Archive for August, 2010

Danielson: No SEC team will go undefeated

New York–Gary Danielson is about to enter his fifth season as an analyst for the SEC game of the week on CBS. I caught up with Gary during a recent trip to New York where we were putting together a preseason show for CBS. I asked him for five good SEC story lines as we approach the start of the 2010 season.

1. Nobody in the SEC will go undefeated: People are saying there is a gap between Florida and Alabama and everybody else. I don’t agree with that. I think the league will be a little more compact this season because the middle has gotten better. Auburn, LSU, Arkansas and Ole Miss will be better. South Carolina will be better. Georgia will be better. Nobody is going to run away from it and everybody in the conference will lose at least one game. I think the SEC will be the only conference in the country where a one-loss team could reach the national championship game.

This could be a year where the SEC looks like the ACC because everybody has 1, 2, or three losses. People …

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As a new season begins, I sure do miss Erk Russell

 I was going to write this morning about What We Learned on the final weekend before the start of the 2010 season. A lot of it wasn’t going to be good.

I was going to rag on Washaun Ealey, wondering which part he did not understand when the UGA coaches said: “Don’t drive on a suspended license.”

I was going to update you yet again on the money grab that is conference expansion as the WAC tries to save itself from being eliminated as a Division I-A conference.

I was going to raise a skeptical eye to South Carolina’s Weslye Saunders, who contacted a Columbia radio station to profess his love and loyalty to the school, his teammates and his coaches.  While expressing such devotion, Mr. Saunders has also managed to be under NCAA investigation on multiple fronts. Hard to show love and loyalty when you’re not on the field, youngster.

All of this comes on the heels of a tough, short summer that included athletics directors behaving badly, players behaving badly, bad agents …

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How many South Carolina players could miss Georgia game?

It’s Friday. The season starts next Thursday and Lord, please let it get here quickly. We have just about talked this sport to death.

Because it’s Friday the floor is open to you on any topic. Keep it clean, of course.  Here are five topics just to get the party started:

1. How many South Carolina players will miss the Georgia game on Sept. 11? It’s a pretty good bet that tight end Weslye Saunders will not play in the opener with Southern Mississippi next Thursday. The NCAA has had a couple of prayer meetings (that’s Southern for “serious conversations”) with young Weslye over several issues.

Now, thanks to some good reporting by Joe Person of The State newspaper in Columbia, we learn that a bunch of Gamecocks have been living in a local hotel.

Nothing wrong with that because they get a $500 monthly allowance to live where they want. The problem is that the Whitney Hotel is not a Motel 6. It has a limo service and whoever runs the thing was letting the players live there for …

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Can Bama’s Ingram win a second Heisman?

 Like DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, with each year that goes by what Archie Griffin did in 1974-75 becomes a more impressive accomplishment. The Ohio State All-American remains the only player in history to win two Heisman Trophies.

There have been a numerous opportunities for repeat Heisman winners over the past 35 years:

**–If Herschel Walker had returned to Georgia for his senior season in 1983, you have to believe he would have won another Heisman.

**–Ditto for Barry Sanders, who won it in 1988 and turned pro early.

**–Oklahoma quarterback Jason White won it as a junior in 2003 but finished behind USC quarterback Matt Leinart and OU running back Adrian Peterson in 2004.

**–Leinart won it in 2004 as a junior when the Trojans won the BCS championship but in 2005 his teammate, Reggie Bush, took home the hardware. Then Bush passed up his senior year and turned pro.

**–We had back-to-back sophomores win in 2007 (Florida’s Tim Tebow) and 2008 (Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford) …

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Coaches on the hot seat; new coaches who will succeed, struggle

We have 24 new head coaches in Division I-A football. Some will succeed early. Some will struggle early.

Among veteran coaches, there are a number of who enter this season very much on the hot seat.

So with the start of  season just eight days away, it is a good time to look at our coaches on the hot seat, the new coaches who will succeed and the new coaches who will struggle.

This is  just one man’s opinion. If you have others to add to these lists, please do so:



1. Rich Rodriguez, Michigan: The problem for Rich Rod is that regardless of how many games he wins, there are just a lot of people who don’t want him to be the coach at Michigan any more. NCAA investigations at both his current and former (West Virginia) employers don’t help Rodriguez with a proud Michigan fan base.

2. Dan Hawkins, Colorado: When Hawkins came to Boulder from Boise State, folks thought the Buffs would become a Big 12 force again. Instead they are 16-33 in …

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Bobby Bowden celebrates new book, new life

Bobby Bowden always had a sure-fire line whenever somebody asked when he would retire from coaching:

“After you retire there is only one big event left. And I ain’t ready for that.”

