Monday, August 31, 2009

Devin Britton vs Roger Federer

A big Dead Guy Tip-O'-The-Hat to former Rebel netter Devin Britton. A day after this very nice article appeared in The New York Times about him, Britton went out and won 9 games against Roger Federer, perhaps the greatest men's tennis player ever. Britton was swept (6-1, 6-3, 7-5) but represented himself very well, actually hitting more winners than Federer did. Not a bad showing for his second career men's singles match.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

2009 SEC West Preview

The SEC West has as many if not more questions entering 2009. Will the Rebels finally break through and make it to Atlanta, thus robbing Mississippi State fans of their one football talking point? How will MSU and Auburn do with their new coaching staffs? Can Alabama and LSU answer their questions at QB? Can Arkansas’ defense stop anyone?

Here’s how I see the SEC WEST playing out:

1) Ole Miss: Call it a homer pick if you want to, but the talent is there in bunches and the schedule is as favorable as it comes. The Rebels have far and away the best quarterback and most explosive offense in the division and the defensive front 7 are strong as well. There are questions in the secondary and how the Rebels will handle their lofty rankings, but this is the year the Rebels break through.

2) Alabama: If the offense had as few questions as the defense, the Tide would be the pick in the division. Instead, Alabama returns just 4 starters on offense and is replacing a senior quarterback and 3 offensive linemen. That spells trouble in the SEC. I think McElroy will have a solid season and the OL will be sufficient, but in a division with DLs like the Rebels and LSU Tigers have, that could be troublesome for the Tide.

3) LSU: I’ve yet to figure out how this is a top 10 team by most accounts, but apparently that’s just me. The Tigers sport a plethora of highly ranked players at nearly every position on the field, but this team lost 5 games last year. The defense should be better under John Chavis, but what has QB Jordan Jefferson shown anyone that has them so excited. They’ll finish 3rd, but only because Arkansas has a more difficult schedule.

4) Arkansas: From hearing Arkansas fans talk, we all know by now that new quarterback Ryan Mallett is 7’3, runs a 4.5 40, and can stand on his head in one end zone and throw a football and knock an apple off DJ Williams head in the other end zone. Blindfolded. The Hogs’ offense should put up some points provided the OL comes together and give Mallett time to throw the ball. The Hogs are loaded with talented skill position players on offense. The biggest question marks are on the defense, which was just plain bad last year.

5) Auburn: After a drama-filled embarrassing season last year, the War Eagle Tiger Plainsmen are just looking for some stability. The hiring of Gene Chizik was, erm, questionable at best, and he, like Kiffin and Dan Mullen inherit a mess on offense. Chizik hired Gus Malzahn as his OC to run a spread offense with pro-style offense players, just like Tuberville did with Tony Franklin last year. While the recruits are buying in, for now, it’s hard to imagine things going well on the Plains this year.

6) Mississippi State: After suffering through 5 years of Sylvester “Media Darling” Croom and never finishing in the top 100 in the country in total offense, the Bulldogs kicked the fraud to the curb and replaced him with Florida OC Dan Mullen. Mullen plans to run a similar offense to Florida, one that teams in the SEC have had several years to adjust to, and he’ll be running it with an empty cupboard. So far, Mullen is saying all the right things for the MSU fanbase – season ticket sales hit a record last week – but it’ll be an ugly year in Starkville in 2009.

2009 SEC East Preview

The 2009 SEC season is just days away and, as usual, promises to be full of intrigue. Some of the major questions facing teams this year include: Will Florida be able to handle the unbelievable and expectations? How will the Volunteers do with their new coacheing staff? Will Steve Spurrier finally admit he just doesn’t have it anymore and retire like he should’ve done after last season? How will Georgia replace Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno? Was Vanderbilt’s bowl season a fluke or can Bobby Johnson get the ‘Dores back to postseason play?

Here’s how I see the SEC EAST playing out:

1) Florida: Yeah, I know, real original, but how do you not pick the Gators here? They return 18 starters from a national title team, including all 11 from a nasty defense that gave up more than 21 points only once last year. They have one of the greatest players in NCAA history in Tim Tebow leading the offense and one of the best OLs in the country. Anything less than another national title is a disappointment for these Gators.

2) Georgia: Sure the Bulldogs have to replace more than anyone in conference – first round draft picks Stafford and Moreno – but they return a very solid group of players, particularly on the OL, which is key to winning in the SEC. No one will confuse new QB (5th year senior) Joe Cox with Stafford, but the coaching staff won’t ask Cox to do as much. Instead, they’ll rely on a capable group of RBs to pound the ball behind the OL. It certainly doesn’t hurt to have AJ Green as a bailout option should Cox get in trouble.

3) Tennessee: The Volunteers spot here is as much an indictment of the rest of the SEC East as it anything else. Without getting into the shenanigans coming of out of Knoxville since new UT HC Lane Kiffin was brought in, this team is basically average at best. Eric Berry is one of the all-time great DBs to play in the SEC, and if weren’t playing in the era of Tebow, he’d get a lot more publicity than he does. The staff Kiffin has assembled is impressive, but it doesn’t help the fact that Jonathan Crompton was named the starting QB for this season. That can’t bode well. With 8 home games, including 5 of the first 6, the Vols will get back to a bowl this year.

4) South Carolina: Steve Spurrier is hitching his wagon to Stephen Garcia this season, for better or for worse. I can’t imagine that this will end well for the Gamecocks. There’s no reason to believe the Gamecocks will be better than last year, which ended with 3 straight lackluster blowout losses. USC had one of the worst rushing offenses in the country last year and lost their starter from last season. With a tough schedule, I’d be surprised to see the Gamecocks reach bowl eligibility. For Spurrier’s sake, I hope he gets out while he still has some hair.

5) Vanderbilt: There’s really not a way to explain how Vanderbilt made it to a bowl last year. It’s similar to Sylvester Croom leading MSU to the Liberty Bowl or Les Miles leading LSU to an MNC. The ‘Dores were kissed by an angel last year, ranking near the bottom of the league in nearly every offensive and defensive category. They return 17 starters from last season’s Music City Bowl champion team, but it’s hard to imagine them catching the same breaks over and over like they did last season. Like the Gamecocks, I’ll be surprised if the Commodores are bowling after this season.

