Monday, August 31, 2009

The Final Countdown: 3

I told you there would be gaps in this countdown, and to my credit I’ve kept them from being massive, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that another pair of numbers didn’t make the list. Sorry about that numbers five and four, I’m sure something nice would have accompanied you. But we must push on, so now just three days away from college football, the countdown is drawing to a close. We’ve covered a lot of areas in the SEC, but outside of predictions, which will be coming in the next two days, there’s one area we haven’t discussed. And that brings us to sponsors of the SEC.

When I first wrote the headline to this post, I saw the number three sticking out and it immediately reminded me of the days when ESPN was in the business of making movies and they introduced the world to the movie 3, which was the story of Dale Earnhardt. As I thought about the absurdity of the movie and the humor I got out of it, I was reminded of the insanity related to sponsorships in NASCAR (now found in all sports). Literally, anything that can hold a logo, a name or tag line has one plastered across it. The front of a driver’s jumpsuit has more advertisements on it than you would see in four hours of watching TV. And if NASCAR showed crotch shots on TV, then you’d see advertisements there. Thankfully they don’t show those.

As companies started to realize the value of advertising during and on live SEC football games since something like 207% of people in the Southeast are watching, these NASCAR-like advertisements started popping up everywhere. The first down line, the on-screen scoreboard and halftime segments. And though CBS did have some sponsors, mainly halftime and stat recaps, they did not do it with the NASCAR flair that the now extinct Jefferson Pilot/whatever else it was called did.

So in honor of 3, outlandish advertising practices and the number three in the countdown, here are three of Jefferson Pilot’s biggest NASCAR-like advertisers.

Texas Pete Hot Sauce
One of the first sponsors on JP to appear during game action, the Texas Pete logo could always be found by the scoreboard in the upper left hand corner of the TV screen. Although JP was behind by at least seven years in developing the on-screen scoreboard, they had to be one of the first to advertise on it. I’ve never had Texas Pete so I can’t vouch for the quality, nor can I tell you where it can be found, as I am not much for hot sauces (meaning I don’t know how far and where they distribute). But I can tell you that thanks to Jefferson Pilot, I recognize that logo anywhere and know instantly that it’s a hot sauce.

I’m kind of surprised they never expanded their advertising outside of the on-screen scoreboard since so much else was available. The front pocket of Dave Rowe’s short-sleeved white shirt, Buzz Baker’s chair on the sidelines, the crest of Dave Neal’s coat and they could have gotten Dave Rowe to stutter through a 15 second live read where he talks about why he enjoys Texas Pete on his food. I’m telling you, they really missed the boat here.

Don Panchos (or maybe Ponchos)
Since I can’t remember if it was Panchos or Ponchos and can’t remember if it was a restaurant or a place that sold Mexican food to grocery stores and restaurants, I’m just going to call it Don Panchos and avoid calling it a restaurant or a supplier of fine Mexican food products.

Don Panchos was the one advertiser that had the guts to go after Texas Pete’s territory in advertising on the on-screen scoreboard. For a while it seemed like Texas Pete had a monopoly there, but then Don Panchos slowly started to make some inroads. I think they started off only getting some airtime during the middle of the first and third quarters while Texas Pete held on to the prime time spots of the beginning, close to halftime and the end of games. After a season or two, Don Panchos soon found itself splitting time with Texas Pete. It wasn’t exactly Microsoft versus Apple, but it was quite the regional advertising battle.

The on-screen first down line first appeared on television in 1998 during an NFL broadcast, and something like eight years later, the technology finally made its way to Jefferson Pilot. I don’t think JP would have ever installed the line had Nexium not put up the cash to get the line on a broadcast with a giant purple pill next to it, but thankfully for all of us they accepted Nexium’s money. And actually, the purple line was sort of revolutionary. Every other network (I realize referring to Jefferson Pilot as a network is a loose use of the term, but bear with me) had a standard yellow line with no advertising. JP not only had a line, but its purple color stood out and they made money by bringing the line to viewers.

Although 99.999999999999999999999999999999% of JP viewers couldn’t spell or tell you what Nexium was for other than it was some kind of purple medicine-drug, Nexium certainly got its name known throughout the Southeast. And their advertising dollars eventually lead to JP coughing up the money to invest in HD broadcasts, which in a delicious bit of irony, arrived the season before they lost the contract to televise SEC football and basketball games.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Final Countdown: 6

Around this time next week, we’ll know what South Carolina has to offer, which will either terrify me or soothe my nerves. Granted, it might be hard to tell since they’ll be playing NC State, but most importantly we’ll be talking about college football results, not predictions. The reason I’m so interested in the South Carolina game, other than it being the first game, is that it seems to me to be a make or break game for Ole Miss. Road game, Thursday night game, Steve Spurrier destroyed Tyrone Nix last year and Jevan Snead had all sorts of problems with the South Carolina defense. It’s going to be a huge test. Lose it and I can see at least two, maybe three more loses. But, if the Rebels win the game, look out.

So with the make or break concept in mind, here are six early season games that could potentially be the beginnings of a great season or an average to disastrous one for some teams. I stuck to games within the first month of the season because if your team wins one of those pivotal games, it provides the confidence they’ll need later in the season when they reach a huge game. For instance, the Ole Miss/Alabama game is not listed. Yes, it is a monster game for both teams, assuming things haven’t fallen apart for either team by then, but it being a monster game hinges on the Ole Miss/South Carolina game and to some degree the Virginia Tech game for Alabama (although I think Alabama will dominate that game).

(Note: The Ole Miss/South Carolina game is not listed because I just spent two paragraphs talking about it. But it’s a part of this list, even though that makes seven games. Whatever. It’s my countdown.)

September 12
Mississippi State at Auburn

If Auburn wants to go to a bowl, or at least have a shot, this is a must win game. For Mississippi State, if they can pull the upset, a bowl becomes a possibility for them. But to me, it’s a bigger game for Auburn because if they lose this one, welcome to a four win season. If State loses, not much changes. They won’t be expected to win and aren’t expected to make a bowl (not that Auburn is). A sour start (or even more sour than it already is) to the Gene Chizik regular season would be a total disaster to a program that is dangerously close to being labeled a floundering one.

September 19
Georgia at Arkansas

This game is probably equally as important for both teams. For Arkansas, this is their first real test of the season and if they win, it could springboard them into a surprising season where they’re in the mix for a third place finish in the West. If they lose, it’s not catastrophic but it’s a great opportunity that got away. It’s early in the season, Georgia probably isn’t sure what Joe Cox really has when it comes to SEC play and the game is at home.

For Georgia, it’s a game they should win, but it’s still a road game and they’ll have an untested quarterback trying to win his first SEC road game. Granted, he’ll get some hostile environment experience when they play at Oklahoma State, but it won’t compare to what he’ll get at Fayetteville. If Georgia loses, this could be a season to forget. Losing games you should win in the SEC is not a good recipe for success later in the year. If they win, Georgia could turn into a feisty team for the likes of LSU and Florida.

September 19
Mississippi State at Vanderbilt

While this game doesn’t really mean anything either way for Vanderbilt (they’re not going anywhere), it does mean something to State. This is one of the games they have a shot to win. If you recall, State finally put an end to Vandy’s winning streak last year, ending any notions that Vanderbilt was actually a good team, so they can definitely beat this team.

