Cavalcade of Whimsy
Preseason ... Sept. 8
Season | Sept.
1, Part 1 |
- Part 2
Sorry if this column sucks, it's not my fault … Before I got underway, the NCAA forced me to walk across the field to shake hands and make nice-nice when all I wanted to do was crush and kill the column and get off to a hot start.
"Come on, y'all, we were all Cougars once. We're getting our butts kicked over there. I for one have had enough of this dang lawyer-ball. Haven't you?" … Yeah, no one wants the players to be a bunch of weenies, but to have a forced handshake and exchange of pleasantries before the game in a contrived initiative is ridiculous. During halftime, maybe the players can all have orange slices and juice boxes, and if everyone plays really hard and has fun, no matter what the final score is, maybe they can all go to Chuck E. Cheese after the game. And why? Because they're all winners!
NCAA, you want to really teach life lessons and what the real world is all about? Scrap the sportsmanship crap, line up both teams, and have LeGarrette Blount go down the row clocking each player dead in the face.
And it makes you look like Byron Hout when you're done … Before last Thursday night, a LeGarrette Blount was only known as something Snoop Dogg used to take his show to a whole other level. Sorry. I get three of those a year.
"Back home, they would've put me in jail for what I'm doing. But out here, they're giving me awards." … No, no, no, no, no. You should all know better. Blount's punch will do absolutely nothing to his NFL draft stock. There might be a clause or three in the contract, but will he slide because of it? Did Lawrence Phillips get selected with the No. 6 overall pick? Do you really think the NFL cares one lick about a superstar prospect punching another guy in the face? A football player is too aggressive and too angry? Oh no, we can't have that. Not in the NFL.
In fact, the suspension is the best thing that could happen to Blount's career. An almost certain top 50 pick before the incident, now he can avoid getting hurt by not unnecessarily playing another year of college football, he can hire an agent, and he can spend the next six months working out and getting himself into NFL Combine shape, as opposed to the other top prospects who'll be on a six-week crash course following the season. And then there's the spin control. We all know exactly what he'll say in interviews in Indianapolis once he's coached up by his representatives.
"It was a one-time thing and I truly and deeply regret doing it. The adversity has made me a changed man and has forced me to grow up and be accountable for all of my actions as they affect not just myself, but my team, my family, and everyone I love. I promise you; I'll never let you down, and I'll do everything I can to be the best player I can on the field, and a role model off of it. I promise to be someone your franchise can be proud of."
And the teams will eat it up.
Before the draft, Andre Smith couldn't have done more to sabotage his own career if he had worn a T-shirt five sizes too small, so that his Erin Andrews-like boobies would be front-and-center, saying BIG BUST. But Cincinnati (who, by the way, couldn't look more amateur hour in the Hard Knocks series) took him with the sixth pick in the draft and threw him a contract worth $42 million even though he was about 50 pounds overweight. Do you really think someone is going to care about a punch?
Take a look at all the NFL talent getting hurt in the first week of the season. Sam Bradford has the shoulder problem, Oklahoma TE Jermaine Gresham has a knee injury, Oklahoma State OT Russell Okung got dinged up, Ole Miss DE Greg Hardy got his knee banged, and Georgia OT Trinton Sturdivant is out for the year with his second torn ACL. Illinois WR Arrelious Benn left early in the first series with an ankle injury. In those six guys alone there's over $100 million in NFL contracts, and it's probably closer to a quarter-billion dollars, and they're needlessly taking chances with their lives and their futures.
So if you're LeGarrette Blount, you say thanks to Oregon for letting you be a student and allowing you to stay on the team to practice, and then you pack your bags, go to Florida to work out at one of those all-star training camps that improve your 40-time, your bench, and your fast-twitch muscles, and you go on about the business of becoming a millionaire.
Now about those uniforms … Kudos to Oregon for handling the Blount situation as smoothly and as easily as possible. There were no panels, no committees, and no hemming and hawing in an attempt to stretch out the situation to see if there was any way to keep a superior talent on the team in a desperate time. This was a blueprint of how to take control and to keep the integrity of the school and the football program intact. There aren't many other big-time programs that would've handled this so cleanly.