6) Kentucky: This year’s ‘Cats could very closely mimic the 2008 version. They return 12 starters from the Liberty Bowl champion team, but, in all honesty, they just weren’t all that great last year. They benefitted from a ridiculously soft non-conference schedule and limped into bowl eligibility. This year, the non-conference slate is a little more difficult, but the SEC schedule is not as favorable. That 6th win may not come this season. CB Trevard Lindley is the 2nd best DB in the league, but that might not be enough to get UK to a 4th straight bowl.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday Morning Reading

One week from today, the first SEC game will be in the books. Just one more week...

* Pot, meet kettle. Is it just me or is a Duke fan calling the 2008 Ole Miss Rebels mediocre just a wee bit silly? The fact that the groundwork for our recent 4 year coma was laid by now Duke head coach David Cutcliffe and his utter refusal to recruit or hire a competent staff makes the irony just a little sweeter.

* Nothing groundbreaking here, but a nice read on Snead's path to Ole Miss and expectations for 2009 in The USA Today.

* I wonder what Beck Campbell and her precious little snowflake Mitch Mustain think about this. It's actually a sad tale of what overprotective, overzealous parents can do to a kid.

* A couple of things struck me from this article in The Sun Herald. First, I'm impressed they were able to publish an article mentioning Ole Miss football without also publicly lamenting the fact that Ole Miss and Mississippi State won't play Southern Miss in football. Secondly, who the hell wrote the caption for that picture of Tyson Lee? His mom?
Mississippi State quarterback Tyson Lee passes the ball during practice in Starkville. Lee, the 5-foot-10 senior from Columbus, is the gutsy team leader who overcame physical disadvantages last season with brains and heart, and is the current front runner for the starting position.
* This proves 2 things: Preseason polls are worthless and Jim Leavitt is a douchebag.

* Former Ole Miss tennis star Devin Britton drew a first round matchup with Roger Federer in the US Open.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Stephen Garcia is almost as good as Tim Tebow

I know it's true because I read it on the internet and now you can too. Everybody's a homer for their favorite team, don't get me wrong, but tempering your homerism is essential if you want to be taken even remotely seriously. So needless to say including a paragraph that says...
So, while Tebow may be a two time national champion, a Heisman winner, and the darling of college football fans everywhere, the quarterback of Carolina football isn't far off. He even wasn't that far off Tebow in the interception department - Garcia threw eight picks on the year to Tebow's six. If Garcia can reach his potential, USC may have a real shot to compete with teams like Florida for an SEC championship.
... it's going to raise more than a few eyebrows.

First off, Tebow only threw 4 INTs last year, not 6. Secondly, Tebow attempted 298 passes, meaning he was intercepted on about 1.3% of his throws. Garcia attempted just 122 passes, meaning he was picked off on about 6.5% of his throws. When you couple in Tebows 30 TDs and Garcia's paltry 6 TDs, you start to realize how nonsensical this statement is.

It's put up or shut up time for Garcia. His misadventures off the field far outweigh anything he's ever accomplished on the field. It's time to see what - if anything - he can actually accomplish on the football field. He's most likely a top5 QB in the SEC, which isn't really saying much this year. So far his career more closely mimics that of Ryan Perrilloux than Tim Tebow - flashes of great potential on the field, trouble staying out of trouble off the field.

New Tennessee Billboard

Truthfully, I would have loved to find a way to have EOr as DL Coach/Recruiting Coordinator. As long as he stayed away from anything offense-related, he's very good at what he does.

First Year SEC Coaches and Signature Wins

One of the real joys of college football is the unbridled – however unfounded – optimism that typically comes from the hiring of a new head coach, particularly when replacing a coach who was fired – or whatever euphemism is trendy that day. New philosophies and new attitudes abound with the influx of new blood in the coaching ranks.

2009 is a perfect example of this. Take a look at the three new hires entering the SEC, none of which has proven much of anything as a head coach:

  • Gene Chizik, Auburn: Chizik went 5-19 at Iowa State, but was DC for some very good Auburn teams earlier in the decade

  • Lane Kiffin, Tennessee: Kiffin was fired after a brief, unsuccessful stint (5-15) with the Raiders, but was co-OC for some very good USC Trojan teams earlier in the decade

  • Dan Mullen, Mississippi State: No head coaching experience, but was OC for some very good Florida and Utah teams earlier this decade

Of those 3, I can only see how Mississippi State fans could be genuinely excited. While I’m not a Mullen fan by default, his pedigree seems to be the best of the three, though I’m not sure how much he (or anybody) will win in Starkville. Chizik and Kiffin both failed miserably in their previous head coaching stints. In spite of all this, optimism rules in Auburn, Starkville, and Knoxville these days.

An integral part of the frenzy surrounding new coaches is landing that “signature win” in your first season at a school. It seems to happen for an unusually high number of first year coaches in the SEC (but never in 3 years if you’re Ed Orgeron). But what constitutes a signature win? Basically any win that a fan base can latch on to as a glimpse of the future of the program. A win that a coaching staff can point to when recruiting as an example of how their system works against top-tier opponents. A win that makes the program’s future so bright, you gotta wear shades.

Here’s a look at some signature wins by current or recent head coaches:

  • Tommy Tuberville’s 1999 Auburn team struggled a bit at 5-6 but did pick up a blowout win in Athens over an 8-4 UGA team

  • In 2001, Mark Richt and his UGA Bulldogs knocked off #5 Tennessee

  • Ron Zook was the first coach to be Croomed as Sylvester Croom led the MSU Bulldogs to a victory over Zook’s Gators in 2004

  • In 2005 Les Miles led his LSU Tigers to a comeback win over then undefeated and #4 Alabama and put a stamp on the season with a 40-3 hammering of Miami in the Peach Bowl

  • In 2005, Urban Meyer led the Gators to wins over Florida’s 3 biggest rivals: #4 Tennessee, #4 Georgia, and #21 Florida State, clearly stamping the program as his own

  • Steve Spurrier’s 2005 Gamecocks knocked off #23 Tennessee in Knoxville a few weeks before taking down #12 Florida in Columbia

