March 2012

College football is back -- sort of

Spring practice convenes on campus

The rest of the country is talking about March Madness, but die-hard college football fans are more interested in spring practice, which is taking place at schools across the country. Coaches are discovering which players are ready to step up into starting roles in the fall and fans are getting a sneak peak of their teams after a long winter without college football.

But, how much do coaches and fans really learn about their team during spring practice? Heralded freshman players aren’t even on campus yet—unless they enrolled early (a growing trend at the nation’s top schools). Spring practice is beneficial in getting the players back in the football mindset after a few months off. Sure, they’ve been working out and participating in unofficial activities, but spring practice allows the team to convene regularly, preparing them for the more rigorous two-a-days that take place during the summer.

Manning Signs With Broncos

Where Does That Leave Tebow?

Tebow-mania in Denver has come to an end. Peyton Manning, the league’s hottest free agent this offseason, was introduced as a Denver Bronco on Tuesday, ending weeks of speculation on where the former Indianapolis Colt would end up. ESPN reports that Manning will earn $20 million a year in the 2012 and 2013 seasons, provided he pass a physical 10 days before the season begins.

The Manning signing illustrates how the Broncos’ front office, which includes John Elway, simply couldn’t commit to untraditional Tim Tebow as its long-term quarterback. Tebow was the talk of the NFL last season, leading the Broncos to thrilling come-from-behind victories, including a first-round playoff win against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Despite promises to build an offense around Tebow during the offseason, the Broncos wanted a more traditional quarterback, a la Elway, and Manning is their guy.

NFL Moves During Free Agency

Who Switched Teams This Week?

The free agency period in the NFL is in full swing, and the talk of the league is where Peyton Manning will end up, as we discussed last week. As of Thursday morning, Manning has yet to ink a deal with a team—however, ESPN reports that he met with the Tennessee Titans for more than eight hours on Wednesday. Word is that the Broncos, Cardinals, and Dolphins are still in the running.

Manning isn’t the only NFL player making moves during this offseason. Here’s a rundown of some notable free agent moves this week:

Manning and the Colts Part Ways

The Peyton Sweepstakes Begins

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last 24 hours, you know that the Indianapolis Colts released Peyton Manning yesterday, his professional home for the last 14 years. Following the tearful press conference, Manning becomes a free agent today once he clears waivers. Despite his age (36), which is ancient in NFL years, Manning is a hot commodity. Landing Manning is a risky move, however, given his age and recent injury that required three surgeries. He hasn’t played football in more than a year, so whatever team lands him truly won’t know what they’re getting until teams report to summer camp.

The Peyton Manning Sweepstakes is similar to what we saw with Brett Favre a few years back. The storied but aging NFL QB gets released from his lifetime team but isn’t quite ready to retire. Will Manning find success at his new home, or will his age and injury show in the 2012 NFL Season?

SEC Realignment Creates New Rivalries

How Will Texas A&M and Missouri Fare in 2012?

The 2012 college football season will have a different landscape than years past, as BCS conferences experience some significant realignment. This week, we will look at the changes in the nation's top conference, the SEC, home of the last six BCS National Championships.

The SEC has some of the country's most historic rivalries; the Iron Bowl, the annual matchup of in-state rivals Auburn and Alabama, is arguably the most bitter rivalry in college sports. After all, a disgruntled Alabama fan poisoned Auburn’s famed campus trees in 2011 (though, to Alabama’s credit, the school and fans have worked closely with Auburn to remedy the crime). Fortunately, the annual Auburn-Alabama showdown won’t be affected by the SEC’s two newest members: Texas A&M and Missouri.