Santa is sched­uled to be­gin com­ing twice a year

Rome News-Tribune - - SPORTS - NOR­MAN AREY SPORTS COLUM­NIST

Be­lieve it or not, the some­times-back­wards, out-of­date NCAA has done some­thing that I be­lieve Amer­ica will ap­prove. It has, in essence, en­abled some fans to dou­ble their plea­sure.

The col­lege czar-like or­ga­ni­za­tion has been ac­tive over the past week, com­ing up with sev­eral new rules. The gov­ern­ing body has done away with two-a-day foot­ball prac­tices for one, but the re­ally big news is that Col­lege Na­tional Sign­ing Day for foot­ball is in­tro­duc­ing a De­cem­ber date as well as keep­ing the cur­rent Fe­bru­ary date.

A player can sign on ei­ther day. And think of how happy the re­cruit­niks and lit­tle boys and girls who fol­low this stuff like re­li­gion will be. Now they can make fools of them­selves twice in a sea­son — not just once. Yes, Vir­ginia, there is a Santa Claus.

It will also change how a coach and his staff ap­proach sign­ing a player. On the sur­face, the move may take some pres­sure off the ath­lete and the school, and cer­tainly cut down on tele­phone bills and travel costs. It’s one of the most pro­gres­sive moves the NCAA has made in years and it could make the old sign­ing day a thing that is no longer the apex of the pre­sea­son.

Foot­ball

Vir­ginia Tech and Florida State will open the 2018 sea­son with a game in Tal­la­has­see on La­bor Day night, Sept. 3, on ESPN. Of course, Ge­or­gia Tech will play Ten­nessee this year at the new Mercedes-Benz Sta­dium in At­lanta on La­bor Day, Sept. 4. … The NCAA also ap­proved a new rule that col­lege foot­ball coaches can now hire a 10th coach. Hot dog, an­other way to spend money. … Many NFL ex­ec­u­tives are agree­ing that for­mer Ten­nessee quar­ter­back and aero­space en­gi­neer­ing stu­dent Joshua Dobbs could very well be the next Dak Prescott. …

Now here’s a non-ma­jor col­lege that truly has big ex­pec­ta­tions. North­ern Illi­nois has some big time op­po­nents lined up over the next two sea­sons, in­clud­ing Iowa, Brigham Young, Florida State and Utah. The coaches and play­ers keep say­ing they aren’t scared of any­one and now are go­ing out to prove it. …

Ken­tucky, which posted its first win­ning sea­son and first bowl ap­pear­ance since 2010, gave rings to their play­ers. Many fans found that ridicu­lous to give out rings for los­ing to Ge­or­gia Tech in the TaxSlayer Bowl.

Out & about

My fa­vorite golfer, John Daly hit a ball off of a beer can dur­ing an ex­hi­bi­tion in Myr­tle Beach and then picked up the beer and chugged it. … This is an amaz­ing statis­tic. The Oak­land Raiders, the long­time bad boys in the NFL, are the only pro foot­ball team who hasn’t had a team mem­ber ar­rested over the past three sea­sons. …

Jon Gru­den, the “quar­ter­back whis­perer” of the NFL, says he’d take Texas Tech’s Pa­trick Ma­homes as his first quar­ter­back if he were pick­ing in the draft. … As a sur­prise to no one, North Carolina su­per­star Justin Jack­son,a ju­nior, has de­clared for the NBA draft. Jack­son also got en­gaged over this past week­end. …

The Univer­sity of Ge­or­gia’s Yante Maten has put his name in the NBA draft, but won’t hire an agent and can re­turn to the Bulldogs if he chooses. … If you’re go­ing to buy stock in a player, I would sug­gest high school se­nior Kevin Knox, a small for­ward at Tampa Catholic High. Knox turned down $1.4 mil­lion to play a year in China be­fore he goes to col­lege. … Now the num­ber has reached six as to the num­ber of play­ers at the Univer­sity of Mem­phis who have trans­ferred with Tubby Smith as coach.

Here & there

For­mer Pur­due ath­letic di­rec­tor Mor­gan Burke sounds like my kind of guy. He be­lieves schol­ar­ship ath­letes are get­ting enough and maybe too much and doesn’t feel they should get more. …

And an­other in­ter­est­ing thing has hap­pened with the sud­den in­flux of big bucks due to tele­vi­sion. Many col­lege ath­letic booster clubs are ques­tion­ing why they are out there rais­ing money when the ath­letic de­part­ments now have plenty of money. … Chip­per Jones, re­tired Braves’ slug­ger, says the Ma­ri­etta Braves’ new ball­park should be a real show­case for home run hit­ters. … Did you re­al­ize that as late as 1980, Ma­jor

League Base­ball wel­comed its first mil­lion-dol­lar player in

Nolan Ryan? That’s chump change to­day.

Joshua Dobbs

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