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NORMAN AREY COLUMN: Light at the end of the football tunnel is visible

Norman Arey

Norman Arey is an award-winning journalist and a columnist for the Rome News-Tribune. He can be reached at NArey@RN‑T.com.

I just saw the light at the end of the dark tunnel today. College football will, indeed, return and not too far into the future. I saw that Street & Smith will publish again, the sports magazine of my youth. Athlon Sports came out with their Top 25 for next fall. I wish the Athlon list were a little bit more exciting and unpredictable, but it is probably about what it should be.

No surprise that Alabama was No. 1, Ohio State second, Florida State third, Washington fourth, and Southern Cal rounded out the top five. Following were Penn State, Clemson, Oklahoma, Auburn and Michigan. Georgia was rated No 15, Florida was one behind the Bulldogs and Notre Dame came in overrated again at 20th.

And here’s an extra-added treat. Draft czar Mel Kiper Jr. listed the top quarterbacks for next year. According to The Kiper Man, the top seniors, in order, are Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph, Washington State’s Luke Falk and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield.

The top underclassmen included Southern Cal’s Sam Darnold, Wyoming’s Josh Allen, UCLA’s Josh Rosen and the reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson of Louisville.

Braves

First the Gwinnett Braves are holding a contest to change the team’s nickname to something other than the Braves. I don’t know why. That’s a pretty good nickname and obviously Atlanta, oops I mean Cobb County, likes it enough that all the minor league teams have the nickname — Mississippi, Danville and Rome.

But what all of this really does is give me a good reason to throw a tantrum that the big club abandoned Atlanta and moved to Cobb County.

Why everyone still calls them the Atlanta Braves puzzles me. I lived in Atlanta in the early ’60s and when the announcement came that the Milwaukee Braves were moving to our own Georgia capital, let me tell you that nothing anybody in the city had ever heard topped that announcement.

This was before the Falcons and the Hawks and all the ensuing pro teams but none carried the wallop that the Braves did. Maybe it was because the Braves were first, but that gave the largest city in the South the additional label of international city. I mean, that was big leagues. Major League Baseball had come to Atlanta and sent it on its way to becoming a truly influential city, just as the airport did when we beat out Birmingham, although sometimes I wish Birmingham had won that one. But believe me there was nothing more exciting than watching the powers-that-be in Atlanta put together the finances, the land, the plans, the builder, and the community to pull together to raise a major league stadium in less than 365 days. It was a miracle. My point, which got lost, is that I’m resentful as hell of the Braves leaving Atlanta and moving to the suburbs. Atlanta may have deserved it, but I will never feel the same about the Atlanta Braves. There’s just something that lacks cache in saying Cobb County Braves because forever and forever, the Braves belong to Atlanta.

Other stuff

Rio’s reputation continues to take a beating a year after the Olympics ended there. The medals given to the winners are literally coming apart. The IOC and Rio are working together on a plan to replace the defective ones. ... The NBA’s plan for parity is taking a beating with the lopsided playoff games. ... When the Nashville Predators of the NHL won their way into the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in their history this week, the excited fans threw dead catfish on the ice. Hey! They’re new at this.

Name of the week

Zadock Dinkelmann, a quarterback, signed with BYU. Dinkelmann is the nephew of former Heisman Award-winning quarterback Ty Detmer, who also attended BYU.

Out & about

My favorite announcer, Dick Vitale, has had his contract with ESPN renewed through 2020. Vitale, one of the most colorful of college basketball analysts, has been with the four-letter network since 1979. ... CBS has published its pre-season college basketball poll and Arizona is the surprise at No. 1. ... LSU running back Lanard Fournette, the younger brother of Leonard Fournette, was charged with illegal gambling in a casino in Baton Rouge. ... And finally Jim Harbaugh is in the news again. The Wolverine coach helped deliver a calf while touring a farm in Michigan. Some guys will do anything to see their name in the news.

Norman Arey is an award-winning journalist and a columnist for the Rome News-Tribune. He can be reached at NArey@RN‑T.com.