Sunday, August 31, 2008

SEC Football: Week 1 Grades

Alabama: A+
Hard to call that game an upset. I don't think there's any doubt the better team won that game, which really shows the discrepancy between the SEC and a weaker conference like the ACC. The Tide executed nearly flawlessly on offense and defense, holding the Purple Pant Pansies of Clemson to 0 rushing yards while rolling up 239 of their own. Major statement game for the Tide.

Vanderbilt: A
Yes, it was against a MAC team, but the 'Dores thrashed an opponent on the road with nearly 270 yards rushing and forcing 3 turnovers. In what is supposed to be a worse year than normal in Nashville, this was an impressive opening statement.

Florida: B+
Anytime you go on a 56-0 run over 2 quarters, you'll earn a nice grade. The maligned defense played well, giving up only 240 yards of offense and forcing 6 turnovers. Much of that had to do with the opponent, but it had to be encouraging for the Gator Nation to see those kinds of numbers. Only reason they didn't get an "A" was the quality of opponent.

Georgia: B+
Ho hum game for the 'Dawgs. Played it very safe with Moreno - only 8 carries - but he still managed 3 TDs. Stafford was efficient, throwing for 275 yards. D didn't give up anything until it was 38-0.

Kentucky: B+
Whodathunkit? The Big Blue winning it with a hard hitting defense? The D needed to be great as the offense produced just 210 yards. UK did force 5 Louisville turnovers though and held the Cardinals to 205 yds.

Ole Miss: B+
"Ed Who?" was probably muttered around Oxford last night as the new look Rebels rolled up 438 yards of offense in Houston Nutt's debut. The 41 points is the most the Rebels have scored since Eli's senior year. The defense needs some tightening up - 450 yds allowed - but they forced turnovers to negate some of those yards.

Impressive day for LSU in the trenches and running the ball, which should come as no surprise. They struggled throwing the ball though - 13/24 for 193 yards between the 2 QBs - but against App State, it din't matter. If the QBs develop, LSU will be scary as usual.

Auburn: B-
Breaking in two new coordinators and an overhauled offense, the Tigers shut out a decent opponent and rushed the ball for 321 yards. The passing game needs some work though - 13/27 for 85 yards between the 2 QBs, and most of that came in the 4th quarter. The Tigers managed only 3 first downs passing. The defense and running game were both dominant.

South Carolina: B-
Strange to give a 5 TD shutout over a BCS-opponent just a B-, but anyone who watched the game knows why. The USC D was awesome... and they had to be. The offense was terrible until garbage time. Lots of work still to be done in Columbia.

Arkansas: D
Under no circumstances should an SEC team need to score a TD with less than two minutes left in a game to beat a team called the Leathernecks. None whatsoever. Hog fans have been clamoring for more pass attempts... Well, I hope they're happy. 41 attempts and 300+ yds. Of course, they only mustered 76 yds rushing and were -3 on turnovers and only had the ball 23 minutes. But at least you threw the ball more, right Hog fans?

Tennessee: D
Can't give UT an "F" as they were breaking in a new OC and QB thousands of miles away from home on opening day, but this was a disappointing loss. The D picked off 4 passes in the first half and the Vols still couldn't deliver a win here. Fulmer was outcoached by Neuheisal, and that's bad.

Mississippi State: F
By the same token, no SEC team should lose to Louisiana Tech anywhere. The Bulldogs are now facing a major uphill battle to prove that last season was not a fluke.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Week 1 2008 Picks

It’s finally here. You can wax poetic about the sights/sounds/smells about this time of year if you want, but the bottom line is that it’s finally here. Nothing else to say about it. Let the games begin.

Correct picks marked in green. Incorrect picks marked in red.