  • In 2007, Nick Saban led the Tide to a now vacated victory over #16 Arkansas in his third game as head coach in Tuscaloosa. The Tide built a huge lead, watched it evaporate, but came back in the 4th quarter for a 34-31 victory

  • In 2008, Houston Nutt led the Rebels to a 31-30 victory in Gainesville and a 47-34 win in the Cotton Bowl over Texas Tech

  • In 2008, Bobby Petrino led the Razorbacks to a big comeback win over LSU in the final game of the regular season last year
So looking at the 2009 schedules for Auburn, Mississippi State, and Tennessee, which first year head coach(es)will land that signature win or wins that puts his stamp on the program? In the SEC, with so many good teams and storied rivals, the trio of new coaches will have multiple opportunities to put their stamp on their new programs.
  • Gene Chizik, Auburn: There are 3 teams in the SEC West currently ranked in the Top10 in both polls. Auburn lost to all 3 last year, and dropped a game to Georgia. Were Chizik to coax just one win out of those four games in 2009, the War Eagle Tiger Plainsmen fan base would have something to build on for 2010.

  • Dan Mullen, Mississippi State: Another team residing in the powerful SEC West, the Bulldogs are blessed or cursed (depending on how you look at it) with ample opportunities for a signature win. In addition to Ole Miss, LSU, and Alabama, the Bulldogs also welcome Florida and a highly-touted Georgia Tech team to Starkville.

  • Lane Kiffin, Tennessee: Kiffin’s shenanigans thus far have put him in a precarious situation: Win the big games and you look like a genius, but lose them big and be blasted for running your mouth. The Vols take on Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and Ole Miss this year. Each will be a prohibitive favorite over the Vols and offer Kiffin and crew the chance for a signature win.
At this point, it’s tough to pinpoint which matchups seem most likely to swing the way of the new coaches. Mississippi State is nearly completely void of experienced SEC-caliber talent and faces one of the toughest schedules in the country. Tennessee and Auburn have a little more talent in place, but, at least in the preseason, have no quarterback to speak of. Both were one win - actually one bad loss – away from bowl eligibility last year and return a chunk of players from last year’s squads.

While it’s safe to assume that Tennessee will not beat Florida in Gainesville this year, every other team on this list has flaws or at least questions that need to be answered. If the Tigers or Vols stumble onto a serviceable passing game and catch one of the other teams napping or struggling to answer some of their own problems, either Kiffin or Chizik could put his stamp on his program.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Good read from Pat Forde

More ESPN hype for the Rebels, this time from Pat Forde.

Monday Morning Munchies

* Bad day yesterday for Tony Fein. It seems that he was put in an awkward situation by some overzealous employees, but you've got to keep your cool, particularly a guy of Fein's stature where every move is exaggerated.

* The Commercial Appeal has a nice read up about Jevan Snead.

* The Quad, the surprisingly good sports blog at The New York Times, has the Rebels ranked #13 in the preseason and offers one of the most in-depth previews I've come across.

* I'm as excited as the next guy about seeing Raymond Cotton in action, I just hope it's not this year. Barring any disastrous injuries to other QBs, I think he'd benefit greatly from a year on the scout team.

* If there's a more blatant homer in the "national media" than Lou Holtz, I'd like to know who it is. The good doctor and future senator has proclaimed that the Notre Dame Fighting Irish will take on Florida in the national title game this season. As much as I would like to see a 35-point Florida win over the Irish, I'd rather not see the Irish taking a BCS berth from a much more capable and deserving team.

Brittany Reese can jump farther than you

Former Ole Miss track standout Brittany Reese won a gold medal at the world championships in Berlin with a 23 feet 3 1/2 inch jump.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The easiest job in the world

It must be nice to get paid for writing articles about why Ole Miss and Mississippi State should play Southern Miss in Football. You can churn out 300-400 words without even thinking and come up with hyperbolic headlines like "No downside to MSU-USM football game."

Credit Patrick Magee of the Hattiesburg American for taking the idiocy to a new level though. Typically the argument revolves around the Rebel or Bulldog fan mentioning a lack of desire to subsidize the Golden Eagle football program with the USM fan responding with a witty retort such as "Naw, you're skeered to play at the Rawk!" But not according to Magee:
Some fans make the argument that there would be an explosion of bad behavior by fans if USM played the two SEC schools on the football field. I’m not exactly sure where this idea comes from. While I realize it’s a different sport, I was courtside for the Ole Miss-USM basketball game last year in Biloxi and there were no punches thrown or even moderate bickering between the two groups.
Seriously? That's why you think that Boone and Templeton/Byrne have avoided playing USM... bickering amongst fans? And then this closing sentence...
A simple look at the situation reveals there is no downside of the schools meeting in football. It will only generate even more excitement surrounding the sport in an already football-crazy state.
... shows how disconnected from reality Magee really is. From a Southern Miss standpoint, I'm sure that's enough to get the hair standing up on their arms. If he could step outside of his black and gold for a minute, he'd find out that this fantasy land that USM fans and media have created - the series is what both fan bases want - is just that... a fantasy. There are very few Ole Miss or State fans I know that want a series to happen. The reasons have been reiterated on this site and others time and again and aren't worth getting into again.

If only Magee and other USM-canned-rhetoric regurgitators would take the same hint.

Friday, August 21, 2009

SEC Offensive Skill Players rankings, per Chris Low

He's very high on the quarterbacks (#2) and wide receivers (#1), but not so high on the running backs (#7).

Unless you're Steve Spurrier, the quarterback ranking goes without saying. Jevan Snead is the best pro prospect quarterback in the league, but should certainly rank behind Tim Tebow as a college quarterback. The wide receiver rating wasn't unexpected either as the Rebels are extremely deep there and catching passes from Snead is going to boost anyone's numbers.

I do think, by the end of the season at least, that we will rank much higher in the running back ratings. He has this to say about our stable of backs:
7. Ole Miss: It will be interesting to see how the rotation shakes out at Ole Miss. Brandon Bolden is the No. 1 guy right now, but Cordera Eason has looked a step faster in the preseason. Enrique Davis has a world of talent, and the coaches really like sophomore Devin Thomas and true freshman Tim Simon.
It's not really the top 3 teams I have an issue with. LSU was predictably first with (overrated) Chares Scott leading the way and Michael Smith and crew landed Arkansas #2. Florida RBs, who Low ranks #3, are hard to get a real read on because of the style of offense that the Gators run, but there's no denying they'll be productive.

