It's the end of Talking Season, that dreaded period when there are no practice reports, updated rosters, or video clips of offensive linemen pushing stuff around, when all we have to sustain us are players in suits and coaches at podiums talking about hope springing eternal.
Now it's time for prognosticators to hate your team and overrate your rival. So while we stew on that, let us look back on the summer of our discontent, the time when a cleverly worded jab could make us feel alive. It's like noted college football analyst Taylor Swift once said: "Say it in the street, that's a knock-out. But you say it in a tweet, that's a cop-out."
Let's take a look at the offseason's best cheap shots, cop-outs... and even a couple of cops.
First name best, last name ever
Clemson heard all the Alabama "best team ever" talk during the regular season and the Tigers announced on their championship rings that they've claimed that title, too, after claiming the College Football Playoff title.
They're not even mad, it's actually funny to them
Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses, whose Tide team lost 44-16 to Clemson in the College Football Playoff National Championship, says Clemson wasn't the best team he had faced last year.
"It was more preparation," Moses said of Clemson's win. "I wouldn't say they were a better team." Instead, Georgia was "definitely the hardest team I have played in college," he said.
Clemson players could empathize. Both Justyn Ross and K'Von Wallace said they thought Texas A&M, not Alabama, was the best team they had played.
Clemson and Alabama have split the past four national championship games. Do these statements make the Nov. 23 game between Texas A&M and Georgia the de facto title game?
A Florida-Georgia attendance line
Florida coach Dan Mullen hinted he has tinkered with spring game attendance numbers to hide a little jab at opponents. This year, the Gators announced attendance as 39,476. The sleuths at Reddit decoded a jab at Georgia: It has been 39 years (476 games) since the Dawgs won their previous national championship.
Kirby Smart, when asked about Mullen's stunt on Paul Finebaum's show said, "We want to talk with our helmets. We want to play a physical brand of football and not do it with our mouthpiece."
Three QBs, linked forever by Twitter
Quarterback Tate Martell was still playing for Ohio State when speculation began after the regular season that Georgia's Justin Fields could transfer to play for the Buckeyes. Martell, who famously said as a recruit in a direct message that was later leaked that he could start for Texas A&M because then-A&M quarterback Nick Starkel was "ass, my dude", tweeted sort of cryptically (but sort of not), "word of advice: don't swing and miss ... especially not your second time." When someone replied, "Is this a message to Fields?" Martell liked the tweet, before later deleting his original.
When Fields did indeed transfer to Ohio State, Martell transferred to Miami. And Starkel, who lost the starting job to Kellen Mond after Jimbo Fisher arrived, transferred to Arkansas, saying this week of Fisher, "I told him I think he made the wrong decision. And he said 'OK.' I said, 'I'm going to show you that every day at practice,' and I feel like I had the better spring ball when he first got there. And I feel like I had the better fall camp."
All three quarterbacks are eligible for their new teams this season. And Starkel and Arkansas take on Fisher and the Aggies on Sept. 28 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Brutus reminds the Wolverines that the Big Ten title game is closer
Any of your followers been to 🏎💨? pic.twitter.com/15aW4T8lbO— Brutus Buckeye (@Brutus_Buckeye) May 2, 2019
Meanwhile, this came courtesy of ... Michigan fans?
Someone hired a plane to fly a banner over a spring practice in early April that read "Hey Jim, this is God -- It's OK to pass on 1st down. Let's try it."
Maybe Brian Kelly ordered the banner?
The Notre Dame coach, interviewed on the video board during a Michigan-Notre Dame hockey game, said, "Just like in football ... halfway through the game, Michigan hasn't scored."
Update: Harbaugh says what he thinks
Jim Harbaugh said of his recently retired rival: "Urban Meyer's had a winning record. Really phenomenal record everywhere he's been," Harbaugh said on The Athletic's "The TK Show" podcast. "But also, controversy follows everywhere he's been." He defended the comments by saying, "I don't think it was anything that was new, or anything of a bombshell. ... It was me saying what I think."
'The New Miami' knows how to make an entrance
As legendary Hurricane Michael Irvin once said of disgraced Miami booster Nevin Shapiro: "The other stuff he is making easy, like boats. Dog, boats? 'Come on man, get on the boat. We are gonna go out on a boat.'"
Also, Miami defensive line coach Todd Stroud, who was a team captain and nose guard at Florida State under Bobby Bowden, visited his old coach and got him to throw up The U. Say it ain't so, Bobby.
Jimbo Fisher buys $80,000 calf, gets good burn out of it
Texas A&M's coach bought a 3-month-old calf with prized bloodlines from 44 Farms in Texas for $80,000 for his West Virginia ranch. At a coach's night function, an attendee asked what kind of cow he'd purchased for that sum. "Angus," Fisher said. "Angus cows. I wasn't gonna buy no longhorn."
Speaking of ... Everybody came at Texas
Terry Bradshaw, trying to play to the Louisiana Tech faithful before the Bulldogs play at Texas on Aug. 31 to open the season, said of Longhorns quarterback Sam Ehlinger, "He ain't that good."
Baker Mayfield, Austinite and Sooner great, dropped the ultimate Texas smack when he taunted Ehlinger's high school career at Austin Westlake, the rival of Mayfield's alma mater. "He couldn't beat Lake Travis, so I don't really care," Mayfield said. "He doesn't like me, and I hope he knows I don't like him either."
And then there was NYPD Highway, which found a motorist trying to game the HOV lanes with a "passenger" wearing a Texas sweatshirt. First, it invoked the Texas A&M police, posting a Horns Down GIF, then after a fan complained, they trolled on.
Speaking of Horns Down
West Virginia, which was penalized for doing the Horns Down sign twice during last season's victory over Texas in Austin, went ahead and made the gesture semi-permanent on the schedule on their wall.
A good night's rest in Norman
Asked which Big 12 teams keep him up at night, Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley (who has won four straight Big 12 titles as offensive coordinator and head coach) said, "None of 'em."
This keeps me up at night
To appease the disappointed media members after Clemson did not bring quarterback Trevor Lawrence to ACC media days, Clemson offensive lineman John Simpson wore a blonde wig.
John "Trevor Lawrence" Simpson has arrived at ACC Media Day. Amazing. pic.twitter.com/yWHsUplqtn— That's so David (@ADavidHaleJoint) July 17, 2019
Play 'Tusk' next!
Lane Kiffin has been somewhat quiet recently, but maybe he is just letting his practice music do the talking. Florida Atlantic opened its first day of practice with "Rocky Top," followed by "Sweet Home Alabama."
Recruiting never stops, apparently
Missouri coach Barry Odom, whose program was hit with a postseason ban after academic violations involving an athletics department tutor, isn't a fan of other SEC teams openly recruiting his players, who would be immediately eligible.
"Who'd we beat 51-17 this year? Tennessee? Yeah, those guys. They are non-stop reaching out daily (saying), 'Hey, come here.'" Odom told CBS Sports. "The grass is not always greener somewhere else."
Odom has since said he talked to Vols coach Jeremy Pruitt and sorted things out.
"Yeah we're OK," Odom said. "Everybody is a competitor and wants to build their team as good as you can build it. When you've got good players, that's a good thing."