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Tag:Alabama
Posted on: October 6, 2011 9:31 pm
Edited on: October 6, 2011 9:32 pm
 

Son of Weekend Watch List: Coaches' poll attacks?

The love-child addendum to Friday's Weekend Watch List ...

What SWWL wouldn't give to get a weekly look at the coaches' poll ballots. It just so happens this week that the coaches of the top six teams in the poll all have votes -- 1. Oklahoma (Bob Stoops), 2. LSU ( Les Miles), 3. Nick Saban (Alabama), 4. David Shaw (Stanford), 5. Bret Bielema (Wisconsin) and 6. Boise State (Chris Petersen).

In some small (or large) way they -- or any coach in the process -- could manipulate who plays in the national championship game. College football continues to stage the only championship literally controlled by the coaches competing for it.  

 

--Add Mike Stoops to the hot seat list. Arizona (1-4) goes to Oregon State having lost so many conference games in a row (seven) that the streak began in the Pac-10 and continues in the Pac-12.



--You think your life is rough? Here's a look inside Mack Brown's Longhorn Network commitments during the week.

Monday: Texas Rewind, a one-hour replay show that requires a two-hour commitment.

Wednesday: Longhorn Sportsline with Mack Brown. One-hour show that requires a slightly more than a two-hour commitment; Also 10-15-minute segment on Texas All Access.

Thursday: Game Plan with Mack Brown. One-hour show that requires a 90-minute commitment.

An interview to open coverage of live practice Tuesday and Wednesday. (5 or 10 minutes).

Home games: Texas GameDay on set, 10-15 minutes. Road: one-on-one sideline.

One-hour show every Wednesday: All-access recordes interview 10-15 minutes.

 

--Finally, SWWL can't get enough of Texas safety Blake Gideon who has been a friend of The List for three years since he dropped the potential game-clinching interception against Texas Tech in 2008.

"In reality, we're not playing for anybody in the stands," he said of Saturday's Oklahoma game. "We're playing for the brotherhood we've developed."  

Q: You're a senior what's it like to go out there in Red River Shootout for the first time?

Gideon:  "It was tough for me as a true freshman to go out there and really being overwhelmed by it for the that first series. It's hard not to get caught up. I just tell the young guys, 'It's the same game you've been playing."

 
Q: You've been on both sides, winning and losing this game. What's it like?

Gideon: "It's heartbreaking to lose, last year obviously. The first two years we played we came away with victories. It doesn’t matter how you played individually. You won, you beat Oklahoma. It's the game everybody grew up watching, at least everyone in Texas.

 

Q: Tell me about that first series when you're so nervous.

Gideon:  "You make a tackle for a loss, half the stadium stands up and goes wild. Half the stadium is quiet. Next play they get a first down, it's completely flipped. It really hinges like that one play the entire game. The fans are on the edge of their seat, the entire game.

"From the time both teams come out of the tunnel to the whistle, it's all out emotional passion. You can't help but give everything you have and pouring everything you have into it."


Q: You cracked two vertebrae in high school. Do they ever bother you?

Gideon:  "It's sore every now and then, nothing like it was in high school. In high school, that was definitely a scary time in my life. There was numbness in my legs, excruciating pain.

"After my sophomore year [in high school], my back had been bothering me. I drove back to my house after a game. I really couldn't get out of the car because my legs were numb. I wore a back brace for nine months."


Q: What's it like being in that Cotton Bowl tunnel right before the game?

Gideon: "There's a little bit of talking going on, a lot of emotion. The past three years, the Oklahoma fans have been at that end of the stadium.. They're sending all the good lucks down to us."

 

 

Posted on: September 29, 2011 10:54 pm
 

Son of Weekend Watch List

Starting with leftovers from the Friday Charlie Weis interview.

Florida's offensive coordinator takes on Alabama Saturday in his biggest college game since leaving Notre Dame in 2009. The knee he had replaced in June is no longer an issue. I began by asking him if walking around pain-free makes a difference in his job. 

