As September’s sun begins to bless my garden, I find that my orchids are about to drown and my onion patch is mighty soggy. So far this year we have more than 21 inches of rain than is normal and a wet August – three inches more than normal – didn’t help matters. But don’t worry … I still have enough to pass out on the first week of college football to those who I think deserve them:
AN ORCHID to Baker Mayfield, who just might have earned a scholarship after the true freshman threw four touchdown passes to lead Texas Tech to a 41-23 win over SMU Friday night. It is believed that Mayfield – who ran for another TD -- is the first non-scholarship freshman to ever start at quarterback in the first game during the BCS era. We already know his coach, Kliff Kingsbury, is the youngest head coach in the nation at 34. (Penn State started true freshman Christian Hackenberg against Syracuse on Saturday but Hackenburg – on scholarship since January – was one of the most widely-recruited high school players in the country last year.)
AN ONION to my Mocs football team for losing the season opener to a good UT-Martin team but it is believed a football team learns more between the first and second game than at any other point during the year. Let’s hope the Thursday night wake-up call will serve as an impetus for the rest of the season.
AN ORCHID to North Dakota State, last year’s FCS champion, for upsetting mighty Kansas State on Friday night. Kansas State, flirting for No. 1 in the late-season polls last year while winning a share of the Big 12 crown, had a measly 55 yards rushing in the humiliating 24-21 loss. (To further heighten the embarrassment, Kansas State unveiled a huge statue of head coach Bill Snyder on Friday.)
AN ONION to the New England Patriots for cutting former Heisman winner Tim Tebow. I would have kept him on the roster as a team leader. Owner Kraft felt the same way, saying earlier in the week, “I’m rooting for him big time,” Kraft said just before the Patriots’ annual kickoff gala. “I’m in his corner, but I have the privilege of letting (coach Bill Belichick) make those decisions. He has a pretty good record doing it.”
AN ORCHID to Alabama and Georgia, two SEC teams the bookies in Las Vegas say will be favored in every game this year. The oddsmakers say the same about Ohio State, Oregon and Louisville. For the record, Georgia will face four teams in the current Top 25 poll while Ohio State and Oregon will each play three teams now rated. Alabama will face two and Louisville has none. (Alabama is favored by 20 points in every game except the Texas A&M match-up on Sept. 14. The Tide is already a 7-point pick in that game.)
AN ONION to Florida Atlantic coach Carl Pellini, who was so addled in the closing minute of Miami’s 31-6 victory over the Owls he called for his quarterback to spike the ball on fourth down rather than try to make a meaningful play. He is dutifully embarrassed over the first-game gaffe.
AN ORCHID to the legions of hysterical Tweeters who alerted the nation Alabama ace quarterback A.J. McCarron was seen wearing a walking boot on his foot Friday night. The Crimson Tide faithful were calling for smelling salts until an exasperated Nick Saban finally cried, “The is the most famous case of ingrown toenail in history. Of course he’ll play!”
AN ONION to an undisciplined Florida team that had six players suspended for Saturday’s opener against Toledo. Two were scheduled to start but cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy and backup wide receiver Latroy Pittman reportedly failed drug tests.The other suspended players are all backups: Defensive tackles Darious Cummings and Jay-nard Bostwick and offensive lineman Quinteze Williams. It had already been announced that starting linebacker Antonio Morrison is suspended for the first two games.
AN ORCHID to the growth of college football. Last year 49.7 million people attended games and today 51 of the 120 upper-echelon BCS universities are either upgrading their stadiums or building new ones. Eleven new stadiums will be ready for the 2014 season.
AN ONION to the torn meniscus suffered by Ole Miss linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche in the stirring 39-35 win over Vanderbilt Thursday night. Denzel’s brother, Robert, was the most highly recruited high school player in the nation and picked Ole Miss so he could play with Denzel. The injured player should be out for 5-6 weeks but another player, guard Aaron Morris, hurt his ACL and is out for the season.