Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The NCAA Says, "Watch This!"

After making up the rules as they go along, the NCAA officially denied Jeremiah Masoli's waiver request to play football in 2010.  Citing Self-Righteous Bullshit Rule 2(a) 1.349, the NCAA declared that Masoli's case was "contrary to the intent of the waiver" that normally allows student-athletes to transfer for purposes of graduate studies without sitting out a year in athletics.  When pressed on the meaning of "the intent of the waiver," the governing body of major college athletics cited Imaginary Rule Written in Invisible Ink 3(c) 2.739, which clearly states, "We can do what we want when we want and make the rule fit what we believe should be done, ignoring the way the rule is actually written.  This allows us to rule with total authority and cover our asses for a stupid rule we previously wrote."

Former Syracuse quarterback and former Duke point guard Greg Paulus, a successful user of this waiver, declined full comment, but did mention that he wished he "could have seen Syracuse in the spring. I've heard it's beautiful when the snow melts."

Former 2010 Ole Miss guard and current 2010 Seton Hall guard Eniel Polynice, another successful user of the waiver, could not be reached for comment. Probably because he was at basketball practice, preparing for the 2010 season.

Two Days

This is how they do The Final Countdown in Japan:

Not much different than the rest of the world.  Still AWESOME.

Today's theme is that of pairs or, as they call it in the TV business, partners.  So let's take a look at the announcer pairings that you will most certainly find yourself cursing at when they mispronounce the names of player on your team, say something like "Urban Meyer said he wants to have the fastest team in America" or attempt to oversell the old "when was the last time you picked up the check for dinner, partner!" joke.  I'LL GIVE YOU THE $22.78 IT TAKES TO EAT YOUR DAMN ENDLESS BOWLS OF PASTA AT OLIVE GARDEN IF YOU STOP USING THIS JOKE.  In no particular order, except that I should note Mike Patrick and Craig James are spectacularly worse than anyone else.

Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson, CBS 2:30 game
Uncle Verne boasted the best pipes in the business until the return of Ron Franklin this year from whatever exile island to which ESPN sent him for essentially telling Holly Rowe what the rest of us know:  she's an idiot.  But our dear uncle has started to slip in the past few years, mispronouncing more names than usual and often in a state of confusion.  We'd all like to give him one more victory lap, but at the same time maybe Verne has earned the right to stay as long as he wishes.  Or until he finally confuses the Georgia/Florida game with the 16th green at Augusta.  Gary Danielson, however, is still as sharp, smug and slightly assholish as ever.

Craig Bolerjack, Steve Beuerlein, CBS 11:00 AM-Ruin-your-day-game
Every play is exciting, every player is a PLAYER.  Get ready for a third and five that could define the next 25 years of SEC football.  I personally recommend the mute feature on your remote.

Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge, ESPN primetime game
I'm not sure you can accurately measure Todd Blackledge's relief when ESPN informed him he would no longer be paired with Mike Patrick (I believe this was after the 2008 season).  Watch the exact moment Blackledge realized he should have stayed at CBS:

Mike Patrick, you suck.

Mark Jones, Bob Davie, ESPN2 primetime game
Bob Davie wasn't qualified to coach college football and amazingly, he's even more underqualified to speak in a live format about college football games.  If ESPN wanted an organized march on Bristol which resulted in the sacking and looting of its campus, they should pair Davie with Mike Patrick and bring in Kenny Chesney to discuss "Boys of Fall" and his love of the Boston Red Sox that started in 2004.  The lesson as always:  ESPN exists to create new degrees of rage within your body.

Clay Matvick, Herm Edwards, ESPNU primetime game

Rece Davis, Craig James, Jesse Palmer, ESPN Thursday night primetime game
What has America done to ESPN that we have to suffer the plague of Craig James?  His ass is on Thursday nights and on Saturdays with Mike Patrick.  I'm sorry, I thought the idea was to put your most talented people on the air as much as possible.  Apparently, that is not how things work on TV.  Or at ESPN.  Which might explain Stuart Scott.

The one interesting part of this team was the introduction of Jenn Brown to the world of college football.  That is no longer interesting because of this.  Seriously, BURN IN A FIRE, KENNY CHESNEY.

Sean McDonough, Matt Millen, ABC Saturday afternoon game
McDonough is awesome.  Matt Millen is a master of destroying franchises, yet strangely competent while talking about football.  Sean McDonough, don't let him choose the restaurant.  No matter how hard he sells it, Golden Corral is a poor choice.

Mike Patrick, Craig James, ABC Saturday afternoon game
/overcome with rage
/whips computer across room
/needs new computer
/begins letter writing campaign to insist upon the removal of these two
/realizes no one uses the mail anymore
/goes to liquor store

Ron Franklin, Ed Cunningham, ESPN or ABC Saturday afternoon game
"With Notre Dame blowing out Purdue, Holly Rowe praised the defensive coordinator of Purdue for using the team's timeouts towards the end of a blowout loss.  Holly Rowe added to her praise this comment: "If the coaches are giving up, what does that say to the players?"  Mr. Franklin responded with, "Holly, it's not giving up. It's 49-21, sweetheart."
Idiot.   Instead of Rowe going away for being worthless, ESPN chose to bury Franklin by having him call some crappy Big 12 games or even a West Coast game.  It's good to have him back calling some games that might actually mean something.  Holly Rowe, however, will still be on television offering nothing.

Dave Neal, Andre Ware, SEC Network Jefferson Pilot/Lincoln Financial game
To keep us connected with our past, Dave Neal still has a job.  There is no other explanation.  Either that or no one else wants to get up that early.  I kid.  I like Dave Neal.  His voice lets me know the Ole Miss/Vanderbilt game is about to start.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Three Days

My apologies to the numbers five and four, as they will not be a part of this countdown.  And if you're scoring at home, that makes two straight years they did not make the countdown.  Either they need to not fall on a Saturday and Sunday or I need to spend time here on a Saturday and Sunday.  So they need to not fall on a Saturday and Sunday.  Let's get to the melodic, glam metal...

Just three days away now and, like Red from Shawshank, I can barely sit still or hold a though in my head.  So before I become distracted and wander away from the computer, let's get this thing done.  Every year ESPN/ABC decides from the comfort of their offices in Bristol and New York that televised college football games need a song that embodies the experience of the game while striking an emotional connection with fans.  This song is usually played during the introduction to games and any sort of studio show.  This song is also usually a steaming pile of elephant shit.  In recent years, we've been subjected to some crappy Dave Matthews song (because nothing says college football like a musician who's popularity peaked around 2001 and who's songs get exactly zero people excited about the blood lust that's about to take place) and, because ESPN truly hates its viewers, Kenny Chesney (Note:  Jefferson Pilot/Lincoln Financial also rolled out the big guns of Daughtry and Brooks and Dunn.  Additional note:  For this reason alone, JP/LF needs to have its corporate headquarters burned to the ground and the earth on which it stood salted.).

Kenny Chesney.  There are not strong enough or vile enough words to describe how much I hate Kenny Chesney.  This bald, 5'4" stack of suck has been tormenting Americans with brains operating at 45% power for something like 15 years now, cranking out one atrocity after another.  Unfortunately for those of us with the power to think, a large chunk of Americans are stupid and will gladly lap up moronic songs about times in high school, bonfires, beaches and seashell necklaces.  So ESPN/ABC has determined that this segment of America certainly represents those watching college football and thus Kenny Chesney is an excellent choice to speak to all college football fans (and certainly not that his record label might be in bed with Disney).

If you've forgotten, ESPN/ABC has partnered with Chesney and will use his "Boys of Fall" song for all football-related shows in 2010 (Note:  The album title:  Hemingway's Whiskey.  If Hemingway were still alive, I'd like to think he'd pummel that non-sleeve wearing shit into a bloody stack of seashell necklaces.  BURN IN A FIRE, KENNY CHESNEY.).  I haven't heard the song yet, but I can tell you that if it were an ethnic group I would fully support its genocide.  And while we're at it, BURN IN A FIRE, ESPN/ABC. 

But since TV people can't have football games without some sort of intro highlight package with a song, a song must be chosen.  And so, that finally brings us to the purpose of today's countdown number, three songs ESPN/ABC should have considered for their college football anthem in 2010. 

1.  "Wherever I May Roam" by Metallica

Even though Lars Ulrich is a whiny bitch, this song is AWESOME.  Slow build-up?  Check.  Provides adequate preparation for skull smashing that is to come?  Check.  Makes you want to run through a brick wall?  Check.  Fast-paced and has great spots in which a bone crushing hit could be set to the music?  DOUBLE CHECK.  Son of a bitch, I love this song.

2.  "Ms. New Booty" by Bubba Sparxxx

We've got to cover the rap genre and what better way than redneck rap.  Bubba Sparxxx (if that is your real name, sir) is white, which should calm the racist nerves of older white people, but he keeps it close to the street by bringing in the Ying-Yang Twins.  It's up-tempo, has an incredibly get-stuck-in-your-mind chorus (actually, the whole song may be just one big chorus) and it's from the dirty ATL.  This one can't miss. 

