Thursday, December 31, 2009

Play "Free Bird"! And they do.

Nothing says "beat Northwestern" quite like a Lynyrd Skynyrd medley on the beach. (It starts around the 1-minute mark.) Happy new year, War Damn Eagle band.

Among those interested in Texas Tech job ...

... is one Tommy Tuberville. Click here to read more.

SEC can't hold a candle to Big 12 ...

... when it comes to coaches being great copy (and video). Let's review:

Mike Leach, gone from Texas Tech.
Mark Mangino, gone from Kansas.
Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy: "I'm a man!" 

We'll let Leach have the last word:

Attention recruitniks

Here are the rosters for Saturday's Offense-Defense Bowl in Myrtle Beach, along with where the players are heading. And SI's Andy Staples tells the story of a Mississippi kid who's not getting much love from big-time programs. Plays QB. Last name Favre.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Meanwhile, in Kentucky ...

Coach Rich Brooks says he's 80% out the door, though AD Mitch Barnhart said Tuesday night he wants Brooks to stay. If Brooks does leave, Joker Phillips would take over as just the second black head coach in SEC history.

Here's a little background on Phillips, and here's SI's Pat Forde on how "this may be the winter when college football drags itself out of the plantation era and finally joins the 21st century."

And while Kentucky football will probably always be the red-headed stepchild to Wildcat basketball (sound familiar, ACC fans?), it's worth noting that the football program is on solid ground: 4 straight bowl games and, since 2006, wins over Georgia (twice), Arkansas (twice), LSU and Auburn. -- RTR

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

When quitting is not an option . . .

Sports Illustrated's S.L. Price, a Chapel Hill grad, delves deeply into Urban Meyer's psyche and finds more than a cyst. He finds a man torn by obligations and a desire to succeed that goes far beyond mere drive. Read more.


On stress: Saban prefers his day job

How does Nick Saban handle the pressure of being a big-time football coach? He says he has no choice.

He and one of his players also say nice things about Urban Meyer. Read on.

Billy Cannon on Tim Tebow

The folks down at the Times-Picayune have plenty on their plate right about now, not just with the Sugar Bowl game itself, but with all the Urban Meyer intrigue and Tim Tebow's last hurrah (not to mention the Who Dats in fine fettle). They asked a bunch of people from the college football world to weigh in on Tebow. Here's one that stood out -- it's not about his character or his religion or his legacy, it's just about the guy as a football player. It comes from LSU's own Billy Cannon.

"I can say this without fail: Inside the 20-yard line, he has the greatest knack for getting into the end zone through physical ability since Paul Hornung, and I saw some of the great ones between Paul and Tim."

Click here for that and other hosannas. Nearby you'll also find Tebow's 10 defining moments (all 11 of them). -- RTR

Monday, December 28, 2009

Change of heart, change of life

Urban Meyer's about face has been out for 18 hours, but this is still the best thing I've found on the Florida coach's personal dilemma: doing the thing that he loves more than life in a life-changing way.

The comments of his wife and father are quite illuminating, especially the former. Meyer announced Saturday he needs to spend more time with his family. Yet his wife and kids were among the last to know of his change of heart.

Meyer's old man is right: Change is hard, particularly changing the very things that brought approval from a demanding father, and fame and riches from an insatiable public. The coach may find that to be a far more confounding task than winning the SEC East.

Your thoughts?


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Florida's shifting sands . .

Is it . . .

Bob Stoops?

Chris Peterson?

Jon Gruden?

Kyle Whittingham?

Will Muschamp?

Dan Mullen?

Bill Cowher?

Which way will Florida turn to replace Urban Meyer? It won't aim low. Like Alabama, the school has made its 'loyal-assistant" mistake. It won't Ron Zook-it again. So don't look for Charlie Strong to turn the moving van around, or Dan Mullen to bolt Starkville.

Florida needs a big name like Stoops or Peterson or Gruden to rally a shell-shocked fan base, hold together one of the country's best recruiting classes, and successfully launch Gator Nation into the uncertainty of a Post-Tebow World.

Three weeks ago, the Gators had surged to the cusp of a third national championship in four years. Then they lost badly to Alabama. They said goodbye to a century player and team. Now their century coach follows them out the door.

There was something about Meyer's demeanor as the enormity of the Alabama loss bore down that clearly indicated he was struggling terribly with failure. By the end, he looked drained, shrunken. Meyer was hospitalized after the game. Sports Illustrated had earlier revealed the cyst on his brain. At 45, he's walking away from the sport that defined and consumed him, walking away, perhaps, while he still can.

We wish him well. And once again we're reminded that there's very little in life firmly set in stone. Three weeks ago, Meyer was at the controls of college football's burgeoning dynasty. Now, in a manner of days, the team has lost its greatest player and perhaps its greatest coach.

Seldom have the sands shifted so quickly and taken so much.

Michael Gordon

Urban Meyer leaving as Florida coach

It's all developing as we speak. He's resigning for health reasons. Orlando Sentinel has it covered here.

Friday, December 25, 2009

"A game that the Longhorns may very well steal"

Sports Illustrated scribe Austin Murphy talks up Texas' chances against Alabama. Story here.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Forbes' pick for most valuable SEC program: Guess who?

We'll start with a few hints:

SEC champion. 24-game regular-season winning streak. Heisman Trophy winner.

Am I boring you yet?

All these accomplishments apparently have monetary as well as intrinsic value. Or so says Forbes, which picks Alabama as the most valuable college football program in the SEC.

Texas takes the top prize, and their balance sheet is something straight off a "Dallas" rerun.

Money, however, doesn't bring you happiness. Too often, it brings you Albert Means.

And the last time I looked, the Longhorns and all their bucks were decided underdogs Jan. 7.

In other words: All hat, no cattle.

No crown, either. RTR.

-- Michael Gordon

(P.S., the SEC teams listed are: Alabama, 5th; Florida, 6th; LSU, 7th; Georgia, 9th; South Carolina, 12th; Tennessee, 13th; Auburn, 14th; and Arkansas, 17th.)

Another definition of team speed

Everybody knows Florida is fast. But this fast?

The Expats are confident all accounts will be paid in full before the NFL exodus of alligators begins, exactly one minute after the end of the Sugar Bowl.

Just goes to show, Urban really does recruit speed(ers).


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Colin Cowherd on why the SEC is best

For starters, according to ESPN's morning radio host, we have the most passion, the best players and coaches, the best TV contract . . .

This we all know. But this morning, Cowherd also pointed to the SEC's bowl lineup.

