Welcome to Free Form Friday, where we gather to discuss college football, barbecue, the oxford comma, the storming of the Bastille, the Sound and the Fury, and who knows what else while we wait for the return of actual, by God college football, praised be its name. Below the fold you'll find the topics for the days discussion (at least until the comments take us in another direction, which, sure as you're sitting there getting no work done on a Friday afternoon, they will) and the theme music, which this week is not for the sensitive or especially virtuous. You've been warned.
By now the news of Brownie-gate has bounced around the blogosphere and we are right back where we were two days ago: Bacarri Rambo and Alec Ogletree are still likely to be suspended for an appreciable portion of the 2012 season. As usual, news of a player suspension in Athens brought allegations that Mark Richt's players don't respect him, or that he runs a loose ship, or that Mark Richt only adopts orphans for the tax breaks. Take your pick.
I'm not going to touch that last allegation, but the failure to apply basic logic inherent in the first two statements (they're not actually arguments, because an argument doesn't exist without a warrant to support it) is amazing.
Let's consider a non-gridiron correlary, one which I discussed with FOB Darius Dawgberry yesterday. Do you drive up and down I-75 in the south metro Atlanta area? How many people have you seen get pulled over for speeding in Henry County? Go ahead, if you're an Auburn fan you can use your fingers and toes, we'll give you a minute. Is the number more than you see in Clayton County? Lamar County? Probably. It must be because nobody respects the Henry County Sheriff's Department's speed enforcement program! That's why people are always speeding through there. It couldn't possibly be increased enforcement.
That's simply unpossible. The number of traffic stops in Henry County, and the county's longstanding (though now diminished) reputation as a speed trap is clear proof that the same teenage boys who are making the conscious, calculated decision to smoke marijuana and eat strange brownies are also making a conscious, calculated decision to speed in Henry County because they don't respect Henry County law enforcement! Because individuals who break traffic laws/smoke marijuana/jaywalk/buy the last Hootie & The Blowfish album only do so after a Cartesian regimen of logical introspection. They sell cocaine out of the University of Alabama football complex parking lot because hustlers gonna hustle, though.
Whether a positive marijuana test should be grounds for punishment and what that punishment should be is beyond the scope of this post. That being said, I have a proposal which I'd love to forward on to Greg McGarity and Mike Slive. Simply put, the SEC should put in place a uniform policy on illegal drug testing. Here's two reasons why:
1) It's the competition, stupid. The suspension of players has an effect on the competitive balance of the league. No one disputes this. That's why the Ogletree/Rambo story is any sort of story to begin with. It's a slippery slope to allow league members to decide to what extent they want to punish players for failing a test which the NCAA mandates. Think about it. The NCAA already tells schools how often they must drug test and what things they want to test for. They then allow schools to do whatever the hell they want to with the results. That inconsistency is how you end up with the patchwork of drug policies found throughout the Southland. The incentive for schools to race to the bottom is obvious. Here's a hint: it's money.It's really not that hard to imagine a high school football player deciding that he wants to attend one school over another partially because they'll let him smoke out with impunity. Think it's unlikely? Think back to the things 18 year old you incorporated into your daily decision making rubric. Now tell me this doesn't happen. The NCAA already mandates a testing and discipline policy for performance enhancing drugs. So it's not like we're talking uncharted waters here. Also . . .
2) It's nice to be able to tell people to shut up. As you've probably noticed, the SEC sometimes gets a bad rap outside the footprint of the old Confederacy. A uniform SEC drug policy would be yet another way of combatting the stereotype of a lawless league of oversigning, player-paying-other way looking good old boys. Much as the SEC has tried to take the lead on oversigning issues, it should take the lead on drug policies.
I am an SEC football fan. I'm a Georgia fan first and foremost, to be sure. But all other things being equal, I love the passion you other crazy bastards south of the Mason Dixon line bring to the sport of college football. You're alright too, Kentucky fans. But the point is I would like for our conference to be able to say that we collectively took a stand on this issue. If you're against illicit drug use by players, Mike Slive, propose doing something about it. Coaches will whine about it. That's because they know how many of their players are puffing the magic dragon. Hint number two on the day: it's a lot. But just as University presidents carried the day on oversigning, I imagine that most of them would have a hard time saying no to a uniform drug testing punishment system.
My preference would be for that system to be stricter (like Kentucky's and Georgia's) rather than more lax (looking at you, Gainesville and Oxford). But ultimately it's time for some uniformity.
Of course not all of life's challenges call for uniformity. For example, there's no wrong way to eat a Chik-Fil-A chicken biscuit (unless it's while you're robbing a bank, or perhaps undergoing heart bypass surgery, because really that's just excessive). I previously assumed that my style of chicken biscuit eating was unusual. However I found out from a fellow Dawg Sports writer this morning that I'm not the only one who's been known to do this, so I now have the strength to come forward and ask: who else puts strawberry jelly on Chik-Fil-A chicken biscuits. It's okay. Stand up and be counted. You know that the combination of sweet and savory flavors is gustatory nirvana. Go ahead and admit it. And don't the rest of you go judging us. 'Cause we're not ashamed.
We're also not ashamed of the fact that Da'Rick Rogers went to Tennessee and we Georgia fans who eat strawberry jelly on chicken biscuits have instead been stuck with 3 star wide receiver Michael Bennett. So far it's not been a bad deal. Rogers' numbers from his freshman and sophomore campaigns were pretty darned good, but Bennett's been no slouch himself. If you'd told Bulldog fans prior to the start of 2011 that Bennett would help replace A.J. Green by catching 32 balls for 320 yards and 5 touchdowns, one of which would help spark a come-from-behind victory over the Gators in Jacksonville, we would have been giddy. He's also not been a source of continuous distracting rumors since the day he stepped on campus. So again, fair trade. That's why it's with no sense of ill will that I say perhaps it's time for Da'Rick Rogers to spread his unique brand of sunshine somewhere other than Knoxville. Like perhaps Georgia State.
Let me just say that, with no inside information whatsoever, I doubt seriously that Bill Curry is going to be offering Da'Rick Rogers a scholarship to Georgia State. If he does, it will be dangled on the end of a very short leash, because Curry's experiments bringing in former FBS players to Georgia State have not always been successful. I also somewhat expect Derek Dooley would engage in his usual dog and pony show of not allowing a transfer to, as he likes to put it, "schools Tennessee competes in on the field or in recruiting." Tennessee, by the way, plays Georgia State in 2012.
Everybody have a great weekend. Until later . . .