• Gasp!! Jimmy Not As Perfectly Healthy As Jimmy Would Like: The Worldwide Leader - on the heels of Log's Blog [courtesy The Wizard of Odds, as usual] - goes the anonymice route to confirm Clausen had a "procedure" performed on one of his elbows, backing up the Miami Herald report in January that Clausen had bone spurs in his right/throwing elbow and Father of Jimmy's interview with the Chicago Sun-Times in March, when he said Jimmy was "losing velocity" at the end of his senior season due to a vague arm injury. It directly contradicts Charlie Weis' spring assurance that Clausen was "full go," much to The Wiz's consternation, and the hopes of the many, many partisans expecting Clausen to start from day one against Georgia Tech. Log's Blog, citing an unnamed doctor, speculates Jimmy will miss the entire season as a result of recovery or redshirting, but a Notre Dame spokesman said Clausen will be ready to go for the start of practice in August. So no big deal, right?
All those rings...too heavy.
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Well, maybe - everything with Clausen is a big deal, doncha know - but the looming spectre of a Jimmy-less quarterback derby might help explain why Weis kept Evan Sharpley in the picture rather than cutting the race to Clausen and Demetrius Jones, as expected. Viva la speculative offseason rumor-monger.
• The End of Unanimity: The only preseason poll to date that fails to feature USC at the top appears today in the Gainesville Sun, which ranks Texas number one. That is not crazy; my skepticism of Colt McCoy's championship-level greatness aside, UT is clearly a paper champion aside from its secondary. But the Sun's number two? Ohio State: "The Buckeyes lost a lot but after reloading on defense a year ago they'll do the same on offense this time." That, coming from a newspaper that most recently watched its hometown defense smother a wholly NFL-bound offense and hunt down Troy Smith, who is being replaced with actual marble statue Todd Boeckman, is a little crazy. No other outlet I'm aware of considers Ohio State a likely choice for any BCS game, much less its championship, so either the anonymous pollster of the Sun has observed something no one else has, or has no idea what he/she is talking about, if there's any distinction between those etremes in the end.
USC? "Complaining all the way to the Rose Bowl" at No. 3, and if it were "simply about the best players," LSU would be the choice with a better coach (like, say, a certain N.S.) and, of course, a friendlier schedule. Viva la SEC isolationism.
• Bizarre Elitism, I Say. Elitism!: I'm not going to spend much time on this, since I've already gone off on lit critic blog-bashing, and Adam Kirsch is specifically taking on literary blogs in the New York Sun, anyway, and in a much more conciliatroy fashion than Richard Schickel. Yet Kirsch concludes:
Why such difficulty grasping that a blog is just writing? Why is it important to distinguish between the blog and the rest of the Internet, with which Kirsch is obviously cool, or between the blog and any other form of written communication that's ever existed? This is a closed-minded restraint: the "blog as a genre" is diverse on an unprecedented level, as far as genres are concerned, and capable of hosting any type of content, including that can "match anything in print for seriousness of purpose." How can "the ethical and intellectual crotchets" of "the bloggers" be lumped into a single, definable "end," to be automatically regarded with skepticism of the medium as a whole rather than of the individual opinion? Does the same standard of skepticism not apply to critics in print? What is the difference? I suggest Mssrs. Kirsch and Schickel and anyone else bemoaning the credibility of the Web to sustain his specific individual notion of the "literary culture" get on Blogspot and do his part to ossify the place to his satisfaction. It's all the same.
