Monday, November 3, 2008

SEC Football Random Thoughts: Class, Polls, and Lies

Who Has Class?

Just because the other team doesn't show any class, it does not mean your team does show it.

Sooner or later, fans should give in to the idea that every team and their fans stray from almighty behavior and kick another team when its down.

Last year, Florida fans couldn't use the word “classless” enough after the Georgia end zone celebration.

Maybe Richt wanted his entire team to go out there to dance, and maybe he didn't. But he definitely knew he was taking a risk with the 15-yard penalty.

As it turned out, Georgia was hit with two penalties, kicked off from the 7-yard line, and Florida quickly scored a game-tying touchdown with a short field.

When Urban Meyer called those two timeouts at the end of the game this past weekend, he wasn't taking any risk. He was simply kicking Mark Richt when he was down.

This isn't the first time the pot has called the kettle classless. Last year, Saban called Ole Miss fans classless when they threw whiskey bottles and a high-heeled shoe on the field to protest a interference call at the end of a game.

A few weeks, later, Saban mentioned Pearl Harbor and losing to Louisiana-Monroe in the same thought.

It wasn't too classy of the Ole Miss fans to chant “Houston Nutt! Houston Nutt!” in the closing minutes of the Rebels' victory over Arkansas in Nutt's homecoming visit last weekend.

Arkansas fans can say what they want about the chant, but there's no doubt they will return the favor the first chance they get.

Actually, they did that night. Some Hog fans chanted, “Bobby! Bobby!” as their team mounted a late-game comeback that eventually fell short.

The examples could be endless. At some point, it becomes easier to stop worrying about associating college football with high and mighty behavior, and focus more on the fun of it.

When some coach pulls a stunt that only adds insult to injury against your team, laugh it off. Everyone is familiar with the expression “what goes around comes around.”

It will be that much more fun when your team gets its turn.

Pollsters Fail to Think Through Their Votes

Do these guys not think about why they are voting teams in a certain spot? The glaring mistake of the week is Georgia coming in at #14 in the AP, USA Today, and Harris polls. Really?

Georgia has lost to #1 Alabama and #4 Florida for its two blemishes. A few of the teams ahead of Georgia include Boise State, Utah, TCU, Ohio State, and Missouri. Ohio State and Missouri also have top ten teams to blame for their only two losses, so I could agree to disagree on which of those three is better.

But does anyone voting in any poll – respected or otherwise – believe Boise State, Utah, or TCU would win against Florida? Or Alabama? No pollster would vote Georgia below any of the three BCS-busters if they had two losses as the Bulldogs do, yet they punish Georgia for losing to top-five teams.

Meanwhile, the BCS-busters played schools in New Mexico over the weekend.

More importantly, would any pollster bet on Boise State to beat Georgia on a neutral field? I'd love to take the other side of that one.

Another blunder by a few of the pollsters was to still vote for Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane blew its only shot at a BCS school during the regular season when it lost to Arkansas. The Hogs didn't exactly overpower the Hurricane, but the best case conclusion for Tulsa was that it almost had as much talent as the Razorbacks.

Casey Dick threw for 385 yards on the Hurricane defense after averaging 191 against the SEC and Texas. Tulsa was great at moving the ball between the 20-yard lines but stalled multiple times when it counted.

Arkansas, at 4-5, does not deserve to be getting votes in the top 25. And Tulsa, who is not as good as Arkansas, does not either.

More Change in Fayetteville

Chuck Dicus was fired from his position of the president of the Razorback Foundation last week. Dicus was an All-American split end in the late 60's for the Hogs, and had been the foundation president since 1991.

Supposedly, the board was given the directive to fire him from new athletic director Jeff Long and/or new chancellor Dave Gearhart. The only notable position in Arkansas athletics that hasn't turned over in the past two years is now the baseball coach.

And once again, those in charge in Northwest Arkansas are lying about the event.

Any foundation board member or university trustee asked about the removal of Dicus plays dumb and says the reasons for the firing were not discussed at the foundation board meeting on Saturday just before the Tulsa game.

Those responses are lies.

Even former athletic director Frank Broyles, now a consultant for the foundation, says he has no idea why Dicus was removed.

He's lying too.

There has to be a reasonable explanation for the firing of a long-tenured president of a multi-million dollar organization.

Dicus was popular among the fans, and the foundation didn't exactly suffer for contributions – especially for a relatively poor state. Naturally, fans are interested in the reasons for his ouster.

Nonetheless, the average Hog fan is left in the dark about the change. The cost of two season tickets to Fayetteville and Little Rock games is $630. Add a modest $100 donation per seat, and the price tag leaps to $830 just for tickets to home games.

Those paying $830 for tickets are likely sacrificing just as much or more than those donating at the higher levels.

