Thursday, January 31, 2008

Upon further review... (1/31/08)


No song and dance routine could
save Auburn from a BAD loss last night

A look at the box scores and key stats from this week’s SEC action…

* Tennessee @ Alabama
Alabama continued its hot shooting from the floor (50%) but apparently decided to not guard the perimeter (UT had 12 3s) or rebound the ball. With the girth the Tide big men have, there’s no excuse for ‘Bama being outrebounded by the Vols. The Tide’s poor FT shooting loomed large again, as they hit less than 60%.

* Mississippi State @ Auburn
The SEC West stays wide open thanks to a resounding Hog victory last night. Arkansas forced the Bulldogs into a horrid 5/22 Assist/Turnover ratio. And though they hit just 36.1% of their FGs, they hit 83.3% of their FTs (see how that works Bama) and crashed the glass to dominate MSU.

* Vanderbilt @ Ole Miss
Vandy’s road woes continued, as they shot just 34.9% from the floor and continued to settle for 3s, despite a cold shooting night (10-30). Only getting to the FT line 4 times against a team without its best post defender and foul-prone big men is inexcusable, particularly when this was as close to a must-win as a game can be this early in the season.

* LSU @ Auburn
I won’t even get into how BAD a loss this is for Auburn. I will ask how it’s even possible to lose a home game to a team like LSU when you shoot 50.9% from the floor, 43.5% from the arc, 93.3% from the FT line and commit less than 10 turnovers. This was apparently the perfect balance of mediocrity on both sides of the court.

* Georgia @ South Carolina
Great win for South Carolina who probably thought they would stand no chance with Devan Downey struggling like he did. But when your opponent shoots 14.8% from the arc, it makes up for one player’s struggles. Seriously though, 4-27 on 3s? Really? Get the ball inside.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

NFL First Round Draft Picks Over the Last Decade (1998-2007)

When you look at the bowl records for the BCS conferences over the last decade, it's pretty obvious which conference reigns supreme. Yet, there are still fans of other conferences - particularly the Big 10 - that believe they have a claim to superiority. When accosted by one of these people - and you have no choice but to engage the conversation - here's another point to bring up... No conference is even close to churning out 1st round draft picks like the SEC.

Over the last decade the SEC has had 70 players drafted in the first round of the NFL draft. The Big 10 is second with 55. That's a difference of 1.5 picks per draft. The SEC has produced 21 Top 10 picks over the last 10 years. The ACC is 2nd with 18. The SEC has produced 4 #1 overall picks. No other conference has produced more than 1.

Over that same time period, every school in the conference except for Mississippi State has produced at least 1 first round pick. All 11 schools that have produced first round picks have also produced at least 1 Top 11 pick.

Midweek Games (1/29-1/30)

Kentucky and Florida take the mid-week off after picking up big division wins over the weekend. Everyone else in the league plays tonight or tomorrow night. Here’s what to look for…

Tuesday Night
Tennessee @ Alabama

The Crimson Tide are coming off their most impressive game of the season, a 97-77 drubbing of Auburn. The Tide averaged 1.4 points per possession (PPP), significantly higher than season average 1.1). The Vols rebounded from a loss in Lexington to thump Georgia. This will be a much tougher test as they don’t have a good matchup up for Richard Hendrix down low, which is where Kentucky hurt them. If Alabama shoots the ball well from beyond the arc tonight, they’ll win. My hunch though is that the Tide are unable to match their weekend performance against the more-talented Vols. UT wins a close one on the road.

Wednesday Night
Georgia @ South Carolina

While the Gamecocks have shown some signs of life since HC Dave Odom announced his season’s-end retirement, it’s hard to see them being too much of a factor in a division with Florida, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and a resurgent Kentucky team. For this game though, they’ll be the superior team. They’ll handle a depleted UGA team.

Mississippi State @ Arkansas
The Bulldogs are finally living up to their preseason expectations as they’ve plowed through their first 5 SEC games 5-0. A win in Bud Walton Wednesday night would give them a 3-game in the division and make MSU very difficult to catch. Both teams are coming off impressive blowout wins. MSU ranks 2nd in the nation blocks per game (8.6) and Arkansas will be without a key inside player in Charles Thomas. In what could be the game of the night, look for the home crowd in Fayetteville to be the difference as Arkansas will hold serve at home.

Vanderbilt @ Ole Miss
Just a few weeks ago, these two teams were the darlings of the SEC. Both were undefeated and in the top 15 in the country, but have now fallen on rough times in the conference. For the Rebels, it seems their youth and inexperience in the backcourt is being exposed while teams are starting to take advantage of Vandy’s lack of a true inside presence. That’ll be the difference here. Look for Dwayne Curtis and Kenny Williams to have big nights against a soft ‘Dore middle as the Rebels right their ship… at least for the moment.

LSU @ Auburn
The John Brady farewell tour pulls into Auburn Wednesday night. The Tigers fell apart Saturday in Tuscaloosa, but have beaten a more-talented Ole Miss team in Auburn. They shouldn’t have many problems with LSU. Auburn already overcame a 15-point deficit to win in Baton Rouge. Duplicating that in the friendly confines of Beard Eaves won’t be an issue.

Monday, January 28, 2008

SEC Football storylines 2008

Fox Sports has a good article looking at a handful of interesting storylines for the 2008 football season. In addition to 3 legitimate national title contenders, there are some very interesting matchups coming this fall.

Not surprisingly, 3 of them involve Arkansas and their new coach Petrino. He's not made friends in conference, though it won't matter since he'll be gone in a year or 2. He may quit on this Hog team like he has his past 2 jobs. That could've been a whole storyline all to itself: Will Petrino stay a full season? Hell, will Petrino even be the coach come August?

