The National Championship Drinking Game

Right, it’s the National Championship Game, and to keep you a little focussed on the game, we’ve got a drinking game for you.

You know the rules: If ESPN mentions this (through the sideline reporters, Chris Fowler or Kirk Herbstreit (we’ll let you off the College Gameday show if you’re too busy tailgatin’ the last day of the College Football season (sniff! sniff!)).

We aren’t expecting y’all to drink a shot-a-mention, because we don’t want to pay your hospital bills.

And make sure that your drink is alcohol, not water or soft drinks. So don’t cheat us on the fun.

So…..if ESPN mentions: 

—- This is an-all SEC National Championship Game — DRINK A SHOT

—- That tickets went for a minimum of $2,000 – ONE SHOT

—–That Kirby Smart was Nick Saban’s defensive co-ordinator — ONE SHOT

—- Ohio State, and how Alabama was 4th and used this as motivation — ONE SHOT

—- Davin Bellamy yelling ‘Humble Yourself’ at Baker Mayfield — ONE SHOT

—- Alabama’s strength coach smashing the National Championship Runners-Up trophy from last season —- TWO SHOTS

—- Any uses of the word ‘DeShaun Watson, Dabo Swinney, Clemson, Hunter Renfro” – ONE SHOT

—- Jalen Hurts and the screensaver of the Clemson loss that he uses as ammunition — TWO SHOTS

—- Jeremy Pruitt being the next coach of Tennessee — SHOT

—– ANY MENTION OF LANE KIFFIN — TWO SHOTS

—- That Jake Fromm started the season as a back-up to Jacob Eason —- ONE SHOT

—- Jake Fromm being referred to as a ‘game manager’ —-ONE SHOT

—- ‘Big Bo’ — ONE SHOT

—- If a Fat Guy Touchdown happens —- TWO SHOTS

—-Every Touchdown — A SHOT

—- If the game beats the O/U – TWO SHOTS

—- Camera pans to UGA Spike Squad —- ONE SHOT

—- Shot of bald UGA fan with Bulldog on his head —- ONE SHOT

—- Shot of Uga the Bulldog —- TWO SHOTS

—- Shot of Alabama fan you’re CERTAIN didn’t go to Alabama — TWO SHOTS

—- Mention of the Auburn loss for either Georgia or Alabama — TWO SHOTS

—- Mention of Mikah Fitzpatrick and anything related to NFL Round One Draft Pick —ONE SHOTS

—- Nick Chubb being a former track and field star — TWO SHOTS

—- Every time Jalen Hurts throws an INT — TWO SHOTS

—- Every time Jalen Hurts fumbles — TWO SHOTS

—- Any time any of the kickers misses a field goal or extra point — ONE SHOT

—- If the ‘Rammer Jammer’ song gets song either by Alabama fans or AT Bama fans — ONE SHOT

—- If Danny Kannell gets mentioned —- ONE SHOT

—- If Lee Corso picks Georgia — DOUBLE SHOT

—- If Lee Corso pick Alabama — SHOT

 

 

At the end of this, y’all should be ‘nicely oiled’. If  you’re not, you have the constitution of a rhino.

 

SEC fans of the year: The Tennesseee fans who stayed around

In 2017, it was easy to be an Alabama fan. It was easy to be a Georgia fan. It was easy to be an Auburn fan. Hell, at the end of the season, it was easy to be a LSU fan and a Missouri fan.

But it wasn’t an easy year for Tennessee fans.

This inaugural award doesn’t go to the Tennessee fans who started up the #EmptyNeyland campaign, aimed to show fans’ chagrin at Butch Jones. It doesn’t go to the people who jumped on the ‘No Schiano’ bandwagon, like my former priest, who claimed not to care about Tennessee – or any college football for that matter – because he was ‘too busy with kids, but managed to whack a sermon of Facebook telling everybody who would listen: ‘I don’t know who runs the decision making at the University of Tennessee, but this is a travesty. I’d never let any of my sons anywhere near a coach like this”, adding: “I’m absolutely appalled the University of Tennessee would hire anyone who was anywhere near that kind of horrific culture. It’s completely tone-deaf, and a giant middle finger to ethics, integrity, and wise program-building”. It doesn’t go to people who painted the rock with hate about former AD John Currie, Butch or Greg.

It goes to the Tennessee fans who stayed.

