Friday, September 30, 2011

Ole Miss is a kitchen grease fire and there’s no extinguisher

image After a horrid 4-8 season last year, the Rebels under Houston Nutt are 1-3 overall and 0-2 in the SEC this season. Ole Miss hasn’t won an SEC game since this week last year and if it wasn’t for the absolute grease fire that this program has become, Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen might be completely winless against SEC West teams. On Saturday, they travel to Fresno State where they hope to pull off an upset against a WAC team.

Following a lopsided 30-7 loss against perennial conference doormat Vanderbilt, Ole Miss fans organized an anonymous group called Forward Rebels and began taking out pricey full page ads in regional newspapers, calling for whole cloth changes to the administration in Oxford. The Vandy loss (and probably the appearance of the ads) prompted Ole Miss Athletic Director Pete Boone to issue an 11:35 PM “hold the rope” email on the Sunday after the game, and then Boone commandeered Nutt’s Monday morning press conference.

Last Saturday’s drubbing by Georgia in the “Hot Seat Bowl” only further infuriated the Rebel Faithful, resulting in reports of threats made against Chancellor Dan Jones and an open letter to the fans, excerpted below. 

Many are aware of anonymous, malicious and public attacks on athletics director Pete Boone. The Ole Miss family may not be aware, however, that as a part of this orchestrated campaign, I have received threats, promising that if I do not remove Pete Boone, "It is going to get real ugly," and threatening to expand the attacks to other athletics employees.

Friends, supporters and the media have asked how I will react to this anonymous and vicious pressure. The short answer is that I will not react.

Ok. We’re not going to respond to anonymous and vicious pressure, but here’s a letter in response to anonymous and vicious pressure. But can’t we just get along?

Things haven’t been this bad in The Grove since the last coaching staff was run out of town.

I am tempted to buy a set of tickets for the October 15 game with Alabama, but I don’t think there will be enough Grove eye candy to make the trip worthwhile this time.

There’s probably not a winnable game left on Ole Miss’ schedule, unless either Auburn or Kentucky have epic seasonal meltdowns and somehow find a way to lose to a program that should finish the season 1-11.

Ole Miss is a fine old institution with an immense cultural and academic tradition. It’s had moments of gridiron glory too. But with other schools toying with the idea of joining the SEC, wouldn’t it be great if Ole Miss kept Houston Nutt and Pete Boone? After all, a Missouri or a West Virginia would like to look down a proposed 2013 or 2014 schedule and count at least a couple of guaranteed wins, right?

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Behind the Scenes with Alabama: VIDEO

Bryan Fischer of gets the helmet tap for tweeting the link to this video, featuring the Crimson Tide Sports Network’s Eli Gold in a behind the scenes look.

I always thought Eli had a high resolution monitor in front of him but check him out calling the lineup and the play from a pair of field glasses.

I really love Eli's energy when he's calling big plays in big games. But he gets a lot of grief from some fans for his occasional gaffe.

"Here's the give to Richardson! BIG HOLE! He'll rumble for about three yards before he's stopped..."

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Auburn Associate AD for Compliance GONE

Paul Parker, the former Director of Compliance at Georgia Tech and a recent hire as Auburn University's Associate AD for Compliance, has resigned. Parker leaves Auburn after just five months on the job.

Parker was implicated in an embarrassing case in which the NCAA Committee on Infractions found he had been involved in the Yellow Jackets' attempt to cover up a set of secondary violations, causing the case to become a major violations case. Georgia Tech was hit with probation and penalties, but individuals associated with the case were also sanctioned. Specifically, Parker and others were required to attend a 2012 Seminar on NCAA compliance, a humiliating sanction for a sitting associate AD.

A source described the sanction as akin to sending Frank DeFord back to a High School Journalism course.

Parker chose to resign instead. Auburn University was notified via correspondence from NCAA Enforcement Division. However, the university never revealed the correspondence.

In Parker's defense: he has told sources that he felt scapegoated in the Georgia Tech case and legitimately sought an amicable exit, and landing in an SEC compliance office fit that bill.  However, given the fact that Auburn is under intense scrutiny of the NCAA, the school apparently felt that having someone involved in a case of failure to comply was publicly embarrassing and asked him to move on, if he could find suitable employment elsewhere.

He apparently has.

Helmet tap to ChrisHillD28 for the tip on the breaking story.

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Players get up to $17,000 in cash, all legal

imagePerhaps this post will add a bit of context to yesterday’s viral news item on rival fans stalking Alabama football players—visiting their homes, taking pictures of their residences and automobiles, doing searches of court documents (not a free resource, by the way) and spoon-feeding gossip blogs. 

They’re obsessed with the idea that these poor kids cannot possibly afford all of the stuff the stalkers “caught” them driving, wearing or buying, and that Alabama simply must be breaking NCAA rules for all of this to be happening.

Originally posted on May 22, 2011, the following is from Holy Turf, a blog focusing on the passion of college football. I hope you find Flint’s work as informative as I did. It’s an exceptionally good description of an environment that lets college football players enjoy most of the same things that any other college kid can, even if they’re black and come from poor families. It covers Pell Grants, clothing allowances, the Student-Athlete Opportunity Fund, the Special Assistance Fund, cash-in-lieu of payments for off-campus room and board, even the occasional meals that are legally paid for by…  gasp…  BOOSTERS!

That’s it. I have had it with the inane and redundant talk about NCAA football student-athletes, specifically football players, not being able pay for a tank of gas or afford a combo meal at Subway. Stop it! Enough is enough. These kids are given ample resources to “survive” during their years on a college campus, and I will prove it to you. I will show you not only the value of a scholarship, but the cash and benefits student-athletes can get all within NCAA rules.

If this is your first time to Holy Turf, welcome. Let me give you some quick background information. I spent nine years working inside athletic departments at Arkansas and Baylor as an academic advisor for student-athletes. I have seen the inner workings of two athletic departments in two major conferences. Let’s get back to the task at hand. I live in Fayetteville, Arkansas, the home of the Razorbacks. In this article, I am going to use Arkansas as my example.

Before we get to the value of a scholarship, let’s start off with the amount of money available to football student-athletes within NCAA rules. Read the whole post here.

GO READ THE WHOLE THING. We’ll be here when you get back…

If that didn’t satiate your desire for learning how college football players can cope with the daily grind of keeping up with the regular student body on transportation, fine men’s suits clothing and entertainment expenses, here’s another excellent description of Pell Grants and how they’ve been a boon to college student-athletes. It’s straight cash, homies.

