Monday, December 28, 2009

What Didn't Happen Over the Weekend

Urban Meyer retires, citing the Angel of Death rounding the corner on his block.
After momentarily retiring/quitting, Meyer announced less than 24 hours after his first announcement that he was not giving up his duties as the head coach of the Florida Gators, but was merely taking a leave of absence, a phrase which is applicable to about .0000002% of the American workforce. Apparently, he changed his mind after meeting with his team, which, as you know, is composed of 18-22-year-olds who are not related to him. It was a meeting in which many of the players broke down in tears (as did Meyer) and were genuinely sorry to hear that their coach was leaving.

And allegedly, it was this meeting which caused him to reconsider his initial decision to walk away from coaching. Never mind his family, which in this New York Times article, quoted his 18-year-old daughter as saying, "I get my daddy back," upon hearing the news he was retiring. I feel it's always best to base important decisions based on the feelings and desires of those outside your family and inner circle. And besides, what would the rest of the SEC do if its coaches were not forced to keep up with the man who was praised universally for desiring the fastest team in America? That sort of thinking just doesn't happen with every coach.

Clemson makes the ACC feel better about itself.
Nothing flexes a conference's muscle like the second best team overall struggling to put away the fifth place team from the weaker division in another conference. My evening was caught up in more important things like eating dinner with friends and becoming enraged at the bed-shitting performance by Brandon Jacobs as he relates to my fantasy football team in my league's finals, costing me money, to actually watch this entire game, but from what I saw in the fourth quarter, I missed nothing. Two mediocre teams stumbling into one another (and occasionally by one another) was as boring as anticipated. My only reaction to this game was for the poor people that were actually at this game and nearly froze to death, including Rich Brooks who looked like he was coaching an Iditarod team or preparing to reach the South Pole by himself. I hope everyone that was there lived to tell the tale of that time they nearly died in Nashville.

Rich Brooks commits to being around to curse at future member of the Kentucky Wildcats football program.
After surviving the frozen death that was a Sunday night in Nashville, Tennessee, Brooks told his players that there was an 80% chance that he would not be coming back next season. This is a disappointment to all of us who enjoy straight forward, brutal sarcasm and wit of which Brooks was one of the greats. A little part of me died knowing that it's almost certain I will never again get to see Brooks on the sideline describe in detail to a Kentucky player all of that player's inadequacies and minimal personal worth with a barrage of four-letter words and a disdain that is reserved for Eastern European ethnic wars. *Tears.*

And that's about it for the weekend. It was pretty slow since most people were at home enjoying some family time. Well, everyone except Urban Meyer, who enjoyed some family time, then realized he didn't like it as much as he thought he did.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Gift That Keeps on Giving the Whole Year

That it is, Edward. That it is indeed.

My condolences to those unfortunate enough to be stuck at a place of employment today. The rest of us will enjoy day filled with sloth and delaying showering until the early afternoon hours. However, if you are at an office, it means that you're among the three percent of the workforce actually in your office today and therefore will also be doing nothing. Except pretending you're working. So I hope everyone enjoys a highly non-productive day.

I'm starting mine off right by not putting anything of merit here (assuming things usually are of merit here). My next update won't happen until Monday so there's no need to constantly check to see that I haven't updated like I'm sure most of you do. For now, I say Merry Christmas to you and if you need a late gift idea for anyone, here's a thought:

Monday, December 21, 2009

What Didn't Happen Over the Weekend

The Topeka, Grand Rapids and Yukon Territory bowls were played.
Not quite, but come 2014, these bowls will probably be on the docket. If you can't get excited about Idaho and UNLV playing in Whitehorse, Yukon on a Tuesday night in mid-December, then you don't love college football.

Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy took a marketing exam.
I had no idea that he was a fellow college graduate with a degree in marketing. If I had known, I would have assumed he would have gotten maximum results with minimum effort. It's what we marketing people do in school. I hope all of the marketing classes at Alabama are like the ones at Ole Miss. No attendance policy, three exams and an optional final. That's the way a college class should work. It teaches efficiency and laziness all in the span of three and a half months. There's work to be done, but you don't have to do it right now.

Oh, and he didn't take a marketing exam because he's already graduated and is applying for a Rhodes Scholarship. Now, Greg, that's a little ambitious for a marketing major. Unless your whole reason for trying to go to England to study is that you want to see if the mold for studying marketing (always the night before the test and only then) can work over there. If so, that's the ultimate test for the laziness and efficiency. I hope it works. By the way, if you're in college or heading that way, do yourself a favor and major in marketing. Other than maybe general studies or hospitality management, it's the best way to maximize fun while not sacrificing academic standing.

Florida sold its allotment of tickets to the Sugar Bowl.
Gator fans, still caught up in the excitement of an SEC Championship game destruction, have left 5,000 tickets in the hands of the Florida ticket office. Add in today's announcement that Brandon James will miss the game with a broken foot and that excitement should reach a fever pitch. The good news for the Gators is that the Cincinnati team they are to play in New Orleans lost its head coach and has spent the past few weeks bitching about the loss of said head coach. The atmosphere should be electric in the Superdome.

Ed Orgeron gave up Red Bull.
Now that's just silly. We all know that unless the Shrimp Boat Captain's heart gets in injection of Red Bull every eight minutes, it will cease to function properly. You may ask, why in the hell is this listed? To that I say, did you see what actually happened this weekend? I just spent two paragraphs laying out the benefits of being a marketing major in college. Life without college football, while much less physically and emotionally stressful, is really boring.

Cam Newton committed to Mississippi State.
I'm sure Tim Tebow's former backup and man charged with three felonies in November 2008 at least considered it, but failed to do so. Following recruiting is the only thing more painful that following a college football season, so I try to avoid it at all costs, but whether or not Newton does select State, know this State fans, Tyson Lee will not split time with him.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bowl Preview Spectacular Extravaganza Gala

Bowl season is just three short days away and with 68 teams, over half of Division I (or whatever it's called now), playing this year, going to a bowl is more special than ever. After all, who isn't intrigued by a 6-6 Wyoming team or a 6-6 Marshall squad? It's rich and compelling football. So, in honor of this exclusive group of teams, it's time to put on the t-shirt tuxedo and discuss every bowl game in a classy fashion. I prefer the tuxedo made of 100% cotton because as it was pointed out so eloquently in Talladega Nights, the t-shirt tuxedo says I want to be formal, but I'm here to party. On to the party...

Fresno St. (8-4) vs. Wyoming (6-6)

Pros: None come to mind.
Cons: Spending December 19th in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Way to make the bowl better: Outside of canceling and/or moving the bowl, I don't think there's much that can be done here.

Central Florida (8-4) vs. Rutgers (8-4)

Pros: For Rutgers, it's a chance to spend a few days not freezing to death in New Jersey. Or just being in New Jersey in general. No matter the outcome of the game, Rutgers is already a winner.
Cons: It could possibly be the most boring bowl game ever played. Have you ever been excited by a single minute of Rutgers football? And the last time I saw UCF in a bowl game, they got involved in a thrilling 3-0 game against Mississippi State.
Way to make the bowl better: Force one of the teams to not be called the Knights. If anyone were actually watching, it could get confusing.

