Posted on: November 29, 2010 2:12 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
When Kyle Parker told the Colorado Rockies he was going to play his senior year at Clemson before signing his professional baseball contract -- costing himself a year's worth of multi-million dollar salary in the process and risking his entire diamond career in the event of injury -- there's no doubt he didn't foresee his Tigers stumbling to a disappointing 6-6 record, or finishing his career with mediocre numbers like a 57.1 completion percentage, 12-to-10 touchdown-to-interception ratio, and 6.4 yards-per-attempt average for the season.
But this weekend's -- now apparent -- end to his time in Clemson must be worse than even Parker's worst nightmares. He was benched for redshirt freshman Tajh Boyd towards the end of Saturday's ugly 29-7 home loss to archrival South Carolina and did not return, leaving the game having gone a hideous 7-of-17 for just 117 yards and one interception duly returned by the Gamecocks for an easy touchdown.
So no one would blame Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney for making the decision to start the Boyd era in the Tigers' bowl game based on performance alone; with so little to play for, getting his certain 2011 starter as much experience as possible seems like at least as big a priority than trying to nab a largely meaningless seventh win in the Independence Bowl . But it's possible Parker's performance in the classroom has made that decision for him. Clemson Rivals site TigerIllustrated is reporting that Parker could be declared academically ineligible and be forced to miss his team's postseason game.
That's yet to be confirmed by any second media outlet (that we're aware of as of this posting), but it doesn't change the fact that all indications are that Kyle Parker has started his final game -- and has maybe even played his last down -- for the Tigers. When top college athletes turn down gobs of professional money to stay amateur, help their teammates, finish their commitment to their school, etc., it makes for a much more heartwarming story to see that decision pay off in stirring victories and rousing vindication. But this being the real world, sometimes that decision is going to end in heartbreak and disappointment, and it looks for all the world like that's how it's going to end for Parker.
Posted on: November 29, 2010 12:05 pm
J. Darin Darst
We still have a few regular season games left in the season that mean something, including Pac-10 teams trying to make a bowl (Arizona State and Washington), here is the schedule for the conference title games:
MAC Championship: Northern Illinois (10-2) vs. Miami (Ohio) (8-4), 7 p.m. on ESPN2: Winner most likely goes to the Little Caesars Bowl, while the loser will be in either the GoDaddy.com or Humanitarian Bowl.
C-USA Championship: UCF (9-3) vs. SMU (6-2), Noon on ESPN: Winner goes to the Liberty Bowl to most likely play either Georgia or Tennessee. If SMU loses they are probably headed to the Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 30. The Armed Forces Bowl is being played in SMU's Ford Stadium this year. If UCF loses, look for the Knights to play Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve.
SEC Championship: Auburn (12-0) vs. South Carolina (8-3), 4 p.m. on CBS: It's easy for Auburn. Win and it plays for the BCS National Championship, lose and it will be in the Orange Bowl. A South Carolina win puts the Gamecocks in the Sugar Bowl. A South Carolina loss will most likely send it to the Outback Bowl.
ACC Championship: Virginia Tech (10-2) vs. Florida State (9-3), 7:45 p.m. on ESPN: Winner goes to the Orange Bowl, while the loser probably ends up in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. If the Chick-fil-A Bowl chooses a different team, than the Champs Sports Bowl vs. Notre Dame would be the next spot.
Big 12 Championship: Nebraska (10-2) vs. Oklahoma (10-2), 8 p.m. on ABC: Winner goes to the Fiesta Bowl, while the loser looks headed to the Alamo Bowl. The Cotton Bowl has the next pick out of the Big 12, but appears to be taking Texas A&M, so the loser of this game falls to the Alamo Bowl.
* Big East -- Connecticut at South Florida, 8 p.m. on ESPN2: A Connecticut wins, the Huskies go to either the Orange or Fiesta Bowl for the first time in history. If South Florida wins, than West Virginia wins the Big East and most certainly will play in the Orange Bowl.
