First, an update: No moving vans spotted at Philips Arena yet.
Now, back to college football.
Will Muschamp makes his triumphant return to Georgia, although probably not how some Bulldogs fans once envisioned. He is speaking at the Atlanta Gator Club tonight. As a Gator.
I’ll be there and will have a chance to speak to the new Florida coach beforehand his talk to Florida fans, so if you have something in particular you would like to know — other than, “How can you do this to us?” — let me know.
Anyway, given tonight’s plans, I thought a college football appetizer this morning would be appropriate. Let’s start with …
♦ 1. Are the Gators going to be a “disappointment”?
ESPN.com did kind of a strange poll, asking readers what will be the most disappointing team in the SEC next season. The thing is, fans were asked to choose from only these five schools: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi State, South Carolina. ESPN’s explanation: “There are a handful of teams that could compete for the SEC title this fall and a few who could be in the thick of the national title hunt toward the end of the season. But there aren’t enough spots for everyone and in the wacky world of sports, one team will fail to live up to the hype.” They excluded Georgia. Complain to them, not me. After more than 38,000 votes, here are the results: 1. Florida (35 percent); 2. South Carolina (27 percent); 3. Arkansas (16 percent); 4. Alabama (12 percent); 5. Mississippi State (11 percent).
♦ 2. Spurrier extending Garcia ANOTHER lifeline?
South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia has been suspended five times in his college career, most recently for showing up at leadership seminar after having been drinking alcohol in April. At that time, he was suspended indefinitely. But when asked at a Gamecocks’ fan festival if Garcia would be back in the fall, coach Steve Spurrier said: “Stephen Garcia, in all likelihood, will probably maybe be given another chance if he behaves himself the way he should. I think he still has to do some things here in the next couple of months to prove worthy of being a student-athlete at South Carolina.” Probably maybe. That’s about as definite as it gets.
♦ 3.Mel Kiper likes the ACC and SEC
Kiper’s first 2012 “Big Board” is out. Of the 25 players on the board, 13 are from either the SEC (five) or ACC (eight). Here’s the list of players, with Kiper’s analysis of the SEC and ACC players. There are no Georgia or Georgia Tech players on the list.
1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford. 2. Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina. (Analysis: They haven’t been lacking defensive talent in Chapel Hill. Coples is next in line, a gifted pass-rusher suited to be a pure 4-3 defensive end at the next level.) 3. Matt Kalil, OT, USC. 4. Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina. (Analysis: A perpetual mismatch, Jeffery has been unstoppable since he got to campus. A huge target, makes all the catches and shows surprising burst, given such a huge frame at wideout.) 5. Matt Barkley, QB, USC. 6. Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford. 7. Justin Blackmon, WR, Oregon State. 8. Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State. 9. Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama. (Analysis: One of three players on the Crimson Tide to crack the Board. Great length for the position. Kirpatrick is solid technically and well-schooled.) 10. Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma. 11. Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa. 12. Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State. 13. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama. (Analysis: A physical freak, I see Richardson as a better overall pro prospect than former teammate Mark Ingram. Explosive and so hard to tackle.) 14. Donte Paige-Moss, DE, North Carolina. (Analysis: He’s bigger than a lot of people have him listed. Paige-Moss gets a bump here because he exploded in the second half of 2010. He needs to carry that momentum into 2011.) 15. Cliff Harris, CB, Oregon. 16. Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College. (Analysis: Dependable tackling machine, Kuechly’s tape shines. Makes great reads, sees the play developing, sheds blockers well and has a ton of experience in just two years.) 17. Jayron Hosley, CB, Virginia Tech. (Analysis: One of the most instinctive corners I’ve ever seen. Led the nation in interceptions and seems to have a sixth sense on routes.) 18. Ray-Ray Armstrong, S, Miami. (Analysis: Currently the top safety on the Board. Armstrong has seen the field plenty in just two seasons. Good size, takes good routes and can play near the line.) 19. Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina. (Analysis: Another SEC corner with good size, Gilmore has played well against some top competition. Well-schooled, he has a chance to move up the Board this season.) 20. Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame. 21. Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia. (Analysis: The last corner on the Board, Minnifield has been dependable and was the best corner on a team that saw Ras-I Dowling drafted early in 2011.) 22. Jared Crick, DT, Nebraska. 23. Marcus Forston, DT, Miami. (Analysis: A big-time recruit, Forston has continued to develop and could move up the Board if he adds consistency. Dominant at times, but has had some off games, too.) 24. Andre Branch, DE, Clemson. (Analysis: Another defensive end coming out of Death Valley, Branch can get to the passer and has a lot of experience, and will be a fifth-year senior in 2011.) 25. Courtney Upshaw, LB, Alabama. (Analysis: A solid linebacker, another in a very talented Bama defensive unit. Upshaw saw the field as a freshman and has continued to progress.)
♦ 4. Harvey Updyke vs. Mother Nature
In case you missed it, a grand jury issued six new indictments against accused Auburn tree poisoner Harvey Updyke, possibly the dumbest human being on the face of the earth, who allegedly poisoned the historic oak trees at Toomer’s Corner. Personally, I’m not pushing for Updyke to get sentenced for 20-to-life. But I do think he should be forced to spend the entire 2011 football season wearing a Cam Newton jersey. Also maybe have him stand at Toomer’s Corner and let Tigers fans “TP” him for 30 straight days.
♦ 5. And speaking of Cam Newton . . .
Jim Tressel, who may be circling the NCAA drain at Ohio State, has hired the Birmingham lawfirm of Lightfoot, Franklin and White. That’s the same firm that represented Auburn during the Newton investigation. Gene Marsh, the attorney who will represent Tressel, used to work for the NCAA infractions committee. The lesson here: It’s a lot more profitable working for the accused.
By Jeff Schultz