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Monday Hub Is Just a Little Tired

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Even if you're among the countless devoted readers perpetually hovering around your laptop with SMQ open, on a consist regimen of 'Refresh,' you are still reading this post at its regularly scheduled time of arrival. Which makes you luckier than certain passengers of a certain unnamed airline Sunday, and of certain unnamed federal administrations charged with securing transportation - which, by the way, are doing a certifiably bang-up job and should not take the preceding sentiment, which could be misconstrued as the critical charge of unwarranted draconian bullying that it certainly is not, as reason to add certain names to certain lists for the administering of certain "procedures" - each of which conspired against the Hub's timely appearance this morning. Yet, against all odds, here it is.

Those odds included at some point during the last seven days:

• Said travel delays, and the mystifying physics of flight in general,

• A multi-night stay in the suburban home of a ponytailed stranger in whose closet was discovered, among other eyebrow-raising items, a leather jacket with small metal spikes and a swastika patch (or, perhaps more likely, a subtly anti-swastika patch) painted on one sleeve,

• An overture to become a housemate of said stranger, on the morning prior to his likely eviction from the home,

• A subsequent crash on the couch of the generous renter of one very small, very foul-smelling apartment,

• Extremely brief inspections of potential residences featuring, respectably, a giant porch shrine to Buddha and the home-y, "eclectic" atmosphere of a halfway house,

• The purchase and engrossing consumption of every available preview magazine, knowledge of which is to be deployed here with heavy, snark-stuffed filters until the commencement of the regular season (with the sole exception, of course, of Phil Steele, whose Hawaii-loving wisdom has consumed already entire lobes of the brain),

• A thrilling opening round victory in one of the lowest turnouts of an arbitrary but fundamentally democratic tournament of hotness, the first stage of a covert, multi-pronged initiative to bring the Web-surfing world to my improbably attractive knees.

All of these things and more came to pass, and yea, it was good. Almost as good as making it home in one beleaguered piece.

As Our Brand Stretches Thin: Ignoring the burgeoning calamity of the same effort in the Big Ten - and accusations of riding its very slow Midwestern coattails - the SEC is looking at launching its own cable network:

"No question, there would be football and basketball on it," SEC commissioner Mike Slive said recently at the SEC spring meetings. "I think there's something like 8,720 hours of programming available. Obviously, part of that would have to be significant football and basketball. The other piece that our presidents and chancellors are very interested in is it would create an outlet for non-athletic content from our universities, which have good communication schools. There are a lot of events on our respective campuses that might find their way onto an SEC network."

The SEC has been talking to various national networks and cable distribution companies in recent months about possibly launching an SEC network in two to three years devoted to all or almost all league sports.
"The conference has had discussions with numerous distribution entities of various kinds, all of whom have expressed considerable interest about the channel," Slive said. "We will be devoting a lot of our time and energy to exploring the possibility of doing it. At first blush, it has certain advantages. By early 2008, we'll be into the actual periods of contract negotiation. There is even more interest now than there was in March."

There is not, however, any more interest in SEC sports, which frankly has reached saturation in the part of the country that might be interested in them. As far as the rest of the country goes, as Slive points out,

"CBS has been a terrific partner," Slive said. "We're the only league in the country that has a national network partner, and so every one of our games on CBS goes everywhere whether you have cable or don't. If you look at the ABC distribution of so-called national games, they are primarily regional. CBS does our game -- it goes everywhere. And I think that speaks to the strength of the SEC and its football when a major network can have its full football inventory be one conference."

And as far as less interesting SEC football goes, of the Ole Miss at Vanderbilt variety that will not draw a national audience:

"We have the most successful syndicated network of any conference in the country -- the Lincoln Financial Network..."

Lincoln Financial also covers gobs of SEC basketball, and CSTV covers baseball and whatever miscellany might conceivably draw interest: coach's shows, "Around the SEC" roundups, gymnastics and - probably most popularly - constant replays of spring football games. SEC baseball is available on my television every weekend. Slive also touts the conference's "significant Olympic sports distribution program" - again, on the assumption that anyone, especially the average or near-average Southerner, is very interested in watching Olympic sports outside of the actual Olympics, or even inside them - through the regional Fox outlet. These arrangements netted the conference $43 million to distribute to member institutions. Most of them are also up in 2009, but what is the advantage of an independent network for a conference already so well covered? The overhead? The hassle with providers to get its games onto the screens they're already on as we speak?

The Big Ten is facing the same problem: do the regional games currently on basic cable even carry enough interest to prop up a network? Comcast apparently thinks not. For the Mountain West, which pulls even its marquee football games out of terrible time slots on ESPN2 for 1.2 million people, perhaps, but 8,270 hours is a lot - just shy of 23 hours a day for a year - and mid-week track and field and tennis matches can only take you so far (not very). I'm dubious of the demand to sustain such an enterprise.

Now, a channel devoted exclusively to classic SEC football games? That's a winner.

That will never get old, unless you're an Alabama fan, in which case there's always the 1996 Iron Bowl. You can put these things on a loop - Arkansas-Ole Miss in seven overtimes! LSU over Florida in 1997! Billy Jack Haskins rumbles downfield against Tennessee! Frank Sanders in the Swamp! - and guarantee a three share across the region, whatever that means, exactly.

