Posts Tagged ‘Mark Richt’

2009 SEC Football Power Poll: Final Season Ballot

Check out the Full Poll Results at Team Speed Kills!

Final Season Ballot

Well, it’s been a long season and all the games are in the books.  This season, I have been less than dutiful in managing to write anything about the comings and goings of college football, which is highly disappointing for me.  Of late I’ve taken a few weeks off to try and recharge myself both as a person and as a blogger—more on that later.  Either way, since all that really matters in the world of college football is where you end the season, here’s my final ballot the SEC Football Power Poll, serving as a cap to the the 2009 season.

Here they are, my darlins:

Rk. Team Comments
1. Alabama Crimson Tide The last chapter in this book was nothing but ugly, but the 13 wins before that were pretty stellar.  A well earned championship the Alabama Crimson Tide.
2. Florida Gators The Florida Gators finished strong against Cincinnati—bidding Tim Tebow a fond farewell, and possibly Urban Meyer.

Next year, however, looks awfully uncertain, not bad, just really “sketchy.

3. Ole Miss Rebels Up and down, up and down.  The Ole Miss Rebels 2009 season was the roller coaster from hell, but it was fun, and was worth the ticket.

In 2010, the Rebels have holes to fill and maybe the expectations will be a little more reasonable.

4. LSU Tigers What a difference between 2008 and 2009.  The LSU Tigers looked like a top-rate, second-rate program at times, especially on offense.

I have a feeling there will be some changes in the off-season.

5. Auburn Tigers Considering where the Auburn Tigers were this time last year, I call this one a success.

Hats off to Gene Chizik for managing to return a winning record and to avoid being lynched by the Tigers’ fans.

6.(t) Tennessee Volunteers The Tennessee Volunteers improved steadily throughout the season until injuries began exposing just how empty the cupboard was when Lane Kiffin took over.

Call me crazy, but I think the Vols overachieved this season.  Next year, however, will be much more important; setting the stage for years to come.

6.(t) Georgia Bulldogs The Georgia Bulldogs finished with a win, which is probably a good thing for Mark Richt.

The question remains, however, just how much can they reasonably improve by 2010?  I fear not enough to keep the crazies at bay.

8. Arkansas Razorbacks While there were some real bright spots here and there in 2009 for the Arkansas Razorbacks, on the whole I am not so sure that things will be much better next season for the Hogs, until they figure out who they want to be offensively and start playing just a little bit of defense.

Still, they were much better in 2009 than in 2008.

9. South Carolina Gamecocks Once again, the South Carolina Gamecocks suffered their late-season slide. Still, they beat kissing-cousin Clemson before imploding against Connecticut.

So, how many more seasons does the Ole Ball Coach hang around?  I’m thinking not that many.

10. Kentucky Wildcats While the Kentucky Wildcats lost to Clemson in the Music City Bowl, considering where the Cats were when Rich Brooks took over, I call four bowls in a row big time improvement.

As for the future, well, it’s not like Joker Phillips hasn’t already been there and done that.

11. Mississippi State Bulldogs Dan Mullen‘s Mississippi State Bulldogs were light-years better than they were under Sly Croom in 2008.  They just could never catch a break when they needed one.

Next year, however, that should start to change.

12. Vanderbilt Commodores As for the Vanderbilt Commodores, well … umm … the field looked nice this year.

The Rest of the Power Poll

Now that you have wasted your time looking at my ballot, go check out what everybody else is saying over at Team Speed Kills, where the 2009 Football Power Poll round-up is there for all to see.

Now, on to basketball season…

– So it goes…About Lawvol

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2009 SEC Preview: Georgia

2009 SEC Football Previews | Gate 21

This time last year everybody was pimping Georgia as the preseason SEC and national champion. They had Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno on offense, but had a summer of off-the-field problems and some preseason injuries to key players.

A year later, things are obviously different in Athens. Stafford’s in Detroit, Moreno’s in Denver and preseason expectations are much, much lower. In fact, some of the most recent buzz surrounding the Bulldog football program has been on the recruiting trail, where Georgia’s received commitments from four of Rivals’ top 50 prospects.

