It's game week. We've moved on from the eye black. That's right, we're typing with a regulation, college football helmet on — we're that excited.
Quick reminder that we're a day away from the Thursday night kickoff so be sure to get your beverage of choice purchased between now and then. No one wants to get midway through the second quarter of the opener and realize you're out of your go-to drink-of-choice be it Milo's Tea, Diet Coke, Chardonnay (thanks for reading, ladies), Bud Light or Gentleman Jack. Handle that now and thank the 5-at-10 later.
From the "College Football Rules Studios," here we go...
This April 16, 2011, file photo shows Sebastian the Ibis, the Miami Hurricanes' mascot, leading the team on to the field for a spring NCAA college football game, at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro told Yahoo! Sports he provided extra benefits to 72 football players and other athletes at Miami from 2002 to 2010. His claims involve several current players, but coach Al Golden said it was too soon to take disciplinary action. (AP Photo/Jeffrey M. Boan, FIle)Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
OK, the storm has started
The NCAA has ruled that 12 Miami players will have to repay benefits received from renegade booster Nevin Shapiro, who spilled his story to Yahoo! Sports about giving money, gifts and even arranging for prostitutes for more than 70 Hurricanes players over the last decade. (Quick question: how would you determine the repay amount for a trip on Shapiro's yacht or his arranging some "extra curricular" activities with some hard-working young ladies in the greater-Miami area? And who makes that phone call: "Yes, DeHotness, how much would estimate... wait, what would say the worth of... wait, how about what charges would you... Nevermind. Thanks for your time.")
Eight of the 12 current Hurricanes also will face suspensions. Quarterback Jacory Harris is among that group that will miss Monday's opener against Maryland. Three players — defensive lineman Olivier Vernon (6 games) and Ray Ray Armstrong (4 games) and tight end Dyron Dye (4 games) — will miss multiple games.
"I'm glad that chapter is closed," Golden told the Associated Press. "I'm proud of our guys. I think they were, from every report I've gotten, were honest and forthright. And now we get ready for the University of Maryland."
Uh, Al, if this closes a "chapter," the NCAA-Miami book of scandal will be about 7 kabillion pages. This may be a chapter, but it's short chapter and there will be much more to come.
That said, rest easy Miami fans because Harris will be back after the opener when the Hurricanes play... wait for it... we're almost there... THE Ohio State Buckeyes in the No-Boundaries Bowl. Giddy-up.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) avoids Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu after making a catch for first down in the second quarter of a preseason NFL football game on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2011, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Falcons... Super Bowl pick?
Sports Illustrated's Peter King picked the Atlanta Falcons to win the Super Bowl. Yes, the Atlanta Falcons.
Even more perplexing is King picked the Packers and the Steelers to go to last year's Super Bowl (which happened).
OK, these Falcons have a Super Bowl-worthy offense. They have one of the game's top young QBs in Matt Ryan. Running back Michael Turner and tight end Tony Gonzalez are getting long in the tooth, but each is still a playmaker. Roddy White and Julio Jones may be the the league's best receiver combo.
That said, the defense is sketchy. Yes, Ray Edwards was a nice addition, but Ray Edwards is still a piece not a salvation.
Could the Falcons get there? Sure. But it's hard to see them matching up favorably against the Packers, who smoked Atlanta in the Georgia Dome in the NFC playoffs last year, and even the Eagles, who also have defensive questions but added two shutdown corners that will help cure a lot of ills.
Tennessee football coach Phillip Fulmer, left, smiles while men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl makes a joke at a 2007 stop on the Big Orange Caravan in Sevierville, Tenn. AP Photo/Knoxville News Sentinel, J. Miles Cary
Bruce Pearl gets a new gig
The former Vols coach landed a job in the private sector, serving as the vice president of marketing for H.T. Hackney Co. in Knoxville.
Well, if he's charged with marketing Bruce Pearl, then he's going to be great at his new gig. Other than that, we'll see.
Here's saying that at the first meeting Pearl should show up with no shirt and his chest painted with a big "HTH." It worked great for him at his other job. In fact, here's saying that no one this side of Halle Berry has made more money from one topless appearance.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick (7) runs from a tackler during the first half of an NFL wild card playoff football game against the Green Bay Packers in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)
This and that
— The "Can you beat Jay contest?" where you get to pick the SEC games against the TFP Sports Editor will return Friday. Keep an eye out for it. You could win stuff.
— Texas A&M officials are now denying they sent a letter to the Big 12 asking for a release. Sources now are telling media outlets that Texas A&M called the Big 12 office. Please, let's just stop. What's next, Texas A&M passed a note that said "Can we leave the Big 12? Check one: Yes No."
— Stupid Livan Hernandez. That dude has owned the Braves forever — since at least Bob Horner's third season. At one point in last night's 9-2 win over Atlanta, Hernandez threw a pitch in the mid-60s. That's slower than most of the fastballs thrown last week at the Little League World Series. And those kids are 12 (well, most of them, some of those dudes looked like they could have been driving to the ball park).
— Mike Vick's $100-million extension with the Philadelphia Eagles makes him just the third person in U.S. sports to sign more than one nine-figure deal. The other two are Shaq O'Neal and Alex Rodriguez. CHA-ching.
Hey, you get the mike today. What's your prediction for the upcoming college football season?
It can be anything from the outlandish like "Miami will rebound from all the distractions and win the ACC," to a little more reserved like "UTC will fall a couple of touchdowns short Saturday against Nebraska."
Bring it, and who ever lands the biggest fish — make the big prediction and if it hits — could be in line for some prizes down the road.
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...