08/29/2012 10:52 am ET Updated Oct 29, 2012

College Football Kick-off: Time for Fans to Support Schools, Athletes

This week kicks off a new college football season, my favorite time of the year. So much hard work and dedication goes into preparing a team for that first game -- the months of working on plays, watching film, and practicing to get ready for that first game. And for the fans, the start of college football brings a renewed pride in their school and the anticipation of tailgating with friends or getting together with old buddies you haven't seen in awhile to cheer on your favorite team.

The 2012 season comes at a time that some may see as a crossroads for the college football community. As we all know, it has been a trying year in college sports. Unfortunately, lost in the negative headlines, is all the good work that has been done and continues to be done by tens of thousands of student athletes and institutions throughout the country. Last month's Olympics in London were a great reminder of the courageous performances of American student-athletes and how athletics can bond a group of people together for a common goal.

I am proud of the student-athletes who I was fortunate to coach -- for their hard work on the field and off. Most student-athletes are well-rounded individuals that desire success far beyond the game and play for the name on the front of the jersey more than the name on the back. There is a lot of good in college sports. Graduation success rates for today's student-athletes are at an all-time high and are generally higher than non-student athletes. The leadership, discipline, and teamwork learned by student-athletes provide life skills that offer a foundation for success in their careers or future aspirations. It is clear that now more than ever we need to stand behind our student athletes and institutions and all their positive contributions to their communities and our country.

Athletics, as we all know, can motivate, strengthen, and unify individuals as well as communities during good and bad times. Intercollegiate athletics represents a tradition, pride, and sense of belonging that surpass ideological differences across all ages. There are more than 173 million college sports fans that represent the most diverse fan base in sports and, beginning this weekend, each fan will be able to showcase school spirit in their own unique way.

College Colors Day on August 31 is a day set aside for college fans to show their school spirit. College fans everywhere should take this day to celebrate their school and the student athletes that give us all a reason to cheer by wearing your school colors with pride. America's hard-working student-athletes and the academic institutions they tirelessly represent would not only appreciate it... they deserve our support.