Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A little Vanderbilt love.

Vanderbilt is relatively highly thought of this year in the SEC, and for good reason -- they nearly did enough last year to get into a bowl game, and they are returning 19 starters while only loosing five. More importantly, they return almost their entire offensive line, and as anyone can tell you, that is huge.

In looking at the reasons for Vandy's success last year, we can see that their 4th place finish in rushing offense was a big reason. Returning their entire O-line except for right guard Mac Pyle, as well as their entire starting backfield argues for even more success at the running game.

Other big, but relatively undiscussed, reason for Vandy's success is that their defense was a "bend but not break" defense, sixth in the league in allowing first downs, tied with traditional powerhouse Auburn. But the biggest of them all was penalties.

Vanderbilt led the entire SEC in fewest penalties, averaging only 33.2 yards in penalties per game. Compare that to national champ Florida, who averaged 63.4 yards per game in penalties, nearly double that of Vanderbilt. This is the kind of statistic that kept them in the game with Arkansas, at Alabama, at Ole Miss, and with Florida and allowed them to beat Georgia between the hedges in Athens. Put a few more points on those close losses, and Vandy gets to a bowl.

This year, Vanderbilt has a much easier schedule, getting Alabama and Ole Miss at home, replacing Michigan with Richmond and getting Georgia at home. They get all their tough games on the road, and nobody really expects them to pull upsets at Auburn, South Carolina, Florida and Tennessee. But aside from those four apparently certain losses, every game on their schedule is winnable. While they are unlikely to beat Bama or Georgia at home, neither is impossible. And Kentucky figures to be a pretty even game. Bottom line - this is the best chance for Vandy to go bowling since ... the industrial revolution?

Vanderbilt Sports line is back, and notes the buzz around Vandy during SEC Media Days last week. He says that Commodore players are chanting B-C-S at the end of their practices, but I think that may be a bridge too far even for this team. Still, Vandy is likely to be a much tougher out this year than last.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Holy Creampuff, Batman! (update)

I just saw the Florida Gator's men's basketball schedule for the first time, and I have to admit, I was surprised even though I expected a light non-conference Gator schedule.

Names like North Dakota State (127), Tennessee Tech (169), UNC-Central (first year as Div-I), Rutgers (166), North Florida (333), Stetson (302), Florida A&M (256), Georgia Southern (205), Charleston Southern (316), and High Point (170), Jacksonville (244), Vermont (148) make up the Hostess Twinkie portion of the schedule. And I thought UK's non-conference schedule was weak. Only two teams in the top 100, 2 in the top 150, three > 200 and three > 300.

The strongest teams on the NC schedule are Ohio State (definitely a tough one) and Florida State, who is certainly nice competition for the young Gators. But wow, Billy D. is going to need a full-time dentist to fill all the cavities from this pastry-laden schedule.

To be fair to the Gators, they lost their entire starting rotation plus their top sub, so they are basically starting over. I really don't fault Billy D. for weakening the schedule, but he'd better hope his team matures fast. If he anticipates the need for a schedule this weak, he may believe he is facing an NIT bit. But after two national champs in a row, I suppose he could be forgiven for that.

I was a little miffed at UK's comparatively easy schedule, but if Barnhart and Gillispie had cooked up a schedule like Florida's, the UK faithful would have really let them have it. Fortunately for Billy Donovan, he has a lot of good will built up, as the Gator faithful have long since forgotten his dalliance with Orlando this summer.

So what are the SEC blogs saying about this? Well, not much so far, but I am expecting some reaction later. I'll update this post when I have it.


Some UK fan blogs are scoffing at Florida's schedule:

The lone Florida dissenter so far is Andy Staples of TBO.com. He says the weak schedule could come back to haunt the Gators.


I'm adding the blogroll now, and it is huge. It will take me a few days, so if you're a blogger who links us or comes here and wonders why I haven't returned the favor, please be patient. It is a big job, as there are a lot of blogs to add. I promise, I will get there.

Debate: Early signing date for football

The debate over adding an early signing date for college football recruits in the SEC has been raging for some months now. This proposal was pretty much killed earlier this year, but the idea has refused to die.

So what's the big deal about this anyway? SEC basketball has an early signing period, and no one can deny the advantages -- you don't have the frenetic behind-the-scenes maneuvering that always makes signing day in football such a crap shoot. Players can opt out of the frenzy by signing early, or opt in by staying until the last minute, as Patrick Patterson famously did at the University of Kentucky.

So let's look at the arguments for and against this proposal that have been raised so far:

  • Mark Richt, Georgia (from article linked above):
    "I'm against it right now because I've got a feeling if we'd have an early signing period, everyone would be pushing for earlier official visits. I'm just wondering when high school students and coaches are going to have downtime. Are we going to spend all summer having official visits?"

  • Phillip Fulmer, Tennessee (from article linked above):
    Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer said he understands the value of having an early signing period. Since the Volunteers recruit nationally, it would reduce the travel costs associated with its coaches flying across the country to visit committed prospects late in the recruiting period.

    "In those last two weeks, there's a lot of baby-sitting going on," Fulmer said. "If I'm not there, somebody else might be there."

  • Bobby Johnson, Vanderbilt -- Rich Brooks, Kentucky -- Les Miles, LSU (from article linked above):
    Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson and Kentucky coach Rich Brooks said they were in favor of an early signing period (LSU coach Les Miles also voted in favor of it) because it would reduce the time they'd have to spend making sure committed prospects stay committed.

  • Urban Meyer, Florida (from article linked above):
    "Everybody wants to speed this thing up," Meyer said. "I'd rather have it happen later. I want to quit making mistakes. I think making a mistake in recruiting devastates a program.

  • Houston Nutt, Arkansas:
    "To me, it could open up to just about year-round recruiting. That's what I'm scared about," Nutt said. "It's just about to the point now where parents are bringing players up for an unofficial visit, but it's an official visit. Why? You have to show them the weight room, where they're going to eat, where they're going to live, you have to sit down with them."
None of these arguments are inherently good or bad, they all have something of a point. The Montgomery Adviser article goes on to indicate that Nick Saban and Tommy Tuberville may be opposed because they are noted for their success in changing recruits minds late in the process. Florida is apparently also famous for this -- this year alone, Florida changed the minds of four players who were verbally committed elsewhere.

Frankly, this business of changing verbal commitments has always troubled me. It sends a message that "All is fair in love, war and recruiting", and I don't think this is the message we need our young men to be starting out their career with. I hardly would place all the blame on the coaches, because I know there are many recruits who will verbally commit and then continue to visit other schools. To me, this is a poor practice, but it is what it is.

So how would an early signing period effect recruiting? Well, we would very likely see less of this jockeying for position that we see now, and when recruits suddenly see a team shaping up, they may well decide to go elsewhere. I think that is what Alabama, Auburn, and Florida are really thinking -- the fewer cards they have to put on the table, the better their odds are of getting great recruits, even if it works against the interest of the recruits themselves.

The Big 10 is all for an early signing period, as is the ACC. But the Pac-10 seems as opposed as the SEC is. That's interesting, but I can't come up with any correlative reason why it might be true. The Pac-10 and SEC have been world-beaters lately in football, but it isn't as if that is going to last forever.

Maybe a down year or two in the SEC or Pac-10 would change some minds, I don't know. But right now, the issue seems to be in limbo, although with the support it does have, it isn't going away any time soon.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Pardon the dust ...

We are trying out a new template, and we'll be messing with the blog look for the next day or so.

But all the great content will continue to be there. Thanks for coming by, and for your patience.

Time to show some love ...

to the under-served members of the SEC, at least on this blog. Looking down the tag list, I see that Auburn, Ole Miss, and Vanderbilt have not received sufficient attention. I am all about rectifying that problem.

First, a look at the Auburn world. Tiger Tales notes a Florida media outlet who argues that Tommy Tuberville is only the third best coach in the SEC, behind Urban Meyer and Steve Spurrier.

