Don't worry, I haven't forgotten about Florida. A preview is forthcoming.
But what's also forthcoming is the beginning of the season (kind of) (not really). The NCAA season technically begins this weekend, but there's only about an eighth of a meet happening with minimal coverage, so it doesn't really count. This is largely irritating because of impatience reasons, but at the same time it does provide a nice, calm, relaxing opening to the season during which we can all become acclimated to the new, friendless, 9.825-filled lives we will be living for the next four months without the pressure of 11 meets happening at the same time. Here's the super full schedule:
Friday – 1/3/14
7:30 ET/4:30 PT – UW-La Crosse @ Wisconsin-Oshkosh
Saturday – 1/4/14
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – Ball State @ Illinois State
Sunday – 1/5/14
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – UW-Eau Claire @ Central Michigan
3:00 ET/12:00 PT –  Penn State @ Iowa State
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – Norcal Quint Meet:  Stanford,  Cal, San Jose St., Sacramento State, UC Davis
Under other circumstances, I wouldn't watch Ball State against Illinois State, but let's be honest, I'm probably going to. It's kind of like how US Classic is always the most anticipated meet of the elite season. It's pretty irrelevant in the grand scheme, but we've gone without meets for so long that we devour it like it's Worlds. I'll be around following the scores for the Sunday meets, but I probably won't start the season's live blogging action until next weekend because there's not really enough to say yet.
We're getting so close now, but if the season is sneaking up on you suddenly and you feel you might not be ready, here's a quick checklist so you're sure you've taken care of everything before it begins for realsies.
1) Watch Super Six from last year. Remember where we left off and what gymnastics is.
2) Make sure your subscriptions are in order. Unfortunately, watching meets nowadays requires money, money, money (or at least a cable plan including the Pac-12 Net, which costs money, money, money). Be aware of what you're getting into now. Enjoying NCAA gymnastics is not a free experience.
If you're able, you'll want to subscribe to CBS Sports All-Access on a monthly basis. The subscription is $17.95 per month ($3 more than last year because . . . squint) and will provide access to home meets for teams like Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, Auburn, Minnesota, and a number of other randoms. Note that Alabama's meets are currently listed as subscription-only, not free as they have been in the past. I find it's worth it to subscribe for January, February, and March, but be sure to unsubscribe right at the end of the regular season so you're not charged for months you're not using.
Many, many of the Pac-12 meets are live on TV this year, which is amazing for those of us who have the network but not so much for those who don't. If you don't have the Pac-12 Network as part of a cable plan, I'm afraid you're out of luck for those meets, which include nearly the entire UCLA and Utah home schedules. Don't worry. I'll live blog the hell out of them.
Other teams have school-specific subscriptions because they are, technically speaking, buttheads that think we're made of jewels and servants. But, these can be worth it temporarily in certain cases. Conveniently, all of Florida's good home meets this year are in the same one-month period, so a well-timed, one-month Florida subscription may be a good idea.
Congratulations on spending all your money watching gymnastics.
Over at the college gym board, loyal reader markey has created a master table including all the major meets and where you can watch them. Yes. College gym fans are the best.
3) Check out the 2014 schedule, at least for the top teams, and mark your calendar accordingly.
4) If you're playing college fantasy gymnastics, do a little research on your team's past scoring record on GymInfo so you're prepared to make lineups. Hopefully, your team is not a collective of bars specialists who feel kind of meh about floor, as mine is. So few of my gymnasts are even going near their floor lineups. It's already a problem. If you'd like to check out my rag-tag bunch, my team is BalanceBeamSituation, and I'm in the American Athletic Conference.
5) Enjoy a little code refresher, presented by Gymcastic, if you have not already. Uncle Tim put together some shiny graphics to provide all the info you need to know about routine construction on bars, beam, and floor. There's no discussion of vault because it would just say Yurchenko Full. Goodbye. We get the picture on that one.
6) Remember to have lots of cake around. Sometimes when people get 9.950s for yucky routines, cake makes it all go away.
7) Because you need to, always.
8) Remember when you were in school or the like, and you would be given lists of things to pack for various events or class trips, and the last item to bring was always "a good attitude," which caused you to set fire to everything around you out of protest?
9) A terrible attitude.