Goodnight offseason, hello football!
It was a long and ugly offseason. Maybe the worst offseason in college football history. But football -- actual football, not scandals, arrest or controversy -- is back (YAY!) and it's time to forget the spring and summer and celebrate the game we all love.
So let's put the 2011 offseason to bed with an assist from Margaret Wise Brown's children's classic, "Goodnight Moon."
Goodnight 118 mph speed
Goodnight fights that cause people to bleed
Goodnight tree roots
Goodnight Bama suits
Goodnight room full of Miami prostitutes
Goodnight pay rate
Goodnight coaches making the most in the state
Goodnight police files
Goodnight new revenue-producing uniform styles
Goodnight boosters making player wallets fat
And goodnight to the head coach whispering "hush"
Goodnight system that isn't fair
Goodnight scandals everywhere
(At least for one weekend.)
Game of the Week
No. 3 Oregon vs. No. 4 LSU -- 8 p.m. on ABC
Both the Ducks and Tigers had tumultuous offseasons. Oregon dealt with a controversy over a "street agent," while LSU has had two players charged with going all "Street Fighter."
Saturday's game is a toss-up. But I like Oregon. LSU will be playing without starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson, while Oregon will have the steady hand of Darron Thomas under center. Thomas says he was asleep in the car when teammate Cliff Harris was pulled over for doing 118 mph this summer. That's the kind of extremely calm presence you want in a big game.
Another Game of the Week
No. 5 Boise State at No. 19 Georgia -- 8 p.m. on ESPN
Boise State needs to win and win big if it is to have a shot at the BCS title game. The only other ranked team on its schedule is TCU on Nov. 12. And, Georgia, if you do lose, Boise State requests that you please not immediately diminish its victory by going out and losing to an FCS team like Virginia Tech did last year after falling to the Broncos in the season opener. Don't let Coastal Carolina on Sept. 17 be your James Madison. Thanks.
Cupcake of the Week
Auburn is the reigning national champion, but it'll struggle to replace Cam Newton. Well, it'll struggle after its opener. Because on Saturday (noon, ESPN2 and ESPN3.com), the Tigers open at home against Utah State -- owners of 13 consecutive losing seasons. The Aggies are 1-54 all-time versus teams in an AP or BCS poll.
So don't get too excited if new quarterback Barrett Trotter looks like Cam Newton on Saturday, Tigers fans. He's not. He's just a guy playing Utah State.
Rivalry Game of the Week
Marshall at No. 24 West Virginia -- Sunday at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN
The Thundering Herd is 0-10 against their in-state rival, but they'll try to steal one in Morgantown on Sunday. Speaking of theft, Marshall will be playing without wide receiver Troy Evans, who has been arrested for four robberies that occurred around the Marshall campus Sunday. Evans is also Marshall's top returner. I'm not an attorney, but maybe that fact should be the focal point of his defense. "Not only was I going to return everything, I intended to take it TO THE HOUSE!"
Another Rivalry Game of the Week
SMU at No. 8 Texas A&M -- Sunday at 7:30 p.m. on FSN
SMU-Texas A&M isn't a rivalry like Texas-Texas A&M, but right now lots of people view the Aggies with near-Longhorn levels of disdain, so really any game they play this year will be like a rivalry game.
Heisman Candidate in the Crosshairs
Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State: Like the Broncos team, Moore needs to make his case to a national audience when he has the opportunity. One thing the senior has going for him is his decision-making -- both on the field and off. He got engaged in May and was married in July. Savvy. Because who would want to marry someone after they win a Heisman? Those guys almost always let themselves go.
Mascot Fact of the Week
Kansas State debuted an awful mascot this week, EcoKat, who aims to rid the world of pollution and respect for Kansas State. Unfortunately, this might not be the low point in Kansas State mascot history.
The university first got a live bobcat mascot in 1922 and named it Touchdown. Unfortunately, even before it arrived in Manhattan or saw its first football game, Touchdown got into a fight with a porcupine and died from the wounds it received. From KStateSports.com: "The bobcat had an encounter with a porcupine, and his face and throat were punctured by numerous quills. Unfortunately, Touchdown I never fully recovered from its fight, dying of pneumonia shortly after arriving in Manhattan.
Yes, the first Kansas State mascot was destroyed in a fight by a porcupine and later died of pneumonia. Tough! At least it's an environmentally friendly way to go.
