Final pre-game thoughts

Okay, I’m leaving Atlanta to head to Athens. There’s a pit in my stomach that worries that if this game gets ugly it could be a replay of Auburn ’99. Right now, I see no way that the Georgia O-line can stand up to the Carolina D-line. With that said, u expect this game to go similarly to the Boise game. Not a blowout, but the outcome is never truly in doubt.

My guess: South Carolina 27, Georgia 14.

Maybe Mark Richt and co. can prove me wrong, but I don’t believe they will.

Talking With the Enemy: 2011 South Carolina Version

Similar to last year, Gamecock Man from the great South Carolina blog, Garnet and Black Attack, has been kind enough to exchange a few questions and answers with me related to the game.  Check out my responses to his questions here.

1. Was the rough showing against East Carolina to start the game just early game jitters or did it expose some chinks in the South Carolina armor?  I know East Carolina piled up its lead based on turnovers, but the same could be said for South Carolina’s comeback being largely aided by East Carolina turnovers.  Did the first game performance take some wind out of the sails of the South Carolina fans or are you guys just brushing it off and still expecting big things this year?

It both did and didn’t expose weaknesses in Carolina’s armor. A lot of our problems could be chalked up to early game jitters. The turnovers were all fumbles, most of them from players who either aren’t likely to fumble often (Marcus Lattimore) or players who won’t get many special-teams touches from here on out (Stephon Gilmore, Kenny Miles). If they had been Stephen Garcia interceptions, it would be a different story, but I don’t think these turnovers were very predictive of what’s going to happen this year for Carolina.

Of course, you could say that our comeback was just as much a product of turnovers as our early deficit, but I’m not sure that really says much about how this game played out as most people think. At the end of the day, Carolina won by almost three TDs. That’s right about what Vegas thought would happen. People look at the score and the early deficit and say Carolina struggled, but I’m not sure they’d be saying that if Carolina had marched to a more conventional 19-point victory. I kind of see it as being that the TOs made the game more interesting than it might otherwise have been, but at the end of the day they evened out and the scoreboard reflected the difference between the two teams.

You also have to note that the turnovers weren’t the only anomaly; Shaw starting was the other. Does the first quarter go as badly with Garcia under center? Probably not.

All of this said, I do think Carolina showed some chinks, particularly in the secondary. East Carolina moved the ball well through the air at times, both due to poor schematics from the coaches and our players’–particularly Stephon Gilmore’s–inability to make key plays. Carolina has some depth returning in the secondary this weekend, but I still think UGA has the potential to hurt Carolina with Aaron Murray’s arm.

2. There’s been lots of sentiment that if you lined up the talent that South Carolina has this year in a Florida or Texas uniform, they’d be widely considered a top five team.  Do you believe that South Carolina is being underrated this year (if being a pre-season top 15 team is really grounds to be underrated) or the perception is accurate that they are good, but largely aided by the fact that the traditional three big powers in their division all seem to be in a down cycle right now?

South Carolina’s talent level has obviously risen a good bit since Spurrier arrived. Never before has South Carolina had quite this many All-American and All-SEC-type players. That said, I still think South Carolina’s depth is a bit worse than your Oklahoma’s, Alabama’s, etc. Carolina is a few OL and DB injuries away from having serious problems. However, the top-level talent is as good as anyone in the nation. I really don’t think that anyone has as good of a RB-WR combo as Lattimore and Alshon Jeffery. And the defensive line is chock full of NFL talent.

As far as the East being on a down cycle, I certainly think the East being down had something to do with Carolina’s East title. Can you imagine that Carolina team winning the East in one of the years that Florida won the national title? Probably not. That said, Carolina won the games it had to, and it did beat a top-ranked Alabama team. It’s not like last year’s Carolina team was comparable to past 6-6 and 7-5 Carolina outfits. It was certainly an improved team.

As far as the East this year goes, I’ll wait until the end of the season to comment.

3. Jadeveon Clowney.  We’ve all seen the high school videos of him looking like an NFL player in a pee wee football league.  How do you feel about his performance in the East Carolina game and how do you think he will be utilized against the Dawgs?

