Stoops sends strong message
I'll admit I was impressed by Oklahoma's decision to boot blue-chip WR Josh Jarboe after a rap video surfaced on YouTube of him talking about guns and shooting people. It was a bizarre set of circumstances that I think is emblematic of some changing times for college coaches these days thanks to the power of the Internet, both as a "marketing" tool and as a message spreader.
New problems are surfacing all the time and, when they do, EVERYBODY finds out about them. Not like 10 years ago, where maybe only the people around town got word. Public image is scrutinized much more and because of that I think you'll see more programs trying to make sure the right message gets sent, both externally and internally.
Jarboe's rap didn't break any laws. It was, after all, just a freestyle rap. Then again, what he was talking about was a subject that already had him in hot water since Jarboe had made headlines in May for carrying a gun on school property where he grew up in Georgia. Does that make it different from Miami's Seventh Floor Crew stuff or the Michigan rap that surfaced a few months later? I think it does.
Initially, it sounded like Bob Stoops wasn't going to dump Jarboe, and a few hours later, Jarboe was gone. If I'm an OU fan, I'm probably happy with that decision and proud of my team. Oklahoma had already told Jarboe he needed to watch his behavior, and whether you think his rap was silly or not, it embarrassed the program. I suspect if this were another player without the previous history, he'd still be in Norman.
This morning I read a column from the Daily Texan's David R. Henry saying there's a double standard at work, because OU suspended DeMarcus Granger for a bowl game after he got arrested for shoplifting but didn't boot him, too.
My take on the column: It's unfortunate, but all cases have different circumstances. Coaches are generally more forgiving with first-time offenders. OU already had to have a discussion about Jarboe's future at the school months before he did his freestyle. It's also worth noting that it's not like Jarboe was some fifth-team walk-on. He was one of the top receiver recruits in the country.
• I didn't realize how much Regis Benn was hindered last season until I read Mark Tupper's story this morning:
You may recall that as a true freshman, the heralded receiver from Washington, D.C., suffered a separated shoulder in an intrasquad scrimmage last August in Rantoul. As a result, he was off-limits to contact in every practice the rest of the year and was withheld from all drills this past spring.
"When you think about it, he had only 14 contact days last year," Zook pointed out. "That's amazing. You have to be hit, but where is that line? We try to be smart and make sure we're not overdoing it. I don't believe in the old days where you go out and just try to beat the crap out of each other. It's a long season."
Benn played the entire season with his arm in a brace that restricted his reach and allowed him to catch only passes thrown within a two-foot square near his face. He could not reach his hands over his head and had to limit the use of a mean stiff-arm.
If this is true, I can't wait to see how Benn attacks the supposed sophomore jinx.
• Here is a good look at some of the questions facing Mizzou by Dave Matter.
I'm still on the Tigers' bandwagon. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Mizzou makes it to the national title game. I think the Tigers schedule sets up well. They have a great leader in Chase Daniel and the team gained valuable big-game atmosphere experience last season.
• Did South Carolina do a disservice to Stephen Garcia by allowing him to rejoin the football team two weeks ahead of schedule? Ron Morris thinks so:
The message sent by allowing Garcia to rejoin the USC football team two weeks ahead of schedule is clear: You are important to the football program's success; you are an exception to the rules; you are a possible superstar, and we will bend the rules at every turn to ensure your success.
Frankly, that is hardly the message that needs to be sent to a 20-year-old student who has demonstrated an inability to deal with pressures inherent to being labeled the savior of a program.
By holding to the original Aug. 15 reinstatement date, USC would have sent a much stronger message to Garcia: You are no different than any other student-athlete; come back to school and fit in as a student, first; work your way back onto the football team, but your performance on the athletic field is not paramount to us.
Instead, an athletics department official defended the early reinstatement of Garcia by saying it was reward for the player having been an exemplary citizen during his suspension.
I don't agree with Morris' opinion later in his column that the NCAA must rethink the rule allowing high school seniors to enroll early, but I think he's right on here. Throughout his recruitment, Garcia struggled with the realities of being a high-profile recruit. It's not a stretch to think a warped sense of perspective contributed to his problems since arriving in Columbia. I think holding to the school's initial plan made a lot more sense given his past.
• Nick Saban will have a challenge keeping team chemistry this fall, Tony Barnhart writes:
I don't know how many games Alabama is going to win but this will still be a very interesting season for the Crimson Tide.
