Posted on: September 25, 2009 12:04 am
Edited on: September 25, 2009 7:42 am
It has taken a while, longer than anyone expected, but South Carolina finally has a personality.
The Old Ball Coach now looks like the Long Haul Coach.
In his fifth year, Steve Spurrier got the victory he needed to make the Gamecocks a threat in the SEC. No. 4 Ole Miss went down 16-10 changing the identity of the conference's dark horse. Might as well give South Carolina a shot at that title after it used defense, again, to shut down down the high-powered Rebels. In its three wins, South Carolina has allowed 26 points.
Gone, for now, are Ole Miss' dreams of an SEC title. Anyone who watched South Carolina stifle the Rebels all night can't give Ole Miss a chance to overtake LSU and Alabama in the SEC West. South Carolina's Cliff Matthews and Eric Norwood each had two sacks.
Spurrier had it all wrong about the preseason all-SEC quarterback. Or at least his football operations guy did. Jevan Snead never could get going completing only seven of 21.
We know he has a defense. Spurrier might finally have his quarterback. While Stephen Garcia misfired on several passes and fumbled away an opportunity, he did throw for 220 yards.
This is how it's done, Lou. This looks like a real turnaround. South Carolina beat its second-ever top five opponent and first since 1981. The schedule is favorable too with three home games in the next four [against South Carolina State, Kentucky and Vanderbilt]. South Carolina should be 5-1 when it goes to Alabama on Oct. 17.
This is South Carolina's third 3-1 start in the last four years. Now the Spur Dog has to maintain the momentum.
Posted on: September 13, 2009 4:31 pm
Charlie Weis doesn’t get off easy on this one. It was his coaching decision that left Michigan just enough time left on the clock to beat the Irish on Saturday.
Prior to Michigan’s game-winning drive, Weis elected to pass on second and third down. Both passes fell incomplete, stopping the clock and allowing Michigan to take over with 2:19 remaining and two timeouts left. Just enough, it turned, down for Rich Rod to nail down the dramatic win he needed.
When Weis as asked about the play calling he said something about going for the win. Maybe, but would Bill Belichick have signed off on those passes in that situation if Weis was still his offensive coordinator?• Horseshoes and hand grenades would like to welcome Ohio State to its exclusive club. It’s getting to the point now that just playing close is a sign of progress for the Buckeyes.
Prior to Saturday, USC had won its last nine against Big Ten teams by an average of 23.8 points.• Clip and save: Special teams might just up and grab USC down the line. Kicker Jordan Congdon missed a makeable 44-yard field goal against Ohio State [hitting the crossbar]. Punter Billy O’Malley let a high but catchable snap slips through his hands for a safety. O’Malley, a walk-on from Cleveland, averaged 37.6 yards on five punts. A 24-yarder last week against San Jose State allowed the Spartans to score their only points.
• It sure would have helped the hype if Tennessee beat UCLA. [Wait for it …] No, it wouldn’t. Gainesville is getting fired up for the Lane Violation on Saturday.
“We’re thinking about Tennessee right now,” Florida linebacker Ryan Stamper said.• Indiana, perhaps the Big Ten’s worst program, is 2-0 for the sixth consecutive year.
• OBC alert: Steve Spurrier must be pulling his hair out. A week after holding North Carolina State to three points, his defense allowed 41 to Georgia. Two suddenly potent teams combined for 735 yards and 78 points in Georgia’s 41-37 victory. That’s the second biggest total in the series’ history.
South Carolina ran 30 more plays than Georgia and outgained the Dawgs 427-308. The Gamecocks had the ball fourth-and-four at Georgia’s seven but Stephen Garcia couldn’t convert.• Texas Tech going to Texas this week suddenly looks interesting. Tech’s Taylor Potts threw for seven touchdowns against Rice. Graham Harrell’s successor completed passes to 13 different receivers.
• The best thing about BYU’s day was not its 54-3 victory over Tulane. It’s that Florida State rallied late to beat I-AA Jacksonville State 19-9. An FSU loss would have dealt an early blow to BYU’s BCS hopes. You know, strength of schedule and all that.