The way I see it, there are two scenarios here: 1) State comes into this game after an upset over Auburn. That puts them at 2-0 and if they beat Vandy, 3-0 and a bowl game is a real possibility. Lose and a bowl game is most likely out of the question, but a miserable season probably isn’t happening either. 2) State comes in after losing to Auburn. If they lose to Vandy, a magical 2-10 season is a real possibility. After Vandy, the only potential wins on the schedule are Houston, Middle Tennessee State, Kentucky and maybe Arkansas. The two conference games are on the road (as is the MTSU game) and I can see them having problems with Houston. Coming out of September 1-3 (LSU is the week after Vandy) would be a disaster.

September 26
Arkansas at Alabama

It’s pretty obvious that if Alabama loses this one, bad things will be afoot in Tuscaloosa. I don’t think they will, but if Greg McElroy stinks and they can’t develop an offensive line, then there’s a chance. For Arkansas, a win like this early in the season probably can’t be put into words how big it would be. A loss here and a loss the week before to Georgia and that’s a bad start to the season, most likely one where they’ll be doing battle for 5th place in the SEC West.

October 3
LSU at Georgia

Obviously, a win by Georgia here would involve a barrage of liquor bottles thrown in the direction of the LSU crowd and general mayhem on the streets of Athens. And of course good things would happen the rest of the way for the Bulldogs. Lose and while it hurts, it’s not a season killer.

For LSU, if they beat Georgia here, they’ll most likely be 5-0 when they host Florida the following week. I can’t begin to describe the Armageddon-like atmosphere and hype that would take place that week. Not that it would rival that of the Ohio State/Michigan game of a couple of year ago (nothing of our time ever will), but I can assure you the teams will be much better than those. If they lose to Georgia, their world will momentarily come crashing down. One, it takes some luster off the game with Florida, who will most likely be undefeated. And two, it’s a game they should win. The outcome of this game probably makes the difference between an 8-4 season and a 10-2 one.

October 3
Auburn at Tennessee

This game promises to be awful. Just awful. But the winner of this game will be in a position to qualify for a bowl, which would be a huge boost to two first year coaches, while the loser is done. Hard to believe teams this bad could make it to a bowl. I can’t even talk about this game. End of list.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Final Countdown: 7

In 1987, Guns N’ Roses, the greatest band of our time, exploded onto the national music scene with the release of Appetite for Destruction. Faces were melted merely by looking at the album. And when people actually listened to it, minds were blown apart. It was literally the greatest moment in music history. So to honor the album that changed the world, I give you seven songs off the album that I find most relate to the people, places and teams of the SEC.

Welcome to the Jungle
This song destroys every other song ever written. It unhinges its jaw and physically consumes everything in its path. You can’t tell me that the first time (and perhaps every time) you heard this song you didn’t want to run through a brick wall. And you probably could have if you tried.

Much like this song, Urban Meyer’s Florida team destroys just about everything it faces when playing at home. Meyer is 27-2 in The Swamp since coming to Florida. However, Florida should turn off the GNR when Ole Miss comes to town and fire up some "Home Sweet Home" by Motley Crue, as the Rebels are 2-0 this decade there.

It’s So Easy
Just like the song title says, it’s so easy for Alabama to beat Ole Miss in Tuscaloosa and for LSU to beat Mississippi State in Baton Rouge. Ole Miss last won at Alabama in 1988 and, after about 10 minutes of research, I never found evidence of a State win in Baton Rouge. I’m sure it’s happened, but State’s athletics webpage is such a trainwreck, I gave up looking for the answer. I suppose I could have looked on LSU’s page, but I’m much too lazy to do that. Incidentally, neither State nor Ole Miss visits those places this season, so this is sort of irrelevant.

Out ta Get Me
I think this song accurately describes Lane Kiffin’s feelings towards everyone in the SEC, the national media, potentially Ed Orgeron and Urban Meyer. Most everyone in the SEC has been thoroughly annoyed (and also entertained) at Kiffin’s buffoonery, the media has had a field day with him and would love to see him crash and burn, Ed Orgeron wants his job and Urban Meyer wants to hang 75 on the Vols in Gainesville this year and grind Kiffin into a fine paste. So I say the feeling is warranted.

Paradise City
A song that was probably written about Oxford without knowing it was actually about Oxford. I’m not going to wax poetic about the sights and sounds of Oxford because you’d be reading nothing you hadn’t read before, but if you’ve never been DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO GO. Trust me on this one.

You’re Crazy
I believe this is Les Miles’ personal anthem. In fact, I believe he sings it to himself in the mirror every Sunday morning after one of his moronic decisions on Saturday works out. Throwing a pass to the endzone with nine seconds left when a field goal would win the game? “You’re cra-zy!!!” Fourth downs? Go for it!!! “You’re cra-zy!!!”

Perhaps before he traded the booze and headbutts for Red Bull and recruiting, Ed Orgeron enjoyed a bottle or two of Night Train Express, which is a brand of cheap wine. Although, Night Train is apparently readily found in California, but not in other parts of the United States, so I doubt he got to take a sample. I think Orgeron was more of a King Cobra man anyway.

Mr. Brownstone
Everyone has that one vice or guilty pleasure that when it surfaces holds them back in some way. For Guns N’ Roses, it was the fast and party lifestyle. For Steve Spurrier, it’s the quarterback position. Plagued with some less-than-stellar quarterbacks since his arrival in Columbia, Spurrier has never been able to put a complete offensive team together. Just when it looks like the South Carolina offense is getting a little bit better than before, the quarterback does something incredibly stupid and won’t leave Steve Spurrier alone.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Final Countdown: 8

(This might be the best video yet. Just look at all the stage moves with the microphone.)

Number eight in the countdown brings us to our first “what if” scenario. Normally, I find these highly irritating because it usually involves an argument over a fictional game between a team that played in the ‘80s against a team from the ‘00s. There’s not much room for debate. The more modern team will win because players in college football (and all sports) are getting bigger, faster and stronger rather than smaller, slower and weaker. However, today’s “what if” scenario at the very least leaves room for some kind of debate.

Let’s say in the next eight days Houston Nutt decides he’s done with coaching football and will enroll in seminary for plexiglass podium preachers. After everyone associated with Ole Miss got finished crapping in their pants, we would realize we desperately needed a new coach. And let’s also say we were only allowed to replace him with a current SEC head coach. In what order would I want the other coaches of the SEC targeted by Pete Boone?

You can play this “what if” scenario with your team’s head coach, but for the purposes of this post, you’re going to read the Houston Nutt version (mainly because I don’t care about your team). And yes, this is just a sneakier way of ranking the coaches without really ranking them. Also, there are only eight candidates because obviously Nutt can’t be considered, and Mullen, Kiffin and Chizik are all first year coaches and I don’t want anything to do with those as I once noted here.

From last target to first target…

8. Bobby Johnson, Vanderbilt
I think this is pretty self-explanatory. If it involves Vanderbilt, it doesn’t really count. Except when your starting quarterback throws four interceptions in a loss the week before your team plays Florida.

7. Les Miles, LSU

I think my stance on Miles has been well documented in the past. But as a refresher for those who aren’t regular readers, Les Miles is the most overmatched and overrated coach in the SEC. Sure, he won at least 11 games in his first three years, which Nick Saban never did, but Nick Saban never had the talent Les Miles did. Miles inherited the talent Saban recruited, which helped overcome his coaching buffoonery. We saw the first major cracks begin to show in the Les Miles era last season and we’ll see large chunks start to fall of this season.

6. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina

There was once a time Spurrier would have been much higher on a list like this, but those days are over. It’s obvious his teams at South Carolina, which are now consistently competitive, don’t have the talent he once had at Florida, but there’s something else I just can’t identify. I’m not sure if it’s his team always lacking a quarterback, his passion for coaching is gone or maybe South Carolina is an impossible place to win more than seven to eight games consistently. Whatever the reason, watching the Gamecocks is not an enjoyable experience. They always seem sloppy (starting in 2005, they have finished 5th, 8th, 11th and 12th in turnover margin) and disjointed on offense (finishing 11th, 6th, 12th and 12th in rushing offense while finishing 5th, 4th, 3rd and 3rd in passing). Even as much as he liked to throw at Florida, he still found a way to have a running game. If I could figure out the problem was mostly being at South Carolina, maybe he would move up.

5. Bobby Petrino, Arkansas
The man may be shifty and always looking for a better deal, but he’s a pretty good offensive coach. Even with Casey Dick running the show last year, Arkansas managed to finish fourth in total offense. Now, those numbers might be a little inflated due to a defense that was the worst in the conference, but they’re still impressive. Since his main body of work took place in C-USA and the Big East and there’s always the lingering thought he will totally screw your program over, he’s not that high on the list. We’ll see how things are going in year three at Arkansas, assuming he’s still there.

4. Mark Richt, Georgia

I spent something like 2200 words explaining why Richt was the most mediocre coach in the SEC and don’t care to launch into that argument again. If you have a few extra hours, here’s what I had to say about him. And if you notice, he’s right in the meaty part of this countdown.

3. Rich Brooks, Kentucky
This one may be a surprise to many, but I think Brooks is a really good coach. He won at Oregon when no one else could win at Oregon (hell, he even won the Pac-10 in 1994). He’s turned Kentucky into a mildly competitive and occasionally feisty team, which hasn’t happened consistently at Kentucky since….I have no idea (Hal Mumme didn’t do it consistently). Plus, he loves to curse at everyone, which is always fun to watch on TV. I think I would thoroughly enjoy that part of the Rich Brooks era.

2. Urban Meyer, Florida

As much as I dislike him, wherever he goes, he wins. Bowling Green, Utah and Florida. I’m sure if he were my team’s head coach, I would really enjoy his smugness, the way he probably looks at himself in the mirror and his icy glares out at the field in which he pretends how jacked up he is. Plus, he might be able to find another Tim Tebow-like player, which would be nice.

1. Nick Saban, Alabama
Saban would be the first guy I’d want to target. He wins, he’s tough, he’s amazingly sarcastic and brutal with the media (although he’s tried to soften that recently), he recruits well, doesn’t put up with crap and I get the sense that while he certainly appreciates the fans, his dream would be to never have to interact with them. Granted, that may come from his dealings with the likes of LSU and Alabama fans, but I think he’s generally annoyed with anyone who isn’t involved in football. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy a coach who calls out his players in the media without actually calling them out? Remember his rant on his offensive line earlier this month?

"We don't have a starting offensive line. We don't have any starters on the offensive line. Not one. So we have five spots that are up. You keep asking about one. We don't have any. We don't have a depth chart. So how can we be worrying about that one spot? So you can speculate any way you want, but I really don't know. I'm telling you the God-awful truth. I don't really know."

I could get used to hearing that all the time.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Final Countdown: 9

Only single digits now stand between us and the start of college football, and I’m starting to get a little giddy. As we get closer to the actual day, that feeling of giddiness will most certainly be replaced by nerves, terror and a huge crushing weight that won’t be lifted until the season is over. Wait, why do I like college football again? Before you or I start thinking about that too much, I’ll throw out a distraction to prevent such an evil thought from creeping in our heads.

I can only watch so much football, not because I get sick of it, but because there are only a certain number of hours in each day, I can only be in one place at once and I don’t live at Buffalo Wild Wings where I can get every sporting event known to man on my TV. And when it comes down to watching Ole Miss or your team play, your team can go to hell. I mean that in the nicest way possible. So, given my limited time to watch SEC football, number nine on the countdown brings us to the nine players I’m looking forward to watching play against Ole Miss each week, meaning one person on each team per week.

Now, you might be saying, “But Gray, Ole Miss only plays eight conference games, how can there be nine players?” It’s nine weeks if you count Atlanta, bitch. That’s right, I said it.

Of course, I hope these players are destroyed by the Rebels, but I’ll be satisfied if they all going down in massive, crushing defeat.

In order of appearance on the schedule…

1. Stephen Garcia, South Carolina
I just want to see if he’ll make it this far in the season without doing something to get suspended. That’s the primary reason I look forward to seeing him play. The second reason would be to see if Spurrier can work his alleged quarterback magic on a guy that looked clueless at times last year. I know he was young and inexperienced (although not in property crimes), but even Spurrier was quoted that he had no trust in him. Obviously, Garcia has more talent than anyone Spurrier has ever coached at South Carolina, which isn’t saying a whole lot, but a Spurrier team with a competent quarterback is a dangerous one.

2. No one, Vanderbilt
If you thought I was going to mention Chris Nickson, Mackenzi Adams or Jared Hawkins, then you are terribly mistaken. Other than the end of the game, there is nothing I look forward to when playing Vanderbilt.

3. Julio Jones, Alabama
If he had a legitimate quarterback throwing the ball to him, I can’t even imagine the devastation he would cause. Even with Marshay Green’s surge of confidence and badassery at the cornerback position heading into this season, I don’t want to see that match up. God help the rest of the SEC if Greg McElroy becomes a good quarterback by Jones’ junior year.

3b. Greg McElroy, Alabama
Since Vanderbilt offers nothing of interest, I’m interested in two players from Alabama. I’m really curious to see if Saban is going to be even more conservative on offense than he was last year. McElroy allegedly has more talent than John Parker Wilson did, but he’s never played before, which I’m sure scares Saban. Alabama’s defense will be one of the best in the country so I’d be surprised if much changes on the offensive side of the ball, but if McElroy gets comfortable early in the season, they might elect to be a little more aggressive, especially if their offensive line can’t run block like last year’s could.

4. Ryan Mallett, Arkansas
Sort of like Stephen Garcia, I am interested to see if Mallett avoids a lengthy suspension and plays in this game. I assume he’ll be around as long as he can lay off the sauce during the season. I’m also curious to see how far he falls below the Bill Brasky-like skills Arkansas fans claim that he has. If you believe everything you read, Mallett can throw the ball 3.4 miles, runs the 40 on one leg in 4.7 seconds, can do 47,000 jumping jacks without resting and once ate the Bible while waterskiing. Also, he could not beat out Chad Henne at Michigan.

5. Chris Todd, Auburn
The man left for dead by the Tommy Tuberville regime (minus Tony Franklin) is back under center for the Tigers. Todd makes the list here because I really want to see a D-I college quarterback that’s physically unable to throw the ball further than 40 yards. I saw flashes of it on TV last year, but can’t put into words how excited I am to see it in person.

6. Jonathan Crompton, Tennessee
I just want to see him alive and at the game. Remember, this is the guy who received death threats from Tennessee fans. And given the Vols’ lack of healthy receivers, Crompton’s limited ability at quarterback and the general disposition of Tennessee fans, it might be a little dicey that he makes the trip to Oxford. However, if not for Crompton, I would have selected Eric Berry to see if he lived up to the hype he’s been getting.

