The Opening is finally in the rear-view mirror, which means that there are some new rankings from 247Sports and some interesting fallout including a top finish for Benjamin St. Juste. August, here we come.
Iowa is currently favored to win the West, and Ohio State has a tiny edge over Michigan in the East division odds. Despite that, Michigan is given better odds to win the national title, and in fact is second overall behind Alabama.
Last year’s New Year’s Eve playoff games were extremely controversial; quite a few didn’t mind, but many more fans hated having to choose between college football and New Year’s celebrating. I don’t think this tradition will stick.
The umbrella that triggers targeting continues to widen, but there is no accompanying discussion of how to maintain a reasonable game time or make referees’ calls consistent and reasonable. The NCAA is really dropping the ball on this.
Also, since we’re touching ever so briefly on the SEC, here’s an interesting piece from Bleacher Report on the conference’s lack of quarterbacking talent, something that I mentioned a while ago would be happening in 2015 because of the heavy attrition in the last few years.
However, I agree with this article’s ultimate point that it won’t be a crippling issue for 2016. There’s still a bit of a void, but the coaches have been able to lean on talented rosters and ‘stopgaps’ at quarterback. I use quotations there because one of last season’s emergency options, Clemson transfer Chad Kelly, quickly became one of the better quarterbacks in the country last year as a replacement for Ole Miss’ Bo Wallace.
Lovie Smith has been a little more subdued in his entrance than Jim Harbaugh was, it’s safe to say. I like the roster that Smith will be working with, but the secondary and especially the offensive line could submarine both the defense and the offense. As good as young Ke’Shawn Vaughn is, he’s not as adept at escaping backfield tacklers as the smaller Josh Ferguson was.
I wouldn’t have believed it at the start of this off-season, but if Chris Ash can pair his TCU transfer quarterback with Rutgers’ skill players and Drew Mehringer’s offense, Ash might have a better 2016 than Durkin - who could easily be pigeonholed by the athleticism and subpar quarterbacking of Perry Hills.
Haha, just kidding. That’s a parrot.
One of Michigan State’s current football players, Jermaine Edmondson, got into a bit of a scuffle with one-time champion Draymond Green. As a story, it was probably overblown, possibly even worthy of a few silly .gif links, but it did end up causing Edmondson to leave the football team.
Yeah, let’s actually talk about this one. It feels unavoidable at this point, since this is a Big Ten news column that’s barely mentioned anything about the Penn State scandal up until now. Feel free to skip on ahead if you’re tired of the discussion.
When I was growing up, I lived in a very politically oriented household. Younger people, like me, have gotten a well-worn reputation for indifference when it comes to world affairs or political goings-on, but that was definitely not much of a choice in my household. There were certainly advantages to this, but on the flip side, it also taught me that even good things need to be in moderation. I remember watching my dad yell at the TV sometimes, at a person in the media who had said something he didn’t like, and wondering what the point of doing that was.
The scandal that’s still, to this day, unfolding over the molestations at Penn State has caused an extreme amount of emotion - anger and grief chief among them, and for good reason. Hopefully, if I live to a ripe old age and carve out a long career in sports writing, complete with plenty of dirt-digging, I will never have to talk about an issue as bad as this one again. Obviously I have strong opinions and emotions of my own, but in that regard, I am just one more in the sea of observers. There is much less I can add to the discussion if the standard for inclusion is thoughtful, original commentary, which, I think, should be the goal.
I think I speak for everyone when I say that this hopefully never happens again. And, more than that, it will take vigilance and awareness - including self-awareness - to make sure that something similar doesn’t happen. It’s less easy than it might seem to take a stand for something, or to know exactly how to do it in a productive way. The proverbial village fails at this more than infrequently, and we are just individuals. But it takes being astute, and ready to stand up when the time comes to do what’s right.
It is easy to spit fire, blindly; it’s easy to attack Penn State with street signs and shirts that go for shock and shame instead of healing. But we need to be mature; we need to listen, be active, and understand that ignorance or hatred doesn’t go away very easily, and it’s best not to fan the flames with more of it.
Be the example, as they say.
This link is an extremely light recommendation; it’s a clunky set-up designed to maximize page views in an obnoxious way, and the information is extremely light. But, it might pique your interest, and Jabrill (linked) is #5 overall.
Finally, a couple of FOX Sports links: Bruce Feldman and Stewart Mandel had a solid podcast this week that discusses Jim Harbaugh a bit, and Mandel has another good Mailbag. Funnily enough, 27:45 has an interesting discussion of sports media blending with politics.