TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Welcome back, guys. A lot has changed since we've last seen one another. Before you drop your bags and report for the start of camp, let me catch you up on a few things.
No, this will not be The News from Lake Wobegon. This is college football, and I am not a middle-aged storyteller on Minnesota Public Radio. In fact, some of what I'm about to say might anger some folks up North.
Case in point: Penn State.
I'm sure you all know what happened by now, but in case you've been playing too much X-Box or working out non-stop, I'll catch you up. (That's you, Jesse Williams, put the dumbbells down, put some shoes on and pay attention). Penn State, that team you throttled the past two seasons, is going on something of a hiatus. The NCAA saw to that when it put the Nittany Lions on four years probation and drained a number of scholarships from the program. That, and college athletics' governing body decided to turn the State College campus into a free-agency frenzy. Ask Mark Richt. He basically asked to go on a blind date with half the roster -- and then got cold feet. Don't worry, though, it doesn't look like any of the Penn State players are headed to Tuscaloosa.
So what does all this mean to you? Not much, since you won't be playing them this season. But you might have some intrepid reporters ask whether Nick Saban has too much power, and whether that could lead to corruption similar to what happened at Penn State. Don't be ridiculous. Of course Saban has enormous influence over the university, but to make the leap that it could lead to a coverup of Penn State proportions is ludicrous. For you philosophy majors, absolute power does not always corrupt absolutely. Lord Acton, seated high on his throne in the mid-1800s, wasn't hypothesizing about major college athletics.
Your coach, who has become the czar of college football, it seems, threw out the idea of taxing Penn State and giving the money to the victims. When asked (repeatedly) about the situation, he wisely chose not to defend Joe Paterno, unlike the coach of one of your new conference brethren.
Missouri and Texas A&M officially have joined the SEC, and you'll get to face both this season. Some of you got to catch up with them at SEC media days a few weeks ago. For those that didn't, here are a few things you need to know about Missouri: Gary Pinkel insists he's younger than Saban, T.J. Moe can talk (a lot) and James Franklin isn't just the overly confident coach of Vanderbilt, he's also the Tigers' starting quarterback. And here's what you need to know about Texas A&M: Kevin Sumlin knows exactly what he's getting into playing you guys, and that's a start, because he'll have to introduce a completely new coaching staff to the Aggies and replace both his starting quarterback and running back.
For those of you who follow the world of recruiting, the last three months or so have been turbulent. Alabama has added a few key commitments but lost some as well. Andy Dodd flipped to LSU, and Reuben Foster had a change of heart and has decided to play for Auburn instead. He even got a tattoo to make it official. He said he's 100 percent committed to the Tigers, but we've heard that line before. We'll sort all that out in February.
But enough about the players who aren't here. You guys are the ones that count, and some of you had a great summer. A number of you were named to award watch lists, a couple without ever starting a game at your future positions. All told, 12 of you were named to 14 major watch lists.
Just like preseason rankings, though, we know none of that stuff matters. What you do over the next month does. Michigan is waiting for you. The Wolverines have said as much. Safety Jordan Kovacs is watching your film in the middle of class. Don't do that. It's just rude. But not as rude as Fitzgerald Toussaint getting arrested for a DUI or Frank Clark being charged with a felony. That won't help the Wolverines' cause on Sept. 1. If you guys can stay out of trouble between now and, say, February, that would be great.
Before I dismiss you, let me say how nice it is to see all of you back and healthy. It's going to be a long month or so until kickoff, and there's a lot to do in the meantime.
See you Friday!