Friday, July 30, 2010

Masoli Watch: DEFCON 1 (And Hopefully the Last One Ever)

The Belly of the Beast is all over the latest in the quest to see Jeremiah Masoli in Oxford and playing football for Ole Miss for the 2010 season. Check here for news that you'll probably find at least an hour before it gets updated here.

Proximity to campus:  He's all up in that place.

The pulling of strings by various puppet masters to get Masoli into a graduate program:  Teetering on the edge of success.  Despite rumors, which, if on the Internet, must be true, the party line from Ole Miss is that he has not officially enrolled yet.  However, much to my disappointment, it does appear that he will not be pursuing graduate work in Southern Studies, as Park and Recreation Management has won his curious mind.  To that I say, BOOOOOOOO!  How dare he deprive the free world of the unintentional comedy of a West Coast guy of Samoan descent learning all about Faulkner and shit (For the record, I have no idea what they actually study.  I was a marketing major and was mainly concerned with finding the easiest classes possible and then not going to them.).

Ole Miss fan base's delusions of a 10-2 season:  OCCURRING EVERY 12 SECONDS.

Is there still a chance Pete Boone and the other good Rebels could screw this up:  Are they still breathing?  Then, YES.

Number of looming "how could they do this" articles from media members perched atop their mountains once (if) this thing becomes official:  1.2 billion, give or take a few.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Masoli v. Schaeffer

As the Masoli-to-Ole-Miss supersonic jet approaches Mach 42, I've heard smatterings of suggestions that if Masoli does play for Ole Miss, he'll be nothing more than Brent Schaeffer 2.0.  Consider this a brief preemptive strike using a Daisy Cutter to obliterate such suggestions.

Career games played at a D-I level
Schaeffer:  8
Masoli:  24

This alone should be enough to destroy any visions of Schaeffer 2.0, but since I took the time to look up all the other numbers, you shall receive them.

Passing Statistics
Schaeffer:  18 of 37 (48.6%), 302 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Masoli:  313 of 544 (57.5%), 3,891 yards, 28 TDs, 11 INTs

Passing Yards Per Game
Schaeffer:  37.4
Masoli:  162.1

Rushing Statistics
Schaeffer:  33 carries, 66 yards, 2 yds/car, 1 TD
Masoli:  248 carries, 1386 yards, 5.6 yds/car, 23 TDs

Rushing Yards Per Game
Schaeffer:  8.25
Masoli:  57.8

The difference between the two last-minute additions is that Masoli has proven he knows how to play quarterback.  Not with overwhelming success, but very well.  Schaeffer arrived at Ole Miss with fantastic athletic ability and little else.  His seasoning came from splitting time with Erik Ainge and running around junior college players in California, not from taking the majority of the snaps for two seasons in a major college conference.  To throw Masoli in with Schaeffer is an insult to the stocky Samoan.  And though Masoli has pled guilty to various crimes, has he been rumored to have  stabbed shanked another quarterback outside The Library?  NOT YET. 

I'm not saying Masoli will dominate and destroy, but a Brent Schaeffer he is not.  Wait, is he even in school yet?  Why the hell am I jinxing this before it even gets started?

/cries at the news Masoli goes to West Virginia

/tears clothes, rubs ashes in hair

/wails and gnashes teeth

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Long-Delayed, Lightly-Anticipated Masoli Watch: DEFCON 1.5

The Belly of the Beast is all over the latest in the quest to see Jeremiah Masoli in Oxford and playing football for Ole Miss for the 2010 season. Check here for news that you'll probably find at least an hour before it gets updated here.

Masoli's proximity to campus:  Unknown.

Houston Nutt's pulling of strings to get Masoli into a graduate program:  SUCCESS!  Allegedly, Masoli has been accepted into a graduate program.  Rumors continue to swirl as to which one.  And if he's even been accepted to one, which refutes the first sentence of this answer.  In short, I know nothing, per the usual.

Ole Miss fan base's desire to avoid an offense with production levels similar to those of the Ed Orgeron years:  Pete Boone, you know those 5-ish K season tickets still sitting on the shelf?  You make this happen and those turn into piles of money.  DO NOT SCREW THIS UP LIKE I KNOW YOU WILL.

Just what the hell is going on:  Again, ALLEGEDLY, Masoli will actually be in Oxford this weekend for an official visit of sorts.  It is during this time Nutt and the administration will stop "wrestling" with their decision and all of this will finally be over.  I have a feeling the wrestling will be over when Masoli is asked what he thinks about paying his own way.  I fully expect him to respond by booking the next flight to Morgantown, West Virginia.  Thus, the end of said wrestling.

Gray's confidence in the Ole Miss administration to turn a seemingly easy decision into a 248-car train wreck, leading us to sign the back-up quarterback from Itawamba Community College who will be forced to play in games in which he has no business playing:  Strong to extraordinarily strong.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tuesday Night Masoli Watch: DEFCON 2

The Belly of the Beast is all over the latest in the quest to see Jeremiah Masoli in Oxford and playing football for Ole Miss for the 2010 season. Check here for news that you'll probably find at least an hour before it gets updated here.
Masoli's proximity to campus:  Unknown

Houston Nutt's desire to see him become a graduate student in Southern Studies:  Rabid.  Nutt has been given the okay from Pete Boone and Chancellor Dan Jones, now it's just a matter of getting Masoli to come to Ole Miss, as he now has other suitors (BACK OFF YOU WEST VIRGINIA HILLBILLIES!), get him into graduate school and get the NCAA to sign off on his transfer (although the NCAA sign-off might come first in that list).  Assuming no one in the NCAA pretends like student is the most important part of student-athlete, all of that can get done in time for at least some portion of fall practice (I'm also looking at you, anti-football, communist members of the Ole Miss faculty.  Let's take one for the team here.  No questions, just one big stamp of approval.).

Ole Miss fan base's desire to avoid an offense with production levels similar to those of the Ed Orgeron years:  Raging inferno of blood lust.  While most fans would not consider selling their firstborn or even second child for offensive success, the third one would be out the door at a pretty good street value.

Chancellor Dan Jones' reservations about letting a stocky computer thief into school:  Gone.

Athletic Director Pete Boone's concerns:  Should we charge $15.99 or $16.99 for the "Wild Samoan" t-shirts that would be a hit with the t-shirt and cap crowd?

Admissions and recruiting (student, football) thoughts:  We need to update our student ethnicity pie charts!

Masoli Watch: DEFCON 3

The Belly of the Beast is all over the latest in the quest to see Jeremiah Masoli in Oxford and playing football for Ole Miss for the 2010 season. Check here for news that you'll probably find at least an hour before it gets updated here.

Proximity to campus: Unknown

Houston Nutt's desire to see him become a graduate student in Southern Studies: Hot

Ole Miss fan base's desire to avoid an offense with production levels similar to those of the Ed Orgeron years: Boiling

Chancellor Dan Jones' reservations about letting a stocky computer thief into school: He hasn't been there long enough to make a stand on this one

Athletic Director Pete Boone's concerns: Will this make money or lose money?

Admissions and recruiting (student, football) thoughts: More diversity!

(Note:  My apologies to Masoli for my poor Photoshop skills.  I unintentionally took a plug out of his left hip and right knee.  Both are much more robust than shown here.)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Since We Last Met

No one of major or minor importance was arrested, implicated in an agent scandal or thought to have been at a party in South Beach
I suppose while good for all the college teams out there sweating out the last three weeks of summer, it made for a terribly boring weekend and the first real down time in July (which is pretty unbelievable the entertainment lasted this long into the month).  But, given that we're dealing with 18 to 22-year olds, I feel confident we'll have another few flares of stupidity before practice starts in August.

Raymond Cotton of Get to Know Your SEC Football Players fame will take his talents to South Bea..(sorry, bad habit)..South Alabama
The one-time quarterback of the future for Ole Miss elected to leave Rebels' program and move on to other opportunities in Mobile.  Reasons for his departure have included:

1.  Not being sent to the Manning Passing Academy with fellow Ole Miss QB Nathan Stanley (number one on the depth chart)
2.  Feeling that he should have been the starter
4.  His discussion with Bradley Sowell about video games (Call of Duty series is SO much better than the Grand Theft Auto series)
5.  Mobile is awesome

It's possible that I made up the last three (although there is an argument that most Arkansas fans will readily have over number three).  According to Nutt, Cotton was not sent to the Manning Passing Academy because he did not want Cotton throwing that much while rehabbing a partially torn labrum.  I also remember Nutt being irritated with Cotton when the tear was discovered in the spring, implying that Cotton did not do enough off-season throwing work to strengthen his arm.  I know nothing about how shoulders work, and have no idea if Cotton had worked hard in the off-season whether his injury could have been avoided, but it seems to me the real reason Cotton fell behind Stanley was the aforementioned lack of dedication in the off-season.  If he showed the coaches how serious he was about winning the starting job, then perhaps there would have been more of a battle in the spring for said starting job.  Alas, Cotton assumed he could coast by Stanley (and I will say it was not a bad assumption) and cost himself a shot at being the starter.

