Archive for December, 2014

Why College Football Fans Need More Brent Musburger

“You’re looking live” — Brent Musburger

Dear ESPN,

College Football is not something you can Disneyfy. College Football is a violent game, played in loud, raging cathedrals where the noise bounces off the walls and reverberates to heaven to hell and back on the field. Our stadiums have names like ‘Death Valley’. Not ‘Heaven Valley’. You might want to call Penn State’s stadium ‘Happy Valley’, but you’re an idiot. It’s actually ‘Beaver Stadium’, and we’ve been, and for a big game, we swear angels have feared to tread there. We jump around. We shout. We’ll dress our stadiums in white, black, blue, orange to give our fans souls the unity that we feel and a memory they’ll never forget.

It’s not about religion (OK, it is if you’re Notre Dame), because college football IS our religion. We are faithful. We are attached. We don’t change our college, however hard it is to during the bad times. We allow ourselves to demand change, and we hoot and holler with the best of ’em.

We show up early to tailgates, drink before games, get plastered on beer and bourbon (and if you’re at Ole Miss, champagne, wine and cocktails), and play drinking games. We live on gumbo, Texas steaks, and pulled pork. A lot of us smoke, which is also bad for you, and some of our students smoke stuff that’s not entirely legal in anywhere but the State of Colorado (where your man Chris Fowler went to school. He didn’t engage in the sort of things they engage in in Boulder, I’m sure of it (wink! wink!)). And people drink AT games, too. You know it. I know it. I’ve indulged in the hip flask passing round session in Neyland Stadium with some Notre Dame fans during the Tennessee game in 2005. And  you know what? It makes us a little louder. And that OK.

Our students might swear. In fact, they probably do. Because that’s what people do in sports. They swear, a lot. They are passionate. Our women have been known to show their fingers at the same games, or scream their hatred of LSU at the top of their lungs, while their boyfriend is YouTubing her. If your quarterback misses his wide receiver by a mile, or your team can’t defend worth a crap, you probably use a bit of language. Because it’s the language of frustration, and maybe, a “****ing Yes!!” is the language of elation, too. I’m sure Auburn fans used the “*****ing Yes!” in 2013 as much as they did “*****ing No!” in 2014. LSU fans screamed abuse at Nick Saban, their hated ex-coach in the same way that Tennessee fans mouthed off to Lane Kiffin. Ohio State will say all sorts of things to opposition players and fans when they walk into the Horseshoe, one of the loudest places on earth, and that’s part of the game. Hospitality and neutrality sometimes don’t go hand in hand. On the other hand, there are some of our students who like to dress up. Especially down south. Our frat boys and sorority girls like to bring a little class to the game by their bow ties, khakis, and cocktail dresses and constant smiles and constant reminder of campus power. A lot of our sorority girls – and it’s not hard to work them out in a stadium – are great-looking, because the cameraman’s looking for them as much as we are. We’ve seen it on CBS and ESPN’s coverage.  In the SEC, we’re never without a shaker, either, and we know how to time our singing and shaking.

And people gamble on the game. You know that, and I know that. It’s all about spreads, Vegas and silly things. If you didn’t think it was serious business, ESPN, then you wouldn’t post the line on your website on ‘Game Schedules’, would you? We know about this, because we’re still swearing about Auburn vs Florida State from a year ago.

And the players themselves? They are the gods of the game. They come from different corners of life, and they are the future. They make plays, we cheer. They screw up, we boo. It’s long and storied tradition. We vet them for the future with the big guys in the NFL from the start of their college career to the end. But to be honest, we’ve been vetting them since high school, and hoping – if he’s good – that he signs for our schools, and brings us back to the Promised Land that we deserve. We live on recruiting sites, hoping that the 5-star recruit from Texas will sign to us not to Texas (here’s looking at you, Malik Jefferson), and it’s big news. The great thing is is that Nick Saban can’t have all the great recruits in the country, because there are rules on scholarships, although coaches have been using some stuff to get around that. Oh, and we have boosters who can pay money to kids to come play for us….and hopefully we don’t get caught at it.

Head coaches and their assistants are there to make our gods play well. If a head coach does well, we’re happy. If he doesn’t after a couple of years, we lose our patience, and we beg for the boards of our universities to find someone new. The ESPN-given money to the game lets big schools offer exorbitant amounts of money to the big coaches, so they might stay or they might come. No-one knows if you’re going to come to Michigan, Jim Harbaugh, but you’ve been offered a lot of change by the maize and blue. And don’t screw up it up. And if our coach doesn’t do the job, then he’ll pocket millions in a buy-out clause and quite possibly go into another job as an assistant, or work for TV.

