Tag:Sanford Stadium
Posted on: December 28, 2011 4:03 pm
 

2012 SEC schedule team-by-team breakdown

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

At long last, the SEC finally unveiled its 2012 football schedule Wednesday--its first with  Texas A&M and Missouri as its 13th and 14th members, and the matter of intense speculation and rumor ever since the Aggies and Tigers joined this past fall. Though the schedule isn't yet an indicator of how things will look in 2013 and beyond (Mike Slive pointedly said recently the 2012 edition is a one-year stopgap before a permanent divisional rotation is established the following season), that doesn't mean there's not plenty to parse and analyze where 2012 is concerned. Here's a team-by-team look at what each SEC program is happy about regarding the schedule, and what they're not so glad about:

ALABAMA

Likes that: its East divisional draw doesn't feature either South Carolina or Georgia. A road trip to Missouri could be tricky, but given the way the Gamecocks whomped the Tide the last time the two teams met and how the Bulldogs have finished this season, Alabama's not going to complain about getting a first historic visit to Columbia under their belts. And of course, their permanent cross-divisional rivalry with Tennessee isn't anything to fear at this stage. Getting Auburn at home is always a plus.

Doesn't like that: what shapes up as the two biggest SEC games on its schedule, LSU and Arkansas, both come on the road. If the Tide are going to earn the critical head-to-head tiebreaker over either of their West rivals, they're going to have to do it the hard way.

ARKANSAS

Likes that: both Alabama and LSU have to visit Fayetteville, where the Hogs have been particularly feisty against the Tigers. And taking on the Tide early (Sept. 15, the first SEC game of the season for both) could work to Arkansas's advantage as Nick Saban retools his much, much younger defense. Any West team that gets "home vs. Kentucky" as one of their East games has to be pleased with their good fortune there, too.

Doesn't like that: its annual game with South Carolina is on the road, we guess. But the way the Hogs have routed the Gamecocks the past few seasons, they probably don't care too much where they play them, and that still might be their only complaint; the West is still the West, but this was as kind a schedule as it was possible to draw up for the Hogs. 

AUBURN

Likes that: three of its four road games are visits to Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt. The fourth is to Bryant-Denny, but after this year's murderous road slate, the Tigers will take what they can get--and three road games as a potential favorite is an awfully nice thing for any West team to get. As solid as Vandy looks to be in Year 2 of the James Franklin reclamation project, too, it's doubtful the Tigers will mind the Gamecocks and Gators rotating off the schedule and the Commodores rotating on.

Doesn't like that: the Alabama game is on the road, or that they have to deal with the general pain of having the East's current best team as an annual rival. But this schedule shapes up much more like the Tigers' palatable 2010 slate than their 2011 one.

FLORIDA

Likes that: if the Gators actually haul themselves up into a position to contend for the East title, they'll get potential co-challengers South Carolina and Missouri in Gainesville. And it's an even year, which means four home games and three true road games to go with the neutral-site Cocktail Party.

Doesn't like that: they get the "honor" of being the first SEC team to visit Kyle Field for a conference game; think the Aggie faithful will be a little fired up for that one? Having LSU as an annual rival hurts there days, and even getting them at home doesn't help since the Gators would likely prefer to have a more beatable opponent in that slot. Tough to get a rougher West draw than that.

GEORGIA

Likes that: for the second straight season, there's still no LSU, Alabama, or Arkansas on the schedule. Instead, the Bulldogs get Ole Miss at home--the single easiest West game it was possible for them to pull. In terms of raw 2011 win-loss, the Bulldogs have the easiest set of opponents in the league.

Doesn't like that: if the East comes down to one game against either South Carolina, Florida, or Missouri, all three are away from Athens; with Auburn on the road, too, it's arguable that not one of the Dawgs' four toughest opponents will come to Sanford Stadium. The Bulldogs can't complain too loudly (if at all) given the teams they're facing out of the West, but this is still a much tougher road to hoe than they faced in 2011.

KENTUCKY

Likes that: they get annual cross-division opponent Mississippi State at home; given the other options out of the West, that's not so bad. Their traditional most winnable SEC game -- Vanderbilt -- comes at home in 2012, too.

Doesn't like that: their other West game is a trip to Arkansas, two precious home games are "wasted" on the potentially out-of-reach Bulldogs and Gamecocks, or that they have to travel to Knoxville when the Vols are as vulnerable as they've ever been. (Though given the choice, they'd have surely taken them at home in 2011 rather than '12.) When you're Kentucky, it's hard to put together a schedule that doesn't immediately seem like an impossible hill to climb.

LSU

Likes that: Alabama has to return to Baton Rouge for a guaranteed night game that could -- again -- decide the SEC West. Though the Tigers would maybe rather have their dates with the Mississippi schools on the road (since they'd likely beat them anywhere), getting the Bulldogs and Rebels for back-to-back November home games should provide a nice lead-in to the critical season-ending roadie at Arkansas.

