Archive for May, 2010

A Memorial Day message

 Destin, Fla.—Happy Memorial Day from Destin where the annual SEC Spring Meetings get underway on Tuesday. We’ll get to that tomorrow. Today I want to share a personal experience that gave me a renewed sense of what this day is all about.

Back in January Maria and I were traveling in England and spent an entire day in Cambridge. It is, of course, one of the great university towns of the world. It is where Charles Darwin studied, where 80 Nobel prize winners attended, where DNA was first modeled, and where the atom was first split. The place is a little intimidating.

But my lasting memory of that day was a visit to the American World War II cemetery on the outskirts of Cambridge. Here a link to the site:

 Here is the entry from my diary back to friends and family in States:

“If you come here, make the World War II Memorial Cemetery the last stop on your tour. The cemetery contains the remains of 3,182 people who lost …

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Richt’s message to coaches: Keep it simple

 It’s Friday and, as always, we are going to leave the floor entirely open for you. You may raise any topic as long as it’s clean. I’m getting ready to head to Destin for next week’s SEC Spring Meetings. We will join you from there on Monday.

Here are five topics to get our Friday conversation going:

1. Richt’s marching orders to coaches: Keep it simple. Jeff Woolverton of 790 The Zone and I taped an interview with Georgia coach Mark Richt yesterday that is scheduled to run today on the “Brandon and Woolvey” show between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

In that interview Richt said something that I am hearing from more and more head coaches these days.

Richt told me that when his staff reassembles this summer to prepare for preseason practice, his No. 1 message to them will be: Keep it simple.

I’m paraphrasing here, but Richt’s point was that as offensive and defensive schemes get more and more complex, coaches have to be careful not to overload  …

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Is the BCS supposed to be fair?

Let me say up front that I have my own issues with the BCS. I believe it is in the best interests of college football to do away with the current format after the four-year contract between the BCS and ESPN expires after the games of January 2014.

I would like to see a seeded four-team playoff.  We would put the magic back into New Year’s Day by playing the semifinals in two of the big bowls on Jan. 1. A week later the two winners would play for the national championship. I believe this is the best way to move the sport forward without disrupting the current college football calendar and while keeping the bowl system intact.

And believe me folks, the university presidents are overwhelmingly in favor of keeping the bowl system and the current college football calendar. Any changes in the post-season will have to fall within those presidential parameters. The presidents run the show. Not the media. Not the fans. Not the coaches or the players. The presidents who make up the …

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If USC is stripped of 2004 title, should Auburn get another look?

 Auburn’s undefeated team of 2004 has been back in the news lately because of speculation, most of it light-hearted, that if USC has its BCS title of that year stripped for NCAA rules violations, perhaps the Tigers could get another shot at the ring almost six years after the fact. Maybe the Associated Press, wrote Kevin Scarbinsky of the Birmingham News, could take another vote to strip USC of the trophy and just give it to Auburn.


Fun to think about but it’s not going to happen. But the mental exercise reminded me how significant that undefeated Auburn team was and how much happened after the Tigers got left out of the Big Game.

It was January, 2005, and I remember standing in the press box about an hour from kickoff for the BCS championship game between USC and Oklahoma in South Florida. Suddenly I feel a tap on my shoulder: It is Tommy Tuberville, the head coach at Auburn. His team had …

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Your choice: SEC championship or NFC championship?

Let’s do a little experiment, very unscientific of course, to determine whether or not the Atlanta area is a college football town or a pro football town.

Last week I raised this issue in response to the Atlanta Falcons’ desire for a new open-air stadium to eventually replace the Georgia Dome. I wrote that while I greatly respected owner Arthur Blank and the Falcons organization, any decision regarding a future stadium must take into account the college events that are currently held at the Georgia Dome.

Specifically I was talking about the SEC championship game, the Chick-fil-A Bowl and Kickoff Classic, and the potential to host basketball events such as the NCAA Final Four, SEC and ACC  tournaments. Lose the Dome (the city can’t afford to maintain two stadiums) and replace it with anything less than a facility with a retractable roof and you risk losing those events.

Then I wrote that, after all is said and done, Atlanta is a college football town. Always has been. …

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Why the SEC can’t ignore what the Big Ten might do

 Why should the SEC care if the Big Ten expands? It’s a reasonable question and I get it a lot.