Posted on: July 24, 2009 10:51 am
Edited on: July 24, 2009 3:31 pm
HOOVER, Ala. -- Steve Spurrier came this close to having his retired number taken down at The Swamp and dumped in a swamp.
We now know that the South Carolina coach was the lone SEC coach who didn't vote for Tim Tebow on the coaches' preseason All-SEC team. Now it becomes a case of damage control. Spurrier was allowed to change his vote to Tebow, diminishing, but not ending, a growing controversy.
Votergate has become a three-day story here at the SEC media days. Tebow was not among the three unanimous choices on the team. Ever since then, every coach on the podium has been asked about his quarterback vote. With three coaches left -- Spurrier, Lane Kiffin and Les Miles -- the news has brokenthat the South Carolina coach's ballot did not include Tebow.
Spurrier said Friday morning he OK'd a ballot filled by a football operations aide without looking at the names. Ole Miss' Jevan Snead was listed on Spurrier's ballot.
Posted on: June 30, 2009 12:05 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2009 12:34 pm
You're tired. We're all tired.
Of the SEC.
That doesn't mean you shouldn't believe the hype. Since it expanded in 1992, the SEC has won seven national championships in 17 years, four of the last six and three in a row. It generally sends the most players to the NFL, approximately 36 a year since 1990. How many leagues can narrow the national championship race to one game? Since 2006, the winner of the LSU-Florida game has been the national champion.
Nowhere else does one agent (Jimmy Sexton) represent half the league's coaches. The SEC produces the most draft picks, the most talent, the best stories. Open a browser. You'll find something about Lane Kiffin somewhere.
This season, Florida opens the season as the consensus No. 1 chasing a third national championship in four years. Only two other schools have accomplished that feat in the wire service era: Notre Dame (1946-47, 49), Nebraska (1994-95, 1997).
Let's not forget those lucrative new TV contracts from CBS and ESPN. In the SEC, money flows downhill -- into league coffers.
Tired of the SEC? Too bad. You'll have to pay attention. Once again, the winner of the league will probably be in contention for the BCS title game.
1. Alabama -- They've dismissed the Sugar Bowl as a fluke in Tuscaloosa long ago. They'd rather remember how Bama went undefeated in the regular season and was No. 1 for several weeks. Nine returning starters on defense is a good place to start. New quarterback Greg McElroy better find Julio Jones often. A rebuilt offensive line will try to spring Mark Ingram (12 touchdowns as a freshman). The magic of St. Nick gets the nod in this packed division.
2. LSU -- Don't agonize over Jordan Jefferson at quarterback. LSU has won two national championships with, shall we say, less than dynamic quarterbacks. Crazy Les has the SEC's best running back (Charles Scott) and at least one NFL draft pick (Ciron Black) on the offensive line. After the co-coordinator thing failed on defense, Miles went out and got the best player on the board -- John Chavis, formerly of Tennessee.
6. Mississippi State -- All the buzz is coming from Oxford. For good reason. Dan Mullen tried to install his version of the spread in the spring with fewer than five receivers on the roster. That will change in a hurry as Mullen says he wants at least a dozen receivers to get playing time. But as his old boss found out, the passing game comes second. Mullen better be able to run the ball first and find some defensive linemen who can come off the edge.
1. Florida -- How's the view from the top? It is Florida's division, conference and national championship to lose. Every starter is back on defense. A guy named Tebow seems to have won the quarterback job. Now the question is, who replaces Percy Harvin? Meyer says he won't do it by committee. Watch for Jeff Demps, Chris Rainey and incoming recruit Andre Debose to take their shots. After two titles in three years, the further motivation is Florida's first undefeated season.
