Despite the fact that the BCS Championship was played over a month ago, there has been much to talk about this offseason in college football.
After my OSU Buckeyes painfully lost in the National Championship Game for the second year in a row, I figured that I’d be able to hide in a cave and comfortably distance myself from college football until at least July.
But like Pacino in The Godfather said, “Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in!”
After the early defections of Darren McFadden, Reshard Mendenhall, DeSean Jackson, and Kenny Phillips to the NFL Draft—among several others—all eyes were on February 6th. This date was the Christian-celebrated Ash Wednesday. February 6th was also the day after “Super Tuesday” in the Presidential primaries.
But to college football fans this momentous day was also National Recruiting Day—a holiday in itself.
Annually on National Recruiting Day, diehard fans around the country sit around their computers or televisions and watch as 17- and 18-year old kids decide the fate of their prospective football program for years to come by signing their national letters of intent.
This year, one highlight included 6’4” wide receiver—and the No. 1 wide receiver recruit—Julio Jones from Foley, Alabama signing with the Alabama Crimson Tide, helping to resurrect their storied program overnight.
Another highlight on Signing Day was several recruits from powerhouse high school football program Miami Northwestern signing with the Miami Hurricanes to help resurrect the mystique of “The U.” In addition, LSU and Ohio State reloaded, Georgia and USC added to an already talented bunch of student-athletes, and Notre Dame returned as a contender in big-time football.
The biggest story of them all in the 2008 recruiting season was by far the Terrelle Pryor saga. For those of you who have been living under a rock for the past few months, Terrelle Pryor is the prodigious 6'5", 235-pound quarterback from Jeannette, Pennsylvania. Pryor has been touted as a talented dual-threat quarterback with a strong arm and 4.4 40 speed.
In the past month, his every move seems to have been documented online or on television. From his MVP performance in the Army All-American game to his adding uncle and Pittsburgh Steelers backup quarterback Charlie Batch as a mentor to his official visits to Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, and Oregon, the attention has been focused on Pryor every step of the way.
Whether he likes it or not, Pryor will be forced to deal with an increased amount of spotlight because he is the only five-star recruit who has not signed with a football program. Like the recruitment of Kentucky freshman basketball player Patrick Patterson last year, Pryor’s decision to wait and play the field will give him time to think and give us fans something to talk about for weeks.
Terrelle Pryor is a prime example of the obsession that diehard fans experience in the offseason. Forget the fact that no games have been played yet and the majority of these heralded recruits will not play much, if at all their freshman years.
The new, talented players promote promise for next year and the years to come.
Could Pryor be the next Vince Young in college? Could Julio Jones be the next Randy Moss or Plaxico Burress? Could the incoming linemen for Ohio State (Mike Brewster, Mike Adams, and J.B. Shugarts) be reminiscent of the Ohio State lines with Orlando Pace in the 90s?
No one will know, but as a college football fan there will be plenty of time to discuss.
With the 2008 recruiting classes all but filled, I figured that I could finally take a break from college football for a few months. Wrong again.
Several schools including Auburn, LSU, Mississippi State, and Miami are planning on starting spring practice early this year. How early?
Well in less than two weeks, several Division I schools will trot out to their practice facilities to unofficially begin the 2008 football season—roughly six months in advance of the start of the regular season and for many, only one month removed from last year.
Among the coaches’ rationale for starting the spring practices early is the fact that injuries have time to heal, so the earlier the better.
Looking in as an outsider, I might be concerned that football is literally taking over every waking moment of these players. Trying to balance homework and a varsity sport at the collegiate level has to be tough, but when players are doing two-a-days in February only a month or so removed from the season, one has to question whether these guys ever have the time (or energy) to get through school.
This question is a point of concern for someone directly involved. But as a fan, bring on the earlier practices. Bring on the spring games. Bring on the increased exposure. Because one thing’s for sure: if it’s on television, I’ll watch it, and I can think of thousands upon thousands of others who feel the same way.
Now would be a good time to invest in ESPNU and CSTV.
I can’t wait until the annual spring football games where tens of thousands of people flock to the stadiums just to see a glorified practice. I can’t wait until hearing about the weight room warriors and emerging stars in training camp. I can’t wait until the summer, the warm weather, the intense two-a-days, the magazine previews, the preseason Top 25s, the anticipation that the season is within reach…
And then on Thursday August 28th with North Carolina State at South Carolina, it begins all over again.
But for now at least, I can have a little break from college football.
With so much to talk about, there’s no way I’m stepping away from the developments of this offseason.
Thanks to 2008, the college football season essentially never ends. And I couldn’t be happier.