Southern Miss (7-5) vs. Middle Tenn. State (9-3)

Pros: Corporate sponsors of bowl games make it easier to make fun of the games. Although no one has come close to touching the magnificence that was the Poulan Weedeater Independence Bowl.
Cons: $325,000 to play in front of 24% capacity in the Superdome. The good news for both of these teams is that the 24% capacity should make it feel like a home game and the $325K should give it the feel of an out-of-conference road game.
Way to make the bowl better: Do not combine the super powers that are the Sun Belt and Conference USA

Oregon State (8-4) vs. BYU (10-2)

Pros: TV tells me that Las Vegas is awesome, so I'll trust something that would never lie. I'm am sure both teams will be in peak physical condition by the time this one kicks off.
Cons: Both teams should probably try to avoid the "Double Your Payout" game that will be present at most all of the casinos. I suggest sticking to blackjack or a game of "War" that was at one of the lower-level casinos frequented by Cousin Eddie in the debacle that was Vegas Vacation.
Way to make the bowl better: Allow the announcers, production staff and anyone involved in the broadcast to make and wager on prop bets as the game goes along. Like say, number of bad or overplayed Vegas jokes (like the ones you just read) said by the announcers. I'll go with an over/under of nine and take the over.

Utah (9-3) vs. California (8-4)

Pros: I blacked out while typing the entire bowl name so I've got nothing here.
Cons: Is there a con to being in San Diego?
Way to make the bowl better: Send the rest of the country some of the weather out there. I hate cold weather.

Nevada (8-4) vs. SMU (7-5)

Pros: The passing game of SMU colliding with the running game of Nevada. It's a really interesting matchup if it weren't, you know, SMU and Nevada.
Cons: Every time I see a game played in Hawaii I'm always thoroughly annoyed at all the debris fluttering across the field. THIS IS AMERICA NOT SOME SOUTH AMERICAN SOCCER GAME. CLEAN THAT CRAP UP.
Way to make the bowl better: Everyone playing wears a lei. Or coaches wearing the face paint that big tribal guy from Hawaii always wears.


Marshall (6-6) vs. Ohio (9-4)

Pros: I cannot put into words how much I love Little Caesars' $5 ready-to-go pizzas. Edible and thrifty? Absolutely.
Cons: No other city screams holiday fun like Detroit.
Way to make the bowl better: Move Detroit to a less crime-riddled and cold place.


Pittsburgh (9-3) vs. North Carolina (8-4)

Pros: At least North Carolina has a short drive before they put in a half-assed effort.
Cons: Pittsburgh was a little over a minute away from playing in a BCS game, now they're playing in Charlotte in a bowl game sponsored by a company that is currently offering 50% off all break pads.
Way to make the bowl better: How about a $19.99 oil change? When the hell did these things get so damn expensive?

Boston College (8-4) vs. USC (8-4)

Pros: Since USC sucked for most of the year, despite the media refusing to admit it, the good people of northern California get to see them up close without having to drive hours to Los Angeles.
Cons: Attendance will probably be a little low due to Boston College bringing those only directly related to the playing of a football game. As in the players, coaches, trainers and staff. That's it.
Way to make the bowl better: Complimentary bowls of Emerald Nuts for everyone.

Kentucky (7-5) vs. Clemson (8-5)

Pros: Kentucky apparently has a lifetime contract with the Music City Bowl, which guarantees at least one half of tickets will be sold.
Cons: Kentucky apparently has a lifetime contract with the Music City Bowl.
Way to make the bowl better: Extend a bid to someone other than Kentucky.

Texas A&M (6-6) vs. Georgia (7-5)

Pros: Shreveport is the perfect setting for this collision of mediocrity.
Cons: The Poulan Weedeater version of this bowl may have been ridiculous, but at least I knew what was sponsoring the game. Advocare V100 requires me to either watch more TV or Google it. And I am only industrious enough to do one of those. I hope they advertise on TV.
Way to make the bowl better: Have one team represent Shreveport and the other Bossier City for the right to call the area the Shreveport-Bossier City area or the Bossier City-Shreveport area for one year.

UCLA (6-6) vs. Temple (9-3)

Pros: I don't know if Temple making a bowl game is really a pro. I suppose if you're Temple it is.
Cons: Did anyone actually watch UCLA play this year? I didn't, but I can assume they're awful.
Way to make the bowl better: Much like the New Mexico Bowl, there's not much that can be done here.


Miami (9-3) vs. Wisconsin (9-3)

Pros: Jacory Harris has a chance to hit the 20 interception mark (currently at 17), which, as someone who has seen all of Jevan Snead's games, is harder than you think.
Cons: Wisconsin.
Way to make the bowl better: Less Big 10 football.


Bowling Green (7-5) vs. Idaho (7-5)

Pros: None.
Cons: Something called Roady's. The state of Idaho in December. And "Humanitarian," which is the only time in which that word probably has a negative connotation.
Way to make the bowl better: Perhaps four walls, a roof and heat might do the trick. Oh, and green grass.

Arizona (8-4) vs. Nebraska (9-4)

Pros: The Holiday Bowl is usually a pretty entertaining bowl, featuring teams with lots of offense and very little defense. Probably not happening this year though.
Cons: Watching Nebraska attempt to play offense.
Way to make the bowl better: Again, San Diego doesn't really need improvements.

Houston (10-3) vs. Air Force (7-5)

Pros: Watching Case Keenum and Houston's offense attempt 95 passes and rack up 1200 yards of offense. If you've never seen them play, you'll be watching an offense that is both highly entertaining and as close to a video game as the New Orleans Saints offense. Also, there could be a really cool pre-game flyover involving jets and/or helicopters. Those never get old.
Cons: This could turn into a skull-dragging if Houston can get a fraction of performance out of their defense.
Way to make the bowl better: Flyovers before the game, after each quarter and just as the clock hits 0:00.

Oklahoma (7-5) vs. Stanford (8-4)

Pros: Toby Gerhart might actually be watched by people outside of the state of California. Might is the key word here. This game is still played at 2 pm EST on New Year's Eve.
Cons: Was Jack Palance a spokesman for Brut? I'm pretty sure he died a few years ago and that's a shame for this game. Having him introduce the starting lineups would have been awesome.
Way to make the bowl better: As Kramer once said on Seinfeld, "El Paso? I spent a month there one night."

Navy (8-4) vs. Missouri (8-4)

Pros: I've heard Reliant Stadium is really nice.
Cons: Other than the game being on TV, is there a compelling reason anyone would be interested in Navy and Missouri playing in Houston, Texas?
Way to make the bowl better: See the New Mexico Bowl.

Minnesota (6-6) vs. Iowa State (6-6)

Pros: Seriously? These aren't the teams in this game, right? Surely this bowl is jesting.
Cons: Everything but being in Tempe in December.
Way to make the bowl better: Find a team above .500.