2. Georgia -- Strange, but the Bulldogs seem like they're going to be OK. Joe Cox doesn't have to light it up in replacing Matt Stafford, just manage the game. Receiver A.J. Green is a year older and bigger. There are two stars on defense -- defensive tackle Geno Atkins and linebacker Rennie Curran. The last time the expectations were this low, 2005, Georgia won the SEC East. It's going to take a win over Florida to do it, so a division title isn't likely. But 10 wins out of this group isn't out of the question.
3. South Carolina -- Steve Spurrier's greatest trait is his honesty. When asked at the SEC spring meetings if quarterback Stephen Garcia was ready to take over he didn't hesitate. Still needs some work, Spur Dog said. If Spurrier can't get the quarterback thing right, what hope is there for the rest of the Gamecocks? They have faded late in each of the last two seasons. Spurrier has averaged seven wins in his four seasons and has produced just one bowl win. At 64, Spurrier is committed. Is his quarterback, who has had legal problems?
4. Kentucky -- UK's run of three consecutive bowl wins might be in danger. Mike Hartline must show he can become a solid SEC quarterback. Randall Cobb remains a wild card, in a good way, as a quarterback, punt returner and receiver. Rich Brooks has his best defensive line since coming to Kentucky. He wants to get the Cats into the top 25 on a regular basis before turning things over to coach-in-waiting Joker Phillips.
5. Tennessee -- Behind the bluster, is this: Tennessee isn't particularly good. The offense is going to be painful to watch -- again. Lane Kiffin has yet to sign the quarterback who will define his success in Knoxville. His best hope at the position might be All-American safety Eric Berry who should get some snaps behind center. If the offensive line holds up, maybe super freshman Bryce Brown can keep the Vols in the hunt. Guru Monte Kiffin gets a head start with athletes on his side of the ball. Defense wasn't the problem last season.
6. Vanderbilt -- After going 26 years between bowls, Vandy just might be getting started. Coach Bobby Johnson gets all five offensive line starters back. The defense that allowed less than 20 points per game is stout as well. It will be typical Commodores in that they will struggle to score but hang in with defense. The Nov. 21 regular-season finale at Tennessee could have a lot on the line.
Posted on: May 7, 2009 11:04 am
Tennessee's newest football signee claims he had interest from 27 schools until they found out his criminal past.
My question is, how did it even get to that stage? It's shameful that apparently 27 schools got to the recruiting stage of Hood. Any reasonable effort to check his background would have produced his sordid past. One recruiting site said among the schools recruiting Hood were Florida State, South Carolina, Virginia Tech, UCLA and Stanford. Stanford?
How many of those schools stayed on Hood after they found out about him? Here is evidence that Hood had at least two offers as long ago as 14 months.
This kind of reminds me of the case of Colt Brennan. The Hawaii quarterback served one week in jail after being convicted of burglary and felony trespassing while at Colorado. Brennan was able to reshape his life and become a Heisman contender.
But once again, felony trespassing is a loooong way from sexual assault. We can only hope that Hood makes Tennessee proud. I still say that UT doesn't need Hood given its recent past, its controversial present and its reputation in the future. Yes, give the kid a scholarship -- somewhere else.
I'm wondering how many kids are dying to attend UT but can't for financial reasons. I want Hood to tell them why he deserves the scholly more because he plays a mean defensive line.
• The Gallup Poll apparently has discussed the coaches in the coaches poll completely hide their ballots.
This came consultation with Gallup by the American Football Coaches Association.
If it happens, welcome back to the stone age. Gallup seems to think that there would be less pressure on coaches if the public didn't know how they voted, or even their identity. Currently, the 61 coaches release their ballots at the end of the regular season. At least we know who the 61 voters are. Now, even that shred of info might be hidden.
So let's recap: The national championship might be decided by 61 anonymous men who may or may not be actually voting, may or may not be voting their friends (or themselves) unethically high (or low) and who, no matter how this turns out, will continue to line their pockets with BCS bowl money based on their poll.
Where do we sign up?
Posted on: January 2, 2009 7:21 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2009 7:33 pm
LOS ANGELES -- Take all of this for what it is worth but USC's two biggest stars from Thursday say they're coming back.