It goes to the Tennessee fans who kept going to games, even when they knew it wasn’t going to end nicely. It’s the fans who didn’t leave even when Georgia was up 42-0 with five minutes to go in the fourth quarter. It’s the fans who went to both home and away games, and kept rooting for their team, despite the carnage on (and off) the field, led by the likes of Clay Travis, ESPN and Twitter (including yours truly, who really thought Butch Jones should have gone last season).

It goes to the Tennessee fans who didn’t sign up to the #EmptyNeyland campaign. Those Tennessee fans who said: “Hell, I don’t know who’s gonna be coach next year, but it doesn’t really matter, but I’m going to be rooting for them anyway”. Those Tennessee fans who care about the team that they were willing to take the verbal barbs from the Georgia and Alabama fans at work, because whether their SEC brethren liked it or not, they were gonna keep supporting their team.

The Tennessee Fan Who Stayed Around deserves to be supported, given a round of applause and a pat on the back. We hope for the Tennessee Fan Who Stayed Around that times will be better under new coach Jeremy Pruitt. While some Tennessee fans will demand an 9-3 or 8-4 year at the worst in the first two years of Pruitt’s tenure, the Tennessee Fan Who Stayed Around will acknowledge that some things take time, like the brewing process of the moonshine he had after hunting deer in the Appalachians.

And most of all, it goes to the Tennessee students, who stayed around to say that they still believed in the team at whatever cost. Whether the fanbase likes it or not, the students have to suffer, because random SEC fans will tell them over Thanksgiving or Christmas: “Tough Year”. They won’t be talking about Grandma’s illness or even the retirement of Dale Jr, but they’ll be talking about the football team. This is the Tennessee student who’s still got three years to go, because it may not be the easiest wearing orange.

Happy Christmas, Tennessee fans, you’re our fans of the year.

Note: Vanderbilt fans came close, and then we remembered that Vanderbilt’s win over Kansas State as well as eviscerating the Vols made them the second most-suffering fanbase in the SEC. 

Week 4: How ’bout them Dawgs? Georgia rises in SEC Poll

So it seems that there is no stopping Alabama. Crushing Vanderbilt was hardly unexpected (although the margin of scoring was far bigger than Vegas offered before the game), but the way they looked doing it? Freakish. Out in the East, Georgia moves to No.2 on our list after an immense performance against Mississippi State, while Auburn’s stride up to No.3 was less about the win over hapless Missouri than the fact that we think they could probably beat Florida, Mississippi State and LSU if they played them tomorrow.

  1. Alabama: They are unstoppable at the moment. ‘Nuff said.
  2. Georgia: Against Mississippi State, Georgia played the perfect game. They were excellent in all facets of the ball. The biggest worry that the Dawgs have is at quarterback: Do they bring back Jacob Eason when he comes back or keep going with Jake Fromm? That’s a pretty good worry to have.
  3. Auburn: After the win-that-felt-like-a-loss against Mercer, the Tigers got an even easier game against SEC opponent…..Missouri. The resulting destruction was a confidence booster for Gus Malzahn, Jarett Stidham and the rest of the Auburn family at Faurot. We’ll see how it plays out. Right now they look the second best team in the West.
  4. Florida: Back-to-back tight victories ensure the Gators move to 2-1. The side still has offensive problems, but they keep on rebounding and keep finding a way to win. Now, will Luke Del Rio take the starter’s job? And who’s this Malik Zaire guy, anyway?
  5. Mississippi State: Pounded by Georgia at Sanford Stadium. Nick Fitzgerald looked very ordinary, Mississippi State couldn’t stop either the run or the pass, and MSU looked totally outclassed. We will see how they will rebound after the loss.
  6. LSU: An unconvincing with over Syracuse has a lot of Tigers fans worried about how they’ll cope during the season. And if they can’t stop the run game, then God help Ed Orgeron’s team against Alabama (or Auburn for that matter).
  7. Texas A&M: The win over Arkansas gets the Aggies to 3-1 and cooled the seat under which Kevin Sumlin was burning. You know who’s red hot? Christian Kirk, who’s 100-yard TD was a thing of beauty.
  8. Kentucky: A last-second loss to Florida was a combination of a defensive screw-up and the college football gods hating you. And an ability to hold a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter. Mark Stoops has got this program playing well….just not that well.
  9. Ole Miss: Idle this week, and outshone many from the SEC with their performance by doing so.
  10. Tennessee: Solid victory over UMass UT…. #sarcasm
  11. Arkansas: Every screw-up from the Hogs (like this one that saw their overtime demise to A&M (at a lot of blamed of Bret Bielema), and Arkansas boosters will be warming up to helping the school buy their head coach’s contract out for $15m.
  12. South Carolina: Yeah….so beating Louisiana Tech by 1 point at home isn’t a good look.
  13. Vanderbilt: Getting crushed 59-0 will remind Vandy fans that ‘wanting Bama’ is something they might not want to say…unless they are talking ironically about the time that they went to this slaughter.
  14. Missouri: When the best player on the field every week is your punter, and your coach is imploring the world publicly to save his job, you know your program is in deep, deep crap.

