On hearing that West Virginia head football coach Rich Rodriguez is taking the same position at Michigan, star running back Steve Slaton had this to say:
"Honestly I don't know why he chose Michigan instead of Alabama...'
That boy might be the smartest man in America.
In case you don't remember, Rodriguez backed out of a deal to take over as head coach at Alabama last year. Crimson Tide fans everywhere thank Coach Rod for turning the opportunity down and wish him all the best with the Wolverines.
And no, this is not a whining complaint about Georgia not playing for the mythical national championship (MNC). You cannot lose to South Carolina at home and get your doors blown off by Tennessee (who got punked by a mediocre Alabama team) and even talk about playing for a national championship. Not to mention that UGA beat Florida when Tebow was hurt and beat an Auburn team that had played ten straight weeks. I love Georgia and think they're playing as well as anyone in college football, but the entire season matters and they shot themselves in the foot three weeks into the season.
I don't want LSU playing for a national championship - I think Les Miles is a mediocre coach playing with someone else's toys. But they did win the conference championship and you can't win a national championship if you can't take care of business in your conference.
Having said that, the BCS and our outdated bowl system that gives us the exhilirating matchup of USC-Illinois in the Rose Bowl because of 'tradition' is a complete and total trainwreck that will not be fixed without some type of playoff. There is no excuse why Georgia, USC, Oklahoma and Va. Tech are not playing each other or at least getting a shot at LSU or Ohio State for the MNC. Last time I checked, there are a lot of intelligent and wealthy and powerful people in college football who can make anything happen if they want it to happen. And when 85% of voters in a recent ESPN poll want to see a playoff, the only thing that seems to keep that from happening are the archaic wishes and obvious greed of said power brokers.
Other football thoughts:
I giggle when I hear LSU fans whine about Kirk Herbstreit breaking the news right before the SEC Championship Game about Les Miles heading to Michigan. By all accounts, the information KH received was accurate and even if CLM wasn't going up north, the idea that Hebstreit was trying to mess things up for LSU is preposterous. No one has been a bigger advocate of SEC football than KH.
And in case I didn't make my point clearly enough, I don't think Les Miles is a good football coach - at all.
My guess is that Tommy Tuberville stays in Auburn. Good for him. I'd rather see Alabama beat him wearing Auburn colors than Arkansas gear every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
If anyone doesn't believe that character matters in football, look no further than the University of Alabama. And no, I'm not talking about Nick Saban, who's been villified only slightly less than Adolf Hitler and kiddie porn guys. There are upperclassmen whose ego, lack of maturity and selfishness are pretty much singlehandedly responsible for Bama's last three losses.
Another great season by my father-in-law's Vestavia Rebels. Made it to the Alabama 6A semi-finals and sent archrival Hoover packing in the quarterfinals.
Brian Chesemore over at The Family Room blog has pointed back to a March 2006 post by CJ Mahaney on how he has taught/discipled/equipped his son, Chad, in regards to making sports a means of honoring God instead of a subtle yet powerful idol. I'd encourage all of our dads to read, digest and begin to work this out with your boys (or girls).
So yesterday I said that one of the reasons why the American Southern Suburbs (thanks to the two of you who pointed out how that works out as an acronym...completely unintentional on my part) are so frustrating is because we are very religious. Jesus and the Bible still have a place in our world - at least in buildings that people inhabit on Sundays - but tragically, for all of our Jesus and Bible, the life-transforming hope and power of the Gospel is largely absent from our cultural consciousness, even in the Church.
