COLLEGE FOOTBALL SEASON BEGINS TODAY
And as a result, we're going to keep the focus more on the SEC during weekdays, with the exception of Kicking Off, which will still have more national stories for your Monday reading.
Your TV Schedule:
7:30 p.m. ET: Southern Miss. Golden Eagles at South Carolina Gamecocks, ESPN
Likely a good game (despite it's solid record in season openers, South Carolina always manages to make it interesting), and even Craig James can be overlooked with this thought: "College football season has begun."
7:30 p.m. ET: Minnesota Golden Gophers at Middle Tenn. St. Blue Raiders, ESPNU
Dwight Dasher isn't playing, so there's no real reason to watch this game as long as one of the other games is on and you're not a Minnesota or Middle Tennessee fan.
11 p.m. ET: Southern Cal Trojans at Hawaii Warriors, ESPN
Lane Kiffin's first game as head coach of the Trojans (one down, eleven to go!). Who do you think Tennessee fans will be cheering for in this one.
Which Gamecock players will take the field in tonight's game -- see that? TONIGHT's game!
In any case, Travis Haney floats a semi-insane rumor about South Carolina's roster, which could be docked two to five players as a result of the various and sundry -Gates.
This morning, someone (someone I trust) called me to share the same rumor that I then saw in a lot of different places: That those five players would serve two-game suspensions, in the USM and Furman games. ...
Burning question: How would the players get to play in the Georgia game? That concept seems idealistic, to me. If it was negotiated by the university, to have the opener be mandatory and then get to pick the second game, give that person a raise.
Actually, Jimmy Sexton just got a few newspapers to report that South Carolina was going to the UFL and the NCAA accepted his counteroffer.
As Haney points out, this would almost certainly cause Georgia fans to scream bloody murder, and rightly so. It's one thing when a school suspends a player for one game and it happens to be against a cupcake. It's another entirely to scatter suspensions over your easier games.
If you're looking for a reason to be nervous about South Carolina
Consider this from an al.com summary of some of the notable winning streaks in season openers.
And South Carolina would move into the top six in SEC history for consecutive season-opening victories, and the Gamecocks rarely are near the top of any all-time conference category.
And we all know what happens whenever they get close.
SECRET AGENT MEN
Maybe they take improper window tinting very seriously
Butch Davis and UNC Athletics Director Dick Baddour said the decision to suspend Marvin Austin "is not a result of the ongoing NCAA review," which is either a lie or raises the very real question of what else Austin could possibly have done. Baddour also elaborated on when and how we might find out who's playing against LSU.
He said the school has been able to clear some football players of wrong-doing, although he would not say how many, again because the investigation is ongoing. ...
He cautioned that when the school does announce who is -- and is not -- traveling to this weekend's game, people should understand that the list "may be fluid. There may be some alterations after we say that, but we've got to work towards that."
Which means the first time we actually know who is going to play in the game might be a minute before kickoff. North Carolina might actually outprocrastinate Les Miles.
Carolina March: Is It Academic?
Going on the assumption that Butch Davis' statement is true -- and then questioning why the secrecy is necessary -- T.H. surmises that only an academic issues makes sense. Is it possible for Marvin Austin to be eligible for negative games this year?
Then Joe Schad started tweeting, and things got strange
He was on one of those rolls when he goes through like four or five in a row. Here's the best two:
North Carolina is preparing to go without up to 16 players vs. LSU
North Carolina is exploring the possibility of rolling suspensions spread over multiple games
So [when] Richt was asked Wednesday: "Are you expecting A.J. to play Saturday?"
"A.J. Harmon? Yeah," Richt said referring to the offensive lineman.
"Green," he was told.
"You know I can’t talk about that," Richt said.
Some of the other quotes in the post seem to suggest that Green will play. But Georgia fans can't be enthusiastic that, with the season opener about 72 hours away, their coach still couldn't answer the question -- much less answer it "yes."
No word on Marcell Dareus
That is all.
Two Arkansas players suspended against dangerous Tennessee Tech
It's Anthony Oden, o-lineman, and Van Stumon, a fullback. If you want a reason, just read this paragraph:
Coach Bobby Petrino didn’t say why the two are being held out for Saturday’s game. Each was arrested during the offseason on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.
Ah. Got it.
Attending the Penn State-Alabama game: Starting quarterback Robert Bolden
At least we think. Bolden will start against Youngstown State, the first time in Joe Paterno's tenure that a true freshman will start the season opener. But Paterno is still trying to play things close to the vest, labeling his quarterbacks "1A," "1B" and "1C."
Roll Bama Roll doesn't seem intimidated
In fact, they think Bolden might be.
This is an 18-year old true freshman who will be, in his first meaningful collegiate game, leading his team into Bryant-Denny Stadium, filled with over 100,000 fans, to face the #1 team in the country and the defending national champions.
The idea of a freshman quarterback having a difficult time against Alabama? Garrett Gilbert nods his head knowingly.
Not attending the Alabama-Penn State game: The starting mascot
Which is too bad, because Clint Gyory is an artist.
Police found Gyory just before 3 a.m. Aug. 1 passed out in the bed of a truck on the 200 block of East Fairmount Avenue. He was cited for underage drinking -- after blowing a .187 in a portable Breathalyzer test -- and for public drunkenness and criminal mischief.
Police say he had broken a rearview mirror off a vehicle and took it.
Since he did the safe thing and didn't drive drunk, we can say: Well played, sir. Well played.
SEC strengthens secondary violation consequences
What could possibly have inspired that?
Forgive me if I see this as another version of 'it's hotter for us'
Mark Richt is looking for a weaker schedule, and he apparently thinks Greg McGarity might be the man for the job. He would like to dial down the number of BCS teams on the Dawgs' schedule from two to one. (Unfortunately, this would give the other SEC teams reason to either do the same or continue to do so.)
"We’ve been doing it, but I don’t think we need to do it anymore, quite frankly," Richt said. "I don’t think anybody in the league needs to do it. I think if we win our out of conference games and win the league, we’ll be in really great position."
There's only one problem.
Georgia annually plays in-state rival Georgia Tech and is under contract to play two BCS conference opponents every year through 2016 with games set against Colorado (2010), Louisville (2011-12), Clemson (2013-14) and Oregon (2015-16).
If contracts are the issue, Richt doesn't need Greg McGarity. He needs Bobby Petrino.
The Mayor proposes a somewhat different route
He wants the school to ax travel and keep a strong schedule by putting a bout with Clemson on the slate. Which would be one of the few non-bowl games in which I would unequivocally cheer for the Dawgs.
Bill Hancock doesn't answer BCS Evolution's questions
He does explain why he believes a college football playoff would have to be at least a 16-team bracket (still nonsense), but aside from that it's most interesting for seeing Hancock's ability to bob and weave around questions.