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Column: College Football's Return Signals The "Most Wonderful Time Of The Year"

Jim Harbaugh's debut with Michigan, along with the rest of the college football season returning, signals a time for fans equal to the Christmas season.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

As a kid, you’re told the "most wonderful time of the year" is the Christmas season. And at that point in life, it is. You get two weeks off of school, you get a ton of gifts from every grown-up family member you know, and there are always a bunch of cookies and cakes around the house. What could be better?

But when you grow up a bit as a football fan, another season takes over as The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. It’s right around this time, the last few days leading up to the season. You’re sick of the dog days of summer, and SportsCenter’s Top 10 being a different assortment of baseball catches every day. You either don’t have to go back to school because you work full-time all year long, or you are excited to go back to school because you’re a college student and you’re sick of being with your parents.

In many ways, the start of college football season feels like Christmas. There is a tree with so many presents under it, and so much uncertainty. Sadly for Michigan fans, the last 7 Christmases have brought few presents worth discussing.

The RichRod era brought lots of shiny, flashy presents (offense), but they didn’t last long because they always broke down (defense).

The 2014 season was basically opening 12 empty boxes and having Santa Hoke saying "Well…uuuuuhhhh….uuummmmm….we need to execute better  when it comes to giving out good presents."

The Harbaugh era feels like it *should* be different. His track record is phenomenal and undebatable. He inherited a Stanford team that went 1-11 the previous year, and in their 5th game, they went to the Coliseum and beat a #1 ranked USC team loaded with NFL talent, as a 41 point underdog. After winning a BCS bowl game, he went to the NFL and took the 49ers from a mediocre afterthought to a perennial Super Bowl contender.

However, Michigan fans are scarred. They’ve been so excited for this time of year so many times in the last 7 years, only to be disappointed royally by the events that unfolded.

We don’t know what this season will bring yet, but there is reason to have hope. QB play last year was abysmal. Harbaugh saw that, and he brought in Jake Rudock as a grad transfer. Is Rudock the next Andrew Luck? Nope. But he is a level-headed guy who won’t make a lot of mistakes, can move the chains, and won’t routinely shoot the team in the foot.

Aside from that, Michigan has a defense that will keep them in every game. They are strong in the front 7, and should be very improved in the secondary. Harbaugh has also brought in an all-star coaching staff that will extract every ounce of talent out of these players.

So can Harbaugh deliver the goods? Will Michigan pull off an "upset of the century" in late November? One of the reasons this is The Most Wonderful Time of the Year is that everyone is still undefeated. All those presents under the tree remain unopened, and we don’t know what this season will bring.

The possibilities are still open, and the sky is still the limit. We don’t know if it will be another disappointing "Christmas season", or if Harbaugh can change the course of this program right away. However it will be a very exciting ride as we find out.