Fri Feb 20 09:38am EST
• This isn't what we meant by 'lighting up the scoreboard.' It was rare mid-February excitement at Bryant-Denny Stadium Thursday, when the scoreboard burst into flames for no discernible reason. That explains the charred end of the thing -- but Nick Saban wants whoever's responsible for the missing 'A' in that photo to have his desk cleared by noon. Tennessee is going to negative-recruit the hell out of that.
Elsewhere, outgoing 'Bama tackle Andre Smith addressed his Sugar Bowl suspension for the first time before beginning the combine thing in Indianapolis -- sort of. Smith was willing to say that "it had nothing to do with an agent," as initially reported everywhere, but didn't clarify what it was about. Whatever it was, it made the big man "hurt ... cry ... shed some tears," which, ironically, were used to douse the scoreboard fire.
• It seems more like a Trail of Tears to me, but I get what you're saying. Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson was in Washington Thursday, meeting with sympathetic congressman during their recess about how to effectively lobby for BCS reform. Besides the pair who have submitted pro-playoff legislation to their respective committees, among the reps in Thompson's corner is Hawaii Democrat Neil Abercrombie, who renewed his December call for a Department of Justice probe into the BCS as an illegal trust:
"We know what we have to do," said Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, whose staff briefed him on the meeting. "We're going to have hearings on this. We are not going to back down. The sooner they come up with a playoff system, the better. The BCS is on a death march."
Abercrombie can join the club of politicians anxious to haul the BCS in front of a Congressional panel, but in the meantime, he might want to take a cue from his old friend, Georgia Republican Lynn Westmoreland. Though Westmoreland joined Abercrombie in a bipartisan, anti-BCS sideswipe last April, he's a little too shrewd for that this time around:
"I agree the system is broken," said Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., whose staff also met with Thompson, "(but) as a member of Congress, my first priority right now is finding solutions for our economy."
Oh right. That thing. Although, if the economy keeps tanking, and the BCS can't find any sponsors ...
• That sentence includes game day furloughs, right? Southern Miss' career rushing leader, Damion Fletcher, could spend up to a year in prison and/or pay a $1,000 fine for firing a gun in the air at an off-campus apartment complex last weekend, unless he can convince a jury that he was a) Merely honoring the celebratory gunfire that set Louis Armstrong on the path to redefining American music, or b) Protecting Hattiesburg from invisible, low-flying terrorists. Tight end Brennan Houston, arrested along with Fletcher for weed, could face a 90-day sentence and/or the same $1,000 fine (unless he, too, mounts the Satchmo defense).
Quickly ... Mike Leach's new deal looks a lot like the deals on the table for the last two months, with some cheesy metaphors thrown in. ... Why are South Florida assistant coaches suddenly bailing on Jim Leavitt? ... Michigan is shrewdly lowering the price of season tickets by a little more than three dollars, on average. ... Washington has found its new offensive coordinator in Doug Nussmeier, a former record-breaking quarterback at Idaho. ... Florida hopes its athletic juggernaut is recession-proof (so far, so good). ... Another Alex Boone update by the Columbus Dispatch. ... And Mark Sanchez is actually going to throw for scouts at the NFL Combine? What a novel concept.