This brings me to Brent Musburger. For me, Musburger has been as much commentator as student of the game. We miss the phrase “You’re looking live!” or his comments about favoritism connected to Vegas. He used words like “This part of the world”, and brings you into the world. In rivalry games, he’s always completely on point, and he’s not afraid to ask an analyst his opinion on something. His best moments have been many. There was the time when we saw Florida State lass Jenn Sterger in a cowboy hat and cowboy outfit for the FSU-Miami game in 2005 and he said: “And suddenly 1,500 red-blooded Americans just decided to apply to Florida State“. Sterger became famous. There was also Katherine Webb, Alabama QB AJ McCarron’s girlfriend, which created much controversy when he said how good-looking Webb was. ESPN apologised, and people took to Twitter until….Webb said she wasn’t bothered by it. “I think the media has been really unfair to [Musburger],” Webb said. “I think that if he would have said … that we were hot or sexy or made any derogatory statements like that, I think that would have been a little bit different. But the fact that he said we were beautiful and gorgeous, I don’t see why any woman wouldn’t be flattered by that.” So if you’re in batting average, he’s 2-for-2 in helping beautiful college ladies launch careers.

But this isn’t about Musburger and his schoolboy humor in a male-dominated environment, Musburger made his comment from knowing his audience.There was also the USC-Penn State game, when Penn State were getting savaged but driving at the end of the game to score a touchdown that would have lowered the spread. “And suddenly, Vegas is on its feet!” he said, and we smiled. Because a lot of money (as we’ve already mentioned) gets swirled around college football in terms of gambling, and Musburger wasn’t afraid to mention it. He appeared on College Gameday in 2013 to give tips on Northwestern’s game with Ohio State (he’s a NW grad, by the way), and was absolutely fantastic. And he did a great job in the most exciting National Championship Games in recent years.

ESPN decided to replace him with College Gameday host Chris Fowler (while staying with analyst Kirk Herbstreit) after the season ended.

He said at the time: “Obviously, I was disappointed I was not going to be doing one of the semifinals and the final. I’m not going to mislead anyone with that and I have told [ESPN head] John Skipper and [ESPN executive VP) John Wildhack the same thing. But I also know that was not going to change anything. It was time to take a different challenge and move on. Did I sit around and cry about it? Absolutely not. There’s no need for me to look back. I have to look forward.”

We can only wonder how Chris Fowler would have taken the news if it was the opposite way round.

He was moved the SEC Network, which we all knew was a move downwards. If this was the EPL, it was a relegation. And how we knew it was a relegation? Easy. The games that Brent Musburger’s called for the SEC Network which he was GREAT at, have been awful in their standard, for want of a better word. I mean, if there’s a crappy third-rung game in the SEC, Brent’s going to be calling it. And calling it well.

He also had: Sam Houston State vs LSU (Week 2), Kentucky vs Florida (Week 3), South Carolina vs Vanderbilt (Week 4), Louisiana Tech vs Auburn (Week 5), Florida vs Tennessee (Week 6), LSU vs Florida (Week 7), Kentucky at LSU (Week 8), South Carolina at Auburn (Week 9), Kentucky at Missouri (Week 10), UT-Martin at Mississippi State (Week 11), Missouri at Texas A&M (Week 12), and Western Carolina vs Alabama in Week 13.

In these games, there were one or two 12pm games, a few 4pm games (which go head-t0-head with the SEC game on CBS, which is always a big draw, blow-out or no blow-out), and a few prime-time games, which again go head-to-head with the bigger, nationally televised games commentated on by Chris Fowler, who’s as smooth, friendly, and non-offensive. Look, we love him when he does College Gameday (and couldn’t imagine it without him), but we hate it when he does the play-by-play. He’s got no call sign, no amusing takes on different fanbases, and the only thing he’s ever done in living memory was act like one of the school bullies in the playground off-air laughing at a Clemson fan distraught at his team’s loss.

As with every game, he’s brought it. He’s never sounded disinterested, or as monotonous as the rest of his SEC Network commentators. For someone who’s just been relegated, he’s managed the situation with Championship grace. You know, because that’s what full professionals look like.