"This is the key shot ...shot from the front and right. Totally inconsistent with the shot from the Depository. Again. Back, and to the left. Back, and to the left. Back, and to the left."
… Along with Blount's suspension there's a cry for the instigator, Boise State's Byron Hout, to also be disciplined. Bronco head coach Chris Petersen said it'll be handled internally, which will probably mean bringing the team in a room and showing Hout getting knocked out over and over again. Being known for the rest of his life as the guy who got tagged with the most perfect punch ever thrown is punishment enough.
"Well as you may or may not know, this is an important film for me. If it's not a hit, I'm gonna get kicked out of my apartment. My landlord is a real jerk." … Just when I was about to launch into this whole blurb about how a pair of excellent new glasses has taken ESPN's Wendi Nix to a new level, and with them, the halftime studio thing she does with Jesse Palmer
now looks like the dialogue formality before a key
scene in some high-end skinner, she fires out this gem, asking The Bachelor:
"Sam Bradford doesn't need to have surgery. How big is that?"
Uh, it's not big at all. Losing a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback who might be the first pick in the 2010 NFL Draft shouldn't really matter much to a team that … OF COURSE IT'S BIG. It's not like this was a four-hour radio show or even an on-the-fly GameDay pregame program that can afford a wasted, leading question. This is a two-minute, cut-to-the-studio segment that should have everything scripted to such a tight level that it provides the potential for real insight and analysis on the situation. An analyst is only as strong as the lead-in question, and there was nothing intelligent that Palmer could do with that.
"The only thing I've got going for me is this body, this face, and what I got up here." … For those of you who aren't Peg Bundy, there's a big whooptee-do going on this week over Bag Of Gas Illustrated's Gasbag Of The Year, Oprah, and her dopey anniversary show that's closing down Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago for a few days. Part of the excitement surrounding the egomaniacal celebration of all things O involves a locked box in a storefront window that will be opened during the taping of the show. CFN has a source who said that inside are the questions for the exclusive September 11th interview with ESPN sideline personality, Erin Andrews, about being secretly taped while naked in a Nebraska hotel room. Like the late Bill Walsh scripting his first 20 plays, Oprah has her first ten questions figured out beforehand and doesn't alter them. She wants to set the tone.
Oprah's First Ten Questions For Erin Andrews
1. How's my hair?
2. Mine are big, too. Do they make me qualified to be a good sideline reporter?
3. Sam Bradford doesn't need to have surgery. How big is that?
4. Is it rhinoplasty or rhinaplasty?
5. No, really, my hair … isn't it fabulous?
6. Is Playboy out of the picture now that everyone has had the milk for free?
7. Have you felt that people don't respect you as much after the incident, Eric? Wha? Erin? Okay, but this drink isn't going to make itself colder. And the round cubes this time. Any more square ones and you can take your perky butt to Dr. Phil.
8. Don't you just hate that spunky-smug Elisabeth Hasselbeck?
9. How much of a difference is there between a criminally perverted male secretly taping you in a hotel and the legions of ultra-creepy pervs that 1) watched it, 2) are your fan base, 3) have made you relevant, and 4) watched it again?
10. Alright, I'm done with this. Are there any underprivileged people in the crowd I can exploit so my show can make more money?
And then I'll put her on Toddlers and Tiaras … In an effort to be a good parent and give my kids all the advantages possible, starting tomorrow I'm going Marv Marinovich on my five-year-old daughter to try to make her into the perfect sideline reporter prospect. She has the basic tools when it comes to looks and a love of hearing herself talk, and now I have to harness her talents and carve out her future.
From here on, I'm going to demand that she starts out every question with, "I've gotta ask you." I'll have her learn the art of wearing the color that looks good wet. I'll teach her how to ask simple questions, while jogging, to a head coach who just wants to get into the locker room to throw a whiz and yell at his team. I'll teach her how to say that she has no freaking idea how bad an injury is, and that no one will give her any information, in a 14-second quip. And most of all, I'll teach her how to deal with cynical, potshot-taking asshats like me when all she's trying to do is break into a business that's next to impossible for women to shine in without being viewed as an object.
"It's all ball-bearings nowadays. Prepare that valve with some 2-and-1 oil and some gauze pads." … All of a sudden, everyone has become Dr. James Andrews when it comes to Sam Bradford.
