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Tag:Alabama
Posted on: October 13, 2010 12:57 am
 

Is it time to overhaul the Coaches Poll?

Posted by Adam Jacobi

One of the most odious aspects of the BCS -- and let's be clear, there are very many -- is the fact that the Coaches Poll constitutes one-third of the voting for the standings. If the poll's involvement weren't already accepted as normal, it would sound absurd: the selected coaches (or their selected assistant who actually fills these things out without attribution), given about 20 hours after the conclusion of their games, are tasked with ranking 25 out of the 120 teams in the FBS. The coach will never gameplan for, or have anything more than a cursory opinion about, the vast majority of these teams. The more time the coaches spend researching the poll, the less time they have to do their job (which isn't one with a great deal of spare time to begin with).

Thus, we get the same win-go-up, lose-go-down lazy polling that we can very well get from the AP already. What's the point? Does adding yet another hastily arranged Top 25 to the BCS add any merit? Moreover, isn't it a waste of what the coaches bring to the table for the BCS? Coaches do have exemplary abilities when it comes to evaluating other teams, after all, but that skill is primarily used in the daily rigmarole of their job, which is to say, on teams that they're actually going to play at some point.

So let's embrace that: have every single coach participate in the new coaches poll by ranking only their 12 opponents. As with traditional polls, a no. 1 gets the highest value (in this case 12), a no. 2 gets 11, and so on down the line. You know, like a normal poll. Now, since this is necessarily grading only FBS play (unless fans really want to see Montana come in at no. 8 in the poll or something similar), the teams with an FCS opponent are only going to be ranked by 11 opponents, so the rankings will be by average value instead of total.

Does this unfairly reward good teams in weak conferences (see: Boise State)? Well, maybe when it comes to their rankings relative to their conference pals. But look at who Boise's opponents are playing. Oregon State also plays TCU and Oregon. Wyoming got Boise, TCU, Utah, and Texas for this season (yes, Texas tanked, but that's an anomaly). Lowly San Jose State? The Spartans see Boise State, Utah, Wisconsin, and Alabama. Boise State may have some control over their schedule, but they certainly have little control over who their opponents play, and that's going to matter in this poll. Meanwhile, Ohio State may play in a tougher conference, but does anyone seriously think any of the Big Ten's coaches would rank another conference member over OSU as long as the Buckeyes stay undefeated? Would anybody have put Alabama second in the SEC before South Carolina pulled the upset?

Also, once the season starts to get into its late stages, coaches will be able to rank these teams based on what they saw first-hand in actual gameplay. Will this result in some coaches ranking teams based largely on how they performed against that coach's team? Sure. That's called rewarding wins and punishing losses. In other words, it's the entire point of polling. And if a coach seriously thinks a team that's, say, 19th in the AP played his team better than the 11th-ranked team, well, that's information that absolutely deserves to be integrated into the poll -- and it's much easier to justify making that adjustment in this format instead of the win-go-up/lose-go-down cookie cutter Top 25s. 

Is this a perfect poll? No, of course not. There's still some value in a straight Top 25 poll, and the computer rankings have their merit. But if we're including coaches in the BCS process -- and we should! -- we should play to their strengths, not make them play pollster. This is how to do it.

Posted on: October 12, 2010 12:14 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2010 12:22 pm
 

Alabama OL Fluker likely out for Ole Miss

Posted by Chip Patterson

Less than a week ago, nearly the entire nation was wondering if anyone would be able to topple the seemingly unstoppable Alabama Crimson Tide.  The fantasy ended in a 35-21 loss to South Carolina in Columbia on Saturday, and the charmed life of the Alabama football team has quickly come to a halt.  Whether it be head coach Nick Saban's foul tongue or wide receiver Julio Jones' broken hand, the news out of Tuscaloosa has not great since falling from the top of the mountain.  Jones wasn't the only offensive starter hurt against the Gamecocks, right tackle D.J. Fluker sustained a groin injury in the game and has already been ruled out for this week's matchup with Ole Miss.  

“D.J. Fluker has got a pretty severe groin injury that will probably keep him out at least a week,” Saban told reporters on Monday, “maybe longer, depending on how he responds to treatment ... McCulllough was the guy that went in the game. He’s the guy that has been sort of our swing, third tackle. He’ll move up as a starter.”