Obviously, the SEC has a great thing going with four straight national championships in football. The league has 14 years remaining on a $3 billion TV contract with CBS and ESPN. The SEC has sold out football stadiums from Athens to Tuscaloosa and competes on a national level in every sport it sponsors. Life is good.

So why mess with a great thing? Why not let the Big Ten do its thing while the SEC keeps doing what has made it so successful?

Here’s why: “If you are a commissioner your No. 1 job is not to take care of today,” said former SEC commissioner Roy Kramer. “Your No. 1 job is to look at least 10 years down the road to where your conference is going to be and where the competition is going to be.”

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive told me recently that the his conference will have a plan in place should the Big Ten expand to 16 teams, which could totally change the …

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Congress vs. the BCS. What’s next?

It’s another Fantastic Friday and once more the floor is open to you. No subject is off limits as long as it’s clean. Here are five reasonably interesting topics to get our conversation going:

1. Congress  vs. the BCS. What’s next? Bill Hancock, the BCS Executive Director, sent a letter yesterday responding to inquiries from senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Max Baucus (D-Montana) about the way the BCS determines its champion and distributes the money, which will be about $125 million per year in the next four-year cycle.

Hancock was polite and answered all questions. But basically he told the Senators that they had more important things to worry about: “While I appreciate your interest, I believe that decisions about college football should be made by university presidents, athletics directors, coaches and conference commissioners rather than by members of Congress.”


Hatch, upset when undefeated Utah did not get a shot at the 2008 national championship …

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Memo to Mr. Blank: Atlanta is a COLLEGE football town

Let me begin by saying that I have all of the admiration in the world for Mr. Blank, Rich McKay and the Falcons franchise. I’m not a pro football guy but I recognize a good organization when I see one.

So understand that what I’m about to say is with all due respect:

Have you people totally lost your minds?

McKay, the Falcons’ President, told the AJC yesterday that the Falcons’ first preference for a new stadium would be an open air facility that is still on the campus of the Georgia World Congress Center. The Georgia Dome, despite its renovations, just doesn’t quite do it for the NFL franchise any more. When I see facilities like Jerry Jones’ new playpen in Dallas ($1 billion) and Lucas Oil Stadium in Indy (site of this year’s Final Four) I understand. It’s about generating revenue outside of ticket sales. I’ve got no problem with that.

But Mr. McKay told the AJC that building a stadium with a retractable roof is too costly (presumably the cost of a new …

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Would mega-expansion get us closer to a playoff? I don’t think so

 I get asked a lot whether or not big-time conference expansion would bring us closer to some kind of playoff in Division I-A football. Doesn’t it stand to reason that if we end up with four, 16-team conferences, a playoff of some kind is more likely?

I don’t think so. And here’s why.

Amid the clutter of noise that surrounds the issue of expansion, we occasionally have a moment of clarity. That really didn’t come yesterday when Commissioner Jim Delany told reporters at the Big Ten Conference meetings that his league might look South for expansion. Understand that Delany’s comment was just another shot across the bow of the SEC, the Big Ten’s only rival when it comes to financial supremacy in college athletics. When you’re reading all of these expansion stories and projections remember that at the end of the day it is about only one thing: The SEC vs. The Big Ten. Everything else is just conversation.

The clarity about which I write this morning came last Friday …

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If the SEC asked, would/should Georgia Tech say yes?

Not long after the conference expansion issue really started to heat up, I found myself in a charity golf foursome with a couple of Georgia Tech guys. We were waiting to hit, so I just asked them point blank:

“If Georgia Tech got an invitation to leave the ACC and join the SEC, would you vote to go?”

Response No. 1:  “In a New York minute.”

Response No. 2: “Can we go today?”

Now look, Georgia Tech has had a very good football home in the ACC since 1983. It is the defending ACC champions.  And the situation got a lot better on Monday when the ACC landed a very good television deal with ABC/ESPN that will pay the league $155 million per year. In this economy, the ACC essentially doubled their money from the previous contract and that is quite an accomplishment. A number of people (this writer included) thought that the numbers might be lower so give the ACC kudos for getting that deal done.

Having said all that, there are two questions we will ponder today:

How/Why …

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