“It isn’t the vacation spot, It is the journey.”
It was Ralph Waldo Emerson who first conjured up these phrases that are actually printed on numerous T-shirts and bumper stickers and pinned to your mother’s Pinterest web page atop an artsy photograph of an empty street that runs off into the distant horizon.
Effectively, on the market someplace amid the Nice Past, ol’ Ralph watched the primary full month of the 2021 school soccer season, chilling atop a transcendental aircraft of consciousness, and spent the whole lot of September grinning sideburn to sideburn. And that is not simply because his alma mater, Harvard, is 3-Zero and in first place within the Ivy League. It is as a result of he is considering, “See? I informed y’all!”
RWE’s phrases have by no means felt extra correct than they’ve when one appears over the gridiron of the previous 5 weekends. Positive, ultimately, the group atop the charts is similar one it has at all times been and it feels prefer it would possibly nonetheless be that very same group once we attain the tip of this journey on Jan. 10 in Indianapolis. As a result of Alabama is admittedly, actually good. Once more. And the group with the very best shot to seemingly flip that Tide can be Georgia. Once more.
However every thing else behind these two SEC damaged information is complete, scrumptious chaos. The faculty soccer equal of “Talladega Nights,” when the whole NASCAR subject wrecked itself behind Ricky Bobby and Jean Girard. There is definitely nothing boring or repetitive about that. So, let’s all take a touch from Mr. Emerson and absorb each single step of this autumn street, it doesn’t matter what the vacation spot would possibly in the end be. And hey, throughout this season of a GPS with no satellite tv for pc service, who is aware of the place we’re going.
Let’s join with our interior Emerson and permit our hearts to vibrate to the iron strings of a weekend just like the one which simply unfolded, when 9 AP Prime 25 groups misplaced on the identical day and introduced this yr’s five-week complete to a file 34 ranked groups who’ve misplaced. And to these whose groups have misplaced — and, let’s be sincere, that is just about everybody at this level — discover solace within the phrases of Emerson himself.
“Dangerous occasions have a scientific worth. These are events an excellent learner wouldn’t miss.”
Or, within the phrases of one other well-known spiritualist, Lane Kiffin, after being defeated 42-21 in Tuscaloosa: “One recreation doesn’t outline your season. It does not outline you, it molds you. You possibly can go a method or one other.” (OK, I do not know if Kiff is a transcendentalist or not, however he did inform us he takes scorching yoga courses.)
To that time of the scientific worth of dangerous occasions, allow us to additionally rejoice in these former also-ran packages who’ve discovered the way to faucet into Emerson’s name for self-reliance. Among the many 130 FBS groups, there are solely 17 which are nonetheless undefeated, as Wake Forest, SMU, Wyoming, Kentucky and Coastal Carolina are amongst these standing alongside Alabama and Georgia. You do not have to be very outdated to recollect a time, a really very long time in the past, when these packages had been sure-fire losers — or, within the case of Coastal, did not exist in any respect — and, within the case of SMU, did not exist for 2 seasons. Kentucky was a kind of groups that listed its bowl losses as nice achievements as a result of it is all it needed to level to since Bear Bryant left in 1953. Now, the Wildcats seemingly win bowl video games each winter. They count on to win video games just like the one they celebrated Saturday evening (and had been fined $250,000 for that celebration), after they beat 10th-ranked Florida at dwelling for the primary time since 1986.
Allow us to wade into the waters of Emerson’s perception in individualism.
“Whoso can be a person have to be a nonconformist.”
That is, in any case, a sport the place Coastal Carolina wears mullets on teal turf. That is the game that runs a bushel full of various offenses; the place a Kentucky operating again named Kavosiey Smoke turns into a profession 1,000-yard rusher, and Auburn has teammates named Tank Bigsby, Smoke Monday and Brodarious Hamm, in addition to a former teammate now at UCF named Big Kat Bryant. The place the Appalachian State Mountaineers have a lineman named Baer Hunter, and Arkansas has a linebacker operating round within the backfield like bumper pool as a result of his title is Bumper Pool. We must always all be rooting for a San Diego State-Wyoming showdown within the Mountain West Championship as a result of it might imply a DB conflict between Wyoming’s Buck Coors and the Aztecs’ New Zealand Williams. And in what different sport throughout what different season would we be capable of see a person whoso turning into extra nonconformist than Alabama’s Kool-Aid McKinstry signing an NIL cope with Kool-Assist itself?
It was additionally Emerson who mentioned, “We grant no dukedoms to the few.” That was in 1863, 5 years earlier than the primary school soccer recreation. Maybe it was a warning to the likes of Clemson 158 years later, a group now with two losses, or Texas A&M, the star of everybody’s 2021 preseason “That is lastly the yr!” tales, now additionally with two losses. Or may it have been meant as an inspiration to be handed on to the likes of Cincinnati and BYU, lifelong school soccer outliers who, throughout their finest days, had been compelled to play little brother to their higher-profile Energy 5 neighbors? However now, they’re a mixed 9-0, each ranked within the AP Prime 10 and headed to the Large 12.
Then once more, our boy Ralph additionally mentioned this: “Some will at all times be above others. Destroy the inequality right now, and it’ll seem once more tomorrow.” In different phrases, yeah, the faculty soccer street we are actually on would possibly inevitably be headed towards the identical outdated exit ramp, the one which ends in entrance of a stage the place Nick Saban is being showered in confetti.
However the nationwide title recreation continues to be almost 4 months away, so let’s not let that attainable vacation spot stop us from having fun with the journey. The Pac-12 is within the combine. The Large Ten is about to host its first AP Prime 5 regular-season matchup in 59 years that does not contain Ohio State, as No. four Penn State takes on host No. Three Iowa. Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy and his mullet are in place to damage Oklahoma and Texas’ pre-SEC membership social gathering. Heck, UMass and UConn play Saturday in what would possibly very nicely be the very best worst recreation in school soccer historical past. All whereas the Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs will face the Campbell Fighting Camels in a conflict to win a trophy of a pig in a recreation now titled the East/West Barbecue Bowl.
Autumn has arrived. The autumn foliage is altering. The faculty soccer panorama is shifting. So, run out into the yard, make a leaf angel and sing to your self these biggest of phrases ever by Emerson. Not Ralph Waldo, however Emerson, Lake and Palmer.
“Welcome again, my pals
To the present that by no means ends
We’re so glad you would attend
Come inside! Come inside!”