While Stafford and Moreno didn’t disappoint last year, it was the defense that was Georgia’s biggest flaw last year. UGA gave up 24 points per game last year, and five teams (Alabama, Florida, LSU, Kentucky and Georgia Tech) scored 38 points or more on Georgia. That’s almost hard to believe.

Now Georgia may have to rely on that defense, as fifth-year senior Joe Cox (or possibly a younger quarterback) steps in to take the reins of the offense and a stable of young backs step in for the dazzling Moreno. One thing that isn’t different from last year? Georgia’s playing another tough schedule.

Many think they take a step back this year. But Mark Richt’s won 10 games every year except for 2001 (his first year) and 2006. Will this year break that trend?

Read the rest of this entry

The Blazer Chronicles: A “Quotetastic” Look at the SEC

Well, after failing to get my Oklahoma State preview up in time for the game, and given the quick end to the BasketVols‘ run in the NCAA Tournament, I really haven’t had a lot to offer these past few days.  Of course, when you set the bar very low—which has always been the policy of Gate 21—it takes extra effort to fail in grand style.  I guess I am running behind in my running behind…

In the meantime, here’s a little something that is worth giving a look.  I’m a bit behind in getting this up, but this is pretty funny if you ask me (which I realize you didn’t).

Here is a pretty hilarious look at the various coaches of the SEC in a way that I don’t think I have ever seen before.  As always, this comes courtesy of VolzRChamps and BlazerChronicles.com, with a Tennessee All-Sports Update.

The Blazer Chronicles: A “Quotetastic” Look at the SEC

That Bobby Johnson quote is simply priceless…

– So it goes …About Lawvol


Video Courtesy of: VolzRChamps / You TubeBlazer Chronicles

Theories about Lane Kiffin’s jab at Urban Meyer…

Headlines, Links & Lies | Gate 21

Rusty over at RTT has offered up 5 theories for Lane Kiffin‘s (a/k/a the Blackjack General) barb to Urban Meyer yesterday.  They are worth a read.  Rusty’s theories started a rather interesting discussion on the subject.

Anyway, here are my two cents worth, which I originally posted over on RTT as a comment (with the addition of the video and image):

The comment on Meyer is simply a comment made to a closed group being taken out of context.  That is, Kiffin said “cheating” in the sense of “man, that’s some slimy stuff” but is was taken as “violation of codified NCAA and SEC rules and regulations.” In other words, he was speaking like a normal person and not like some degenerate lawyer (I can say that, I are one).

In the big picture, I think that there is a method to Kiff’s madness.  I think he realizes that the Tennessee fans need something to help rally them to “the flag,” which a little controversy will accomplish.

Furthermore, I think — rightly or wrongly — he perceives a belief among the fans that Tennessee has been the “nice guy fuddy-duddy” type for a long time and have never really stood its ground the way it could (See Charlie Brown).  I think that there is a definite feeling of this sort among many in the Big Orange fanbase.

I also think he believes that the opposite it true — that other coaches (especially Urban Meyer) have gotten used to walking on Tennessee and now feel an entitlement of sorts.  I think this is also true.  I think Kiff realizes that he has to stop that, and that the fans will gladly support him in this.

I also think — given who he has attacked and who he hasn’t (See Mark Richt, Houston Nutt, Rich Brooks, Les Miles, etc.) — that it is a calculated move to agitate those who simply cannot stand being agitated and love to agitate constantly.  Steve Spurrier was the master of this in the 1990s — and it was very effective.  Kiffin wants to try and begin to get in the heads of others who believe themselves to be mighty, but has notably spared the friendly sorts. (Oh, and for the record, Spurrier can take being agitated. In fact it often seems to make him respect others more. Plus, he was pretty affable in response to the whole recruiting test discourse.)

