Of kickoffs and curses

The first day of the best month of the year (my birthday, my stepdaughter's birthday, college football, baseball pennant races) is just about in the books, so a few reflections:

The biggest news of the first full day of college football is arguably Penn State's loss to Ohio. From a football standpoint, Ohio is a fine team. Penn State, of course, lost 10 players, including star running back Silas Redd, in the wake of an offseason from hell. I admire those players who stayed, and I don't fault those who left. But I am tired of hearing of how the program has suffered.

A football program, even a proud, tradition-steeped one in a once-idyllic place called Happy Valley, doesn't suffer. It can struggle, and it can be tested, and it can feel put upon. But save the language of suffering for the victims of a monster said program harbored for decades. So the team will be lucky to win six games and the name of its legendary coach has been forever tarnished. The latter statement is sad. It is not tragic. Tragedy is innocence stolen and gazes averted. Spare me the bent knees and skyward eyes. Penn State will be fine in a few years. Can the same be said for Jerry Sandusky's victims?

On a much lighter note, some early messages were sent in college football's first weekend. The first, on Thursday night, is that the Chicken Curse is real. 

For the uninitiated, the Chicken Curse is what caused a No. 2-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks team to inexplicably lose to Navy in 1984 and a host of other calamities, including the sudden death of a beloved coach. It is real and not to be mocked. It tried to rip Connor Shaw's right shoulder from its socket on Thursday night at Vanderbilt and send the Gamecocks to a shocking season-opening loss that would have torpedoed any thoughts of a division title in the best football conference in the land - quiet, Big Ten, and talk to me in November, Pac 12 or 14 or 22 or whatever you are these days. But Shaw gritted his teeth, glued his arm back on, and led the Gamecocks to a 17-13 win that was no-alibi U-G-L-Y but kept my alma mater in the top 10 discussion - at least until the next time it commits two turnovers in its first three plays.  

Other impressions left during Week 1:

Michigan was ranked No. 8 ... why, exactly? And Alabama ... is good.

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy may be a MAN (google his name and speech or upset) but his Cowboys' schedule, opening with an 84-0 drubbing of woeful Savannah State, is not.

David Feherty as a sideline reporter may be the most brilliant idea - well, ever. Too bad the Notre Dame-Navy game in no way lived up to the hype, or to Feherty's suit.

Oregon's uniforms this season really aren't terrible. That is a shade of green that doesn't make my corneas bleed.

Maryland's 7-6 win against William and Mary may well mean the Terrapins are terr-able. It may also illustrate the ever-narrowing gap between Division I and I-AA (ha! it's my blog! I don't have to say FBS and FCS, which was always a bunch of BS) programs as scholarships limits and trickle-down talent continue to manifest results. 

Oh hey, UTEP (shoutout to Ray Wurm) is tied 7-7 with Oklahoma. Gotta run