Look, I think the Ol' Ball Coach is great, but when is he going to show he can get South Carolina to the top tier of the league? Maybe this year, but if not, we are going to have to wonder when. Media voters have only picked South Carolina fourth in the East, which is still a great place to be in a conference like the SEC. Still, that's only one spot ahead of Kentucky -- can the OBC really be proud of that? Spurrier says he's "raised [his team's] goals this year", but to what?

The Hotty Toddy Blog interviews some Florida fans on the subject of Ole Miss. The answers seem pretty predictable to me:

(5) What do you dislike most about Ole Miss?

Nothing really not to like about Ole Miss and unfortunately that means that they are pretty much irrelevant.
Ouch. Well, what can one expect?

The Montgomery Adviser interviews Coach Orgeron, who says Ole Miss needs a quarterback:
"We have had very inconsistent play at the quarterback position the last two years," he admitted. "We're looking for a consistent quarterback, a quarterback that can have a short controlled passing game, that can make the right decisions along the line of scrimmage, that can be a leader in the huddle."
Ole Miss also finalized its basketball schedule this week.

Turning to the Vanderbilt Commodores, Nashville Ballerz says that Vandy picked up a late basketball signee this week under "unusual circumstances:"
Under highly unusual cirumstances, Vanderbilt added a late recruit Friday to its 2007-08 recruiting class in Charles Hinkle, a 6-foot-5 swingman from Los Alamitos, Calif. With classes set to begin nationwide in about a month, Hinkle remained unsigned this summer after prepping for one year at Hebron (Maine) Academy.
The Georgia Bulldog Blog has a Vanderbilt capsule from SEC Media Days. Here is a sample:
Bobby Johnson bristles at the perception that it’s impossible to win consistently at Vanderbilt. But only a few breaths after half-heartedly disputing that assertion, he acknowledged why it’s difficult to be the little guy on the SEC block.
Unfortunately for Vanderbilt, they are essentially in the same boat as Kentucky, although at least they can use "higher academic standards" as an excuse, whereas the Wildcats really have none. Still, both Vanderbilt and UK will be making some noise in the SEC this year unless I miss my guess. Neither one will be taken for granted, even by the elite of the league.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Coming to your news reader: Conference Wars!

Well, the gauntlets have been thrown down and the big "B.S." called. The Pac-10 and the SEC are officially in a war of words over who is the best. We have Nick Saban (Alabama), Les Miles (LSU) and Rich Brooks (Kentucky) all on record saying that the Pac-10 is a weaker conference, top to bottom, than the SEC.

We can debate all day whether or not they should be saying it, but that doesn't change the perception of most football observers not totally in the tank for the Pac-10 that they are absolutely right.

Of course, the Pac-10 cannot allow such disrespect to be paid to their weak sisters. Pete Carrol (USC) is now on record pointing out that the aforementioned worthies were disrespecting his league colleagues, not USC:

Carroll appears to have grasped Miles' gist exactly, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.

"He's really taking a shot at all the other schools we play," Carroll was quoted as saying. "He didn't slam us. He slammed all the other schools we play."

So after this little dust up, the Pac-10 decided to up the ante. There has been a lot of talk around the SEC this week about the so-called "Plus one" format, a proposed change to the BCS that would add a national championship game after the bowl season was over. It would essentially work the way it does now, except the two best teams coming out of bowl season would be granted an additional game to compete for the final title.

Frankly, I am lukewarm to this idea. It is really very little different from what we have now, except that it would appear to give the third and forth best teams going into the bowls a shot at the championship game.

Brian Cook of AOL Fanhouse has panned the "plus one" as a transparent power grab by the BCS, and while he would seem to have a point, I frankly don't see any difference. Ostensibly, this "post-post season" bowl would just be an additional game pitting the two highest computer ranked teams against each other, not anything remotely resembling a playoff. It could also return the current bowls to their more traditional format without extracting the best team from the Big 10 or Pac-10 to play some bowl named for snacks, rather than in the Rose Bowl where they belong.

Surprisingly (to me, at least) the Pac-10 and Big 10 are leading the charge against this idea. But with schools beginning to line up in quantity to support it, the Pac-10 decided to pull out it's equivalent of a nuclear weapon and insist the other day that if the BCS "Plus one" plan were adopted, they would pull out of the BCS altogether.

As an SEC fan, my initial reaction to this crap is "Don't let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya." Unfortunately, it isn't so easy -- can you imagine a scenario where USC was considered the best team in the nation and was unable to play in the national championship game because of their withdrawal?

But to look at it the other way, we sometimes run into that very scenario due to NCAA probation. If the Pac-10 walked away, it probably wouldn't hurt them that much, nor UCLA. But could Arizona State withstand the potential hit in TV revenue that would surely face conferences who walked away from the BCS in a huff? Could Oregon?

Bottom line, I think the BCS should do it just to see if the Pac-10 has the balls to follow through on its threat. This whole thing reminds me of a scene from The Godfather where Peter Clemeza tells a young Michael Corleone about a full-scale Mafia war: "This thing's gotta happen every five years or so...every ten years--helps to get rid of the bad blood."

Maybe it's time to get rid of the bad blood in the Conference Wars, and perhaps the "Plus one" is just the trigger we need.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Thursday: Some of this, some of that

Well, now Rich Brooks has gone and done it. He has joined Les Miles and Nick Saban in firing a broadside at non-SEC conferences. This time, he joins Miles in dissing the Pac-10:

LSU Coach Les Miles isn’t the only member of the SEC coaching fraternity who believes the conference is better than the Pac-10 in football.

Kentucky Coach Rich Brooks said the same thing Wednesday. And he’s a Pac-10 alumnus.
Well, at least Brooks has coached there. He can claim some first hand (if rather distant) knowledge. Can a good scolding by Kyle King of Dawg Sports be far behind?

But Rich Brooks isn't the only coach with foot-in-mouth disease:
“I really admire what Kentucky did last year; go 8-5 and win the bowl game. We thought we did something big beating Clemson, then Kentucky beat them also.”
Uh ... what are you trying to tell us there, Coach -- if the Wildcats beat you, you suck? Well, you can't blame him too much. It's true more often than not.

The SEC Commissioner says he likes the idea of a "Plus one" game where the two highest ranked football teams after the bowls would play in a national championship game:

RMINGHAM — SEC commissioner Mike Slive acknowledged a growing movement to study a national championship game.
While it’s no playoff, it’s being called the “plus-one” game. After the completion of the bowls, the hope is to pair the top two teams for a national title.

“We in the SEC are very open-minded about a plus-one format, and we plan to carefully evaluate it over the next year,” Slive said.
Luke Winn at Sports Illustrated has an article today that looks at what is considered "cheating", and what is not cheating.

Some of this stuff is almost funny, but really, the NCAA needs to look at getting rid of some of the smarmier practices that are still legal, i.e. hiring a family member of a recruit for a job within the basketball program, or paying high school coaches of recruits to speak at the recruiting university's summer camps.

According to the Hawg Blawg, Patrick Beverly, University of Arkansas guard playing on the under-19 Team USA, is busting out. Beverly has been putting up big numbers for the U-19's, and looks like a favorite to lead the Hogs in scoring next year.

Joe Cribs Car Wash has some choice words for Peter Holliday's recent series at AOL Fanhouse about the Top 10 "dirtiest" football programs of the last 20 years:
According to NCAA By-Law #3962-C, I refuse to give the first crap. So King Crimson is already winning enemies and influencing recruits, and he wants to know (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding. So certain Internet windbags think Auburn is either the eighth- or second-dirtiest program around. I get the feeling I'm supposed to care. I don't. Both programs are off probation and despite the gibbering regarding Saban's secondary violations, they're both likely to stay that way. When this sort of stuff makes the slightest difference on the field again, then let me know about it.
Ouch. Now tell us what you really think.


