Guerry Clegg commentary: 'Dead of winter' for sports

sports@ledger-enquirer.comJanuary 25, 2014 

The phrase "dead of winter" has no official meaning, at least not that I could find. Freedictionary.com came the closest to describing it accurately.

"In the middle of winter, when it is very cold and dark."

That's a perfect description when it comes to describing the sports scene in this area.

The Super Bowl is next week, then football season is officially over.

The Winter Olympics are coming up, but so far there's been more discussion about security concerns in Sochi and tandem toilets than the compelling competition such as curling.

Pitchers and catchers are still three weeks away from reporting to spring training. That's comforting, but even then, the games are still another month away from starting.

I refuse to acknowledge college football recruiting as a sport unto itself. As critical as it is to maintain a strong talent base, these are still 18-year-old kids. Half of them will never be more than role players, let alone stars. Don't think so? Go back and look at Alabama's 2011 signing class. It was ranked No. 1 in the country by Rivals.com. Only 10 of the 22 players signed that year and became full-time starters. Five are reserves who probably never will start. Seven are no longer with the team.

And that's a productive class. By the way, Georgia's "Dream Team" class of 2011, considered by many to have been a bust, produced 13 starters or top producers. That doesn't include two starters, Isaiah Crowell and Nick Marshall, who were kicked off the team. Perhaps the most productive Bulldog from that class was also one of the most lightly regarded coming out of high school. David Andrews was a not considered a blue chip recruit. He's entering his third year as the starting center and unanimously considered the Dogs' most valuable offensive lineman.

Of course, it's basketball season. But there's no passion for either college hoops here like there is for college football. It doesn't help that none of our local schools are any better than average. Georgia is the only one with a winning conference record at 4-1 going into Saturday's game. The Bulldogs are a program on the upswing. But it's still pretty doubtful that they will make the NCAA tournament in March. Alabama was 2-3 and Auburn 0-5 in the SEC going into Saturday, and Georgia Tech was 2-4 in the ACC.

Columbus State men's program hasn't been the same since Herbert Greene retired. No knock on Robert Moore, but the Cougars are neither as talented nor as exciting as they were under Greene.

The NBA regular season is boring enough given that only a handful of games actually mean anything. The Atlanta Hawks are the poster children for boring. They are tied for the third-best record in the Eastern Conference. But the gap between them and the top two, the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat, is enormous.

The Hawks will make the playoffs and might even win a meaningless series before getting bounced by the Pacers or the Heat. They'd be better off being wretched so they'd at least have a chance to draft high and get a franchise player.

Then again, the last time they tried that approach, they drafted Marvin Williams instead of Chris Paul.

Thankfully, the internet has provided some measure of hope in a new website:

www.SpringTrainingCountdown.com

Just 17 days until pitchers and catchers report. Then the sports year will show signs of new life.

-- Guerry Clegg is an independent columnist. He can be reached at sports@ledger-enquirer.com.

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