Welcome to this week’s edition of “Case of the Mondays,” Crystal Ball Run’s look at the good, the bad and the surreal from the world of college football and beyond.
And considering that we’re knee deep in the dog days of the off-season, it was in fact a surprisingly busy week in college football. We had some arrests, some team and player movement, and of course, the big news coming when a major media star switched addresses and switched jobs over the weekend.
But before we look back, we need to look ahead and let you know that this is…
1. “Playoff Week” here at Crystal Ball Run: As you know by now, we at Crystal Ball Run are getting you ready for college football by making every week from now until late August some kind of “theme” pertaining to the 2012 season. A few weeks ago we discussed the Heisman, then hit coaching hot seats, and last week broke down the ACC as a whole. Well this week, we’re switching things up and discussing the biggest story in the sport: The impending college football playoff.
So what should you expect in our coverage? Only the most comprehensive breakdown of the playoff found ever!
Over the next five days look for us to analyze everything to do with the playoff, from the best host cities, to the gambling implications it will have, as well as who will benefit and be hurt the most by the change in the postseason format. This is a fascinating, polarizing and unique topic, and there is plenty to cover as more information continues to come out.
Now, let’s talk about the actual news, where shockwaves hit late Sunday…
2. When it was announced that ESPN sweetheart Erin Andrews had left the Worldwide Leader for Fox: Given that we’ve already done a breakdown here at Crystal Ball Run, we won’t get too deep into the Erin Andrews news here in Case of the Mondays. Just know that while we’ll miss EA working alongside Chris, Kirk, Lee and Desmond every Saturday morning in addition to patrolling the sidelines at night, we are happy that she landed on her feet at Fox. The thought of Saturday’s without Andrews seemed like cruel and unusual to us college football fans.
At the same time, in addition to everything else written on the subject, I did have one prevailing thought on Andrews’ role at Fox Sports (which will apparently include a 30-minute, primetime studio show on Saturdays). That question? Will it work?
Now please understand that that’s not a shot at EA one bit, a woman who proven over time to be as adept, comfortable and confident as anyone in the college football media world. Andrews is great at what she does, and I have no doubt she’ll have success going forward. Still what she did at ESPN is completely, 360 degrees different from what she’ll be doing at Fox. It’ll take a completely different skill-set, and one which isn’t easy to acquire on the fly.
To be a good studio host, you’ve got to have some combination of knowledge, balance, the ability to think, act and react on the fly, and to juggle the egos you’re working with. Think Rece Davis with Mark May and Lou Holtz (a thankless task if ever there was one). Think Rich Eisen on the set of NFL Network. Think Chris Berma--- actually, don’t think about him.
The point though? It isn’t as easy as it looks on TV.
Best of luck to Andrews. She’ll need it, as she takes on a really tough job.
3. Staying in the college football world: How about the news of Isaiah Crowell’s arrest and dismissal from Georgia’s football program late last week? By now you know the details, as Crowell was caught at 3:37 a.m. Friday, and charged with two felonies and a misdemeanor. The worst count- carrying a concealed weapon in a school zone- could net Crowell some serious jail time, or at best, a fine of upwards of $10,000.
Of course now that the news has been out in the open for a few days, just about every media outlet has had their opportunity to weigh in. Some believe this is just the latest example of the Georgia Bulldogs gone wild, while some tie in Crowell’s past problems (he was suspended on two separate situations last year) with Friday’s news to paint a picture of a kid who had “this coming.”
Me, I’m not so sure. And if anything, I just feel bad for Crowell.
Now, did he make a huge mistake? Of course he did. Should he face the consequences for what he did? Absolutely. Should he no longer be part of the Georgia Bulldogs football team? It’s hard to make an argument for him, that’s for sure.
At the same time, we must still remember that this is a 19-year-old kid and still about 18 or so months removed from high school. He is in fact a kid. And while he’s a kid who’s made some massive mistakes, it makes me sad to think that everybody is ready to turn their backs on him. Whether football is in his life or not, Crowell still has a lot of his life to live. And it’s a shame that we’re not trying to help him learn from his mistakes, help him rehabilitate and help him move on with the next chapter of his life.