Upon further review... (1/28/08)

A closer look at the action form last weekend with the help of some nifty widgets from

*Vandy @ Florida

The Gators dominated the ‘Dores for the majority of this game, fueled by a sparkling 26/10 Assist/Turnover ratio. It didn’t help that Vandy turned the ball over 16 times and 7 of those were Gator steals.

*Georgia @ Tennessee

It’s safe to say the Vols were shooting well in this one, turning in ridiculous shooting percentages from the floor (57.1%) and the arc (45%). Bruce Pearl couldn’t have been happy with the 12-27 (44.4%) effort from the FT line though. But with the ‘Dawgs shooting 18.2% from the arc and turning the ball over 21 times, it really didn’t matter.

*South Carolina @ Kentucky

This was the only relatively close game of the weekend. The most glaring differential here is FTs shot – UK 23, USC 2. A 16-point differential from the line in an 8 point game. The ‘Cats also stroked it from the floor (51%) and the arc (61.5%).

*Ole Miss @ Mississippi State

The Bulldogs are finally starting to play the way everyone thought they would. They shot a ridiculous 56.7% from the floor and blocked 8 Rebel shots. Ole Miss struggled everywhere, but especially from the arc, hitting just 4-17 3s (23.5%)

*Arkansas @ LSU

The Hogs finally figured out how to win on the road: hit 10-15 3s (66.7%) and hold your opponent to 29% (20-69) from the floor. The Tigers did themselves no favors from the arc either, hitting 5-26 (19.2%). To further illustrate how bad LSU is at this point, the Hogs had an 8/17 Assist/Turnover ratio and still won by 16.

*Auburn @ Alabama

Perhaps the most ridiculous team stat of the weekend is Alabama’s 19-4 Assist/Turnover ratio. Playing without a true PG, the Tide showed what they’re capable of, shooting 53.7% from the floor and 48% from the arc. Auburn somehow managed to shoot 50% from the floor and lose by 20. Go figure.

New Basketball Rankings (Jan. 28)

Now this is more like it. 5 SEC teams grace the Top 25 this week as Mississippi State and Florida appear after routing division foes last weekend.

Speaking of which, 'twas an odd weekend of SEC hoops as 5 of 6 games were laughers. Kentucky and South Carolina played the only close game of the weekend. Red hot MSU hammered suddenly-reeling Ole Miss by 20 in Starkville. Florida bombed the suddenly-reeling Commodores behind a 23-0 1st half run in Gainesville. Arkansas steamrolled constantly-reeling LSU. Tennessee righted itself with a romp over Georgia. Alabama nearly hung a C-Note on Auburn.

John Brady's seat seemingly gets warmer embarrassment after embarrassment...

Random Links for a Monday

* Apparently the call-screener for the Big East was out sick last week. If you're a fan of prank calls, this is the link for you

* For all the Ole Miss fans who thought that Rick Neuheisel was the coach to hire, here's even more proof he wasn't

* A real indictment of a couple big name college football coaches from Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle

* Replacements for John Brady are already being projected

* If you're doing something stupid that may land you in jail and thus in the newspaper, you should probably choose your wardrobe more carefully...

* If you were a childhood fan - or current fan - of the Justice League and Legion of Doom, here's a highly entertaining Youtubitude featuring familiar faces...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Weekend Games (1/26-1/27)

After a sparse mid-week menu, a full slate of SEC games returns this weekend. Here's a brief look at them...


South Carolina @ Kentucky
The Gamecocks are playing better of late, but so are the 'Cats. It looks like they're starting to buy into HC Gillespie's system. The duo Patrick Patterson down low and Ramel Bradley outside will be too much for USC.

Auburn @ Alabama
Auburn upset Ole Miss last weekend by packing a zone down around the Rebel big men and forced the OM guards into bad shots. They'll look to do the same today as they have no matchup for Richard Hendrix down low. The Tide are officially at the point of desperation though. They'll dig deep and muster just enough to win this game.

Ole Miss @ Mississippi State
These two rivals have swapped roles since conference play started. It's the Bulldogs who are undefeated and turning heads and the Rebels toiling around .500. This game will come down to transition D. If the Bulldogs can stop the Rebels from getting out and running, they'll win. If not, the Rebels pull the upset. Look for the Bulldogs to hold serve in Starkville.

Georgia @ Tennessee
Tennessee is coming off their first loss of conference season. UGA is riding a 2-game SEC win streak. They can't run with UT for 40 minutes though. This one could get ugly for the 'Dawgs.

Arkansas @ LSU
Why did I think Arkansas was good this season? The Pelphrey hire was questionable at best and the most experienced team in the SEC West still can't beat the inferior teams it should. I refuse to pick them on the road (even against a John Brady-coached team) until they show me they can win there.


Vanderbilt @ Florida
Vanderbilt's been a little exposed since conference seasons started. Their lack of a conventional big man hurt them in losses to UK and UT. Florida though is a similar team to Vandy. Lots of scorers, good speed and quickness, but no big body down low. This will come down to execution and the young Gators at home will get it done.

Some Random Friday Links

* Fox Sports lists the 20 things you need to know about this college season so far
* Shiny-headed blowhard Paul Finebaum doesn’t think Mark Gottfried is doing a good job.
* What to look for this weekend in the SEC
* A good look at Kentucky, Billy Gillespie, and how they’re starting to gel
* Another quick look at the weekend
* Another great Youtubitude of the "Downfall of the Dallas Cowboys" (NSFW subtitles)

* And, for those who grew up in the 80s like me, I present random nostalgia...

How To Do The Cabbage Patch

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Midweek Games (1/22-23)

A bizzare set up this week as there are only two mid-week conference games, tonight's Kentucky/Tennessee tilt and tomorrow's game between Floria and South Carolina. Here's what you'll see...

Tennessee @ Kentucky
The Vols head North to Lexington to take on a UK team desperate for another high profile win in hopes of salvaging a disappointing season. They picked off an undefeated Vandy team in their conference opener, but have since dropped 2 straight to Mississippi State and Florida. Patrick Patterson should have a big game in this one, but the 'Cats won't be able to keep up with the high-powered Vols. This gets away from them in the 2nd half.