Whether it was a personality conflict, an unforgivable mistake, or just a firing for no good reason, the supporters of the foundation deserve to know the reason Dicus was let go.

They do not deserve to be lied to.

All this lying is, well... classless.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

SEC Football Rambling Recap: Week 6

Actual GameDay sign: What's Worse: Auburn's Offense or the Economy?

Vanderbilt students looked up GameDay on Wikipedia and had a respectable crowd Saturday morning.

Auburn, Mississippi State, Arkansas, and Tennessee fans are all asking themselves the same question: How is Vanderbilt's backup quarterback better than all quarterbacks on our team?

Auburn still looked like a Spread team without any Spread players in Nashville. Fortunately, they host Arkansas this weekend. The Hogs happen to be the perfect cure for an anemic offense. We'll see how big Tony Franklin's ego really is. He'll either try to prove the Spread will work – eventually – or he'll run the ball straight at the hapless Hog defensive line for an easy five yards a carry.

Arkansas' defense might just be bad enough for the Spread to work.

Actual GameDay sign: Lee Corso Scores More Than Auburn

Does Tony Franklin also coordinate Tennessee's offense? A 13-9 victory over Northern Illinois might qualify for the ugliest game of the season, battling the 3-2 slugfest for the top spot.

There's something missing from this Florida team. They haven't been sharp the past two weeks, and the early kickoff times aren't enough of an excuse. There's a good chance Urban Meyer saved a lot of the game plan for LSU, who visits this week. Expect more scrambling from Tebow, but also expect LSU to hold them to 21 points in a Tiger win.

Actual GameDay sign: You People are Blocking the Library

South Carolina's defense should be enough to keep them close the rest of the way. Just being close will be scary enough for other teams that have to deal with Spurrier's play-calling late in a game. All of a sudden, 4-2 with losses to Vanderbilt and Georgia doesn't seem that bad.

My preseason pick for SEC Coach of the Year isn't looking too good. The improvement in quality of play over last year is obvious in Oxford, but Nutt has also lost three games by 2, 6, and 7 points. The Rebels gave up leads in each game.

Ok, maybe we hyped Alabama a little too much after the beatdown in Athens, but I'd still take them over the Big XII teams in the top five. Their offense doesn't put up Playstation numbers like the Big XII, but the Tide defense will stop teams when it counts. I know, I know, its way too early to talk about that.

Actual GameDay sign: I Got My GED from Auburn

We might be in store for up to three more “Games of the Year,” as dubbed by the media. First, there was USC-Ohio State. This weekend is OU-Texas. The winner of that will likely face an undefeated Missouri team, either in the regular season for Texas or in the Big XII Championship for Oklahoma.

I want LSU and Alabama to both make it unscathed until November 8, but don't expect it. Defense may win championships, but poor quarterback play can lead to upsets. Both are susceptible.

Actual GameDay sign: The SEC Drew Straws, & Its Vandy's Turn to Beat Ohio State in a Bowl Game

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

SEC Football Rambling Recap: Week 5

Ah, ten teams in the SEC are longing for the good ole days, when Mike Shula and Ed Orgeron haplessly roamed the sidelines in the West.

We all knew it was coming. We just thought it would take another year or two. Nick Saban is a badass. Even an Auburn fan that believes Tuberville will deliver Seven in November has to admit it. Even if Auburn does get Seven, Saban did what maybe no one else could have done in a year in Tuscaloosa.

If any of the pollsters would take an even money bet on Oklahoma against Alabama, I would be willing to put them in the gambling business.

Georgia has a long way to go to get back to the top 5. Both of their lines were dominated by Alabama. That's not to say it can't be done. Unless you're 2004 Auburn, a single loss to a ranked team won't keep you out of the BCS title game.

I've never been one to give Les Miles the benefit of the doubt as a head coach. I've admittedly been on the other side, but his record is starting to speak for itself. He's now four years in and playing fewer of Saban's recruits. He still has plenty of moments that make fans ask what the hell he was thinking, but so do most other coaches. The botton line is he wins games.

Over the past few years, Auburn has been involved in games that ended 13-9, 10-3, 10-9, 7-3, 9-7, and the now infamous 3-2 game. It seemed those contests became solely about field position at some point during each half, where the offenses turned super-conservative and punts were intriguing plays.

One other thing about those games: Auburn won them all.

Don't be surprised if Auburn has another anti-barn-burner this weekend against Vanderbilt. But who cares what happens? The real news is that ESPN – the main one – will be in Nashville for a Saturday night game in October.

Vanderbilt might end up needing this game to get to a bowl. The 4-0 Commodores have to bank on wins at Mississippi State and against Duke, but six wins probably won't guarantee a bid. The SEC will likely have 10 teams bowl eligible with Mississippi State and Arkansas home for the holidays, so Vanderbilt may need a win against Auburn or Kentucky.