Low also ranked Alabama, Mississippi State, and Auburn (AUBURN?) ahead of the Rebels. In his brief synopsis of Alabama's RBs, he points out that this pick is dependent on a variety of factors. With Alabama's green offensive line this year and a new QB, I don't know that the Tide will match last year's production.

As for State, sure Dixon's a good back and he's been around forever, but how effective is he going to be in such an impotent offense?

But the biggest problem I have is Auburn being ranked ahead of the Rebels. I get that when there's a running back by committee like the Rebels have, it can tough to gauge the talent level of each back effectively, but these rankings are for units as a whole. The Rebels averaged nearly 50 more rushing ypg last year (186.5 ypg to 137.5 ypg). The Rebels ranked 2nd in ypg, Auburn ranked 6th. Ben Tate, who Low singles out, averaged 55 ypg and scored a whopping 3 TDs.

That hardly sounds like a team that should be ranked ahead of the much more explosive Rebels.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Poor, Sweet, Innocent John Calipari

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it, George Santayana

Alas, the tragedy...

For the second time in his career, poor, sweet, innocent, master strategist John Calipari will have a Final Four appearance stricken from the NCAA record books. It breaks my heart to see such a fine man have to suffer through this embarrassment again. Why do bad things happen to goodf people. My heart goes out to him and...

Enough with the sarcasm... Kentucky - if you weren't before - you're now officially on notice. This is what the man does. He shows up, pours a mean glass of kool-aid, blinds his potential detractors with tainted win after tainted win, then gets the hell outta Dodge before the poo hits the fan. He's very, very good at what he does. He's now the only coach to have two Final Fours stricken from official record books. This is of little surprise to me, having suggested its feasibility the day after their (now no-longer existent) game against Kansas.

Yes, I know Calipari wasn't implicated in the Memphis scandal, just I like I know he wasn't implicated in the UMass scandal either. Like I said, he's very, very good at what he does. He was a desperation hire by Memphis in 2000. The Tiger program needed a big pick-me-up after the Tic Price Experiment went horribly wrong. The fans were desperate to field a winner, so they sold their soul to bring in Calipari, despite the turmoil that UMass was mired in because of him. Memphis AD R.C. Johnson basically turned his back and served as Calipari's "yes man" for 10 years.

Sound familiar? The Wildcats are in need of a big pick-me-up after the Billy Gilispie experiment failed to pan out. Big Blue fans are desperate to field a winner and broke the bank to bring in Calipari. While there's no way Kentucky AD Mitch Barhart will bend over and take it from Calipari like Johnson did, he knows that Kentucky has to win and win big. Given Calipari's history, is there any reason to think this scenario plays out differently? I have no doubts that he'll win big at Kentucky, but at what cost to the university? Two schools have suffered due to his... ahem... oversights, why not a third?

I hope it doesn't work out that way. Kentucky is the flagship program in the SEC and one of the Royal 5 programs in the country (along with Indiana, North Carolina, Kansas, and UCLA). They serve as something of a barometer for the SEC as a whole. When they're mediocre, it weakens the SEC as a whole. But when they're winning, it greatly increases the national perception of the conference.

After such a pitiful showing last year, the SEC needs a big pick-me-up. Just not one that turns out to be such a bummer when you realize the dirty truth.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Midweek Munchies

* Tony Barnhart thinks Peria Jerry will be missed

* Hesiman Pundit ranks Jevan Snead 8th in Heisman Poll

* Phil Fulmer wants back in coaching. When asked about Lane Kiffin he says "if you’re going to be brash you better be able to back it up". And if you have any extra donuts, you better share them.

* Check out my interview over at

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Dan Mullen still thinks about Ole Miss a lot

This is really just kind of sad. There's actually a clock in the MSU locker room counting down to the Egg Bowl. Why they're so excited about getting the chance to watch the Rebels name their score again, I'll never know.

And isn't this kind of bush league? And borderline obsessive at that? They've got 11 other games before the Egg Bowl. They've even got a chance to be competitive in 3-4 of them. So why are they so focused on Ole Miss? Do you think Houston Nutt and staff have thought about MSU for 2 seconds since last year's 45-0 rout?

They've even go so far as to call Ole Miss "The Team up North" on the Egg Bowl posters in the locker room. See more pictures here if you need a good chuckle.

Top 10 Ole Miss Football Players since 1975

Southern Pigskin has a list of Ole Miss' top 10 football players since 1975. It's a fairly solid list, though, as usual, I've got a few nits to pick...

In my view, Patrick Willis is hands down the best talent to come through Oxford in the last 35 years. Of course when you're mired on the bench behind Justin Wade (Justin Freaking Wade?!?) because your head coach is an idiot wouldn't know a defense if it grabbed him his droopy face and shook him won't start you, it severely limits the time you get to strut your stuff. What he accomplished in basically two years of steady playing time was unreal.

I also feel he is sorely underselling Deuce's value to the program, not only as an All-SEC RB, but also as an ambassador to the university. He seemed to have factored that in with Gentle Ben though.

He's also understating the shutdown ability that Kenyatta Lucas had. Sure, he played at the same time as Fred Smoot, the overrated, loquacious CB from Mississippi State, but their relative draft positions and NFL careers have seperated the two, severely in Lucas' favor.

I'm not sure that Rufus French belongs on this list at all.

My list - off the top of my head - would be:
1) Patrick Willis
2) Eli Manning
3) Deuce McAllister
4) Ben Williams
5) Kenyatta Lucas
6) Michael Oher
7) Everett Lindsay
8) Peria Jerry
9) Derrick Burgess
10) Bill Smith

Meet the Rebels Day cancelled

Well, there go my weekend plans, and probably the plans of about 5000 loyal Rebel faithful. Seems an odd move to make, particularly this close to the event, especially since the OMGWTFBBQ!?!?! overreactions to Swine Flu seemed to have calmed down a bit lately. Last I checked, campus wasn't a quarantined environment and the players are going to come into contact with hundreds of students each day.