Receiver Damian Johnson said before the Rose Bowl that he was definitely coming back from his redshirt junior season in 2009. That was before his 10-catch, 162-yard career day against Penn State.
A USC source told me that Sanchez' father told him that the quarterback is definitely coming back. Sanchez threw for 413 yards (second-most ever in the Rose Bowl) and four touchdowns.
"I don't know how I could leave all this," Sanchez told reporters after the 38-24 victory. "That's what I'm planning on."
Departing offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian was asked if this was Sanchez' last game.
"I don't know. I know he's a tremendous quarterback, he's extremely bright. He's got great physical tools. He prepares himself mentally and physically better than anyone I've been around. I don't know what that equates to. I just know what he is."
If both players return, USC's offense could be the most productive at Troy since 2005, the last season for Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush. The defense is another issue. The offensive line returns intact. Williams and Ronald Johnson are rounding into go-to receivers for Sanchez who has struggled in general to develop one as a starter.
The nation's No. 1 defense is another story. It figures to lose 10 starters if, as expected, safety Taylor Mays comes out early.
"It's about what's best for me," Mays said.
Code breaking from your favorite translator: He's gone.
As for that rebuilt defense ... USC got its last national championship game with a unit that wasn't exactly a juggernaut in 2005. It finished 48th nationally giving up 361 yards per game.• While Sanchez' future is uncertain, Sarkisian did coach his last game at USC before going to Seattle for take over the sinking ship known as the University of Washington.
"It's been seven great years of my life," Sark said. "Four straight Rose Bowls to be part of, three straight wins. For Mark and I, watching him grow up as a freshman until this point now I'm really happy for him."
"More than anything we've got to develop a belief in winning. This team believes in winning. That's the first thing we have to carry up there."
• Williams is the most productive on-field member of the Springdale Five.
Four of the five highly-recruited members of Springdale (Ark.) High School followed their coach Gus Malzahn to Arkansas in 2006. Since then, a cross-country drama has played out. Malzahn left Arkansas after a year to go to Tulsa. He recently took the OC job at Auburn.
They eventually scattered to the four winds. Williams and quarterback Mitch Mustain transferred to USC. Mustain is now the No. 3 quarterback behind Aaron Corp and Sanchez. Williams led the Trojans in receiving. Tight end Ben Cleveland is still at Arkansas having caught one pass in 2008. Receiver Andrew Norman transferred to Tulsa in 2007, then returned to Arkansas as a walk-on in 2008.
"I wouldn't ever say that (I'm the most accomplished)," Williams said.• It still boggles the mind that Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer was considering redshirting quarterback Tyrod Taylor. In winning a tidy, if not exciting, Orange Bowl, Taylor is now 13-2 as a starter.
The Hokies should go into next season as ACC favorites. Again. Tech's dominance of the league was not what the suits envisioned when they expanded the league but until Miami and Florida State show us more, the league is going to stay out of the state of Florida.• Speaking of which, that was the ACC's first BCS bowl win (and second ever) since 2000. Virginia Tech was involved in that one too, as the loser from the Big East against FSU.
• South Carolina quarterbacks threw an incredible 27 interceptions this season and have coughed up a total of 69 in Steve Spurrier's four seasons. After a disappointing 31-10 loss to Iowa in the Outback Bowl you've got to ask yourself how much the OBC has left before he starts hitting from the tips for good.
• For whatever its worth, the Pac-10 has clinched best record in the bowl season (5-0). It's hard to put much stock in a series of exhibition games but if we're going to damn the Big Ten for being 1-5 in bowls, we might as well credit the Pac-10.
That doesn't remove the fact that the league had two of the worst programs in America -- Washington and Washington State -- and continues to be USC and the Little Nine.• Not a bad comeback for Nebraska quarterback Joe Ganz in the Gator Bowl. He fumbled away a ball that was a returned for a touchdown and threw a pick that led to another score. After leading a second-half rally Ganz was named the MVP of the Gator.