Sylvester Croom and his crew may be poised for a strong second half run. Seven of their final eight games should be winnable, with the contest at Alabama the only one that seems to be hopeless at this point. This team doesn't seem to have what last year's had, though, and I'm not counting on it.

An ending record of 4-8 is the most likely outcome.

Its rude to pile on, and hindsight is 20/20. Still, fans have been calling third and one and fourth and one plays before Florida lined up for a little over two years now. It shouldn't be surprising that a team was finally able to stop it.

Tim Tebow is running less this year to slow the wear and tear on his body. This its taking away his strength as a dual-threat quarterback, and will likely cost the Gators again. Balancing his health and productivity is a double-edged sword, especially if he can't put up the gaudy numbers as a pro-style drop back passer.

Expect to see more scrambling from Tebow.

Uh, Fulmer's gone. Whether or not he should be gone is an article entirely by itself. The bottom line is a BCS title ten years ago won't save him today.

He's gone.

Ole Miss fans say they knew they were getting a good coach. Nutt has already given them a big win over a top-ranked team. In the next few years, the Rebels will be a top-ten team themselves.

Arkansas fans say they spent time in the top 10 with Nutt, just as he won some big games over top-ranked teams. Nutt was fired because they never happened on the same day.

Ole Miss fans knew Arkansas fans were expecting way too much from Nutt. What more could they want than two trips to Atlanta?

Arkansas fans say they don't expect to be in a BCS bowl every year, but do expect one or two when Matt Jones and Darren McFadden grow up in their state.

Ole Miss fans say to just look at how awful the Hogs are this year to see how valuable Nutt was. Hog fans say Bear Bryant couldn't win with this team if he had Steve Spurrier and Tom Landry as assistants, and the next two years should be written off solely because of Nutt.

Ahhhhhh! I can't take this!

Whooooo! This is what being a fan is all about!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Oklahoma Sooners: The Other Ohio State

It happened again. When Ohio State was thrashed in this year's early season spotlight game against Southern California, the college football world collectively said the same thing: “We knew it.” The Buckeyes dropped out of the top ten in the rankings. The pollsters even voted the Buckeyes below fellow Big Ten school Wisconsin, a team the Buckeyes will likely defeat handily in three weeks.

Now, it will take multiple losses by every SEC and Big XII team, a Conference USA upset of East Carolina, and a meteor to destroy Los Angeles – among other things – for the Buckeyes to have another crack at the national title game. No one wants to see the same team storm through a mediocre conference schedule only to turn the national title game into a laugher.

Because of this, the college football world needs to be proactive in seeking out the other potential frauds that are primed to punch their tickets to Miami.

The place to start the investigation is Norman, Oklahoma.

Just like Ohio State, Oklahoma has played in four BCS bowls in the past five years. Ohio State won its first two, and Oklahoma won zero.

Ohio State's last two seasons, when the Buckeyes dominated their regular season schedule only to suffer embarrassment in the BCS title game, were exactly like Oklahoma's 2003 and 2004 campaigns. In 2003, Oklahoma took its Heisman-winning quarterback into the BCS title game as a 7 point favorite. And exactly as Ohio State was in 2006, the Sooners were clearly outplayed on the national stage.

Heisman winners Jason White and Troy Smith combined for no touchdowns, three picks, and showings poor enough to warrant returning the trophies to the Downtown Athletic Club.

In 2004 and 2007, players from both teams took every opportunity to work in the phrases, “All about the team,” “Only focused on a championship,” and “Earn everyone's respect” during interviews. And once again, both teams were the boys in the Men versus Boys matchups that became the BCS title games.

If going back to 2003 and 2004 is unfair to Oklahoma, then fair enough. All players from the 2004 USC beatdown are gone. Comparing only the past two seasons can get the point across as well.

The 2006 campaign was a relative rebuilding year for Oklahoma (a compliment to the program), yet it still managed to take back its Big XII crown. But no matter how much of a rebuilding year it was, the Sooners never should have lost to their WAC counterparts in the Fiesta Bowl.

And no, despite some great plays, Boise State was not a great football team in 2006. Their players were smaller and no more talented than Oklahoma's. The Broncos flat outplayed them.

Last year, Oklahoma started the year ranked ahead of Ohio State. The only reason Oklahoma didn't get pasted in the BCS title game instead of Ohio State was the Buckeyes played more consistently during the year. Oklahoma slipped twice, against Colorado and Texas Tech, and Ohio State only slipped once.

And even if Sam Bradford wouldn't have been injured against Texas Tech, he could not have stopped the Red Raiders from running off 27 straight first half points.