Posted on: November 28, 2010 1:06 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
1. Cam Newton is your Heisman Trophy winner. Seriously, just give him the trophy now. Don't even invite anybody else to New York because there isn't a point. After leading Auburn to that comeback win against Alabama, after falling behind 24-0 on the road, LaMichael James -- or any other contender -- would literally have to score 80 touchdowns in a game while saving a group of children from a burning building to take the Heisman away from him. I'm not even sure I care if he did take money at this point.
2. Hogs can smell sugar. And they really seem to like it. Arkansas took care of LSU on Saturday in Little Rock, and because of it, the Hogs still have a chance to go to the Sugar Bowl. All they need is for Auburn to beat South Carolina next week and move on to the title game. That would free the Sugar Bowl up to select an SEC team, and you have to think Arkansas would get a look.
3. Florida's nightmare season can get worse. Go ahead, ask any Gators fan if they feel any better about 2010 after seeing the Gators get knocked around by Florida State on Saturday. Honestly, I don't see how Urban Meyer can consider bringing Steve Addazio back next season unless his ultimate plan is to have Gainesville burn to the ground.
4. Georgia is going bowling after all. It took longer than any Georgia fan was probably hoping for, but after beating Georgia Tech on Saturday night, the Bulldogs now have six wins and can get an extra two weeks of practice. Considering how the season started, it's a small miracle.
5. Kentucky may never beat Tennessee. Seriously, if there was ever going to be a season in which the Wildcats would finally knock off the Vols, this would have been the one, right? Sorry, not the case. Tennessee took care of the 'Cats and like Georgia, is now bowl eligible. Which is an even bigger miracle than the one Georgia pulled off.
Posted on: November 27, 2010 5:41 pm
Edited on: November 27, 2010 5:46 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Things have gone a little crazy in Little Rock between LSU and Arkansas this afternoon. First there was this touchdown pass from Ryan Mallett to Cobi Hamilton.
That wasn't the last of it, however. With the score tied at 14-14 with six seconds left in the half, Arkansas had the ball at its own 20-yard line. Well, Mallett and Hamilton decided that they liked throwing for 80-yard touchdowns so much, they might as well do it again. Which they did on the final play of the half, as Mallett hit Hamilton over the middle of the field, and some nice downfield blocks led to a 21-14 Arkansas lead 80 yards later.
It's been pretty crazy, thus far, which you would expect in any game involving Les Miles and two rivals.
Stevan Ridley is responsible for LSU's two touchdowns, and has 79 yards rushing to lead the Tigers.
This is a pretty important game for both teams, even if neither has any conference title aspirations. Should LSU win, with Boise State's loss, there's a possibility that the Tigers would move into the top 4 of the BCS rankings, which would guarantee them an at-large berth in a BCS game. Should Arkansas win, they still have a chance to get to the Sugar Bowl if Auburn can beat South Carolina and move on to the national championship.
Posted on: November 22, 2010 1:09 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Maybe it's a good thing Alabama has lost a few football games this season, as it's given quarterback Greg McElroy a chance to remember what it feels like to not win. As I'm sure you've heard a billion times by now, McElroy hadn't lost a football game since he was basically still in his mother's womb before the Tide fell to South Carolina earlier this season.
So now that the Tide have lost twice, McElroy has had a chance reacquaint himself with the sting of defeat. Something that came in handy this past weekend when he found out that he won't be chosen as a Rhodes Scholar.
“We gave it our best shot, going up against a few MIT students, a Yale grad, a Harvard grad, a Naval Academy grad, I’m just proud to have been able to make it to this point and represent Alabama for that,” McElroy told The Tuscaloosa News.
McElroy said a Naval Academy graduate and a Harvard graduate were chosen for the honor. Final interviews were held at the Protective Life Corporation in Birmingham.
“They were both very deserving,” McElroy said. “Meeting the other individuals going out for it was as special as anything. Just being able to compete for this on a level playing field, and understanding that we all come from different backgrounds, we’re all striving to achieve the same thing. That’s to make the world a better place.”
