Some quick thoughts as we feel the initial breezes from the upcoming onslaught of football season:

AGENTS

Just like in any profession, there are good agents and there are bad ones.

As college football continues as a big business and there is more and more money floating about, more and more people are wanting a piece of the pie. The modern athlete has to be more and more discerning about who is trying to help him and who is trying to use him. The difference is whether the agent is trying to help the prospect through the treacherous waters of finance, money management and contract negotiation or whether the agent is trying to increase his coffers, build his image or both.

The growing feeding-frenzy with agents was a major topic at the SEC Media Days. One key is education to athletes, parents and coaches. Another key is limiting access and careful monitoring of how the agent goes about his business.

Now that you can find national rankings of middle-school football players, it’s an issue that is not going to go away.

RYAN MALLETT

In Birmingham, the Razorback quarterback certainly acted the role of a committed team leader, displayed the proper demeanor and said all the right things.

His teammates expressed a lot of confidence in the person who has created the most excitement for Razorback football in decades.

Physical attributes aside, it’s easy to see why almost every observer feels he’s something special.

He and his receivers are a deep ball away from changing the dynamics of any game.

SEC WEST

Many fans and prognosticators, with a lot of justification, expect the Arkansas-Alabama game to decide the SEC West title.

I think the Georgia game in Athens may be the biggest on the Hogs’ as far as setting the tone for the rest of the season. To be among the West contenders, the Hogs must go at least 1-1 in that back-to-back stretch. If they defeat Georgia, they’ll have great momentum for the Alabama game. Defeat Alabama, and the Hogs are in the driver’s seat. Lose, and it’s no disaster. If the Razorbacks lose to Georgia, Alabama becomes pretty much a must-win.

I also think Mississippi State will be a dangerous team.

THE SOUTHLAND

Southland Conference Media Day is Wednesday in Lake Charles. The preseason predictions by coaches and sports information directors will be released at that time.

It’ll be stunning if anybody but Stephen F. Austin and McNeese will be ranked at the top — in that order. SFA is the only team in the league that returns a quarterback (and a good one) with appreciable experience.

Behind SFA and McNeese, it’ll be a free for all. Every team has inexperience at quarterback and its upside and downside. 

The major challenger to SFA and McNeese could depend on which other team has the best defense.

BOBBY JOHNSON

The retired Vanderbilt coach was probably the best coach in a major conference with not much of a record to show for it.

He lost 66 SEC games. Twenty-six of those were by seven points or fewer.

That’s amazing record in the SEC. It’s even more amazing at Vanderbilt.

(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 505-1235 or david.mccollum@thecabin.net)