Florida @ South Carolina
After surprising Arkansas in Fayetteville last weekend, the Gamecocks have proven they're capable of winning as an underdog. They'll probably be slight 'dogs in this one, but Florida won't slip up here. USC may have had the coaching advantage over Arkansas, but not over Billy the Kid. These young Gators are getting better with passing game, and this will be the 2nd conference road win they almost got last Wednesday in Oxford.

Monday, January 21, 2008

New Basketball Rankings (Jan. 21) + Links

SSDD. Another week has come and gone and the same 3 SEC teams are ranked. There is a difference in the ARV column as Arkansas is no longer receiving votes after losing 2 games against the worst 2 teams in the SEC East. Mississippi State, once just an underachieving afterthought, has ridden the strength of a 4-0 in conference to pick up a handful of votes. While it's unlikely they're ranked before season's end, they are playing to their potential now.

With the rash of upsets over the weekend, the Memphis Tigers are the new #1 team in the country. They're a mid-major school who scheduled a bunch of big games at home, took advantage of a young UConn team early, fell bass-ackwards into an OT win against USC, and will now feast on the D3-equivalent schools that make up C-USA. What a joke.

* Interesting read on the semi-decline of the SEC this year in basketball
* A look at the NCAA tourney hope of the SEC teams
* Little man Terry Bowden took time off from campaigning for coaching jobs to throw together some alpha-numeric characters and spaces to form this mumbo-jumbo of a column
* And how dare you or anyone call yourself a fan of your team until you show this kind of lunacy dedication...

* While Eddie Murphy will most likely win a Razzie or two for Norbit, kudos to his soothsaying abilities...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

5 Worst SEC Coaching hires since 1990

Looking at the immediate success guys like Bruce Pearl and Andy Kennedy have had at UT and Ole Miss respectively, it's obvious what kind of effect hiring the right guy for the job can have. But what happens when the wrong guy is hired? Well, you end up on this list... that's what.

I may be missing someone here, but these are the 5 worst coaching hires I can think of since 1990. And, no, Florida fans, Ron Zook is not on this list. He had an average record in Gainesville and laid the foundation for your national championship with his recruiting. If there’s someone obvious that I’ve left off, email me at

5. Rod Dohower – Vanderbilt Football Coach, 1995-96

While no coach has won consistently at Vanderbilt in more than 7 decades, Dohower took the losing to a new low in his brief tenure in Nashville. In two seasons, he compiled a 4-18 (.182) overall record and a 1-15 (.063) record in conference. His only SEC win was over a 4-7 Kentucky team in early November 1995. Gerry Dinardo had the ‘Dores on the brink of a bowl game in 1994 winning 5 games and losing 2 others by less than a touchdown. Dohower was quickly showed the door in favor of Woody Widenhofer, who may not have won much, but he won more than Dohower did.

4. Mike Price – Alabama Football Coach, 12/18/2002 – 5/3/2003

Speaking of short tenures… Alabama’s hiring of Price was a bad on more than one level. Besides the fact that Price seemed to have an affinity for libations and strippers that look like Dee Snyder from Twisted Sister, Price’s hire represented the desperation Alabama has had trying to find someone to fill Bear Bryant’s shoes. He was warned about his antics immediately after he was hired, but chose not to heed those warnings. He wound up disgracing not only himself, but the University of Alabama.

3. Curley Hallman – LSU Football Coach, 1991-1994

Hallman’s record (16-28 overall, 10-21 SEC) is better than Dohower’s, but let’s face it… it’s a little bit easier to win at LSU than Vanderbilt. Hallman never had a winning record in 4 seasons in Baton Rouge and has the lowest winning % of any head coach there since Wayne Sutton coached 1 season back in 1917.

2. Ed Orgeron – Ole Miss Football Coach, 2005-2007

Wow… How did this one NOT go wrong? The master of the moral victory, Orgeron’s Rebels played a lot of teams close, but never could finish anyone off. Most of that stemmed from the fact that Orgeron not only had no head coaching experience, he had no coordinating experience either. Even though it was more than a decade ago, questions about his rough and tumble previous life lingered over his head from the day he stepped foot in Oxford. He won 3 SEC games in 3 seasons, but 0 in 2007. That, coupled with dubious play calling and late season disciplinary problems, led to his demise.

1. Jim Harrick – Georgia Basketball Coach, 1999-2003

Harrick actually compiled a winning record (66-53) in his tenure at Georgia, but he easily tops this list because of his off the court issues. A controversial hire from the beginning, Harrick had a track record of dishonest winning when he was hired, but the ‘Dawgs were willing to take a chance on him. And they paid the price. They ended up withdrawing from postseason play – including the SEC tournament – after the 2003 season, forfeiting 30 wins over the ’01-‘02/’02-’03 seasons, and losing 1 scholarship per season over the next 3 seasons.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Weekend Games (1/19)

Most of these guys are gone,
but what about their winning streak over UK?

A fairly entertaining weekend of conference basketball this weekend as two sets of bitter rivals – MSU@Bama and UK@UF – take to the hardwood tomorrow. The ESPN Gameday crew will even be town for the UK/UF tilt. Here’s what else you can expect to see…

LSU @ Vanderbilt
After a perfect non-conference slate, the wheels have officially come off for Vandy. They fell behind Tennessee early and never really threatened in the 2nd half. They made a few runs, but nothing sustained. As for LSU, they haven’t wheels since their epic collapse against Villanova. Vandy should get back on the winning track in a big way in this one.

Mississippi State @ Alabama
Two schools and coaches that are not very fond of each other play what should be one of the most entertaining games of the weekend. While Varnado has been blocking shots at an inhuman rate, it will be interesting to see how he handles Alabama’s man-child Richard Hendrix. Hendrix will get the benefit of the majority of calls as he’s a senior and playing at home. The Tide are entering desperation mode and will pull the minor upset here.