I think Kiff probably understands that the team might not fare well at first, but he is showing that he’s not willing to be pushed around now.  It’s the proverbial “knock me down, and I’ll get back up and say it again, so you can knock me down, so I can get up and say it again, till I get strong enough that you can no longer knock me down” approach (man what a run-on).

I also think that Kiffin is simply not the kind of guy who shirks from a challenge, and the staff he has assembled bears that out. (Compare Mr. Edward Orgeron and … the World)  Call me crazy, but he almost has me believing that he can pull it off as well.

To be able to win, you have to first believe that you can win.  To take on the invincible, you have to believe you are invincible. (See This is Sparta)

Video:  300 – “This is Sparta

Of course, I also believe that Elvis Presley is living in Vonore, Tennessee under the assumed name “Leyland T. Vegas” and that Plate Tectonics is all part of some nefarious Communist conspiracy

Viva, Baby... Viva!

Viva, Baby... Viva!

At its basic level, however, Kiffin is accomplishing something — getting the fans and team ready for a fight and getting the media interested enough to show up and document it all.

•  HT to / via:  Five theories about Lane Kiffin’s jab at Urban Meyer | Rocky Top Talk

I suppose it all comes down to Jules Winnfield / Samuel L. Jackson’s statement: “Oh, well allow me to retort…

At any rate, the conversation has been interesting over there, and is worth a look (and perhaps a comment).


Image Courtesy ofElvis Impersonators Blog

This Week = Money

On Remote | Gate 21

“Separation” Saturday?

Last week? Weak. This week? Matchup-wise, it’s the opposite. I have yet to hear to cliche that ESPN has dubbed this coming week. “Separation Saturday” sounds typical enough…

That’s really what this weekend is, particularly in the SEC East and the Big XII XI. In the East, Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee all face “must-wins” according to CBS analyst Gary Danielson. The Vols and Dawgs go at it head-to-head, while Florida hosts LSU in their yearly grudge match.

In the Big XI (inspiration from Pat Forde on ESPN), you of course have the Texas-Oklahoma Cotton Bowl showdown, but also Missouri plays host to the surprisingly unbeaten, chest-bumping Oklahoma State Cowboys.

These three games form quite the nice triple-header for your viewing pleasure. There’s some other quality football on, and as always that’s where I come in. I should say now that this will be the longest “On Remote” preview to this point. Don’t worry, it’s alllllllllllll worth it!


SEC Football | Gate 21
SEC Games

South Carolina at Kentucky (12:30, RayCom): I was wrong on South Carolina last week, as Chris Smelley threw all over Ole Miss’ defense in the Chickens’ 31-24 win in Oxford. The question is can a Carolina QB put together two straight consistent weeks? Kentucky has a better D than Ole Miss, and the Cats’ strength is their front seven.

Despite coming off their first loss of the year, Kentucky should have gained confidence from last week’s game at Alabama. If the Cats offense improves a little, or even limits its mistakes, this team could be dangerous down the road this year. These two always seem to play pretty close games, and Kentucky shot themselves in the foot both last week and in Columbia last year. Still I think Carolina’s QB inconsistency will be the difference in a Kentucky win.

Vanderbilt at Mississippi State (2:30, ESPN GamePlan): So I was wrong on Vandy too. A win in Starkville would put the Dores at 6-0 for the first time since 1928. Yes, 1928. It’s that kind of year. Last year, State was the Alabama State Champions. They have a chance to claim Tennessee the next two weeks.

Bobby Johnson has Vandy on the verge of bowl eligibility

As fundamentally strong as Vanderbilt is and as bad as Mississippi State’s offense is (ie, worse than Auburn’s), Vandy should SHOULD continue their historic year. Oh yeah, a sixth win would mean the Dores’ first non-losing season since 1982.

Tennessee at Georgia (3:30, CBS): Last time we saw Georgia, they were getting smacked at home by Alabama. The Vols are trying to avoid an 0-3 start in the SEC. Basically, it’s an SEC East elimination game, but isn’t every week?

