• But where does she stand on a playoff? President Obama credited his new Supreme Court nominee Tuesday with "saving baseball" -- the 1994-95 MLB strike effectively ended in Sonia Sotomayor's courtroom in New York -- but she's not getting nearly as much pub for also helping save college football a decade later:
By 2004, Sotomayor had moved onto the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second District when she ruled on a case involving the NFL's age minimum. Maurice Clarett, a star running back at Ohio State, and Mike Williams, a wide receiver from USC, had sued to be allowed into the NFL Draft before they had been out of high school for three years, as mandated by the NFL's rules. A lower court had ruled that the age-limit should be overturned, but the appeals court granted the league's request for a stay of the ruling. During the hearing, Sotomayor asked Clarett's attorney, Alan Millstein, why players who were already a part of the NFL Players' Association should risk losing their jobs to non-members. "Those 1,500 players want to protect themselves," she said. "That's what unions do: protect those in the union from those not in the union."
"Saved" may seem a little strong for a fairly routine labor dispute, but if the president can use it, so can I: Where would college football be if superstars like Clarett and Williams used it for a "one and done" steppingstone to the pros? It would be the NFL D-League, a kiss of death that's knocked college basketball far down the pecking order for all but a few weeks out of the year.
True, that didn't do anything for Clarett or Williams. But those are the risks you take when you decide to become, you know, an activist.
• Ball Coach to the rescue. From the sounds of things, the first day of the much-anticipated SEC meetings in Destin, Fla., would have been a complete bust, drama-wise, if not for the league's oldest hand bringing a little spice:
As the coaches were filtering out of their meeting room and waiting for an elevator, a reporter informed Spurrier that Kiffin, albeit jokingly, had said earlier in the day that he never got an apology from Spurrier about questioning whether Kiffin had taken the recruiting test.
Spurrier sighed, slumped his shoulders and then wheeled around toward Kiffin, who was standing about five feet away waiting on the same elevator.
"I didn't accuse you of cheating," said an animated Spurrier, motioning toward Kiffin, who stood there with his face reddening by the second.
"What I said was, 'Was it permissible to call recruits before you were announced head coach and had taken the [recruiting] test?' Now, you took the test online, and I didn't even know you could do that. I thought you had to take the test on campus ... and then start calling [recruits]."
Kiffin never fired back, but Arkansas' Bobby Petrino walked by and quipped, "You're not getting me in the middle of this one."
Okay, very little spice. But when the main meme of the day was either the lack of fireworks or the lack of apologies -- certainly no one is reporting anything like a rule change, financial trend or conversation of the slightest substance -- the Ball Coach steals the show. Probably without even trying. (And you can't fool me, Steve: I know a sarcastic accusation when I hear one.)
• Is he interested in a job in the SEC? If it's bloodthirsty coaches you want, the place to be this week isn't Destin, it seems, but the Ivy League, where Harvard running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Joe Villapiano was charged over the weekend with attempting to run down his pregnant ex-girlfriend in a car after she broke broke up with him:
She said the harassment escalated near her South End apartment last month when Villapiano tried to run her down in his car.
"And I heard this car accelerating, and I turned to look where this car was coming from. And it didn't look like it was going to stop," she said. "If I hadn't stepped out of the position I was in, yes I would have been (hit)."
Boston police later arrested Villapiano on charges of assault and battery with a deadly weapon and violating a restraining order.
Harvard claims ignorance; the woman (a former Harvard student whose identity isn't revealed in the report) doesn't sound particularly optimistic about her case: "People say where he works doesn't matter, but I'm finding the legal system is more interested in who he is and not what he's done." (Hat tip to College Football Talk for the obscure find.)
In other legal happenings: The investigation into the wild, on-campus brawl that left five Florida State receivers suspended for FSU's game at Boston College last October has claimed its third victim, Richard Goodman, who was arrested Tuesday and charged with aggravated battery causing bodily harm or disability in the fight. Teammates Bert Reed and Cameron Wade already face misdemeanor battery charges from the same incident, only one in a long, long series of legal troubles for 'Nole receivers over the last six months.
Staying in Tallahassee, Florida's "Mr. Football," quarterback A.J. Graham, was arrested Tuesday for allegedly robbing two men with a handgun last Friday -- his graduation night. Graham is supposed to enroll this fall at Marshall, where, given the Herd's long rap sheet under Mark Snyder, he should fit right in.
Quickly ... Season-ticket renewals are lagging at Wisconsin, but that might change if the Badgers can negotiate a home-and-home with Notre Dame beginning in 2012. ... Receiver Chris Harper, who also took a shot at quarterback last year as a true freshman, will follow teammates Justin Roper and Aaron Plufgrad in transferring from Oregon. Harper is probably headed to Kansas State to be nearer to his hometown, Wichita. Roper talked to the Oregonian Tuesday about his options. ... Florida State will have to wait another week for the NCAA's ruling on 14 vacated wins. ... Despite reports to the contrary last week, apparently Tennessee hasn't fired its strength coach, after all. ... Washington can still push for a bigger cut when the Huskies visit Washington State. ... A history lesson in humility for Nebraska. ... And can anyone explain why Mike Leach will be the speaker at Nevada's annual Governor's Dinner in Carson City, a fundraiser for University of Nevada athletics?