Personally, I say bring back the beer barrel trophy, but I understand and respect why they don't. I'm fine with that. There is a difference between college kids playing for a beer barrel and Coach Cal helping promote the bourbon industry. Bourbon is one of the signature products and industries of Kentucky. The UK basketball coach transcends coaching basketball and is an ambassador for the state--something that Cal does marvelously and Billy G failed at miserably. I think it's good that he is working to promote that industry (and yes, I'm sure he's getting paid for that too), just as it is good that he is raising and giving money today for the small town of West Liberty today and with the Alumni game. So, I guess, if it's a mixed message, it only is so if you don't look past the surface.
SEC West Football
1. Which Alabama player is most like Nick Saban? AJ McCarron. “They’re just like brothers.”
2. Auburn has “already put a good chunk of time” into their first few gameplans.
3. Through 15 practices at Arkansas, safety Ross Rasner says “everybody’s a little banged up.”
4. Nick Holt — the man filling the job left vacant by Jessica Dorrell’s departure — took on the administrative role in Fayetteville to help old pal John L. Smith.
5. LSU’s offense put up big, big numbers in yesterday’s scrimmage.
6. Les Miles didn’t let his team do their traditional “hit the bars after the final scrimmage” thing last night… the annual activity that led to Jordan Jefferson’s arrest last year.
7. Hugh Freeze was pleased with Ole Miss’ Thursday practice session.
8. It’s time to shift from camp mode to game mode at Mississippi State.
9. Johnny Manzeil’s confidence helped him win the starting quarterback job at Texas A&M.
SEC East Football
1. Freshman linebacker Antonio Morrison has caught the eye of Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.
3. Christian LeMay is getting more reps behind Aaron Murray at Georgia.
4. UGA’s tailbacks are all bunched together at the moment.
5. The Dawgs’ “dream team” signing class of 2011? Uh, yeah… not so dreamy.
6. This writer says Joker Phillips’ seat at Kentucky isn’t as hot as Derek Dooley’s at Tennessee.
7. New defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward is allowing his South Carolina defenders to be more aggressive.
8. After a week off campus at small Milligan College, Tennessee’s players “came back a new team.”
9. The Volunteers’ final scrimmage today will focus on situational football. (No surprise… Bill Belichick begat Nick Saban and Nick Saban begat Derek Dooley.)
10. Vanderbilt’s James Franklin admitted that he doesn’t do his own voting in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll, but he does look it over before a staffer sends it in.
1. Florida and Kentucky will take part in a pair of hoops tournaments in 2017 to celebrate the 80th birthday of Nike founder Phil Knight.
2. A little fanfare please… John Calipari has announced the number assignments for his team this year. (Only at Kentucky would this be a news story. Not a knock. A fact.)
1. “The SEC’s critics insist that it’s top-heavy and that it’s really a league comprised of two or three heavyweights and a lot of mediocre teams after that.”
2. Another writer — this one from Alabama! — believes Bill Curry would be a perfect fit for the imaginary role of college football commissioner.
3. Longtime Aggie player, coach and administrator John Thornton is retiring from Texas A&M.
4. Russ will continue to serve as a fill-in for Uga as Georgia’s mascot.
5. Kentucky and Tennessee won’t bring back their Beer Barrel trophy, but Coach Cal will be signing more limited-edition bourbon bottles this year. Mixed messages, anyone?
6. Yahoo! Sports’ Pat Forde says the situation at North Carolina might cause “the ‘new NCAA’ to flex its precedent-setting muscles again.”