As everyone knows, Tennessee has won three of the last four, the last two in Athens, and the last two years by a combined 86-47. The revenge factor comes into play, but Georgia’s banged up and the Vols have no offense. How healthy is Knowshon Moreno? The Dawg defense took a hit with the loss of Dannell Ellerbe, and appears to have a weakness along the offensive line. Tennessee just plain likes to shoot their toes off in the most frustrating of ways I won’t go into. Nick Stephens, meet the fire.

Yet another reason to miss Mr. Ainge: he was 3-0 against Georgia

I have low expectations. Very low. Tennessee seemingly matches up pretty well, but most reasonable Dawg fans (an oxymoron, I know) will remind you of David Cutcliffe’s absence. Coach Fulmer has struggled – mightily – against Mark Richt without Cut (two wins against UGA without Cut: ’99 and ’04). He doesn’t have Cut anymore. T-R-O-U-B-L-E. Not just this week, but this entire season for the Vols.

Tennessee’s defense keeps it close, but I just don’t see Tennessee getting enough offense to win Saturday. Think Auburn. I’m expecting another frustrating Saturday…

Arkansas at Auburn (5:00, ESPN GamePlan): So much for the Spread Eagle. Probably using the fan’s vote, Auburn fired Tony Franklin Wednesday, probably meaning the beginning of the Kodi Burns era and Chris Todd and the bench and headphones/clipboard becoming best of friends. Playing Arkansas should also help, as the Hogs are bad enough that even Tennessee could score on them (I think). Though they are bad, they played Florida much, much tougher than the 38-7 final showed, and I expect Petrino to get an upset at some point…

LSU at Florida (8:00, CBS): Personally, this is one of my favorite SEC games each year. The athletic ability on the field between these two is ridiculous. The coaches (and their egos) are a great match-up. And it’s always a game Florida could very well lose – and I could watch Florida lose every day.

That said, I like LSU in this game, and here’s why: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – LSU has the SEC’s best lines (Bammer is a close second). Florida’s lines? Probably their weakest aspect, due to the athletes everywhere else. While LSU has some questions in the secondary, they should be able to keep it close and be able to wear down Florida with Craig Scott and that offensive line, much like they did at Auburn. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I really like this LSU team – as in I think they’re the best in the SEC.


OH THERE’S MORE!

Tonight‘s game has some intrigue. For Vols fans, fellow underachiever/coach-on-the-hot-seat Clemson/Tommy Bowden travel to Wake Forest in an important game in the ACC Atlantic, where Florida State is also in the mix (the Noles are off this week after beating Miami).

The NEW Weekly Duke Update: After being shutout by Georgia Tech last week, Duke has granted Cut a one-week release to be Tennessee’s offensive coordinator for the Georgia game. UGA is screwed and there are rumors of a forfeit. Yeah, WE WISH. Duke hosts Miami next week. Meanwhile, Lawvol’s Tar Heels, fresh into the rankings, host Notre Dame. C’mon, UNC…

Throwing conference affiliations aside, here are the other great games in chronological order…

Colt McCoy

Sam Bradford

Texas vs. Oklahoma in Dallas (12:00, ABC): Ah yes, the battle of the two outstanding QBs who look like they are still in middle school – Texas’ Colt McCoy and OU’s Sam Bradford. My deal with Texas is that they are generally underachieving. They are in Texas. They have recruits fall into their lap from Texas, and Louisiana, where LSU is the only competition. Yet Mack Brown hasn’t won much without Vince Young. OU has the edge defensively, and the Texas secondary is ripe for Bradford and his seemingly countless receiving targets.

And Bob Stoops has Mack’s number. While the QB matchup is essentially a push and the athletes on the field are also at a high level like the LSU-Florida matchup, I like OU. Also, why is this game being played at 11am local time? I know they have the Texas State Fair, but that’s too early for such a big football game….