/barely survives public stoning for suggesting anything by Bubba Sparxxx
/gunned down for not suggesting Ludacris

3.  "Family Tradition" by Hank Williams, Jr.

Redneck-ish?  You know it.  Appeals to everyone?  Absolutely.  Captures the spirit of college football and the activities to cope with a college football season that have traveled from generation to generation?  Ehhhh....72%.  Close enough.  But it's, as Les Miles might say, a DAMN FINE SONG.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Six Days

To let you have a glimpse into how simple my mind is, today's countdown was inspired by watching highlights of the Patriots' preseason game last night.  While watching...wait, what?  Oh, yeah.  Hold on.

NOW WE'RE READY.  Anyway, I saw a brief shot of former Ole Miss running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who plays for the Patriots.  You may remember BenJarvus as the guy who transferred from a shitty team (Indiana) to a an even shittier team in Ole Miss skippered by the Shrimp Boat Captain.  BenJarvus was among a handful of players with talent trapped in a program that would win three conference games in three years (and a spectacular 0-8 season in 2007).  However, what was truly frustrating was that he had no real nickname (at least among the fans).  Part of that could be contributed to the fact he already had four names and BenJarvus was an AWESOME name.  It wasn't until he got to New England that he received an equally fantastic nickname, The Firm, which was based on his collection of names.  I was outraged no one thought of this while he was at Ole Miss because it deprived us of two years of liberal use of The Firm.

So (let's see if we can't bring this thing back around), when I saw him last night, I wanted to know if other players in the SEC had names that could hold up in other professions or areas of entertainment.  After an exhaustive (not really) search of SEC rosters, here are six guys inspired by The Firm.

(To bring this back to the number six, BenJavus wore number six at Ole Miss.  I'm pretty sure I just used Michael Scott logic.).

The Restaurant
Marc Deas, Georgia
"At Marc Deas, you can experience the finest churrascaria Atlanta has to offer."

The Financial Planner
E.J. Fields, Kentucky
"E.J. Fields is dedicated to securing your financial future.  Call now and one of our representatives will be happy to discuss a financial plan for you."

The Ad Agency
Solomon Patton, Florida
"Smart, Bold, Fearless"

The Weatherman
Ben Benedetto, Ole Miss
"And now, here's Ben Benedetto with Channel 3's first alert weekend forecast."

"If you're gonna be outside this weekend, take it easy because it's gonna be hot.  Highs on Saturday topping out around 97 and more of the same on Sunday.  The good news?  No rain in sight, and maybe a few clouds on Sunday to help get that temperature down a hair."
(begins forced, awkward banter with news anchor while standing 20 feet away in the weather center)

The TV Show
Duke Lemmens, Florida
"Friday night on CBS, at 8 Eastern, 7 Central, it's an all-new Duke Lemmens, followed by an all-new Ghost Whisperer.  CBS, America's most-watched network."

The Band
Eltoro Freeman, Auburn
"CD release party for the new album Splashes of Hate.  Doors open at 7, music starts at 9."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Seven Days

One week from today, Steve Spurrier's frustrations with Stephen Garcia will appear in our living rooms in visual form instead of the verbal variety on our computer screens and in our newspapers (just kidding, no one reads newspapers).  And even though that game will involve no more than 26 total points scored, I will throw women and children out of the way as I race home from the office, setting a new world land speed record in order to make it in time for the first words that come out of Chris Fowler's mouth.  Oh, what a sweet day it will be.  And that would be your cue, Europe...

/wishing I could flawlessly execute stage moves with microphone and stand

For today, since I lead with a Spurrier intro, and we know how much he loves/hates his quarterbacks, we examine the seven quarterbacks in the SEC that I can remember wearing number seven.  As you'll see in the list below, a wider range of skill in quarterbacking I cannot recall.  Also, I kept the list in the 1992-present range because I'm lazy and didn't want to research anything, and, most importantly, I don't remember much that happened before 1992.  So, here they are, the gunslingers of the number seven:

From left to right: Matt Wyatt, Brent Schaeffer, Barry Lunney, Jr., Casey Clausen, Michael Henig, Danny Wuerffel and Matthew Stafford

Interesting how they all stumbled out of the Southeast and into an old town of the Southwest. HOW DARE YOU QUESTION MY CHOICE OF BACKGROUNDS! If this were a crew/gang of gunfighters and they were in a movie, I'm pretty sure only Danny Wuerffel and Matthew Stafford would be alive at the end, assuming Wuerffel didn't kill Stafford to keep all the money for himself. Personally, I don't think Wuerffel would because by all accounts he's a great guy, but what we do know for certain is that the other five are probably done 45 minutes into the movie.

Danny Wuerffel, Florida
Clearly the leader of this outfit. No one can touch 114 TDs, 10,875 yards and just 42 INTs in like 250,000 passing attempts. While not as physically gifted as Stafford, he was blessed with instincts, touch, talent surrounding him and, of course, Steve Spurrier. You know that if Stafford tried to make a move to take control, Wuerffel would put a beautifully high arcing bullet directly between his eyes. As for the rest of the guys, he would fight them left handed, or, in the case of Michael Henig, with his left foot.

Matthew Stafford, Georgia
An outstanding number two. Raw and undisciplined, he could smote anyone (51 TDs, 7,731 yards) as well as be smote by anyone (33 INTs).  He clearly has the highest ceiling (and the only ceiling since everyone else is done with football...wait, checking on Michael Henig....yes, everyone else is done), but unfortunately that ceiling is in Detroit where ceilings are about as high as the roof of a Ford Festiva.

Casey Clausen, Tennessee
The cagey veteran who put up surprisingly good numbers (75 TDs, 9,707 yards, 31 INTs) despite no one believing he was any good (and I'm pretty sure he wasn't).  The reason he put up such high numbers is that he played forever (44 starts) while managing to spend brief periods of time playing above a mediocre level.  In this movie that isn't a movie, I'd like to think he made a valiant stand, which allowed the others to escape.  He knew he wasn't good enough to move on, but could hold up traffic for several hours by shooting their pursuers in the foot, the hand, the other foot, the other hand and the butt until they bled out because that's how he operated, little piece by little piece.

Barry Lunney, Jr., Arkansas
My memory of Lunney is a little hazy because I was around 12 at the time he was operating the Hogs' offense.  While not a total stiff, Lunney is pretty forgettable (33 TDs, 5,782 yards, 28 INTs).  In fact, I'm not sure Arkansas even joined the SEC until Houston Nutt got there.  DO YOU REMEMBER ANYTHING BEFORE HIS ARRIVAL?

Brent Schaeffer, Ole Miss
And the official falling-off-a-cliff-drop-off of quarterbacking talent has begun (14 TDs, 2,028 yards, 14 INTs).  In fairness to Schaeffer, he was never really given a chance to use his athletic abilities to his advantage until the last two games of his career.  Thanks to Ed Orgeron, Schaeffer toiled away in what Orgeron called the "USC offense" or, what the rest of us call it, three years of poop on a stick.  However, had Schaeffer been allowed to operate a version of the spread/read option, he would have been a less accurate version of Tyrod Taylor, which is still awful.

Matt Wyatt, Mississippi State
To this day, I have no idea how Wyatt played D-I football (16 TDs, 2,940 yards, 24 INTs).  I think Jackie Sherrill started to slip in the mid to late 90's and forgot to forward the appropriate amount of money to the quarterback of his choice.  Then Matt Wyatt showed up, asking to play quarterback.  When an assistant approached Sherrill about Wyatt's interest in playing QB, Sherrill examined his depth chart and said, "Is he breathing?"  And the rest was history.

Michael Henig, Mississippi State
Sylvester Croom's version of Matt Wyatt (10 TDs, 2,269 yards, 24 INTs).  Henig, like Sylvester Croom, had no business being in D-I college football.  So part of me always felt bad for him (like the time Croom let a fleet of Greyhounds roll over him by leaving him in the 2007 LSU game long enough to throw SIX interceptions).  However, the other part of me cackled with delight when I saw Croom giving him instructions before sending him out on the field to do something else wrong.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Eight Days

No surprises this time.  Let's get right to the Europe.

The first 1:20 of that is like something straight out of This is Spinal Tap.  And if you told me Les Miles' favorite band was Europe, I'd believe you.

Today's number is eight, which brings us to the most hastily thrown together, and thus laziest list yet (and possibly until the season starts).  I present eight YouTube videos or, as the man in the first video, Robbie Caldwell, might say, vidyahs that are SEC-related and awesome for one reason or another. 

1.  Robbie Caldwell and Dropkick Me Jesus Through the Goalposts of Life

The discussion of scotch and whiskey was particularly compelling.

2.  Nick Saban convinces me I can run through a brick wall

Only watch the first 25 seconds and then MAKE YOUR ASS QUIT WATCHING

3.  Houston Nutt's practices certainly have a feeling of controlled chaos

"Dexter, how much weight d'you gain over this Christmas thing?  Four pounds?"

"Two ounces!"