Three weeks ago, Oregon State played for the PAC 10 championship and lost a riveting game to rival Oregon. Three weeks ago, defending national champion Florida fell to Alabama in the SEC Championship. That game wasn't close.

Yet compare the consolation prizes. Florida goes to a mammoth payout in the Sugar Bowl. Oregon State? They ended up in Las Vegas, playing in a 41,000-seat stadium, in miserable conditions, against BYU from the Mountain West. The Beavers lost their pelts.

Check out the comparative bowl trips for the rest of the PAC 10 vs. the SEC. The Left Coast crew should be embarrassed. The SEC takes care of its schools far better.

Cowherd, a Left Coast guy, put it this way. It's like inviting a girl out to a five-star restaurant and at the last minute not being able to get in. The SEC picks up the phone and immediately lands a great table in a four-star place. The PAC 10 tells its date: "Want to walk across the street to Der Wiener Schnitzel?"

So add this to the SEC's superiority: We really know how to treat our women.

Michael Gordon

Recruiting violation at ... Vandy?

Yep. It happened during the wooing of junior college QB Jordan Rodgers, who signed Monday with the Commodores. (He's the brother of Green Bay QB Aaron). Go here to find out more.

In light of this transgression, perhaps we should amend our earlier statement -- "Never let it be said that the Expats have it in for the state of Tennessee." 

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A blink of an eye, a entirely different football season

What might have changed if one second hadn't been put pack on the clock. Think about it: one second, about the time it takes to mash here.

Michael Gordon

Monday, December 21, 2009

Follow the money

ESPN's "Outside the Lines" has started a big series about problems with the NCAA, a topic with much fertile ground to cover. It's worth the time to go root around in the whole thing, but here's the red meat for SEC football fans: Salary and incentive numbers for SEC coaches and assistants. Is your school overpaying enough? Time to find out!

-- Tommy Tomlinson

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Think what the team GPA would be if they didn't sell their books!

Here's a little compensatory information concerning the University of Alabama's decision to cancel three days of classes so students can attend the BCS Championship in Pasadena next month.

Turns out the Tide's academic performance rates almost as highly as its gridiron's. Mash here.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Let the record show . . .

. . . that fairness is the SEC Expats' middle name. With that in mind, the SEC F. Expats are happy to provide further context on Tennessee's continuing daytime drama of recruiting violations.

Two things we learn:
2. Blondes do have more fun (or get caught by camera in the act more often.)
3. Juwan James, the Atlanta suburban kid who decommitted from Alabama in part, he says, out of fear of the NCAA whip in the textbook scandal, sure knows how to pick his schools.


In the Matter of Alabama v. Texas et al.

By now you've heard the story of the Alabama lawyers seeking a continuance of a court case because it would conflict with their attending and/or enjoying the Jan. 7 championship game.

Quotes from the proceedings:

"... the fact such an event only comes infrequently during a person's lifetime and is an achievement of such a magnitude that all involved in this litigation should want everyone to fully participate in this achievement." -- attorney Jon B. Terry, for the defendants.

"Simply stated, some things are more important than football." -- attorney Rip Andrews, for the plaintiff.

"If I didn't, they'd say, 'He just didn't grant it because he's an Auburn fellow.' I wouldn't do that to them." -- Circuit Judge Dan King, indicating he will allow the delay.

"The Crimson Tide will soldier on just fine without eight extra lawyers getting hammered in the Rose Bowl parking lot." -- Deadspin.

"Texas can't hope to match the football fanaticism of a state where 'Roll Tide' constitutes a principle of law as sacred as habeas corpus." -- The American Spectator.

That was the decade that was

Various sites are looking back at the Aughts, or Naughts, or whatever it is you call the years since 2000. SI's Stewart Mandel calls Tebow and Meyer the player and coach of the decade (go here for that). And the blog Team Speed Kills takes us back to the days of Mike Price, Ron Zook, etc.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

BMOC: Booster Money On Campus

"The Longhorns ... have what is, hands down, the nation's biggest, wealthiest and most eccentric collection of college football boosters."

Full story here from The Wall Street Journal.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

" . . . It's a simple game. You throw the ball . . ."

Wonder why the SEC is so good? Check out the Associated Press' All-American team. Almost half of the players are from our schools. Alabama's six first-teamers are an all-time record.

Yes, the conference has become a shark tank of great coaches. Yes, we have the biggest television contract, the best TV slots, the prettiest girls, the best stadiums. But if you're making lists, have a peek at every credible recruiting ranking from the last three years. Florida, Alabama, LSU and Georgia will be among the Top 10. This year, Tennessee and Auburn have joined them.

So, yes, it is a simple game. Get great coaches who attract great players, then turn them loose on the world.

For the record: The Big 12 had 7 on the AP team. That gave them and the SEC 19 of the 25
spots. The national championship game between Texas and Alabama will feature 9.

Among those also receiving votes . . .
The ACC: 2.
The Big 10: 1.
The PAC 12: 1.

The remaining spots went to Notre Dame (where great recruiting classes leave to join the priesthood), Idaho and TCU.

The SEC breakdown:

Mark Ingram, running back.
Mike Johnson, guard.
Leigh Tiffin, kicker.
Terrence Cody, tackle.
Rolando McClain, linebacker.
Javier Arenas, cornerback.
Aaron Hernandez, tight end.
Joe Haden, cornerback.
South Carolina:
Eric Norwood, linebacker.
Eric Berry, safety.
Drew Butler, punter. (They have a outstanding long snappah, too.)


For a change: A conspiracy not involving Tennessee . . .

Remember all the talk about Alabama's schedule actually being tougher than its No. 2 ranking (behind Miss. State, Mr. Roberts) because so many of its biggest opponents didn't play the week before?

Turns out the Bama fans smelling big, fat institutional rodents were right. Next year, Alabama will play six teams coming off byes. Since 2007, they will have played 16 of those games. The next highest number for an SEC opponent? 5 for LSU.

Sort of challenges the premise that Alabama was ever irrelevant. Even when we stunk, teams sure seemed to want an extra week to prepare.

The SEC has promised adjustments. Mash here for details from the Tuscaloosa News.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Fast Eddie, the pride of LSU

Comes the news that a new biography of Edwin Edwards -- former Louisiana governor, current federal prisoner and LSU Law School grad, class of 1949 -- is flying off the shelves down there. (Click here to order yours.) In reading up on it, I found this little gem from the book "The Saints, The Superdome and the Scandal" by Dave Dixon. This has to do with the Edwards-David Duke gubernatorial runoff in 1991:

Out of my own pocket, I paid for the following message, booked via our ad agency, at half a dozen north and central Louisiana TV stations, markets where Edwards needed help the most. "I'm Dave Dixon. I want to tell it to you just the way it is. It's goodbye LSU Tigers or it's goodbye David Duke. Take your choice. If David Duke is sitting in the governor's mansion, how can we recruit the best football talent in America to come to LSU? Take your choice: LSU Tigers or David Duke.'

