Welcome to week’s “Case of the Mondays” where we look at the good, bad and surreal from the world of college football world, sporting world and beyond.
And we enter this weekend’s edition with some good news: We actually have college football to talk about! That’s right, after weeks of drugging through college hoops, Tebow-mania, Peyton-Mania, Lin-sanity, baseball, WNBA basketball, bowling and more… we can actually talk college football!! Spring practices are underway on almost every campus nationwide, pro days are being held near and far, and the NFL Draft is right around the corner.
But first, we must start with the surreal in Knoxville, TN, where:
1. Da’Rick Rogers has done it again!: That’s right, one of the biggest knuckleheads in modern knuckleheadetry is at it again. Apparently, Rogers did something to upset Derek Dooley this week, and it cost him a few days’ worth of practice. It also cost this writer a few hours of his life. Let me explain.
You see, when news broke that Rogers had been withheld from practice by Dooley earlier this week, I got mad. Not crazy mad, like when Domino’s refused to accept my two-for-one coupon the other night, but mad none the less. Most of my anger centered around Rogers, his laissez faire about being a football player at Tennessee, and his inability to keep himself out of the headlines around Knoxville. Playing college football in the SEC is a privilege not a right, something that Rogers has still yet to learn in his two and a half years as a Vols. Now in his defense Rogers has never anything really bad, or really harmful to anyone but himself. At the same time, he’s been involved with enough dumb stuff that I thought that finally, it might be time for Dooley to show him the door.
That was why I was mad.
Now here’s why I wasted a few hours of my life.
Because a day or so after the news broke, I sat down to write an article on why it was time for Dooley to send Rogers packing. I had it written, and was set to hit publish early Saturday… until word broke just moments later that Rogers was not only staying at Tennessee, but on the practice field Saturday afternoon as if nothing happened. So much for that idea, huh? It appears as though Rogers will be a Vol for the foreseeable future.
The question now though becomes what Dooley will do from here. I’m all for giving guys second and third chances, but at this point, Rogers is working on his fifth or sixth. How much is too much? With one more dust-up, will he finally be shown the door? In a make-or-break year Dooley needs to have everyone aboard, with the same vision. If not, it could cost the Vols their season, and Dooley his job. Will Rogers be able to keep his head out of the clouds?
Obviously, Da’Rick is out of the doghouse for now. But can he do enough to stay in everyone’s good graces?
2. Speaking of screw-ups: What the heck is going on at Georgia?
For a program which has always had trouble keeping their players off the police blotter and on the practice field, this seems like an especially troubling spring around Athens. Just this past week starters Bacarri Rambo (an All-American safety last season) and Alec Ogletree were suspended to start next season, joining fellow starters Sanders Cummings and Branden Smith who will likely sit out to begin next year as well. In total, Georgia has had 28 players either transfer, get kicked off the team or suspended for the 2012 opener who should’ve had eligibility left to play in September. I mean, that’s got to be some sort of unofficial record, right?
A couple things about this are concerning. The first is that it’s bad enough when any of your players get in trouble, but what has to be especially concerning for Mark Richt is that three of the four suspended players are seniors and all four are starters. What kind of example does that set for the younger guys on the team?
Maybe of even bigger importance, you know what would concern me the most if I were a Georgia fan? It’s that the program seems to be content with their successes in 2011, and instead of improving, appears to be taking a major step back.
In a lot of ways it reminds me of what happened at South Carolina last year too. As you may remember, the school won its first SEC East title in 2010… then spent the entire off-season erasing any residual good will from the previous season’s run. Stephen Garcia got in trouble, Alshon Jeffery came into camp overweight, and Jadaveon Clowney got in trouble before he even got to campus. Yes, South Carolina still won 11 games last year, but in a lot of ways the season was still a disappointment. At the very least there’s no doubting that the Gamecocks didn’t reach their full potential.
As for the players involved well, let’s talk about Rambo, because…
3. He had maybe the best alibi in the history of alibis: When one of his former high school coaches came to Rambo’s defense, saying that he had failed a drug test because… are you ready for this… he accidentally ate a pot brownie on spring break. That poor, poor soul. How could you not feel terrible for Rambo?
In all seriousness, I guess there is a feasible possibility that he did eat a pot brownie completely by accident, and in Rambo’s defense, his high school coach claims that the All-American safety has “never lied to him.” Maybe so. Then again, I think my mom is smart enough to know that even though she never caught me lying as a kid, it doesn’t mean that I never did actually lie.
But back to Rambo, because I’d like to know what some other excuses he might’ve used in the past? As a matter of fact, here are my best guesses at some of his responses to a few of life’s bigger questions.
In no particular order:
Q. Have you ever smoked pot?
A. I smoked it, but never inhaled.
Q. Have you ever smoked cigarettes?
A. I’ve only held them for a friend.
Q. Have you ever drank alcohol?
A. I had no idea that a ‘Malibu Bay Breeze’ had alcohol in it.
Q. Have you ever had pre-marital sex?
A. Only after drinking three Malibu Bay Breeze’s…
4. One final note on Rambo: As it pertains to his future. There are already reports surfacing that rather than face a punishment at Georgia, Rambo may choose to enter the NFL’s Supplemental Draft. For the growth and development of the kid, I hope he doesn’t.
For starters, we still don’t know exactly what is going to happen with Rambo in Athens. Reports are that he’ll be suspended the first four games of the 2012 season, which would eliminate a third of his senior season. That’s a tough pill to swallow, yes. But if I were advising him I’d still tell him to stick things out in Athens.