Someone at ESPN must have gotten the fact that Brent Musburger did a better job than any of his commentating colleagues at the SEC Network, because he was returned to ESPN for the Iron Bowl, everybody loved his return.

So please ESPN, let’s have more of Brent in 2015 on the ESPN channel rather than Louisiana Tech vs Auburn or Western Carolina vs Alabama….and crappy bowl games like the ones he’s been given this year. We realize that you don’t owe him anything, but you owe the fans at least a commentator we can enjoy for a big game.

Here’s some awesome Musburger moments.

SEC Bowl Predictions: Will Alabama Roll?

We were thinking of going with such articles as “SEC bowls we’re looking forward to”, but if we’re honest, we’re looking forward to all of ’em, unless we get drinking and then we stop watching football because we’re too busy catching up with THAT GUY who we went to high school with who’s back for a while to show off his new wife and tell everybody how he got that BIG CAREER in the city. Let’s face it, the guy who’s come out of this Christmas best is Will Muschamp. Gets fired by Florida, gets $6.2m for his trouble. Picks up $1m job as defensive co-ordinator at Auburn a few weeks later. And has a smoking hot wife to boot. We love you, Mrs Muschamp.

Anyway, rant over. Here’s our predictions:

JAN 1 – SUGAR BOWL / PLAY-OFF SEMI FINAL – ALABAMA VS OHIO STATE

We didn’t really believe in Lane Kiffin’s offense until the Auburn and Missouri games. And now, we believe. We believe in the strategy of speed, a mobile quarterback, and one of the best wide receivers in the league. We believe in a defense that still struggles against high-speed offences, but believes in themselves in the red-zone. We’re starting to believe in the secondary. We believe that Alabama’s going to beat Ohio State, and it’ll probably be by 10, if not more. Cardele Jones, Ohio State’s QB, has got a CANNON for an arm, but this Alabama pass rush is not Wisconsin’s.

PREDICTION: Alabama by 14 in a game that’s not that great. You know, except for Bama fans. We are hoping for lots of ESPN fan shots of wasted fans stumbling around the ‘Dome after overdoing it on New Year’s Eve and topping it up on New Year’s Day. 

(By the way, we think OREGON’S GOING TO BEAT FLORIDA STATE AND JAMEIS WINSTON’S GOING TO BITCH ABOUT IT).

AND NOW IN DATE ORDER….

SOUTH CAROLINA VS MIAMI (INDEPENDENCE BOWL), DECEMBER 27TH

We’ve never been to Shreeveport, LA so we don’t know what the place is like, but we’re sure it would be a great place to spend a post-Christmas vacation to watch the Independence Bowl. Or not watch it, because this game’s going to be ugly. South Carolina has been awful this season, and Miami has had no real identity, apart from being involved in an awesome night game in Nebraska. Which they lost. South Carolina’s got Spurrier, so we hope he’s got some cracks about the “U” in the 1980s.

PREDICTION: Miami beats South Carolina by 3 in a close game. Spurrier throws his visor a lot. 

TEXAS A&M VS WEST VIRGINIA (LIBERTY BOWL, MEMPHIS), DECEMBER 29TH

The over/under’s is 67 for this game. You are kidding, right? 167’s the better bet. And we’d still take the over. This is going to be fun.

PREDICTION: Texas A&M wins 143-141 in the longest college football game ever. 

ARKANSAS VS TEXAS (TEXAS BOWL, HOUSTON), DECEMBER 29TH

Arkansas ****ing hates Texas. They really do. We remember a few years ago when Texas came into Arky for a game in Fayetteville. The smell of hatred was in the air. These two teams have played each other 77 times in the past, so it’s not exactly a new rivalry. If they get a 14-point lead, there’s no other winner in this game than the Razorbacks. The Horns just have no offense. But can they get through Texas’ born-again ‘D’?

PREDICTION: Arkansas by 7 in a great one.

GEORGIA VS LOUISVILLE (BELK BOWL, CHARLOTTE), DECEMBER 30TH

Georgia will just be hoping to get through the bowl game without MORE big-time injuries/suspensions. Don’t be surprised if the Dawgs mail it in. The fans will be tailgating (those who actually go, who won’t be many) and talking about Todd Grantham, the Louisville DC. Since he came to Louisville, the Cardinals have been really good at getting off the field on 3rd downs, which wasn’t really a concept at UGA. Look out for DeVonte Parker, the Louisville WR, who’s really, really good.