The Crimson Tide should find their rhythm again against the Rebels this weekend, regardless of the different health concerns.  Continued struggles would hint the beginnings of a complete unraveling, and this team is simply too good for that.  However, the Tide will need to find a way to overcome these struggles quickly if they plan on defending the SEC Championship on December 4 in Atlanta.  Luckily, they do still hold their own SEC West fate in their hands.  Alabama still has division leaders LSU and Auburn left on the schedule, and if the Tide can win out the worst case scenario would be a three-way tie for first place in the West.  With the first tiebreaker being head-to-head competition, Alabama would get the nod to compete for the SEC Championship.  While the loss to South Carolina may have put a national championship out of reach, they can still find a way to win the conference.  They just can't afford any slip ups along the way.

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Posted on: October 12, 2010 11:52 am
Edited on: October 12, 2010 11:57 am
 

South Carolina students should be above the law

Posted by Tom Fornelli

There's no question that a 35-21 victory over Alabama last weekend was one of the biggest wins in the history of South Carolina football.  Not only did the Gamecocks knock off the defending champions and top-ranked team in the country, but they solidified themselves as contenders in the SEC.  So it's not exactly surprising that the students at the game wanted to celebrate, and did so by running on to the field.

Once they were there, however, they were met by security and local police who weren't exactly happy to see them.  Which, according to one South Carolina student, Samuel Marx, resulted in some of the worst crimes against humanity in the history of mankind.  Marx was so appalled by what he saw that he did what any true patriot would do.

He wrote a letter to the school's student newspaper, The Daily Gamecock.
The officials will claim they were enforcing the Southeastern Conference's rule, which prohibits fans from storming the field at any athletic event, presumably to ensure the safety of players and fans alike. What took place instead was a gross abuse of authority. From my front row vantage point I witnessed a number of shocking events. The first student I saw successfully make it onto the field was seen just seconds later with blood pouring from his nose and mouth being escorted away by an officer. Another young man jumped the fence right in front me, and when an event staff member tried to simply push him back off the field, a police officer grabbed at him, trying to pull him back onto the field. Many of the officers armed themselves with Tasers and pointed them toward the crowd, and I can't even begin to mention the amount of students I watched get punched at and thrown violently to the ground.

What actually made me sick to my stomach was the manner in the security team celebrated their acts as if they had pulled off a more amazing feat than the football game itself. They taunted students and flexed their muscles, which only made the situation more hostile. When some students decided to voice their opinions - some more diplomatically than others - an officer threatened to kick the students out if they kept "running their mouths." This direct attack on the student body's First Amendment right to free speech took the air out of a once-vibrant student section and blemished a memory that Carolina fans will hold with them for the rest of their lives.
Okay, where do I begin with this?  First of all, let me say that I'm not for police beating the hell out of students for fun.  I just want to make that clear, but at the same time, Marx himself points out that it's illegal for students to rush the field in his very first sentence.  Just because you're happy that the football team won a game doesn't give you the right to break any laws or rules, and if you choose to do so, you're going to have to take responsibility for your actions.

Sometimes that means taking a shot to the face.

What really drives me nuts, or makes me sick to my stomach to borrow some of Marx's words, is his complete ignorance of what "freedom of speech" means.  Listen, you have the freedom to say what you like, but there is a limit to what can be said without consequence.  Saying "Alabama sucks" is perfectly fine, but saying something like "F*** you, pig" to a police officer is not. 

Still, Marx may be a bit ignorant on his rights, and what they mean, but the part of his letter that really gets me is this.
This standoff between hired officials and exited students was one that could have been easily avoided. The University could have chosen to follow suit with the University of Kentucky, which allowed field invasions three times in 2007 and accepted the collective fine of $80,000. If Carolina had allowed for the celebrations to take place, the school would have been hit with another fine after this year's $25,000 penalty for the on-court celebration of the basketball team's defeat of Kentucky. If you consider the fact that it costs one out-of-state, non-scholarship student roughly $160,000 to attend Carolina for four years, I'm pretty sure the school could have handled the minor setback.
Yes, how dare you, South Carolina.  How dare you not be willing to pay a $25,000 fine because some moron wants to run on the field.  We all know that $160,000 you collect from that one out-of-state, non-scholarship student goes straight to your bank account and isn't spent on things like faculty or facilities.  Why, if the students want to burn the entire campus to the ground, you should pay for the gasoline and matches, and then clean it up afterward.  You owe them that for the privilege of having them on your campus, and for them allowing you to teach them and give them an education.

