Austin Murphy has been a senior writer for Sports Illustrated since 1984. He's covered both pro and college football, but professes a stronger fondness for the latter. (Murphy sees the pro game as corporate, sterile, monolithic, and lacking heart; the college game's closer affiliation to amateur status—such as it is in its own billion-dollar way—apparently holds more charm.)
In September, keyed to the opening of the college football season, HarperCollins Publishers will release Murphy's new book, Saturday Rules: A Season with Trojans and Domers (and Gators and Buckeyes and Wolverines). The book is essentially an account of Murphy's travels through the 2006 football season. He hits the bigtime Division I venues, interviews the players and coaches, runs down the games, etc., etc. Murphy writes with style, humor, edginess and factual authority, and, based on my early look, his book appears to be a winner.
Tennessee Titans fans who also like college football will certainly appreciate Murphy's overview of the college game. They might also be intrigued to learn what Murphy uncovered about the Titans' #1 pick in the 2007 Pro Football Draft, Michael Griffin, a defensive back formerly of the University of Texas. From the book: "Griffin later tells me that he breeds pit bulls, and drives all over the Southwest attending American Kennel Club dog shows."
The implication here, as far as can be determined, is that Griffin (pictured, left, as a Longhorn) is an appreciator of pit bulls. I guess if you attend AKC shows, then you probably have a more genteel affinity for this controversial breed. Personally, I've never understood anyone's fondness for pitbulls. Seems like the only time you ever hear about them is when they've mangled some little kid's arm or chewed up some woman's formerly attractive face. Or, of course, when you hear that a certain high-profile pro football quarterback is under indictment for involvement in the ugly pastime of pitting pitbull versus pitbull in to-the-death dogfights.
We've assiduously avoided commenting on the Michael Vick affair, and we'll just happily sit by and watch it all unfold. Maybe someday we'll try to grapple with the mindset that likes to watch grisly dogfights. (Something along the lines of "Pro Athletes and the Barbarian Urge: What Happens When Big Money, Boredom and Ignorance Collide.") Meanwhile, so...Michael Griffin likes pitbulls. Why is that not a comforting thought in Nashville, especially on the heels of the Pacman Jones Follies?
Hope Griffin is just one of those devoted dog-lovers, of which there are many in Music City. He'll be right at home here if that's the case. For now, let's not even think about the alternative possibilities.