Sunday, April 15, 2012

Catching up has lost control of the program

Aaron Lynch is officially gone: Aaron Lynch was one of Notre Dame's three or four best players last year as a true freshman; he's no longer one of Notre Dame's three or four best players since he no longer plays for Notre Dame. Details:
Notre Dame announced Friday that standout defensive end Aaron Lynch is transferring out of the program and plans to return to Florida, his home state.

"Aaron recently approached me about his desire to leave Notre Dame and return to Florida," coach Brian Kelly said in a release.
This is significant for a couple reasons, the first being that Lynch had 5.5 sacks, seven tackles for loss and 33 tackles last year after coming in as one of the top recruits in the country. He's not readily replaceable despite the existence of the talented-on-paper guys behind him on the depth chart, none of whom have done much of anything in their careers since they play defense for Notre Dame (zing!). The second is that Notre Dame is turning into Cuba; I've honestly lost track of the number of guys who have bailed in the past three months (Dayne Crist, Mike Ragone, Deontay Greenberry, Tee Shepard, Aaron Lynch, et al). All those transfers are explainable in and of themselves but are contributing to the ever-darkening cloud over Brian Kelly that won't go away until he wins and wins a lot.

The circumstances behind the Lynch thing were also kinda weird since Lynch had been making comments all spring about his homesickness and whatnot, which led to a bunch of rumors:
What started with an excusal from practice last Wednesday and Kelly denying that Lynch quit the team ended nine days later with the head coach beginning a last-minute press conference moments after Lynch's release by saying: "As you know, Aaron Lynch has quit the football team."

As for Lynch, word has it that he's headed to South Florida once he gets his release. Assuming that's accurate, he'd have to sit out the upcoming season (he's got a redshirt available) but would have three years left to dominate the Big East starting in 2013.

Obligatory Brian Kelly gif goes here:


I'm shocked and appalled: This is relatively old news now but is worth discussion: Urban Meyer had some issues at Florida, and by "had some issues" I mean "might have had absolutely zero control over what happened with his team."

The thirty-some drug arrests were pretty well documented but not as interesting from a football standpoint as some of the other stuff that The Sporting News published last weekend. A brief summary of said stuff:
  • Percy Harvin, Aaron Hernandez and Brandon Spikes missed the 2008 season opener against Hawaii with "injuries" that were actually failed drug tests. Relevant quote: “They were running with us on the first team all week in practice,” one former player said. “The next thing you know, they’re on the sidelines with a (walking) boot for the season opener like they were injured. Of course players see that and respond to it."
  • Conditioning was apparently whatever Percy Harvin wanted it to be. Matt Hayes relays an account from a former player about the team running steps during offseason conditioning when Percy Harvin sits down, refuses to continue and tells the coaches, "This (expletive) ends now." Result: “The next day,” a former player said, “we were playing basketball as conditioning" Hilarious.
  • The pure volume of failed drug tests is amazing. Name an All-American at Florida (other than Tim Tebow, obviously); that guy tested positive for marijuana at some point during his career or at the combine or both. And yes, this is coming from somebody who realizes that like 75 percent of the population under the age of 25 smokes pot. It apparently was so bad that Will Muschamp brought in Bill Belichik to talk to the guys he inherited about NFL teams not wanting dudes who are high all the time.
  • Safety Bryan Thomas was asked to "move on" to free up a scholarship after the 2008 season. He refused because he was on track to graduate the next year and threatened to "tell everybody everything" if forced out. The next day, he was given a medical hardship waiver. He ended up graduating (after three years), transferring to North Alabama and being named all-conference in each of his last two seasons. That's some Nick Saban-esque scholarship allotment.

So ... umm ... yeah. None of those things are totally shocking but cumulatively tell a story of something resembling a real-life version of The Program.

Meyer has since come out and issued some non-denial denials about how they were all "great kids" and there are "no issues with Urban Meyer and the NCAA" and blah blah blah. There's also no official comment from Harvin or anybody else other than some presumably disgruntled players who are talking about stuff that's pretty shady but not necessarily uncommon (lol SEC). Your interpretation of the story probably depends a lot on how much you love/hate Florida/Ohio State.