So to summate Mr. Marx's letter, the fact that South Carolina won a football game means that students should not be subjected to any laws, and that the school should be willing to pay for any fines accrued from any of the laws the students shouldn't have to follow and feel like breaking.

While some of the students on the field may not have deserved to be tased or hit, I think I know one student who does.


Posted on: October 11, 2010 5:04 pm
Edited on: October 11, 2010 5:11 pm
 

A letter about Nick Saban's use of foul language

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Coach Nick Saban:

I'm writing in regards to your comments made Monday afternoon about your team's performance thus far this year:

"The focus is not on what you need to do to be successful," Saban said. "It's drinking the Kool-Aid, thinking that just because they say it on ESPN, it's so, reading the newspapers all week. Just because you beat Florida 31-6, people start talking about you being the best team in the country. We're not the best team in the country. ...We had the best team in the country last year. We proved it. We proved it over 14 games. This team hasn't proved s***. Excuse my language. That's how I feel about it. I'm really upset that I used bad language. I'm sorry. I'm sure I'll get some letters on that, and should."

Indeed you will, for this is one of those letters.

As a football coach, you are held to high standards of performance and professionalism. You are a role model, not only to your football players and assistant coaches, not only to all Alabama fans, but to all football fans, young and old. You are tasked with upholding that responsibility every time you appear in public, whether that is on or off the field.

As such, your use of language on Monday was distressing and disturbing. That type of amateurish, juvenile use of language cannot be tolerated by any football coach, much less a man of your prominence, and I demand an immediate retraction, apology, and correction.

What every self-respecting adult knows you should have said is as follows:

We proved it over 14 games. This team hasn't proven s***. Excuse my language.

Everything else is completely correct.

Best wishes,
Concerned Grammarian

Posted on: October 10, 2010 3:38 am
 

What I learned from the Big Ten (Oct. 9)

Posted by Adam Jacobi

1. Perhaps Denard Robinson's competition matters. Hey, we'll be the first ones to admit to falling in love with Denard Robinson's early-season performance. Sure, Michigan's opposition wasn't very good (at all), but lots of other teams were playing cupcake schedules at the same time, and nobody -- except maybe for Cam Newton -- was doing what Shoelace was doing. But Michigan State provided a pretty easy blueprint for containing Robinson: have a decent defense and don't do anything stupid with them. The Spartan defense, led as always by All-American linebacker Greg Jones, played disciplined defense against the explosive sophomore and forced him into three interceptions -- two of which came in Michigan State's end zone. Sure, Robinson ended up accounting for 301 yards (215 passing, 86 rushing), and those are good numbers, but remember: he's basically their entire offense. So while giving up 301 yards of offense to one guy isn't ideal, holding the entire team to 377 yards is much more palatable, and that's exactly what the Michigan State defense did. Next up for the Wolverines: Iowa -- and 60 more minutes of that defensive intensity.

2. Don't run up the score on Tim Brewster, please. The second-oddest thing about this week of Big Ten play was seeing Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster get into an arguing match with Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema after Wisconsin's 41-23 victory over the Golden Gophers. The oddest thing came about six minutes prior, when Bret Bielema elected to try a two-point conversion after the Badgers scored a touchdown to extend their lead to 41-16. The try failed, because not even Football God hates Minnesota that much, but Brewster certainly took it personally; the Minnesota coach said some very unprintable words to Bielema on the field, and used the word "wrong" to describe Bielema's decision about 15,000 times in his postgame press conference. Bielema said his little when-should-you-go-for-two card dictated that his team attempt the two-point conversion in that scenario. Even assuming Bielema's excuse is true, we have to wonder why Bielema didn't heed his card's advice 5:16 earlier, when his team scored a fourth-quarter touchdown to go up by 25 the first time. After John Clay's third touchdown of the game, Wisconsin led 34-9 with 11:55 to go, and Bielema kicked a harmless extra point then. Maybe, maybe Minnesota could have engineered 27 points in 11:55, but there was no chance of it happening with 6:39 left, so there's really no sense in kicking the extra point the first time but not the second. Bielema doesn't necessarily owe Brewster an apology; he's Bret Bielema, and he's kind of a jerk, and that's what he does. But at the very least, he owes Brewster and the rest of Big Ten fans an actual explanation of what the heck he was thinking going for two.

