I remember the first time I ever rode on a roller coaster as a child. It was the Colossus at Lagoon and I only decided to ride it because my cousins were doing it. I was younger than any of them, but I still couldn't pass on something they all would lord over me for years to come.
So I relented, agreed to ride this thing and begrudgingly joined the line.
If you've ever ridden the Colossus, you know that the line wraps around the outside tracks, so you're essentially seeing every car plunge down the massive hill, rip through the two loops and roar within a foot (or it felt, anyway) of your face.
That doesn't help sell the ride to a nervous kid who had never ridden a coaster before in his life.
But I couldn't show my fear because everyone around me was laughing and having a great time. They didn't seem concerned or scared about what awaited them at the front of the line. Any sign of weakness would have certainly resulted in a bit of ribbing from my cousins and even more tension. "Aww, you look scared. You scared? Don't worry, if you die, you won't feel a thing..."
So I threw up a fake smile, nodded at their comments and acted like I wasn't about to lose my lunch.
When we finally got to the front and waited to board the car, I inexplicably found myself at the very front.
I was about to not only ride this sucker for the first time, but I was also going to be at the front of the train.
The cousin I was with, who was quite a bit older, liked the idea. So, trying to be cool, I had to accept my fate.
I was going to die. I just knew it. Once I boarded the car and the latch came down, I knew there was no turning back. This was it. Then we started climbing up the steep hill and I watched as we got closer and closer to the clouds.
Before I could even take in the entire landscape, I was crashing to the ground, flipping upside down and tumbling around the car for only a brief moment before the ride finally came to a halting stop.
All that agonizing and worry over nothing. I remember my first thought when it ended was, 'that was it?'.
You've got to be kidding me. Five minutes prior, I was about to upchuck right there in the line and now I felt like I could conquer anything. Bring on skydiving, baby!
This football season is going to be a lot like my first roller coaster.
I'm not going to lie to you all, I'm pretty nervous about this upcoming season. I honestly don't know what to expect. We've never experienced a BCS schedule before as fans. Even when Utah football was down, you could at least point to a handful of conference games back in the Mountain West and old WAC that you knew the Utes would never lose.
Not anymore, though. There is no gimmie on this conference schedule. Though I think it's unlikely, Utah could manage to go 0-9 in conference play this year. Just as, when I stood in that line prior to riding the roller coaster, I thought about the possibility that I could slip through the latch bar and tumble to my death.
It wasn't going to happen, but then again, I had never ridden this ride before and I was a pretty skinny kid. I maybe weighed 50 pounds soaking wet. So what did I know?
This entire experience was foreign to me. As it is with the Utes this season.
We're all waiting in that line not knowing exactly what to expect. Sure, it could be fun and we might end this whole deal by saying, 'that was it?' - but it's also possible something does go wrong. Maybe not anything devastating like an 0-9 record, but a losing season is possible. More likely than 0-9, right? Just as the ride getting stuck on the way up the first hill is more likely than anything catastrophic.
I'm sure we've all seen that at Lagoon or any amusement park before. Hell, there have been coasters that actually do get stuck upside down. You might not die, but that's something I never want to experience.
So that's what you face waiting in the line for that roller coaster. There is a great chance the ride is going to be exciting and worth the wait and worry. But there is no guarantee.
We're now only a couple days away from the start of that ride. I am more excited today than I've ever been for a Utah season because so much is unknown. But like I said, I'm pretty nervous. I'm hopeful things will turn out, but without a history, my concerns and doubts do get the best of me.
I worry Utah football will struggle. I worry there is a possibility for the program's first losing season in nine years. That stuff won't go away until the actual results on the field make it go away - just as my fears as a kid did not vanish until I went on the ride and successfully made it out alive.
But that's okay. We knew this was not going to be easy when Utah was invited last year. We knew, after their struggles this past season, that things might be a bit sluggish this year. We knew, with no history of playing a BCS conference schedule, that things would be entirely unknown.
That's the risk you take when you make the leap. Utah football is now about to embark on something new and something a bit more riskier than the past few seasons. There is the potential to struggle, but the reward, the rush you might get from this ride, is certainly worth every bit the risk.
And if it isn't, too late, there is no turning back now...