4.  Les Miles wishes all of us a great day out of the side of his mouth

A damn strong response.

5.  The end of the Ed Orgeron era

My favorite story from this meltdown was that Orgeron neglected to inform offensive coordinator Dan Werner (who was in the booth) that he was going for it on fourth down.  Werner found out when he looked up and saw his offense still on the field.  He then began shouting, "What is he doing?  Someone stop him!"  Ah, good times.

6.  Joe Adams lives to see 2010

Nothing quite like an announcer reflexively yelling at the brutality of football.

How about one more?  And one that involves INTERNAL BLEEDING after the hit.

Seriously, Parrish had internal bleeding after that hit and stayed in the hospital until Monday.

7.  Jevan Snead justly punished for his 19th interception of the year

Had this happened after his first, say, 10 interceptions, perhaps he would not have thrown another 10.

8.  Dexter McCluster earns the fourth bedroom in the apartment with Gray, Peria Jerry and Shay Hodge

The second touchdown out of the Wildcat against Tennessee happened right in front of me and I still have no idea how the two defenders didn't knock him out of bounds at the 10.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Nine Days

HOLY SWEET FANCY MOTHER OF MOSES.  Today, in the words of Rob Ezell imitating Nick Saban, was AWFUL (insert exaggerated arm wave here).  A lesson for all you unemployed and/or college students out there:  DON'T GET A JOB.  I suggest winning the lottery instead.  Even now as I sit at home, I fully expect to get an email reminding me of something I didn't do or the client has said is crap and needs to be done again (by the way, that last sentence crushed whatever glimmer of youth still remained inside of me).  Anyway, STOP WASTING OUR TIME, GRAY, AND GET TO SOMETHING WE CARE ABOUT.  Point taken.  Moving on.

Seeing as I'm pushing up against day eight right now, we'll have to make this one short and void of meaty content goodness, which is not all that different from any other day.  The number nine bring us...wait, what's that?

IT'S EUROPE DESTROYING THE GOOD NAME OF MUSIC.  And by destroying, I mean improving 8,000%.

As I was saying, the number nine brings us the nine coaches in the league who have a finite number of lives left at their respective schools.  By that I mean these coaches could (and will) be fired when things fall apart.  The three not on the list, Nick Saban, Urban Meyer and Steve Spurrier, will never face the axe.  Saban and Meyer are all-powerful and indestructible.  Spurrier has gotten South Carolina to a hair above mediocre on a consistent basis.  And if you've ever examined the history of South Carolina football (one 10-win season and one 9-win season since 1892), that qualifies him as a god in Columbia. 

In order of most lives left to least lives left, the remaining nine coaches of the SEC:

9 lives,  Dan Mullen, Mississippi State
Short of rampaging through an Oktibbeha County assisted living facility and stealing nickels and dimes from its residents, Mullen can do want he wants in the Starkville area.  And, let's be honest, he could probably rampage through said facility and no one would care.  Why?  BECAUSE HE WHOOPED OLE MISS' ASS.  But mainly because he has given State fans hope that they might actually have legitimate bowl hopes, and he resembles the exact opposite of the coaching abilities of Sylvester Croom.  Well, except the Tyson Lee option call on the one-inch line against LSU when Anthony Dixon had 615 yards rushing in the fourth quarter of that game.  Anyway, Dan Mullen should feel warm and comfortable in his bed.

8 lives, Houston Nutt, Ole Miss
Just short of Mullen-assisted-living-rampage status, Nutt still has a great deal of freedom in Oxford.  He brought Ole Miss out of the burning-your-soul-awful Ed Orgeron era and into back-to-back Cotton Bowl seasons.  Also, he laughs like Boss Hogg:

7 lives, Derek Dooley, Tennessee
Dooley would have been higher, but Tennessee fans seem to be a little irritated with life right now.  Their coach abandoned them, their team enjoys fighting them and their team is also probably going to lose seven games this season.  So their fuse is probably a little short right now.  Whatever honeymoon Dooley has left will come to an abrupt end when Oregon and Florida stomp the sugar-coated shit out of the Vols to start the season.

6 lives, Gene Chizik, Auburn
Universally loved when news of his hire broke

Chizik did manage to right the ship and win three games more in 2009 than he won in two years at Iowa State.  But Auburn people are a little fidgety (a great Houston Nutt word).  Remember the secret plane trip to talk to Bobby Petrino when Tommy Tuberville was in the middle of beating Alabama six straight times?  These people can't be trusted.

5 lives, Joker Phillips, Kentucky

4 lives, Bobby Petrino, Arkansas
Petrino, a renowned asshole, and Arkansas fans, completely batshit crazy, are presently on good terms.  But all this powder keg of egotism and megalomania needs is one thing to go wrong and this relationship will blow Fayetteville off the Arkansas map and into Oklahoma.  Something like, say, a seven-win season in 2010.  Which is only a bad Ryan Mallett wheel away from happening.  FEEL THE PARANOIA.

3 lives, Robbie Caldwell, Vanderbilt
I'm not sure how often turkey insemination lectures can save one's job, but I get the feeling Caldwell will find out.

2 lives, Mark Richt, Georgia
I spent something like 82,000 words making the case for Richt being the most mediocre coach in the SEC, so I can understand Georgia's fans placing of Richt on the hot seat (note:  the Georgia fans who actually care about football, which is a much smaller number than you'd expect).  It's hard to believe that a coach who's WORST record in nine seasons is 8-4 is in danger of getting canned, but this is the SEC.  Ration need not apply.  But it's also hard to believe that a coach with the resources unmatched by 90% of college football hasn't won the games against the other giants.

1 life, Les Miles
Miles is actually at negative 30, but for the purposes of this post we'll put him at one.  Hell, I'm impressed he made it through media days after the nonsense that poured out of his mouth.  The only way Les Miles is still in Baton Rouge in 2011 is if he has to be at home when the moving company shows up.

Monday, August 23, 2010

And It Begins: 10 Days

Just 10 days from now Southern Mississippi and South Carolina will begin the 2010 college football season with a clash that promises to be every bit as exciting as last year's opening game, which saw South Carolina out bum-fight NC State 7-3.  Could ESPN have found a more interesting matchup?  Probably, but then they'd be in violation of the 73-year Thursday night season-opener contract they signed with South Carolina in 2005 (note:  As part of its contractual obligations, South Carolina is forbidden to score more than 23 points and take a lead of more than 10 points).  But you'll find no complaining here.  Do you know what was on ESPN last night?  A baseball game involving the Minnesota Twins and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.  Things are so bleak right now in the sports world that MINNESOTA is getting primetime coverage.

Now that we're teetering on the edge of four months of physical and emotional destruction, it's time to start the countdown to that great journey of emotional peaks and valleys, peppered with physical challenges, that will require eight months of recovery time.  Last year, I started this thing about a week earlier and incorporated multiple videos of Europe's Final Countdown.  This year I was much more lazy, and made a tough, but fair decision in which Europe will not be used.  I know, it was as gut-wrenching as it sounds, and it's one that may haunt me forever.

Following the format from last year, each day will be nothing more than a list of whatever topic finds its way into the space between my ears, culminating with my predictions that can generously be described as "at least he can name all of the teams."  Today,....oh, what the hell, LET'S BRING IT BACK...

Greatest.  Best.  Worst.  Confusing.  Nonsensical.  Song.  Ever.

Today's number is 10 (though if you were to count today, we'd be 11 days away from college football, but I'm not counting today since IT'S ALREADY HERE) and we'll be taking a look at the top 10 candidates most likely to take home the 2010 Jevan Snead Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Quarterbacking Failure, formerly known as the Awww-Shit Trophy.  This prestigious award goes to the SEC quarterback who throws the highest number of interceptions during the season.  Snead's performance in this competition last year was so revolutionary (20 INTs in 13 games) that I had no choice but to find a way to commemorate it.  Plus, who doesn't enjoy a good Simpsons reference?

Let's get to this year's candidates (note:  By decision of the committee of me, Ryan Mallett and Greg McElroy are not included here.  They threw 11 INTs combined last year, which is nine fewer than Jevan Snead.).  In order of least likely to win to most likely to win:

10.  Nathan Stanley/Jeremiah Masoli, Ole Miss
After Houston Nutt watched his starting quarterback throw 20 picks last year, you're more likely to see an Arkansas fan engage in civil discourse of the merits of the Nutt era in Fayetteville than you will see either one (or combination) of these guys sniff the podium for this award.  Ole Miss could very well attempt 2,000 rushes this season.

9.  Stephen Garcia, South Carolina
Spurrier has already gone on record saying true freshman Connor Shaw will play in the first game this season and that Shaw has outplayed Garcia in practice so far.  Add that to Spurrier's general displeasure with all things Garcia and it's highly unlikely Garcia can get into contention for this award, which requires double-digit interception totals.  Correction, a Spurrier quarterback, especially Garcia, could easily throw 10 interceptions in a game.  Once he got to five, Spurrier would leave him in and keep calling passing plays to prove a point.  YOU WILL SUBMIT TO MY WILL, STEPHEN.