With Cotton's departure, Ole Miss has two quarterbacks on scholarship, Stanley and Randall Mackey.  After those two, it's a collection of guys from places like Delta Academy, which is NOT GOOD.  With an offensive line that could best be described as "not sure we even have five guys," an injury or two is not out of the question.  So I implore you, 2010 version of Seth Adams, whatever your name is, make sure your ass is ready to play.  Unless...

Jeremiah Masoli could become the first person of Samoan descent to ever play football at Ole Miss in Mississippi the South
Masoli, booted from the Oregon team for silly things like drug possession and burglary (I do not judge and welcome him with open arms), has sent his release papers from Oregon to Ole Miss (and potentially a few other teams).  Last week, Houston Nutt said that Ole Miss had no interested in acquiring the services of Masoli, but now that Raymond Cotton is gone, there appears to be some interest.  If Nutt is able to convince the Ole Miss administration (and by that I mean AD Pete Boone) to allow Masoli to become a member of the Ole Miss football team, I'm not sure how effective Masoli can be this year.  He'd have almost no time to learn much of the offense (no matter how simple it really is) and I don't know how willing the coaches would be to trust a guy they don't know. 

Certainly, there are many questions that surround just how he would fit in to the offense (and the team), but my brain tells me that whenever you can add a Heisman Trophy candidate to an offense that features Nathan Stanley, YOU ABSOLUTELY DO IT.  Is it worth the national heat we might take for letting him into school?  Yes.  Is it worth a the risk of an embarrassing arrest outside The Library?  Yes.  Is it worth the risk of shattering of young Nathan Stanley's confidence?  YOU KNOW IT.  Masoli has proven he can play and play well at the Division I level.  Looking at what the 2010 Ole Miss offense has to offer, there's no one that can say that (Brandon Bolden has shown flashes).  Get him into the Southern Studies graduate program and let's run the Wildcat formation every damn play.

Out of the NFL, Lane Kiffin still manages to annoy people in the NFL
Put Titans coach Jeff Fisher on the board as yet another person Kiffin has managed to piss off.  Kiffin hired Titans running backs coach Kennedy Pola as his offensive coordinator, but didn't mention to Fisher that he was interested in talking to Pola until after Pola had accepted the offer.
"I am very disappointed in Lane Kiffin's approach to this," Fisher told The Tennessean on Saturday. "Typically speaking, when coaches are interested in hiring or discussing potential employment from coaches on respective staffs there is a courtesy call made from the head coach or athletic director indicating there is an interest in talking to the assistant.

"So I am very disappointed in the lack of professionalism on behalf of Lane, to call me and leave me a voicemail after Kennedy had informed me he had taken the job. It is just a lack of professionalism."
Add another layer to the legend.

Friday, July 23, 2010

All You Need to Know From Day Three of SEC Media Days

The third and final day of this completely unnecessary but totally necessary event brought the arrival of a Chizik (more commonly known as a block of granite with the ability to talk), a lawyer, an idiot and the Staccato Man.  As expected, Chizik didn't blink (not once) and executed the David Cutcliffe coach-speak playbook perfectly, Derek Dooley sprinkled in some lawyer-speak with coach-speak, Les Miles, well, was Les Miles, and Houston Nutt made up words and kept his sentences to independent clauses.

So, here's the final round of quotes of the week, courtesy of Gene Chizik, Derek Dooley, Les Miles and Houston Nutt.

He's been in the league for over a year and still has a streak going of saying nothing worth quoting.  And that's not easy.  However, he did mention how proud he was of offensive lineman Lee Ziemba and that Ziemba has a chance to set the Auburn record for most consecutive starts.  He failed to mention how many streaks of consecutive starts by opposing defensive linemen Ziemba has ended by obliterating their knees.  Also, he referred to one-time Mississippi State savior Cam Newton and now Auburn's starting quarterback as "Cameron."  It's a good move because I know of no laptop thieves named Cameron.

Not sure if this joke has been made yet, and I apologize if it has and for the obviousness of it, but the great thing about Dooley being a lawyer is that he can also represent all of his arrested players at their arraignments and save the University of Tennessee thousands in legal fees.  Hell, they could go a step further and get rid of the school's attorney and just have Dooley do both jobs.  This is also a great idea for a shitty sticom.

"He's a lawyer AND a coach.  And with a family, how can he possibly make time for everything?  Coming this fall to CBS, it's Derek Dooley in What About Me, Coach?"

Anyway, Dooley said nothing.  Wait, he did say that Tennessee had a quarterback on its roster named Nash Nance, which is a name he made up on the spot.

His opening statement reeked of confusion and "Please don't fire me."
"The summer went well.  The coach enjoyed following his kids' youth sports, and camp season just underway and got concluded.  Had two boys in that that had some great experiences.  I don't know if I can go by the fact that my family's prospering in Baton Rogue.  They're getting older.  When I came to Baton Rouge, one of them was 10, and now is 16.  One was 8, now is 14.  I have an 11-year-old and a 7-year-old.  I'm in Baton Rouge's debt.  The family is growing well.  I am enjoying how they're maturing."
And that was a perfect piece of evidence that he has no filter between brain and mouth.  Whatever pops in that tall head of his comes right out.  Aaaaannnnnd again:
"After last season, here's what we did.  We looked at those things that we needed to do to put this team in a position to win a championship.  We looked at everything we did.  We hired three coaches.  Our weight/strength position, you know, adjusted.  What we do on offense and defense we adjusted.  We practiced a little differently.  We've done a lot of great things.

Certainly we kept some of those.  Some things we needed to fix and put in a right perspective.  We're working towards making real quality adjustments so that our team can focus on those things that will lead it to the championship."
It's like he's trying to speak coach-speak but only speaks on a fourth grade level.  But what does he think about the upcoming season:
"I can tell you this.  It will only be a championship season, and that's the only point and direction of this program.  That's where we're headed."
I respect the fact that he's going down crazier and bolder than ever.  You know what, I'm just going to shut up and let him take you home:
"We're very fortunate at LSU, we have an opportunity to offer quite an opportunity."
"We went through some of the situations we went through last fall.  That did not go beyond my scrutiny.  I scrutinized the coaching - me and others.  I can promise you that those situations, some of those situations I'd never run into in coaching.  Some of those situations I was, even though prepared for, had not envisioned the time constraints."
"In the two-minute drill, in our acclimatization, the practices at the start of our two-a-day schedule, we're going to be in two-minute really for about 45 minutes in two practices, okay?  It's never been given that kind of emphasis certainly at our place.  We just feel like the teaching of the situation and the understanding of the situation is more important.  If you looked back over the time here, the number of games that we've won in two-minute situations, we need to re-up the understanding of what must happen in some of those clock management situations, both as players and coaches."
If you're an LSU fan, I highly encourage you to go read the transcript of his time at the podium.  I can assure you what little confidence you did have left in him will drop by at least 75%.

I truly believe that Houston Nutt says more sentences with fewer words than any other coach in America.  I just read the entire transcript and it's basically six pages of this:
"Thank you.  Good to be here.  13th straight year.  Good to be here.  Before I get going, I want to wish Bobby Johnson a happy retirement.  I thought he was one of the finest coaches in the country.  Great integrity.  Seemed to me, he always had his guys ready to go, always had a good game plan.  Just really appreciate him.  Got close to him the last eight, nine years, whatever it was, when he joined.  Just think a lot of him, really do."
And then this masterpiece talking about the schedule:
"It's not easy as if - I want to make sure our players understand, just don't look at the schedule and look at it like maybe one of your relatives are looking at it, like, okay, one, two, three, four, five, six.  You should win the first six.  Hold on now.  Let's get these practices going, let's get better, let's get the snap from the center.  We got a lot of work to do."
I know he's excitable while talking, but we may never get to the SEC Championship game (actually, we never will because we're Ole Miss) if we don't even call it by the right name:
"Ole Miss, we've never had a team go to the Atlanta championship game.  That's where we want to go.  That's where we want to get to.  One day we're gonna be there.  But it's very, very difficult."
His speech is a giant metal sheet of independent thoughts and clauses beaten into paragraphs with a hammer.  And the SEC owes a bonus to check to the intern who transcribed Nutt's time at the podium.

