Friday, August 30, 2002

For your review, this weekend's schedule (incl. games played last night) (all times PDT), and a breakdown of all games featuring Top 25 teams, courtesy of USA Today. Very important games include Washington at Michigan and VaTech hosting LSU. Possible games of interest are Auburn at USC, Notre Dame vs. Maryland, Baylor at CAL (well, it's of interest to me), Virginia at FSU, and CSU vs. Colorado. Lastly, you can put this in the category of "I can't believe he's so old that he has a kid playing college football": Morehouse College, featuring standout frosh recruit John Davis Washington (ie., son of Denzel) vs. Fort Valley State, in Macon, GA.

The Birmingham News brings us the sob story of loser former Alabama Coach Mike DuBose. Or as he's known in my household, "That Terrible Man". DuBose is the man who presided over the complete collapse of a century of Alabama Football history, most of it with his shirttail out. While the recruiting violations that got the NCAA to bring the hammer on UA (they went too far) were not largely DuBose's doing, they happened on his watch, and he should have put a stop to them. He didn't even win -- two losing seasons in four, one mediocre season, and one winning year.

Anyway, now DuBose is coaching high school football in Dothan. (It's near the panhandle.) It's too good for him. I think he should be forced to beg for scraps on the streets of Tuscaloosa. Me, bitter?

I'll be keeping an eye on the SEC around here, and though it's a cliche, I figured I'd run out some preseason predictions. It's an odd year in the SEC. Steve Spurrier, the dominant figure in the SEC in the last decade and the second-most successful coach (after Bear Bryant) in conference history, is gone from Florida, replaced by Coach Generic, whatever his name is. Tennessee and Georgia would seem to be the top candidates for the East title other than Florida, but the Volunteers lost a lot of talent and are the latest NCAA witch-hunt victims. As for Georgia, I'm not sold on Mark Richt or their ability to consistently run the football, though they should be able to throw as well as anyone. When in doubt, I'll take the team with the best coach, and I think that's the Vols. South Carolina has a pretty good coach too in Lou Holtz, but I don't think they have the talent. And Vandy will manage to finish fifth, which is as well as it ever does. Kentucky will look forward to basketball more than ever.

1. Tennessee
2. Florida
3. Georgia
4. South Carolina
5. Vanderbilt
6. Kentucky (ineligible for postseason)

Meanwhile in the West the team with the best combination of talent and experience, Alabama, is ineligible for postseason play because of NCAA sanctions. LSU lost its best player (Josh Reed) and its starting QB (Rohan Davey) but is still the defending champ. Ole Miss has Eli Manning, who is getting compared favorably to his brother and father, but he doesn't have nearly the talent surrounding him his relatives did. Auburn is led by the most overrated coach in America, Tommy Tuberville, and lacks top offensive talent. Mississippi State and Arkansas never seem to have the players the other schools do, but are usually pretty good and sometimes they'll surprise you. Not this year, I think. I think Alabama will win the most games, but thanks to the NCAA LSU will win the Division.

1. Alabama (ineligible for postseason)
2. LSU
3. Ole Miss
4. Auburn
5. Miss. St.
6. Arkansas

Anybody who finishes above .500 and is eligible will be in some bowl game.

How on earth does USC (Trojans) get ranked in the pre-season top 25, year after year. They were celebrating last year that they were bowl-eligible at the end of the season (not that it mattered; they still got beat by Utah(!) in the Las Vegas Bowl). This year, they play what is literally the toughest schedule in the country, acc. to SI (Pac-10 schedule, plus non-conference games vs. Auburn, at K-State, at Colorado, and Notre Dame). If they break .500, it'll be a miracle.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

The first Sagarin ratings of the year are out. Not surprisingly, Miami is ranked No. 1, although since only five games have been played, I'm not sure if the data is all that reliable.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution argues that the SEC is still superior to the ACC in football. Hard to argue, really. Now, the best ACC teams (Florida State -- until last year anyway -- UNC a few years back, Maryland last year) are equal to anything the SEC has to offer. But there just isn't the depth of good teams. Most years, I'd say the fourth-best team in the ACC would be about the eighth-best in the SEC.

On the other hand, half the SEC is either under investigation from the NCAA or already under sanctions. It's all moot if the SEC goes the way of the Southwest Conference. (Remember them?)

Apparently ESPN is just barely more popular than Steve Spurrier with folks in the Volunteer State. According to the LA Times,

ESPN has stopped a commercial that angered some Tennessee fans.
The commercial showed Lee Corso, one of the "College GameDay" analysts, waiting for an elevator. The doors open and the elevator is filled with orange-clad Volunteer fans. A pig runs out and an overweight woman holding another pig and wearing a shower cap and robe yells, "Come here, Rocky Top!"
An elderly man wearing shorts and hooked up to an IV bottle is shown with a couple kissing in the back of the elevator. A sign mentioning Tennessee alumni is also visible.

The Tennessee football office said it was swamped with calls from fans upset about the commercial.

Relations between ESPN and the school have been strained since 1997 when fans accused ESPN of campaigning for Michigan's Charles Woodson over Tennessee's Peyton Manning in the voting for the 1997 Heisman Trophy.

The Nashville Tennessean reported that the outrage turned nasty at times and that Chris Fowler, the host of GameDay, described the reaction of Volunteer fans on a national radio show as "trailer park frenzy." He later apologized.

In 1999, an report alleged academic improprieties within the football program. The GameDay crew is scheduled to air its show from the Knoxville campus on Sept. 21, when the Volunteers play Florida, and Nov. 9, when Tennessee plays host to Miami.

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

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