Several folks who know me have inquired as to my mental well-being this week.
Olympic withdrawal is a terrible thing, but I carry on, even if "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" has been stuck in my head for three days after Monty Python's Eric Idle sang it at the Closing Ceremony.
Moving on is easier when there's something to move on to, and that's a new school year. The 2012-13 athletic year normally officially begins in the Daily Mining Gazette offices when the Michigan High School Athletic Association sends the annual wall calendar in its distinctive cardboard tube, but whether that arrives on time or not, there are local teams in three different prep volleyball tournaments Saturday.
High school football begins about a week and a half later, and there have been a few tweaks made to the rules worth writing about.
First of all, the "force-out" rule on passing plays, which was eliminated from pro football in 2008 and from the college game long before, has been taken out of high school football as of this season. A receiver must establish possession and both feet in-bounds regardless of whether or not a defender pushes him for a catch to count.
If a player's helmet comes off during play without being the result of a foul by the opponent, the dehelmeted player must sit out at least one play unless the dehelmetification takes place on the last play of a half or an overtime.
That goes for college football, too. Also, if a ballcarrier in the college game loses his helmet, the play must be stopped immediately.
Further, in college play, if a non-ballcarrier loses his helmet, he must cease participation in the play immediately or risk receiving a 15-yard penalty.
Under this rule, if a ballcarrier's helmet comes off with a minute or less remaining in a half and that action is the only reason the play is whistled dead, there will be a 10-second runoff. It hasn't taken long for football writers to realize that if a ballcarrier's helmet comes off with nine seconds left in a close game, the game is now over unless the offense has a timeout. And if that were to happen in an SEC game, we may have Civil War II.
Returning to prep rules changes, any hand contact below the waist of a defender can now be called as a block below the waist.
On an onside kick, the kicking team may not hit the defending team unless the ball has traveled 10 yards or unless the contact is initiated by the receiving team.
In college, kickoffs are moving to the 35-yard line and touchbacks to the 25. To prevent excessive running starts, 10 players must have a foot on or inside the 30. Also on onside kicks, a fair catch can be called for a high-bouncing one-hopper.
And finally, all visiting teams in high school football must wear predominantly white uniforms. This rule change was actually made in 2007 with an implementation for this season, which seems like great anticipation of the ridiculousness to come.
One of many noxious developments in the college game recently are what we'll call stunt uniforms. Oregon has been doing this for years.
As Nike's guinea pig, they've been handed gear in colors that haven't even been invented yet and enough writers, recruits and television viewers have been stunned into submission enough to make the practice acceptable nationwide.
The plague is everywhere. Michigan State went green and went ... bronze last year. Michigan slapped numbers on its helmets and decided it liked them so much they stayed. Ohio State, Wisconsin, there are few untouched corners.
My alma mater, Central Michigan, unveiled new uniform sets that include eight possible combinations and a black jersey with black matte finish helmets. Given the way CMU has played lately (3-9 in 2011)?that's putting lipstick on a pig if I've ever seen it.
What's so wrong with having uniforms that are uniform? Before you know it, they'll give Team USA special Gold, Silver and Bronze alternate uniforms so they can sell more Speedos and move more soccer shirts off the shelves.
Sorry for the crabby complaints. I need my Olympics fix and I'm going to have to wait a year and a half. One gameday at a time.
Brandon Veale can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/redveale.