Archive for November, 2009

There COULD be an Alabama-Florida rematch for national title



Don’t look now folks but we COULD have a rematch of the SEC championship game for the BCS national title.

I know I’ve said for weeks that this cannot happen, that the voters in the human polls would not allow a team that loses on championship Saturday to turn right around and play for the national title a month later. But now we are looking at the real numbers and the numbers do not lie.

Florida and Alabama are 1-2 in the latest BCS Standings. They are tied for the No. 1 spot in the computers. Look at the gap in the total rating between No. 2 Alabama (.9513) and No. 4 TCU (.8689) and No. 5 Cincinnati (.8547).  Alabama has almost a full one-tenth of a point over TCU and Cincinnati. In this system that is huge! TCU (12-0) is done for the season and Cincinnati (11-0) plays a Pittsburgh team (9-2) that lost last week to West Virginia.

What does this mean? It means that if Texas loses to Nebraska in the Big 12 championship game, the SEC championship game loser, if it is …

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Georgia Tech rolls over Georgia


Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving. It’s Rivalry Week or, what a friend of mine likes to call “Hate Week.” No conference championships are on the line but a lot of feelings are. Some teams could lose a shot at the national championship or a BCS bid by getting beat by their rival. That makes it hurt twice as much.


If not for Georgia’s collapse against Kentucky we would have gone 10-0 last week. But for the year we are 89-31 (and yes, we don’t use the point spread) for those of you keeping score at home.


Here we go with the next to last Fearless Friday Forecast for 2009:


1. Georgia at Georgia Tech: Georgia Tech is brimming with confidence as it goes for its second straight win over the Bulldogs. Georgia, meanwhile, just doesn’t seem to have any answers after last week’s meltdown against Kentucky. Athletically, Georgia should be able to hang around but there is no evidence that the Bulldogs can handle a tough, physical football game for four quarters. …

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Happy Thanksgiving. See you Friday.

Like you, I’m thankful for a lot of things today.

I’m thankful for my family, who understood that we would never live a “normal” life because of this crazy profession I’ve chosen.

I’m thankful to be making a living doing something I truly love because I see so many people doing things they don’t love.

I’m thankful that Furman Bisher is still writing his “I’m Thankful” columns. I hope he goes on for another 90 years.

And I’m thankful for all of you. We may disagree and I know there are times when you think I’ve lost my mind. But I tell my friends in the business that while I sometimes disagree with the folks who read and respond in this space, you are the most knowledgeable, passionate group of college football fans on the planet.

And for that I will always be thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families.



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If he gets the chance, Johnson will bring the hammer down on the Dawgs



Nobody asked me but:


1. If Paul Johnson gets the chance, he’ll bring the hammer down on Georgia. State rivalries like Georgia and Georgia Tech are always big recruiting games. Saturday night’s game at Bobby Dodd Stadium will be no different. But in his second year at Georgia Tech, Johnson has infused the football program with confidence at a time where Georgia’s confidence is at a pretty low ebb. There is all kind of positive energy at Georgia Tech. I haven’t seen this much negative energy at Georgia since Jim Donnan’s last year (2000) as head coach. College Football 101 says that when you have your rival in a weakened position, you put your foot on the gas. If Johnson can lay a pretty good number on Georgia, he will. Georgia has enough athletic ability to make this game competitive. But I wonder if they have the heart to fight back. I really do.



2. I think Bobby Bowden will be back at Florida State next season. There is no doubt in my mind that if …

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Auburn has a chance to repeat history

I am often asked to list the best rivalries in college football. My list is probably about the same as yours: Georgia-Florida, Texas-Oklahoma, Ohio State-Michigan, Alabama-Tennessee, Miami-Florida State.

I always leave out Alabama-Auburn and so the question is inevitably asked about the omission. Why do I not list Alabama-Auburn? Because, in my experience, Alabama-Auburn (or Auburn-Alabama) is much, much more than a mere football rivalry. It is a cultural war and the participants just use football to fight it.

If I ever had any doubt about this, those doubts were erased on Dec. 2, 1989, when I attended the most emotional football game of my career.

It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since Alabama went to Auburn for the first time ever.

Auburn hosting Alabama doesn’t seem like a big deal to this current generation of college football fans. They don’t know that Bear Bryant vowed that as long as he was alive, Alabama would never leave Birmingham’s Legion Field and …

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Is Les Miles on the hot seat?