Nick Saban signs extension but raises questions

Nick Saban has signed a contract extension this year that will pay him $11.1 million in 2017 as part of an eight-year deal that will pay the coach a total of $65 million – and that’s before bonuses that could pay him another $700,000 per year until 2024.

Also seeing their salaries bumped are new AD Greg Byrne (who only took the job in June), as well as his assistants, led by co-defensive co-ordinator Tosh Lupoi, who will earn $950,000, while new offensive co-ordinator Brian Dobell has re-signed until January 2020 in a $1.2 million salary deal.

Record

Saban’s record at Alabama is stunning – 119-19 over the last 10 years, with four of those years leading the Crimson Tide to a National Championship.

During his tenure at Alabama Saban has not been immune from the loss of co-ordinators, who have gone on to varying successes. Former OC Jim McElwain is the head coach of Florida, former DC Kirby Smart is the head coach of Georgia and most recently, OC Lane Kiffin in the head coach of Florida Atlantic University, while offensive line coach and recruiter supreme Mario Cristobal is now the co-offensive co-ordinator at Oregon.

The deal is great for Saban, his family, for Alabama fans still worrying he might leave for Texas, and of course, his agent Jimmy Sexton, who should be pocketing a tidy amount for the negotiation.

Alabama and other schools

In the time that Saban has been in charge of Alabama, the school has made more than $100m from football – which is absolutely stunning. And football’s success and the subsequent financial income has meant good news for the other non-revenue-making sports ‘on the Alabama roster’, which are being kept afloat by the thousands of fans buying tickets, shirts, hats and probably pets called ‘Crimson’ just for bathing in the light of the pigskin.

Oh, and rival schools – whether they like to say it or not – probably love Saban’s success, because every time the Crimson Tide come to town there is more fanfare than a Royal Wedding in Britain, leading to higher TV exposure. The SEC certainly loves Alabama’s success – Saban’s made the conference look better. ESPN and CBS have enjoyed the Crimson Tide for viewing figure purposes, and those charming people on the secondary market who concentrate on Tuscaloosa games are probably driving Mercs.

But what about the students?

The biggest annoyance we have with a deal like this for Saban is that Alabama players over the years of Saban’s multi-million dollar success have been paid exactly $0. Of course, there are stipends (and we suspect under-the-table ‘players’ donations’ given by boosters (it being the SEC), but that’s nothing if you consider what Alabama has made in terms of sports revenue.

Of course, the likes of Paul Finebaum and many Alabama fans will argue that Saban’s contract is worth it, and we’d agree – if you are thinking about the price paid by the university itself. There are a ton of players who have profited from Saban’s teaching, too. Especially the 22 first round picks who played for Saban in Tuscaloosa (65 in total have gone pro).

But there are a ton of players who have played for Saban and have come out with exactly nothing, while their coach has reaped the financial rewards.

I’m sorry, but that doesn’t seem right.

 

Spring Game Round-Up: Florida, Auburn, South Carolina

The round-up from the first two Spring Games in the SEC are this: Florida and South Carolina seem to have their starting quarterbacks in place, and Auburn doesn’t.

GATORS CHOMPING WITH DEL RIO

Florida fans are suddenly excited that in the post-Grier and (thankfully) post-Harris world, they suddenly looked as they have a starter for 2017: Luke Del Rio. And while Del Rio is hardly a new face in college football – he walked on at Alabama, transferred to Oregon State, then transferred to Florida in 2014, where he sat out a year. He’s now a graduate, and suddenly the face of Gators football. Del Rio went 10-11 for 176 yards and 2 TDs. Sure, the defense wasn’t exactly vintage Florida, but it still made the fans in The Swamp smile.

Also making fans smile is that the Gators seem to have a good ‘un in Kyle Trask, too. The three-star freshman threw for 74 yards and looked comfortable.