"Absolutely no effect," he said.

All righty, then. Moving on. 

Question: You've coached at the highest level. Is the SEC, in some ways, like the NFL because it is a line-of-scrimmage league?

Weis: "It's not just a line-of-scrimmage league, it's how much speed there is. There's fast guys all over the place. That's a big testament to the conference. It's not just the linebackers and defensive backs. There's a bunch of athletic lineman running around too. You have to be on guard just to give yourself the best chance."

Question: When Urban Meyer came into the league one of the first things he realized is he had to have a fullback out there. Was there any surprise about coming into this league?

Weis: "I just came from the NFL so you're used to guys who can run real fast. You see it on a weekly basis. Now especially as we're getting ready for Alabama, I look at these guys on tape. This is what you're used to playing against."

Question: Have you snuck a look at the Chiefs this season?

Weis: "I know what's happened right there. We don't have time to watch any of their games or anything. Sunday is a very busy day for us."

Question: How is your son? (The reason Weis came to Florida was because he could be with his son Charlie Jr.)

Weis: "He's an intern for the head coach. I got him away from me, so he isn't like daddy's little tag along. That's worked out very nicely.

Question: What does he do for Will Muschamp?

Weis: "He's kind of the offensive liaison. He keeps Will [Muschamp] abreast of everything we do on offense. Will is always completely up to date with everything we do on offense. He brings him our daily grades and personnel. It's been a nice role for him."


Jordan Jefferson is back:
Now that LSU's quarterback has been reinstated, could it be that in a convoluted way, that bar fight might be one of the best things that happens to LSU?

Jarrett Lee (this week vs. Kentucky) probably never would have gotten the reps, or the starting job, had Jefferson never been suspended. Now, the Tigers essentially have two starting quarterbacks. If Lee slumps or loses the job, Jefferson is in the wings. Les Miles is already saying Jefferson will play in every game as a super-backup.

WWL would never advocate violence but in a weird way, this episode has worked out in LSU's favor. Jefferson is expected to see action against the Wildcats.


The gift that keeps on giving: The NCAA's top five passers this week all have ties to Mike Leach:

Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden, Houston's Case Keenum, West Virginia's Geno Smith, Arizona's Nick Foles and Oklahoma's Landry Jones.

Weeden, Keenum and Smith are or were coached by Dana Holgorsen, Leach's offensive coordinator at Texas Tech from 2000-2007. Holgorsen has since coached at Oklahoma State and West Virginia.

Foles' offensive coordinator at Arizona, Seth Littrell, played at Oklahoma under Leach. Littrell was also Leach's running backs coach at Texas Tech. Prior to Litrell, Sonny Dykes was Foles' offensive coordinator at Arizona, before going to Louisiana Tech as head coach. Dykes coached with Leach at Kentucky and Texas Tech.

Connection to Jones: Oklahoma's co-offensive coordinator is Josh Heupel who was coached by Leach in 1999 as OU's OC.


This gets a WWL mention because we are a quarter of the way through the season and, well, it matters:
 Temple is No. 1 in scoring defense. The Fighting Addazios (3-1, hosting Toledo) have given up four total touchdowns playing an FCS (Villanova), a conference rival (Akron) and two BCS programs (Penn State and Maryland).


This week's Power Poll
1. LSU
2. Oklahoma
3. Boise State
4. Alabama
5. Wisconsin
6. Virginia Tech
7. Oklahoma State
8. Stanford
9. Nebraska
10. Oregon
11. South Carolina
12. Texas A&M
13. Clemson
14. Baylor
15. Florida
16. Georgia Tech
17. Michigan
18. Kansas State
19. Illinois
20. Michigan State
21. TCU
22. Arkansas
23. West Virginia
24. Arizona State
25. Ohio State



