There is much to do. So, let's do it.
From the "Talks too much" studios, it's 106 miles to Chicago. We've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses.
Tuesday SEC Questions and Answers
We're going to fly around all 14 teams in the nation's best college football conference each Tuesday. We'll even rank them in order of how we view them. As Elihu Smails says, "Well, we're waiting."
1. Alabama (13-1 in 2012)
Does the Tide have a weakness? The offensive line has three new starters, but each of those new faces has been in the program at least three seasons. So, let's ask again: does the Tide have a weakness? Nope. Not really.
Saturday: vs. Virginia Tech, 5:30 (ESPN)
2. Georgia (12-2)
What is the ceiling for a team that returns 10 offensive starters and has two legitimate Heisman candidates? Well, here are a couple of UGA team records that are in more than a little bit of jeopardy: The school record for TDs in a season is 54 (set in 2011), the record for average points scored is 32.6 (2007 in a season with 11 or more games) and the total yards mark is 5,719 (2011). The scoreboard operator in Athens better have primo health insurance — carpel tunnel and neck spasms are no joke folks, and if you get a cramp that last more than four hours, seek medical attention right away.
Saturday: at Clemson, 8 (ABC)
3. South Carolina (11-2)
Is Jadeveon Clowney blockable? The quick answer is nope, considering the following two facts: 1) South Carolina had to pull him out of scrimmages during the preseason so the offesne could even work on stuff; 2) Vegas set the over/under on his sacks total at an eye-popping 18.5. With a name like Jadeveon, you know he has to be good.
Thursday: vs North Carolina, 6 (ESPN)
4. LSU (10-3)
Who is the best defensive tackle in the country? While there are a slew of very good defensive linemen around the nation, the best tackle and end each play in the SEC. Clowney is a no-brainer as the best end. The best defensive tackle is Anthony Johnson, the LSU man-child that was once a UT-commitment back during the Lane Train administration.
Saturday: vs. LSU, 9 (ESPN)
5. Florida (11-2)
Can the Gators be ready for their real opener? Between injuries and suspensions, the players in Saturday's game against Toledo will not be exactly the names fans and coaches may have expected after spring. Still, among the big concerns is whether running back Mike Jones is healthy for week 2 against Miami after a viral infection has derailed most of his preseason work.
Saturday: vs. Toledo, 12:21 (WDSI)
6. Texas A&M (11-2)
Will Johnny Football be eligible? This question looms larger and more meaningful — and potentially more devastating — with every new story out of College Station. The new report has the NCAA meeting with Manziel and Co. for six hours on Sunday. Here's saying they were not discussing his views on the classic writers from pre-war Europe.
Saturday: vs. Rice, 1 (ESPN)
7. Auburn (3-9)
How is Justin Garrett? While all the hubbub of the preseason has been centered on finding Nick Marshall at quarterback, defensive leader Garrett is almost back to full speed. Garrett, who moved from linebacker to a hybrid safety position in Auburn's new 4-2-5 scheme, hurt his foot early in practice but appears to be ready for the opener.
Saturday: vs. Washington State, 7 (ESPNU)
8. Ole Miss (7-6)
Can the Rebels' kiddie corp deliver from Day 1 in a huge, Huge, HUGE opener? The much-lauded Ole Miss recruiting haul last February can already be felt on the feild. Freshmen defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, receiver Laquan Treadwell and tight end Evan Engram will start at Vandy on Thursday. At least two other true freshmen will almost assuredly play. Here's saying they will be.
Thursday: at Vandy, 9:15 (ESPN)
9. Tennessee (5-7)
Did you know that Justin Worley is the Vols? Wow, has there been a more drawn-out, predictable finish since 'Titanic' in recent memory? (Pssst, the boat sinks in the end.) Well, congrats Justin, you get to play behind the league's best offensive line. Tough break Justin, you are working with the league's most inexperience receivers. Ah, the dichotomies of college football.
Saturday: vs. Austin Peay, 6 (Pay-per-view)
10. Vandy (9-4)
Is this too low for a Vandy program coming off a record-setting season? Maybe. But, here the question marks are large for the Commodores, and without suspended receiver Chris Boyd on the other side of Jordan Matthews, Vandy's biggest strength is tempered greatly.
Thursday: vs. Ole Miss, 9:15 (ESPN)
11. Mississippi State (8-5)
Has Dan Mullen peaked in Starkville? The Mississippi State coach has an experienced quarterback in Tyler Russell and a productive runner in LaDarius Perkins, but still the questions about a down turn loom. The Bulldogs did lose a ton of talent on the perimeter at receiver and in the secondary, and the SEC West is a tough place to try to find yourself.
