Category Archives: College Football

As Nick Chubb goes…

The only interest I have in the Heisman Trophy is that it’s an indication of which teams enjoyed a successful season. Nobody on a 5-7 team will be tripping to New York.

So with that in mind, you may find this Dave Bartoo piece on Heisman winner trends of interest.

Group I
This is your top 10 talent ranked teams minus Florida, with a new head coach, and Notre Dame, due to inconsistent play.  With 10 of the last 13 winners coming from top 10 talent ranked teams, this is your best ‘odds’ group. Nick Chubb of Georgia, Kyle Allen of Texas A&M, Ezekiel Elliott and J.T. Barrett of Ohio State, and Cody Kessler of USC are my favorites from this group.

Like I said, if that’s the group that makes it to the next awards ceremony, we’re likely to be a bunch of happy campers about the place Georgia is in by then.

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Filed under College Football, Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

“But I’m fine with being the soft, healthy guy.”

While I’m on my Debbie Downer run, make sure you read this piece about Chris Borland, who just retired at age 24 over health concerns.  In particular, this part:

Borland began at Wisconsin as a wedge buster on kickoffs, a task he compared to “bowling, but it’s people doing it.” After blowing up a wedge against Wofford, he couldn’t remember the rest of the game, including his own blocked punt, which led to a touchdown. That night, unable to eat, his head pounding, Borland had a teammate wake him up every few hours, fearing he’d lapse into a coma. He never told the coaches or trainers. That Monday, he was named co-Big Ten special-teams player of the week. “That’s one of those things where, when you step away from the game and you look at it, it’s like, ‘Oh my god,’ you know?” Borland says. “But it makes sense to you when you’re 18 and you’ve dedicated your life to it and the most important thing to you is to get a good grade on special teams.”

Near the end of his freshman year, Borland discovered Toradol, the controversial painkiller used widely in college and the pros. “It was life-changing,” he told the BU researchers, chuckling, when they took his medical history. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns that Toradol should be used sparingly, for severe acute pain. Borland, who had shoulder surgery three times while at Wisconsin, said he would sometimes use the drug every other game.

Some of Borland’s teammates were worse off, and that concerned him more. Taylor, his close friend, was also one of the best linebackers in the nation, twice all-conference, a future pro. But it became harder and harder for Taylor to stay on the field. In 2011, he tore his meniscus on a blitz against Minnesota. The Monday after the game, he had knee surgery to remove half of it.

The next Saturday, with Wisconsin fighting for the Big Ten title, Taylor played against Illinois. “I remember that morning I was thinking, ‘This is f—ing stupid. What am I doing?’ ” he recalls. “They shot Toradol in my ass. And I remember covering up my knee with bandages, just so I couldn’t see blood. The first half was shaky for me. If you watch the game film, it’s like, ‘This dude should not be playing football.’ ”

Taylor says no one tried to stop him. “I think it was mostly my fault,” he says. “I was waiting for them to say, ‘Hey, you’re out of here. This is kind of sad. And not smart.’ But I was kind of in a position to dictate. I guess the coaches had trust in me.” He thinks he took another shot of Toradol at halftime.

Their coach?  Bret We have to protect student athletes to extremes we never thought of before Bielema.

The sanctimonious horse crap slays me every time.  So does the willful blindness.

Later, as the evening wound down, we asked Alvarez about Borland. He sounded slightly defensive. “It was never an indictment against football,” he said. “He just chose not to play, and I respect that decision. But there was never an indictment of football.”

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Filed under College Football, The Body Is A Temple

John Thompson, travelin’ man

What’s the definition of a football gypsy?  I’d say a guy who owned three homes at the same time probably qualifies.

Honestly, Thompson’s been around so long and in so many places I keep thinking it’s a surprise he wasn’t on one of the Georgia staffs in the ’90s when Goff and Donnan were shuffling defensive coaches like there was no tomorrow.  Which wound up being the truth in both cases, but that’s another story.

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Filed under College Football

And now, a word from Bill Connelly’s heart

After doing advanced stat projections for all 128 D-1 teams, Bill gets subjective and gives an opinion-based ranking here.

And, yes, Georgia at number five makes me nervous.

On the other hand, I agree with him completely about LSU, my pick for the SEC’s biggest mystery right now.

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“After 30 or 40 years, we expect you to name a building after yourself.”

If you’re intrigued by the concept of what a D-1 football program that paid more than lip service to academics would look like, here you go.

