Friday, October 30, 2009

Who Ya Got? (Week 9)

Tommy Tomlinson

Georgia v. Florida (Jacksonville) -- We beat Florida two years ago with Knowshon Moreno, a pass rush that pounded Tebow, and the infamous celebration penalty. All three of those things are gone now -- you can do that celebration thing only once for the full effect -- and Florida has won 16 out of the last 19. (Just for the record, before that, Georgia won 13 out of 16.)

Florida has sleepwalked through the middle part of its schedule. As Arkansas showed, a sleepwalking Florida team is beatable, and Georgia has the offense to steal one if that happens. But I can't imagine they'll sleepwalk against us, not after the last couple of years. Unless the Ambien kicks in... Gators 38, Dawgs 14.

South Carolina at Tennessee -- Too bad Tennessee is showing some muscle just in time for South Carolina's annual November swoon. Vols 28, Gamecocks 13.

Ole Miss at Auburn -- Underachiever vs. overachiever. So forget about being an NFL first-round pick -- if you were picking QBs just from the SEC, would Jevan Snead make the top three rounds? War Damn Eagles 30, Rebels 17.

Mississippi State at Kentucky -- Two feisty second-tier teams. My pick for fun game of the week. Wildcats 33, Bulldogs 28.

Georgia Tech at Vandy -- This would have been a game three or four years ago. Jackets 48, Commodores 14.

Arkansas 51, Eastern Michigan 21

LSU 44, Tulane 6


Peter St. Onge

Ole Miss 24, Auburn 14: Another speedy, shifty RB to exploit Auburn's weak linebackers.
Florida 24, Georgia 14: Is Mark Richt in trouble yet?
USC 17, Tennessee 14: Not buying the new and improved Crompton.
Georgia Tech 24, Vanderbilt 10: Wish these two would swap conferences.
Miss State 27, Kentucky 24: Still trying to figure out how Auburn killed those Bulldogs.
Arkansas 41, Eastern Michigan 10
LSU 38, Tulane 3

Michael Gordon

Lounging on the down-filled couch of the bye week . . .
Florida 31, Georgia 14: This Tebow post-concussion business bears watching, but can anyone explain why Georgia is again this bad on both lines and in their defensive backfield?
South Carolina 21, Tennessee 18: The QBs cancel each other out. South Carolina gets the edge because Kiffin's "we wuz robbed" spiel doesn't have the Vols ready.
Ole Miss 35, Auburn 20: Get in Snead's head and the entire Rebel team takes two steps back. War Eagle defense, though, is getting plucked weekly.
Miss. State 24, Kentucky 21: A key turnover settles this one.
Ga. Tech 24, Vandy 14: When Tech starts playing upper tier SEC teams, then we'll talk. Hint: This year, Georgia doesn't qualify.
Arkansas 55, Eastern Michigan 20: These late out-of-conference annihilations have become truly annoying.
LSU 45, Tulane 6: See above. The folks in Louisiana will swallow anything, including the notion that this game still matters.

What I did at the Georgia-Florida game

I've been to nine Georgia-Florida games in Jacksonville.* Most of them were in my college years and shortly after, when sentences like "The cases of Stroh's are on sale, let's get a couple of those" sounded like the essence of truth and beauty.**

*There was an 10th game... 1995, at Sanford Stadium, when the Gator Bowl was under a two-year renovation and the teams played home-and-home. That was the year Steve Spurrier, up 45-17 with 5 minutes left, called a flea-flicker for a touchdown because no one had ever scored 50 on Georgia in Athens. I don't exactly weep for Spurrier when we break South Carolina's hearts every year.

**Near where we lived our senior year, there were two liquor stores across the street from each other. One had a sign that said WORLD'S COLDEST BEER. The other had a sign that said, simply, COLDER BEER. This was a philosophical conundrum along the lines of whether God could make a rock so big that he couldn't lift it. We often debated these things over extremely cold beers.

I wanted to talk about all the things that make Georgia-Florida special -- the neutral site, the 50-50 ticket split, the way the stadium is laid out in quarters (Georgia-Florida-Georgia-Florida), how a big play causes exactly half the crowd to go nuts while the other half sits there in stony silence.

But maybe the best way to talk about it is just to make a list.

At the Georgia-Florida game, I head-butted a fellow Dawg fan so hard we both fell down.

At the Georgia-Florida game, I slept in my roommate's Camaro until a security guard woke us up at sunrise.

At the Georgia-Florida game, I heard my dad say the first and only cuss word I ever heard from him. (This was at our house before the game... he looked to make sure my mom wasn't around, then said he had seen a car with a sign that said "(BLEEP) FLORIDA." Then he smiled.)

At the Georgia-Florida game, I saw a teenage girl with an arm like John Elway pelt Florida fans with wet rolls of toilet paper. I can only hope it was water.

At the Georgia-Florida game, I dragged a rubber gator from the back bumper of my car until the legs were scraped off. I assume that today I would be pulled over by PETA and caned.

At the Georgia-Florida game, I got my car keyed.

At the Georgia-Florida game, I jumped out and moved a police barricade so I could drive through, leading to the first time I ever thought I might get arrested. (OK, maybe the second.)

At the Georgia-Florida game, after a big win, I high-fived a Jacksonville cop who was directing traffic with a giant victory cigar jammed in his jaw.

At the Georgia-Florida game, I saw Ric Flair strut down the aisle in a Gator sweater with a gorgeous blonde by his side. (I think that was a couple of gorgeous blondes ago.)

At the Georgia-Florida game, I slept eight to a hotel room with guys who smelled like sweat, Wild Turkey, and creamed peas from Beach Road Chicken.*

*We LOVED Beach Road Chicken. Ate there every year the night before the game. I'm pretty sure it's gone now.

At the Georgia-Florida game, the only one they didn't boo was Herschel, and the only one we didn't boo was Emmitt.

At the Georgia-Florida game, I said some things I would now like to retract. We didn't even know Galen Hall's mama.

At the Georgia-Florida game, we would go down to the Georgia tunnel just before the teams came out, and we would pound the canvas over the tunnel as hard as we could with both hands, like insane bongo players, and then the players would gather in the tunnel and some would take their helmets off and bang the canvas from the inside, and feeling that sudden hard plastic thump under our hands was like a creature coming to life, one that we had created with our own hands and were about to set loose on the world.

At the Georgia-Florida game, after we beat the Gators the first week they had ever been ranked no. 1, I went down on the field and clawed up a handful of Gator Bowl turf. I kept it until it was nothing but brown shreds and dust. It got tossed out in a move. I wish I still had it.

-- Tommy Tomlinson

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sweeter than any Halloween candy

I’ve seen the grainy video on television too many times.