He looked fantastic in the ECU game. He was all over the field, got at the QB a few times, and made some nice plays tackling runners and receivers. He did overpursue a couple of times, showing some freshman inexperience. Those mistakes may take some time to weed out. However, other than that he looked very good. Granted, that was against a bad ECU offensive line, but I expect an impact from him this year, including his first career sack against UGA. It’s hard to say whether he’ll be on the field quite as much this weekend, though. Against ECU, he played almost every significant down, but we were running a small, coverage-oriented defensive line because ECU never runs the ball and likes the short pass. That won’t be the case against Georgia, and I expect that–other than on obvious passing downs–you’ll see Clowney rotate with Devin Taylor and Melvin Ingram (Ingram played DT against ECU but is likely to play more DE against UGA) more so than be on the field with both of them at the same time.

4. To echo your question to me; if you had to take one player from Georgia’s roster, who would it be and why?

I’d go with Brandon Boykin. We could use a player like him at CB, and obviously he’s a playmaker in other phases of the game, too. Can’t have enough players like him.

Plan B might be Drew Butler. Seriously. Carolina may struggle punting this year, so we could use Butler.

5.  What will it take for Georgia to pull the upset (that’s right, Vegas has South Carolina as a three point favorite – never thought I’d ever live to see a South Carolina team favored in Sanford Stadium) this Saturday?  Should Mark Richt start polishing up his resume or do you think the man will prove us all wrong and show that Georgia just ran into a buzzsaw last week against Boise State?

I think the key for Georgia in this game is improved offensive line play. Based on the performance against Boise, I really, really like the way our DL matches up against your OL, and if Crowell can’t find room to run and particularly if Clowney, Taylor, and Ingram are all over Murray on every pass, this game will likely be over quickly. However, if UGA’s OL play improves and gives Murray some room to work, I think UGA can gain some yards in the air. Defensively, UGA needs to force turnovers. USC has lots of offensive talent this year and should be able to move the ball well, but the potential for forcing some TOs is always there with Garcia at QB.

In sum, I think the matchups favor Carolina in this game, even more than the line indicates. I’ll go ahead and say that if Richt loses this game, he’s probably done. He and his staff screwed the pooch on the Boise game. To say nothing of winning, UGA should have at least been able to play closely with Boise if the Dawgs are really a Top-25 team. Instead, UGA got ran off the field more or less as soundly as many of Boise’s more respectable conference opponents. That falls on the coaching staff; there’s no excuse for such underwhelming play from a program with such obvious advantages. There’s still time to right the ship if Richt can rally the troops this weekend, but if he doesn’t do it now, he’ll likely need to do something drastic, like win out, to save his job. And if he loses this game, I doubt his team will be able to go on that kind of run.

Much thanks again to Gamecock Man for taking the time to exchange Q&A’s with me.

Post-mortem/Time to move on

I don’t want to beat a dead horse (no pun intended) as this thing has been covered pretty much everywhere in the Dawg-o-sphere. I’m not here to break down the multiple failures. We all know what we saw on Saturday night and it wasn’t pretty. Despite all the happy talk of changes in S&C, cancers being rooted out of the team, and a head coach that was now fully devoted to the game of football after the AD took a lot of responsibilities of his shoulders, we saw a team that displayed all the bad habits that have been so prevalent in the last two years in Athens that looked like nothing had changed from the awfulness that was 2010.

At this point, I’m not screaming for anybody’s heads to roll or anything like that, but I’ve finally been pushed to the point that I don’t have the faith anymore in the current regime in Athens to succeed and that this boat of bad habits is just too dang big for them to turn around. They very may well surprise me and go on a run this year that we all hoped for, but for the first time since Mark Richt was announced as the head coach at Georgia in December of 2000 I don’t have any confidence that it will happen.

With all that said, we’ve got a huge game coming up this Saturday that will go a long ways to determining whether last week was merely a blip on the radar and Boise is truly a buzzsaw that we were unfortunate to run into or if it was truly the beginning of the last season in the Mark Richt era. Despite the negativity I’ve displayed openly and internally the past week, I will be in Sanford Stadium on Saturday wearing my red and black and screaming my head off for the young men that represent my alma mater out there. No matter how bad it’s been or will get, that will never change.

Now, for five things I liked and disliked about the game last week:

I liked

  1. Malcolm Mitchell – That kid is a talent.  I hope we figure out a way to get him the ball more.
  2. I-formation – Only successful drive of the night was run from this formation and we looked comfortable in it.
  3. Orson Charles – Same comment as Mitchell above.  Have got to figure out a way to get the ball in his hands as much as possible.
  4. Run defense – Good job by Grantham to scheme to effectively shut down Boise’s running game.  We’re going to need that this weekend.
  5. Bradon Boykin – Most explosive guy in the open field at UGA since Fred Gibson.