With that, SEC Media Days has come to a close.  As usual, nothing of significance happened (although Robbie Caldwell's explosion onto the scene was nice), but for three days we got a solid football fix (with track marks to show for it) and crossed off three more days in July, which somehow is STILL NOT OVER.  For now, I shut down the football engines for another week or so, then have them roaring and ready to go once practice starts and anxiety settles in for a four-month stay in my body.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

All You Need to Know From Day Two of SEC Media Days

Thursday was a collision of different speaking styles and candor.  Bobby Petrino was his normal self, void of personality and pulse, Mark Richt was a tan sheet of 8.5" X 11" paper (and NOT card stock) and the Media Days great Steve Spurrier chose to go with a what's-the-point-of-all-this-we're-all-going-to-die-anyway approach.  Stephen Garcia will do that to a man's soul.  And then there was interim Vanderbilt coach Robbie Caldwell.  He delivered a performance of such magnificence that cold, stopped-caring-about-sports-years-ago sportswriters applauded him as he left the room.

So let's get to it, the quotes of the day courtesy of Bobby Petrino, Mark Richt, Robbie Caldwell and Steve Spurrier.

Fooled you. didn't I?  Thought we would start with the good stuff of Caldwell after that intro?  WRONG.  We need to get through the administrative paperwork portion first.

Upon further review, Bobby Petrino said nothing worth placing here.  Let's move on to the next Excel spreadsheet.

Before entering the room, reporters were told Richt would not answer any questions about Georgia's potential NCAA problems, both those of "Dawg Night" and the report that placed A.J. Green at the now infamous South Beach party that might wipe out rosters across the Southeast (Green has denied being there, saying he's never even been to Miami).  So he really had nothing to talk about.
"Special teams, you know, Drew Butler, one of the finest punters in America"
Fine enough that he brought him to Media Days.  Tell me more about special teams...
"...a lot of guys back on those special teams."
Excellent news.  Shortly after reading this, I did a faceplant on my laptop, which closed the PDF I was reading.  Not one to waste valuable time, I chose not to reopen the PDF and because of that action, we move on to the next coach.

The entire time you're reading this, think of a percentage in which this is better than whatever Bobby Johnson had to offer.  My rough estimate is 12,000% better.
"This is awesome."
"I know the first question you're asking is, Who is Robbie Caldwell? Very few people know me. So I've been behind the scenes for a long time. I think I've been an assistant for 30-something years. I really don't know how many."
On the day he was named interim coach:
"But tremendous, tremendous day obviously for me. My family was in a panic. All they heard was 'retirement.' You know all the speculation that goes on as well as anybody. They were all in an uproar, crying, carrying on. They never heard about the part about me getting to be interim head coach."
Some confusion over the question and answer portion:
"I don't know all the format here. At this point, I'll be glad to open it to questions, whatever. Anything I can do, fire 'em at me."
How does he feel about the interim label:
"I'm just thrilled to have an opportunity. I told my wife, if it's two days or 20 years, I will now be able to say, Hey, I was a head coach one time, other than in 1977 when I was head baseball coach. We were pretty good, by the way. We were 14-2, had a chance, made the state playoffs."
If it's two days, I will make the trip to Nashville and burn that place to the ground.  And how does he plan on approaching the job:
"All I know how to do is work. I've been a worker all my life. I grew up in it. My wife said, You can't talk about anything but football.  I can. I can talk about pouring concrete, farming, being a pipefitter, all those things, working on a turkey farm. But nobody wants to hear that. Those are the things that I did prior to getting into football. That's the God's truth."
Welcome-to-coaching moment:
"I got to see Coach Spurrier today, Coach Richt. They have no idea who I am."
In their defense, I think they've publicly stated they have no time for poor people.  And then there was this:
"I mean, think about it. Here I am, I go from lining the field to I'm head coach in the SEC. I'm telling you, what a thrill. It's a dream.  I can still walk in places and nobody knows me. Last night I was opening the door for people and they gave me a tip. I thought, hey, that's great. How can you get it any better than that?"
On continuing Bobby Johnson's policy of no cursing in practices:
"You know, I'm no angel, that's for certain. We certainly do try to live by that. But, you know, it's just a sign of limited vocabulary sometimes. I know y'all can't tell it, but I do have an education (smiling)."
A tale of getting into coaching:
"When I took a pay cut to go to Furman as a full-time assistant, my daddy said, You're an idiot. I've continued to live up to his words, I'm sure (smiling). But the rest is history."
If you ever go to Pageland, South Carolina, here's what you need to know:
"You had to like watermelon, number one, because it was the watermelon capitol of the word, we proclaimed anyway. You had to like hunting and fishing. Frog gigging."
"If you played a sport, you didn't have to work during a practice time. That's why I played basketball. I was probably the worst there's ever been, but I played it so I wouldn't have to go pour concrete."
"My first hourly paying job was on the turkey farm. I don't know if I could tell you what my job was, but I was on the inseminating crew. That's a fact. I worked my way to the top. That's a fact, man. If you don't believe it, call Nicolas. Of course, I think they're defunct now. Best job I ever had, got paid by the hour for the first time. That was about '68, '69. That's what we did every afternoon."
"I know I don't look it, but I feel 18. I may fall over tomorrow, but I'm excited about being here in front of you. I'm not intimidated. I feel like y'all are human just like me, I guess. I don't think any of you is from outer space."
After being asked if his duties on the turkey farm ever affected his ability to enjoy Thanksgiving:
"(Pulling his jacket out and showing his large stomach.)  I knew I was a fat guy, but I didn't need all these heavy-duty extra springs. This job has been good for me, I've lost about seven pounds in the last eight days."
Did he feel guilty at Thanksgiving:
"No, not really, 'cause of some of the headaches I went throughout there. It's amazing. A wild turkey is one of the smartest animals in the world. But a domestic turkey is the dumbest thing. We had to put sprinklers out there to keep them from smothering out there in the summer when it gets hot. If you don't believe it, research it."
He was tempted to follow this with a 20-minute discussion of the turkey family, but then a reporter (PROBABLY SOME NO-GOOD BLOGGER) asked him to explain what insemination was and he was forced to eventually move back to football talk.  But, more importantly, where did he eat last night:
"I wish I knew the name of the restaurant here. Golly, it was fantastic. By the way, I ate quail. I kept my heritage there. It was pretty neat."
GOLDEN CORRAL ALERT!  I sincerely hope he has enough success to stick around for at least one more year.  Vanderbilt should realize they're always going to suck, but should at least always employ a Robbie Caldwell as head coach.  That way, other than boosting the SEC's GPA, they're bringing something to the table.

I liked the start:
"Nice to be at the SEC Media Day again. One of the guys asked me the other day, what do you credit your longevity to? I said, fortunately no losing records as an SEC coach yet overall. As we know, that's how you stay a long time."
And some more vintage Spurrier:
"I don't think we've had but one player arrested in about two years, and those charges were dropped. That's pretty good nowadays, as we know."
"I can sort of remember back in our day, if you were out and something happened, they would say, Can you get home? We'll drive you home, to some of my teammates. They did not go into the tank that night."
Then the Garcia questions started:
"Well, I hope Steven has improved on a lot of things and I hope he's had a good summer working on his fundamentals, so forth, learning the offense a little bit better. Obviously he has to do that on his own.  We did not have a very good Bowl game, as you know. We're going to find out when he starts playing this coming year.  But Stephen is our starter. He'll be our starter unless he's beaten out by the next quarterback."
"I think I have a pretty good relationship with Stephen. I don't know how else to answer it. I left him alone this summer. I left him alone this spring pretty much, let him go play."
"He may be playing the best he can. I don't know yet. You know, you coach and you coach and you coach and you coach. At some point, players don't really make better decisions or play better, then that's the best they can be. That's all you can do. If you don't have another player to put in there, then you live with it. That's the way you go on.  But we think we'll have at least another quarterback ready to play this coming season in case Stephen struggles. Stephen will have the first opportunity to go the distance for us."
But he did snap out of his depression momentarily to get the pulse of the room up to four beats a minute:
"Yeah, they stay out and throw the ball around a little bit. I haven't watched them do that. I got to wait till August the 3rd, I think it is, that we can go out and start pitching the ball around a little bit."
"But the former Tennessee coach, I didn't really pay a lot of attention. We had our own problems. We got our own problems over there at South Carolina. I didn't pay a lot of attention to him, to tell you the truth."
That was brutal.  And from the reports I read, it was much worse in person.  I beseech you, Sports Gods, don't let Stephen Garcia totally suck because we need fun Steve Spurrier back.  The dark and brooding version is not enjoyable.  Now, after reading that, I'll be in the backyard washing down some anti-depressants with Jack Daniels and Old Milwaukee.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

All You Need to Know From Day One of SEC Media Days

For those of you who missed it, unaware that it occurred (and what a terrible fan you are), or had anything better to do, here's some of the notable action that took place today in Hoover.