Virginia Tech (9-3) vs. Tennessee (7-5)

Pros: More practice time means there's more time for Lane Kiffin to do something else stupid and attract even more NCAA attention. And with the way Tennessee assistants are bailing out, this Vols team could be coached by something like five coaches, which would be fun for everyone else.
Cons: Tyrod Taylor and Jonathan Crompton shouldering the responsibility of offense in this game.
Way to make the bowl better: Free Chick-fil-a for a month for anyone without a rooting interest who watches this entire game.

Northwestern (8-4) vs. Auburn (7-5)

Pros: Luckily, most everyone will be asleep from the previous night's New Year's Eve festivities for the first half and won't have to watch.
Cons: This matchup.
Way to make the bowl better: Free Outback for life to anyone without a rooting interest who watches this entire game.

Penn State (10-2) vs. LSU (9-3)

Pros: Another game presents another opportunity for Les Miles to show the country that he is in fact even more clueless than we assume.
Cons: More of those stupid Capital One commercials in which people design their credit cards. That novelty wore off about three years ago, assuming it was interesting in the first place.
Way to make the bowl better: A primetime TV spot. It will probably never happen since the Sugar Bowl is always New Year's night, but these are still top teams in the SEC and Big 10 and shouldn't play when the fans haven't had the chance to crank up their BACs to the previous night's levels.

West Virginia (9-3) vs. Florida State (6-6)

Pros: Just one more game and we'll never have to hear another Bobby Bowden story again. Or at least until he writes a book in which he tells the inside story of his being forced out of the head coaching job.
Cons: The approximately 2,000 sappy pieces about Bowden's last game leading up to and during the game. Luckily, both of these teams are unwatchable and no one will see it.
Way to make the bowl better: Don't strike special deals to get crappy teams like Florida State into your game.

Ohio State (10-2) vs. Oregon (10-2)

Pros: Ohio State is not playing an SEC team so there's at least a chance this won't be a total destruction of a football team and program. And if it is, it's just another reason to never rank the Buckeyes in preseason again.
Cons: Watching Ohio State.
Way to make the bowl better: Say to hell with tradition and not have an overrated and overmatched Big 10 team lose to a team from the Pac 10. Get some other teams in there to beat them.


Florida (12-1) vs. Cincinnati (12-0)

Pros: A chance to see the Bearcats play someone not in the Big East who stinks.
Cons: The fawning over Tim Tebow's last game, dumb Urban Meyer stories, Cincinnati's "no respect" and "playing for the little guy" card and a reminder every 20 minutes that Cincy lost its head coach and were not happy about it. When does Fox's contract with the BCS end? 10 minutes ago would be too late.
Way to make the bowl better: Ban Fox from the building.

South Florida (7-5) vs. Northern Illinois (7-5)

Pros: Assuming I don't go to the Cotton Bowl, I'll have something to pass the time until it starts.
Cons: Toronto in January and the international flavor of South Florida and Northern Illinois.
Way to make the bowl better: Canceling is the easiest and most cost efficient option.

South Carolina (7-5) vs. UConn (7-5)

Papa John's is delicious. And it can be delivered without picking up a phone or verbally explaining that you only want half the pizza to have sausage.
Cons: $300,000 to play in Birmingham at the old, crumbling Legion Field in a neighborhood that can generously be described as rough.
Way to make the bowl better: More Internet specials. Are two large, one-topping pizzas for $11.99 that much of a financial burden for Papa John's? And yes, I would like two free 20oz bottles of Coke with that order.

Oklahoma State (9-3) vs. Ole Miss (8-4)

Pros: If I go to the game, seeing Jerry Jones' take on what a building in the first colony on the moon will look like. This building alone is one of the main reasons I really want to go. A high-definition TV that is 60 yards long? Yes, please.
Cons: Watching Jevan Snead play another college football game. Oh, and that weird arm waving thing Oklahoma State fans do after they score. And seeing that much orange in one place. It could prove to be disorienting.
Way to make the bowl better: Again, let's keep Fox away from this one. What other sport has a few networks broadcast the majority of the games, then has one that broadcasts zero games in the regular season broadcast all of the most important games at the end of the year? It's beyond stupid. It's like TNT airing the AFC and NFC championship games as well as the Super Bowl.

Arkansas (7-5) vs. East Carolina (9-4)

Pros: This time when East Carolina visits Memphis, the stands should be mostly full, unlike their previous trip earlier in the season when they played Memphis on a Tuesday night in front of 4,000 fans. Yes, that is a four followed by just three zeros.
Cons: If you survive the rigors of Conference USA and win the championship game, a game in Memphis, a place you might have already played in the regular season, is your reward.
Way to make the bowl better: Say goodbye to Conference USA.

Michigan State (6-6) vs. Texas Tech (8-4)

Pros: Mike Leach gets a chance to embarrass the Big 10, and he very well could given a 6-6 Spartan team that boasts the 103rd-ranked pass defense in America is matching wits with him. This Michigan State team is awful.
Cons: Any viewing of the Big 10 is always bad for one's soul.
Way to make the bowl better: Play the game in the actual Alamo. That would be kind of cool. Michigan State won't bring that many people so I think everyone could fit inside.


Boise State (13-0) vs. TCU (12-0)

Pros: Two undefeated teams playing a rematch of last year's Poinsettia Bowl, which was a good game. The winner will allow either the Mountain West Conference or the WAC to yell the loudest that they belong in the BCS to no avail.
Cons: I would have liked one of these teams to play someone else besides one another. Watching one of them thrash Iowa, sending the Big 10 into further irrelevance would have been fantastic.
Way to make the bowl better: Other than banning Fox, I think this is one of the best games in the bowl season.

Iowa (10-2) vs. Georgia Tech (11-2)

Pros: Miami in January.
Cons: Oh, Orange Bowl. It seems like every year you get screwed with a matchup like this. Last year it was Virginia Tech and Cincinnati. Before that, Kansas and Virginia Tech. And who can forget Louisville and Wake Forest. I don't know what you did to the BCS to deserve this, but I suggest a large cash gift with flowers to make things right.
Way to make the bowl better: Invite teams that are appealing.


Central Michigan (11-2) vs. Troy (9-3)

Pros: No.
Cons: Yes.
Way to make the bowl better: Combine it with the New Mexico Bowl and have four teams playing at the same time on the same field. Two games at the same time, one field, Albuquerque. I'd watch.