7. Jordan Jefferson, LSU
I might have said Charles Scott here, but then I remembered he gained a whopping 10 yards on 10 carries against Ole Miss last year. To be fair, it was a significant chunk of the 37 total rushing yards they had. Anyway, like seeing Ryan Mallet, I want to see if Jefferson can live up to the hype he’s received from LSU fans. Allegedly, outside of Tim Tebow, he’s the only other quarterback in the SEC that can walk on water. Hopefully, I’ll get a good look at that feat. As for his playing skills, he’ll have plenty of offensive help around him so I feel like he will make a jump in terms of quality quarterbacking.

8. Tyson Lee, Mississippi State
I just want to see the look on his face when he lines up under center (assuming he’s back into the quarterback rotation after Chris Relf is sentenced to the bench and Tyler Russell is being protected from his offensive line) and sees the same defense that crushed his soul and body. Although since he’s so short, he might not actually be able to see them across the line of scrimmage (ZING!).

9. Tim Tebow, Florida
Ah, yes, Atlanta. The stars are aligned, now it just has to happen. Ugh. Anyway, who wouldn’t want to see Tebow play? Yes, the guy is disliked for the media lovefest he has received everyday for the past three years and the speech he gave after the loss to Ole Miss. Although, I don’t think he deserves all the dislike for the Ole Miss speech. That whole thing blew up because the media loves that type of stuff (especially since they could relate it to Florida’s win streak) and Urban Meyer being a schmuck. I find it hard to believe he gave a crap what was made of it after he said it.

But, I don’t understand the massive dislike for Tebow the person and player. He’s tough, plays hard, is pretty damn good and is seemingly a genuinely good guy. What’s wrong with that? Hate people like Thom Brennaman, whose worshiping of Tebow reached epic levels in last season’s national championship game. I’d give two or three toes to have a Tim Tebow on my team. Yet come December 5th, I want him destroyed (but in a good way).

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Final Countdown: 10

Unlike Europe’s Final Countdown, the countdown going on here is actually marking the time until something happens. We’ve reached number 10, which means it’s now 10 days away from the start of college football. I plan to spend my next 10 days soaking in the last few moments of 2009 that I care about the Atlanta Braves’ season. Sure, it will be horribly uncompelling, but it’s something to pass the time while waiting for football and television pumps out all of the remaining summer reruns and crap.

And staying in the uncompelling neighborhood, number 10 on the countdown brings out the 10 games in the SEC that promise to be the least compelling and rich.

September 12
Vanderbilt at LSU
I tried to think of any memory I might have of LSU and Vanderbilt playing and came up with absolutely nothing. Then, just as I started to type the next sentence, I vaguely remembered a game a few years back when JaMarcus Russell played at LSU (maybe). I know LSU won, but couldn’t recall if they destroyed Vandy or slipped by. I suppose I could have looked it up, but let’s be serious, I’m not that interested. Neither are you. I’d have to check, but this very well could be the second time these teams have ever played.

September 19
Mississippi State at Vanderbilt
This game has 11:30 written all over it.

September 26
Florida at Kentucky
Actually, this one might be mildly compelling just to see if the Gators leave Lexington in the same shape Ghengis Khan left many an enemy town back in the day. If you remember, Florida absolutely eviscerated the Wildcats last year in The Swamp, and I don’t foresee much improvement for Kentucky.

October 3
Auburn at Tennessee
Remember this thriller from last year? What was it, like 13-6 or something like that? Easily one of the worst football games I’ve ever watched. And good news, Chris Todd and Jonathan Crompton are back!

October 10

Kentucky at South Carolina
The SEC East is really filled with some exciting matchups this year. Someone remind me that when it comes time to pick this game, Spurrier is either undefeated or has just one loss against Kentucky. Ever.

October 17
Kentucky at Auburn
Another 11:30 game fully deserving of its time slot.

October 24
Vanderbilt at South Carolina
The 2009 SEC East schedule!!!

November 7
Vanderbilt at Florida
I think we’ll see a repeat of Kentucky’s disastrous visit to Gainesville from last year in this game. Except with more destruction and humiliation (if possible).

November 14
Kentucky at Vanderbilt
The battle for fifth and sixth place. Or if Tennessee is extra bad this year, we could be watching a battle for a tie for fifth place, and of course the obligatory sixth place finish. Also, both schools make five appearances in this list.

November 28

Tennessee at Kentucky
And the tiebreaker just two weeks later!

(Note: My apologies for skipping 12 and 11. I was out of town and limited Internet access kept me from making any sort of post. I know you were devastated.)

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Final Countdown: 13

Number 13 in the countdown brings us to yet another (and probably the second of many) lists void of meaty content. It’s Friday afternoon and no one enjoys engaging the brain more than is required to pretend that you’re working right now. Two days ago, the post topic was related to Brett Favre and my desire for him to disappear forever. Today, it’s related to another NFL quarterback, but one not quite as successful as Brett Favre or even Trent Dilfer. Dan Marino, unlike those two, wore number 13 for the Dolphins and never won a Super Bowl.

So, to honor him in a backhanded compliment sort of way, today’s post is dedicated to 13 great players in the SEC that never won an SEC championship game. There is no particular order to the list and I have most certainly left off some good players (but there's only so much room and it's my damn list), and the list is heavy with Ole Miss and Mississippi State players because, well, everyone on both of those teams is eligible. Now, 13 Dan Marinos of the SEC…

1. Eli Manning, Ole Miss. If not for one crappy defense after another, David Cutcliffe and Ole Miss’ version of Lou Groza, perhaps Manning wouldn’t be on this list. By the way, it’s 2009 and I still haven’t gotten over the 2003 game against LSU.

2. Deuce McAllister, Ole Miss. Another player victimized by David Cutcliffe. His best chance for Atlanta came in 1999, yet his head coach managed to lead a team loaded with NFL talent to a 7-4 record. And I’m obligated to mention that he split carries with Joe Gunn. Who? Exactly.

3. Jerious Norwood, Mississippi State. Arguably the best running back in State history and played on arguably some of the worst teams in Mississippi State history. Never even had a winning season. His performance against Florida in 2004 in which State won 38-31 helped get momentum behind the “Croomed” phrase as Ron Zook would be fired the week after losing that game.

4. Patrick Willis, Ole Miss. Another David Cutcliffe victim. If Willis starts at linebacker like he should have in 2003, maybe he changes the LSU game. Odds are he wouldn’t have, but dammit he should have had the chance. To be fair to Cutcliffe, Ed Orgeron later destroyed any remaining chance to see Atlanta.

5. Eric Moulds, Mississippi State. I don’t think there’s any argument that he was the greatest wide receiver in State history, which is pretty amazing considering Derrick Taite was once one of his quarterbacks. I swear Moulds had like a 59” inch vertical leap.

6. Tim Couch, Kentucky. A product of Hal Mumme and Mike Leach’s Air Raid system, but still an impressive quarterback. His arrival at Kentucky could be labeled the starting point of Kentucky football coming out of the total suck and into the above average and mediocrity.

7. Darren McFadden, Arkansas. My one-time man crush made it to Atlanta, but never won. Hopefully, he’ll get out of Oakland and we still might be able to get that apartment together.

8. Matt Jones, Arkansas. Before he was enjoying cocaine on the console of his car, Jones was terrorizing the rest of the SEC with his freakish athletic ability. Another guy who made it to Atlanta, but never won.