None were by choice, but that’s not a complaint.

When you grow up in the heart of Louisiana, you’re exposed early to Billy Cannon’s mystical punt return on Halloween against Ole Miss in 1959.

During the week leading to Halloween, they’d play it a ton of times on TV, and this was way before the round-the-clock sports highlights flooding us these days.

The background:

LSU was national champion in 1958. The next season, the Tigers (No. 1 nationally) were hosting No. 3 Ole Miss (hated rival).
Rainy Halloween night.
Ole Miss led 3-0.
Cannon, LSU’s best player, returned a punt 89 yards for a touchdown; LSU won 7-3.
Later that year, he won the Heisman Trophy.
No LSU player – before or after – ever has.

I was too young to remember the live event, but the replay and legend-talk was always around Tiger faithful. The date became scorched into my young brain, like all the other biggies:
* Louisiana Purchase (that Thomas Jefferson snagged a bargain)
* Mardi Gras (changes every year)
* Opening of shrimp season
* Jazz & Heritage Festival

It’s still a big deal.

Last Tuesday, Cannon, teammates and some Ole Miss opponents gathered in Jackson, Miss. to celebrate the 50th anniversary.

There aren’t many plays, on any level, that reverberate half a century.

-- Cliff Mehrtens

And click here for a longer version of this video, which both sets up the game and includes LSU's goal-line stand at the end.

Checking in on the Heisman Trophy

A couple of polls to chew over:

From, which surveys a few voters every week:
  1. Mark Ingram, Alabama
  2. Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame
  3. Colt McCoy, Texas
  4. Tim Tebow, Florida
  5. Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska

And from the ESPN crew:
  1. Ingram
  2. Clausen
  3. Tebow
  4. McCoy
  5. Kellen Moore, Boise State

That brings us to today's just-for-the-sake-of-argument posting.

The SEC title game is December 5. The Heisman is awarded a week later.

Let's say Florida and Alabama play for the championship. If the Heisman is hanging in the balance, and given the quality of the defenses, who would be more likely to put on a show-stopping performance, Ingram or Tebow?

I say Tebow, but only because what happens with Ingram very much depends on how well Tide QB Greg McElroy is playing that day.

 What say you?

-- RTR

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

An angle we hadn't seen . . .

At full-screen, the fury of the play as the Tennessee line fights to hold off the Tide attackers washes right up to the Vol sideline. The ball was snapped at the 27. Terrence Cody's arm is hard to miss. Tennessee's dreams of an upset are about to be flicked away.

Mississippi State at its finest

As we count down the days to the ritual viewing of the most storied moment in SEC history -- on this, the 50th anniversary of THE GREATEST PUNT RETURN ON A PAGAN-BASED HOLIDAY BY A HEISMAN-TROPHY-WINNER-ORTHODONTIST-COUNTERFEITER -- the  Expats are weighing in with history-making highlights from their schools.

Being a Mississippi State man, my list is short.

Number 2: December 1, 2003 -- Sylvester Croom is hired as the first black head coach in the SEC.

Number 1: December 6, 1941 -- MSU concludes its first and only conference-championship season with a 26-13 road win against San Francisco. Sensing a country in disarray, Japan attacks Pearl Harbor the next morning.

-- RTR

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Run, Lindsay, run

It's Georgia-Florida week. I'll have more to say later -- I'm thinking about just posting a list of things I have done at the Georgia-Florida game, but I need to check various statutes of limitations first.

For now, I'll just put up the Lindsay Scott video with the Larry Munson call. If you're reading a blog called SEC Expats I assume you've already seen and heard this. But for Georgia fans, this is "It's a Wonderful Life" -- you pull it out every season and enjoy it all over again.

I think this is the greatest play in the history of college football -- I admit to being unbelievably biased. But think of the stakes and the odds: losing to your hated rival, 90 seconds left, a #1 ranking on the line... and you throw a 92-yard touchdown pass to win the game.

And while I'll accept other arguments about the greatest PLAY, when it comes to the greatest CALL, nominations are closed. This is it.

-- Tommy Tomlinson

Why Kiffin should watch from home this week

Words have weight. Therefore, they have consequences. Kevin Scarbinsky of the Birmingham News takes it from there. (By the way, before you dismiss his arguments as Bama homerism, be apprised that at least 75 percent of the posters in my favorite chat room despise his column.)

Coaches vs. refs: Who's got next?

As expected, Mississippi State's Dan Mullen has been reprimanded by the SEC for his remarks about the replay official's capabilities in the MSU-Florida game.

Now comes word that Vanderbilt's Bobby Johnson isn't happy about a couple of replays in the Commodores' 14-10 loss to South Carolina. Great quote from Johnson: "I think I'd have to get in line to complain about that."

Click here to see the video of the iffy touchdown by South Carolina's D.L. Moore.

Click here for the story from the Tennessean (they've also added a poll where you can vote for the worst SEC call this year; we'll steal that idea once we get a few more entries to choose from).

P.S. The Pac-10 gets in on the Great Stripe Hunt. The league has suspended an official for not calling anything when Southern Cal's Taylor Mays grabbed the face mask of Oregon State's James Rodgers and pulled off his helmet after Rodgers' touchdown catch. Story here.

If the playoffs started today ...

... not that we'll ever use those words in regards to D-1 college football, but here's what the folks at Sports Illustrated think it might look like as things now stand:

'Bama-Iowa in the second round? Isn't that supposed to be the championship game? (Don't laugh -- the computer portion of the latest BCS rankings has the Hawkeyes No. 1.)

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Kiffin Chronicles: Let the Beatings Resume.

Big surprise, Boy Mouth has been put on Double Secret Probation. Based on Kiffin's comments following UT's numbingly close loss to Alabama -- excerpts are up on SEC Expats -- Dean Wormer, uh. make that SEC Commissioner Mike Slive again has lowered the whip.

Here's the link.

Let's review:
*Kiffin accused Urban Meyer of a recruiting violation. Turns out he didn't know the rule.
*Kiffin accused the ref's of blowing a helmet call at the end of the Alabama game that could have given the Vols another kick (and Terrence Cody a chance at the Hat Trick). Turns out he doesn't know that rule either .

What's next for the Tennessee coach? An electronic bracelet? Around his tongue?

What we learned from Saturday (Week 8)

* How bad can it get for SEC refs? What's left, zebras in black hoods caught sacrificing a live goat in the parking lot? One moderator on an Auburn site pinned the plague of bad calls all on Alabama (imagine that?). I thought we were a second-rate program with delusions of past grandeur. Glad we've been promoted to a criminal conspiracy. Still to come: An ACORN-like video showing zebes and Tide bigwigs fixing the Iron Bowl.