Vanderbilt (0-0, 0-0) at Miami (OH) (0-0)
All Time Series: Vanderbilt 2-1
Wednesday’s Line: Miami (OH) -4

Vandy opens life A.E. (After Earl) in Oxford, OH. Without their two main offensive cogs from last season – WR Earl Bennett and RB Cassen Jackson-Garrison - they’ll be searching for something of an offensive identity . While QBs Chris Nickson and Mackenzi Adams are back, they’ll be taking snaps behind an offensive line that returns just 3 career starts. Meanwhile, the Redhawks will be looking to bounce back from back to back losing seasons.

Vandy won its second season opener since 1997 last year, but they won’t do it again this year. Too many question marks for the ‘Dores as a long season begins.

(Sidenote: the 6 people in the country who get ESPNU will get to watch this game in HD)

Straight Up Winner: Miami (OH)
Against the Spread: Miami (OH)

North Carolina State (0-0, 0-0) at South Carolina (0-0)
7:00 CDT, ESPN
All Time Series: NC State 26-25-4
Wednesday’s Line: South Carolina -14

The Gamecocks are chomping at the bit to get back out on the field and erase the sting of the last 5 games of 2007. They’ll be eased back into things against an NC State squad returning just 10 starters from last year. USC will need to get their QB questions answered this week as they have important divisional matchups the next two weeks. A weak Wolfpack D should be just the ticket. New DC Ellis Johnson should have an easy time with the Wolfpack as well.

The line is bigger than I’d like. With important games coming the next two weeks, the OBC will probably run a vanilla offense. NCST is bad enough on defense though so it shouldn’t matter though.

Straight Up Winner: South Carolina
Against the Spread: South Carolina

Hawaii (0-0, 0-0) at (#5,#5) Florida (0-0)
11:30 CDT, RayCom
All Time Series: First Meeting
Wednesday’s Line: Florida -35.5

A year ago, this game may have been interesting. Hawaii’s high powered aerial attack against Florida’s young DBs combined with the Tebow show might have broken the scoreboard. This year…. Not so much. Hawaii returns just 8 starters as well as a new coaching staff. Both sides of the ball for the Gators will basically just go through the motions in this one. This will be a good game for the Gator D to build some confidence heading into next week’s showdown with Miami.

Again, a bigger line than you want here. Looking at Florida scores against lesser foes in the Urban Meyer-era though, there’s no reason think they won’t cover this spread. They’ve won their last 10 season openers by an average of 36ppg.

Straight Up Winner: Florida
Against the Spread: Florida

Georgia Southern (0-0, 0-0) at (#1,#1) Georgia (0-0)
11:30 CDT, PPV
All Time Series: Georgia 3-0
Wednesday’s Line: No Line

This one won’t be pretty. The Dawgs should end this one quickly. Not really sure what else to say about this one. It’s the #1 team in the land vs a 1AA team that went 7-4 last year.

Straight Up Winner: Georgia
Against the Spread: N/A

Appalachian State (0-0, 0-0) at (#7,#6) LSU(0-0)
10:00 CDT, ESPN (moved up due to Gustav)
All Time Series: LSU 1-0
Wednesday’s Line: No Line

The Tigers kick off their quest to defend their BCS title against the reigning 1AA champs. The Mountaineers were Hot, Hot, Hot in knocking off Michigan last year to open the season, but don’t look for a repeat this year. Even as LSU struggles to find the right offensive mix, their OL and DL will dominate this game. It may not always be pretty, and the Mountaineers certainly won’t go down without a fight, but LSU will pull away in the end of this one.

Straight Up Winner: LSU
Against the Spread: N/A

Mississippi State (0-0, 0-0) at Louisiana Tech (0-0)
5:45 CDT, ESPN
All Time Series: MSU 7-2
Wednesday’s Line: Mississippi State -8

MSU will be the first BCS team to ever play in Joe Aillet Stadium when they take on the Bulldogs of LTU. One thing’s for certain about this game: Mississippi State will score in a season-opening game for the first time since 2005. How much they score remains to be seen. LTU’s not returning much on defense – just 5 starters – and with another full year of development in the system, the general assumption would be that MSU will be at least a little better on offense this year. Even if the offense struggles at times, the MSU defense (even without Pegues) will be strong enough to win this game for them.

