Jim McBride’s four items of interest on this week’s college football landscape:
Send in Clowney
Well, it’s great to hear that Jadeveon Clowney is “fully committed” to playing the rest of the season for the South Carolina. College football is more fun with him in it, and he’d be risking millions being only half-committed. The powerful defensive end and consensus No. 1 pick in April’s draft missed last week’s win with a strained muscle near his rib cage. His absence sent Gamecock fans into a frenzy, and a firestorm ensued when coach Steve Spurrier told reporters, “If he doesn’t want to play, he doesn’t have to play. Simple as that.” The old ball coach’s comments seemed to imply that Clowney could have played but chose not to. Spurrier softened this week, saying he was only upset that proper injury protocol was not followed. Clowney, who appeared out of shape early in the season, said he will “take care of business on the field” when he’s healthy.
Biting on the fake
Washington coach Steve Sarkisian did not cover himself in glory after his team’s tough 31-28 loss to Stanford. Immediately after the game, Sarkisian accused Cardinal players of faking injuries to milk the clock. “I guess that’s how we play at Stanford, so we’ll have to prepare for that next time,” he said. The heat-of-the-moment comments smacked of sour grapes; it sure looked like everything was on the up and up. I fully expected Sarkisian to apologize for the emotional outburst. He didn’t. Stanford coach David Shaw waited two days before striking back. “We don’t fake injuries,” he said. “We never have and never will.” The mild-mannered Shaw also correctly pointed out that current Sarkisian assistant Tosh Lupoi was suspended a game for telling his players to fake injuries when he was a Cal assistant in 2010.
Oregon gets a lot of ink for its offensive prowess — and rightfully so. The Ducks are averaging 59.2 points and 630.4 yards per game as QB Marcus Mariota and friends continue to blitzkreig their way through the Pac-12 despite the defection of Chip Kelly to the NFL. But there’s a team flying under the radar that’s posing even bigger numbers. The 4-0 Baylor Bears rank No. 1 in ppg (70.5) and ypg (779.5). Those are not typos. Leading the way for coach Art Briles’s club are QB Bryce “Don’t call me RGIII” Petty and tailback Lache Seastrunk. Petty leads the nation in yards per completion at 20.12 and he’s averaging 52.1 yards on his 10 TD passes. Seastrunk tops the Big 12 with 589 rushing yards and has rumbled for 10-plus yards on 20 of his 53 rushes. What’s more impressive is that neither Petty nor Seastrunk plays the whole game because Briles calls off the dogs early.
This week’s Bad Guy Award goes to Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola, who ruined a field trip to Lambeau Field for the University of Wisconsin band. Raiola is accused of making obscene gestures and hurling homophic remarks toward the band as it played. There are conflicting reports about what happened, but at least some of the story is true because Raiola apologized (“My interaction with the Wisconsin band was inappropriate’’) and he has promised to donate to the band. A day after his mea culpa, Raiola denied using a gay slur and also said “probably 95 percent [of the band members] were jawing back and forth’’ with him. Raiola has a history of bad behavior, twice being fined for inappropriate interaction with fans. I bet 95 percent of those band members wish they had stuck to performing “On, Wisconsin’’ at Camp Randall Stadium.