* Is LSU timing the wave?

* There are bye weeks and then there are true bye weeks. Alabama needs one, big time, after escaping the Vols. Terrence Cody will have ice packs on his armpits for the rest of the season. And I still think his helmet came off early.

* Quick, name an SEC QB playing better than Jonathan Crompton.

* Nick Saban's press conferences make for some some of the best SEC footage on the Web each week. His relationship with the media can be prickly, but his answers are honest, open and filled with information. This week's nugget: Saban calling out his own staff on having more faith in the passing game. See it for yourself, courtesy of the Tuscaloosa News.

* Who isn't a little surprised that Arkansas didn't show better against Ole Miss. Close loss to Florida, sure. But the wear of an SEC schedule really showed on the Hogs. Meanwhile, Dexter McCluster may be the most entertaining player in the conference.


Q: What's black and white and dreaded all over?

A. SEC referees, of course.

Call it the Season of Sour Grapes if you want, but the fact is that coaches, players and fans of four schools -- Georgia, Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi State -- think they've gotten the short end of the officiating stick this year.

The latest post-game quotes:

"You run another play and you throw an interception or they throw another flag on us -- I wasn't going to let the refs lose the game for us there and some magical flag appear." -- UT's Lane Kiffin, on letting the clock wind down before trying the field goal at game's end.

"There's no excuse for a guy who has the amount of time to replay the video to make sure they get the call right ... it's embarassing that they blew the call." -- MSU's Dan Mullen, on the play where Florida's Dustin Doe may have been stripped of the ball before crossing the goal line.

-- RTR

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Here we go again (plus official explanation)

So, should there have been a penalty called when Alabama's Terrence Cody took off his helmet after blocking Tennessee's attempt at a game-winning field goal? (Apparently the play was still in progress.) Cast your vote. We probably haven't heard the last of this.

P.S. Now that we have a healthy number of votes in, here's the official explanation (courtesy of SI's Andy Staples -- full story here):

Cody indeed removed his helmet while still in the field of play, which usually merits a 15-yard penalty. But even if officials had flagged Cody, Tennessee wouldn't have gotten another kick.

Because Alabama blocked and recovered the ball, Alabama had possession. The game can't end on a defensive penalty, but because of the possession change, Alabama wasn't on defense.

SEC spokesman Charles Bloom: "The foul for taking helmet off is a live ball foul treated as a dead-ball foul. That is, if it happens on a play where time does not expire then the penalty is enforced on the following play. However since the clock ran out on that play, then there is no next play, so there is no penalty to mark off."

Dateline The Netherlands

If you find yourself in Amsterdam tonight around 9:30, stop by the Satellite Sports Cafe. They have the Alabama-Tennessee game on their TV schedule. Or you might try Coco's Outback, which purports to be the only Australian pub in all of Amsterdam. (Can't go wrong with a place that advertises "Lousy food and warm beer.")

Friday, October 23, 2009

Who ya got? (Week 8)

The calendar has turned to hog-killing time. That was the term I heard every fall when the temperatures turned and the life expectancy of the family's pigs took a pronounced dip. It's also hog-killing time in the SEC. The season is boiling down to the tusk and bristle of the traditional rivals, and any loss puts a very large knife in a team's BCS plans. Let's get at it.

Michael Gordon
Tennessee at Alabama: Will the bye week be a welcome week of rest for the Vols or an interruption of its first sign of momentum? Take the latter. As spottily as Greg McElroy has performed the last two weeks, this is a special Alabama team that has too much at stake to take Tennessee lightly. Besides, the Vols still start Jonathan Crompton. Tide, 24-10.

Florida at Mississippi State: The Lizard Men intend to make a statement in Starkville. Just how big an exclamation point it earns remains to be seen. Gators, 42-17.

Arkansas at Ole Miss: Rapidly improving Arkansas plays the SEC's most disappointing team. If Nutt's players bring "give-up" to the game, this could become one ugly afternoon in Oxford. Hogs, 27-24.

Auburn at LSU: Auburn doesn't have enough players with SEC talent. LSU has too many talents without a discernible clue. Talent eeks by. LSU, 24-17.

Vanderbilt at South Carolina: Trap game for the Gamecocks, but Vandy is just bad enough to let Carolina gaze ahead to Florida and still muddle through. 'Cocks, 21-10.

LA-Monroe at Kentucky: The best coaching job in the conference notches another win. Cats, 31-10.

R. Trentham Roberts
Theme of the week: taking the measure of the first-year coaches. With that in mind...

Tennessee-Alabama: With Florida and Texas surviving squeakers, Tide was getting all the love this week. Can't see the Vols being able to do enough against the 'Bama D. Alabama 30, UT 13.

Florida-Mississippi State: Had the Gators handled Arkansas with ease, I was thinking this would be another one where MSU stays close but comes up short. Now? What was a trap game becomes a semi-statement game. Florida 49, MSU 7.

Auburn-LSU: Death Valley is not the place for visitors to turn around their fortunes. Look for more offense (and maybe a Russell Shepard sighting) from the Bayou Bengals. LSU 27, Auburn 14. 

Elsewhere: Ole Miss 24, Arkansas 22. South Carolina 33, Vandy 10. Kentucky 40, Louisiana-Monroe 13.

The past is marching on

Ole Miss has shortened a fight song to keep fans from chanting "The South will rise again" at the end of the song.

"From Dixie with Love" (also known as "Slow Dixie") -- a medley of "Dixie" and "Battle Hymn of the Republic" -- is played by the band before and after games. (You can listen to it here.)

"The fact is, the phrase 'The South will rise again" is not part of our tradition or spirit," said new chancellor Dan Jones, who asked band director David Wilson to make the change.

Earlier this month, the student government passed a resolution suggesting the song-ending phrase be changed to "To hell with LSU."

Now that's the spirit.

-- RTR

The week in quotes

"The University does not deny that it is a serial violator. That is a fact."
-- Alabama, appealing the NCAA decision that 21 wins should be vacated because of that whole textbook thing.

"Where I made the mistake is I didn't see the whole thing."
-- Marc Curles, on the errant personal foul called against Malcolm Sheppard in the Arkansas-Florida game.

"Terry picks out my clothes. I don't go shopping. I don't buy anything for myself."
-- Nick Saban, digressing from the topic of UA not letting Tennessee wear its home orange jerseys Saturday in Tuscaloosa.

"The BCS is the very definition of monopoly power."
-- Sen. Orrin Hatch, requesting a federal investigation into the BCS setup.

"We need the whole state of Mississippi to show up and make it the most hostile environment we can."
-- MSU coach Dan Mullen, on hosting Florida on Saturday night.