3. Penn State just isn't very good. Okay, we sort of knew coming into this season that Penn State would be taking some more lumps than usual on account of their true freshman quarterback, Rob Bolden, winning the starting job in Week 1. And sure, their 24-3 losses to Alabama and Iowa were disappointing, but not really shocking; 'Bama and the Hawkeyes are both pretty legit programs with pretty legit defenses. But 21-point losses to top-15 teams are one thing; a 20-point loss to middling Illinois is another altogether. Illinois controlled the action on both sides of the ball Saturday, shredding Penn State's vaunted front seven for 282 yards on the ground. Mikel LeShoure was a workhorse with 119 rushing yards and a 32-yard reception, and Illini QB Nathan Scheelhaase was both efficient (15-19, 151 yards, 1 TD) and mobile (eight carries, 61 yards). Meanwhile, Bolden had one of his worst starts of his nascent career, going 8-21 for 142 yards, a score, and a pretty bad pick-six to Nate Bussey that pushed Illinois' lead to 14-3. It was a freshman mistake, of course, and one he probably won't make next season and beyond. But it's that sort of thing, coupled with a general lack of special talent on the rest of the offense, that dooms the Nittany Lions when their defense isn't perfect. The Nittany Lions are 3-3 (0-2) now. Right now, it's pretty hard to guarantee they're going to a bowl this season.

4. Northwestern is also not very good. Going back to 2008, Northwestern's habit of winning games by close margins -- which is to say, playing both up and down to the competition -- has never really come back to haunt them; coming into Saturday's game the Wildcats were 14-4 in one-possession games since '08, a streak that's both remarkable and completely doomed to come back down to earth sooner or later, and that's where we find the Wildcat today. Two special teams disasters in the fourth quarter -- a blocked field goal and a poorly-kicked game-tying attempt with a minute left -- effectively kept six points off the board for the Wildcats, and a Dan Dierking rush from 7 yards out sealed the 20-17 upset for lowly Purdue. It's a bummer of a loss for the Wildcats, but the type of inexplicable upset that besets them pretty much every year. Their benchmark game is likely their next: Michigan State comes to town, and a win would put Northwestern back on the map. But it would take the Wildcats' best performance of the season, and any time the prerequisite for respectability is something a team hasn't yet shown itself to be capable of doing, odds are that the fans will go home disappointed.

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Posted on: October 10, 2010 12:04 am
Edited on: October 10, 2010 1:07 pm
 

What I learned from the SEC (Oct 9)

Posted by Tom Fornelli



1. Les Miles is the smartest, craziest moron to ever coach a college football team.   Seriously, the man took nothing but grief all week from the media and his own fans following the near debacle against Tennessee last week.  And it was well deserved!  It's not like it was the first time he's had problems with clock management at the end of the game.  Then the Mad Hatter goes and pulls another white rabbit out of the hat against Florida by calling that fake field goal in the video above.  You know what kind of guts that takes to make that play call when your fan base is already calling for your head on a plate? Then he managed to have his team spike the ball following a big catch by Terrence Tolliver to set up a first and goal.  A few plays later it was Jarrett Lee hitting Tolliver on a fade to win the game, and the Mad Hatter had struck again.  LSU is 6-0.

2. Alabama is mere flesh and bone, just like you and I.   Following its 31-6 win over Florida last week, Alabama had been crowned as the clear-cut best team in the country, and people like me were wondering if it would ever lose again.  Turns out it would.  The Tide saw their 19-game SEC win streak come to an end in Columbia on Saturday, 'Bama's first regular-season loss since 2007.  Now they find themselves in the unfamiliar position of having to win out to have a chance to get back to the SEC title game.

3. The Ol' Ball Coach still has it.   With the win over Alabama, and Florida's loss to LSU, the Gamecocks find themselves in the driver's seat in the SEC East.  Odds are that when they roll into Gainesville on November 13 there will be a trip to the SEC Championship on the line.  As long as Stephen Garcia doesn't try throwing any more passes through the uprights, I like their chances.

