It is perhaps onerous to imagine, however Week 0 is simply 100 days out. So we’re beginning the countdown to that first kickoff, as a result of we’re that excited concerning the 2021 faculty soccer season.
We rounded up three of our faculty soccer writers to dig into the upcoming slate of video games. From bands and smoked meats to new coaches and potential breakout stars, that is what they’re getting most amped up about.
Harry Lyles Jr.: We’re lastly at that lovely spherical quantity: 100 days till the beginning of the school soccer season. It is hopefully going to look much more regular than 2020 did as we slowly inch towards the tip of the coronavirus pandemic. That mentioned, what’s any faculty soccer factor you’re looking ahead to this season that we did not have final season?
Ryan McGee: Um … not having to spend the following 100 days worrying about having faculty soccer in any respect. Does that depend?
Lyles: That positively counts. I normally get tired of how nothing actually occurs within the faculty soccer offseason, however I recognize that now after what occurred final 12 months.
McGee: For me, it is the cross-conference video games. We had so many superior ones slated for final September after which … the ‘rona.
Dave Wilson: The scent of smoked meats within the parking zone. Bands, for positive. Largely meats, although.
Lyles: Dave’s bought the precise concept right here. I believe, aesthetically, it is also the bands for me. A number of the non-football issues assist make faculty soccer what it’s, and if there’s one factor I weirdly get pleasure from concerning the sport, it is how the band is letting it rip whereas its group runs up the sphere after a primary down. It is extra endearing than no matter NFL groups do.
McGee: Noise. Simply noise normally. Crowd noise. Bands taking part in. Flyovers. Drunk dudes yelling at us once we stroll down from the press field within the fourth quarter, as a result of we hate their group. I missed all of it. My neighbors yelling at me from their yards simply did not really feel the identical.
However I’m severe concerning the massive nonconference video games. I imply, within the Large Ten alone, we hit September with Oregon at Ohio State (talking of bands), Wisconsin-Notre Dame in Chicago, Auburn going to Penn State, Washington on the Large Home … carry it!
Ohio State’s band took us on a visit to Bikini Backside 🍍 pic.twitter.com/GcBqjHqEZc
— ESPN (@espn) October 26, 2019
Lyles: I really feel like we deserve these video games that early on, with all of the noise potential. I believe it is actually going to hit us in these first two to a few weeks what we missed out on in 2020.
McGee: I’m shifting into [ESPN colleague] Adam Rittenberg’s home for the entire month so I can commute.
Lyles: I hear it is good there. I may need to make my very own reservation.
With that mentioned, what’s an expertise you guys are trying ahead to having both once more or for the primary time in 2021 as we get again into the swing of issues?
Wilson: Highway journeys — seeing the whole lot of school soccer as a substitute of simply soccer. There’s a lot about what makes this sport the best that does not have something to do with the sphere.
McGee: Wilson is spot on. The most effective half for me is getting there early and strolling the parking tons. Then stepping into the stadium as quickly as they’ll let me. The reunion facet of everybody again collectively once more, be it tailgaters who’ve parked door to door for generations or season-ticket holders again within the stands collectively after a 12 months away (in most locations), again within the seats their mother and father and grandparents sat in … that is what makes this sport the very best.
Wilson: And having the ability to discuss to these people and listen to what they’re enthusiastic about for his or her group or season.
Lyles: It is positively a unique type of pleasure that followers have for his or her groups that you simply simply cannot discover anyplace else. And it seems completely different EVERYWHERE. I do know I will be making an attempt to make as many journeys as potential this season.
Plus, nothing beats making an attempt the very best meals of no matter area you are in at a tailgate. That meals hits in another way.
McGee: You suppose one thing will all the time be there, it doesn’t matter what. Then it is not. Take that away and you will recognize it greater than you ever have. And sure, that is a response to what Harry simply mentioned. I’ve adopted my nostril by means of stadium parking tons my complete life.
A Pac-12 parking zone smells very completely different than a Louisiana parking zone. And never simply due to the authorized weed.
Wilson: That is why I made the excellence concerning the smoked meats reasonably than simply smoke. You by no means know the place that is coming from on campus.
Lyles: I see no lies informed.
McGee: I like the truth that after I go to LSU and a complete stranger palms me a bowl of one thing that appears just like the frogs that Jabba the Hutt was snacking on in “Return of the Jedi,” I do not even query it. I simply eat it.
That is faculty soccer.
Wilson: OK, Harry, we’re not gonna prime that. Subsequent topic.
Lyles: I suppose we will discuss precise soccer. What’s a storyline you guys are both going to be following this season or are trying ahead to?
Wilson: In Texas, there are some large expectations for Steve Sarkisian. He has expertise and an enormous piece to construct round with Bijan Robinson already. However first seasons are all the time attention-grabbing, and also you by no means know the way lengthy it takes for the whole lot to click on.
McGee: To me, that is all the time probably the most intriguing preseason storyline: the brand new coaches. Hey, bear in mind again final fall once we have been all saying, “Hey, this may not be like 2019. No massive teaching modifications this 12 months due to COVID-19 and funds and blah-dee-blah-blah?” Properly, WRONG.
Wilson: It took a mere $24 million to fireplace Tom Herman.
McGee: Within the SEC alone, there are 4 first-time Energy 5 head coaches. 4!
Wilson: Oh, and one of many returnees, Jimbo Fisher, mentioned the opposite day he was gonna beat Nick Saban’s ass.
Lyles: Poking the bear is rarely a good suggestion. Not that this one was ever asleep.
