We are inside of two weeks until the kickoff of college football season, which means that Free Form Friday will soon be no more. It's a bittersweet thing, really. I enjoy these little rants, and I keep doing them because every so often one seems to trigger some good conversation. And it's a great excuse to post music clips that I otherwise might not be able to shoehorn into the college football commentary.
But college sports, and Bulldog football in particular, are ultimately our raison d'etre here at Dawg Sports. And the chance to dig into the meaty goodness of SEC pigskin just makes me giddy. So this Free Form Friday may be the only one ever to actually focus on college football. Think of it as a scrimmage of sorts, because even we bloggers have to get into game shape.
- Bean Anderson is looking more and more like our starter at nose tackle. This is huge news (no pun intended) for a couple of reasons. For one, it means that Deangelo Tyson can move to his more natural position of defensive end. Our starting front of Dobbs, Anderson and Tyson is about as good a group as we could hope for to replace last year's group of Owens, Weston and Atkins. This also means that we actually have something resembling depth on the defensive front, with Brandon Wood and Abry Jones (both of whom looked like starters at some point during fall camp) coming off the bench. If Kwame Geathers can get in the rotation at nose we'll be in better shape at the point of attack than I would have imagined back in January. I also like the fact that Bean may finally have a home. As a matter of scholarship efficiency, a guy that big who can benchpress a Buick Skylark needs to be on the field in some shape, form or fashion.
- Stephen Garcia may not see the field for the opening snaps of South Carolina's season, at least the way Steve Spurrier tells it. I'll believe that Spurrier plans to start true freshman Connor Shaw of Flowery Branch when I actually see him take the first snap. Even then I imagine Garcia will be getting the lion's share of the work. Spurrier is simply trying to motivate his car-keying, beer-drinking junior signal caller. But the fact that Garcia requires that sort of gamesmanship in the first place may be telling.
- Speaking of Bill Stanfill's favorite tackling dummy, Spurrier has joined the rest of the civilized world in chiding Tennessee over the decision to buy its way out of playing North Carolina in football in 2011 and 2012. Quoth the Ball Coach "Golly, times have changed when Tennessee doesn't want to play North Carolina in football because they're too good for them. That's kind of amazing." I'm not an SEC Athletic Director, but I sometimes play one on the internet. And just this once, despite the initial PR hit, I think Mike Hamilton may be doing the right thing. As I've said a couple of times before, Tennessee (the state) does not produce enough football talent on a yearly basis to stock an SEC-contending football team. Georgia, Kentucky and the Carolinas are critical to keeping the Urnge Crush stocked with future bar brawlers, convenience store stickup artists and paternity test takers. If a rebuilding Volunteer squad lost back-to-back matchups to Butch Davis's resurgent Tar Heels, a key recruiting beachhead could be lost. Tennessee could miss out on the next Jonathan Crompton, for pete's sake. Nothing is worth that risk.
- Speaking of recruiting, this is usually kind of a slow period for recruiting, as coaches are at practice rather than out on the road and high school players are dog tired from their own two-a-days. The exception is Tampa standout James Wilder, Jr., who recently gave his verbal commitment to the Florida State Seminoles, despite reports from AOL FanHouse contributor Brett McMurphy to the contrary. I'll talk more recruiting over the weekend (spoiler, there'll be a poll and everything!). But for now, two points. One, I was a little surprised at the response to McMurphy's prediction over at FanHouse. Rest assured, if you're going to cover college recruiting you're going to talk to people who don't want to be identified. I have firsthand experience with this. And not all of them are reliable. But for a guy like McMurphy, who actually wrote for the Tampa Tribune to run with it the info had to be reasonably compelling. But if all the regional writers for ESPN, Rivals, Scout and blogs like this one got blitzed like that for every errant recruiting prediction based on what their "sources" said, there'd be no room for anything else on the whole internet. Usually however, the hivemind forgets all about it and moves on. Not this time. Second, if you're going to try to break big news based on shadowy sources, you kind of have to be prepared to say "My bad!" when you get it completely wrong. For some reason, McMurphy simply followed up with a straight report on Wilder's FSU commitment, without stepping in and even acknowledging his incorrect scoop from a mere 24 hours earlier. That looks pretty bad from where I'm sitting.
Since FFF is winding down for the offseason, I figured I'd take this opportunity to post a song I've been wanting to use literally since I started doing this feature. I've just never been able to find a suitably high quality video for it until now. Praise be to YouTube, and James McMurtry (warning, adult language & content, violence, and all the other themes you've come to expect from every other song ever posted in this space, yes, even the ones by Muse):
Until later . . .