Straight Up Winner: Mississippi State
Against the Spread: Mississippi State

Western Illinois (0-0, 0-0) at Arkansas (0-0)
6:00 CDT, No TV
All Time Series: First Meeting
Wednesday’s Line: No Line

Another ho-hum game. The Hogs get to run up the score on a subpar 1AA. The only interesting about this game would be seeing an Arkansas QB throw the ball more than he hands off.

Straight Up Winner: Arkansas
Against the Spread: N/A

Louisiana-Monroe (0-0, 0-0) at (#10,#11) Auburn(0-0)
6:00 CDT, PPV
All Time Series: Auburn 6-0
Wednesday’s Line: Auburn – 26.5

For a day last year, Auburn fans loved ULM. Their win in Tuscaloosa may have softened the blow of the UGA blowout a bit. Now, they have to hope their team doesn’t let it happen to them. ULM returns the majority of its starters from last year’s 6-6 team. AU’s defense is too strong to let an upset happen here, even if the offense isn’t completely adjusted to the spread. I do think that ULM’s defense is good enough to keep the final score under the line. Four touchdowns is too many points to give for Auburn at this stage of the season.

Straight Up Winner: Auburn
Against the Spread: Louisiana Monroe

Memphis (0-0, 0-0) at Ole Miss (0-0)
6:00 CDT, PPV
All Time Series: Ole Miss 45-10-2
Wednesday’s Line: Ole Miss -7.5

As bad as the Ed Orgeron era was in Oxford, he did manage to go 3-0 against Memphis. New coach Houston Nutt looks to continue that this year with a team of unproven but talented players. In addition to injuries along the front 7, a major concern for Ole Miss is Memphis’ tall receivers against their DBs. Memphis is also breaking in a new QB so nobody’s really sure what will happen. My guess is that the domination continues.

Straight Up Winner: Ole Miss
Against the Spread: Ole Miss

(#9,#9) Clemson (0-0, 0-0) at (#24,NR) Alabama (0-0) (Atlanta)
7:00 CDT, ABC
All Time Series: Alabama 11-3
Wednesday’s Line: Clemson -4.5

The Tide renews its rivalry with Clemson for the first time since 1975 this weekend in Atlanta. In what should be one of the best games of the weekend across the country – GameDay is there – Nick Saban will looking for his first big win as head coach of the Tide. Unfortunately, I just don’t see it happening this weekend. I’m not convinced that John Parker Wilson can win a big game for the Tide and with the experienced/talented defense of Clemson, they’re going to stack the middle to take away the run game and dare JPW to throw at their talented DBs.

It’s inevitable that Clemson is going to lose a stupid game this year… that’s just what they do. They’ve beaten the first ranked opponent they’ve played each of the last 4 seasons and they’ll do the same this season. If it were later in the year, I think Alabama would probably get it done, but Clemson is a little farther along at this point.

Straight Up Winner: Clemson
Against the Spread: Clemson

Kentucky (0-0, 0-0) at Louisville (0-0)
2:30 CDT, ESPN
All Time Series: Kentucky 11-9
Wednesday’s Line: Louisville -3.5

Kentucky ventures down to Louisville Sunday afternoon to take on a cardinal team looking to a) get revenge for UK’s upset win last year and b) wipe away the 2007 season as a whole. They’ve won 5 straight home openers and have pummeled UK the last two times the Governor’s Cup has been held in Louisville. I don’t see this one going well for UK. They’re going to have to try and win the game on the defensive side of the ball, which has not been a strong suit for them lately. They’ll struggle offensively, even against an average Cardinal defense, but in the end, turn it over one too many times to pull the road upset.