• Quickly: "The way [Nick Saban] is treating kids" cost Alabama a backup quarterback, according to Jimmy Barnes' dad. As for Saban's contract: still unsigned, but up for review by the `Bama trustees ... Plenty of reason for optimism at Vanderbilt (of the most cautious variety, natch) ... Tim Brewster attracts 400 to his first summer football camp ... Sonny Lubick welcomes back his original offensive coordinator, Dave Lay ... Miami lands the skinniest recruit ever, 6-4, 169-pound QB Jacory Harris ... Steve Spurrier empathizes with Billy Donovan's jump back into college ... Georgia receiver/dog breeder Sean Bailey bemoans with the bad rep on pit bulls ... Oklahoma State gets an "85 percent commitment" from Dallas linebacker Alfred Dupree, who's never been to Stillwater ... Earl Campbell and John David Crow get a head start on the first Heisman Winners Association Weekend ... Not football, but John Canzano is interesting anyway on the battle for the feet of Kevin Durant ... Ex-USC and Lions receiver Johnny Morton tested positive for a banned steroid before his mixed martial arts fight Saturday at the L.A. Coliseum, and got immediately cold-clocked anyway ... Tim Floyd offered Jordan Cameron a basketball scholarship before he went to play tight end at BYU, and isn't letting his second chance with the new USC transfer get away ... "If I can make a suggestion with Tyrone, he's not one to bother while he's golfing," she said ... And Dan Hawkins has no time to train for a full marathon at his daughter's behest, but he can play in Gary Barnett's golf tournament?
The Rap Sheet
Crimes, misdemeanors and eligibility-crippling issues legal, academic, institutional and otherwise.
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In custody, on a murder charge, Montana starting cornerback Jimmy Wilson, accused of shooting 29-year-old Kevin Smoot on June 2 in an "altercation" with Smoot and a female relative of Wilson's at the victim's house in California. He was being held in Los Angeles County on $1 million bail.
Thus continues the disturbingly violent crime spree of players from Big Sky Country, to which Wilson becomes the seventh current or former football player from either Montana or Montana State charged with a major felony in the last year, and the second charged with murder in a state in which there were only 18 known murders in 2005 for a little more than 935,000 people. And - because humble natives of the Treasure State would never commit such heinous acts, at least not outside of the vast obscuring canopy of uncivilized woodlands, where prying official eyes dare not tread - Wilson becomes yet another outsider sullying Montanans' homespun reputation of being completely ignored.
Along with Wilson, a San Diego native (hence his presence in Southern California), the arrests in an alleged cocaine-running "cartel" at Montana State have included Californians Rick Gatewood, charged last month with his brother, Randy, for using his scholarship money to fund activity in the drug ring he supposedly led; Derrick Davis, who pled not guilty in January to selling cocaine to a police informant on two separate occasions last June, a few months before his arrest for hospitalizing his girlfriend in a vicious, drunken assault in September; and Edward Sullivan, a former receiver arrested along with Davis on two counts of selling marijuana; as well as Floridians Andre Fuller of Pompano Beach, charged with Davis and Sullivan for selling cocaine last summer, and John Lebrum, a Fort Lauderdale native kicked off the football team for fighting and later accused along with a former Bobcat basketball player of shooting and dumping the body of an alleged cocaine dealer in an agronomy farm on the MSU campus a few days after a bar fight last June. Following the Gatewoods' arrest, court records showed a leader of the ring known only by the initials "D" or "DW" turned the Bozeman operation over to Rick Gatewood while he returned to California. Former assistant coach Joe O'Brien, currently in prison on a 2004 charge for possession with intent to distribute crystal meth, is from California. MSU basketball player Frank Brown, charged with rape in 2005, came in from Las Vegas.
Among other improvements, the NCAA recommended when it hit Montana State with scholarship losses for the second time for poor graduation rates under its APR that the football program rely less on transfers. Maybe, in light of another murder arrest of another outsider athlete from a school two hours away, it should have suggested some kind of border fence around the entire state.
Sticking, with seriousness at small schools, two ex-Albany football players pled guilty Wednesday to raping a female student on a dorm room last October. Freshmen Lorenzo Ashburn and Julius Harris - a Georgian and Floridian, respectively, going to school in New York - were expelled from the university and will likely be to register as sex offenders after serving six months in prison beginning in August and as much as a decade on probation. A third player, Charles Guadano, is still facing charges.