Posts Tagged ‘SEC’

Sure they can. Remember 1992? Going to play Miami in the Sugar Bowl the media pronounced the game over before it even began. Alabama had a “second rate defense and a one-dimensional offense.” Miami had the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback and were the defending national champions. And then Alabama plowed them under, 34-13.

There are plenty of examples of the same type scenario: the nation is mesmerized by the potent offense of a team like Florida (Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech, etc. etc.), forgetting that a bruising rushing attack controls the clock, keeps the ball out of that potent offense’s hands, and a stifling defense makes that potent offense look a lot more pedestrian.

The Florida team you will see on Saturday will look a lot different from the one you’re used to seeing pummel their opponents. Alabama is well-equipped to handle the Gators.

Alabama: 34
Florida: 28

Asked how he feels about being an underdog to Florida in the SEC Championship game, Nick Saban said, “That’s a’ight, don’t bother me any.”

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Has General Tecumseh Sherman returned to Georgia? No, it’s only Nick Saban, and that dark cloud of smoke hanging over Athens is just the smoke from 90,000 black shirts burning. I think it’s safe to say the Georgia “blackout” is a thing of the past, and Nick Saban has, at least according to Jim Rome, established himself as the greatest college football coach ever.

The architect of two current top-5 teams, Saban is an old school savant with his bruising rushing attack, opening up the play-action pass and involving freshman phenom Julio Jones. But most impressive of all right now is the sheer domination of Terrence “Mt.” Cody, who anchors the line. Georgia’s game plan was supposed to be simple–sweep left, sweep right, tire Mt. Cody out and then chuck it down field to A.J. Green. Er, not so fast. Mt. Cody is not only a mountain of a man, but he’s mobile, too, and Julio Jones outperformed Green in the freshman phenom competition. In fact, if you look closely at the stats, Julio has more touchdowns than Green. Green benefits from the pass-happy Georgia offense, but Julio’s stats are compiled in a run-oriented offense. And Knowshon? Well, he was a no-show, and felt on one play the full impact of a Mt. Cody pancake tackle, when all you could see was no-show’s little feet sticking out from beneath the mountain.

And the best news of all? Auburn, winners of six straight against their cross-state rivals, are now largely irrelevant. In terms of the national championship, as they’ve always been, they are irrelevant. And the road to the SEC west now rolls through either Baton Rouge or Tuscaloosa. And–even better–it doesn’t even matter if Auburn wins against Alabama for a seventh year in a row, that will have been all they’ve accomplished in their greatest decade ever. Auburn’s greatest accomplishment during Alabama’s down years has been to beat Alabama. Sure, they have one SEC championship to their credit, bringing their grand total to six, the same number as Georgia Tech, who isn’t even in the SEC any more. What more have they accomplished in the past ten years? Nothing. And now, all is well, Auburn is back where they belong, the irrelevant auburn-haired step-child of college football. In Alabama’s worst years–and make no mistake, these past ten years have been Alabama’s worst–Auburn took advantage of the situation by accomplishing no grander a feat than to beat a talent-deprived Bama team.

Once again, Alabama’s eyes are on the big prize, and despite having been beaten for six consecutive years by their cross-state rivals, Auburn is literally not even registering on the radar. In Auburn’s best years, their success or rate of failure is measured only by what they accomplish in their final regular season game. Loft aspirations, right? Uh, right. Auburn doesn’t have their eyes on the big prize. They’d like to win the national championship, sure, just like they’d like to win the SEC. But for Auburn, success is still only measured by whether or not they beat Alabama.

In the past ten years, when Alabama has been the most irrelevant team in the state, Auburn gloried in its accomplishments, crowned by the beating of Alabama at the end of the year. And that’s the big difference between these two programs: when Auburn is irrelevant–as they are now–Auburn is just another game on Alabama’s schedule in the way of a much larger prize. Alabama is the bully again, and Auburn is the step child. Alabama wants nothing more than to win the SEC and contend for the National Championship. At this point, Auburn is just another game in the way.

Get out of the way.

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Goodbye, Raycom

Raycom is about to be a greasy smear beneath the wheels of the ESPN money truck, which just parked outside the SEC’s vault and is unloading $150 mil per year for 15 years. And that’s to televise all the games that CBS doesn’t. What does that mean for us, the fans? Well, hopefully it will mean that we’ll actually get to see a game that isn’t the CBS game of the week in HD.