Straight Up Winner: Louisville
Against the Spread: Louisville

(#18, #18) Tennessee (0-0, 0-0) at UCLA (0-0)
7:00 CDT, ESPN
All Time Series: Tennessee 7-4-2
Wednesday’s Line: Tennessee -4.0

The Vols will trek cross country for a second straight season opener, though they hope this one will go a little better than last year’s game against Cal. And it should. Even though they’ll be breaking in a new OC and a new QB, you’ll never convince me that UCLA HC Neuheisal is anything more than a slimy used car salesman. His success has always been contingent on walking into a good situation (which he hasn’t here) and as soon as he screws it up (which he always does) he bolts. While the Vols aerial attack finds its rhythm, look for RB Foster to shred UCLA’s front 7. This one should be a 10-14 point win for UT.

Straight Up Winner: Tennessee
Against the Spread: Tennessee

Monday, August 25, 2008

2008 Scoring Projections

One of the biggest stories in the SEC last year was the sharp increase in offense across the conference. As a whole, scoring was up more than 23%, with 9 teams increasing their PPG average from 2006 to 2007. Only Vandy, Auburn, and South Carolina took a step backwards.

It’ll be interesting to track the same stat this year. With the exception of Stafford and Tebow, the conference is basically bereft of proven QBs*. Sure there's talent - Snead and Crompton immediately come to mind - but they've yet to get it done on the field. With coaching and personnel changes from last season to this one, there are a handful of teams set to make big jumps – for better or for worse:
* Alabama fans, spare me the JPW emails please


The Tigers struggled early on last season and lost games to Mississippi State and South Florida at home before thing started to click. The Tigers were one of the three teams in the league to score less than they did in 2006, but 2008 will be just the opposite. With the implementation of the spread offense and nearly the entire offense back, the Tigers will definitely improve this season

Ole Miss:
The last 3 years in Oxford have not been pretty, and that’s being nice. The Rebels were actually one of the most improved scoring teams last year, despite ranking last in the SEC, scoring only 20.1 ppg. With the coaching changes and a stable of under-utilized talent though, the Rebels could make the biggest jump of any team in conference this season.


Fans in Lexington won’t recognize the ‘Cats offense this season. With Woodson, Johnson, Burton, and Little gone, UK will spend much of the season looking for an identity on offense. The dismissal of QB-heir-apparent Pulley certainly didn’t help their cause.

While Petrino has a reputation for being an offensive genius, he’s just not working with a lot this season in Fayetteville. With no DMac or Felix Jones, the Hogs have no proven offensive weapons. It could be a long year offensively for Arknasas.

It's finally here

And so concludes the final college football-free weekend until mid-December. Vanderbilt kicks off the full slate of SEC action this weekend with a Thursday night trek to Oxford, OH, to take on Miami(OH).

Like last year, predictions and breakdowns will be up each Wednesday.

Also, don't forget to join the Dead Guy's College Pick 'Em Group on

Monday, August 18, 2008

Random Randomness

* CBS may have accidentally leaked their 2008 SEC schedule. Being the defending BCS champs sure has its advantages... (big h/t to Saturday in the South)

*Dennis Dodd new 25 Things features a lot of SEC tidbits

* Fox Sports looks at the 10 Rising College Football coaches and - not surprisingly - former Auburn DC Will Muschamp is listed at #3. What is a little surprising is that his next "Logical Step" is the head coach at Tennessee. While he's most likely an up and coming star, I have two issues with that: a) Fulmer is not going anywhere anytime too soon and b) when he does, UT is not going to hire an unproven assistant. Nebraska did last year with Pellini, but the Tennessee program is much better off than Nebraska right now. They'd have the clout and bank roll to bring on a proven winner.