This post explains how the Des Moines Register looked at 23 different schools in the Big Ten, Big 12 and Southeastern conferences, and learned that more than 1,000 student-athletes received approximately $5 million in the 2010 academic year. All cash. All tax free. None of it has to be repaid and all of it is within NCAA rules. This is on top of the full ride scholarships the students got. The average player got about $4,500 to spend as he saw fit. Since tuition, books, fees and boarding costs covered by the scholarship, the grant money goes to pretty much anything the kid wants to spend it on.

Including cars with tricked out rims and stereo systems.

That leads to today’s Exit Question: Who has one of the strictest compliance policies covering documentation of student-athlete vehicle registration in the country, again?

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Auburn fans continue to stalk Alabama TB Trent Richardson

Last month, IBCR exposed what was clearly the beginning of a criminal conspiracy to commit assault with a deadly weapon when we reported that a group of Auburn fans were discussing plans to cause a vehicle collision with Alabama's junior Tailback Trent Richardson.

Follow the link for details.

It hasn't stopped. The same God-fearing, Christian Auburn Fambly members of the Bunker--Auburn's super secret fan message board on now apparently driving around the home Richardson resides in with his mother and his two small children, taking pictures, snooping around and stalking private citizens who happen to be associated with a football program that has obsessed them for decades.

These people are so weird that welcoming the strangely cultish Texas A&M fan base into the SEC will be an improvement. At least Texas A&M has some tradition to go with the psychosis.

Here's a partial screenshot of the Bunker thread in question. Click the image for the full resolution version.

The author of the post (you can give her your feedback on Twitter @BettyCrocked) had also posted some interesting and recent imagery, indicating that someone has indeed been hanging out around Richardson's home.

Not only is that kind of creepy, it's also probably illegal. Stalking is a crime in Alabama.

But as creepy and as illegal as it is, it's also right in character with what Paul Finebaum described as the "Lunatic Fringe" of the looniest fan base in the SEC, if not the country.

Maybe you remember the story of John “Stump” Thrower, a man once described by former AU Athletics Director Navid Nousel as “an Auburn zealot.” Thrower’s zealotry went so far that, according to WJOX’s Herb Winches, he personally paid thousands of dollars to former Alabama player Gene Jelks to tell stories about his time in Tuscaloosa. His motive? He was outraged that former Auburn player Eric Ramsey had tape recordings of conversations with Pat Dye and other coaches on the Auburn staff. Those recordings—related to thousands of dollars in improper benefits to Auburn football players—led to the SEC’s most penalized school getting put on probation again. There wasn’t a crimson fingerprint anywhere near Eric Ramsey’s tape recorder, but By God Alabama was gonna pay for this.

Thrower died in November 2009. Alcoholic, broke, disgraced, divorced and badly behind in child support payments.

Maybe you also remember the little radio rant by former Auburn AD Nousel himself, wherein he compared the University of Alabama to Nazi Germany. No, really. He actually did. Go see for yourself.

Maybe you remember Mark Green, who is also dead. Mr. Green and a group of message board posters from Inside the Auburn Tigers--another lunatic fringe message board--decided to launch “Operation Red Dog,” a plot to get Alabama the “death penalty” by getting its football players in trouble for receiving extra benefits in 2009:

1) This started when JH went to Alabama at the last minute instead of AU. A coach of his had ensured AU staff that he was headed to AU and not Alabama. He was aware of what AU had offered JH and his mother stuff and possibly knew that JH mom had taped AU's offer. He still felt AU was his choice. JH put on the Alabama hat and the crap hit the fan at AU. Our staff called the coach and asked him what happened and he said he did not know but would have to guess that Alabama "countered" AU's offer. He never said he knew that Alabama had cheated but that he guessed that took place. After this, he asked JH why he went to Alabama and he said that if he went to AU he thought his eligibility might have been revoked if the NCAA found out about AU's offer. JH said Alabama and MSST both played it straight with him and his mom and that is why he went to Alabama.
2) This incident led the AU staff to believe that they lost out on the bidding for JH and they told people that Alabama had cheated. At this point, the coach could not get the corrected story out there fast enough. Irontiger knows this coach and was told the first story about how the coach thought Alabama cheated. Later, irontiger was told that Alabama did not commit infractions but he had already started his own rumors and his reputation grew as well as his imagination.
3) Irontiger then brought in a few of us to help spread the rumors- myself (ITAT name withheld) sherpa88, troopT and a few others and then koury. I dropped out about three months ago when I found out they had hired a PI that might have broken some laws and when I confronted iron about it he said they would send the information anonymously and no one could trace it back to him. The problem is his big mouth and he could not stop talking about it - then everyone found out about operation red dog and who was in it. After I dropped out koury joined the inside board back in March of this year as the repeat and sounding board of irontiger. The plan was simple: irontiger would start the thread and a few of us would join in and then someone would come back and verify everything irontiger has said was truthful- that is koury's job now.
4) During the past 16 months this has been going on. The MO was to stay the same in every area. Charge that recruits got new cars- Mobile was escalades and Gadsden was chargers. Start new rumors along the way about booster infractions, enticements and other benefits as much as we can. The most effective thing that irontiger came up with was that when any Alabama player does something immediately tie it to an infraction. If julio and mark goes fishing a booster paid for it- it was really simple. If KK got a car immediately say a booster paid for it even though in this case they knew for sure it came from his mothers college fund for him.
Now everyone knows how this happened. Now to the why.
We all knew that CTT and staff were not going to be effective against Miles, Saban, Richt and Meyer. We had to negate one of them and the easiest one was to hit Saban. We choose him due to his proximity and volatility of our rivalry with Alabama. We all really thought CNS was cheating a little (secondary type stuff) and thought if we can keep enough rumors churning we could get the NCAA to investigate or at the least keep a few recruits away from Alabama. Irontiger knew this would work and said, "the idiot masses on ITAT will believe any rumor we put out about Alabama because they want to believe it"! I was skeptical until I saw the masses believing every rumor even as our gang accidentally got the rumors incorrect many times- types of cars, colors and amounts of cash. Each time we told the rumor it seemed to grow and our fanbase kept believing every one of them until Michael14 and Austudent22 caught on to us and called us out for it.
You will see more revelations about this coming from multiple boards as they have started figuring out that 4-5 posters on ITAT started all these rumors. Once it went so far I told irontiger that coaches at these schools were being implicated as cheaters from the AU fanbase and that we should call it off and he said those Alabama coaches were a-holes and he did not care if they got called cheaters. I told him that they weren't cheaters and that they had started calling into AU's athletic department complaining about. When the PIs and reporters showed up and questioned these high school coaches about cheating for Alabama they wrote AU off. This really hit the fan around March of 2009 and that is when I left irons group. I know for a fact that irons rumors cost us 2 recruits last year (one four star and one 5 star) because the coaches at there school were called cheaters by the rumors started on ITAT. Our 2009 recruiting efforts were dramatically hurt by these rumors and 2010 is looking just as bad for instate recruits.
I stayed on the fringe until last week when the PTB at AU sent word to me and irontiger that it had to stop. Irontiger stopped for a day or so and then started rehashing it all over again. He has troopT and koury doing the heavy posting now and he just "supports" the rumors instead of "initiating" them. If our own posters knew just how stupid irontiger said they were they would not follow his rumors any more.
Now, I have completed the task I was advised to do. Once PF gets to the bottom of this and the package that iron put together it will turn litigious."

