Tue May 12 10:10am EDT
• Orrin's ongoing offensive. Missed over the weekend: Utah senators Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett, circling the wreckage of the contentious BCS hearings in the House on May 1, took another warning nibble with a sharply worded letter instructing BCS honchos to retool the Series during ongoing negotiations with ESPN. Hatch and Bennett, of course -- like their Beehive State constituents, coincidentally -- want more access for Mountain West teams and the like, which becomes much tougher when the TV deal is firmly in place through 2014: "We have serious concerns about what appears to be an attempt to preserve the status quo for the foreseeable future."
I have to admit, as January's outrages fade into the background and the economic news remains gray as ever, I'm surprised the Congressmen haven't completely forgotten about football after a few rabble-rousing bromides at the end of the season. But Hatch seems to see the transition period from Fox to ESPN as a window for change that may not be open again for another five years, at least, so I'd take him at his word that the inquisition he promised will come before the end of the year.
• Who rallied the Sheridan lobby? The prevailing assumption since Steven Threet's sudden transfer in February is that Michigan's starting quarterback job will fall to a true freshman, and that almost certainly, that freshman would be Tate Forcier. The early enrollee's strong performance in the spring game only entrenched him at No. 1 heading into the fall, where his toughest competition figured to be another freshman, athletic Denard Robinson. As for Threet's co-starter last year, Nick Sheridan, well, just look at the numbers, man. Nobody seemed to lose any sleep when he missed the spring with a broken leg.
Threet, though, talking about the competition to the Detroit Free Press, says not so fast, my friend:
Threet said he has no indication what will happen in fall camp but figures the tipping point will be decision-making, which gives Sheridan a chance to play.
"I feel like Tate has a good opportunity coming in early with the extra reps in the spring and that should be beneficial," he said. "But Nick does a good job of executing the offense the way they want it to be run. People may point out the physical things, Tate or Denard may have at a physical advantage, but a lot of time at quarterback in this system comes down to decision-making."
Someone might want to remind Threet -- and the readers of Adam Rittenberg's Big Ten blog for ESPN, who nearly split on Forcier and Sheridan as the projected starter on Monday, to Rittenberg's surprise -- that Sheridan's decision-making was either a) Among the worst in the country, or b) Couldn't come close to overcoming his obvious physical limitations, which are among the worst in the country. If Sheridan actually has any shot at taking a significant snap from center this year, please, somebody take Brian Cook's shoelaces away from him.
• It's not like there are going to be any reporters left by the fall, anyway. Here's something that newspaper types will notice, but won't register at all with anyone else: Many athletic departments, faced with cutting corners everywhere they can, are strongly considering canceling the massive print editions of media guides, offering them online instead. This idea made the rounds at this week's Pac-10 meetings, and the commissioner of the Ohio Valley Conference told the New York Times last week that eliminating media days and print guides could save schools $25,000-$40,000.
Makes no difference to me: I've used the online versions (which, as PDFs, become outdated just as quickly as the analog editions) for years. And if athletic departments are even slightly conflicted about the existence of print media guides, it's not because of their effects on newspapers: These behemoths are actually low level recruiting tools. It's a mass mailing strategy -- high school coaches' offices are overflowing with them in the hopes that players will leaf through them and be overcome by the tradition or something (or at least recognize the school's name when its coaches start calling.) Recruits, they'll pay for; reporters, they're going to beating down the door no matter what.
Quickly ... Las Vegas police officer James Manor, a former Eastern Michigan defensive back, was killed in a traffic accident last Thursday. Former San Diego State punter Brian Simnjanovski died in a one-car accident Sunday night. ... Florida's Jeff Demps is still trying to find his old stride on the track. ... Kudos to Randy Shannon for trying to limit the number of I-AA schools on Miami's schedule. ... Alabama booster Ray Keller was denied a new trial in his lawsuit accusing the NCAA of slander for describing 'Bama boosters as "parasites" and "pariahs" when hitting the Tide with sanctions in 2002. ... God has a pair of excellent publicists when Danny Wuerffel and Tim Tebow get together. ... Texas Tech's next star passer looks like the unholy union of Kyle Orton and an Irish setter (thanks for that, TSB commenter). ... The Wisconsin State Journal uses the Badgers to question the tao of offensive line starts as indicator of success. ... The lawyer for Alabama recruit Nico Johnson is confident his client will beat a misdemeanor harassment rap. ... A jersey allegedly belonging to World War I-era Texas star Len Barrell is up for auction on eBay, and looks like it's going to fetch big bucks. Hope it fits the winning bidder better than the Austin American-Statesman's model. ... And Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald and I have this in common: No ego on the golf course. (Although, in my case, that's purely hypothetical.)