As an aside, for my money, give me their #6: Cincinnati's Brian Kelly

* Randy Hill thinks the Big 12 is stronger than the SEC. Call when someone out there starts playing defense

* CNNSI ranks the top 10 players in the SEC. I for one am shocked at their choice for #1

*Forbes magazine ranks Nick Saban the most powerful coach in all of sports

* Got 32 years to kill and an understanding significant other? Go see all 119 D1A teams play like this guy did

Sunday, August 17, 2008

2008 SEC West Predictions

Every team in the West has questions this year - How will Auburn do running the spread for a full season? What kind of production will LSU get from its QBs? Will Alabama greatly improve in year 2 under Nick Saban? Can Houston Nutt win in Oxford with the talent Orgeron left him? How will Mississippi State score this year? How will Bobby Petrino do with inferior talent?

1. Auburn
Tuberville has established Auburn as one of the most consistent programs in America, but he shook things up last year after the Iron Bowl to implement the spread offense. They return nearly everyone on offense, so the transition should be a smooth one, but how it holds up for 12+ games remains to be seen. With all their tough games (except Alabama) at home, Auburn should win the West.

Best Case Scenario:
Kodi Burns steps in and plays like he's capable, the defense is strong, the Iron Bowl domination continues, and they end the season in the Sugar Bowl.

Worst Case Scenario:
The offense sputters like it did early last season, the Tigers are embarrassed on national TV by West Virginia, the Iron Bowl trophy goes back to Tuscaloosa, and AU finishes the season in Shreveport

2. LSU
The defending BCS Champs will have a very different look this season with so many key departures from last season. They'll still field one of the top OLs and DLs in the SEC -thus the country - and have their typical stable of talented RBs. Now it's just a question of who's going to be under center. With road games at Auburn, Florida, and South Carolina in a 4-game stretch, it's hard to see the Bayou Bengals repeating as division champs.

Best Case Scenario
Steady QB play couple with trench-dominating lines lead LSU back to the BCS

Worst Case Scenario
Les Miles' magic 8-ball coaching decisions don't pan out like they did nearly every single time last year, QB play is sketchy, and the tough schedule proves too much and LSU winds up in Nashville

3. Alabama
Year 2 of the Nick Saban era begins with the Tide still sporting more talent than last year's team, a nice tandem of RBs and one of the most experienced QBs in the league. The Tide should be better this season and should will finish with back-to-back winning seasons for the second time since 1996. It's certainly not outside the realm of possibility that the Tide could compete for the West, but road games at UGA, Tennessee, and LSU make it unlikely.

Best Case Scenario
Knocking off perennially overrated Clemson to open the season, finally beating Auburn, and facing UF in the SEC Championship Game

Worst Case Scenario
Bookend blowout losses to the season, ending up in the Bowl or equivalent because Shreveport doesn't want them again

4. Ole Miss
After 3 of the worst non-Vandy years in recent SEC memory, Ole Miss fired Ed Orgeron and brought in Houston Nutt. Orgeron left plenty of talent for Nutt to work with, though much of it unproven, particularly in the offensive backfield. With a manageable schedule, the Rebels could be bowling by season's end, though that's certainly no guarantee. Nutt's teams always seems to knock off someone they're not supposed, but by the same token, he often drops the inexplicable games too.

Best Case Scenario
If everyone buys into the system and performs like they're capable, the Rebels could win 7-8 games this year and wind up in Memphis for the Liberty Bowl

Worst Case Scenario
QB Snead doesn't live up to hype, critical depth shortages at key positions prove disastrous, and the Golden Egg stays in Starkville while the Rebels endure a 5th straight season with no bowl game.

5. Mississippi State
While the Bulldogs were a great story last year, the reality was they were - perhaps - the worst 8-win team in SEC history. A stout, opportunistic defense paved the way for the team as the offense was inept at best. It's tough to see them duplicating that kind of success this season without scoring more points, but all signs indicate that's an unlikelihood. A soft schedule probably means a bowl game though.