Michigan State at Northwestern (3:30, ESPN2): Don’t laugh. MSU is ranked and Northwestern is unbeaten. Both have zero Big Ten losses. A State win puts them firmly into the mix heading into mid-October. A Wildcat win continues the “Revenge of the Nerds” theme dominating the season’s first six weeks. I like Sparty…

Mmm...53.4 ppg

Oklahoma State at Missouri (8:00, ESPN2): Quietly, Okie State is 5-0. Missouri is just sick on offense. The ‘Boys aren’t too shabby on offense either, so first to 60 wins. That would be Mizzou. Missouri is second in the nation in points. Oklahoma State is third. Hello fireworks…

I’ve been all “over” the Tigers these past weeks, and as you know by now I almost went there. Obviously the offense is unstoppable with Jeremy Maclin, Chase Coffman, and runnings back are always productive (Tony Temple last year, Derrick Washington this year). Defense was the issue, but there was improvement as the Tigers held Nebraska, who scored 30 on Virginia Tech, to just 10 measly points. Not gonna be much chest-bumping on the OSU sidelines Saturday…

Penn State at Wisconsin (8:00, ESPN): Is Penn State the best team in the Big Ten? So far, it’s almost a certainty. Big Test #1 is Saturday night in Madison, where band-less Wisconsin is coming off a heart-breaking late loss to Ohio State. I like the Lions to continue their roll, though I’m not very confident in Wisky losing two straight home games after a two-pus year streak of never losing. The Lions are in Columbus the 25th.

Whew! That was quite a bit. College football = awesome.


Images Courtesy of: Mark Humphrey / AP (Daylife)Tom Mihalek / AP (Daylife)MackBrown-TexasFootball.comOU Official Athletic SiteDave Weaver / AP (Daylife)

An Open Letter to the Vol Nation: A Manifesto on Past, Present, and Future

No Pass Out Checks | Gate21
[Note:  This post is exceptionally long—even for me—and I apologize for this.  I simply felt that a lot of these things needed saying, and I really haven't heard them elsewhere.  Thus, if you'll forgive my long-windedness,  I promise there is a point to this.  I just felt this that this isn't a simple issue, and thus I needed to explain.  -Lawvol]

Of all the posts I have ever written as a blogger, all the comments I have ever posted on message boards and other blogs, all the public professions I have ever made regarding the Tennessee Volunteers, this one is by far the most difficult one for me.  I’d really rather not be in the position of feeling it necessary to write this.  To fail to address the issue, however, would be to ignore the giant looming cloud over the heads of all of the Vol-faithful, regardless of their thoughts or position.

www.tennesseefansite.com-2Obviously, I am talking about the “situation” with the Tennessee Football coaching staff.

For the record, I am a Phillip Fulmer fan.  I believe that he has done more for the Tennessee program than anyone else over the last fifteen years.  I credit him with taking Tennessee from the mish-mash of the middle tier of college football and propelling the Vols to the very pinnacle of success.  I credit him with bringing the program into the modern era.  I credit him with making many of the things to which we as Tennessee fans have become accustomed possible.  I like Coach Fulmer, or the “Great Punkin” as I routinely refer to him (with no slight or insult intended).

I guess that makes me a homer

To the best of my recollection, the only time I have ever openly criticized the Tennessee coaching staff was during the past off-season when off-field incidents involving Vol footballers were escalating alarmingly, by my mind calling into question the integrity of the program and the University of Tennessee itself.  Aside from that, I have always refrained from going after the coaches like so many seem to want to do.  I wrote a little about this after the UCLA game, stating:

… I would say that I am more appropriately a Homer for all coaches across the landscape of college football who are constantly questioned, rebuked, and derided by tens of thousands of come-lately armchair geniuses.

It is a peculiar characteristic of so many fans that they believe that simply being a follower of a team for a given length of time makes them an expert on how things should be done.  Make no mistake, as a sports blogger, I am as guilty of this offense as anyone—at least to some extent.  There are things that anyone with a brain can assess and analyze based purely upon common sense, life experience, and the fluff that resides between our ears.

