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Bigger, Faster, Stronger Players… Are Ruining Football

gfx - honest opinionFrom the high school level to the NFL, 2013 seems to be the Year of the Injury.  Prior to yesterday’s games, there were already 352 NFL players assigned “injured reserve” status.  That’s 11 per team — an entire side of the ball.  It’s also 32 players per week.  Put another way, every NFL team is losing a player per game to a season-ending injury.

Look around the SEC and you’ll see the same.  Florida and Georgia, in particular, have had their high hopes dashed by one fallen player after another.  The Gators are minus 10+ starters and lost three linebackers — three! — in Saturday’s loss to Georgia Southern, leaving a walk-on on the field to try and read and stop GSU’s triple-option.  Georgia’s offense has suffered ups and downs as star running backs and receivers have been in an out of the lineup.  Now they’ll start a backup quarterback versus Georgia Tech thanks to a season-ending ACL tear to Aaron Murray.

At quarterback alone, the SEC has been bitten hard by the injury bug.  Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina and Vanderbilt have all started at least two quarterbacks due to injuries.  Georgia will do so when Hutson Mason starts on Saturday.  Mississippi State has already started two due to injuries and freshman Damian Williams could be starter #3 if the Dak Prescott and Tyler Russell can’t heal up quickly.  Florida and Tennessee have already used three different starters due to injuries.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t watch football to see third-string quarterbacks and walk-on linebackers.

Today’s football players are bigger and stronger than ever before thanks to improved weight rooms.  Thirty years ago there were NFL teams with weight rooms less impressive than the facilities now used by colleges and even the biggest of big-time high school programs.

Today’s football players are faster, better athletes than ever before thanks to weight training that now goes on almost year-round.  Yet some of the protective gear players used to wear has disappeared.  For example, shoulder padsespecially for quarterbacks — have gotten smaller and offer less protection.  But it’s not just the QBs as you can see here.

In other words, we’re taking bigger, faster, stronger players and running them into one another with — in some areas — less protection.  No wonder football is more a game of attrition than a game of skill in 2013.  And sadly, no wonder this is on pace to be one of the deadliest years in the school ranks since 1986.

Should we expect the trend to reverse itself?  On the contrary.  With every passing month another major program breaks ground on a space age weightroom facility designed to speed up, bulk up and toughen up their players even further.  Why, it’s not much of an exaggeration to say that in the past three decades football players have gone from Rocky’esque training methods to Ivan Drago’s workout regimen.

And I’ve yet to mention the massive issues we’re now seeing with concussions and head injuries.

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Ex-Dawg Ealey Lands At Jacksonville State

Looks like Georgia Southern was serious about not taking Washaun Ealey.  Despite months of speculation that the former Georgia tailback would transfer to GSU, the ex-Dawg has landed at Jacksonville State where he began school today.

Jacksonville State — which won at Ole Miss last year — is coached by former Arkansas head coach Jack Crowe.



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Joe Fisher’s postgame show, GSU

The Voice of the Commodores, Joe Fisher, talks with men’s basketball head coach Kevin Stallings following Vanderbilt’s 92-59 win over Grambling State Wednesday night. Plus, Tim Thompson’s interview with VU’s player of the game, and his radio call of the play of the game. Download the audio for free on VUcommodores.com.
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Bama Rips Curry, GSU 63-7

Playing against a first-year program — and an FCS program at that — there was little doubt that Alabama would devour Georgia State on ESPN last night.  And that’s exactly what the Crimson Tide did. 

And if you didn’t feel a little sorry for Bill Curry last night, well, you’re probably a Bama or Kentucky fan.

1.  Nick Saban played a lot of his young guys last night.

2.  The low level of fan excitement last night will change for next Friday’s Iron Bowl.

3.  Junior receiver Brandon Gibson was the big star of the night for Bama.

4.  As you might expect, the Tide graded out pretty well last night.

5.  And looking ahead to the Iron Bowl, Kevin Scarbinsky of The Birmingham News wonders “If the NCAA, FBI and TMZ can’t stop Auburn, can Alabama?”

6.  Trent Richardson and Barrett Jones should be ready to go against the Tigers.

7.  Tide safety Mark Barron hopes Cam Newton will be suited up for Auburn.  “I don’t want to play anyone when they’re not at their best.  Anytime you get a chance to go up against great athletes, for me that’s exciting.

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Alabama Ready For Georgia State Tonight

Alabama wanted as soft a cupcake as it could find to put before this year’s Iron Bowl.  Enter first-year FCS program Georgia State.

Alabama wanted as much time off before next Friday’s clash with Auburn as possible.  Presto chango the GSU game is moved to Thursday night.

If you’re up for it, you can catch Bill Curry’s return to Bryant-Denny Stadium on ESPNU at 7:30pm ET.

1.  Here’s a breakdown of tonight’s game.  (That shouldn’t take long.)

2.  Curry never could shake the coaching bug after leaving Kentucky.

3.  When the Panthers won their first game, Curry was shortly knocked unconscious by players who accidentally clocked him with a Gatorade bucket.  (I’m guessing he won’t have to worry about that tonight.)

4.  Nick Saban has tried to play up GSU.  “This team played to overtime against Jacksonville State who beat Ole Miss.  We respect the players that they have.  We respect the good job of coaching that they do.”

5.  Still, this one doesn’t figure to be close for long.

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Curry Surprised To Land A Game With Bama

Bill Curry was considered a failure at Alabama despite the fact that the Tide’s record improved in each of Curry’s three seasons at the helm (from 7-5 in 1987 to 9-3 to 10-2 and a Sugar Bowl berth in 1989).  In 1990, Curry left Alabama to take the Kentucky job, which tells you just how bad things had gotten for the coach in Tuscaloosa.

Now Curry will return to Bryant-Denny Stadium on Thursday night with his Georgia State Panthers.  GSU is in its first season of college football and plays at the FCS level.  If you’re surprised Georgia State is facing Alabama this season… you’re not alone.

“When I started putting together our schedules a couple of years ago, I felt it was important to add some big schools, so our kids can see what it’s like to play big-time college football,” Curry told the Montgomery Quarterback Club.  “Because that’s where we want to be eventually.

“So (in 2008), I sent out requests to 25 big schools to try to schedule a game.  We got three replies.”

Alabama was one of the replies.

“They told me they had an opening in 2010.  I called them back and said, ‘That’s our first season.’  I didn’t think we’d be ready to play such a game.  I mean, Alabama had not won the national championship by that time, but they were good.  And we were a first-year program.”

When Bama gave Curry a “take it or leave it” response, the coach took it.  Even though he’d “left it” with Tide officials two decades earlier.

It will be interesting to see what kind of reception Curry receives from the Bama fans on Thursday.  If they’re smart — or at least classy — about it, they’ll recall that Gene Stallings’ 1992 national championship club still had a few Curry recruits on the roster.

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