And we're back. After a post-football season mental health break, your humble correspondent is back on the job and will be doing Sprints on a nearly-daily basis for the remainder of the offseason. So let's get to it.
COACHES CAN CALL PLAYERS WHENEVER THEY WANT -- IT'S THE APOCALYPSE
When did it become a law that you have to pick up the phone every time it rings?
Starting with the Class of 2014, college coaches can call, text and communicate privately by any methods available without restrictions. No more one call per week, no more dead periods, no more ban on text messaging. ...
Starting in August, it will be OK for a coach to call a prospect 10 times a day and text him constantly, so it will happen. Coaches won't hesitate for a moment out of concern that if they don't push the envelope, a rival program will.
First of all, if you don't think that deletable text messages and phone calls that are only known to two people are happening more than they're supposed to under the rules, you need to get Ronaiah Tuiasosopo to set you up on a date. There's no reason that coaches aren't pushing the envelope or outright breaking this rule now, even if they would have more reason to do it after the rule changes.
But the other part of it is this: You know how unpopular telemarketers are? Head coaches don't want to become telemarketers. These kids have to like them at the end of the day, and calling or texting someone non-stop is a real good way to make that person not like you.
Yes, coaches and recruits will probably talk more than they (are supposed to) do now, but coaches will have to be very careful not to push this so far that it becomes counterproductive. And we're getting rid of a rule that is completely unenforceable unless someone makes a dumb mistake, which means that the NCAA is really just agreeing to no longer pretend that this doesn't happen.
The Bully Pulpit -- just like Theodore Roosevelt once used it
In comments reported Sunday, President Obama said that the NCAA needed to pay more attention to concussions. In a statement on Monday, the NCAA said it was going to pay more attention to concussions. COMMUNIST CONSPIRACY!
"This Institute will function as a national resource to provide safety, health and medical expertise and research for coaches, medical staff, and athletics administrators, including a national task force for collegiate football safety."
Actually, they had already done this, but it's a nice PR response. And a good first step, as long as the institute doesn't become something that the NCAA can hold up whenever someone accuses it of being dangerous, even as the Association ignores whatever suggestions the doctors at the institute actually come up with.
I will take small exception to one thing that President Obama said: I don't think the NFL is quite as separate as he would like to paint it in this case. There's not really that much of a difference in the maturity and decision-making of a 21-year-old who decides to go ahead with his senior season and a 22-year-old signing a contract for the NFL several months later. In many cases, these players have been in football as long as they can remember and have come to see it as their way to a better life. And that will remain the case as long as they play the game -- whether their last game is with college football or with the NFL.
The SEC should go to a nine-game schedule now
The best argument against the SEC going to a nine-game schedule, which isn't really that much of an argument in my mind, is that eight games against our teams are worth nine games against the B1G. Well, the Up North Conference is now thinking about changing that calculus a bit.
The deal with the Pac-12 would fall through as well, and now the Big Ten is once again considering the idea of not only a nine-game conference schedule, but possibly a 10-game conference schedule.
As Fornelli points out, there are all kind of logistical issues that would come into play if the B1G decides to go to a ten-game schedule. However, with strength of schedule expected to play a role in the playoff system that's coming after next season, it's not a good idea to take a chance and see what the selection committee is going to think about a more robust conference schedule.
Bite the bullet now and go to the nine-game schedule. We fans promise we won't hold it against you, and might even love you for it.
The Legislature to the rescue
If Texas and Texas A&M can't agree to play football every year, the Texas Legislature just might agree for them. And stop the "this is too small an issue for the Legislature to address" line now -- as someone who covers them for a living, I can assure you that legislatures address far smaller issues than this all the time. In fact, they make an art form out of it.
"I think the people of Texas want a game, and we're trying to get them one."
I have no idea what the chances of this passing are. It should be an easy bill for politicians to rally around and show their "common touch" -- but it's also sponsored by a Democrat in a very red state. Again, these things matter in legislatures.
Wally Pipp didn't get the option of a transfer
Jameill Showers, who was going to be the starting quarterback at Texas A&M before some kid named Johnny Manziel came along, is going to take his talents elsewhere.
U MAD BRO?
Keep in mind that Dominic Walker is a three-star player. That's nothing against Mr. Walker, who might end up being a great player at Auburn. But it's not like he's the kind of player that you plan on changing your career, which makes the extent to which Bo Pelini reacted to a kid who's already switched once switching again a little weird.
"It was a very tough decision. They were [mad]. They were very mad. But I thought I had to call them like a real man should," Walker said. "But yeah, they were mad. Coach Pelini said, 'Best of luck, you're going to need it.' "
Now would probably be the time when we should point out that Pelini's teams have been defeated in two consecutive Capital One bowls by a 75-44 margin by SEC teams, and that Auburn did not give up as many points to arguably better teams as Pelini's team gave up to Wisconsin in a championship game in which Nebraska was overwhelmingly favored. Maybe they both need a bit of luck.
Kentucky, UNC to play bas-ket-ball
The two-game series starts next season in Chapel Hill.
Games with strange ball played against Yankee opponents ending
The SEC/Big East Challenge is going the way of the Big East -- kaput. Some of this likely has to do with the fact that no one really know who's going to be in the Big East in a year, and some of it has to do with the fact that some SEC teams have no business playing Big East teams in basketball, but it's gone.
"This was the final year of our contract for a basketball invent involving the Big East Conference," SEC spokesman Craig Pinkerton said via e-mail. "Playing an event such as the SEC/Big East Challenge has provided a great opportunity to highlight our teams as well as the sport early in the season. We are continuing to explore our options for continuing an event like this."
While we're looking for events like this, how about an SEC/Pac-12 challenge in football? Pretty please?
Actually, they say they're not quite dead yet
You're the commissioner of a conference that will soon have none of its original football members except the one that was once kicked out of the league for not having a strong enough program. Your response?
"This is a great group of core schools," he said. "I predict a bright future."
If by "bright future" you mean "Friday night games on the CBS Sports Network," I agree.
Big 12 talks about not really wanting to expand right now
Instead, they're still leaning towards forming a partnership with the ACC. And let me tell you, the ACC is just the picture of stability right now, so I'm sure that will work well for them.