Tailgate Tip of the Week
Want to spice up your tailgate? You could go the boring route and add pepper or hot sauce to your burgers. Or you can class things up by buying a tow-hitch stripper pole! Yes, you can purchase a stripper pole that attaches to the back of a truck. The stainless steel option costs $399; if you want a brass pole you'll have to fork over $499. But class and style have no price limit, am I right?
Tailgate Recipe of the Week
Haggis. Specifically, Texas A&M Aggie Haggis. It's a great dish if you're looking to use all of the parts of the conference you just destroyed! Just grab the meat of a Texas Longhorn steer, a Baylor bear, a Missouri Tiger, a Kansas Jayhawk and a Kansas State Wildcat and stuff them inside the body of Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe. Cook until the conference folds and serve! Delicious!
Tailgate Photo of the Week
None. Because, you know, the season hasn't started yet. But just like last year, please send in any funny and/or horrible photos from your tailgates. Again: Funny and/or horrible is great; pictures depicting illegal activity or nudity, not as great. Also completely unusable. Thanks.
Quote of the Week
"If our two programs were closer together in their development and level in which they are playing, yeah, it would be more difficult to get ready for a team like that. They have to understand that if they play a sound game and hard-fought game they surely should win the game."
-- Howard Schnellenberger, FAU head coach, on Florida being perhaps unprepared to play FAU in its opener due to the many changes in the Gators program.
It's amazing that Schnellenberger has had such a long and successful career with that sort of motivational approach. "Gentlemen, let's not have any doubt: If they show up and do even the minimum required of a half-decent football team, we have absolutely no chance out there."
Tweet of the Week
Florida linebacker Jelani Jenkins live-tweeted a terrifying encounter this week -- with a cockroach. Even the mighty SEC can't prepare a man for a cockroach. AAAAHHHHHH!
Tweet 1: i think anybody would be a little caught off guard by a gigantic roach with wings flying into the bathroom while they are in it
Tweet 2: cudda sworn i heard it growl at me too
Tweet 3: lol no seriously tho this is an issue..the roach had triceps
Tweet 4: i think whats gettin me is the fact that its a triple threat bug.. fast, agile, and can fly..thats NOT NORMAL
Tweet 5: worst part is its prolly so hydrated ryt now..left my gatorade in there when i bolted out..smh
Whew. Harrowing. FAU's only chance this week might be to employ the cockroach offense. (It's just a regular offense, but you dump cockroaches all over the field.)
Stat of the Week
18.4 and 39.7: Last year UNLV averaged 18.4 points per game, 11th-worst in the nation, and gave up 39.7 per game -- fifth-worst in the nation. Unfortunately, it opens up its season Saturday night at 8 p.m. on ESPN against Wisconsin, which scored 70 or more points three times last year. Only the biggest homer in Vegas would bet on UNLV in this game.
Coach on the Hot Seat
Mark Richt: Richt is 96-34 over 10 seasons at Georgia. But he was "only" 8-5 in 2009 and 6-7 last year. And the only thing faster in the SEC than the players are the hot seats.
Name of the Week
Sterling Lovelady, OL, Florida State: Sterling Lovelady is a freshman and a deserving recipient of the Philander Moore Memorial "Heyyyy, Pretty Ladies" College Football Freshman Name of the Year Award (which was created last year for Ole Miss wide receiver Philander Moore).
Coach Name of the Week
Gunter Brewer, associate head coach, Ole Miss: I have no idea whether Gunter Brewer is a good coach or not, but considering that he has a ridiculous name and is already in the SEC, he's guaranteed to be offered a head-coaching job somewhere very soon. It's a law of the South.
Stone-Cold Lock of the Week
Nearly 80 teams will be eliminated from BCS title contention this weekend. There are 79 games between Thursday and Labor Day featuring FBS teams, meaning that out of 158 teams in action, half of them will no longer be playing for a national title after they lose. Nothing like having your summer and college football season end all in one weekend. Depressing. Of course, if you're a glass-half-full kind of person, you can just imagine this weekend as the exciting first round of a huge, 158-team tournament (which will be followed by three months of consolation games for most of the country). Take that, stupid non-inclusive 68-team NCAA basketball tournament! B-C-S! B-C-S! Glass half-full! Glass half-full!
DJ Gallo is the founder of SportsPickle.com. His first book, "The View from the Upper Deck," is available from only the finest bargain-book retailers. His next book project will be released soon. You can follow him on Twitter at @DJGalloESPN.