of. If memory serves, school starts the next Monday, so that weekend would be pretty hectic around campus with all the students trying to move in. On the other hand, it gives those students an excuse to get away from their parents a few days early and party before school starts. Win-win!

You also might be able to get more fans to the game the weekend before Labor Day, as many families view Labor Day weekend as their last vacation opportunity of the summer. So if the Cougs get an opportunity to play in Week Zero, sign me up. How about you?


Would you want WSU to play a game on Week Zero?

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Best Beer I had this week: Currently north of Indianapolis, celebrating the long weekend with the family in my wife’s home town. I’ll report back next week with my beer findings. There are many from which to choose.

As for this past week, I’ve been attending what we call Professional Military Education (PME) in Norfolk, VA. We’re broken up into seminars of 16 people, and there’s a softball league. We played our first game Tuesday. It did not go well. That will happen when the Serbian exchange officer in your group has (and I’m not joking one bit) never seen a baseball game.

Additionally, you might be surprised to know how many military people there are who can do 100 pushups and run a mile in six minutes, yet lack the coordination to swing a bat or throw a ball from second to first. And if you saw the ridiculous rules by which we have to abide (there are two home plates, seriously) you would laugh until you cried.

The second-best part of the night was seeing the one guy on the other team in baseball pants. He was ready to roll. I figured he was pretty good since he takes this old-person softball business quite seriously. He sucked. It was great.

The best part? Well, aside from the fact that a bunch of old officers escaped injury-free (but seriously my legs hurt for three days), we all rallied around the cooler for some beers afterward. Since I assumed that cooler would be full of Miller Lite, I brought along some Wild Wolf Blonde Hunny. We may have been boatraced on the diamond, but when the cooler opened we were all winners.

One more thing: If you’re looking for some good beer on the 4th of July, I suggest you try the trio of Chimay Red, Chimay White and Chimay Blue. They’re all great, and there’s no better way to celebrate the birth of the United States than drinking beer made by Belgian Monks.

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