Even so, after the Sooners manhandled Missouri in the Big XII Championship Game, some media members were calling for them to be granted a spot in the BCS title game. Their matchup with West Virginia was deemed the five-star lock of bowl pools around the nation. Yet, after it was all said and done, the Sooners lost by 20 and looked terrible doing it.

Basically, despite the fact that Ohio State performed more consistently during the regular season and played better competition in its BCS bowl last year, the Buckeyes' reputation took a far worse beating than the Sooners' did.

Admittedly, there's no way to predict how a team will perform in big games from year to year. Its even possible Ohio State could make its way back to the BCS title game this year only to find itself with a favorable matchup for once.

But for those that just knew Ohio State would wet the bed this past weekend – because they've been doing it for so many years – any expectations about the Oklahoma Sooners should be examined further.

Much like last year, Oklahoma started this season by destroying its early season opponents and looking unstoppable on offense. They've jumped to the top spot in the polls for all schools not named USC. In fact, the Sooners seem to be on a collision course with Missouri in the Big XII Championship Game.

The dream matchup of unbeaten Missouri and Oklahoma in early December would undoubtedly be dubbed The Game of the Century by ABC during the week leading up to it. Hopefully, if it comes to this, the game will live up to the hype.

Many are still bitter about the last Game of the Century: 2006 Michigan versus Ohio State.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Rambling Recap: Week 2, Part 2

There was no doubt Tebow would be the one to break the Miami's winning streak against Florida. He runs, throws, flies, speaks braille. Jesse Palmer should be polishing up his resume for the day Tebow gets cut from an NFL team. In fact, Pretty Boy Tebow may just kick Lee Corso off the GameDay crew and make former golden boy Kirk Herbstreit play the washed up coach on set.

So Palmer has about three years left in Bristol.
In September, the Central Michigan Chippewas are a weak opponent that Georgia should be embarrassed to beat up on. In late November, the Chippewas dominate the MAC Championship Game and are only a year or two away from threatening the BCS.
Kentucky is two gimmies away from being 4-0 for the second straight year. We won't find out how good, or bad, they are until they play in Tuscaloosa in early October. Don't blame them for a weak schedule, either. Louisville and the rest of the East are tough enough.
Last year, the team with an all-fluff schedule was also referred to as Orange Bowl Champions.
Auburn seems to be flying below the radar after two routine wins. Tuberville's teams have lost some head-scratching games in unimpressive fashion the last few years, but he still deserves the title of best big-game coach in the conference. The Tigers' defense is stout once again, and get they LSU and Georgia at home. One win for Tuberville against those two is just not a gutsy prediction.
Don't be surprised if they win both.
With all the big names on the sidelines in the conference, we knew someone would be in trouble by the middle of the year. Spurrier and Fulmer seem to be the leading candidates.
Hard to imagine either of those names being fired, but there may be a retirement in the next year or two. Especially if Georgia and Florida stay on top of the East, which they should.
Auburn travels to StarkVegas this weekend for Mississippi State's second prime time ESPN2 game in three weeks. Sylvester Croom might be a game or two away from hearing whispers about his job security as well.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Rambling Recap: Week 2, Part 1

Way to go Vandy. Again. Their stadium almost looked like a real college stadium on ESPN, too. Its great for the SEC that Vanderbilt is slowly but surely becoming competitive in its conference games.

A bowl game needs to be the first priority for the 'Dores. Their regular season finale is at Wake Forest, and it may turn out to be the do-or-die game for getting them over the hump.

Wake may have the ACC Championship Game on its mind that weekend. The best team in the ACC needed a controversial call and a last second field goal to hold off Ole Miss, an also-ran in the SEC.

Yeah, sounds about right.

Jevan Snead looks as good as advertised. Ole Miss may not end up being an also-ran by November.

LSU 's game with Troy will be made up November 15, the weekend before the Tigers travel to Oxford. Not the worst thing that could have happened to the schedule, but could contribute to a late-season shake-up in the West.

Houston Nutt's teams have played toe-to-toe with Les Miles' clubs since Miles has been there, even in 2005 when the Hogs went 4-7. Ole Miss didn't do so badly with Orgeron the past two seasons, either.

Hard to blame Alabama for the hangover against Tulane. They have two more weekends of cupcakes before visiting Athens in what is now a showdown game. Not sure if they'll have more trouble with Western Kentucky or Arkansas.

Either the talent level between I-AA Western Illinois, Sunbelt school Louisiana-Monroe, and Arkansas is razor-thin, or Arkansas has been out-coached for three of four quarters each game. For Hog fans' sake, hopefully the the problem is the talent.

That doesn't sound right.

