August 07, 2009
• No alarms, no surprises. The USA Today/Coaches' Poll, is no more or less informed than any of the many, many other polls out there, with the key distinction, of course, that the coaches' vote actually matters in the end. But there are no curveballs in this lineup: Florida, Texas and Oklahoma are 1-2-3, just like they are everywhere else, and Southern Cal No. 4. No. 10 Ole Miss and No. 11 Oklahoma State, though pegged third within their respective divisions, are both projected for their best seasons in decades. The SEC has five teams (Florida, Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss and Georgia) in the top 13 -- more than any other conference has in the entire poll, including the Big 12, and certainly more than the SEC will have that high at the end of the year -- but the sixth, South Carolina, doesn't show up until No. 37 in the "Also Receiving Votes" category.
If you're looking for a head-scratcher, maybe there's this: UCLA, Auburn, Arkansas, Nevada, Southern Miss and Wake Forest all received more points than Tennessee and Michigan combined. But the top 25 itself, and especially the top 15 or so, is very status quo from the magazine polls.
And as for the Big East? No Big East teams finished in the top 25, but four of them -- Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Rutgers -- finished piled up next to one another in spots 29 through 32, which is completely appropriate. More on this later in the a.m.
• Bryce down. Tennessee's not even in full pads yet, but that didn't stop Tennessee linebackers from welcoming Bryce Brown to campus with at least three big hits Thursday, including a blindside hit by linebacker Herman Lathers that reportedly sent the hyped freshman to the turf and the ball flying free:
"I doubt he’s been hit like that before ever," first-year UT coach Lane Kiffin said. "Some guys get hit like that and they stay down for a while."
"It’s just, 'Welcome to SEC ball,'" the 6-1, 213-pound Lathers said.
Another hyped newcomer is allegedly struggling as well: Tight end Brandon Warren, a transfer from Florida State expected to play a major role in the Vol offense this year, drew Kiffin's wrath for leaving with "a shoestring problem" in the middle of a drill: "It’s always something with Brandon. ... We’re having a hard time getting through 30 minutes with him."
• A lesson to college students everywhere: Just let it grow, dude. North Carolina's T.J. Yates, briefly sidelined by an ultimate frisbee accident in April, was cruising into the season with the title of "Strangest Offseason Injury" firmly within his ginger grasp. But just down the road, Appalachian State star Armanti Edwards is making a strong late push -- uphill, and with very sweaty palms:
Armanti Edwards, Appalachian State's record-setting quarterback, is expected to miss two to four weeks of practice after cutting his right foot yesterday in a lawn-mowing accident ...
... Edwards was mowing the lawn at the off-campus residence he shares with teammate Brian Quick when he slipped pushing the mower up a hill and the mower came back on his foot. Quick took Edwards to Watauga Medical Center in Boone to have stitches.
Why a college student is actually bothering to mow the yard is the mystery, but having spent their share of youth around mowers, edgers and other suburban blades, my frequently traumatized digits can sympathize with Armanti, since by all rights they should be ghosts. Edwards suffered no "structural damage," and the reigning Walter Payton Award winner is expected to be back for the Mountaineers' opener at East Carolina.
• The svelte elephant. Does Terrance Cody look smaller to you?
After Alabama's first day of practice, the Birmingham News thinks so, and the Mobile Register reports the big guy is down to almost 350 pounds, about a normal-sized fifth-grader below the elephantine frame Cody brought from junior college last summer. I'll reserve judgment until he gets the pads on.
Quickly ... Elsewhere at Alabama, defensive lineman Kerry Murphy missed the first day due to his 22-year-old brother's unexpected death, which is being treated as a homicide. ... Auburn opens practice with only 75 scholarship players, 10 short of the limit. Maybe the Tigers can borrow a few players from Nick Saban? ... Maryland is struggling to find buyers for the new suites at Byrd Stadium. Maybe they should lift the beer limits? ... Virginia Tech is scrapping the call-in portion of Frank Beamer's weekly radio show, allegedly for too many positive callers. ... Comparing tuition at Big Ten schools. (Try to spot the outlier.) ... Texas A&M, whose new athletic center was built by the same company that put up the Dallas Cowboys' soon-collapsed practice facility, is requesting an independent safety review. ... A.J. Graham, the Florida star accused of armed robbery on his high school graduation night in May, will be on board at Marshall for the season after charges were dropped this week. ... Former Ohio State lineman T.J. Downing was sentenced to one year probation on cocaine and gun charges. ... USC begins practice today with its usual array of big, fast answers to lingering questions. ... Only three years in, ex-blue chip Caleb King is already looking to "revive his career" at Georgia? ... Stop the presses: The Tebow Child has a beard. ... And RIP John Hughes, brainchild of the one movie I have watched at least twice as many as times as any other in my life.