Piling on: George Barlow makes his head coaching debut for crippled, battered, embarrassed New Mexico. The Lobos, 2-26 under Mike Locksley, try to salvage some pride in a rivalry game against New Mexico State. Barlow was New Mexico's defensive coordinator before Locksley was fired on Sunday. That defense is 116th nationally having allowed 24 touchdowns, the most in the country ... Look who is the No. 1 running back in the country. After a slow start against LSU, Oregon's LaMichael James has 613 yards. James is coming off a school-record 288 yards against Arizona. The Ducks play Cal on Thursday ... We'll see how that K-State defense defends its manhood after defending the goal line last week against Miami. Baylor's Robert Griffin threw for 404 yards and four touchdowns last season against K-State in a 47-42 win ... Half of the Big 12 (actually five of 10 teams) are ranked No. 17 or higher in the coaches' poll ... Joe Paterno coaches his 700th game this week as a part of the Penn State staff (at Indiana) ... If South Carolina's Stephen Garcia doesn't get it going this week against Auburn he never will. Steve Spurrier's much-cussed quarterback is ranked second-worst among the 100 quarterbacks rated by the NCAA. Auburn's secondary has allowed opponents to complete almost 68 percent of passes ... LSU is No. 1 for the first time since November 2007.
Posted on: September 27, 2011 5:33 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2011 6:31 pm
 

National notes: What now Missouri?

What now Missouri?

While the school remains conflicted about its place in the Big 12, SEC commissioner Mike Slive pretty much decided Missouri's short-term ambitions when he announced that his league likely will play with 13 teams until at least 2013.

"There are not any other institutions currently under consideration by SEC presidents and chancellors except Texas A&M," Slive repeated again on Tuesday.

As for "informal offers" to Missouri reported by two outlets, it probably comes down to semantics. Define informal. Were these bids made by SEC fans wearing jorts or the commissioner himself? Probably somewhere in between, but certainly not to the level of official consideration by the SEC.

Have there been back-channel communications between the SEC and Missouri? Almost certainly. But legally the SEC can't even hint at an interest in a 14th team. Look what happened to Texas A&M on Sept. 6. It wasn't until the Pac-12 turned down Oklahoma and Texas last week that A&M president R. Bowen Loftin felt comfortable enough to move to the SEC. In other words, when Baylor knew the Big 12 was going to survive there was no need to threaten legal action.

"[At that point], there's really no basis for litigation," Loftin said.

The Show-Me State is in a state of limbo. For the second consecutive year, it has hiked its skirt and flirted a new conference. For the second consecutive year, it could be embarrassed. While that situation could change in 15 minutes, Missouri is in much the same situation it was in June 2010 -- hoping for, but conflicted about taking a lifeline out of the Big 12.

Read between the lines. What's the rush for the SEC? It can play with 13 teams for a couple of years. Who knows if some better school shakes loose? The Big 12 is a daily soap opera. Who knows who is going to be upset tomorrow?



Slive did admit that he has spoken to Loftin about making A&M's first SEC game possibly a stand-alone affair on a special day or at a special time. Think of perhaps Labor Day night Texas A&M vs, maybe, Alabama in a celebration of Bear Bryant? Just speculating.

 


It's been discussed before
but Slive also said there would be discussions about rescinding the two-team limit per conference for BCS bowls. Now that the SEC is the first major conference to grow to 13, it may think it deserves more BCS access.

"There are several issues important enough to have serious discussion," Slive of the BCS going forward. "That would be one of them."




Will Lyles could be the most significant figure of the 2011 season.

The notorious mentor/talent scout/rat now holds the fate of several teams. Lyles told Yahoo! Sports that former Tennessee assistant Willie Mack Garza sent paid for the airfare of Lache Seastrunk for unofficial visit

Several things wrong with that: A school can't pay for unofficial visits. That's why they're unofficial. Garza resigned at USC within a couple of days of Lyles speaking to the NCAA on Aug. 30 in Los Angeles. Oh, and Tennessee just got hit with NCAA penalties, among them "failure to monitor."

The football program got off relatively unharmed when the NCAA penalized Tennessee in August. The NCAA might not be so forgiving if major infractions are found so close together.