Ole Miss @ Auburn
In the other game that has a MS school headed to an AL school, the Rebels will be looking to not play a close game for the first time in 4 conference games. Auburn may be close in the first half, but they don’t have the horses to run 40 minutes with an Ole Miss team that pushes every possession and plays 10-11 guys every game. The Rebels pick up their first conference road win of the season.

Arkansas @ Georgia
Coming off a bad loss to South Carolina at home, the Hogs must have this game. They have to get through a depleted UGA squad that just beat an Alabama team that took Arkansas to OT last weekend. Razorback SG Patrick Beverley has had more time to rest and heal his jaw, so he should play better in this game than Wednesday night. Arkansas knocks down some 3s, controls the paint, and picks up its 2nd conference road win.

Kentucky @ Florida
While this is not the same Gator team that has a 6-game winning streak against Kentucky, it isn’t the same UK team either. This UK team seems lackadaisical at times, lost at others. Many upperclassmen have not jelled with new HC Billy Gillespie. The Gators though are polar opposites. Even with all their youth and inexperience, they pushed a more talented Ole Miss team to the brink Wednesday night in Oxford and will be hitting on all cylinders from the opening tip Saturday. Patrick Patterson should have his way inside against UF, but the Gator guards will carry UF to a 7th straight victory over UK.

The Cowboys' Season in 8 Seconds

This is one of those rare videos that gets funnier every time you watch it. And, considering it's all of 8 seconds long, it's easy to watch it over and over. A big HT to Deadspin for posting it.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Random Basketball Thoughts (1/17)

Even a mere 3 games into conference play, the heat has definitely been turned up to a different level. The story to this point has been Mississippi State – who struggled mightily in the non-conference portion of their schedule – has come out like gangbusters, rolling to a 3-0 start in league play. They haven’t played an upper-tier SEC team yet, but they’ve handled business against LSU, UGA, and a Kentucky team that has a losing record 15 games into the season. Jarvis Varnado has quickly become a household name with his high-flying act. His big-man triple double (10p, 12r, 10b) against UK on ESPN Tuesday night was impressive.

In-state rival Ole Miss is apparently determined to give its fan base heart attacks each and every game. Through 3 games, the Rebels are 2-1 including a 2pt loss, a 3pt win, and a 2pt win. They battled #6 Tennessee to the waning moments before losing that game and built up big 2nd half leads on both LSU and Florida before having to hang on down the stretch. Still, the job Andy Kennedy has done there is nothing short of remarkable and as those freshmen continue to mature, they may be a tough out come March.

Other Random Thoughts
*If the countdown clock for John Brady wasn’t on before last night, it’s certainly on now. LSU – up 22-7 at one point – lost at the PMAC last night to an Auburn team with only a handful of scholarship players available. Again, if he survives the full SEC season, I’ll be surprised.

*That said, Mark Gottfried may be joining him in the unemployment line if Alabama doesn't figure out how to win at some point soon.

*Arkansas’ loss to South Carolina at home is absolutely inexcusable. Stan Heath was shown the door in part because he couldn’t win on the road, but his teams normally did a good job of protecting the home floor. This year’s club has in-state losses now to a 9-8 South Carolina team and a 9-6 Appalachian State team whose 2nd best win is over an 8-8 College of Charleston team.

*Kentucky's win over Vandy to open conference play may have been an aberration. While it was easily their best win of the year, they outrebounded Vanderbilt 42-21 and it still took them 2 OTs to knock of the 'Dores. No way it should take you 10 extra minutes of basketball to beat someone you outrebound 2-1.

*The SEC West is already separating the good from the bad from the ugly. Alabama and LSU are already 0-3 in conference and Auburn is 1-2. MSU, Arkansas, and Ole Miss should benefit greatly from getting 2 games a piece with those 3.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Random Youtubitude for a Tuesday

You may or may not have heard about Corey Worthington, the 16y/o Australian who threw a party over the weekend while his parents were out of town. 500 guests later, the shindig wound up out of control and now his parents may be fined $20K for damages, as the neighbors were "frightened".

A Current Affair set up an interview with him, apparently in hopes of shaming him into seeing the error of his ways and apologizing. Let's just say it didn't go exactly as planned...

Week 2 Midweek Games (1/15-1/17)

The second week of conference play kicks off tonight in Starkville. A handful of teams are entering the week in desperation mode, having already dropped to 0-2, while others look to extend their divisional leads from 2-0. Again, we have a 3-night midweek format, with Tennessee and Vandy providing an exciting close to midweek play. Here’s what’s on tap…

*Kentucky @ Mississippi State

The Wildcats, fresh off a surprise win over previously undefeated Vanderbilt ride that wave of momentum into Starkville. The Bulldogs have been dominantly defensively so far against 2 of the 3 worst teams in the league, so the ‘Cats will definitely be their biggest test to date in conference. Kentucky dominated Vandy on the glass but still barely eked out a win in 2OT. They won’t outrebound the Bulldogs though. Look for the Bulldogs to control the tempo of this one and win a close one.

*Alabama @ Georgia

Two painful losses behind them, the Tide view this as something of a must win to keep pace in the West. Georgia, for all intents and purposes, is playing to build momentum for next season. They’ll have no matchup for Hendrix down low in this one. Bama’s 3-headed attack of Hendrix, Gee, and Riley will lead the Tide to a critical road win.

*Auburn @ LSU
Two teams ravaged by injuries and suspensions tip off in the Bayou tomorrow night. LSU seemed to find their offense Saturday in a near upset of Ole Miss and will look to build on that. Auburn led Florida early Saturday, but fell apart as they couldn’t keep up with the Gators. Neither of these teams has the depth to run a lot, but LSU is playing at home and has some momentum from Saturday’s 2nd half. Look for LSU to win a low-scoring game, dropping Auburn to 0-3 in conference.