9. Felix Jones, Arkansas. Let’s just go ahead and get that whole backfield on the list. Part of me wishes he could have been the feature back at Arkansas (assuming Darren McFadden never existed) just to see how great he would have been (and he was still pretty great).

10. Steve Taneyhill, South Carolina. The man with the long flowing hair that was actually ripped out in one game against Tennessee. Although he never made it to Atlanta, he did set the record for longest time in college. I have no facts in front of me, but I’m pretty sure he played at South Carolina for nine years.

11. Tim Bowens, Ole Miss. The seven-toed man was dominant in his brief period of time at Ole Miss. He can attribute never seeing Birmingham (host before Atlanta) to playing with quarterback Lawrence Adams. Nothing against Adams, he played hard, but he had no business playing quarterback in the SEC.

12. Dicenzo Miller, Mississippi State. The most beloved State running back until Jerious Norwood got on campus. My lasting memory of him is watching him outrun about 16 white BYU defenders for a touchdown on a Thursday night game on ESPN.

13. Corey Chavous, Vanderbilt. One of probably no more than five outstanding players from Vanderbilt since 1992, so he needs to be mentioned. How he ended up at Vanderbilt confuses me. The kind of sounded like I actually know the story, which I don’t. I’m sure it’s compelling and rich.

NOTE: I might not have Internet access tomorrow, so there’s a chance number 12 doesn’t make it. We shall see.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Final Countdown: 14

A more subdued version of Europe means it’s time to take things a little easier around here. I’m scaling back the content and just throwing out nothing more than a list of every player in the SEC that wears the number 14. While it would have been great if there were exactly 14 players that wear number 14, it didn’t happen, mainly thanks to Ole Miss who has three players wearing 14. And surprisingly, none of them are short, white quarterbacks that played Class A MPSA football.

No one currently wears 14. Apparently, efficiency and game management are the new standard bearers for the quarterback position at Alabama.

Dylan Breeding, punter. It’s worth noting that Breeding played football at Hoover High School, which of course was home to one of the greatest TV shows of our time, Two-a-Days. I think we could all use some more Rush Propst in our lives.

Jim Youngblood, quarterback. I’m pretty sure this marks the fourth time in his life in which his name has appeared on the Internet.

Barrett Trotter, quarterback. Learning from Chris Todd will be a great experience.

Andrew Blaylock, quarterback. You mean Florida has other players besides Tim Tebow?

Markihe Anderson, defensive back. I’ve got nothing.

Joe Cox, quarterback. And starting quarterback at that. If he’s listed at 6’1” and 198 pounds, what’s his real height and weight? I’d be a little nervous if I were a Georgia fan.

Ryan Phillippi, quarterback. Played at Henry Clay High School. Are Henry Clay’s nicknames (the person, not the high school), “The Great Compromiser” and “The Great Pacifier” flattering or unflattering?

Anthony Mosley, defensive back.

Chris Garrett, quarterback. From Tupelo, MS, which places him just outside the Golden Triangle. Not sure how that will relate to his quarterbacking ability, but listening to Jarrett Lee will influence it in a bad way.

Mississippi State
Chris Relf, quarterback. Reports out of Starkville are saying he’s got a shot at starting this year. My only recollection of him last year was the first play he came into the game against Ole Miss when was promptly smashed into the ground by the Ole Miss defense. Then, when I watched the replay later that night, the camera gave us a good shot of Tyson Lee laughing because the abuse was now happening to someone else.

Ole Miss
Tig Barksdale, defensive back. A good start to Tig’s collegiate career. A DUI, out of shape and now he’s got an undisclosed medical condition that will most likely keep him out for the entire year. Let’s hope for him that next year is a little better.

Clayton Moore, quarterback. A short, white quarterback, but did NOT play in the MPSA.

Brandon Sanders, defensive back.

South Carolina
Reid McCollum, quarterback. With Stephen Garcia’s history of drunken buffoonery and vandalism, playing time is probably closer than McCollum thinks.

Eric Berry, defensive back. I think it’s safe to say he’s the best of all the 14’s.

Tray Herndon, wide receiver. A football player at Vanderbilt who is also from Minnesota. What is the percent chance he’s white? 450%? 875% 6,000%?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Final Countdown: 15

Just when everyone thought Brett Favre’s career was finally dead and he had resigned himself to making crappy commercials for Wrangler jeans and some lawn mower company I can’t think of, he makes a return to the NFL so he can play for 10 games, then realize he’s too old and lead the Vikings to a 1-5 finish down the stretch. I wrote about this back in May, arguing that Favre is a one game improvement over the two-headed monster that is Sage Rosenfels and Tarvaris Jackson, but is a massive increase in false hope for Vikings fans. But what we can’t argue about is that Brett Favre needs to go away. Forever. I don’t want to see him play, I don’t want to see his stupid commercials and I don’t want to see the inevitable interview with someone from ESPN who asks him a variation of the question “Why did you come back?” 45 times. I’m tired of this selfish asshole clogging up my TV.

So, unlike yesterday’s post and most likely future posts, today’s has a running theme. Just like Brett Favre, the following 15 people/places/objects/ideals/principles all need to go away forever. I’m sick and tired of them, and in some cases, I just hate them. Now, I give you number 15 in the countdown.

1. 11:30 games
After the announcement of ESPN’s eleventy billion dollar deal with the SEC, my first thought was, “Finally, the end of 11:30 JP games!” Well, we all got the end of the JP games, but the 11:30 games are here to stay. This timeslot sucks on a variety of levels, mainly that it’s way too damn early and is usually boiling hot. It should be that if I want to watch football before noon, then I can watch Northwestern and Wisconsin play in the daylight before it gets too dark and everyone there freezes to death.

2. 11:00 games
CBS likes to pull this sneaky shit at least twice a season. Hey, guess what, your team is going to be on CBS in front of a national television audience! Really, what time? 2:30 or 7:00? No, sorry, we’ve got you at the 11 AM slot. BURN IN A FIRE, CBS.

If your team happens to draw this game time, your day is ruined. You have to get up way too early, wolf down food and drink before 10 AM, bake in the sun and when it’s over, you have to go take a nap just so you can stay up for the ESPN night game, which of course causes you to miss the end of the 2:30 game and that’s usually the best game of the weekend. And I’m talking about all of this as if your team won. It’s a million times worse if you lose. Nothing good comes from an 11 AM game. Also, whoever thought this time was a good idea needs to go away forever.

3. The South Will Rise Again
If you’ve never been to an Ole Miss home game, you may be unfamiliar with this. Before and after each game, the Ole Miss band plays what is known as “Slow Dixie,” which is just a slightly altered version of Elvis’ American Trilogy. When the song gets to the part where Elvis sang “His Truth is Marching On,” many, many, many Ole Miss students and fans will replace that with “The South Will Rise Again.”

It’s hard to put into words how stupid this is. First, it seems to indicate a longing for the time when the South was an agricultural power. Have you seen how predominantly agricultural societies do in the world? Answer: NOT WELL. Second, it’s basically admitting that, “Hey, we’re down right now, but we’ll be back.” Back to the point where we want to start another Civil War? Yeah, those were some good times. And third, and most importantly (aside from possibly offending an entire race, but let’s stay focused on football here), doing this opens the door for other schools to use this against Ole Miss in recruiting. We’ve done a lot of stupid shit at Ole Miss when it comes to race and recruiting and we don’t need to keep adding to that pile.