First, a faceless representative from the BCS (note:  not sure if he actually did not have a face, but we know he has no soul) spoke about the merits and effectiveness of the BCS.  Interestingly enough, the Internet was not working during this time (I believe it was out in just the ballroom of the Wynfrey Hotel, but it could have been THE ENTIRE WORLD.  That's how powerful the BCS is.  And no, we're never getting a playoff.), so the moronic defense of the BCS could not be recorded and mercilessly destroyed by the rest of the college football world.  Seriously, even the SEC's website does not have a transcript of what was said.

Second, Les Miles won't be taking the stage until Friday, but he did appear on Clay Travis' radio show today and reminded us that he is in fact an idiot.

And finally, your quotes of the day, courtesy of Nick Saban, Dan Mullen, Urban Meyer and Joker Phillips:

Temporarily confusing the hell out of Alabama fans with his dismissal of last year's accomplishments.  But Coach, my collection of unofficially-licensed championship shirst says that it did happen! 
"One thing I do want to get established here is I want to make sure I'm in the right year. I want to be in the moment here today. Is it 2010? Am I right about that? Because everything I kind of hear has always been about last year. So I'm going to make sure that we're going to talk about this year relative to our team."
And then there was this point which involved an elaborate cooking analogy:
"Look, if we had all the same ingredients coming back, all the same ingredients, I watched a cooking show the other day with a guy on TV showing you how to cook. Let me just say, I put all the same ingredients in my pot as he put in his, and what came out of the oven is not the same as what came out of his oven."
Alabama fans want to know what cooking show it was so that they may watch it with religious zealot-like dedication in order to feel a connection with Saban.  Because nothing makes a better conversation starter than dropping a "So, what'd you think of the latest No Reservations" as Saban scribbles his autograph on a plastic football mini-helmet.

And finally, he continues his assault on agents and their general sliminess:
"I hate to say this, but how are they any better than a pimp? I have no respect for people who do that to young people, none. I mean, none. How would you feel if they did it to your child?"
If Saban and Meyer form an alliance that sets out to destroy agents in college football, run and hide, agents. You are no match for death stares, fiery stomach acid and fire-inducing laser beams from the eyes.

When asked how he responds to recruiting questions about how the spread offense might hurt a player's chances of making it in the NFL (in the question, the reporter mentioned Saban has called it a "drawback" in preparing players for the NFL):
"I'm not going to knock him. I don't know his personal record. I've coached the spread offense and I have a lot of more first-round quarterbacks drafted than he has in his career as a head coach. Develop them for the NFL, I don't know. In the last six years, I've had two of mine get drafted in the first round."
To steal a line from Patrick Roy (that's right, a rare NHL reference around here), I'm not sure Saban could hear him since he had his national championship rings in his ears. At one point in his coaching career, I enjoyed Dan Mullen. Clearly a better coach and much more interesting than Sly Croom, but unfortunately Mullen has shown himself to be a total schmuck. You know who says shit like this? Lane Kiffin. Find more answers that don't remind us of Kiffin or start winning 10 games a year, in which case you'll have the right to schmuck around.

On controlling agents and their "runners," guys that make the player contact for them:
"You got to be clear about it. You can't. For a coach to figure out who a runner is at a nightclub at 2:30 in the morning, I've been asleep for four hours."

Steve Spurrier may not believe in Stephen Garcia, but Urban Meyer does:
"Yeah, I see some unproven quarterbacks taking over programs. South Carolina obviously has the advantage of having a guy, a returning starter back, I think it's his third year playing. So I see a lot of parity."
Well, not exactly a ringing endorsement, but at least he thinks Garcia won't be so awful they can't keep up with everyone else.

"When I took over, I introduced to our players what I call Operation Win."

"Operation Win is in full effect."

Let's hope Joker Phillips knows more about football than signage.

And finally, he breaks down the hiring of former Tennessee quarterback Tee Martin as his receivers coach:
"The number one thing is he understands Facebook, which a bunch of us don't understand it. I understand it a little bit, but he understands Facebook."
And that's all a receivers coach really needs to know. Well, that and how to handle cash payments.

2010 SEC Media Days: Adjust Your Life Accordingly

Ah, the the nexus of the Hoover universe

Nestled near the 459 bypass and among a staggering number of chain stores of varying industries, lies the Wynfrey Hotel, site of every SEC Media Days as long as I can remember, which isn't very long ago. And on Wednesday, 900-ish media members will set up shop in that shiny building above and not leave FOR THREE DAYS BECAUSE THERE ARE SO MANY IMPORTANT QUESTIONS TO WHICH WE DON'T ALREADY KNOW THE ANSWER. Mixed in with that crowd will be the normal smattering of Wal-Mart apparel-wearing Alabama fans hoping to get a glimpse of Nick Saban and unknowing visitors to Birmingham who stupidly chose Hoover as their spot for rest, meaning it's business as usual in Hoover.

To limit your confusion over which coach will answer the same question on a certain day, The Belly of the Beast has taken a chunk of my extremely valuable time (you would be amazed at just how busy and important I am) to place all of this information in compact form. So if you want to see what Joker Phillips actually looks like, you should check out Wednesday's schedule.

1:00-3:50 PM

Those with speaking parts: Nick Saban, LB Don't'a Hightower (Wow! Two apostrophes!), RB Mark Ingram, QB Greg McElroy
Topics to be covered: Saban will most likely continue his assault on agents after discovering that one of his players, Marcel Dareus, may have broken NCAA rules by attending a sports agent's party in Miami (It's where LeBron James chose to play basketball, maybe you've heard of it). Earlier today, Saban turned his perpetually brewing anger on the NFL and its lax control of agent behavior:
"What the NFL Players Association and the NFL need to do is if any agent breaks a rule and causes ineligibility for a player, they should suspend his [agent's] license for a year or two," Saban said. "I'm about ready for college football to say, 'Let's just throw the NFL out. Don't let them evaluate players. Don't let them talk to players. Let them do it at the combine.' If they are not going to help us, why should we help them?"

Saban said he also believes the NCAA should "take schools off the hook" for the actions of agents and players. In the end, however, he points at the former.

"Right now, agents are screwing it up," Saban said. "They are taking the eligibility of players. It's not right that those players do the wrong thing. We have a great education process here. We have a full-time worker who meets with players and their families and does everything else."
Well said, sir, well said. Personally, I think all agents with the boldness to step on a college campus or approach an athlete deserve the treatment Jabaal Sheard gave a fellow art fan at a gallery on Saturday night: a swift toss through a window, followed by a merciless beating (and even more impressively, Sheard kept beating the man while the police were beating him). And, again, as a law enforcement expert due to an enormous amount of hours spent watching Cops, I say you are fully within your rights to perform such a throwing if you run across one of these things.  How dare they take advantage of amateur athletes for their personal gain ruin my personal benefit and sense of worth I get from supporting this team.
Highly entertaining moment most likely to happen:  The flash of anger in Nick Saban's eyes and a question for Don't'a Hightower in which he explains the bushel of apostrophes adorning his name.

Those with speaking parts:  Dan Mullen, DB Charles Mitchell, QB Chris Relf, OL Quentin Saulsberry
Topics to be covered:  Twitter's FakeDanMullen, Dan Mullen's constant use of "The School Up North," Chris Relf's progress in throwing a competent forward pass and a question for Saulsberry in which he is asked if The Blind Side gives him pride in his school.
Highly entertaining moment most likely to happen:  Saulsberry explaining to the reporter that there is a difference between Ole Miss and Mississippi State, resulting in half the room furiously scribbling that reminder in a notebook.

3:20 - 6:00 PM
Those with speaking parts:  Urban Meyer, S Ahmad Black, OL Mike Pouncey, DE Justin Trattou
Topics to be covered:  Perhaps a couple hundred questions about Meyer's esophagus and other body parts, no?  Oh, and the whole Pouncey brother (the one no longer at Florida) involved in a potential violation with an agent before last season's Sugar Bowl.  I expect Meyer will offer the same sentiments on agents as Saban will (i.e., rage and death stares), but he will unveil a plan to stop them that involves the fastest responders in America.  WHAT A GENIUS.
Highly entertaining moment most likely to happen:  I like Meyer's chances of spewing stomach acid at reporters' questions he deems stupid, but I think the safe bet is a comment involving Lane Kiffin's recent bout of fantastic misfortune.

Those with speaking parts:  Joker Phillips, RB/WR/EVERYTHING Randall Cobb, DE DeQuin Evans, RB Derrick Locke
Topics to be covered:  After the room is silent for several minutes and it is confirmed that Phillips is the head coach and Rich Brooks is hunting bald eagles on some river in Oregon, the first question will probably involve a spelling of Phillips' name.  Or maybe just more blank stares, thinking this is an elaborate prank being played by Brooks.  Unfortunately for regular readers of The Belly of the Beast, I doubt Phillips will discuss Mike Hartline's chances of winning the 2010 Awww-Shit Trophy.
Highly entertaining moment most likely to happen:  A question that simply asks "So, coach, when are you going to have one of your players get in a fight or have contact with an agent?  You realize your program is falling behind."

