Archive for January, 2010

Dooley hire a triumph of substance over style

Vince Dooley remembers the day that his youngest son, Derek, made it clear that he wanted to be a football coach.

Derek had received his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia where he played for George Welsh. He then attended law school at the University of Georgia.

His mother, Barbara, had seen her husband dedicate their entire married life to the coaching profession. That was enough heartache for one family. Her son–the baby of four children–was going to someday be a partner at King & Spalding, one of the biggest law firms in the country.

There was just one problem. Derek Dooley did not enjoy being a lawyer. He loved football. He had seen his father’s level headed, methodical approach to the profession and decided that was who and what he wanted to be. So, just like his father, Derek Dooley put together a game plan to convince his parents that leaving the legal profession–and the financial rewards that came with it–to make NO money in coaching was the right …

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Tennessee will be better off without Kiffin

I’m sorry I am going to be out of the country for the next few weeks because what eventually happens at Tennessee is going to be fascinating.

The next few weeks, even perhaps he next few months, are probably not going to be a lot of fun for Tennessee fans.

Unless athletic director Mike Hamilton can pull a rabbit out of his hat and hire somebody–like Will Muschamp of Texas–who will calm down the Tennessee fan base, the Volunteers are looking at bad stretch of road coming up with the sudden departure of Lane Kiffin to USC.

It’s clear by now that Hamilton has set his sights on Muschamp and will pay him handsomely to leave Austin, where he is the coach-in-waiting to Mack Brown, who just got a new deal at $5 million per year. Hamilton will tell Muschamp that Mack is not going to retire anytime soon. He is offering a bird in the hand at a premier spot in the SEC. Muschamp’s agent will have all of the leverage in those negotiations.

Texas will tell Muschamp that if he’ll just be …

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Where does Tennessee go from here?

 So much for taking some time off.

After 30 years in the business, not a lot surprises me any more. Lane Kiffin’s bolt for USC just three weeks away from National Signing Day surprises me. It also makes me sad. This is not a good night for college football. Some quick thoughts:

**–With this shocking decision, Lane Kiffin proved he is everything we thought he was. He used the University of Tennessee in the worst possible way.

**–The Tennessee people will not understand because USC is simply not a better job. It’s in California, which is more suited to Kiffin’s personality, but it is not a better job by any measure.

**–You have to wonder what Kiffin is thinking because, based on everything I’ve heard, USC is going to get hammered by the NCAA. I just hope he didn’t leave an NCAA mess at Tennessee that others will have to clean up.

**–Mike Hamilton, the Tennessee AD, is going to be under tremendous pressure to bring some stabilty to the program. The fact is that he got played by …

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Images of a season we’ll never forget

There are so many images of the 2009 college footbal season that are going to stick with me for a long time:

**–The season ended, of course, with a wild celebration on the field at the Rose Bowl with Alabama holding up the crystal ball symbolizing the BCS national championship, the school’s first since 1992. There were a lot of really happy people on that field.

**–But this season really began with a punch. It was delivered, sucker variety, by Oregon’s LeGarrette Blount to the chin of Boise State’s Byron Houts. What followed was an angry young man out of control, who wanted to take on a hostile crowd. Oregon had no choice but to suspend him indefinitely. But there was redemption. Late in the year he was reinstated to the team and first-year coach Chip Kelly took the Ducks to the Rose Bowl.

**–It was the year that the SEC appeared to be snakebit when it came to bad officiating. It started with the phantom excessive celebration call against Georgia’s A.J. Green against LSU, …

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Saban secures his place in Alabama history

Newport Beach, Calif.–On a plaza at the North end of Bryant-Denny Stadium are the statues of the coaches who have won national championships at Alabama: Wallace Wade, Frank Thomas, Gene Stallings, and, of course, Paul Bear Bryant.

 When the plaza was built there was room left for a fifth statue in anticipation that someday, someone, would take Alabama back to its football glory.

 After Alabama’s 37-21 victory over Texas in Thursday night’s BCS national championship game, it is a fair statement that a statue of Nick Saban will soon be filling that space.

“I haven’t thought about it but Terry (his wife) said something about it last night,” said Saban, who brought Alabama its national championship in only three years. “You hope that when you get into this profession that you can do something that leaves a mark, that will effect someone in a positive way in the future.”