Not only is teh Auburn fambly obsessed with Alabama football players, they also seem to have a strange fascination with automobilies, despite the fact that the University of Alabama Compliance Department has one of the strictest protocols for vehicle ownership and documentation in the country.

I see your Harvey Updyke and raise you one Stump Thrower, one Mark Green and a BettyCrocked.

Oh, remember the Mark Ingram/Julio Jones fishing trip and the Jerrell Harris laptop incidents? All caused by Operation Red Dog, using Curtis Anderson, a man who’s family “roots for another SEC school.”

Exit question: Guess which “other SEC school” Anderson’s family roots for?

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Boom Muschamp: “What’s a Padawan?”

From the Orlando Sentinel’s Swamp Things Gators blog.

I have a few dyed-in-the-wool Star Wars fans that are gonna absolutely love this.

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook, and may the Force be with you.

Josh Chapman: Thrillin’ and Grillin’

By: @LivingCrimson

Kent Gidley/RollTide.comFollowing the Alabama defeat of Arkansas this past weekend, the Nick Saban Show included a fun interview with starting nose tackle Josh Chapman (6’1, 305 lbs.). He graduated with a degree in Health Studies, loves the family atmosphere at The University of Alabama, and loves football, weight training and grilling. He even plans one day to open his own barbeque restaurant.

In the meantime he’s the #2 defensive tackle prospect in the upcoming NFL draft, pre-season All-SEC first team, the 6th strongest player in college football, and spends his time tenderizing offensive linemen and making mincemeat out of opposing quarterbacks.

Saban’s toughest defenses perform best with someone who can clog the middle in the defensive line. In the Show, Coach had an eye-opening summary of Chapman’s abilities and dedication to the game.

The way we play defense, when you play the 3-4, if they can single block the nose you’ve got issues. And Josh Chapman does a fabulous job. He’s strong. What I love about this guy is, he’s got a wonderful personality. You talk about a football junkie. He’ll read every guy up front, aight, and know in the game every time they’re going to pull, every time it’s a pass, every time it’s a run. He calls it out in practice all the time.

I just love this guy. – Nick Saban

And Saban said all of that with a BIG smile on his face. Coach knows defense, and when he says Chapman can control the rush and read fronts, take it to the bank … or the stat line.

Bama’s run defense is 3rd in the nation, allowing only 45.75 yards per game. That’s more than a 50% improvement over the 2010 season (106.5 YPG) and slightly ahead of the 2009 national championship season (47.25 YPG) for the first four games.

Arkansas came into Tuscaloosa widely hailed as the SEC’s top offense, ranked #14 in the AP Poll and averaging 346 passing yards along with 170 rushing yards per game. It left with 40% less passing yards, a paltry 17 yards rushing and a drop to #18 in the rankings. Until facing the Crimson Tide, the Hogs led SEC scoring with 47 points per game. Chapman and company smoked that record, giving up only 14 points and knocking the Razorbacks back to second in the conference.

Alabama is 2nd in the nation for scoring defense,

allowing only 8 points average per game – including defeating

two teams in the AP Top 25.

Every opposing team has called Chapman the strongest man in college football. According to the Patriot-News David Jones, some offenses don't even attempt to fight a battle with him. They try to get the ball away from his vicinity as quickly as possible. Try to wear him out by making him run. Throw quickly behind and around him, trying to prevent his being a factor. And apparently none of those ploys is working. Says Jones, “When you add in Chapman's ability to move – he can run a sub 5.0-second 40 meters – along with his football technique…[h]e is capable of blowing up [an] offense from the inside like a demolition expert...”

It will be fun watching Chapman continue to bring the heat to opponents. Bama enjoyed the pig roast last weekend. Now it has a taste for Gator. Order up!

Josh Chapman vs North Texas 2011


NT Josh Chapman analyzes Bama defensive players


NT Josh Chapman pre-season interview

Videos courtesy of Stats found at and

You can follow me on Twitter @LivingCrimson.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Bama makes a statement with 38-14 win over Arkansas

Make no mistake about it—Arkansas is about as good of a team as there is in the SEC. They are loaded with talent from one end of the roster to the other. They are physical, well coached and came into Tuscaloosa full of confidence and poise.

But make no mistake about this, either—Alabama’s physical, brutal and otherwise cruel dismemberment of the Razorbacks was a statement.

“We are Hungry,” says the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Arkansas’ first quarter drive to tie the game at 7-7 was an impressive display of offensive speed, talent and coaching. Petrino’s Hogs had the Alabama defense on its heels and when CBS went to the commercial break, you almost got the sense that this was going to be a competitive slugfest. But as CBS’ Gary Danielson put it, Bama’s defense adjusted to the speed of the game played by Arkansas and the rout was on.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Razorbacks drop only one more SEC West contest—and that would be to LSU—but I also wouldn’t be surprised to see them win out.

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Friday, September 23, 2011

The Mizzou to SEC story just won’t die

JasonMizzou And we thought Jason Voorhees would never die.

According to a story filed late last night by the Kansas City Star’s Mike DeArmond, Missouri isn’t ready to commit to the Big 12 and still considers a move to the SEC as an option.

At issue is a proposal to have the nine remaining Big 12 schools agree to a deal in which all first- and second-tier media revenues would be committed to the league for equal distribution. This would include all revenues from the league’s television contracts with ABC/ESPN (first tier) and Fox Sports (second tier). Texas’ Longhorn Network is a third tier and would not be included. The deal would last for six years, whether the institutions are members of the Big 12, or not.

That means your TV revenues belong to the conference even after you decide that Texas’ behavior is simply too toxic and you decide to abandon ship for a better conference.

The last two years have been a bloodbath for the Big 12, with Nebraska bolting to the Big 10 and Colorado joining the Pac-12 last year, Texas A&M leaving for the Southeastern Conference for next season, and Commissioner Dan Beebe losing his job over the instability and uncertainty regarding the future of the conference.