This will likely serve as good news for Alabama as well. After all, the Tide have a pretty big game against Auburn this week, and they can't have their quarterback worrying about things like learning and reading when there's a chance to end Auburn's bid for a national championship on the horizon.
Posted on: November 20, 2010 11:42 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
1. South Carolina learned its lesson. The last time Carolina won a game as big as last week's SEC East-clinching victory over Florida , they had downed No. 1 Alabama before going out the following week and laying their biggest egg of the season against Kentucky . Now, sure, the Gamecocks got a lot of help early on from a Troy team that for some reason played like a nervous team with lots to lose rather than the massive underdog with nothing to lose they were. But the previously-hapless Gamecock secondary held a statistically potent Trojan passing attack entirely in check, the Marcus Lattimore -led offense ruthlessly punished every Troy mistake, and by halftime it was already 56-7, 'Cocks . Not only did Carolina avoid the letdown, but they looked ready to give Auburn all they want and more when the SEC championship game rolls around in two weeks.
2. It's time to put the defense-first image of the SEC to bed for good. Maybe the SEC really is home to better athletes, maybe they really do hire better coaches, maybe they take defense more seriously than some other conferences ... but none of that, even if true, is making a lick of difference on the field at the moment. This week gave us only four games between SEC teams and FBS competition, and those four games produced 268 total points (in regulation) and as average score of 42-25. And that 's with Tennessee and Vanderbilt battling to a low-fi 24-10 Volunteer win, and the conference's best offense and ninth-ranked defense at Auburn taking the week off.
You get the point: very few teams in this league are playing defense. When even the consensus best unit in the league -- LSU's entered the weekend No. 1 in total defense at 274 yards per-game -- is getting gashed for 36 points and 420 yards at home against the conference's No. 5 offense, the SEC's image as a collection of grind-it-out attacks and impregnable defenses is officially as current as Bob Dole . If SEC fans want to argue their conference is superior, fine. If they want to argue their conference is superior because of the SEC's brand of defense, they need to acquire a clue.
3. LSU should be an underdog going to Arkansas. Full kudos to Les Miles for exorcising his clock management demons , but it's the Hogs who appear to be playing the better football at the moment after surviving what might have been Mississippi State 's best performance of the season on the road in Starkville while the previously stout LSU defense was busy getting gashed by the up-and-down Rebels. If Masoli and Co. can do that in Baton Rouge, what can Ryan Mallett and the suddenly scorching-hot Knile Davis do in Fayetteville?
(And while we're playing the transitive property game, the latest compelling evidence of how much stronger the West is than the East? The Razorbacks went to the East champion three weeks ago and rolled to an easy win. Then they went to the fifth-place team in the West tonight and were fortunate to escape with a double-overtime win.)
4. This Tyler Bray kid might just be one worth watching. Not that you'd expect it from his taste in tattoos , but the skinny kid from California has taken to SEC football like a duck to some very forgiving water. No, the pass defenses of South Carolina, Ole Miss, and Vanderbilt aren't the most intimidating the conference has to offer. But after another productive outing in Nashville (16-of-27, 232 yards, 8.6 yards-per-attempt, 2 touchdowns), Bray has collected some seriously impressive numbers in his last three league performances: 43-of-76 (57 percent completion rate), 714 yards (9.4 YPA), 7 touchdowns to just 3 interceptions.
And he's a true freshman. If Derek Dooley can keep his head on straight and his brittle-looking body remains intact, Bray should be one of the SEC's best in due time ... and maybe as soon as 2011. (As for 2010,the Vols are one win against Kentucky away from scraping their way to a bowl berth. Not bad considering they stood at 2-6 not so long ago.)
Posted on: November 18, 2010 6:02 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The big news out of Gainesville this week doubles as the worst possible news for most football fans in Gainesville: Florida offensive coordinator Steve Addazio will not only be retained as part of Urban Meyer 's Gator staff (not entirely surprising), he will remain in his current position as offensive coordinator and play-caller (that 's surprising).
