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Sacco Sez: Football is back

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The world of football went from the quiet of June and early July to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game and inductions, and now to a full slate of games for all NFL teams this week.

But it is not just that the Denver Broncos are in Minnesota to practice with and play the Minnesota Vikings.

There are 765 colleges and universities offering football this fall, and six schools will kick off their inaugural seasons within the next few weeks, including one program that features a former Broncos assistant as its head coach.

The six programs launching in 2021 include Bluefield State College (in Bluefield, West Virginia). The school is an NCAA Division II Independent, and former Denver assistant special teams coach Tony Coaxum is the head coach.

Also kicking off for the first time are Judson University (in Elgin, Illinois), Keystone College (La Plume, Pennsylvania), Lincoln University (Oakland, California), Mount Marty University (Yankton, South Dakota), and Post University (Waterbury, Connecticut).

Former Bronco quarterback Peyton Manning is as great a proponent of the game as there is, and his father Archie Manning is chairman of the National Football Foundation.

"With more than one million high school students playing football and more than 93,000 spots on college teams, there is plenty of room for expansion," Archie said in a statement. "Many of these colleges clearly recognize that football can play an important role in encouraging students to continue their educations by enticing them to enroll."

I have known NFF president and CEO Steve Hatchell since he was a young assistant SID at the University of Colorado in the early 1970s, and Hatchell said, "No other sport contributes more to the vibrancy of a college campus than football, and we are very pleased to highlight those schools that have added our great game. University and college presidents clearly see the value of having programs on their campuses, and we applaud them for understanding the role football can play in the educational experience of their students."

Led by head coach and former Bronco Tony Coaxum, the Big Blue of Bluefield State will play their first game at home on Saturday, Sept. 4 vs. Lawrence Tech (MI).

"Coach Coaxum and his staff have done an incredible job of pulling off the near-impossible. They found the players and the opponents to make a season in less than six months," Bluefield State athletics director Derrick Price said earlier this year.

For the first time in 40 years, Bluefield State will field a football team this fall as one of 12 new sports in its athletics department.

"Tony Coaxum and his staff know how important football is to our alumni, what it means to re-start a tradition that already includes two national championships," Price said.

When Peyton Manning gave his induction speech at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he passionately extolled the value of football and talked of growing the game.

Certainly, adding programs where there were none before, or none for several decades, is proof positive of the value of football at all levels.

My best wishes to Tony Coaxum and the other coaches and players who soon will kick off first-time football seasons at their college institutions.

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