 The college football world reacted with shock and awe in Janaury of 2007 when Saban was hired away from the …

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Alabama championship fueled by 2008 disappointment

 

Pasadena, Calif.–There is no way to measure how devastated Alabama was in December of 2008. The Crimson Tide, who had not won a national championship since 1992, were 12-0, ranked No. 1, and had a shot at a national title in their sights.

But then came the loss to Florida in the SEC championship game which gave the Gators the shot at the BCS title, which they won. Then came the loss to Utah in the Sugar Bowl. For a team that was 12-2, there was a lot of heartache at Alabama.

That’s why Alabama’s 37-21 win over Texas, which gave the Crimson Tide yet another national championship, was so sweet.

“We have a group of dedicated players who bought in to what we tried to do this season,” said head coach Nick Saban, who became the first coach in the modern era to win national championships at two different schools (He won a national title at LSU in 2003). “They were determined to prepare every day to put themselves in this position. We have a great team at Alabama and it starts with …

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Let’s talk Bama-Texas

Kickoff is less than 20 minutes away and I’m picking Alabama to beat Texas 24-13. An Alabama victory would give the SEC it’s fourth straight national championship.

I’ll share a few thoughts as the game unfolds. I’ll be interested to read your take on the game .

Let’s start here. I just don’t think Texas is going to be able to block Alabama’s defensive front well enough to give quarterback Colt McCoy any room to operate. Am I wrong?

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Can Alabama give SEC it’s fourth straight title?

Pasadena, Calif.–We are still  more than an hour from kickoff on a perfect California Day. If the quality of the BCS championship game between Alabama and Texas matches the weather, then we are in for a great evening.

The buzz around this historic stadium is incredible. I took a lap around the Rose  Bowl and found two sets of fans who can’t wait for the kickoff. Alabama’s confidence is high but the Texas people I talked to are also quietly confident they can hang with the SEC champions.

I picked Alabama to win this morning  because at the end of the day I just don’t think the Texas offensive line can handle the speed and athleticism of the Alabama defensive front seven. But I also remembered that the Texas offensive line is coached by former Georgia player Mac McWorther. He’s one of the best around.

The Texas defense is coached by another Bulldog, Will Muschamp, who used to work for Nick Saban at LSU. Does Muschamp’s knowledge of Saban’s tendencies help the Longhorns? Can the …

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Five burning questions about the BCS championship game

 

Newport Beach, Calif.—Folks, you know how much I love Atlanta but it was nice to wake up this morning in one of the few places in the United States where it is warm.  I understand we have some nasty weather coming in to the ATL.

Tonight in almost perfect conditions No. 1 Alabama (13-0), the SEC champ, and No. 2 Texas (13-0), the Big 12 champ,  will square off at the Rose Bowl for the BCS national title. I’ll be getting to the stadium pretty early today. I’ll file a new blog before the game and will then share some thoughts during the game. So if you’re watching tonight jump online. It should be fun.

Since this matchup was set on Dec. 6 it has been broken down in every conceivable fashion. But here are Five Burning Questions I have before the kickoff comes just after 8 p.m.

 

1. Can the SEC keep its streaks going? There are two big ones on the line tonight. A win would give the SEC its fourth straight BCS national championship. Florida won it in 2006 and 2008 while LSU took …

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It was a very good year at Georgia Tech

 

Some random thoughts before I get on the plane to West Coast, where it is warm and sunny:

 

1. It’s been a very good year at Georgia Tech. While last night’s loss to Iowa in the Orange Bowl was a disappointment to Georgia Tech and its fans, at some point today it will be time to put it into perspective with the rest of the season. Georgia Tech ran into a big, athletic defense that had had over 40 days to prepare. When quarterback Ricky Stanzi was healthy, Iowa was the best team in the Big Ten and would have likely gone undefeated if he had been available for the Northwestern and Ohio State games.

In just two seasons Paul Johnson has made Georgia Tech a player again on the national stage with an ACC championship, a BCS bowl, and a win over Georgia. While it can’t be a great year unless you beat the state rival, this was a very good year at Georgia Tech.

2. Time to give the Big Ten its props. The Big Ten has gotten beat up during bowl season lately, going 1-6 last year. Iowa …

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