Too much talking, not enough football


First-year Arkansas coach Bret Bielema believes up-tempo offenses jeopardize player safety.

Doug Finger/Staff photographer
Published: Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 2:15 p.m.

Is it August yet?

They are wearing me out, these media days. They make you think college football season is right on top of us until you realize it’s still more than a month away.

I’m worn out mentally because of ESPN’s top 25 games from last year and award watch lists and players barking at dogs and meaningless preseason all-conference teams.

Let’s at least start practices within a week of these media days. From the time Will Muschamp spoke about his team in Hoover, Ala., to the time the Gators have their first practice it will be 16 days. That’s ridiculous.

So I get a little ornery this time of the year, especially because it seems to rain every day. And I want to open up my window and yell, “SHUT UP AND PLAY!”

OK, I got that out of my system. I feel better. But still …

Shut up and play, you coaches in the SEC complaining about up-tempo offenses.

It was a little tense in Hoover when Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said he thought “it was a joke” that there are safety issues with the hurry-up offenses and then Arkansas coach Bret Bielema countered by saying, “I’m not a comedian.”

Bielema claims that a player isn’t the same after 15 plays as he is after five and that he wants the game slowed down for player safety.

“It’s something I feel strongly about,” he said. “It’s not rhetoric.”

He has other coaches on his side, including Nick Saban, who usually gets what he wants. For example, we will soon see the SEC go to a nine-game conference schedule. Talk about player safety, trading out a cupcake on your schedule for an SEC game seems to be physically dangerous.

It seems that this league is divided not so much between the haves and the have-nots but between the huddle and the no-huddle.

“I don’t worry about it as a health issue for our players,” said Georgia’s Mark Richt. “If teams are not substituting fast enough because they’re not organized, that’s their fault.”

Ouch.

It seems Saban got my memo because at SEC Media Days he said, “The rules are clearly defined. I don’t know if there will ever be any rule changes that affect up-tempo teams.”

Shut up and play, Les Miles.

Quit complaining about having to play Florida and Georgia while Alabama has to play neither. Are you trying to get your players discouraged before the season starts?

“There’s a repeated scheduling advantage and disadvantage for certain teams in this conference based on tradition and traditional matchups,” he said.

Yeah, now there is. But when Tennessee was good, that was hardly an advantage for Alabama. There is no way to have a balanced schedule, even when you go to nine games, because nobody can predict how good a team will be three or four years down the road. It wasn’t that long ago that playing Alabama was an advantage (see: Shula, Mike).

Shut up and play, Big 12 coaches.

Is it me or have the coaches in that conference spent this offseason going after the SEC and questioning its strength?

You’d think this was a political race and you could win with negative ads and continually running down your opponent. Not gonna work, Big 12.

The SEC is the better conference. We’ve fired two national championship coaches in the last six years and drove another out of the business (only briefly) and another to the NFL (only briefly).

Win something and then we’ll talk.

Shut up and play, ACC.

The league has never been stronger and has several national title contenders. That was the rhetoric coming out of ACC Media Days.

Yeah? Well, show us something in the first two weeks of the season. Virginia Tech has Alabama, Clemson has Georgia and Miami has Florida. Let’s see you back up the big talk.

And shut up and play to anyone who says Jadeveon Clowney’s hit last year against Michigan running back Vincent Smith would have gotten him ejected this year.

That includes Doug Rhoads, the ACC supervisor of officials.

First of all, it wasn’t the rule last year so who cares?

Secondly, SEC supervisor of officials Steve Shaw told Steve Spurrier it was a legal hit. So this is what we’re heading for — another referee judgment call that could decide a game or games?

Oh, just shut up and play.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at dooleyp@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

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