Maybe Crowell “had this coming” and maybe he didn’t. That still isn’t a reason to completely give up on him though.
4. Moving and shaking in the major conferences: It was also a big weekend in college football, as we finally got some closure to the insane wave of realignment that hit last fall. With the turning of the calendar to July 1 at midnight on Saturday, Texas A&M and Missouri officially became members of the SEC, West Virginia and TCU officially replaced them in the Big XII, and we officially got closure on Boise State’s football future. They’ll be members of the Big East starting in the 2013 season. It remains to be seen where the rest of their sports will be played.
Now, this is hardly earth-shattering news, and frankly there isn’t really much to add here. My only hope is that somehow it’s semi-closure to the crazy realignment wave of the last two years (it isn’t the complete closure, as the ACC, Big East, Conference USA and others have more coming in the next few years) and that some normalcy will return to the sport of college football.
Is anyone else ready to stop talking about the shuffling of teams and just start talking about the games on the field?
5. Moving away from college football: It was quite the weekend around the globe, including the sport that the rest of the world calls “football.” That’d be the Euro Cup, and in case you missed yesterday’s final, Spain put on a performance for the ages, beating up Italy 4-0 in the final. For those of you scoring at home, it was also the Spaniards third straight major win in international play (they also won the 2008 Euro Cup and 2010 World Cup).
Now, as anyone who follows me knows, I’m hardly a soccer head, but at the same time am fascinated by this Spanish team none the less. Many soccer pundits (myself definitely not included) are calling this group of Spaniards the greatest team ever assembled, and pointing to their dominance in international play of proof of that.
Frankly, I don’t know enough to disagree or not, but what I can tell you is this: Maybe the most fascinating thing about this team is they entered the Euro Cup with heavy expectations, entered as the overwhelming favorites, and entered without the best player of their 2010 World Cup run, David Villa (who was arguably their best player in the 2008 Euro Cup as well)… and still won going away.
Think about that for a second. They already had the weight of the world on their shoulders, already had the pressure of living up to impossible hype, had to do it without their best player, and still won anyway? Are you kidding me? Can you comprehend the degree of difficulty of what Spain just did? Think of it like the Miami Heat winning the NBA Finals without LeBron James or the New England Patriots winning the Super Bowl without Tom Brady. That’s basically what Spain did over the last few months.
Again, I’m hardly a soccer fan, and I’d be lying if I said that I watched the Euro Cup in more than a passing fashion. At the same time, I love sports, and love watching the greatest teams, coaches and players do it on the biggest stage, something Spain certainly did over the past month.
They should be commended for that.
6. Moving over to basketball: It looks like we might finally, mercifully get closure to the Dwight Howard saga in Orlando. After going back and forth for months about his future with the Magic, reports surfaced Saturday night that Howard has officially told the Magic that he will not play for them, and wants to be traded. Apparently Howard prefers playing for the Brooklyn Nets, and according to the latest report from Yahoo, that’s the only place where he’ll sign an extension beyond this season.
This is all very important news, but before we analyze it, let me first say… halleluiah!
Look, no matter how you feel about Howard the basketball player, Howard the person has been nothing short of obnoxious over the last year or so. He has held his teammates and organization hostage for months now (heck, I wrote about it all the way back in January) trying to figure out his future, and taken little into consideration other than his own personal gain over that time as well. He hasn’t seemed to care one bit about how his actions impacted his teammates, his team or even the city of Orlando. And shame on him for that.
Now, the Magic literally have no choice but to trade him. Maybe more interestingly though is this: Will they cave to his demands and ship him to Brooklyn? If rumors that he won’t sign an extension anywhere else are true, they might have no choice. After all, will any other team interested (the Lakers, Warriors, Mavericks, whomever) really mortgage their future to get one year of Dwight Howard?