Thirty days later Edwin Edwards came into our office on Royal Street to show me a Mason-Dixon poll. "Here I am thirty days ago, actually a little bit behind this clown. Today we're 250,000 votes to the good, and we're going to win by 350,000 votes on Election Day." He actually won by 384,000 after trailing at the beginning of the runoff. "You know what all of this tells me?" he questioned. Dutifully I asked "What?" Edwards continued, "This tells me that 250,000 Bubbas, Rednecks and ex-Ku Kluxers have suddenly decided that they like LSU football a whole lot more than they dislike blacks."

-- R. Trentham Roberts

Just a friendly little bet between friends

In this case, the picture DOES say it all.

Click here for the story from WVUA.

Monday, December 14, 2009

So, anything happen over the weekend?

An Alabama player won the Heisman. No, really. And here I thought they only won national championships. Still, Mark Ingram was as deserving as any of the other candidates (though I would have voted for the kid from Stanford). I thought his most impressive moment came against South Carolina, when the Tide was nursing a 13-6 lead with 8 minutes left and the ball on their own 32: six straight rushes, 68 yards, touchdown. -- R. Trentham Roberts

And speaking of Johnny Musso (before M. Gordon gets a chance to) ...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

"Young lady, if you don't stop doing that, we've got a problem."

More details on hostesses and a deepening investigation of Vol recruiting. Sources in this New York Times story paint a picture of Orange Pride, the gracious and super friendly group of really nice Tennessee co-eds, as "aggressive and well-organized."

One father of a recruit said there was much touching between the women and the recruits -- and in his case, the dad -- and that the girls reduced the high school players "to blubbering idiots."

Friday, December 11, 2009

Numbers are in for SEC on CBS

And they show the network had its highest ratings since college football returned to CBS in 1996. The 4.4 rating was up 29% from last year. (Ratings represent the percentage of all households with TVs tuned into a program.) The title game between Alabama and Florida had an 11.1 rating -- and in Birmingham, that number was 50.2. (Sources: CNN, Florida Times-Union.)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Playoff talk for real this time? (another update)

"With all due respect, I really think we have more important things to spend our time on."

-- Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga., who on Wednesday voted against a measure that would do away with the BCS set-up.

And from the other side of the aisle, here's what Rep. Lee Terry, a Republican from Nebraska, had to say about his support of the bill:

"Do I think there are problems and corruption based on money in this system? That was clear on Saturday night."

Full story here and here.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Catching up with "Big Cat Weekend"

Never let it be said that the Expats have it in for Tennessee -- between the coach's words and the players' actions this year, they've been way too much fun to hate on. Anyway, we were reminded that we had been remiss in not talking about the fallout from Auburn's "Big Cat Weekend" -- 6 assistants were reprimanded and the program had to stop recruiting 6 players for 6 weeks. (6 ... 6 ... 6 ... just sayin'.) You can read all about it here and here.  (As it happens, one of those players was Marcus Lattimore, who was quoted in the story about the UT investigation. Not sure what to make of that particular recruiting karma.) -- RTR

A prize recruit sums it all up

"You don't want to go where they ain't pretty."

-- Marcus Lattimore of Byrnes High in Duncan, S.C., referring to the influence of Tennessee's recruiting hostesses. The NCAA is investigating UT about it; full N.Y. Times story here. (Meanwhile, the Spartanburg Herald-Journal says the running back has narrowed his choices to South Carolina, Auburn, Penn State, Oregon and Georgia; story here.)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

'Bama-Texas: A short history

1902: Texas 10, 'Bama 0.
1915: Texas 20, 'Bama 0.
1922: Texas 19, 'Bama 10.
1948: Texas 27, 'Bama 7 (Sugar Bowl).
1960: Texas 3, 'Bama 3 (Bluebonnet Bowl).
1965: Texas 21, 'Bama 17 (Orange Bowl).
1973: Texas 17, 'Bama 13 (Cotton Bowl).
1982: Texas 14, 'Bama 12 (Cotton Bowl).

January 1, 1965: Joe Namath's last college game.
Alabama still wins national championship -- last polls came out before the bowls.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A few post-games . . .

The answers to the Gainesville Sun's 5 key questions.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Bowl games

* Alabama-Texas in BCS title game in Pasadena.
* Arkansas-East Carolina in Liberty Bowl in Memphis.
* Auburn-Northwestern in Outback Bowl in Tampa.
* Florida-Cincinnati in Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.
* Georgia-Texas A&M in Independence Bowl in Shreveport.
* Kentucky-Clemson in Music City Bowl in Nashville.
* LSU-Penn State in Capital One Bowl in Orlando.
* Ole Miss-Oklahoma State in Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
* South Carolina-UConn in Bowl in Birmingham.
* Tennessee-Virginia Tech in Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta.

... and the SEC-against-the-world bowl breakdown ...

Big 12: 3
Big 10: 2
Big East: 2
ACC: 2
Conference USA: 1

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Well, my stars . . .

32-13. Roll Tide

Michael Gordon.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Title game picks, plus "The Blind Side"

Before we get to the current Game of the Century, a few words about "The Blind Side" -- and what it teaches about the SEC.

I finally saw the movie Thursday night, and it ain't "Chinatown" but it's a lot better than I had hoped. (I'm assuming we're among friends here and I don't have to explain the story of Michael Oher.) If you've read Michael Lewis' book, you'll notice that the movie is fairly faithful; the one big exception was a made-up scene where Oher cleans house with a drug dealer and his thugs. Sandra Bullock was just fine, although as a blonde in high dudgeon, she started to look distressingly like Dennis Quaid in "Great Balls of Fire."

But here's the important part. As you've probably heard, several SEC coaches play themselves in the scenes where Oher was being recruited (I think this would be 2003 or '04). Here's the coaches and their schools:

Nick Saban, LSU
Tommy Tuberville, Auburn
Lou Holtz, South Carolina
Phil Fulmer, Tennessee
Houston Nutt, Arkansas
Ed Orgeron, Ole Miss

What's interesting about that list? None of those coaches are at those schools anymore. Tuberville, Holtz and Fulmer are out of the business; Saban's at Bama; Nutt's at Ole Miss; and Orgeron is off somewhere trying to communicate with his home planet.