The Capstone Report takes serious umbrage to a guy named John Longshore, who apparently spiraled into a rant about Alabama fans, referring to them as "Bammers", which is evidently a pejorative term in 'Bama sports vernacular.

Apparently, Longshore was inconvenienced by Alabama fans looking for a Saban autograph at SEC Media Days. The Capstone Report wonders why Longshore can't show a little forbearance:
Here is news for Longshore and his other media types: Fans are fans. Are any of us shocked when lines form outside a rock concert? Are we outraged when people press politicians for an autograph?

Of course not. We expect fans to be excited. So, Alabama fans are excited. Longshore and others need to deal with it.

I think the Capstone Report has a point.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Wednesday: Media Days!

Yes, it's SEC media days again, and there is no shortage of excitement around the SEC bloggers. So instead of creating a narrative for this particular event, a link dump should suffice:

No, that surely isn't all of them, but I think it's enough.

This post by Kevin Donahue at Fanblogs.com looks at how closely Nick Saban is being watched by fellow SEC coaching staffs. It looks to me like a lot of folks are really worried about Saban, and I don't think it is about breaking rules. I think Donahue has it right:
Long story short? Sounds like there are several coaches who are nervous about what Saban is doing with the Tide.
Outside the Sidelines (Alabama) reviews the SEC pass defenses of last year. This is good work, and an in-depth look at the strengths and weaknesses of the SEC's pass defenses. Of course, I was saddened to see Kentucky's third from the bottom, but there is no doubt that is where it belongs, if not dead last. Recommended reading.

Orange and Blue Hue (Florida) has an excellent look at five elite football teams that the author thinks could slide into mediocrity. Some of the names on that list really surprised me, but I think I sense a bit of cognitive dissonance in his reasoning.

Fulmer's Belly (Tennessee) gives us the "Six Degrees of Tennessee", and they appear to be ... photographs of hot women! Well, the place did need a little prettying up. Today's feature: Jessica Biel.

The NBA referee scandal is causing college sports to stand up and take note. Gerald Boudreaux, SEC's supervisor of officials, said that the scandal "calls everyone into question". A Sea of Blue (Kentucky) has coverage of this story, as do many of the major sports outlets. The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that SEC commissioner Mike Silve says it boils down to the honor system:

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive acknowledged how all the attempts to eliminate gambling boil down to the old-fashioned honor system. Ultimately, all referees must take it upon themselves to avoid the ever-increasing availability of gambling.

"Background checks are part of the answer," Slive said. "But the answer is honesty, trust and integrity. We all have a responsibility to one another and the game."

Geaux Tuscaloosa reports on the huge volume of LSU football news yesterday, from Alley Broussard leaving the team to DeAngelo Peterson reopening his recruitment.

College football fans will want to read this long, detailed examination of the BCS playoff controversy at Rocky Top Talk. This is a nice piece of reasoning and an example of why what you get in the blogosphere is often so superior to what you get in the mainstream sports media. Here is just a taste:
Many fans of college football today believe the game is all about the money. I would tend to agree to a certain point, but what has been missing among all the on-the-field controversy is the innate factors involving human nature that have existed for the last 50 years in the behind-the-scenes area of college football, which has essentially created the monster known as the Bowl Championship Series (BCS).

Finally, the Mississippi State Basketball Blog is collecting comments from Kentucky fans about Scottie Hopson, a highly-ranked basketball recruit from Kentucky who has signed early with MSU. Obviously, some UK fans are hoping he will change his mind. I don't think so, nor, as a UK fan, do I want him to. He made his decision. Let him live with it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Good news for Danny Nutt

Last week, we noted the sad case of Danny Nutt, brother of Arkansas Head Coach Houston Nutt, who had to resign his position due to health concerns. According to the Associated Press (via ESPN), there has been no new bleeding around his brain stem, and overall, his examination had good news.

He is still taking it easy, and the Razorbacks have named Tim Horton as his replacement.

We wish Danny well in his recovery.

UPDATE: The Pig Pen has more on this story.

Tuesday: Shorter SEC?

The Alabama Basketball Blog says that the SEC will be fielding shorter lineups this year in basketball, starting with Kentucky. As a UK fan, I can agree that we may well have a shorter starting 5, especially if the new coach decides to try to get the five best players on the floor at the same time, rather than the five best position players. Obvioiusly, 7'3" Jarred Carter's availability will impact whether or not this happens.

Oh, and ABB has a picture of Ashley Judd up, which is never a bad thing.

Looser with Socks thinks we owe Lee Corso a debt of gratitude:

If Lee Corso was a tool he would be a toilet brush because he has cleaned up the mess known as West Virginia. He is like the best tool ever!

Lee Corso sent the Mountaineer nation a crystal clear message: The Big East doesn’t have ‘what’ the SEC has….and that ‘what’ is Tradition. What did Lee Corso do? He performed what is known in Morgantown as a “stumpbreaking”. He just stumpbroke Slaton and White’s Heisman(eer) chances. Corso basically said “I’m the man, let me Repeat, I am the man. Got my own cheerleaders, Nike clothes, TV show. I am the man.” Try again next year WVU with Noel Devine….that is if Devine isn’t working at Taco Bell.

He thinks maybe Corso is still holding a grudge for being passed over by the Mountaineers a few years back -- but then again, maybe it is part of "the narrative" that Kyle King was talking about in his now-famous essay smacking down the Worldwide Leader (note: this one is a bit long -- two cups of coffee at least).

Ole Miss had some really good news on the basketball front today: Malcom White, a class of 2008 recruit, is apparently eligible for 2007. White is a top 100 player according to Rivas. Is that the return of some hair on the top of Anthony Kennedy's head?

The Tide Druid asks, "Is Saban a Hired Gun?" He persuasively makes the case that virtually all college coaches qualify for that moniker.

Cock & Fire reviews ESPN's College Football Live. Did you know it is "interactive?" If you didn't, don't worry -- the helpful folks at the Worldwide Leader will remind you!

Alabama Gameday gives us "A Poster's Guide to Message Boards" for Tide fans. Here are a few of the helpful suggestions for becoming a better poster:

It's never too late to criticize Coach Shula's play calling.

Be righteously indignant, regardless of the topic. Try to misspell one word in each post.

Correct someone else's spelling. How else will they learn?

In the process of grilling? Don't keep it a secret! Today's energy-efficient grills make it difficult to detect smoke on the horizon.
The Geaux Show's Carey Montz is taking on all the recent scandals in professional sports: Barry Bonds, Michael Vick, and the NBA officiating scandal.

Gregg Ellis/Mississippi State gets back to work -- and meets with MSU running back Anthony Dixon. He says a story will be forthcoming in today's Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, and lo and behold, he was right.

The Bulldawg Blog is suffering from an attack of psychic malaise brought on by the Michael Vick indictment. Visit his blog and make him feel better by reminding him that Georgia should have a pretty good year in sports -- the football and basketball teams are expected to be much improved.

Finally, Todd at Roll 'Bama Roll takes a look at Georgia's offense, and says their backfield is loaded, their line, not so much.


After a couple of weeks of trying to comment on the SEC blogs I have uncovered, I have found the task a bit too difficult. First of all, I am not steeped enough in each individual school's traditions to do a particularly good job. Second, it just takes to long to wade through 20 blog posts in enough detail to comment on them. So a change will be necessary.

My plan now is to identify the most interesting stories each day from all the SEC blogs and comment on that. If that turns out to be too painful, I'll figure something else out, but I am not really interested in becoming a "reblogger". I want to write original commentary on subjects interesting to SEC fans.

So there we have it. The new format will begin immediately, and I'll have a post up sometime today. I hope you like it.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Saturday: Kentucky, LSU, and Tennessee

Today will be my last post of this week, because I have a big golf match tomorrow that will extend from around 6:00 AM until about 9:00 tomorrow night. I won't be in any shape to write after this marathon, so look for my next post on Monday.