Texas (13-0) vs. Alabama (13-0)

Pros: It's kind of a big deal. Hell, the state of Alabama will be empty for about four days, which would be a great time to pillage and loot for all you hardened and small time criminals. And just imagining some of that state's finest walking around slack-jawed looking at all the sights and "people that ain't right" is fun for everyone. Plus, the cluster bomb-like ferocity in which they will descend on Southern California will leave that area in a state of shock much like those who are actually hit by a cluster bomb. Good times all around.
Cons: Texas being there. I'm not saying any of the other teams (BSU, TCS and Cincy) should be there (because they shouldn't), but this Texas team is not going to fare well against Alabama. Close national championship games are always more fun for those of us who don't have an interest (unless the Big 10 is involved) and I don't see that happening here.
Way to make the bowl better: A two to three minute pre-game monologue from Matthew McConaughey in which he says how much this game means to Texas. Something along the lines of this beauty:

Sunday, December 13, 2009

What Didn't Happen Over the Weekend

We welcome back a feature that first showed up here over the summer and was found over the weekend while looking around in my mental attic for ideas to fill up this space now that I can no longer spend 2100 words recapping seven football games. And like anything new I introduce here, it has a 2% chance of returning, so this is like seeing a black person in Iowa (according to the latest census).

Mark Ingram losing the Heisman Trophy race.
Ingram was able to hold off Colt McCoy, Toby Gerhart, Ndamukong Suh and Tim Tebow to become the first player from the University of Alabama to win the trophy. And if you missed his speech, I strongly recommend watching it. A rare, unscripted moment in sports filled with some genuine emotion.

For as much hype as he got in the last week, Suh ended up finishing a distant fourth. It seemed like every column I read and every talking head I heard in the last six days said Suh was getting their vote. I supposed it's my fault for not checking to see that most of these people did not actually have a Heisman vote, which would explain the lack of votes for Suh. I saw Suh play twice this year (Missouri and Texas), and while very good, I find it hard to believe he could be considered the best player in college football. Best defensive player, yes, but one game doesn't make a season. Unless that game is the Ohio State/Michigan game because we all know that is the most important game that can ever be played.

Lane Kiffin being humble about yet another alleged recruiting violation.
Kiffin, with a face oozing smugness, said that he considers the investigation of Tennessee's recruiting practices a compliment to he and his staff's recruiting ability. And he kept a straight face both as he said it and after. The latest recruiting debacle for Tennessee involves a trip to a high school in Florida in which Kiffin took a recruiting intern to the intern's high school (where he is not allowed to recruit), which just happened to be home to players (or maybe just one) the Vols are recruiting.

And then there's also this, from the New York Times:

""Also on Friday, Keith Easterwood, a veteran summer basketball coach, said that on a visit (to Tennessee) last year with his son, a football recruit, he had to ask a hostess to stop brushing her breasts against both him and his son.

He recalled saying, “Young lady, if you don’t stop doing that, we’ve got a problem.”

Easterwood said that he took a group of basketball players to a Western Kentucky football game at Tennessee this year, and that the presence of the hostesses had his players “literally reduced to blubbering idiots.”

“I’ve been up there five times, four for football and one basketball visit,” Easterwood said. “My observation is that this is a very organized operation. These girls have obviously been groomed. There’s a lot of eye contact and touching.”"

So, no, Captain Dipshit, the rest of the SEC is not envious of the NCAA setting up a satellite office in Knoxville. Enjoy having those guys crawling all over you from now until 2010 when you're eventually fired. And everyone else already knows the non-stupid ways to cheat. Keep it under the table, the bills unmarked and in plain white envelopes and the vehicles registered to a church or an uncle.

Another assistant leaving Tennessee.
No one bailed out this weekend because they momentarily forgot what it was like in the office. On Monday morning they'll be reminded, and I look for a departure as soon as Thursday.

Ole Miss being at the center of some sort of controversy.

It's amazing the all the crap that happens during a football season. A team stumbling early, making a strong comeback and eventually collapsing in the end. Throw in all the off-the-field drama, and it's a physically and emotionally draining three and half months. In a way, I'm glad football season, or at least the home portion of the season, is over. Now I don't have to hear anything about dumbasses yelling, "The South will rise again" and the KKK protesting before the biggest home game of the year.

I'm in the process of shutting down the engines and recharging the batteries before throwing myself into the 2009-2010 Ole Miss basketball season, which promises to be another ride full of painful and infuriating inconsistencies that forever plague the University of Mississippi athletic teams.

The U disappointing.

If you didn't see ESPN's latest "30 for 30" film (I enjoy the pretentious nature of that word), The U, I demand that you watch it. It was as outstanding as I thought it would be, possibly even more. I don't want to spoil anything for those who haven't seen it, but here's a brief rundown of some of the things you'll see:

-A sweaty, probably drunk Bernie Kosar singing the praises of Miami.
-A goblin-like kicker who somehow got close to two minutes of camera time in between shifts of guarding whatever bridge he was supposed to be watching.
-You discover how smart Howard Schnellenberger really was.
-Luther Campbell, who I'm pretty sure is still banned from performing in Oxford.
-Michael Irvin wearing a t-shirt that read "The Playmaker" while discussing the greatness of the Hurricanes (Yes, I know that is his nickname, but the self-promotion in a documentary about the Miami Hurricanes just killed me. Well done, sir.).

And one last story that didn't make the movie. While listening to Bill Simmons' podcast with Dan Le Batard of the Miami Herald (he's also in the movie) and their discussion of The U, Le Batard said that Tommy Tuberville (a former Miami assistant) told a story about going to Baton Rouge to play LSU in 1988. If you've never been to a game in Tiger Stadium, LSU parks, or at least once did, the cage with Mike the Tiger (a real, living and breathing tiger) inside it right next to the tunnel where the visiting team comes onto the field. Tuberville said some of the Miami players, who were out of their damn minds, high on their own sense of superiority and badassery, actually stuck their hands and arms in the cage saying, "Here, kitty, kitty." Then they went out and won the game 44-3.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

With So Much Drama in the SEC

(My apologies to the artist formerly known as Snoop Dogg for butchering his classic opening line from the great "Gin and Juice." The current artist Snoop Dogg is probably too busy making another Orbit, Chrysler, T-Mobile and ESPN commercial, or a TV show and another movie to notice, but I thought I'd offer an apology in hopes that he doesn't charge me $14 to use a version of his line.)

In the past five days since Alabama defeated Florida in the SEC Championship Game on Saturday, the league has been overrun with all kinds of drama, turning it into a poor man's version of one of the greatest shows of our time, The O.C. I understand calling the SEC poor man's anything is debatable, given the salaries of coaches and how much money the league makes, but compared to what the Cohens and Nichols pulled in - poor (By the way, if you never watched the show, two things: One, you're depriving yourself of quality bad TV. And two, there's a 200% chance the rest of this is going to be confusing.).

Anyway, as I was saying, in five days, there are as many new plot lines in the SEC as created in a typical hour-long episode of The O.C. And just like The O.C., none of them make any damn sense to those who don't follow the SEC closely. But, and again, just like The O.C., to those who follow the league, this stuff is just like a combination of crack and PCP (without all of the side effects) and you can't wait for the next round of drama. So in order to give some perspective on the five biggest plot lines of the past five days in the SEC, I'm dialing up some plot lines from The O.C. that correspond in terms of significance and mirror the actual events. It's been a while since I've seen the show, so forgive me if I screw up some names and/or minor details.