What I didn’t like

  1. O-line – Looked like they were on roller skates all night.  Not sure if there’s going to be a quick fix to this thing outside of developing and recruiting some young talent or scouring the JUCO ranks for some ready to play guys.
  2. Lack of offensive identity – I’m not even sure how to begin on this one.  It just looks like Bobo tries too hard to outsmart everybody else and all that he ends up doing in the end is outsmarting himself and his players.  If we want any chance for success he’s going to have to be able to recognize early on in games what is and isn’t working and make sure to focus on the former.  Whether I think he’s capable of doing that is  a half hour conversation that would only make me mad.
  3. Fans booing and blasting players in social media – All the Georgia fans that booed and then got behind their computers to blast players on Twitter and Facebook can go fornicate themselves with a rusty nail.  We don’t want or need you in our fanbase.
  4. Crossing patterns – For the health of my heart, I’d really appreciate it if the UGA defense would defend the middle of the field this weekend.  It’s a strategy that has not been seen in Athens since sometime mid-2005.
  5. ‘Tree going down – ILB and OL are the two areas we could least afford an injury and we got hit hard by losing Alec Ogletree for half the season.

More to come on the South Carolina game later today and tomorrow.

Final Thoughts

No posts for awhile, but these are my final thoughts heading into the Boise game tomorrow evening.

1. Is the front seven as improved as we’ve been lead to believe?

If so, this could be exactly what we’re looking for in being able to contain Kellen Moore and Doug Martin.

2. Can the Dawgs handle a quick sucker punch and mount a comeback?

This is the biggest question facing this team, in my opinion. Boise likes to play the Indianapolis Colts game of shock and awe at the beginning of a game and putting a team behind. This makes the opponent one dimensional (i.e. lots of passes) and allows their defense to pin its ears back and come after the QB. Can Georgia withstand an early onslaught and make a comeback?

3. What is the psyche of this team?

After the last few years, the only thing this team has going for it is a culture of losing. Has this team shed that mentality or will it tuck tail if the going gets tough early on?

I’d like to believe this team can hang with Boise State, but right now there are just too many questions for me to honestly answer this. Right now, I believe we won’t know what the 2011 version of the Georgia Bulldogs are all about until halftime of this first game. I’m firmly in the “wait and see” camp when it comes to this team.

My prediction:

UGA 31, Boise 27.

I don’t know why I feel this way, but whoever scores 30 first is going to win this game.

Where do we go from here

By my calculations, it’s been nearly a full year since I last posted when Gamecock Man at Garnet and Black Attack was so gracious to exchange Q&A’s with me last year just a few days prior to the beginning of the end of the 2010 UGA football season. Since then, we’ve gone through the whole turmoil that was losing four in a row, a heartbreaking loss to Florida, losing to Auburn when Mike Bobo decided to take his foot off the gas, and then the humiliating end to 2010 with the worst lack of effort I’ve seen from a Mark Richt coached team against UCF. The whole time last year, there were many times when I wanted to weigh in and add my thoughts, but I remembered a post by Paul Westerdawg a few years ago:

You want to know why I haven’t blogged much the past few weeks? What’s to say? From mid 2005-2008, the song has remained mostly the same. We got a 6 game reprieve from our problems in late 2007, but it’s been the same problems for most of that period. It gets redundant saying the same things over and over. “If we tackle well, don’t get lots of penalties and score points in the redzone, blah, blah, blah.” It gets old talking about that every week.

This is the mindset I’ve pretty much been in since I got back from the game in Columbia last year and didn’t really feel like talking about UGA football much. Much to commenter Darth’s delight, I’ve decided to finally update something here.

Now we sit here roughly 36 days away from opening kick-off in the Georgia Dome against Boise State and I don’t really know how I should feel about the upcoming season. Normally, this is a time of great excitement and anticipation for me, but frankly I’m not truly feeling it this year. I suppose it’s the old “fool me once – shame on you, fool me twice – shame on me” syndrome”. While I’d love to buy into the offseason hype and believe everything is going to be okay and it’ll be just like 2002-2005 all over again, it’s just too soon for me right now to do that. I’m firmly in the wait-and-see camp.

With all that said, now I have to figure out where I go from here on out to make this blog interesting without getting myself too worked up. I suppose an easy topic this off-season has been the question of how warm the seat on which Mark Richt resides truly is. However, this is a touchy subject and I don’t want to get in a pissing war with these guys who are utterly done with Mark Richt nor do I want to get in a pissing war with these guys who believe that Mark Richt is going to turn this thing around by citing examples such as not giving up on Bear Bryant or Vince Dooley when they went through rough stretches in the middle of their careers and the schools were subsequently rewarded by sticking with their men.