"I actually was a huge Georgia Bulldog fan because of Herschel Walker."
-- Florida coach Urban Meyer.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Florida-LSU: 2 out of 3, falls count anywhere

A possibility we hadn't considered, courtesy of ESPN's Ivan Maisel:

If six of the seven unbeaten teams lose, then a once-beaten team will reach the championship game. That has happened in each season since the FBS moved to a 12-game schedule in 2006. A once-beaten LSU, currently No. 9, would mean the Tigers won at Alabama on Nov. 7 and in the SEC championship game. It's difficult to imagine another one-loss team finishing ahead of them, save for Florida. Tripleheader anyone? Florida beat LSU on Oct. 10. If the Tigers win the rematch, and there are no other unbeatens, who's going to say it couldn't happen?

Full story here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

No flags for you!

The SEC finally steps in and suspends the blind mice that called, or blew the calls, in the Florida/Arkansas game. The Birmingham News has the details.

Serial cheater, cheating again?

NCAA violations have come at a much quicker pace than national titles for our friends in Tuscaloosa - so much so that the NCAA has labeled Alabama a "serial repeat violator" in the wake of a textbook selling scandal.

Another hit to the reputation today: Steve Spurrier says Alabama may have cheated last Saturday by putting a piece of white tape on the ground during field goals to help mark where the ball is supposed to go. Spurrier was uncharacteristically diplomatic in wondering if what he thinks he saw was legal. It's not, according to the NCAA rulebook.

But maybe we should give the Alabama players the benefit of the doubt on this one. They might have sold their rulebooks, too.

Peter St. Onge

Brer Tiger gave me a heads up that he might be ruminating on the serial cheating theme.

Suffice to say the last 15 years have been a blight on Alabama's reputation.

Suffice also to say that Bama fans will sit for a lecture on ethics from the scions of Lowderville -- 7 major infractions in the last 50 years, topped off by the humiliating SACS reprimand of AU's corrupt and meddling board of trustees -- just as soon as we swan dive into a hog lagoon in pursuit of personal hygiene.

Keep it down home, cuz . . .

A salute from the Gamecocks

South Carolina will wear special camouflage-themed uniforms when it hosts Florida on Nov. 14. It's part of an effort to help raise money and awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project, which provides programs and services for severely injured members of the armed forces. Full story here. (AP photo by Mary Ann Chastain)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

No joy in Blogville about UF-UA squared

From the Yahoo blogger Dr. Saturday, about the prospect of a Florida-Alabama SEC title game, followed by a rematch for the national championship ...

"The homers are already abuzz with the prospect of turning the Rose Bowl into the world's largest deer stand."

You can read the whole column here.

1978 B.C. (Before Cupcakes)

On its way to a share of the national title, the 1978 Alabama team played the following nonconference schedule (final records in parentheses): Nebraska (9-3), Missouri (8-4), Southern Cal (12-1), Washington (7-4) and Virginia Tech (4-7). 'Bama then went and beat top-ranked Penn State in the Sugar Bowl. The Tide's only loss was to Southern Cal, which was voted No. 1 in the final UPI poll. -- RTR

Monday, October 19, 2009

Florida-Arkansas: See for yourself

That hollerin' you hear from the Woo Pig Sooies won't be letting up anytime soon. (Thanks to for the highlights.)

P.S. The SEC came back Monday and said the refs blew the personal foul call. Read about it here.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

What we learned from Week 7

*That Florida benefited from perhaps the two worst back-to-back flags in SEC history (somebody wearing a striped shirt should be fired, or at least tied to the back of a golf cart and dragged around the Arkansas stadium). But the Gators ultimately won the game because the Hogs' so-called offensive genius turned scared and conventional at just the wrong moment. Bobby Petrino had the country's No. 1 team by the neck late in the fourth quarter. He had the ball. He had the momentum. But he settled for a field goal try from a kid who had already missed once. Ironically, Alabama coach Mike Shula did the same thing -- repeatedly -- against Arkansas three years ago and his kicker kept missing. What's that expression about the definition of insanity? College kickers are not pro kickers. On Saturdays, there is nothing automatic about anything -- with one exception: An SEC official will do something inexplicable. Those fourth-quarter flags in Gainesville -- particularly the laughable roughing call against the Arkansas kid -- kept Florida in the game. Throw in the GA/LSU celebration hankies and collectors now have a full set of four decisions displaying extreme incompetence with games on the line. To order, call the SEC office at 1-800-FLAG-THIS!

*That the SEC has its own epidemic: Call it the QB Crud. From Todd to Garcia to McElroy to the Son of Man, most of the top signal-callers were at loose ends Saturday. McElroy was bad for the second straight week, but Alabama got by on defense and Mark Ingram, who went down the field by himself out of the Wildcat to score the fourth-quarter clincher. Unless the Tide can throw the ball better -- and the receivers have to do more to help McElroy out -- the games against Tennessee and LSU will be like fighting through the hedges at Normandy. And they'll have no shot against Florida.

*That the Saturday night loss at home to Kentucky has to be a bitter one for AU. The Tigers ran the ball decently, but couldn't stop the run. And Chris Todd consistently didn't show enough arm to get the ball downfield to open receivers. Patience, Plains people, your team continues to play awfully hard, and Colonial Bank was not destroyed in a day.
Michael Gordon

Saturday, October 17, 2009

It's a bird ... no, it's a LANE

UT coach Lane Kiffin and recruiter in chief Ed Orgeron chopper in to a high school game in Lithonia, Ga., on Friday night. It sure got the attention of some of the blue-chippers (read the Atlanta paper's account here; photo by AJC's Curtis Compton).

An entrance worthy of Wild Bill Kilgore himself.

"Put on psy war op ... make it loud."

Friday, October 16, 2009

Who ya got? (Week 7)

Tommy Tomlinson:
I'd like to start today by mentioning that my Dawgs have accomplished something unprecedented in college football history: We turned Jonathan Crompton into the national player of the week.

Reggie Ball is really wishing he had an extra year of eligibility.

On to the picks:

South Carolina at Alabama: If they were playing in Columbia, I might roll the dice on an upset. But not in Tuscaloosa. So if Saban wins the national title this year, do they just deed the state to him and be done with it? Tide, 31-14.

Arkansas at Florida: If they were playing in Fayetteville... OK, not really. Gators, 38-10.

Georgia at Vanderbilt: Way too close for comfort. Dawgs, 33-28.

Kentucky at Auburn: If you have to slink home after a game on Saturday night, Kentucky is a great rebound date. Tigers, 45-14.

UAB at Ole Miss: At least there's SOMEBODY from Alabama that Ole Miss can beat. Rebels, 35-3.

Mississippi State at Middle Tennessee: How is this a road game for Mississippi State? Bulldogs, 23-14.