Now, I don’t know if Raycom is the responsible party or not, but any SEC games broadcast in recent years that weren’t picked up by a major network have been simply awful broadcasts. The video equipment used was old in 1976, I believe, and they’ve never made any effort to upgrade. Or at least that’s what it looks like to me, watching on my shiny new LG 45″ widescreen LCD a fuzzy square box that makes me think my eyeglass prescription has expired. Then I switch over to CBS and see the sharp, crisp, clear HD picture and I feel a deep rage churning in my guts towards whoever is responsible for this, they who evidently believe the VCR is still the height of technology’s achievements.

Even if ESPN doesn’t broadcast every game in HD, the difference should still be noticeable. They’ll at least be using a modern video recorder, rather than a handheld analog betamax that they couldn’t sell at a yard sale if they wanted to. A pawn shop wouldn’t trade a stick of gum for one of those things, and they’re filming SEC games with them. Again, that’s what it looks like from the outside. I have no idea what kind of equipment they actually use, I just know it’s painful to see, and painful to think that I have better equipment in my living room than they have for a professional broadcast.

What else does this deal accomplish? Well, it guarantees ESPN that I’ll be signing up for their full spectrum of channels. Right now I don’t get ESPNU or ESPN360. I’m about to shell out the difference to make sure I do. Here’s hoping the broadcast world for the SEC just got a little better for fans of the SEC.

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The arrival of two new coaches into the SEC today has made it official: The Spread Offense has arrived. Everyone’s been enamored with it for a while now, seeing the success of the schools that’ve been confounding opposing defenses with it. It was already here, you say? Yes, you’re correct, but two coaching hires today just ensured it’s here to stay, and that it may ‘spread’ to other teams as well.

The University of Arkansas hired “Power Spread” guru Bobby Petrino away from the Falcons today, and Auburn dumped its old-school OC Al Borges and is reported to be hiring Tony Franklin away from the Men of Troy, also a spread offense guru.

It’s been well documented that Urban Meyer runs the spread offense as well, but little known is the fact that Major Applewhite ran a spread offense at Rice in ’06. Why didn’t they run it at Bama in ’07? Likely because of personnel. It takes a specific brand of QB to run the spread, but when run correctly it can send shivers up a DC’s spine.

Watch out, SEC! There’s a new offense in town, and four teams will likely be running some variation of the spread in ’08. And now, you too can run the spread offense: Amazon lists 270 books about the spread offense, sometimes called the “power spread,” “shotgun spread” or the “spread bone.”

Have I said “spread” enough times in this article?

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You know what the thing about U.Meyer is? He’s not a winner. He’s a w-i-e-n-e-r. Sure, you can tell me he won the National Championship, but I can easily counter with the fact that he did it with Ron Zook’s players. There’s one thing about it: Zook, as maligned as he was by Gator Nation, had class and was in the process of building a champion. But Gator Nation doesn’t want class, they want wiener. And it’s for that reason alone that I find myself in support of Gator opponents, including last night’s bout with LSU. And I have to tell you, it was sweet to see Urban’s lips pucker like he was about to burst into tears. I haven’t seen the post-game interview yet, but I’m sure it was framed with such inventive gems as “Losing sucks.”

This is all very surprising to me, because in spite of Gator Nation’s cries during the Zook tenure to “get back to playing Florida football,” I can remember what Florida football really is. Gator Nation didn’t want to get back to Florida football, they wanted to get back to Spurrier football, because Steve Spurrier was the first rflorida-offense-dial.jpgeally successful coach the Gators ever had. And plus, I actually like Florida. I thought Zook had the team running in the right direction, despite the infamous “fireronzook.com” website that booted up practically the day of his hiring. Zook’s doing well in Illinois–good for him. How will Urban do? That’s still left to be shown, of course, but in his third season he’s enduring the first losing streak of his career (at 2), losing to Auburn and the #1 team in the nation, LSU. The thing that should really be distressful to Gator Nation, however, is the fact that Tebow is accounting for 98% of the offense. They have no running game except from the QB slot. How many running backs are going to want to play for a coach who won’t let them run?

I’m sure it’s not all that bad. Urban will benefit from the tradition Spurrier left him, the players Zook left him, and the rich recruiting pool in Florida. In that way, he might just win despite himself, but it’s going to be interesting to watch, either way.

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