Here's why. In a lot of positions at Alabama a good, solid veteran player is going to be pushed by a younger, more talented player. Coaches have to walk a tightrope when dealing with this kind of situation. Even if the younger player has more talent, the timing of moving him into the starting lineup is very tricky.
If you make the move too soon the young player struggles because he's not completely prepared. Then he loses confidence. Also, the veteran player who loses his job may go in the tank because he's no longer the starter. But if you make the decision to move the kid up too late that's not fair to the team. You're not giving your team every opportunity to get better.
• Greg Hardy might be the most gifted defensive end in the country, but the Ole Miss junior has been an enigmatic figure. David Brandt has a profile of him here.
My three cents: If Hardy wants to, he'll lead the SEC in sacks again. He can be an awesome presence on the field -- when he wants to be. It's just that from day to day, he didn't always want to be a great football player. From observing him up close for two years, I doubt there were many days when he wanted to play football at all. I think I'll have more on the Greg Hardy Show down the road.
• Another reason why I'm skeptical UCLA wins more than five games this year: The Bruins face six teams are in the USA Today preseason Top 25 -- No. 2 USC, No. 16 Arizona St., No. 17 BYU, No. 18 Tennessee, No. 20 Oregon and No. 25 Fresno St. UCLA is the only school in the country with six opponents in the preseason Top 25.
• Wisconsin is determined to slow down the spread offense, Jeff Potrykus writes. The Badgers staff also met face-to-face with assistants from several schools. That list included coaches from Appalachian State, which used the spread to upset Michigan in last year's season opener and went on to win another Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) national title.
• Clemson may not have much experience on its O-line, but the Tigers expect to have better camaraderie than they had on last year's group, writes Larry Williams:
They hadn't played together long enough to form many lasting bonds. A few days before the eighth game at Maryland, coach Tommy Bowden said it was the quietest line he'd encountered in 30 years of coaching. Former Tigers lineman Marion Dukes, who served as a student assistant last season, observed then that the line wasn't having fun and wasn't acting like a family.
• Word is that Orlando Franklin has the tools to be one of the nation's top young O-linemen. The Miami sophomore also has a new look that he sees epitomizing his growth on the field, reports Jorge Milian.
"A Mohawk means a different attitude," said Franklin. "If you have a Mohawk, you're an animal, a beast. That's what I'm trying to be, a beast on the field."
In the story also is this interesting nugget: Chris Long, the former Virginia defensive end and second pick of the NFL draft in April, was so impressed after being held without a sack last season by Franklin that he visited the UM lineman's Facebook.com page and left the following message: "You're going to be a real good player. Just keep having fun and I'll see you on the next level."
• Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio loves his strength coach, too. One of the staples of the MSU offseason conditioning program run by coach Ken Mannie is Friday's "Spartan Challenge Day." The morning lift is varied, cut in half and followed by a series of competitive drills that equate to a strongman competition. They make this "as tough as any day we do," Mannie tells Joe Rexrode.
Players are split into teams and compete in events such as the sled pull, the tire flip (a race downfield, flipping a tractor tire) and the sandbag toss (two teams of 8-10 players in a line, passing a 100-pound sandbag to each other and running to the back of the line, going the length of the field and back).
• Speaking of Dantonio, one of the former Cincy coach's better recruiting decisions was signing Terrill Byrd, a powerful DT. Byrd has blossomed into one of the nation's top defenders. Bill Koch has a nice story about him.
• A QB competition at Cal? Cam Inman says it's time for Jeff Tedford to give the keys to the offense to Kevin Riley:
"It should be Riley's job. It should be the dawn of a new era at Cal, which it is anyhow because the Bears are desperate to distance themselves from 2007."
My three cents: I buy this column 100 percent, although I do realize Tedford knows his team and what his QBs are capable of a lot better than those of us who only see a small portion of their work.
• The most underappreciated aspect of the success of a football program is the efforts of the support staff. Chadd Cripe has a Q&A with the Boise State equipment guy.
• I always enjoy watching the NFL Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. I was struck by a comment Darrell Green's son made, saying he and his dad were talking about how there were only "two" current guys in the NFL who they saw as Hall of Famers. I wonder if his dad meant that he thought there were only two who had Hall of Fame character. I suspect there are two dozen guys out there playing right now who will be getting inducted down the road.