Personally, I believe both are right and wrong to an extent. The “cold blooded sausage makers” are right in that the argument that we can’t get anybody better than Mark Richt is false considering there are a ton of coaches that we could have hired that would have done much better over the last three years than Mark Richt. I also believe that they’re wrong in completely writing off Mark Richt because I genuinely believe he truly realizes how far awry the program had slipped and he’s now reinventing himself and how the program goes about its business in a way that hasn’t been there since DJ Shockley was running the show in Athens.

I believe TKK is right in that given a long enough sample size we are going to see highs and lows and what we’re seeing in Athens the past few years is an inevitable low point that would occur for any coach given enough time in any high profile job (even the great Urban Meyer lost five games last year and Nick Saban lost six games his first year in Tuscaloosa). I also believe he’s wrong in citing the Bryant and Dooley examples, because it’s never as simple as saying that “my belief must be true because everything that has ever happened in the past will happen again”. While Mark Richt very well may turn it around, the idea that he should be held onto by citing the Bryant and Dooley examples is false. Mark Richt should be retained because performance on the field improves this year, not because history says he should.

I suppose the point I’m getting at is that the fanbase is divided right now (however, it’s not in the black and white manner that these guys would have you believe). While there are certainly a few that will defend Richt to the end and some that are truly done with him, I believe the bulk of us rest somewhere in the middle. We know that the program isn’t where it can and should be, but we also don’t believe that we should just keep railing on how much we want Richt gone. The fact of the matter is that Mark Richt is the coach right now and will be for 2011. There’s no need to get worked up about who we could get or when he’s going to get fired. In my mind, the goodwill he’s built up in Athens is all but gone, but the man is still the head coach at my alma mater and me bitching and moaning about him isn’t going to get him fired or retained any time soon. Ultimately what I’m saying is that it’s time to stop debating what will or won’t happen sometime in the next six-eight months and rather we should hope for the best from the young men and coaches that will represent our alma mater this fall. While I will truly never understand the perpetually optimistic UGA fan, I’ll also hold equal contempt for the fan that decides to spend all his/her time railing on how bad the current coaching staff/program is. At some point, you’ve got to get behind your program no matter how bad it gets and trust the people up top (i.e. Greg McGarity) will make the correct decision going forward.

Talking With the Enemy: Q&A with Gamecocks Blogger Gamecock Man

For my first post (I know it’s already Thursday, so sue me) that is Gamecock preview related, earlier this week I exchanged a Q&A with Gamecock Man who runs the South Carolina oriented SB Nation website, Garnet and Black Attack.  Check them out as they do good work over there.  Here are my answers to his questions (note that the questions between us were exchanged prior to the AJ Green news from today):

1. This was the esteemed Senator’s pre-game analysis for last year’s game.  Removing the obvious references to Jon Fabris and Norwood, is there any reason to expect this year’s version to be different, last year’s results notwithstanding?

Yes and no–I don’t expect a high-scoring game, but I also don’t necessarily expect another 13-9 or 14-7-type of game, either. I definitely expect this year’s bout to return to the mean and not look like last year’s Twilight Zone game. That said, from my perspective as a Gamecocks fans, our team appears to have the best offense we’ve had in many years. I don’t doubt that UGA is going to be bringing a stout defense to Columbia, but I also expect that we’re going to find ways to move the ball fairly effectively. On the other hand, the jury is still out on our defense. Although we only gave up 13 points because we were great inside the 30, our defense gave up a whopping 400 yards last week. Granted, a lot of that came on USM’s last couple of drives, while the third-stringers were in, and word is we’ll get a potential All-SEC guy back in Chris Culliver. I also think too much has been made of our inability to hastle USM’s QB; the Golden Eagles were running a lot of quick screens and the like that made it difficult for us to rack up the sacks. Still, we didn’t exactly dominate their offense, and that makes me worry a bit about UGA moving the ball. The one good thing I saw was that we did well defending the run, and slowing down King and Ealey will be really important for us against your team.

Whatever happens, I expect this to be another close one.