Michael Gordon:

South Carolina at Alabama: South Carolina's season is like the plot of a well-worn movie that ends badly, like "The Alamo." It starts well, but Davy Crockett always dies. Tide, 31-17.

Arkansas at Florida: Bama showed how to bring the hammer to Ryan Mallett. Et tu, Gay-Tor? Florida 35-14.

Georgia at Vanderbilt: The horror. The horror. Almost. Dawgs, 24-17.

Kentucky at Auburn: The SEC's most underrated smash-mouth offense will move the ball. Just not nearly enough. AU 35-17.

UAB at Ole Miss: Rebs back to playing somebody their own size. Ole Miss, 42-7.

Miss. State at Middle Tennessee: Throw away the record books for this one. Throw away your tickets, too. Bulldogs: 24-21 in OT.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Spurrier, relevance and my bud Tom

In his first college football column since the last time he wrote about Steve Spurrier, Tom Sorensen says TOBC will return triumphantly to his foreclosed-upon address among the coaching elite with a win Saturday night against Alabama.

Gutsy call there, Tom.

His reasoning: Spurrier once was great. Spurrier once talked to him. Spurrier gives Tom the chance to write about a former quarterback other than Jake (on that final note we can all be thankful).

He says the Gamecocks are young and frisky and should have no chance on the road against No. 2-ranked Alabama, whom he says are as grizzled as the '66 Green Bay Packers. Somehow, Tom divines, Spurrier will outcoach Nick Saban and Carolina will shock the world.

Note to the Man in Black II: The Man in Black I (that would be Johnny Cash) generally had significantly more facts in his lyrics than you have in this column.

1. On the so-called age disparity, Alabama played more true freshmen than almost any team in the country last year. In an amazing development that no one saw coming, Tom, those kids have became SOPHOMORES.

2. True, the Gamecocks rely on true freshmen in key spots. But the team's two best players, Stephen Garcia and Eric Norwood, pulled into Columbia just after the Union Army pulled out. There are pictures of them on the Web helping put out the fires. Honest.

3. How can The Visor remain among the country's coaching dieties, much less be relevant, when he's 1-3 against Clemson? Oh, I get it. His evil-genius plan was to perch Tommy Bowden up for as long as possible. Then, with Bowden doomed, Spurrier masterminds a plot for his team to take a dive against the Tigers last year to install Dabo Swinney. Gee, Tiger Nation, no wonder you hate the SOB.

4. Garcia is fun. Norwood is great. The young chicken team will fly all over the field. But in the end, Spurrier will find someone else to blame, and Tom Sorensen should stick to Jake.

Alabama 31, South Carolina 14.

-- Michael Gordon

P.S. Didn't take Bama fans long to pick up the scent.

SI on the SEC

"One curiosity about the league's coaches is how often they move around within the conference. It's a confederacy of vagabonds, and a coach's loyalty depends largely on which athletic business office is cutting his paycheck."

Click here to read the story by the fine writer John Ed Bradley -- who knows of what he speaks, having played for LSU in the '70s.

Click here for SI's video and pictures from gameday at The Grove.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Recruiting as practiced in 1959

Note: Reprinted in its entirety from the December 21, 1959, issue of Time magazine. See if you spot anything that might be an NC2A violation nowadays.

Four seasons ago they began quietly showing up in the wooden stands behind Natchez (Miss.) High School, and strolling with practiced nonchalance across the field after the game to introduce themselves to the kid with the whiplash passing arm. By the end of this year, there was hardly a football coach in the South who had not cast covetous eyes on Perry Lee ("The Gun") Dunn, 18-year-old son of a Natchez factory worker. For Perry Lee is a quarterback with the roughhewn build of a tackle (6 ft. 1½ in., 207 Ibs.). As a senior he has averaged a startling 260.9 yds. a game, running for 20 touchdowns and passing for 14 more.

The scramble to grab off Dunn was a textbook piece on the ancient art of recruiting. In the modest Dunn home, the phone jangled steadily with long-distance calls placed by nearly every major-college coach in the South, from Alabama's Paul Bryant to Arkansas' Frank Broyles. From Dartmouth came a circumspect and indirect inquiry. Notre Dame forwarded plane tickets to the Southern California game (Perry Lee mailed them right back: "I don't much like cold weather"), and victory-starved Mississippi State sent a plaintive note ("We all hope and pray that you will come with us").

Dietzel v. Vaught. But from the start, young Perry Lee seemed to listen most respectfully to two top men of the tough Southeastern Conference: Louisiana State's blond, boyish Paul Dietzel, coach of last season's national champions, and Mississippi's canny, reticent Johnny Vaught, coach of this season's second-ranking team. Each man had an ally in Natchez. Boosting Dietzel and L.S.U. was Orthopedic Surgeon Jack Phillips, an L.S.U. alumnus (and former football manager), who took Perry Lee to L.S.U. games, assiduously cultivated the elder Dunns, once even helped Mrs. Dunn take in her washing off the line. Boosting Vaught and Mississippi was none other than Natchez' Mayor Troy Watkins, a Mississippi graduate (class of '49) of long and loyal memory.

Last week came the showdown. Under Southeastern Conference rules, not until Dec. 7 can a college sign up a boy for an athletic scholarship, euphemistically called a "grant-in-aid" (tuition, fees, board, room, books, and $15 a month for laundry). For the final week's skirmishing, Dietzel and Vaught suspended worry about their coming Sugar Bowl game and grimly set out to capture the big Gun.

Steak v. Duck. On Monday, Dietzel flew to Natchez to talk to young Perry Lee of L.S.U.'s winning tradition, national reputation, big stadium and academic standing. Next day Dietzel had the boy flown down to Baton Rouge for a two-day stay, produced All-America Billy Cannon to chat with his prospect. Thursday, back in Natchez, Perry Lee had a steak with Coach Wade Walker of Mississippi State, then excused himself to down another with L.S.U.'s Quarterback Warren Rabb and two other players specially flown in by Dr. Phillips.

Mississippi's Vaught bided his time. Then on Friday he played his big card. He invited Perry Lee to Mississippi's campus at Oxford. Vaught had long since learned that Perry Lee liked shooting almost as much as football, cagily detailed a trio of first-string linemen to take him duck hunting.

Bewitching Hour. That weekend did it. On Sunday afternoon Coach Dietzel flew to Natchez, cooled his heels for eight hours waiting for Perry Lee to return from Mississippi. But Schoolboy Perry Lee, closely convoyed by Coach Vaught, was heading for Room 1137 of the King Edward Hotel in Jackson, where Mayor Watkins and Perry Lee's father were waiting. There, at 12:05 a.m. on the morning of Dec. 7, Perry Lee signed his "letter of intent" to play for Mississippi.

