Boredom is not sexy. It does not sell. It does not entertain the masses. But when it comes to the college football offseason, boredom—or perhaps silence is the more appropriate term—is everything you should hope for.
As soon as the last light goes out on national signing day, and your head coach ties one final bow on his annual WWE-ish “look at how good we are!” speech, you don’t want hear from him until fall.
The occasional spring football headline is unavoidable. Maybe it’s a video game stat sheet from a quarterback in a scrimmage against tackling dummies or a slight hamstring tweak that will have no impact on the actual season.
And then, of course, there’s the annual "Gathering of the Quotes," better known as conference media days. Sometime in summer you will hear how strong the team got (again), how [insert young hopeful quarterback here] got better and how a coach, shockingly, really likes his team.
But that’s it. Anything else on the headline front will likely spell trouble. Outside of a few faint (and mostly unnecessary) news items here and there, you should not crave storylines until September.
If there’s any other noise—outside of the release of a new uniform you will likely despise—it likely won’t be greeted with applause. While that might seem pessimistic, it’s simply stating the obvious: Football is still remarkably dangerous—even in its condensed, slowed, spring form—and young people often make spectacularly dumb mistakes during some of the most volatile years of their lives.
As is the case with most breaks between seasons, we were recently reminded just how valuable a headline-less offseason can be in one week alone.
Arguably the most physically gifted player in all of college football—and some would argue the best returning wide receiver in the country—Dorial Green-Beckham was booted from the Missouri Tigers after his latest legal run-in.
After being suspended indefinitely following an incident at a Columbia apartment—one that came with no official charges but featured some rather terrifying details—Missouri announced it had dismissed him from the program.
Head coach Gary Pinkel addressed the following in a release sent out by the school (h/t ESPN):
"This decision was made with the best interests of all involved in mind," Pinkel said in a statement. "Dorial's priority going forward needs to be focusing on getting the help he needs. As we have all along, we will continue to do everything we can to assist Dorial and his family. We care deeply about Dorial and his well-being, but hopefully he can benefit from a fresh start."
Green-Beckham had been involved in two other offseason issues prior to his latest, both involving marijuana. The latest came in January of this past year, which likely forced the Tigers into making a swift decision.
Unfortunately, such shocking offseason developments really aren’t all that shocking. While the particular details surrounding Green-Beckham’s situation are difficult to read and should by no means serve as a representation of the sport, the terms “suspended” and “dismissed” have become exhausted offseason terms.
Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson served as last year’s high-profile departure. Golson was suspended for what he later referred to as “poor judgment on a test.” After missing the 2013 season, Golson is back in South Bend and just threw for 154 yards in Notre Dame’s spring game.
The two situations are obviously vastly different, but they also highlight the wide variety of trouble that young people can find themselves in, especially on a college campus.
You were in college once, and you know the stupidity that can easily (or perhaps did easily) fall into your lap. When 18- to 22-year-olds get free time on a campus that is built around nightlife, things happen. It can be much more than that—as it was with Green-Beckham and has been with so many others—but it’s a starting point.
This, unfortunately, is where most offseason headlines start and end.
If it’s not an arrest, suspension or violation of team rules—which is a really polite way of saying “failed drug test” 99 percent of the time—then it’s likely a serious injury that has your team in the news.
At about the same time it was learned Green-Beckham would not playing for Missouri in 2014, Texas announced that its likely starting quarterback, David Ash, would miss the rest of the spring due to a broken bone in his left foot.
Via the Associated Press:
The school said Friday that the senior fractured a bone in his left foot during spring practice and will undergo surgery next week. Head football trainer Anthony Pass says that will put Ash out of action for the rest of the spring workout season, but he is expected to return to action in time for preseason camp.
Ash, who missed most of last season due to concussion-related symptoms, has been unable to realize his wealth of potential at the position. Although early returns seem promising for his availability for fall camp, this latest news is without question another roadblock in his development.
There’s a clear-cut difference between injury and misbehavior, one that is so blatantly obvious it requires no further disclaimer. In the case of your team, however, this is what the offseason has become: a buffet of mainly negative storylines that can be increasingly difficult to stomach.
The only hope is that you won't have to stomach it.
Now that realignment has been put in the rearview—and thank goodness for that—the spotlight often shifts to the negative in the sport. It’s unavoidable, alarmingly consistent and rarely absent for too long. The news that often comes from this time period can mean nothing but bad things.
There’s no possible way to predict bad decisions or unfortunate noncontact knee injuries. All you can do is hope that your team is content with an offseason slumber.
While quiet won't make the months without football pass any more quickly, the likely alternative won’t be good for business. Silence is golden.