Tuesday, May 31, 2011

One roster fits all

This EXPAT doesn't care if Steve Spurrier can't find enough good football players who can pass USC entrance requirements. This EXPAT doesn't care that Nick Saban is suddenly worried about the longterm future of the SEC.

All college football teams vying for national championships should play by the same rules when it comes to the size of their rosters.

All schools are limited to having 85 scholarshipped players. Yet, the SEC, as do several other bigtime conferences, allows oversigning, which means its top conference schools sign dozens more football players to scholarships over a five-year recruiting window than, say, the Big 10, which does not. The SEC has won five national championships in a row. This is not a coincidence.

Finally, after years of scrutiny, the SEC is again looking at the practice. Why the NCAA hasn't already settled this controversy is more proof of the freefall of credibility from which collegiate sport's governing body now suffers.

What the SEC intends to do is anybody's guess. Most of the teams oversign. Florida, Georgia and Vanderbilt do not. This is a decision that should be made by the university presidents. Maybe it will. Then again, the lines between academic and athletic concerns have been rubbed out for quite some time.

Besides, it will be interesting to see how far the schools will curb back the football programs, when a new TV contract is in the offing that will make them all even richer than they already are.


Monday, May 30, 2011

What Tressel kept in the closet besides The Vest

Jim Tressel resigned on Memorial Day, just as the posse was thundering onto the Ohio State campus.

On the very day Tressel said it was in the best interests of his football program that he leave, Sports Illustrated published an investigation that peels back the Teflon coating on the coach's purportedly sterling career.

Except it's not a sterling career, not even close. The SI piece shows that the Senator was a good coach, perhaps even a great one, but not an ethical one, that his image as a godly father figure, though probably true, never got much below his signature vest.

Ohio State, which the Columbus Dispatch says pressured Tressel into resigning (not long, it turns out, after SI let the school know of its findings) now faces a nuclear winter. It can only hope the NCAA leaves a few warheads in the silos.

Given the measure of Tressel's wrongdoings, however, it hard to imagine anything less than a maximum strike.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Inside the mind of a fan without boundaries

ESPN's Wright Thompson does a masterful job in this portrait of Harvey Updyke, an almost hypnotically fervent Alabama fan accused of poisoning the oak trees at Toomer's Corner in Auburn.

The insights are many as Thompson -- and Updyke -- swing back and forth between the two personas in play here -- one of them a fan so over-the-top that his means of dealing with the pain of Auburn's comeback win in Tuscaloosa last year was to inflict some pain of his own.

Read more here.


Friday, May 20, 2011

The latest from Co-Dependent U

In searching for a film reference to discuss the latest on Steve Spurrier's enmeshment with quarterback Stephen Garcia, the best I can come up with is a combination of "Brokeback Mountain" and a film noir version of "When Harry Met Sally."

We'll call it "When Stevie Met Stevie."

And yes, the most memorable line in our new movie doesn't change. "I wish I could quit you!"

That's the point, Spurrier and Garcia obviously can't -- no matter how far Garcia goes to unconsciously sabotage the relationship.

Which explains why The Visor seems on the verge of again welcoming his Prodigalest Son back to the huddle.

Seemingly aware that he's past the point of merely embarrassing himself, Spurrier can't quite commit to Garcia's return, thus the probably/maybe grope for some sort of coaching dignity. But who's he kidding. Garcia has already done enough to be thrown off of every football team south of Columbus, Ohio. Hell, he'd qualified for that merit badge before taking his first snap as an incoming freshman.

Has bygones being bygones become an eternal proposition in Columbia? Let's just say that Spurrier may have his last best chance at a championship team this season, but he needs a quarterback. Garcia, who's rap sheet is far longer than his list of accomplishments, is the best he's got.

The worst he's got too.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

No. 2 in our hearts

Normally, the Expats wind it down a couple of notches over the summer to recharge our batteries before the August build-up to another SEC season. But as professional journalists, we have to be on constant vigil for when inspiration plops down in front of you.

Which brings us to the first installment of our summer reading series: an online interview with incoming Florida freshman receiver JaJuan Story. Read down past the fascinating Q&A blah-blah about music and challenges and what it means to be a mighty Gator to the nugget about "pre-game rituals."

Some players like to meditate. Some players like to read the Bible. Some players like to put their heads though the metal lockers.

Mr. Story, it seems, must have his bowel movement before being ready to play.

We're not kidding.

Mr. Story goes on at some length of the gridiron benefits of his gastrointestinal two-minute drill -- it makes him feel lighter and faster.

Fascinating stuff, which proves once again that Nick Saban is a genius: At Alabama, freshman don't do interviews, no matter how hygienic the subject.

Read more here, then please wash your hands.