Posted on: November 14, 2008 11:18 am
Edited on: November 14, 2008 11:23 am
One source says that Air Force's Troy Calhoun has emerged as a favorite at Tennessee followed by UConn's Randy Edsall and Brian Kelly of Cincinnati. Remember, I said a favorite, not the favorite. Calhoun also has been mentioned at Washington.
The name of Lousiana Tech coach Derek Dooley has emerged at Clemson. We already know the school is interested in Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables and Lane Kiffin and will speak to Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster.
Coaching headhunter Chuck Neinas has been employed by Syracuse, Toledo and Tennessee for their searches.
Broncos fans are busying themselves with that possibility with their team stuck at No. 10 in the BCS and heading to Idaho this week. Boise State's (lack of) schedule strength won't be enough to leap over Utah, No. 8 in the BCS, if the teams keep winning.
Only one non-BCS team is guaranteed an automatic spot if it qualifies. A second team would have to make it as an at-large. The odds are slim of two non-BCS teams making it to BCS bowls but here's how it happens:
• Six of the 10 spots go to the BCS conference champions. Boise must then hope that the four at-large spots are filled by teams from different conferences. Think Big 12, SEC, Utah (Mountain West) and Boise (WAC). In that scenario, there would be no other team to pick but the Broncos.• An at-large team must have at least nine victories and finish in the top 14. Ohio State must get beat to drop out of the top 14. Oregon State must get beat to keep the Pac-10 from getting two teams in the BCS. A Beavers loss would vault USC into an automatic spot as the Pac-10 champion. Penn State would have to win out to clinch the Big Ten.
Of course, Utah could take care of things for Boise by losing at least one of its final two games. If not, no BCS bowl is going to pick Boise over, say, Ohio State to fill one of its spots.• "Has it taken longer than expected (to win at South Carolina)?" asked Steve Spurrier who is in his fourth season with the Gamecocks. "No, not really. Our big recruiting class came two years ago. We've got 26 players of those players on campus. We've got a pretty good nucleus of players for the next three or four years."
Spurrier laughed when asked about denying interest in the Tennessee job recently.
"They weren't going to come after me anyway," he said. "I'm on my last gig. I'm on my last job. They want to hire a guy who is going to be there 15 years."• Great quote gathered by our Craig Barnes who covered the Virginia Tech-Miami game on Thursday night:
"The U is back," Virginia Tech cornerback Victor "Macho" Harris said. "The swagger is back. The teams that we played last year and tonight were completely different. Their team has confident that they can win."
If Macho says Miami is back, that's good enough for me.
Posted on: November 5, 2008 10:32 am
What is the immediate future of Tennessee football?
I'm talking two, three years down the road. I have a nagging feeling that Tennessee could become the new Nebraska. A fallen power. Nebraska will never win three national championships in five years. Those days are over.
Tennessee has won three SEC East titles in the past seven years. That's not bad, folks. Will the next coach do that? The school has the facilities and interest and budget to win big. How does it get that back in one of the most competitive atmospheres in the country?
• Good to see that Steve Spurrier has officially declined interest in tap-dancing on Phil Fulmer's grave, er, in the vacancy. After all, you can't spell Steve Spurrier without UT.
• Before that the Old Ball Coach took a few final jabs at his favorite target. After South Carolina beat the Vols 27-6, Steve Spurrier said: "I'm used to hearing 'Rocky Top' about 10 times. Did they play it at all? I can't remember any of it. Usually you hear that song -- maybe they only play it after they score." Ouch.
• USC has become a victim of its own excellence. The Trojans dropped from fifth to seventh this week in the BCS standings despite shutting out Washington 56-0. Apparently the pollsters and computers aren't impressed with the Pac-10 conference.
Since the BCS standings debuted, USC is 3-0 having outscored Washington State, Arizona and Washington by a combined 142-10. In that time USC has lost 7.5 percent of its BCS average (.8165 to .7551).
