It’s finally time. The wait is over. The day has finally come. Football season is finally here!

Last weekend we welcomed in football like a long-lost friend and, just like that, it was as if we had never parted.

To be more specific and accurate, last weekend was the official beginning of college football. Middle and high school football have already kicked off their seasons and the NFL got this year’s campaign rolling on Thursday night.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good middle and high school game. My oldest is now in middle school (cue the water works), and she is beyond ready to go out and support her fellow middle school athletes. She also is playing sports herself, so I’m going to become more familiar with school sports than I would have ever thought possible.

As for pro football, I’ll watch it when it’s on, but it’s almost allows a breather of sorts from the craziness of the best day of the week during September through December which is, of course, Saturday.

There is just something about college football. Maybe it’s the rivalries. We all look forward to, and even batten down the hatches, in preparation for the yearly clashes between Tennessee and Alabama, Alabama and Auburn, Michigan and Ohio State and the list goes on. I mean, some families won’t talk to each to other for months just because of these games.

Maybe it’s also the ritual of it all. While I know I’m not alone in this – as we live in a one of the most devoted areas for college football in the whole country –  there is something about the traditions of college football that make it so special and so irresistible. 

Growing up, I was spoon fed it in hearty portions by my parents from August to December. Forget the national news, we were watching ESPN seven days a week because it was football season. Dinner conversation? You got it, it was all about football. I was also quizzed on it and made it my mission to learn everything there was to know about college football.

At one point, I could tell you every Division 1-A coach and name every player on the University of Tennessee’s roster.

I would say it was almost magical, maybe even better than Christmas day, because college football took place every Saturday.

While we didn’t go to a lot of games, there was still plenty of preparation.

You were to have your game day shirt ready to go and if said shirt was bad luck last week, then you were expected to have found another one before the new game kicked off.

My dad cooked up a host of delicious foods that were made ready just in time before the game started.

It was also mandatory that you made no plans in or around kickoff time and it there was no guarantee that you wouldn’t be asked to leave the room if Tennessee began to lose – if you don’t believe me on that last one, just ask my sister. 

No matter how silly it may seem, to die-hard fans, you understood that those rules was just a part of the whole experience.

While these rituals have relaxed somewhat over the years, and my sister and I have grown up and now have game day rituals of our own, we still make sure game day shirts are purchased and we do our best to make sure there is nothing planned around game time.

I know it may seem silly and maybe even overdramatic, but college football created a lifetime of beloved memories and is ultimately what keeps me loving the sport to this day.

In full disclosure, I will admit that, in the last few months, I hadn’t paid much attention to the upcoming football season. Little ones, work and just life has kept my attention diverted elsewhere. However, a call from my dad not too long ago reminded me that it was, in fact, time for season to start and I needed to be prepared.

Just in time I was ready and complete with game day shirts for the whole family, game-time snacks and, of course, my tail was seated happily in front of the television to watch all the pigskin glory.

The bad news was, Tennessee got their butts handed to them on opening day. The good news is that football is here and win or lose, that is all matters.

While it might be a long season for us clad in orange, you can bet your boots my crew will be doing our best to channel good vibes through game day shirts and a host of other game day traditions.

Here’s to your own football traditions and enjoying a season of good football and Go Big Orange!

Kali Bradford can be reached by email at kbradford@tullahomanews.com.