"Bradford has a sprained AC joint that's either a grade two or a grade three …," is the common starting point when the OU quarterback's injury gets analyzed, and it's always said with such conviction, as if it's common knowledge that everyone, including the person saying it, has any clue what it means. You could say it's the bypass line and it needs to be replaced by a Johnson Rod and no one would be any wiser. Basically, Bradford can't screw up his shoulder any further, and from here on it's a pain thing. It's not just some type of be-a-man, take-the-pain injury; it's at a whole other level, but he can eventually play through it if he gets "the shot" before a game. In other words, he'll be back for the Texas showdown.
The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength
The ten aspects of the college football world that have disappointed, demoralized, depressed, or flat-out annoyed me after week one.
10. Boise State and BYU fans
After an offseason of hearing from every Utah fan on the planet about how the Utes should've won the national title last season, I'm not sure I'm ready for the screaming and yelling that'll inevitably ensue as the season goes on if and when Boise State and BYU keep on rolling. Boise State needs to get into a better conference. It's simply too hard to give too much respect to the Broncos when they play a one-game schedule, but BYU is a whole other issue. I spent the better part of 2001 jawing back and forth with Cougar fans about how their team wasn't all that great despite a 12-0 start. Yeah, BYU was cranking out 50 points a game, but they also failed to play a team with a pulse. And then came the 72-45 loss to Hawaii, and that ended that little bit of fun (but to be fair, many of the BYUers who spent the better part of two months hurling insults were gracious after the crushing loss). This is different; this team is actually good. Unlike 2001, it'll be hard not to put BYU into the national title debate if it beats Oklahoma, Florida State, Utah, TCU, and yeah, I said it, Colorado State and Air Force. Oh, this will be interesting.
9. INSERT DEFENSIVE PLAYER HERE For Heisman
Are Tennessee's Eric Berry and USC's Taylor Mays the two best players in America? A case could be made that they are, and the NFL will be glad to give them each gobs of money next year around this time, but they have no chance to win the Heisman, and no, it's not my fault. I'm getting way too many Vol and Trojan fans yelling at me to pump up their stars more in the Heisman chase, but it's futile. Charles Woodson won the Heisman because he returned kicks, played a little wide receiver, and made every big interception needed in every big game to lead the Wolverines to the national title. Mays and Berry, as great as they are, don't have Heisman potential. If you have to wonder why, then you haven't been following the history of the award.
8. Speaking of Oprah …
It's a go-to, throwaway line that everyone uses, guilty as charged, to the point of losing its meaning. At least once a game, some analyst will say, "that hole is so big that you could've run through it." And then, the play-by-play guy says the obligatory self-deprecating remarks about how he's so old and athletically sad that he couldn't have made the run, and then everyone has a forced chuckle before going on to the next play. However, the line, as goofy as it might be, is actually telling and important. The hole an offensive line creates from time to time really might be so good that anyone with marginal athletic ability can gain a few yards, and that means a back might get credit for some big stats when he really didn't do anything special. For NFL scouting types, it's an important distinction. Can a back make things happen on his own, or does he need a hole to run through, or does he need a little bit of a gap to crank out some yards?
7. And here's a 20. Get a better T-shirt.
Tim Tebow is being mythologized enough already; there's no need to pump up his status any further. Florida didn't win the 2008 national champion because Tebow gave his now-legendary post-game speech after the Ole Miss loss. Everyone at the highest of levels tries hard. Oklahoma tried hard in every game. So did Texas, so did Utah, so did USC, even though the Trojans do tend to take an inexplicable mental siesta once or twice a year. And everyone has a player who yells a lot and tries to get everyone else fired up. There's nothing special about what Tebow does to get his team jacked, and there was certainly nothing about that speech that was the reason the Gators rolled through the rest of the season. They won the national title because they were better than everyone else, and it's an ongoing insult to the rest of the players that they wouldn't have reached their goal unless they were being honked at. Had Tebow played for Utah State, all the yelling and all the rhetoric wouldn't have mattered.