The point: Enjoy your coaches now, Gators and Tide. Nothing is forever.

I want to pick Alabama in this game, and if I was in Vegas, I'd bet them with the spread. They're better on the ground, have more playmakers on defense, and Saban will have them boiling with desire after losing last year. But you know what? As much as it kills me to say it ... I believe in the Tebow. I think the Tebow will do what he has to. Short of a concussion or broken bone, he's not losing this game. Florida, 26-24.

-- Tommy Tomlinson

Note to Tommy, Quaid's the blond who burns pianos and wears more eyeliner. I hope that helps.

On the other hand, I want to pick Florida. Best all-around team. Great bunch of leaders. Funky offense that seems almost impossible to prepare for in a week, and, of course, there is HE WHO CANNOT GO UNNAMED.

But you know what, I'm tired of selling my own team short. Both teams will be playing their best opponents by far. Florida is certainly the favorite. But they'll earn every yard, and this year they fall a few yards short. Tide, 21-20.

-- Michael Gordon

There's been so many times when what was predicted to be an "epic defensive struggle" turns into a shootout. This time, UA ends up one big play bigger than UF. Alabama 38, Florida 31.

-- R. Trentham Roberts

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Danielson: "Florida and Alabama saved college football this year."

Perhaps the most controversial -- I say the best -- analyst in college football adds his thoughts to the pregame chatter.

Gary Danielson has a to-do list for both teams IF they hope to reach the national championship game next month.


Defining the decade

The name ring a bell, Auburn fans?
It's where everything began to unravel in 2003.

The folks over at the Dr. Saturday blog posted their top players of the '00s the other day. Go here for the list. (Hint: Tim Tebow is NOT No. 1 ... yet.)

This follows their earlier best-ofs, in the categories of Teams, Sleepers, Plays, Games, Villains, Innovations, Scandals* and Upsets. Go here to start reading those highlights.

* Special order of demerit goes to the SEC in this category, which has just 4 entries. Alabama, Arkansas and Auburn are 3 of them.

-- RTR

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Five reasons the Gators will win, and five reasons they won't

Five reasons Florida wins:

1. They are the best balanced team in the country.

Nobody does more things well. They run the ball. They throw the ball. They catch the ball. They defend the run, they defend the pass. They cover kicks, they cover punts, and with Brandon James they are a special-teams threat at all times. We didn't mention that their cheerleaders are cute and their coach has good hair. We will if we need to.

2. They show well in big games.
Say what you want about every team being different, Florida is a program that's accustomed to winning. Granted, there is no Percy Harvin. There will be no Carlos Dunlap. And maybe Tim Tebow has been slightly off form since he got kicked in the head. But Florida owns the country's longest winning streak, and it was sewn together with scalps from the country's strongest conference. 'Nuff said.

3. Florida's offense, for one game, is almost impossible to defend.
If the SEC championship were best two out of three, maybe this would be different. But the task of controlling the Gators' spread/veer is too much to ask even from Alabama. Too much speed, too many variations, too well executed. Mt. Cody will look like a mountain, as the Florida backs and receivers speed right around him. Too many Alabama players must make the right decisions on too many plays to keep the Gators in check. And even if they do, Tebow ain't shabby at improvisation.

4. As good as they are, Florida is underrated in two key positions.
The Florida defensive backfield is the best in the country -- big enough to stop the run, fast enough to shut down passing games. That ability will give Gator lineman, even without the suspended Dunlap, time to pressure Greg McElroy. If Mac can't throw, Alabama won't be able to run. On the other side of the ball, Florida has the most quietly efficient passing game in the country. Short or long, Tebow seems to make his best throws in big games, even though he winds up like Mariano Rivera. Riley Cooper and Aaron Hernandez have proven to be almost unguardable, and if it's near them, they catch it.

5. Tebow.
The best college football player and leader of my lifetime.

Five reasons Alabama wins:

1. They're the underdog.
As Dawg Tomlinson puts it, this hasn't been a great year for the Overdogs. Tiger gets caught on the back 9 of the PGA, Tebow gets bonked, Tiger really gets caught . . . In last year's classic, Alabama led Florida well into the fourth quarter, until they were Tebowed on back to back drives. They've had a year to measure themselves against that performance. More importantly, Nick Saban has had a full year to brood and scheme. And would it surprise anyone if he asked his former boss Bill, as in Belichick, to drop by and watch some film?

2. Alabama has improved.
The defense is better. The offense has more playmakers. The quarterback has a better feel for the entire field. In Javier Arenas and Rolando McClain, Alabama has two of the best defensive players anywhere. Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson and Roy Upchurch are the best backfield threesome in college football, and Julio Jones is healthy again. Spencer Tillman of CBS says the Tide will control Florida's receivers, forcing Tebow to run. When you know he's coming he's a little easier to defend, meaning he's a lot easier to hit. If that happens, it will be Alabama controlling the fourth quarter, not the defending champs.

3. Florida is not as good as everyone thinks.
Sure, Florida has virtually everybody back from their BCS title team, but some of the magic is missing. Brandon Spikes has been beat up or suspended; Percy Harvin left an enormous hole; Tebow may still be seeing stars that have nothing to do with heavenly beings; Dunlap is still asleep on his wheel. When you compare the common opponents, Alabama carries a decided edge in margin of victory. Florida struggled against physical teams. Alabama beat LSU, South Carolina, Va. Tech and Ole Miss to their knees. In their two closest games, the Tide blocked kicks against Tennessee and drove the length of the field against Auburn. This Gator edition also struggled against also-rans Arkansas and Miss. State, two teams Alabama annihilated. Which Florida team will show up? This is no time for Gator schizophrenia.

4. Alabama learned from last year.
The Tide will stay better balanced on offense this year. Like Florida, they can run and throw. But last year's game turned in the fourth quarter when the Tide got pass happy. This year, they will run and throw more effectively. Last year, they kicked too many field goals when they got close to the Gator goal line. This year, they'll push through to the other side. One other thing: The Florida offense, though amazingly effective, won't seem so doggone new.

5. Not all fairy tales have a happy ending.
The Disney ones do, but check out the really old stuff. All sorts of horrible things happen, sort of like in life. Tebow has been a miracle of nature and character. But this year he will learn to deal with major disappointment. In the future, that will make him a better person. For the immediate, Alabama has the better team.

-- Michael Gordon

Quote of the day

"It will be a real interesting matchup. Florida has better players, and Alabama has better coaches, so we'll see."

-- UT's Lane Kiffin (you were expecting somebody else?)
Story here.

