Monday, October 31, 2011

Bye-Bye Bayou … Hello T-Town

By: @LivingCrimson

The bye week is over and, according to reports, it was an uneventful one for LSU players. As an added bonus, it’s official “get out of jail free” week. “There will be no players withheld from this game.” – Les Miles

Honey Badger6

All jokes aside, the mini-NFL clash is on. During a recent Tennessee Titans game, some sportswriters opined that “the Crimson Tide may have a better stop unit than some NFL squads.” Both teams have at least 21 players predicted to be taken in the upcoming NFL draft. Here’s hoping the game is one for the ages.

Speaking of ages … Happy 60th Birthday, Coach Saban. All the players signed a #60 jersey for a birthday present. His response: "I can't wear this. I'm a skill position guy."

video courtesy of @KassidyHill

Kicking off game week, Nick Saban chills out in his Monday press conference.

“It's fun to play in games like this, but it's also important to focus on what you need to do to play well. You have to be ready to play the game well when the game comes.”

video courtesy of al.com

Les Miles adhered to the chaos theory and promptly began his press conference with a potential secondary violation.

“Friday night I went to high school football. I watched three prospects: Kragthorpe, Cooper and Miles. It was the University High Cubs game, I hope this is not an NCAA violation, but I noticed Kragthorpe to Miles and I feel that this is a good tendency.”

Ahem, Les, according to NCAA bylaw 13.10.2, “a member institution may comment publicly only to the extent of confirming its recruitment of the prospective student-athlete. The institution may not comment generally about the prospective student-athlete's ability…”

Then Miles went on to misspeak the age of Twitter. “My Twitter account that I have had for 10 years hasn’t really changed a lot. I think these games are played in between the white lines.”

Twitter launched in July 2006. Says @brownbil1970, “Well, we all know sense of time is not one of Les's strong suits.”

video courtesy of NOLA.com

Tuscaloosa News is reporting the Alabama LSU game will have a bigger impact on the local economy than most games. Ahmad Ijaz, an economist at the University of Alabama Center for Business and Economic Research, said most game-day weekends bring an extra $15 million into the local economy. But this week’s game will “bring in $17 million to $18 million for Tuscaloosa.” A much appreciated boon for a city still recovering from the tornado ravages of six months ago.

Tickets are hard to come by and scalpers are already at work at the Capstone. LSU students have begun camping out in hopes of securing student tickets. @WSJSports reports the top asking price on StubHub for 50 yard line seats is $3,799. In-state tuition for 12-16 credit hours at Bama? $4,300.

According to ESPN, the highest priced tickets for sale are $10,423.14 … each.

@DailyBamaBlog

@CarterthePower

RollBamaRoll has a nice piece on the history of the series dating back to 1895. And BCS guru Brad Edwards notes that the last two Alabama LSU games were won by the home team. The last time there were three straight home wins in this series: 1946-48.

Former Alabama and current NFL players Roman Harper (S, New Orleans Saints) and DeMeco Ryans (LB, Houston Texans) break down Saturday’s game and tell why they think Alabama will win the National Championship. Harper says Alabama wins “[b]ecause we’re a better team, and it’s in Tuscaloosa. We’re bigger… I like the way our offense matches up.” Ryans says Alabama wins “because they’re playing at home, and their defense is good enough to stop LSU’s run, get to the quarterback and create some turnovers. I think this defense is great.”

More Alabama updates on Twitter at @LivingCrimson.

Can the Bama – LSU game live up to the hype?

image ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit said that the Saturday night showdown between No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama in Tuscaloosa “is like having a Super Bowl in midseason.  Everywhere I go in the country” says Herbstreit, “people are talking about it, including the coaches.”

In his October 20 column in Sports Illustrated, syndicated radio talk show host Paul Finebaum said that the game will be “Ali-Frazier, Borg-McEnroe, Yankees-Red Sox all wrapped into one.”

Ken Gaddy, Director of the Paul W. Bryant Museum and Alabama football historian, told al.com’s Don Kausler that he expects as many as 20,000 to 30,000 people to come to Tuscaloosa this week without a ticket to the game just to be a part of the atmosphere.

Can the game itself live up to these lofty expectations? Both teams are undefeated and have beaten the pulp out of the only quality opponents they’ve faced. Both teams have potent offenses and ferocious, nation-leading defenses. Both teams have capable quarterbacks and star playmakers. You would think that the game will be 60 minutes of close, physical football with the outcome in doubt well into the fourth quarter. Some have suggested that it might come down to the final possession.

But highly touted matchups like this often don’t live up to the hype. The 2008 SEC Championship was billed as a “Game of the Century” with Alabama and Florida meeting as the two top teams in the country. The winner would play for a national title; the loser would settle for a BCS Sugar Bowl berth. But Alabama just had no answer for Tim Tebow, who carried his team in the second half to a double-digit win. In the BCS Championship Game a year later, Texas had no answer for Defensive End Marcel Dareus, who broke the Longhorns’ Quarterback and scored a defensive touchdown en route to Alabama’s 13th National Championship.

While the first ever No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup in the SEC regular season is certainly a game worthy of the media and fan attention it’s getting, there’s a good chance that one team or the other delivers a wrinkle, an approach or an edge that the other team just can’t stop. It might be the speed of the LSU front seven. It might be the ferocity of the Alabama Linebacker corps. It might be the unstoppable Trent Richardson or the ball hawking Tyrann Mathieu. It could be a couple of early turnovers that lead to quick scores, forcing one of the two titans to abandon its game plan.

If the game does turn out to be the slobber-knocker it’s being billed as, it will go down in history as one of the greatest college football games of all time. It will be talked about for generations and it will be used as a measuring stick for future showdowns between highly touted teams. But if it doesn’t live up to the hype, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Exit Question: A convincing outcome ends the silly speculation about the loser earning a rematch in the BCS National Championship Game, doesn’t it?

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Friday, October 28, 2011

CBS’ Tony Barnhart gets future SEC divisional alignment right

image Tony Barnhart is one of college football’s most respected writers. Known as “Mr. College Football,” the former Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist now writes for CBS Sports.

So, when the Southeastern Conference wanted to get media perspective on the Missouri to SEC story, who else would they want a sit-down with?

When the SEC website goofed last night and posted several pages of content announcing a move that hadn’t happened yet, it included a Q&A with Barnhart on what impacts the new members would have on the conference.

The interview that didn’t happen included this exchange:


SEC Digital Network: How much sense does it make to now have 14 teams in the SEC and how does that help the issues that you may see with 13 teams, such as scheduling?

Tony Barnhart: “Could the conference make it as 13 schools for one year? Sure; the scheduling models are done. The Mid-American Conference has done it, so there are ways for it to be done. But it’s not  easy; this simplifies it. I don’t know what the conference will decide to do. To me, the logical thing would be to take Missouri and put them in the east. It’s not that far from Lexington, Ky. If you put them in the East, have Texas A&M stay in the west, then you play the other six teams in your division and have one permanent crossover on the other side. You would make Missouri and Texas A&M the permanent crossover. To me, that is the least disruptive thing to do. No matter what, you want to maintain some of the better crossover games in the divisions.”