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Filed under Academics? Academics., College Football

Just your typical student

Part of college football’s power over us comes from what I call the romance of amateurism, the idea that the kids we see on television and cheer on in our stadiums are in school for the same reason our next-door neighbor’s son is, and that, outside of those game days when we connect with them, they lead the same lives.  It’s an ideal that the NCAA and the schools have done their damnedest to exploit to their profit.

But it’s nothing more than a convenient fiction.

Unless you think this is the kind of thing every college kid utters about himself…

“I’m here to serve the people,” sophomore running back Sony Michel said. “They’re fans and if they ask for something, I’m willing to give them my autograph. It’s no big deal.”

… while in almost the same breath his head coach is close to calling for an outright ban on the practice.

“You’re just about to the point where you say don’t sign anything for anybody,” coach Mark Richt said. “But that’s tough. I don’t think we can get to that point. But if you are doing it for pay, then you are wrong and you just shouldn’t do it.”

That isn’t to say Richt is a hypocrite.  He’s only pointing out the consequences of living with the risk of violating NCAA norms. Sadly, between the Green and Gurley suspensions, he’s the closest thing we’ll find to an expert on the subject.

But it’s not just about autographs and some money on the side.  More than anything else, it’s about control.

At Clemson, Dabo Swinney has banned his players from social media during football season.

Don’t expect to see any tweets, snapchats or Facebook posts from the Clemson Tigers the next few months.

As has become standard practice, the Tigers’ social media ban went into effect on Aug. 3, reportsUSA Today.

Players are not required to delete or deactivate their accounts, but are “forbidden” from being active on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or other social media during the season, according to the report.

The ban is intended to keep players’ focus on football as opposed to the outside world.

Now some of you may applaud this as a necessary or wise step.  But if that’s the case, why is focus only important for players during football season? Why doesn’t Clemson apply such a ban to all students attending school on full scholarships, or all of its enrollees?  For that matter, if the academic mission of a school is as important as the athletic one, why doesn’t Swinney ban his players from social media during the entire school year? (And while I’m asking, if you’re the parent of a child attending college and you approve of what Swinney has done, have you imposed such a ban?)

Whatever happened to letting kids learn a few life lessons from their experiences along the way?  Isn’t that supposed to be part of a college education?  What’s the point of treating twenty-somethings, people close to having to step out and make it in the real world, in the way we’d treat our eight-year old daughter?

It happens because they’re football players, because their coaches make millions of dollars a year and because those coaches think that control equals accountability (for them, not their players).  All of which may be true, but has nothing to do with the way the average college student is allowed to lead his or her life.

Another thing to keep in mind here is that those of us outside the arena don’t see student-athletes as mere students.

Carter and teammate Jake Ganus said the attention they get is nothing compared to that of running back Nick Chubb.

Even some of the other players get extra attention simply for knowing Chubb.

“I’m not Nick Chubb, but I am Nick Chubb’s friend,” Ganus said.

Chubb is aware of the public persona that comes with being a star on the Georgia football team. He likes having the ability to have his peace and quiet every so often.

“That’s part of job,” Chubb said. “You come here to be a football player, but other things come with it and that’s one of it. People want to see me and greet me and I enjoy it. But sometimes I just like to fall back into the shadows.”

Just like… I’ll let you finish the sentence there.

But it’s not just us fans who are guilty of that.  The schools themselves, the purveyors of amateurism romance, are just as bad in their own way.

Unless you think that Tennessee paints rocks for every kid who applies there.

Believe it or not, my point isn’t that this is why players deserve to be paid.  It’s that the system surrounding them is corrupt and hypocritical. The NCAA and its member schools try to straddle a divide of amateur innocence on one side and big money with big demands on student-athletes on the other.  And it’s a gap that grows ever wider as more money flows into the system and raises the stakes.  The romance isn’t sustainable, and the sooner we realize that, the less we’ll be hurt by the sport’s changes.

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Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

Replay? Take your time, fellas. It’s not that big a deal.

We live in an imperfect world, I know.  And so it’s not reasonable to expect perfection from college football replay.  But with all the money rolling into the sport, is it too much to ask for better effort from the conference offices than this?

Carollo said he considered in 2009 making the Big Ten command center the sole place for replay decisions, but the bandwidth wasn’t good enough and “quite frankly, our replay officials in the Big Ten needed more work.” Today, technology is so much better. The new competition committee plans to discuss ways to improve replay after 2015.

“The people in the stands have HD phones that they know are better and faster than what we use,” Carollo said. “We think we need to stay at least even, if not ahead, of the game…”

Gee, that would be nice.  In the meantime, they can always farm out replay calls to the fans with the better technology.

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Filed under College Football