And as for this quote...
“While we may be over cautious regarding the flu, our season opener is less than three weeks away and we can’t take any chances,” Nutt said. “We certainly regret not being able to interact with our fans at this time.”
...that's interesting considering they recruited and signed Jamar Hornsby who would've been much more destructive to this team than a mild case of the flu.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Nutt, Saban, and Coaching Trends

You can add Shane from the Capstone Report to the growing list of bloggers who are latching onto the Anti-Ole Miss Bandwagon, though, like most, he lacks creativity in his reasoning. It's not quite Finebaumian in its lack of legitimate points, but it's close:
Some of you might ask, “What about Ole Miss?” The pundits are convinced they will play Florida in the title match. Well, those of us who’ve studied Houston Nutt know that (and I keep bringing it up), somewhere in the course of the season, he’ll blow a game he’s supposed to win - it happens every year. In fact, I think that is exactly why Arkansas fired him. That’s right Rebel fans, Arkansas cut Nutt loose for “choking.” Putting your faith in Coach Nutt is futile. Under his guidance, I’m afraid Ole Miss is destined to remain a pretender.
Ah yes, the Houston Nutt argument. For those who have actually taken the time to look at things – like cocknfire did here – there’s actually a different story. But we shouldn’t let facts get in the way of this argument. Sure, Nutt’s teams have dropped some games they shouldn’t have – it’s part of the game – but I don’t recall Nutt comparing those losses to “catastrophic events” like Pearl Harbor or the 9/11 Attacks. Saban’s Tide were embarrassed last year in the Sugar Bowl by Utah in a game Alabama was supposed to win. Let's not forget that Saban can scratch losses to UAB and Louisiana-Monroe off his bucket list as well.

I do find it interesting though that he brings up coaching trends. In his 13 seasons of being a head coach in college football, Saban’s teams have won 10+ games 3 times: 2001, 2003, and 2009. His teams won 8 and 9 games in 2002 and 2004 respectively, meaning he’s never won 10+ games in back to back seasons. It’s going to take 6+ SEC wins to win the SEC West this year, meaning the Tide will need 10+ wins to secure it. According to Shane’s logic, history always repeats itself, so there’s no way Alabama win double-digit games this year, right?

Also, given Saban's inability to win double-digit games in back-to-back seasons, this statement becomes even more outlandish than it first appears:
I have no doubt that these two SEC “superpowers” will meet in Atlanta for the next three or four years in a row.
And if we're dwelling on trends, then Alabama will be back on probation in, what? 2011? Maybe 2012?

But hey, it's all just posturing at this point. All that matters is this... both teams have a legitimate shot at being undefeated when they clash on October 10th, setting up the biggest game in Oxford in decades, certainly since LSU in 2003. The winner of that game will have the inside track for the SEC Western Division crown and a shot at Florida or Georgia in the SEC Championship game.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Embrace the hype. Love the Hype. Resistance is Futile.

26 days until the Rebels hang 50 on Memphis.

ESPN SEC Bowl Predictions and some Fail

There's a good read on Chris Low's blog right now about bowl chances for all 12 SEC teams this season. He predicts a Sugar Bowl bid for the Rebels, which is certainly hard to complain about.

Then there's the relapse into the ESPN tradition of either being unable to distinguish between Ole Miss and Mississippi State or just the lack of motivation to get it right.

Monday, August 10, 2009

ESPN's Collge Football Challenge

ESPN launched a new game that's fairly similar to SEC Fantasy Football called (creatively) College Football Challenge. I've created a Dead Guy's Group and invite you - regardless of your team affiliation - to join and play.

Each week, you choose 2 QBs, 2 RBs, 2 WR/TEs, 1 team's kickers, and 1 team's D/ST and accumulate points based on performance.

Any idiot can write on the internets

The very existence of this blog should be proof of that, though I at least (occasionally) try to minimize the idiotic statements on this page. That's more than can be said for Jeremy Wood at The Barrow County News, who, as Senator Blutarsky points out, has created "easily the worst SEC preview I’ve read so far this preseason".

Here is Mr. Wood's assessment of the Rebels, with the emphasis mine:
Everyone seems to love these guys a little too much. They lucked into a win at Florida last year when the Gators couldn’t hang onto the ball, and beat an underwhelming LSU team and a we’re-not-interested-in-playing-in-the-Cotton-Bowl Texas Tech team down the stretch. Now they’re a top-ten team? They could take over for the 2008 Georgia Bulldogs as the team that was saddled with huge expectations and didn’t come through. Georgia in 2008 was much better than these guys are, and that Bulldog team couldn’t win their division. The caveat with Ole Miss is that they have the softest non-league slate of anybody in the conference – playing at Memphis will be their toughest opponent – and it wouldn’t completely surprise me to see them undefeated ... when LSU comes to town Nov. 21.
First off, you can never love the Rebels too much. But seriously, if the Rebels are undefeated on November 21st when LSU rolls into town, that's equivalent to a 10-0, 6-0 record, which would undoubtedly have any SEC team in the Top 10. I also don't get why Wood (and so many others for that matter) try to cheapen the Rebels wins over UF and TTU last season. All the Florida fans that I've talked to will freely admit that the Rebels just beat them at the line of scrimmage all day long. Sure Florida was the better team last year, but for one day in Gainesville last year, the Rebels just straight up outplayed them.

Same thing with Texas Tech. The Red Raiders just weren't ready for the team speed on defense and had no answer for the Wild Rebel. It had nothing to do with disinterest. They got hit in the mouth and had no answer. So they folded.

And as laughable as his assessment of Ole Miss is, at least he (sort of) attempts to justify it with some sort of reason. For Alabama, he just uses good old fashioned bias:
My favorite program to root against in the conference (I can’t stand Saban). They lost a veteran quarterback and four starters off their offensive line, which was their biggest strength a year ago. It definitely feels like a 7-5 team.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sunday Night Niblets

* I'll be the first to admit that when EOr hired Dan Werner, I was less than thrilled, but this is a great article about him and how's he rebounded from his wife's unexpected death earlier this year. I'll be pulling for North Delta School this year.

* The Birmingham News suggests that Alabama and Auburn should subsidize the little guys in Alabama, saying "get off your high horse and throw your neighbor a bone." Maybe Auburn will bring UNA and Terry Bowden to Jordan Hare...

