Archive for May, 2009

Spring Top 25: Gators No. 1, Tech 13, Dawgs 14



We did our RE (Ridiculously Early) Top 25 back in January, just hours after Florida had won the BCS national championship. Now we’re done with spring practice and June will be here before we know it. So let’s do our Spring Top 25, which should give us enough to argue about between now and two-a-days in August.

Last season’s record and the previously rank in our RE Top 25 are in parentheses. So who did I leave out that belongs on this list?

Have a good weekend. See you Monday.


1—Florida (13-1, 1): Tim Tebow is back. The entire defense is back. There are no apparent weaknesses on this team. The only real concern is an Oct. 10 trip to LSU.

2—Texas (12-1, 2): Colt McCoy and the Longhorns will be motivated after coming up one-point short of a shot at the national championship last season.  They meet Oklahoma in Dallas On Oct. 17 and travel to Oklahoma State on Oct. 31.

3—Oklahoma (12-2, 5): QB Sam Bradford, the Heisman Trophy winner, came back to school for another shot at …

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SEC West: Will Ole Miss challenge Bama, LSU?



Last season: 12-2; lost to Florida 31-21 in SEC championship game; lost to Utah 31-17 in Sugar Bowl.

Starters returning: Offense 4, defense 9, kicker 2.

Coach: Nick Saban, 110-50-1 overall, 19-8 in two seasons at Alabama.

What we still don’t know: Can the defense carry this team until the offense grows up? Three very good starters (including Outland Trophy winner Andre Smith) are gone on the offensive line. The Tide will have a new quarterback in Greg McElroy, who takes over for John Parker Wilson. Alabama still needs a big-time receiver on other side from superstar Julio Jones. There are just a lot of questions on the offensive side of the ball.  Alabama will not be able to dominate teams running the ball as it did a year ago. The good thing is that the defense, which was third nationally (263.5 ypg) last season, returns nine starters. LB Rolando McClain becomes the de facto leader with the departure of FS Rashad Johnson. NT Terrence Cody has now had a year’s …

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SEC East: Can Georgia find a big-time RB, regain its edge on defense?


Can Florida handle the hype and the expectations that come from being the defending national champions AND preseason No. 1? Can Georgia regain its edge on defense and enjoy life after Stafford and Moreno? Tennessee has a new attitude, but does that translate into more wins under first-year coach Lane Kiffin? Is Kentucky headed to a fourth straight bowl for the first time in school history? Can Stephen Garcia finally give South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier a real threat at quarterback? In 2008 Vanderbilt went to a bowl game in a rebuilding year. Can the Commodores go to two straight bowls for the first time in school history?

Those are just a few things we still don’t know about the SEC East as we head into the summer. Here is a breakdown of each team. The SEC West comes on Thursday.




Last season: 13-1, 7-1 SEC; beat Alabama 31-21 in SEC championship; beat Oklahoma 24-14 in BCS championship game.

Starters returning:  Offense 7, defense 11, kickers 2.


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ACC Coastal: Can Georgia Tech rebuild the DL?


Virginia Tech won another ACC championship during a rebuilding year in 2008. Georgia Tech was the surprise team in the Coastal Division in the first season under Paul Johnson. Miami made some baby steps back towards its old form. North Carolina continued to progress under Butch Davis. Duke made significant improvement in its first year under David Cutcliffe. Virginia struggled for a host of reasons.

Those were the story lines in the ACC’s Coastal Division in the fall of 2008. What will be the stories in 2009? Now that spring practice is over, let’s take a look at what we still don’t know about the ACC Coastal.

This is list is in alphabetical order. We’ll project the order of finish later on this month. If you want to pick the winners now, be my guest.




Last season: 4-8, 1-7 ACC.

Starters returning: Offense 5, defense 5, kickers 2.

Coach: David Cutcliffe, 48-37 overall, 4-8 in one season at Duke.

What we still don’t know: Can Duke find some stability on the offensive …

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ACC Atlantic: What we still don’t know

Spring practice has been over for a couple of weeks and so it’s time to take final looks at the teams in the ACC and SEC before we take our break in June. So here is our game plan for the week:

Today: ACC Atlantic

Tuesday: ACC Coastal

Wednesday: SEC East

Thursday: SEC West

Friday: Tony’s post-spring Top 25

This week we’ll just analyze the teams in alphabetical order. Before we break in June we’ll project the order of finish. If you want to debate the order of finish right now, please be my guest.




Last season: 9-5, 5-3 ACC; lost to Vanderbilt 16-14 in Music City Bowl.                             

Starters returning: Offense 7, defense 7, kickers 2.

Coach: Frank Spaziani (1st year).

