We are now just 10 days away from when, as the great Al Ciraldo used to say: “Toe Meets Leather.” So what did we learn over the weekend?
If I’m an Alabama fan, I’m about to explode: There have been rumors all summer that something was going on with Alabama football players Julio Jones and running back Mark Ingram. Now we know what because of the reporting by Kevin Scarbinsky of the Birmingham News. The NCAA is looking into a fishing trip that the sophomores took with a 56-year-old man who, the school claims and the man claims, has absolutely no connection with the University of Alabama. Alabama claims that Jones had a previous relationship with the man from his days of growing up in Foley, Ala. So when he and Ingram were invited on the trip, Jones accepted an offer from a friend.
If there is no Alabama connection with the man in question, then why is it a story?
It’s a story because Alabama has had to spend four months looking into it. It’s a story because Alabama is currently appealing an NCAA ruling that it must vacate 21 wins because players improperly received textbooks. It’s a story because Alabama has received its third NCAA sanction in a little more than a decade. So anything that could even be remotely construed as a possible violation, Alabama is going to get to the bottom of it first and, by definition, it is a story.
But when you talk to Alabama fans, this is the real story: They want to know why their name keeps routinely coming up in the NCAA rinse cycle while the investigation into the football program at Southern California has now been going on for roughly 37 years. Okay, that is a slight exaggeration. Actually it was April of 2006 when it was first reported that the NCAA was investigating allegations that running back Reggie Bush, the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner, and his family had received all kinds of benefits that would violate NCAA rules. It just seems like it’s been 37 years that the Reggie Bush investigation has been going on. When is the thing going to get resolved?
South Carolina needs a curfew: Joe Person of the The State newspaper reports that junior defensive end Clifton Geathers, projected to be a starter, was arrested at 3:10 a.m. Sunday and charged with resisting arrest and public drunkenness.
In an unrelated matter, campus police were called to a dorm at 4:30 a.m. Sunday when freshman running back Jarvis Giles was having a “misunderstanding” with a female student.
Are you serious? Ten days before the first game at N.C. State?
Now we know why Steve Spurrier is frustrated. He’s got guys who aren’t serious about winning.
Do you actually have to tell a college football player that he shouldn’t be out at 4:30 in the morning when the first game is less than two weeks away?
Tebow doesn’t need the practice: I was with some friends on Saturday when my Blackberry caught on fire. Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, favored to lead Florida to its third national championship in four years, was held out of contact drills during practice on Saturday.
I heard from some Gator friends who sounded breathless with worry. I talked to some fans of other SEC schools who began their sentence with “I hope it’s not true but…..”
Everybody needs to relax. Urban Meyer learned in 2007, the season that Tebow won the Heisman Trophy but really got beat up in the process, that he has to be proactive in keeping his quarterback as fresh as possible. This will not be the last heavy practice he’ll miss. I think we can safely say that he knows the offense. He does need to save the wear and tear on his body. It’s a long season.
Your national champion will come from the following teams: Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Southern California. I’ve looked at every college football preseason poll out there, from the AP media poll (which was released on Saturday) to Better Homes and Gardens. Every one of them has the same four teams in some kind of order: Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Southern California. There is a gap between those four teams and the rest of Division I-A and so I believe your BCS championship game in Pasadena will come from that group.
But I was reminded again this weekend of how tough it is to go wire-to-wire at No. 1. It’s only happened 10 times since the AP Poll was created in 1934. I thought Miami was a lock in 2002 when the Hurricanes ran the table but lost in the BCS championship to Ohio State. I thought USC was a double-platinum dead bolt lock in 2005 with Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush. But Vince Young and Texas had other ideas.
Can a team outside of those four make it to the big game? To me, that’s the No. 1 story line of the 2009 season. Who would your pick be?
Beware of Marques Ivory: Georgia Tech fans may have smiled a little bit when they learned that Ryan Perrilloux, the starting quarterback at Jacksonville State, has been suspended for the opening game with the Yellow Jackets on Sept. 5. Perrilloux, who was kicked off the LSU team before the 2008 season, violated team rules. Understand that part of the deal Perrilloux made with head coach Jack Crowe to come to Jax State was that if he violated specific rules, there would be no margin for error. But it looks to be a one-game suspension.
So the quarterback for the Gamecocks will be sophomore Marques Ivory, who will be getting his first career start as a college player. It should be noted that Ivory, a healthy 6-1, 235, never lost a high school game as a starter for Conrad Nix at Northside of Warner Robins. He had a string of 30 straight wins with two state championships.
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