The NCAA investigation of Tennessee's football program/The DA investigates Caleb Nichol.
As you know by now, the NCAA is looking into Tennessee's use of hostesses for football recruiting purposes. Allegedly, some hostesses drove three hours to a high school football game in which a recruit was playing and while there held up signs that encouraged him to come to Tennessee (that was a pretty generalized version of the story; you can read about all the details with the help of our friend Google). What they did is not allowed under NCAA rules, since, as an extension of the school, they are not allowed to recruit off-campus.

Every school has these hostess programs in one form or another. They find attractive girls who are willing to be around 17 and 18-year old football players (sounds like a great time) and tell them all the wonderful things their school has to offer, and do so in a very friendly manner. It happens everywhere. It's like when Caleb was under indictment for some sort of bribery charge in one of his preposterously vague real estate development dealings. We all knew he was guilty, but what real estate developer doesn't hand out cash to make things go. As Kramer from Seinfeld once said, "This is how society functions!"

(If you're keeping score, I just used two TV shows to help drive home a point. And also, just what the hell did The Newport Group ever do for Orange County? They always talked about how prominent the group was, but I don't recall them ever doing anything important. I remember them wanting to build some hospital that was going to change the world for wealthy white people and they were always in business proposal meetings, but NEVER DID WE SEE THEM FOLLOW THROUGH. No wonder they eventually went in bankruptcy. And yes, I realize the stupidity in poking holes in a show aimed at teenage and college girls.)

Houston Nutt talks with Kansas/Marissa Cooper looks for a loser.
Nutt admitted this week that he was contacted by Kansas about the possibility of him leaving Ole Miss for the cold, flat, field-filled state that is Kansas. After letting it drag out for a day, Nutt let them know he was not interested in the job. This was not so much him being interested in that job, but a very public attempt to get Ole Miss athletic director Pete Boone's attention and let him know that he wasn't happy with some of Boone's ass-dragging.

In much the same way, Marissa, one of the worst characters in the history of television (note: Houston Nutt is not terrible), was always chasing one loser boyfriend after another. Off the top of my head, here's her list of losers:

-Volchok, the poor man's Bodhi from Point Break
-The guy who did yardwork for her mom
-Johnny, the wannabe professional surfer who was mercifully hit by a car and put out of his misery. Or maybe he fell off a cliff. Either way, I was happy when he was gone.

I'm sure there were more, but I can't remember all of them. The point is, all of these guys sucked. They brought nothing to the table and it was terribly painful to see any of them on TV for more than eight seconds. But it wasn't so much that she was interested in these guys. She was interested in getting her mom's attention so that she would stop being such a sucky mom and attend to her duties as a parent. Had Julie Cooper not been one of the worst mom's ever, we would not have been subjected to three of the worst characters ever.

Charlie Strong leaves for Louisville/Caleb leaves for Lost.
The Florida defensive coordinator finally got a head coaching position, which means 80% of sportswriters in the Southeast will now have to come up with new columns in December to replace their annual "Charlie Strong deserves to be a head coach" column. And we get to see if Strong will actually be a good head coach as we've been told he will be over 75,000 times in the last five to six years. Anyway, he's been a defensive coordinator in the SEC since 1999 and, as I mentioned, a familiar name any time there's a coaching vacancy. It's hard to believe he won't be around anymore.

Just like Caleb after Season Two (I think). He became such a prominent character with story lines always involving him in some fashion that it was hard to believe he was written out of the show. His icy demeanor and hating everyone attitude was always enjoyable to watch, as I'm pretty sure every actor on the show was really afraid of him. But it was time for him to move on to bigger and better things, which I think we can all say Lost is (And I believe we're finally inside of two months from the start of the final season. What a glorious three-ish months that's going to be.).

Urban Meyer hospitalized/Ryan hospitalized after an earthquake.
Mayer was admitted and released from an Atlanta hospital following the SEC Championship game. While there, he was treated for dehydration and chest pains. I'm sure it was initially a little scary, but Meyer is a cyborg and little things like that are not going to bring him down. One of those EMP charges or perhaps another cyborg might eventually do him in, but human weaknesses? Please.

And like Meyer, Ryan Atwood was much too important and invincible to be taken down by a piece of glass in his back or whatever actually hurt him in that earthquake. Yes, he went to the hospital and maybe even went into a coma, but we all knew he was going to be fine. He already destroyed most of the opposition he faced, including rich and poor punks of Orange County, homelessness and poverty, so there was no way he was losing this battle. Plus, who the hell was going to carry the show if he died? HE WAS TERRIBLE BUT HE WAS THE SHOW.

Tennessee assistants leaving for other jobs/Julie Cooper and Ryan upgrading significant others.
Tennessee receivers coach Frank Wilson and running backs coach Eddie Gran both left the Vols for jobs at LSU and Florida State, respectively. All signs point to them getting off a sinking ship, which is an Ed Orgeron specialty, while upgrading their careers. Hard to believe they would leave behind all the money that helps make up the highest paid assistant coaching staff in the country, but they eventually came to their senses.

As did Julie and Ryan while looking for that special someone. Julie was divorced and fooling around with whatever would pay attention to her. Eventually, she got her claws into Caleb and became a part of a household that had eleventy billion dollars and a much brighter future. Ryan spent some time hanging out with a girl from his physics class, who also happened to be Caleb's illegitimate granddaughter (I tell you, this show was fascinating). She also lived alone with her mom and was, ugh, poor. Had she not left and he still was dating her, he was going to have to plow through a minefield of issues with this girl. That would have been awful TV. Luckily, he jumped off that ship and at first upgraded to dating no one. Seriously, an upgrade over physics girl. Eventually, he found Taylor, who, while highly annoying at times and a little crazy, at least had herself together.

So there it is. 1500 words on the latest round of drama in the SEC as it relates to a show aimed at a teenage and college audience that was also canceled almost three years ago. For the next round of drama, let's see if I can't figure a way to make Gossip Girl relate.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Belly of the Beast Year-End Awards

Today, the SEC announced its 2009 AP All-SEC Team, which you can find here. While being named to this team is certainly a great honor, it pales in comparison to what is handed out here at the Belly of the Beast. You see, I don't just point out the obvious and say that a particular player is a great player. Everyone knows that Tim Tebow is awesome. That doesn't need to be said again. And again. And again. And again. But what I'm looking for are players that are so fantastic, I'd look into getting an apartment with them. So in order of most prestigious to least prestigious, I give you those of which the Belly of the Beast is most fond (And my apologies to offensive linemen. I know you exist, especially when you screw up, but I will not be getting an apartment with someone who would eat all of my food and put a giant divot in the couch. Plus, I assume they'd keep the A/C on like 65 at all times and drive our power bill up by 200%.).


Shay Hodge, WR, Ole Miss

I'm not joking when I say this, but Hodge was the first wide receiver in the history of Ole Miss football to gain 1,000 receiving yards in a season. Seriously, the first. And he did it with a quarterback who was as reliable as Brandon Jacobs is in fantasy football (GET YOUR ASS IN GEAR FOR THE PLAYOFFS, BRANDON). As I've said before, Hodge was responsible for something like 85% of Jevan Snead's limited success this year.

