School is out and summer is here (minus the warm temperatures). The calendar shows football months away; however, according to the Farmer’s Almanac, the only thing standing between today and the return of the Cougars is an orange pumpkin.

Local and Googled “green thumbs” say it takes about 100 days for a Utah garden to produce a pumpkin, and with 98 remaining before the Cougars kick off against Southern Illinois, the planting season for both is here and so are the similarities.

As a gardener preps the soil, Kalani Sitake and his staff are cultivating the physical condition of the football team with a detailed plan for exercise, diet, weightlifting and player-led workouts.

Pumpkins follow a development plan, too. The leaves from a planted seed break through the ground in about a week with the vines growing shortly after. Blossoms will appear by early July, and the fruit will show up by the end of the month. The Cougars will show up in late July, too, when they report for fall camp.

The condition of the pumpkin and the player will reflect the due diligence of the grower and the coach.

For pumpkins, the July fight includes a battle with squash bugs, beetles, snails and slugs. According to the USU Extension, they can be combatted with targeted pesticides.

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For BYU, the challenges that bug can be fatigue and a loss of focus. There can also be too much attention given to the outside prognostications of an underwhelming season. If only there was a pesticide for that. Instead, Sitake and his staff can stage a counterattack by fostering a culture of team unity and purpose.

It’s in August that pumpkins show the most growth and evolve into their true colors, just as it will be for BYU. But at this point, the parallel part ways. Pumpkins just sit and grow until the gardener deems them ready for harvest. The Cougars, on the other hand, will be sprinting toward an Aug. 31 deadline when Southern Illinois comes to Provo.

BYU will have much to figure out, especially at the quarterback position, where Jake Retzlaff and Gerry Bohanon are competing for the starting job. There are other starting positions to determine and strategies to perfect.

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In time, both pumpkins and Cougars will be out of time. The growing season will be over and the harvest, whether at the market or LaVell Edwards Stadium, will be indicative of how the summer went.

“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” is a 1966 cartoon that captures the culmination of both worlds when Linus finds a sincere pumpkin patch and Lucy tees up the football for Charlie to kick. Part of what makes those animated moments so timeless is the time it takes for fall to return.

The old proverb that absence makes the heart grow fonder certainly applies to America’s No. 1 spectator sport.

Football season is special and it’s coming, but it shouldn’t travel so quickly as to rob us of visiting a lemonade stand, watching grandkids play baseball, and taking in the summer fireworks. However, if you are looking for an easy way to pass the time, buy a seed and plant a pumpkin — when it’s ready, the Cougars will be ready, too.

Dave McCann is a sports writer and columnist for the Deseret News and is a play-by-play announcer and show host for BYUtv/ESPN+. He co-hosts “Y’s Guys” at ysguys.com and is the author of the children’s book “C is for Cougar,” available at deseretbook.com.