Monday, March 2, 2009

Interesting stuff

* For all the criticism I do of ESPN and its various columnists, some of the things they've been doing recently have been surprisingly simple and informative. Each conference blogger has been doing a breakdown of potential breakout candidates, guys to watch in spring practice, important position battles and guys "filling the biggest shoes."

While I hate the idea of trying to rank teams this early in the process, this type of focus on individual position battles and under-the-radar players actually gives us some info about guys who could make a big impact this fall.

Will Russell Shepard beat out Jordan Jefferson for the LSU quarterback job? How much will Tate Forcier's arrival benefit Michigan's offense next year? Who will replace Ray Rice at Rutgers, Percy Harvin at Florida and Jeremy Maclin at Missouri? How much of a drop-off will Georgia see from Knowshon Moreno to Caleb King? Is Chris Galippo the next Rey Maualuga?

This is what make college football a year-round sport ...

* Kudos to LSU and West Virginia for scheduling a home-and-home series in 2010 and 2011, starting in Baton Rouge. One of my biggest complaints is a lack of quality nonconference matchups, and the reason is obvious -- every big school wants as many home games as possible, and the way that's achieved is by bringing in sacrificial lambs in exchange for a paycheck.

This quote pretty well sums up the situation:
"Philosophically, this game falls right in line with what we are trying to do with our schedule, and that's to play one nonconference game each year against a team from a BCS league," Tigers athletic director Joe Alleva said. "We think this will be a great matchup that will benefit both universities."
Some programs -- Wisconsin and Kansas State come to mind -- manage to fill their entire nonconference slate with cupcakes every year, but at least schools such as LSU, Ohio State and USC have managed to find a premier opponent on an almost annual basis (although I don't expect the Mountaineers to fall into that category for very long without Rich Rodriguez and Pat White).

* Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett, a top-five overall recruit two years ago who transferred from Michigan, was arrested and charged with public intoxication late Sunday. Mallett is a phenomenal talent -- 6-foot-7, good touch and one of the strongest arms I've ever seen -- but between this arrest and some of the behind-the-scenes problems he had with coaches and teammates at Michigan prior to his departure, it's clear that he has some growing up to do.

Despite the graduation of nominal starter Casey Dick and the transfer of younger brother Nathan Dick, who started two games last year, the Razorbacks' QB next year likely will still be a dick.

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