PREDICTION: Louisville by 7. Also take the “over” on 56.5, too. 

NOTRE DAME VS LSU (MUSIC CITY BOWL, NASHVILLE), DECEMBER 30TH

CATHOLICS VS CAJUNS!!!! We can’t wait. We can’t wait for the comedy quarterbacks – Notre Dame’s Everett Gholson (who sucks), and LSU’s Anthony Jennings (who really, really sucks), some pretty bad defence, and ESPN trying to sell us on this fantastic rivalry. The last time these two met, LSU beat the crap out of Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl, and it was AWESOME. The crowd was really drunk, and one of them had a great sign that said: “Even Rudy can’t save you!!” Can’t wait to see LSU fans in Nashville’s country bars. Should liven ’em up….

PREDICTION: LSU by 3 in game everyone would like to forget. 

MISSISSIPPI STATE VS GEORGIA TECH (ORANGE BOWL), DECEMBER 31ST

A pre-New Year’s Bowl for Mississippi State is a real disappointment for a team that was at one stage No.1 and an almost-cert for a play-off. You know, until they lost to Alabama and then Ole Miss. We love Dak Prescott, but we’re not sure how much more this team has in its tank, especially against a Georgia Tech that beat Georgia on the road and gave Florida State the time of their lives.

PREDICTION: Georgia Tech by 7 in the monster upset. 

OLE MISS VS TCU (PEACH BOWL), DECEMBER 31ST

Ole Miss and TCU fans: You should definitely go to Atlanta for Christmas. Atlanta’s got some really cool areas and is a lot of fun. We think it’s going to be 80:20 Ole Miss fans in the Georgia Dome thanks to the geography. The question we’ve got is this: Will TCU be going into this game with a chip on its shoulder after getting left out of the play-off, or will they be so distraught that Robert Nkemdiche & Co eats their offense alive? Oh, and keep Bo Wallace out of the Clermont Lounge before the game, the offense might click (after the game, Bo, Clermont away!!!).

PREDICTION: This is going to be one of the closest games of the bowl season. I’m stumping for Ole Miss in the upset because their D is better than TCU’s. A lot better. 

AUBURN VS WISCONSIN (OUTBACK BOWL), JAN 1

To quote an Alabama line, Auburn’s going to beat the hell of Wisconsin. Wisconsin was scuppered by head coach Gary Anderson deciding that he suddenly loved Oregon State, and Paul Chryst’s hiring from Pittsburgh is hardly inspiring. And it might be Barry Alvarez coaching the bowl game, it might be Chryst. Melvin Gordon will go at half-pace to try and not get injured (and still go for 150 against Auburn’s ‘D’), while Wisconsin’s D will not be able to cope with the fast pace of the Tigers. The big eyes will be on Will Muschamp and the defense, which will no doubt get criticised if they do one thing wrong.

PREDICTION: Auburn by 21. 

MISSOURI VS MINNESOTA (CITRUS BOWL), JAN 1

TRUE HOPE: Let’s hope Jerry Kill doesn’t have an epileptic fit. OTHER TRUE HOPE: Let’s hope some fans show up to the game. PROBABLE FACT: Seats will outnumber fans for this one.

PREDICTION: If anyone cares apart from degenerate gamblers, Missouri probably wins by 7. Maybe.

TENNESSEE VS IOWA (TAXSLAYER BOWL, JACKSONVILLE), JAN 2

When you’re playing the day AFTER the New Year’s Day Bowl and the College Play-Off, you know that you didn’t have a particularly great season. And this is the case for these two teams. Look, we think Tennessee’s got talent at wide receiver, but the offensive line’s so young, and Josh Dobbs has a lot to learn. And as for Iowa, we’re still wondering how Kirk Ferentz is in a job after inspiring nobody for about a decade.

PREDICTION: Iowa scores one for the Big Ten, winning by 7.

FLORIDA VS EAST CAROLINA (BIRMINGHAM BOWL, BIRMINGHAM, AL), JAN 3

Um….Er….Yeah. Great. Can’t wait. If Jim McElwain deals with 50% of UF’s offensive issues in this game, he’s an offensive GOD. That’s how bad the Gators are on offense (and still managed to dump on Georgia). The Gators ‘D’ is going to be tested by East Carolina’s offense, too.

PREDICTION: Florida by 14, although this game is pretty entertaining for the 500 fans in attendance.