Rambling Recap: Week 2, Part 2

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Rambling Recap: Week 1, Part 2

Alabama scored the biggest win of the opening weekend, and jumped 11 spots in the AP poll to #13. Other than that, what did they get for having the stones to schedule a prime-time early season matchup?

Not a damn thing.

Bama's no closer to a BCS bowl this week than they were last week. They're no closer to a BCS bowl than Auburn or Georgia after scheduling cupcakes. If one of the Mississippi schools catches Bama on the wrong weekend, the Clemson win will be easily forgotten.

At the same time, Clemson is erased from the national title picture. As far as the bowl implications are concerned, Bama is a small winner and Clemson is a huge loser.

After one game, it appears South Carolina scored with the hiring of former Mississippi State defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson. Its hard to top a shutout, no matter how bad NC State was. Expect him to keep Chris Nickson from running anywhere Thursday night. Nickson will be forced to throw for 200 yards to keep Vanderbilt in the game, something he will likely struggle with.

Arkansas – the team that hired Johnson from Mississippi State only to lose him to South Carolina – will end up being the biggest loser in the deal.

Speaking of Fayetteville, good for Houston Nutt. His Rebels handled Memphis easily, which was a needed improvement from the former regime and the close games they've had the past few years. While its fair to say he underachieved some at Arkansas, its also fair to say that he and his family were flat-out put through hell. Arkansas fans may take some time to forgive him for not doing more with Darren McFadden's last year, but here's to hoping the two sides will be happy after going their separate ways.

Jury's still out on Tuberville's switch to the spread. I'm buying the decision.

Tennessee was 7-1 in SEC overtime games, and the the Vols looked like they had never seen overtime in Los Angeles. And what was up with that please-block-this-punt formation? It looked like Fulmer himself could have run through the gaps in that spread line to make the block, scoop, and score.

Pete Fiutak of wrote in his Calvacade of Whimsey column that the ESPN-SEC TV deal will lead to SEC teams having “better facilities, better coaches, and better overall programs than anyone else can possibly come up with.” Wouldn't go that far, but nonetheless:

Nice, nice, and very nice.

Rambling Recap: Week 1, Part 1

Rambling Recap: Week 1, Part 1

Georgia lost its #1 ranking after easily beating Georgia Southern, and lost some ground to now #3 Ohio State. Who gives a sh..., um, cares? Being ranked #1 is fun and all, but it doesn't matter until the end of the season. Further, #2 at the end is just as good as #1. As long as a team is in the top five to start the year, a strong year will take care of itself.

I bet Ohio State fans wish Beanie Wells only had 8 carries like Knowshon did this past weekend.

Congratulations to Vanderbilt. Welcome to the SEC, where most season-opening games are more about tailgating and getting together with old friends and less about worrying if you'll win three games this season. Hopefully they can start playing those games in Nashville rather than in Ohio. Or Ruston, LA.

Turns out SEC Idiots was wrong about LSU dominating App St and getting 4 yards on the ground whenever they wanted. They got a lot more. Between comments here and at Bleacher Report, you would think App St fans would have rather I said I roamed my neighborhood streets beating up little kids than said the FCS Mountaineers didn't stand a chance. Good luck to both defending champs the rest of the way.

I wonder who is more upset – Louisville fans that Kentucky's football program is better than theirs or Kentucky fans that Louisville's basketball program is better than theirs?

After the bloodbath in Gainesville this past weekend, the WAC's top two teams are now 0-5 in laughers in their last few trips to SEC country.

Here is the breakdown by quarter:
SEC teams outscored the WAC 45-6 in the 1st quarter
SEC teams outscored the WAC 70-0 in the 2nd quarter
SEC teams outscored the WAC 80-14 in the 3rd quarter
WAC teams outscored the SEC 44-16 in the 4th quarter.

The games were Hawaii at Florida 2008, Hawaii vs Georgia in the 2008 Sugar Bowl, Hawaii at Alabama 2006 , Boise St at Georgia 2005, and Boise St at Arkansas 2002. Perhaps Mississippi State should schedule one of them rather than going back to Ruston. Or Murfreesboro, TN next year, I understand.

Rambling Recap: Week 1, Part 2

Monday, September 1, 2008

StarkVegas Was Too Quiet This Weekend

Dear Mississippi State,

Didn't watch the game and don't know what happened. Noticed that Wesley Carrol threw a pick every other time he dropped back, but that's neither here nor there. The most upsetting thing about the La Tech win is that the game was played in Ruston, Louisiana.
Not StarkVegas. Ruston, Louisiana.
You need to remember who you are and where you came from. You're in the SEC. We don't play in places like Ruston, because we don't have to.
We sign billion-dollar television deals. That's billion with a “B.” We could have had our own television network, but the worldwide leader in sports wanted to handle that for us.
If we open the season away from our home stadium, its for good reason. Tennessee is going to Los Angeles, not Ruston. Alabama was paid to treat the future ACC Champion like a stepchild in the Georgia Dome, not Ruston. And that's paid with a “P.”