8.  John Brantley, Florida
Already anointed by media types as the next great SEC quarterback even though he's never taken a meaningful snap, Brantley could see some early action on the leaderboard before giving way to more serious contenders.  This will probably be attributed to getting more comfortable in game situations and Urban Meyer's unbending, wickedly smart will that demands his quarterbacks not throw interceptions.

7.  Jordan Jefferson, LSU
Despite leading an offense last year that was only better than Vanderbilt, Jefferson threw just seven interceptions.  As crazy as it sounds, LSU's complete lack of offensive competency probably helped Jefferson throw such a low number of picks.  The fewer plays a team runs, the fewer the opportunities to give it to the opposing team.  And last time I checked, Les Miles and Gary Crowton are still piloting that jon boat of an offense, so I think we can expect more of the same.

6.  Cam Newton, Auburn
If Gus Malzahn could limit Chris Todd to just six interceptions last year, I think he'll find a way to keep Newton under control.  And given Newton's athletic ability and Auburn's love of the run, I don't think we'll see Newton's campaign for this award really get off the ground, which is kind of sad because there are enough questionable quarterbacks this season that the race for this award could involve at least six players.

5.  Tyler Bray/Matt Simms/Scarecrow Tennessee
While all three of these candidates could get off to a hot start, they're all going to be on a short leash, thus preventing them from making a serious run.  One thing is for sure, Tennessee will be terrible this year.

4.  Aaron Murray, Georgia
As someone filled with inexperienced and an observer of Joe Cox throwing 15 picks in 13 games last year, he knows what it takes to win this award.  My only concern is that Georgia will probably lean heavily on its ground game, taking away some of his opportunities.  The good news is that they tried to do that last year and still nearly let Cox win the award.

3.  Chris Relf, Mississippi State
A very inexperienced passer who threw three INTs in just 41 passes last year and will be forced to throw more this year.  With the loss of Anthony Dixon, State's ground game won't be the same and they'll have to make up the yards through the air.  While State will still be primarily a rushing team, I think they'll find teams a little more focused when they play them this year, which will make them take more chances on offense.

2.  Mike Hartline, Kentucky
Before being injured, Hartline managed to throw six INTs in five games last season.  Even in his one game back from injury he was able to slip one in.  Assuming he can hold off Morgan Newton and win the job, Hartline is a serious candidate in 2010.  If he loses the job to Newton, insert Newton's name here.

1.  Larry Smith, Vanderbilt
Even though Smith only threw seven interceptions last year, I still like his chances this year.  Vanderbilt will be AWFUL this season, meaning they're going to be behind early and often, which relates to more passing attempts for a bad passer.  The only thing that scares me about Smith is that, like LSU, Vandy is going to be so incompetent on offense it may actually work against Smith's chances to win in 2010.  That and Vandy may change quarterbacks 19 times during their 0-12 campaign.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Another Round of Links? WHY NOT

I'll be honest with you, although repetitive and generally void of the creative  process, I like slapping these links up for several reasons.  One, it's easy.  10 minutes of web surfing and I've got all I need.  Two, I am very important and very busy so it's time efficient.  And three, do you know how I like to spend my free time?  NOT TYPING IN THIS SPACE.  Just kidding.  Sort of.  Like anything, I often enjoy it, but have days where I'd like nothing more than to douse this place in jet fuel and light a match (assuming you can actually set something on the Internet on fire).  Moving on...

Steve Spurrier may have lost his fastball, but remains crafty
The days of Spurrier going out and hitting 99 on the gun for nine innings are gone (Stephen Garcia and South Carolina will do that to a man).  But, he's a veteran who knows a thing or two about his craft.  It's all about location and changing speeds.  Think of him as a 1953 version of Jamie Moyer.  Not overpowering, but he can easily go out and throw eight innings of two-hit, shutout baseball.  And yesterday, he showed us what he still has left in the tank while commenting on Tennessee's decision to buy its way out of its series against North Carolina:
"I said, 'Golly, times have changed when Tennessee doesn't want to play North Carolina in football because they're too good for them,'" Spurrier said. "That's kind of amazing."
South Carolina is scheduled to play the Tar Heels in 2013, but not to worry South Carolina fans, Spurrier plans on honoring that agreement:
"We're not going to bail out from playing North Carolina the way Tennessee did," Spurrier said.
It's good to see his dislike of Tennessee still burns bright.

A tip of the hat to you, young Rob Ezell
Outraged that I forgot to DVR ESPN's hour-long inside look at Alabama football last night, I spent a good part of the evening looking for quotes or any sort of reviews to let me know the awesomeness that I missed, as well as to motivate myself to set the DVR for the next time it aired.  God bless the soul who put this on YouTube:


That is a first-ballot inductee into the greatest quotes that have ever been heard by these ears.  Again, well done, Rob Ezell.  Now GO RUN FROM TUSCALOOSA TO BIRMINGHAM EIGHTY-FIVE TIMES.

Pete Boone assures Ole Miss of four more years of fiscal responsibility and public relations shitstorms
The Ole Miss AD received a contract extension through the year 2014, though his salary will remain at its current level of $429,287.  My stance on Boone has long been in the camp of "PLEASE RETIRE" so clearly I was not a fan of this news.  Boone, while financial responsible (although to a fault) and probably takes too much heat for issues within the athletic department, has the people skills of a Kodiak bear.  Every time he opens his mouth, I assume the earthquake drill position and wait for the impending disaster, one of his most infamous being the "t-shirt and cap crowd" comment.

Boone runs the athletic department exactly the way an accountant would.  Cuts costs (the idea of spending money to make money doesn't fly with him) and spends no time developing relationships outside the athletic department circle or good ol' boy network that continues to plague Ole Miss.  A real athletic director runs an athletic department like a business because college athletics is a multimillion dollar business.  The bottom lines are winning, giving your university a positive image, producing a profit and making people feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves (or developing a community), which will increase their willingness to give and support.  Boone, through a combination of skill and good old fashioned luck, has managed to accomplish the winning (minus the Ed Orgeron years) and money making parts.  And I suppose I can give him the positive image category, even though his assistance in the mangling of the removal of From Dixie With Love from the band's playlist eventually led to the KKK being on campus.  That one was not totally on him.

However, the community aspect, and the one aspect you truly need in order to sustain an athletic program, is an area in which Boone has failed miserably.  Ole Miss, because of its small size, already has a pretty strong sense of community, but a real AD is out making it bigger, stronger and united, not consistently pissing members of it off with some on-top-of-a-mountain quote.  He doesn't get that you need everyone, and I mean everyone (all the way down to the guy making $18K a year) to have a truly successful athletic program.  As one of the smallest schools in the SEC, we can't have isolated pieces within Ole Miss community.  We need everyone in the same group.  He has to reach out to those he deemed in the "t-shirt and cap crowd," make them feel welcome and, most importantly, get them to believe that they are a contributing part to the success of Ole Miss.  Boone has been there a total of 13 years and still hasn't figured this out, and I don't expect he ever will.  So, wherever you are next athletic director, don't be Pete Boone 2.0.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Quick Fix for Your Thursday

Moving along quickly because I have very important things to do.  MUCH MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOUR THINGS TO DO.

Wisconsin is asking for a new athletic facility?
I'm sorry, I thought this was college football in America.  You don't ask, you do it.  The Badgers want to build a $76.8 million athletic performance center (WOMEN'S SPORTS ALERT) just five years after a $100 million expansion of Camp Randall Stadium, and are in the process of lobbying for the money and the go ahead to begin construction.  Now, as you probably know, I am pretty unfamiliar with Big 10 football and culture.  I do know that speed is not a requirement to play football there and that Commissioner Jim Delany slithers instead of walking.  That's about it.  So forgive me if I don't understand why ground wasn't broken on this project yesterday.

In the SEC, we don't petition anyone for the okay to build something for sports.  If we want to build it, then we most certainly need it.  Cost won't fit into the state budget?  Goodbye high school art classes and band.  Hello fundraisers and pledge drives.  WE CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT 18 HOT AND COLD POOLS, MEDIA ROOMS AND STORAGE CLOSETS LARGE ENOUGH TO HOUSE EVERY JET FROM THE USS JOHN C. STENNIS.  Hell, the people that do the actual physical building would probably build our mega-complexes for free if they got some tickets out of the project.  Tisk, tisk, Wisconsin.  I thought you cared about sports.

UConn suspends backu...ah, no one gives a damn

There appears to be a great disturbance taking place in the western conferences of college football
Unfortunately, I cannot give proper description or time in thought as to what is happening with Fresno State and Nevada.  Apparently, both are leaving either the Mountain West and going to the WAC, or both are leaving the WAC and going to the Mountain West.  I can't be sure because I always assumed both were the same conference.  Someone with organizational skills needs to put all of that in chart or graph-like format that the USA Today uses so well for those of us who don't want to read an article, but want a summary.

Also, BYU is probably going to become an independent in football and stay in one of those conferences in all other sports.  What does this mean?  BYU will still be playing in a December 20-ish bowl game every year.

