While we weren't paying attention, spring football became appointment viewing.
It wasn't just watching spring practice or games. It was watching spring practice/games on TV, the Internet, mobile phone. We were duped into thinking all this actually meant something. Note to college football fanatics: The rules of the spring haven't changed. You don't know enough to know enough when watching spring practice. When it comes to the spring games, coaches don't show anything of substance.
|Florida QB John Brantley, Tim Tebow's backup, could start at 95 percent of the nation's other schools. (US Presswire)|
The sport set another attendance record last season as the economy tanked. When we weren't looking, the offseason gave way to a year-round sport. Now any fan's calendar has more seasons than nature: Recruiting, spring practice, fall practice, regular season, bowl season. Spackle in the gaps. There aren't many.
With that in mind, we present 10 thoughts/ideas/rants/subjects to take away from the spring.
Hacky sack would have been safer: The WTF moment of the spring wasn't North Carolina starting quarterback T.J. Yates spraining his thumb playing Ultimate Frisbee. The jaw-dropper was that the injury occurred at what was described as a "team outing."
Someone actually sanctioned this grunge sport -- ahem, Butch Davis -- as a form of team bonding.
It would have made more sense -- and been more forgivable -- if Yates was playing drunk and naked in the quad at two in the morning. But Ultimate Frisbee with the fellas at a team picnic? Really, guys? Did someone forget the lawn darts?
"He wants to be very clear, he wasn't catching it," a team spokesman said. "They were playing Ultimate Frisbee and it got kind of rough. One of the linebackers comes across his body and jams his thumb."
Okaaaay. Fortunately, the injury won't affect Yates' playing time. He is expected to be out six weeks, which puts him back sometime in June. Quoting from the Charlotte Observer: "The freak accident does raise questions about Yates' durability. He missed six games in 2008 with a fractured left ankle. He had surgery on his right shoulder after the 2007 season."
You also have to wonder what former Heels quarterback Cameron Sexton is thinking. Dissatisfied with his playing time, Sexton is using up his last season of eligibility at Division II Catawba. Sexton came off the bench to earn five of the Heels' eight victories last season.
As for the future of Ultimate Frisbee (why the capital letters, by the way?) as it relates to the North Carolina football program?
"I don't think you'll see it next year," the spokesman said.
Free, or relatively inexpensive, football: Folks in the SEC really like their football. SEC schools averaged 37,936 for their spring games. That includes the estimated 1,000 who came out to watch Vanderbilt. School records were set at Mississippi State (31,606), Mississippi (28,357), Florida (approximately 65,000) and Auburn (45,381). Alabama led the way again with 84,050.
How good are the Gators? Florida could win the Mountain West ... with the roster that took the field in the Gators' spring game. Missing 16 starters, the Orange beat the Blue 31-21. John Brantley, a starter for 95 percent of the nation's other teams, threw for 265 yards.
Strippers and champagne optional: Someone at Auburn had the brilliant (really!) idea of assistant coaches making recruiting visits in a stretch limo this spring.
Yes, this raises the stakes in the eternal battle with Alabama for attention. Yes, other coaches are taking notice. Yes, you're wondering what is going on behind those reflective windows.
Is it Michael Jackson or Gus Malzahn?
Bar bet to keep in mind this season: Which number will be higher, the limos' miles per gallon or Auburn's points per game?
Robbing the cradle: What used to be a curiosity is now a racket. USA Today tracked 110 freshmen enrolling early in 2009. The likes of Duke waded in with four early entrants. Texas took eight. Southern California freshman quarterback Matt Barkley is neck-and-neck with Aaron Corp, the spring game starter, going into the fall.
Where is it all heading? As long as Tim Tebow keeps winning and Duke keeps graduating players, the trend won't stop.
They actually stuck to football at Tennessee: Lane Kiffin pretty much had run out of things and people to insult in time for his first spring practice in Knoxville. His one-man PR campaign continues, though.
One week into spring practice, No. 1 recruit Bryce Brown signed. Now the focus is on the clock ticking down to the point where coach Cocky is going to have to produce.
The SEC is not the place to rebuild, which it looks like Tennessee is going to have to do, big time, in 2009.
F ighting (for the coach's job) Irish: Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis is dealing with his win-or-else season in 2009 the way you'd expect -- staying down, reaching out to media and hoping against hope that he is able to win 10.
We're sick of hearing every year that this is going to be the mother of all breakout seasons in South Bend. This has to be the mother of breakout seasons in South Bend. If not, the administration eats a lot of guaranteed money, goes out to look for another coach and keeps Congress wondering why Notre Dame is guaranteed $1.3 million annually from the BCS just for taking the field.
"I'm taking it personally," quarterback Jimmy Clausen told the Sporting News. "Coach Weis will not get fired because of me."
Trouble in Tallahassee: Florida State's spring essentially started with major NCAA penalties. It ended with an appeal of those penalties, one that the school hopes will preserve Bobby Bowden's legacy.
|What will become of Bobby Bowden's wins race with Joe Paterno? (US Presswire)|
Two things to remember: All this started with cheating on an online music history course. We're not exactly talking calculus. How pitiful would it be if Bowden and FSU were taken down by what amounts to a blow-off class.
All this overshadows the fact that the Seminoles should be pretty good. Ranked, for one thing, going into the season with a shot at the ACC title. The offensive line is one of the best and youngest in the country. Coach-in-waiting Jimbo Fisher is feeling his way, needing to make quarterback Christian Ponder into more of an aerial threat.
Perfect world? Florida State wins them all, goes 14-0, and those NCAA penalties end up being a push for Bobby.
Hope faces a daunting task of chasing Joe Tiller's legacy. That's the bad news. Tiller left Hope a program that has lost at least five Big Ten games in three of the past four years.
The good news is that this is the Big Ten. How hard can it be to turn around?
Kelly doesn't take over officially until July 1 when Mike Bellotti becomes the new AD. The former offensive coordinator stayed true to his roots -- quarterbacks Jeremiah Masoli and Justin Roper combined for 516 passing yards in Saturday's spring game.
It has been a whirlwind for Kelly. Three years ago, he was the offensive coordinator at New Hampshire. Three months ago he was named coach-in-waiting. What's next, an Obama cabinet position?
A final word: After 17 years spent resurrecting Kansas State and three years' retirement, new/old coach Bill Snyder hasn't lost his ability to cut through the B.S. After watching Saturday's spring game, Snyder called an exhibition an exhibition, "Have you ever seen anything as boring as that?"