Spencer Tillman's pick and why

A better Alabama secondary and a lesser Florida pass rush are among the reasons CBS commentator Spencer Tillman picks the Tide in Saturday's SEC Championship rematch with Florida.

While rightfully gushing about Tim Tebow, he says the Gator QB faces a much better Alabama defense, particular in Bama's cover guys. Another reason: Alabama coach Nick Saban has been thinking about the rematch for an entire year.

Tillman also says the suspension of Carlos Dunlop makes it far easier for Tide quarterback Greg McElroy to use the pass to set up the run.

The resident Bama Skeptic says we'll see. I can't remember a game where the teams appear so balanced, and where the individual battles between receivers and defensive backs, linebackers against backfields, and lines against lines could turn the game one way or the other.

In the meantime, enjoy, then join in . . .
Michael Gordon

We're talking big money

Jeremy Fowler of The Orlando Sentinel looks at the numbers and says the SEC is worth more than any other team or brand in the country: nearly $4 billion.

Click here for the story.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Bowl games start to take shape

Various media are reporting that these matchups are either set or soon will be. (Take with the requisite grain of salt.)

* Arkansas vs. East Carolina-Houston winner in Liberty Bowl in Memphis.
* Auburn vs. Wisconsin in Outback Bowl in Tampa.
* Georgia vs. Iowa State or Texas A&M in Independence Bowl in Shreveport.
* Kentucky vs. Miami or UNC in Music City Bowl in Nashville.
* Ole Miss vs. Oklahoma State in Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
* LSU vs. Penn State or Iowa in Capital One Bowl in Orlando.
* South Carolina vs. UConn-South Florida winner in Bowl in Birmingham.
* Tennessee vs. Virginia Tech in Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta.

Dunlap, Gators' best defensive lineman, out after DWI arrest

This just out of Gainesville: Carlos Dunlap, last year's defensive MVP of the Gators' national championship game, won't be playing Saturday against Alabama in the SEC Championship after his early morning DWI arrest.

The North Charleston native, the sack leader for his top-ranked team, was found asleep at the wheel of his car this morning, as the engine ran and the traffic signal went from red to green, red to green and back again.

Coach Urban Meyer made the announcement in the last hour. Read more, courtesy of the Gainesville Sun.

Michael Gordon

Spurrier in line for contract extension

USC president Harris Pastides and AD Eric Hyman want to extend the Ol' Ball Coach's contract through the end of the 2013 season. Click here for the full story from The (Columbia) State.

Monday, November 30, 2009

An early Tide appraisal: Gators a clear favorite

Jess Nicholas at doesn't sugarcoat it. A lot will have to go right for Alabama to beat Florida in Saturday's SEC Championship Game rematch.

Some highlights: Alabama must get its offense back in gear after a relatively poor showing against Auburn; the Tide also goes into the game banged up at linebacker. So do the Gators, but they have more depth to compensate. And, of course, a pretty good quarterback will be riding to the game on the Florida bus.

Read for yourself.


Florida-Alabama factoids

Couple of things to consider while you're crunching numbers and matchups for the SEC title game:

* The Gators have been successful on 47.4 percent of their third-down attempts. (That's sixth in the country, and way ahead of Bama's 35.3 percent.)

* The Tide's Leigh Tiffin has more field goals -- 27 -- than anyone in the country.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

What we learned from Week 13

1. It's hard to imagine one conference having a worse weekend than the ACC. Underdogs Georgia and South Carolina physically maul Tech and Clemson; Florida State looks inept . . . again; and even up and coming North Carolina coughs one up against a mediocre rival. Gee, whaddya say we all go down to Tampa to see if we can score some championship game tickets!

2. Hmmm, I wonder what the Zapruder wannabes from LSU are saying now? Three weeks ago, they stitched together a veritable film festival of the supposed missed calls against Alabama. Saturday night, they made it to OT largely on a glaringly blown stop-the-clock call on their last drive. A win's a win, you say? Except, Corndog doubts about coach Les Miles and the direction of the program were hardly lessened by LSU's performance against Arkansas. As the game turned in the Hogs' favor, ESPN's audience was treated to one lingering crowd shot after another in which Tiger fans were holding their heads and muttering what the bleep!

3. Being the students of history that they are, Ole Miss fans should not be surprised by their team's showing against MSU. Classic Houston Nutt. Score a big (albeit lucky) win against LSU, then get stripped naked in the second half at Starkville. Scary insight: Mullen's quickly improving team will leave an SEC West next season with absolutely no weak links -- except Nutt and that guy in the undersized hat to his southwest.

4. Big win for UT. Lane Kiffin's first season, for all its goofiness, has been a solid success. And who couldn't like what they've seen so far from Gene Chizik.

5. Early Gordo line on the championship game. If Florida plays pitch and catch like it did yesterday against FSU (and like it did in the 2008 championship) no one can beat them, not even Alabama, with the biggest and fastest defense the Gators will face this year. Tim Tebow is not unbeatable, but he's the best college football player in several generations largely because of what he does in the biggest of moments. Gators by 8.

-- Michael Gordon

I don't put on my homer hat very often -- being an MSU grad, there's not been much reason to through the years -- but I'm liking coach Dan Mullen's style, especially when it comes to Ole Miss. Among the things I read after State's 41-27 win over the Rebels:

* Mullen's been jabbing Ole Miss ever since he took the job, never calling them by name but instead referring to them as "the school up north" or "the team up north."

* He had a countdown clock put in the locker room to remind players when they'd get another shot at Ole Miss (last year's score was 45-0 Rebs).

* He took to the microphone after the game and told the Starkville faithful, "This is one program in this state that's definitely on the rise and heading in the right direction," a response to a comment by Houston Nutt earlier in the week.

And for good measure, at game's end the MSU scoreboard flashed a postcard saying, "From Dixon With Love," both saluting RB Anthony Dixon and mocking the now-banned Ole Miss song, "From Dixie With Love."

Nothing to get too carried away about, but still ... State was 5-7 against a schedule that might've been the nation's toughest (9 bowl teams in all), and they've got a coach who's putting some fire in the program.
-- R. Trentham Roberts

Mr. Gordon was correct in his earlier Iron Bowl postgame decompression: Alabama was the better team. The Tide's players lived up to the moment when they had to. Greg McElroy looked an awful lot like Jay Barker on the final drive - poised and efficient in a moment when it's very easy not to be either.