A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
I would be remiss if I didn't include someone who made the Ginger Ninja look like a competent quarterback at times.

Tim Tebow, QB, Florida
I maintain that he's the greatest player (not quarterback) to ever play in the SEC. I know he gets obnoxious amounts of media and man love (most of which is deserved), but it cannot be denied what an outstanding player he is. I can name no team that wouldn't trade their current quarterback for him.

Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
He and Trent Richardson tied for the guys who run the ball the hardest. When they run, it's totally different than watching anyone else. Every play is 350 MPH and first contact doesn't slow either one of them down (Sorry Trent, you didn't make the list. Perhaps next year we can talk.).

Anthony Dixon, RB, Mississippi State

I loved Dixon this year because he got himself into unbelievable shape (watch the runs from his previous years and see how much quicker this year), shook off a dumb decision which resulted in a DUI before the season began and had a great season despite not having a quarterback that could throw an effective forward pass.

Dexter McCluster, RB/WR, Ole Miss
Even if he just had the Tennessee game alone to go on, he'd be listed here. I stand by that it was the greatest individual performance I've ever seen in person. Assuming the real Oklahoma State defense shows up, he'll go over 1,000 yards rushing and 500 yards receiving. Plus, every time he touches the ball you sort of lean forward thinking that what you're about to watch could blow your mind. Like say, this:

And this:

Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama
It's like Nick Saban in 1988 knew that he would be the head coach at Alabama and needed a linebacker that understood everything he preached and had all the physical attributes to execute his plan. I'm convinced McClain was grown in some sort of lab for this very purpose. If you didn't get to see him play in person (or the Alabama defense in general), you can't appreciate how good he is.

Sorry to every other school, but this is just for Ole Miss guys. I couldn't deal with someone else bringing their school's business into the house. Ole Miss gives me too much to worry about to actually pretend like I care about your school's crap. Plus, Peria Jerry probably doesn't want them there. Hey, if I had 150 extra pounds of muscle, I'd challenge him. But he's a pretty big guy.

Shay Hodge and Dexter McCluster
I hope they end up somewhere close to Atlanta or Peria is going to be pissed that we have to move.


While good players, this group never struck me as capable of dominating a game. I would enjoy them visiting and living close by, but they don't deserve roommate status.

Randall Cobb, RB/QB/WR, Kentucky
The man does it all. He can run, throw and catch the ball (as long as Mike Hartline isn't throwing it to the other team). I consider him one of the most underrated players in the SEC. If he played at school that mattered in the media's eyes, everyone would know who he was. 15 TDs by way of running, receiving, passing and returning kicks (he was second behind Mark Ingram).

Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas
Perhaps if he had pulled off the Florida or LSU upset he would have made the previous list. But in his first year in the SEC, he lead the league in TD passes, efficiency and yards. And amazingly in 367 pass attempts only threw seven interceptions, which is 2,000% better than the quarterback in which I was forced to support.

Riley Cooper, WR, Florida
I'm not really sure how in the hell Tim Tebow's roommate actually got open, but somehow he did. He wasn't that fast, not that big and was the only legitimate deep threat on Florida's team. Normally, he wouldn't belong here, but I appreciate those without the greatest amount of skill getting more than what their abilities say they should get.

Jerrell Powe, DT, Ole Miss
Dammit, I love Jerrell Powe. While not totally able to replace Peria Jerry, Powe certainly did a pretty good imitation. Left for dead by the Mississippi Public School system, Powe (with the help of Ed Orgeron) eventually got himself into school and has made the most of his opportunity. Plus, it's always nice to have a neighbor who knows his way around a kitchen, which Jerrell certainly does.

Aaron Hernandez, TE, Florida
I think it's always important to have neighbors with street cred. Therefore, they can vouch for you when crap goes down or shady people show up. Hernandez not only is a great receiver, but his 3/4 arm tattoos give this credibility. I've often wondered what is involved in each tattoo, but both look like giant murals. He's down with me.

Eric Norwood, LB, South Carolina
Even though this asshole destroyed Ole Miss in the Thursday night game back in September, I still enjoy watching him. I hate him, but dammit, I respect him.

Tyler Campbell, P, Ole Miss
A punter? Surely you jest, Gray. Unfortunately, no. But I was so damn happy to see a punter that doesn't totally suck at Ole Miss for the first time that I can ever remember, I award him appropriately (2nd in the SEC in punting average with 43.6 yds/punt).

Marquis Johnson, CB, Alabama
Every time I watched an Alabama game this guy was involved in some sort of spectacular pass defense. He plays with extreme confidence (motivated by death threats from Nick Saban) and other than the next guy on the list, I would consider him the top cover corner in the SEC.

Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
I didn't watch all of LSU's games, but I saw a fair amount and during that time I only saw one guy, Shay Hodge, really work Peterson over. But that's excusable because Shay Hodge is freaking awesome. Other than that, Peterson was outstanding this year. It's unfortunate Les Miles is in charge of his college career.

This group is composed of guys that I just looked at the statistics and was impressed by. I'm sure if I had gotten to know them better they could have moved closer to us.

Montario Hardesty, RB, Tennessee

Third in the SEC in rushing and scored 12 touchdowns on the ground. Imagine if Lane Kiffin had leaned on him earlier in the year instead of letting Jonathan Crompton hand out interceptions like soup at a homeless shelter.

Ben Tate, RB, Auburn
In five of eight SEC games, he went over 100 yards rushing. Unfortunately, he could not also throw effective forward passes.

Stephen Garcia, QB, South Carolina
I've given much grief to the former keyer of professor's cars, but he really turned in a pretty solid season, especially since his team had no running game to support his efforts. The Garcia we used to know would have vomited out at least 17 INTs (only nine in 2009) and committed multiple acts that would have embarrassed himself, his parents and the University of South Carolina.

Broderick Green, RB, Arkansas
I have no recollection of Green from this season, but 12 touchdowns gets you in the gate of my apartment complex.

Joe Adams, WR, Arkansas
Not only did he survive a "mild stroke," but Adams was nearly killed by LSU's Chad Jones:

Somehow, he lived to tell the tale and scored eight touchdowns on the year.

Brandon LaFell, WR, LSU

Had he been involved with a team that had a veteran quarterback, a decent run game and a real head coach, LaFell might have been the best receiver in the SEC. Unfortunately for him, none of those three were true.

Dennis Johnson, RB, Arkansas
What a tough son of a bitch. He's like 5'6" and can't weigh more than 190, but he never stops running. He really impressed me in the Florida game (although I never saw him after that) and I hope to see more of him.

Rennie Curran, LB, Georgia
Apparently, he is really good at tackling people. 10.2 a game and 122 for the season.

Chris Marve, LB, Vanderbilt

Just behind Curran at 10.1 and 121 on the year.

Antonio Coleman, DE, Auburn
If you lead the SEC in sacks and tackles for a loss, you get your name here. A tip of the hat to you, good sir.

