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Tuesday Hub Is Committed (Or Should Be)

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We Hardly Knew Ye: Felix Jones, Curtis Lofton, Michael Oher, Macho Harris. Jones joined Darren McFadden Monday in officially throwing his name into the draft hat, where he, too, is a dead certain first round pick as long as he doesn't trip and fall running the 40 at a combine or something. The slightly bigger McFadden kept Jones from ever becoming an every-down back, but Felix was always the more dangerous of the two on a per-touch basis: including kickoffs, Jones averaged 10.5 yards every time he touched the ball in his career, and almost 7.7 yards per carry, the best career number in the nation for players with 300-plus carries. His return could have dramatically softened his more heralded teammate's departure, but as it stands, Bobby Petrino takes over a once-exploisve offense with Casey Dick at quarterback and...Bueller? This fall is shaping up as a classically painful transition year for the Razorbacks (see below).


Felix Jones to senior year: Get out of my face.
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Lofton came out of nowhere - literally, Kingfisher, Okla., from whence he arrived to log 28 tackles in his first two seasons - to win Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year with a staggering 157 total tackles as a junior, 94 of them solo, along with 10.5 tackles for loss. He also made what sticks in my mind as the defining play of the Big 12 Championship Game, decisevly hammering Chase Daniel down for a short loss on an attempted option in the second quarter, when it was becoming obvious the possibly title-bound Tigers were not in for their usual field day on offense; in Oklahoma's first win over Missouri in the regular season (a much less successful day for the OU defense overall), Lofton had 14.5 tackles and returned a fumble for a touchdown. He does not have top-end speed, though, and will probably go in the second round as it currently stands.

Oher, progenitor of Michael Lewis' heralded book Blindside and the attendant mythology of Ed Orgeron, master recruiter/mumbler, apparently feels his heartwarming story and 325-pound mountain of a body has adequately prepared him for the pros, and apparently the pros agree: the once-tender, unpolished prospect might go in the first round, the second at the latest.

Virginia Tech's Harris, reportedly en route to the League Saturday, reversed his decision Monday and will be back with the Hokies, according to secondary coach/former Tech DB Torrian Gray, who shared a text message from Macho with the Washington Post: "Coach, I'm coming back." Obviously, his decision wasn't a result of a sudden lack of having or being characterized by qualities considered manly, esp. when manifested in an assertive, self-conscious, or dominating way - when one nicknames oneself or accepts the nickname, "Macho," he has certain obligations, after all.


Mallett: Lumbering Hog?
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Wherefore Art Thou, Ryan Mallett? Papa Mallett denies it in the Detroit Free Press, but reports rolled in Monday night that Michigan transfer Ryan Mallett has already enrolled at Arkansas, where he'll have three years to play after sitting out 2008, ostensibly under the high-flying yet ever-wandering tutelage of passing guru Bobby Petrino. Not a surprising choice considering Mallett's history with the program - he reportedly grew up a Razorback fan in east Texas, attended football camps in Fayetteville and might have signed there out of high school if not for the rustic passing philosophy under Houston Nutt - but it does raise eyebrowns given the experience of the last homegrown, pocket-bound blue-chipper to sign with the Hogs. Limit your text messages, stay off university-owned computers and invest in a good e-mail filter, son. And a lawyer. Yeah, two or three lawyers.

An unnamed "source close to the team" told the Fayetteville Morning News Mallett checked into a dorm room Monday, though Arkansas compliance director Marvin Caston will confirm only that the school has a "permission to speak" letter from Michigan at the moment; he expected an official release for transfer later today.

For the record, Mallett Sr., trying to sound openminded in the Free Press:

"We haven't made a decision yet, but everybody and their dog is saying my son has done this or that," Jim Mallett said Monday in an interview with the Associated Press. "I can tell you, we visited Arkansas and we've talked to Texas A&M and Tennessee. But we're not sure what is going on at Tennessee because they hired an offensive coordinator that has run the spread."
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The wilds of Arkansas football being what they are, I'd be a little concerned for Mallett's safety at this point if he didn't transfer to Arkansas, although only a little bit more than if he actually did. As with any other avenue in life, it's best to just avoid the entire state to whatever extent possible.