If you have a bad team, then open the season with a worse team. It is scientifically impossible that your team played worse than Arkansas did, yet they are 1-0 and you are 0-1. They just had a little better handle on their cupcake limit.

If you want to help some smaller school keep its I-A status by boosting its home attendance, call your Hog buddies in Arkansas and seek their advice. They'll be playing an away game against Louisiana-Monroe in Little Rock next week.
You do not belong in Ruston. I don't care if the tickets only cost $12 or they were free. SEC teams don't open seasons at WAC stadiums. They don't play there period.
You need to respect yourself more. After all, you are the rightful co-owner (along with LSU) of the Iron Bowl trophy for the next three months, and you have a good chance to defend your title. You made NCAA-record breaking rusher Kevin Smith look like a high school running back at the Liberty Bowl last year.

What I want you to do is pick yourself up, shake it off, and forget about it. Act like this never happened. Don't mention it again.

Act like an Alabama fan when someone brings up Bear Bryant. Act like Spurrier in a press conference after a win. Act like a Kentucky basketball fan any day of the year.
Act like your batshit crazy ex-baseball coach.
I want to you walk around StarkVegas this week like you have a 16-inch, uh, foot. Because you know what they say about people with big feet.

They don't belong in Ruston.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Calm Down Hog Fans: It Could Be Worse

It could be much worse. As a matter of fact, I'm not convinced the best team won in Fayetteville the other night.

Razorback fans everywhere started the complaining in the first quarter of the Western Illinois game and haven't stopped since. Instead of complaining, however, we should be thankful.

Just as the Hogs are due for a solid run at the SEC Championship every few years, they are due for a year like this one every few years as well. And the important thing to remember is that Arkansas didn't lose to a I-AA school like it did the last time the talent pool was so depleted.

How can anyone ever forget the loss to Vanderbilt in 2005?

Comparing that colossal embarrassment to the Western Illinois game should give Hogs fans a better perspective and provide encouragement for the future.

This year, just as in 2005, the talent-level of the upperclassmen is scarce.

Its been widely noted that Houston Nutt knew exactly when to get out of Fayetteville. He waited out the tenure of the greatest player ever born in the state of Arkansas, and promptly bolted with everyone's money. Everyone understood he left the cupboard bare.

Turned out we were wrong about that cupboard. He left a piping hot pile of excrement.

During the text message and Springdale mom's club fiasco after 2006, Nutt signed a recruiting class that was poor by Sunbelt Conference standards. Those guys are sophomores now. The best of the previous year's recruiting class transferred elsewhere. The headliners of the 2005 recruiting class left early for the NFL.

In 2005, a disproportionate share of the talent rested in the freshman class as well. Darren McFadden and Felix Jones should be enough explanation for that. Further, the juniors and seniors in 2005 were recruited during the infamous NCAA sanction years. Not that SEC coaches needed much help recruiting against Arkansas, but possible bowl-bans were easy fuel for the fire.

Plenty of other parallels exist between the Vanderbilt and Western Illinois games. In 2005, Arkansas' defense was undersized and the secondary was green. This year, Arkansas' defense is undersized and the secondary is green.

Starting DE Adrian Davis is a linebacker. Starting MLB Jerry Franklin is a safety. Starting OLB Walner Leandre is a safety. Every single backup linebacker is an undersized safety.

And by “green,” I mean terrible.

Against Vanderbilt, Arkansas started strong and finished weak. The Hogs gave up a 19-yard pass on 4th and 10 to allow Vanderbilt to continue its game-winning touchdown drive.

Against Western Carolina, Arkansas started weak and finished strong. Casey Dick converted a late 4th and 10 to setup the Hogs' winning score.

Against Vanderbilt, the two most talented freshmen on the team were inexplicably limited in their roles. McFadden and Jones had one carry each, while De'Arrius Howard had 21 carries and Peyton Hillis had 15.

Against Western Illinois, the most talented freshmen were allowed to actually impact the game. Freshmen Joe Adams and Greg Childs caught both of Arkansas' touchdown passes, and the Hogs' freshmen accounted for almost half the total receiving yards.

Adams, who scored Arkansas' first touchdown, was committed to USC this time last year.

Against Vanderbilt, Arkansas blew an 11-point 4th quarter lead and lost in the final minute. This year, the Hogs overcame a 10-point 4th quarter deficit and won in the final two minutes.

After the Vanderbilt loss, my buddy smashed his neighbor's windows with a golf club. After the Western Illinois game, well, that house has thankfully been torn down since then.