Mark Barron, CB, Alabama
Same goes for the SEC's interceptions leader.

Nothing against those who live on campus because you have to for one reason or another, but this group goes to those who disappointed and created considerable wailing and gnashing of teeth among SEC fans. In other words, the Eric Oliver's of the league.

Jevan Snead, QB, Ole Miss
The 2009 Awww-Shit Trophy Winner. A greater regression into suck I cannot recall.

Joe Cox, QB, Georgia
The Ginger Ninja proved to be spectacularly bad during 2009. If not for Georgia Tech's awful run defense, he could have racked up at least three more interceptions.

Quarterbacks, Vanderbilt
As I documented last week, all of them stunk. 0-8 in the SEC isn't easy, it takes long hours of terribleness.

Chris Todd, QB, Auburn
Yes, his stats were impressive until you actually looked at them. When you did, it turns out he was one of the worst quarterbacks in conference play. If only he could play Furman or Ball State every game.

Cordera Eason, RB, Ole Miss
Who? Exactly. If you're not an Ole Miss fan, they you're probably a little confused as to why he's on the list. It's because he was the starting running back until his love of fumbling eventually sent him to the bench for good. His body of work includes a fumble in last year's Cotton Bowl and his last fumble of 2009, which came in the Arkansas game.

Tyson Lee, QB, Mississippi State
Although it doesn't seem fair to include him because it wasn't his decision to name him the starting quarterback when he has no discernible SEC talent, but his performance lands him here. However, as much crap as I've given him over the past two years, let me assure you that I have nothing against him as a person (or anyone I criticize here because I don't know them). From everything I've read and have been told, he's one of the good guys, and I am 18 billion percent sure he'll be better at whatever he ends up doing than his time playing quarterback at Mississippi State.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

SEC Regular Season in Review

I suppose I should be writing something about the most important game of our lifetimes that is nearly 48 hours away (dammit, CBS, where is my countdown clock!), but reading my version of a breakdown of the Florida/Alabama game is about as interesting and insightful as a David Cutcliffe postgame interview ("He was a real warrior today."). So instead, I'd like to take a look back at each team's season using some of the moronic things (and the rare correct statements) I wrote in September when I was making my predictions.

First, for the record, I managed to finish the season 79-17 (.822) in my weekly picks, achieving my goal of breaking .800 even thought I tried to blow it with a last week collapse of 4-3 (My thanks to Ole Miss for not deciding to show up and to Georgia for deciding that they were actually going to show up). Now, on to what happened this year.


My predictions (actual)

1. Florida (Florida
2. Georgia (Tennessee)
3. South Carolina (Georgia)
4. Tennessee (South Carolina)
5. Kentucky (Kentucky)
6. Vanderbilt (Vanderbilt)

"According to everything I’ve read, Florida will sort of be like Ivan Drago, everything they hit, they will destroy."

I suppose I was halfway right when I wrote that. Florida did go 12-0 but they were less than Ivan Drago-like. Thanks to a some new offensive linemen and a group of receivers that could best be described as Riley Cooper and those guys that aren't Tim Tebow's roommate, the Gators had some offensive issues over the season. They were only able to really assert their dominance in two conference games (Kentucky and Vandy) and struggled to put away everyone else. And while their defense was really good, I never considered them to be truly dominant like Alabama's. That could be because Alabama's was so good and everyone else falls way short in comparison, but I wasn't in awe of Florida's defense. I say that and the most points Florida surrendered all year was 20, so what the hell do I know.

"Biggest problems: At Florida, at Alabama, at Ole Miss, Georgia at home, no quarterback, Ed Orgeron, Lane Kiffin, very thin offensive line, not much on the defensive line."

Of those games I listed, the Vols went 1-3, which is one game better than I thought they'd do. As I mentioned earlier this week, Jonathan Crompton started the season on a journey of terribleness the likes of which most of us cannot recall, yet somehow was able to right himself and became something of an asset for his team. Hell, he even played well enough to beat Alabama, which not one person alive (even his parents) could have seen coming. And given the bar of stupidity set in the preseason by Kiffin and company, I thought they did a pretty good job in his first year. He showed flashes of coaching competency (the Florida, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina games) and very few total disasters (UCLA and Ole Miss). I still have my money riding on a 2010 dismissal of him and his staff, but right now it looks like I'll be losing that bet.

"I really don’t see the Vols being much better than last year, and I wouldn’t expect more than 5-7."

Again, moron (pointing at self).


"To me, this season is a defining season for him (talking about Richt). If he pulls out a nine or 10 win season with this bunch, I’ll reconsider my 2200 words that declared him the most mediocre coach in the SEC."

I'll give him a pass on Florida because I assumed there was no way they were going to beat them, but out of Oklahoma State, LSU, Tennessee and Kentucky, Richt went 0-4. With the group he had, I would have considered 2-2 a pretty good job by him. Instead, they collapse against Kentucky and get blown out by Tennessee. He deserves credit for getting his team ready to play against Georgia Tech, but what about the other 11 games? This was a boring, weak and often disinterested team that was a few breaks away from 4-8 (South Carolina, Arkansas and Arizona State).

"Joe Cox is allegedly a member of a plethora of game manager quarterbacks that are in college football, so in order to avoid any upsets, he’ll need to not screw things up. There’s young talent on offense and the offensive line should be pretty solid so anything above average from Cox and Georgia could be a pretty tough team."

I also totally miscalculated Cox's ability to suck. I should have remembered the rule that if you're a senior, especially a 5th-year senior, and have never started before it's because you stink.

"Any chance the Gamecocks have at finishing behind Florida is ruined by their schedule. At Georgia, at Alabama, At Tennessee, and Florida and Ole Miss in Columbia. 1-4 there would be pretty good considering what Steve Spurrier has. A talented, but erratic and often dumb quarterback playing behind an offensive line that was awful last year and might not be much better this year. If South Carolina can’t run the ball with any success, this could be a long year in Columbia."

Why did I have them at number three in the East again? It's like I don't even read what I write. Anyway, the Gamecocks did go 1-4 games in those I listed, but I'm pretty sure I assumed they'd beat Tennessee and not Ole Miss. And it turns out Stephen Garcia wasn't that bad. He stopped doing dumb things, became less interception oriented and was the South Carolina offense since they could not run the ball (except against Clemson, one of the participants in the ACC Championship Game). However, in typical South Carolina fashion, they fell apart at the end of the season, mainly because it was impossible for Garcia to play that well for an entire year (6 TDs, 5 INTs in the last four games) and injuries eventually wore down their defense.

"As for defense, all signs point to it being a little worse than last year’s, which wasn’t bad, but not great. If the defense can’t get any help from the offense, I will again question why I continue to put South Carolina this high every year."

Exhibit AAAAAAA on me not reading what I write.

"If they can hold up against the run, the defense could propel itself into the average category and, combined with a more experienced offense, they could pull off a couple of wins they shouldn’t."