NOT making fans smile was Feliepe Franks, who was much-heralded after his decision to spurn LSU to come to Gainseville. Now, it’s a bit early to start discussing transfer papers with the kid, but the fanbase was hardly in adoration of his three interception effort. That puts him at the back of the line.

AUBURN NEEDS AN OFFENSE

Listen, we know that Auburn’s got talent….on the defensive side of the ball. Bruce Feldman on the Fox Sports College Football Podcast (which is awesome, by the way), said that Auburn’s defensive front three –  led by Carl Lawson – is among the best in the nation.

But offensively, they are a struggle.

At Auburn’s A-Day it was pointed out that neither Jeremy Johnson, Sean White or new arrival Jonathan Franklin separated themselves in the scrimmage. “I’m not concerned about nobody separating themselves on a day like this,” Malzahn said in a press conference. Which might be good for Gus, but not good for Tigers fans, who – the Montgomery Advertiser noted – saw the offense have NINE three-and-outs.

Some of that was blamed at the fact that quarterbacks couldn’t be tackled, meaning that Franklin couldn’t show his considerable speed outside of the pocket. The non-tackle rule on quarterbacks also annoyed many at Oklahoma, who watched former Texas A&M QB Kyler Murray drop jaws during the Spring Game. We also think that they were disgruntled because Murray’s not going to be eligible to play until 2017, either.

SOUTH CAROLINA’S EXCITED ABOUT THEIR FRESHMEN

South Carolina fans are pretty excited about their freshmen offensive players. Quarterback Brandon McIlwain lit up the Garnet and Black Game in Columbia, throwing for 169 yards and 2 TDs. What’s also got to excite new coach Will Muschamp and Carolina fans about McIlwain – who recruited as the second-best dual-threat quarterback, according to 24-7Sports, is the fact that there were no interceptions. Devin Dingle had over 70 yards receiving on just two receptions. Bryan Edwards had two touchdowns. Suddenly, Carolina’s looking good on that side of the ball, right?

Defensively, we don’t know much about this team. We know that they were awful in 2015 at stopping people – and was the offensive contribution due to that? The writers think not. David at Garnet & Black Attack said the Defensive Line actually gives him hope for the first time in years.

The one thing we missed was Steve Spurrier, who was probably watching golf at Augusta.

 

Former Vandy player found guilty of rape

Former Vanderbilt player Corey Batey was found guilty of the aggravated rape of a woman late on Friday night.

Batey had been convicted of the rape – which happened in 2013 – in an initial trial in 2015, but the decision was overturned and he was tried again this year. He was found guilty once again this year, and immediately taken into custody.

His teammate – Brandon Vandenburg – who also had his guilty conviction turned over in 2015 – will be re-tried in June. Two others – Brandon Banks and Tip McKenzie – have all been charged but it is not known when they will be tried, the Tennessean says. All four players were booted from the Vanderbilt team when the charges emerged by then-coach James Franklin.

Batey had been charged on seven counts of aggravated rape, and was found guilty of that as well as ‘lesser’ charges of aggravated sexual battery. We would go into details, but seriously – click on the link. It’s grotesque. Especially when you think that the woman that Batey did it to was unconscious at the time.

Batey’s lawyer, Courtney Teasley blamed the fact that he had been drinking and said that he had no memory of the incident, and then blamed Vandenburg for orchestrating the event, even calling him a “puppet master”. She pleaded leniency to the jury, who ignored her pleas.

Batey could be sentenced for 15-25 years. As could Vandenburg, Banks and McKenzie.

In the first trial, James Franklin – the then-coach at Vandy – testified at the first trial that he had originally told players that he had seen the video, but then – through his attorney – confessed that that was a lie. Franklin is now the head coach at Penn State.

 

Auburn vs Oregon: We can’t wait!!

OK, so we might hate the idea of one-off non-conference games during the regular season, but we have to be honest, the confirmation that Auburn’s going to play Oregon in 2019 at JerryWorld is INCREDIBLE.

WE. CAN’T. WAIT.

Of course, we would have preferred a home-and-home. And so would Oregon season ticket holders (Eugene’s a 32 hour drive from Dallas). And possibly Auburn season ticket holders (10 hrs, 52 mins).

But the TV companies? Definitely not. The conferences? Definitely not. This is a top echelon conference showcase between two superpowers. And the schools? It’s going to be a nice payday, thanks very much. And if they win, their chances of going to the play-off (which might be up to 8 teams by 2019) skyrocket, and if they lose and win through the season, their chances of going to the play-off skyrocket. The ADs don’t look bad.