Geaux Tuscaloosa examines the LSU players chosen to the SEC coach's pre-season all-SEC team. Overall, he is satisfied with the selections, but has a few quibbles with them.

LSU Football Analysis has a list of teams he likes and one of teams he doesn't. I'm pleased to find the Kentucky Wildcats on his "like" list and just as pleased to find the utterly overhyped USC on his "dislike" list.


Looser With Socks takes a long hard look at Florida's football team from a UT fan's perspective. LWS finds their defense insufficient, and like most of us, wonders if Meyer's whole "two quarterback" thing makes sense.

He can’t be serious. And if he is, who is the foil to Tebow? Will it be Cameron Newton? Or Gatorade National Player of the Year John Brantley? Or what about juco transfer Bryan Waggener? If I were Urban Meyer, I’d be careful not to overthink last year’s success. At some point, your offense needs a proven signal caller to provide consistency and continuity to the unit.

Jon at Fulmer's Belly wonders who he should hate more, Les Miles or Nick Saban. Read the whole thing for his conclusions.

Joel at Rocky Top Talk has a post full of Tennessee links.


Matt Jones at KSR
asks "Who are these guys" and lists a who's who of UK basketball unknowns.

John Clay's Sidelines blog has UK as the trendy pick to upset Louisville:

Despite all that, there is a common thread that runs the pre-season projections this 2007 college football pre-season: Kentucky will upset Louisville on Sept. 15. Such a rarity is fast becoming the trendy pick among those trying to get a jump on which way the grid winds might blow this campaign.

A Sea of Blue looks at UK's basketball sophomores:
No one would have believed in the euphoria of 2004's monster recruiting class that coming out of 2005-2006, Kentucky would have added only one other recruit that lasted more than one season, and that player, Jarred Carter, would play a total of 100 minutes in two full seasons. By the time the 2005-06 season was over, the Big Blue Nation was deep in the funk of a season in Hell. Despite the heroics of Patrick Sparks and Bobby Perry against the talented Connecticut Huskies, Kentucky fans did not need Billy Packer and Dick Vitale to tell us our team badly needed help -- it was obvious to anyone with any interest in the college game.
Read the whole thing.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Dennis Dodd: 'Bama beneath Big East coach's notice

The Memphis Tider just pointed me to this article by CBS Sportsline's Dennis Dodd. Dodd absolutely take a big, steaming grunt on the Tide, disrespecting them in a way that will no doubt enrage the Elephants.

As a Kentucky fan, I know exactly what it's like to be in the crosshairs of the media, and to have to face the dreaded "nobody wants to coach you guys anymore, your fans are just to demented". Been there, done that. I think most Kentucky fans totally feel 'Bama fan's pain on this, and when a sportswriter like Dodd takes shots at them, I want to join Memphis Tider and take a shot back.

But that isn't all. Dodd not only defecates on the Tide, he disses the entire SEC by suggesting that the Big East is king and the SEC is yesterday's news -- citing the fact that some current Big East coaches turned down the opportunity to coach at mighty Alabama as proof.

Dodd is just trying to stir the pot, but he has succeeded with me. The Big East isn't even a particularly tough basketball conference by SEC standards, so I don't want to hear this guy laud their football program. I figure UK would have a shot at 9-3 if we were playing Louisville's schedule instead of ours -- that means 'Bama would likely do better, possibly a lot better.

Dodd is full of it.

Friday: Alabama, Auburn, Florida - Pre-season football stuff

The pre-season football selections, debates and articles are rolling in now, so football news is going to be pretty plentiful around the SEC. The summer is getting old, and the minds of sports fans are turning to the possibilities and promise of another SEC battle royal.

First stop: The plains of Auburn University.


Kevin Donahue of Fanblogs.com says that Ryan Ferguson (aka Gatorpilot) managed to pull off the extraordinarily rare -- anger both Alabama and Auburn fans with one article.

From The Bleachers' Will Collier welcomes back Tony Barnhart of the AJC. He also notes Steve Megargee's column on Rivals.com providing a look at Auburn's 2007 season.

Joe Cribbs Car Wash has lots of linkage to Auburn news around the web. He also has this preview of Auburn SEC football opponent, Mississippi State. Here is a taste:

Like fans everywhere, save at Ole Miss and many at 'Bama (who understandably like the reassurance that Mal Moore at least got that decision right), I wish it were otherwise. Croom seems like a decent guy, and every positive story about race coming out of the South (particularly in an area as important to it as college football) is still a blessing. If he had to do it over again, he might pull it off. But from the JCCW's viewpoint, right now? It's inevitable. It's over. It's cruel. It is, in short, SEC football.
And now on to Auburn's implacable foe and rival, Alabama.


Alabama fans are some of the most passionate on the web, and they have a surfeit of excellent blogs. So many deserve inclusion, but I set a limit of 4 blogs per team per post.

As usual, our first stop will be to the SB Nation blog Roll 'Bama Roll. RBR has an exchange with Kentucky SB nation blog A Sea of Blue with dueling takes on Kentucky's SEC season.

Bama Nation has a great editorial that struck home to me. It is interesting to note that the University of Kentucky (my school of obsession) and the University of Alabama have shared not one but two football coaches -- the legendary Bear Bryant and Bill Curry.

Bama Nation's editorial plays the "what if" game with Curry and Bobby Bowden -- "What if Alabama had hired Bobby Bowden instead of Bill Curry?". It is an interesting read.

A relatively new (like us) Alabama blog, Outside the Sidelines, has so many outstanding posts this week, is is impossible to know where to begin. This blog does a technical and statistical analysis of Alabama football, and is deeply detailed. OTS is recommended for any college football fan who loves detailed statistical analysis. Here is a sample:
If you recall from making posts on Pythagorean Wins, I have been doing the same thing for months in regard to college football. I've been making the argument that games against the Sisters of the Poor (Western Carolina, etc.) should not be used in Pythagorean projections because the talent disparities between the teams are so great, and one team is effectively guaranteed a win. The bigger opponent can basically name the score on the Sister of the Poor in question, and that massive blowout win inflates that team's Pythagorean projection to make it look like they should have more games than they did.
Really excellent stuff. Just keep scrolling.

Finally, Eight in the Box has a police blotter report on three Tide players arrested this week for various and sundry illegal acts. TideDruid also has coverage.

Next, to Gator Country.


The Gator Blog has a post up this week wondering who will be this year's Tennessee, i.e. the program highly ranked in the pre-season that winds up tanking. His money is on Michigan, but I'm not convinced he shouldn't be looking closer to home.

Orange and Blue Hue has some pre-season predictions about the Gator football team written for them by Tom at Madduxsports.com. Madduxsports notes that the Gators are not the team they were last year:
This season the Gators will have a tough time repeating due to heavy losses to their defensive units. The front seven is completely new and several of the outstanding young defensive line players Urban Meyer signed expect to get significant playing time. The story is the same for the line-backing corps: 3 new untested players with very little depth behind the starters.
The entire analysis is interesting, and you may be surprised where the Gators figure into the SEC picture in Madduxsports' view.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Confusion reigns at Fox sports

Randy Hill at Fox Sports has this article up today, entitled "Time for SEC teams to toughen up". In it, he tells us that the SEC's non-conference opponents, taken together, are just too weak:

So, what's the problem? Well, the problem seems to crop up when those tricky strength-of-schedule programs take a look at the SEC's non-league playmates. From a distance, we're reminded of the Iditarod. A closer look at this year's schedules reveals that SEC teams are prepared to tangle with 10 Division 1-AA teams. It also doesn't help that non-BCS-league foes make up 72 percent of the SEC's non-league schedule.

By comparison, Pac-10 teams will take on just two Division 1-AA teams and have scheduled just 63 percent of their non-league games against teams below the BCS-league level.

