Normally, we're done talking about this year's national championship game by the end of January. We're certainly done talking about last season's championship game by the end of January. This appears to not be an normal season of any kind, but you had probably already figured that out.
Manti Te'o is not the most gullible player to ever take part in a national championship game
That honor probably goes to some of the Alabama players who took this seriously before the 2012 title bout against LSU.
Key told the players that on game day they should place the chips on three acupuncture points -- one on the inside of each wrist before they tape their arms (the chips also come embedded in bracelets), and one over the heart. "It's going to help your heart have so much more energy," he said. "Come the fourth quarter, you guys will not be gassed at all."
If defensive players weren't gassed, it was probably because LSU had not crossed the 50-yard line by the time the fourth quarter came around. But I digress. Because the conversation viewed by Sports Illustrated quickly from sci-fi into something much weirder, and less believable.
Then he held up a canister containing a powder additive, to be mixed in water or juice, that he said had put muscle mass on a woman who was in a coma, and an oscillating "beam ray" lightbulb that could "knock out" the swine flu virus in 90 minutes.
And on and on it goes. Needless to say, two days before the national championship game, Nick Saban likely would have told players they didn't have time for this -- stuff. But the really troubling part of the story comes after the hokum and when the snake-oil salesmen get to something that's at least a little bit more tenuously connected to reality.
Finally, he pulled out a bottle of deer-antler spray (which also comes in pill form). Adrian Hubbard, a linebacker sitting on one of the queen beds, said he already had some, but Key explained its benefits for the others. [Emphasis added]
Deer-antler spray is banned by the NCAA. (There's sentence I never expected to write when I started a sports blog.) And so Hubbard having some is bad enough, and then things get a little bit worse.
linebacker Alex Watkins, six months later gave a video testimonial on YouTube citing the boost he got from the chips, water and deer-antler pills during Bama's 21-0 BCS title victory.
I've yet to read the entire article, but the parts I've read of its so far are fascinating. Give it a shot.
The problem Alabama faces now might be one more of perception than anything else. I'm not aware of any situation where wins have been vacated by the NCAA or the BCS because of performance-enhancing, um, deer-antler powder, so I'm not sure that the crystal football is in any danger. (Not that they couldn't spare one or two in Tuscaloosa if they had to.)
Auburn fans, and some others, will likely put an asterisk next to the 2011-12 title, though I would prefer to have a few more high-profile members of that team be caught juicing on a little bit stronger evidence before we do that. But you can't stop people's perceptions from being what they are.
And Bama appears to have done what it can
Which ain't much. It's not like you're dealing with people who have a habit of playing by the rules here.
"UA has been aware of this situation for some time, and we have monitored this company for several years," Lane wrote. "They have twice ignored cease and desist letters sent by our compliance office. We have maintained consistent education of our student-athletes regarding the substances in question and will continue to do so."
The C&D letters, though, appear to largely be focused on the use of players' images in promoting the Antlerade or whatever, not on the products themselves. It's not a meaningless distinction. Though, again, I'm not sure that the school has the power to send a C&D over the products themselves. These are murky waters we're swimming in.
Daniel A. Moore will produce five paintings to commemorate this season
One of them will mark Johnny Manziel's win against Alabama in the Texas A&M game, which is weird. Weirder. I've give Moore $100 if he'll put a ghostlike portrayal of Lennay Kekua in the national championship game painting.
Brian Kelly is real
Brian Kelly, who has spoken to the media as much as Lennay Kekua has since the BCS national championship game, finally talked about the Kekua mess Tuesday. The main upshot was that he didn't see any problems with Manti Te'o leading up to the game.
"Hindsight is 20/20. I didn't think going into the game that he was affected by it. But he didn't play his best," Kelly said. "Alabama had something to do with that as well, clearly. But I really don't know. It's a lot to weigh on the shoulders of somebody. I think we could make a leap that maybe it did, but I think Manti would know for sure."
I'm not sure what to think about this story any more. There's a reason they have an MTV reality show about catfishing -- it happens, and there's no reason to think that it can't happen to a college football player.
On the other hand, Notre Dame under Brian Kelly has started to remind me of A.J. Pierzynski. Pierzynski fans will tell you over and over that the incidents he's involved in are rarely his fault, or that he's just acting like any other player would act under the same circumstances. But other players don't get into those incidents or circumstances as much as Pierzynski. So is Pierzynski a player with a knack for getting himself in trouble, or is he just unlucky?
Maybe Te'o wasn't involved in this scam -- I tend to think he knew about it sooner than he says he did, even if he wasn't in on it from the beginning -- and maybe all the other incidents that surround Notre Dame's current program are just a sign of an unlucky team. But how unlucky could they possibly be?
Another Big 12 / SEC bowl game in the offing?
Mike Slive still has not taken the necessary steps to get a bowl game with the Pac-12 set up, but there might at least be some break to the B1G monotony in the Sunshine State.
Another priority for the Big 12 is getting a tie-in with one of the Florida bowls. Bowlsby said the league has had conversations with Gator Bowl officials and two other bowls in Florida.
Of course, it depends on which bowls we're talking about and whether it the Big 12 team would take the spot of the SEC opponent or the SEC itself if it were the Gator or another SEC-linked bowl. But it's something that gets us away from facing Michigan, Nebraska and/or Michigan State every year.
Shorter Bowen Loftin:
Texas A&M will follow the law.
Missouri finds its Boone Pickens
The name is Don Walsworth (along with Audrey) and the aim is to compete in the SEC.
Can the NCAA go bankrupt?
This is step one of a long legal battle about whether players can claim some of the NCAA's billions, but it's now billions for sure under a new ruling in the case.