Summer often means the great disconnect– vacation, pool and beach come and go while one meets up with friends, family and food in variable amounts. What to make sense of last week as I fly back to DC with the Athlon College Football Preview magazine? Outside of the realization that I need to get on a salad-only diet for a few days, quite a bit.

Lefty Looms Large– Phil Mickelson‘s Sunday charge at the British Open to win his fifth major puts him higher up golf’s greatness mountain: in a group that includes Byron Nelson and Seve Ballesteros…and one more Masters win isn’t out of the question for a man who’s captured all five of his titles in the last ten years. We always thought that a fit Tiger would have the late career push instead of the chubby Mickelson–not so. Now Phil just needs to overcome his US Open demons to notch a career Grand Slam that eluded the likes of Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson. A far cry from a guy who looked like he’d be the Greg Norman of his generation in 2003.

Nats Summer Slide– Dropping six straight is no way to come back after the All Star break…and although the Nationals took three of four from the New York Mets, they took three of four from the New York Mets. Dropping Denard Span in the order seems the right decision; the centerfielder has the look of a leadoff hitter but not the production (even Cesar Geronimo had one .300 season). It’s always tempting to place an outfielder or second baseman atop the order no matter how effective they might be in that spot. As the trading deadline looms and the team remains under .500…do the Nats become buyers or sellers?

Redskins Diminishing Defense– Remember last year when the Skins D seemingly went down in flames with Bryan Orakpo and Adam Carriker’s season ending injuries? It’s not that dire…but having Carriker out for training camp, Brandon Merriweather still trying to get back on the field, DeAngelo Hall rolling an ankle, Keenan Robinson done for the season and Jarvis Jenkins suspended for the first four regular season games is less than ideal for a unit that may have to take the lead as Robert Griffin III won’t be taking any meaningful snaps until September. The big news regarding RG3 is the non-news that he’ll have to wear the knee brace all season. Bring on August and preseason.

Signalcaller shuffle– Two area quarterbacks land at Division II schools…after a transfer led to less success than they had hoped. Things didn’t work out for Phillip Sims at Alabama…and after not having to sit out a year at Virginia things didn’t work for him with the Cavaliers. Sims now takes his upside to Winston-Salem State. But that’s not the most befuddling final destination of the summer: I’m sure two years ago nobody thought that Danny O’Brien would wind up at Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C. this fall. From 2010 ACC Rookie of the Year to breaking his arm after losing his starting job in 2011 to transferring and then getting benched at Wisconsin in 2012…it’s been one mindboggling descent. One theory bandied about has been that O’Brien overcompensated for any deficiencies in ability by learning the Friedgen/Franklin offense as a high school senior, so by the time he was a redshirt freshman he knew the system better than the coaches themselves. Given a new system in 2011…and a new offense plus different personnel in 2012 O’Brien’s weaknesses were exposed. Two quarterbacks who thought they’d be deciding whether or not to go pro this offseason…not which D-II school would be their last gasp.

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