Last night I dreamed of a thousand woos. And, for some reason, of eating dog meat that looked but did not taste like bacon. Don't ask. Anyway, yes, Bryce Brown, RTT#3 in 2009, has been cleared and will owe neither money nor games to the NCAA, which had initially ruled that Brown would have to miss four games and repay a "substantial amount of money." That's, of course, much worse than the worst-case scenario reported earlier this week.
Mike Hamilton apparently danced out of his office all the way to the practice field to tell Kiffin when he got the news yesterday. Kiffin then stopped practice, took the opportunity to give the team a tongue-lashing for being slackers and wimps, and then told them that "BB" had been cleared and wouldn't miss any games. The team then "roared" its approval, which you just have to love, as it signals a true welcoming of Brown into the fold.
Scout.com has the audio of Kiffin informing the media ($) after practice, but the best part of the clip is the fact that you can barely hear Kiffin over Ed Orgeron's enthusiastic shouts in the background. Well, call it background-ish, because although he was obviously at a distance, his volume was not. I have no idea what Orgeron was doing, but he was doing it with energy. Shoot, he may have been reading the paper for all I know.
Scout also puts to bed rumors that Miami was behind the investigation and inflames rumors that Oregon was ($). The Ducks were on Brown's short list and no longer had a player that was also implicated in the Brian Butler Tour of Colleges Way Back When. That may have given Oregon motive, but I don't know how you get from there to "[c]learly, there is strong evidence to suggest that the Ducks are behind the renewed investigation of Bryce Brown's amateur status." But whatever. He's eligible and woo.
And seriously, please stop with all of the talk about Kiffin using both Reggie Bush and LenDale White and Eddie Gran using both Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown because I am already positively giddy, and I've only a limited number of woos available for the season. I don't want to use them all this week. But I will use one more: woo.
We're still awaiting news on Josh McNeil, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery yesterday. Somehow, things went from a battle to hold on to his starting position at center and his string of 35 consecutive starts to "his football career might be finished" in the blink of an eye, which of course is just horrible rotten awful news. Prayers for good results for Josh.
Jonathan Crompton reacted to the news that he'd finally won the starting QB position just like you'd want him to. "Nothing is settled yet," said Crompton. "We haven't played a game yet." He's executing big plays to freshman Nu'Keese Richardson (who had something like 250 yards at Tuesday's practice ($) and staying after practice to continue to throw to all of the wide receivers in an attempt to perfect their timing.
Nick Stephens is also responding well. "I'm proud for [Crompton]. He is our quarterback and I know that I got a fair shot at the job. I also realize anything can happen and I have to be ready and prepared. I don't have time to worry about not winning the position. I have to keep improving each and every day."
Well, whattayaknow. Lane Kiffin does second-guess himself at times. He's upset at himself for not pulling Gerald Jones from last Saturday's scrimmage before Jones suffered his high ankle sprain:
I don't second-guess anything about practice or anything about how physical our practices have been. The one thing that is driving me nuts from the minute I wake up to the minute I go to sleep and I wake up halfway through my sleep upset about it and that is Gerald (Jones) getting hurt. Gerald had done so much. We had pulled a number of guys at that point in the scrimmage. They were off doing their conditioning, running the stadium steps and stuff. Gerald had done such a good job and was in such good shape that we kept him in there and we got the high ankle sprain. Gerald probably was, if you took a poll among our coaches to list the top two offensive players on our team, Gerald was one of the two. So I am mad at myself about that (the injury). That's nothing about how physical we have been in practice. We needed that as a team, but Gerald had already shown us enough at that point, just like (Nick) Reveiz had. Just like Rico (McCoy) had. Just like Chris Walker had. Just like Wes Brown had and all those guys we pulled on Saturday. We were more concerned about our defense. On offense, we kept playing our guys. We should have pulled him.
Jones, though, is high on the freshmen ($) and thinks they can get the job done while he's recovering:
Oh, man, they have come a long way. They've actually gone from just knowing one route on a certain play to actually realizing the concepts and realizing the blitz pickups. They've come so far. I've helped 'em a lot. They've come to my room and stayed till 12 o'clock, going over plays with me and just asking every kind of question they want. I'm here to answer 'em.
To help with the increasing depth issue, Kiffin's moved Rod Wilks from safety to receiver. Do not be concerned that Wilks was a third-string safety, because the defensive backfield is stacked, and Wilks was RTT#3 in 2008, a nine-jar guy who spurned offers from Alabama, Florida, and Michigan.
Also helping out in the passing game is David Oku - and shoot, I just now realized that somehow I've completely forgotten to include Oku in the rankings for this year's class; will remedy soon. Ugh. Anyway, Kiffin is designing some plays that will involve Oku in the passing game because he's a guy who can pick things up quickly. He also threw a touchdown pass to Crompton in a recent practice, but Kiffin joked that he could no longer use that play because a reporter ruined it by giving it away.
- Expect the secondary to play a much-higher risk/reward style this season, getting more interceptions yet also giving up more big plays.
- Eric Berry is the undisputed leader of this team ($), telling his "puppies yapping over there" to settle down when freshmen Mike Edwards and Marsalis Teague got into a shoving match at Wednesday's practice.
- As good as the Kiffin Chimera is, many of its components are still motivated by recent failure. Lane's got the memory of Oakland to erase, Monte a losing streak, Orgeron the Ole Miss thing, Gran getting fired at Auburn, and even Lance Thompson had a great season with Alabama last year but didn't finish well.
- The preseason BlogPoll is up, and Florida is again the team to beat. Mike Griffith has an interesting piece comparing the 2009 Gators to the 1999 Vols. We can only hope.
- UT will host Cincinnati in 2011.
- Orson and Peter host Doc Saturday for a podcast.
- Gate 21 reviews Clay Travis's On Rocky Top.
- Kiffin's answer to the scholarship/roster question: we're at 79.
- RTT wins the "best tortured fan video of 2008." Yay! Let's not do it again, hmm?
- Where Phillip Fulmer might coach next, from Bruce Feldman.
- The AP and Gannett are challenging the new SEC Media Policy.
- Bruce Pearl's getting' hitched this Saturday. Leave him alone for this.