But for this particular game, at least, Alabama was outcoached - and Auburn fans can be heartened by what that signals. In 2009, the Auburn staff made a middling SEC quarterback, Chris Todd, into one with 20-plus touchdown passes. It made a middling SEC running back, Ben Tate, into one of the conference's top backs. What will happen when the coaches get the elite players they want - and thus far are getting on the recruiting trail?

The Tigers right now are where Alabama was when Nick Saban began - with holes to fill, with immediate playing time as an incentive to recruits, and with an energy the program hasn't felt in years. Friday, as disappointing as it may have been, was an affirmation of where the program is headed.

Peter St. Onge
I was in Tennessee all week with my wife's side of the family -- wonderful people who live in the mountains, don't have cable and don't care about football. I caught the last minute of Auburn-Alabama, just enough to see that Gene Chizik went to the Les Miles School of Time Management, but didn't go through the doctoral program in How to Win the Game Anyway.
We got home Saturday at halftime of Georgia-Georgia Tech, and saw order restored to the world once again. The big question now is whether beating Tech was enough for Georgia defensive coordinator Willie Martinez to save his job. Probably not. Then again, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo should share some of the blame. The good: Georgia splattered Tech with a run-first offense that hid Joe Cox's limitations. The bad: It took 12 games to figure this out?
But that's for the off-season. This week Tech is back in its rightful place, behind the lead dawg, where the view never changes. This week we enjoy.
Tommy Tomlinson

Friday, November 27, 2009

The 3-hour stomach cramp that was Iron Bowl '09

Like I tried to tell my Auburn brethren all week, this one had the feel of an ulcer farm.

Congrats to Auburn. Congrats to Gene Chizik. Your team played hard and competed the entire game.

That said, the best team won, and maybe learned something about themselves and the best rivalry in the sport. Now Florida.

Spencer Tillman on CBS said something interesting after the game: He said Auburn-Alabama is the only rivalry of the weekend where the stats and season records don't matter. Auburn could have won. Many of its faithful will say the Tigers should have won. But they didn't, and Alabama did, for this reason. In the end, Alabama was good enough and disciplined enough to do what it needed to do to win when things up to that moment had all been going wrong.

In a day or two, I may feel differently, but right now I believe this is one of the great Iron Bowls of my lifetime. I think I would say that even if Auburn had won. Fortunately, I don't have to find out. Roll Tide. War Eagle. Take a deep breath.
Michael Gordon

Who ya got? Week 13

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all, and that's enough of that.

Given the calendar, and given that our sport is football, there's a pretty fair chance that your team is playing someone you despise. It's Rivalry Weekend, more accurately described as College Football's Celebration of Sectarian Violence.

So here we go:

Georgia at Georgia Tech: Wounded dogs are angry dogs, and Georgia will fight hard for a half against Tech. But like a pit bull, the Engineers will keep coming, long after the Red and Black have lost their nose for the fight. Tech, 35-24.

Tennessee at Kentucky: The Volunteers' annual respectability caravan rolls into Lexington, and nobody ends a season on an easier note than Tennessee. But in Kentucky, they face a team that plays at or above its potential almost every week. This one will be close, and every team in the league is pulling for the Wildcats. I like the karma. But not the final score. UT, 21-17.

Clemson at South Carolina: I had this friend in high school who was a gifted basketball player, until he faced someone just as good. Rather than be exposed, he acted as if he didn't care. Steve Spurrier has a losing record against Clemson, and most times, it looks like he and his team could give a rip. Stephen Garcia cares, but he doesn't have enough help. Tigers, 24-21.

Arkansas at LSU: Les Miles coached the last minute against Ole Miss like a man with a severe concussion. Thus, his team once again is swooning while the Hogs are finding their legs. Worse for him, the LSU crowd may be more lathered up about his mental state than who wins what has become one of the SEC's most entertaining games. Entertain this: Hogs, 31-28.

Florida State at Florida: Let's save the print here: Tim Tebow is not losing his last home game in Gainesville. Fairy Tales don't end that way. Gators, 38-14.

Ole Miss at Miss. State: The "Egg Bowl" is a terrible farm-to-market, Eisenhower-Era name for a seething instate hatefest. This week, it shall be known as the "Houston Nutt Trap Bowl." In other words, Nutt's bigger and more talented team is about to lay an egg. Bullies, 24-21.

Alabama at Auburn: Alabama, in their coach's words, must change the way Auburn thinks about the Tide and themselves. In other words, if Alabama holds on to the ball and each player pounds away at the Auburn jersey in front of him, the Tide should take this one. But the scariest thing about Alabama's season so far is how -- the Terrence Cody block party aside -- it has lacked weirdness.
Something tells me something weird is in store at The Plains this week. It will keep the game closer. But hear this: The Evil Empire is bringing the Imperial Walkers. Tide, 35-20.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tarnishing the big rivalry games

Ron Morris' column advising Clemson coach Dabo Swinney to put star C.J. Spiller on the bench for the Clemson-South Carolina game raises a provocative/troubling point about the status of some of the best rivalry games of the college football season.

Morris believes it's far more important for Spiller to be ready for the ACC Championship matchup with Georgia Tech than to risk his turfed toe to further injury against the Gamecocks.

Many South Carolinians undoubtedly are laughing out loud at the notion that Spiller shouldn't play -- particularly Clemson fans who might find it a tad ironic that the suggestion is coming out of Columbia, even if Morris is a frequent critic of Coach Steve Spurrier and his program.

Still, is the ACC Championship game more important to Clemson than its annual Civil War with Carolina?

Emotionally? Heaven's no.

Financially? Hell yes.

There are millions at stake if the Tigers beat Tech and make it to a BCS Bowl. But what price do you place on bragging rights?

This balance-sheet comparison has been made relevant by conference championship games and the whole BCS bowl system that have made Big Bucks an even move visible influence on the fabric of college football. Sadly, one of the losers in the new system are the end-of-the-year rivalry games that involve teams from different conferences: Florida/Florida State and Carolina/Clemson.

Not long ago, the Sunshine State slugfest was one of the most eagerly anticipated games of the year. Now it's nothing more than a potential speed bump before the real Big Game: the Gators' battle with Alabama in 10 days. Most of the college football world -- and the bowls and the networks and the casual fans -- are hoping beyond hope that 1. Florida wins. 2. Tim Tebow doesn't take another blow to the noggin. In short, let Florida win by two TDs and move on.

The same traps exist for Alabama as it prepares for its Friday visit to hated Auburn. The Iron Bowl keeps more of its luster because the teams are in the same division of the same conference, and many years the game decides who goes to Atlanta from the SEC West. Besides, the level of hatred remains so high that the game is always a kind of car wreck that no one can ignore.