8:30 - 11:10 AM

Those with speaking parts:  Bobby Petrino, DE Jake Bequette, QB Ryan Mallett, TE D.J. Williams
Topics to be covered:  Who is Jake Bequette, Ryan Mallett's foot cart, Ryan Mallett's arm strength, the story about that time Ryan Mallett threw the ball from Fayetteville to Fort Smith, how tall is Ryan Mallett and WILL YOU HAVE A DEFENSE THAT PLAYS AT SOMETHING ABOVE A SUN BELT LEVEL?
Highly entertaining moment most likely to happen:  Bobby Petrino lasting all of four minutes before turning into the ass we know he is.

Those with speaking parts:  Mark Richt, P Drew Butler, FB Shaun Chapas, WR A.J. Green
Topics to be covered:  I want to know if this is the first time a coach has ever brought a punter to address the media.  Instead, we'll get more boring questions about quarterback drinking, just who is going to play quarterback and will Richt sign a commentating deal before or after Les Miles at the end of the 2010 season?  And of course, Georgia's contribution to the SEC's offseason of fighting and violating rules.
Highly entertaining moment most likely to happen:  The punter explaining the intricacies of punting to 900 media members.

10:50 AM - 1:30 PM
Those with speaking parts:  Steve Spurrier, FB Patrick DiMarco, DE Cliff Matthews, LB Shaq Wilson
Topics to be covered:  Stephen Garcia.
Highly entertaining moment most likely to happen:  The surge toward the doors as the South Carolina session ends.  A media horde never misses a free meal. 

Those with speaking parts:  Someone named Robbie Caldwell, LB Chris Marve, RB Warren Norman, LB John Stokes
Topics to be covered:  None, as I'm assuming no one comes back after lunch.
Highly entertaining moment most likely to happen:  I hear the tacos are going to be delicious.

8:30 AM - 11:10 AM

Those with speaking parts:  Gene Chizik, LB Josh Bynes, DB Aairon Savage, OL Lee Ziemba
Topics to be covered:  The amount of torn ACLs Ziemba and the rest of the offensive line plan on dishing out to opposing defensive lines, how much it will suck when Cam Newton turns out to suck and will defensive coordinator Ted Roof be fired in October or November?
Highly entertaining moment most likely to happen:  Chizik call Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads and cackles.

Those with speaking parts:  Derek Dooley, OL Nick Reveiz, TE Luke Stocker, DE Chris Walker
Topics to be covered:  So, Coach Dooley, do you chain the players to their beds at night now or do you just have graduate assistants handle that?
Highly entertaining moment most likely to happen:  A fight, assault or robbery breaks out.

10:50 AM - 1:30 PM
Those with speaking parts:  Les Miles, QB Jordan Jefferson, DB Patrick Peterson, LB Kelvin Sheppard
Topics to be covered:  Why Les Miles was late, will he prefer taking a year off or doing TV in 2011 and seriously, there's talk of bringing back Jarrett Lee?
Highly entertaining moment most likely to happen:  Miles' eight-month retrospective breakdown of the LSU/Ole Miss clock-mangling.

Those with speaking parts:  Houston Nutt, DE Kentrell Lockett, DT Jerrell Powe, OL Bradley Sowell
Highly entertaining moment most likely to happen:  Houston Nutt moving from talk of his offense to his amazement of cirrus clouds in eight syllables.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Since We Last Met

If only I had a massive, highly distracting ESPN Ohio State/Michigan countdown clock to mark the time until the start of SEC Media Days on Wednesday. Personally, I can barely sit still knowing that the same group of coaches (well, minus Bobby Johnson) will talk about the exact same things they talked about two months ago at the coaches' meetings in Destin. It's very important and productive to have two separate meetings in two separate places within two months of one another to control any confusion that might arise. Although, Tennessee coach Derek Dooley will have new things to say, including a statement that the Vols do plan on having more players on the sideline than in Tennessee correctional facilities, and, while comparable cities, he does prefer Knoxville over Ruston.

Ole Miss running back Rodney Scott shows his affinity for daytime wrastlin'
Scott, a backup running back, was arrested on Friday for fighting outside of the Turner Center on the Ole Miss campus. At 10 o'clock in the morning. In his defense, the guy, Elmer L. Johnson (certainly a made-up name from Houston Nutt), with which he was engaging in technically poor Greco-Roman wrestling allegedly keyed his car, sparking Scott's outrage. If true, Scott should have known better than to go after Elmer by himself. A real SEC football player gathers teammates to assist in all matters of retribution. Tisk, tisk, Rodney Scott.  But at the same time, a pat on the back for you, reigning SEC Sportsmanship Award winner.  You demonstrated that no one in the SEC takes crap from anyone.

And if you're not familiar with the Ole Miss campus, the Turner Center is located on a fairly busy street, at least in the fall and spring semesters. While certainly less foot and car traffic were rolling by during this fight, a stronger venue could not have been selected. Unless it was the Circle and the combatants were fighting with box cutters...


Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett says his left foot will be fully healed when fall practice starts
While good news for Arkansas fans, who have dreams of a 10-win season, this is a terrible disappointment to the rest of us who enjoyed watching a 6'7" man wheel around on a cart normally used by a Mario Kart character.

Steve Spurrier may be feeling alive again
Saddled with the frustration and angst of dealing with one Stephen Garcia and a barrage of 7-5 seasons, Spurrier has sort of slipped into a shell of his former self. Gone are the days of "Free Shoes University" and "Can't Spell Citrus without UT." Either his workout regimen is starting to lift his spirits or Garcia is doing everything asked of him (Note: It's the workout), but Spurrier dusted off a page from his late '90s playbook and let this comment slip out when asked about one of his players being interviewed by the NCAA as it investigates North Carolina for possible player/agent violations:
“We’re not going to look the other way like possibly Southern California did. We’re going to abide by the rules.”
A little disappointing he let the word "possibly" find its way into his vocabulary, as absolutes are what made Spurrier's speeches so great. So perhaps the Ballcoach will be in top form when he makes his way to the armpit that is Hoover for SEC Media Days, which STARTS IN LESS THAN 48 HOURS.

Underage Notre Dame athletes prefer regular drink instead of the Purple Drank
Of the 44 people arrested at a fight/party/hoedown on Friday night, eleven were members of Fighting Irish athletic teams, most notably Joe Montana's son and some guy who plays basketball that only Digger Phelps would know. 44 people arrested? Eastern European riot police don't arrest that many people during protest crackdowns. Maybe because they're too busy smashing skulls with blunt instruments, but they still ring up arrests in high numbers. What I know about enforcing the law comes from watching roughly 65,000 episodes of Cops, making me an expert on the subject, and in this expert's opinion, the St. Joseph County Police Department needed to show a little more discretion. You only arrest the people that are bleeding, have torn clothes or have on no shirt at all. These are always the guilty parties.

Matt Leinart's records can be taken, but they'll never take his memories
And they can certainly never take away the 31,000 cell phone numbers he acquired from various females throughout the Southern California area during his time at USC.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bobby Johnson Has Yelled His Final Dagnabbit

The man receiving collective praise from all things Southeastern Conference this morning is not just walking away from Vanderbilt, but coaching.  Citing the always popular "personal reasons," which, when translated in this instance, means "another year would cause my heart to form a perfect stone and my innards to liquefy," Johnson chose to leave Vanderbilt at a very interesting time.  With fall practice starting in about a month, replacing him with an outside hire would be nearly impossible.  The only option available for those in charge at Vanderbilt was to give one of his assistants the interim head coach title.  It was a calculated move by Johnson who essentially assured that his staff, to which he is extremely loyal, would be given one season to prove themselves worthy of remaining in Nashville.  If he makes this decision in December or January, they're all gone.

Was it sort of a middle finger slight head nod with narrowed eyes at the Vanderbilt administration as he walked out the door?  Maybe, but from everything I've read about Johnson, this was all about keeping his friends employed.  If the side effect was putting the administration in a bind, then so be it.  As a small aside in the middle of the paragraph that will actually end up changing the direction of the paragraph, my team went through the interim coach business before and, in short, NOTHING COULD HAVE BEEN WORSE.  After Billy Brewer was finally shown the door at Ole Miss upon collecting his second major recruiting violation, the powers that be decided that Joe Lee Dunn was the man best fit to run the football program on an interim basis.  Yes, the Joe Lee Dunn before he became famous for no headset, no socks and no down linemen in some defensive formations.  As you might have surmised, it did not go well.  Not only was the team horrible, it obliterated recruiting efforts until Tommy Tuberville arrived after Dunn's 4-7 season.  And if you suck in recruiting for just one year, it absolutely kills you within the next two to three years.  Not that Vandy would have been smashing into big prospect's homes like Ed Orgeron, but now any chance to win battles against schools like Duke, Virginia, Stanford and some upper level CUSA and MAC teams takes a severe blow.