First off, there’s something that fundamentally bothers me about a kid entering the Supplemental Draft when he hasn’t in fact been kicked out of school. To me, the Supplemental Draft should represent a “last chance saloon” of sorts, a place for a guy with football talent to go when he’s got no other options. It happened when Cris Carter had academic problems at Ohio State a number of years ago, and also when Terrelle Pryor got booted from Columbus last year.
But Rambo? Nobody is forcing him to leave Athens, and I bet if you asked Richt he’d probably like to keep him around. Not only because Rambo is an incredible football talent, but because he seems like a good kid by most accounts. Yes he has made a few bad decisions these last few years, but talk to the people who’ve actually been around him, and they gush like Urban Meyer talking about Tim Tebow or something.
Plus, if there’s one thing that these young kids need to learn, it’s that you can’t just run from your problems. In life, when you make a mistake, there are consequences, and for most of us in the real world, we have to face those consequences head on. We can’t just run off and cash a million dollar paycheck as an NFL safety.
So to Rambo, I plead with you, stick it out in Athens. You did the crime, now it’s time to do the time.
To use a bad pun, there’s no shame in what you’ve already done. The real shame would be not owning up to it.
5. Speaking of football players and second chances: An important news story got lost in the shuffle this week, when former South Carolina quarterback showed up in Columbia for the Gamecocks pro day. There, Garcia was asked what he planned to do if football didn’t work out, and he told reporters that he was seriously considering joining the military. Good for him.
Look, nobody has more fun at Garcia’s expense than I have through the years, but all joking aside, Garcia is a real person, with real demons. He seems to slowly be putting those demons behind him, but with these things, you just never know when they’ll pop back up. Just as easily as Garcia has his stuff in order today, they could be in disarray tomorrow.
Which is why I want to personally wish Garcia the best of luck in the future. How that success comes doesn’t really matter. I don’t care if it’s football, the military or as a live-in nanny for Steve Spurrier’s grandkids (which admittedly, is kind of funny to think about), just as long as Garcia is happy and healthy, that’s all that matters.
Now, let’s move onto something a little more fun, and head down to ‘The U’ where Al Golden is…
6. Looking for a few good men: Have you seen this story? Apparently Golden and the football staff down at Miami have put up flyers across campus, encouraging young men who are at least 6’1 and 230 lbs. to come to try to walk-on to the Miami football team.
So here’s the thing. The more I think about this story, the more I realize that if it’d happened 10 years ago, nobody would’ve even noticed. But because it’s 2012 and because everything is completely overanalyzed on the internet, everyone made a fuss about it this week. After all, how could such a proud program have fallen so far that they’re now practically begging Joe Six-Pack to come out for the team?
It’s insanity I tell ya!
Except it isn’t at all.
The simple truth is that basically every football program in the country has some sort of walk-on program, even if they don’t advertise it quite like Miami did last week. Some have open tryouts, some use preferred walk-ons (essentially guys who’ve been recruited, but told they won’t have scholarships) and some programs have even been built largely on the backs of walk-ons. Nebraska has had multiple All-Americans come through their program as walk-ons.
More importantly, this isn’t a sign of the apocalypse, but instead, a sign that umm… Miami needs a couple more bodies to get through the spring. Remember, they lost a massive senior class this last winter, and it wasn’t helped by the fact that six players left Miami early for the NFL Draft. That was far and away the most of any team in college football.
The point being that the issue of “not enough bodies” is something that’s problematic right now, not symbolic of an apocalypse. Remember, Miami will welcome one of the highest rated recruited classes in the country to campus this fall, one that includes over 30 players, a number of elite recruits, and a whole lot of guys that’ll fill out the depth chart.
Simply put, this isn’t a big deal unless you make it one. So please, everyone just shut up.
7. Now, let’s take a quick break to recap everything that happened at Crystal Ball Run this week: To get you caught up on the rest of college football's comings and goings.
In no particular order, we covered the spring practices of Michigan, Ohio State and Virginia Tech. We also touched on Notre Dame’s future, and argued about who has the best job in the both the SEC and Big XII (with more to come).
And finally, if you haven’t heard, there is a crazy connection between Rick Neuheisel and Seinfeld. If you haven’t seen this story, you HAVE to check it out.
Let’s move away from college football, and instead talk…
8. Baseball?: Truth be told, I’d be lying if I told you I cared about baseball, and honestly up until today, I had no idea that Opening Day was even this week.
Anyway, I haven’t paid all that much attention to spring training, but I must say one story did stick out above all others: The return of pitcher Jamie Moyer, who made the Colorado Rockies opening day roster.
For those who don’t know why that’s a big deal, the answer is simple… Moyer is 49-years-old. 49! As in he was born in 1962, was drafted in 1984, and made his Major League debut in 1986, a few years before a couple of his own teammates were born.
Now if you’re looking for some hard-hitting analysis on where Moyer fits into with the Rockies, we’ll refer you to our sister-site here on the Bloguin network, the Outside Corner.
We’re just still in amazement. Forty-nine. Forty-nine-years-old. Can you believe that??
9. As we begin to wrap up: I usually use this space to make a good book, TV or movie recommendation.
But instead, I’d like to go in the opposite direction today and ask this: Has anyone seen previews for the “Three Stooges” movie? Who the heck in their right mind is going to waste $10 on that?
10: And finally: With college basketball’s National Championship Game this evening, it’s only appropriate that we finish by saying:
Kentucky 78, Kansas 70.
Congratulations Big Blue Nation on title No. 8!
For all his insight, opinions and articles on sports, be sure to follow Aaron Torres on Twitter @Aaron_Torres.