AUBURN, Ala. -- So football season is open for business.
Finally. Thankfully. Mercifully.
College football is now a 12-month, around-the-clock storyline -- for better or for worse. Sadly, more often than not, it's definitely worse.
Can I get a reprieve from hearing the words "suspensions," "arrested," "dismissed from the program" and anything having to do with Jerry Sandusky? Just for a little while. You know, like, the next four months. I'm not asking much.
It's been a tumultuous 2012 so far in the land of War Eagle, to say the least. Auburn has seen the exodus of Michael Dyer, Jonathan Rose, Zeke Pike and Jovon Robinson, the slayings of former players Ed Christian and Ladarious Phillips, the indefinite suspensions of DeAngelo Benton and Reese Dismukes.
At least Aubie the Tiger kept his nose clean. To our knowledge.
Thank goodness football season's here.
Wait, is that the rest of the SEC I hear snickering? Maybe check your mirror, LSU and Tennessee. Tyrann Mathieu and Da'Rick Rogers decided messing with drugs was more important than the fun, fame, power and potential future fortune handed to a high-profile Division I athlete excelling in the nation's premier conference.
Laugh at Auburn, will you, Georgia? Is there anybody in your secondary who wasn't suspended this offseason?
It's not just the traditional big boys. Mississippi State was just revealed to have drawn the NCAA's attention for potential recruiting violations, a few days after wide receivers coach Angelo Mirando mysteriously resigned. Now MSU is weeding out boosters who may have contributed to what will likely follow with sanctions.
Thank goodness football season's here.
Now comes the part when the rest of the country expresses contempt for the SEC -- "we may not win national championships, but at least we do it the right way."
Oh, oh really, Ohio State? Where might the Buckeyes be vacationing in December, seeing as there won't be a bowl for which to prepare? The Jim Tressel and Terrelle Pryor tattoo cover-up cost the Buckeyes a go at the postseason this year.
You know times are strange when USC is a beacon of self-cleansing out of its own probation. The Trojans have Matt Barkley, begin the year ranked No. 1 nationally (where they should remain, in a so-so conference) and can actually go bowling again for the first time since before Pete Carroll fled the premises. Scrub-a-dub-dub.
Notre Dame may have fallen out of perennial relevance, but at least the Fighting Irish only write negative headlines for on-field misconduct, right? Well, not this week when its radio color commentator, Allen Pinkett, suggested on 670 The Score in Chicago that the Irish didn't recruit enough criminals. Coach Brian Kelly was appalled by Pinkett's statements, which got him thrown out of the booth for Saturday's game against Navy in Ireland. Kelly and Pinkett were just on the same puddle-jumper to Dublin for eight hours, and didn't speak. Hashtag, #Awkward.
Mathieu wasn't the only Heisman finalist with some misdeeds. Wisconsin running back Montee Ball stayed in school (admirable) but was entangled in a summer of shenanigans between getting ticketed at the Mifflin Street Block Party, being reported to be connected to a fight at a house party the night after Big Ten Media Days, and then getting assaulted by five vagabonds when returning home in the wee hours of a Wednesday earlier this month. Bet nobody will be happier for kickoff to hurry up and get here than Ball except maybe his coach, Bret Bielema.
Oh, yeah, Bielema, he of two straight Rose Bowl berths (albeit, both heart-breaking losses), had his own sniping with Urban Meyer. Something about Meyer poaching Bielema's recruits or maybe Meyer wanted to disallow @BretBielema from tweeting during press conferences. I can't quite recall. It's all running together.
Missouri in the SEC. West Virginia in the Big XII. Boise State and San Diego State on their way to the Big East. Call me when that geographically makes sense. You might need to load me up with an Alabama slammer or seven beforehand.
I feel like I'm forgetting something oh, well, there was that little storyline up north. In a place known as Happy Valley, if you can still call it that.
So yeah. Kick it off already.
Let's get back to football stories where an actual football is involved.
Aaron Brenner, firstname.lastname@example.org