We can’t wait because if the way Auburn and Oregon have been set up over the last few years, there are going to be a heap of points. And remember: The last game in 2011 between these two wasn’t too bad, after all.

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.

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.

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving! Things all our SEC teams are thankful for….

Happy Thanksgiving!

As it’s a time of gratitude, we’d like to point out a few things that our 14 teams’ fans are grateful for.

And before that, we’d like to point out as a unit that we’re grateful that ESPN has given us more money than GOD to rebuild our stadiums and our weight rooms and make us gods of recruiting. We are grateful for SEC Commissioner Mike Slive, and we’re grateful – most of all – for SEC fans, who rock our stadiums, especially when it’s a SEC vs SEC match-up. We’re grateful for Hate Weeks, great tailgating on lawns, groves and rivers, and beautiful co-eds and cheerleaders. We’re grateful for mascots, for cool uniforms, for cowbells and shakers.

Over to you, fans….

ALABAMA: “We’re thankful for Nick Saban, Amari Cooper, home Blake Sims, and great recruiting. And them National Championships. And excessive TV coverage, with our own cheerleaders in Paul Finebaum and Gary Danielson.”

AUBURN: “We’re thankful for Gus Malzahn. And Chris Davis. 1000 times over for Chris Davis.”

ARKANSAS: “I’m thankful that got that goddamn SEC monkey off our back. And our giant-size offensive line.”

FLORIDA: “I’m thankful that Jeremy Foley found some stones and did what he should have done last year, and finally fired Will Muschamp. I’m thankful that we beat Georgia, and I still don’t understand how.”

GEORGIA: “We’re thankful for Nick Chubb. And hedges. And having the money to hire Jeremy Pruitt. And while we’re here, we’d like to give the NCAA a finger to Todd Gurley. Mark Richt gives thanks to Jesus. And we’re cool with that, if we can PLEASE BEAT ****ING SOUTH CAROLINA AND FLORIDA AND GET TO THE PLAY-OFF NEXT YEAR”

KENTUCKY: “I’m thankful for hosses. And some young players.”

LSU: “I’m an LSU fan! I don’t have to be thankful for crap!! So I’m NOT grateful for crappy kick-offs! I’m NOT grateful for crappy quarterbacks! I’m NOT grateful for poor tackling! I’m NOT grateful for the fact that I have to spend Thanksgiving in College Station, TX when I would rather be eatin’ gumbo and drinking bourbon and 8 in the morning with my family!”

OLE MISS: “I’m grateful for a good start to the season, and the fact we beat Alabama, had the world focussed on us until we lost, and the fact that NOW everyone knows that The Grove’s a good partying spot. I’m grateful for Robert Nkemdiche, and Coach Freeze. And Coach Freeze for recruiting Robert Nkemdiche”.

MISSISSIPPI STATE: “I’m grateful that we’re doing better than Ole Miss right now, and that we’re having the SEASON OF OUR FREAKING LIVES and that no-one at SEC Media Days will laugh their ass off next year when Dan Mullen says that we’ve got the team to win the SEC. I’m grateful for Dak Prescott, the seniors who stayed in Starkville, and Bo Wallace for consistently providing us with items of comedy.”

MISSOURI: “I’m grateful for our crazy-good defense which bails out our s***y offense every week. And that we can leave Tennessee and never have to hear ‘Third Down For What?” Again.”

SOUTH CAROLINA: “I’m thankful for Dabo Swinney and Mark Richt for providing us with a year’s worth of comedy every year, without fail. And Steve Spurrier’s stand-up routine every press conference. It’s awesome.”

TENNESSEE: “I’m thankful for Butch Jones, young players, Josh Dobbs, and to see Neyland Stadium getting louder and filled again. I’m thankful that people are looking forward to seeing the Volunteers of 2015, because sure as hell I am.”

TEXAS A&M: “I’m grateful that in the future Mark Snyder will get fired. If Armageddon hasn’t happened by then. Seriously, I’m grateful for the students and fans that stay four quarters at Kyle Field, and the band and all the cool stuff that happens before and during games. Our fans are awesome. I’m also grateful for Johnny Football. Still.”

VANDERBILT: “I’m grateful that Vanderbilt works me so hard that I have a ready-made excuse not to go to games” – Current student.

 

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