This year, even the Iron Bowl has been compromised. If Alabama and Florida were both to lose this weekend, the winner of their game is still likely to get a shot at the national championship.

But it hard to imagine Nick Saban or Urban Meyer holding a slightly dinged-up star out of either game, just as it's hard to see Spiller not playing against South Carolina. There's just too much at stake -- from recruiting to in-state dominance to the personal satisfaction of kicking your annoying neighbor's butt.

Money is changing the game, but not that much.

-- Michael Gordon

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

". . . A cultural war and they use football to fight it"

Tony Barnhart's take on the Iron Bowl? As with most things in Alabama, it comes with a little history.

If I were a betting man . . .

"You can throw out the records" in this one. But only if you want to lose your shirt.

Jon Solomon of the Birmingham News goes into those very records to explore the old underdog/favorite debate in the Iron Bowl and other big rivalry games.

His findings: When there's a gap as big as this year's in the season records of the two teams, the favorite has won more than 90 percent of the time.

If I were a betting man, those odds would bring me significant comfort. Since I'm not, I'm still scared to death.

Michael Gordon

Headline we had to read twice

Some positives for UGA after Kentucky game

Turns out it was about future Bulldogs, not current ones. It's from the Atlanta paper's recruiting blog. Go here for the rest.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Robbery charges dropped against UT's Janzen Jackson

No word yet on when a decision will be made as to his football future. Full story here from the Knoxville News Sentinel. (Update: Jackson has been reinstated and will play Saturday against Kentucky. See Rocky Top Talk link at right.)

Iron Bowl Week: How about another song?

Most Alabama fans detest what you're about to see, but I'm not one of them.

Yes, I'd rather chew glass than lose to Auburn. But the Agrarians' celebration at the end of the 2007 game captures beautifully the glee of taking care of your instate rival, hurting him in a way that only you and he can fully understand, and savoring the sweet, sweet peace of knowing you won't have to take any crap for 365 days.

When it comes to all things Alabama/Auburn, it doesn't get any better than utter, blessed relief.

Michael Gordon

P.S. - 10:18 a.m., Peter St. Onge: This is a difficult week for Auburn fans. We know a whomping awaits us Friday. It likely will not be pretty. We could take a Revolutionary War approach to things this week and hit the Redcoats with fire from alternate angles - Did you hear that Notre Dame has Nick Saban on its short list? - but really, it won't make us feel better. Our football ipecac is coming. Bring it on.

P.P.S - Michael: Mr. St. Onge's perspective, while appreciated, is suspect. He is Auburn by marriage, not blood. The fires are again burning in Mt. Doom, and they are the fires of Auburn hope.

This is the perfect moment for the underdog in a rivalry game. Two weeks to prepare, a high-ranked opponent, and less than nothing to lose.

For those of us old enough to not only remember but able to deal with the pain, Auburn gained 80 yards of total offense in 1972, but blocked two punts for touchdowns late in the game to win. The parallels are scary. Alabama was undefeated and ranked second in the country. Nobody gave Auburn any chance. Besides, who won the flippin' Revolutionary War?

So Peter, why don't you poll your in-laws and get back to us. And thanks for writing a sentence with ipecac. During Auburn/Alabama week, we'll need all the respectability we can muster.

P.P.P.S - Peter: If Alabama can use the equivalent of a No. 1 vote from the Jefferson County (Ala.) Junior League in claiming some of its "national championships," I think I'm on pretty solid ground in declaring myself an Auburn fan. And a quick peek at Auburn message boards, as well as real, live conversations with other Auburn fans, shows that very few of us expect to beat Alabama. But we wonder: Do you think you'll have a better go at TCU in January than Utah last year?

Iron Bowl week is upon us. How about a song?

This goes out to our AU and UA blogmates. The title sums up the emotions of the week quite nicely. Come back Friday evening for a special postgame version of "I Go To Pieces." Who'll be on the receiving end of that dedication? -- RTR

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Poll: Wildest finish of the year

Assuming that next week will be taken up with Florida-'Bama and bowl bids, let's go ahead and start the poll for wildest finish of the year. (If there's a worthy contender this coming weekend, we'll revisit.) I picked these 3 because they had folks ranting for days on end, and the endings were as much about the coaches and refs as they were about the players. -- RTR

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ole Miss 25, LSU 23

While this may make a lovely holiday gift, you really don't need to be putting a knife into the hands of an LSU fan right about now. -- RTR

Friday, November 20, 2009

There's Vandy, and then there's everybody else

Graduation Success Rates for SEC football programs, from the NCAA:

Vanderbilt: 91%
Florida: 69%
Alabama: 67%
Mississippi State: 63%
Ole Miss: 63%
LSU: 60%
South Carolina: 60%
Auburn: 59%
Georgia: 57%
Kentucky: 55%
Arkansas: 52%
Tennessee: 52%

You can read more and find numbers for all schools and all sports here.

Who ya got -- RIP UGA VII edition

First of all: Damn good dawg.

It's a lame week of college football -- unless you care deeply about Ohio State-Michigan, in which case you probably enjoy a nice bowl of cream of wheat in the morning. Just think of it as the eye before next week's hurricane -- the Egg Bowl, LSU-Arkansas, Georgia-Georgia Tech, Florida-Florida State and of course Auburn-Alabama.

Tommy Tomlinson

LSU at Ole Miss -- This game would save the Rebels' season, and Dexter McCluster is making the CFB version of a salary drive -- the footage from the Tennessee game is now on every NFL scout's hard drive. But isn't this the kind of game Houston Nutt always loses, usually in heartbreaking fashion? Tigers, 24-23.

Kentucky at Georgia -- Joe Cox's last home game. Followed by Georgia Tech and the Weed Eater Bowl. Dawgs, 38-21.

Vandy at Tennessee -- Every year the back end of UT's schedule is as weightless as cotton candy. Vols, 33-13.

Mississippi State at Arkansas -- The Bulldogs look a lot better on the field, although it hasn't shown up yet on the won-loss record. Hawgs, 28-19.

Florida 63, Florida International 7

Alabama 45, UT-Chattanooga 3

Michael Gordon

Damn fine dog is right, Tommy, and too short a life. Hope he didn't suffer . . . beyond being associated with this Georgia team, I mean.

Ole Miss 24, LSU 19. Rebs, like last year, are rounding into shape a little late in the game, but just in time to raise more Corndog concerns about Les Miles.

Georgia 20, Kentucky 15: UGA gets a decent sendoff, by a big slobbering whisker.