"I've wanted to go to Mississippi all along," said Quarterback Perry Lee Dunn. "But I wanted to be sure. I'm glad it's over—I thought the pressure the last two weeks would drive me crazy. I haven't studied a lick the whole time." By week's end, Perry Lee was already talking like a Mississippi man, sniffed scornfully at top-ranked Syracuse: "Ole Miss could take them—they're just a bunch of fat boys."

Footnote: Perry Lee Dunn (no relation to former Ole Miss coach Joe Lee Dunn) switched over to fullback and also played defensive back during his time at Ole Miss. He was drafted by both the AFL's San Diego Chargers and the NFL's Dallas Cowboys. He signed with Dallas and played 6 years in the NFL (including stints with Atlanta and Baltimore).

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

CBS hearts the SEC


CBS Sports’ season-to-date coverage of the "SEC ON CBS" has earned a national household rating/share of 3.8/9, up +36% from a 2.8/6 last year. This 3.8/9 is the highest season-to-date rating for college football at this point in the season on CBS Sports in 10 years since a 4.2/10 in 1999.

CBS Sports’ coverage of the "SEC ON CBS" on Saturday, Oct. 10, which saw No. 1 Florida defeat No. 4 LSU in prime time, earned a preliminary national rating/share of 6.1/11, up 61% from last year’s 3.8/7 (LSU at Florida, 10/11/08).

The Florida-LSU game scored the highest rating for a college football game on any broadcast network in the 2009 season and is CBS Sports’ highest rated college football game since the SEC Championship game (Alabama-Florida, 9.3/20 on 12/06/08.

Monday, October 12, 2009

In defense of Jonathan Crompton

Fine. I'll be the contrarian.

He's tied for the SEC lead in touchdown passes. Just named conference player of the week. His team's got a new coach and could easily go 7-5 with a bowl bid.

Still, he gets it from all sides. Can't do this, can't do that. He's not ... he's not ... what? A world-beater? All he was cracked up to be? Or is it that he's, unforgivably, just average?

A ton of schools wanted him. Here's a line from the sports/recruiting site, dated January 26, 2005:'s final prospect rankings for the Class of 2005 are out and over the next few days will break down the top five prospects at each position. Today, AMP highlights the top five quarterback prospects for the Class of 2005: Mark Sanchez, Ryan Perrilloux, Jonathan Crompton, Jake Christensen and Harrison Beck.

Funny what happens to these can't-miss kids on their way to the big time. Sanchez (Southern Cal) is starting in the pros. Perrilloux (LSU) is now at Jacksonville State, Christensen (Iowa) is at Eastern Illinois and Beck (Nebraska, N.C. State) is at North Alabama.

And Jonathan Crompton, one year removed from death threats, is a good-enough QB in the best conference around.

-- RTR

Tide vs. Gators in the Groundhog Day Bowl

Interesting line of thought coming from Buckeye land, but what do y'all think: Could there really be two Florida-Alabama games in our near future?

Maybe, if a 12-0 Florida and a 12-0 Alabama butt heads in Atlanta and the game is a classic. Wouldn't hurt if Texas lost along the way, either.

-- MG

What We Learned -- Week 6

Tommy Tomlinson: I've never been a FIRE-THE-COACH! guy. Most of the time, the FIRE-THE-COACH! guy has the patience and judgment of a Vegas tourist after three cans of Red Bull. Good coaches have bad games, and sometimes a recruit doesn't pan out or a 18-year-old wide receiver drops the winning touchdown pass. These are nuances that escape the FIRE-THE-COACH! guy. Which is why I try not to be that guy.

Having said all that, I'm not sure how Georgia's defensive coordinator, Willie Martinez, can possibly keep his job.

My Dawgs lost 45-19 to Tennessee on Saturday. But actually it was worse than that. Our two TDs were a kickoff return and an interception return, and we blocked a punt out of the end zone for a safety. Offense vs. offense, the score was 45-3. But actually it was worse than that. The Tennessee QB who put up all those points was Jonathan Crompton, who had been so bad for two solid years that Vol fans were actively trying to infect him with swine flu. But actually it was worse than THAT. Crompton rolled up all those points on basically one play -- a bootleg pass that Georgia covered as if the play had just been invented that very day.

Georgia has lost by bigger margins. But based on quality of opponent, that's the worst Georgia loss I can remember. Florida, Auburn and Tech are still ahead. And I'm not sure we're a clear favorite this weekend against Vanderbilt.

Michael Gordon: That in the worst tradition of the Big 10 (Ohio State/Michigan) and the old Big 8 (Nebraska/Oklahoma), the SEC is again a two-team league. It should be clear, even to Auburn fans, that since Alabama and Florida are the country's two best teams, they might, sort of, kinda be expected to be near the top of the SEC, too. Let me know, War Eagles, if I'm moving too fast.

That Florida is beyond scary good. They walk into Death Valley, run the Pop-Warner version of their offense, and still blast LSU off the ball. Meanwhile, the Gator defense had Tiger QB Jordan Jefferson wearing a lost expression that was positively Jevanesque.

That Alabama can match Florida lick for lick, given the big ol' can of whoopin concentrate the Tide opened in Oxford on Saturday. It was such a thorough beating that HE WHO DOES NOT GUSH went positively Old Faithful over his team's performance in his post-game presser (Go to for the video).

The offense? Let's put it this way: Alabama lost to Florida a year ago because it ended too many drives with field goals. Bama will lose again if it can't get better around the goal line. Frankly, I think the playcalling Saturday was as suspect as the execution. Otherwise, we would have beaten the Rebs by 30.

And is it just me or does Julio Jones not look right?

Peter St. Onge: We learned that if you're not a great team, you can't overcome mental mistakes and unforced turnovers. (And, of course, that if you're making mental mistakes and unforced turnovers, you don't get to use the word "great," anyway.)

Auburn didn't lose because its innovative offense finally unraveled in the face of a fine SEC defense. That would've happened last week, against a far better Tennessee D. Auburn lost because it was flat. We began drives with penalties. We ended them with bad handoffs and poorly run routes. Our defense isn't deep or talented enough to overcome such deficiencies.

(We also learned this weekend that the Top 25 has it right with SEC teams at No. 1 and No. 2 - and it has the right order. Before Alabama fans can crow too much about superiority, they might want to figure out how to do more than get to Atlanta in December.)

Bonnie Kunkel: I learned that Florida can win a game with its defense. This is a new concept for the Gators. Our version of impressive wins often involves putting 50 points or so on the board. This time was different. It wasn't flashy but it was impressive none the less. 