* * * * *

These sorts of basic truths are fairly and frankly within the grasp of us all, and thus the rightful ability to comment on such profundities resides with each and every person who follows college football.  In much the same vein, I think it is reasonable for many (note, I did not say “all”) long-term fans of the sport to comment on what a given team does, or in most cases, did.

Beyond that, however, it seems to me that trying to profess what the best way to coach a football team—a team to which most have no access except through their televisions—is an endeavor which necessarily makes the speaker feel smart and important, while simultaneously making them look foolish and arrogant.

I have absolutely no idea about what it takes to coach a major college football team.  I’m completely clueless.  Furthermore, I have no idea what it is like to play on such a team.  Again, clueless.  I am also willing to bet that most who are attacking Phil Fulmer and the Tennessee coaching staff at present share my level of experience and insight.  So, at a minimum, I guess I am among equally-ignorant equals when it comes to assessing the coaches.

Unlike many others, however, I am not going to attack the Great Punkin, Dave Clawson, John Chavis, or any of the other coaches.  I am simply going to speak about what I do know and speak from the heart:

Though I first watched Tennessee under Coach Majors, most of my life as a Tennessee fan, student, and alum has been during the tenure of Coach Fulmer.  I think he is a man of integrity, a man of honor, a skilled and adept football coach, and a great leader and teacher for the young men he coaches.  I have such deep respect for what he has done.  In his 17-year career as Tennessee’s head coach, Fulmer is 148-47-1 (.759), he has won 10 or more games in a season nine times, he has won or tied for the SEC East title seven times, he has won 2 SEC Championships, and the 1998 National Championship.  I remember all of these “good old days” like they were yesterday.

Coach Fulmer has done a lot, a whole lot…

By the same token, things simply have not been good for the Vols for some time now.  Here are a few statistics:

  • Last SEC Championship: 1998 (No Coach in UT history had a longer drought and retained their job)
  • Last BCS Game Appearance: 1999
  • Only one Top-10 finish this decade (2001)
  • Last 50 Games 32-18 (.648) [Johnny Majors was 39-9-2 (.780 wins only / .820 wins & ties) over his final 50 games]
  • Failed to finish in the Top-25 twice this decade in any poll and finished 25th in the AP in 2000 (unranked in Coaches Poll)
  • Signed a recruiting class outside the Top-20 in two of the past three seasons
  • 5-12 versus Florida all-time
  • 14-13 in the last 27 SEC Games
  • 28-27 (.509) versus Current SEC Coaches
    • 0-4 versus Urban Meyer (Florida)
    • 1-2 versus Les Miles (LSU)
    • 3-4 versus Mark Richt (Georgia)
    • 1-3 versus Nick Saban (LSU & Alabama)
    • 5-8 versus Steve Spurrier (Florida & South Carolina)
    • 3-3 versus Tommy Tuberville (Ole Miss & Auburn)
  • Coach Fulmer has a winning record of 15-3 against Rich Brooks (Kentucky), Sylvester Croom (Mississippi State), Bobby Johnson (Vanderbilt), and Houston Nutt (Arkansas only)

Over the last decade (since 1998) the Tennessee Volunteers under Fulmer are:

  • 1-8 (.111) at home versus Top-10 Teams
  • 17-23 (.425) versus ranked teams
  • 13-21 (.382) versus Florida, Georgia, Auburn, LSU, and Alabama
Statistical Analysis Courtesy of: Tony Basilio.com

These numbers speak volumes…

Of course, I am enough of a realist to understand that no team—whether Tennessee, Southern Cal, or the Green Bay Packers—can have a championship year every year.  Every great team has bad years.  It just seems that it has been a long time since Tennessee has had a truly good year.  I freely acknowledge that in 2007 Tennessee had what, on paper, looks like a good year.  In 2007, the Vols went 10-4 and won the SEC East.  That said, even the most stalwart Vol fan would have to admit that Tennessee won the SEC East in a highly unorthodox manner.  Tennessee was beaten in the 2007 season opener versus California 45-31.  Two weeks later the Vols were annihilated by the Florida Gators 59-20 and were subsequently thumped by the Alabama Crimson Tide 41-17.  The only reason that the Vols made the trip to the  SEC Championship Game was that—under league rules—the tie went to Tennessee since the Vols defeated the Georgia Bulldogs in head-to-head competition.  In other words, the Orange and White backed into the Eastern Division title.