Saturday: vs. Oklahoma State, 3:30 (ABC)
12. Arkansas (4-8)
Will Alex Collins be the SEC freshman of the year? Yes. Yes he will. The south Florida speedster will get a shot early as a freshman, and the results could be fun to watch.
Saturday: vs. La-Lafayette, 4
13. Missouri (5-7)
Which of the league's James Franklins will have a better year? We think it will be closer than most folks know, since the Vandy coach is dealing with a slew of distractions and the Missouri quarterback is dealing with less off-the-field noise than he did a season ago. Franklin, a senior who spent most of last seas battling injuries and quarterback debates, has completed more than 60 percent of his throws and has 32 career TDs. (Side note: We believe each James Franklin is entering his last SEC season, though.)
Saturday: vs. Murray State, 7
14. Kentucky (2-10)
Did you know that college basketball practice can start a full two weeks earlier this year? Yep, so we're really something like five weeks from hoops season. Enjoy the down time Johnny Wildcats Fans.
Saturday: vs. Western Kentucky, 7 (ESPNews)
Tim Tebow still has a spot on the New England roster.
Da'Rick Rogers is now looking for a football team to join after Buffalo cut him loose.
As we admitted on Press Row with Paschall on Monday, we thought Da'Rick — the former Calhoun High star and Tennessee star/problem child — would be an NFL player for roughly a decade. Dude has all the tools.
And as Paschall pointed out, it's not like Da'Rick made the final round of cuts with the 49ers or the Packers. Dude was not one of the best 75 players in camp with a Bills team that is going to start the season with an undrafted free agent at quarterback.
We talked a little bit Monday in this forum about the difference between elite stars and the rest of us. We believed Rogers had the skills to be a productive NFL player for a decade. We still believe that physically. Apparently, when the game becomes a business, handling your business becomes as important as the game.
We hated to see Matt Harvey being shut down with serious arm injuries. The game of baseball is better when there are shutdown starters with must-see stuff in the league.
Harvey's injury will be re-evaluated and there is a potential need for Tommy John surgery, which could limit his time next season, too.
OK, here's a question: These arm injuries, and it seems like there are as many MLB pitchers who have had Tommy John surgery as opposed to those who haven't, have become more and more common. Harvey averaged more than 100 pitches per start this season. Not a huge number but bigger than most.
But Steven Strasburg hurt his elbow averaging much fewer.
With pitch counts and extra days off and all the precautions for these multi-million-dollar arms, have we severely limited the strength of these kids' arms.
Think of it this way: If we had a generation of kids that came up with auto-piloted cars, and then we asked them to drive themselves, they are destined to fail right?
Nolan Ryan and some of the voices from his generation say today's starting pitchers have not developed the stamina and the strength to be durable.
This and that
— Not sure if you have seen this slide show, but Nike has released the look of several school's new uniforms. Go here for looks at the new digs for Georgia, West Virginia, Oregon State and UNC among others. The new UNC duds are pretty sweet.
— OK, want a testament to how real reality TV is? Lamar Odom has been on the trainwreck of a TV show that centers on the Kardashians for the last couple of years. He has been able to hide affairs and drug use from everyone involved? Really?
— Wow, a great story if you a few minutes here. Don Van Natta details claims that Bobby Riggs threw his match against Billie Jean King 40 years ago, rigging the match to pay off gambling debuts. Great story.
— Programming note: Press Row will have our Georgia Bulldog segment today from 2-2:20 p.m. We will have UTC AD David Blackburn around 2:30. Give it a listen on ESPN 105.1 FM.
We have several points of entry throughout today's 5-at-10, which is long — like college football season long.
If you need another, well, here are but three:
a) What's your wildest college football prediction?
b) For those not as enamored in the hidden arts of football, Tracy McGrady retired Monday. That is not a question. This is: What's your starting five of straight to the NBA from high school guys? We have Moses Malone, Kobe, LeBron, Kevin Garnett and Dwight Howard. Yes, we're overloaded on big guys and we're asking LeBron to play the point, but still. That's a pretty stout five, no?
c) Best reality TV show out there right now?
Discuss and give us a call at Press Row today — Paschall's in Athens so we're flying the ship solo. Give us a shout, especially from 1-2 Eastern at 648-1051.
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 ...