Doesn't like that: aside from the Alabama game, the SEC did the defending champs no favors. Gators/Gamecocks is almost as touch a draw from the East as you can get; the Tigers have to start their SEC season with a pair of challenging roadies at Auburn and Florida; and the long-awaited renewal of their hot-blooded rivalry with Texas A&M will begin in College Station rather than the friendly confiens of Death Valley. All together, no SEC contender will face a more difficult quartet of road games than the Tigers will.

OLE MISS

Likes that: the winnable games are at home. Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Texas A&M, and Auburn shape up as arguably the four most vulnerable opponents on the rebels' 2012 slate, and all four come to Oxford. If the Rebels go winless in conference for a second straight season, they can't say the schedule didn't give them a reasonable opportunity.

Doesn't like that: the road slate is just this side of completely impossible: at Alabama, at Arkansas, at Georgia, at LSU. Toughest set of road games for one team in SEC history? It's in play. And for a team as currently woebegone as the Rebels are, drawing Kentucky or Tennessee instead of Georgia out of the East would have been very, very welcome.

MISSISSIPPI STATE

Likes that: their date with Kentucky is in Lexington but their dates with Alabama and LSU in Tuscaloosa and Baton Rouge, respectively; the Bulldogs should beat the former anyway, while traveling to the latter saves their home games for more beat-able Auburn, Texas A&M, and Tennessee. And speaking of the Vols--could MSU have drawn anything better out of the East than at the Wildcats and home vs. Tennessee? No, no they could not have.

Doesn't like that: the all-important Egg Bowl is at Ole Miss. But other than that, this is about as pleasant a schedule as State could expect.

MISSOURI

Likes that: they host Georgia in their SEC debut, giving them a chance to take control of the East race (in front of what should be one of their season's best crowds) right off the bat. That three-week home stand in the middle of the season -- one that includes both Vanderbilt and Kentucky -- could be a springboard to bigger things down the road. And even if the middle game of that stretch is Alabama, a potentially unfortunate pull from the West in terms of the win column, might as well start off your SEC tenure with a bang, right?

Doesn't like that: games against potential East rivals South Carolina and Florida both come on the road.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Likes that: they get Georgia and Missouri at home and could use that advantage to earn a key head-to-head tiebreaker. That's about it.

Doesn't like that: they're still stuck with Arkansas as their annual West game and add a road date with none other than LSU; no one in the East faces a tougher pair of cross-divisional games. Coming only one season after the Gamecocks' West draw arguably kept them out of Atlanta singlehandedly -- they traveled to face Arkansas (and lost) while Georgia went to Oxford to crush the hapless Rebels -- that's a tough, tough pill to swallow. Going to Gainesville is adding insult to injury.

TENNESSEE

Likes that: Kentucky comes to Neyland for the best possible shot at starting a new streak over the Wildcats, and as potential West opponents go, the Vols could be facing one more difficult than Mississippi State (even on the road). Hosting Florida to kick off the SEC season could give Derek Dooley's under-fire tenure a quick jumpstart, and hey, get this--the Third Saturday in October is actually scheduled for the third Saturday in October.

Doesn't like that: road games at Georgia and South Carolina should pretty much end any hope of a dark horse SEC East run before it starts. And not that anyone in Knoxville wants to drop the Tide, but that series pretty much guarantees the Vols will have a rougher West draw than a team like, say, oh, Georgia.

TEXAS A&M

Likes that: they get one of the league's glamour teams for their SEC debut, hosting Florida on Sept. 8; adding the Gators and old rivals LSU to the home slate will make season tickets at Kyle Field as hot as they've been in years. Traveling to the Mississippi schools isn't nearly as daunting as traveling to some other SEC locations.

Doesn't like that: they get a looming three-game road stretch between October and November that features visits to both Auburn and Alabama. If their date with Arkansas stays in Dallas for one more season -- the Aggies want to move it to College Station and it's all-but-certain to become a home-and-home in 2013 -- they'd have just three SEC home games total, a la Georgia.

VANDERBILT

Likes that: they can immediately announce themselves as serious SEC East players with a home date against the Gamecocks, one that will open the entire 2012 SEC season on Aug. 30. Their annual cross-division rivalry with Ole Miss has never looked better, and their other West opponent -- Auburn -- must come to Nashville.

Doesn't like that: in the event of a loss to South Carolina, consecutive road trips to Georgia and Missouri could take the wind completely out of the Commodores' sails by the first week of October. 

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Posted on: April 11, 2011 12:30 pm
Edited on: April 11, 2011 12:52 pm
 

UGA's Sturdivant tears ACL for third time

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Football is a cruel game. And though it is occasionally, it's not often more cruel than it has been to Georgia  senior offensive tackle Trinton Sturdivant.