Well. I have to admit, this left me speechless. Randy Hill is actually saying that we, the SEC conference, play too darn many division 1-AA pansies, and the Pac-10 is doing it the right way.

OK, well, let's just see what some other experts think about the SEC's schedule. If we go to Rivals.com (via Sports Illustrated), we find that Steve Megaree has considered schedule strength, and sees it thus, from toughest to weakest (top 15 only):
  1. Washington (Div 1-AA opponents - 0)
  2. South Carolina (Div 1-AA opponents - 1)
  3. Florida State (Div 1-AA opponents - 0)
  4. Michigan State (Div 1-AA opponents - 0)
  5. Auburn (Div 1-AA opponents - 1)
  6. Tennessee (Div 1-AA opponents - 0)
  7. Florida (Div 1-AA opponents - 1)
  8. USC (Div 1-AA opponents - 0)
  9. Stanford (Div 1-AA opponents - 0)
  10. Mississippi State (Div 1-AA opponents - 1)
  11. Kentucky (Div 1-AA opponents - 1)
  12. Nebraska (Div 1-AA opponents - 0)
  13. Notre Dame (Div 1-AA opponents - 0)
  14. Georgia (Div 1-AA opponents - 1)
  15. Michigan (Div 1-AA opponents - 1)
Unless my eyes deceive me, the Pac 10 has three teams in the top fifteen, and the SEC has ... uh, let me get my calculator ... wait for it ... SEVEN! Yes, somehow the weak-kneed SEC with all those 1-AA cupcakes on their schedules represent almost half of the top 15 toughest schedules in the country.

Well, maybe those schedule rankings don't mean all that much. After all, they have been persuasively challenged by such worthies as Nico at Roll 'Bama Roll, so the Rivals schedule rankings are by no means holy writ. Still, with so many SEC teams considered to be playing tough schedules, mostly reflecting the toughness of the conference as a whole, the least we can say about Hill's piece is that it isn't exactly timely. In other years, this argument may have had merit. This year, not so much.

The arguments for having a few cupcakes on any schedule are well-worn, and I won't rehash them here. When you are playing in a conference as competitive, top to bottom, as the SEC, news must be pretty thin to force a sportswriter to concoct such a banal and outright flawed article as this one is. I can only suppose he was fed up about hearing how strong the SEC was this year, and set about to write something critical in order to be different. If so, I can relate, but in my opinion the article is foolish and reflects poorly on the author.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Wednesday: Danny Nutt and more

Ah, the SEC -- a beautiful thing to be writing about. There is so much news every day, the hard part is digging through it and figuring out what to leave aside. But we do what we can.

Today, we'll be looking at Arkansas, Georgia, and South Carolina.


The big news today in Razorback country is that Danny Nutt, running backs coach and son younger brother of Boss Hog Houston Nutt has decided to step down. The reason, it seems, is serious health issues. The RazorBlog has coverage, and explains what's up:

Danny Nutt is currently under treatment for a serious condition that includes bleeding from his brain stem. The condition first became critical in December of 1998 when Nutt was hospitalized for more than a month. He missed coaching in the 1999 Comp USA Florida Citrus Bowl while undergoing surgery and treatment. Danny missed spring practice in 2000 after a relapse, but returned to the sidelines for the fall campaign.
We here at the Best of the SEC Blogs wish Danny a quick recovery, and offer our prayers to him and his family. His father says that “Our first and only priority at this point is to see that Danny’s health is fully restored,” and I think that is exactly where it should be. Razorbloggers also covers the story and has more links to news. Still more coverage can be found at the Hawg Blawg.

The Hawg Blawg also links to this post on the Arkansas Rivals site, where the writer, Robert Shields, makes the case for Arkansas to leave the SEC and join the Big 12. His argument seems to center around what he calls the "Northwesternization" of UA sports, arguing that the Arkansas Board of Trustees decision to move football games out of Little Rock has created a vacuum outside of Washington and Benton counties:
If the northwesternization of the UofA continues on its current track, in time it will be tougher to convince a kid from Little Rock to not go to a school where he can play in the SEC and to instead come north to play in corn country.

Never has the case been stronger that Arkansas belongs in the Big 12. Sure, they are happy to take our money from the rest of the state as long as we want to play by their New State Order, but who needs you when everything the UofA could possibly want is in northwest Arkansas? Or so some in the ivory tower believe.
Lets head East for a stop in Athens.


Kyle King at Dawg Sports continues his jihad against big-mouthed SEC coaches babbling stream of consciousness stupidity. This time, he targets Nick Saban, the newly-minted Alabama coach, whom the Montgomery Advertiser quoted as follows:
No disrespect to the Big Ten, but most of the time there were three or four good teams in the Big Ten each year. Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State were pretty good and then there might be another team or two that was better that year. But here [in the S.E.C.] there were eight or nine teams that were all pretty good. That was a challenge to play with the kind of consistency you needed to be able to sustain that kind of performance.

Anybody that has won a national championship in this league, that speaks volumes to me because of the quality of this league from top to bottom and the consistency it takes to be successful long-term.
Kyle takes umbrage at Saban's apparent lack of appreciation for recent college football history. But that's not all:
What troubles me is that, even though these S.E.C. coaches are pandering to the worst elements of their fan bases by saying such things, their observations are those of interlopers insultingly playing to the lowest common denominator. Other than the home-grown Phillip Fulmer, the smart-mouths saying such things are, to a man, immigrants who are not native to Southern soil.
I think he has a point. The bravado espoused by SEC football coaches this year seems to stretch the limits of sanity -- and credibility as well.

The Dawg-gone Blog channels Atlanta Journal-Constitution writer Carl Strickland and blogs about G-day.

Apparently, Georgia defensive lineman Tripp Taylor has gotten himself into trouble. The Georgia Bulldog Blog, The Bulldawg Blog and the Georgia Sports Blog all have coverage.

Finally, let's check up on the Ol' Ball Coach.

South Carolina

Cock & Fire says Spurrier is happy in Columbia. The USC Board of Trustees has apparently approved a "restructured" deal for the OBC according to The State:
As for Spurrier, the 62-year-old said he remains happy at USC and plans to sign the amended contract “in the next day or two.”
“It wasn’t any big deal,” Spurrier said. “I was just trying to get it the right way.”
"The right way," hmm? I don't want to give any Gamecock fans the vapors, or anything, but those are the exact words used by Florida hoops coach Billy Donovan -- right before he took (and later that week, left) the Magic job.

Adam Caparell at CSTV writes that the expectations are rising in Columbia, and Spurrier has had 3 years to put together a team that will run his system. Caparell also places the OBC way, way up there among SEC football deities:
The Gamecocks would be stupid not to listen to what Spurrier has to say. After all, he's done nothing but succeed at every one of his college stops and in the pantheon of SEC coaches, he only takes a back seat to Bear Bryant.

Finally, Leftover Hot Dog has several recent posts on the USC freshman class, the OBC, Tre Kelley, and Quentin Richardson. Just keep scrolling.

BLEG: I got some helpful feedback from a kind reader on an Ole Miss blog I hadn't seen. I am still looking for more Ole Miss, Vandy, and South Carolina blogs, so if you don't see your favorite on here or are just inclined to help out, leave a comment or an email. It would be appreciated.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tuesday: The SEC Underdogs

Today's schools will be Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt.

Ole Miss

So help me, Ole Miss bloggers are as rare as hen's teeth. If anyone knows any Ole Miss blogs, or if you are an Ole Miss blog and want to get included, please leave me a comment or email me.

MVN Network does have an excellent pre-season look at the Ole Miss team. The author predicts Ole Miss will manage to win only 3 football games this season at most, and appears to be an LSU fan.

Mississippi State

MSU bloggers are much more plentiful, and prolific, than their contemporaries at Ole Miss.

Hail Dear Ole State has a post about MSU quarterback Mike Henning working the Manning Passing Academy, and learning a bit more than football. Tonya Harding's name is mentioned, which aught to scare the heck out of anybody.