4. The annual coaches’ meetings in Destin
This is not to be confused with SEC Media Days, but is in fact a completely separate meeting where the same topics are discussed. Perhaps real business is actually conducted here, but nothing groundbreaking ever gets reported, which leads me to reading the same boring articles I’ve read since the end of last season. And I will read all of them.

5. Les Miles’ top hat
What the hell, LSU? You can’t get Nike to make a hat that doesn’t sit 14 inches off the top of his head? Surely he doesn’t prefer his hat that way. If he does, I like my bet that this is his last year because only a crazy person would knowingly do that. Or an 85-year old man.

6. Dave Neal
This may be a little unfair to him because he’s not awful, but the mere sight of Dave Neal on my TV at 11:30 on a Saturday morning is going to cause some flashbacks to the old JP days while Platoon music plays in the background. I’ll immediately think of Dave Rowe and his inane ramblings. “If you’re LSU, you want to score! If you’re Ole Miss, you don’t want LSU to score!” And one of my favorites, “The quarterback sneak is the worst play in college football!”

It would be best for all of us if the memories of that painful era were erased.

7. Jorts at Florida football games
Let’s get this straight, JORTS ARE AN EMBARASSMENT TO AMERICAN SOCIETY. Stop wearing them. If you enjoy the comfort and feel of denim so much, go ahead and extend that feeling all the way down your legs.

8. Banjos at Arkansas games
Just kidding. I’ve never seen one there, but I wouldn’t be surprised. However, getting rid of those plastic hog hats would be a good move.

9. Ole Miss playing on Thursday nights
Look, I enjoy Thursday night college football as much as anyone. It gives you something to look forward to all day at work and is a great way to get ready for the weekend. However, I don’t want to see my team playing in that game. The short week, the potential that your weekend is ruined before Friday and that unless you live within a couple of hours from the stadium, you have no chance to make it to the game. I’m all for everyone else’s teams playing and providing me with entertainment, but no more Thursday nighters for Ole Miss.

10. Gary Danielson
Yes, he’s smart, insightful and often picks up on things most people would never notice, but he’s also a smug asshole. He has a handful of favorite players he constantly talks about whether or not they’re actually playing in the game on which he’s commentating, he doesn’t admit when he’s wrong and finds one storyline to the game he continues to mention whether or not it’s actually important at that point in the game. Todd Blackledge, you selfish bastard, why did you leave us?

11. The guy at South Carolina who told me the Gamecocks had the best pregame atmosphere in the SEC
I don’t really want him to go away, just to go to all the other schools in the league and find out that there is more to tailgating that setting up a table in a parking lot of a biscuit store. If you’ve never been to a game in Columbia, it’s a lot of people milling around in parking lots next to the fairgrounds. Although I didn’t go in one, some people rent (or maybe own) these caboose train cars and do their pregaming there. I’m sure it’s much more fun than standing in a parking lot, but you’re still surrounding by parking lots and old sheet metal buildings.

12. Day games before October
One day something like 25 old people are going to drop dead because it’s 1:30 and the heat index is over 110 degrees. Seriously, that may be what it takes to end the stupidity of afternoon games in the South before temperatures start averaging in the 80s.

13. Melvin Smith
Imagine a coach that is a member of a staff that in its last three years went 8-27 and brought probation upon the football program, and was a member of another staff that went 21-38 in five years. One would think his services would not be in demand, at least in a major college football conference. Well, that doesn’t apply to Melvin Smith. The “Bagman” offers services that go beyond coaching and into a charcoal-ish area of recruiting.

Yeah, every school cheats, but not every school has a face identifiable with cheating. Allegedly of course.

14. Walmart jerseys
Walmart provides this country with good products at reasonable prices. Unfortunately, they also like to make money in every conceivable way possible, which has lead to an explosion in generic team jerseys throughout the SEC. Some enterprising businessman, who also may have a side business in taxidermy and cable repair, approaches Walmart and convinces them they can produce team jerseys that look like a certain team at a really low price. Although these jerseys only look like an authentic team jersey in that the color shade is in the neighborhood of the authentic one and the school’s name is on the front (and sometimes the back), Walmart readily agrees to buy the jerseys from the businessman at three dollars a piece and orders 20,000 shipped to places like Muscle Shoals and Batesville where the jerseys are sold for $9.74 a piece.

Well this crap needs to stop. Mike Slive, please tell Walmart that 98% of SEC fans don’t want to buy or see a knock-off Eli Manning or Brodie Croyle jersey six years after both graduated. Plus, the mesh look isn’t very flattering when those who wear these jerseys don’t elect to wear a shirt underneath it.

15. Cowboy’s parole officer
Assuming he has one. And after watching his videos, I’m certain that he does. I’ll guess that he has been in trouble for a variety of alcohol related offenses, cable theft and once had a loose association with a crystal meth ring. Again, just a guess.

Anyway, I want his parole officer to go away so he can get released from house arrest, which would finally allow him to make a visit to his Mecca, Tuscaloosa. Of course, you’d have to point it out on a map to him, just like the other 1.5 million Alabama fans that live and die with the Tide, but are a little unsure of Tuscaloosa’s location.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Final Countdown: 16

16 days. Just 16 days until the start of a four-month long odyssey guaranteed to emotionally and physically drain everyone involved. Luckily, or perhaps unluckily for me, since I am an Ole Miss fan (which is also a lucky or unlucky toss-up), I have 19 days without the mountain of stress that is sure to come, which affords me three extra days to keep the engines shut down. Of course, those three days will be filled with worry and angst, but I tend to deal better with those than the stress of the actual season.

Anyway, in order to fill some time, I’ll be starting a countdown of sorts until September 6th arrives. Starting with the number 16, each day there will be a new post on here with a list of items corresponding to the number of days until kickoff, and that are related to college football, particularly the SEC. I can promise that this will not be something like “12 SEC Coaches From Worst to First” that you’ve been reading since July, but a little more unconventional (allegedly).

So we’ll see how this goes. I’m already predicting a huge gap between numbers 15 and 10 (strictly due to my laziness) and probably from eight to three (again, laziness). But check back here each day, even weekends, for a new list. Starting off in no particular order of importance, I give you 16 random thoughts/musings about the upcoming SEC season.

1. I’m not sure whether Dan Mullen will cry tears of joy or sadness when he eventually pulls Tyson Lee/Chris Relf and sends in Tyler Russell, but he will cry.

2. Ole Miss’ entire season rests on the offensive line. If they can develop eight competent linemen, they have a chance to be really good. Right now they’re at 5.5. DO YOU HEAR ME BRADY SOWELL AND BOBBY MASSIE?!?!? 5.5!!!!!

3. With the recent announcement that Chris Todd will most likely be Auburn’s starting quarterback, former Tiger offensive coordinator Tony Franklin leapt off the coach and starting calling all his coaching friends in excitement to say, “I told you so.” Unfortunately, he has no coaching friends.

4. I’m not buying Alabama to pull another 10 or 11 win season this year. Way too many questions on the offensive line and as we found out last year in the SEC, if you don’t have an experienced or very talented quarterback, you’re going to lose games. Only Tebow, Stafford, Wilson and Snead (and even as talented as Snead was, he still cost Ole Miss games early) met one of these two requirements and all four led their teams to good seasons. You could make an argument that Casey Dick was at least experienced, but he also sucked and was asked to throw much more than he should have. John Parker Wilson was not a good quarterback, but he understood it was his role not to screw things up, plus Alabama’s offense was designed not to put him in situations where he had to throw.