Who knows, but how funny would it be if they did? How funny would it be to see “Superman” up on a podium trying to feign excitement over heading to Golden State for a year? How funny would it be to see Deron Williams (a guy who’s supposedly been conspiring with Howard to get him to the Nets) get stuck in a no-win situation and have to decide between staying in Brooklyn without Howard, or move on and risk never playing with him period?
It’d be funny, and would be a good dose of reality for Howard. After everything he’s put his team through, it might be nice to see him get a taste of humility.
7. Sticking with basketball: The United States’ hopes to repeat as Olympic Gold Medalists took a couple major hits this week, as both Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh announced they won’t be participating this summer. Add them in with Howard (back) and Derrick Rose (knee) and that’s four players who would’ve been locks for the roster who will now be staying home this summer.
Now obviously going forward, the U.S. should be ok. With a couple guys named LeBron, Durant and Kobe, they will still be heavy gold medal favorites, and it’d be shocking if anyone (other than maybe Spain) upset them along the way.
At the same time, it should also help us appreciate the perfect set of events that came together to give us the “Redeem Team” in 2008. That year we got all these guys, Kobe, LeBron, Wade, Carmelo, Chris Paul, Howard onto one team, and one court together, and it was truly spectacular. Everyone was healthy. Everyone sacrificed for the good of the team. And it was one of the more memorable sporting events we’ve witnessed in a while.
Look, the 2012 Olympics are going to be fun with or without those guys. But it really would’ve been special to see them all together on one team.
8. Staying with the Olympics: Has anyone else gotten really into the Olympic trials that NBC is airing every night? Like maybe, possibly, a little bit too much into them? I know I’m guilty as charged.
My personal favorite has been swimming, where it seems like every night we’re getting a great matchup in the pool, between the two premier athletes in the sport, Ryan Lochte vs. Michael Phelps.
Now I’m obviously a swimming novice (admittedly, I couldn’t have picked Lochte out of a crowd a week ago), but I must admit that this makes for some compelling TV every single night. Simply put, these are the two best swimmers in the world, from the same country, competing in a lot of the same events, sometimes with an Olympic berth on the line. It doesn’t get better than that, and it also makes me wonder if this is the best rivalry going in sports right now.
I’ll leave that for others decide, but all I’ll add is this: If you’re not tuning in, shame on you.
Get to your TV, right now.
9. Speaking of Phelps: While I’d like to wish him a happy birthday (he just turned 27 on Saturday), I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that he’s giving me a bit of an inferiority complex. You see, Phelps was born within week of when I was, back in the wonderful year of 1985. And while that might not mean much to you, it means a crap-ton to me. Mostly it’s got me thinking, “Man, I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.”
Now that’s not to imply I’m doing bad for myself (I am the co-managing editor of this kick ass site after all), but still, I am down 16 Olympic medals on Phelps, not mention millions of dollars and a whole lot of fame on the guy. It’s safe to say that if anything, he’s kicking my butt in the “Game of Life.”
Of course I do have one redeeming quality going for me. That quality? According to my buddy Matt, I am much better looking than Phelps is. So, I guess there’s that.
Plus, who knows. As I approach my 27th birthday, I still have time to get training and maybe win a few gold medals in 2016. No?
10. And finally: As I always do, I’ll wrap up by giving you a book, TV or movie recommendation. It’s been awhile since I’ve been to the movies, and I’m really not watching anything on TV right now (don’t I say that every week?), so let’s instead go to the world of literature where I strongly recommend you pick up… 50 Shades of Grey.
Just kidding. What do you think I am, a 14-year-old girl?
In all seriousness, my choice for today is Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point.” I’m about 40 percent through, and it’s an absolutely fascinating look at our society, sociological trends and how they reach a certain “tipping point” that take them one direction or another.
It’s hard to explain the full gist of the book here, but it is fascinating none the less. Definitely something I’d recommend to get you through these last few weeks before football starts.
Until next time…
For all his insight, analysis and opinion on sports, be sure to follow Aaron on Twitter @Aaron_Torres.