by Dave Miller
August 27, 02011
This is it.
NFP On Campus is retiring for the year and will be replaced next week by NFP Saturday Tailgate for the second consecutive season. Yes, we have college football games on the slate next Saturday boys and girls.
Are you ready to put this terrible offseason behind? I know I am.
Let's open up the college football notebook.
Lee takes center stage
While the news of Jordan Jefferson’s arrest and suspension following his role in a fight outside a bar last week definitely rocked the LSU program, at least the Tigers can now move on and have a full week to focus on their highly anticipated showdown with Oregon at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas.
The real disappointing aspect of the whole mess is that Jefferson was praised repeatedly throughout the offseason by head coach Les Miles and quarterbacks coach Steve Kragthorpe for his improvement as a leader and as a passer. Apparently, Jefferson didn't improve quite as much as a leader as they may have first believed.
Miles won’t play Jefferson while facing felony charges, so senior Jarrett Lee will once again get his chance under center.
Many Tigers fans will be clamoring for JUCO transfer Zach Mettenberger, but it’s Lee who has been in his share of big SEC contests, so the stage next Saturday in Dallas won’t be too big for him. We know Lee has a strong arm and has led the Tigers from come-from-behind victories as recently as last season, but we also know of his propensity to throw interceptions.
In 2008, he threw 10 interceptions in a stretch of eight contests. Five of those were returned for touchdowns, which led to the nickname “Pick Six.” He also had a disastrous four-interception showing against Alabama.
But Lee lost a lot of weight this past offseason, and he’s coming off a 2010 campaign that had some notable highlights.
He converted a clutch third down in the win against the Crimson Tide and tossed a score to Terrence Tolliver against Florida that won the game in the closing seconds.
There's good Jarrett Lee...and then there's bad Jarrett Lee.
He’s a guy you can win with in Baton Rouge. He’s also a guy who could break your heart.
But LSU has no choice but to go on with Lee at the helm. Of course, he’ll be without speedy big-play receiver Russell Shepard, who is on an indefinite suspension and is a major question mark in 2011. It’s just another reason why the Tigers are likely looking forward to playing football next week and trying to put all the off-the-field issues behind them.
One thing Tigers fans should keep in mind is LSU won national titles with Matt Mauck in 2003 and Matt Flynn in 2007. If Lee can just be steady — and improve on a 53.5 career completion percentage — as well as lean on Spencer Ware and not throw the “Pick Six,” the Tigers can ride their defense and stay in the hunt for the BCS hardware all season long.
It’s great that Texas reportedly would be interested in scheduling Notre Dame on Thanksgiving night if Texas A&M bolts to the SEC. But the Irish will not be relinquishing their road games against Stanford and USC that weekend. Plus, why would Notre Dame want to schedule Texas?
There’s still a chance that Jacory Harris and his Miami teammates who reportedly received benefits from Nevin Shapiro can still play this season despite being ruled ineligible. The ineligibility status is common in these situations as the Hurricanes have asked the NCAA to now determine if they can be made eligible. This same situation, you may remember, occurred at Auburn last season with Cam Newton when the Heisman Trophy winner was ineligible for one day. Miami’s internal investigation determined some players, including Harris, likely committed NCAA violations by associating with Shapiro. Thus, the school deemed them ineligible in hopes they can get reinstated by the season opener against Maryland. It will be interesting to see if the NCAA grants these players immunity as it did for Purdue’s Robert Marve as well as Kansas State’s Bryce and Arthur Brown.
You may not have seen him play because he’s at Tulsa, but Damaris Johnson is one of the best receivers in America. But has he played his last college game? The school indefinitely suspended the second-team All-American and the NCAA record holder in all-purpose yardage and kickoff return yards. Head coach Bill Blankenship announced the decision late Friday after Johnson was questioned by police following his girlfriend’s arrest on an embezzlement complaint. He is suspended from all team activities pending review. Jones, who works at Macy’s, is accused of selling more than $1,500 worth of merchandise to Johnson for just under $13 on one occasion as well as only charging him 34 cents for merchandise totaling $1,283. Now that’s a discount.
Hitting the links
Check out these pieces while enjoying your morning coffee.
Phil Steele checks takes a look at how the new coaching hires may fare in 2011.
Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com says college football’s new taunting rule sends a mixed message.
The money wrapped up in television contracts is enormous, as Jessica E. Vascellaro and Darren Everson discuss in The Wall Street Journal.
When it comes to anything and everything related to college football, I will continually spread what I hear on Twitter throughout the day at Miller_Dave, so be sure to stay tuned if you’re a frequent tweeter. Also, you can find my stories under my Against the Grain column.
Have a college football question? Feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great weekend! And get ready for the start of the season on Thursday!