 

 

 

Malcolm Mitchell avoids NFL Draft embarrassment by staying at Georgia

Malcolm Mitchell’s decision to stay at Georgia for the 2015 instead of leaving early for the NFL was one that he and his family probably thought about deeply, but they needn’t have. Because if Mitchell HAD gone to the NFL, it would have been a tragic mistake.

Why? Because if he had gone in his junior year, he would have earned money – but he would have only made it in the second day of the draft….if at all.

Look, there’s no doubt of Mitchell’s skill. He’s caught 1,466 yards and 11 TDs for the Bulldogs, and he’s a converted cornerback. He’s got blazing speed, and would scare anyone as a long threat or slot receiver.

He can also play both ways, although we think Georgia will concentrate on him being a wide receiver in 2015, unless the Bulldogs secondary is all in jail, like they seem to be for most off-seasons.

Mitchell is doubtless extremely talented, but thanks to his horrible injury history, we doubt Kevin Costner would be fighting off other NFL GMs to land this guy in a 2015 real-life version of “Draft Day”.

Here’s the breakdown:

2011: Misses Vanderbilt, New Mexico State and Florida games with hamstring injury.

2012: Misses Buffalo game with ankle injury. Also hurt in Capital One Bowl at end of season on special teams play against Nebraska.

2013: Torn ACL at Clemson on opening Saturday. Misses season.

2014: Injury-hampered problems lead to delayed start in 2014 season.

If you’re a NFL team, why would you draft a player who’s got so much injury history? Why wouldn’t you wait, take him on as an undrafted free agent, invite him to camp, and see how he holds up then?

So if you’re Malcolm Mitchell, who’s only had seven games of health in 1-1/2 seasons due to injuring yourself at Clemson celebrating a touchdown (yes, we’re serious) , why would you be stupid/arrogant enough to think that you’ll easily be part of a NFL team’s plans, especially considering the talent that’s gone the year before into the NFL, and the talent that already exists in the league. Of course, every team’s looking for more wide receiving talent to stockpile, but a year more for Mitchell can only mean two good things: More touchdowns, and more money.

 

Auburn freshman shot and killed

Auburn redshirt freshman Jakell Mitchell has been killed in an off-campus shooting.

Mitchell, who is a tight end, was rushed into hospital after being shot multiple times at an apartment complex in Auburn.

Mitchell was expected to compete for the H-Back spot in the oncoming season, although he had not seen any football action since his junior year in high school, when he tore his ACL. He committed to Auburn in May 2013 as a three-star recruit, Auburn247sports.com reported.

The news comes just after a big celebration on campus for Auburn Football after they confirmed that they had hired Will Muschamp as defensive co-ordinator.

None of that matters now. All that matters is prayers for Mitchell’s family and the prayers that this will never happen again.

Auburn hires Muschamp as defensive co-ordinator

Auburn has hired former Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp as defensive co-ordinator, the school has announced.

According to ESPN, Muschamp will be paid $1.6m to $1.8m annually – making him “college football’s highest-paid defensive co-ordinator”.

I’m excited to welcome Will back to Auburn as our new defensive coordinator,” Tigers coach Gus Malzahn said in a statement. “Will is a one of the top defensive minds in college football who has great passion and energy for the game. He is a tremendous addition to our staff.

Muschamp’s Florida Gators defenses were not the problem during his stint in The Swamp – it was his offense.

Muschamp is no stranger to Auburn, having been the school’s defensive co-ordinator from 2006 to 2007 and a grad assistant there 10 years before.

Auburn noted that “Muschamp’s last stint at Auburn saw his defense ranked third in the nation in scoring defense (15.4 points per game) and fourth in the nation pass defense (170.7 pass yards per game). During the same two-year time frame, the Tigers’ ranked third in the SEC in total defense by holding opponents to 295.1 yards per game.”

BOTTOM LINE: This is a fantastic hire for Auburn University. Muschamp is a great recruiters, and thanks to his experience not only in the SEC but also in Texas, expect the Tigers to pick up top-of-the-line defensive recruits from all over the country. 

 

Who is OUR SEC Coach Of The Year For 2014?

After SEC coaches gave the SEC Coach of The Year award to Missouri’s Gary Pinkel, we decided that it was high time to rank the SEC coaches in terms of their job for this year. In advance: Will Muschamp didn’t win.

