Hope everybody had a great Christmas! So what did we miss while we were gone spreading the Holiday cheer? Where in the world do you start?
1. Ohio State’s players aren’t stupid, but they are selfish: So a bunch of Ohio State players, including quarterback Terrelle Pryor, will miss the first five games of the 2011 season because they sold and exchanged stuff for money and services. That’s a pretty stiff penalty and it’s likely a bunch of those guys will just turn pro and never serve the suspension. But please spare me the hand wringing and the gnashing of teeth about how the system is unfair. Two points:
**–It is an unfair system, yadda, yadda, yadda: We know that. We have always known that. There is a reasonable argument to be made that athletes should be able to generate some kind of income based on what they do and the value they provide to the school. But you don’t get to break the rule and THEN make the argument. Then all you’re doing is trying to rationalize behavior that has hurt the team to cover your own butt. Sometimes in life you have to be selfish. But admit that you did it for selfish reasons. Admit that you wanted the money or needed the money or felt you DESERVED the money. Then accept the consequences and move on.
**–I do not want to hear another adult say that the kids didn’t know the rules. Gene Smith is the athletics director at Ohio State. I have great deal respect for him and consider him to be a friend. But I can’t listen to another adult attribute rules breaking to a lack of knowledge of the rules.
Again, there is a good argument to be made about the validity and the fairness of the rule but here’s the deal. My mother just turned 78 years old and she knows a player can’t sell a jersey why he’s still in school. If you let these guys play in the Sugar Bowl because you don’t want to hurt a multi-million dollar game at this late date, then just say so. If the players thought the rule was stupid and felt they deserved something more because of their status, then just say so. But don’t plead ignorance. It just doesn’t fly any more.
2. Will Georgia Tech run out of bodies against Air Force? Here is another reason why I could not be a coach. Georgia Tech was already short-handed on defense for today’s Independence Bowl with Air Force. Two starters and a reserve on defense were suspended last week for academic reasons. Now comes word that three more defensive players will have to sit out the first half of the game for missing curfew Friday night. Now Shreveport is a friendly town. My CBS buddy Tim Brando could live anywhere and he chose Shreveport as the place to raise his family. It’s a great place. But guys. You miss curfew in Shreveport? Seriously?
3. Is Caleb King destined to become another Patrick Pass? We learn today from Tim Tucker that Georgia running back Caleb King will miss Friday’s Liberty Bowl because he missed five “academic appointments.” I assume that is going to class or study hall. This marks the third game this season that King has missed on suspension. So now Georgia has a running back of modest (at best) ability, who can’t be bothered to do the academic side of his commitment after being suspended once already this season. There have been a lot of great running backs to come through Georgia. There have also been a bunch of running backs who arrived in Athens with excessive hype and very average hearts. Caleb King is starting to look like the latter.
4. The coaching carousel sure did get quiet: With much fanfare Florida hired Will Muschamp as its head coach on Dec. 4. Speculation immediately began that Muschamp would tap Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, his friend and also a former Georgia player, as his new DC. Then it got quiet and it looks like we won’t know anything until after the Jan. 1 bowls. Understand that everybody in the business is waiting for Muschamp to make his move. Then the ripple effect will start through the rest of the coaching fraternity. I wonder if Florida has a rule about the number of Georgia graduates the Gators can have on their staff?
5. Best rumor of the Holiday season: Jim Tressel to leave Ohio State: Something called ChicagoNow.com reported that Jim Tressel would be leaving as Ohio State’s coach after the Sugar Bowl game with Arkansas on Jan. 4. The website said that the Buckeyes recruits had been told that Tressel was leaving and that they should look elsewhere. Ohio State had to respond to knock down the rumors. Two things:
**–If the head coach at a place like Ohio State is going to leave suddenly, the recruits will be the LAST people to know because the school wants to try and hold the class together.
**–Could it possibly be that opposing recruiters were telling players that Tressel was going to leave hoping that somebody would pick up a rumor with no factual basis but run it anyway? Mission accomplished I guess.
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