Serving a mixture of preseason football and golf in this latest collections of "David’s Appetizers," assorted musings and observations from the sports scene:
University of Central Arkansas offensive lineman Austin Emerson notes that the Bears are in the usual process of coming together as a team while trying to survive preseason camp in the heat.
Often, every team that is successful needs to have two "ah-ha" moments during the season, one when everything seems to click in fall camp and the other at some point during the season (a goal-line stand, a comeback victory, an upset etc.) when everything seems to mesh.
"We’re still need to get that defining moment in camp in which the offense and defense both come out and have a great day together," Emerson said.
He said the offensive line, a mixture of youth and experience, is making progress.
"We’re slowly coming together," he said. "This offense is not easy to learn."
The Bears’ opening schedule is a challenging one with defending Ohio Valley Conference champion Eastern Illinois on the road, Murray State, coached by former Valdosta State coach Chris Hatcher, at home then Tulsa on the road.
UCA coach Clint Conque says not to discount Elizabeth City State, the Division II opening opponent who has been a regular in the D-II playoffs and shared the CIAA title last season. The D-II season opens a week before the D-I season.
"An advantage they have is they will have played a game before we do," Conque said. "They will have a chance to get game conditioning and get the kinks out. And when we were Division II, we played some Division I teams very well. I’m expecting a tough opponent."
Elizabeth City State is in northeastern North Carolina, closer to Virginia (Norfolk area) than many institutions in North Carolina. It is difficult for UCA to find Division II opponents in this region in the initial weeks of the season because most get into conference play early.
Probably in no sports is their a greater separation between the spirit of the rules and the technicality of the rules than golf.
That was graphically shown when Dustin Johnson had to hit a shot from a worn area outside the ropes that was technically a bunker in the PGA Championship, costing him a two-stroke penalty.
The technicality: The area, well-worn by spectator traffic outside the ropes, was clearly designed as one of the seemingly bazillions of bunkers at Whistling Straits. The bunker situation was specifically outlined to the players on the local rules sheet. Johnson should have known better.
That’s where the spirit of the rules conflict comes in. The rule about not planting a club in a bunker is designed so players cannot gauge the depth and firmness of the sand. However, this bunker outside the ropes was a mess and worn by traffic. Johnson inadvertently planted the club because a stream of light was bothering him. However, he didn’t need to examine the firmness of terrain in the bunker. It was hardscrabble. The fact that he had a mind-lapse and didn’t realize it was a bunker actually proves his case.
To me, the penalty was like a touch foul in basketball in the final seconds 50 feet from the basket — valid, within the technicalities of the rules but picky.
In golf, it’s like the first rule Barney Fife used to tell the prisoners in Mayberry: "Obey all rules."
Those who regular cover the Razorbacks will tell you how Hog coaches and officials, like most major colleges nowadays, try to control (and sometimes limit the message and how it is presented).
The media usually get 20 to 30 minutes on specified days alternately with coach Bobby Petrino and his coordinators. Everyone gets the same shot and the same message.
The control is graphically shown by the practice approach. The television cameras get about 10 minutes at the beginning of practice, and the video we see from all TV stations are an endless and cliche series of calisthenics, tackling dummy drills and guys throwing a football like they were in the backyard. There is no live action. The reason is the coaches don’t want formations or personnel packages being readily available on video to opponents.
What we get is canned video that is the only available video the television stations have to illustrate a story.
It’s that way at many, if not most, of the major conferences.
It’s one way modern technology and quick and multiple means of communications can be a negative for news organizations.
(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 505-1235 or firstname.lastname@example.org)