It is fitting that a made-up story about a Southern California football team captain jumping from a second-floor balcony to rescue his drowning 7-year-old nephew is kicking off the 2014 college football season.
I have the feeling it's going to be that kind of a year.
Jameis Winston is back. Johnny Manziel is not. Braxton Miller wanted to be but couldn't. The SEC is reloading after being denied a national title following a run of seven in a row. The Big Ten now stretches from the Atlantic Ocean almost to the foothills of the Rockies. Oh, and there's going to be an honest-to-goodness college football playoff, which will be cloaked in mystery and might settle almost nothing.
USC senior cornerback Josh Shaw is no Manti Te'o on the mythology meter, at least not yet, but he and his rescue story have become quite a distraction as the school's season opener with Fresno State approaches.
For that, USC in part has itself to blame. A number of athletic department officialsexpressed skepticism after talking to Shaw about his alleged leap of heroism last Saturday, yet they inexplicably went ahead and issued a news release on Monday trumpeting his tale.
On Tuesday, USC acknowledged there were questions about his story, and Shaw admitted Wednesday that he made it all up. In a statement through an attorney, Shaw now says he simply sprained both ankles in a fall, no rescue attached. He has been suspended indefinitely.
"We are extremely disappointed in Josh. He let us all down," said first-year coach Steve Sarkisian, who must just be thrilled that this is how he's kicking off his USC head coaching career.
No one at the school can be happy about this turn of ankles and events. After extraditing Pete Carroll to the NFL and Lane Kiffin to Nick Saban's watchful glare, one might have thought they had turned the proverbial corner. But no.
They, and we, might as well get used to it. This is just the way the college football season should begin, with all of us trying to separate fact from fiction, lie from legend, known from unknown. And it prepares us so well specifically for Oct. 28, the most important day of the season.
A Tuesday in October? Yes, that's the day the committee of 13 college football executives, former executives, observers, famous football fathers and a former Secretary of State — also known as the College Football Playoff selection committee — reveals its first weekly Top 25 rankings.
Think about this: With the BCS, which pretty much everyone despised, there was at least some sense of what the rankings would look like, knowing as we did that they were based on the polls and computer rankings that we saw every week.
This season, we still will have polls and computers, but we have no idea exactly how, if at all, they will be used by the committee. For eight weeks, games will be played and assumptions will be made, but the committee will remain silent.
Then, voila! A first-ever ranking of the Top 25 teams, with the top four eventually making the playoff.
What if the committee and the polls don't agree? What if the SEC commands the top four spots? What if it doesn't? What if geographic balance seems to be part of the committee's calculation? What if there appears to be a bias toward a particular committee member's school?
Can't you hear the screaming, even now?
So, here we go. We're off and running on the best and craziest time of the sports year. Or perhaps I should say we're off and jumping.