* Some random college football predictions including a 7-0 start for Auburn and Joe Cox putting up better numbers than Matthew Stafford

Friday, August 7, 2009

2009 Preseason Coaches' poll released

So the coaches' poll came out today and, as expected, the Rebels are ranked in the Top 10. Alabama, as expected is ranked ahead of the Rebels at #5. What caught my attention is that LSU is ahead of the Rebels at #9.

Again, I ask, why is LSU going to be so much better this year? Sure Chavis will make a big difference on the defense - it can't be much worse - but why should I (or anyone not drining purple/gold kool-aid) believe that the offense is going to be more consistent this year? They are relying on a QB who is 0-2 against SEC competition as a starter and touted as a mobile QB despite a paltry 2.7 ypc average last year.

If not for a pair of goal line knees last year, the Rebels would've beaten the Tigers by 25 points last year in Baton Rouge. Sure the Tigers have the overrated Charles Scott to pound the ball with, but asking Jordan Jefferson to be productive enough to give Scott room to manuever is going to be more difficult than many Tiger fans seem to realize. Particularly when the Tigers draw both UGA and Florida out of the East, the two teams the Rebels avoid.

Obviously, it's all speculation at this point, and my view of it will certainly be viewed as biased at any point. That said, I can't think of one good reason a team that finished with an 8-5 record and has no proven QB on the roster would be ranked ahead of a team that finished on a 6-game tear and a darkhorse Heisman contender other than reputation.

Friday Lunchtime Links

* This is a good read about Tony Fein and his winding path to Ole Miss and now the Ravens. Fein joins former Rebel teammates Michael Oher and Jason Cook as those competing for a spot on the roster.

* Looks like Lou Holtz will lisping and drooling next to Mark May for the foreseeable future. It's a shame really... his pep talks could have been just what people needed after being subjected to Corrine Brown.

* Ed Orgeron is making his presence felt in Knoxville. Lane Kiffin even drops this bomb about EOr:
this is somebody who can run our program exactly the way we need it run to be a national championship team
Yep, as long as you keep him away from microphones, staff hirings, the offense, and overall game planning, he's an effective coach.

* The Toccoa Record feels Javan Snead won't lead the Rebels to a Western Division title this year. Is that Jevan's less talented twin?

* In Alabama, there's a new play entitled Bear Country. There's a reason the old joke "What's the difference between a maggot and a Tide fan?" has stuck around so long

* JuCo All American over at RCR gets a little more in-depth in his rebuttal than I did of ATVS's thesis on why the Rebels won't win the West this season. Take a look when you get a chance.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

It's the dead horse that keeps on giving

Apparently, last week's pointless, deceased equestrian kicking article from The Sun Herald's editorial board about how Ole Miss and Mississippi State. Now, they've come back with this one with even more pandering... this time making sure they've made their points perfect clear.

Quite frankly, it's pathetic when you have to include a sentence like this:
First and foremost, this is not a charitable crusade on behalf of Southern Miss. Indeed, if the best interests of USM were our primary concern, then we would probably be lobbying for Southern Miss’ entry into the SEC, a move that would have far greater benefits for the Golden Eagles than simply playing two in-state SEC opponents.
Southern Miss in the SEC? Now that's high comedy. Their stadium holds a little more than 1,000 more fans than Vanderbilt's does and they don't bring up the conference GPA like the Commodores do. There's absolutely no conceivable rationale to even suggesting that except to throw fuel on a fire that exactly ONE fanbase has any desire to stoke.

There is absolutely nothing to gain for Ole Miss and Mississippi State to subsidize USM's football program. The article says " has been 19 years since MSU played USM in football and 25 years since Ole Miss did. That is ridiculous." To which I say, "No, that's business." The Rebel and Bulldog fanbases are just not interested in seeing that game. That's who the respective administrations are interesting in pleasing... not a small but vocal group of USM fans convinced they're being wronged.

Then there's this:
Tens of thousands of fans — and their money — would flow across the state … and stay in the state. It would be to the economic advantage of stores and restaurants and hotels throughout Mississippi. And it would boost tax receipts in the cities and counties where those businesses are located.

That, sports fans, is clearly a legitimate concern for the governor and the Legislature, and that is why we encourage the Legislature to mandate that these games be scheduled as soon as possible.
Where to even begin with this statement? First, how many hotel room reservations will be lost because people would make the road trip that morning and leave after the game? Not to mention the dinners people wouldn't be eating in the towns as people would hit McDonalds or Taco Bell on the way out of town. Then there's the lost alcohol sales as people would curtail their drinking so they could make the trip.

And, like I said before, Mississippi has enough actual problems to deal with - teen pregnancy, childhood obesity, education - that the governor and the Legislature should not spend one nanosecond concerned with who plays who in football. To make the suggestion not once but twice is utterly ridiculous and shows a real lack of understanding of priorities. In fact, it's downright embarrassing.

Scheduling high profile out of state games like Texas Tech and Wake Forest and Texas is a much shrewder business decision than babysitting Southern Miss. College football is big business in Mississippi and if you can't run with the bigger dogs, than get out of the way and stop begging for a bone.

Unheard of side effects of Jack Daniels

Just when you thought the Dog Pound Rock was the most embarrassing thing to come out of Starkville in recent memory, consider the debate about 7 day a week alcohol sales in Starkville which spawned an absurd one-liner like this:
Also against seven-day sales was Al Turner, who feared a rise in the number of gang rapes and other crimes.

“I know that Jack, Hennessy and Crown will make you do that,” he said.
Wait... what?

As quite the connoisseur of Mr. Daniel's wares, I'm struggling to remember the last gang rape I participated in. I'll grant you things get a little hazy from all the other crimes I commit in my Jack Daniels and Crown Royal induced rages, but still, I think I would remember participating in a gang rape. Maybe they should only legalize sales of Ketel One, Maker' Mark, and Johnnie Walker. Or do they have criminal side effects too?

I know If I had to spend any amount of time in Starkville, mass quantities of alcohol would be required for mere survival. But it did get to me thinking, and I looked at the label on my bottle of Jack at the house and, sure enough, right there on the label:Maybe next time I'll be more careful.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

In response to ATVS

I wanted to take a minute to respond to this post from And The Valley Shook, a very well done LSU blog. It's a fairly in-depth rundown of why Ole Miss won't win the West this year, and unlike Finebaum's pointless rant, actually offers some research.