Reports of an agreement having been reached yesterday led to many observers believing that the conference realignment carousel had finally stopped spinning and that the Mizzou move to the SEC was dead. Not so fast, says the Voorhesian Tiger program. There are several quotes in DeArmond’s report that should raise some eye brows:

“We either stick in the Big 12 because everything came about the way it needs to, the right way, with all the differences being settled in Missouri’s favor,” a university administrator who asked not to be identified told The Star on Thursday night. “But what are the odds of that happening?

“The other option is to join another conference and I believe that is something that we’re very open to.”

When asked about the SEC, Deaton said that was another hypothetical and he wouldn’t elaborate further.

Asked if the SEC was still in play, the administrator, who contacted The Star, said: “You will not look stupid by insinuating that.”

Asked again if Deaton was prepared to make a statement that Missouri would remain in the Big 12 for the foreseeable future, Deaton said:

“The University of Missouri is going to continue to work for what is best for the University of Missouri.

“We have seen that aligned with the Big 12 Conference.”

The Missouri administrator who asked not to be identified told The Star that Deaton’s statement should be construed as less than an unconditional commitment to the Big 12 at this time.

A lot of people are taking heat over their reporting in the conference realignment shuffle. It’s a lot like a national coaching search at a top-tier university, where many big-name candidates are in play, each with varying and shifting degrees of interest in the program and vice versa. What is true at the time it’s reported may not be true less than one rotation of the earth later, and things no one had on their radar screens are suddenly on your six and getting a weapons lock.

In this blogger’s opinion, the only two ways this all comes to an end is if the Big 12 completely disintegrates and its former members drift off into new alliances, or Texas comes to its “good of the whole” senses and agrees to share a significant portion of the LHN revenues with the league and agrees to restrictions on how it uses it for recruiting.

Until one of those two things take place, Jason lives.

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Twitter Meltdown: Finebaum says “little brother,” Auburn fan base goes BOOM

image At 11:18 am on Thursday, September 22, 2011, Paul Finebaum’s official Twitter account posted the following:

Finebaum's latest column: Even after winning national title, cloud still hangs over Auburn

The link goes to Finebaum’s column at, wherein he describes how events have conspired to seemingly prevent the Auburn fambly from fully enjoying their 2010 undefeated season and BCS Championship. No one knows where that fanbase’s buttons are better than the host of the Paul Finebaum Radio Network, which airs on Sirius/XM 91 from 2:00 to 6:00 each weekday afternoon.

If you want proof that he knows where their buttons are and how to push’em, here are some of the Twitter responses that followed in the one hour period following Finebaum’s tweet:

chriscotton77 @finebaum wow you are a journalistic stooge. Bama must have gotten the letter.

autigers1970  @finebaum This is just laziness. SI should demand their $$ back.

AUGreenLantern @finebaum hey Pawl I got two words for you - YOU SUCK!!!

@finebaum Pawl give it a rest - so sick of your garage!!!!

aumjrpayne  @finebaum Are you afraid about the crimes of your boss Saban?

aubietodd  I've listened to @finebaum to laugh at the callers but the SI article is insane. Officially done supporting this garbage.

BettyCrocked  @finebaum still struggling with Auburn's National Championship. What a butthurt little updyke he is....

ajacobs78  @WarBlogle @finebaum And he wonders why he's not welcomed in AU. Again he proves he marches to the beat of bammers drums. Pathetic

RealistNation  @finebaum This article sucks just like you do Carpetbagger.

BadAUrabbit @finebaum: Finebaum's latest column: I am an idiot and am laughing that SI was stupid enough to hire me to write repetitive fantasy.

EDIRPUA  @WarBlogle @finebaum Blogle would you stop giving that scumbag the free pub? He will not stop until he ruins us. AU folks need to stay away.

Auburn_fan1  @WarBlogle Its football season. @finebaum listeners have real sports writers & commentators to listen to.

bamshackle @finebaum Way to beat a dead horse. The cloud will always hang over Auburn until people like you stop reporting like TMZ.

ANDREZY6205  @WarBlogle @finebaum I use to respect this guy not anymore he is trying his best to bring AU down and he uses radio and now si to do loser

TracedelaTorre  @finebaum A cloud only hangs over AU bc people like you continue to bring it up every chance u get, then seemed shocked when its brought up

SassySouthBlog @VanAllenPlexico @finebaum I just unfollowed. There is only so much asshattery I can take and Finebaum just hit it. That's not journalism.

WarBlogle Ratings must've gotten low. WE @finebaum Even after winning national title, cloud still hangs over Auburn

ANDREZY6205 @finebaum It's funny how u are the only person still talking about Cam. There is nothing you can do about our 2010 title I use to respect u

@VanAllenPlexico @finebaum Who is little brother??? Bama has won what? Two of the last 10 against AU. FB is such a jealous little homer.

n2auburn @finebaum little brother? To who?

ajacobs78  @finebaum AUBsession at its finest.

VanAllenPlexico It's not as much anger from an Auburn fan/alum as just surprise at the sheer dull repetition of this one-note wonder. @finebaum

brooksw44 Like I've said many times, @finebaum is the epitome of poor journalism.

JB8510 @finebaum Another genius piece on a breaking story of Cam Newton and Auburn's young football team. Ever think abt having your callers write?

VanAllenPlexico The lack of imagination, creativity & originality displayed by @finebaum writing his SI column on Auburn "cloud" is breathtaking.

rossenator22 Why did SI employ you again? @finebaum: Finebaum's latest column: Even after winning national title, cloud still hangs over Auburn

joshdub23 @VanAllenPlexico @finebaum Its a horrible article. I have seen message board rants written better than that

VanAllenPlexico ARE U KIDDING?! RT“@finebaum: Finebaum's latest Even after winning natl title, cloud still hangs over Auburn

BigDavidMullins @finebaum new SI article says a cloud still hangs over #Auburn and the Title. It's only there because you dont have $&!t else to talk about

lunatickfringe @finebaum, the new face of copy and paste journalism. Well, at least he's recycling.

joshdub23 haha...@finebaum couldn't make it three whole sentences without making a mistake in his joke of an article

mbjclay Trolling at its rage-inducing finest RT @finebaum: Even after winning national title, cloud still hangs over Auburn

Bama O-Line: Uncivil War

By: @LivingCrimson

Duck and cover, offensive guru Bobby Petrino. Nick Saban’s knowledge bombs are coming at you, and turns out he knows a little somethin’ somethin’ about offense, too. The offensive line in particular. How do you think his defense is so effective?