Mark Richt is living like a man with a starting quarterback who has no college experience
Fully clothed, backwards dive/flip from the 10m platform. No thank you.

Wednesday, August 18, 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 www.random.org and using whatever number is spat out from its random-creating machine.

Today's number:  22
Today's team:  Alabama

Some background information:  Sometimes the gods of this feature smile on you and give you Mark Ingram.  Other times they give you John Cole.  Nothing against Cole, but it's a lot easier to make it through this thing when you've got the reigning Heisman Trophy winner featured.  So, background information.  I mentioned the Heisman, let's see, what else.  Lots of impressive numbers, an SEC championship, a national championship, etc.  WE KNOW WHO HE IS.

Greatest on-field accomplishment:  Again, many awards, great numbers everywhere.  As for his best game of last season, I vote for his obliteration of a pretty good South Carolina defense.  24 carries, 246 yards, 1 TD.  And he did that when Greg McElroy decided to take the night off (10-20, 92 yards, 2 INTs), leaving the Gamecocks to only worry about Ingram.

Greatest off-the-field accomplishment:  My memory is a little hazy, but it might have gotten a little dusty in my house this night. 

Way(s) in which he has embarrassed himself, his family, team and school:  Aside from a couple of ventures into the gray area of NCAA rules violations, Ingram has kept himself free from any major developments in this category.  And, let's be honest, his dad pretty much rules this category.  PRISON ZING!!!

/enters steel fortress with moat to avoid attacks from Alabama fans

Strenghts:  Everything that allowed him to rush for 1,658 yards (6.1 yards A CARRY) and 17 touchdowns and fall eight yards shy of 2,000 total yards (334 receiving yards).  The most important of all those being the fire of Nick Saban nipping at his heels.  What's that?  Oh, right.  And an offensive line that had ZERO holding penalties called against them in the last eight games of 2009.  Conspiracy?  ABSOLUTELY.

Weaknesses:  None.  Unless Trent Richardson can be counted as a weakness since he'll take carries away from Ingram this year.

What to look for in 2010:  As great as Ingram is, I don't think he's the best running back on the team.  I said it near the end of last season and still stand by my belief that Richardson is the best back Alabama has.  He looks faster, runs harder (not that Ingram is a slouch, but Richardson is noticeably more physical) and looks much more natural and smooth while carrying the ball.  While Ingram does hold the experience trump card over him, I think you'll see Richardson take a bigger chunk out of Ingram's 2010 numbers and probably keep him out of Heisman territory.  I'll be interested to see how often Alabama places both of them in the backfield at the same time, creating the second coming of the Ronnie Brown/Cadillac Williams backfield that Auburn rode to a 13-0 season.  Regardless of what they do, expect to see Ingram on the field often to quite often and running through a defense.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

And the Sports World Returns to Its Summer Axis

After Summer 2010 bucked the standard summer tradition of three months of John Kruk and other baseball people yammering on about WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE RED SOX, things have settled into a light lull, perhaps along the lines of a 25-minute power nap, right before football begins.  So for the next two weeks, expect things to be bone dry-ish around here in terms of content.  You'll see what I'm talking about when you read a story about Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker choosing to return to school.  That's right, THE Kyle Parker.  Although, not to worry, I'm working on another countdown extravaganza/whatever to football season that will hopefully get us through the last part of August.  I don't know if it can top last year's countdown involving 16 different videos of Europe's Final Countdown, but it might (Note:  I don't know because I don't know what I'm doing yet.  As always, nothing but the best around here.).

Kyle Parker returns to Clemson to ensure the Tigers complete another 7-5 season
Parker, the 26th overall pick by the Colorado Rockies in Major League Baseball's June draft, agreed to a contract with the Rockies that allows hims to return to Clemson for at least another year.  If he stays beyond that, he'll lose the majority of his signing bonus.  Interestingly enough, had he left school for baseball, the Tigers would have had another quarterback put up the exact same numbers as Parker, lose to the exact same teams and have the exact same record that Parker will lead them to in 2010.  Just as rival South Carolina is trapped in a universe in which it cannot run block or protect the quarterback, Clemson is trapped in a space where it cannot avoid losing to teams to which it has no business losing.

Florida joins Ole Miss as a school in which its students like to settle dispute with box cutters
Technically this fight involving Florida commit Ja'Juan Story and his arrest didn't take place on campus, but since he's on the cusp of joining the Gator football program (DIRTY COACH ALERT) I'm going to count it.  So how did this fight go down?
Story, 18, told The Gainesville Sun on Monday that he was trying to break up a fight that involved the mother of his brother's child and three other women.
"When I turned around, her and a woman and her two daughters was about to fight," Story said in a text message. "So I came over because there was knives and I took a box cutter from my brother's (girlfriend), but one of the other girls had two knives. I tried to tell her to leave but she wasn't listening."
Just one serious question that needs to be asked here, are box cutters cheaper than knives?  I know in the long run they're probably more expensive since you have to replace the blades, but for the purposes of cutting another human you really only need one.  I would think even a dull box cutter blade could do the damage one would want it to do if used as a weapon of choice in a fight.  And if they are cheaper, I think this could pave the way for more box cutter fights in the future.  Although none will ever match the gold standard set at Ole Miss:

Also, that text message sent by Story has to hold the records for both longest and most coherent text message ever sent by someone under 21.

Arkansas takes the crazy up a notch and fires media person for wearing a hat
Renee Gork, a reporter for an Arkansas radio station (a station not owned or operated by the school), was fired yesterday for wearing a Florida Gators hat to a Bobby Petrino press conference.  Petrino, after Gork asked him a question, said that he would not be answering any more questions from her since she was wearing the hat.  This brought her stupidity of wearing a different school's hat to an Arkansas event (if she had worn an Arkansas hat, she would have been only slightly less stupid since there's something out there that says media members should never show affiliation with a team or school while working) to the attention of the Arkansas fan base, who promptly issued death threats and instituted a she's-a-witch-burn-her campaign until Gork was either fired or put to the flames.

The morons involved here are too many to count, but is it possible to get the FDA to hand out free Valium to the ENTIRE STATE OF ARKANSAS?  How else are they going to calm the hell down?  It was a stupid mistake by someone who doesn't seem particularly bright.  I'm not sure I want to imagine what will happen to this state if, oh, I don't know, the Hogs DON'T WIN ELEVEN GAME AND GO TO THE BCS.  Shit will be burned to the ground, meth trailers will explode and the state will physically slide under Louisiana and fall into the Gulf of Mexico.  You do not want to be in Arkansas in late November.

Ohio State reveals one of the reasons for their string of BCS failures
One of Friday's practices was canceled due to heat and humidity.  Records show that the high reached on Friday the 13th was 93.5 and humidity that morning ranged from the upper 90s to mid 60s.  That's what I like to call fine July and August weather (if we're lucky).  And we in the South don't run from our weather.  We attack it and if we live to tell the tale, we can forever recall the time we sat in an oven for three and a half hours starting at 11:30 AM to watch Ole Miss and Tulane play in 2000 and survived even though many around us probably died of a heat stroke later that night.

Tennessee decides it's less embarrassing to buy its way out of a North Carolina series than to lose twice to North Carolina
I think this gives us a pretty accurate assessment of where Tennessee thinks its football program is.  A less successful version of Clemson has caused them to change their schedule and come up with buyout money.  So should we pencil them in for five wins or four in 2011?  Three?  Okay, make it three.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Since We Last Met

After surviving a round of golf in a heat index well north of 375, three of America's airports and the countless morons within those airports, I arrived home hoping nothing happened this weekend.  I was terribly disappointed.

Everyone scrimmaged and everyone still has "things we need to work on"
Let's plow through these like Udonis Haslem through the hippie lettuce.

-Vanderbilt completed yet another scrimmage with just a single offensive touchdown.  I'll need to check my files, but I believe that record now dates back to 1937.  Head coach Robbie Caldwell said the scrimmage was set up to involve more of the younger players, or better known as players that have to be better than the veterans if they want to avoid 0-12.

-Kentucky produced more offense than Vanderbilt, but as far as I can tell, no record of that exists.  No stats, no scores.  We did learn that pre-season candidate for the 2010 Awww-Shit Trophy, Mike Hartline, has not fully secured the starting quarterback job yet.  Morgan Newton and Ryan Massokowski refuse to go away in this royal rumble of mediocrity.  According to Joker Phillips:
"They all were productive; they had a couple of blunders by all three of the quarterbacks," Phillips said.  "The thing we're trying to eliminate is that blunder.  You can't have a blunder at the quarterback position."
If that's the case, good sir, I suggest you find a fourth candidate.

-Georgia saw its defense dominate and Aaron Murray throw a long pass to last year's back-up quarterback.  The Bulldogs' offensive line was missing three starters, which helps one understand why the defense did dominate.  That and Aaron Murray is playing quarterback and throwing passes to a former back-up quarterback.

