It looks like we made it. Through the hiring of Gene Chizik to the adventures of Big Cat Weekend to the naming of Chris Todd as quarterback, the longest off-season in Auburn history is finally over. It feels good to say, "It's Game Week!"
This season feels more different than any in a decade. When the Tigers take the field Saturday night the familiar face of Tommy Tuberville will be missing. Even after all these months, the loss of the most beloved Auburn coach since Shug Jordan still leaves an empty feeling in the hearts of many Auburn fans.
At the same time, there's excitement around the start of the Gene Chizik era. Gone is the shock of his hiring, replaced by optimism that maybe this will work out after all. National attention has been scant this summer. A fifth place pick in the SEC West will do that to you. Contrast this with a year ago when Auburn was picked to win the division and challenge Florida for the SEC Championship and it seems the program has aged a 100 years.
Still, there is hope this season. Has Chris Todd's arm really healed enough to throw with authority down field? Are these freshman receivers really as good as Trooper Taylor says they are? Will Antonio Coleman provide stability and leadership to a defense that's talented but lacks depth? And finally, can Chizik step up to the big time, put the horrors of the past two seasons behind him and grow into more than just a talented defensive coordinator?
Mercifully, it's time for the talking to stop. Speculation turns to reality in a few short days.
As you've undoubtedly heard, Auburn will be adding new television content this year with the debut of Auburn Football: Everyday. This half-hour show will take you behind the scenes of Auburn football throughout the season. I knew it was going to be a huge hit when Bama fans started ridiculing it. If only they had thought of it first. Who wants to bet they'll have their own show next year?
According to the Auburn website, "You'll see the high and lows of competing as an SEC football player. With wired up coaches and players you'll see the Tigers in a way you can only find with Auburn Football: Every Day." The show airs on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings prior to network college football throughout the fall in all markets. Click here for to find the channel in your area.
For a kid that grew up in the 1970's when Auburn was lucky to get even one appearance annually on national television, this year's college football coverage is beyond my wildest dreams. Following the SEC's historic contract with CBS and ESPN there's been a flood of new coverage planned for this season.
Keeping up with all of the games is near impossible. We'll try to provide you with listings of the times and stations of the best matchups each week. Here's this week's television schedule (all times CT)...
Thursday, September 3rd
South Carolina at North Carolina St. (6 p.m. ESPN)
Oregon at Boise State (9:15 p.m. ESPN)
Friday, September 4th
Tulsa at Tulane (7 p.m. ESPN)
Saturday, September 5th
Kentucky vs. Miami-Ohio (Cincinnati) (11 a.m. ESPNU)
Minnesota at Syracuse (11 a.m. ESPN 2)
Navy at Ohio State (11 a.m. ESPN)
Western Kentucky at Tennessee (11:20 a.m. SEC Network)
Jackson State at Georgia Tech (Noon, ESPN 360)
Georgia at Oklahoma State (2:30 p.m. ABC)
Jackson State at Miss State (2:30 p.m. ESPNU)
Nevada at Notre Dame (2:30 p.m. NBC)
San Jose State at USC (2:30 p.m. Fox Sports Net)
Western Michigan at Michigan (2:30 p.m. ESPN 2)
Middle Tennessee at Clemson (5 p.m. ESPN 360)
BYU vs. Oklahoma (Dallas) (6 p.m. ESPN)
Charleston Southern at Florida (6 p.m. Fox Sports South)
Louisiana Tech at Auburn (6 p.m. ESPNU)
Western Carolina at Vanderbilt (6:30 p.m. CSS)
Alabama vs. Virginia Tech (Atlanta) (7 p.m. ABC)
Maryland at California (9 p.m. ESPN 2)
LSU at Washington (9 p.m. ESPN)
Sunday, September 6th
Grambling vs. South Carolina State (1 p.m. ESPN 2)
Ole Miss at Memphis (2:30 p.m. ESPN)
Colorado State at Colorado (6 p.m. Fox Sports Net)
Monday, September 7th
Cincinnati at Rutgers (3 p.m. ESPN)
Miami at Florida State (7 p.m. ESPN)