2. This may have been my biggest criticism from last week’s USC/Southern Miss game, but was Garcia really that impressive?  If you’d been listening to the Palmer/James train, you’d think he was a front line Heisman contender.  What I saw were a bunch of WR screens coupled with short dump offs to the flats and short crossing routes.  He wasn’t really needed to make a difficult throw down the field, which I assume he will at some point against UGA.  Are South Carolina fans genuinely excited that this could be a big time year for Garcia or is the excitement more along the lines of amazement that he didn’t make any plays that would be considered “dumb” for a change?

I do think you’re right that Palmer and James, and probably some of our fans, overplayed Garcia’s performance last week. He was a little off on two or three throws that could have made the game an even bigger blowout than it was; there was one post route that sticks out in my head where Alshon Jeffery had a huge lead on a mismatched corner but where Garcia threw it behind the route. That said, he did make a couple of really nice downfield throws, so you have to give him credit for those, too. I do think you’re right that some of the reaction may just be people making too much of the fact that they’re just relieved that he didn’t do anything that seemed particularly stupid–he protected the ball and, perhaps even more stunningly, never got sacked despite feeling a bit of pressure at times. That’s progress for him, though, and if he can continue to do that as well as be an excellent passer at least most of the time, I think he can have a pretty good year.

3. I have to ask it, but this whole “hot seat” discussion.  Is this a creation of a zealous media looking for ad revenues and page hits during the off season (I’m looking at you Paul Finebaum), an increasingly vocal minority of UGA fans, or is there some reality to this? (before answering this question, I’d direct you to this blog post by former Gamecock beat writer and current Bulldog beat writer Seth Emerson when posed the same question)

I’m not exactly sure how to approach this question, as I’m not privy to the UGA admin’s feelings about Richt or even your own, although you’re certainly suggesting that he’s not on the hotseat. Here goes, though–as far as guys like Finebaum goes, I think we all know they’re just trying to stir up controversy, draw readers, and increase ad revenue. And certainly, saying Richt is on the hotseat is a little extreme–I couldn’t imagine UGA would fire him unless he completely tanks this year. At the same time, though, isn’t it possible that Richt is starting to feel a little pressure? Don’t get me wrong; I think he’s a great coach who has had a lot of success at UGA. But what happens if he goes 7-5 again? His last few seasons, with the exception of 2007, have looked a lot more like the Goff / Donnan years than Richt’s heyday from 2002-2005. I’m assuming that he’s got to do better than that at least most of the time to keep his job totally secure. All that said, I expect a nine- or ten-win season for the Dawgs this year, which should clear things up nicely for him. But if he struggles, I would think that “vocal minority” might get a lot more listeners than it has right now.

4. Is there really a perpetual Chicago Cub type “next year is our year” mentality around the Gamecock program or is this a myth perpetuated by fans of opposing schools as something to rib our neighbors to the East?

Yes and no. (I think I’ve answered like this to all of your questions, but there it is.) We don’t really believe that every year is the year. Only the most optimistic (some might say insane) Gamecocks fans, for example, believed that we would compete for an SEC Title in either of the past two years. We didn’t have a QB in 2008 and were very young last year, and the reasonable ones out of us were just hoping for winning seasons, maybe eight or nine wins if we got lucky. It’s the vocal minority thing you mentioned, though–the ones expecting SEC Titles are oftentimes the loudest and most obnoxious, and they get taken to be representative of the whole fanbase.

That said, I won’t deny that we’re generally a very hopeful bunch. When trying to figure out why we seem to feel more optimism than our history would allow, you have to remember that, at least in the last decade or so, we haven’t been an awful team. We’ve had a few pretty good years–2000, 2001, and 2005, in particular–and in the others we’ve generally been competitive. Each year seems to have a win or two that could reasonably make one believe that big things are on the way–think UGA in 2007, or Ole Miss last year. And a lot of our losses tend to have this “if only we could have made that one play” kind of quality. There’s a way in which the Gamecocks are constantly dangling the prospect of success right ahead of us, and the fact that it always seems so close makes us believe that eventually it’ll happen.

5. Since both our alma maters have dealt with some level of hand wringing from the NCAA and its apparent lack of commitment to timely responses regarding the eligibility of some players in question (South Carolina didn’t hear until a few hours before kickoff and UGA had to sit out AJ Green for the season opener due to no confirmation from the NCAA on a ruling), what is your thought on the whole process? Hypothetically speaking, let’s say AJ Green is held out this Saturday because no decision has come down and UGA loses by 3 points, but Monday the NCAA determines he was eligible.  If something like that happened, there’s no way the NCAA can win the court of public opinion.  Is there something the NCAA can do to expedite this process or is the NCAA so lacking on credibility at this point anyways, does it even matter if it tries to save face?

