Thursday, August 2, 2012
College Football Odds and Ends
So let's say that you are an animal clinic worker entrusted with the care of the local university's mascot bulldog. It's a hot day, but you still take him out for some exercise and outdoor time. What's your play?
a. Make sure he has lots of water available and limit his time outdoors.
b. Toughen him up by depriving him of water and keeping him outside for longer.
c. Forget about him until he's dead of heat stroke.
Let's say you chose "C" and now have a dead beloved mascot on your hands. What's you play now?
a. Immediately inform your superiors and resign from your job in disgrace
b. Call a press conference to say, "It was just a stupid wussy dog anyway. Tougher dogs should represent our university."
c. Report him missing so that dozens of volunteers spend days looking for him.
If you answered "C" to these questions, congratulations, you may be eligible for employment at Sexton Animal Health Center in Ruston, Louisiana, home of the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. Or actually, not, as this horrible employee was obviously fired.
It's that rare-but-not-rare-enough double whammy of professional dereliction compounded by total cowardice, and this "employee" is extremely lucky his former employers are not releasing his or her name. As a result, Louisiana Tech goes on the search for "Tech XXI" and the animal caretakers as Georgia, Mississippi State, and Fresno State are undoubtedly giving their charges an extra hug and a milk bone today. This is actually the second consecutive Louisiana Tech mascot to suffer be done in by heat stroke, as Tech IX (no, not Tech N9ne) was forced into retirement after suffering heat stroke in a game against Central Arkansas.
It's always great when a five-star recruit chooses a non-dynasty school to play for, most notably when high school hoops star Adonal Foyle chose to stay near his home an attend Colgate in 1993. That wasn't the case for Kyle Prater, the Illinois native who two years ago was the No. 1 high school wide receiver in the country (No. 3 player overall) and took his talents to West Beach, or USC. But two injury-plagued and depth-chart-burial seasons later, he's returning to the Midwest to further his career in the Chicagoland region — not for Illinois, Wisconsin, or Notre Dame, but for Northwestern.
What's more, because he's returning to his home state, the NCAA is waiving the normal requirement to sit out a year and Prater can play for the Wildcats immediately.
Behind Ohio State, Northwestern is my second favorite Big Ten program. It has the distinction of being the Big Ten's only private school, and has the Journalism School that budding young scribes always hear about growing up. It could be an interesting year for Northwestern Football — their toughest non-conference opponent is Syracuse, and if they can get by them and a Penn State team that may or may not be in disarray, a 7-0 start is a possibility. They also avoid Ohio State and Wisconsin entirely this year.
So while things are looking up for the Northwestern receiving corps, they are looking down ... way, way, way down ... for Oklahoma's. You might remember Kenny Stills, their all-everything wide receiver with the multicolored mohawk and the colorful personality. He's back. Here's a list of all other Sooner receivers who have caught a pass in college football. End list.
They were hit hard by graduation, but also had not one, not two, but three receivers suspended indefinitely and two of those have had their scholarships revoked. They were hoping to get a boost from junior college transfer Courtney Gardner, but he was not able to make the grade in time for eligibility this year. Their only returning receiver besides Stills is a walk-on who caught no passes. This means it's going to be Stills and a bunch of freshmen this year for Oklahoma, and of course that will lead to secondaries double- and triple-teaming Stills while daring the freshmen to break one-on-one coverage and leaning hard against the run.
I'll be interested to watch their first game, at UTEP. While UTEP is obviously not in the same class as Oklahoma, they are at home and have been known to produce surprising results and even more near-misses when they can lure a big team to El Paso.
Finally, I have to tip my cap to the fans of Pitt Panther football. They were spurned in the offseason when Todd Graham, their coach of only one year, bolted (informing the players via text message) to become the next coach of Arizona State ... this after previously pledging his commitment to Rice. And Tulsa. In fact, Every Day Should Be Saturday hilariously implemented a Todd Graham simulation for NCAA 2013 on XBox, where they played as Graham in some sort of Coach Legacy mode where he promised every recruit the moon, as well as coaching stability, and then tried to immediately get another coaching job after a season of mediocre results (result: virtual Boston College took the bait!)
Anyway, in real life, Graham's handlers at Arizona State opened up the Twitter hashtag #askASU as part of Pac 10 Media Days. Pitt fans, and others, responded in force:
Did you really tell the Panthers you were just going out for a pack of cigarettes? #askASU
What are your thoughts on texting? I think it's pretty neat. #AskASU
#AskASU wouldn’t it just be cheaper to buy a U-Haul at this point instead of renting one every year?
Hey Todd, my grandma's cat passed away, can you text her the bad news. I don't have the heart. #AskASU
More examples, and good background on Graham if you don't know the story, here.