“It’s too simple… If we can block the right guys, it will work out right. Just like my wife said, ‘Why did you run that play instead of a different one?’ She says that if that play doesn’t work, we should run another play. Well how about we just run that play right? Because when we run it right, we made 50 yards…” – Nick Saban

Sportswriters love to give the quarterback credit for amazing passes or applaud the running backs for explosive runs, but then overlook all the blocks that gave time to complete the pass or took out the linebacker that had a bead on the runner.

Successful offense starts with winning the battle in the trenches. And it can be a true battle of the bulge … with extremely large, physical players on the line. O-linemen must also bring a high level of intelligence to bear by knowing not only their own assignments and the assignments of the players lined up around them, but also anticipating the movement of the defense before the ball is snapped. The big guys up front must also practice deception and not tip off whether it’s a run or pass before the play (by stance, helmet reads or various other means).

When the building blocks are in place, the mission is straightforward: attack the living daylights out of your aiming point and protect your gap at all costs. It’s skirmish after skirmish in a bigger war, each one judged a win or loss by the location of the ball when the whistle blows.

The Crimson Tide O-line has had its ups and downs in the first three games, even though it hasn’t begun SEC play yet. The line has managed to engineer enough explosiveness to be 1st in the SEC for long rushing plays over 20 yards to +70 yards and give quarterback A.J. McCarron enough time in the pocket to earn 5th in SEC completion percentage. However, Bama is only 6th best in the SEC for touchdowns while being 1st in field goals. Obviously red zone conversion must improve to 6 points instead of 3 points or SEC play will be over before it starts.

“We stopped ourselves in the red zone by not executing what we were supposed to do… It’s not a systematic problem. [It’s] a lack of execution problem…” – Nick Saban

How can the offensive line improve red zone conversions? Run blocking has been effective for the most part, with all but two of the Tide’s touchdowns earned on rushing plays. The rushing average leads the SEC and ranks 5th nationally. The line is working now on avoiding negative plays.

Pass blocking, however, must improve quickly. Even though Bama ranks in the top half of the SEC for pass attempts and yards per game, it ranks in the bottom half for yards per attempt and touchdowns. In other words, it’s not exhibiting the same explosiveness in its passing game as its running game. And since Saban firmly believes in a balanced offense, the Tide won’t resort to a run heavy attack unless it has no other choice.

On pass plays in last weekend’s North Texas game, opposing linebackers consistently penetrated Bama’s backfield through the gaps between center and guard. Even with additional blocking from the skill players, the Mean Green had 4 sacks, 1 quarterback hurry and forced a fumble. There were even several overthrown passes influenced by McCarron sensing pressure on the pocket.

vertical line"When you're playing on your toes with your nose down and you whiff on the linebacker, what's that have to do with who's playing where?" – Nick Saban

Arkansas will be the first SEC game for Alabama and the first real test for the passing game. Saban sees improvement in the Hogs defense from last year, noting they return seven starters and rank in the top 20 teams in the country in scoring defense.

Expect the offensive line to make the necessary adjustments in pass protection, including executing fundamental technique and repositioning personnel as needed. Arkansas will face a physical, refortified battle at the line of scrimmage, and red zone conversion for the Tide should find its stride.

To the victors go the scores.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Bama secondary vs. Hog receivers should be marquee match-up (Blogger roundtable)


My second installment on’s Blogger Roundtable.

Question 1: What are the key match-ups for Saturday's Alabama-Arkansas game?

The key to Saturday's matchup between Alabama and the visiting Arkansas Razorbacks will come down to how Alabama's secondary matches up to Arkansas' talented wide receivers and how the Arkansas offensive line handles the multiple blitz packages Nick Saban and Kirby Smart have drawn up. The Razorbacks' receiving corps is widely regarded as some of the best in the country. So is the Crimson Tide's secondary. It's going to be a war.

Alabama will have to get pressure on Arkansas sophomore quarterback Tyler Wilson. In last Saturday's game against Troy, Wilson showed youth and inexperience with rushed throws into coverage, giving up a pick-six and throwing errantly on key downs. He's got to make smart throws, get rid of the ball before the pocket collapses and take advantage of receivers in one-on-one coverage.

On the other side of the ball, Alabama needs to win the battle at the line of scrimmage. Bama's offensive philosophy depends far less on the QB than Arkansas' does. The linemen are expected to get to the second level and engage linebackers, opening lanes for Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy. Alabama throws the ball best when it wants to throw, not when it has to throw. Staying ahead of the chains on first and second down are the key.

If Alabama's defense can rattle Wilson and keep him from settling into the pocket, and both Richardson and Lacey have good days running the football, Alabama can beat the Hogs handily. If Wilson gets comfortable throwing the ball and Arkansas somehow bottles up the Tide's TB duo, it's going to be a long day.

Question 2: The wide receiver position is still in flux with the wait for Duron Carter's clearance. What do you expect to see there for the remainder of the season? Will Carter play this year? Can Darius Hanks, Marquis Maze and company carry the load?

The Carter story is puzzling, to say the least. At this point, it's unlikely that he sees the field in a Bama uniform and he ends up taking a redshirt. It's disappointing too, because Carter was expected to shoulder some of the burden carried by Julio Jones last year. Hanks and Maze are both talented, speedy receivers with good hands. Hanks looks like the better receiver and looks like he's blocking a little better than Maze. Recall that one of the strengths Julio brought to the table was his downfield blocking ability on running plays. Bama needs physical receivers who can take it to the DB's and get the runner into the open field.

In passing situations, Alabama likes to spread the ball around. Tight end Michael Williams has been outstanding as a blocker and as a receiver. H-Back Brad Smelley has also performed well. If Arkansas chooses to double Hanks or Maze on deep routes, it's going to leave Smelley or Williams open or in a mismatch against a linebacker. Alabama also likes to throw the ball to the TB coming out of the backfield. It's an offensive system that doesn't rely on one particular position or player to make plays, but to take what the defense is giving and get the ball to whoever the defense can't get to on the play. Having another potential playmaker like Carter would only make it that much easier to do so, but if he's not able to play there are opportunities for other guys.

Look for Alabama to get the ball to freshman DeAndrew White. His teammates had nothing but glowing praise for him during fall camp and he has played sparingly. He played in the opener against Kent State, did not make the field against Penn State and only saw a few snaps against North Texas. Those who think Bama may be "holding something" back for use in bigger games might want to keep an eye on the speedy, sticky-handed receiver.

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The only thing missing is the band on the field

h/t to @GreggDoyelCBS

Offered without comment.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What should divisions look like with a 14-team SEC? Easy…

image Today, the Kansas City Star cited reliable sources in a report that Missouri had an offer on the table to join the SEC, and that the SEC was willing to wait on the final fate of the Big 12 conference. The boards of regents at Oklahoma and Texas have both voted to explore options, and of course all of this comes in the wake of Texas A&M’s formal secession from the Big 12 and acceptance into the SEC (barring court action blocking the move).

