Making the morning rounds.
• Hey, you're the experts. The most divisive player in this year's NFL Draft? It may be Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill, a converted wide receiver who could conceivably be one of the first ten players off the board in April, according to draft guru Gil Brandt, or could fall out of the first round altogether. Either way, it's safe to say the position switch definitely helped: Though the general consensus seems to regard Tannehill as a borderline first-rounder — like Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker and Christian Ponder last year — he may wind up going much higher because so many teams in the top half of the draft are that desperate for a quarterback.
"I think [Tannehill]'s going to surprise people," Brandt told SI.com's Peter King during a recent podcast. "He didn't have a particularly good year. He's really been a quarterback only about a year and a half. … [W]hen you watch him and you see his intelligence and his athletic ability and his hard work, I think you get a pretty good feeling for him." [Dallas Morning News]
• Cutting the chaff. There is "growing support" among postseason power brokers to require a winning record to qualify for a bowl game, according to CBS Sports, a shift that could simultaneously rid the December schedule of the scourge of 6-6 teams and the superfluous games that thrive on them. Twenty-seven of the 140 teams that have appeared in a bowl over the last two years have come in with a 6-6 record or worse (see UCLA, which was granted a waiver to play in last month's Fight Hunger Bowl despite a 6-7 mark), the absence of which would probably require at least a half-dozen games to be scuttled for lack of qualified participants. "The 7-5 discussion is percolating," a bowl official told CBS' Brett McMurphy. "I don't know of many athletic directors or conference commissioners who think a 6-6 team has earned a bowl berth."
Certain other entrenched entities may see the situation somewhat differently… like ESPN Regional Television, perhaps, which owns and operates seven bottom-feeding bowl games — the Armed Forces Bowl, Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl, BBVA Compass Bowl, Hawaii Bowl, Maaco Bowl of Las Vegas, New Mexico Bowl and the Car Care Bowl of Texas, respectively — in the name of cheap-and-easy programming that earns better ratings than pro bowling or whatever else there is to put on the air in late December. Conference commissioners may also balk in the long run at the prospect of losing games with tie-ins to their league. [CBS Sports]
• As good as the cocktail napkin it's written on. Justin Taylor — the three-star running back recruit from Atlanta who said earlier this month he was reconsidering his commitment to Alabama after having his longstanding scholarship offer yanked — has decided to stick with the Crimson Tide, after all, despite the absence of a letter of intent or any other binding commitment from the school. After another meeting with Nick Saban, Taylor now plans to attend prep school this fall, continue rehabbing his injured knee and enroll in Tuscaloosa next January, at which point Saban promises there will be a scholarship waiting for him.
"Coach Saban made it clear he is going to stand by his word," said Taylor's high school coach, Stanley Pritchett, a former South Carolina running back who is also Taylor's legal guardian. "As Justin's guardian, I can only go by a man's word. I'm going to hold Coach Saban to those words. There's going to be a problem if he doesn't stick by his word." [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
• San Diego treat. As expected, the list of mid-year enrollees at San Diego State includes three familiar names for Pac-12 fans: Quarterback Ryan Katz (a former starter at Oregon State), running back Dillon Baxter (a former five-star recruit to USC) and wide receiver Brice Butler (another blue-chip transfer from USC), two of whom — Katz and Butler — will be eligible this fall as graduate students. Baxter won't be eligible until 2013. [San Diego Union Tribune]
• Recommended reading. The best recruiting story you'll read this year comes from ESPN the Magazine's Christopher Schultz, who profiled five-star safety Landon Collins and his mother, April Justin — the same mom who went viral a few weeks back when she openly disavowed her son's decision to attend Alabama and cheered for LSU during his nationally televised announcement — for the Feb. 6 "Recruiting Issue." Schultz traces Collins' story through his displacement from New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, his decision to leave his mother to move in with his father in Geismar, La., at 14 years old and the moments before he went onstage to announce his decision at the Under Armour All-America Game, when Justin lost a fight to keep Collins' girlfriend from Geismar off the stage. "There's going to be a lot of people who come in your circle and try to be manipulative," she told Schultz. "You've gotta keep your circle small." [ESPN]
Quickly… Auburn has a tentative plan to replace the poisoned oak trees at Toomer's Corner. … Texas A&M isn't interested in spending a season away from Kyle Field during renovations. … Urban Meyer adds a former Michigan man to his staff. … Colorado loses the best player in its 2011 recruiting class. … Debating whether the NCAA's graduate transfer rule amounts to free agency. … The only coach with more wins than Joe Paterno compares JoePa's firing to the crucifixion of Jesus. … God tells Trent Richardson to sign with Nick Saban's agent. … And of course there's no NCAA rule against a coach giving to a recruit's church, "as long as the donation isn't intended to be a recruiting inducement or benefit the prospect in any way."