Well, now. Where have we heard that before?

Barnhart is absolutely right, of course. Splitting the new conference members between the two SEC divisions makes the most sense because it is the least disruptive thing to do. It preserves the balance of power between the two divisions. It maintains existing inter-divisional rivalries. It eliminates the need for drastic reorganization of conference schedules and it also eliminates the possibility of a nine-game conference schedule.

In fact, there’s pretty solid information that this is exactly what the SEC plans to do when it formally accepts Missouri. It doesn’t look like anyone in the current SEC West division will be escaping to the SEC East to “accommodate” the addition of Missouri. Gone also are the nutty ideas of SEC schools giving up a home game every other year to “accommodate” a nine-game schedule.

Those ideas would have worked to the benefit of one SEC school—Auburn—and to the detriment of virtually every other. Those who would have been hurt the most—Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida—would have seen cherished rivalries either eliminated or greatly diminished in impact and value.

I hope that Mr. Barnhart uses his considerable gravitas to champion the idea of placing Missouri in the East and Texas A&M in the West (or vice versa). These are fluid, unpredictable times and it’s inevitable that change will occur in places we’d have liked to keep the same. But when the opportunity arises to protect storied traditions and minimize disruption, it should be taken.

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SEC website hiccups, Twitter goes BOOM

image A head will likely roll down the steps at XOS Digital today.  XOS is the Southeastern Conference digital content developer and operates the league’s website. Last night, somebody at XOS mashed the wrong button and accidentally published drafts of web content announcing that the University of Missouri had officially joined the SEC last weekend.

The content was quickly discovered and posted on message boards, then found it’s way to Twitter where it promptly went viral. Within an hour of being discovered, the Missouri-to-SEC gaffe was in a serious trending competition with reaction to the St. Louis Cardinals’ remarkable comeback in Game 6 of the MLB World Series. Within two hours, the content had been removed from the SEC’s website (without comment from the conference office).

Screenshots abound, though.

Some media outlets have called this a “leak.” I seriously doubt that the content was leaked. That would suggest an agenda behind the action, such as sending Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton a message. I think it’s much more likely that the content was under development in preparation for what everyone thought was a done deal and simply sitting in the unpublished drafts folder at the website. Someone publishing unrelated content mistakenly selected this content and mashed the wrong button.  Occam’s Razor, y’all.

The frenzy over the gaffe shows a few things:

  • The eventual move of Missouri to the SEC from the Big 12 seems all but done. XOS didn’t develop all of that content speculatively. The did so under the direction of the SEC’s media relations staff, who wouldn’t have authorized the content’s creation without a high degree of confidence in the deal.
  • As a news story, conference realignment and Missouri’s decision are absolutely white hot in terms of public interest. The Cardinals’ comeback was one of those historic World Series moments that are talked about for generations. Yet a website hiccup drew a reaction that nearly drowned out the moment.
  • The “publish” button on some websites should be under the same type of security as that provided for the launch codes for the US strategic nuclear arsenal. Only a few dudes should be able to mash it and should have to go through a series of highly difficult confirmation sequences, or something.

It will be interesting to see how Missouri and SEC public affairs folks extricate themselves from this mess today and over the weekend. The SEC has said precious little regarding Mizzou’s eventual move to the league, and Mizzou has taken great pains to present itself as a deliberative, careful player. These images were shattered last night and how folks deal with the fallout should make for interesting drama over the next few days.

Getcha some popcorn.

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

GREAT NEWS: Big 12 expansion draws Senators’ ire

image MSNBC’s Chuck Todd interviewed US Senator Joe Manchin (D – West Va) regarding the on-again, off-again move of the West Virginia athletics program to the Big 12 Conference.

Ostensibly, the Mountaineers would be replacing Missouri. Missouri is widely believed to be negotiating the terms of its realignment from the Big 12 to the Southeastern Conference. Earlier this week, the deals appeared to be all done but the signing.

Until WVU’s Big East rival Louisville somehow entered the picture. Louisville happens to have a very famous son – US Senator Mitch McConnell (R – KY). In the interview, Manchin stops just short of accusing McConnell of impropriety in meddling with the deal struck between the Mountaineers’ program and the Big 12:


Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Manchin is upset because “it was a done deal” and is threatening to conduct a Senate hearing.

That’s all the realignment circus needs—a fourth ring in Senate hearing room.

It is perfectly fine for US Senators to lobby conference officials on behalf of the schools in their state. That is a part of living in a republic. It is quite another to fly off the handle like Manchin did, all but accusing McConnell of wrongdoing and threatening action on Capitol Hill. You have other, more important things to occupy the official Senate calendar with, sir.

What likely gave Oklahoma’s David Boren a start is the fact that as Senate Minority Leader, McConnell is arguably the most powerful man in Congress. When a guy like that wants to speak with you, you answer the phone. And if he asks you to give a matter a little extra thought, you hit the pause button for a few days.

This is exactly what I believe took place. McConnell, reacting to constituents (i.e., Louisville boosters), gave Boren a call and asked him to make sure the Big 12 was sure it was doing the right thing by inviting West Virginia over Louisville. In the collegial spirit of modern day politics, Boren agreed to do so.

When the final whistle blows, I think the West Virginia move is as done as Missouri’s move to the SEC. Everyone’s minds seem to be made that these are the right moves for those involved and the only thing left to do is negotiate the dollars and the details.

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This Bama vs. LSU hype video wins the internet

Offered without further comment.



Helmet tap to BamaHammer. See the Bama Hammer blog here. And an attaboy for Stew707 for the Youtube post.

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The Bama vs. LSU BCS “rematch” garbage needs to stop

BCSLogo On November 6th, 2011 there will be two groups of people making the case for a rematch between Alabama and LSU for the BCS National Championship. Those two groups will consist of BCS Anarchists like Yahoo! Sports’ Dan Wetzel and sore loser fans of the team that doesn’t win next Satruday’s date with Armageddon.

In the absence of a playoff system in the Football Bowl Subdivision, the November 5th meeting between SEC West Titans LSU and Alabama is a BCS Quarterfinal game. The winner goes on to likely win the SEC West division, demolish whatever patsy emerges from the SEC East “who sucks less” race, and play whatever other non-SEC team runs its table and finishes undefeated. Stanford, Oklahoma State, Boise State or Clemson. Any of the four could finish without losing a single game.

To suggest that the human voters in the USA Today and Harris Polls would stomach a one-loss SEC team gaining a rematch against the undefeated, undisputed SEC Champion is patently ridiculous. Quite frankly, anyone suggesting that it could be possible is either a few crab claws short of a bowl of gumbo or is working on an agenda that would throw college football back to the days when #1 and #2 faced each other only eight times in a bowl game in 56 seasons.

