THE THREAD: THE END OF THE ROAD FOR PROTHRO
Every once in a while, a player you've never heard of comes from out of nowhere and does something incredible. It can be a flash that is soon dimmed or it can be just a peek of the brilliance to come.
What, then, do we make of Tyrone Prothro?
In case you don't know -- and how could you be a college football fan and not know? -- Prothro is responsible for maybe the greatest college football play of the decade: The Catch. In a single grab, Prothro showed all the attributes -- focus, hands, body control -- that you could possibly want in a receiver, and he showed more of them than you would think any one person could have.
Yes, he caught this ball.
Prothro's college career likely ended Thursday when Alabama decided to put him on a medical scholarship and all but conceded he will never come back from a devastating broken leg suffered just a few weeks later against Florida.
Prothro has had at least three operations on his left leg, the latest coming in March, since injuring it while attempting to make a leaping grab in the end zone against Florida.
"We do have a plan to try to continue further his rehabilitation and are hopeful he can come back and play football someday," Saban said. "The medical staff is 99.9 percent sure that this is a long-term issue we're dealing with and that it would be unusual for a guy to ever come back."
The announcement isn't really a surprise; it would have taken a minor medical miracle for him to come back, and everybody knew that shortly after it became clear just how bad the injury was.
But this has the air of finality to it. Is this what they call "closure"? You wanted the uncertainty, the possibility, the hope that Prothro could defy the odds. You wanted to think that it wasn't over, and that you could see the guy take the field again.
That dream is gone.
It's gone, and it seems so unfair. This wasn't the guy who got in trouble off the field. This wasn't the guy who didn't go to class. He was left in a blowout by a coach who wanted his players to set a record, one of many horrible decisions that marked the Mike Shula era, and the resulting fluke injury destroyed his shot at greatness.
The tragedy for us is that we won't be able to see that greatness unfold.
--Joining several of his colleagues, including our own Steve Spurrier, Florida head coach Urban Meyer now has a Web site. (Actual site here.) "its gr8," Meyer texted C&F in an exclusive interview. "www rulz." This story says Nick Saban could have site up soon, but C&F doubts it. Nick Saban doesn't have time for that.
--More trouble at Texas, this time for freshman DT Andre Jones. A warrant was issued for Jones' arrest because of his alleged association with an alleged armed robber. While the alleged armed robbery was in progress. And it gets better for Mack Brown. Despite promises to turn himself in, Jones is now considered a fugitive.
It was the one-armed man, I tell you!
--The USA Today coaches' poll hits stands Friday. Two guesses: Southern Cal will be No. 1, and South Carolina won't be ranked. Didn't promise the guesses would be bold.
--It might be a delayed reaction, but the war of words between Michigan and Jim Harbaugh got uglier Thursday, with Mike Hart said the former Wolverine is "not a Michigan man" and Lloyd Carr calling Harbaugh "elitist." Or maybe he was talking about Jim Delany.