Most major college football programs run through a goofball annual rite in which they hold a scrimmage that counts for jack shit and yet warrants its own title. At the spring game, the intrasquad “teams,” usually named with all the imagination you’d apply to ordering a sweatshirt, play under almost lifelike conditions, especially in such
desperate cultural wastelands football hotbeds as Columbus and Tuscaloosa, where tens of thousands of people turn out to watch this cleated pillow fight.
On Saturday four dozen teams held their spring games, to varying degrees of give-a-rip. The main goal everywhere is not to get hurt. The second goal is not to hurt anyone. This leads to a product on the field that looks like football yet tastes like Special K. Watch, for instance, a referee whistle a play dead today because Nick Saban is on the field. Or more precisely, hovering in the backfield.
Coaches may learn something from these practices, as they are, in fact, big open practices. But they’re not going to tell or show you much because, you know, they’re big open practices. They’re also four or five months before the season. The only person who seems to know what’s up is Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez, who exploded the concept and reassembled it as weird sort of open house crossed with backyard wrestling, in which fans sub in for players.
Media aren’t entirely sure how to treat this ritual. Certainly, if you’re the Big Ten Network you’re conscripted to narrate the goings-on, maybe with even a hint of enthusiasm in your voice. Take for instance this goosebumpless highlight from the Ohio State tilt between Scarlet and Gray.
Gray won 28-17. No tattoos for Scarlet.
Everyone not held captive by broadcast contracts are, far as I can tell, totally over it. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly gave the game ball to his punter, and said afterward, “I guess that’s a good thing in the spring game — your punter won the MVP of the game.” Tennessee ran a bunch of drills and mini-games that did nothing to explain what the team will be about next year. Observed CBS Sports: “Talent and ability isn’t the question for the Vols this year; learning how to finish games is the key, and we won’t know if they’ve improved in that regard until the season.” The liveblog by Dawgnation, out of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, concluded with this pithy capsule: “G-Day ends with Georgia defeating Georgia, 34-14.”
Other results from around the country: White beat Red 46-41, Maroon beat White 6-2, White beat Crimson 7-3, Orange beat White 70-63, White beat Black 54-51, Red beat Blue 45-35, Gold beat Maroon 25-17, Blue beat Gold 17-10, Green beat Orange 24-7, Purple beat White 17-7, and the season is only 20 weeks away.