Lots of catching up to do ...
I'm trying, really trying, to take a few days off, but instead of that faraway-island off, I'm doing the working-slightly-less-than-normal off, which really shouldn't count at all. My inbox is filling up with saved things to get in the blog, and I can typically associate my sanity with how much stuff is piling up in my e-mail, so here's to finding greater clarity:
-- Interesting news from Yahoo! Sports, which is getting pretty newsy -- somehow, one of their writers got a complete list of all the underclassmen who submitted their names to the NFL advisory board for underclassmen, to get a better sense where they might be selected if they applied for early entry in the draft. Andre Hall and Stephen Nicholas have done so in the past two years, with both opting to stick around for their senior year after hearing they'd likely be second-day picks. Not really a surprise to me, but USF junior cornerback Mike Jenkins is on the list. My initial hunch is that he's not a first-day pick, but speed is such a commodity in the NFL, and Jenkins certainly has it.
Two other Big East names on the list -- I think Pitt's Darrelle Revis will leave and be a first-round pick, and my guess is that Louisville sophomore Mario Urrutia will likely come back for one more year. Keep in mind there are tons of underclassmen who already know they're leaving, so expect more Big East names to be showing up between now and the draft deadline.
-- I can put an end to speculation about one potential transfer for the Bulls. We'd told you last week about Trent Newton, the linebacker from Savannah State who'd listed USF among his transfer options. Well, Newton has decided to stay in Savannah. This coming Wednesday, by the way, opens the signing period for midyear junior college transfers, and I'm hearing that USF will have some names to announce on that front. Trying to figure out exactly who between now and Wednesday. ...
-- I have a pet peeve about newspapers that write big headlines about arrests, but don't follow up to see what happens with the charges. So if you read Saturday's Times, you'll see a brief about Carlton Hill getting his misdemeanor drug charge from last summer dismissed. Hill had been charged with possession of marijuana, but on Thursday, prosecutors agreed to dismiss the charges, after his attorney, Christopher Frey, argued that there was no evidence that Hill knew there was marijuana in the dormitory apartment he was in with four other men. Hill, again, will finish up this school year at Pearl River in Mississippi, hoping to land at a Division I-A program next fall with two years of eligibility.
Those four others included two former USF players: safety Drametrice Smith, who was at Fort Valley State this year, playing for Andre Waters; and linebacker Devon Davis, who's already spent time in jail this year on other charges. Smith entered into a pretrial diversion program for first-time offenders and can have the charge dropped by completing probationary requirements; Davis pleaded no contest and paid court costs in his case.
-- From the Ridiculously Early Prognostication Department, I first offer what I believe is the first 2007 preseason poll, from the folks at Nationalchamps.net. (I wrote a Vanderbilt preview for them a couple years back -- Google long enough you can find it.) Anyway, they've got USF No. 25 in their preseason poll, with West Virginia (7th) and Louisville (8th) also representing the Big East. So no love for Rutgers, which makes their "others easily making the top 25 between now and August" list. If USF can win its bowl game convincingly, I think you'll see more of this leading up to next season.
I like women's college basketball as much as anybody -- anybody, that is, except for ESPN.com's Charlie Creme, who has already posted his first Bracketology projection of NEXT YEAR's NCAA women's bracket. Don't book tickets just yet, but USF is a No. 7 seed, playing in Minneapolis in the Dallas region. Second round would bring a rematch with LSU, as he sees it. Charlie's already got his "last four in" and "last four out." Charlie, it's December. It'd be like putting money down today on a prop bet for who will score first in the Super Bowl. Come February, we'll be going crazy over this, but for now, it might be a little early. I'm happy he's not projecting 2008 yet, at least publicly.
-- Did a segment with a North Carolina radio station for a show Friday night, talking about the bowl and USF and East Carolina. They actually have the show archived here -- I'm listed as "Greg Awman" and my stuff starts maybe 10-12 minutes into the hour. Radio folks were curious to hear how interested USF is in seeing the Big East expand in football, perhaps with those Pirates in mind -- I tried to go through the Tranghese stump speech about the league not wanting to expand just to correct the ugly scheduling issue, how it cuts the slice of the BCS pie a little smaller for everyone and dilutes the product, etc. ...
-- So after USF bought up 500 tickets for students and gave them away to any student with a valid ID last week, the athletic department announced Friday that additional tickets had been bought and donated for students -- again, they'll be available at the Sun Dome ticket office Monday morning for any students with a valid ID. It's a nice gesture, but I have trouble buying that there are students who have the time/money to drive/fly to Alabama for their school's second-ever bowl appearance, but can't pony up $30 for a ticket? I think USF is smart to do whatever it can to get as many people to the bowl -- as of Friday morning, the count was at 4,400 tickets sold for the Bulls, putting it close to last year's pace with a week to go before kickoff. By the way, the keynote speaker for the bowl luncheon day before the game is Archie Manning -- nice get, and I'm sure he'll have some fun Peyton and Eli stories to share. Pat Sullivan, a Heisman Trophy winner at Auburn and the new coach at Samford, will also be honored at the luncheon. If that doesn't make you go out and get a free ticket, not sure what will at this point. Maybe they can throw in some hot-dog vouchers or bus tickets.