Archive for July, 2009

Coaches should not be judged on national championships


It’s Friday and on Friday all of us are given the freedom to present views that may be a little out of the mainstream. Here’s mine:

Mark Bradley’s blog on Thursday “Will UGA win at BCS title under Mark Richt?” reminded me of a conversation I recently had with a reporter. He basically asked me the same question about Richt  and I said something that shocked him a little bit and it may shock you. But I have believed this for a long time:

The question about Richt is irrelevant.

Why? Because I believe coaches should not be ultimately judged on whether or not they win national championships.

You read that right. Having covered this sport for a long time I have concluded that national championships are not an accurate measure on whether or not somebody is a good coach or a great coach. Now if a guy like Urban Meyer has won two national titles in three years and is favored to win another, it’s a pretty good bet that he’s a great coach. But the absence of a national championship …

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Could UT’s Berry exact Peyton’s Revenge?


If you want to anger the soul of a loyal Tennessee Volunteer, just bring up 1997.

Tennessee fans can give you every detail of that exhilarating, frustrating year. It was the year that they lost to the Gators 33-20 in Gainesville but then won the rest of them in the regular season. It was the year that the Vols won their first SEC championship under Phillip Fulmer with quarterback Peyton Manning leading the way.  On the night of SEC championship game Manning rallied Tennessee from a 20-7 deficit by throwing for 373 yards. That total included a 73-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Nash early in the fourth quarter, which proved to be the game winner, 30-29.

Afterwards, Manning was named the game’s MVP and capped off the evening by directing the Tennessee band as it played “Rocky Top.”

I was convinced that one week later, Manning would add one more shining star to his resume by winning the Heisman Trophy. I was wrong. Michigan defensive back Charles Woodson was handed the hardware …

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Big Ten, Pac-10 had no choice on Rose Bowl access


 The Big Ten announced on Monday at its preseason meetings that the five Coalition (non-BCS) conferences will finally have access to the Rose Bowl under the new BCS agreement which begins after the 2010 regular season.

 Simply put, the first time in the new deal the Rose Bowl loses one of its designated champions (Big Ten, Pac-10) to the BCS championship game, the Rose Bowl must invite a Coalition conference champion if one has qualified for a BCS at-large spot. If this rule had been in effect last season and USC had played in the BCS championship game, the Rose Bowl would have been required to invite 12-0 Utah, the Mountain West champion, which qualified for a BCS at-large berth by finishing No. 6 in the final standings.

(If you’re an SEC or ACC fan and wondering why you should care about this, here’s why. Should you get a second team in the BCS on a year that this rule is enforced, it means your team would be locked out of Pasadena. But that’s another discussion for …

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ACC’s new TV deal must close the gap with the SEC



Greensboro, N.C.—The ACC expanded in 2004 to add Miami, Boston College and Virginia Tech for one very important reason: The league wanted to go to 12 teams in order to make sure it didn’t lose its seat at the table—both competitively and financially–with the big boys of college football.

In most aspects, expansion has been a success for ACC football. No, the league has not been in the national championship discussion lately, but it has done very well at the bank. In 2005 it signed a new seven-year television contract with ABC and ESPN for a reported $258 million. Simply because of expansion, the ACC went from making about $21 million per year on televised football to about $37.6 million per year. Last year the ACC sent a record 10 teams to bowl games. So from a purely financial standpoint, expansion has worked.

But that was then and this is now. And right now the SEC has changed the entire landscape of college sports with its staggering 15-year, $3 billion agreements with …

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LSU-North Carolina agree to play in 2010 Chick-fil-A Kickoff

Greensboro, N.C.—Here’s some news and notes from the first day of the ACC Football Kickoff for 2009:


LSU-North Carolina at Georgia Dome in 2010?: Looks like the Chick-fil-A College Kickoff is headed for another blockbuster ACC-SEC matchup.

Two people close to the discussions told me Sunday night that North Carolina and LSU have tentatively agreed to play in the Chick-fil-A College Kickoff on Sept. 4, 2010 at the Georgia Dome.

North Carolina and LSU have indicated to the Atlanta Sports Council that they will play in the game if some scheduling issues can be resolved to open up the date for both teams. Those issues are expected to be resolved.

The Chick-fil-A College Kickoff began last season with Alabama’s 34-10 win over Clemson in front of a sold-out Georgia Dome and a national television audience. This season Alabama and Virginia Tech, both expected be in the most preseason Top 10s, will meet on Sept. 5 in another hard sellout.