Best Case Scenario
The offense improves while the defense stays strong and the Bullies catch a few more lucky breaks and wind up in a 2nd straight bowl game

Worst Case Scenario
The offense performs like it did in the Spring Game, the defense wears down from overuse and all the positive vibes from last season are long forgotten in an ugly year

6. Arkansas
Everything that can be said about the Arkansas coaching situation has been, so I'll leave it alone. The bottom line is that Petrino is stepping into a less-than-ideal situation talent-wise. He returns an experienced QB in Casey Dick, but is that really a good thing? Petrino may very well win at Arkansas, but it's not going to be this season.

Best Case Scenario
Even with all the lucky breaks this side of the moon, anything better than 6-6 is a pipe dream

Worst Case Scenario
If the more talented team wins every game played, the Hogs will win no more than 4 games

Saturday, August 16, 2008

2008 SEC East Predictions

I wanted to pick UGA to win it, I really did, but I just couldn't. With injuries, an apparent lack of focus, and that schedule, I think they're fighting an uphill battle this season. Here's how I see it shaking out:

1. Florida
Coming off something a disappointing season (in their eyes), the Gators seem to have all the pieces in place for another MNC run this season. Assuming the defense has improved, Tim Tebow and the Gator offense will be on the field more often this year, which can be only mean good things for a team that averaged 42.5 ppg last year. With a more balanced attack planned, the Gators could be even more dangerous offensively this year, particularly with a softer schedule than Georgia.

Best Case Scenario:

The offense gels early and the defense has learned from its ups and downs last season. The Gators go 14-0 bringing home a 3rd straight BCS title for the SEC.

Worst Case Scenario

The defense is still soft, their injury situation catches up with them, SEC coaches figure out ways to contain Tebow and Co., and the Gators drop to 2nd or 3rd in the East.

2. Georgia
Yes, they’re preseason #1 in both polls and the most talented team in the best conference in America. The problem – of course – is the other things: the arrests, the injuries, and that brutal schedule that includes road games to LSU, South Carolina, and Auburn. Also, I’m not as enamored with Stafford as many people are. All the tangible skills are there, but good decision making is not always there. UGA was the best team in the country at the end of the season last year, and while they’re certainly capable of carrying that over to 2008, I’ll need to see it before I believe it.

Best Case Scenario:

This one’s fairly obvious – they pick up where they left off and obliterate everything in their sight. A BCS Title is a real possibility here.

Worst Case Scenario

The “bad” Stafford shows up in big games, the shenanigans continue to run wild, they fold under the mounting pressure and drop to 8-4 or even 7-5. Can’t see that happening though.

3. Tennessee
The surprise winner of the SEC East last season is back for more in 08. They’ll have to replace OC Cutcliffe as well as their QB, but HC Fulmer’s been around the block a time or two. Their schedule includes tough road games to Auburn, Georgia, and South Carolina, but they get Florida and Bama at home in two major payback games for blowouts last season. The Vols have a real chance to surprise some folks this season.

Best Case Scenario:
Crompton steps in and the offense doesn’t miss a beat. They knock off Florida at home, UGA falters and the Vols return to ATL for the SEC CG.

Worst Case Scenario:
Offense sputters with Ainge and Cutcliffe gone, the 4-week span with vs UF, @UGA, vs NIU, @AU goes badly and the Vols fold up shop for the year.

4. South Carolina
I was guilty of jumping on the Gamecock bandwagon last year, predicting them to win the SEC East. I looked like a genius for 7 games… not so much for the last 5. This year I’m not buying it. Too much uncertainty at the QB spot and I’m not convinced that the Ol’ Ball Coach really has it in him anymore. I think USC will be good, but it’ll only be enough for a 4th place finish in the East.

Best Case Scenario:
Spurrier rediscovers the magic touch, DC Ellis Johnson rejuvenates the D, someone steps up at the QB position and the Gamecocks make it to the Outback or Liberty Bowl.

Worst Case Scenario:
Team plays like it did the last month of last year, no consistency from QB, Stephen Garcia continues to dominate the headlines for all the wrong reasons, and Clemson again knocks the Gamecocks out of bowl contention.