1) Dan Mullen (Mississippi State)

We thought he was joking when he said Mississippi State would compete for a SEC title this year. Well, it did. And a play-off berth. And they went to Tuscaloosa and played Alabama hard. And beat Auburn. And went to LSU and won for the first time in years. And had a No.1 spot. And had Heisman contender in Dak Prescott. The cowbells are still clanging in our eardrums. Oh, and the 10-2 record wasn’t bad easier. Seriously, Mullen’s job was nothing short of exceptional. We can’t wait to see what Mississippi State’s going to be like in, er, four years time (when he’s got another fantastic senior class).

2) Bret Bielema (Arkansas)

You might joke, but we expected the Razorbacks to have another SEC 0-fer this year. But they didn’t. Sure, they had their moments. They lost heartbreakers to Texas A&M and Alabama (particularly the A&M game, which we really thought they should have won), and played Mississippi State close. The 2-6 SEC record belies how good this Razorbacks team was this year. Can’t wait for 2015.

3) Hugh Freeze (Ole Miss)

Ole Miss had a season where they beat Alabama and beat Mississippi State and didn’t win the SEC West. That’s because Ole Miss had huge injuries that derailed their season – especially to WR Laquon Treadwell and LB Denzel Nkemdiche. And some headache moments from Bo Wallace didn’t help, either. But this was an awesome season for Ole Miss…and a great job to rebound from a horrible Arkansas loss to win the Egg Bowl. Oxford is in good hands.

4) Gary Pinkel (Missouri)

After losing a ton of defensive talent in 2013, we weren’t expecting anything from Missouri this year. But Missouri ended up winning the SEC East and going to the SEC Championship Game. Everyone’s going to talk about the Indiana loss and the horrible home loss to UGA, but they should also remember sterling battles at South Carolina and Texas A&M, where they came away with unexpected victories. And Missouri’s defense? Yeah. No worries there.

5) Mark Stoops (Kentucky) 

The turnaround in Kentucky has been incredible. If I told you last year that the Wildcats would beat South Carolina, take Florida to triple-overtime and have a shoot-out with Louisville, would you have believed me? Well, believe me. It happened. This is a fantastic turnaround in Lexington, and we can’t wait for further improvement in 2015.

6) Nick Saban (Alabama)

 

After the Ole Miss loss and poor game at Arkansas, it would be easy to be critical of Alabama – particularly with all the talent that Nick Saban gets year after year to come to Tuscaloosa. But Saban has rebounded, and his teams have looked nigh-on unstoppable, especially offensively. The hire of Lane Kiffin made a mockery of us. Let’s be honest: Saban’s a brilliant coach right now, and that’s why the Crimson Tide should win the title this season.

 

7) Butch Jones (Tennessee)

Got granted a monster extension by the Vols almost as soon as the season finished, helped by the fact that Tennessee showed that it’s going to be an exciting prospect in 2015. This team – which is really young all over the offense – is really talented. Especially at receiver. We can’t wait.

8) Gus Malzahn (Auburn)

Great offense, but horrific defense that didn’t get any better during the season. The Tigers WOULD have beaten Alabama this year had they converted three quarters of their red zone chances in the first half, but they didn’t. Their losses to Texas A&M and Georgia were simply laughable. They’ll be fine in 2015, but it’s fair to say that we were disappointed with their 4-4 SEC record.

9) Mark Richt (Georgia)

Considering the arrest/dismissal-related losses that Richt had in the off-season and the injury to Todd Gurley DURING the season, Georgia actually did pretty well. The reason why Georgia’s so low is that Georgia has got a lot of talent but always seems to disappoint with a couple of horrible losses. South Carolina and Florida were this year’s Georgia-ing.

10) Kevin Sumlin (Texas A&M)

A great win against South Carolina was followed by months of horror until the surprise win at Auburn. Otherwise, Texas A&M was nothing special this year. And the defense was simply ‘nothing’. The best two decisions of Sumlin’s season were to fire DC Mark Snyder, and to boot Kenny Hill from the starting job mid-season when things weren’t working well. But if this 3-5 SEC season becomes a habit – despite all the talent that’s coming into College Station – expect the whispers about Sumlin’s job to become roars.

11) Les Miles (LSU)

The Tigers gave us the BIG VICTORY this season when they upset Ole Miss at night in Baton Rouge, but the Tigers also gave us the BIG LOSS when they were upset by Mississippi State. They also gave us THE TYPICAL LES MILES SCREW UP against Alabama when a kick-off went out of bounds, starting the Crimson Tide on the 40. Oh, and when is Les Miles going to recruit a quarterback – because Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris were AWFUL this year. And that’s down to coaching.