6. Dogging Florida for playing Charleston Southern
Would you have been happier if Florida had whacked New Mexico State 65-3 to start the season? What about Washington State, Indiana, or Duke? There's no reason to get going with the Florida Is The Greatest Team Of All-Time talk yet, but the team is really, really good. It doesn't matter if it's some piker squad from the FCS abyss or if it's anyone outside of the top 20; this Florida team is going to thump everyone on its regular season schedule if LSU keeps playing like it did in Seattle, Georgia keeps playing like it did in Stillwater, and Florida State keeps playing like it did at home against the Canes. That the opening day game was against Chaz South is immaterial.
5. Swine flu
If you're looking for a way Florida can lose this year, this might be it. The H1N1 virus might not be the end-of-days deathblow that some are making it out to be, but it's a big enough issue to make everyone rightly concerned in schools across the country. To be crude enough to put a pandemic into football terms, there will be several upsets this year coming when the better team has half its squad wiped out sick. Washington State and Georgia are just a few teams already affected, and it brings up an interesting moral dilemma; should teams be allowed to play with sick players? Forgetting the fact that the inflicted have to put aside the macho B.S. and need to rest and get better, it's not fair for sick players to potentially tackle, grind, and sweat all over players from another team. This might be the big storyline for college football, along with the rest of the world, come late October.
4. Matt Barkley as a true freshman
Yeah, he's a true freshman. So? Matt Barkley would likely be the best starting quarterback option on around 100 teams, and he's arguably the best NFL quarterback prospect playing college football right now. It's not like Barkley has to put the Trojans on his back and carry them, like he'd have to do if he played at a place that needs some offensive firepower. All he has to do is hand the ball off, use the five days he'll get to work behind the best offensive line in America to find the open man, and let the defense take care of the rest. Don't be shocked if USC is a more even, more complete team because it doesn't plan on relying on the quarterback as much this year.
3. Ohio State struggling with Navy
Ohio State struggles with inferior non-conference opponents every year and many still act surprised. See if this sounds familiar … The Buckeyes play like garbage, the mediocre team has the puck on its stick late in the game with a chance to win, and then some next-level talent makes the one big play needed to pull out the win. Last year it was the close shave against Ohio. Two years ago it was a lackluster effort against Akron. San Diego State almost pulled out a win in 2003, Marshall had a shot in a three-point loss in 2004, and in the national title season of 2002, Cincinnati's Gino Guidugli misfired in the end zone on what would've been a game-winning scoring pass in a 23-19 Buckeye win. People, Ohio State doesn't lose to mediocre teams. Ever. Does it lose to the Navys of the world? No, it gets whacked by the USCs.
2. Sorry our team sucked, it's not my fault …
With all the big injuries that happened this first week, especially at Oklahoma and at Illinois, the common jumping off point for several players and coaches was, "I don't want to make excuses, but … ." And then came the excuse followed by the predictable line about how the team should've stepped up, the team is bigger than just one guy, yada yada yada. If you lost because you didn't have a star player, say it.
Is Oklahoma two points better than it was on Saturday night if Sam Bradford had played the whole game? Good luck finding anyone outside of Provo who doesn't think so, and that's a legitimate excuse. Should Oklahoma have used the ground game more effectively? Should the defense have dropped the hammer on the late BYU scoring drive? Should the coaching staff have done a better job of simultaneously calming the team down while making it believe it could still win? Yes, yes, and yes. But can the team use the loss of a Heisman-winning quarterback as the reason why it lost? Absolutely.
After seeing how the game played out, I don't think Georgia beats Oklahoma State last week if QB Joe Cox was 100%, but he was getting over the flu and looked like he was struggling. That's an excuse. Illinois got blown up by Missouri, but the offense seemed to deflate instantly when it lost heart-and-soul playmaker, Arrelious Benn. That's an excuse. It's fine to make excuses as long as there's a proper adjustment made to try to overcome the problems.
1. Kenny Chesney
It's my all-time favorite T-shirt: Your Favorite Band Sucks. It's true in so many ways, because you probably can't stand about 94% of all musical acts, and even if someone's favorite band is the same as yours, it's almost always for different reasons.