We Commit to Being Noncommittal on This Matter. Not surprisingly, bureaucracy confirms its belief in further bureaucracy - Michael Adams' push to form a study group to look at an eight-team, NCAA-sanctioned playoff proposal found little traction among fellow presidents Monday at the Association's Executive Committee meeting in Nashville, which Adams chaired, but he did get a cursory promise on the issue: representative presidents on the committee wanted to take the issue back to conference commissioners, fellow presidents and the BCS committee ( which Adams' plan would have abolished) before moving forward with any plans to consider the formation of a subcommittee which might consider taking action at some point in the future. Almost certainly, the systemic "tweaking" Adams invoked now will have to come from the conference commissioners overseeing the BCS - the "Plus One" crowd - rather than from on high, if it's going to get anywhere anytime soon.

Terrelle Pryor Watch. Of course everybody wants to know he's going to school first, but the Free Press looks at the fates of Kyle Wright, Rhett Bomar and Mark Sanchez before him and wonders: might Terrelle Pryor be a bust? On second thought, don't even read that link. Here's a quick test for whether Pryor will be a bust: if you're a Michigan partisan and he signs with Ohio State, he'll be a bust. If you're an Ohio State partisan and he signs with Michigan, he'll be a bust. This is a guaranteed formula (remember this when you read it); thousands of currently panting obsessives will have decided by next month they never really wanted the kid anyway - these top-rated quarterbacks are always busts! Watch out for our three-star kid...

Otherwise, for disinterested observers, wear protective goggles to keep your eyeballs from melting out of their sockets when you watch Pryor run.

Coming and Going.
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Major Applewhite will be back in Austin today, where he's expected to be offered the open position of running backs coach on Mack Brown's staff - apparently a step down from his coordinator position in 'Bama. Never underestimate the lure of the alma mater, I guess.


Hey, once a `Horn...
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Elsewhere in coaching turnover: Auburn expects to name a defensive coordinator to replace Texas-bound Will Muschamp by 'midweek,' though the Birmingham News doesn't bother to toss out any names. Georgia tight ends coach David Johnson is also talking to West Virginia about taking over the Mountaineer offensive line.

Not going anywhere: Sylvester Croom, who signed an extension with Mississippi State through 2011, or until the Bulldogs fall into another rut of consecutive three-win seasons, whichever comes first. More interestingly, Pete Carroll had every opportunity to commit to his future at USC Monday, but didn't – just back from postseason, dead period vacation in Hawaii, he instead answered the annual round of questions about his interest in open NFL jobs with uncharacteristic silence:

"I'm not talking about anything," Carroll said Monday upon his arrival at Heritage Hall. "I'm not commenting about anything."
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And so L.A. holds its collective breath until the jobs are filled. I mean, it holds its breath downtown, anyway, but you know, metaphor...

Ex-Miami interception machine Kirby Freeman is back home in Texas, where he began classes and went through his first workout Monday at Baylor. (HT: The Wiz) Freeman will be eligible to take over Art Briles' zig-zagging spread passing game this fall thanks to an NCAA waiver that absolved him of the usual year on the bench for transfers – since he redshirted at Miami, this would have effectively ended his career – prompting much love for the Association from Briles: "I think it shows that you’ve got to have faith in the NCAA. It’s a fair and honest system," he told the Waco Tribune, not adding, "Especially when they subvert standard procedures to my direct benefit." Although anyone who watched Freeman play at Miami will dispute his potential benefit, even at Baylor.

Early enrollment fanfare has subsided at Notre Dame: unlike past January enrollees, incoming offensive lineman Trevor Robinson and defensive end Sean Cwynar started classes Monday in relative anonymity. Well, they are linemen.

BYU and Boise State are the premier mid-major programs in the country at the moment, and if they still are in four years - a long shot, given the inevitable turnover of such distinctions - the four-game series finalized by the schools Monday for 2012-15 will be a nice min-rivalry.

The Michigan-Florida Citrus Capital One Bowl beat all three primetime BCS games prior to the mythical championship in the ratings, which might say more about the physical incapacity of a  hungover audience on New Year's afternoon than it does about any football game.

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As always, if you have a tip for the Hub, don't be shy: e-mail at sundaymorningqb-at-yah00, etc.