McGee: As for guys who’ve really crushed Saban, the UCF scenario fascinates me. Gus Malzahn again in a real underdog function. I do know him effectively sufficient to know that look on his face. He relishes the possibility to be behind the controls of a possible wrecking ball.
Lyles: I am additionally considering what Billy Napier and Louisiana are going to do that season. You talked about there have been 4 new coaches within the SEC alone. In case you would have informed me he wasn’t going to be certainly one of them at first of 2020, I might have checked out you humorous.
Wilson: And he opens with Sarkisian and Texas. That is a very intriguing recreation. They’re higher than Louisiana-Monroe was towards Alabama in Saban’s first 12 months, however that occurred.
Lyles: And naturally we won’t point out the Solar Belt with out the Chants — their encore goes to be enjoyable to look at.
McGee: I solely witnessed one regular-season soccer recreation in individual final 12 months and it was Coastal Carolina-BYU. In case you had informed me that night time that Jamey Chadwell would not be on an SEC campus this fall, I might have had the identical humorous look as Harry did about Napier. However generally a spot is simply the precise match for a man for some time.
Oh, and talking of SEC and Gus and Saban and all that, give a nod to Butch Jones at Arkansas State. I do not root for coaches, but it surely would not harm my emotions to see Butch climb again up the ladder after he had his fingers stomped on like Indiana Jones hanging on to a cliff.
Me and the George Lucas movie references right this moment. I have to see if I can work in a “Willow” or a “Pink Tails” quote.
Lyles: I am all the time up for including extra enjoyable to the Enjoyable Belt.
However sufficient coachspeak. I do know for me, personally, there’s all the time a handful of gamers I find yourself working my schedule round to look at. Final season it was Kyle Pitts, as a result of I imply … how may it not be?
Who’s a man y’all are trying ahead to watching this season?
Wilson: I am unable to wait to see the continuation of D’Eriq King’s many soccer lives. What a enjoyable participant to look at, from a kick returner and large receiver to a quarterback at Houston, then on to Miami. After a severe knee harm, I am trying ahead to seeing him get one other likelihood.
McGee: Talking of that BYU-Coastal recreation, which was put collectively and performed in the identical week, can we please use the hurry-up scheduling methodology to get an Ohio State-LSU matchup? I wish to see the Buckeyes’ wideouts vs. the Tigers’ DBs. Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson vs. Derek Stingley Jr. and Eli Ricks.
Lyles: McGee, you took the phrases proper out of my mouth, particularly with Olave. I do not essentially suppose he’ll be probably the most thrilling soccer participant in the identical manner DeVonta Smith was in 2020, however he is led that group in receiving the previous two years and would have possible been a first-round choose this previous April within the NFL draft. I’ve talked about this on many ESPN platforms and can achieve this once more right here: I am a sucker for excellent wideouts and will probably be actively rooting for one more to win the Heisman Trophy.
McGee: Amen, go the potato salad. And when you’re actually going to provide the Heisman to the very best participant within the nation, then you need to at the least have Stingley sitting on the entrance row.
Wilson: Keep in mind working backs? Breece Corridor is again to pile up the numbers at Iowa State. Can he wedge into the Heisman convo?
McGee: I bear in mind them! Tank Bigsby at Auburn breaks tackles like, effectively, a tank. And folks have forgotten about Kennedy Brooks at Oklahoma as a result of he opted out due to COVID[-19]. However he of the 2 final names is again to assist the QB of the 2 cool names, Spencer Rattler.
Lyles: We’re so fortunate that Bigsby and Rattler not solely have impeccable names but additionally unimaginable abilities.
Properly, y’all, how do you propose on spending the following 100 days to organize for the season?
Wilson: I’ve bought a finger exercise routine going to get able to kind sooner and switch the pages of Phil Steele’s journal with confidence.
McGee: My routine is that this:
I am going cowl the Indy 500, and on the flight residence, I verify the newsstand to purchase all the just-arrived faculty soccer preview magazines, particularly Steele. Then I meet my household on the seaside, the place Captain Morgan and I get out the highlighter pen and go to city.
By the point I sober up, it is time to hit the convention media days and depend the variety of occasions we hear the phrase “excited.” And I will probably be.
Lyles: It’s going to be onerous to not be excited. I will learn the whole lot revealed by our good buddy Invoice Connelly, as effectively. May even pester him for just a few telephone calls (Hey, Invoice!).
Wilson: I simply lined the FCS championship recreation on Sunday (after just a few telephone calls with Invoice), and the sport was superb, with a tense, unimaginable end. I will spend the following 100 days anxiously awaiting the following a type of.
McGee: As in “Hey, Invoice, how does one know a lot about South Dakota State’s particular groups play, and the way a lot do I like that a lot about South Dakota State’s particular groups play?”
Wilson: However simply think about, after final season, when no person knew when issues would begin, in the event that they’d proceed or how they’d end, simply figuring out now we have a 100-day countdown is thrilling sufficient. The FCS recreation felt like a begin reasonably than an ending. There have been rowdy South Dakotans in Texas, bars and eating places have been packed, there have been followers within the stands, and an ideal recreation topped a champ. Soccer is again!
McGee: To Wilson’s level, that is what I’m going to spend the following 100 days doing. Making myself pause and recognize the whole lot that so many did, from FBS to FCS to Division II and Division III, to make sure that faculty soccer was performed, irrespective of when and the place or the way it occurred. Coaches, gamers, administration, stadium operations people, trainers, groundskeepers, docs, everybody. They did what they did in order that we may have the sport we beloved and we may really feel a bit regular over the past 12 months. Now, we will all really feel regular for actual.
Lyles: I am trying ahead to it. Let’s do that once more someday, y’all.