It's college football's offseason. That's not my problem. It's not your problem. It's our problem. And collective problems call for collective solutions.
Thus, for the second interminable offseason in a row, we present Free Form Friday. Until further notice, I'll spend Fridays posting a vaguely organized compendium of non-sequiturs, pop culture observations and college sports miscellany which you may discuss in the comments, or ignore in favor of your own topics. Think of it as your weekend open comment thread.
The opinions are flying fast and furious over Urban Meyer's recent confrontation with Orlando Sentinel writer Jeremy Fowler. Kudos to Spencer Hall, Florida fan of high fervor and ridiculously suave mustache, for calling this what it was: Urban Meyer being a control freak who doesn't like it when people say things he doesn't want them to say, regardless of the objective data that supports those statements. Actually, I think Spencer's take was "He may be a dick, but he's our dick." Po-tay-to. Po-tah-to. With these kind of messenger-shooting chops, one can only imagine the tongue-lashing Meyer gave the cardiologist who delivered his EKG results. He was probably a really bad guy, and I'm sure Urbs made sure his daughter knew that.
In Georgia football news, I'm still on the fence about Bean Anderson moving over to nose tackle from guard. For one, I'm afraid that we're one Tanner Strickland weight room folly away from having to move him right back. I mean, we have depth on the offensive line*, but not that much depth. I also have to wonder what this means about the other guys they're working at the nose. Is this just some spring practice tinkering, or is it a sign that Coaches Grantham and Garner don't believe that Geathers, Lott and Tyson can get the job done in the middle? There's really no way of knowing, since the coaches aren't going to come out and tell us. Well, Coach Garner might, since he doesn't really understand this "holding back" thing you speak of. But still, one has to wonder.
The other issue that worries me a little is that Bean is a healthy 320 lb. if he's an ounce. Last season he was listed at 330. Will he be quick enough to be effective as a one gap nose tackle? If the answer is yes, can he keep the weight in check to avoid slowing down? I suppose we'll find out soon enough.
One thing I am certain of. All the goodwill surrounding our new defense needs to be conserved, because we're going to need it come September. As Darius Dawgberry and I discussed recently, the University of Louisiana (which is situated in Lafayette), is not necessarily a football powerhouse, but the odds are that they will pop us for some points. First games under new defensive schemes are like that. Somebody's going to blow a coverage at the wrong time. There's just no substitute for live fire testing, and if you do enough of it you'll eventually get grazed. The next week's contest against South Carolina has me just a little worried as well. That being said, I would be willing to spot the Gamecocks a field goal if they will outfit Steven Garcia with his practice helmet-cam. And if he could throw 5 picks, that would be welcome too.
After picking Georgetown, Pittsburgh and Villanova to make the Elite Eight, my bracket was on life support from the beginning. Northern Iowa pulled the plug when it upset my pick to win it all, Kansas. Now I'm in that happy place where I watch the NCAA tournament with little or no stake in the outcome of the games. From that vantage point and heading into the second weekend of the tournament, I've reassessed things and come to the following conclusions.
- Syracuse was going to win it all, until they lost it. The Fightin' David Hales had put away traditional tournament gadflies Vermont and Gonzaga by 20+ points per game before facing #5 Butler last night to make it to the round of 8. Butler got there by scraping by #13 Murray State in less than impressive fashion. All of which meant of course a) that Syracuse was hitting on all cylinders and playing great basketball at the right time or b) was about to fall off the kind of sheer cliff found only in the high reaches of the Andes, from which their mangled bodies will never be recovered. Answer? B. This confirms tournament rule #327: nobody puts together three great games in a row. So when your team dominates twice in a row, you probably don't want to see what's about to happen. Perhaps you'll squeak by. Perhaps you'll face an opponent equally bent on athletic self-immolation. But more likely, you're about to become so much unidentified pork product in the scrapple of life.
- Ohio State is playing Big Ten football on a basketball court, and it's working. The Buckeyes are plodding their way toward the final four by hitting free throws, turning it over just slightly less than their opponents and generally taking care of business. You can't beat everybody by 30 every night (see tournament rule #327), and this team won't. But if they keep doing the little things and get hot from behind the arc (I'm looking at you, Jon Diebler), they could be a match for anyone.
- Duke is not going to screw this up. No sir. Here's a fun fact: the last time Duke won an NCAA tournament game against a team seeded higher that #7 was March 26, 2004 against #5 seed Illinois. Since then the likes of Michigan State, LSU and Texas have perennially knocked the Dukies out of the tournament in the kind of game that Duke should win, but rarely if ever does. Unless you're a Duke fan you probably haven't noticed that Coach K struggles mightily against 4,5 and 6 seeds. Because a #1 losing to a #4 isn't that shocking, except when it happens over and over and over again. By the way, Duke plays tonight against #4 Purdue. I'm just saying.
- Michigan State is the Anti-Duke. And not just because East Lansing is nothing like Durham. Discounting 2006's opening round loss to that cinderella George Mason squad, MSU hasn't gone down to a lower seeded team since 2004, in any round. Tom Izzo knows two things in life, Capoeira, and preparing teams not to faceplant in the Big Dance. I hope you bracketed accordingly.
I've heard that the University of Georgia is fielding a baseball team this season, though frankly I've tried to block that out. Mainly because it seems like Foley Field should be marked off with crime scene tape given the atrocities going on over there. I tend to leave the baseball talk to Kyle but I have to say, losing to Furman and getting blown out by not just Auburn but Kennesaw State has to be about as bad as it can get, right? Right? I have to believe we've hit rock bottom, and I'm glad we could all meet here in the bottom to commiserate about it. Which calls for some blues, courtesy of Free Form Friday's official slide guitar virtuoso, Derek Trucks:
*I cannot believe I typed this sentence. I had to read it three times just to make sure I wasn't hallucinating. It felt good. Really good.