The official start of college football season started on Monday with the start of SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala. The week, which has become much more of a circus than news event, never fails to entertain with funny quips from Steve Spurrier, ridiculous commentary from Les Miles, and it is the only time of the year that everybody is 0-0 and thinks that they can win the National Championship. I love it, yet loathe it at the same time. But if anything, it does signal that we are only a few short weeks away from college football!
Here are my thoughts of the week on a somewhat un-monumental week.
Leadership – Finally.
For the first time since the 2000’s, I think the Florida Gators finally have some real leadership – leadership that is not necessarily just present in the seniors, but in the underclassmen and juniors.
After hearing about how well junior Dante Fowler Jr. and sophomore Vernon Hargreaves III did at Media Days, you get a sense of change in Gainesville – a change that Will Muschamp has been trying to develop the past four years.
Sure, Jeff Driskel sounded exceptionally confident in his abilities, but it was certain things that Hargreaves and Fowler said that really stuck out to me. Things like, “I’m an example kind of guy, but now, that might not be enough. There’s a lot of freshmen, so now I have to talk to them too. I have to learn who they are, how they are, how they play. That’s just my job, that’s how this year is going to be” from Hargreaves. Coupled with this from Fowler, “My expectation for Dante Fowler is to be a leader, puts his team on his back when he needs to and being able to get my team to the SEC championship and get my team the W’s we need.”
That is the right attitude. You hear them talk about sacrifice, coaching, teaching, carrying, focus, and leadership out of their voices. You didn’t necessarily hear it last year, nor did you believe it.
Florida has had a leadership void for a while, and even though Fowler could leave to the NFL after this season, it is good to know that there is leadership from productive players – players that other players will look up to.
Will Muschamp said on Monday, “I think in order to be a leader, No. 1, you’ve got to be a productive player.” Well, worry not about Fowler and Hargreaves, because two of Florida’s best leaders right now are their two best defensive players.
Stop the Over Protection
Soon, like my esteemed colleague Nick de la Torre said, quarterbacks will just have to wear flags, or throw from a protective bubble.
At SEC Media Days, the SEC announced a new “strike zone” for hits on the quarterback/player in a passing posture – an area from below the neck to the top of the knees – anything outside of that area is grounds for a penalty.
I understand the need to protect players, but I hate the rule for three reasons: 1. The phrase “passing posture”; 2. More judgment calls.; 3. What about everybody else?
A “passing posture” these days is very vague. The only does not specify that a player must be in the pocket, it just says passing posture. So if Jeff Driskel is scrambling out of the pocket with the ball high in his stance ready to pass and a defensive player swipes at his legs because he is a runner, that can be called a penalty – probably not the intention of the rule, but an acceptable application of the rule. Change the vagueness and maybe you have my support.
Secondly, college football is already full of judgment calls and now we have one more. The game is slow enough as is and now we will hope that referees get it right. How many times did a referee improperly call the targeting rule last year?
Finally, what about offensive linemen? Defensive linemen? Running backs? They all are victims of chop blocks, cut blocks, tackles at the knees, and a whole host of other specific attacks at their knees. If you are going to apply the rule for quarterbacks, apply it for everyone.
LeBron Did Not Do Anything Differently
The world is in the process of applauding LeBron James for returning home – penning a letter for Sports Illustrated where he spoke about delivering a title back to Cleveland and that its more about Northeast Ohio than it is about basketball.
Sure, he did not have a television show to announce his decision, he made a very strategic public relations move that allowed you ONLY to praise him, when in reality it was very much the exact same thing as four years ago.
Four years ago, LeBron chose to move on from Cleveland seeking a championship, or two, or three, or four, and teamed up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to do so. He was raked over the coals for deserting Cleveland and the Cleveland faithful (God bless them), burned his jersey, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert wrote a very silly, spiteful letter to fans, and the world began to hate LeBron James.
This past Friday, he wrote a letter. But do not be confused, Miami fans should be just as mad as Cavalier fans were a few short years ago and everyone has been duped by the “letter”.
Four years ago, LeBron James let Dan Gilbert know right before “The Decision” that he was leaving Miami, mere minutes before. This year, how did he let teammates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh know he was leaving? Text message. When did Heat owner Mickey Arison know LeBron was leaving? Right around noon, on Friday, when you too found out. This year, he met secretly with Dan Gilbert and committed to Cleveland, and then had a meeting with the Miami Heat, not in Miami where he met Dan Gilbert, but in Las Vegas and showed them that they had a shot and left Heat President Pat Riley very confident that they would return the star – meanwhile according to Sports Illustrated, he wrote his letter about his return before he met with Miami. Further, did he thank the Miami Heat fans that cheered loudly for him over all the boos at every other stadium? Nope, not one thanks.
Some may call it “sour grapes”, but I call it the truth. As a Miami Heat fan, I am a big fan of what LeBron James helped the Miami Heat accomplish, but I also think it is important to know that he is not some saint, either.
He returned to Cleveland for max money to a younger roster that looks to have more talent than Miami right now – that is why he went back – no other reason.
But, hey, it sounds much better to say you are going to bring a championship to a city you had no problem leaving four years ago.
Shout Out to Nick and Andrew
Man, they killed it at SEC Media Days, didn’t they? I know it is their job, but they each went above and beyond their calls of duty. Each day we had new insight, their live thoughts, more in-depth coverage, and, ultimately, they made each of us feel like we were there.
Another job well done, gentlemen.
Video of the Week
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- Bucky Gleason | Kelly at his best battling cancer
- Why Jim Valvano’s ESPYS Speech Remains So Powerful 21 Years Later
Songs of the Week
Similar to a few weeks ago, where we looked at a few renditions of “Mandolin Rain”, I would love your thoughts on the song “Drink You Away”. Justin Timberlake wrote and performed the original song, and then country music artists David Fanning and Craig Morgan each did a rendition. Let me know which version you think is best. I think each offer something really unique and like all three versions.