Prior to that, really since the 2001 season, the Vols have underperformed versus SEC and national rivals, and have—at best—been a mediocre team from a statistical perspective.  During that time, I cannot recount the number of times that the Vols have barely beaten teams that were wholly inferior in terms of talent.  What’s more, the Volunteers have regularly failed to meet the expectations of fans and analysts when considered against teams with similar recruiting classes and resources.  Then of course there was the 2005 season, or—as Joel at RTT describes it—“The Season of Which We do not Speak in which Tennessee recorded a 5-6 record.

It seems that Tennessee has struggled at every turn since winning the 1998 Championship…

Jump forward to this year and the UCLA game, in which Tennessee loses to a UCLA team which the Vols were projected to beat handily.  As I and others have said, there is absolutely no reason that the Vols should have lost that game.  To make bad matters worse, since defeating the Vols, the Bruins have gone on to lose two more games in which they failed to score a single touchdown for the first time in 44 years. (HT Get the Picture)  Tennessee then managed a lackluster win over a clearly out-matched UAB team before playing the Florida Gators.  As I said in my “Marching Orders” piece earlier this week, that game was one of the poorest displays I’ve ever seen from a Vols squad.

Although I cannot really recall when it all started, the Tennessee fanbase began growing restless as early as 2002.  Even then, there was a small but vocal minority of fans that felt it was time for Fulmer to go.  Those voices of criticism were largely ignored by the masses until now.  After the Florida defeat, those voices have swelled to the point that they can no longer be ignored.  Just looking at the Vol-blogosphere, there are fewer and fewer that support Fulmer and even more voices criticizing than ever before—including 3SIB’s Ghost of Neyland, SouthEastern Sports Blog, YMSWWC, Curveballs for Jesus, BasilioMoonDog, the absurd Coacho Ocho, and Gate 21’s own HSH.

So here I am…

Read the rest of this entry

Rejoice! Football Is Here!

Ah yes, my first post with my new digs here at Gate 21 – and thanks to those who have so kindly welcomed me so far. Hopefully it’s up to lawvol standards, as I’ve told him that he may fire me/kick me out/banish me/screw with my posts if I don’t meet the excellence that he’s built with his work here. Anyways, on to my opening week preview…

I cannot believe the beginning of football season is just mere hours away. Indeed, after a seemingly eternity of an offseason – with the last few non-Olympic days being the longest – it’s go-time.

However, for us Vol faithful, we have the unfortunate task of being made to wait a couple more days for our opener out in LA. Of course I’ll take playing primetime Labor Day Monday night.

As a student though, my weekends have always started on Thursdays and this year it’s even better: only having Tuesday/Thursday classes means I get four-day “weekends”…MONEY. But not getting our home opener for a couple more weeks? Garbage…

Anyways, there’s plenty of football before then, and that’s where I come in. I’m going to go through some of the more notable games this weekend and let you know what games I’ll be watching and what else I’ll be looking for.

Two things: first, I’m going to always include all games with SEC teams because it’s the SEC. Given the choice between the SEC and the NFL, give me the SEC PLEASE!

Second, the first week is always the weekend with the most boring lineup of games. All the big BCS teams are playing State Directional Schools, many being I-AA teams, which I am totally against (unless it’s Appalachian State, more on that later). Anyways, here it goes…


THURSDAY

NC State at South Carolina: Basically the first game of the year. It’s not literally the first one, but it’s the “marquee” ESPN game, so it’s good enough for me to tune in. If the Gamecocks struggle, then well, we’ll just know that still don’t have enough for the East’s Big Three – NC State isn’t very good.