The question is, who's next? There's been a buzz since that NCAA sit-down that Lyles has dropped a dime on several schools. In the short term, LSU and Oregon should be concerned. Perhaps Cal as well.

The foundation of this story is an NCAA determined to stamp out third-party influence in college football. Lyles, it seems, has turned state's evidence. All Ohio State did was get to a BCS bowl while its coach intentionally allowed ineligible players to participate. Oregon reportedly asked Lyles to assemble a national recruiting package on fly.

What's worse? I'd be way more worried at Tennessee, LSU, Cal and Oregon.



There has been this rumbling that Texas A&M is making a horrible mistake going to the SEC.

That it is going to be overwhelmed by ES-EE-SEE footbawl. That is has no idea what it is getting into.

Rubbish.

A&M is as committed a football school as there is. I toured the A&M facilities Saturday before the Oklahoma State game and came away impressed. The school's total athletic infrastructure may be better than anything in the SEC. There are fans, I'm told, who park their RVs near the football stadium before the season and don't leave until the last pitch is made in baseball in the spring. That's loyalty.

A&M's one football conference title since the beginnng of 1998, is exactly two less than Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Georgia combined in that same time span.

There is no question the Aggies can compete in, and win, the SEC. Here is how I would rate a 13-team SEC in current strength of football program. I'm talking everything, on the field, facilities, recruiting, fans, fund-raising.

Alabama
LSU
Florida
Arkansas
Texas A&M
Auburn
South Carolina
Georgia
Tennessee
Mississippi State
Ole Miss
Kentucky
Vanderbilt



The threat of lightning can postpone a game but when lightning actually strikes, the score stands.

Lightning struck Saturday when Big East officials totally botched that extra point in the Toledo-Syracuse game. The clearly errant Syracuse extra point was ruled good, probably costing Toledo a victory.

Toledo and MAC officials protested but NCAA rules are clear: Once a game is over, it's over. That didn't come into effect a couple of weeks ago in that Utah-USC game.

Here's a solution in such games when officials clearly cost a deserving team a chance at victory (Also see The Fifth Down Game): 

Declare the result vacated. In other words, the stats count by Syracuse and Toledo don't get credit for a win or a loss. Just vacations, same as at Florida State, Alabama and USC for NCAA transgressions, the games simply don't count.

If one or both teams finish 5-6, they would both automatically be bowl eligible (at 6-6). It seems to be the fair thing to do. The screwed team doesn't get a loss and the team that benefits doesn't get a win. Just a thought.



Extending my screed against boards of regents/curators, we give you these brief bios of the Missouri board of curators. These may be the seven people who will decide whether Missouri goes to the SEC.

Warren Erdman -- appointed in 2007 by then governor Matt Blunt. Erdman is executive vice president of administration and corporate affairs for Kansas City Southern. The transportation holding company has investments in the United States, Mexico and Panama.

David Bradley -- was appointed in 2009 by current governor Jay Nixon. Bradley is president of the News-Press & Gazette in St. Joseph.

Don Downing -- appointed in 2009 by Nixon. Attorney who is a former managing general partner of Stinson, Morrison, Hecker in St. Louis and is Missouri's former chief deputy attorney general.

Wayne Goode -- appointed in 2009 by Nixon. A retired former Missouri senator and state representative.

Donald Cupps -- appointed this year by Nixon. Senior partner at Ellis, Cupps and Cole.

Judith Haggard -- appointed in 2007 by Blunt. A family nurse practitioner and drug abuse counselor.

David Steward -- appointed this year by Nixon. Deep breath here, kids. Steward is chairman and founder of World Wide Technology of St. Louis, a leading systems integrator that provides technology products, services and supply chain solutions to customers around the globe.
Posted on: September 6, 2011 11:46 am
Edited on: September 6, 2011 11:49 am
 

National notes

Since I didn't get around to predicting the BCS bowls before the season actually started, let's just call this a BCS bowl preview (after one week).

