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Back in Black

It’s finally here...

NCAA FOOTBALL: OCT 01 Northwestern at Iowa Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We’re thirty minutes before kick off. You don’t need a clock to tell you that. Not on a fall Saturday. The energy rising all around you — along with the sudden smell of burning charcoal — is more than enough to trigger your internal clock.

It’s time for football.

You and the cohort of fanatics you’ve spent your morning with all seemingly lock eyes, smirk and nod all at the same time. They know too.

You hold up your half empty drink and offer a toast.

“May the Redhawks go down just as easily as these beers.”

Cans clang. Trunks close. Horns blare. And finally, feet begin to march in one location. Pure solidarity.

The walk is quick. Or maybe it’s long. You can never really decide. And at the end of the day, it never really matters. You know you’re right on time and you know you wouldn’t trade that radiant travel experience for the world. You know there is nothing quite like the first Saturday of the season.

You walk in and out of a few conversations about the quarterback’s potential, the offensive coordinators future and even the punter. Normally, you wouldn’t want to be bothered with conversations with strangers. But today? You’re happy to talk to anyone and everyone is happy to talk to you. The camaraderie you wish you had in your daily work is palpable and delicious and you can’t help but get a little high off the juice.

After a sharp right hand turn — in the distance — you see that familiar stoic, bronzed face of a local hero enclosed by a predominantly yellow clad crowd that almost looks to be holding him up in the air. You can’t help but quicken your pace. Neither can the rest of the crowd. As you start to bump shoulders with your neighbors, you trade forgiving looks. Nobody can help themselves. How could they.

Iowa State v Iowa Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

Before you can summon up the courage to walk in the hallowed gates, you reach out and offer your appreciation to Nile. It’s the least you can do for the guiding light that hovers over this entire program and university. Everything he was is everything you and 70,000 of your closest friends hope to be.

As the tunnel grows shorter the flash of green and white in front of you grows larger. You can’t help but breathe it all in. The new turf, the fall air, the popcorn, the pads. Football. Pure football.

The clock above you is racing down to zero. The screen flashes and the 20-year veteran coach and his hand picked team of leaders slowly start to walk down a long tunnel.

And that’s when the speakers begin to echo with those quick, repetitive guitar riffs that eventually open up to the drums, bass, electric guitar and pure pandemonium...

Back in black

I hit the sack

I’ve been too long I’m glad to be back

Yes, I’m let loose

From the noose

That’s kept me hanging about

I’ve been looking at the sky

’Cause it’s gettin’ me high

Forget the hearse ‘cause I never die

I got nine lives

Cat’s eyes

Abusin’ every one of them and running wild

’Cause I’m back

Yes, I’m back

Well, I’m back

Yes, I’m back

Well, I’m back, back

Well, I’m back in black

Yes, I’m back in black

And everything is right. And everything is pure. And everything is beautiful.

Welcome back. Oh, thank the college football heavens. Welcome back.