Autumn is a fitting month for a program's struggles. It's the season of melancholy and abrupt change - the death of trees and the celebration of many endings.
To Autumn, a poem by John Keats, sums up the autumn feeling so vividly:
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,-
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
Autumn is a beautiful and striking season, but it's also a very sad season. We realize the year is coming to an end, that summers are long gone and we're only weeks away from the brutal snow and winter.
Life throughout much of this earth begins to slowly disappear. Animals hibernate, birds fly south, the trees lose their leaves and the lush green turns to brown. Eventually, it's all covered by white powder and it remains that way for many months until, without warning, the first bud begins to bloom again on the tree and the late-winter sun slowly begins to melt away the snow until, eventually, spring has sprung and life returns.
This world of ours is ever changing and yet, there remains one constant: spring will come, life will be reborn.
It does not matter how cold the fall nights may seem or how harsh the winters become, it is only temporary. And just like that, it's summer again.
Saturday night was the fall of Utah football. It was an abrupt and unwelcome change. Maybe we should have expected it, but it seems autumn and winter catch us all off guard in one way or another, no matter how many times we've experienced it.
Fortunately, even if that change is not welcomed and fraught with peril, it still marks a new beginning. You don't just pack it in once October rolls around. You change your clothes, you unpack your coats and pants and readjust your daily routine to work with the changing season. But you carry on as if nothing ultimately has changed.
This is Utah's season now. Things are not perfect and I'm not going to pretend they are. However, the season must go on, the games must be played. There is no luxury of postponing this year solely because of struggle.
Just as our lives go on when autumn rolls around and then quickly turns to winter, even if, on those nasty snowy days, we want to do nothing more than just lie in our beds and watch the falling snow from underneath the comfort of our blankets.
But we adapt and adjust to those changes. Utah football is now doing that. Jon Hays, a junior college transfer, is now the Utes' starter and could be throughout all of autumn and maybe into winter.
Hopefully, he's ready for his new role and can lead the Utes to surprising success. Even if he doesn't, and this season is filled with ups and downs and ugly losses and potentially a losing season, we can't forget that, down the road, we'll see spring again. There will be new life, new hope and a new season to do everything we expected this year.
Maybe that happens this season. Maybe our change, our autumn, is only temporary. But even if it isn't, even if things get ugly and we start second guessing the team, the coaches and even ourselves, we've got to remember that at the deepest point of winter, it's hard to imagine 90 degrees and total sunshine.
But it always returns.