So what was Bobby Johnson's legacy at Vanderbilt?  So far, every coach and media type has hailed him as a great coach and even better guy.  But how does his record stand against his predecessors in the modern SEC era?  I'm so glad I asked that question, here's what the numbers say:

Bobby Johnson
Eight Seasons
Overall:  29-66 (.305)
SEC:  12-52 (.188), including two Ed Orgeron 0-8 seasons

Woody Widenhofer
Five Seasons
Overall:  15-40 (.273)
SEC:  4-36 (.100), including two Ed Orgeron 0-8 seasons

The Immortal Ron Dowhower
Two Seasons
Overall:  4-18 (.182)
SEC:  1-15 (.063), including one Ed Orgeron 0-8 season

Gerry DiNardo
Four Seasons
Overall:  19-25 (.432)
SEC:  9-22 (.290)

Hmmmm.  Not exactly rewriting the Vanderbilt coaching history book there.  Minus Ron Dowhower, who was Ed Orgeron before Ed Orgeron, he didn't do much to separate himself from Widenhofer era or even match the DiNardo era.  BUT HE GOT VANDERBILT PLAYING COMPETITIVE FOOTBALL.  Oh really.  Take a look at this:

66 loses
26 by seven points or less
39.4% of losses

40 losses
10 by seven points or less
25% of losses

18 losses
4 by seven points or less
22% of losses

25 losses
8 by seven points or less
32% of losses

So yes, he did get the Commodores to play a more competitive brand of football, but not all that much more than years past.  Essentially, Johnson averaged one more competitive game a year than those who lost in great numbers before him.  While that's an accomplishment, I don't think we can claim that Johnson was this fantastic coach trapped in an impossible situation.  He was a solid coach trapped in an impossible situation.  Was he better than Widenhofer?  Yes.  Dowhower?  A resounding yes.  A koala bear with an electronic Spell n' Check game could have run that program just as well.  But better than DiNardo?  At best, I'd put him on DiNardo's level.  The case for Johnson is that DiNardo didn't compete in the SEC as we know it today, where everyone has million dollar facilities and openly sacrifices virgins for winning (As opposed to DiNardo's time when winning was done with purely state-funded stadiums and the sacrificing of cattle).  But, as Johnson's record at Vandy indicates, he didn't really establish a new era of Vanderbilt football.  If anything, he brought back (although not all the way) the DiNardo era to Nashville, which certainly isn't a bad thing for that school.  But, bad teams will always find ways to lose close games, and it's a trend at Vanderbilt he continued.  So forgive me if I'm not remembering Bobby Johnson as one of the SEC's better coaches.  Good guy?  Sure.  A Gerry DiNardo?  Yes.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Get to Know Your SEC Football Players

It's Wednesday, which means it's time to get to know a little bit more (or just anything at all) about one of the Southeastern Conference's football players. Now when this player succeeds, massively fails or is shown milling around in the background of a TV shot, you'll know that his greatest off-the-field accomplishment involves the sale and transportation of hobos. Or something like that.

The team of the player selected is chosen through a super-secret process which I cannot reveal, however, the number of the player is randomly chosen by visiting and using whatever number is spat out from its random-creating machine.

Today's number: 30
Today's team: Ole Miss

#30 Jared Mitchell, WR, Ole Miss

Some background information: A product of the bastion of academia football factory known as Hargrave Military Academy, Jared arrived at Ole Miss as a defensive back and saw action in 2009 in three games.  This past spring however, coaches examined the depth chart and exclaimed, "Oh, shit!  We need more wide receivers."  So Jared was deemed competent enough to move from DB to the other side of the ball.  Either that or he was a terrible defensive back.  Until this writing, I had no idea Jared existed, so I'm not exactly an authority on his talents (or perhaps lack thereof).  Also, his dad's name is Stump, which is awesome to quite awesome.

Greatest on-field accomplishment:  To date, his solo tackle against Northern Arizona.  Unlike many Ole Miss fans, I was at that game (free ticket in the Rebel Club, not because I HAVE to attend every home game) and do not recall his appearance.  Perhaps because I wasn't paying attention and left in the middle of the third quarter (Had to get to a Son Volt show on the Square).  My apologies, Jared.

Greatest off-the-field accomplishment:  I don't know the qualifications, but Jared did make the UMAA Honor Roll for the Fall of 2009.

Way(s) in which he has embarrassed himself, his family, team and school:  None.  However, a former occupant of this space, Denarius Moore, got the attention of the Knoxville Police Department when he participated in the brawl at Bar Knoxville last week.  According to that report, he helped beat the holy dog shit out of one person (and potentially an off-duty police officer).  The words of Gary Russell, the man who claims he was beaten by Moore and teammate Montori Hughes:
"One of them was holding my head up, and they were punching me in my face while I was on the ground and stomping on my chest.  Finally, my friends were able to help get them off me, and the bouncers started dragging them outside."
And how about eyewitness Paige Whaley's account:
"I got pushed when it all happened and turned around and there were seven guys on top of [Russell] before you knew it.  They were beating the living crap out of him. I saw one come up and kick him in the head. It was ridiculous."
Asked if there was any way that Russell might have initiated the whole thing, Whaley said, "I'm sure that's what UT is saying, but there's no way. That guy [Hughes] was huge. Why would [Russell] go after him? It was scary to see that many big guys on top of one."
 But what about the cop, Robert Capouellez?  Let's go back to the story:
"Allen Morton, the owner of Bar Knoxville, said he wasn't outside in time to see Capouellez get hit. But he said he did see one of the football players kick at him after he was already lying on the ground unconscious.
"I couldn't tell which player it was, and there were a lot of people standing around," Morton said. "But I saw the kicking motion. It was like he was kicking a football. I didn't realize it was [Capouellez] he was kicking until I got down there closer.

Morton said after Capouellez was kicked that several players started to run, but others came back toward the bar with their shirts off and wanting to fight some more. He said there were at least 17 football players in attendance that night and that while they received VIP status and were able to get in without cover, several other regular students were also on the VIP list."
So, good luck with all that, Tennessee.

(Timeout for cackling and taking to the streets for celebration over this happening somewhere other than Ole Miss.)

/bracing for the sports gods' retaliation

Strengths:  Speed, size and coaches' belief that he's talented enough to change positions.  Although, I suppose that could fall into the weaknesses category if it is deemed that he's just not that good.

Weaknesses:  Experience and more experience.

What to look for in 2010:  Given Ole Miss' depth and talent at wide receiver, there's an outside chance he could see the field against lesser teams on the schedule.  Or hell, even against the good ones.  Even before Pat Patterson's dismissal, I, and just about everyone who follows Ole Miss, had little to no faith in the Ole Miss receiving corps, so I could be convinced a walk-on from Delta Academy has a shot to crack the rotation.  Most likely, Jared will be in the background of most shots of the Ole Miss sideline, perhaps even getting a little face time on special teams.  But if Jared is looking for playing time, he's found the right position.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Since We Last Met

The SEC is always about competition
Tennessee players get arrested. Georgia players get arrested. Ole Miss commits a recruiting violation on Facebook. Florida commits a recruiting violation on Facebook. Stealing headlines from one another is what we do. Although, as of today, no other athletic director has been bold enough to go drinking with a woman to which he is not married, drive around, put a pair of panties between his legs, then tell police that he is very important. Or at least no one's been caught doing that. Give it some time, someone will see Damon Evans' performance and raise it a disorderly conduct charge. No one stays the king forever.

Jesse Jackson still throwing around reckless accusations, but more baseless than usual
Jackson, a notorious stirrer of shit, felt it necessary to weigh in on the comments made by Cleveland Cavs' owner Dan Gilbert that were directed at LeBron James after the King chose to "take his talents to South Beach." The good reverend said:

"He speaks as an owner of LeBron and not the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers. His feelings of betrayal personify a slave master mentality. He sees LeBron as a runaway slave. This is an owner employee relationship -- between business partners -- and LeBron honored his contract."

By opening his mouth, Jackson revealed he knows nothing (and more nothing than usual) of the situation (speaking of The Situation, doesn't the Jersey Shore start soon? Put that down as appointment television). Dan Gilbert isn't mainly pissed off because James left. Dan Gilbert is pissed off because he, and an entire city, got stabbed in the eyeballs with a pitchfork on national television. There were no "thank-yous" to the fans and organization, nor was there a phone call to Cleveland personnel pre- or post-The Decision. All he, and Cleveland, got were a pair of 10-inch long middle fingers broadcast into their homes and in their faces. You can argue that, yes, LeBron owed Cleveland nothing (and he didn't in terms of why he was leaving), but damn, anyone with a conscience and a soul at least offers a thank you and a phone call. Or someone not surrounded by morons.