Hells bells, you might as well go back to having the major polls crowning their champion after the regular season, and just let the bowls just be a fanfare finale for the holidays. The presidents and chancellors of the FBS schools have consistently and steadfastly resisted instituting a playoff system. They’ve even reacted to a basic “plus one” scenario with cool reticence. They might reconsider their position when the current BCS agreement expires after the 2014 season, but that’s still three years off.

What happens if the anarchists get their way and the BCS dissolves?

Having a BCS-less post season in FBS would certainly return us to the era where the major bowls used their conference tie-ins to match who the hell ever showed up and the poll voters freely exercised their bias for or against certain conferences and certain football programs.

The BCS is far from a perfect system for identifying the consensus national champs, but it is a huge improvement over what we had before it emerged. I’m not somebody who lets improvement be the enemy of perfection. I’ll take the 12-pack now and come back for the rest of the keg another day.

I hear the argument that whoever loses the game next Saturday could beat anyone else in the country and should be ranked No. 2 if it finishes the regular season with that loss as its only blemish. I counter that with the 2004 NFL Playoffs. Many thought that the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts were the two best teams in the NFL and could beat anyone that the NFC had to offer. But the Patriots stuffed the Colts 20-3 in the Foxborough snow. The BCS anarchists are operating under logic that would have put the Colts in a position to avenge their loss on a neutral field in Jacksonville.

Still not convinced? Look at it this way. If the loser of next Saturday’s game gains enough ground and gets the rematch and wins the game, what has been decided? Nothing.

If you want to play for the BCS National Championship, then go win the games you’re supposed to win to get there. The victor of the game next Saturday in Tuscaloosa gets to say they did that. The loser doesn’t, even if they’d be favored against everyone else they’ll face afterwards. If the two best teams in the country have to face off against one another months before the BCS National Championship is formally and officially decided, then that’s just the way it is.

Who told you that life was supposed to be fair?

And no, you won’t see a column in this space arguing the opposite if LSU pulls the upset next Saturday.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

BayouTider’s Grill & Chill now available

image As a way of honoring the memory of Richard Heaton and benefitting a University of Alabama Scholarship fund in his name, the Tidefans’ community has published BayouTider’s Grill & Chill, a cookbook containing some of Rich’s most mouthwatering recipes.

Rich was one of the founding members of Tidefans.com and passed away on August 6, 2011 after an extended illness. He was 64.

Rich was a delightful participant in the greatest Bama Nation community on the internet. He was known for his razor sharp sense of humor, his Solomonesque style of forum moderation and his incredible culinary skills.

As an amateur chef, I can’t tell you how many kitchen or BBQ disasters I avoided simply by asking him a question first or following tips he provided in the Grillin’ & Chillin’ forum. On blackening meats indoors:

“First time I tried to do a blackened dish I didn't realize how much smoke could be generated. I was doing catfish and when I put the fish in the skillet the room disappeared.

“I almost killed the parrot from smoke inhalation.”

Some really good chefs are incredible snobs. Rich was just an incredible chef and never let it go to his head. I miss him dearly already.

All net proceeds from the same of the cookbook will go to the scholarship fund. Neither I nor this blog are compensated.

Click here to order the paperback version for $17.99 + Shipping.

Click here for the e-book version for $8.99.

Try the Chicken Provolone with Eggplant Sauce. And BayouTider’s Bama Stew will be a Gameday favorite regardless of who you cheer for.  Seriously. Go get a copy and support a great cause while learning how to cook with love.

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New book: Michigan spurned Les Miles, not vice versa

image This story has plenty of Wow Factor.

When Michigan went looking for a Lloyd Carr’s replacement in 2007, the “obvious choice” was LSU’s Les Miles. It was so obvious that Miles had his bags packed and reservations made for Ann Arbor.

Until a bungled coaching search led to the Big Blue Disaster of the Rich Rodriguez experiment, according to a new book from Michigan professor John U. Bacon.

The book, Three and Out, primarily focuses on Rodriguez’ troubled three years at the winningest program in college football history, but delves into the process that had Michigan turning Miles down.


A December 2007 conference call with Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman, former Athletic Director Bill Martin and Miles lays the groundwork for the search to replace Carr.

Miles tells the Michigan president he "would never say no to Michigan," but insists he can't jump from LSU until after the Tigers' upcoming bowl game. If Michigan waits and asks in January, Miles says, "I will be your coach."

Bacon writes that it is Carr -- winner of Michigan's most recent national championship in 1997 -- who first reaches out to Rodriguez. It is Carr who calls Rodriguez to gauge his interest in becoming the Michigan coach. And that call takes place only hours after the conference call with Miles.

"Even if you haven't thought about it," Bacon reports Carr saying, "you should think about it now."

Readers are left to infer that Carr had a big role in picking Rodriguez, who took the job days later without setting foot on the campus. But then Carr, whose strong objections to Miles are documented early in the book, holds a team meeting after Rodriguez is introduced as the Wolverines' new coach, informing players he will sign their transfer papers if they want to leave.


The best parts of the book for Michigan fans will be the well documented failure of Rich Rod to ever gain traction among a fan base that didn’t trust him and his inability to assert the kind of control and discipline the head coach needs to at a program like Michigan. To be the Michigan Coach, you’ve got to be a Michigan Man, and Bacon writes that they couldn’t wait for their Michigan Man to finish the business of LSU’s 2007 National Championship.

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Houston Nutt has sealed his fate (Video)

Watch as Ole Miss Head Coach Houston Nutt goes off on RebelGrove.com’s Neal McCready and attempts to explain away the loss to Arkansas last Saturday.



Video courtesy of Rebel Grove.

Then read McCready’s column, wherein the former Mobile Press-Register beat writer and columnist takes Nutt to task for singling him out.

Nutt started the season on the hottest seat in the conference, rivaled only by Georgia’s Mark Richt in the imminence of the meltdown. Granted, Ole Miss’ problems go way beyond the head football coach, but Nutt is the face of the program.

This was the Rebels’ best game of the year. They led Arkansas 17-0 and were playing keep-away from the Razorbacks. If they’re able to play like that against Auburn, Kentucky and Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl, they might have a chance to stop the 12-game conference losing streak and stanch the flow of blood.

But when you are quoted as saying that you don’t believe your team has a chance of winning a conference game this season (*) and then have a highly public handbags-at-five-paces hissy fit with the Rivals.com columnist who is supposed to be one of your biggest cheerleaders, your fate as a head coach in this league has been sealed.

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* Did he really say that? The SDS site is the only source for that quote. Drop me a comment or a note if you can confirm or know otherwise.

TrollRadar

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Armageddon has a date, and it’s November 5, 2011

image For either Alabama or LSU, the Mayan calendar’s end of the world will come 412 days early. When the final seconds tick off the clock at Bryant-Denny Stadium on the evening of November 5, 2011, somebody’s world will come to an end. At least for the 2011 football season.

