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Anchor Drop, August 9, 2019: 22 Days to Kickoff

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Another full pads practice report, and Trent Sherfield scores a touchdown.

NCAA Football: Tennessee State at Vanderbilt Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning.

We’re now 22 days away from Vanderbilt football’s season opener against Georgia. #22 for the Commodores is safety Austin Quillen. A 5’11”, 195-pound redshirt junior from Jenks, Oklahoma, Quillen has played in twelve games over the past two years and notched two tackles.

Vanderbilt had its second full-pads practice of fall camp on Thursday, and you can read about it in this report.

Over at vucommodores.com, Tyler Kepner writes about the time that Vanderbilt ruined Georgia’s homecoming in 1994. (A weird, fun fact: Vanderbilt has beaten Georgia four times since 1994, and three of those wins have been in Athens, and probably all three of those were Georgia’s homecoming game.)

And finally... here’s Trent Sherfield catching a touchdown pass in a preseason game last night.

Off the West End

Another day, another stupid Internet debate that I will wade into. Is the offseason over yet?

Yesterday, we learned that Clemson will not give a national championship ring to Missouri QB Kelly Bryant, because Dabo Swinney will be deep in the cold, cold ground before he recognizes Missourah. Wait, that’s not it.

“He wasn’t on the team. You’ve gotta be on the team to get a ring,” Swinney told ESPN. “I love Kelly and appreciate what he did for us, but he decided to move on.”

This actually sounds completely and totally logical. Except in the modern world of writing about college sports, where the NCAA and coaches are evil and the athletes can do no wrong.

It’s very arguable the team doesn’t go undefeated without Bryant’s 12-for-17, 205-yard performance against Texas A&M in a 28-26 Week 2 win, a game in which freshman wunderkind Trevor Lawrence struggled at times. Without that win, Clemson possibly doesn’t even make the playoffs.

Of course, Swinney still chose to name Lawrence the full-time starter two weeks later, a decision that was fully vindicated in January when Lawrence torched Alabama in the national championship game. Bryant reacted by opting to transfer midseason, eventually ending up at Missouri where he won’t be eligible for the postseason in his senior year.

Because of that decision to further his career rather than stay with a team that would have likely kept him on the bench until he graduated, Bryant’s contribution to Clemson’s championship was apparently forfeit. It might not be a popular decision, but Lord knows that Swinney has gladly dug his heels into unpopular opinions before.

First off: there is a very, very good chance that had Clemson lost to Texas A&M, the Tigers would have made the College Football Playoff anyway. There would have been a spirited debate between Clemson, Georgia, and Ohio State, but Georgia had two losses, and Ohio State’s one loss was by 29 points to 6-6 Purdue. So, yeah, while that’s a valid point, it’s also probably wrong.

The other problem with this argument is that while leaving the team after four games — thus qualifying for a redshirt under the new rule and preserving his final year of eligibility — was undoubtedly in the best interest of Kelly Bryant, it also wasn’t in the best interest of the Clemson football team. Literally a week later, when Lawrence went out with an injury against Syracuse, it would have been great to have Bryant available to come on in relief. Clemson also barely survived that game, and lucked out that Lawrence didn’t miss any additional time.

I realize that in our newly-woke era where student-athletes are to do what’s in their best interests because the schools don’t really care about them, at least once they’re no longer useful to the football program, you’re not supposed to say things like this — except that when it comes to whether you get a championship ring or not, that’s one place where it’s literally all about the team. And if you quit the team four games into the season because you believed it was in your interests as a student-athlete to quit the team and go somewhere else... well, uh, why are you suddenly a member of the team when it comes to getting a championship ring?

(And, no, this isn’t comparable to professional teams awarding rings to players who were traded or cut in the middle of the season, in that those players didn’t have a choice in whether they continued to be a member of the team or not.)

I wouldn’t really care if Swinney had decided to award a ring to Bryant for his contributions. But I also totally understand why he doesn’t think a player who bailed on the team four games in shouldn’t get one. And again with the “but unpaid players and best interests!” This is the one place where it’s all about the team.

Scoreboard

MLB: Yankees 12, Blue Jays 6 ... Red Sox 3, Angels 0 ... Marlins 9, Braves 2 ... Tigers 10, Royals 8 ... Cubs 12, Reds 5 ... Indians 7, Twins 5 ... Giants 5, Phillies 0 ... Padres 9, Rockies 3.

NFL Preseason: Browns 30, Redskins 10 ... Titans 27, Eagles 10 ... Bills 24, Colts 16 ... Patriots 31, Lions 3 ... Ravens 29, Jaguars 0 ... Giants 31, Jets 22 ... Dolphins 34, Falcons 27 ... Panthers 23, Bears 13... Packers 28, Texans 26 ... Cardinals 17, Chargers 13 ... Seahawks 22, Broncos 14.

PGA Tour: In the first leg of the FedExCup finals, Troy Merritt leads the Northern Trust Open after one round.