Later reports from USA Today’s Campus Corner had the SEC denying that it had made an offer to Missouri, but the sense is that the “denial” is plausible because, while the SEC probably has a wink-nudge offer to Mizzou, no way is Slive & Co. going to allow themselves to be portrayed as hunting on posted ground.

A&M looks to be all but a done deal and Mizzou might well be the dance partner, bringing the SEC to a 14-program conference with two, seven-member divisions.

The math of having an even number of conference participants makes scheduling a relatively easy thing to do. Scheduling equitably with 13 members is doable, but it wouldn’t be easy and it would leave some division members missing out on one game that they’d probably like to play.

There’s a good deal of chatter on how the two new conference members would fit into the league’s divisional system. Some folks think having two programs from west of the Mississippi all but guarantees that Auburn is pushed into the SEC East and both of the former Big 12 schools join the west. There’s also talk of rearranging some of the programs from the East and West to bring more balance. All of that is much too complicated and would likely end some storied conference rivalries.

A much easier solution (and therefore the one that will likely be the first option rejected) would be to simply rename the two divisions, keep the existing members in place and split the two new programs between the former East and West Divisions. Like this, for example:

Former SEC West Former SEC East
Alabama Florida
Arkansas Georgia
Auburn Kentucky
LSU South Carolina
Miss State Tennessee
Missouri Texas A&M
Ole Miss Vanderbilt

In order to maintain the eight-game SEC schedule that requires each team to play each of its divisional opponents, one of the two rotating interdivisional games would have to be dropped, and each member school plays two opponents from the other division, rather than three (a recent schedule tweak following the addition of the 12th regular season game). One of the two interdivisional opponents is designated a divisional rival, while the other rotates on a home-away basis.

Alabama keeps its Iron Bowl rivalry with Auburn and neither team faces the prospect of having to play back-to-back should both be in the SEC Championship Game. Tennessee and Alabama also keep their storied rivalry, as do Auburn and Georgia, Tennessee and Florida, Georgia and Florida, and so on. Texas A&M and Missouri would almost certainly choose one another as their interdivisional rival, and you’re all set for an eight game schedule with 14 teams in the SEC.

Told ya that would be easy. Check, please?

Exit Question: Can Mike Slive avoid the disaster of division names that Jim Delany came up with?

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Conference Realignment and Notre Dame: No white smoke

image Yahoo! Sports’ Dan Wetzel penned a column yesterday, laying out a sound case for Notre Dame giving up its football independence and aligning with a conference that he believes is the best fit—the ACC. It’s a compelling case.

“Ask people in South Bend and one of their chief concerns about super-conferences is whether they will prevent the Irish from putting together legitimate 12-game schedules, including revenue-rich seven or eight home games. Then it’s what it might do to basketball and other sports,” writes Wetzel.

He also points out the demographic trends of the Midwest region of the US, which is growing much more slowly than the Southeast and the Atlantic seaboard, and how population patterns play important roles in both audience and recruiting. When fewer people are living in your region, you have fewer eyes glued to your broadcasts and fewer people in your recruiting territory.

Those are good points, but I don’t see any white smoke from the chimney.

Notre Dame’s “recruiting territory” is the United States of America. It has significant fanbase representation in virtually every major media market in the country. It has its own television contract with NBC Sports. It has longstanding rivalries with Southern Cal, Michigan, Michigan State, Pitt, Purdue, Boston College and the military service academies. Super-conferences with 16 members each will still likely have either eight or nine game schedules that may preclude Notre Dame from maintaining all of those rivalries, but it’s doubtful that we’d see the end of the USC – Notre Dame or Boston College – Notre Dame or Navy – Notre Dame rivalries.

By remaining independent, would the school face the challenge Wetzel identifies in putting together the schedule? Sure. But things can get worked out. Taking the path of least resistance and succumbing to the ACC would be the end of the Irish mystique. It would relegate it to the same status as a Florida State or Virginia Tech. I think the ACC likes Notre Dame a lot more than Notre Dame likes the conference. Any conference, for that matter.

Joining a conference other than the Big 10 likely ends one or more of the rivalries with Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue. Why would the Irish give up such nationally seismic matchups like that for a schedule that includes Clemson and NC State, especially when either the Boston College or the Pitt series could still likely be maintained? If they were forced to give up the biannual trip to Los Angeles, they lose access to a hotbed of recruits in the nation’s most populous state and trade that for a conference matchup with Duke? Notre Dame has access to the east coast also, due its storied rivalries with Army and Navy, two of the greatest places on the face of the earth to watch a college football game. I just don’t see any of that happening.

The conference realignment craze is driven by money, media influence and market share. Notre Dame has a multibillion dollar endowment and ample revenues from its TV deal. It really doesn’t need the money and it already wields considerable influence in the world of college football. They haven’t been in a national title chance since before many of you were even born, but the school still commands ratings and fills the stadium every Saturday.

Notre Dame may feel a little pressure to join the realignment bandwagon, but at the end of the day, their national recruiting territory, national mystique and storied rivalries will live on, as will their FBS independence. Short of a Papal Bull, that is, and fumata bianca billowing from the chimney atop the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

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Sugar Bowl caught in HBO Real Sports investigation

image Tonight, HBO airs a new episode of Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, and presents its investigative report into the finances of the Allstate Sugar Bowl, where the Bowl Championship Series will crown the 2011 BCS National Champion on January 9, 2012.

Among the findings of the investigative report, the Sugar Bowl was shown to have made a total of $5,000 to the election campaign of former Louisiana Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, a Democrat. Two other donations totaling $89.90 were made to a Political Action Committee.

Organized as a non-profit, 501(c)(3) charitable organization, the Sugar Bowl is prohibited from making such political contributions and appears to have violated federal elections law in doing so.

Here’s a segment from the show, where correspondent Bernie Goldberg interviews Football Bowl Association Spokesman Bruce Bernstien:


Goldberg: According to the IRS laws regarding charities like the Bowls, are they allowed to give money to politicians and political candidates?
Bernstien: No.
Goldberg: No--period?
Bernstien: No, period.
Goldberg: The Fiesta Bowl, as you know, was caught laundering money to political candidates. And by "laundering money," I mean the Bowl didn't give money to political candidates, employees did and then the employees were reimbursed.
Bernstien: It's not a good thing, but it's an isolated incident. I have never heard of another instance of where a Bowl Organization made a political contribution.  And I ask you, Bernie, have you heard of that? Because if someone was foolish enough to do that...
Goldberg: The answer is "yes."  Let me interrupt you--the answer is "yes." Louisiana state campaign finance records show several contributions from the Sugar Bowl to the Governor of Louisiana.... You asked me a question...
Bernstien: I'm not familiar with that. But if the organization was foolish enough to have done that, it will get reported and obviously now there are two situations that have been reported.