The winner of that game is a lead pipe lock to play the SEC East’s sacrificial lamb in Atlanta for the SEC Championship. Barring a miracle game by either Georgia or South Carolina, the winner of the LSU at Alabama game will also be in New Orleans on an early January night, playing for the league’s sixth straight BCS National Championship.

The loser gets nothing. No SEC West title. No SEC Championship. No reservations in New Orleans.

This game is for keeps and it’s going to be played that way. Both teams’ players, coaches and fans know the stakes. The game will absolutely live up to the hype it will receive over the next two weeks. The talking heads on television, the radio talk show hosts and the sports columnists from sea to shining sea will be setting this game up as The Game of the Century© and with good reason.

One storyline that may not get much attention is that for the first time in the history of the AP Poll, a matchup of No. 1 vs. No. 2 will take place among powerhouse programs resurrected by one man—Nick Saban. While Les Miles is a very, very good football coach who has recruited well, hired well and managed well, no one can dispute that when Nicholas Lou Saban arrived in Baton Rouge, the LSU football program was a disaster. Former coach Gerry DiNardo ended his term with a two year record of 7-15. In the 1999 season, LSU had an embarrassing eight-game losing streak, including blowout losses to Auburn, Florida and Ole Miss. By the time Saban left to test the NFL waters after the 2004 season, LSU had two SEC Championships and a Crystal Ball. The program was hitting on all cylinders and it’s still full throttle to this day. None of that happens without Saban.

Similarly, no one can dispute that without Nick Saban, Alabama would never have resuscitated its faltering program and returned to its role of traditional powerhouse. After the back-to-back disasters of NCAA probation and the Shula era, Alabama looked lost. Two years later, Alabama won every regular season game and played for the SEC Championship. Three years later, the program repeated that run and won everything.

This game means so much to both programs because both programs are playing at the absolute top of the college football game. The comparisons between the two teams’ offenses, defenses, statistics and matchups show that they’re both about as good as it gets. None of those comparisons could be made if Saban hadn’t showed up in Baton Rouge or Tuscaloosa.

So, Armageddon has a date. Two weeks from now, one program will look back at what could have been. Its season—its football world—might as well be over. But regardless of who the winner is, it should thank the stars for Nick Saban, and give double thanks that their calendar still has a few pages to turn.

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sanity prevails: Missouri to SEC East, Auburn stays in West

image Cooler heads. Common sense. Ahh, sanity.

According to Saturday’s column by the Birmingham News’ Jon Solomon, Missouri has the necessary nine votes it needs to be accepted as the Southeastern Conference’s 14th member. Barring any financial or legal SNAFU’s along the way, Mizzou is set to join the East Division of the conference.

Placing the Missouri Tigers in the East and Texas A&M in the West preserves a divisional alignment for existing conference members that’s been in place since the SEC expanded to 12 teams in 1992 and became the first major conference to begin divisional play.

Dismissed was the utterly preposterous notion of Auburn moving to the SEC East to “accommodate” the addition of Missouri and A&M to the SEC West. That “accommodation” would have included wrecking traditional rivalries like the Iron Bowl and today’s storied Alabama – Tennessee showdown and forcing conference members Florida and Georgia to reschedule their traditional rivalries with Florida State and Georgia Tech. It would also have upset the balance of divisional power by sending one of the six schools in the top half of conference competitiveness to the other side.

That idea was a non-starter when it was floated and its support went straight downhill from there. Had Missouri’s application proposal included membership in the SEC West, support for adding the 14th conference member would have resulted in a coin flip vote—a prospect that the SEC front office would never have put before the membership for a vote.

An even more idiotic notion included moving Auburn to the East and developing a nine-game SEC schedule, a proposal dreamed up by someone who is really bad at math. Nine, being an odd number, means half of the conference plays five games at home and four away while the other half plays four at home and five away. If you think an SEC school is going to give up the revenue boom of a conference home game every other year to “accommodate” an Auburn escape to the SEC East, not only are you bad at math, your business acumen sucks, too.

Some in the national media have scoffed at the bloc of SEC schools who were adamant about preserving traditional SEC rivalries and power balance. They point to the likely end of the Texas – Texas A&M and Missouri – Kansas rivalries and cry “hypocrisy.”

Give me a break. The SEC and its member schools should be looking out for what’s in the best interest of the SEC. The SEC brand is so marketable because of the rivalries between the member schools. Destroying those rivalries harms the brand. Protecting them enhances it and establishing a new divisional rivalry among the newest members makes perfect sense. It’s not the SEC’s job to preserve Big 12 rivalries. If the Big 12 can’t keep its conference members together, then their failure isn’t the SEC’s cross to bear.

So please stop the whining.

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton granted power to decide on conference alignment

image University of Missouri’s Board of Curators punted Friday afternoon, following two days of closed-door meetings. The Board delegated the authority to negotiate and make decisions based on what he thinks is best for the University.

As TeamSpeedKills.com points out, this should sound familiar. A similar vote and decision were made back on October 4. It doesn’t appear that much has changed with today’s news, other than the fact that Brady Deaton has been given an incremental increase in authority.

Previously, he was delegated the authority to “explore” conference options. According to various media sources on Twitter, today’s decision grants him the authority to negotiate contracts on behalf of the University. One would think that the executive leadership at a major university already had such authority, right? They can always discuss terms and negotiate deals, but the BoC still retains the authority to formally approve entering into the contract.

Unless today’s decision delegates that authority to Deaton as well.

The move to the SEC—described earlier this week as “inevitable and imminent”—now seems to be put on hold for at least another week or so. While most college football fans would simply like to see Mizzou either fish or cut bait, moving deliberately makes sense. Staying in the Big 12 is a decision with temporary commitment. Moving to the Southeastern Conference is probably a lifetime deal.

If I’m a betting man, I’m laying odds that the deal gets done and Mizzou becomes SEC No. 14, and makes the move in time to participate in at least part of the 2012-13 seasons.

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Brent Calloway arrested for having REAL bud, but at least he wasn’t doing 118!

image While I was preparing for and then getting stuck in a 2-1/2 hour teleconference, news broke that Alabama Freshman Running Back Brent Calloway was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana. Calloway was a passenger in a car stopped for operating without headlights, according to news reports from Tuscaloosa News’ Stephanie Taylor.

Bama fan @CalebHawk gets credit for this:

#1 team in America smokes fake pot, and the #2 team in America smokes the real stuff. On November 5th we'll see which is better. #Priorities

And @CrownoftheValley gets the helmet tap for this:

At least he wasn't driving 118 mph!

Via al.com, "Coach Saban is aware of the situation and like all other disciplinary action, this will be handled internally.”

Earlier this week, news broke that three LSU football players had been suspended for at least one game following a reported failed drug test. The substance in question in Baton Rouge was a synthetic herb. Calloway don’t do no fake weed.

I frankly wouldn’t want to be in either Les Miles’ or Nick Saban’s doghouse. But if I was, I’d want it to be the real thing, yo.