5. I’m also not buying LSU. Big question mark at quarterback and some big losses on the defensive line. However, if Jordan Jefferson turns out to be the Jesus Christ of the LSU offense as LSU fans claim he will be, they’ll be much tougher later in the year.

6. If Arkansas enters November with either two or eight wins, will Bobby Petrino be there to see the end of the season?

7. If Florida goes undefeated and wins the national championship, is it possible for Urban Meyer to be more pleased with himself? Maybe if he does the same at Notre Dame. I think then he might spontaneously combust due to an overload of internal awesomeness.

8. This looks like a good solid number for Vanderbilt's losses this year.

9. November 14th. Write it down. Kentucky at Vanderbilt. I argue that you can’t find a more unappealing game in the SEC.

10. And just one week later, Vanderbilt travels to Tennessee where I cannot put into words the joy I would experience if the Vols, facing a fourth and one late in the game and up two touchdowns, elect to go for it at the insistence of Ed Orgeron. If you remember, Orgeron still claims that if he had to do it all over again, he would still go for the first down against Mississippi State in the 2007 Egg Bowl. Give him that chance, Lane Kiffin, give him that chance.

11. Speaking of Ed Orgeron, has he done any commercials for a Knoxville area Hummer dealership? If not, the world is being deprived of comedic gold. “I DRIVE A HUMMER, YOU DRIVE A HUMMER ‘CAUSE THEY’RE TOUGH LIKE THE TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS!!! HGRHGHEHEHHGHEHDGRRERRRR!!!”

12. We should get a pool going as to what date Steve Spurrier announces Stephen Garcia will be suspended for at least one game. And a bonus point will be awarded if you correctly guess the number of games or quarters he is suspended. I’ll take October 5th and a first half suspension. I may be wrong on the time and length, but a suspension will happen.

13. Lou Holtz and Ed Orgeron, two of the world’s worst enunciators, are set to make their big screen debut this fall when The Blind Side comes out in November. I enjoyed the book, but this is really the only part of the movie I care about seeing.

14. This number is the over/under on interceptions thrown by the combination of Tyson Lee, Chris Relf and Tyler Russell. Could you even consider the under?

15. By SEC and national media decree, I am forced to mention something about Tim Tebow anytime the number 15 comes up. So, I will say that I hope the SEC doesn’t make every school retire the number 15 when Tebow’s career is over because that’s where we’re headed.

16. If you had to pick the first coach in the SEC to be fired (or forced to resign) after this season (or perhaps next if everyone survives this year), who would it be? Put me on the board for Les Miles, followed by Lane Kiffin next year.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cookin' in the SEC

Consumed every article written about your team, your conference, your rivals, teams you don’t care about and teams that you inexplicably hate? Check. Rearranged your schedule so that nothing important happens on a Saturday for a four-month period? Check. Informed people who are dumb enough to get married on a football Saturday that you will not be at the wedding, but you did put some thought into their wedding gift? Check. Started going to bed earlier to rest your body and mind for the physical and emotional demands of the 2009 college football season? Check.

These are just some of the basic preseason preparations fans across the country, especially in the South, are making as we get closer and closer to the start of college football (I mention the South because we’re the only group that stops giving a shit about baseball in mid-to-late July. Other places actually still care which teams are in the running for the AL Wildcard). We’re just under a month away from opening kickoff and as we get closer to that date, the preparation will increase and become more specific to individual games. Like, in what increment of time before the first game will your arrival on campus be measured. Hours or days? Or will you wait until the week of the game to start hating your first opponent or get started now?

And of course, the week of each game, mainly home games, getting the tailgating (or Grove as we at Ole Miss call it, and yes, I hoped that read as pretentious as I wanted it to) spread together is a massive undertaking. Food, drinks, logistics can all turn into nightmares. Thankfully for all of us, the coaches of the SEC have gone out of their way to make our burdens a little lighter, at least as it relates to food. Earlier this summer, they all agreed to submit their favorite tailgating (Grove) recipes. With these handy recipes, fans now have one less dish to worry about and the easy preparation will save even more time.

From Cookin’ in the SEC: My Casserole Has Its Own Indoor Facility
In Alphabetical Order by coach
(Note: Lane Kiffin would have submitted a recipe, but his dad would not let him anywhere near a hot stove. In his place, Ed Orgeron has submitted one of his favorites.)

Three, Four and Five-Letter Hodge-Podge Soup by Kentucky Coach Rich Brooks
1 cup f--- you
1 cup you stupid sack of shit
1 cup your ass is grass
1 cup you son of a bitch, what the hell is wrong with you?
1 cup damn

Heat on stove for 60 minutes on highest possible temperature setting, stir angrily every 10 minutes, allow no time for cooling and throw it those waiting to be served. Serves 85 males, ages 18-22.

Little Brother Lemonade by Auburn coach Gene Chizik
1 pitcher water
6 lemons
1 cup sugar
1 constant, repeating thought that one day, you will be as good as Alabama

Squeeze lemons (find someone who has had success with more than 5), mix with water and sugar and stir. Serves the 189 Auburn fans that thought Jay Jacobs made a good hire.

Square, White Toast by Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson
1 loaf of plain, white bread (preferably generic brand)

Use a knife to cut off the crust, forming a perfect square. Measure with protractor to ensure an accurate angle of 90 degrees. Place in toaster until light brown. Serve with no sugars, spices, butters, jams, jellies or any foreign substance. Water is recommended as a beverage compliment.

Fastest, Most Genius Recipe Ever Conceived By Man by Florida coach Urban Meyer

Only I know the ingredients and only I can understand them. You non-geniuses could never understand the genius behind wanting the fastest recipe in America. You will be reminded of this each time you watch a Florida game on TV. Also, Tim Tebow is awesome.

Last Second, Impulsive Raccoon and Possum Boudin by LSU coach Les Miles
1 raccoon and 1 possum (Both should be easy to find among Saturday LSU tailgaters)
2 misused timeouts
18 reckless fourth down attempts
1 season’s hopes pinned on a Harvard quarterback transfer
1 stovepipe hat

Place all ingredients in stovepipe hat. Stir haphazardly and without purpose. Heat in microwave for 27:32. Or maybe 68:31. Just pick a time. It will work out. YYYYYYAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!! Serves the blindly loyal for about five seasons.

Retread Bean Dip by Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen
1 handful of has-been and never-were assistant coaches who spent 2008 outside of D-I football
1 former Ed Orgeron staffer
1 Bagman
1 D-II head coach who was a minor candidate for your job
1 never-ending dash of the phrase “the school up north”

Pour all ingredients into several pots spread around the kitchen. Heat at a medium temperature for three years. Keep telling everyone how exciting this is going to be. When the three years are up, call Urban to see if he needs any help with his recipe.

Fire and Brimstone Fried Chicken by Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt
1 whole chicken
1 multitude of quick, snappy sentences
1 visit to “Eye-rack” for perspective and motivational purposes to be used later
1 gimmicky phrase repeated to players over and over again
Pinch of good ol’ boy charm and grin
1 plexiglas podium
1 Good Book
1 motivational speech

Season the chicken with all other ingredients. While chicken is deep fried and super-heated at 900 degrees, begin pointing in all directions at random. Appear completely out-of-control while actually maintaining control. Hug everyone in the room and tell them that you love them when chicken is ready to serve.

