Well, we've almost done it. We've almost trudged through the petty exhibition games; we've almost made it to the games that matter. I spent my weekend avoiding sports because I wanted my body and mind to be in prime condition for these next two and a half weeks. I'm not sure any vital organ in my body is ready.
ICYMI: Here are some things you might have missed if you spent your weekend doing trivial things like spending time with your family or laboring for rent money.
- Ohio State and Alabama flew planes to New Orleans, where they'll play each other in a rousing game of football.
- Meet Blake Sims: Alabama's first mobile quarterback in a century.
- Photos of yesterday's press conferences and practice.
- Raw video featuring interviews of Nick Saban, Uban Meyer, Tom Herman, Cardale Jones, and more.
- Amari Cooper, being played by Jeff Greene in practice, doesn't really like New Orleans; it's too hectic, and it smells bad.
- J.T. Barrett is on Twitter (for real).
- Jim Harbaugh is reportedly Michigan's next head coach. (More on that in a bit.)
OHIO STATE'S GOT THAT CAKE. In terms of total revenue, the College Football Playoffs will feature the No. 1 (Bama), No. 5 (OSU), No. 9 (Oregon), and No. 24 (FSU) teams (read: franchises) in the country.
For some perspective about some of these numbers:
Ohio State athletics is massive. Its $139 million annual revenue would be the 3rd-largest NFL salary cap.
— Nicholas Jervey (@Nick11W) December 28, 2014
MILLER THE HEIR INCUMBENT? I thought this was, uh, interesting:
Ezekiel Elliott "I think we all know Braxton will be the starter (next year) ... whoever is the quarterback we'll be fine."
— Blake Williams (@BWilliamsBSB) December 28, 2014
I know some internet commenters have Braxton Miller packing his bags for Duke(!?) or Oregon or LSU, and this could just be lip-service to the man who has never lost an open competition at Ohio State, but I'll be shocked if in 2015 Braxton Miller is healthy, on Ohio State's roster, and not the starting quarterback.
CARDALE JONES... MAN OF MYSTERY. It bemuses me to think of Alabama players studying Cardale's performance against Michigan and his "okay" (his words) performance against Wisconsin like a conspiracy nut analyzing the Zapruder film. (Nick Saban standing on some old soapboxes while pounding his fist on the podium, "BACK AND TO THE LEFT!")
“He’s a mystery,” said Nick Perry, a senior safety for the Crimson Tide.
Alabama defenders said evaluating Jones, who made his first career-start three weeks ago for the Buckeyes, is an unusual challenge.
“You haven’t seen him play. You haven’t seen his keys and what he likes to do,” junior safety Landon Collins said. “He’s played enough snaps to get a feed on what he likes to do. So, we’re going to have a little touch.”
I'll tell you what: It could be gamesmanship, but I am thankful that in the only game he ever started at Ohio State Cardale Jones looked like a young Jamarcus Russell who had yet to discover the wonders of dumping hydrocodone into a Styrofoam cup full of sprite and jolly ranchers.
But let's say Cardale Jones leads Ohio State to the national title. What happens if he just went pro? He is older than Johnny Manziel (who, I'm ready to admit, is awful and was a terrible selection). More importantly: WHAT IF CARDALE JONES WAS TAKEN BY THE BROWNS?
Here's the sexiest email I've ever received, sent by reader Kevin Losh:
I was watching the Browns post game show tonight on STO and they mentioned
this dream scenario: Cleveland native Cardale Jones, as a redshirt soph,
has his 3 years of college under him and could turn pro. Cardale goes off
on 'Bama and in the NC then declares for the NFL draft. Otherwise he will
have to come back next year and battle the likes of Braxton Miller and JT
Barret for the QB position, not to mention the 2 incoming studs in Gibson
and Burrow. He then is chosen by the Browns in the middle to late rounds
and brings the Vince Lomardi trophy back to Cleveland.
Be still my beating heart. Cardale Jones has always had the talent, and based on that alone, he would not be the worst quarterback to start a game for the Cleveland Browns in the last 15 years.
I only own two jerseys — a Tim Couch white banger and a Tim Couch brown banger — but I would break my embargo on jersey purchases for a Cardale Jones Browns jersey. In fact, I'd buy two, so my soon-to-be-wife wouldn't look like a clown on our wedding day.
