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On college football

Much-needed play date is here

Offseason tumult can be put aside for now

By Mark Blaudschun
Globe Staff / September 2, 2011

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The games have begun.

Never has such a short sentence had so much meaning to the powers that be in college football.

After a steady, nine-month pounding of stories about all of the things that are wrong with college football - and no one is denying there are many - the focus can now be on the games.

Not on some out-of-control booster at Miami.

Not on coaches who left stains on the programs they ran at Ohio State and North Carolina.

Not on the endless speculation about conference realignment (which is on hold now that the season has begun).

Not on the assortment of crimes and misdemeanors and violations and investigations that have ripped through the Top 10 like a funnel cloud.

NCAA president Mark Emmert has spent a lot of time trying to get a handle on what turned from a spring of discontent into a summer of bewilderment as scandal after scandal ripped into the fabric of the sport.

Emmert held seminars and press conferences, saying that the old way of doing things wasn’t good enough. Things had to change.

Maybe they will. Maybe the sheer volume of games each week will be the prescription that works - at least in returning the focus to what college football should all be about.

Not the money, although with billion-dollar television contracts in the mix and bidding wars for future rights still to come, that will never go away.

But for a few hours on a Saturday afternoon or a Thursday or Friday night, maybe we can just be fans again and watch the games.

We can watch Boise State travel to Georgia in an attempt to use the game as a springboard for a BCS bid.

We can see a potential BCS title game preview between Oregon and LSU - two of the elite teams that had off-field issues during the offseason.

We can watch Nebraska make its debut in the Big Ten.

We can watch Maryland coach Randy Edsall attempt to do with the Terps what he did with the Connecticut Huskies - turn them into a BCS program.

We can watch linebacker Luke Kuechly and quarterback Chase Rettig - two players at a school where “student-athlete’’ really does mean “student-athlete’’ - attempt to get Boston College back in the hunt for, at the very least, an ACC divisional title.

Of course, bad stuff will happen in the next few months. NCAA violations and suspensions at schools that feel they need to bend the rules to succeed.

Something will grab the headlines and create the next feeding frenzy in the media and the world of Twitter and chat rooms.

We understand that. If you want pristine college football - football just for the sheer joy of watching the sport - Williams, Amherst, Harvard, and Yale are available on Saturday afternoons. But those programs don’t have the glitter, the “Game Day’’ mentality that turns a game into an event.

And there is nothing wrong with glitter. It is fun. It is fun to watch Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck’s collegiate journey conclude as he attempts to become the best pro prospect since John Elway.

It will be fun to watch how Nebraska adjusts to life in the Big Ten and how the Big Ten adjusts to the presence of Nebraska.

We will be curious to see how Colorado and Utah do in their new neighborhood, the Pac-12.

Oh, there will be expansion talk throughout the season. What will the Big East do? Where will Texas A&M settle down?

And there will be the inevitable bandwagon jumping if Notre Dame finds its way back into the Top 10.

All of this is good, part of the fabric of college football.

It has been a long winter, a fretful spring, and a disquieting summer.

Now, however, fall is closing in, and it is time for some football.

Thank heavens.

Mark Blaudschun can be reached at blaudschun@globe.com.