Mississippi State Basketball reports on the SEC basketball coach's teleconference of yesterday, and reports on the state of the Bulldog basketball team.

Kyle Veazey of the MSU blog at the Clarion-Ledger examines athletic department expenditures in the SEC vs. how they performed. Interesting stuff, it kind of works out like you would think. Kind of.


Nashville Ballerz has a post about Shan Foster being the only SEC player to make the Pan Am Games team this year. Frankly, I am a little surprised he was the only SEC player selected to the squad.

The Vanderbilt Sports Line has a lengthy post covering, among other things, the Pan Am Games team selection, Pedro Alvarez (Vandy baseball player), and some other things.

Sorry for the short post today, but I am a little swamped. Be back with more tomorrow.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Monday: Gillilspie gets serious heat from peers

In today's SEC basketball teleconference, Jerry Tipton of the Lexington Herald-Leader writes that Billy Gillispie, the new Kentucky coach, took some serious flack from fellow coaches about recruiting young players. Some of the coaches outright scoffed at the practice, using some pretty pejorative language to describe it:

"Silly." "A little bizarre." Something to avoid.

That's how some Southeastern Conference coaches viewed the growing trend toward prospects making college commitments as early as the eighth grade.

However, new Kentucky Coach Billy Gillispie, who has gotten commitments from two prospects just out of the ninth-grade, did not join the naysaying on a SEC teleconference Monday.

I find this a very interesting thing. Gillispie is either on the cutting edge of recruiting, at least in the SEC (out west they are taking commitments from 14-year olds), or he is setting himself up for serious problems later on.

Let's examine, for a moment, the positives and negatives of signing younger players:

  • Getting them early - Potentially, it enables a college to plan their recruiting better, and better prepare for incoming talent.
  • Making it harder for opposing coaches - Every time a kid commits early, it frees up the coach to focus on other needs.
  • Providing recruits with some peace of mind - theoretically, coaches would tend to leave a verbally committed recruit alone, more or less. This is certainly not always true, and it is almost never true in football, so what we could see here is basketball recruiting metastasizing into football recruiting, where changing allegiance can happen every minute.
  • Providing parents with some peace - see above.
  • Non-binding - if the player or the school doesn't work out before the LOI is signed, they can part ways with no penalty to either.
  • Non-binding - A verbal, in the eyes of the NCAA, means nothing. But do we want kids' first act out of high school to be breaking their word? And suppose a school feels that withdrawing its offer is in its best interest. Not good.
  • Are you kidding? - 14, 15 and 16 year olds accepting scholarships to play college ball? These guys are barely pubescent, and they are making these kinds of decisions?
  • Questionable evaluation - Who knows if such young players are going to work out?
There are plenty more good arguments for and against this practice, but the SEC coaches seem very reluctant to follow Gillispie down this path. That's understandable, but from some of the comments, you can tell that they are feeling the pressure:

Pearl acknowledged feeling pressured to make recruiting decisions earlier and earlier in a prospect's high school career.

"Yeah, absolutely," he said. "I've gotten calls from high school and AAU coaches saying we're falling behind.

"It's the nature of our business. You have to adapt and change. I'd prefer my focus as a college coach emphasize that a sophomore be committed to his 10th-grade year and doing well in geometry class."

We can understand completely why SEC coaches feel a bit like they need a shower after talking about this, but it the time for talking about it is with us. Coaches may be uncomfortable, but they have a duty to both their schools and their teams to do the best job at recruiting that they can. The coaches who limit themselves to parochial view will quickly find themselves bedeviled by the same sorts of things that ultimately forced Tubby Smith's hand.

I don't pretend to know the answer to this. It is facile to say that we shouldn't be recruiting youngsters, but the fact of the matter is, they want to be recruited at 14, and at least some of their parents are perfectly comfortable accepting a scholarship at that age. The NCAA, of course, could put such recruiting off limits, and perhaps it should. But the nature of the debate is this -- how young is too young?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The SEC: Sanction Free After All These Years?

It is a well-known fact that the Southeastern Conference has had at least one school under NCAA sanctions each of the last 25 years. Seems SEC Commissioner Mike Silve set a goal back in 2003 to have a conference free from NCAA sanctions within 5 years. According to this article in the Memphis Commercial Appeal, that goal is almost within reach:

June 11, 2008, may mark the day the joke is on all of us.

That's the date that the last of three Southeastern Conference schools currently under NCAA probation -- Mississippi State and its football program -- completes its four-year sentence.

After having at least one league school on NCAA probation for 25 consecutive years, the SEC, with fingers crossed at all 12 league schools, will be sanction-free.

I must confess, that would be something worth crowing about. Of course, we are almost one full year away from achieving that goal for however short a time it turns out to be, but if we actually get there, it would be something almost unthinkable by college sports fans continuously inundated by news of sanctions, probations, and scholarship losses. The SEC has a historical record of being one of, if not the most cheating conference in all of college sports. In 1984, Florida alone was accused of 106 separate NCAA violations in its football program.

What is truly amazing is that this story is getting almost no coverage at all. I suppose covering it fully one year in advance, though, is probably setting oneself up for a follow-on article about how we almost made it. This summer's spectacular scandal surrounding Houston Nutt of Arkansas that lead to the eventual decision of Frank Broyles to announce his retirement at the end of 2007 makes us wonder if there isn't something under the hood in Fayetteville.

Indeed, there are opportunities for violations everywhere, and none more so than in the athletic foundations of Florida, LSU and Arkansas. Although these foundations are overseen by the NCAA as part of a reporting process, the fact that they are not subject to scrutiny by the press due to their "private" nature and lack of state sunshine laws governing them, they represent areas where hanky-panky could happen. The recent success in these three schools' football program and the secret nature of their athletic foundations combined with well-documented NCAA incompetence must surely give Silve occasional nightmares.

Still, secrecy by no means equals chicanery, and we nor anyone else should declare schools with private athletic foundations automatically suspect. With all due respect to those worthies, however, secrecy in funding is always going to raise suspicions, especially given the anemic oversight of the NCAA. The would be well served to reconsider, or the state would be well advised to apply sunshine laws to such foundations. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem likely given their success.

Alabama's new head coach Nick Saban also gives this blog some reason for concern. After being hit with some secondary violations recently, including inappropriate booster contact with recruits, Saban had this to say to the Montgomery Advertiser:

"I think everybody has some secondary violations," Saban said. "I think what we want to do at the University of Alabama is to do things the right way, and we're certainly committed to not violating rules. I think most institutions have some secondary violations on occasions and that's not something we ever want to have, but I think it's part of doing business."

Call me unrealistic, but I don't think this is the kind of attitude coaches aught to be fostering toward NCAA violations, minor or major. Yes, it is naive to think that any school can avoid every secondary violation, but that isn't the message the SEC should want Saban to be sending. The objective of every program should be to avoid every violation, and Saban's willingness to accept a certain level of impropriety is ... well, disturbing to me.

I would love to see the SEC manage to be sanction free, and then we could truly thumb our nose at self-righteous conferences like the Pac-10. But not everything or everyone in the SEC is giving me that warm, fuzzy feeling right now.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Saturday: Closing out the week with a bang

So Saturday, we wrap up this week's look at the SEC bloggers by traveling down to Gainesville for the Gators, to Baton Rouge for the LSU Tigers, and just 60 miles up I-64 for me to the Kentucky Wildcats.

First, to the national champs, who have some of the most passionate fans and best bloggers around.

The Gator Blog looks at Urban Meyer's decision to do the whole dual quarterback thing again this year, and calls it a recipe for disaster.