What we still don’t know: Who will be the quarterback, Dominique Davis or Justin Tuggle? Both Davis, a sophomore, and Tuggle, a redshirt freshman, struggled in the spring so the competition will continue into fall camp under new offensive coordinator Gary Tranquill. Who …

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Should Urban Meyer apologize to Auburn?



Once again it’s Fearless Friday where no subject is off limits. Here’s what is catching my eye today. What about you?


Should Urban Meyer apologize to Auburn? Florida coach Urban Meyer caused quite a stir this week when he was asked about Auburn’s recruiting limo.

In case you missed it, Auburn’s coaching staff used a white stretch limo with school flags and stickers to visit high schools around the state. No recruits, we have been told, rode in the limo.

Gainesville Sun columnist Pat Dooley asked Meyer whether or not the NCAA should look into the practice. Dooley told me last night that he had read my note last Friday on the limo and mistakenly thought that recruits were getting rides. It was in that context that Dooley asked the question.

When asked about the NCAA stepping in, Meyer said: “I think it should. We’re trying to sell graduation rates and academics…..The Florida coaching staff will not be riding around in limos and ripping off our shirts.”

Boy, Meyer got a …

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SEC scheduling: Balance or tradition?


When it comes to college football, I’m a traditionalist. I think tradition is the bedrock on which the sport has been built. It is the thing that binds one generation of fans to the next. So if you’re going to mess with tradition, we’re going to have a problem.

But yesterday Joe wrote this on the subject of SEC scheduling:


Speaking of scheduling, why is the SEC set up so unfairly in cross division games? Instead of playing 1 permanent & 2 rotating teams in SEC East vs. SEC West, why don’t they do the practical thing like rotating all of them & having no permanent match ups?  This way everyone would play everyone the same amount of times. Please don’t give me the ol’ “SEC has to keep up its old rivalries.” Who cares? They would still play fairly often plus those teams don’t dominate the conference anymore anyway. It is time to move on & make it a level playing field

Well, let’s look at Joe’s question and try to determine who would care if the SEC changed its …

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Who’s your pick: A.J. Green or Julio Jones?


Nobody asked me, but:

A.J. Green or Julio Jones?

Like most good debate questions, this one came up on the golf course.

If you’re drafting your own fantasy football team and it comes to wide receiver, who do you take: Georgia’s A.J. Green or Alabama’s Julio Jones?

Jones, a rising sophomore, is having hernia surgery and is expected to be ready by August. Last season he caught 58 passes for 924 yards and four touchdowns. He averaged 15.9 yards per catch.

Green, also a rising sophomore, caught 56 passes for 963 yards and eight touchdowns. He averaged 17.2 yards per catch.

So who do you take? Green got an edge because he played with the No. 1 NFL Draft choice (QB Matthew Stafford). But Jones showed an uncanny ability (for a freshman) to run precise routes get open as a true freshman and his quarterback, John Parker Wilson, had a very efficient senior season.

Both players will be working with new quarterbacks in 2009 as Joe Cox, a fifth-year senior, takes over at Georgia and Greg …

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Wanted: A rational discussion about a playoff

I know this may be asking for a lot but I’m going to do it anyway. Could we PLEASE have a serious, rational, logical discussion on whether or not there should be some kind of playoff in Division I-A football?

This much is clear: We are sure as hell not going to get that kind of discussion out of Congress.

I was out of town last Friday but I monitored the Congressional hearings on the BCS. What I expected were members of Congress asking thoughtful, probing but tough questions in order increase their understanding of the BCS. Challenging the current structure with hard-edged questioning is what these hearings were intended to do. I get that. I accept that. That is what should happen.

As it turned out, my expectations for the hearings were way too high.

Instead of a serious discussion about post-season college football, what we got was Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) auditioning for Jay Leno’s job.

“This is really the Bowl Exhibition System,” he said. “Or it should just drop the ‘C.’ …

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Munson joins broadcasters Hall of Fame tonight



If you stay in this business long enough an honor comes your way that you want to share with your friends. Today is one of those times.

Tonight Wes Durham, the voice of Georgia Tech and the Atlanta Falcons, and I will drive to Salisbury, N.C., to attend the annual banquet held by the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association. Since 1962 the NSSA has recognized the best sports writer and broadcaster in each state. Tonight the AJC’s Furman Bisher and Steve Hummer will be honored as the best sports writers in Georgia. Fittingly the “Professor,” Pete Van Wieren, the legendary Voice of the Braves, will be honored as the top broadcaster in the state for 2008.

But the highlight of the evening is when one writer and one broadcaster are inducted into the NSSA Hall of Fame. These are the greatest of the great in the profession. The writer’s side includes Grantland Rice, Damon Runyon, Ring Lardner and yes, Furman Bisher. If you’re too young to have ever read these men, do …

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