The Stairway to Redemption: Grim moods are perking up in Michigan, which snow-shocked Ryan Mallett may attribute to the warmer weather - "when I first came here, I thought everybody was real sad, but I think it was the weather. Everybody was just real cold. It makes you not want to talk." - but actually the momentary joy is because Mario Manningham complement and future Mallett target Adrian Arrington has been reinstated to the Wolverines after 60 days of 6 a.m. bleacher runs in Michigan Stadium. That's not like running bleachers in your high school stadium after you mouthed off to your coach, even if it, too, happened to be nicknamed "The Big House."

The Iowa native was accompanied on his early morning punishment runs at the stadium by Carr and a rotating cast of assistants. He joked that the 60th day was the best day of his life. "Those 60 days, that was the toughest thing I've ever had to go through," Arrington said. "It was Sunday to Sunday, too, every single morning. That last day was the greatest."
Adrian's new recipe for social success: stay in and play more PS3, where the fear spreading over double coverage-minded defensive coordinators' faces is so freakin' real.

Our obsolete logo is kitschier than yours! (Logos from The Wiz)
Quickly: Arkansas refugee Damian Williams won't even practice with USC this fall after his second shoulder operation in two months ... The Zach Frazier Derby opens with interest from Miami, Louisville, Rutgers, East Carolina, UConn and "a handful of MAC schools" ... Nick Saban, for the record: "Maybe, deep down, I really do have time for this shit" ... Backup Jimmy Barnes is transferring to a I-AA school to be named later, leaving Alabama on the quarterbacking precipice behind John Parker Wilson ... Meet Rennie Curran, Georgia's future answer to Sam Olajabutu ... They're still "blinking" at the concept - and the requisite cash - in the Rockies, but, uh, football is year-round, you guys ... and N.C. State and Nevada will hash out differences in the schools' similar Wolfpack/Wolf Pack logos (FYI, Nevada's two-word version is the one that passes spell check).

The Rap Sheet
Crimes, misdemeanors and eligibility-crippling issues legal, academic, institutional and otherwise.
- - -

Suspended, following an arrest for allegedly burglarizing two vehicles early Saturday morning, Texas safety Robert Joseph, who first alerted a security guard at Austin's Omni Hotel by "beating on cars" in the hotel garage, then was found by police sitting in a Mercedes that did not belong to him and, failing to convince them the car belonged to his boy "Andre," with whom he had just exchanged words at a club, fled to a second car, where he continued to play it cool by setting off the alarm.

The good news for the 'Horns is that Joseph did apparently outrun police, who may not have found him a second time had he not set off blaring horns and flashing lights, which demonstrates solid breakaway speed in a secondary thoroughly depleted by graduation. On the downside, he'll face two misdemeanor burglary charges carrying up to a year in jail each as well as probation and be suspended indefinitely, according to Mack Brown, possibly until the legal process runs its course. Or, like, the Oklahoma game, whichever comes first.

Maurice Purify has just had another one of those weekends.
- - -
Arrested, on suspicion of drunk driving, Nebraska receiver Maurice Purify. This would not be such a big deal - Big Mo was only doing 53 in a 40, y'all, and got pulled over for failing to use his turn signal, which everybody knows is totally optional anyway - if Purify hadn't also been accused of assaulting a bouncer and maybe the dude's girlfriend last month after the bouncer kept him out of a different club earlier in the night (the full transcript of which, incidentally, served as the basis for Judd Apatow's wife's character's sublime bouncer diatribe in the outstanding Knocked Up, deserving hit of the week. Sports and entertainment, always they are converging to the one).

As it is, the football status of the Huskers' go-to deep threat is "uncertain," as Bill Callahan put it after sending several reporters in motion following a meeting in which Purify was suspended indefinitely.

Continuing, to Nick Saban's backhanded glee, Georgia's offseason troubles with alcohol, this time in the form of the arrest of backup quarterback Blake Barnes, 21, and tight end Tripp Chandler, 20, the latter of whom illegally possessed alcohol illegally supplied by the first, and both of whom were walking around with it in the open early Sunday morning, presumably trashed.

I presume that because, rather than an actual drinking problem, UGA's real trouble seems to be getting caught with alcohol in kind of stupid situations. Ian Smith has been arrested on alcohol charges twice in the last year; Akeem Hebron was allegedly driving under the influence at 8 a.m. on a Sunday before getting caught again; Matt Stafford went publicly kegging (with an Auburn girl?) at Talladega in broad daylight - no arrest, no repercussions in that case, just an image thing - and now Barnes and Chandler stray too far from the unmentioned bar/party with open containers, which would be no problem at all in, say, Baton Rouge. Just toss that cup, dude. Since most college players, because they are popular college students, are probably drinking to some extent, we can file the generalities of this arrest - there are no charges of resisting or fighting, or other crazy police report citations - under "normal behavior" for kids out for a fun summer weekend. Cops could have been cock-blocking, man, who knows? Let those without sin cast stones. But maybe what Georgia's older players really need to do is sit the kids down and teach them how to stick to the side streets.

Per university policy relating to arrests, Barnes and Chandler will miss 10 percent of the season, or 1.2 games, which if imposed immediately puts them back during roughly the third offensive series of the South Carolina game.