IMO, this quote from Bryan Thomas pretty well summarizes things:
“As far as coaching, there’s no one else like (Meyer); he’s a great coach,” Thomas said. “He gets players to do things you never thought you could do. But he’s a bad person. He’ll win at Ohio State. But if he doesn’t change, they’re going to have the same problems.

Ronald Powell goes down: Former uber-recruit Ronald Powell has had his ascension to awesomeness at Florida briefly interrupted:
The school announced Monday that Powell, who led the Gators with six sacks in 2011, suffered a torn ACL in his left knee during Saturday's spring game and will miss four to six months.
Ouch. Powell had six sacks and nine tackles for loss last year as a true sophomore at defensive end/outside linebacker and was the defensive MVP in both of Florida's two spring scrimmages this year. He also was the consensus top recruit in the country in 2010; he's not lacking talent.

The question now is whether he's out for the season or if he's really only out for four to six months, which seems unreasonably optimistic since that would have him back in about September. I'm skeptical. Missing any amount of time will be relatively damaging to a defense that was really good last year but doesn't have a comparable pass rusher. The potential replacements are guys like redshirt sophomore Gideon Agajbe and junior Larentee McCray, who have pretty limited meaningful experience and nothing resembling Powell's raw talent.

It sounds like there'll be a more specific timetable after Powell's surgery, which won't happen until after the swelling in his knee goes down. Unfortunate.

Speaking of injuries: Colorado is down its best receiver:
Junior wide receiver Paul Richardson suffered a torn knee ligament Monday and will miss the 2012 season. The injury occurred during a non-contact special teams drill.
Richardson missed four games last year with a sprained knee but still had 39 catches for 555 yards and five touchdowns, and he had similar numbers as a true freshman. He's pretty good. Toney Clemons and Logan Gray were the other starting wideouts last year but are both out of eligibility, which leaves ... ummm ... ??? There are a couple of sophomores who got insignificant playing time last year and then nothing.

Given that the quarterback situation looks potentially disastrous and Rodney Stewart has finally graduated after roughly 11 years as the starting running back, adjust your expectations for the Colorado offense from "not good" to "craptacular."

Steve Spurrier can still be an a-hole: This is the OBC's hilariously unfiltered response to an ESPN question about his feelings on the South Carolina-Georgia game getting pushed back to midseason:
“I don’t know. I sort of always liked playing them that second game because you could always count on them having two or three key players suspended.”
LOL WWWHHEEEEEEE!!! I have nothing to add here.

Mizzou is no longer color-distorted Michigan:
Missouri unveiled some new unis this week that aren't hugely different except for OMG WHAT IS ON THE ALTERNATE HELMET:

The block M is no more; this is not particularly surprising seeing as how Mizzou has been fazing it out for a while due to the typical association with Michigan (Jerel Worthy says hai). I'm on board with that aspect but think the tiger logo is a little overdone and would look cleaner if it had the oval outline that appears on the black helmets and the jersey crest. That said, as far as Nike overhauls go, this one's pretty benign since I can still identify the team, which is always a plus. I'm reserving judgment on the yellow jerseys until I see them in use.

More weird uniforms: Nike's creative budget must be running low since the only noticeable difference here is TCU's number font:

Meh. What's far more interesting than the unis, IMO, is the helmets that have lost the horned-frog stripe from front to back and replaced it with whatever this is:

That's ... like ... sweet? I'm neutral about the scale-type things but prefer the uber-purply purple to the last version, which was more subdued. Obvious observation: Anybody with purple helmets has some liberties not provided to Michigan/Notre Dame/Penn State.

STATUES STATUES STATUES: Auburn has some new statues. One of them is of Cam Newton, which I guess was inevitable once he won the Heisman and somehow got cleared by the NCAA (grumble grumble logic grumble). Anyway, these bronze things are about 150 percent of life size and weigh almost 2,000 pounds. I can't find an actual cost analysis, but The Auburn Plainsman estimates the price for each one at $100,000.

You're wondering where I'm going with this. Here it is: I'm amused that commemorating Cam Newton's awesomeness for all of eternity cost only half as much as Cam Newton himself.

That is all.

Trent Richardson is awesome: Just watch the video and beware of dustiness.

Again, Trent Richardson is awesome. Great story.


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