In all seriousness, though, I think NFL teams would be wise to take a flier on Cardale Jones.
SNITCHING BIG TEN COORDINATORS GOTTA GO. Good going, Big Ten coaches. Urban Meyer is out here outworking your leftover-lookin' asses and trying to bring some bit of glory to this godforsaken conference, and y'all are out here dropping dimes on Ohio State to Kirby Smart? That's shameful.
"We’ve talked to several coaches in their league and every coach to a T said — these are coaches that have been in the SEC — from their league said, without a doubt, they’ve got an SEC team, they’ve got SEC speed and SEC size. They just don’t play in the SEC,” Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart said. “These guys are out to prove something. They’ve got a chip on their shoulder.”
I understand it's like Kirby went on to say: coaches are more loyal to their trees than their conferences. (He speculated Urban Meyer has received a couple of calls from Mississippi State head coach [and former Meyer OC] Dan Mullen.)
Hateful Tom Herman, however, had the best response. From Chris Vannini of CoachingSearch.com:
“It happens. It does not surprise me,” he said. “We're in this thing to give our guys the best advantage we can to win and whatever is within the rules we're going to try to give them that advantage, and if somebody that's played us two or three times has a little nugget here or there that they can share with them, so be it. The last time I checked, we were 24‑0 against those Big Ten teams in three years in the regular season. So it doesn't bother me.”
Tom Herman is going to Houston and he no longer gives a damn.
THAT'S CRAZY. Here's a bit of The Game trivia I did not know until yesterday: It once featured a player carrying cocaine in his wristband.
Former Ohio State quarterback Rod Gerald opened up to David Briggs of The Toledo Blade in an excellent story that starts with his worst nightmare from facing Alabama in the 1977 Sugar Bowl: running out of cocaine.
Struggling with a bum back and a small fracture in his leg, [former OSU quarterback Rod Gerald] remembers popping three pills of Tylenol with codeine that January night in 1978. But Gerald felt lost without the countering effects of cocaine. By then, he said he needed the stimulant to perform.
He snorted until his nose bled during a trip to Southern Methodist University, then kept the drug in his wristband during the Michigan game. The withdrawal was a nightmare.
“Going to New Orleans, I probably would have taken an eight ball,” Gerald said, using the street name for three and a half grams of cocaine. “I’d have to use it in practice, use it to go in the meetings, use it to go to functions, use it to go to dinner. From morning to night, I would have to use cocaine. Not having it, going down there without it, it was like ... I [remember] just being frightened, afraid that I had nothing.”
Ohio State got waxed in that game, 35-6, by the way.
HARBAUGH! Well, barring a last minute cash tsunami from Raiders owner Mark Davis (come on now, Mark!!!!!!) Jim Harbaugh, the winner of the 2010 Woody Hayes Head Coach Trophy, will be the next head coach at the University of Michigan, a school which is bad.
Harbaugh will reportedly be introduced tomorrow during the Illinois-Michigan basketball game. (Yain't got no Jim Tressel swagger, Harbaugh.)
The look on his face while "embracing" his (soon-to-be-former) boss is the same look I had when I'd have to "apologize" to my brother for him trolling me to the point I had no choice but to punch him. (Only older brothers will get that one.)
— Bryce Gustafson (@brycegustafson) December 28, 2014
For Michigan fans' reaction, we turn to what I must admit is a rather silky GIF:
— Ace Anbender (@AceAnbender) December 28, 2014
But here's the only Harbaugh reaction in which I'm interested:
— Jimmy Burch (@Jimmy_Burch) December 28, 2014
While I question if Michigan will ultimately give Harbaugh the free rein he'll demand, kudos to Jim Hackett for inheriting a toxic situation and pulling off the hire Michigan had to have.
While I wouldn't go as far as Ben Axelrod to say The Game's been "a big lie" since the 2008, I do agree Harbaugh will be good for Michigan, and The Game needed a shot in the arm.
Before I leave you to your affairs, however, here is a walk down memory lane to get the juice flowing on this Monday morning. Harbaugh vs. Meyer is going to be a heavyweight fight, and I can't wait for next year's sacking of Ann Arbor.
THOSE WMDs. The History of the English Language... Good point re: how NFL teams control media narrative against powerless rookies... Old school Nittany Lion was terrifying... Kobe Bryant, lol... Grierson & Leitch's 2014 In Review: The Year's Worst Films.