ESPN and the rest of the nation were two minutes away from unleashing the “Karma's a Beast” campaign on Petrino. Instead, the game went unmentioned on SportsCenter and most people outside Arkansas only noticed the closer-than-expected final score. The Hogs now have to figure out how to escape Little Rock with a win against Louisiana-Monroe next week.

After the Vanderbilt loss, Arkansas had to travel to USC the next week.

See, it could be much worse.

Hogs Uniforms Resemble BMX Racing Suits

One time I’m listening to the radio with my son, driving down the road and he said, ‘I don’t know why [Bob] Huggins ever left Cincinatti.’ I said, ‘Why? What are you talking about?’ He said, ‘You can recruit to Cincinatti in basketball now.’ I said, ‘Why you say that?’ He said, ‘Well, their uniforms.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘Their uniforms are tight and that’s why guys go to the school, because of their uniforms.’
So we’re going to try and have uniforms that are tight.
-Bobby Petrino
Even fans younger than 73 think these things are grotesque.
There aren't many times when jerseys should upset college football fans, but this is clearly one of them. If teams want to play dress-up for a big game every now and then, fine. But let's be reasonable.
These things don't belong on football players. They belong on wannabe stoner kids getting sweet air and doing killer tricks over dirt mounds with their bicycles.
The white stripes are supposed to resemble tusks. Nice try. It looks like Tusk threw up on Casey Dick after watching all his passes get dropped.
These things need to be donated to a boys club immediately. This is the SEC. Or the “SEC Conference,” as Petrino calls it. Uniforms in the class of conferences should have some sort of a classic look. They should not look like some off-brand jersey from a Wal-Mart rack defiled with 3-D numbers and zebra stripes.

Friday, August 29, 2008

App State is Your Buddy From College

Everybody has a buddy from college like this.

You know, that guy that took home a different slut every night he went out to the bar. That was just his thing. He liked to bang sluts.

He didn't so much go for the hot girls, or the smart ones, or the cute ones. He just stuck to the sluts.

When you were freshmen, he was one of the seven guys still dancing at four in the morning when there were only two chicks – fat chicks – left left at the fraternity house looking for a place to shack up. He would invariably be one of the two “winners.”

A few years later, he'd be tanked at the bar talking to the decent-looking but really annoying girl. Everyone else in your crew was leaving with their girlfriends, and this guy wouldn't shut up about how would find a different ride. The next morning, you had to go pick him up at sketchy apartment complex. He talked the entire ride home about the random night he had and the crazy old man that almost got in a fight at the bar after you left.

And the slut he banged.

That guy was just like Appalachian State. Everyone likes them. Everyone gets along well with them. Everyone pulls for them.

Still, even though everyone liked him, nobody really trusted your buddy with their girlfriend when they were out of town. Not that they were afraid of him stealing her, but they didn't want to take any chances that night.

North Carolina doesn't want to play those guys and give them a shot for a big time win. Good for them, too. No need in taking unnecessary risks.

Because that one night your buddy found a really hot girl at the bar that was wasted and had just broken up with her boyfriend, everyone was happy he got to bang her too. But nobody expected it and nobody expected it to happen again. But you still gave him a high-five the next week.

As you know, that hot drunk girl was from Michigan.

Sure, it was a nightmare for Michigan fans. But that wasn't the end of it. Turned out that lots of others were affected too. It embarrassed their conference just as much. All their friends looked down on them. Its probably not very good for bigger schools recruiting backups in the vicinity of Boone, NC, either.

It was a fun story at the time but not necessarily good for anyone.

Things on campus just weren't right afterwards. Every bottom-feeder kept going after the girls that were out of their league with no shame. Their confidence levels were unjustifiably sky-high.

Tom Brady should have to worry about Eli stealing that Brazilian chick from him. Brady shouldn't have to worry about Subway Jared constantly hitting on her.

The important thing to remember is your buddy's game was kept in check plenty of times. Most of the time, in fact. He didn't start every night hitting on sluts; he just worked his way down to them. The girls he hit on to start each night all thought he was “creepy” for the most part, or said he just flat out scared them on a bad night.

This time, App State is starting the night at the bar with the lofty aspirations of victimizing another quality target. Hopefully, they'll get shot down.

Surely App State will have to move down the list a time or two before they get any action. After all, the big man on campus knows to not let his girlfriend get more than two feet away from him at any moment.

College football gods willing, App St will go back to banging sluts, and the college football world will return to normal.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

SEC Signs ESPN TV Deal... Glorious

We're rich, bitch!
The league office did something right.

It may never admit when officials screw up. It may not fine teams for losing their bowl games and embarassing the rest of the conference. But it can apparently strike gold with a TV deal.

