This is the time of the year where people get a little crazy because the thrill of football practice starting has worn off but it's too early to really chew on the game matchups yet. In Columbia last week, a member of the board of regents put forth the notion that Gamecock athletes are being targeted in some sort of conspiracy led by Clemson fans on the campus police force. In the most recent episode, which was four months ago (it's a slow moving conspiracy), Stephen Garcia was ticketed for being underage drinking a beer on campus. What's more likely - that he got the ticket because he admittedly WAS UNDERAGE AND DRINKING A BEER ON CAMPUS, or because it was a police plot to go after athletes? The answer is obvious, but lots of South Carolina fans jumped on board the "blame the cops" bandwagon immediately.
I bring the Carolina episode up because of what I've been seeing today from frustrated Gator fans on the message boards at fightingators.com and other internet spots they congregate. After Florida lost its fifth player to an ACL injury since the summer, people are looking for any kind of answer as to why. Some have concluded it must be the training staff. Others insist Meyer is working guys too hard. People with darker thoughts wonder if performance enhancing drugs are at work here. The easy explanation - guys get injured sometimes - just isn't good enough for these folks. Unfortunately, it's also the most likely one. Ingram hurt his knee in a non contact drill. Two of the injuries occurred before practice even started. So much for the brutal workouts being to blame. If there was a training exercise which could prevent ACL tears, the guy who invented it would be rich. When I tore my ACL, I was running to my left to hit a racquetball the same way I'd run plenty of times. Why'd it blow out that particular time? Don't know - it just did. That's life, and unfortunately several UF players have had a bad break like that in a short stretch of time. Gator fans need to ease up on playing Doogie Howser on the airwaves and message boards.
When I was on the road all season with ESPN College Gameday in 1997, Lee Corso had just started his putting on the hat of the team he was picking routine. One of my responsibilities each week was to find him a hat from the crowd - not the easiest thing to do when you're in Columbus and he's picking Iowa over the Buckeyes. Over time it became more and more formal, to the point he almost always has the actual school mascot's head to put on. (We got Corso the Gator head in Baton Rouge that year and he bumped his head putting it on - at the time he said "no more mascot heads - too heavy") Now, Corso's hat choice actually has a corporate sponsor. ESPN can sell anything.
By the way, after the Florida lovefest that was this year's spring game national TV broadcast, schools started beseeching the network to come do the same thing for them. Looks like Georgia is this year's choice. Did I mention ESPN can sell anything?
Two Nebraska wrestlers have been kicked off their team for posing for nude pictures displayed on a site catering to gay men. ESPN can sell... well not this yet, no.