Take this quote for example:
But this is a team that has to improve in order to win the division, and I don't see that improvement. I believe that it will be a major challenge to merely maintain the massive improvement the program made last season. I actually believe Nutt is up for that challenge, but expecting more seems a tad unrealistic. The jury is still out on whether last season was a one-year aberration or a new level for Ole Miss. The most likely answer is that the truth lies somewhere in between.
I take umbrage with a few points in that paragraph, and not just the misuse of the word "massive".

  • First, I'm not sure how much the Rebels actually have to improve to win the division this year. I'd say there's signiifcantly more pressure on LSU to get better, particularly when they're building their offense around an unproven and (at least in my eyes) overrated commodity in Jordan Jefferson. There's also a lot of pressure on Alabama to simply maintain what they were last year with the loss of a senior QB, a huge chunk of their OL and some key defensive losses. Arkansas has the potential to be the most improved overall, but a killer schedule leaves them a year away from a run at the SEC West. Auburn and MSU are non-factors in the grand scheme of things.

  • As for not seeing the improvement, considering the Rebels haven't even reported yet, that's a bold statement. No one will see any improvement or steps back until the product hits the field next week. And it'll most likely be the South Carolina game before the Rebels are faced with an imposing test, and that'll give Nutt and staff two games and an off week to rectify any problems. While everyone else in the West is trying to get their offense in sync, Snead and crew will be hanging 50+ on Memphis and SELA.

  • Earlier in the post, he says that last year was good, but not great, which I agree with. The last 6 games were fantastic, but the seaon as a whole left something to be desired. But his sentence wondering whether 2008 was a one-year abberation or a new level for Ole Miss shows a subtle disrespect for the Rebels. Wiith a legitimate head coach in place for the first time since Pine Box Tommy skated town under a cloak of darkness and the current and incoming talent pool, there's no reason that the Rebels can't maintain a degree of success similar to 2008. It wasn't all that long ago that Ole Miss took 4/5 from the Tigers before the dark days of EOr ran the ship ashore.

Let's not forget the basketball team

Lost in the hoopla of the upcoming football season is a healthy, focused men's basketball team poised for redemption following a tumultuous 2008-09 campaign. Guards Chris Warren, Trevor Gaskins, have all been cleared for full practice and Zach Graham is on schedule as well.

The program got a big lift (literally) when big man DeMarco Cox committed to Andy Kennedy's program. He and PG Dundrecous Nelson give AK the first pair of 4* recruits in a single class since his arrival in Oxford. That's not including Indiana transfer Nick Williams, a highly-touted 3* guard who showed flashes of brilliance as a Hoosier last year and will be eligible to play as a Rebel in 2010-11. He's a raw talent though (those TO numbers are insane) and will definitely benefit redshirting this season and playing against Warren, Gaskins, and Terrico White in practice.

Considering the turnaround from the moribund late stages of Rod Barnes career, it will be exciting to watch what Kennedy and his staff can do with an even greater influx of talent. After a perfect storm of Murphy's Law last season, one would think that there's nowhere to go but up. The fluky injury situation must've run its course, right? From all accounts, Kennedy has severely toned down his... ahem.. lifestyle. If the Rebels get any sort of consistency on the blocks from DeAundre Cranston or newcomers DeAngelo Riley and Reginald Buckner, they could be very tough by the time SEC season rolls around.

Next year's starting lineup will be:
PG: Chris Warren
G: Terrico White
F/G: Eneil Polynice
F: Terrence Henry
F: Reggie Buckner
6th man: Zach Graham

And then there's quotes like this one that show why this group of guards has the chance to be very, very special:
Months before the season tips off, that sense of urgency already is apparent. It's evident in the way Warren responded to questions about whether he could return this season as the same type of player who opened so many eyes two years ago.

"I don't want to be the same," Warren said. "I want to be better."

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Rebels drafted 29th in college football program draft

Using the following criteria, sportswriters at selected the Rebels #29 in their college football program draft:
We'll be drafting the most successful programs in the nation, based on whatever criteria each of us chooses to bring to the situation room. There is no set formula for this. Wins and losses matter most -- and what you've done in the 21st century is more important than what happened in the 1930s -- but fan following and overall prestige count, too.
The Rebels checked in at #7 in the conference, which is fair. What's not surprising is that Kentucky, Vanderbilt, and Mississippi State weren't selected. They're certainly the also-rans in SEC football. What was surprising is that South Carolina was selected, and that they were selected ahead of Arkansas. The Gamecocks lone claim to football relevance is that Thenator Lou Holth and a disinterested, strangely timid version of Steve Spurrier are their last two coaches.

But in answer to Pat Forde's question... Why yes, yes we are going to pretend the Ed Orgeron/10-25 trainwreck never happened. I've been doing that since he was hired in 2005

The rest of the SEC went like this:
2) Florida
5) LSU
8) Alabama
10) Georgia
15) Tennessee
19) Auburn
29) Ole Miss
33) South Carolina
35) Arkansas

Tuesday Linkage

* An amusing read from Souvenir City about a Big12 Rivals writer calling the SEC Overated.

* Reason #4,576 that SEC Football is the best in the land... Houston Nutt is in the top 10% nationwide for salaries, which is good enough to land him 6th in the SEC.

* Reason #4,577 that SEC Football is the best in the land... This quote right here from The Daily Illini:
Reporters at Big Ten Media Days didn't focus on Tebow, but there was no shortage of discussion on the SEC.
While I wasn't at SEC Media days, I feel certain that Houston Nutt, Urban Myer, Lane Kiffin, et al, weren't fielding questions comapring the SEC to the Big 10.

Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez even had this to say:
"I think our league is poised to have a big bowl performance situation very, very soon if you look at who's coming back in our league and the teams ... As a league, once we get a few big wins, whether it's regular season, nonconference, a BCS bowl or bowl games, that perception will change,"
Talking about it and doing it are two completely different animals though. Talking about it won't make the players in the Big10 bigger, stronger, faster, better. That's the difference between the leagues right now... not perception.

