Free Form Friday: Hoping Travis Leslie Is Not Devoured By An Ocelot Edition.

It's college football's offseason. That's not my problem. It's not your problem. It's Jay Jacobs' problem. Along with the fact that all these Haterz won't leave him alone even though he has the bestest compliance department in the whole SEC*. Since none of us has to worry about them jealous Bammers poisoning our trees, our wells or our dreams, I present to you 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.

Not that anyone cares, but I was a little disappointed by last night's episode of Archer. Perhaps that's unfair because I'm comparing it to last week's episode, in which we learned that Pam has a back tat with a verse from Lord Byron's The Destruction of Sennacherib (assuming that like me you DVR'ed it, hit pause, then stared at the scrawling for a good 10 minutes. And know your Byron). Plus ocelots are comic gold no matter how you slice it. I'm sure I must have missed something guffaw-inducing in last night's episode, but I have no idea what it was. If somebody knows please enlighten me in the comments.

It's Masters week over in Augusta, a time of unbridled glee for some which triggers bewildered headshaking for others. I've noticed that even some who consider themselves big golf fans in general have a hard time really understanding the "Masters Fever" that seems to grip their fellows this time of year. Some bear outright hostility toward the Augusta National Golf Club for a variety of reasons.

All that being said, count me among those who love Masters Week. While the course bears no resemblance to the original Alistair McKenzie design, it's still one of the most beautiful patches of earth under stars and sky. If you ever get the chance to walk the grounds of "The National" you must do it. Stow all your political, class and ethical qualms for just a little while and take the place in. It is without peer. And while the galleries aren't as genteel as they used to be, spectators as the Masters are still probably the most well-behaved bunch in all of sports. Is it because they fear the wrath of UGA letterman and club chairman Billy Payne's security, on loan from the Singaporean government? Maybe. But the streets are clean and free of crime, which makes both places a nice visit. 

I've been a golfer for most of my life, though like most golfers I don't play as much as I would like. I actually played a little bit of competitive golf as a kid and was good enough to get a nibble here and there from college golf recruiters who obviously had a truly horrible eye for talent. Nevertheless, there was a time when I thought I might want to be a professional golfer. Genetics being what it is, I always knew I would never be 6'5 and 290 pounds or run a 4.4. forty yard dash. But I always reasoned that I might be able to get around a golf course hitting most of the greens in regulation and putting fewer than 32 times.

Perhaps because of this, when I was a high school sophomore my stepdad agreed to take me with him to see the practice rounds and par 3 tournament at Augusta. It was the first year of competition for a collegiate golfer and U.S. Amateur champion from Stanford University named Eldrick Woods. I think some people called him "Tiger". At the time he was a pretty big deal, though nobody really knew how massive a deal he would become. To this day I remeber the fact that I'd never seen so many pine trees without seeing a single pine cone on the ground. I remember watching Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer and a succession of other big name golfers. And I remember that the pimento cheese sandwiches were the only ones I'd ever eaten and really liked rather than tolerated. But it was Woods who I really remember.

For starters he had the face of a 14 year old but was built like a college wide receiver, about 6'1 and 200 pounds with shoulders twice as wide as his waist. To say that Tiger looked a little different from Craig Stadler, Fuzzy Zoeller and the other guys sweating their way around Augusta looking like refuges from the bowling league would be an understatement. But the real difference came when I watched Tiger, all by himself in the fading light, hitting iron shots on the practice range while every other competitor had retired for dinner. Really, it wasn't so much the watching as it was the hearing. He was hitting 3 irons that sounded like a .22 rifle and had the trajectory of a ballistic missile. The balls were landing neatly in a pattern roughly 8 feet wide and about 225 yards out. Shot. After. Shot. After.Shot. It was at that point that I began to suspect that my golf career would always be an amateur affair. Thanks, Tiger. You potentially saved me a soul crushing 2 week run on the Hooters Tour, and I owe you for that one.

Speaking of crushing news, by now you've all heard that both Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie are planning to enter the upcoming NBA Draft. I for one have no problem with either taking this opportunity. Thompkins really did us a solid by staying around for his junior season, a season which may or may not have really improved his draft stock, but which definitely got the Bulldogs to the NCAA tournament without the aid of Western Union moneygrams or questionable exam procedures.

Trey clearly has the physical tools to play in the league. But I think personnel folks will have reservations about his consistency, as he seemed to disappear sometimes for stretches. To be fair to Trey, a lot of that was the other guys on the court simply not being able to take the attention off of him.  I hope that sharp talent evaluators will pick up on that.

That's also why I would have loved to see Trey playing in Athens with a guy like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, a guy who has both a solid pure jump shot and the ability to penetrate. Not to mention Leslie with another year of seasoning.  Speaking of which, it bears mentioning that Travis has not retained an agent and thereby retains the right to return to school if the winds don't blow his way. Truth be told I think that's the most likely scenario. Travis is one of the most athletic players in college basketball, but sometimes he seems to be simply out-athleting people, and his game could use some more polish, as could his shot. What I don't want to happen is for Travis to go late to a team that gives him a shot then sends him off to the D-League or overseas to ply his trade, perhaps in the North African Basketball League (where every night is a battle for control!). Of course, I suppose there are worse things than a night in Tunisia:

 

Until later . . .

Go 'Dawgs!!!

*Why? Because they don't give no lip, didn't see nothing, hear nothing or know nothing, and they're paid entirely in head cheese and brunswick stew. Brunswick stew made by Pat Dye from the ground anterior cruciate ligaments of Plainsmen walkons and wild onions grown in the pastures of the Auburn Bovine Experimentation Center. And also because Jay Jacobs believes that the SEC is comprised of Auburn, IUPUI, SMU, Tripoli State, and the Louisiana School For Youthful Yet Nightmarishly Violent Offenders ("LSYouth", for short).

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