-Ole Miss hasn't quite handed the reins to Jeremiah Masoli yet, but we're probably nearing that day.  Masoli showcased his athletic ability on the opening drive of the scrimmage and eventually threw a touchdown pass to end the drive, but he's not the starter yet.  According to Houston Nutt:
“I thought all three quarterbacks looked good," Nutt said. "They all do things a little different, but they all do things well. Nathan had a good read tonight and threw the ball well. Jeremiah gives you that ability to escape and can throw a 40-yard bullet. It wasn't Mackey’s best night, but he has been really accurate. I’m excited about our quarterback situation.”
Nutt also said that if the season started today, Stanley would get the crazy finger point.  And some good news for Ole Miss fans, highly touted/recruited/internetworshiped running back Enrique Davis has apparently come out of the witness protection program and is having himself some fine pre-season practices.  He had a 56-yard touchdown run on Saturday and, by all accounts of those watching practices, has looked just as good in the first week of practice.

-The year will be 4039 and South Carolina will still not be able to protect its quarterback or have a sliver of a running game.  Spurrier was not particularly happy with the results of the scrimmage, most notably Stephen Garcia getting sacked five times in 15 attempts.
"We had one of our typical scrimmages I guess," said head coach Steve Spurrier following the workout. "We scored a few touchdowns here and there but there was sloppy play - jumping offsides, don't snap the ball at the right time, pass protection was not very good. The defense did ok, but neither side did very good to tell you the truth. Neither side did anything spectacular. The receivers caught about everything," the Head Ball Coach continued. "There were some good catches and throws but I think Stephen Garcia got sacked about five times out of 15 attempts. Connor (Shaw) and (Andrew) Clifford got sacked once or twice so that wasn't very good. There were some good plays here and there, but there should have been more. The receivers ran good routes and we have a bunch of guys open but we couldn't get the ball up in the air as often as we should."
-Arkansas' offense, well, you already know.  Insert something about multiple yards and touchdowns here.  The one unexpected note was the arrival of the defense for the second half of the scrimmage (Note:  they were actually on the field for the first half).  Bobby Petrino seemed pleased with how hard the defense played and surprised they made plays at all THOSE LITTLE SHIT BASTARDS.

-Tennessee's scrimmage was closed, so this entire thing could be made up.  Especially the parts about offensive success.

-Dammit, this is taking forever.  Florida.

-Auburn's scrimmage was also closed so I will close this space to them.  TAKE THAT GENE CHIZIK.

-Alabama threw for the Alabama equivalent of 2.1 million yards in their scrimmage, much to the delight of Nick Saban, who got a chance to send a you-will-burn-in-the-hottest-fires-of-hell message to his defense, which is all he really lives to do.
"I don't think defensively, as a whole, that we played very well at all," Saban said. "We didn't tackle. We didn't finish. We didn't clean up tackles and knock runners back. We didn't have the eye of the tiger we need to be a good defensive team, and that's all 11 of them."
There were some injuries to Alabama's secondary, but  Nick Saban has no patience for the failure of body parts to endure a football scrimmage.

An interesting piece on Jeremiah Masoli that involves no defense of Pete Carroll
And it comes in all the way from Oregon.  Also, if you read this piece (and you should....don't be lazy), the writer discusses James Meredith's enrollment at Ole Miss and the ensuing riot.  Growing up in Jackson, I used to see Meredith at the grocery store.  It took a long time before I realized this man of such epic historical importance (at least in Mississippi) looks just as confused and unhappy as I do when wandering around a grocery store.

Mike Leach will still find a way to make our lives better
He's been hired by CBS to work for the CBS College Sports Network.  I have no idea what channel that is, or if I even get it, but this is good news.  Nothing against Rich Gannon...actually, Rich Gannon sucks, so for the two or three times a year CBS gives us an 11 AM game, we need Mike Leach.  And if you, CBS, can figure out a way to get rid of Craig Bolerjack as well, I would be in your debt.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Cleaing Out the Storage Room of Links and Whatever Is in the Box Labled "Junk"

First an administrative note, as the author, most important person and king of The Belly of the Beast will be on the road tomorrow, attending to matters relating to none-of-your-business.  So while nothing new will be posted tomorrow, feel free to check in and read content from last football season so that you can get a quick hit of football, then realize that I am just as inaccurate in football opining than those who spend more than one hour a day frantically trying to jam something into this space.

On to the links and other notes of varying degrees of importance and entertainment.  Some of these are a few days old, but still highly enjoyable.

Top Five in All-Americans, Hanging Around the Bottom in Literacy

In Alabama's defense, learnin' is not something we do well in the South. And if not for our more educated brethren elsewhere, I doubt anyone would have noticed. However, there is one thing we do well in the South and that's CARING MORE ABOUT THE ACTIONS OF 18-22 YEAR OLDS WE'VE NEVER MET AND MOST LIKELY WILL NEVER MEET MORE THAN YOU CARE ABOUT YOUR FAMILY.

/shoots shotgun at stop signs on the way home from work

Also, if Dan Mullen were coaching Ole Miss, he would most certainly begin calling Mississippi State the school with one "P."

The University of Georgia and the City of Athens Deserve a Visit from General Sherman
Around the 3:15 mark, look for the exact moment Mark Richt's personal assistant gets fired.

Ole Miss Picks Up a Transfer from the Philistines

That massive blocker of the sun is Terrell Brown, who's listed at 6'11" and 390 pounds. While doubtful he'll ever see the field, he will provide Houston Nutt with an oak tree substitute under which to stand when the sun really starts to beat down on the practice fields (and potentially during any 11:20 games this season). Since I've been going to Ole Miss games, two guys have really stood out from everyone else in terms of size. First, Todd Wade carried the title of biggest human being I've ever seen. He held the title until John Jerry arrived on campus and easily defeated the MPSA product. Now, assuming Brown is still around when I make it to a game this fall, Jerry will no longer be the champion of size.

Pat Forde Rounds Up 2010's Todd Reesings
Forde scoured the college football landscape and found all the guys that put up numbers that can only be explained through inferior competition because they sure as hell don't have the quarterbacking skill to really put up these numbers and results.  Or as he puts it, guys who find a way to win.  My only objection to this list is Tyrod Taylor, who finds a way to be consistently terrible and lose two games a year he should never lose.

Wednesday, August 11, 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 www.random.org and using whatever number is spat out from its random-creating machine.

Today's number: 13
Today's team: LSU

#13 Ron Brooks, DB, LSU

And here he is wearing a a uniform

Some background information: Ron came to LSU out of the lovely strip mall sprawl that is Irving, Texas. While there, he no doubt dominated the high school competition. Archive of such domination can be found here, and from the 11 seconds I watched of the video that automatically started playing, I can assure you he was faster than everyone else. Ron spent 2007 redshirting, played as a reserve and on special teams in 2008 and in 2009 found himself as one of the starting kickoff return men.

I tried to find out a little more about Ron, mainly does he have anything on the internet that, if discovered, would caused his coaches to shit a brick. Alas, nothing could be found. Although, I did find a Ron Brooks on Twitter who lives in Georgia and likes to fish. But unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, for that Ron Brooks, no one here cares. So he'll miss out on a sand grain-sized bit of internet exposure.

Greatest on-field accomplishment: In 2008, the man was a forced-fumble machine. He forced a fumble on a punt return against South Carolina, as well as on a kickoff return against Alabama. He even recovered a fumble on special teams against Georgia Tech in LSU's obliteration of the Yellow Jackets in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.

Greatest off-the-field accomplishment: I'm going to count his dad being a member of the 7-9 1993 Chicago Bears. Mainly because he was coached by Dave Wannstedt, who is one of the few brave men in the public eye that has and will continue to sport a mustache.

Way(s) in which he has embarrassed himself, his family, team and school: None.

Strengths: Speed, quickness, agility, has probably seen Wannstedt's mustache from less than four feet away.

Weaknesses: Les Miles.

What to look for in 2010: As a starting kickoff returner, Ron should be featured prominently for a few seconds every Saturday. Should he take a kick back for a touchdown, expect those feature seconds to go up. You might even see him when LSU's defense requires multiple defensive back on the field. Though, with Jordan Jefferson and/or Jarrett Lee manning the controls of the LSU offense (and Gary Crowton giving guidance....and of course, Les Miles), I expect LSU's defense to be in many more run prevention situations than passing.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Since We Last Met

Jeremiah Masoli survives first practice in Mississippi heat; later walks on water and Ole Miss receives bids from Independence Bowl and Music City Bowl
Not yet at least.  But Masoli did live to tell the tale of him running around in football equipment in an environment that produced a heat index of 608.  Unfortunately, he has yet to experience such heat while wearing full pads.  That day of reckoning will come later this week.  From all accounts of his first practice, he at least looked like he knew what he was doing while running drills and whatever else you can do while not wearing pads and simulating a game.

