It’s another Fabulous Friday. Training camp has started and we are less than four weeks away from the start of the season. It can’t get here quickly enough for me.
As always, the floor is open for any topic, even those that aren’t football related. Just keep it clean.
Here are five topics to get things started today:
1. Did Twitter kill open practices? Word came this week that both Florida and Georgia Tech, whose practices have always been open, are now closed to everyone–even the media. I hate to see that because I still like going to practice. But I understand why they are doing it.
Brady Ackerman, one of my broadcast partners on “Talkin’ Football” on CSS, told the story of why Mack Brown at Texas had to close practice: A Texas player gets hurt at practice. The normal protocol for reporters on something like that is to wait until the end of practice and then consult with the coaches and training staff for an assessment of the injury. But with Twitter and Facebook and instant communications there seem to be no rules. The information was on the internet before practice was over and Brown had had a chance to contact the parents of the player. That shouldn’t happen and so practice was closed.
It’s not good for the fans to only get the school’s version of what happened at practice. But if I was a coach I would either ban cell phones at practice or close it. Coaches are practical people and know that the easy thing is just to close practice and eliminate the problem.
2. Will Marvin Austin play against LSU? Will Marcell Dareus play against Penn State? To me those are the most compelling questions of the preseason. Both players were reportedly investigated for improper contact with agents. North Carolina athletics director Dick Baddour said investigators were back on campus this week and I can’t believe that is good for Austin. Dareus is practicing and this week coach Nick Saban said the school has completed its investigation and turned its findings over to the NCAA.
Normally in these kinds of cases the player pays restitution for whatever benefit he received plus a one or two game suspension. I would be surprised if that doesn’t happen here.
If Austin is suspended one game he’ll miss the Sept. 4 opener with LSU at the Georgia Dome. If Dareus is suspended two games, he’ll miss the Sept. 11 showdown with Penn State in Tuscaloosa. Both will be missed if that happens.
3. Time to show Stephen Garcia a little love: The South Carolina quarterback has gotten a pretty good verbal beating from head coach Steve Spurrier since Spring practice. Spurrier has since told Garcia that he was just trying to light a fire under the senior quarterback. Apparently it worked. Garcia reported to camp about 10 pounds lighter and told reporters that he had given up his favorite adult beverage in an effort to get into shape. I would say that pretty soon it will be time for Spurrier to show Garcia some love and to build him back up for the season. The great ones, like Bear Bryant, knew how to do that. Bryant knew how to rip a player for an entire practice and when it was over, he would put his arm around that same player and say something like: “You know that I’m just doing this because I love you and I want you to be a good player.” It worked.
Garcia is the best that Spurrier has and he gives the Gamecocks a chance. Of course, Garcia has to prove that he deserves a pat on the back instead of a kick in the butt.
4. Big Ten needs to keep championship game in Indy: The Big Ten announced this week that its first conference championship game will be in 2011 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. After that, said commissioner Jim Delany, the Big Ten will look at a long range plan for the championship.
A little advice to our friends in the Big Ten: Don’t make the same mistake that the Big 12 and the ACC made by moving the game around. Pick a home and keep it there. There is something to be said for every team in your conference starting the season with the goal of getting to Indianapolis. The Big Ten knows that their biggest rivalry is the SEC when it comes to college football supremacy. The SEC championship game has been in Atlanta since 1994 for a reason. Indy is a great town with everything within walking distance of the stadium.
5. NCAA is investigating West Virginia. That can’t be good for Rich Rod: The NCAA gave West Virginia official notice yesterday that it is looking into five possible major rules violations under former coach Rich Rodriguez (now at Michigan) and current coach Bill Stewart. In its report, the NCAA said that Rodriguez and Stewart “failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance.” That, my friends, is one of the magic phrases for NCAA investigators. The other is “lack of institutional control.” Both mean the same thing: “You are running a pretty loose ship here and we’re looking into it.”
Rich Rod has the same issues at Michigan, where the school had to admit that it had violated rules on excessive practices.
Rodriguez was already under the gun at Michigan before the West Virginia investigation. This cannot help.
Have a great weekend.
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