Three of the six BCS computers have the Pac-10 ranked no higher than fourth (Billingsley, fourth; Sagarin, sixth; Colley, seventh behind the Mountain West).
"The more we win, the worse we get," Pete Carroll said.• BYU needs Utah to beat TCU on Thursday to have any chance of winning its third consecutive Mountain West title.
Where is BYU quarterback Max Hall going to be?
"Can't miss 'The Office,' Hall said before changing his story. "I don't know. I will probably pay attention to it. I will probably watch it."
"This isn't about me," Bama's coach said.
Uh, yeah it is, Nick. It's all about you walking out on LSU for the NFL. That in and of itself isn't bad. Who among us wouldn't jump at the chance for a huge promotion?
The mistake is coming back into the belly of the beast (Death Valley!) and trying to deflect the attention. Check this comment from the SEC meetings earlier this year. The guy doesn't exactly expect a welcoming committee.
"All I know is when we had a staff meeting about who goes on what bus, who rides where and all that kind of stuff, it was pretty unanimous in our staff that when we go to LSU, nobody's riding on the bus I'm on," Saban said.• The pandering went down to the last day for Mr. Hope and Change. Barack Obama continued to tell us what we wanted to hear without offering any substance.
"I think it is about time that we had playoffs in college football," Obama said during a Monday interview. "I'm fed up with these computer rankings and this and that and the other. Get eight teams -- the top eight teams right at the end. You got a playoff. Decide a national champion."
That will resonate with Joe Six Pack, which is the point of Obama's entire campaign. Hope and change are empty terms. I'm betting Mr. H and C knows as much about college football as the average cricket player.
How are you going to select the eight teams? What about the ninth team? What about the bowls? Where are the games going to be? You might want to check with the Rose Bowl, Pac-10 and Big Ten.
A lifetime of Washington experience counts more than charisma and empty promises. To paraphrase Dennis Miller, John McCain gave us 5 1/2 years in a Vietnamese prison, I believe we owed him at least four in the White House.• Mystery team of the week. Unbeaten, No. 1 in total defense in a major conference, tied for 54th nationally in total defense. Answer below.
• Tyrell Fenroy of Louisiana-Lafayette became the seventh player to rush for 1,000 yards in each of four seasons. He joins a list that includes Tony Dorsett, Cedric Benson and Ron Dayne.
• More Tennessee:
One of the more striking aspects of Phil Fulmer's firing is the support showed by his players.
“I just feel like I just lost one of my ribs and my kidney or something,” safety Eric Berry said. “I feel like I just lost a family member. Nobody has died, but that’s what it feels like to me right now.”
"That right there wasn't very stand up of Tennessee ... He should go out on his own terms," offensive lineman Ramon Foster said. "If you're on the other side of the fence we hope you're happy."• Tennessee AD Mike Hamilton's letter to alumni:
Coach Fulmer has been, and will continue to be, a great representative of the University and the athletic department. He has dedicated a majority of his life to our program and brought home two SEC championships and a national championship. He has secured his place as the second winningest coach in Tennessee history behind General Neyland. I personally appreciate everything he has done for Tennessee and look forward to him continuing to be a part of our family.
I hope that you will come and show your appreciation for Coach Fulmer at the Wyoming and Vanderbilt games as well as the Kentucky game on Nov. 29 when we celebrate “Phillip Fulmer Day” in Neyland Stadium.
We will begin a national coaching search immediately. We have a great University, world-class student-athletes, a tremendous fans base and first-class facilities. As a result, we will attract some of the nation’s best candidates. We will introduce a new coach to you over the next several weeks.
Thank you for your continued support of Tennessee football.
• Kentucky wishes Randall Cobbs could clone himself. In his first career start, he threw for 56 yards and a touchdown in a 14-13 win over Mississippi State. Cobbs also rushed for 31 yards and a touchdown.
He also caught a team-high three passes as a receiver and returned a few punts.
"If I were our field goal kickers, I'd be worried," offensive coordinator Joker Phillips said.• Texas Tech is your mystery team of the week.