This whole blogging thing has some upside. For example, I could type somethings outrageous like "Charlie Weiss is the love child of Bum Phillips and the third person voted off of the first season of The Biggest Loser" or "That Lane Kiffin is a great person" and there is no real repercussion. Also, I have an outlet for my ever increasing attention to the college football firmament during the off-season. However, for the random football fan, as opposed to the 57 hearty souls that regularly read this blog, there is a difficulty associated with parsing out real news from the nonsense that we fill blogs and 'newspapers' with from January 10th until August.
So here is my random Bulldog fan's guide to the football off-season:
January - Recruiting Season. The coaches spend more time with high school player's moms than their own family. This isn't weird. The average newspaper article revolves around either one last uncommitted superstar that has marginal qualification scores or if a kid is going to keep his commitment or if the kid that has nine schools on his list will actually chose Georgia. The blogs are full of speculation and conjecture and "I heard." The coaching carousel happens this time of the year, as well. The coaching carousel can be loosely defined as Jimmy Sexton's personal playpen.
First week of February- Signing day. Players either make fan bases blindly giddy or break hearts like the cute girl from high school that keeps hooking up with the jackass. Someone shockingly changes their mind because "I just felt like my best options were at Texas U & I," meaning, I won't be behind a two time All-Conference player and will start this fall instead of red shirting.
South Carolina fans declares themselves pre-season national champions.
Rest of February - Newspapers endlessly breakdown the immediate impact of players just signed on a given team's current season. Bloggers do the same, but usually with a bit more logic behind it. This is when Mark Richt gets put on the hot seat by newspapers and blogs, because it gets creepy talking about the physique and grades of 17 and 18 year olds after a while. The idea of a playoff is endlessly debated, because the BCS is the devil.
March - The first preseason polls come out. Florida, Alabama, Southern Cal, Ohio State and Boise State/TCU/Oklahoma/Texas are always ranked in the top 5. Get over it. This is also when student athletes go stark freaking crazy and do things like drive mopeds the wrong way down alleys. Spring practice starts now. Those that opposed a college football playoff are labeled un-American because we must not like competition.
Seriously, the Gamecocks are gonna be OMG!1!1 awesome! Mark Richt has lost complete control of his team and Georgia Tech will invariably be ranked in the top 10 by someone, because, you know, the run the ball really good.
April - Spring practice concludes with spring games. G Day is a disaster because the presumptive starter at some position has a bad day. Some walk-on has a monster day. Newspaper columnists will call for said walk-on to start. Some random team from the SEC West will be the darkhorse in the SEC because someone for SI.com will decide that they just 'look' good in their spring game.
May and June - This is the worst. Nothing substantively good can happen during this time of the year. Student athletes can only become academically ineligible, get hurt in the weight room or get arrested, at least if you read the paper. They certainly don't do cool things like collect money for the needy, travel to Costa Rica to help folks, do extra team weight training or film work. They certainly don't make good grades. Mark Richt is definitely on the hot seat, yessiree. We bloggers also delve into other topics this time of the year, like the Olympics or how much of a hack Paul Finebaum is. This is also when we find out that for the 20th year in a row, the major conference that goes on the most about their 'academic acumen' will still have eleven teams in it, despite being called the Big Ten.
The only bright spot is Phil Steele releases his pre-season preview. Everyone else does, too.
South Carolina could actually be a contender in the SEC this year.
July - For the diehard fans, this is when the off-season ends. Media days usually happen the middle or end of July. This is when someone dares insult TGCPE by not writing him in for President of the United Nations. By now, freshmen have reported to campus and pre-season polls and all-conference lists are out. Tim Tebow, despite not being in college football anymore, will still be the primary topic of Florida newspapers and bloggers during this time. If you are stupid enough to still read some newspaper columnists, you will find out that Mark Richt is going to lose to Louisiana-Lafeyette, because, you know, he is too nice. You will also find out that Paul Johnson is mean enough to singlehandedly defeat the whole of the ACC.
South Carolina will be picked to finish fifth in the SEC East.
After media days, it is on. Teams report and by mid-August, we have actual football stuff to talk about.
So, we are in the middle of the toughest time of the year, but Steele's preview will be out in bit and footballs fly in about 100 days. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Let me know what I missed above in the comments.