Saturday, January 27, 2007

WHY C&F DOESN'T COVER RECRUITING

You're not going to see a lot of recruiting news on C&F. In fact, C&F prides himself on not covering recruiting.

Why?

For a few reasons, one of them being that he doesn't slog through the 900-page recruiting guides that are put out there by your favorite agency.

Second, because he doesn't think there's a dearth of recruiting coverage. Quite the opposite. There's information galore on Gamecock recruiting here and here. (Okay, so a lot of it's not free, but still...)

But mostly it's because C&F doesn't believe that it makes any sense to cover recruiting extensively.

The reason is because recruiting is just one part of a loooong process between being a H.S. football player and becoming a quality college football player, and a lot of players don't (or, for reasons beyond their control, can't) make that jump.

As a perfect example, Lou Holtz hauled in a few quality recruiting classes in his time at South Carolina. How'd that work out? Granted, he had trouble getting some of them to school, or to remain in school, but character should be part of the equation.


Where most of Lou's recruits ended up.

And Jim Donnan famously took what the UGA head coach called the most talented squad he had ever coached to the Music City Bowl Oahu Bowl in his last year in Athens.

Everybody who signs a letter of intent doesn't make it to campus. Even if they don't, just getting out there and running around during an SEC game doesn't get you a championship. In fact, it gets you killed.

You have to be coached. And, for his money, C&F would rather have a five-star coach and three-star recruits than a three-star coach and five-star recruits. Mediocrity is a mindset that can be easily taught and even more easily learned.

So you might see a smattering of recruiting news covered here. C&F mentioned Stephen Garcia, though mostly in amusement about the rabid interest in a H.S. QB who had never taken a college snap.

But, for the most part, not much recruiting news here.

Besides, the players who will play the largest role in South Carolina's record next year are already on campus. Hopefully to stay.

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JUST SO IT'S HERE FOR ALL WHO WANT TO SEE IT

The Push. Yes, it will have its own category tag.


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Thursday, January 25, 2007

BURNING BUSH



And to think, if I'd had $300,000 to burn, maybe I could have also been in the running to be Reggie Bush's agent.

We have now officially passed the point where anybody but the diehards can honestly believe that Reggie Bush didn't accept illegal benefits -- and lots of them -- from agent Lloyd Lake. The relevant particulars:

SAN DIEGO – A federal investigation into extortion claims by New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush and his family has revealed the existence of taped conversations that could confirm Bush took cash and gifts while he was playing football for the University of Southern California.
Lloyd Lake, an investor in a failed sports marketing agency which attempted to launch with Bush as its first client, is the subject of a grand jury probe into the extortion claims. The agency – called New Era Sports & Entertainment – was founded by Lake and San Diego businessman Michael Michaels.
Lake told Yahoo! Sports in August 2006 that he contributed a portion of the cash and gifts allegedly given to Bush and his family as part of an agreement to represent the then-USC running back when he signed an NFL contract.
According to multiple sources in an ongoing Yahoo! Sports investigation, nearly $280,000 in cash, rent and gifts was allegedly given to Bush and his family. Lake and Michaels both said in August 2006 that they planned to file a lawsuit against Bush. ...
If such taped conversations involving Bush become public, Bush and USC could face penalties from the NCAA and Pacific-10 Conference, which are conducting ongoing investigations into reports of extra benefits.
If the NCAA rules that Bush received extra benefits during his playing career at USC, he could be ruled retroactively ineligible. Since some of the benefits date to the 2004 season, the Trojans' national championship that season could be rescinded. USC could face further NCAA sanctions and Bush's 2005 Heisman Trophy could be in jeopardy. The Heisman ballot indicates that an athlete must meet NCAA eligibility requirements to be considered for college football's most prestigious award. [Emphasis added]

First of all, a bit of advice for the former No. 5, now No. 25: When you file a lawsuit, best make sure it hurts the other guy more than it hurts you. In other words, if something that can be found in discovery is going to be embarassing, maybe that's not a lawsuit you want to file.