*Florida @ Ole Miss
The Gators ran away and hid from Auburn Saturday while Ole Miss nearly coughed up a 22 point lead to a team that scored 39 points in their previous game. This will be an intriguing matchup of two of the youngest teams in conference, each with a lot to lose in this game. UF desperately needs a legitimate road win over a ranked opponent, Ole Miss needs to shake off their near collapse and put together two good halves. The Gators have more momentum right now, so look for Nick Calathes to outduel Chris Warren in the battle of the SEC’s best 2 freshman PGs. Florida wins a potentially high-scoring game.

*South Carolina @ Arkansas
I’m not exactly sure how it took Arkansas OT to dispatch Alabama the other day with the Tide’s miserable shooting percentages, but it did. The Hogs should have a much easier time with the Gamecocks who just looked bad against the Vols on Sunday. Arkansas maintains pace with Mississippi State, improving to 3-0 in conference.

*Vanderbilt @ Tennessee

Both teams would have rather seen Vandy knock off Kentucky Saturday and roll into Knoxville undefeated. These two rivals will give a spirited effort as always as 2 of the most potent offenses in conference go head to head. In Knoxville though, inspired by a loud, raucous crowd, the Vols will handle their business on their home court.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Terrell Owens, Disingenuous Clown

It's always great to see the Cowboys lose anything, but their mounting playoff losing streak is becoming more and more enjoyable each year. Couple that with TO "crying" after the game, and you've got yourself a winner.

And, while we're on the topic, is he really telling reporters not to point the finger at the QB? Since when did TO become the defender of the QB? His track record of throwing good guys like Donovan McNabb and Jeff Garcia under the bus make yesterday's pleading pure comedy. That's the equivalent of Bobby Petrino or Nick Saban lecturing a coach for abandoning a team in the middle of the night or Lynne Spears complaining that someone's kid is acting up.

Hey, TO, get your popcorn ready...

College Basketball Rankings (Jan. 14)

Another week gone by, and still just 3 ranked SEC teams. Tennessee is steadily climbing the polls, while Vandy and Ole Miss mostly held steady after each suffered their first
loss of the season last week. A big week for Florida would land them back in the polls as the check in at 28/27 this week and Arkansas is back in the ARV column after its 2-0 start to conference season.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Random Crap for 1/13/07

* Shiny-headed blowhard Paul Finebaum ranks the SEC football coaches in a seemingly random and nonsensical order

* CSTV released their first bracket preview and 5 SEC teams are in

* According to Fox Sports, a pair of Commodores are in the running for national player of the year.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Weekend Basketball Games (1/12-13)

Auburn @ Florida
A depleted Tiger squad that just played yesterday with only a handful of scholarship players must now travel to the home of the 2-time defending national champions. This one could really ugly as the Gators like to run and AU has no depth. Gators win big.

Vanderbilt @ Kentucky
A win over the undefeated Commodores would begin to alleviate some of the immense pressure and scrutiny that UK HC Billy Gillespie is facing. Too bad it’s not going to happen. The ‘Cats – even at home – will have no answer for the ‘Dores’ dynamic duo of Foster and Ogilsvy.

Georgia @ Mississippi State
Fresh off a win over arch rival Georgia Tech, the UGA ‘Dawgs must now travel to the hostile environment at the Hump. MSU surrendered just 39 points last game – albeit to LSU – but UGA will have their work cut out for them. No way MSU drops this one at home.

LSU @ Ole Miss
Can we now stop asking “Is Ole Miss for real?” Wednesday’s near upset of UT in Knoxville should silence that for the season. While they’ll certainly have some sort of let down after the emotion of that game, who better to have it against than an injury-depleted team that couldn’t score 40 points at home Wednesday and is coached by John Brady. This will be a close competition with AU @ UF for biggest blowout of weekend.

Tennessee @ South Carolina
The Vols, fresh off dealing Ole Miss their first loss of the season better not get caught daydreaming of doing the same to Vandy midweek next week. The Gamecocks are not great, but they’re capable of an upset if the Vols try to sleepwalk through this one. No way Bruce Pearl lets that happen though.

Alabama @ Arkansas (SUNDAY)
Alabama is fresh off blowing a game against Florida. Arkansas had to hang on to beat a depleted AU squad. Still, it was a step in the right direction for the Hogs, considering their road conference record of late. Back home in Bud Walton, the Tide – without a reliable PG – will succumb to the pressure of the Razorbacks.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Jim Rome on the BCS Championship Game

Few sports talk figures divide a room like Jim Rome, but unless you're a fan of the abomination that is Big 10 football, it's hard not to at least chuckle at this "rant" from Tuesday. Basically, it implores Ohio State to decline a BCS berth next season if they have to play an SEC team. 0-9 all-time against the SEC in bowl games has long since surpassed coincidence. You're not good enough, fast enough, strong enough, or tough enough to be on the field with an SEC team. Please spare us, the viewing public, your humiliating efforts.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

And we're off...

The Gators made a nice comeback last night and Alabama managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory last night. Despite a career night from Alonzo Gee, the Tide's turnovers and poor FT shooting led to another disappointing loss.

Here's how the rest of the mid-week games will go...

*Mississippi State @ LSU
While road wins are typically hard to come by, any wins will be hard for LSU now that conference season has started up. According to HC Brady, they’re having trouble “finding 10 guys to practice with.” Jamont Gordon should have a big game in this one and the Bulldogs pick up the win.

*South Carolina @ Vanderbilt
The Commodores survived the non-conference schedule unscathed. Unless their minds are already in Lexington for Saturday’s game against Kentucky, no way Shan Foster and A.J. Ogilsvy let the Gamecocks steal this win. Devan Downey plays well for USC, but Vanderbilt wins fairly comfortably.