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Arizona Streaker Identified

According to various sources on teh innerwebs, the streaker last night has a Twitter account. The fellow shown in the @whoisjacen avatar bears a remarkable resemblance to the gentleman shown being tackled by stadium police after posing as a referee, pretending to blow a play dead before the snap and then streaking across the field during last night’s game between UCLA and Arizona.

Here’s the uncut video. I suspect that the Youtube videographer – who posted the footage on the site very late last night -- may be an acquaintance of the streaker and shot the whole thing as part of a premeditated, nefarious plot to add some excitement to an otherwise awful football game.



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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Um... Should I be worried about this?





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Former LSU players: 30-day suspensions for second violation

image Yesterday, the LSU student newspaper Daily Revielle reported that three key players for the football team faced suspension for Saturday’s upcoming game against Auburn. Defensive back Tyrann Mathieu, Running Back Spencer Ware and Defensive Back Tharold Simon reportedly tested positive for banned substances, according to the paper’s sources.

Nicknamed the “Honey Badger,” Tyrann Mathieu is the highest profile member of the three. He has garnered some Heisman Trophy discussion as the result of his game impacting play on defense and special teams.

IBCR has learned that according to the LSU 2010-11 Student Athlete Handbook, suspension of one or more games for the first violation of the school’s substance abuse policy is the discretion of the athletics and coaching staff.

However, if a second violation is assessed, there is a mandatory minimum suspension of 15% of the countable contests and/or 30 days from the date the student-athlete was notified of the violation.

The information was provided by two former LSU student-athletes, one of whom provided a copy of the 2010-11 Student Athlete Handbook. A snapshot of page 43 of that manual appears below. Note that the coaching and athletic staff still have some leeway in determining how the punishment is administered.

image A 15% suspension of a 12-game “countable contest” season would result in a two game suspension, but the manual does not require the two games to be consecutive. Further, the manual also gives the staff the discretion to increase (but not decrease) the penalties. This means that players serving a two-game suspension could be ready for the trip to play Alabama in Tuscaloosa in a nationally anticipated matchup on November 5. Or, Head Coach Les Miles could determine that circumstances dictate a harsher penalty.

Miles would neither confirm nor deny the suspensions during yesterday evening’s regularly scheduled press conference, and deflected numerous questions regarding drug testing, depth chart issues and school policy.

One of the two former student-athletes responding via email expressed regret and support of Coach Miles. “This has to be exasperating for him. He has always been a tough disciplinarian and doesn’t think twice about handing out punishment. These kinds of things hurt him to the core because they hurt the team and nothing means more to him than the well being of the team.”

Miles has established a track record for maintaining team discipline and unity despite off-the-field  distractions but the 2011 season has seen an unusual rash of issues, ranging for Quarterback Jordan Jefferson’s bar fight episode to the suspension of a player for possibly interfering with an NCAA investigation.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Us against Y’all: Third Saturday in October

image A lot of college football fans outside of the SEC scratch their heads and wonder why Alabama vs. Tennessee on the Third Fourth Saturday in October is taken so seriously by Crimson Tide and Volunteer faithful.

After all, Alabama has the annual Iron Bowl clash with Auburn as its season ending finale, right? Isn’t that the fiercest rivalry in the league, if not the country?

Maybe, but Alabama vs. Tennessee is the annual Clash of the Titans in SEC football lore. One of my earliest football memories was listening to the 1972 game on the patio with my father. Bama was down 10-3 late in the fourth quarter due to a very stout Tennessee defense. But the Tide somehow managed to score two touchdowns in under two minutes and pulled out a 17-10 victory. Bama play-by-play announcer John Forney was nearly unintelligible as the final seconds ran off the clock, but my father’s grin as he pulled out the Victory Cigar was all I needed to be told—beating Tennessee is huge.

Tennessee has beaten Alabama 38 times. No other school in the country has beaten Alabama 38 times. Tennessee has 13 SEC Championships. No other school in the league is as close to Alabama’s 22. Beginning in 1995 with Peyton Manning as a sophomore in Knoxville, Tennessee ran off a streak of seven straight victories. No team in the SEC has ever beaten Alabama seven straight times and it may not ever happen again. Tennessee rightfully claims six National Championships. No other team in the SEC is as close as Alabama’s 13.

The games have meant more than any other matchup in the league because so many of these games have determined the SEC Championship, Sugar Bowl berths and whether either of the two would be in the National Championship race. Ten years before Alabama’s 2009 Return to Glory, Alabama won its 21st SEC Championship. Its only SEC loss that season was to Tennessee. During that 2009 run a decade later, Tennessee again tried to blemish Bama’s SEC title run and it took two blocked field goals from Terrence Cody to seal the 12-10 victory.

The average score in the series is Alabama 16, Tennessee 13.

These are the two marquee programs of SEC Football lore. These are the two flagships. Florida may have more fans and more TV viewers. Georgia, too. But no two programs have done more on the field than Alabama and Tennessee. Nobody. No two programs can claim head coaching legends like Paul W. Bryant and General Robert Neyland. It’s 110 years of college football at it’s finest and most intense.

It’s the Third Saturday in October even if the calendar is wrong. It’s Us vs. Y’all.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Unanswered Questions Still Remain About Auburngate

Newton240 By @NailPhyl

The NCAA has given up on concluded the investigation into not only the recruitment of Cam Newton but also several other issues, according to a recent letter sent to Auburn University last week. Some time has passed and the dust has settled and the fog of disbelief has thinned somewhat. But it still doesn't make any sense why the NCAA closed this investigation after just thirteen months. There are too many unanswered questions that need to be addressed.

In no particular order, here are a few to rattle around in your head:

1. Who was the source for Joe Schad that provided him the direct quote "the money was too much"?

In the article released by Joe Schad on ESPN.com he writes that he was told by a source that Cam Newton called a recruiter for Mississippi State and that source told Schad that an emotional Newton called them on the phone and said he regretted he wouldn't be going to Mississippi State and was going to Auburn because "the money was too much."

Auburn people have tried their hardest to discredit Joe Schad. The truth of the matter is Schad had two direct quotes in the article. The first quote—which turned out to be absolutely true—was Cecil saying it would take "more than a scholarship" to bring his son to Mississippi State. Why was the second quote ignored and not explained? Who is this recruiter and were they even questioned by the NCAA?

Normally I won't link to SportsByBrooks but I really like his theory on who this source is.

A good follow up to this question just so happens to be...

2. Why did ESPN stop working on the story?

Six days before Schad came out with his story Pat Forde, Chris Low and Mark Schlabach released "Cash Sought for Cam Newton" which was the first domino to fall regarding the Cam Newton scandal. Both articles came from ESPN.

Take a minute to look back and analyze something you may have missed. Four people are credited for the information relating to this story. There were FOUR people that included Joe Schad, Pat Forde, Chris Low and Mark Schlabach. A reasonable assumption would be that if four of the most respected journalists that work for ESPN are working on a story, then they were assigned to this story. The editorial staff at ESPN believed the story had legs and wanted to get the information out there.

What happened?