Now we're beginning to hear the backlash against those leaping on this to bash Bush. The points, at least those made by Doug Gottlieb and Mel Kiper on ESPN Radio -- which proved that, yes, Kiper can suck the intelligence out of a room -- went something like this: Reggie Bush got the Heisman for his performance "on the field." The money from an agent didn't make Bush faster, more agile, etc. Therefore, Reggie Bush shouldn't lose the Heisman, even if all this is true.


Kiper: Hair cannot coexist with intelligence.

Let's review: He has to be eligible to receive the Heisman. Come to think of it, he had to be eligible to be "on the field." So his "on the field" accomplishments don't count if he wasn't eligible, because he wasn't supposed to be "on the field" to begin with.

I'm not sure that USC-West's championship should be stripped, unless they knew that Bush and his family were accepting the gifts. Though, when Bush's mother showed up wearing the Hope Diamond after flying first class, one should have guessed that something was up. Unless, of course, one's name was Mel Kiper.

C&F badly wanted to whip out the Antonio Langham example. However, it turns out that the Jelks affair happened around the same time, so it's impossible to tell how that affected the punishment. (And Wikipedia also says the rule has changed, but it also listed Langham's place of birth as the planet Ork, so take that into account.)

There should be some USC-West punishment, just so the next guy can't come along and say, "Well, I didn't know that the guy handing the Lexus keys to our star running back was an agent. So that's what he meant when he said 'represent.' I thought it was just some of that slang talk. These young people, you know."

My guess: There will be an admonishment of some sort. Bush will be ruled retroactively ineligible for the 2005 season -- shockingly, there will not be enough evidence on 2004 -- and Bush will be stripped of his Heisman, leading to the sticky question of whether the award is now ownerless for 2005 or whether it goes to the guy who should have won it anyway, Vince Young.

That is, of course, whenever the NCAA gets around to it. First, they have bigger fish to fry.


They've almost got him...

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

REVIEWAPALOOZA: Short Acceptance Speeches, Please



If it's a wrap on the South Carolina season review, it must be awards time. Not because an awards presentation is the best use of time -- though it has it merits -- but because C&F feels he would be acting irresponsible if he didn't do an awards time.


Not this irresponsible or anything, but still...

Now, C&F doesn't have a lot of the mainstays of an awards show. No red carpet. No actual trophy. And no roomfull of celebrities who have toothpicks holding their smile in place as their rival gets their award.


None of her, either. Though she would like to say that garnet is definitely Sidney's color.

In any case, some of these awards are based on statistics. Others are based on guts. Some are based on whimsy. (MVP, Clemson game: Jad Dean.)

In any case, here we go:

BEST PLAYER -- OFFENSE: CORY BOYD



Yeah, Sidney Rice and Syvelle Newton got more attention. But when it came to all-purpose real estate, Cory Boyd got more yards. A total of nearly 1,300 yards, thank you very much, and 10 TDs to boot. And Boyd turned in a tough, gutsy performance at the Liberty Bowl, despite having Lord knows how much metal in him.

BEST PLAYERS -- DEFENSE: THE BRINKLEY TWINS



The Brinkley duo combined for 28 TFL and 12 sacks on the year, including one of the most important plays of the season on Jasper's part. In fact, it was hard to go through a defensive series this year without hearing an announcer say "-asper Brinkley."

SYVELLE NEWTON AWARD FOR DEDICATION: SYVELLE NEWTON



This new award -- okay, so they're all new awards, but that's beside the point -- goes to the player who shows the most dedication and selflessness in the course of a season. Newton isn't likely to be drafted as a WR, but he went there because the team needed him. He won't be drafted as a QB, but he went there because the team needed him. And even though it didn't make his day, despite the fact that it's probably where he'll end up in the pros, he went to DB when the team needed him there. It's the kind of selfless play that has marked Newton's career at South Carolina.

MOST DISAPPOINTING PLAYER: BLAKE MITCHELL



He was supposed to be an all-conference QB. Then again, he was also supposed to be a team leader. He was neither at the beginning of the season, playing himself out of a starting job with poor efforts against Mississippi State and Georgia, combined with his just flat-out embarassing efforts to beat up a bouncer in Five Points.