World Cup comes to a close; July plummets into boredom
Spain survived Holland's barrage of jiujitsu kicks, hacks and board-breaking (this may not have happened) to win the 2010 FIFA World Cup. It was a game that saw a few moments of excitement and dominated by a whistle being blown every two minutes. I don't know if part of Holland's strategy was to also blow two wide-open opportunities, but, if so, they executed wonderfully. So now we wait until 2014 to have another summer not plagued with just baseball. Oh, and last summer when the United States and Spain played , we won 2-0. YOU BETTER STAY ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE BRACKET, YOU BUNCH OF DANDIES.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Friday Links of Minor to Average Importance

At least Cleveland's leading newspaper is taking it well
It's all over now. LeBron, after holding the sports world hostage and giving us a completely unnecessary dose of Stuart Scott, announced that he's moving on to Miami and leaving Antawn Jamison in charge (That should sell some season tickets!). In this whole absurd and dirty process, he managed to:

-Not thank Cleveland's fans
-Stab those fans and organization in the face on a live TV event
-Mention himself in the third person
-Cause an entire country to hate him
-Come off as a Grade A narcissistic asshole (well done, team Lebron, well done)
-Remind everyone how much Jim Gray sucks
-Remind everyone what a giant whore ESPN is

Not mentioned in that list includes fans burning his jersey (and I think it's safe to say more things will eventually get burned), police forming a barrier around the "Witness" poster:

And, most amazingly, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert firing off an angry letter aimed at LeBron, but in the form of reassurance for Cleveland fans. The best part of the letter, other than "Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there," was that it was originally posted in a font called Comic Sans, which is perfect if your child needs make signs for a lemonade stand, a Vacation Bible School poster or the simulate writing on a computer in crayon. It does not say "I'm angry," but it does say "I once was in the fourth grade."  Since last night, the Cavs' people with computer skills have replaced the font with Times New Roman, which I believe is the default font for every computer in the world, meaning Gilbert consciously made the choice to use Comic Sans or it is his default font, which is even more outstanding.

I don't think the good people of Cleveland are finished just yet.  In the words of every ESPN commentator/reporter, my sources tell me there will be more public displays of anger, perhaps even rioting, but my gut says we've seen the end.  Now, sit back while I rattle off every other scenario in a complete cover my ass move...

So it's not just Lane Kiffin
Tennessee football players will break the law no matter the captain of the ship.  It was your basic Thursday night trip to the bar that brought about bar stool swinging and throwing, an unconscious, off-duty police officer lying in the street and multiple players "beating the tar out of this one" gentleman.  In other words, the Double Deuce came to Knoxville for one night.  Although, no reports on a particular bouncer/cooler cleaning house have surfaced.  Or if the Jeff Healey Band was in the house.

To further aid Derek Dooley's raging anger, the owner of the bar mentioned that the Tennessee players are "on a first-name basis with my husband (and co-owner), and they get VIP status, which means they pay no cover at the door."  I'm no expert on NCAA violations (although as an Ole Miss fan dating back to the Brewer era, I should be), but I'm pretty sure there's something in their giant book of rules about receiving free things.  And as I understand it, the NCAA does not like that.  Nor do they like fun, sunshine and puppies, but that's for another time.  So, Derek Dooley, let this be your official welcome to the SEC, land of cheaters, brawlers and up-to-no-gooders.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Belly of the Beast Exclusive: Ass-Kissing of LeBron to Reach All-Time High Tonight

Sources very close to other sources have confirmed that tonight's airing of The Decision, the 1-hour "where will LeBron James sign" show, on ESPN will absolutely shatter all previous records of bending over backwards and puckering up for a network, reporters and personalities. ESPN has announced that Stuart Scott, Mike Wilbon and Jon Barry will host the show and provide analysis with lots of "you did what was best for you" supporting lines. All three men have spent most of the day diligently preparing and we've got some inside information on their preparation.

Reports indicate that host Stuart Scott has been locked away in a spa for the past 10 hours, relaxing and doing something with his eyes before the show, as well as practicing a new handshake/hug/fist bump routine that could only be described by the source's source as "the Magnum of handshake/hug routines."

Reporter/TV-person-more-than-reporter-writer Mike Wilbon was seen in New York earlier today shopping for a new suit, complete with dress shirt that has no visible top button. He too will later visit a day spa to ensure his head is extra shiny, as he was told LeBron loves shiny things. We're also told that Wilbon hasn't been this excited since he realized he no longer has to write anything for The Washington Post.

Jon Barry has reportedly visited every lottery ticket-selling gas station in a five-state area since finding out he would be involved in this show. He also has plans for an extra shiny head and has some questions that only a former player could ask a current player. The source's source could only confirm one question, which will be "You made a tough choice tonight." Although not an actual question, we're told Barry feels like it will get LeBron talking.

Most upset by the show's airing (other than 95% of America; nice job LeBron PR people), is former reporter/personality Ahmad Rashad. His ass-kissing of Michael Jordan was thought to be the single most unbreakable record in sports. Even college football commentators in love with Urban Meyer still marvel at his performance. And John Madden, when trying to do the same for Brett Favre, eventually retired, citing the record as "impossible to touch, and I tried for 16 years." When asked for his thoughts on the impending loss of his record, Rashad could not be reached for comment, but his publicist said that he would be spending time with his family tonight.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Get to Know Your SEC Football Players

It's Wednesday, which means it's time to get to know a little bit more (or just anything at all) about one of the Southeastern Conference's football players. Now when this player succeeds, massively fails or is shown milling around in the background of a TV shot, you'll know that his greatest off-the-field accomplishment involves the sale and transportation of hobos. Or something like that.

The team of the player selected is chosen through a super-secret process which I cannot reveal, however, the number of the player is randomly chosen by visiting and using whatever number is spat out from its random-creating machine.

Today's number: 58
Today's team: Florida

#58 Nick Alajajian, OT, Florida

And seen here in practice doing a stretch that looks like I could do without severely injuring myself:

Some background information: Like seemingly everyone deemed worthy enough to play for Urban Meyer by Urban Meyer, Alajajian was a highly-coveted high school recruit. While in high school, he did some impressive things like win a state championship, get on some all-star teams and have Meyer make eye contact with him and speak his first name. And in his true freshman season, he avoided the redshirt and played in seven games, while dressing out for all of them. Also, there's a chance Tim Tebow might know his name, which could be his most impressive feat so far. But most importantly for this Wednesday feature, he is the leader in the clubhouse for last name that is the hardest to pronounce. My tongue sort of collapses on itself when I try to make it through the minefield of j's and a's.

Greatest on-field accomplishment: He did not allow Tim Tebow to be injured during his time on the field. Granted, Tebow may not have been playing by the time Nick got in the game, but in that case he dutifully protected John Brantley. Although, after the infamous knock-out hit on Tebow,

I'm sure his coaches wanted to put him in to replace the offensive lineman that had just failed them, even though I still think it was Tebow's fault for not sliding right and recognizing that the end would be coming free.

Greatest off-the-field accomplishment: Has not joined the "Get to Know Your Gainesville Police Department," Florida Gators Football Team Chapter.

Way(s) in which he has embarrassed himself, his family, team and school: While Nick has kept himself on the right side of the law, I'll need to see the whole tat on his arm in the picture above to make a judgment call on it being placed in this section.

Strengths: Power, very physical, developed enough that he could see the field as a true freshman. Also, not physically and psychologically wilting in the face of an Urban Meyer death stare.

Weaknesses: Does not contribute speed to the fastest team in America, an idea so novel it took a genius like Meyer to bring it to our attention.

What to look for in 2010: More of the same for Alajajian. A smattering of conference game appearances (baring injury and further attacks on the law by Florida starting offensive tackles) and a healthy dose of playing time against the Charleston Southerns of Florida's schedule. So that means you'll see him hovering in the background of shots of offensive lineman being lectured to/screamed at/cursed at by their position coach, more or less acting as an umbrella for those who play. But, if you find yourself cursing at ESPN for not switching off a Florida blowout win as you impatiently wait for your game to start, you could very well see Nick paving the way for another Florida touchdown against Charleston Southern.

Coming Soon to Ed Orgeron's Cellphone: Patrick Patterson's Phone Number

I know I owe you, and America really, the usual Wednesday get to know a football player segment, but today is going to be a very rare double post day around here. A day like this is sort of like seeing a bald eagle, Kodiak bear and a salmon sitting around in the wild discussing whether or not the Holy Roman Empire was neither Holy, nor Roman or an Empire. So I advise taking a picture so people will actually believe you.