I have a theory. It's a purely speculative theory that ESPN had a change of heart to protect one of their commodities. Instead of dabbling in speculation however, some insight may be gained by looking at the recent news about Forde leaving ESPN to go to Yahoo! sports.

We all know what happened to Bruce Feldman who left ESPN for CBS. I won't get into specifics but you can read the details here. I bring Feldman up because Forde mentions his situation as one of the reasons for his departure and provides a good insight of how ESPN can be sloppy. Feldman flatly states about his situation that ESPN "made such a mess, and then they never cleaned it up." Is this kind of like opening a damming story on a team with National Championship aspirations, which also has a player with a great chance at winning the Heisman, and not finishing it?

According to bigleadsports, it is also being said that Forde "has long been unhappy with what he couldn't report on or look into because of ESPN's many conflicts of interest." That is very interesting if you consider the abrupt halt on a story that would have surely put a stop to the National Championship run of a team that just so happens to be a member of the Southeastern Conference. Considering the messy way ESPN handles situations it wouldn't be hard to imagine that in the beginning they didn't think through the implications this story would have had to one of the teams that is part of the fifteen year, $2 billion deal ESPN made with the SEC on August 25th, 2008. I would definitely consider that a "conflict of interest."

As a side note, Forde and Charles Robinson are now coworkers.

3. Why did just one person from the HBO Four talk to the NCAA?

Specifically, why did Chaz Ramsey not talk to the NCAA? I remember he refused to talk if Auburn's attorneys were present. It seemed the story changed when a report came out that said Ramsey had specified a time between April 18th and April 20th of this year. Whatever came of that?

Apparently Only Gray agreed to be interviewed and the others "refused to cooperate," the NCAA said. So, what does that mean? Because Ramsey refused to talk to the NCAA without the presence of any and all attorneys representing Auburn he refuses to cooperate? Did all of the "80 interviews" conducted by the NCAA have to follow this rule? What about other institutions hit with major sanctions in the past 30 years, did they also afford the same luxury or is this preferential treatment of some kind? If this is true, how much of an influence did Auburn's attorneys have on the investigation and who was actually in charge, the NCAA or Auburn University's legal representative?

4. Has anyone made a request for all communication between Auburn and the NCAA enforcement staff?

Remember the reason open document requests were refused? Because there was an ongoing investigation. So lets see the information now. Was there ever a Notice of Inquiry? If no NOI existed, how in the bloody hell did the NCAA conduct an investigation without ever telling Auburn they were investigating? If one doesn't exist does that mean they made no effort to interview students, coaches or other administration on campus?

5. What about Auburn's institutional control?

What else is going on if the NCAA had nothing to pin on Auburn involving Newton and didn't believe the HBO Four but still felt the need to investigate Auburn's institutional control? It's already been discussed on this blog so I won't hit the whole thing again. However, as said on this site, "there’s no reason to engage in a review of institutional control procedures unless there’s something to suggest that it’s lacking." So why was the NCAA reviewing lack of institutional control if it had zero instances of violations and how did they do this without issuing the NOI?

6. What will the end of the bingo trial bring?

A lot of people have already jumped the gun and said 'I told you so' when talking about this trial. However, the buzz I heard when the end of the trial was nearing was that the end of the trial would result in the release information. That trial isn't finished and has been rescheduled for January 30th of 2012.

I realize this question can't be answered right now. Naysayers love to say it's nothing. I have zero reason to trust them any more than the people claiming that there are links with McGregor and illegal recruiting. I'm legitimately intrigued at what happens, if anything, when this case is over.

This isn't just message board fodder. Around the time the first trial was coming to an end, The Opening Drive on WJOX 94.5 FM in Birmingham, Alabama, which is hosted by Jay Barker, Tony Kurre and Al Del Greco, aired several discussions pertaining to this subject specifically and it is where I initially heard mention of multiple southern schools being involved. They didn't go into details. If you know the show, you know that it isn't based on rumor mongering and this information didn't come in from a caller. If you don't believe me, call them and ask them. They are the only ones I know of that have specifically mentioned the ties between the bingo trial, gambling and sports where a link from the source and someone specifically involved in the trial can be traced.

Insert Paul Finebaum to complete that link.

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Unanswered Questions Remain About Auburgeddon

Accidental double post.

Please click here for the story.

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Missouri move to SEC said to be “inevitable and imminent”

image But... then he's still out there.

Two stories released overnight Monday and early Tuesday indicate that Missouri will likely leave the Big 12 Conference and become the Southeastern Conference’s 14th member.

The first report was published by the New York Times. Pete Thamel cites a source that told him that the decision to seek membership in the SEC was “inevitable and imminent,” but provided no specific timetable for the decisions.

The second report was published by the Kansas City Star. The Star’s Mke DeArmond—whose coverage of this has been the most accurate of any reporter on the story—explains that should Mizzou decide to align itself with the SEC, the process would likely follow the same steps as those taken by Texas A&M. Texas A&M became the SEC’s 13th member in September.

The SEC wants to make sure that Missouri takes all necessary legal steps to properly extricate itself from the Big 12, a process followed by Texas A&M that drew threats of legal action by Baylor University and possibly other members of that conference.

Still at issue is the divisional alignments of two new conference members. The least disruptive alignment would be to place Missouri and Texas A&M in separate divisions, keeping existing SEC East and West members as they are and preserving inter-divisional rivalries like Alabama – Tennessee, Auburn – Georgia and LSU – Florida, while allowing SEC members Florida and Georgia to maintain their regular season finales against ACC foes Florida State and Georgia Tech. There had been discussions of placing both new conference members in the SEC West and allowing Auburn or some other SEC West school to realign with the East. However, the football scheduling problems that plan would cause have resulted in scant support among the league’s traditional powers.

The situation is of course very fluid and what’s true today may not be tomorrow. We we should have a much clearer picture by the end of the week.

Like Jason Voorhees, the Missouri to SEC story is “still out there.”

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Charlie Weis’ “decided schematic advantage” doesn’t play in college ball

image At $2.6 million over three years, Florida Offensive Coordinator Charlie Weis is one of the highest paid assistant coaches in the game of major college football. Indeed, his salary is comparable to many head coaches in FBS. For example, Texas Tech’s Tommy Tuberville agreed to a contract extension and a raise last February, bringing his total compensation to $2.0 million amidst grousing by that school’s academic leadership. Tubs had been making up to $1.5 million annually with incentives before the extension,

People connected with big boy football don’t mind shelling out the dough for coaches’ salaries, as long as the product on the field is winning football. Weis’ product isn’t winning and color me as one of those who don’t think it ever will. Not in college football.

During his tenure at Notre Dame, Irish Quarterbacks Brady Quinn and Jimmy Clausen both played very well, parlaying their abilities and statistics into first and second round NFL draft picks (respectively). But football teams built around the quarterback play on Sundays, not on Saturdays.