While I appreciate these practice reports and readily consume them with the same spirit with which I do a Chinese buffet, attending a football practice is unbelievably boring.  First and foremost, it's hot.  Second, there's no where to sit while being able to see and not get crushed by a player involved in practice.  And third, no one knows what the hell is going on.  "Hey, look, another drill where everyone runs sideways then sprints ten yards.  OUR LINEBACKERS ARE AWESOME."  The only enjoyable parts are the 7-on-7 passing periods and the times offense and defense go head-to-head.  But usually by then you're on the verge of a heat stroke or really depressed at how crappy some aspect of your team is.  The lone exception to all of these points is practice conducted by Ed Orgeron.  Large quantities of yelling, confusion, and random sprinting abound.  Everyone is terrified, including Orgeron (somehow terrified of himself), and despite all the movement, nothing productive is taking place (10-25 in three seasons).  Basically, it looked like this:

(stolen from Smart Football)

However, if you do attend practices, you better damn well take good notes and post them on the internet.  If I don't know how the battle for the third position in the running back depth chart is going, I'm going to be pissed.  PISSED I tell you.

Tennessee loses two defensive linemen for the season and it's not due to fighting fans or off-duty cops
Project starters Ben Martin, a defensive end, and Marlon Walls (who was involved in the Bar Knoxville rumble), a defensive tackle, both injured an Achilles tendon in practice and are expected to miss the entire season.  This leaves Tennessee with one player that has seen real playing time at defensive tackle.  And the news comes after the football program learned the NCAA is interested in setting up a satellite office in Knoxville for activities related to the Lane Kiffin era.  Kiffin has publicly said the NCAA will find no wrongdoing, but let us also remember that Lane Kiffin is an idiot.

If the NCAA does find that Kiffin was up to what everyone thinks he was up to, how severely will Tennessee be punished?  I'm of the belief that this investigation is more of a hunting of Lane Kiffin rather than Tennessee.  Now, Tennessee should be punished for hiring Kiffin (perhaps along the lines of AD Mike Hamilton being forced to wear a sackcloth for the duration of 2010-11), but I wouldn't be surprised if the NCAA just slaps Tennessee around with some velvet gloves (as all NCAA administrators already wear them anyway) and finds a way (i.e. makes some shit up) to punish Kiffin further than natural disposition already has.

Urban Meyer is actually 91 years old
Meyer has closed practices to the public because he wants to protect his players from "internet people" and "scumbags."  And yes, as he made this announcement, he was standing in his front yard, wearing a bathrobe and wildly waving a rolled-up newspaper.  Tasks for the scout team this week:  Water tomato garden and record the temperature every 25 minutes.

Boise State coach Chris Peterson has banned his players from using Twitter during football season
I think I'm okay with this because I already know what goes on in Boise, Idaho:  NOTHING.

The NCAA investigatory bell tolls for Miami
Yet another team now under the scrutiny of NCAA investigators.  To be fair, at least this investigation does not involve the party in South Beach that nearly every athlete in the Southeast attended.  This investigation involves improper text messages and phone calls.  BORING.  Come on, Uncle Luke, give us something we can enjoy.  Strip clubs, jet skis, white tigers, white tigers on jet skis.  You're getting a little sloppy down there.  We know you're better than that.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

A Late Arrival to the Stewart Mandel Party

By now, I assume you've taken in CNNSI's Stewart Mandel's piece where he claims Houston Nutt is a dirty coach.  The OPINION piece (need to remember that) has caused outrage throughout the Ole Miss fan base, no doubt leading to emails to Mandel in which he is asked to name a time and place where said emailer may come kick his ass, and it has delighted other fan bases, most notably Arkansas and Mississippi State.  I've read several good responses to Mandel's poorly researched piece, the best of which can be found here (another good one here), but felt The Belly of the Beast needed to unleash its bag of hot gas, and not because Mandel believes Nutt is dirty, but because he was so damn lazy in getting his facts in line.  God forbid he spend 10 minutes using Google.  Anyway, taking a page out of the great and now extinct Fire Joe Morgan's playbook (brief pause to pour out a 110 oz bottle of King Cobra), here is The Belly of the Beast's paragraph-by-paragraph response.
College football fans love to toss around the word "dirty." Pete Carroll was "dirty," they'll tell you, because one of his former stars took a bunch of money. Urban Meyer must be "dirty" because so many of his players get arrested. Lane Kiffin is presumably "dirty" because ... well, duh.
So are you also about to recklessly throw about the "dirty" label?  Yes?  Outstanding!  Point of order to make, no one has ever called Lane Kiffin "dirty."  Being an idiot does not necessarily make one dirty.  And Pete Carroll, while dirty, is ready to WIN FOREVER so that makes it all better.
The definition of "dirty" seems to vary based on one's affiliation, but surely we can all agree on at least one designation: A dirty coach is willing to eschew his integrity if doing so might pay off in a couple more W's. He's not so much a winner as a survivalist. He's not even necessarily a rule-breaker because he creates his own loopholes.
I'm pretty sure it's universally agreed upon that a dirty coach is one who breaks the rules.  Wait, let me check.......(consulting everyone)......yes, that is the consensus.  So if he's not breaking any rules, then what is he doing wrong?  HE'S GOING ABOUT HIS BUSINESS, BUT I DON'T LIKE THAT LOOK IN HIS EYE.
Which is why Ole Miss' Houston Nutt -- more so than any of the aforementioned names -- is a certifiably dirty coach.
Wait, I'm sorry, which one of those coaches just got his school slammed with probation, but bolted for Seattle before said probation hammer was dropped?  Pete Carroll?  Are we sure?  Pete Carroll?  Yes, I'm being told that is correct.  It was Pete Carroll.
Nutt's controversial decision to add trouble-plagued Oregon exile Jeremiah Masoli to his roster on the eve of preseason camp is so transparently pathetic in its desperation you wonder how he can make it with a straight face. And yet we should hardly be surprised.
How can he do it with a straight face?  Have you seen Nathan Stanley in action?  That's how.
This is, after all, the same man who hired a high school coach he didn't want just to keep a quarterback recruit he wound up losing anyway; turned the practice of oversigning into such a farce that the SEC had to make up a rule just to curb him; and, just last year, welcomed another high-profile castoff with a checkered past only to watch him run afoul of the law again before playing a down with the Rebels.
The so-called "Right Reverend" has voluntarily gone down the wrong path again.
EVERY OTHER COACH IN AMERICA:  How did Houston come up with idea to hire high school coaches in order to aid in recruiting?  I NEVER WOULD HAVE THOUGHT OF THAT.  THE MAN IS A GENIUS.  SOMEONE WRITE THAT IDEA DOWN.

Schools in the SEC that have oversigned since 2006:  ALL OF THEM.  While Nutt was the leader in the clubhouse with a 37, he was not the inventor of such practice.

And do you know what happened to that player (Jamar Hornsby) after he ran afoul of the law?  Kicked off the team.  Here Mandel is laying the groundwork for an argument that goes something like this:  If you commit a crime, you should never get a second chance.  Rob a house?  Spend two years in jail?  Sorry, no more chances for you.  Good luck with life on the street.  People like you don't deserve real jobs.
Masoli, the star quarterback for Oregon's 2009 Rose Bowl team, was desperate to find a new football team following his June dismissal, and Ole Miss just happens to be in desperate need of another quarterback following the transfer of second-stringer Raymond Cotton. And so, thanks to a convenient NCAA loophole, Masoli, a recent sociology grad, may wind up starting for an SEC team less than six months after being charged for second-degree burglary, and just three months after getting caught with marijuana while already on suspension from his former team. As an added bonus, he'll get to pursue his lifelong dream of attaining a master's degree in Parks and Recreation Management.
Only in America. Or at least in one dirty coach's pocket of it.
Is something really a loophole if IT'S IN THE NCAA'S RULES/WAIVERS THAT ALLOW SUCH A MOVE?  According to Webster, a loophole is defined as "an ambiguity or omission in the text through which the intent of a statute, contract, or obligation may be evaded."  A loophole was Ed Orgeron figuring out that sending 10,000 texts to a recruit was okay because the NCAA had not addressed the texting issue at that time.  The NCAA has clearly addressed the graduate transfer issue and has the rules pertaining to it written somewhere important.  

