Kyle Whittingham press conference

Utah football coach Kyle Whittingham speaks with the media Monday. The Utes will kick off their season Thursday in Salt Lake City.

Try as I might – and, believe me, I’m trying – I cannot keep myself from using a cliche.

Contrary to what three high school English teachers and at least two more college professors taught me, sometimes only a cliche will do.

OK, here goes …

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?

There, I said it. A sad lack of creativity notwithstanding, the sentiment really does seem to capture the feeling you, me and millions of other red-blooded Americans feel during this time of year, and this week in particular.

College football season is upon us and, yes, I think we’re all ready.

I know I certainly am.

Having covered college football in this state for more than a quarter of a century, I’m well aware that here in Utah, college football is indeed a wildly popular sport. There has always been a certain passion for the sport and, of course, there are some strong loyalties from one end of the state to the other.

And yet I’m positive our intensity for the game is higher than ever before.

So, yeah, we know you’re ready for some football, which is why the Standard-Examiner is doing something slightly different this fall.

I’ve been turned loose, so to speak.

Starting this week, as the newspaper’s sports columnist, I’ll start taking a closer look at our state’s college football programs. In the recent past, we’ve centered most of our attention on Weber State and we’ll continue to do that with reporter Brandon Garside providing an in-depth coverage of the Wildcats that will far surpass anything else out there.

And as our columnist, I’ll still be along to share my opinions on the new-look ‘Cats and their drive to change their fortunes. However, I’ve been given a greater autonomy to write columns about the Aggies, Cougars and Utes as well.

Naturally, I’ll continue to keep tabs on the Utah Jazz along the way and when college basketball rolls around I’ll stay up with Utah State, BYU, Utah and Weber State.

The key word here is “autonomy.”

It’s a good word; I like it a lot.

Why wouldn’t I?

My bosses here are allowing me to essentially pick and choose which games I want to see and what stories I’ll tell you about.

Logan one week, Salt Lake the next. Provo, too, and of course, Ogden.

Shoot, I may even convince someone to let me check out the Thunderbirds down in Cedar City.

Since arriving at the Standard-Examiner in the early 1990s, I’ve had the privilege of covering, in one form or another, every sports beat we have: the preps, all four colleges, golf, the Raptors (even the old Salt Lake Trappers for a while) and the Jazz.

I’ve been able to write about high school championships, golf tournaments, a number of college bowl games, a decade’s worth of Pioneer League baseball, the NCAA Tournament, the Final Four, hundreds of Jazz games and the NBA postseason, including those Jazz-Bulls Finals in 1997 and ‘98.

I don’t mention any of it to brag, only to note that I’ve been around here a long, long time and I’ve gained a great deal of experience. It’s not as much as some of my colleagues but it’s a lot more than most.

Happily, I now have the autonomy – there’s that word again – to write more columns about the Aggies, Cougars, Utes and Wildcats.

It’ll start this week so, as the expression goes … ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?

Jim Burton is the Standard-Examiner’s sports columnist. He can be reached at 801-625-4265 or at jburton@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter @StandardExJimbo

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