This evening the 2010 college football season kicks off with a slate of Thursday night games.

And so it begins.

College Football may not be recognized universally as the best sport, but you know what? It is to me. There is nothing else that gets me as excited in the sporting world. If asked why this is the case; other than the fierce loyalties we have to schools we grew up cheering for or the actual university we attended and thus served as a backdrop for our transition from childhood to adulthood, and the passion that these places and teams invoke, it would be hard to put it all into a concise statement. It probably has to do with the fact that there is enough time between games to decompress, float down from the high produced by winning or the low generated from losing to truly anticipate the next game. Also, it’s the mixture of huge, emotionally charged contests with traditional rivals that churn your blood with vitriol or the Goliath you know your David can defeat contrasted against the contest against hapless East Nowhere State where the joy comes from the fellowship and pageantry only found in rooting for your team. Finally, it’s the relatively short season; I can think of few other sports where there isn’t time to get worn down with the tedium of a long season. Just as things are getting good and the excitement builds to crescendo the season is over and there are eight to nine months to contemplate what might be.

Which brings me to today; the waiting is over (or almost over in the case of Alabama fans).

While I’ll certainly be the first to tell you that there are many things that could be better about the great state of Alabama, like the unrelenting, oppressive heat and humidity, the lack of importance placed on education, or the overall lack of desire to improve and grow as a people, I will also be the first to say that on the last few days leading up to a big football game, there is no place in the world I would rather be.

Sure, the Rocky Mountains are breathtakingly beautiful, as is Yosemite Valley and the Grand Canyon. Sunrise in the desert or sunset over the Pacific are surely awesome spectacles. But in my mind, this town revving up to host football is a thing of beauty that is perhaps more rare. There is no way to accurately describe the palpable energy that permeates the air. It’s just something you have to experience.

Thirty-three years ago, my father took me to an Alabama game. More than anything else about that day I remember the hair on my neck standing up when the crowd raised its voice in unison. It was just something about that many people united and directing energy toward the same thing. I can’t predict how the team will perform but I can tell you without a doubt that the exact same feeling will come upon me in a little more than 48 hours.

It is good to be in Tuscaloosa, Alabama as football season begins.