If you ever needed proof that time is relative, look no further than the week before college football starts back. Time has slowed down to an intolerable crawl, and even the baseball highlights are getting recycled into an unimaginative mash of “Stephen Strasburn hurt his arm OMG!!11!!one!!” Look, I might be the only writer on this blog who likes baseball, and I find that uninteresting. The season starts in a little more than a day (It’s about midnight here on the East Coast) and all the preview magazines and articles have exhausted their sources and their readers. As a result, all we have is this awesome news flash out of Alabama: Mark Ingram will miss the Tide’s first game!
Look, it was well known that Ingram’s cohort at tailback, Trent Richardson, will be getting several carries this year, and since ‘Bama’s first game is against San Jose State, it’s not like it really matters. The AP article on Ingram’s surgery (the above link that isn’t about special relativity) states that Ingram’s surgery could have an impact on his chances of repeating as the Heisman winner. Really? The Heisman voters are going to look at the San Jose State game as relevant to Ingram’s Heisman shot? Considering that Alabama has Penn State, Arkansas, Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ole Miss, LSU, Mississippi State, and Auburn left on its schedule, I think Ingram will be OK. Oh, and if cupcake touchdowns really are a concern for Ingram and the Tide, they still have Duke and Georgia State on the schedule as well. For my money, I’d look at the games against even halfway decent foes as a heck of a lot more important than whatever Ingram does (or doesn’t do) against San Jose State.
Perhaps you’re wondering why I’m treating the surgery with such a nonchalant attitude. The reasons are twofold:
1) As mentioned above, Ingram’s backup is a danged fine running back in his own right. If this is a really serious issue, then Richardson could still easily step in and have a crushingly good season. Need proof? Look no further than this guy, who took over for a 1,000 yard rusher and turned into a 1,000 yard rusher. Yeah, the SEC defenses are better than ACC defenses, but if Alabama’s as good as everyone (including me!) thinks they are, then it shouldn’t matter. You’d have to be a blithering idiot to say that Alabama won the National Championship solely because of Mark Ingram, and his loss shouldn’t immediately stamp out all hope that the Tide can repeat (though it now provides a convenient excuse for the devil Nick Saban should he fail to win).
2) The second reason that the Ingram injury shouldn’t create too much of a panic is this: He’s been hurt once or twice before, and he’s recovered admirably. According to this nifty post, he was hurt slightly in the Auburn game last season, which didn’t stop him from scoring 3 touchdowns against Florida the next week. Like all running backs, he misses at least 4 or 5 plays per game with stingers and bruises, but he still proved outstanding in most of his games last season. Surgery’s a bit more important than a little knee stinger, but still, let’s not go crazy. Nick Saban is evil, but he’s smart. He wouldn’t have allowed Ingram to go under the knife this close to the season (and the big early game against Penn State) without knowing that Ingram will recover in time or having a backup plan. Since that backup plan includes the other guy named as the All-SEC preseason running back, I venture to say that Nick isn’t losing too much sleep over the whole affair.
In conclusion, this whole story really isn’t one until next week. At this juncture, it’s just a nuisance to football fans who just want the dang season to start. Alabama will not lose to San Jose State with or without Mark Ingram, and they’ll still be favored to beat Penn State if he has to sit out that game as well. And if Ingram’s absence does allow SJSU to defeat the Crimson Tide, then I will boil and eat my own favorite Virginia Tech hat as penance for my sins as a blogger. Until then, let’s all eagerly await the spate of fairly mediocre games headed our way on Thursday…