(Note–this answer is coming after the Green decision came down.) I think the NCAA really needs to figure out how to make its decisions quickly and equitably. While I don’t want to suggest that it’s played favorites, it has appeared to be inconsistent when it comes to how long it takes to wrap up each investigation, and that–whether malicious or not–is not equitable treatment. In that sense, it’s undermining it’s very purpose in carrying out these investigations, which is presumably to make sure that no one gets an unfair advantage. In that sense, it’s really important for these guys to get on the same page. Unfortunately, almost nothing about their procedure suggests that’s what they want to do; their bylaws and rulings are filled with vague, open-to-interpretation language, and that makes it seem as if they want to be able to hand down rulings in a completely arbitrary manner. At any rate, I think it’s going to be hard for them to come back from the PR hit they’ve taken this offseason. But the writing may be on the wall for them–if a serious conference reorganization was ever to come to pass, don’t be surprised if the conferences try to get together and create a new governing body that works in their interests.

Again, I’d like to thank Gamecock Man for being a good sport and taking some time to answer my questions.

In Other News…

I was going to add some posts earlier this week for a South Carolina preview, but real life took an unfortunately strange turn with fire drills at work and the such.  However, in regards to THE STORY today, I’ll try to add some logical input to this discussion like Kyle, but honestly my initial knee jerk with no thought put into it impression was this: The NCAA can go eat a huge dick.  I think Orson’s headline here sums up it best:

AJ GREEN SUSPENDED FOUR GAMES, SAYS RANDOM PUNISHMENT GENERATOR

I have no disagreements that what AJ did was wrong per the NCAA rulebooks.  He sold a game worn jersey to someone that is connected to an agent (may be an actual agent or may be a friend of a friend of an agent, that’s not been made clear in the press release from the NCAA) and he profited from his own name.  That would be considered an impermissible benefit per the NCAA rulebook and AJ should have to face the penalties as such.  Ironically, there were no explicit rules against the selling of memorabilia until 2003 when several members of the UGA 2002 SEC Championship squad elected to sell their Championship rings to collectors, so if any school’s players should be knowledgeable about the rules regarding the sales of memorabilia, it would have to be UGA.

However, there’s a big part of me that tends to agree with Doc Saturday’s assessment and the inherent hypocrisy between the NCAA and its’ member institutions.  The fact that AJ may or not have been connected is not what caused the NCAA to come down with the sledgehammer here, it’s the fact that as Doc Saturday says:

A.J. Green’s only crime was trying to make a buck off A.J. Green

This is obviously me being facetious, but had AJ been able to sell that jersey while sharing the profits with UGA, does one honestly believe the NCAA would care as much?  Is there not a certain hint of irony that on UGA’s athletic department’s website store, I count 20 different versions of a UGA #8 jersey for sale?  Therein is the problem.  UGA can just claim that it’s selling a jersey with the school’s logo on it and those jersey sales have nothing to do with the current guy wearing # 8.  They can tell us that there are just as many fans of Terrence Edwards buying those jerseys as fans of AJ Green.  As the Doc puts it:

This isn’t selling tickets. In any other avenue of American life, Green would have a stake in that business, because he essentially created it with his popular talent. But that could be any No. 8 who plays for Georgia, right? Or any No. 2 for Ohio State, or any No. 22 for Alabama, right? There are still a lot ofTerrence Edwards fans around, you know. Go team!

That is what just irks me about all this.  The NCAA and its member institutions have no problem exploiting these young men for millions of dollars every time they step onto the field on Saturdays on national television while providing numerous hoops to jump through to prevent these players from capitalizing on their own good name and talent.  It’s for this reason and this reason alone that nobody should be surprised at the record numbers of draft eligible juniors and RS sophomores that have entered the draft in the past few years.  Why should they continue busting their butts for an extra year when they could suffer a career ending injury while they see everybody around them getting rich (including their own coaches) and they can’t have a piece of that pie?

I have no clue how this situation ever gets rectified, but with the sheer dollars flowing through big time college football programs these days with them having what essentially is slave labor, the situation just seems inherently unfair.  I don’t blame AJ, or any player for that matter, that likely comes from a less than affluent background and sees a way to pay some bills or buy something nice for himself by selling a jersey or something like that.  I don’t know what can be done about this ultimately, but at some point the NCAA and its member institutions are going to have to face the reality that they are sending grossly wrong messages to their players with a rulebook that craps on the guys that actually create the real value in the system.