Sprints // 04.23.09

Draft Days. Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions are in contract talks, according to NFL.com's Steve Wyche.

Stafford could receive the opportunity to compete for the starting job, which some NFL coaches and scouts said he could handle following private workouts and interviews.

I'm not sure starting right away would be the best thing for Stafford. There are very few Matt Ryans, who come in and excel in their first year. (And Ryan had plenty of help from WRs eager to prove that they had not been the reasons the Falcons' passing attack had suffered for so long.)

But being the No. 1 pick does make sense for Stafford, and Stafford makes sense for the Lions, even if they do have a backup plan.

Meanwhile, Rick Smith officially has the hardest job of any sports agent: Salvaging Andre Smith's draft.

[Rick] Smith used the word discipline about 10 times in a five-minute phone conversation this morning, which means it seems like he's got things on the right track.

He is also an established, respected agent, while Keels was more, well, up-and-coming. ...

"It's not a matter of starting new," Rick Smith said. "It's what he's always been. He's a guy who's always done the right thing when he's gotten good advice."

Yes, but the problem is that it will be hard to convince NFL teams of that.

Also reputation rehabbing: Arian Foster. (HT: Rocky Top Talk)

Meanwhile, one of Andre Smith's teammates is setting his sites on snagging a draft pick that many would think unlikely. John Parker Wilson really doesn't have the numbers to go very high in the NFL Draft, if he goes at all. But Rap's right -- there are worse things to be than Jim Sorgi.

And Michael Oher and Peria Jerry could make history. Seeing as how he's already the subject of a New York Times bestseller, one wonders how big a deal that is for Oher.

Again, be sure to visit our NFL Draft Live Thread beginning Saturday afternoon.

Speaking of drafts -- the NBA one could devastate already-weak SEC basketball.

Play Ball! The SEC goes 5-4 on Wednesday, with wins by Vanderbilt (Louisville), Mississippi State (Middle Tennessee State), Florida (USF), Ole Miss (Southern Miss) and LSU (Louisiana-Lafayette). Losers: South Carolina (Clemson), Georgia (Jacksonville State?!?), Kentucky (Evansville) and Alabama (South Alabama).

Urban Meyer: I was against the early signing period before I was for it. Old Meyer: Early signing is a terrible idea. New Urban Meyer (who's hauling in early commitments): Early signing is a marvelous idea. It is fascinating to consider how a team manages to snag almost as many recruits by May as it did in a year of recruiting -- and worth wondering whether Meyer worries that some players might reconsider as they see depth charts grow larger.

So is this good news or bad for Auburn fans? Gene Chizik gets the Schlabach treatment and pre-emptively throws Tommy Tuberville under the bus.

"We've got some deficiencies right now and we've got to overcome that," Chizik said. "I think there's a difference from 2004. Depth is an issue at this point, and I think that's glaring. I left here in 2004, and compared to now, it's a different-looking team physically. We've got to ramp it up, and I think we can do that."

Chizik believes he also was close to turning around Iowa State. ... Last year, the Cyclones opened the season with victories over Football Championship Subdivision opponent South Dakota State and Kent State, but then lost their last 10 games to finish 2-10. ...

According to Chizik, he faces a similar rebuilding job at Auburn.

Hmm. And by "similar," he means  -- 10 losses? Nine?

Bad idea: Telling police you can't read when you can. Worse idea: Doing so after fighting an eligibility battle with the NCAA. Otherwise, I would have to say, "Well played, Jerrell Powe, well played."

After receiving a noise violation for playing loud music just after midnight on Sunday morning at his apartment, Powe told police he couldn't read, according to a police report.

UM coach Houston Nutt said Powe was joking, but the coach was still fuming about the smart-aleck response to officers.

"Of course he can read, how do you think he's getting through college?" Nutt said. "Now he just needs to learn to keep his mouth shut."

As long as he can read "X" and "O," he'll do just fine, right coach?

Spurrier not hitting the links yet. More on this next week, perhaps, but Steve Spurrier isn't ready to give up on his project in Columbia.

"This is my university, and I want our university to do well," Spurrier said. "I'm like a lot of you, (wondering) when we're going to turn the corner and do something great around here." ...

A day after he turned 64, Spurrier assured the Midlands gathering he still believes he can accomplish what he came to Columbia to do: bring USC its elusive first SEC title.

"That's still my goal, and I still think we've got a chance to make it happen," he said.

The statement is unlikely to change anyone's mind about the Ol' Ball Coach. For some reason, many people (mostly Georgia fans and bitter Florida fans) are convinced that "This year will be Spurrier's last. [Twelve months pass.] Okay -- well, then, this year. [Twelve months pass.] Still there? Then, this year." They'll be right. Eventually.

The question is whether Spurrier is just as mistaken about his ability to strike SEC gold as they are about his willingness to stay long enough to do so.

Mark Richt to attend graduation? Richt is asking for a waiver that would allow him to visit the graduation of one of his recruits should said recruit be his high school's valedictorian. That this should even require an NCAA waiver is a matter for another day, but Georgia's mascot isn't a Native American, so getting it approved shouldn't be a problem.

The BCS could accept the Mountain West's playoff proposal. Okay, part of it. The non-playoff part. Namely, a selection committee to choose the contenders in the national championship game. There are good parts of this and bad. The bad, of course, is that it adds even more subjectivity to the process. The good is that sometimes subjectivity allows you to realize that Southern Cal and not Oklahoma should play LSU for the national championship.

Wind Sprints. The Gypsy Coach of the South is expected to name Arkansas' starting QB today, the first time the naming of Arkansas quarterback has been significant since -- well, ever, really ... Georgia Tech being ranked in the Top 10 is a good thing, according to the Mayor ... Yes, he's still a Georgia fan ...

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