So what did we learn over the weekend?


1. Is Les Miles is on the hot seat?  There are a lot of upset LSU fans this morning and deservedly so. After doing this for a lot of years, I’m sure I’ve seen a worse example of mismanaging of the clock than LSU had at the end of the Ole Miss game in Oxford. But for the life of me, I can’t think of one. The head coach and offensive coordinator did so many things wrong at the end of that game, won by Ole Miss 25-23, I’m not sure if I can keep count. But let’s start with this: Trailing by two points, LSU had the ball at the Ole Miss 32-yard line with a couple of time outs and about a minute left. Instead of running the ball and giving your field goal kicker—who had already made a 50-yarder—a chance to win the game, LSU offensive coordinator Gary Crowton decided to get cute, throwing the ball on the next three plays. The net result was lost yardage (taking LSU out of field goal range) and the burning of both timeouts. The …

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My friend, Steve Ellis


I know this my day to give predictions, and we’ll get to those. But I’ll let you know now that they’ll be brief.

From time to time I ask for permission to use this space to share something personal with you. This is another one of those times.

Yesterday we lost a damn good man and a damn good sportswriter. Steve Ellis of the Tallahassee Democrat covered Florida State for nearly 30 years and did it with great distinction. Nobody knew what was going on at Florida State better than Steve and he did it with a work ethic that was legendary.

Did he clash with the folks at Florida State from time to time? You bet. But everybody from President T.K. Wetherell to Bobby Bowden respected Steve Ellis as a pro. In fact, he was a pro that other pros looked up to and relied on as a great resource.

When I really needed to know what was going on at Florida State, I would talk to Steve late at night when I knew he had finally stopped working. Yeah, I was a competitor but our friendship …

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Can Georgia handle a little praise?



Five burning questions as we head into the weekend:



1. Can Georgia handle a little bit of praise? Last week’s win over Auburn doesn’t erase all of the of the problems that Georgia has had with this football team. Those problems are still considerable. But Georgia has not won two straight conference games since it beat South Carolina and Arkansas way back in September. Can the Bulldogs, who got a little love this week, handle it and take care of business against Kentucky? Can they build on it and actually play well for two weeks in a row?


2. Can LSU get excited, or even interested, enough to win at Ole Miss? If LSU beats Ole Miss on Saturday and Arkansas on Nov. 28, the Tigers will finish 10-2 and punch their ticket to the Capital One Bowl in Orlando on New Year’s Day. But LSU is not going to a BCS game because No. 1 Florida and No. 2 Alabama are both virtual locks to be there (and one conference cannot have more than two teams in the BCS). LSU had a …

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Tommy West is a class act


Thanksgiving is next week and in that spirit I want to take a break from the BCS, player arrests, and the coaching carousel to tell you a good story about a good man.

About a million years ago I played high school football against Tommy West. His Gainesville High School team beat my team from Greene County for a conference championship. West was a running back and a really good player. That’s why he played college football at Tennessee and I became a sports writer.

I followed his career at Tennessee and then later when he became an assistant coach on the rise. He worked for Danny Ford at Clemson and later became the Tigers’ head coach. After he was let go at Clemson he eventually became the head coach at Memphis. Personally, I always knew him to be a class act.

 Last week he proved it to the rest of the world.

Tommy West got fired last week. He’s 55 years old and had done just about everything he could do at a place like Memphis. He made them competitive and took …

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Legends poll should be added to BCS


I’ve got some advice for our friends at the BCS. In 2010 you will begin a new four-year contract with ESPN. If you’re going to keep the same format and selection process, and the contract says you will, how about an upgrade of the human polls that currently make up two-thirds of your formula?

Currently you have 59 coaches voting in the USA Today Coaches poll. We don’t have enough space, not even on the internet, for me to point out all of the inconsistencies in that poll. The coaches will readily admit that they don’t see very much college football other than their own team and their opponent each week.  Their poll reflects that. The ballots are also secret until the very last one. Secrecy should not be a part of the BCS process.

The Harris Interactive Poll voters are an interesting collection of former players, administrators and current media. There have been some interesting votes there are well.

The Associated Press media poll, the granddaddy of all polls, is …

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