Saturday, June 03, 2006

Bet you can't guess my favorite sport

Why would I write a multi-part college football post in early June? The better question is why I wouldn't. Let's do this thing.

Drop kick: In an era when nine-figure television deals are becoming passé, one of the NCAA's most consistent trends has been for small schools to add football programs or elevate their teams from lower divisions to try to keep up with the Joneses and, incidentally, aim for a piece of that lucrative pie. Last week we learned that Birmingham-Southern, like other schools whose Division I membership is in its infancy, plans to launch a football team in the next few years. But unlike the other recent additions, BSC has grown weary of the D-I lifestyle and will drop down to Division III by 2011. Many students and coaches are upset, but I'd like to take this time to wish BSC good luck against a former SEC member and one of its rivals-to-be, Sewanee, which knew how to bring it against the big boys back in the William McKinley days.

Play it again... and again: College coaches nationwide finally will get to toss the challenge flag this season, but they'd better make it good. An NCAA rules committee this week approved an instant-replay scheme that allows a coach who still has a timeout to challenge one call per game; if the ref was wrong, the team keeps the timeout, but if not, it's gone. In a troubling move, the panel rejected the original idea of letting coaches challenge as many calls as they'd like as long as they had a timeout and the calls kept being overturned. I understand the concern about lengthy games, but the importance of getting calls right means I'm going to have to agree with Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville on this one. Don't expect that to become a habit.

Just more of that 'special rights' talk: Athletics officials are getting all hot and bothered about a new NCAA rule that lets fifth-year seniors who already earned a degree transfer anywhere in the country for graduate school and play immediately. In the critics' minds, the provision is a travesty because it would allow players to mislead everyone about their commitment and intentions, then jump ship for what they see as greener pastures if times get tough. As we all know, that's a job best reserved for coaches.

Local flavor: I recently added a section for Alabama sports blogs to my sidebar. I tried to find a fair mix of different sports and team affiliations, but most such sites I found in my initial search are 1) dedicated to college football and 2) run by loyal Crimson Tide partisans. (Take those facts for what you will.) Please let me know if I've missed any sports-related blogs (not message boards) with a meaningful state connection. Oh, and Roll Tide, too.

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