Vandy at Miami (OH): Vandy losing would honestly not shock me. The ‘Dores are gonna be really green on offense and the Redhawks are one of the MAC’s contenders. That said, Vandy, please don’t lose to a MAC team. Actually this game gets started 30 minutes before the NC State-South Carolina game, so those of you with ESPNU can actually get a little football headstart on those of us who unfortunately don’t have that channel.

Elsewhere, Jacksonville State visits Georgia Tech, and while this game wouldn’t even get noticed, the fact that Ryan PerryLou is JSU’s QB has a bit of my interest. Also, if you’re one of those Pac 10 types, Oregon State plays at Stanford on ESPN2.


SATURDAY

UPSET ALERTS: East Carolina “hosts” Virginia Tech in Charlotte, and the Pirates played VT pretty tough last year. Also, I’m not so sure about this move.

Mark it down: Utah is going to beat Michigan. Virginia might make things interesting with USC. Florida Atlantic thinks they have a shot at Texas – I say that’s a lie.

The only other non-SEC games of note…Oklahoma State-Washington State in Seattle, TCU-New Mexico, and Michigan State-Cal, Washington-Oregon. Yes, these games wouldn’t even be sniffed if not for a lack of any other games worth a crap…

Illinois vs. Missouri in St. Louis: Seriously, who thinks Illinois is any good? Were they any good last year? They sure didn’t deserve that Rose Bowl. I have a slight bias towards Mizzou, but they should roll the Zooker this year.


SEC Football | Gate 21
SEC Games

Hawaii at Florida: Word on the street says Percy Harvin and Brandon Spikes won’t play. Not like that improves Hawaii’s chances of stopping Tebow. Thousands of miles and like six time zones away?

The game starts something like 6 a.m. Hawaiian time. Oh, and I know from experience in mid September last year it was like a billion degrees, and it’s still August. Ouch.

Oh, and I’m sure Urban won’t call off the dogs. Florida should get 50 in the 3rd quarter…

Georgia Southern at Georgia: UGA’s gonna win the game, but a late surge has put the Eagles ahead in suspensions, where previously UGA had a large advantage. The only question in Athens will be if Southern scores more points than suspensions…

Mark Richt won’t run it up like Urban will, though. Oh, GSU has Ohio State transfer Antonio Henton at QB. Hmmm….

Appalachian State at LSU: I WILL be watching this game on ESPN. Stop thinking upset, it’s not going to happen, but Appy State and Armanti Edwards keep it close, but really they aren’t sneaking up on anybody this year.

Not sure I would be diving over the line of scrimmage against LSU's d-line if I were Armanti Edwards...

Mississippi State at Louisiana Tech: Please explain to me why MSU agreed to play this game in Ruston? They’ll win (I think), but it makes no sense.

Louisiana-Monroe at Auburn/Western Illinois at Arkansas: Snooze…

Tiger High at Ole Miss: If Memphis won this game, I think it would be kinda funny. Talk about ruining a debut…

Really though, from where I’m from (Memphis) this game is a pretty big deal and I would much like to watch it on TV, but its pay-per-view…Oh well…

Alabama vs. Clemson in Atlanta: This is a great game for some Vol fans. Obviously ,we all want Alabama to get crushed, but I can’t lie and say I would get a laugh out of the Tide spoiling Clemson’s season in the opener. I’ll still probably root for Clemson…

In all seriousness, I get the feeling the pressure falls more on Clemson than on the Tide, what with the high expectations this season and all. Bama’s the underdog, as they should be, but that could easily play into their favor. And kudos to whoever decided to play this game, because it’s the best game Saturday. I’m going to be enjoying it, that’s for sure.

And finally, Kentucky plays at Pizza Box Stadium against Louisville Sunday afternoon, and UK might need this if they wanna sniff a bowl game. Monday’s appetizer for the real game of the week is Fresno State-Rutgers, which should be a pretty good game despite it, well, being Fresno State and Rutgers…

I know all but a few of these matchups pretty much suck, but football’s football people, and I’m ecstatic it’s here.


Image Courtesy of: NY Times / AP: D. Burleson
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