5. Kentucky
The Wildcats were ranked for the first time since 1985 and won bowl games in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1951-52. But the key pieces to that team – QB Woodson, RB Little, and WRs Burton and Johnson – are gone. The defense should actually be better, as they’re “only” having to replace LB Woodyard, but the offense will take a big step back, particularly without QB Pulley. They get Arkansas and Vandy at home, but they’ll need to pull an upset to even reach a bowl game.

Best Case Scenario:
The defense lives up to its potential, they find a QB who can get the ball to Dicky Lyons, and RBs Dixon and Locke improve as the season goes along. Even then, I can’t see a bowl game for the ‘Cats.

Worst Case Scenario:
If the defense doesn’t play like it’s capable and no one steps up at QB, it could be very ugly for UK this year.

6. Vanderbilt
Last year was supposed to be most recent “the year” that Bobby Johnson finally gets Vanderbilt to a bowl game. As usual, Vandy was sitting at home come bowl season. They had an established QB, an All-SEC WR, and a proven defense. Now they have none of that. With a killer schedule to boot, this could be a less than enjoyable year for the ‘Dores.

Best Case Scenario:
Jay Cutler, Earl Bennett, and Hunter Hillenmeyer are all mysteriously awarded extra years of eligibility and Florida and Georgia forfeit their games.

Worst Case Scenario:
With that schedule, 2-10 is not outside the realm of possibility…

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Rivals Unit Rankings

Rivals has ranked each collective unit for all 12 SEC teams. They ranked the Offensive Backfield, Wide Receivers/Tight End, O-Line, D-Line, Linebackers, Secondaries, Special Teams, and Coaches 1-12. While certainly not a perfect way to judge a team, if you tally up the scores, you end up with this...

...and Georgia barely edging Florida. Overall, most teams fall about where you'd expect them to. What's interesting is the 20 point gap between #7(USC) and #8(MSU), by far the biggest gap between any two consecutive teams.

Like I said, not a perfect way to judge a team, but interesting nonetheless. I'll have predictions for season standings up this weekend.

Monday, August 11, 2008

More drama in Fayetteville

Just what the Arkansas athletic department needed - a little more drama.

The Arkansas men's basketball team will be without its only returning player with any real SEC experience next season as Patrick Beverley will not be back. No further details are being offered, but it's hardly a shock. Ever since Arkansas fired Stan Heath, there have been rumors swirling that Beverley was unhappy and was thinking of possibly transferring to USF to reunite with Heath. While there's no way to say how valid those rumors are, it'll certainly be intriguing to see how this plays out in the next few months.

The Hogs were going to struggle to not finish last in the west before Beverley's "departure". They're now without 87 percent of their offense and 77 percent of their rebounding from last season. I'm not sold on Pelphrey to get the job done in Fayetteville. He took one of the most experienced teams in the conference last season and turned in a ho-hum year. HogNation is certainly enamored with him now, but it'll be interesting to see how patient they'll be with Pelphrey, particularly if the Hogs fail to even make the NIT in 2008-09.

UPDATE (8/11/08): It's grades, so not much drama. Still disappointing though

Saturday, August 9, 2008

ESPN College Pick 'em is up


ESPN has launched their College Pick'em game. Basically, they select 10 games a week, you pick the winners and rank your answers 1-10 based on your confidence in the result.

I've set up a Dead Guy Group for anyone interested in joining. It's free to play and the group is "public" so no password needed to join. You will need an user name/password. Thanks and good luck!

The Dead Guy's College Pick'em Group

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Random Links For a Wednesday

* ESPN has a good read about the incredible track record of the 12 SEC football coaches. Undoubtedly, the SEC's prominence starts at the top. Some key points from Pat Forde:

• Five coaches who own national championship rings. They are Steve Spurrier of South Carolina, Phillip Fulmer of Tennessee, Nick Saban of Alabama, Les Miles of LSU and Meyer himself.

