TIMEOUT by Joe Flanagan

New Season In The Air …

I hope you didn’t blink and miss it, summer has officially come and gone.
Oh, we’ll have some warm – reeeeaaaally warm – weather yet, but the fall sports season is upon us and schools are opening. If you didn’t squeeze that vacation in – sorry.
As much as I hate to see summer fly by, I can never get upset at the onset of the new season. Probably because it’s my favorite time of year.
In fact, last week, Omaha World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel went as far as opining that August was the best month of the year, with football camps opening and optimism brimming all around.
Personally, I wouldn’t go that far. I’ll still take September, when the bands strike up, tailgate aromas fill the air and we experience the goosebumps of the season’s first kickoffs – and all the thrills and spills to follow.
I will give August an ‘A’, however. ‘A’ for anticipation.
Here in Nebraska we look forward to the beginning of fall camp for seven months – spring practice merely whetting our appetite. It’s almost like anticipating a baby – the birth of another Big Red chapter in history.
This year, anticipation and optimism abounds from border to border in Nebraska – and coast to coast for Husker fans everywhere. Following the resurrection under Bo Pelini in 2008, it seems order has been restored in our lives and things are back to normal.
Well, nearly back to normal.
Last year’s 9-4 record, four-game season-ending win streak and Gator Bowl triumph were nice following the previous 5-7 debacle, but normal in Nebraska is challenging annually for championships, conference and national.
That is still a work in progress. And that’s what makes 2009 so intriguing. Will Bo and the Huskers be able to take that next step?
The Big 12 North looks wide open and ripe for the taking, but Nebraska is far from an odds-on favorite. After all, the Huskers will be breaking in a newcomer at that most critical of positions – QB – along with replacing their leading receivers, two offensive line regulars and five starters from a much-improved Blackshirt defense.
But, hey, August is no time for worrying. Remember that ‘A’ we mentioned? Ah yes, the anticipation …
How about Ndamukong Suh, a virtual force of nature. The two-headed, four-legged monster known as Helu/Castille. The return of Barry Turner, a former Freshman All-American. A now-experienced safety assasin, Larry Asante. The game-winning howitzer himself, Alex Henery.
It doesn’t take much, at this time of year, to conjur images of Big Red success – the way it ought to be. Worries? We don’t need no stinkin’ worries in August! Save the worrying for September, October and beyond.
For now, wash your red shirts, get the grill ready, make sure the remote has fresh batteries and dream Husker dreams.
Ah, anticipation …