When he was hired by Notre Dame in 2004, Weis was famously quoted as saying that his teams would have “a decided schematic advantage,” and believed that his NFL-style offensive strategy was superior to the schemes being run by most major college football programs. What Weis failed to recognize is that Steve Spurrier had already played the Ace Quarterback card more than 10 years before, and college football defenses had already found ways of neutralizing the advantage.

Today, successful college football teams feature game managers at Quarterback. Stud Quarterbacks are good to have in any program. You want your starting signal caller to make plays when he needs to. But woe be to the college program that thinks the NFL model of the Franchise Quarterback will be a long term winning model.

With 120 FBS programs, the ability of any one program to recruit and develop an all-star Quarterback comes once in a decade, if that often. In the NFL, a Quarterback typically plays for many years. In college ball, you are lucky to have all-star talent for three years. Then you have to go out and recruit another. And another. Forever and ever, Amen?

It doesn’t happen that way.

When Florida Quarterback John Brantley went down with a high ankle sprain against Alabama, the Gator offense went down with him. In the last three games, Florida has scored 10, 11 and 6 points. The Quarterbacks have combined for five interceptions and one touchdown. The offense is averaging 210 yards per game. Granted, two of the last three games were played against the most ferocious defenses in the SEC, but last night against Auburn, Florida managed only 194 yards against one of the most porous defenses in the country. Auburn can claim to have “dominated” the Gators on defense last night, but the numbers and the production show that Florida’s offense just isn’t very good.

At $2.6 million, Florida fans deserve to get a quality offensive product on the field, and they clearly aren’t getting their money’s worth. The fact that a former Florida Quarterback, Heisman Trophy winner and National Championship coach could have told Weis what was in store has to hurt a little, too.

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Bama, Richardson make a statement (VIDEO)

Alabama’s Nick Saban is not one to run up the score, especially not on a team coached by someone he holds in high regard. Question his judgment if you dare, but the Tide’s head dude has a great deal of respect for Ole Miss’ Houston Nutt. There is even scuttlebutt that when Saban left LSU for the Miami Dolphins after the 2004 season, he recommended Nutt as one of the people he’d like to see replace him.

But the 52-7 beatdown administered by Alabama last night was a statement to the nation—we are Bama. We are to be feared. You don’t want to play us. We’re gonna make your ass quit.

Junior Tailback Trent Richardson also made a statement last night. You can try to stop me, but you won’t. You can try to tackle me and I will either run over you or make you look stupid. He had a career high 183 yards and another career high four touchdowns. On his 76-yard “one for the ages” scamper for six, he broke two tackles and then came across Ole Miss’ Senquez Golson.  Golson appeared to have Richardson dead to rights at the corner and looked like he the angle on No. 4.

Just watch.



That’s the kind of skill we thought was retired when Michael Jordan finally hunk up the sneakers.

In a Blogger Roundtable Q&A last month, I wrote that Richardson deserves to be a part of any serious Heisman Trophy discussion. I also wrote that if Alabama continues to win and Richardson continues to be a part of why, his Heisman stock will rise.

How do you like him now?

And how do you like an Alabama team that has yet to put together a complete, 60-minute football game but still leads the galaxy in defensive statistics and ground-game punishment? To beat Alabama, you have to mount multiple, sustained scoring drives and stop its running game. No one has even come close to doing that yet, and there may not be a team in the country that can do it.

Not only that plays on Saturdays, anyway.

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

AUburgeddon Avoided

image To the shock of everyone whose favorite team doesn’t play in the 334 area code, the NCAA closed its investigations of the Auburn University Football program. The league’s lead investigator wrote in a letter to Athletic Director Jay Jacobs that it had conducted a thorough, 13-month long investigation into the program and failed to find sufficient evidence of major infractions.

And that was that. The raging fire has been extinguished. There will be no AUburgeddon.

UPDATE: I forgot to add that the timing of yesterday’s announcement probably wasn’t a coincidence. The story broke at about 3:30 pm CDT, or about 1-1/2 hours into the Paul Finebaum Radio Network show. A finger in the eye?

This space was going to have a point-counterpoint column on the decision and its impact on the SEC and college football, but the red-eye team of Barrett Sallee and Pete Fiutak beat me to it with this excellent piece on CollegeFootballNews.com.

Here are the most salient points (to me) in that post:


Barrett Sallee:

You will see comparisons to O.J. Simpson and Casey Anthony in regards to Auburn football getting off the hook. The NCAA wouldn’t have concluded its investigation if it felt that there is anything that could implicate Auburn University or Cam Newton. It had no reason to. If the NCAA presumed guilt - or presumed that guilt is an option - the investigation would have stayed open until the four-year statute of limitations expires. It didn’t, and that’s BIG.

The fact that the NCAA doesn’t have subpoena power should also be a strong indicator of where it feels Auburn stands in the violation pecking order. The organization doesn’t have the power of the United States judicial system, but it also doesn’t share the same burden of proof as the United States judicial system.

Don’t believe me? Just ask USC.

Pete Fiutak:

First of all, I can’t keep stressing this enough; you can’t prove that someone got a bag of cash. You can’t prove a $100 handshake. The NCAA, by saying it couldn’t find any violations, basically couldn’t find a paper trail, and it gave up. Remember, this wasn’t a criminal investigation; just because the NCAA didn’t find anything doesn’t necessarily mean that nothing happened. The NCAA doesn’t have subpoena power, and no, you’re not committing perjury if you lie in an investigation.

The NCAA got Reggie Bush and USC because there were pieces of paper that said he was getting paid by a marketing company. Ohio State got nailed because there were e-mails that proved Jim Tressel was covering up a controversy. There wasn’t anything here for the NCAA to prove that anything happened at Auburn in regards to the recruitment of Cam Newton and all the allegations surrounding the Real Sports interview, but again, that’s not the point.

The Cam Newton side of this wasn’t about Auburn, it was about the Newtons, and that ended a year ago when the NCAA inexplicably let Cam continue to play even though his father was the textbook definition of an agent. No, this isn’t a legal issue and this wasn’t a criminal investigation, but that the NCAA couldn't prove that money changed hands is irrelevant. A family member asked for money in exchange for a player. That should've been a slam-shut ruling.


Sallee echoes the sentiments of every Auburn fan on the planet. They never believed that Auburn had done anything wrong in its recruitment of Cam Newton and the HBO Four were just sour grapes whiners. They feel vinidicated by the “not guilty” verdict from the NCAA and can now rest comfortably that Daniel Moore’s print of their BCS National Championship doesn’t have to be in pencil.

Fiutak echoes the sentiments of virtually every other college football fan who followed this story. There are a great many football fans who will never be convinced that the price to play at Mississippi State was 180 large, but the price to play at Auburn was no extra charge. That’s not just Bama fans, either. I had conversations last night with bloggers from or fans of Florida, LSU, Arkansas and even Notre Dame and all of them expressed the same “they got away with something” opinion.

It’s not likely that any minds will change but that doesn’t matter, now. The NCAA has closed the case, tied it up with a bow and sent it with a letter from Jackie Thurnes.

