Word broke yesterday afternoon that Weslye Saunders was going to miss a week of practice time for "personal reasons." The immediate reaction at least among the quick commenters on Twitter was that it had to be related to the NCAA agent investigations. Had to.
Me? I took a wait-and-see approach. It's true that coaches like to use "personal reasons" as a cover for anything from injuries, to failed drug tests, to insufficient grades, to insufficient funds at the Bank of Common Sense. You never know what that means until after the guy's back. But, it also can indicate an illness or death in the family. So let's just see what it turns out to be.
I'll take "Insufficient Funds at the Bank of Common Sense" for $1000, Alex.
It turns out that Saunders was suspended for a "violation of team rules," another one of those vague phrases that coaches love so much. Fortunately no one can run an air-tight program, so some sources filled us in. Turns out, Saunders missed some mandatory meetings on Saturday morning and only showed up for the team's scrimmage. His excuse? He was talking with NCAA investigators.
It would have worked too if not for
those meddling kids the South Carolina compliance department, which helpfully told the coaches that no, the NCAA hadn't been by to see him. The suspension will last up to a week or more, which is not a good sign for a team that only has one good receiving tight end. The NCAA will let South Carolina know something about Saunders' eligibility before the opener against Southern Miss though.
If it seems like the amount of money in college athletics has grown exponentially, you're right. The NCAA released its annual report on the finances of its member institutions, and only 14 of the 120 programs that play I-A football made money from their athletics programs. The median dollar figure that athletics leeched off of general university funds grew from $8 million to $10 million.
Not surprisingly, the report's author confirmed that Alabama, Florida, and Tennessee were among those who did turn a profit. Over half of the nation's football programs (68) turned a profit, and not a single one of the 97 "major" college programs without football finished in the black. The gap between the highest revenue and the median revenue was alarming: $138.5 million versus $45.9 million.
Joker Phillips has finally made a decision, and Mike Hartline will by Kentucky's opening day starter at quarterback. Why is that? "Right now, we feel that Mike Hartline gives us the best chance to win. He has been more efficient and is playing faster than the other two." Yes, well, this is the SEC. Faster counts for something.
One of the myriad ways Lane Kiffin messed with Tennessee tradition last year was to make the Vol Walk a lot shorter than it had been. The reason? It got the players too "hyped up." Mike Hamilton and Derek Dooley have put it back to its original route, a move that undoubtedly will make angry fans happy once again.
Also, watch out for CB Eric Gordon. It sounds like he's the new Eric Berry-type for the Vols' secondary.
Urban Meyer brought in Bobby Knight as a motivational speaker for his team. Superb.
Meanwhile, he's "hitting the panic button" about Saturday's scrimmage, which wasn't up to his liking. In other words: it's August, the sky is blue, and it's hot in the South during summertime. He's also got a name for yesterday: Distraction Monday. Why is that, coach? "Everybody’s got everything on their mind. I noticed all the guys are clean shaven and looking good and it doesn’t take me long to figure out why. It wasn’t for practice."
Former LSU co-defensive coordinator Bradley Dale Peveto totally has Les Miles's back. "Go look up Les’ record at LSU following a loss. You look it up and you see that he does his best coaching when his back is to the wall." Well, it is true that Miles has a 13-1 record at LSU after losses. However, any Georgia fan can tell you that quoting stats to prove that a coach isn't on the hot seat is a fruitless venture.
In more upbeat news, it sounds like LSU's young linebackers are starting to really come on. That's a good thing for a position that, after senior Kelvin Sheppard, has looked about as thin as tissue paper this off season.
Kirk Herbstreit has Auburn winning of the SEC West. At least we know there's one person out there who doesn't live in navy blue and dark orange who thinks the Tide might not win the division, because right now, such folks are hard to come by.
Naked home invasion. Stun guns. A three-point stance followed by a lunge at the police. Sounds like quite a night up in Corvallis. What's that? The police report that he "absolutely was intoxicated"? You don't say.
The latest in Paul Myerberg's fantastic preseason preview series.
I don't think I ever really understood what Ball Hype was about, but it's too late now because it's gone.