* There's a piece in The Sun Herald today that really offers no newsworthy information... lots of hype in Oxford, Jevan Snead is good, Paul Finebaum is an idiot, Ole Miss has never to Atlanta, etc. But I did want to make a comment or two on this excerpt:
Ole Miss is generating this buzz based on three or four things:

1) The Rebels are loaded on the defensive line, even after Peria Jerry’s departure;

2) They waylaid LSU at Tiger Stadium, and were the only team to beat Tim Tebow and Florida in 2008;

3) They can score points in bunches and move the football, whether they’re in their conventional offense or Houston Nutt’s beloved “Wild Rebel” scheme;

4) And most important, they’ve got a big-time quarterback.
I'll grant Mashek that those are all major factors in the hype. It certainly doesn't take a rocket surgeon to figure that out. But in no way shape or form is that the limit of what is generating this buzz. Here are 3 more that popped into my head while I read this.
  • The Rebels have as strong a stable of running backs as they ever have. Their ability to break away is key to Jevan Snead having space to throw in

  • Alabama and LSU both come to Oxford this year

  • And, perhaps most importantly, the other starting QBs in the division have yet to prove themselves on the field. Ryan Mallett seems to be regarded as the best of the bunch, but he's going to be working behind a patchwork OL, runs about a 10.9 40, and struggled mightily against Big10 defenses. Jordan Jefferson and Greg McElroy will be working with talent around them, but are unproven commodities at this point. Snead is the only one in the West, and one of two in the conference, that you know what you're going to get on a week to week basis.

Blind Side Previews up, looks pretty bad

Like any college football fan, particularly those blessed enough to be red and bue, I read and enjoyed Michael Lewis' The Blind Side. It was hard not to pull for Michael Oher to do well after his humble beginnings. When it was announced that there would be a movie adaptation, I was skeptical. Movies are rarely, if ever, up to par with their written counterparts. When it was announced Sandra Bullock was cast as Leanne Touhy, I officially gave up hope. Based on the above preview, that was the right decision.

The Blind Side seamlessly wove Oher's story with the emergence of the high salaries shelled out to left tackles, who's main job is to protect the blind side of the quarterback. When not dealing with the intricacies of the position, it portrayed Big Mike as a gentle giant who was rescued by an affluent family in East Memphis and focused on his (sometimes difficult) adjustment to that lifestyle.

At no point in the book was Leanne Touhy the focus. The trailer seems to portray her as the protagonist and focuses on her story. I understand that she's (for some reason) a popular actress, but Disney-fying the book is bad. Outside of Speed and A Time to Kill, I can't think of a single movie of hers that's even remotely watchable. You can tell from the snippets shown that they screenplay took some liberties with the actual story - Leanne threatening the guy at the table, for example - and made the movie about her, which is an absolute shame. Oher's story is a remarkable one, but apparently not enough so for Hollywood.

While it will be interesting to see Saban in an LSU shirt again and it's always entertaining trying to decipher what Ed Orgeron is saying, I'll wait until the DVD comes out to catch this, if even then.

Blutarsky and Hey Jenny Slater share my skepticism, though Ghost at Red Cup Rebellion holds a more favorable view.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The best femullet you'll see all day

I'll grant you this has nothing to do with SEC football, but THIS is a fine example of a femullet. This is what the daughters of Alabama fans take to SuperCuts so they can "look like Daddy."

Monday Morning tidbits

* Blutarsky links to a couple of posts discussing the quarterback situation in the SEC for 2009, including a look at the SEC champion quarterbacks from the past eight years. Good news for Rebel fans...

* The News Star takes a look at some questions for LSU's upcoming season and have a very favorable prediction for Jordan Jefferson. I'm still trying to figure out why. Sure he didn't throw a Pick6 every other pass attempt like Jarrett Lee did, but what about him makes people think he's so great?

He became the Tigers' #1 QB in the Ole Miss beatdown last year and amassed the following statistics in the final 3 games of the season: 53% completion rate, 4/1 TD/INT ratio, 6.3 yards per pass attempt, 2.5 yards per carry. Why do those numbers give Tiger fans hope?

* Tony Barnhart has "Five Burning Questions About the SEC West" and Question #5 deals with our Rebels.
5-Ole Miss finally cut signee Jamar Hornsby loose. Is that good karma or bad karma going into preseason practice?
My burning question is how it could possibly be bad karma to get rid of a cancer like Hornsby. He's more interested in fighting at McDonald's in Starkville at 2AM than he is his team. He's a thug who is destined to spend a good portion of his adult life behind bars. The bad karma came with recruiting him, not with seeing the light and kicking his ass to the curb releasing him from his letter of intent.

* The Baltimore Sun has a very quick interview with former Rebel FB Jason Cook up on its site. While Peria Jerry and Michael Oher got most of the attention last year amongst the seniors - and deservedly so - Jason Cook was overlooked. It's good to see him reunited with Big Mike in Baltimore.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A buncha Sunday Linkage

* Tyson Lee hopes to be the next star quarterback in the SEC. Hey, when I was in college, I hoped I'd be able to go to class with a Camelbak filled with Jack and Coke, but my aspirations were met with a certain degree of disapproval by UPD. A word of advice to Mr. Lee, if I may... I'd worry about merely surviving the season without being trampled by the other team's DL. That's probably a more realistic goal for you.

* This is a surprisingly level-headed look from Oklahoma at the difference in the Big12 and the SEC. Bottom line is that while it may be fun to run up 60 points against bad defenses for an entire season, but when you're actually forced to play a decent defense, you're in for a rude awakening.

* It won't happen again, but it appears the numbers are working out for Nutt and staff.

* There's a good read in the Chattanooga Free Press about the upcoming season.

* You have to wonder about this article coming from a Tennessee writer. He's obviously fishing for a response with his lead...
Whenever Ole Miss plays football, TWO of the NCAA's most productive passing attacks probably will be on display - one belonging to the Rebels, the other belonging to whoever they're playing.
Considering Tennessee passed for more than 200 yards exactly twice last year and bring back the same quarterbacks and very few experienced wideouts, I assure you that UT won't be a productive passing attack against Nix's boys.

* LSU and Auburn both have issues.