*Ole Miss @ Tennessee
When the schedule was released, no one foresaw this as a potential SEC Game of the Year, with just one loss between the two teams. The Rebels have been the surprise of the conference, but their young guards have never been to an environment as big, loud, and hostile as Knoxville. It’ll be a great learning experience for them, but Tennessee’s pressure D will their undoing. The Vols win this one.

*Arkansas @ Auburn
If the Tigers are going to have a successful conference season, they’ll have to win their home games, even without All-SEC F Korvotney Barber. These are two of the league’s most experienced teams, but the Hogs bring more talent and firepower to the floor. The Hogs will win a hard-fought battle and pick up an early, critical road win.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

SEC Basketball Tip-off

Florida @ Alabama
8:00 CST, ESPN

What a perfect lead in... the SEC claims a 2nd consecutive national title in football last night and tonight, the 2-time defending basketball champs open conference play on the road in Tuscaloosa. These aren't last year's Gators though. While they'll have a better overall season than the Tide, something tells me that Hendrix and Gee are going to be too much for the young Gators to overcome tonight. Alabama wins a close game.

2008 SEC Basketball Preview

While the conference is down this year as a whole, the SEC is the only conference with 2 undefeated teams – Ole Miss and Vanderbilt. The divisional battles should be highly entertaining as well. Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, and Arkansas appear to be the class of the SEC, but Mississippi State has been playing much better as of late.

Conference play tips off Tuesday night when the Gators travel to Tuscaloosa. The rest of the league gets started Wednesday night. Here’s a look at how conference play will shake out 16 games from now…

1. Tennessee – they were the preseason pick of nearly everyone to win the East – as well as the conference – and they’ve done nothing to make me think they won’t. Their one loss is to a very good Texas team that’s better than anyone the Vols will face in conference. They’ll need preseason All-America Chris Lofton to snap out of his shooting slump (34.4% from the floor, 33% on 3s) to live up to their preseason hype, but they have talent to do so. The conference’s best shot at a Final Four Team.
Significant Wins: West Virginia(N), @Xavier, Gonzaga(N)
Bad Losses: None

2. Vanderbilt – Coming off a season in which they were denied an Elite 8 berth by a curious no-travelling call on Georgetown’s Jeff Green, no one knew what to make of the ‘Dores’ chances this year, particular with the graduation of top scorer Derrick Byars. Those questions have been answered and more. Led by Senior Shan Foster and true freshman Andrew Olgilvy (ranked 1st and 2nd in scoring in the conference), The ‘Dores are one of just 6 undefeated teams left in the nation. It remains to be seen if they have the talent to take down the Vols in the East, but they’ll certainly be ranked and dancing at year’s end.
Significant Wins: South Alabama, @DePaul, UMass
Bad Losses: None

3. Florida – The 2-time defending national champs are nowhere near where they were the last 2 seasons. But who would be losing what they lost last year? They play a bunch of talented – but very young – guys who will have their ups and downs this season. This was obvious in blowout losses at home to Florida State and on the road against Ohio State. HC Donovan knows his way around the conference though, and while they’ll take their lumps at time this season, they’ll certainly be back among the nation’s elite next season. True freshman Nick Calathes (15ppg, 6apg, 5rpg) is a true star in the making.
Significant Wins: None
Bad Losses: Combined 100 pts in losses to Florida State and @Ohio State

4. Kentucky – Not what the Big Blue Nation had in mind when Billy Gillispie to be the savior of the program. He has not gelled with the holdouts from Tubby Smith’s tenure and UK has compiled a list of embarrassing losses to prove it. There’s even a song about it. Fortunately for the ‘Cats, the bottom of the SEC East borders on wretched, and there’s still enough talent the team to finish 4th in the division. Freshman Patrick Patterson (17ppg, 8rpg, 2 apg) has been the lone bright spot for UK this season.
Significant Wins: None
Bad Losses: Gardner-Webb, San Diego, blowout loss to IU

5. South Carolina – Cincinnati’s firing of Bobby Huggins paid immediate dividend for Ole Miss, as the Rebels snagged Bearcats’ interim coach Andy Kennedy, who promptly led the Rebels to a division title and SEC Coach of the year. The Gamecocks are benefitting this year as UC transfer Devan Downey has become USC’s go-to guy in his first year in Columbia. He’s leading the Gamecocks in scoring, assists, and steals and ranks in the top 6 in the SEC each of those categories. The Gamecocks though will be without the nation’s leading 3 point shooter (Brandis Raley-Ross, knee injury) for the first couple of weeks of January and will struggle against teams with solid inside players.
Significant Wins: @Providence
Bad Losses: UNC-Asheville

6. Georgia – What was set to be a breakout season for HC Dennis Felton and the ‘Dawgs has turned into a nightmare. Mike Mercer and Takais Brown, leading scorers from last season, were kicked off the team before the season started, and now 7’0 freshman Rashaad Singleton has quit the team in search of more PT at another school. While they still have quality players in Sundiata Gaines and Billy Humphrey, they don’t have the depth to compete over a 16-game schedule.
Significant Wins: Wake Forest
Bad Losses:ETSU

1. Arkansas - While Ole Miss may be the only ranked (and undefeated) team in the SEC West, the Hogs return basically their entire team from last season’s NCAA tourney berth. They’ve been up and down in the early season, but their core players have been through the rigors of the SEC before and that should give them the advantage over the young Rebels down the stretch. Patrick Beverly, Darrian Townes, Sonny Weems lead a balanced Razorback attack.
Significant Wins: Missouri, Baylor
Bad Losses:Appalachian State

