The Crazy World that is – College Football’s Offseason
The finals scores have been tallied, the standings have been finalized, but college football isn’t done making headlines. This is nothing new for anyone who has followed the sport for any significant amount of time. For every Heisman highlight that spread like wildfire through media outlets, there is an equally buzz-worthy story waiting outside the lines to overshadow it. Fictional girlfriends, model girlfriends, recruiting shenanigans, and fickle coaches are just a few of the intriguing topics that will circulate over the next few months. Welcome to the crazy world of college football’s offseason.
Manti Te’o sees your traditional Heisman Trophy campaign and raises you the story of his imaginary girlfriend’s death. Although it is purely speculation at this point, Te’o’s tale of his girlfriend passing away mid-season is looking more suspicious by the day. Joe Theisman, no doubt, stands in awe of the monumental shamelessness this potential Heisman campaign tactic would require. According to Yahoo Sports writer, Tom Coyne, Te’o has even mentioned the non-existent girlfriend twice since informing Notre Dame that she had falsified her illness and subsequent passing. The hammering Notre Dame took at the hands of Alabama in their recent matchup is nothing compared to the damage this story can do to the program if proven true. Te’o is presumably innocent until proven guilty, but there needs to be some tying-up of loose ends soon or this story will spin completely out of control.
Meanwhile, SEC quarterbacks, Johnny Manziel(Texas A&M) and A.J. McCarron(Alabama) were taking a different approach to the “girlfriend publicity” angle. Manziel’s girlfriend was revealed to be a part-time model and McCarron’s relationship with the current Miss Alabama (and ironically an Auburn graduate) was highlighted heavily leading up to the BCS National Championship game. I only mention this here because McCarron and Manziel’s relationships respectively, continue to garner news coverage (even with Manti Te’o pulling out all the stops in his exploits). This just in: the top 100 incoming college freshmen quarterback prospects have expressed interest in playing in the SEC. Nick Saban has offered all of them and has promised to make room. What a nice guy.
One man feverishly preaching the benefits of being an SEC quarterback (and specifically one in Alabama) is long-time sportscaster Brent Musburger. He made these comments regarding A.J. McCarron’s girlfriend during Alabama’s matchup with Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship game which drew some criticism. ESPN quickly apologized on behalf of the comments made by Musburger, and in my opinion, it was too quickly. I can’t help but think that ESPN was being a little too proactive due to their alleged history of sexual abuse. This was a classic case of oversensitivity and a perfect example of the clumsy fashion in which ESPN handles many stories
And finally, in college football news not relating in any way to a mid-afternoon soap opera, Chip Kelly has decided to indeed make the jump to the NFL. He made this decision after initially appearing to have decided to remain at Oregon for at least another season. I am really interested to see how he plans to adapt his offense to the NFL. Could this be the beginning of a new era of NFL football? I don’t think so, but I do believe Kelly has the potential to leave a positive mark on the game by adding a previously non-existant element. Just what that addition is and if he is able to succeed in the NFL at all remain to be seen, but one can’t help but like his chances with Michael Vick taking snaps.
It also raises the question as to what will become of the Oregon Ducks program. While Kelly fell just shy of putting his Ducks over the top once and for all, it is clear that he brought the program into the overall group of elite national programs during his time there. His presence and offensive scheme were so heavily tied into the identity of the program that it will be interested to see what direction the program takes from this point. It does not in any significant way benefit my Auburn Tigers, but I certainly would enjoy seeing the Ducks being able to remain relevant nationally. Their uniforms and style of play have a certain degree of universal appeal (if for nothing else, sheer curiosity) and the college football landscape would be a little too bland without those Oregon Ducks from the other side of the country that never wear anything twice.
Looking back, who knew girlfriends and significant-others would play such a pivotal role in the 2012 season? Little did we know that last summer, Bobby Petrino was simply laying the groundwork for what was to come. It just goes to show that you never can quite tell what awaits in the near future. We all impatiently anticipate the arrival of the Fall season and those cool Saturday afternoons spent tailgating, but it’s the journey to that point that makes its arrival that much more special.