Tennessee 24, Vandy 10. The Vols hold on. Good thing, too. Their coach is running short on scapegoats -- and players for that matter.

Arkansas 35, Miss. State 20: Table being set for big pig expectations next year.

Florida/Alabama combined 102, Florida International/UT-'Nooga combined: 17.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Signature Wins?

In honor of this week's riveting Alabama-UT Chattanooga and the Florida-Florida International slugfests, let's recap the season's overwhelming evidence that the SEC is the country's best league.

Could it be Alabama's signature win over Virginia Tech?

Or is it Auburn's signature win over West Virginia?

Or perhaps it's LSU's signature win over Washington.

Or what about Florida's win over . . . wait a minute, Florida hasn't played anyone out of conference that's worth a chomp.

And that's a problem. The SEC's national schedule stinks.

Sure, Va. Tech was preseason Top 10 when Alabama belted them around the Georgia Dome. Does anyone think the Hokies are even Top 20 now?

For a brief while, LSU's road win at Washington had some star power. But that's before the Huskies disappeared in a snow bank. Hell, Washington even found a way to lose to Notre Dame.

Auburn took care of West Virginia with a considerable assist from the Mountaineer quarterback. Still, a win's a win. Except, perhaps, when it comes against a mid-level Big East team.

Which begs the bigger question: Has the SEC really beaten anyone yet? Here's the answer. No.

OK, altogether now, let's recite the SEC's case: Conference teams have to play each other and then survive the momma and daddy of all conference championship games.

But am I alone in feeling a little spooked by the lack of national competition the conference has faced? The exception is Mississippi State -- with games against Ga. Tech and Houston, games in which the Bulldogs gave almost as well as they received -- games they still lost.

Other notable defeats: Tennessee to a bad UCLA team. Vandy to just about everyone; and Georgia to Oklahoma State. Granted, Georgia got by Arizona State, but most believe the Dawgs will be tied to the back of the Ramblin' Wreck and dragged all around Grant Field when it meets instate rival Ga. Tech at year's end.

No one is arguing that the SEC isn't the deepest conference in the country, and CBS analyst Gary Danielson told Charlotte radio host Mark Packer last night that the league is stronger this year than last. But are Florida and Alabama really the country's two best teams? Maybe.

Three years ago, Ohio State and Michigan were the honorees of a season-long coronation. Their showdown that year -- akin to the buildup surrounding Florida/Alabama, don't you think? -- lived up to its billing, so much so that it appeared the BCS would opt for a Big 10 rematch to settle the national title.

In the end, either the computers or just enough writers blocked the do-over. Florida slipped into the game. The Rust Belt howled. Then the Gators went out and annihilated Ohio State. All the pundits were wrong. The best team all year in the sports pages was not the last team standing. The national take on the Buckeyes and the Big 10 has never been the same.

Could the SEC be setting itself for a repeat tumble? We think we're the best league, with the two best teams. But how do we know for sure until we leave our own backyard?

And here's what even scarier: The loser in Atlanta almost certainly will face an angry TCU or Boise State, still feeling the snub of the BCS. As the Sugar Bowl showed last season, that could get ugly in a hurry.

Michael Gordon

The SEC often takes heat for its terrible non-conference schedule, which will take front and center this weekend, with Alabama squaring off against Chattanooga and Florida tussling with Florida International.

Ah, Florida.

Started thinking about UF and its non-conference schedule. About the Gators traveling outside of the region for a non-conference regular season game. Like LSU playing at Virginia Tech in 2002 and at Washington this season. Alabama playing Oklahoma in Norman in 2002. Auburn going into the Coliseum to play USC the same year.

And I kept thinking. Couldn't even picture the blue and orange outside the South, except for a couple of bowl games.

So I looked it up. The Gators last played a non-conference game outside of Florida in 1991, a 38-21 loss to Syracuse.

Florida fans will no doubt point to their annual game against Florida State as the reason the Gators can't be more ambitious with the schedule, though the Seminoles have been mediocre for five years. And yes, the Gators played Miami in 2002, 2003 and 2008.

But with 12 total games, couldn't Florida manage to cross the Mason-Dixon Line? Yes, they have to play LSU every year and yes they play the Seminoles. But what is now arguably the country's premier college football program should step it a notch. Wouldn't it be great to see Ohio State play in The Swamp? Or the game that every college football fan would like to see - Florida-USC?

Steve Harrison

UT fan falls out of love

With news circulating of a fourth Tennessee player having gotten into a legal jam, Joel Barker writes in Bleacher Report of how he no longer has stars in his eyes when it comes to Lane Kiffin. Here's a Kiffin quote about curfews that may yet come back to haunt him: "I don't like to make rules or have things that you can't really enforce." (More Kiffin quotes about the recent incidents here.) -- RTR

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

College football movies: Oher and others

"The Blind Side," the film based on the remarkable journey of Michael Oher (former Ole Miss player, now with the Baltimore Ravens), is coming to your local movie house Friday. Before you go see the Hollywood version, better to read the story: Click here for an excerpt from the book that started it all; this ran in The New York Times Magazine a couple of years back.

And while we're on the subject of college football movies, why not spend a couple hours this weekend with one of these (unless you really, really, really feel the need to watch Florida's beatdown of Florida International and compare it to what Alabama did to them back in September): 

* Everybody's All-American
* The Express
* The Junction Boys
* Knute Rockne, All American
* The Program
* Rudy
* The Spirit of West Point
* Water Boy
* We Are Marshall

But give me "Horse Feathers" over all of them -- the Marx Brothers running riot at victory-starved Huxley College. Even in 1932 they had their priorities straight. -- RTR

"And I say to you, gentleman, that this college is a failure. The trouble is, we're neglecting football for education."


"Where would this college be without football? Have we got a stadium?"
"Have we got a college?"
"Well, we can't support both. Tomorrow we start tearing down the college."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

In case you missed the game of the week

For the state juco title, it was East Mississippi Community College 75, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College 71.

In regulation.

You can read about the shootout here and here.

Everybody still refers to Gulf Coast as Perk, short for Perkinston, where the main campus is tucked away. And up in that part of the state, East Mississippi is sometimes called Scooba U.

Understand that the Great State of Mississippi has long had top-notch junior college football programs, winning 7 national championships since 1971 and sending a slew of players on to SEC and other schools (including Alabama's Terrence Cody, who played at Perk). East Mississippi is now ranked fifth nationally and Perk seventh.

Best postgame quote, from Perk coach Steve Campbell: "We'll learn something from this. I don't know what, but we'll learn from it."

-- R. Trentham Roberts