BCS championship in New Orleans: Alabama* vs. Oklahoma*

Did nothing in Week 1 to change my opinion of the two best teams in the country.


Rose Bowl:
Oregon* vs. Wisconsin*

Oregon suddenly not a prohibitive favorite in the Pac-12.


Fiesta:
Texas A&M vs. Stanford

Fiesta gets supposed Heisman winner (Andrew Luck) against Big 12 runner-up.


Sugar:
LSU vs. Florida State

Tigers make it back to Sugar, but not the big one.


Orange:
West Virginia* vs. Virginia Tech*

Tech makes a return trip to South. Mountaineers giddy over return to BCS bowl.

*-automatic qualifier


--One reason why we saw all those games delayed or postponed by weather:

Lawyers, or the threat of them if even one person was injured, never mind or killed. Our society is so litigious that even one person slipping on a staircase could cost a school millions. That's why you saw 80,000 people evacuated from stadiums in a short period of time. It's obvious by the speed at which these teams were cleared that schools have prepared for this occurrence.

I can remember seasons when we didn't see this many weather-related delays. Now schools are erring on the side of safety. Who can blame Notre Dame for clearing the stadium twice after it lost a student videographer last season?


--Give Miami's Al Golden credit for not whining about his predicament at Miami.

"Eight of the 110 kids on our team had a significant issue for something they did three years ago?" Golden said. "We're moving on right now. I've been to the deepest depths in the NCAA."

Those depths would have been inheriting a roster with 54 scholarship players at Temple as well as NCAA and APR problems. The difference, as Golden has pointed out, Temple was shooting for a winning record. Miami wants to win championships.


--Yes, it's early and it probably means nothing but here's where you'll find last year's returning Heisman finalists in the current NCAA stats after one week.

Andrew Luck, Stanford: The Heisman runner-up threw for a modest 171 yards against San Jose State in a 57-3 blowout. He is 39th overall in pass efficiency.

LaMichael James, Oregon: Not listed in the top 100 after rushing for 54 yards in 18 carries against LSU. In his last two games, both against SEC superpowers, James has rushed for 103 yards on 31 carries.

Kellen Moore, Boise State: 21st in passing efficiency after completing 28 of 34 against Georgia. How does that get him to 21st after one of the biggest wins in Boise State history? Think of it this way: Moore is first on that list among quarterbacks who played a BCS-conference opponent in the first week.


--Weird stat of the week: Of Oregon's 83 scoring drives last season, it was forced to go more than 11 plays only five times. Oregon had to go 79 yards in 19 plays to score its first touchdown of the season against LSU. What looked at the time like a turning of the tide against the Tigers, turns out to be another reason to like LSU's defense.


--Baylor isn't likely to lose in the month of September. After this week's bye, the Bears have Stephen F. Austin and Rice at home. The conference opener is Oct. 1 at Kansas State and that's looking easier by the moment.

Look for more deserved Baylor hype. The Bears could be 5-0 heading into Texas A&M on Oct. 15.


--Way too early Heisman ballot:

1. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor: Best quarterback in the Big 12 after beating TCU. Felt like Friday Night Lights in Waco.
2. Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU: It's good to have a playmaker. It's great to have a playmaker on defense. It's almost impossible to have a game changer in the secondary.
3. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State: Now, only the NFL has to take notice.
Posted on: August 29, 2011 4:55 pm
 

Handicapping the Heisman field

1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford -- The ghosts of Jim Plunkett and Herschel Walker will haunt the season

2. Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma -- OU has become Quarterback U

3. Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State -- Hasn't been one like him at OSU since Hart Lee Dykes (including Dez Bryant). I mean that in a good way.

4. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon -- With Lache Seastrunk no longer a threat to get in the rotation, is it possible the nation's leading rusher will get even more work?

5. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State -- New set of receivers, same old arm.

6. Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan -- Would be a front runner but Michigan needs to win more and Brady Hoke is going to make him a pocket passer.

7. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina -- Just call him "Hoss" and give him the ball.

8. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama -- Longshot because Nick Saban spreads the carries around.

Posted on: August 18, 2011 1:13 pm
Edited on: August 18, 2011 1:39 pm
 

Former agent calls Saban a "whore"

Josh Luchs seems like ancient history. The Sports Illustrated story detailing the former agent's lavishing extra benefits on college players is 10 months old. 

Since then we've had Ohio State, North Carolina, Miami, etc. But there's one thing about scumbags: If they see an opening, they're likely to take advantage of it.

Luchs is in the process of writing a book that essentially is an extension of the SI story. If you listen or watch close enough, you can probably catch Luchs going through the national carwash promoting himself.

Imagine that, a sleazy former agent hawking his wares.

Luchs has turned righteous just in time, or maybe it's because of the times.

"The ideal of amateurism truly doesn't exist, and I don't know if it's existed since the '50s," he said. "Until the powers that be realize they're trying to operate in a broken system, nothing is going to change."

I caught one of his radio interviews Thursday morning. Suddenly, Luchs sounds like the voice of reason, ripping the NCAA and the culture that allows cheating. It's a lot of the stuff that those of us without books to sell have been saying for years.

Ah, but the money shot came while talking about Nick Saban. Speaking on WHB 810 in Kansas City on Thursday (listen), Luchs was asked about Saban's infamous "pimps" comment from July 2010.

You'll remember how Saban reacted to a question about unscrupulous agents during the '10 SEC media days: "Are they any better than a pimp?"

Luchs took particular issue with that statement Thursday, reminding his audience that Saban made more than $5 million per year, adding, "What he's done here is he's showed who the whore is."


Whore? Really? Can't wait to see how that plays in Alabama. While you're likely to hear/view Luchs as he, um, prostitutes himself, you may not hear those particular words from him in future interviews. A recording of the interview has been passed along to Alabama. I'm not expecting a reaction. There will be enough of one from 'Bama Nation when this gets out.

Scratch Tuscaloosa off his book tour list, I guess.

Other nuggets from Luchs:

 He says he was sought out by the NCAA to speak at East Coast and West Coast compliance seminars. That, in itself, isn't surprising. The NCAA has used convicted gamblers to speak on the evils of gambling. This quote from Luchs, though, sticks out.

"For the 20 years that I was in the business -- half of which I spent breaking every one of the rules, breaking rules paying players -- I had never once seen a compliance person."

 Luchs also said the compliance business has a fundamental flaw, those directors are paid by schools.

"When you think about that for a minute, it's mind-boggling. It's against the schools self-interest to find the wrongdoing. The checks should come from a pool at the NCAA ... This, to me, is at the heart of this Miami issue."

 Luchs spoke of Nevin Shapiro with a sense of jealousy.

"This guy provided illegal benefits to 72-73 players over an eight-year period ... I only gave [benefits to] 32-33 over an eight-year period. Heck, this guy was just killing me."


Posted on: August 4, 2011 1:16 pm
Edited on: August 5, 2011 9:59 am
 

Breaking down the coaches' top 25

A drive-by reaction to the preseason coaches poll released Thursday. If nothing else, it is another sign that we are closer to actual football.

 Oklahoma is No. 1 in a preseason poll for only the second time in the BCS era (2003 was the other). The Sooners got 42 first-place votes. Alabama is a distant second with 13 first-place votes but is only 40 points away from No. 1 (1,454-1,414). That 1-2 slotting probably will last at least to Game 2. In Week 1, Alabama hosts Kent State. Tulsa goes to Oklahoma.

That also means the winner of No. 3 Oregon and No. 4 LSU in the Jerry Dome isn't likely to jump into the top two.

 Speaking of which, still researching the last time two top five teams met on a neutral field in a season opener. Your input is welcome.

 At least seven of the 25 teams are on probation or are being investigated by the NCAA for major violations: Ohio State, Florida State, Alabama, Oregon, LSU, Boise State, Auburn.