2. Ole Miss – What else can you say about Andy Kennedy? The upstart Rebels enter conference play undefeated and ranked #15 in the country. They’re big in the middle, getting solid play and a lot of minutes from 3 senior big men, including All-SEC performer Dwayne Curtis. Their guards are very young though, which may spell trouble down the line. Sophomore SG Eniel Polynice missed a triple double by 1 assist earlier this season, so he represents the Rebs’ best all-around threat. While they enter conference play as the West favorite, their youth and inexperience may cost them critical games and drop them to 2nd in the West.
Significant Wins: New Mexico, Clemson, South Alabama
Bad Losses: None

3. Mississippi State – This was supposed to be a big season for the ‘Dawgs, but it hasn’t panned out that way. At least not yet. Losing the Delk brothers before the season hurt their depth and may have contributed to some of their early season stumbles. G/F Jamont Gordon is one the best players in the conference and is an all-around threat, so more effective when not handling the ball. He’s putting up great stats (17.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 4.6 apg) so far and will key to the Bulldogs making a run at defending their SEC West title. MSU is good enough to finish in the top half of the SEC West, but not the top 2.
Significant Wins: Missouri
Bad Losses: Miami (OH)

4. Alabama – Richard Hendrix is the SEC Player of the Year so far. He’s averaging 19 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 2 bpg, and is shooting 63.2% despite facing double- and triple-teams every time he touches the ball. He and teammate Alonzo Gee rank 1st and 2nd in the conference in rebounding, and – along with sharpshooter Mykal Riley – form a dangerous scoring combination. Unfortunately, they’re playing without Ronald Steele, their All-SEC PG. The lack of a steady ball handler will spell doom in close games, particularly on the road. Those losses will drop the Tide to 4th in the West.
Significant Wins: None
Bad Losses: Belmont, 26-pt home loss to Clemson

5. Auburn – Prior to the season, Auburn looked like they could be this year’s surprise team. They had basically their entire team back from last season and a manageable schedule. That was to put to rest with a bad loss to Tulane to open the season and the humbling blowout to West Virginia. Now, with Korvotney Barber out for a month, the Tigers will be without the nation’s leading FG% guy for the first several games of conference. That spells trouble.
Significant Wins: None
Bad Losses: 29-pt loss to WVU, 23-pt loss to Xavier at home

6. LSU – Unfortunately for LSU HC John Brady, tonight’s BCS Championship game marks the end of LSU’s football season. Until baseball starts up, all eyes will be on him and his team, which has been just this side of abysmal this season. While the schedule has been tough, the blowout losses are mounting. And with All-SEC forward Tasmin Mitchell on the shelf for the season with an ankle injury, things will be very ugly on the bayou this basketball season. If – and that’s a big IF – Brady survives the season, I can't see him surviving more than a few days after the SEC Tourney ends.
Significant Wins: None
Bad Losses: 20-pt loss @Wichita State, @Tulane, 26-pt loss @Texas A&M

Updated Bowl Records over the last Decade

Ok... now does anyone actually believe that the Buckeyes were one of the best 2 teams in the country? I guess it was an improved performance over last year's game, but they still proved to be slow. Homer Herbstriet can spin all he wants, but THE Ohio State University had no business being in any BCS bowl, let alone the title game...

Anyway, here's an updated chart of all the overall records of the 6 BCS conferences - ACC, Big10, Big12, Big East, Pac-10, SEC - against each other in bowl games the last 10 years, as well as their all time BCS numbers.

When you look at the final bowl tallies (including BCS games)...
SEC: 44-30 (59.4%)
Big12: 33-32 (50.7%)
PAC10: 20-20 (50%)
BigEast: 19-18 (51.4%)
ACC: 24-28 (46.1%)
Big10: 28-38 (42.4%)

... then just the BCS records...
SEC: 11-4 (73.3%), 4 BCS Titles
PAC10: 8-4 (66.7%), 1 BCS Title
BigEast: 6-4 (60%), 1 BCS Title
Big10: 8-8 (50%), 1 BCS Title (pass interference? really?)
Big12: 6-8 (42.9%), 2 BCS Titles
ACC: 1-9 (10%), 1 BCS Title

...the answer is obvious no matter how you break down the stats. The SEC has been the dominant conference in college football over the last decade. Four national titles in 10 years is impressive, particularly as parity continues to reign. More importantly, there is nothing to indicate that the trend is tailing off. Georgia will certainly be a top 3 team before the start of next season, and a handful of other conference teams will have legitimate national title aspirations.

Bragging Rights: A Season Inside the SEC, College Football's Toughest Conference

Sunday, January 6, 2008

A look at the BCS Championship Game

LSU (11-2, 6-2)
Ohio State University (11-1)
New Orleans, LA
Today’s Line: LSU -4

LSU Tiger Rankings: (Conference, Nationally)
Total Offense: 448.2 (3rd, 21st)
Offensive PPG: 38.7 (3rd, 12th)
Total Defense: 283.8 (1st,3rd)
Defensive PPG: 19.6 (2nd, 20th)

Ohio State Buckeye Rankings: (Conference, Nationally)
Total Offense: 397.1 (8th, 59th)
Offensive PPG: 32.0 (3rd, 36th)
Total Defense: 225.3 (1st, 1st)
Defensive PPG: 10.7 (1st, 1st)

It’s finally time to put a nightcap on this crazy football season and send it to bed. One final bowl game remains and it’s for all the marbles. The winner will be the first team to win a 2nd BCS Championship.

LSU has a clear advantage in that the game is being played in its backyard, much like their 2004 victory over Oklahoma. They’ll have the overwhelming majority of the crowd there and that could prove to be the deciding factor. Well, that, and the fact that the perennially overrated Buckeyes are 0-8 all-time against the SEC in bowl games. And the fact that no one Ohio State has played this year is as big, strong, fast, and talented as the Tigers. Sure the coach is a little nutty and doesn’t always take the safe way out, but the Magic 8Ball has one more good game left in it… right?