Sunday, October 11, 2009

UF-LSU: One picture says it all

Photo by Kerry Maloney -- Associated Press

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Whither Tebow? (Saturday noontime edition)

Florida coach Urban Meyer said Saturday morning that Tim Tebow "wants to play'' and if he's cleared by doctors from one more set of tests to be taken today Meyer said he will play him. Click here for the story from Florida Today and here for the latest from the Orlando Sentinel.

Dateline Germany: The expat experience

Heard from an LSU grad named James Pollard who works in civilian support at an Army base in Germany. Here's a little of what he had to say.

About the far-flung fan base: "There are plenty of other (fans in Europe) ... just not always easy to find. Turnover is high here since most military and Department of the Army civilians only stay at one duty station for 3-5 years. You'll find the largest concentration of expats in Germany because of a larger military presence."

About catching the games: "A trip this weekend will prevent me from staying up until 2 a.m. to watch the kickoff. In these cases (and when the games aren't televised), I typically listen to the games on the LSU sports network (Jim Hawthorne) on Luckily for me, LSU does well enough that most of the big games are televised on the Armed Forces Network. ... Day games are much more convenient, as it doesn't require me to stay up until 5 a.m. the next morning to watch an entire game ... but big games like this weekend are worth it."

About tonight's Florida game: "I think our team has been more lucky than good this year. I think they've created some of their own luck, but they haven't played anyone that really has their act together either."

Friday, October 9, 2009

Who ya got: Week 6


This is one of those weekends when the rest of the college football world should skip their games, pull up chairs and just gape.

For the first time, the SEC has donned its kingly robes -- draping Saturday with a daylong display of crackling matchups that again establishes the conference's claim to the throne. Let's meet the Royal Family:

Michael Gordon:

Auburn at Arkansas: Deceiving win over Texas A&M may have Hog fans again overestimating this team. Their defense is awful. Auburn's is mediocre, but will do enough to let Tiger offense punch holes in another one-armed Bobby Petrino team. Auburn 42-30.

Georgia at Tennessee: Another big home stage for Lane Kiffin, another illustration of just how badly the Vols need a quarterback. Georgia, 20-10.

Kentucky at South Carolina: Are chickens capable of coughing up hairballs? If so, this is the week. Carolina could be caught looking ahead to Tuscaloosa. But Kentucky enters Week 3 of a brutal SEC stretch, still relying on a quarterback who hasn't shown he can play. Carolina, 28-16.

Vanderbilt at Army: Cadets will punch Vandy in the nose. Will the 'Dores respond. Sort of. Vandy, 20-17.

Alabama at Ole Miss: Up to now, Ole Miss resembles Julius Peppers -- physically imposing but apparently bored. If the Rebs are to erupt, the time is now. I'm scared. But I'd be more scared if Houston Nutt had his typical offensive line. Tide, 28-17.

Florida at LSU: First quarterback to play well wins. Did Jordan Jefferson turn the corner with his 4th-quarter performance against Georgia? Who takes snaps for the Gators? Florida defense will be flying after the ball. The Tigers' offense still gives me pause. I know, Saturday night in Death Valley and blah, blah, blah, cher. Florida, 21-17.

Courtney St. Onge:

Alabama 30, Ole Miss 13
Auburn 38, Arkansas 35
Florida 28, LSU 20
Houston 31, Miss. State 20
Georgia 21, Tenn. 17
South Carolina 24, Kentucky 14
Vandy 27, Army 13

R. Trentham Roberts:

While wondering why Mr. Gordon thinks so little of my alma mater that he doesn't even take the time to pick them to get blown out by Houston...

Florida at LSU: The other day I took at look at Les Miles' 10 most heart-stopping wins. (Click here if you want to see it.) After a while, it ain't luck. It makes me BELIEVE. (For the purposes of this edition of the blog, anyway.) LSU 21, Florida 18.

Alabama at Ole Miss: The red and blue garbage cans are already dotting the Grove. (Click here for the webcam.) Hope there are a lot of them, because Rebel fans won't be able to keep their liquid lunch down. Alabama 28, Ole Miss 7.

Auburn 49, Arkansas 48
Tennessee 21, Georgia 17
South Carolina 24, Kentucky 20
Vanderbilt 30, Army 13
Houston 42, Mississippi State 30

Sorry for the omission, Trent, but I thought you'd suffered enough.

Florida-LSU: Who ya got? (It's your turn to vote)

You should be seeing a poll off to the right.

In the spirit of SEC compliance with NCAA rules and regs, please try to vote no more than twice.

Three if you have to.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


I'm finding it kind of hard to get mentally psyched for Saturday's game versus LSU.

I just don't hate LSU like I hate Georgia or Tennessee. Even Alabama and Auburn get my blood boiling, but LSU doesn't really anger me all that much.

By all accounts, the last three match-ups have meant everything. Literally. The winner of the last three UF/LSU games has gone on to win the national championship.

Of course I want Florida to win.. and win big. Wouldn't all of you other SEC fans be disappointed if Florida didn't try to run up the score?

But the only time I've ever visited the LSU campus was not for a football game.

I spent several days at LSU after Hurricane Katrina devastated the area. I was working for WCNC-TV at the time and a few of us were sent to help our colleagues at WWL-TV in New Orleans. As we were driving there, my news director called. New Orleans was closed, he said. The levees had just broken.

So, we went to Baton Rouge instead. Our colleagues were in the process of setting up a temporary home at LSU's journalism school.

Over the next several days, emergency workers from around the country descended on LSU. They organized themselves on the football field, waiting to be dispatched where they were needed most.

I met many families who fled their homes and were living out of their children's dorm rooms. They were thankful to have a dry floor on which to sleep.

It was a heartbreaking assignment. So many people lost so much. LSU served as their safe haven.

That's my only experience with LSU, so there will always be a soft spot in my heart for the people there.

That, of course, does NOT mean I don't want Florida to win on Saturday. It just means that I don't feel the need to trash-talk like I do for some other SEC games.

Go Gators!

-Bonnie Kunkel
From Cliff Mehrtens:

Bonnie, after reading your post, it is hard for me to rip on Florida, over-hyped Tebow or anything else.

All because of Hurricane Katrina.
I went to New Orleans soon after the storm, and saw horrific things. I'm glad LSU served as refuge.
I also remember what it felt like to watch LSU play in Arizona a couple weeks after the storm.
It was comforting. It was escape. It was three hours of not being sad.
Katrina changed a lot about Louisiana. It's not fun to recall it, and it still affects many down there.

I'll watch the game intently. It's the Tigers against the No. 1 team in the country.
But no bashing this week.
I hope Tebow heals completely.
I hope Louisiana does, too.

Smackdown: Alabama-Ole Miss

Michael Gordon:

Say what you will about our friends from Oxford, they do have an appreciation for the past.

