It was quite an eventful weekend on the college football front. So what did we learn?
**–So much for this summer’s UGA quarterback debate: What was going to be a raging quarterback debate throughout the summer—Aaron Murray vs. Zach Mettenberger—ended on Sunday when head coach Mark Richt announced that Mettenberger has been dismissed from the team. Mettenberger was already facing a minimum one-game suspension because of an arrest on alcohol-related charges earlier this Spring. Sports Information Director Claude Felton told the AJC’s Tim Tucker that there was not a new incident involving Mettenberger. It’s very unfortunate and we wish the young man well.
I said in this space last week that I thought Murray, the redshirt freshman from Tampa, would be the starter because I thought he was a more complete quarterback. But Mettenberger could have helped provide a change of pace because of his arm strength. Logan Gray is a splendid athlete but not an every down quarterback. And please, let’s don’t talk about a true freshman who comes in this summer (Hutson Mason from Marietta) being the guy when Georgia goes to South Carolina on Sept. 11. Murray is the guy. Coach him up. Keep him healthy. Georgia can win with Murray if the offensive line does its job.
Secondly, is there anybody out there who STILL thinks Mark Richt isn’t tough enough for this job? This is the second guy Richt has kicked off the team this spring (OLB Montez Robinson was the first). If this doesn’t send a message, I don’t know what does.
Reasonable people can disagree on how well Georgia was coached last season. I happen to think Georgia wasn’t well coached in some areas because they committed too many turnovers and penalties. But it had nothing to do with Richt’s toughness or lack thereof. So can we put that silly argument to bed?
**–This week could change the face of college football—forever. By Wednesday the Big Ten’s expansion plans may be known to everybody. On Sunday Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany met in Washington, D.C., with some of his presidents who were in town for the Association of American Universities (AAU) meeting. That is an organization of 62 top academic institutions of which all 11 Big Ten schools are members. The Chicago Tribune reported Sunday that Delany would use that opportunity to discuss expansion.
On Tuesday Delany travels to the annual BCS Meetings in Phoenix where all 11 conference commissioners will gather. The Big Ten has already said publicly that it will tell the commissioners in advance if they plan to discuss joining the Big Ten with one of their members. So it is not unreasonable to suggest that if some decisions are made on the expansion front, Delany will inform his fellow commissioners this week.
Then the fun begins.
Back on April 5 we told you that among the Big Ten’s ideas on expansion is the possibility of going to 16 teams. That option is still on the table.
Buckle up boys and girls. This summer could be a bumpy ride.
**–Logically, Alabama should not be your preseason No. 1. But……..I spent an entire day in Tuscaloosa last week and talked to a lot of coaches and players and folks involved in the Alabama football program. I came away thinking that Alabama was going to be really, really good again but that logically they should not be my preseason No.1. How can a team that lost NINE starters on defense (including its projected top eight of nine guys in the secondary) be No. 1 before the season starts?
But my friend Andy Staples at SI.com made this point after Saturday’s A-Day game and I agree with it. There is simply not going to be a talent drop off on the Alabama defense.
There are so many guys on defense who have played a lot of football.
Yeah, Rolando McClain is gone but I spent some time with his replacement, Dont’a Hightower. Young Mr. Hightower is every bit of 260 pounds and can run like the wind.
People are talking about losing the defensive front, which included Terrence “Mount” Cody but Josh Chapman and Kerry Murphy are both great players and DE Marcel Dareus is a beast (in the most positive since of the word) who cannot be blocked.
There are good players on defense who must be coached up into a unit. I think Nick Saban and Kirby Smart have proven they can do that.
If ‘Bama’s not No. 1, then who is?
**–While there will be no quarterback debate at Georgia this summer, there will certainly be one at Tennessee: When Nick Stephens, the only quarterback who has played in a game for Tennessee, decided to leave midway through Spring practice it looked like JUCO transfer Matt Simms would move into the lead. But Simms has been struggling, first in a scrimmage two weeks ago and then Saturday when he threw three interceptions in the Orange and White game. True freshman Tyler Bray, who enrolled last January, showed a lively arm and threw 40 passes (completing 18) without an interception.
You can never read too much into a Spring game, especially for quarterbacks. But that won’t stop the discussion of Simms vs. Bray this summer on old Rocky Top. Simms has at least played college football at Louisville and at El Camino (Calif.) Community College. It’s hard to believe that a true freshman would start the first game against UT Martin on Sept. 4 with games coming up against Oregon, Florida, LSU, Georgia, and Alabama in six-week span after that.
Stay tuned. Off to Auburn today as my annual Spring football tour comes to a close. See you Tuesday.
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