4. The Auburn defense needs work.   Listen, it's nice that the Tigers are 6-0 and tied with LSU atop the SEC West standings, but if their defense doesn't play better than it did in Lexington on Saturday night, they can kiss any hopes of an SEC title goodbye.  The Tigers were torn apart through the air, as Kentucky completed 24-of-29 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns.  They needed a last second field goal to get out of Lexington alive and keep this from being one of the saddest Saturdays in the state of Alabama's history.

5. Mark Richt and the Bulldogs have a pulse.   The first five weeks of the Georgia season had been a nightmare for Richt and his team, and it was one it had to be wondering if it would ever wake up from.  Richt will have to thank Tennessee for remembering to set the alarm.  Georgia finally played like the team we're all used to seeing on Saturday, putting up 402 yards and 41 points on the overmatched Vols.  Georgia needs four wins in its last six games to go bowling, and looking at the schedule, suddenly it seems manageable.

Posted on: October 9, 2010 7:16 pm
 

Spurrier finally gets his big win in Columbia

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The Ol' Ball Coach has been calling ball plays at South Carolina since 2005 but in Steve Spurrier 's first five years at the school the Gamecocks had never picked up that program-changing win.  They have now.  Following its 35-21 win over defending national champion Alabama on Saturday afternoon Spurrier's Gamecocks have officially arrived on the national scene.

Yes, the Gamecocks had some big wins in Spurrier's first year in Columbia, knocking off Tennessee at Neyland Stadium for the first time in school history, and beating Florida for the first time since 1939, but neither of those wins propelled South Carolina to an SEC championship game, and the school has found itself as nothing but a middle of the road SEC team since.

This win against Alabama, though, may just do the trick.

Now the Gamecocks still have a long road to travel before they can ge there, with two tough tests against Arkansas and Florida -- in The Swamp -- remaining in their way, but if they can knock off a team that had won 19-straight in the SEC and took home a title last season, they can win both of those games.

Whether they do or not, however, isn't what's important here.  It's the fact that it's possible at all.  There have been many critics who have wondered whether or not Spurrier would ever be able to build a SEC contender at South Carolina, and considering that he's only won eight games once and one of four bowl games, their doubt was understandable.

But is it a coincidence that now, in his sixth season at the helm, and with a roster full of his own players, his Gamecocks find themselves 4-1 with a shot at winning the SEC East?  I don't think so.

Five hours ago I was one of the many people who wondered if Spurrier had it in him.  Now?  Now I'm not sure anybody else in the SEC has it in them to take it away from Spurrier.

It's amazing what one win can do.
Posted on: October 9, 2010 5:27 pm
Edited on: October 9, 2010 5:42 pm
 

Alabama has some work to do

Posted by Tom Fornelli

 
































Those two touchdown passes by Stephen Garcia to Alshon Jeffery gave the Gamecocks a 21-3 lead before Alabama managed to miss a field goal following a long drive and put a touchdown on the board just before the half.

Of course, they missed the extra point following that score, so it's 21-9 as the third quarter gets underway.

While there is no need for the Crimson Tide to panic being down two scores with 30 minutes left to go, there are some adjustments they need to make.  First of all, you can't let Stephen Garcia complete all nine of his pass attempts for three touchdowns.  Some pressure on the mistake-prone quarterback would be a good idea.

When they have the ball, though, Alabama can't give up on a ground game that has been stuffed for the most part through the first thirty minutes.  The Tide are averaging 2.2 yards per carry, but experienced some success when running out of the Wildcat in the first half.  Considering what Cam Newton and the Auburn spread option attack did to the Gamecocks earlier this season, the Tide may want to keep trying it in the second half.

Also, if there was ever a game in which Greg McElroy was going to have to put his team's offense on his shoulders to win, this is it.  You have Julio Jones, use him.  Run some deep routes and hope you can open up some running lanes by doing so.

This isn't the first time Alabama has trailed at halftime this season, trailing Arkansas 17-7 at halftime in Fayetteville a few weeks ago, so we know they can come back and win this game.  Whether they do it this time around remains to be seen.



 
 
 
 
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