They didn't really hold up that well against the run (11th) or against offense in general (10th), but they established a pretty decent running game (5th) and had the sixth best turnover margin in the conference. That was probably due to the injury to Mike Hartline, who we all remember from his early season push in the Awww-Shit Trophy competition. Once he went out, they were forced into running and created fewer opportunities for turning the ball over. And as for games they shouldn't have won, they did it twice, at Auburn and at Georgia.

"In order to ramp up an offense that was one of the worst in college football, Bobby Johnson has installed a no-huddle, spread attack. That’s nice if you have a quarterback, which, as far as I know, is not on the Vanderbilt campus."

Here's what Vandy got out of it's quarterbacks: 146 yds/game, 6 TDs, 10 INTs and led an attack that ranked 12th in total offense and scoring offense (16.3 pts/game). So clearly, that quarterback was not on campus this season.


My predictions (actual)

1. Ole Miss (Alabama)
2. Alabama (LSU)
3. LSU (Ole Miss)
4. Arkansas (Arkansas)
5. Auburn (Auburn)
6. Mississippi State (Mississippi State)

1. Alabama
"Recently, I heard Eli Gold, Alabama’s radio play-by-play announcer, say that Greg McElroy is a game manager type (buzzword!) that probably isn’t as talented as John Parker Wilson was. If I’m an Alabama fan, that’s a big, fat gulp right there. An inexperienced, lesser-talented version of Wilson behind an offensive line that won’t be as good as last year’s. That group has to replace three guys, the most underrated of which was center Antoine Caldwell. Losing three members off the strength of your team is going to hurt in some way the following year. I think the Tide is a year away from being a legitimate top five team."

Outstandingly wrong. Not only was there no drop-off from Wilson to McElroy in terms of game management, the offensive line was good enough to lead the fourth best ground game in the SEC (and fourth best total offense). Throw in Nick Saban and a defense that was one of the best I've ever seen in person, and you have a 12-0 team that laughs at the idea Ole Miss could have won the division. While this team wasn't an indestructible buzzsaw, it was in my opinion the best in the SEC.

2. LSU
"At Ole Miss, at Alabama, at Georgia and Florida at home. A 2-2 finish there would be impressive and I think that will be a stretch for this team."

Finally, I got something right. The Tigers finished 1-3 in those games.

"As I’ve said before, Jordan Jefferson may be talented (I haven’t seen it), but he’s not good enough to win the West. Les Miles won’t play conservative offense with him and Jefferson will make tons of mistakes (remember Jarrett Lee last year). He’s got talented running backs and receivers, but I don’t think he’s ready to be an SEC quarterback."

I'll give myself a .5 for being halfway right and a .5 for being halfway wrong (I have no idea what kind of scoring system I'm using here or if I even have a scoring system). Jefferson was not good enough to win the West and led a terrible offense (11th in total and 10th in scoring). But, I think he's going to turn out to be pretty good and he was ready to be an SEC quarterback this year. He still struggled at times, but he has all the tools to be good. Now, whether or not Les Miles is the person that will get that ability to come out of Jefferson is up for debate.

"First, the schedule. Alabama, LSU, Arkansas and Tennessee all come to Oxford. The toughest road games are a Thursday night trip to South Carolina and a trip to Auburn. No other team in the West has a schedule that favorable."

3-1 in those home games and 0-2 in those road games. To me, the Auburn game was inexcusable. That was not a good Auburn team and was a road game that should have been won.

"Second, an established, experienced, talented quarterback. No other team in the West has that."

And no other team in the West has a head case that can't figure out the simple concept of looking off defensive backs, not staring at the primary receiver and not turning the ball over at an unbelievably high rate. Jevan Snead was the major flaw of Ole Miss' season.

"Third, defensive line. No other team in the West can match the talent there. Alabama could make a case, but they don’t have the depth Ole Miss does."

Alright, something else that I got halfway right. Yes Ole Miss had the depth, but it wasn't always good depth.

"As I have stated many times, if Ole Miss develops eight competent offensive linemen, they should beat every team they play in the regular season."

They made it to seven, but unfortunately it didn't happen until the Tennessee game. Although the offensive line certainly was the major contributing factor to the South Carolina loss, they got their business in order for the rest of the year, and while not great, they did enough to win the rest of the games (other than the Alabama game).

"As for the argument that Ole Miss has never been here before, that’s not really a strong argument to me. If you recall the end of last season, this team developed a sense of confidence I’ve never seen in an Ole Miss team. They knew if they didn’t have dumb turnovers, they were going to win. So they know what it takes to win."

While that statement about last year's team holds true, let this be a lesson to me and every other Ole Miss fan that we will NOT, I repeat, NOT make it to Atlanta. Ever.

"Holy crap, what a schedule. At Alabama, at Florida, at Ole Miss, at LSU and Georgia at home. 1-4 would be outstanding here."


"If they can get anything out of their defense, which was the worst or one of the worst in the SEC last year, they might sneak up on some people."

Not so much (12th in total defense). But in some games, their defense did show up. Other than the Georgia, Alabama and Ole Miss games, they played well enough to win every game, nearly beating Florida and LSU and handily beating South Carolina, Mississippi State and Auburn.

"That is if Ryan Mallett proves to be worth anything."

Does 29 TDs and only 7 INTs do it for you, Gray? While he was a little streaky with his completion percentage (he streaked from bad to average), this was easily the worst insinuation I made.

"Gus Malzahn’s offense was brought in to breathe some life into a disastrous offense from last year. Unfortunately, Chris Todd is operating that offense."

And breathe new life it did. But while the Tigers piled up the yards against bad teams (which monstrously inflated their stats), their offense looked like a competent, forward-moving unit for periods of time, unlike last year when playing good or bad teams. And while Chris Todd racked up yards and touchdowns against the bad non-conference teams Auburn played, he only managed six touchdowns while throwing five picks in SEC play (15 of his 21 touchdowns came against Louisiana Tech, West Virginia, Ball State and Furman). It also pains me to admit this, but Gene Chizik proved to be a head coach that wasn't as awful as the endless number of five wins at Iowa State jokes I made.

"An excellent group of teams comes to Starkville this year, unfortunately they’re all really good teams. LSU, Georgia Tech, Florida, Alabama and Ole Miss all come to Starkville, and barring anything crazy, all will win."

A win over Ole Miss turned that from 0-5 to 1-4. And by barring anything crazy, I'm pretty sure I meant Chris Relf turning into Tommy Frazier in the 12th game of the season.

"Dan Mullen will have a tough year ahead of him, he’s got no quarterback, a bad offensive line and a defense that will probably be worse than least year’s. At worst, I can see a 2-10 season, and at best they can somehow claw their way to 5-7."

I thought Mullen did a fantastic job this year. As I mentioned, he had no quarterback, but got an offensive line to play better and rode the best player on his team, Anthony Dixon, all year. And did this despite a defense that wasn't very good. This season was a big change from the Sylvester Croom era where the Bulldogs were routinely run off the field by halftime. Mullen had them competitive in every game but two (Alabama and Auburn) and had Tyson Lee not been his quarterback, perhaps they could have pulled off one or two more wins.