LSU and North Carolina have met six times in …

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Was Tim Tebow “virginity” question out of bounds?


Birmingham—I get emails all the time basically asking why the media makes such a big deal out of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow.

 The notes I get basically say the same thing: “Well, yeah, Tebow’s a good football player and all that, but NOBODY is that good of a person. You geeks/nerds/idiots in the media need to quit fawning all over this guy and building him up. It’s too much.”

They even have a name for this attitude. It’s called the “Tebow Backlash.”

One of my mentors in the business, Irwin Smallwood of Greensboro, N.C., taught me as a rookie that reporters should always be skeptical but never cynical. But the media in the 21st century, at least what’s left of it, is incredibly cynical when it comes to analyzing Good. We don’t trust Good. Good has let us down too many times. After years of watching the Michael Vicks of the world, it’s easier (and professionally safer) to assume that Good is just a temporary destination on the way to Bad.

But here’s the deal with Tebow and …

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Richt apparently done talking about Georgia-Florida site

Birmingham—Just wanted to check back with you with a few sights and sounds from what has been a wild and crazy session at SEC Media Days:


**–I think Mark Richt has decided that he has done enough talking about the location of the Georgia-Florida game. The contract, which has kept the game in Jacksonville since 1933 (except for 1994 and 1995) is up for renewal. In the past Richt has said that he wouldn’t mind switching up the rotation and playing the game in Athens or Atlanta.

But when Richt was asked about it today he simply said: “This is what I want to do. I want to focus on winning that game. That’s all I want to focus on when it comes to that game.”

Somebody followed up with the question: “You don’t care where it’s played?”

“I really just want to focus on trying to when that game. That’s my goal from here on in (smiling). That will be my answer from here on in.”

Expect the game to remain in Jacksonville when the new contract is signed.


**–Like him or not, you have to …

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It’s going to be a wild day in Birmingham

Birmingham–Wednesday’s first session of SEC Media Days was relatively calm. But here are a few nuggets I’ll bring your attention:

SEC, ESPN invade Big Ten, Big 12 Country. The SEC and ESPN finally began to reveal some details about their television plan for the fall. One of the things it revealed was an SEC Network that will be produced by ESPN at its regional production center in Charlotte. That network will show the early game on Saturdays and will include other extensive programming on the SEC.  But here is what’s interesting in that deal. The network will reach into the territory of aother conferences, including the Big Ten and Big 12,  where stations have been cleared to telecast SEC football. It’s just another example of how the SEC is using this new deal to spread its brand throughout the country. Its competitors cannot be pleased.


The Commish warns his coaches–again. Commissioner Mike Slive said he has had another discussion with his head football coaches about their …

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The only league that can slow down the SEC–is the SEC


Birmingham—At 1:30 p.m. today Commissioner Mike Slive will kick off the SEC’s 2009 Football Media Days with his annual message on the state of the conference. This will be Slive’s eighth football media days since taking over as commissioner in 2002 and he will say that the state of the conference is very, very good.

He probably won’t say this but I will. The Southeastern Conference has been in existence since 1933 and there were a lot of great moments in the first 75 years. But competitively, academically, and financially the SEC has never been better than it is right now. And here’s the rub if you compete against the SEC: For a lot of different reasons this league is about to get even stronger.


Let us review:

**–In the 2008-2009 academic year the SEC won five national championships. It finished as the national runner-up in five other sports. So in 10 of the 20 sports that the league sponsors, the SEC finished first or second nationally.

**–Under Slive the SEC has won four …

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How much love will/should Georgia get at SEC Media Days?



Mercifully, the college football preseason will officially begin on Wednesday with the start of SEC Media Days.

I can’t remember a year when we’ve had so many good story lines as we head to Birmingham/Hoover. But here are five burning questions that I’ll be trying to answer over the next three days at the Wynfrey Hotel:

1—How much love will/should Georgia get in Birmingham? And if you’re a Bulldog, should you care? Remember that a year ago Georgia was No. 1 in most preseason polls. But when the SEC media assembled last July they picked Florida. Of the 70 media votes, Florida got 36 as the projected champion followed by Georgia (18), and Auburn (13). LSU, Tennessee and Ole Miss had one vote each. Alabama, which started 12-0 and won the SEC West, did not receive a vote to win its division or win the conference championship.

Florida, ranked No. 1 in most preseason polls, should be a pretty unanimous pick to win the conference. But Georgia fans should take heart in this:  Only …

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