It's game week. Three simple words that bring a smile to everyone's face.
The long offseason of discontent is behind us; now it's about match-ups and big games and "how are we going to stop ?"
It's game week, and the 5-at-10 is ready. From the "College Football Rules Studios," here we go...
Georgia coach Mark Richt talks with reporters during Southeastern Conference Football Media Days in Hoover, Ala., Thursday. (AP)
College Football Monday Morning Quarterback
Welcome to what will be a regular Monday feature from now until the first Monday in December. We'll look back at the weekend that was and try to recap the ebbs and flows of Saturday's action.
Today, of course, we'll recount the top five stories of the offseason:
1) Ohio State fallout: If the Buckeyes had kept Terrelle Pryor — even with the suspension — where are they ranked and how much are they a player in the BCS chase?
2) Miami fallout: There are up to 13 Hurricanes that are currently ineligible after Yahoo! Sports told the seedy story of Miami booster Nevin Shapiro and how he allegedly has given more than 70 Miami football players cash and more. Among the group is starting quarterback Jacory Harris.
3) Andrew Luck returns: Here's saying that Luck and the Stanford Cardinal are going to be a player in the BCS race. Their biggest test is against Oregon, and that game is at Stanford.
4) Wow, that seat is hot: Houston Nutt. Mark Richt. Dabo Swinney. Rick Neuheisel. Even Nick Saban. (OK, we just added that last one to make sure you were paying attention. Saban's seat isn't hot, unless he wants it hot, then the Tide Nation will make it as hot as he wants it. With a Little Debbie or two there as a sign of love.) There are a lot of big-names at high-profile jobs that need a good year to keep the whispers from growing.
5) Which team will win the SEC and in turn win the BCS title? Yes, it's on, and everyone is chasing Alabama and Coach Saban — and his hot seat and Little Debbies.
Former Tennessee Vols running back, Houston Texans running back Arian Foster before a preseason NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints Saturday, Aug. 20, 2011, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
NFL news and notes
We spent more than half of Friday's mailbag talking about fantasy football questions. It was a good time.
Since then, there have been a handful of injuries that will have an impact in the NFL and in your fantasy. Chief among them is the hamstring injury Arian Foster suffered (Sidenote: Foster tweeted that he appreciated the well wishes of his real fans, but that he wanted the people that worried about him because of their fantasy teams to get a life. Hey Arian, whatever reason makes people cheer for you should be plenty big fella. And the millions of folks who follow fantasy football have helped the NFL grow into the most popular sport in the country. Bad hamstring or no, why don't you stop talking for a while, huh, Champ?)
That said, the changing NFL landscape has hammered home three very important points:
1) Nothing good can come from dubbing your group the "Dream Team." Not since the underrated Michael Keaton movie and the first Olympic team has this nickname worked for anyone. And Vince Young, renowned shoulder pads thrower was the yahoo who called the Philadelphia Eagles the "Dream Team."
2) In the SEC, we know all about rivalries, but holy buckets of hot lead and cold beer, did you see that two fans were shot outside Candlestick Park after the 49ers-Raiders preseason game? In the South, we hate our rivals and post internet rumors and poison trees. Out west, they play for keeps. In the South we watch rivals.com closely. Out west they watch for rival gangs closely. Wow. Let's just move along
3) Never before has experience meant more in the NFL than this year. With the condensed offseason, new coaches, new coordinators and new players are at a marked disadvantage, and we started to see the seasoned and experienced players — especially in the passing game — really start to show out last weekend.
Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones, right, is greeted at the dugout by Atlanta Braves shortstop Alex Gonzalez after hitting a solo home run in the fifth inning of their baseball game against the San Francisco Giants on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2011, at Turner Field in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Erik S. Lesser)
We pause this family-oriented, web-based sports column to say so long to a storm that gave your Atlanta Braves two days off and threw a scary brush-back pitch to the entire Northeast. (That said, you got to believe the good folks down on the Gulf of Mexico in hurricane alley had a nice chuckle at all the hand wringing and sand-bag throwing that went into what turned out to be a heavy rain storm in the NYC area. Folks down in Panama City swim in storms stronger than that. Alas.)
That said, it was strange to go two days without the Braves. And for the taxed pitching staff — especially the everyday chores of the back end of their shutdown bullpen — those two days could be an extra jolt as we sneak into September.
Beyond the rest to the pitching staff Irene allowed time for reflection on three important points:
1) Chipper Jones has been better than adequate, and has plans to return. And surprisingly, we think that's a good thing.
2) Here's saying the Braves need to lock down Michael Bourn for a while. Dude is a fixture atop the lineup (and atop the league leaders in average, stolen bases and runs) for the next decade. Plus, with baseball's new focus of manufacturing runs rather than manufacturing body mass to manufacture homers (cough, steroids, cough), speed and pitching will be at a higher premium in the immediate future.
3) Did Michelle Bachmann really say that Hurricane Irene was God's way of demanding people pay attention to the Tea Party's message? Wow, why don't you stop talking for a while, huh, Champ.
Brad Keselowski holds the trophy in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2011, at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa. (AP Photo/Russ Hamilton Sr.)
This and that
— Injuries can change any season. You know this. But who could have predicted that a broken ankle would create a new favorite in NASCAR? Especially considering it's the guy with the broken ankle. Brad Keselowski won Saturday night at Bristol and has placed first, second, third and first since breaking his left ankle. Look out boys, unless of course Jimmie Johnson can find a way to get hot. (Maybe he needs to tear an ACL or something? It worked for Bad Brad.)
— From the hard to believe files, former Georgia Tech basketball star and NBA player Javaris Crittenton is a person of interest in a murder. Sad story all the way around.
— Usain Bolt was DQ'ed in the 100m at the World Championships for false starting. So, the only way Bolt won't win the 100m is when he goes too fast. OK.
— Hey, didn't you used to be Derek Jeter? Remember when everyone was saying Jeter was finished and he was a liability to the club? Well, Jeter is hitting .398 in August and has raised his average to .296 on the season. (Sidenote: Dude still should have been at the All-Star Game.)
— In your Monday-after MMA update, Anderson Silva is a bad, Bad, BAD man. That is all.
Auburn coach Gene Chizik, left, gives an official an ear full after an interference call giving Louisiana Tech a first down during an NCAA college football game in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/ Butch Dill, File)
In Wednesday's Times Free Press, we'll have our first SEC page of the season. That's right we'll continue the award-winning tradition of looking around the league and looking at every team.
We started with TFP ace David Paschall's look at SEC running backs in Sunday's paper. You can read it here.
What do you think are the biggest storylines in the SEC this fall?
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...