In case you missed it, the annual college football argument season officially kicked off Saturday when the Associated Press released its opening national rankings.
I’ve never quite grasped why the rankings fuel such vitriol between fan bases. But it’s what gives college football part of its “charm,” I suppose, and some of that would be lost if we had an actual playoff system instead of the BCS, which of course is the basis for a whole different argument.
Speaking of which, I’ve dug up video footage of the very first argument between a Georgia and Georgia Tech fan. The accents have changed a bit through the years, but I’m sure you’ll recognize the same themes. Ready, set, argue! And after that, The Count will guide you through this week’s Countdown.
Me? I’ll be in the corner over here, trying to sip a Grey Goose and pineapple juice without anybody noticing.
The first Georgia vs. Georgia Tech argument
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, who deals with stress much like Mt. Vesuvius dealt with indigestion, is already tightening up as his team nears the opener against Georgia. Gundy has ordered his players into verbal lockdown. They’re not allowed to speak to the media — or, maybe
more accurately, the media can’t speak to the players — for a 10-day period that will end next Monday. It’s an interesting way to try to handle the buildup to the game. The Cowboys have their highest pre-season ranking (No. 9) in history and are playing in a newly renovated stadium. But if Gundy is sending the message to his players that he’s overly concerned about distractions now, what’s he going to be like game week?
You’re not going to believe this. But apparently there are a lot of students on the Oklahoma State campus. Honest. And girls, too! Who knew? Fortunately, the Bulldogs can practice in the relative serenity of Athens, where, of course, nothing goes on and there are only, oh, let’s see — 25,000 undergraduates and I think that many bars. “You’ve got 19,000 students here,” Gundy told the Oklahoman. “You’ve got a lot of cute girls out there. There’s a lot of things going on. Guys have to focus. We’re trying to reel them in. … There’s a lot of distractions right now. Because we can’t keep them in camp. They’re out there on campus.” Oh no. Not campus! Maybe barbed wire fences would help, coach?
No, I’m not going to proclaim Michael Vick must be a degenerate or an alcoholic because he was spotted in a hotel bar sipping a Grey Goose and pineapple juice following his first football practice in two years, according to the New York Post, which I’m assuming has a reporter stationed at every hotel on the East Coast, just waiting for A-Rod. But yeah, I’ll say it: What’s he thinking? I mean, pineapple juice with his vodka and not cranberry juice? What did prison do to this man? And he’s supposed to memorize a playbook? I’m so done with him.
Yeah, it was dumb. When even Tony Dungy, your mentor, your pooh-bah, you’re all-knowing Yoda and spiritual adviser says it’s dumb, you know it’s dumb. “Michael, you can’t do that,” Dungy told Vick, according to SI.com. Does that make Vick different than everybody else? Yes. Is that unfair? Maybe. But that’s the situation he created. He’s trying to impress a coach, a franchise, a fan base, a city, a league, a bankruptcy judge, also some other judges, a list of creditors from here to Surry County, a probation officer, anybody on Madison Avenue who might be considering taking a chance on him and, oh yes, his children. Drinking in public: dumb, Michael. Find another way to relax. And chain yourself to the coffee table if you have to.
For what it’s worth, I counted by fives and if that new up-and-coming starter in the St. Louis Cardinals’ rotation, John Smoltz, pitches every fifth game, he’ll miss the Braves’ series. “I don’t know right now — I’m just happy to be pitching,” he said in a text message. Understandable. But this should keep him going. Get this run of cream puffs that possibly await him. If the Cards keep using Smoltz as a starter and stick to this fifth-man schedule, he’ll pitch at home against Washington on Saturday, at Pittsburgh Sept. 4, a home day game against Milwaukee Sept. 9, miss the Braves’ series Sept 11-13, then home against Florida Sept 15, at Houston Sept. 21, at Colorado Sept. 27 and home against the Brewers Oct. 3. The National and Pirates are last-place teams and only two opponents (Marlins and Rockies) are playoff contenders.
So how does Smoltz go from allowing eight runs, nine hits, four walks and two home runs in 3 1/3 innings in his last start for Boston to throwing five shutout innings with nine strike outs in his first start for St. Louis? OK, he was facing the Padres, not the Yankees. But it had to be more than that. Here are two reasons: 1) St. Louis coaches told him his foot was slipping on the pitching rubber. How Smoltz didn’t notice that himself, I have no idea. 2) Cards starter Chris Carpenter told Smoltz that he was somehow tipping his pitches. Smoltz corrected the issue. Done. So the Red Sox paid Smoltz $5 million, watched him implode, then saw the Cardinals fix his problems in five minutes? There’s something else for the Yankees to laugh about.
An online sportsbook, Bookmaker.com, has put up some interesting prop bets. One is, “Which celebrity will Tony Romo date this season,” a line which Cowboys fans will watch closely because they’ll need to know who to blame this season when Romo fails to win a playoff game again. The favorites are Megan Fox and Amy Adams at 7-2 each, just ahead of my personal favorite, Emmanuelle Chriqui, who for some reason keeps hanging around that Munchkin, “E” on Entourage. But Bookmaker may want to research things a little better. It also has posted a bet, “Which NFL player will Jessica Simpson date next?,” and it lists eight candidates, including Tony Gonzalez of the “Kansas City Chiefs.” I’m not sure who’ll be more surprised by this: Gonzalez, who no longer plays for the Chiefs, obviously, or his wife, Tobie, who, well, is his wife. (She shouldn’t worry: Tony is only 7-2 odds, behind Matt Leinart, Kerry Rhodes and Wes Welker a 3-1. (Wow, Tom Brady is 8-1. That could be worth $20.)
Evander Holyfield must be tired of everybody in the U.S. telling him he can’t fight any more because all of his future plans seem to be overseas. His manager, Ken Sanders, told me he’s in talks for Holyfield to fight on an undercard in November near Seoul, Korea. The card would be headlined by WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko (whose brother, Vladmir Klitschko, owns the IBF and WBO belts). The Korea bout would pay little but it would curry favor with WBC chairman Jose Sulaiman, who I believe is holding his annual convention of corrupt conventioneers the same week as the proposed fight in Seoul. The plan — and it is only a plan, and this is only boxing — would be for Holyfield to then get a title shot against Vitali Klitschko in March of 2010. FYI, Sanders is still waiting for a check from the Ethiopian government for Holyfield to fight there in September. I’m sure it’ll arrive any day now. What day is the lottery again?
I think we can officially declare the Falcons’ 2002 draft as one of the worst in franchise history (and that is saying something). Seattle is cutting running back T.J. Duckett, the former first-round pick, who was 6-foot, 254 pounds, but for some reason couldn’t run between the tackles as well as smallish Warrick Dunn. The Falcons dumped Duckett in 2006, after which Washington, Detroit and Seattle reached the same conclusion they did: He’s a nice guy but lazy and a waste of space. By the way, here’s the rest of the Falcons’ 02 draft. Cover your eyes: Will Overstreet, Martin Bibla, Kevin McCadam, Kurt Kittner, Kahlil Hill, Michael Coleman, Kevin Shaffer.
Sorry, wrong door. But if you’re wondering what speed-eating paint chips and a visit to the Randall P. McMurphy Clinic for Drive-thru Lobotomies will do to you, just click play. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the downside of the college football season approaching.
Lou Holtz, live from his own private Idaho!