• Curiouser and Curiouser: USA Today is doing this weekly profile thing in conjunction with its preview edition on five running backs it considers legit Heisman candidates, and started Saturday with Darren McFadden. Delight of delights, the Heisman runner-up is some kind of comedian, or eccentric or something:
However, those who know McFadden from his high school days in Little Rock might not have blinked twice at such antics.
"He wore dresses to school," says McFadden's favorite high school teacher, Leecie Henson.
Yes, dresses. And not just on Halloween.
At times, McFadden would raid his grandmother's closet, and who knows where else, and wear the most hideous looking outfits he could find to school. "He has the ugliest legs ever," Henson says. "He would wear these dresses with tennis shoes, and after a while the teachers would get used to it. He just loves to make people laugh."
The prospect of D-Mac in drag would certainly separate McFadden from the other Heisman contenders this season. Suggested slogan: Strike a pose in panty hose.
A young black man dressed like an old black woman? Hilarious!
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There's an episode of 30 Rock, a great episode, where the straight-laced black writer on the show convinces Tracy Morgan's wacked-out character that appearing in a sketch dressed as a hysterical woman is just a shameful continuation of the retrograde minstrel tradition. They bond over an enlightened piece celebrating black brotherhood until the episode ends with that sketch being replaced by Tracy in drag as part of a cooking show, spewing fake vomit all over the set, because that's much funnier.
So, I dunno, maybe it's a cultural thing. Maybe Darren McFadden is onto something here - it worked out for Flip Wilson, and Martin Lawrence, and Tyler Perry, after all. I mean, Norbit! And McFadden's doing this in high school? That kid really does have talent.
• The Hula Bowl League, Revisited: The demise of NFL Europa is a boon for the fledgling All-America Football League as initial tryouts get underway today in Orlando, where 400 players are expected to show for the first step in filling "six or eight" 40-man rosters across the South. The league is financed mainly by "retired education loan mogul" Marcus Katz, who lives way the hell out in Rancho Santa Fe, California, and serves as the AAFL's CEO in place of the original board helmed by ex-NCAA president Cedric Dempsey.
These leagues, they gotta have a hook in the game - Canada widens the field nearer to soccer pitch dimensions, cuts the number of downs, has a couple weird scoring rules and remains persistently older than its American counterpart; the apparently thriving Arena League goes to the opposite extreme for on-the-go Yank eyeballs, slicing the field in half, discouraging handoffs and creating a sort of pinballish, free flow game that careens off walls and giant screens for an arcade-like cavalcade of points only Hawaii can match in the more accepted form of the game. These leagues offer something very football-like without exactly copying the rules of its most popular leagues, and so the game has its subtle and not-so-subtle differences. Whereas the efforrts that directly copy the NFL - the League's various European ventures, the World League, the USFL, the earlier incarnation of the All-American Football League, even the XFL, minus the distractions - are short-lived failures.
The innovation of this version of the AAFL, and what makes it relevant to the college set, if you've forgotten, is that it essentially wants to offer a seamless experience that mirrors college pageantry, aggregating just-graduated players - they must earn a four-year degree - from local schools into regional teams, Senior Bowl-style, only retaining college rules (I assume that means the clock stopping for first downs, only one foot in-bounds for a catch, no two-minute warning, and common sense limits on "roughing the passer"). Last year, that led me to write, "the players aren't really going anywhere, apparently, only being paid suddenly, changing uniforms and being relieved of academic duties (if this was ever a concern to being with)," but actually, the uniforms aren't even changing: the teams in Florida will still wear the colors of Florida, Florida State and Miami, the team in Georgia the Bulldog red and black, the team in Tennessee the distinctive neon orange, etc. But the game itself? It's the same, as executed by the likes of Shane Matthews, Travis McGriff and Vernell Brown, ex-Gators expected today in Orlando.
The AAFL for now is also still waiting on a TV deal, which everyone concedes is essential, and is considering bringing on such college coaching legends as Jackie Sherrill. Toss in Barry Switzer and Gary Barnett - hey, he's free - and you're halfway to a less stage-y XFL. You can sell that.
Aw, it's a fun summer for Georgia. More for some than others.
