The Martin Chronicles: 15 for ‘15

Posted at 11:19 am on 08/24/2015
After months of waiting, the start of the regular season is finally right around the corner. 

Clearing off the desk for the new fall awakening of spirits:

1. For all the castigating of the SEC and its portrayal by some as a football factory combine, that image got shot down by one simple piece of legislation passed earlier this year. Last May when the league ruled that players previously disciplined by a different school due to “serious misconduct” could not transfer, the SEC moved light years ahead. Still, more needs to be done.

2. The whole transfer conundrum is getting uglier by the moment, as evidenced by the spat between Baylor's Art Briles and Washington's Chris Petersen, formerly of Boise State, over the criminal past of Sam Ukwuachu. Somebody is either grossly uninformed or Briles is outright lying about the knowledge he had of Ukwuachu's sexual assault which led to the conviction and 180-day jail sentencing of him. Can you say "background check”?

3. One last bit of grousing about the preponderance of transfers: Is the reason so many coaches are not naming their starting quarterback early is to keep the guy who isn't chosen from leaving the program? I mean, Ricky Towns, who was last seen headed for Arkansas, has now committed to three programs without taking a snap.

4. So Vegas has Vanderbilt's over/under at 3 and Tennessee's at  8. I'm not sure the 'Dores can beat more than three of the five easiest opponents on their docket: Western Kentucky, Austin Peay, Middle Tennessee, Houston and Kentucky. So I don't like the push.

5. The Vols could drown in their own hype. Despite the brilliance of Josh Dobbs and excellent recruiting by Butch Jones, injuries and lack of seasoned depth could make The Top a little Rockier. Eight victories aren't enough to win the SEC East anyway. And I'm seeing at least four teams who will beat them.

Wins: Bowling Green, Western Carolina, Florida, Kentucky, North Texas, Vanderbilt.

Losses: Oklahoma, Arkansas, Georgia, Alabama.

Tossups: South Carolina and Missouri.

6. It's almost impossible to go back in time and compare today's players to those of nearly a century ago, as the Football Writers of America did with their list of the all-time greatest on their 75th anniversary team. First off, there probably aren't 10 of them who saw Roger Staubach play at Navy and he was picked as the best QB ever. But I won't quibble with that as much as I will about leaving off O. J. Simpson for non-football reasons. He averaged 180 yards rushing per game and completely changed the game with his speed and power. I would also liked to have seen LSU's Billy Cannon on the list, but I don't know which of the six running backs I could take off. And, yes, I saw them both play. But Luke Kuechly of Boston College? Really?

7. Everybody appears enamored with the notion that Mississippi State probably has the No. 1 quarterback in the SEC, but is picked to finish last in the West.

8. How about these rankings? When is the last time the quarterbacks for both a Florida and a Steve Spurrier team were ranked among the worst in the league? Well, in ESPN’s recent QB rankings, the Gators are rated No. 13 and the Gamecocks No. 12. Only Vanderbilt is ranked worse.

9. BTW, Spurrier said all three of his quarterbacks “looked pretty good” in Saturday’s scrimmage and therefore the logjam still exists. Jimbo Fisher said he still had not made his decision after this Saturday’s Seminole scrimmage. In Gainesville there was no decision and Jim McElwain said he might play both Will Grier and Treon Harris.

"We'll be OK if we go into it and kind of play and go from there and see who plays under the lights the best," McElwain said. "You know, it might be two."

And so it goes. Maybe they should draw straws.

10. In a Wall Street Journal Poll, 40 percent of parents say they are trying, or will try, to prevent their children from playing football. I’m hearing this quite a bit as well. Which makes me wonder about the future of football once the Millennials are the parents in charge.

11. Apparently there are at least several raised consciousenesss out there among coaches who back up their threats about dismissing players who engaged in sexual and domestic violence. Spurrier has made it clear he won’t tolerate it. But his SEC colleague, Bret Bielema of Arkansas, admitted to Matt Hayes of Sporting News that many coaches coddle players and look the other way.

“It’s the culture that has been created,” Bielema said. “It’s more important for some coaches to win than anything else. It’s not about helping players grow as men and leaders of families away from football — above all else — it’s about winning.”

12. Part 1: Preseason Primer

OK, quick now, can you tell me the new coaches at 1. Colorado State, 2. Houston, 3. Kansas, 4. Nebraska and 5. Wisconsin?

Answer: 1. Mike Bobo, 2. Tom Herman, 3. David Beaty, 4. Mike Riley, 5. Paul Chryst.

13. Part 2: Preseason Primer.

Where are this year's two semifinal championship games played and when?

Answer: New Year's Eve at the Orange Bowl and Cotton Bowl.

14. Part 3: And the championship game?

Answer: Jan. 11. University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.

15. Quote of the week: “Everybody runs some option. Guys are so afraid they’re going to get labeled as 'option coaches.' I used to laugh at Urban Meyer, because when we were at Navy and they were at Utah, they used to call us all the time about scheme and stuff. He’d tell me, ‘I don’t want to get labeled an option guy.’” — Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech.

15A: Just one non-football note. I slept a lot better last night knowing that Michael Jordan was awarded $8.9 million in a lawsuit with grocery chain over the use of his likeness in an ad.

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