I felt it important to acknowledge the dismissal of highly touted wide receiver Patrick Patterson from the Ole Miss football team, mainly to give me a therapeutic release of sorts. While I suppose I shouldn't stray too far into the wailing and gnashing of teeth category, after all, Patterson wasn't anything special his freshman year (12 catches, 180 yards and one touchdown), but without him, the Ole Miss receiving corps with game experience now looks like this:

Markieth Summers
Lionel Breaux
Jesse Gandy
Melvin Harris

Guh. That's a razor-thin group with not much talent and experience. Combined, those four IN THEIR CAREERS (two seniors and two sophomores) have caught 52 passes and five touchdowns. So actually, the loss of Patterson includes the loss of 19% of caught footballs in games and 17% of caught touchdown passes in games. And given that Ole Miss' tight ends have discovered the scientific properties for becoming invisible to quarterbacks, it matters a little more than I originally thought it would.

(Brief pause to yell at no one in particular.)

However, there is good news if you're an Ole Miss fan. It is doubtful that Ole Miss will have a quarterback this fall that would be able to successfully throw to wide receivers anyway, so all we really need out of this group is some guys who can block well in the running game. Which Patterson could do when he tried...

(Second brief pause to shake fist and yell at the sky.)

So what does this mean for Patterson? If my mathematical skills are correct, he should have four years left with which to play three years of college football, meaning he probably would not have to transfer to a I-AA (What's the real name for it?  FBS? FCS? YMCA?) school since a redshirt year could cover his sitting out for a year due to transferring. The only issue would be do teams at the I-A level want to take a chance on an allegedly talented guy who clearly has an attitude/work ethic problem (and perhaps a fondness for certain substances frowned upon by coaches). If college football has taught us anything, the answer to that question is YES THEY DO.

Even Houston Nutt once gave a scholarship to former Florida player who used the credit card of a women killed six months earlier in a car crash. A dismissal for the standard "violation of team rules" isn't going to scare anyone away. Patterson could have been sitting on JaMarcus Russell's front porch on Monday, enjoying the payoffs of the Purple Drank, and his phone would still ring. This is college football.  Unless a player is a felon...wait...unless a player is too old to play after getting out of jail, he'll get a second chance.  And as fans, we rightfully mock other teams when something like this happens, then say something about "this is a good environment for him" when said talented player transfers to our team.  It is a cycle that will never change.

So, goodbye, Patrick Patterson. We barely knew ye. And if you ever catch a touchdown pass against Ole Miss, so help me, you will find the police beating on your door to ask you about the Purple Drank you didn't know you had.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Since We Last Met

Georgia AD Damon Evans no longer directing athletics at Georgia
Once the police report of his DUI arrest made its way into the papers and the Internet, it was only a matter of time before Evans resigned, and he did just that on Sunday. A few of the better details to surface in the report included the always popular "Do you know who I am/I'm someone very important" line, his lady friend's (who is not his wife) arrest for disorderly conduct/not doing what the cop told her to do and most amazingly, when Evans was pulled over, he had a pair of red panties between his legs. When asked why he would have such an item of clothing there, he replied (and with a straight face, mind you), "She took them off and I held them because I was just trying to get her home."

Well, I'm satisfied. I think that clears everything right up. A few ideas for future consideration by Evans: One, stay clear of bars and restaurants with women who are not the wife. Two, get better at thinking on feet when pressed with a tough question. And three, if going to be out with a lady friend, have her do the driving while you do the drankin'.

Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe wags his finger at Tommy Tuberville
Tuberville recently spoke about the impending collapse of the Big 12, why the conference sucks and how much better life was in the SEC (minus the eight brutal conference games). While everything Tuberville said was 1,000% correct, Dan Beebe was hurt and offended, but mostly hurt. I can't verify this, but I believe he called his buddy Jim Delany of the Big Ten (Twelve) and asked him what the best course of action was. Delany told him that if Beebe sold him Texas, he'd help him out. After consideration, Beebe decided to steal a copy of Mike Slive's reprimand to SEC coaches last spring. It was his first move as commissioner that didn't earn him a double F-minus on the performance scale.

JaMarcus Russell enjoys his Fourth of July with some family time, fireworks and the Purple Drank
Also, bail bondsmen. Russell was arrested at his home in Mobile after police found him to be in possession of a controlled substance, codeine syrup, which is more commonly known to the people as the Purple Drank (If you're familiar with the work of Three 6 Mafia, they mention a good time had by all while drinking the Drank in their song "Sippin' on Some Syrup"). Side effects include laziness, weight gain, incompletions, interceptions, bad decisions, zest for failure and loss of large chunks of straight cash.

Sunday was the first anniversary of Steve McNair's death
One year later and it's still an incredibly sad story, especially when reading about the family members as they continue to deal with the tremendous amount of pain that doesn't seem to be getting any smaller. The Belly of the Beast offers a tribute to Air II that was created by someone with Internet skills, as they took the time to document some of McNair's time on the Reservation at Alcorn State in highlight form.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Okay, Seriously, I'm Gonna Find the Gear That Gets This Thing in Regular Posting Mode

My most sincere apologies for the lack of posting in this space. I offer no excuses, but I'm open to suggestions that are better than the one I was going to write, which involved mostly lies and delusional fantasies. Anyhow, to quench your thirst for recycled news stories, let's pound out a recap of the past couple of days.

A brief and marginally educated preview of the World Cup quarterfinals
Netherlands vs. Brazil
The first of two quarterfinal games that in just about any other World Cup could have been a final (the other being Germany vs. Argentina). In past years, these teams would have played with a defense-be-damned style and treated us to a Texas Tech/Houston-like matchup. Instead, both teams have decided to dial things down and, you know, play defense that isn't hemorrhaging open space and shots. BORING. If I have no interest in who wins, I want to see maximum entertainment for 90 minutes, as does America. And even though soccer is enjoyed and revered by 5.7 billion people for the way it is now, it's the 300 million in America that are clearly more important than anyone else. U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

/hangs head in shame when remembering the Ghana debacle

Uruguay vs. Ghana
If the U.S. team had taken care of business, everyone in America would have essentially had Friday afternoon off. It's the Fourth of July weekend, and even though most people have Monday off, no one would be interested in doing work on Friday afternoon.  The media buildup would have been tremendous, fan interest would have been at an all-time high and every office across the county would have shut down to watch the game. Then if we had actually won, it's three straight days of soccer celebration mixed in with a birthday party for the country. It would have been the greatest Fourth of July weekend ever. Damn you, Ghana for having soccer talent. I hope Uruguay wins 116-0.

Argentina vs. Germany
Our second quarterfinal that could be a final. This one is tough for me. On one hand, I hate Germany. On the other, they are extremely entertaining to watch, so in that sense it would be a shame to not be able to watch them anymore. But then there's the whole two World Wars thing. And the Holocaust. And of course this:

A German defender using his hand to keep the tying goal from going in during our game against them in the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals. So you know what? Screw those guys. Plus, how could I ever cheer against Diego Maradona being in my life? That short little man has brought me great joy over the past few weeks. SO DON'T SCREW THIS UP NOW, DIEGO.

Paraguay vs. Spain
A game that rivals Uruguay/Ghana for least compelling matchup of importance I can remember without consulting Google. Other than watching David Villa in this game, I can offer you no reason to sit through this one. Although it is on early Saturday afternoon when nothing else is on, and no American play-by-play announcers are involved, which is always a positive.

Georgia's athletic director got really, really, really dranked Wednesday night
At least they didn't take a mugshot of him lying on the floor:

So while he couldn't keep his eyes open, he was able to stand (or be propped up) for the four seconds it took to snap one of the most amazing mugshots of someone not named Nick Nolte. Also, his salary was supposed to be raised starting today, and he was in the car with a female that was not his wife (she was also arrested). BUT WHAT ABOUT GEORGIA'S STARTING QUARTERBACK SITUATION?

Let's take a brief timeout to remember how awesome Steve Tanneyhill's mullet was

Tommy Tuberville, like the rest of America, thinks the Big 12 is stupid
The orator of the famous "pine box" speech pointed out what everyone outside the Big 12 said a few weeks ago when it was given a stay of execution. On a radio show, he said:

"I don't think this conference will last long because there is too much disparity between all the teams. In the SEC, for instance, Vanderbilt makes as much money in the television contract as Florida. Everybody is good with it. Everybody is on the same page. Everyone gets the same votes. That doesn't happen here in the Big 12. We have some teams that get a little bit more money and have a little bit more stroke than some of the other teams. And when that happens, you're gonna have teams looking for better avenues to leave and reasons to leave."

Now that Tuberville is 55 years old and realizes that he voluntarily lives in Lubbock, Texas, he has removed what little filter he did have between his brain and mouth. And I couldn't be more excited. The man enjoys hearing himself speak and even before now had not been afraid to be somewhat of an agitator and shit-stirrer, but now that the deck is stacked heavily against him, I fully expect him to find 12 on his shoot-from-the-hip dial.  And I see him becoming best of friends with commissioner Dan Beebe.