After all the expansion drama, the college football world has settled into its usual summer malaise. Here are some tidbits to tide you over.
*Mike Baldwin of The Oklahoman profiles talented Oklahoma Sooners freshman wide receiver Justin McCay, whose father died just before the start of his senior year in high school. Don't be shocked if McCay joins fellow freshman Kenny Stills in OU's rotation at receiver this year.
*Dave Matter of the Columbia Tribune ranks the Big 12's best skill position players. Matter points out that the league may have a more run-oriented look next season, as 10 of the conference's 12 leading rushers from 2008 return. Factor in Texas' move to a power-I, and Matter makes a pretty good point.
As for Matter's rankings, he has Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin too high at No. 2. I get that the kid is exciting to watch and a true threat with the ball in his hands. However, he's coming off major knee surgery, and his team still has yet to take the Big 12 by storm as everyone is predicting. Also, I'd have Kansas State running back Daniel Thomas higher than No. 7.
*I'm no doctor, but the news about Chris Henry's brain injuries should give the football community pause. Considering that Henry was only 26 when he died, it suggests that the cumulative effects of all the blows to the head really start adding up from an early age.
As the guys at Freakonomics note, all the advances in football equipment may perversely increase the likelihood of severe injuries. Armed with the knowledge that their equipment offers them greater protection, players become more inclined to take risks on the playing field, the thinking goes. If true, this would suggest that the solution could involve either:
- taking away some of the protective equipment that football players use, which sounds like a non-starter from a public image standpoint; or
- improving instruction from a very young age, which means counting on youth and high school coaches to get involved
As an aside, will we ever see a lawsuit against the NFL by a player suspended under the league conduct policy who claims that head injuries led to his objectionable behavior?
*The revelation that Oklahoma turned down an invitation to join the SEC has ignited a debate about whether or not the Sooners would be better off competing in college football's premier conference. I contend that, in a sport where attracting top talent is paramount, cutting ties to the state of Texas would negate a lot of good work done in recruiting over the years.
For precedent, I looked at Arkansas' move from the SWC to the SEC in the early 1990s with the help of Hog Database. The Razorbacks are about .500 overall since joining the SEC in '92 (117-98-2). Take the previous 18 years from '73 to '91 when Arkansas was in the SWC, and Arkansas' overall record was 150-68-6 (a winning percentage of almost 70%).
Maybe that has to do with stepping up the level of competition in the SEC, but I bet at least part is attributable to losing its ties to Texas.