Music is like religion. Whatever works for you, super, but just don't bother everyone else with it. Of course, that goes against one of the basic tenets of most organized religions, and the KISS Army, but the last thing you want to deal with when going about your daily life is to be hit by a crusader knocking on your door, or your kid's Hannah Montana song that won't get out of your head for eight consecutive days. And woe to those who ruin something special by adding bad music to the equation.
And that's why it's so annoying to for ABC and ESPN to force Kenny Chesney and his inoffensive country, or western, or whatever they call it nowadays, "This is our moment" thing that's sure to be played at weddings where a black tie isn't optional. If you like it, great. One of the most wonderful joys in life is to be passionate about a song or a musical artist, but for those of us who cringe at twang and have stopped making the first part of College GameDay appointment television because of the horrific Big and Rich thing that replaced the show's fantastic collegiate-like theme, it ruins the experience. Life is too short for bad music. There needs to be a separation of sports and pop music, and if musical acts are going to be a part of the experience, they need to be more on the periphery.
Random Acts of Nutty … Provocative musings and tidbits to make every woman want you and every man want to be you (or vice versa) a.k.a. things I didn't feel like writing bigger blurbs for.
- Best Unintended Comment/Picture Match of the Week: During the Colorado loss to Colorado State, the analysts were talking about how the game was starting to turn to the Buffs' favor. Just as color commentator Joel Klatt started to talk, the camera focused way too long on a girl spilling out of a tank top while shaking them around, with each becoming an independent prisoner of inertia. Klatt: (pause) "Those are huge momentum shifts."
- This Week's Shelley Long/McLean Stevenson Career Choice Award goes to former Boston College head coach Jeff Jagodzinski, who pursued the New York Jet job when he was told not to, got fired for it, and this week he got canned as the Tampa Bay offensive coordinator.
- Even though he stunk it up in the Ole Miss blowout win over Memphis, Rebel QB Jevan Snead might get my Heisman vote because of the school's promotional tag, "A Need4Snead." (Aw crap. Now I've got Danger Zone playing in my head and I just know it's not going away any time soon.)
- Best Let's-Come-Up-With-Some-Footbally-Sounding-Catchphrase catchphrase of the week: SMU's "All Grit, No Quit." If the supposedly vaunted passing game plays like it did last Saturday, there are other words that could easily fit in there.
C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
1) Overrated: Obama's beer with Gates and Crowley … Underrated: Blount calling Hout to apologize
2) Overrated: Johnny Drama… Underrated: Johnny Drama with a mustache, a.k.a. Purdue head coach Danny Hope
3) Overrated: Notre Dame and Michigan being good again ... Underrated: Notre Dame and Michigan being good again (If you're not a fan of the Irish or Wolverines, and if you're purely a fan of college football, you know exactly what that means.)
4) Overrated: The pro-style offense being used in college ... Underrated: Army head coach Rich Ellerson
5) Overrated: LeGarrette Blount's punch ... Underrated: What I likely would've done had the Comcast representative been in my office instead of on the phone during hour four of my Internet outage on the opening Saturday night of the college football season.
"Do you gamble?"
"Every time I order out."
"Do you speak French?"
"Unfortunately, no, but I do kiss that way." … The three lines this week that appear to be a tad off. I promise, you will never see anyone work harder at trying to get these picks right the rest of this season. God bless. … 1) Notre Dame -3.5 over Michigan, 2) Memphis +1 over Middle Tennessee, 3) Colorado -4 over Toledo
Week 1 Results: 1) Louisiana Tech +12 over Auburn (LOSS, 37-13 Auburn), 2) Utah -20.5 over Utah State (LOSS, 35-17, Utah), 3) Colorado State +11 over Colorado (WIN, 23-17, CSU) … Record So Far: 1-2.
My Heisman ballot this week would be (if the college football season ended right now) … 1. Max Hall, QB BYU, 2) Mark Ingram, RB Alabama, 3) Jacory Harris, QB Miami
Sorry this column sucked, it wasn't my fault … /strong>I managed to spend a little bit of time and a lot of energy paying attention to every game that was played in week one. Every … game. While most of them stunk, it's fantastic to have the buzz and excitement of college football back, and it's fun to get it all going with the fans and readers again. As always, thanks so much for reading my inane ramblings and goofy musings.