"I love Mississippi," Gov. Ross Barnett said in 1962, part of the most infamous halftime speech in the history of SEC football. "I love her people ... I love and respect our heritage."

Coming from a state with its own fixation on the past, I, too, respect certain Mississippi traditions, particularly this one: 45-9-2. Allow me to translate: Ole Miss almost always loses to Alabama.

Think about it, the land of the Brewer Boys and Johnny Vaught, Eli, Archie and all the rest almost always get swamped by the Tide -- 5 out of every 6 for you Ole Miss historians who never quite got the hang of math. Put another way, the neighbor boys have played each other 56 times, and Alabama has won or tied 47 of them.

That imbalance would not be so astounding if the opponent were Vandy or Mississippi State. But Ole Miss still prides itself as being among the conference elite. That conclusion, like so many things at Ole Miss, relies on an increasingly parochial interpretation of an increasingly distant past. The University of Mississippi has indeed won three national championships and more than 600 games. But its last SEC championship was in 1963.

Today, Oxford still has The Grove, the ghosts of Faulkner and Willie Morris, that wondrous gene pool from which spring too many Miss Americas to count, plus the largest clan of able bottle-throwers this side of Baton Rouge. Yet the fans show up to the Alabama game with their good bourbon and their luscious dates and their Confederate flags, and they lose all the same.

Keep it up, boys. As the Confederacy showed us, there's honor and mythic power in supporting a doomed cause. Do the honorable thing again this Saturday.

Alabamians, haunted and seduced by our own history, cherish this one part of your heritage. In fact, every October we count on it.

R. Trentham Roberts:

Let me just start out by saying, and I'm not quoting anyone here, that I love Alabama and its people.

I love how they will stand there and look you right in the eye and go off on your old race-baiting governor when they know, and they know you know, that they are the good people who loosed George Corley Wallace Jr. on an unsuspecting world. And that if you were to point out this curious line of reasoning in polite coversation, they would not so much as blink, even as they trot out their time-honored response: "What about it?"

Truth be told, Ole Miss and Alabama are two peas in a pod most times. As my colleague made clear, both schools have fashioned for themselves a living, breathing history that's been known to put the U. in Unpleasantness. Both are petri dishes of doctors, lawyers, Capitol chiefs. And both never tire of those game-long incantations that sound like they came from a guy showing off his Esperanto skills at closing time.

But football is where the two schools part ways. Their records speak for themselves, no doubt. It was gracious of you to concede three asterisk-pocked national titles to Ole Miss, pre-empting any questions one might have about Alabama sneaking off with the crown jewels while the rest of the country was busy with the Great Depression. (Damn you, Gordon, and your City of Vulcan mind tricks!)

And I'll give you this: Your state flat knows how to recruit. From Wernher von Braun to Joe Willie Namath, when y'all go hunting for talent, you don't come home empty-handed.

So yeah, maybe -- probably -- Alabama wins again. You want to, you expect to, you need to. It's what gets you up in the morning, what makes you thrust out your chin and proclaim, "WE are the sun. YOU are the lesser light." (I guess I'd also want to hang my hat on such a belief if my home state took more pride in being the birthplace of Forrest Gump than, say, Hank Williams or Helen Keller.)

And once the game's over, us Mississippi folk who don't know any better will just have to go on about our business. Especially on the Coast, where I'm from. You see, we still can't quite figure out how we managed, all by our lonesome, to concoct a perfectly legal system by which we convert your gambling losses into our tax base.

Guess we're just dumb that way.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

By request: Georgia-LSU ending

Here's how it all went down on CBS. You can see the Georgia celebration that got flagged -- once in real time and then a couple of minutes later from a different angle.

And here's another quick look from yet another angle:

Monday, October 5, 2009

SEC to Georgia: Our bad, but drop dead anyway!

Think Dawg fans were baying about the celebration penalty following what appeared to be Georgia's winning touchdown against LSU? Wait until you hear the roar now.

What we learned . . . .

Michael Gordon:

1. That Auburn's offense will cause universal headaches. The Tigers' Tora! Tora! Tora! attack spread Tennessee out like salt water taffy, and the defense was good enough, albeit against UT's worst offense since . . . last year!

2. That Alabama must make some adjustments on its run defense. Kentucky hurt the Tide too often by simply knocking them off the ball. Bama, though undefeated, must do a better job filling the hole left by the injury to Dont'a Hightower. Fortunately, they still have Rolando McClain, the best single football player in the SEC.

3. That the SEC -- and college football in general -- has got to get a grip on the "celebration'' penalty. The two called at the end of the Georgia/LSU game were preposterous. As bad as it was, the flag thrown on Charles Scott's point-to-the-sky gesture was the lesser of the two and had less impact on the game. But I half-expected the zebra to announce, "After the play, unsportsmanlike conduct -- No. 32 and God." Compare those flags to the ones not dropped on Notre Dame's last two scores against Washington, when the Irish end zone looked like the preening celebration at the close of a bad gladiator movie. This rule needs a review, a long one.

4. That LSU will go only as far as their quarterback, Jordan Jefferson, will take them. He took them down the field twice in the fourth quarter against Georgia, after being dragged through the hedges for the first three. Compare that performance to those of Kentucky's Mike Hartline and UT's Jonathan Crompton. Want to know how much they're struggling? Neither would be a sure bet to start at UNC.

Peter St. Onge:

Auburn 26, Tennessee 22 - Another test, passed. Auburn will face only a couple of defenses as good as Tennessee's, and the Tigers moved the ball in Neyland Stadium better than Mr. Tebow did on the Vols in Gainesville. Auburn's defense? It battled. It slowed Tennessee's run game often enough. And yes, it benefited from that inept Vols passing game. Still, Auburn controlled the game. On the road. In the SEC. Against a heralded D-coordinator. We're not a top 10 team, talentwise, but we're good enough to scare those who are.

R. Trentham Roberts:

* That Nick Saban is cooking up some not-so-kind karma when he goes to throwing against Kentucky with a minute and a half left and up by 18 -- from the Wildcats' 14. Not that it'll much matter against Ole Miss, because from what we've seen of the Rebs so far, they have no shot to win.

* That LSU is like that character from the movie who says "Us Yellowbeards are never more dangerous than when we're dead." Florida had best watch out if the Bengals are hanging around late.

* That even this weekend's undercard is going to be good -- Auburn @ Arkansas and Georgia @ Tennessee.

* That while I hate to go the Rep. Joe Wilson route on the Rolando McClain speechifying, he's not really a cut above Eric Berry, Brandon Spikes, Eric Norwood and Chad Jones, is he? (And that's just on the defensive side of the ball).