AUBurgeddon Avoided.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

NCAA Statement on Auburn Football Investigation

There goes the free blogging.

After conducting more than 80 interviews, the NCAA has concluded its investigation into Auburn University. The NCAA enforcement staff is committed to a fair and thorough investigative process. As such, any allegations of major rules violations must meet a burden of proof, which is a higher standard than rampant public speculation online and in the media. The allegations must be based on credible and persuasive information and includes a good-faith belief that the Committee on Infractions could make a finding. As with any case, should the enforcement staff become aware of additional credible information, it will review the information to determine whether further investigation is warranted. 

That giant WHOOSH you just heard was the entire 334 area code breathing a sigh of relief.

TrollRadar

Stephen Garcia gets endorsement deal!

From funny guy and friend of this blog, @K1ngCrimson. He and @BanditRef are the two rascals responsible for the killer cartoons you see in the right sidebar.

Follow them.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Steve Spurrier “takes exception,” refuses presser with Ron Morris present

Love him, hate him or just don’t care one way or the other, you’re always gonna know where you stand with Steve Spurrier. Prior to a scheduled weekly press conference with the South Carolina Gamecock beat reporters, the ol’ ball coach launched into this two-minute tirade over the presence of State columnist Ron Morris:



Spurrier says the issue was about a Morris column accusing him of poaching a football player "away from the basketball program." That's only part of the issues between the two. Morris is a provocative writer who enjoys tweaking the South Carolina and Clemson fan bases in much the same way that Alabama writer and talk radio host Paul Finebaum stirs the Iron Bowl hornets nest. Morris has accused Spurrier of "running up the score" on him during a fitness challenge.

In addition to the column noted by Spurrier, Morris also accused the coach of being too hard on Quarterback Stephen Garcia. It’s this body of work that Spurrier objects to. While this isn’t exactly one of Spurrier’s classier moments (as few and far between as they are), it shows that there’s fairly long-running love-hate relationship between the two.

UPDATE: Maybe this is why Spurrier was was so edgy today. Stephen Garcia has been dismissed from the team.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Saban’s Statue Isn’t The Only One With Brass

By: @LivingCrimson

Dragnet vs Vandy

The story you are about to read is true.

The names have been changed to highlight the statistics. 

–  Joe Saturday

Team A entered the game with the nation’s 80th passing offense and a first-year starting quarterback ranked 69th in passing efficiency. Team A, however, boasted the nation’s highest scoring running back.

Team B entered the game with the nation’s 11th total defense, ranked 4th in pass efficiency defense while leading the nation in interceptions.

Offensive gameplan should be easy, right? Run the ball, then run it some more. Throw just enough to keep the defense honest.

Instead, Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain dialed up a passing extravaganza for quarterback A.J. McCarron, daring the vaunted Vanderbilt turnover kings to stop the air attack. They couldn’t. This was a Commodore defense that four times picked off SEC East favorite South Carolina, and was averaging three interceptions and three passes broken up per game. They left Tuscaloosa with zero in both categories.

Vanderbilt had allowed only three passing touchdowns on the SEASON. McCarron surpassed that number with four touchdown throws to three different receivers, while sustaining consecutive scoring drives of 78, 94 and 81 yards. He strong-armed the vertical game, including a highlight reel, perfectly executed 39 yard touchdown pass to DeAndrew White in heavy traffic. The game also propelled A.J. into the record books tied for the second-highest single-game touchdown pass total in Bama history. The most recent games a Tide quarterback had that much touchdown success? 2007 and 1989.

Coach Mac was sending a message to future SEC opponents (we’re looking at you, LSU). Load the box and his offense will make plays over the top. And it’s not like the playcalls were short yardage screens or dump-offs. Bama used five-wide sets with an empty backfield and still imposed its will on the Vandy secondary. McElwain showed a great deal of confidence in McCarron’s decision-making. Defensive coordinators must now plan for an Alabama offense led by a cool head in the pocket. Throw in surgical strike ability, a disciplined, physical offensive line, and explosive playmakers in the receiving corps to complement a Heisman-contention backfield, and the Tide can pass or run at will.

Oh, and Bama also rushed for 153 yards and a touchdown, also a season high against Vanderbilt.

Said running back Trent Richardson, “We really just want to be relentless and have every team fear us, just don't want to play us.” Gouging and shredding a statistically juggernaut defense tends to have that effect.

10/8/11

Stats from CFBStats.com and NCAA.org.

You can follow me on Twitter @LivingCrimson.

Meltdown looming on the BCS?

BCSLogoMelt Imagine this scenario: Either Alabama or LSU emerges from the Southeastern Conference Championship game undefeated. Stanford runs the table and finishes the Pac-12 undefeated. Wisconsin wins out and takes the Big 10 crown. Either Oklahoma or Oklahoma State go unbeaten and win the Big 12. Clemson or Georgia Tech emerges from the ACC undefeated and Boise State also runs the table.

The second week of December will be interesting, won’t it? But how likely is the scenario above playing out?

Alabama and LSU meet on the field on Nov 5th in a matchup everyone will be watching. The winner of that game would be favored in every game afterwards and should finish the season undefeated, with a chance to be the third SEC team in as many years to go 13-0 if it wins in Atlanta.

Stanford faces tough opponents in USC and Oregon but should be favored against both.

Wisconsin destroyed Nebraska last Saturday and won’t be seriously challenged until they face Illinois and Penn State to end the season. There’s a trip to Michigan State, a quality opponent, but not the same 11-2 conference co-champion it was last year.

Oklahoma and Oklahoma State end the season with their traditional rivalry game, but with only 10 teams playing in the Big 12 this year, the winner of that game won’t face anyone in a conference championship game and should finish undefeated.

Clemson has a serious challenge in a game against Georgia Tech and plays South Carolina in its annual state rivalry, but they’ve already faced and beaten three straight ranked opponents. They’re probably at least a coin flip to run the table and win the ACC.

And of course, Boise State looks like a lead pipe lock to win out and finish undefeated again.

With five undefeated champions of automatic qualifying conferences and six unbeatens after the regular season, what will the BCS do? Who goes to New Orleans for the BCS Championship Game?

One thing is almost certain—even if there aren’t six unbeatens in December, there won’t be room in New Orleans for a one-loss conference champion. If LSU loses to Alabama (or vice versa), but somehow climbs back and makes it to Atlanta, it’s doubtful the human components of the BCS rankings let them back into the top two. Not with unbeaten ACC, Big 12 and Big 10 champions and perennial Whining National Champion, Boise State, out there. Lose one game over the next six and you watch the championship game on TV like the rest of us.

In more times than not, these situations have been avoided and things have usually worked themselves out. It’s likely that one or more of the conference leaders drops a game somewhere, either at the hands of a conference opponent or in its conference championship game. But for only two unbeaten and untied teams to emerge at the end of the season, a lot of upsets are going to have to happen.

The first BCS rankings will be released in one week. We’ll see how things start to shake out from that point forward. Let the debates begin.

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