SAN DIEGO - NOVEMBER 20: The Utah Utes get ready to take the field for the game with the San Diego State Aztecs at Qualcomm Stadium on November 20 2010 in San Diego California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
The wait has not been easy for Ute fans and the excitement level certainly has added to the overall grueling nature of this offseason. However, in only a few hours, Utah will kick off its 118th year of football.
This season, though, is different than the past 117. The Utes will be rewriting conventional wisdom with their 2011 campaign. For years, media pundits have asked themselves whether programs like Utah, Boise State and TCU were good enough to handle the often demanding slate of a BCS conference.
We're about to get that answer.
Though brash, no non-BCS program has influenced the BCS quite like the Utes. They were the first from the outside to bust into the big-time back in 2004 and they were the first to do it a second time back in 2008. Now, from the inside, they get their chance to prove every program belongs - from the WAC on up.
I guess that's the most compelling thing about this season. Utah doesn't have the most to lose here. I believe they will be fine in the long run, regardless of their overall record this season. It's non-automatic qualifying conferences that will suffer the most if the Utes struggle.
So even as a member of a BCS conference, Utah finds itself still paving the way for the little guys. They need the Utes to succeed - to prove to college football that programs from the Mountain West can make the leap with ease.
Those fans might not want to admit it or even accept it, but they've got just as big of a stake in Utah's season as we do.
Fitting, then, that a program like Utah, who blazed the trail for every non-BCS program back in 2004, is still doing it - even as a member of the cartel.
This season is going to be one for the books, folks. I'm sure it's going to have wild swings, hair-pulling performances and nausea-inducing moments. But while history is rarely pretty, it's often very exciting.
Tonight, the Utes will begin to make history of their own.
And I'm ready. Are you?