The line always got a big laugh. But underneath Bowden’s dadgummit humor was a note of seriousness that he rarely discussed in public. Bear Bryant, who Bowden so admired, coached his last football game  on Dec. 29, 1982.  Just 28 days later Bryant was dead.

“Of course you think about it,” Bowden once told me in the privacy of his office at Florida State. “How can you NOT think about it.”

But Bobby Bowden, who turns 81 on Nov. 8, wants you to know that he is doing just fine despite the fact that for the first time in 57 years he will not be coaching football in 2010. That doesn’t mean he isn’t busy. He’s already been to Israel for 10 days. He has two speaking engagements lined up in Hawaii. He’ll be going on a long Carribean Cruise “and all I have to do is speak for about 45 minutes and I’m …

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SEC, ACC are deepest. But who has best conference?

We just completed our next-to-last weekend before the season starts. So what did we learn?

1.  SEC, ACC are the deepest conferences: We can argue all day about who has the best conference in college football. Is it the SEC with six teams in the Top 25 and two in the Top 10? Or is it the Big 12 with three teams in the Top 10 but with nobody else ranked? There is no winner in that argument.

What I like to do is use the polls (in this case the AP poll) to break down the conferences by depth. How many teams were ranked plus how many teams actually got votes?

SEC (8): Six ranked (Alabama, Florida, Arkansas, LSU, Auburn, Georgia). Two more got votes (South Carolina, Ole Miss.)

ACC (7): Five ranked (Virginia Tech, Miami, Georgia Tech, UNC, FSU). Two more got votes (Clemson, BC).

Big 12 (7): Three ranked (Texas, OU, Nebraska). Four more got votes (Missouri, Texas Tech, Texas A&M), Oklahoma State).

Pac-10 (6): Three ranked (Oregon, USC, Oregon State). Three more got votes (Stanford, …

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Countdown to No. 1: Can Alabama handle the expectations?

It’s been a fun week counting down our Top 25 teams for 2010. It will come as no surprise to you that I have Alabama at No. 1.

Yes, Alabama has to replace nine starters on defense and both of its kickers. And logically, the Crimson Tide should not be able to win a second straight national championship. Nobody has done it since Nebraska in 1994-95. But I’m putting a lot of this preseason ranking on two things:

1. Alabama has a lot of really, really good players. They played a bunch of people on defense last season and so replacing all those starters will not be as complicated as it might seem.

2. If any coach can guide his team through the mental mine field of trying to win consecutive championships, it is Nick Saban. This season, more than anything else, will be an exercise in mental toughness at Alabama. Saban and his staff do that well.

So here we go. Here is our preseason Top Five for 2010:


1. Alabama

 **–It will be a good season if: The Crimson Tide goes 12-0 for …

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Countdown to No. 1: Will No. 7 Nebraska get its revenge on Texas?

 We continue our Countdown to No. 1 today with teams 6 through 10. I know some people will disagree on Nebraska at No. 7 but I think this will be a breakout year for the Cornhuskers under Bo Pelini.

I have Oregon at No. 8 and have noticed that some folks don’t have them in the Top Ten or ranked at all. Yeah, the Ducks lost QB Jeremiah Masoli but they have 18 starters coming back from a Rose Bowl team. And Chip Kelly is a really good coach.

So tell me what you think. We’ll have to Top Five on Friday to close out the week.


10. Iowa

**–It will be a good season if: The Hawkeyes can replace four starters on the offensive line and running back Jewel Hampton returns to form after sitting out last season with a knee injury. The schedule is set up with Penn State, Wisconsin, and Ohio State at home.

**–It will be a disappointing season if: Quarterback Ricky Stanzi can’t cut down on his interceptions after throwing 15 last season. Stanzi is a gamer and comes up big in big …

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Countdown to No. 1: Can No. 14 Georgia Tech win another ACC title?

We continue our countdown to our preseason Top 25, which will conclude on Friday with No. 1 through No. 5.

Today we have 11-15 and you’ll find three ACC Coastal teams: North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech. Now the round robin with those three and No. 20 Miami is going to be fun. Some smart people are telling me I have Miami rated too low. We’ll see.

Again, let me know what you think. We will have teams 6-10 on Thursday.



15. Florida State

**–It will be a good season if:  The defense improves just a little bit. Florida State struggled last season and Mark Stoops, brother of Bob, comes in as defensive coordinator. But we wonder if the Seminoles have the horses to be really good. If so, FSU can get to the ACC championship game.

**–It will be a disappointing season if: QB Christian Ponder does not bounce back to his 2009 form. The senior was averaging 321.8 yards of total offense  per game when he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the ninth game against …

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