12) Steve Spurrier (South Carolina)

After the Gamecocks were blown out by Texas A&M on the first day of the season, it was obvious that the team had no defensive heart. And despite the Georgia victory, that was true all the season through. Big play was given up over and over again. And on the other side of the ball, Dylan Thompson was probably one of the biggest quarterbacking disappointments in college football this year. Steve Spurrier did not help his own team by his own brutal honesty, when he kept telling the media how bad his team was. And if your coach isn’t doing any cheerleading, what can you expect from the team?

13=) Will Muschamp (Florida)

RIP, Will Muschamp. Despite flattening Georgia, having a couple of close losses, and having a pretty darned good defense,  your offense got you fired, and rightly so. Now go be a defensive co-ordinator.

13=) Derek Mason (Vanderbilt)

Mason was a fish out of water in the SEC this year, and still looks like a terrible hire. Listen, Vandy fans are still behind Mason, but if next season’s as bad as this one, the Commodores should fire him and start again. Because even those trust fund babies that go to that school in Nashville deserve a bit of pride.

How the death of UAB should make you re-think College Football

On Tuesday it was announced that UAB was killing off its D-1 football program. I wasn’t in the room when it was announced. But someone was.

Seeing the rage, sadness of the players, listening to the students scream outside the doors of the meeting room, and the listening to men cry out loud that the school was taking away what they fought for for four years was heartbreaking.

If the reactions don’t kill you inside as a college football fan, you don’t have a heart.

Blame has been appointed. Some people blame Paul Bryant – the grandson of Bear Bryant – and University of Alabama Board of Trustees Member and the late Gene Bartow, the goddfather of UAB Athletics (as reported by Deadspin). If this true, Paul, then you just demolished a piece of the state where your grandfather returned to because he heard Mama calling him back. Nice one. How did he think cutting UAB would curry favor with fans of Alabama and Auburn? Not only are the schools making tens of millions from ESPN every year, but the stadiums are sold out, anyway!!

Others blame UAB President Ray Watts – who announced the death of the program to the players with the empathy and likeability of a banking CEO announcing mass job cuts for the good of the shareholders – who had already employed a sports consultancy to help eviscerate the program via smokescreen anyway (called a “report”). By the way, he looks like Phil Fulmer, one of the more revered people in the South.

Anyway, this made me remember a press conference by Western Carolina coach Mark Speir, after his team had played Alabama, who ripped ESPN analyst and former Ohio State alum Kirk Herbstreit, after his College Gameday tirade in which he hammered big schools for playing FCS schools in November, and ruining Week 12. Although we don’t agree with a lot of Speir said, he said one thing that was really interesting: “Our boys went down there and played their butts off, and the only reason a lot of them was there was the scholarship money raised by the money we get from playing Alabama.

Before continuing this, I’d like to say that I am a hypocrite. I’ve heckled every SEC school in the country who has played a Directional Carolina, Alabama and Georgia, but suddenly, I’m seeing the point. The smaller schools need the money to survive. 

Of course, it’s not great sport. The SEC schools put up about 70 points in an atmosphere that’s one-up from the Christmas office party when everyone’s a little uneasy about getting overenthusiastic because of the tutt-tutting that might commence and the homecoming crowd get to smile and be happy because they beat the living crap out of some directional school in preparation for the Big Rivalry Game the next week. It’s like watching the Christians and the lions. Sometimes, the Christian wins (see Appalachian State vs Michigan (one of our favorite games of all-time), UAB itself against LSU in 2000 (when Nick Saban was head coach there) or even little Georgia Southern against Florida in 2013), but not often.

But the games provide money for the smaller programs. Because let’s face it, NCAA regulations dictate that not every player out of a high school – despite the fact that every one of them has worked their butt off – is going to play for a Power 5 conference team. Plus, bigger teams can put together something like the SEC does, in which they REQUIRE one or two Power 5 conference match-ups a year, meaning there’s still room for a bit of financial generosity for the Directional Carolinas of this world.

Because if this tradition (and let’s face it, we love our traditions here in the SEC) doesn’t continue, then schools like Western Carolina who get hundreds of thousands from playing games like this, are doomed. The costs that go into putting on teams is so astronomical that they will suffer.