The blogosphere is a busy place in which many conversations can take place at once. Here are some of the topics under discussion that we find scattered amid the chatter:
- To barnstorm or not to barnstorm? That is the question, which The Blue-Gray Sky raised and to which B.G.S. received several responses, among them some that raised the prospect of games between Georgia and Notre Dame, maligned my alma mater as having "the most xenophobic football program," expressed disdain for the notion of conference affiliations for any onetime independents, and credited the Fighting Irish with "grabb[ing] some midlevel fodder" that oftentimes has "turned out to be pretty good, such as mid-late 90's Purdue and Northwestern teams that Notre Dame didn't expect to be on the upswing." That's a fair point, although I don't believe the Golden Domers deserve credit for scheduling what they thought were glorified patsy games against Big Ten bottom-feeders just because those programs wound up turning the corner shortly before kickoff . . . at least, not unless we're also going to give credit to every team that scheduled a would-be pushover and ran into stiffer competition than expected (e.g., Oklahoma with T.C.U. or Ole Miss with Memphis). By the same token, I don't believe it's reasonable to criticize Notre Dame for putting together what the Fighting Irish believed would be a tough 2005 slate that turned out to be weak when Michigan, Pitt, Purdue, Syracuse, Tennessee, and Washington all turned out to be significantly worse than the schedulemakers anticipated. No one can accuse the Irish of running scared in Charlie Weis's first season, even if they may have caught a break when most of their opponents entered downcycles more or less simultaneously. On the whole, though, I think the barnstorming idea is a good one and I'd be in favor of a Georgia-Notre Dame regular season game, despite the fact that I'd prefer it if the Bulldogs faced Michigan instead.
- While we're on the subject of S.E.C. scheduling, a recent diary entry highlights the College Football Palace's breakdown of the league's out-of-conference matchups. Given the kind of grief we get over our non-conference scheduling, I'm glad to have it confirmed that the S.E.C. is, in fact, upgrading its non-league slate.
If we never see these guys again, it'll be too soon.
- While Brian was out of town for the weekend, questions were raised at his place about the symbiotic relationship between universities and their athletic programs. Do academics benefit from athletics or should athletic departments give back to the academic side of the house? While thoughts were offered, no solutions were found.
- Some Gamecock fans showed up at the Georgia Sports Blog, where they talked some trash before being taken to school. South Carolina fans are so weak, they have to take heat from Georgia Tech fans. That's just sad.
You're 13-43-2 against Georgia and your tradition is totally weak. Get over yourselves.
- As usual, Burnt Orange Nation is doing first-rate work, briefly engaging College Football Resource over C.F.R.'s recent posting on the problems that accompany the recruitment of talented athletes of questionable character. C.F.R. makes the reasonable point that all major programs have these problems and his willingness to defend U.C.L.A. despite the Bruins' recent troubles suggests that he is genuinely making a larger point about the sport as a whole rather than making excuses for the other Pac-10 institution in the City of Angels. While I respect the sincerity of C.F.R.'s argument, I believe Bruins Nation is right to hold his alma mater accountable for the actions of its athletes. C.F.R. is, of course, correct that many five-star athletes come from questionable backgrounds and, in many instances, they have learned little discipline because their prowess on the field has gotten them preferential treatment that has created an entitlement mentality. Nevertheless, lines must be drawn, expectations imposed, and punishments levied. That is why, although I may argue in favor of Georgia athletes when they face what I believe to be bogus criminal charges within the meaning of the law, I applaud Mark Richt for his insistence upon the imposition of discipline, even if it means suspending our most experienced offensive lineman for a challenging early season conference road test against a longstanding rival. I am all for giving second chances to players who have learned their lesson, but there is a limit to how much tolerance recidivists can be shown before successful programs become havens of rampant thuggery. If the sport is to have any semblance of a conscience, we cannot overlook such lapses as Tom Osborne's lax attitude towards Lawrence Phillips or the culture of lawlessness that prevailed in Norman under Barry Switzer, resulting in a shameful run in 1989 during which three Sooners were charged with rape, the starting quarterback was arrested for selling cocaine, and one player shot another. There are such things as bad seeds and, if they cannot be taught to straighten up and fly right, they must be weeded out of all reputable programs.
- It has also been noted at Burnt Orange Nation that Ian offered intriguing answers to the BlogPoll roundtable discussion questions, which incorporated a description of last Saturday's commencement exercises at the Joseph Henry Lumpkin School of Law. My congratulations go out to Ian and to an old friend of mine, Jason Burnette, on their receipt of juris doctorate degrees on the quadrangle just south of Old College on Saturday.
O to be in Athens, now that spring is here. . . .
That should give you plenty to talk about around the water cooler on Tuesday morning.