Orange and Blue has a couple of excellent posts this week. The first one asks the question "Is Florida an elite program" with respect to basketball (I don't think there is any question they are an elite program in football). The author, KelticGator, makes a compelling argument based on an analysis done over at Rush The Court. As a Kentucky fan, it is hard for me to ignore my bias on who is "elite" in college basketball and who isn't, but I think it is fair to say that even if Florida isn't an elite program in terms of history, you would have to consider them in the same breath as the historically elite programs during the time frame that Rush The Court looks at.

RTC segregates the successful programs into 3 tiers, with Florida winding up in the third tier along with Connecticut, a category he calls the "nuveaux riche". I think he generally gets it right, and certainly Florida deserves to be counted among the most successful teams in the nation since 1985.

Swamp Ball notes that Corey Brewer is rollin' in the dough and asks "Are you ready for some football ?"

Heading on over to that other state where a gator might get'cha, let's see what the Bayou Bengals of LSU have been blogging about.

CFB Report has a fake interview with LSU coach Les Miles. Pretty funny.

Geaux Tuscaloosa has a look at some highly-rated 2008 recruits who are considering playing for the Tigers. The post includes lots of great details and even some videos. If you are a Tiger fan, or are curious where the putative 2007 SEC champs are headed, take a look. The Tiger Stop is talking recruiting, too -- just keep scrolling.

Finally, we head from down on the bayou to up in the Bluegrass, where the University of Kentucky bloggers know no bounds.

Wildcats Thunder is burning up the UK 'sphere with three outstanding posts: A UK Football recruiting update, a basketball recruiting update, and a look at the top five reasons that UK fans should be excited about the football season. These guys are prolific and providing tons of great information. They are simply the best place to go to get UK Wildcat football information, and they are no slouches at basketball, either.

Kentucky Sport Report has this post looking at UK's basketball players individually for next year based on their summer workouts, which is encouraging for UK fans and has to concern the rest of the SEC, who was getting used to treating the Wildcats like just another SEC team for the last couple of years. They also have this post on football, which expresses the continuing concern of the Wildcat faithful about who will be our quarterback next year, or in the event of an injury to Woodson.

Finally Aaron's UK Basketball Blog lists the news of the day, and picks out some interesting nuances of each story. A daily read for Wildcat fans.

So that's it, SEC fans -- A look around the blogosphere for this week. Tomorrow and Monday, we will be offering more commentary on the SEC and its teams, with emphasis on Football, since that season is fast approaching.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday the 13th: Coming to you from the Twilight Zone

Friday the 13th. Always a bit of a scary thing, I have had some bad things happen on Friday the 13th. But hopefully not today.

For our look around the SEC today, I thought we would take a look at Arkansas, Georgia and Tennessee.

First, Arkansas. TipsterHog at the RazorBloggers network has a three part series on Arkansas offensive coordinator David Lee. Seems the hog fans over at RBN are not altogether sold on Coach Lee:

The truth is…we had to fight off absolutely no one in the SEC to hire David Lee as our offensive coordinator. And that’s quite a contrast from the failed attempt to hire a “big name” with Cutcliffe in 2005.
His point seems to be that there just wasn't enough "there" there in the Lee hire, but after all is said and done, it's too early to consign it to the dustbin as a mistake. That's one to keep an eye on.

McFadden for Heisman (not much doubt about what this site's raison d'ĂȘtre is) quotes the Palm Beach Post's glowing praise of McFadden.

Moving on, let's slide down and over to Athens, Georgia for a look at the Bulldog bloggers, of which there are very, very many.

First, Kyle King of Dawg Sports takes on the NCAA's handling of the Oklahoma Sooners major football program violation. Apparently, two sooner players were paid money for work they did not do, amounting to allowing boosters to pay athletes. King accuses the NCAA of moral cowardice, since the penalty handed down by that august body was essentially loss of some scholarships and the vacating of games, which he believes will be reinstated later:

Don't put an asterisk next to that "L" in your media guide, or you're liable to have to erase it in next year's edition. This is a weak, wishy-washy, watered-down, wussified sanction, but, there being no "Y" (chromosome) in "N.C.A.A.," the sport's overarching organization lacks the masculine fortitude even to follow through with that exceedingly lame punishment against a prominent institution.

Dawgnoxious at the Georgia Sports Blog offers his take on Tony Barnhart's (Atlanta Journal-Constitution sportswriter) list of the five toughest SEC schedules. He figures that Georgia has "at least the 3rd toughest schedule in the country. " I don't agree, but he makes a good case. The Original Blawger at the Bulldawg Blawg also takes on Tony Barnhart, answering his questions for the SEC East and West. I liked this answer:
Can South Carolina actually WIN the Eastern Division? Um, is this some kind of a joke or something? I know they have Spurrier and they return a lot on defense, but you have got to be kidding me. I give Kentucky a better shot than Carolina; however, they don't have a chance either. It's still the big three in the East.
As a Kentucky fan, I want to believe him. I really do. Mother may I? I don't think so, but it's nice to see.

He continues with some great answers, including a Tim Tebow take ("won't live up to the legend"), a big fat "No" to the "can 'Bama be a contender in the West?", and is surprised that Les Miles has "kept that [LSU] program up." Read the whole thing.

Finally, we have our neighbors down I-75, the Tennessee Volunteers, which also boasts an impressive blogosphere.

The Power T has a look at the UT current starting lineup, all 22 of them, with a fancy picture and everything.

Rocky Top Talk has a plethora of posts recently, including an amusing "infomercial" and a discussion about Trooper Taylor being the highest paid "assistant" on the Vol staff.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Thursday: Wednesday? What Wednesday?

Real life kind of interfered with my Wednesday post, so, well, there just isn't one, okay? But have no fear, I won't be abandoning this blog anytime soon.

Let's see, who shall we look at today, hmm... How about Ole Miss, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt? Sounds good. Let's see what we have, shall we?

First, let's head down to Columbia and see what the Gamecock bloggers are up to these days.

Third Down Draw has a 2007 preview of the Gamecock offense. As is often the case with all but the very top of the SEC, the Gamecocks have offensive line issues. Blake Mitchell is poised for a good year, and he notes correctly that Good Blake is often followed by Bad Blake. But if the O-line works out, we could be seeing a lot of Good Blake this year. Be sure to read the rest.

Carolina Football with Joe Person, another USC (the real USC, not those sissies over on the left coast :) ) blogger, gives us an update on the status of highly-touted freshman linebacker Melvin Ingram. Apparently, Ingram has been admitted to school, but they are still awaiting approval from, you guessed it, the NCAA clearinghouse. Read the whole thing. Cock & Fire also covers the Ingram story.

Moving on to Ole Miss, we find ... well, not a lot of Ole Miss bloggers out there that I can find, but I have found a couple (Bleg: If you are an Ole Miss blogger, or know some Ole Miss bloggers, please leave their URL in the comments -- I'd appreciate it).

Jason's Jumbled Jargon has this post looking at the Ole Miss Rebels team. He says he is going to be closely following the QB battle in Oxford, and has a long look at the three contenders for the job. He also thinks that the wide receivers are a major question mark for the Rebs this year.

I don't know if he's an Ole Miss fan or not (I kinda doubt it), but Dan Kadar's Blog has an excellent look at the Rebs for 2007. He highlights many of the same things JJJ notes above, plus a few extras.

Finally, we ease down I-64 (from my vantage point, anyway) to the land of the Commodores of Vanderbilt University.

Michael O'Neill Journalism wants to be a consolidated archive of the sports articles he will be writing about the Vanderbilt football team over the coming months. We'll be keeping an eye on that.

Nasville Ballerz, a sports blog of the Nashville City Paper, is still doing the baseball thing, and why not? Vanderbilt is absolutely one of the best college baseball teams in the nation. It's hard to blame them for sticking to what they do best, but I'm sure there will be more football and basketball related content as the summer moves on.

Vanderbilt Sports Line is a true Vandy sports blog, and finds Fox Sports recent review of the Commodores football team so glowing, they are thinking of making Fox Sports the official Vanderbilt Apologist News Service.