The Buckeyes will tell you they went 4-0 against ranked teams during the season. When examined a little closer though, only 1 of those teams – Wisconsin – finished the season ranked. They also lost to Illinois, which was the only other Big 10+1 to finish the season ranked. LSU, meanwhile, played 4 teams that finished ranked in the Top 25, so they’re much more battle tested. There’s also rested and healed – including stars Glen Dorsey and Early Doucet – so the Tigers will be playing with a full deck for the first time since the early season.

Look for LSU to control the line on both sides of the ball with their speed and quickness. Give the Buckeyes credit for getting back to the title game after losing Heisman winner Troy Smith last year, but take it all back for losing yet another bowl to the SEC.

Dead Guy sees:
LSU 17
tOSU 10

As an aside, even though this is the BCS Championship game, and the winner takes home the shiny trophy and gets a year of bragging rights, you’ll never convince me that either of these teams is the best in the country. Congratulations to whoever wins, but count your blessings there’s no playoff.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

OU beatdown

Photo by Mr2Cents

While I really don't care about West Virginia football, I will almost always pull for anybody playing Oklahoma and the always overrated Bob Stoops. Back to back years now, OU has laid a giant egg in the Fiesta Bowl, getting manhandled by West Virginia last night and losing to WAC team last year. It was thoroughly enjoyable to see yet another Stoops team be woefully unprepared for a bowl and his inability to make in-game adjustments. The failed onside kick was pure comedy gold.

By the way, why does Bob Stoops keep his watch and wallet on a plate?
If he put them in a bowl, he'd lose them...

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Is There any Doubt we Need a Playoff?

After attempting to watch and remain interested in 2 highly unentertaining BCS bowl games, the need for a playoff is more obvious than ever. I know BCS sunshine pumpers like this guy want to argue, but after yesterday's blowouts, it's hard to argue the BCS didn't lose a heaping chunk of its already waning credibility.

Let me preface this by saying I understand the BCS is significantly better than the old way. It does attempt to give us a 1-2 game, which is more than we had before. Now, that being said, just because it's better doesn't mean it's time to stop evolving it. Can you honestly tell me that USC and Georgia aren't playing better than Ohio State and LSU right now?

Another major argument from BCS proponents is that a playoff would cheapen the regular season. Every game is a must win for title contenders as they navigate towards a top 2 placement in the final BCS standings. If there were a playoff, the regular season games wouldn't mean as much. Tell that to the Auburn fans who watched their team pour their guts out for 14 games in 2004 and go undefeated in the SEC and beat Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl, but somehow were denied a chance to even play for the national title.

USC's victory may be a little tainted because Illinois had no business whatsoever in the Rose Bowl in the first place. Let's call them this year's Notre Dame. Giving the bowl committees the power to select the teams that play in their games as opposed to the teams that most deserve to be there is a huge strike against the BCS. Missouri dominated Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl and beat both Illinois and Kansas (Orange Bowl participant) on a neutral field. Missouri finished 6th in the BCS standings. Kansas finished 8th. Illinois finished 13th. I'd love for a BCS Sunshine Pumper to justify that for me...

Georgia, meanwhile, has been the best team in the country since an inexplicable hiccup in Knoxville in early October. They'd won 6 straight heading into the Sugar Bowl last night where they proceeded to dominate an undefeated Hawaii team. The Warriors 10 points was 18 points lower than their previous season low. They'd scored 50 or more 4x this season, yet mustered just one TD against the 'Dawgs. Had the Vols not handled business down the stretch, it's a safe assumption UGA would have manhandled LSU in the SEC Championship game.

So I hope the BCS committee and their supporters are satisfied. They brought us two remarkably bad bowl games yesterday featuring two great teams and two teams that didn't deserve to be there. While tonight's Fiesta Bowl has the potential to be entertaining, the upcoming Orange Bowl will certainly be one of the lowest rated BCS games in history. Early next week, LSU and tOSU will play for the national title. Regardless of who wins, you'll never convince me that they're the best team in the country.

But hey... at least it's better than it used to be.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A look at the New Year's Day Bowls

As usual, life got in the way of blogging last night, so no in-depth preview of the 4 SEC Bowl games today. Here's a brief look at each...

Outback: Tennessee vs Wisconsin
Even without leading receiver Lucas Taylor, QB Erik Ainge should have enough weapons to exploit a Big10 defense. The speed of the SEC was very evident yesterday in Kentucky and Auburn's wins over ACC teams. It'll be more obvious against the Big10.

Dead Guy sees:
Tennessee 27
Wisconsin 17

Cotton: Arkansas vs Missouri
This is the only bowl game remaining that I originally picked the SEC to lose. The Hogs are without their coach (which may not be a bad thing considering his bowl record) and without a QB, but that's how they've played - and won - all year. Mizzou may be somewhat disappointed to not be in a BCS game, but they'll still have enough to get by the Hogs in what should be a high-scoring affair.

Dead Guy sees:
Missouri 35
Arkansas 33

Capital One: Florida vs Michigan
This will basically amount to home game for the Gators as they send Michigan coach Lloyd Carr off into the sunset. The Wolverines have done well historically against the SEC, but have not done well against the spread offense this year (see: State, Appalachian). Last I checked, Florida runs the spread fairly decently. While talent wise, the Gators look much better on paper, the Wolverines will play over their heads for their departing coach. It won't be enough though.

Dead Guy sees:
Florida 34
Michigan 28

Sugar: Georgia vs Hawaii
The Dawgs have been the SEC's best bowl team over the last decade, going 8-2 in 10 games. They'll have their hands full as they take on an explosive Hawai'i team led by Heisman finalist QB Colt Brennan. While the Rainbow Warriors will score a bunch of points, they will be woefully unprepared for aforementioned SEC speed. RB Moreno will have a huge game, and the Bulldogs will use this game as a springboard for a legitimate run at a national title in 2009.

Dead Guy sees:
Georgia 45
Hawai'i 31