If it's Monday and you just watched your favorite college football team handled in the Georgia Dome with the kind of kid glove care generally only seen on the Dexter director's cut, then college football may be the last thing you want to think about. Be that as it may, it would be a poor excuse for me skipping my weekly pigskin priorities. The weekend left me with some stuff to clean up, and I'll be spending the rest of the day handling it. The stuff in question includes:
1) Lay off Isaiah Crowell. But only a little. I still think Isaiah Crowell has what it takes to make it as an SEC tailback. But there was a reason that at one point fans in the Georgia Dome, Georgia fans, were booing him as he limped off the field. Early this year he showed flashes of what he could do. He's since shown flashes of what Bulldog fans don't want to see: another bluechip tailback who can't keep himself on the field because of bad decisions, injuries, and suspicions about "attitude problems." One is a coincidence. Two is a trend. Three is hard to ignore. Four should make us ask some questions. I've long since stopped believing that Georgia tailbacks' difficulty staying focused and out of trouble over the past couple of years is a coincidence. I still think Isaiah Crowell can get it going. Heck, Boo Malcome's gone from off the team to starting against Tech, to being our most effective back against LSU. There's always hope.
2) Await Keith Marshall's announcement on Tuesday. In case you haven't heard, Raleigh, N.C. tailback Keith Marshall is the Bulldogs' #1 target at his position in the class of 2012. He graduated high school early and will enroll in the college of his choice in January. Mark Richt had an in home recruiting visit with Marshall yesterday, and the nation's top all-purpose back plans to make his college announcement at 2:45 tomorrow afternoon. Georgia has long been thought to be the leader for his services, but Clemson has made up a lot of ground recently. As Keith has expressed no interest in Clemson's exciting ATM Repair major, I chalk that up to realizing that Clemson coaches have found a way to get Sammy Watkins on the field and then stay out of his way. That counts as an offensive epiphany on the shores of Lake Hartwell.
3) Find out what Frank Beamer has pictures of the BCS selection honchos doing, and wonder why he chose this moment to break those pictures out. Actually, nevermind. I probably don't really want to know. And I don't need to. The bottom line on bowl selection is this: it's about money. It's about putting butts in the seats and reservations on the hotel registries and tourists from the upper midwest in front of plates heaping with overpriced reproductions of classic creole cooking. If you want a selection process that matches the top seeded available team from conference A with the top seed from conference B, well, there's a name for that: a playoff bracket.
4) Provide the only X's and O's analysis of the BCS National Title game that you'll see from me between now and January 3rd. And it's a bit of an "Anti-X's and O's" analysis. Every year fans and media types gush about how creative and hard working the respective coaching staffs in this game are and how they'll spend the next month coming up with creative and hard-working new wrinkles for the big game. Then it devolves into two guys standing there hitting each other in the face with 2x4s with millions watching to see who goes into cerebral hemhorrage first.
The reason for this is simple. In this day and time, with that much practice time, it's really hard to do anything terribly surprising. That goes double with two teams that have known they were on a collision course for months. Both staffs knew in January 2011 that the other was its prime competition to get to the SEC Championship Game, and potentially a national title shot. The fact that they didn't know they'd actually be playing each other in New Orleans doesn't mean that Les Miles and Nick Saban have not had GA's working overtime all season to learn each other's tendencies, strategies, and weaknesses. The result, as it was on November 5, will be that the team that executes better will win. Sadly, it's that simple.
5) Look forward to an exciting Outback Bowl, and some great bowl practice. Anyone who's watched Michigan State this season knows that the Bulldogs will have their hands full on January 2nd in Tampa. Over the years an interesting pattern has emerged in bowl games. A surprisingly large number of teams that find themselves in "disappointing" bowl situations lose. That is, teams that got passed over for one game, or who got the game they wanted but against an opponent who they think should be happy just to be there get beat often. Exhibit A. So I'm thrilled that Georgia's playing an opponent from a BCS conference that spent time in the top 10, played for its conference championship, and will provide a physical test. The Spartans boast a top 10 defense, a top 40 offense, anda veteran QB who'll get a shot to play on Sundays. In other words, this game will be an opportunity to show what we can do against a good team from a good conference. And the later slot on the calendar allows us to stay in "inseason" mode a little longer, and provides some time to get several guys Tyson, Geathers, Crowell) with lingering injuries that much healthier. All in all I couldn't be a lot happier about this matchup. Until later . . .