I'll spare boring you by predicting the other BCS conferences and get straight to the conference that we all care about...here are my 2007 SEC football predictions:
1. Georgia. I'd be pretty worried about a defense that unexpectedly lost its best player in Paul Oliver, but I think they're better than the other teams in what will be a good but not great division. I cannot imagine anyone coming out of the East undefeated. (Key games - September 22 at Alabama (1-7 all-time in Tuscaloosa); October 6th at Tennessee (revenge for 51 points last year); October 27th vs. Florida)
2. Florida. Talented but very young and they have to travel to LSU, S Carolina and play the Dawgs in J'ville (Key games - September 15 vs Tennessee (home team is just 2-5 in this series); October 6th at LSU; November 10th at S Carolina)
3. S. Carolina. Ten starters on defense and the Ole' Ball Coach is coaching up the offense. They'll beat either Georgia, Tennessee, or Florida (Key games - September 8th at Georgia; November 3rd at Arkansas; November 10th vs. Florida)
4. Tennessee. They'll be good but after being outgained in SEC play, losing their top-3 WRs and having to go on the road to play Florida, Cal and Bama, I'm calling for 8-4 at best. (Key games - September 1 at Cal; October 6th vs. Georgia; October 20th at Bama)
5. Kentucky. They played over their heads last year but could still get 6-7 wins because of Andre Woodson (QB), Rafael Little (RB) and Keenan Burton (WR). (Key games - September 22nd at Arkansas; November 10th at Vandy).
6. Vanderbilt. I almost picked Vandy 5th but they have to travel to Auburn, S. Carolina, Florida and Tennessee and get Bama at home in week 2. (Key games - November 10th vs Kentucky; November 24th vs Wake Forest).
1. LSU. I hate Les Miles. He's an average coach who cost his team the NC last year because of poor coaching. I don't like his big tall white hat and I'm looking forward to Bama beating the Tigers in Tuscaloosa. That said, LSU has the most talent in the West and not even CLM can completely screw that up. (Key games - September 8th vs. Va. Tech; October 6th vs Florida; November 3rd at Alabama)
2. Alabama. Let me say up front that I think Bama, Auburn and Arkansas could easily end up ending anywhere from #2 to #4 in the West. I think the combination of favorable scheduling, 9 starters back on offense and Nick Saban take a team that outgained opponents in SEC play and very easily could have gone 5-3 in the SEC with Mike Shula as HC and make some serious noise. That said, the front seven on D makes me very, very nervous. (Key games - September 15 vs Arkansas; September 22 vs Georgia; September 29 vs Florida State in Jacksonville; October 20th vs. Tennessee)
3. Arkansas. Darren McFadden. That and the fact that The Great Nutt is 6-3 over Tuberville gets them the #3 spot. (Key games - September 15th at Bama; September 22nd at Kentucky; October 13th vs Auburn; November 3rd vs S. Carolina)
4. Auburn. Go take a look at the 2005 Bama team and the 2006 Auburn team and you'll see the same thing. A team that got lucky (5 net close wins), was outgained by 33.4 ypg in the SEC and has significant losses on Special Teams, RB and WR. It wouldn't surprise me to see them end up at #2 but a brutal schedule and nothing particular special anywhere else on the field ends them up at #4 in my book. (Key games - October 13 at Arkansas; November 10 at Georgia; November 24 vs Alabama)
5. Mississippi State. Getting better, but still a pretty good distance separating them from the top 4 in the West. (Key games - November 23rd vs. Ole Miss)
6. Ole Miss. And in the basement they'll stay with Coach O at the helm. Possibly the worst HC in the SEC since...OK, maybe the worst ever. (Key games - November 23rd at Mississippi State)
Some of you know that I worked as a personal trainer when I was in college - one of the things about working in that culture is that I was introduced to entire worlds that I was completely oblivious to, primarily the worlds of bodybuilding, powerlifting, mixed martial arts and professional wrestling. Most of the individuals in those worlds - well, let's just say that there are good guys and not-so-good guys.
Chris Benoit was one of the good guys. I had the opportunity to meet him twice - once as an up-and-coming wrestler in the now-defunct World Championship Wrestling and most recently in the Atlanta airport a few years ago just before he won the WWE world title at Wrestlemania XX. We were heading to the same gate in Atlanta and we had the chance to talk for about five minutes - most of which was him telling a rather funny story about his son, Daniel, who was four at the time.
More details continue to leak out and by all accounts so far, the picture won't be very pretty. In some sense it's not surprising because we live in a very messed-up world...but it doesn't make this seem any less surreal.
ESPN is teaming up again this year with the Make-A-Wish foundation to provide sick or disable kids an opportunity to meet their favorite athlete in a SportsCenter installment called 'My Wish'. This year's edition began last night and continues this week - the cheesy Rascal Flatts theme song notwithstanding, these are always well done and make you happy for these kids whose lives have been pretty tough.