Sturdivant burst on to the scene as a true freshman in 2007, starting every game for the Bulldogs at left tackle to earn freshman All-SEC honors and a handful of freshman All-America nods. But in 2008, he tore his anterior cruciate ligament and missed the entire season. In 2009, he started the Bulldogs' season opener against Oklahoma State and tore another ACL, ending his season again. He battled back to start seven games in 2010, and entering Saturday's scrimmage had been penciled in -- though it was more like ink -- for one of Georgia's two starting tackle spots.

That won't happen. Sturdivant left the scrimmage  having torn his third ACL in four years . Per Georgia head athletic trainer Ron Courson, Sturdivant will have surgery this week to repair the ligament. He is expected to miss the entire 2011 season.

The blow is a severe one for the Georgia offensive line, a group that underachieved substantially last season, is working for a new position coach in Will Friend, and will now have to replace Sturdivant with either a converted guard or a player of limited (if any) SEC experience. If no unit on the team was as important this spring  as the offensive line, it's possible no injury aside from one to Aaron Murray could hit them as hard as this one.

But the blow is no doubt even more savage for Sturdivant personally. He had previously discussed his furstration with having to undergo rehab a second time after his second tear, and had considered leaping to the NFL a year early while he could. With his injury history, a sixth year of eligibilty is a certainty if he wants it, but there's a lor of arduous rehabbing work and consideration to be done before that bridge is crossed.

If Sturdivant does elect to return to the Sanford Stadium field,  we'll be wishing him nothing but the best. Football may be cruel, but there are times it  seems to be too cruel, and this is one of those times.



Posted on: March 3, 2011 3:09 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2011 8:34 pm
 

Hinnen's Favorite Stadiums

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

In college football, more than any other sport, the stadiums can be just as memorable as the games played within them. So as CBS Sports takes a look at the best stadiums that college football has to offer, the bloggers here at Eye On College Football share their three favorite stadiums in the country.




1. Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif., capacity 92, 452). It's simple: if College Football Nation ever decided to name one stadium its Capitol building, there would really be only one choice. No venue boasts more college football history, reflects more college football history (remember that the Rose Bowl is the most famous of many imitators of the original Yale Bowl, arguably the most architecturally-influential stadium in all of football), or is more immediately synonymous with the college game. There's a reason that Super Bowls and World Cup finals stop by from time to time to borrow what the Rose Bowl gives college football on the regular.

If you'd agree with the statement that college football's biggest games are the ones played in its biggest bowls -- and why wouldn't you? -- the importance of the Rose Bowl becomes even more obvious. Because as great a game as the Sugar Bowl is, how much, really, does the Superdome add to it? The University of Phoenix Stadium to the Fiesta? The Orange Bowl isn't even played in the Orange Bowl any more. The Rose Bowl, on the other hand, is the Rose Bowl in very large part because it's played at the Rose Bowl. It's a stadium that deserves to host national championships, rather than one that simply does. And what higher compliment can you pay a college football venue than that?




2. Sanford Stadium (University of Georgia, Athens, Ga., capacity 92,746). It's impossible to make a list of college football's greatest stadiums without relying heavily on candidates from the SEC; it doesn't get any louder than in Florida Field or Jordan-Hare, there's no atmosphere more intense than at Bryant-Denny or Tiger Stadium, there's no venue more exhilarating than Neyland or the underrated Williams-Brice. 

But for this blogger's money, there's no more unique SEC stadium experience than that at Sanford. Whereas most of the classic SEC stadiums tower like concrete monoliths over their surrounding campuses, Sanford -- nestled into a former creek bed between gentle slopes on either side -- feels more integrated with what's already one of the most picturesque campuses in the South. Add in the mystique of the Hedges and the perennially rabid Dawg fans, and walking down to Sanford with 92,000 other fans for an evening kickoff is one of the special atmospheres in college football. It's splitting hairs picking one SEC stadium -- ask em again tomorrow and you'll get a different answer -- but this hair is split in Athen's favor.




3. Michigan Stadium (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich., capacity 109,901). "The Big House" is, hands-down, the greatest optical illusion in football; viewed from the outside (particularly for those raised on the above-mentioned SEC sky-scrapers, and particularly before the recent renovations), the deep-set stadium appears nondescript, unintimidating even. But then you enter, and the rows and rows and rows just keep going and going and going. You look from one corner to its opposite and realize that even as the proverbial crow flies, it's a long, long way. You know you are in the largest football stadium ever built in America. And you are impressed.

Of course, that size has had its drawbacks; with that much wide-open space and a crowd whose less-than-rowdy reputation isn't entirely undeserved, the Big House hasn't always been the loudest venue for opposing teams. But the new luxury suite/press box structure has helped that problem, and a lively student section (silly third-down key waving excepted) does its part as well. The bottom line is that if you come away disappointed in a stadium that's as quintessentially college football as it is big -- and the Big House is both -- that's your problem.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com