If you think that football fans aren’t obsessed, you aren’t checking ESPN’s schedule lately. It’s hard to believe that they’re showing anything except for Yankees/Red Sox games but it’s true.
This week ESPN started on one-hour Sportscenters focusing on next week’s draft. Some of the best NFL talking heads who only occasionally screwed up a name talked ad nauseam about the draft. The thing is, draft junkies, and I’m just talking about the kind with a small habit, already know everything that they’re saying. About 25% of the talk is about Aaron Rodgers versus Alex Smith. Both are quarterbacks, and because of that position are top draft prospects.
Rodgers led California to an 11-2 record. In their game with national champion USC, Rodgers tied an NCAA record with 23 consecutive completions. He’s a prodigy of Jeff Tedford, who taught NFL mediocrities David Carr, Akili Smith, Joey Harrington, and Trent Dilfer. Sure, none of them has done much in the league except for Dilfer’s fluky Super Bowl win with the Ravens. Any time people say that Dilfer led a team to the Super Bowl, I counter with the fact that Dilfer was released after the season. For Elvis Grbac.
Does the track record of Tedford quarterbacks mean that drafting Rodgers is a bad idea? Not really. You have to be very good to be a mediocre NFL quarterback, and leading California to eleven wins in a season makes Bill Belichick look like a wonderlic flunky in comparison.
Then there’s Alex Smith. He led Utah to a 12-0 season. To put this in perspective, the team hadn’t even won an outright conference title in half a century before last season. Smith ran a funky shotgun offense, and you’re some kind of a pariah if you don’t take a snap from center like good NFL QBs do. Here’s the answer to people who say a QB needs to be in a pro-style offense to succeed in the NFL. Aren’t quarterbacks supposed to be smart team leaders? If so they better be able absorb a playbook in a long weekend. Smith graduated in two years. The last NFL to do this was Bernie Kosar. Yes, I’m guessing. Bernie was a pretty good NFL quarterback.
I watched three hours of that programming and didn’t learn much except that there are better studio hosts than Trey Wingo. ESPN put together a small indoor field where experts took off their suit coats and showed us proper techniques. What they didn’t do is say much about more than how two or three guys could perform these techniques. When it comes down to it you could find flaws in Tom Brady’s game if you looked at enough film. I guess that’s why he was a sixth-round pick.
That’s the main problem with NFL draft coverage. The draft is seven rounds long but most people only talk about players who are to be taken in the first round. The reason why is only the first-rounders are ‘name’ players mainly from name schools. I’ll bet that half the people who filled out an NCAA bracket could put together a credible first-round NFL draft mock. Teams don’t win based on their first-round picks, but until next Saturday that’s about all that we’re going to hear about. I’ll be working on my 40 time in the duration.
Today ESPN is showing the University of South Carolina’s spring football game. If you dare to listen, and few do, South Carolina fans call themselves the original USC. Because of their signing of Steve Spurrier as coach, Gamecock football is back on the map. Can they go from being a plodding offensive team to a downfield passing team, a la Florida? I doubt it happens in a year. Spring football for college teams is like spring training for baseball. The only difference is baseball players start their regular season immediately after spring training. College football players have months of ‘voluntary’ workouts and petty crime in front of them before the first game.
White Sox update: Mark Buerhle just threw a complete game in a 2-1 win over the Mariners. How about that; the Sox have won the first two games of their series with the Mariners. I should put my life savings on the Mariners tomorrow.