Alligator Red Bull Gumbo by Ed Orgeron
1 freshly wrestled-to-death Louisiana alligator
76 four-packs of Red Bull
8 bags of pork rinds
3 head butts
2 cups of COMPETIN’
1 recruiting national title
1 copy of Meat Market
1 copy of The Blind Side
4 shirts
1 Hummer H2

Get up at 4:30 AM and place all ingredients in the biggest pot available. Heat until boiling hot. Stir while screaming “Wild Boys” and without a shirt. Verbally abuse everyone in the area, especially those who won’t try the gumbo. Serves people who don’t understand how bad of a coach you really are.
(Note: This recipe is banned in Mississippi.)

Suckers by Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino
1 case of Dum-Dum suckers
1 contract with escape clause

Hand out suckers, count your money and wait for another truckload from somewhere else to park in front of your house. Serves at least three fan bases.

Birthright Stew by Alabama coach Nick Saban
28 million cubic yards of houndstooth fabric
1 skeleton
1 lock of Snake Stabler’s hair
1 collective air of superiority
12 national titles
21 SEC titles

Before cooking, remove NCAA probation, ineligible players, cash payments, new cars, and grade changes from national and SEC titles and the past 112 years of football (Note: This may take an entire week.). Mix all ingredients into Bear Bryant’s open grave (Note: You’ll find plenty of help in digging up his grave). Let simmer and season with tank tops, Walmart Tide trucker hats, back tattoos depicting Bear Bryant leaning against a goalpost…

…and some Cowboy…

Stir until thoroughly mixed. Serves 2.5 million rednecks.

Golf Times by South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier

Spurrier’s director of football operations did not send in an actual recipe. Instead, he sent Spurrier’s golf schedule for the last two months. Spurrier has already apologize for the mishap and assures us that when he makes the turn at Augusta, he’ll email one right away.

Angel Food Cake by Georgia coach Mark Richt
64 ounces of Aw-shucks
1 team end zone dance, but done in a respectful manner
1 cup of humbleness after the annual loss to Florida
1 blackout, but a friendly blackout

Before baking, add a dash of “Our kids are great kids” for extra sweetness. Bake for 45 minutes, let cool and present to Urban Meyer in hopes that he doesn’t hang 60 on your team this year.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Twitter Friday

I'm still working on a little something special (don't worry, I don't think it will approach the 2500 words I used in the most mediocre SEC coach post), but haven't quite finished. So, in order not to disappoint, I'll be updating the Belly of the Beast Twitter page all day today. And yes, it will be as exciting as you are currently imagining it to be (and yes, this is a cop-out). My goal is to update at least once an hour, sometimes twice if I tap into my inner overachiever, assuming he hasn't been murdered by inner slacker. I haven't met him in about, oh, ever, so I'm not really sure I'd know what he looks like if he shows up.

Regardless, we're off to an early start on the Twitter page. I just found out Ole Miss has been ranked tenth in the USA Today poll that came out this morning. I immediately got dizzy and nauseous and had to lie down on the floor at work. And so the hype and pressure truly begins. Dammit.

You can check the Belly of the Beast out on Twitter here. Only seven and a half hours to the weekend.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Yet Another Way for Me to Leave Duties Unfulfilled

When I was introduced to Twitter, I was immediately outraged. On the surface, it appeared to a version of Facebook stripped down to just status updates, which for the most part I loathe. Hey, your kids are hungry? You're tired? You just had a great day? You know who cares about that? NOT A DAMN PERSON ALIVE. If you're going to have a status, make it interesting. Like, "Gray is going out to beat up some hippies." Or "Gray is going to scissor kick the face of the next person on Facebook who announces to the free world that they're tired and going to bed." Who wouldn't enjoy reading a news feed filled with those bits of goodness?

So I assumed Twitter was going to be nothing but people telling the world (and by the way, if something is on the Internet, EVERYONE CAN READ IT. Try to keep this in mind.) what was for supper or what movie they were about to watch. I would rather choke on my own vomit than read crap like that. But, as weeks have gone by, I have finally come to realize that Twitter can be quite enjoyable to read, especially if you're reading or "following" entertaining people. It's a great way to pick up some links to good stories, get instant updates on your favorite team or, in the case of Shaquille O'Neal, find out that he just saw a plane crash at the Santa Monica Airport. Good times. Well, maybe not for the guy who just crashed the plane, but you know what I mean.

Now it almost pains me to do it, but I have started a Twitter account for the Belly of the Beast. You can find it here or on in the links section to the right. I know it sounds absurd to commit to something like this when I can barely crank out two posts a week around here. And it's probably even more absurd for me to think people give a damn about what random, quick thoughts are rattling around in my head, but I'm going to give it a shot.

I can promise you that you'll never read anything about me, like I'm about to go for a jog. That will never happen. Ever. One, because I don't jog, and two, as I said before, NO ONE GIVES A DAMN ABOUT THAT. What you will find are links to new posts on here, other links I find interesting, the previously mentioned quick thoughts I might have and links to other Twitter pages of people who are much funnier and more entertaining than I.

Check it out daily because initially I will attempt to update several times throughout the course of the day, but those good intentions probably won't last long. Which means that by Friday, I won't even remember that I have a Twitter page.

Back here on Friday with an update.

Monday, August 03, 2009

What Didn't Happen Over the Weekend

Earlier this summer, I introduced the “What Didn’t Happen Over the Weekend” idea, which I claimed would become a regular feature here. And, like any idea I claim that will become a regular feature, it appeared only once. But thanks to yet another painfully slow weekend, it’s back for a second appearance. I’ll make no promises for a third showing because it’s a miracle I even remembered I did this in the first place.

No Florida Gators or Mississippi State Bulldogs were arrested. Although I’m sure they tried, all managed to avoid the clink Friday through Sunday. Four of Mullen’s players have been arrested since he took over in December and Urban Meyer averages about five arrests a year (24 since 2005). In a related story, Jamar Hornsby has been arrested as a member of both the Florida and Ole Miss football teams. And after his dismissal from the Ole Miss team on Friday, he’ll most likely be given a chance to be arrested while on a third team. Quite impressive.

Stephen Garcia did not find himself arrested for mayhem. In one of my favorite running jokes, Garcia did not do anything that embarrassed himself, his family, the football team, the university or the Columbia community. Although it should be noted, Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett could be the one quarterback in the SEC that will challenge Garcia for supremacy in the Biggest Menace to Society: Quarterbacks' Edition category.

Houston Nutt did not hand out another football scholarship. After kicking Jamar Hornsby off the team on Friday, Nutt was tempted because 38 is such a “nice, beautiful even number”, but the loss of Hornsby meant that Ole Miss would be closer to the magic number of 25 for incoming players so he was forced to hold back.

Steve Spurrier did not pass off his coaching duties. Instead of letting his director of football operations run the show for 72 hours, he elected to do whatever it is he does while getting ready for the season. The director of football operations did however go pick up lunch for everyone on Friday.

Gene Chizik was not fired and is still employed by Auburn University. Iowa State fans are still burning couches and flipping over mid-sized Japanese cars as they continue to celebrate their good fortune.

Kentucky fans did not think about football. Instead, they began tracing the Italian bloodline of John Calipari back to the old country to compare it with that of Rick Pitino. Once they discovered Calipari's Italian ancestors were much more prominent in Italian society than Pitino’s, they raised a banner in Rupp Arena where 12,000 of them had gathered to watch the basketball graduate assistants play some friends in a four-on-four game.

Nick Saban did not have various members of the media kidnapped and sold to Shining Path members in Peru. But he wanted to. Maybe next weekend.