If you read Michael McKnight's excellent feature on Masoli last week, you know there's more to the player's story than meets the eye. Evidence suggests the quarterback may have played almost no role in the infamous fraternity laptop theft at Oregon last January. His widely reported involvement in a "series of strong-armed robberies" in high school actually consisted of one incident in which he may also have been a bystander. And there's something to be said for earning one's undergraduate degree in three years.
But that doesn't make Masoli an angel. He still lied to police during the fraternity investigation, then pleaded guilty to a crime he now says he did not commit. He also lied to his coach, Chip Kelly, who showed restraint in not dismissing him initially, before promptly blowing his second chance with the marijuana bust.
Only a dirty coach would take a chance on a kid who so blatantly duped his previous coach.
Nutt says he did his homework. He spoke with Oregon coaches. He spoke with Masoli's mother. He invited the player for a campus visit last weekend to "look in his eyes."
"I spent a great deal of time with him," Nutt told SI.com's Andy Staples on Sunday. "I really feel that I can help him and he can help us."
Indeed, what better place to send a wayward quarterback than to the coach who helped turn Jevan Snead into an undrafted free agent.
It was Houston Nutt who forced Snead to turn pro.  It was Houston Nutt who forced him to throw 20 interceptions in one season.  Houston Nutt set out to ruin Snead's life and is succeeding!  By the way, nice job of throwing in a line about, you know, actual coaching when the point of this atrocity is that Nutt is a dirty coach.  STICK TO ONE ARGUMENT, MANDEL.  WE'RE ALL SIMPLETONS DOWN HERE WHO CAN'T KEEP UP.
Nutt, an Arkansas native, was once a widely respected coach known for his close family, his strong Christian values (hence the "Right Reverend" tag) and his loyalty to his home state. In 2003, after taking the Razorbacks to bowl games each of his first six seasons, he turned down serious overtures from Nebraska to remain at Arkansas. (Only later would he become famous for tossing his name into every coaching opening in the country.)
How dare he look for a better job!  I know that if I was dealing with batshit crazy editors at CNNSI and I saw an opening that involved fewer batshit crazy editors and better money, I'd refuse to even look.
Something changed, however, after enduring consecutive losing seasons in 2004 and '05. It's not hard to pinpoint the moment when Nutt went to the dark side.
Probably when the Emperor shot him with those bolts of lightning out of his fingers.
In the winter following the '05 season, amid whispers about Nutt's job security, his prized recruit, quarterback Mitch Mustain of nearby Springdale, Ark., began wavering on his commitment. So Nutt took the unusual step of hiring Mustain's high school coach, hurry-up guru Gus Malzahn, to be his offensive coordinator, which ensured pledges from Mustain and three of his similarly touted teammates.
EVERY OTHER COACH IN AMERICA:  Dammit, how did he think of that?  If only we could have been practicing that for years!
Nutt's coup paid off in the short term, with Arkansas notching its best season of his tenure (10 wins and an SEC West title), but ultimately led to his unraveling. Having ditched Malzahn's flashy offense after just one game, believing it could never work in the "big boy" SEC, Malzahn bolted town after the '06 season. (His offense, meanwhile, is working just fine at Auburn.) Mustain and receiver Damian Williams left for USC shortly thereafter. Enraged Razorbacks fans unleashed the hounds, publicizing a nasty letter sent by a friend of the coach's family to Mustain; obtaining his cell phone records and exposing an apparent relationship with a local TV news anchor (they exchanged 1,063 texts in six weeks).
Stewart Mandel, I'd like to introduce you to Darren McFadden and Felix Jones.  Oh, you'd rather have a true freshman quarterback be featured in the offense?  Very well then.  Also, Malzahn's offense seems to be working well because they're pretty good AT RUNNING THE BALL.  But all of this is clear evidence of a moral decline, which means Houston Nutt is a DIRTY COACH.
As soon as he got through the next regular season, Nutt packed his bags for Oxford before someone else did it for him. He's won nine games each of his first two seasons, including a pair of Cotton Bowl victories, yet the 52-year-old continues to make decisions like a desperate man with no job security.
The nerve of him leaving for a better situation.  Terrible moral fiber.
In his first full recruiting calendar at Ole Miss, Nutt brazenly signed 37 players -- 37! -- fully intending to stash the non-qualifers (of which there wound up eight) at junior colleges in the state. SEC schools are now limited to 28 signees per class because of it. Four of the nine highest-rated players from that '09 Ole Miss class are no longer with the program and another is suspended indefinitely.
I heard he even signed these guys with both middle fingers sticking in the air.  And again, SEC schools have long embraced the tradition of oversigning.  Nutt was the tipping point.  Also, it's not like these guys were hidden in secretive junior colleges.  ANYONE could still recruit and sign them.  As for the guys no longer with the program, THEY MUST HAVE BEEN CRIMINALS IF THEY DID NOT COMPLETE THEIR FOUR YEARS AT OLE MISS.  CRIMINALS RECRUITED BY A DIRTY COACH.
One of the four-star signees in that class was safety Jamar Hornsby, who was dismissed from Florida in 2008 after fraudulently using the credit card of a female student killed in a motorcycle accident with one of his former teammates. Disgusting, right? Apparently not to Nutt, who swooped up Hornsby after a year in junior college, only to watch Hornsby get arrested again a month after Signing Day on charges of assaulting a man at a McDonald's drive-thru.
Let's not point out that Hornsby didn't know she was dead.  Or that the card, while in the woman's name, was used primarily by Hornsby even when she was alive.  Or that Nutt managed to out-swoop Alabama, Kentucky and Oregon, all of which were recruiting Hornsby.  As for the McDonald's fight/beating, when Jamar Hornsby wants the fish fillet, you better damn well give him the fish fillet.  Also, he was immediately kicked off the team.
Yet here we are again, a year later, with Nutt taking another chance on another risky player -- purportedly for altruistic reasons. "You want to try to make a difference," said Nutt. "After visiting with him, the bottom lime is I think he wants to do the right thing. He wants his name back."
Nutt's humanitarian interests in Masoli's redemption might seem more credible if they didn't magically materialize the day after his quarterback transferred.
Another risky player who just a few paragraphs ago I wrote probably wasn't guilty of the crimes with which he was charged.  And who is Houston Nutt to look for another quarterback when he loses one.  That isn't right.  Only a dirty coach would do such a thing.
The truth is, Nutt could have found any number of walk-on candidates to fill the emergency third-stringer role. Nutt's taking Masoli because the former Holiday Bowl MVP and lethal dual-threat athlete has the ability to lift Ole Miss from its predicted finish in the SEC West basement (according to the SEC media's preseason poll) back to another respectable bowl. Apparently the terminally insecure coach doesn't feel he can afford a rebuilding year despite averaging nine wins over his past four seasons.
He also could have found a 5'5" MIS student from Pakistan.  Or a a squirrel.  Or a bucket of thumbtacks.  And what a disgusting human being and coach he is for wanting to have a better than mediocre season.  It's simply appalling he'd want to see his team enjoy a successful season.  
What message does this send to Nathan Stanley, the Ole Miss sophomore who, while Masoli was in self-induced football exile, spent the offseason dutifully working to earn himself a starting job? What message does it send to the families of future recruits about Nutt's attitude toward discipline? He presumably stopped caring three or four years ago.
Here's where a phone call would have been helpful for research purposes.  "Hey, OleMissBeatWriterPerson, what about Nathan Stanley?"  To which he would have discovered, Stanley, along with team leaders and seniors, told Nutt that they supported the pursuit of Masoli.  They were interested in, *GASP*, winning.
And what does it say about the SEC and NCAA that they would allow this to happen? Masoli is not the first player to take advantage of the graduate-transfer waiver allowing for immediate eligibility. He follows in the footsteps of former Cincinnati quarterback Ben Mauk and former Duke point guard-turned Syracuse quarterback, Greg Paulus, among others.
Unlike them, however, Masoli is changing locales solely because his previous team wouldn't let him stay. If it had, he would probably still be suspended this season. You can't blame Masoli for using whatever avenue possible to continue playing football -- even accepting a walk-on invitation -- but he still needed the approval of a morally ambivalent coach to make it happen.
Did Duke really want Greg Paulus still hanging around?  And Masoli needed the approval of a coach who followed the NCAA rules in such matters.
Masoli's former coach, Kelly, spent much of last winter fighting a stigma that his program was "dirty" following a rash of off-the-field incidents. But the second-year Oregon coach wound up dismissing or suspending every player who ran into trouble.
If only Houston Nutt would dismiss or suspend all of the players causing trouble on his watch.  Wait, what's that?  He has?  Oh.  I probably should have taken the time to look that up.
The only "dirty" coach in this scenario is the one openly welcoming other coaches' castoffs.
So how far around the block does the line for these coaches end?

And because he wasn't done making an absurd argument, here's a portion of Mandel's mailbag column from yesterday:
I knew the Nutt column would elicit some strong reactions, but I had no idea they would split so diametrically between the states of Mississippi and Arkansas.
Are you telling me Ole Miss fans, most of which live primarily in the state of Mississippi, would support their head coach, and that Arkansas fans, most of which live within the STATE OF ARKANSAS and don't like Nutt, would support your argument?  Consider me floored.
It's no surprise Ole Miss fans so vociferously defended their coach (though I have no doubt the same exact people would have crucified Dan Mullen if by chance Mississippi State had taking Masoli instead), but apparently Nutt is about as popular in Arkansas as Kiffin is in Tennessee.
Yes, they would have, but would you have written the same steaming pile of shit about Mullen?  After all, he had a large part in Florida's recruitment of the 873 players that have been suspended or kicked off the team.  THAT SOUNDS LIKE A LOGICAL JUMP TO ME.
Listening to some of the revisionist history out there about Pete Carroll's USC tenure, you'd think he was handing Reggie Bush money out of his own wallet, which couldn't be further from the truth. If you're going to accuse someone of being "dirty," it really ought to be for something of his own doing.
You mean like letting celebrities hang around your program all day, calling sports agencies and getting your players summer jobs at those agencies and not checking up on your assistants to see what they're doing in recruiting or otherwise?  Would you consider that of one's own doing?