If there was any good news in the report, it was that the Real Sports investigative team didn’t turn up anything like evidence of a $1,200 strip joint tab, tens of thousands in bogus bonuses paid to employees who funneled the money to political campaigns, a lavish birthday party for the bowl’s CEO, gold coins, cars and other bling thrown around by the Fiesta Bowl. CEO John Junker was fired and the bowl was slapped on the wrist by the BCS.

At first blush, the Sugar Bowl transgressions don’t even carry the Fiesta’s jock strap. The last political contribution shown in the records was $50 to the PAC in 2008. Former Governor Blanco decided not to run for reelection in 2007, and current Republican Governor Bobby Jindal is not shown as a beneficiary of the bowl’s political largesse.

Given the Fiesta’s slap on the wrist last Spring, you can rest assured that the BCS will thank the Sugar Bowl for not going big time.   

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Ole Miss problems go way beyond Houston Nutt

image Can we all stipulate that the Ole Miss football program is in season two of a slow motion train wreck?

When your Athletics Director is sending a “hold the rope” email at 11:34 CDT on the Sunday night after your football program was pillaged, ransacked and burned by the studly Vanderbilt Commodores, you’ve got a full-scale meltdown in progress. It’s a core breach of biblical proportions and it’s a disaster brought upon the program by none other that Pete Boone, the author of the desperate email dispatch late last night.

Pete Boone hired Houston Nutt. Pete Boone fired David Cutcliffe after his first losing season, a season one year removed from a 10-win season, and replaced him with the biggest buffoon in SEC coaching history. It took Orgeron three years to get 10 wins total, all under the “leadership” of Pete Boone. And can we all agree that, under Andy Kennedy, the Ole Miss men’s basketball program is mediocre at best and sliding into obscurity? Pete Boone hired Andy Kennedy. Colonel Reb is crying.

But Colonel Reb is crying in an Ole Miss administration exile. The mustachioed southern gentleman in the old south garb has been dismissed from the Grove and replaced with a Black Bear, or something. Not only is Ole Miss struggling to gain some identity in its football and basketball programs, the entire athletics department seems to be in a massive identity crisis. They don’t even know who, or what they are any more.

This is not the Ole Miss that produced Charlie Conerly, Archie Manning, Deuce McAllister and Eli Manning. This is the program that instead produced the 2007 bunch who were suspended for stealing pillows and clock radios from hotels in which the team had stayed. This is the program that won the 2009 Oversigning National Championship by inking letters of intent from 37 players but still fielded only about 75 scholarship players for the 2011 season.

This is also a men’s basketball program that has famously flamed out in every season coached by Kennedy. Ole Miss hasn’t made the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament once under Kennedy. Attendance at Ole Miss home games is so bad that any SEC West school can generate homecourt atmosphere just by getting tickets, showing up and rooting their team on to a win.

If Chancellor Dan Jones has any sense left in him, he’ll start cleaning house. Find something else for Pete Boone to do. Buy him a bank. He’s got to be better at that than he is running an athletics program—it’s what he did after his first stint as Ole Miss AD (yes, this is his second bite at the apple, sports fans). Get rid of Houston Nutt, Andy Kennedy and that stupid black bear. Let Ole Miss fans return to the Grove with pride and reestablish their identity.

Some fans, alumni and boosters are already pounding the drum. Here’s wondering if Dr. Jones hears the beat.

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Week 3: SEC Picks to Watch

By: @LivingCrimson

In my bow to superstition, no predictions on Alabama football. All picks to win are mine and do NOT follow Vegas lines.

Alabama vs. North Texas

No. 2 Alabama (2-0, 0-0 SEC) hosts North Texas (0-2, 0-1 Sun Belt)

7:30pm ET ■ FoxSportsSouth ■ ESPN3

Series record: Alabama leads 3-0

Saturday, Sep. 17, 2011. Fox Sports South announcers will be Bob Rathbun and Tim Couch, with Kristina Akra on the field.

Things to Look For:  WR Darius Hanks – The senior receiver returns after a 2 game suspension and should be an important asset in the passing game, having equaled Marquis Maze’s receiving production in the 2010 season. QB Phillip Sims – Will the redshirt freshman have an opportunity overcome his poor outing vs. Kent State and push for more playing time from AJ McCarron? LB Courtney Upshaw – Battling a nagging hip injury, the pass rush could be impacted if Upshaw has to limit his playing time. LT Cyrus Kouandjio – Will the true freshman see meaningful playing time on an offensive line still being shuffled around? LB Trey DePriest – The true freshman may earn more playing as ILB Chris Jordan continues to battle nagging injuries. S Vinnie Sunseri – The hardest hitter on the team according to Upshaw, Sunseri has been a standout on special teams including a flying body block vs. Penn State that sprung Maze for a key 44-yard punt return.

Quotable Quote:  North Texas Head Coach Dan McCarney … "We don't flinch here at North Texas. We're used to it. We embrace it.”

Box Scores: Last weekend, Bama faced No. 23 Penn State, winning the game 27-11.  North Texas faced Houston, losing the game 23-48.

Game Notes: Alabama Game Notes. North Texas Game Notes.

Roll Tide!

Auburn eagle crash luxury box pic crop

Auburn vs. Clemson

No. 21 Auburn (2-0, 1-0 SEC) at Clemson (2-0, 0-0 ACC)

12:00pm ET ■ ABC

Series record: Auburn leads 34-11-2

Pick to Win: Auburn by 3 points

Saturday, Sep. 17, 2011. ABC announcers will be Dave Pasch, Urban Meyer and Chris Spielman with Quint Kessenich on the field.

Another team that should have beaten Auburn last year, the overtime game was decided by an unusual penalty assessed against Clemson. But the rabbit’s foot that is Auburn football continues its improbable last-minute finishes through its first two games, and who are we to believe Saturday’s game will be any different?

In the last meeting, Clemson won both sides of the line of scrimmage. This year’s Auburn lines may be depleted but are playing stronger than Clemson’s lines. Clemson struggled mightily with lowly Wofford, only pulling ahead in the fourth quarter. And yes, it’s worse to be upstaged by Wofford than Utah State.

Clemson has also installed a new spread offense by a new offensive coordinator and replaced most of its coaching staff, including the offensive line coach. This is a rebuilding year for both teams, so expect a battle of the uglies and nonexistent defenses.