Why this is such terrible news for Gator followers is obvious: they've been dreadful offensively nearly all season, ranking 82nd in total yardage, some 14 places behind even their fellow mega-flops at Texas . In the Gators' four losses, they've averaged just 278 yards and 14 points. They're a staggering 116th in red zone conversion rate. The big-play passing game promised by the ascension of big-armed John Brantley to the starting quarterback position has utterly failed to materialize; the Gators rank next-to-last in the SEC in pass plays of 30 yards or more with 7--three fewer than Vanderbilt and five fewer than Mississippi State . The Gators aren't any better from an aesthetic standpoint, looking frequently out-of-sync and rarely playing into the mobility-challenged Brantley's strengths.
To suffer offensive woes that intense in spite of the Gators' overflowing bounty of talent is a powerfully damning statement on the job of the offensive coaching staff. But to ask Meyer, the first (and biggest?) factor in creating the "void" that has swallowed up his team in 2010 is something that has very little to do with offensive coaching or execution :
There's no arguing that energy and intensity are key elements of a successful performance in college football, and that maintaining them over the course of a season is an important part of a successful season.
But those aren't the most important parts. Roughly speaking, execution, overall scheme, and smart game-planning have much more to do with victory since -- in any truly big game -- the emotional intensity is going to be just about equal. Take the South Carolina game; with so much on the line, how much of an advantage was "energy, passion and confidence" ever going to give the Gators?
Meanwhile, as expertly illustrated by SEC blog TeamSpeedKills , it was the Gamecocks who enjoyed a major advantage in terms of execution:
That's an already-predictable "get the ball to Chris Rainey " playcall topped by a bad snap and a disastrous misread in the blocking scheme, and unsurprisingly it went for nothing when Brantley threw the ball away.
A failure of a play like that has nothing to with energy or emotion; it's exclusively the product of poor preparation and execution, and plays like it have hamstrung Florida all season. Meyer's certainly under no obligation to dismiss Addazio or make any kind of changes to his staff or their roles, but one thing is for certain: keeping the offensive status quo and looking to improve simply through turning up the dial on "passion" isn't going to cut it. A team of hyped-to-the-gills Gators that aren't put in the proverbial "positions to win" aren't going to win no matter how much passion they play with.
Posted on: November 17, 2010 3:07 pm
Edited on: November 17, 2010 3:08 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
You may have thought you were finally in the clear. After weeks of being bombarded by campaign advertisements on your television, the elections have finally happened and you can now get back to your normal diet of beer commercials and erectile dysfunction ads. Still, just because the campaigning may be over on your television, the country's true campaign is just getting started, one that is far more important than who do you want to send to Washington.
No, this one is about who you want to send to Arizona to play for the BCS title.
Coaches have hit the campaign trail in full force, including LSU head coach Les Miles. The Mad Hatter has talked his team's way into a BCS title game before, so he figures he may as well give it another shot, once again explaining to the world that the SEC is just harder than any other conference to play in.
"I only know this about this conference," Miles said. "The highest ranked team to come out of this conference should well have an opportunity to play in the national championship game."
As of now, that team would be Auburn, and unless its wins are vacated, Auburn controls its own destiny. Beat Alabama and South Carolina, and nothing will keep them from playing for the national title. But what if Auburn loses one, or even both of those games? You know who would likely be the highest rated team in the SEC then?
That's right, LSU.
Still, this isn't a tactic solely being utilized by the boys in the big time conference. No, TCU head coach Gary Patterson is on the trail as well. Patterson will be at ESPN headquarters on Friday to run the gamut of the network's eleventy billion media outlets to make sure that the world understands that TCU deserves to play for a title if it's undefeated.
"You won't see me beat my chest," Patterson told the Dallas Morning News. "I'll state the case of what TCU has to offer; the culmination of what we've done the last six years. Sometimes that gets lost.
"I think Boise and TCU both have proven over the last five years that no matter what conference you play in, we can play at a high level."
You can tell that Patterson is new to all this, because a seasoned vet would realize you don't say flattering things about your competition during a campaign. The only time he should be mentioning Boise State is when he's alleging that Kellen Moore is on the take.