Sprints // 05.04.09

Pro Days. Detroit fans are sharply divided on Stafford, which is understandable and yet wrongheaded at the same time.

First, a note about NFL fans, at least in my experience: They are never happy with the first pick of the draft. They will always find something to complain about, generally because a team selecting first in the draft has enough problems to say that the team didn't fill a crucial need no matter what the team does.

Second, they like to show how smart they are about football. So if a team picks a quarterback or running back or other glitzy position, they are going to complain that the team really needed to pick a lineman. Your humble correspondent (or perhaps not so humble after this) was one of the very few Falcons fans who actually wanted Atlanta to pick Matt Ryan with its early first-round pick last year. Not that I saw the Falcons returning to the playoffs -- far from it. But while it is true that a QB without linemen won't last very long, linemen without a QB have nothing to protect. Chicken, egg.

Yes, linemen are important at all levels of football. This isn't a statement that they aren't -- just that a team without a quarterback won't go far in the NFL. The Falcons tried that approach in 2007 ended up with a coach that left int he middle of the season, an early first-round pick and the continuance of a stretch of futility perhaps second only to the Lions.

Meanwhile, Percy Harvin does not have swine flu. No doubt that catching such a threatening pathogen would have been yet another poor reflection on his character.

Knowshon Moreno gets permission from Darrent Williams' mother to wear No. 27 for the Broncos, and Casey Dick hunts for a roster spot.

Finally, your early prediction for the 2009 Chicago Bears: They will scare every team they play, fall short against most of their conference competition, then end up 7-9 and out of the postseason anyway. What makes me say that?

A good Around the Bases for you coming up tonight. The game that lasted nearly a day -- i.e., 24 hours -- chaos atop the SEC West and this headline from the Mayor:

Sports Cease to be Entertaining Diversion, Instead Sap All Joy From Human Existence

Yeah, the last couple of weeks have not been kind to the Dawgs.

If you keep talking like this, your groupthink credentials will be revoked. Speaking of the Mayor, he continues to get contrary, accusing Georgia fans who want to move the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party Cocktail Party Cocktail Party (take that, Michael Adams) of cowardice and -- even worse for Georgia fans -- disagreeing with Erk Russell.

If nothing has changed aside from multiple Georgia losses at a neutral site where the ‘Dawgs once owned the Gators, how is the suggestion that we abandon Jacksonville to be interpreted as anything other than an act of cowardice and capitulation on the part of Bulldog Nation?

The answer, of course, is that it can't be seen as anything else, but that all fan bases look for some other reason for an extended losing streak than the very factors the Mayor mentions (coaching, playing, choking). The exception are curses related to barnyard animals, such as chickens and goats. Those are totally real.

Rolling through Tide stories. I want to note first that this post comes from someone who has frequently commented on Team Speed Kills and is, by all indications, a perceptive and well-reasoned football fan and skillful writer. But I strong disagree with the idea that writers who say St. Nick was blaming the Utah loss in part of the fans were part of a "parade of the pathetic."

Again, back to what he said (truncated, yes, because coaches like politicians like to use as much verbiage as they can to hide what they are actually saying):

There's very little interest from our fans, our players or anybody else to play in the Sugar Bowl, which to me is a tremendous opportunity. ... So there's no interest, there's no passion and everybody is embarrassed because of how we played. Well, it's because you didn't have any passion for it, you didn't have any interest in it, you didn't have any enthusiasm to do it, and that's across the board. [EMPHASES C&F's]

"Because" is a cause-effect word. Was Saban blaming it all on the fans? No. But he was in part blaming the fans. There's no way around that. He can say whatever he wants to backtrack after that, but he said what he said. And "I was taken out of context" is the last refuge of the politician or coach who said something he or she meant but doesn't like seeing in print.

Also, the idea that he doesn't give Utah credit for winning the Sugar Bowl is emphasized by his suggestion that he didn't "have the team ready to play." It hints that, had he gotten the team ready to play, Alabama wouldn't have lost to Utah, because they are the superior team. (Hope he gets them prepared for Georgia Southern.)

Finally, an Alabama blogger has told me the state is insane when it comes to football. Having grown up in Alabama, no one in the state -- Alabama or Auburn fans -- has a proper perspective about the game, and that extends to almost all SEC fans, self included. It's what makes the league fun.

Meanwhile, Athlon Sports almost puts the wrong No. 8 on the cover and Alabama coaches are a-Twitter. (Shameless self promotion: Team Speed Kills on Twitter.)

Honoring ... Pat Summitt. Larry Munson. And Taylor Stokes, who accomplished more than I can ever imagine.

Wind Sprints. It's Urban Meyer, and I'll be happy to explain if you really need me to ... Problem: Late start for LSU-Washington. Solution: Red Bull, which Les Miles consumes via IV ... Arkansas sells grass. And they say Houston Nutt was the crazy one ...

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