PLEASANT SURPRISE: KENNY McKINLEY



If anybody overperformed this year, it was McKinley. Coming into the year, it was an open question whether he could be a competent No. 2 to Sidney Rice. He was, hauling in 51 passes for 880 yards and five scores. With Rice heading off to the NFL, McKinley will be expected to pick up some of the slack, even if he doesn't necessarily become the team's primary receiver.

COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR: BLAKE MITCHELL



As much as you might want to bash Napoleon Dynamite's twin for the first few weeks of the season, you can't deny him a list of accomplishments at the end: Nearly pulling off the come-from-behind victory against Arkansas, making Florida eat what remained of their fingernails, annihilating Middle Tennessee State, (sort of) leading the team against Clemson and guiding the Gamecocks to a shootout victory over the Houston Cougars. Could it be a precursor to next year, or is Blake one of those QBs who's always turning the corner? We'll know soon enough.

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

A NOTE

Yes, C&F is having format issues right now as I try to introduce a new banner. With luck, these will be straightened out in a day or so. Without luck ... who knows? Content will keep coming, but the banner will be up when it's up.

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REVIEWAPALOOZA: South Carolina Season, Part IV

It was hard to tell who had more at stake on Nov. 11, 2006: South Carolina fans or Florida fans. The Gamecocks hadn't beat Florida in the Swamp since ... um ... since ... ever. On the other hand, the Gators wanted to prove that Steve Spurrier was the CFB equivalent of Rob Lowe, and never should have a left a good thing.


Steve Spurrier:South Carolina::Rob Lowe:Lyon's Den?

And in the midst of all the pregame hype, C&F made an insightful prediction, though regrettably on a blog not his own:

I just have a deep down feeling it’s going to be a bizarre game with something unexpected.

Maybe it was because South Carolina fans had been exposed to two straight weeks of bizarre games. Maybe it was the fact that certain series -- like Auburn-LSU -- just take on a reputation for strangeness, and the South Carolina-Florida tussle in Columbia a year earlier was basically ended when Florida had too many men on the field in what should have been a routine special-teams play.

But for whatever reason, you knew something odd was going to happen that afternoon/evening in the Swamp.

And it did.

No fewer than three kicks were blocked, two of them by Jarvis Moss, who improbably became the Gamecock offenses' worst enemy since Skip Holtz.


Left for the NFL. A fine decision.

In the end, it was a 17-16 game, and a blocked FG sealed the deal for Florida.

Next up was the ritual sacrifice of Middle Tennessee State, which had to be thrashed for bowl-eligibility. And so the 52-7 torching was to be expected.

Then came Clemson.

And this game, also, featured some just bizarre moments. Weird interceptions. And then the Nathan Pepper interception-cum-fumble that took away a defensive TD.

But a huge defensive play -- a sack of Will Proctor to push back a potential game-tying field goal -- sealed the first defeat of Clemson since the Phil Petty era.

The Liberty Bowl was up and down, up and down, a nausea-inducing seesaw that seemed for a while that it could go to Houston. South Carolina was down at the half, though not by much. Both teams were pretty much scoring at will.

But a shootout, for once, benefited the Gamecocks. And when all was said and done, South Carolina won, 44-36.

What comes next season?

A young defense got some experience. A blooming offense lost Sidney Rice, but might have found a QB and a couple of good RBs in the process. And a certain Head Ball Coach proved he hadn't forgotten how to win honestly, as opposed to the highway robbery South Carolina frequently committed in 2005.


The Gamecocks' game plan last year.

South Carolina first season under Spurrier, according to experts? A 4-7 effort. Instead, the Cocks went 7-5. In 2006? They'd be lucky to go 7-6. Only they went 8-5.

This program has exceeded expectations both years. Will it happen again?

Will the Gamecocks get an SEC crown? I doubt it. They can compete, but the East is just too deep.

Then again, who could have seen the last two seasons coming?

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