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Celebrate Football Season with EA Sports & RockyTopTalk

July 13.

The offseason is long, and though we've been blessed with coaching changes, an expansion crisis, and a growing tradition of winning in men's basketball to keep the conversation going, for most of us our eyes are on September as soon as the calendar reads January.  The hardest months are May and June, when Bruce and Pat have stepped out of the spotlight, spring football is over, and recruiting is more of a goose chase than ever. 

But in July, something begins to change.  At some point in July, "Are we there yet?" turns into "...we're almost there."  The light at the end of what feels like an endless tunnel gets noticeably brighter.  Soon, we'll trade questions and predictions for actual events to talk about:  SEC Media Days (July 21-23) and the start of fall practice (August 4), which will lead to fall scrimmages, where we'll come closer than ever to having our questions about which quarterback and how many linemen and those freshmen kickers all be answered.  And then a Monday morning will come, on August 30.  And the old familiar habits will return...gameweek.  And the best part about that Monday?  Saturday's only five days away.

For us, the change from frustration to anticipation will take place on July 13.

Next Tuesday, our Rocky Top Tennessee 2010 annual from Maple Street Press hits shelves.  We're all very proud of this thing, and its 128 pages of content will give you everything you need to get ready for fall. 

Next Tuesday also marks the release of EA Sports NCAA Football 11.  The best and only college football video game on the market returns for another year on PlayStation 3 and XBOX 360 consoles, and for those of us who've spent any time with this series in the past, the second Tuesday of July has become a national holiday.  I've already scheduled to take the day off...and I know I'm not alone.

For these and many other reasons, we're thrilled to be partnering with EA Sports all this week to promote not just the game, but the essence of what makes college football great.  For the next five days (starting this morning), EA will be sponsoring a post on our site, where we invite you to share your best memories and stories of why it's great to be a Tennessee Vol. 

We'll have a new topic for discussion every day, and invite all of you - regulars and new folks alike - to join the conversation as we share our stories.  This entire event is centered around the things that make our community great.  EA is also partnering with many of the other SB Nation college sites, where you can check out some of their history and stories this week as well.

As someone who got a copy of Bill Walsh College Football for the Sega Genesis when he was 12 and has thus spent more than half of his life playing every one these games, I'm incredibly excited to be associated with NCAA Football 11.  We'll get you ready for July 13 all week, and hope you enjoy the annual and the game...and when next Tuesday rolls around, it'll only be 53 days til it's Football Time in Tennessee.   

Let's do this.