Archive for December, 2009

Alabama was the hungrier team

 

 

Five things we learned on the final weekend of the college football season:

 

1. Alabama was the hungrier team: You got the sense in the days leading up to the SEC championship game that Alabama’s motivation against Florida was very clear. The Crimson Tide remembered how devastating it felt after last year’s loss and how it carried over into the Sugar Bowl. Nick Saban’s players did not want to feel that way again. They played with more passion and more energy. And they had a head coach who does not lose in rematches. Nick Saban lost back-to-back games against Steve Spurrier in 2000 and 2001 in his first two seasons at LSU. Since then Saban has faced 14 SEC “revenge games” where he had lost the season before. Saban is now 14-0 in those games.

 

2. The officials in the Big 12 game got it right. Yes, Texas totally mismanaged the end of the Big 12 championship game against Nebraska. Quarterback Colt McCoy was too casual in running the last play and the game clock ran out. And …

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Alabama nips Florida in another instant classic

 

 

Georgia Tech, Clemson, and Ole Miss all had a bad Rivalry Week but not as bad as your humble correspondent. Thanks to those losses and three others I had my worst week of the season (4-6). Good thing it will soon be over. That record dropped us to 93-37 on the season.

 

As punishment for my poor performance, we’ll only pick five games today. Here, because I know you have been breathlessly waiting, is the final Fearless Friday Forcecast for the 2009 regular season. Thanks for being here for what has been quite an incredible ride.

 

1. Alabama vs. Florida (SEC Championship): There is not a whole lot more you can say about a 1 vs. 2 matchup with everything on the line. The winner gets the SEC title, a shot at the national title, and perhaps the Heisman Trophy winner. Florida is the defending national champions and has won 22 straight games. Florida has one of the best quarterbacks we will ever see in Tim Tebow. Florida won 31-20 when these two teams met this time last year. …

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Five burning questions about the SEC championship game

 

 

Five burning questions about the SEC Championship game:

 

1. What impact will the loss of DE Carlos Dunlap have on Florida? There are two levels of concern if you’re Florida. No. 1 is the fact that you just lost a first round draft choice for the biggest game of the year. Dunlap, the defensive MVP of the BCS championship game last January, was tied for team lead in sacks at seven. He’s a great player. The second impact is just the mental distraction. The other players on that team, who have been busting their butts since February, see one of their key guys do a stupid, selfish thing. It has to be disheartening. This is where really good coaches earn their money.

 

2. Was it a surprise to see Urban Meyer let Dunlap go so quickly? Not at all. Meyer learned an important lesson from his handling of the Brandon Spikes suspension, which was roundly criticized in the media. That was a one-day story that turned into a five-day story because it wasn’t properly handled. Meyer knew …

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Ten fun facts about the SEC Championship Game

 

Ten fun facts that you may or may not know about Saturday’s SEC championship game:

 

1. This will be the 41st time that the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the Associated Press poll have met. Of the previous 40 meetings, 23 have come in the regular season and 17 have been in bowl games. Of those games, the No. 1 team has a record of 24-14-2.

2. Since Florida quarterback Tim Tebow made “The Promise” after last season’s loss to Ole Miss, Florida has won 22 straight games. In those 22 games Florida has outscored its opponents 907-259.

3. Alabama doesn’t appear to have many weaknesses but here is one. Or at least it is a concern. The Crimson Tide is ranked 116th nationally in defending kickoff returns. Teams are averaging 25.56 yards per kickoff return against Alabama.  Alabama, interestingly enough, has kicked off 82 times (68 have been returned) this season. Only four teams in the country have kicked off more: Boise State (99), Houston (95), TCU (90), and Florida (86).

4. Alabama’s …

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How I will remember Bobby Bowden

 

When I heard the news that Bobby Bowden was expected to retire today, I went through a range of emotion.

 My first reaction was to be mad. I had been told over a week ago that not-so-subtle pressure would be put upon him to step down.

Yes, he would be given the option of returning, but in what could only be described as a figurehead role. In short, he would not retain the right to control the staff and the important things that go into being a head coach. The position would be ceremonial. I know the man well enough to believe that he could not be happy with that.

After building the Florida State program into a national powerhouse over 34 years—which included an unprecedented streak of 14 straight years with Top Five finishes—I believed strongly that he had earned the right to dictate the date and the manner of his retirement. This is not the way to treat a legend.

Then I got sad, as I usually do when one of the great ones has to walk away from the game. I will freely admit …

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