The potential is there for a blowout by Auburn, especially with OC Gus Malzahn’s ability to score points on the turn of a dime. But blowout and Auburn are not synonymous in any stretch of reality as we know it.

Quotable Quote:  Birmingham News Kevin Scarbinsky spouting the Auburn party line … “[Urban] Meyer has no business working an Auburn game, there, here or anywhere. The appearance of a conflict of interest is thicker than Joe Paterno’s glasses.”

Box Scores: Last weekend, unranked Auburn faced No. 16 Mississippi State, winning the game 41-34. Clemson faced Wofford, winning the game 35-27.

Game Notes:  Auburn Game Notes. Clemson Game Notes.

Florida Gators helmet

Florida vs. Tennessee

No. 16 Florida (2-0, 0-0 SEC) hosts Tennessee (2-0, 0-0 SEC)

3:30pm ET ■ CBS

Series record: Florida leads 21-19

Pick to Win: Florida by 7

Saturday, Sep. 17, 2011. CBS announcers will be Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson, with Tracy Wolfson on the field.

This game opens SEC play for both teams. Tennessee hasn’t beaten Florida since 2004. Don’t expect Saturday to break the streak.

Vols quarterback Tyler Bray has been impressive with a 78% completion rate for 698 yards, seven touchdowns and no interceptions. He is now 6-1 as a returning starter with the added advantage of an offensive line that provides plenty of time to make reads.

The Gators secondary starts two true freshmen, so this game will be a test for the Florida defense that so far has held rock solid. The defensive line has been especially stout, which should prove a deterrent to Tennessee’s not-quite-developed run game.

Florida has fielded a strong rushing game, which should be able to break through the Vols defense and continue scoring at will.

It’s hard to pick against Tennessee in this game knowing that Bray may have another spectacular outing, but depth, experience and the unknown quantity of OC Charlie Weis will carry the day for the Gators.

Quotable Quote:  Sporting News Matt Hayes … “Tennessee has to beat Florida to make that game mean something again."

Box Scores: Last weekend, Florida faced UAB, winning the game 39-0.  Tennessee faced Cincinnati, winning the game 45-23.

Game Notes: Florida Game Notes. Tennessee Game Notes.

Navy helmet

South Carolina vs. Navy

Navy (2-0) at No. 10 South Carolina (2-0, 1-0 SEC)

5:00pm ET ■ ESPN2 ■ ESPN3

Series record: South Carolina leads 4-3

Pick to Win: Navy by 3 points

Saturday, Sep. 17, 2011. ESPN announcers will be Mike Patrick and Craig James with Jeanie Edwards on the field.

Navy leads the nation with its stout rushing, part of its triple option offense. Despite the season-ending loss last weekend of RB Aaron Santiago, the Mids have spread the ball among four other rushers with great success. And that’s not counting their dual threat quarterback.

South Carolina has an explosive rushing game, but it all lies on the shoulders of RB Marcus Lattimore. Big shoulders (and legs) to be sure, but so far the Gamecocks offense has been one-dimensional.

South Carolina has been inconsistent stopping the run, as well as in other key defensive areas. Navy will arrive prepared to play and equipped to take advantage of any mistakes by the Cocks. If South Carolina can play a penalty-free, technically sound game, it would be hard to pick against them. But … this is South Carolina, so it’s really not so hard after all.

Quotable Quote:  South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier … "[W]e've got a lot of work to do, a lot of coaching. Players got to hopefully learn how to play this game or we're going to be in trouble this year."

Box Scores: Last weekend, No. 12 South Carolina faced unranked Georgia, winning the game 45-42. Navy faced Western Kentucky, winning the game 40-14.

Game Notes: South Carolina Game Notes. Navy Game Notes.

Vegas Spreads On Other SEC Games:

Ole Miss @ Vanderbilt

12:00pm ET ~ SEC Network ~ ESPN3

Pick to Win: Vandy

Line: Ole Miss –2

Coastal Carolina @ Georgia

1:00pm ET ~ ESPN3

Pick to Win: Georgia

Line: Georgia –28.5

Louisville @ Kentucky

6:00pm ET ~ ESPNU

Pick to Win: Kentucky

Line: Kentucky –7.5

Troy @ Arkansas

7:30pm ET ~ Comcast Sports South ~ ESPN3

Pick to Win: Arkansas

Line: Arkansas –26.5

Bama D-Line: Here There Be Monsters

By: @LivingCrimson

Jesse Williams Penn State 9-10-11 cropIn pure poundage, Alabama’s base defensive line is the equivalent of a full-grown grizzly bear. And with just as much bite. Each member chosen for his ferociousness in the trenches, these men are ready and able to wreak havoc on opponents.

If defense wins championships, then Bama has a huge paw up on the competition.

The Crimson Tide leads the SEC and is ranked fifth nationally in total defense, allowing only 9 points per game. Tide opponents are averaging just 2.5 yards per play, which also leads the SEC and ranks second nationally. Only once in seven years has a national champion fallen out of the top 10 in either of those defensive categories.

"I stopped checking for the monster under the bed when I realised the monster is me." –Tattoo on DE Jesse Williams

Spread offenses invest in passing yardage to win games. Pressuring the quarterback and stopping the run are essential keys to Coach Saban’s game-winning defensive strategy. He emphasizes technique in the 3-4 as a “better way to stop the pass.”

Nose tackle Josh Chapman (and rotation partner Nick Gentry) is asked to command double teams and prevent guards and centers from getting to second-tier blocking at the linebacker level. Ends Jesse Williams and Damion Square (and partners Quinton Dial and Ed Stinson) are in two gap coverage and defend power running plays, taking blockers head on and defending the gaps over each of their shoulders. In pass plays the defensive ends shed blockers and chase the quarterback out of the pocket, trying to sack him. This strategy frustrates offenses by clogging the middle and giving the linebackers in the seven-man front the opportunity to defend the edges and adjust the coverages.

Through two games, the Bama D-line has racked up 1.5 sacks, 2 passes broken up and 3 quarterback hurries. All of those categories are a per-game improvement on the 2010 season. The rushing average per game has been almost halved since last year and the passing average allowed is down by one-third.

“We wanted to prove to all the other teams in the nation that we aren’t messing around.” –DE Jesse Williams

Against the Tide defensive line, opposing offenses have managed only three scoring drives…with the speed of a cement truck. That speaks well of the primary asset Alabama will bring to bear against every team it plays this season.

Crazy ability. Or monsters with teeth. Take your pick.


NT Josh Chapman 9/13/11
DE Damion Square 9/14/11
DE Jesse Williams 9/15/11

Videos courtesy of Stats are found at

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