 Of the 11 teams to win championships in the BCS era, eight are in the preseason poll: Auburn, Alabama, Florida, LSU, Texas, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Florida State. Missing: Tennessee, Miami, USC (not eligible).

 You want an early opinion on the season? Ask Tulsa's rookie head coach. Bill Blankenship. His Hurricane play three teams in the top eight in the first month -- No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 7 Boise State and No. 8 Oklahoma State.

 Four of the top five teams play each other in the first three weeks. (LSU-Oregon, FSU-Oklahoma).

 Boise State is the only school in the top eight not playing another school in that group. If the Broncos get into championship contention again, you can already hear the haters.

 The SEC has eight teams in the top 25. That's up from six to end last season. What are the odds that the Strength Everywhere Conference will claim a sixth consecutive national championship? Answer: Good. Very good.

 The SEC (eight), Big 12 and Big Ten (five each) account for 18 of the 25 teams.

 To the surprise of no one, 20 of the 25 teams who ended ranked in 2010 are ranked to begin 2011. Missing: Maryland, Utah, North Carolina State, Central Florida, Nevada.

 The dividing line comes at Arizona State. Penn State is No. 25, three points ahead of the Sun Devils, the first of "others receiving votes."

 The Big East was shut out of the top 25. The highest-ranked BE school is West Virginia at No. 27.

 Defending champion Auburn (No. 19) is by far the lowest-ranked defending champion in the preseason coaches poll in at least nine years. LSU was previously the lowest at No. 6 in 2008 during that period. Others: Alabama, 2010 (No. 1), Florida, 2009 (1), Florida, 2007 (3), Texas, 2006 (2), USC, 2004-2005 (1), Ohio State, 2003 (2), Miami, 2002 (1).

 Fifty teams, 42 percent of FBS, received votes.
Posted on: July 20, 2011 11:52 am
 

Five things about the SEC heading into media days

1. South Carolina is this year's Auburn. Last year no one was talking about Auburn winning the SEC West, much less the national championship. Who is this year's Auburn? South Carolina isn't a bad place to start as this year's under-the-radar team. Sure, sure, the Gamecocks are favorites to win the SEC East but with (perhaps) three future pros on offense and the debut of Jadeveon Clowney on defense, they could go further. The coach sure has national championship experience.

2. Houston Nutt's seat is warm. Ole Miss' coach won nine games and the Cotton Bowl in each of his first two seasons. Last season things imploded as Mississippi fell to 4-8. The Jeremiah Masoli experiment failed, the defense was shredded and the Rebels lost again to Mississippi State. Will that be a blip on the radar or a trend? Nutt's teams always seem to play best when expectations are low. And they are low. It's hard to see the Rebs finishing higher than fifth in the SEC West.

3. Alabama can win a national championship with either quarterback. A.J. McCarron or Phillip Sims? Sims or McCarron? It doesn't matter. Play them both, which Nick Saban has hinted at. It doesn't matter. This Bama team is so solid otherwise that it can win with a game manager at quarterback. Trent Richardson is a Heisman Trophy candidate. The defense is nearing 2009 levels. Bama gets LSU at home in the game to settle it all. What's not to like? As long as McCarron and/or Sims don't start channeling Jordan Jefferson the Tide will roll.

4. It's all on Isaiah Crowell. Caleb King and Washaun Ealey are gone at Georgia. That means that Crowell, a true freshman sensation, is going to have to be this year's Marcus Lattimore. Or do we dare suggest another Herschel Walker when talking about SEC freshman breakout tailbacks? Crowell is the kid who pulled out a real, live bullpup when he committed to Georgia.  Now the question is, can he carry the program on his back?

5. When can Auburn really celebrate its national championship? Gene Chizik was slapped down last month by the NCAA enforcement director when he asked about the Cam Newton investigation. There is still the ongoing probe into the four former players who spoke out on HBO's Real Sports. News broke Wednesday that the NCAA was in Montgomery, Ala. in the last week of June conducting interviews. Tigers fans would like to finally celebrate this national championship without survivor's guilt.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com