Here are the details from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The executive summary is that there won't be a TV network devoted solely to the SEC because there won't need to be. ESPN will damn near do that on its own.

Every conference football game will be televised, three times as many basketball games will be shown as are now, and ESPN/ABC take over the basketball tournament semis and championship game. In fact, all SEC championship games will be televised by ESPN networks except for football, which stays with CBS.

With the contract giving the league $150 million per year, each team should take home over $10 million from ESPN alone. That would leave about $30 million for the league office to maintain operations and give a bonus to whoever negotiated this jewel of a deal. Each school received $10.2 million total from the conference last year.

Still, the best part of the deal - any way you slice it - is that Raycom is axed completely. That means we only have one more season of watching games in anti-HD and listening to Grade A morons with mics. ESPN will take over those games in 2009.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

"If We Would Have Only..." Summary

Each team has now been published. Here's a summary list.

Alabama: 2000 Orange Bowl
Arkansas: 2006 SEC Championship Game
Auburn: 2005 at LSU
Florida: 2001 vs Tennessee
Georgia: 2002 vs Florida
Kentucky: 2007 vs Tennessee
LSU: 2006 at Auburn
Mississippi State: 1998 SEC Championship Game
Ole Miss: 2003 vs LSU
South Carolina: 2005 at Georgia
Tennessee: 2001 SEC Championship Game
Vanderbilt: 2005 vs Middle Tennessee State

The season can't get here soon enough.

Vanderbilt: If we would have only...

2005 vs Middle Tennessee State

The poor guys just can't get right. Of all the losing seasons, and of all the lost games, the one game that ended up keeping the Commodores out of a coveted bowl game was against Middle Tennessee State in 2005.

Sure, they had their chances in close losses to South Carolina, Florida, and Kentucky later that same year. They only lost by seven, seven, and five points, respectively. However, it is just so disheartening to think about MTSU being the one hurdle Cutler and Company couldn't get past to get to the program's first bowl game since 1982.

After all, Vandy started 2005 4-0 with wins at Wake Forest, at Arkansas, Ole Miss, and Richmond. The game against MTSU was supposed to be win #5, and then they would have six games left to only win one and become bowl-eligible. Didn't think it was possible at the time, but Vandy must have been looking ahead.

Vanderbilt managed only one touchdown the entire game, despite being able to move the ball consistently. In fact, Vanderbilt seemed to beat MTSU everywhere but on the scoreboard. They outgained MTSU 245-147 yards passing, and 102-62 yards rushing. Vanderbilt had 23 first downs to MTSU's four.

Quarterback Jay Cutler's big mistake came early in the 2nd quarter, when he threw a pick deep in his own territory. MTSU needed three plays to get the two yards for a touchdown, but they got them for a 7-3 lead. MTSU then went 85 yards on their next possession to push its lead to 14-3.

Vanderbilt managed a field goal before halftime to cut the lead to 8.

The Commodores owned the second half, but it wasn't enough. Vanderbilt scored on a field goal in the third quarter, and MTSU managed no points and one first down. Cutler connected with Erick Davis early in the 4th quarter for a 16 yard touchdown pass, but the two-point conversion failed. This left Vanderbilt with a 15-14 lead with about 13 minutes remaining.

MTSU's only offensive activity of the second half came a few possessions later, but it came nonetheless. A short field goal by MTSU gave them a 17-15 lead with just about seven minutes to go.

At this point in the season, Vandy was actually experienced in 4th quarter comeback situations. They had overcome late game deficits at both Wake Forest and Arkansas. Not just 4th quarter comebacks, but scoring the go-ahead touchdowns with under two minutes remaining. So it was a little surprising, even to Vandy fans, when Cutler's offense immediately went three and out after getting the ball back.

Their second and last chance to regain the lead came with just under three minutes to go, when Vandy got the ball back at their own 1-yard line. Cutler performed in the clutch just as before, as he went 7 for 8 on the drive plus a stop-the-clock incompletion. He led the offense to the MTSU 19-yard line, and Vandy had a 36-yard field goal to salvage the game and keep their winning streak alive.

It wasn't exactly an App State/Michigan moment, but MTSU blocked the field goal to shock the 'Dores and give Vandy its first loss of the year.

Vanderbilt pulled out one more win in 2005, in the game they undoubtedly wanted to win more than any other on their schedule. They beat Tennessee in Knoxville to finish the year in the closest thing Cutler ever got to a bowl game.

Its just a shame that in the one year Vanderbilt beat the Volunteers, its fans still couldn't claim the smart kids from Nashville were best college football team in the state of Tennessee. That crown would have gone to the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders, a 4-7 Sunbelt Conference team from Murfreesburo.