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• Quickly: Big-time promises for big-time commits at Michigan ... How Boise State's cashing in on its Fiesta Bowl glory (other than the movie thing, that is) ... Zack Frazer, officially a Husky ... Casey Dick, taking command, and Arkansas is ready to break through ... JUCO star Cade Cooper didn't last long at BYU ... Keep an eye on three unexplained departures from Ohio State ... Myron Rolle, back from the Isles, Guvnah, just in time for the lifting of the Disney World ban on his teammates ... Meanwhile, Urban Meyer fired a shot across the bow, and Bobby Bowden is responding ... Georgia Tech's Andrew Gardner adjusts to lover and marriage and football ... South Florida's got another five years at Raymond James, minimum ... Brandon Coutu and his menacing unibrow, feeling better than ever ... Texas commit Riley Dodge says he's following his dad to North Texas instead ... Kentucky hollers up the road for a little offseason competition ... What happens when a team runs out of recruits before the season? ... It's been kind of a slog for Kansas in the Big 12 ... and Dan Hawkins begins to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The Rap Sheet
Crimes, misdemeanors and eligibility-crippling issues legal, academic, institutional and otherwise.
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the entire varying intervals of the 2007 season, Florida sophomores Ronnie Wilson and Brandon James, booted and merely suspended, respectively by Urban Meyer for boys-will-be-boys shenanigans such as getting into a scuffle at a club and firing off an AK-47 in a parking lot to help his rival "know how it felt to be scared," and buying small amounts of weed from a police informant. Wilson is out for the entire season with a chance to return in 2008; James is suspended for the opener against Western Kentucky. He'll be missed, we're sure.
No comment from Meyer, but the Gainesville Sun reports James also faces a possible scholarship suspension down the line.
Fun-loving Wilson was looking to spend more time on his groundbreaking lineman-undercover-in-drag project, anyway.
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Shoved, by Arkansas defensive end Donnell Sanders, a man who "had been in his space" as Sanders was in the process of "leaning out of a car on Dickson Street and yelling at pedestrians" moments before his arrest Saturday for public intoxication, disorderly conduct and third-degree assault, all misdemeanors. That doesn't mention that Sanders is also underage (19) and police "detected the smell of alcohol," shockingly, after Sanders pushed the man to the ground. He was out on bail two hours after the arrest.
Darksider spin: Houston Nutt put him up to it to deflect heat from his own scandal! This is just like Pearl Harbor.
Passed out, while waiting for an ex-girlfriend to return to her apartment in the wee hours last Thursday morning, Fresno State linebacker Quaadir Brown, who was asked to leave when the girl found him sleeping around 3 a.m., thought about it outside for a while, and finally kicked dents into the passenger side of his tormenter's car, according to reports cited in the Fresno Bee. Police found poor Quaadir "seated on a nearby curb with his head in his hands," then charged him with a felony because the damage to the vehicle was estimated higher than the felony/misdemeanor threshold of $400. On the bright side, kicker Clint Stitsler struggled last year from beyond 40 yards, and in a pinch...
Relevant questions still unanswered: did Brown enter the apartment "lawfully"? And what cartoonish actions by Pat Hill's fu manchu accompanied his response? My bet: the `stache sprung straight out to the sides, stiff as a board, as Hill's eyes bulged and steam shot out of his ears like a tea kettle. With the whistle, definitely.
Sentenced, to 37 years in prison, former Purdue linebacker Kyle Williams, who was convicted in April of attacking, confining and attempting to rape two women in separate assaults in November 2005. The similarities of the assaults - Williams wore the same mask, and came at the women from behind - led the sentencing judge to call them "ritualistic in some way." Williams is still facing charges on attacking a third woman while free on bond and pled guilty last week to breaking into a teammate's dorm and stealing his laptop, behavior that is "totally out of character," according to his father, who attributed Kyle's repeated lapses to "brain injuries" during an apology. Williams said he suffered two concussions during the `05 season and left the team a couple days before his first attacks, but his lawyer said Aikman Disease "did not rise to the level of a legal defense."
But concussions are obviously nothing to brush away, as Andy Wisne well knows.