• A sixth, Auburn's Tommy Tuberville, whose team went 13-0 in 2004 but did not get a chance to play for the title.

• Two more -- Mark Richt of Georgia and Bobby Petrino of Arkansas -- who have had 12-win seasons capped off by BCS bowl victories.

Then there is Houston Nutt of Mississippi, who won 10 games two years ago at Arkansas. And Rich Brooks of Kentucky, who took Oregon to its first Rose Bowl in 37 years and became the first Wildcats coach to win consecutive bowls in 56 years. And Mississippi State's Sylvester Croom, who is merely the reigning SEC Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to their first bowl game since 2000. And Vanderbilt's Bobby Johnson, who led Furman to the Division I-AA championship game.
* Chris Low ranks the SEC 1-12. While there's not many surprises, something tells me the Tide Nation isn't impressed.

* They're probably much happier with Stewart Mandel's "Potential Sleeper" picks. His Bama breakdown:
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: In Saban, I trust. Yes, the Tide lost to Louisiana-Monroe last year. Yes, seemingly half their roster has been either injured or arrested this offseason. Still, I can't shake the feeling that Nick Saban will do exactly what he did in Year 2 at LSU: Throw a handful of his most touted freshmen on the field, turn up the intensity on defense and churn out nine or 10 wins.
* Mandel also toots Bobby Johnson's horn, naming him the "Most underrated coach in the nation". Color me unimpressed. Every year, media and fans alike rave about Johnson and every year the 'Dores do nothing. It's similar to the praise Kirk Ferentz would get at Iowa a few years back. But hey, to each his own.

* After a long wait, Kige Ramsey's SEC picks are finally in and presented in a way even a simpleton can understand - MINI PLASTIC HELMETS! Warning: The suspense before the SEC Championship Game winner is announced may be too much for some viewers.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Recent history repeats itself

Internet message boards… love ‘em or hate ‘em, they’re a significant part of the fan/college sports relationship. These open forums allow fans from all walks of life and all geographies to congregate and discuss the teams they love and the ones they love to hate. Countless rumors – most unfounded and false, certainly, but some have proven to be true – have spawned on these boards.

It’s always interesting to go from board to board to get a feel for the general mood of the fan bases. With SEC football less than 4 weeks away, the boards are officially rocking, and rolling, and what not. While reading message boards this weekend, I noticed several Arkansas posters on the Ole Miss board badmouthing Houston Nutt. These same fans were touting the skills of Bobby Petrino.

Sometimes, you really can’t see the forest for the trees. Three years ago, Ole Miss fired David Cutcliffe and hired Ed Orgeron. Rebel faithful defended the hire, citing EOr being Pete Carroll’s “right hand man” at USC. Bring up the fact that he’d never even been a coordinator and prepare to be told that didn’t matter. Orgeron spoke (or whatever you called those gravelly noises coming from his mouth) and Rebel fans ate it up. Sugar Bowl wins were coming. Or not. He won 3 SEC games in 3 years and was fired. Everyone could see it coming except for Ole Miss.

Arkansas is a similar situation this year with Bobby Petrino. While Petrino is certainly light years above Orgeron as a head coach, reading Arkansas fans comments, you would think he invented the forward pass. Outside observers see a disingenuous gypsy of a coach who has signed 20 years worth of contracts in the last couple of years. They see backstabber who wrangled for Tuberville’s job. They see a coach who inflated his W/L record in lesser conferences and beat only 14 teams with winning records.

There’s no doubt Petrino will be more successful at Arkansas than Orgeron was at Ole Miss. I’m fairly certain my dog could do at least an equivalent job of that. As for Arkansas, outside expectations are low for this season, but reading message boards, a 3rd place finish – behind Auburn and LSU – is expected by some Hog fans. Petrino will be SEC Coach of the Year if he pulls that off.

In my opinion, the question is not “Will he succeed as a head coach in the SEC?” It’s “Will he be around long enough to be accurately judged?”