So there we are, SEC fans. A run down of our three schools for today. More to follow soon.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tuesday: PM update, today's schools

A few more relevant items for our featured schools today:


The Capstone Report predicts the SEC West. In spite of his Alabama leanings, he takes a realistic look and picks the Tide third. Check out the rest of the post to see where he has your favorite team figured.

The Tide Druid has also been busy with a look back at the Alabama coaching search, YouTube style.

Tuesday: More items of interest

A few more items of interest from around the SEC blogosphere this morning.

First, the College Football Experts blog ranks the SEC football teams from top to bottom in each division, and names an overall champion. He has some interesting takes, particularly in the West, where he puts Alabama and Auburn at #2 and #3 behind LSU:

2. Auburn: Auburn deserves some kudos for upgrading their non-conference schedule. Home games against decent BCS opponents in South Florida and Kansas State are an upgrade over the 2004 schedule that left them out of the national championship picture. However, the SEC slate doesn't work in Auburn's favor this year. Auburn has to travel to Baton Rouge, Gainesville, Fayetville, and Athens this season. The SEC home slate is a cake-walk for a team with Auburn's talent hosting Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and Vanderbilt. The Iron Bowl show-down is another question mark. In rivalry games, anything can happen. Auburn will likely finish 2 or 3 losses this season. But with their schedule, that is no small feat. Most teams would go 7-5. However, Auburn needs to watch in the rear-view window because another program is rolling (no pun intended) ahead full-steam..
See if you can guess who he thinks is in Auburn's rear view mirror.

Via Recruiting Wars, CSTV basketball recruiting guru Van Coleman has a list of the top 40 roundball recruiting classes this year, and no less than 5 SEC teams made the grade. And you thought football around here was tough...

Finally, Keltic Gator at Orange and Blue Hue says that the SEC basketball powers, old and new, may be moot:
With all the banter on this site between Florida as the most recent dominant team in the SEC and nationally and Kentucky as the old guard looking to return to the glory days of the past, another traditional program is quite possibly going to surpass them both. That team is the UCLA Bruins.
Read the whole thing.

Tuesday: Some changes

After playing around with this, I have decided that this place would probably work better if I just stick to two or three different schools per day. That way, I'll be able to guarantee coverage of every SEC school and their blogs each week, and provide a little time for me to comment on the SEC in general.

So starting from scratch, let's look today at Mississippi State, Alabama, and Auburn.

First, MSU. Mississippi State Basketball has a couple of new posts up: Hopson at the Lebron James Academy Skills Camp and Barry Stewart - The Ice Man. One looks at a new player (Scotty Hopson, 2008) and the other at sophomore-to-be Barry Stewart. On the football side, Campus Pigskin asks if MSU coach Sylvester Croom is on the hot seat, and gives some good reasons why he should be given more time. A Mississippi Writer gives us a quick rundown on the MSU football season.

The Alabama Basketball Blog notes that Yamene Coleman arrested and charged with 8 counts. The Tide Druid gives us his hopes for the 2007-2008 season, which includes this beauty:

Hope #5: Nick Saban eats a Dreamland rib on the jumbotron before running onto the field. I know Saban’s contract states that he doesn’t have to do certain endorsements. Having said that, I think he could really get the crowd pumped up when he steps out with a Dreamland bib and a plate of juicy, tender ribs that almost melt right off of the bone during the first bite. They taste so moist and delicious that….. uhhh, oh yeah….. Saban needs to eat a rib on the big screens.
Saban could do worse.

Finally, Jerry Hinnen of Joe Cribbs Car Wash delivers a Fisking of the Montgomery Adviser's Josh Moon, and places the mainstream sports media on notice. A must read for Auburn fans.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Manic Monday: Early Takes

Monday morning, and all is well as we careen toward the SEC football season. So what's the latest?

As you might expect, LSU football coach Les Miles' less than politic comments about the Pac 10 continues to resonate throughout the blogosphere. LSUPHOOTBALL offers a spirited defense of Miles' remarks, and as you might expect, blames the sports media in no small part for the brouhaha. He even takes issue with Dawg Sports Kyle King over his remarks about the recent spate of SEC coach chest-thumping. A good read from the other side of the argument.

Continuing on with the LSU theme, Roll 'Bama Roll has an excellent post looking at the LSU offense through the eyes of an Alabama fan.

The Capstone Report has this post discussing Saban's impact on Alabama football so far, including a couple of links. Memphis Tider says "Mondays are my enemy", but manages to muddle through. Fox Sports Pete Fiutak says Vanderbilt needs to beat the Tide to get to a bowl, and Memphis Tider isn't buying it:

Apparently, if Vandy wants to go to a bowl game for the first time since 1982, they can't afford to lose to Alabama. Sounds like horse crap to me.
Yeah, kinda sounds like it to me, also.

Moving on to Tennessee, Ryan Ferguson at AOL Fanhouse had this post of a few days ago telling us that Phillip Fulmer is #1 on the hot seat list, not just in the SEC, but in the entire nation. Does this kind of remind you of a certain former Kentucky basketball coach last year? Meanwhile, Fulmer's Belly relives the Worst Best Game Ever… . LooserWithSocks has a comprehensive list of QBs to watch when practice starts.

Turning to the Georgia Bulldogs, Kyle King at Dawg Sports continues to "dawg" Les Miles, along with some other goodies in his morning post. The Bulldawg Blawg links to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article that links 20 reasons why Georgia Tech won't be better than Georgia.

Finally, a quick trip down to South Carolina where Cock & Fire asks how far coaches should go to bail out a recruit or a player when they get caught up in legal problems. Well written and recommended.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Around the SEC Blogosphere for Saturday.

Just a quick perusal around the SEC blogs today, we find a few articles of interest. First, we slide on down to Gainesville to see what's up with the national champion Florida Gators (notice, I don't even have to specify the sport this year).

Swampball has an NBA Summer League Update that takes a look at how the Gators are doing after the draft fallout, especially the second rounders and undrafted.

Continuing with the Florida theme, Orange and Blue Hue has an article about the unfortunate and untimely demise of Avery Atkins. Atkins, despite his huge talent, had a history of problems off the field, and left the team in 2006. Gatorpilot, the blogger, had this to say:

Kids are supposed to get a few chances to get on track, to get things sorted out, to re-prioritize, to focus. To grow into adults. To become parents. To live their lives.

Avery ran out of chances. That’s no one’s fault but his own. But he was just a kid. Don’t lose sight of that fact.

A sad story, indeed.

Georgia blogger T. Kyle King of Dawg Sports has a recent post taking SEC coaches Phillip Fulmer of Tennessee and Les Miles of LSU to task over recent condescending remarks they made to the quality of other conferences. King has some advice for both coaches, which I think they should take:
Stop it. Stop that nonsense right now. If you want to say the S.E.C. is the toughest conference in college football, fine; if you want to say that, this year, the league is tougher at the top than any other, there's a pretty good case to be made for that proposition, although these things change more rapidly than one might expect.

This business about there being one or two or four good teams in other B.C.S. conferences, though, is just dumb.


Moving on up to Tennessee, Rocky Top Talk has a post by one of their diarists that looks at Phillip Fulmer's decaying standing in the eyes of UT fans, by examining the low expectations both among the media and, apparently, some of the fans as well.

Fulmer's Belly has a post entitled Kentucky… To Love… or Hate… that looks at the UK-UT relationship and the rivalry that has sprung from it. Kentucky blogger Truzenzuzex reciprocates at A Sea of Blue.

At the AOL Fanhouse, Ryan Ferguson has this article about Billy Gillispie, the new UK coach, and the apparent coaching rivalry that is developing between Gillispie and his former mentor, Bill Self of Kansas.

Alabama blog The Capstone Report is predicting the SEC west. Return to Sender has more commentary on the Les Miles debacle.

That's all for now. Enjoy!