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BCS Title Game Observation 2: Bama Easily Takes AP Title

Alabama’s resounding 21-0 win in the Superdome last night ended any real controversy regarding a split national title.  Of the 60 voters who make up the AP Poll, 55 of them tabbed the Crimson Tide as their #1 team.

Oklahoma State got four votes while LSU received one.  Just a guess, but here’s betting four of those voters are from the Midwest while one is from Louisiana.

At any rate, the final rankings left LSU at #2 ahead of #3 Oklahoma State and when you compare the teams’ resumes, that’s fair.  The #4 slot went to Oregon and Arkansas finished #5.

With a unanimous title this year, Alabama has now had nine national title-winning seasons according to the AP and/or Coaches Poll.

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The Drums Start To Beat For A Split National Title

The winner of the BCS Championship Game will win the BCS championship. 


If that’s LSU, then the Tigers will claim that prize right along with the AP national title as well.  They’ve already finished a rugged regular season with a 13-0 record, after all.

But if LSU loses to Alabama, expect many to push for the Tigers to win the AP’s crown.  After all — it will be argued — they beat Bama in Tuscaloosa during the regular season and their body of work will still be stronger than the Tide’s even with a loss in the rematch game.

Don’t believe some will angle to split the title?  Just check out the open to the Associated Press story from last night’s Fiesta Bowl:

“The BCS system left Oklahoma State bitter.

After a thrilling win in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, the Cowboys have a chance to throw a stick in the spokes.

Surviving a missed field goal at the end of regulations and getting a big kick of its own in overtime, No. 3 Oklahoma State opened the door for the chance at a split national championship with a wildly entertaining 41-38 win over No. 4 Stanford on Monday night.

‘We feel like we could beat anyone in the country,’ Cowboys receiver Colton Chelf said.”

Personally, we don’t think OSU has a legitimate shot at grabbing a share at the title.  If LSU loses, most voters looking to split the crown will compare the two teams’ schedules and side with the gang from the Bayou.

But if the above comments regarding the Cowboys are any indication, there will be some who’ll look to slide LSU past Alabama in the AP.  So long as the Tigers aren’t blown out of the Superdome.

Now, Bama fans will scream that that’s not fair — trust me, they have been doing just that for a month — and LSU fans will say oh-yes-it-is-100-percent fair, but both groups would take the complete opposite views if the roles were reversed.  In other words, the backers of the teams don’t matter.  Only the AP voters matter.

And the fact is… whoever wins the BCS Championship Game will be guaranteed the crystal football and nothing more.  If LSU loses in the title game, expect some voters — possibly many — to cast their votes for the Tigers in the AP balloting.  If there’s a push for Oklahoma State, you can bet there will be a bigger push for LSU.

Like it or not.

UPDATE — The Birmingham News polled 20 of the 60 AP voters and found that a majority of the 20 will vote the winner of the BCS Championship Game as the AP’s #1 team, too.  Some, however, admitted that they would consider voting for LSU even if the Tigers lose to the Tide.

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SEC Headlines – 12/5/11 PM Edition

1.  The SEC has named its basketball Players of the Week.

2.  Don’t expect to see Urban Meyer when Florida faces Ohio State in the Gator Bowl.  (But you’ll hear his name a whole bunch.)

3.  UF’s Dominique Easley will miss the game with an ACL injury.

4.  Mark Richt and Mark Dantonio held an Outback Bowl teleconference today.

5.  James Franklin says Vandy’s seniors are “taking a lot of pride in laying the foundation for great things to come.”

6.  This Arkansas writer says Ole Miss is making “the right choice” with Hugh Freeze.

7.  This writer says the BCS got it wrong with LSU-Alabama rematch.

8.  Folks in Alabama are saying — naturally – the BCS title game winner should get the BCS crown and the AP championship.

9.  One poll says Trent Richardson will finish third in the Heisman race.

10.  LSU’s players are just fine with facing Alabama again.

11.  This writer says Jarrett Lee — who took over at the last minute and led LSU to wins against three ranked teams on the road — deserves a curtain call in Baton Rouge.  (Agreed.  He deserved better than last snap duty against Georgia on Saturday.)

12.  Folks in the SEC region are happy, but folks outside the South are not.

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Richt Still Believes In Crowell; Test Results Learned After UF Game

Isaiah Crowell — the SEC’s fifth-leading rusher — gave himself and the Georgia program a black eye this week when a failed drug test led to his suspension from the team for a week.

This news came on top of preseason rumors that Crowell was having a hard time adjusting to college life and college football.

But Mark Richt says his star tailback — who was prematurely compared to Herschel Walker by some — is far from a finished product at this stage of his life:

“I feel like he is going to grow up from this in some ways and I think is going to be better for it.  Sometimes things happen in life that will help you grow up a little bit quicker.”

The coach also said that his running back is “very remorseful” and that he was encouraged by the way Crowell took his punishment.  “… I think it was one of the better conversations I’ve had with Isaiah since he’s been here.”

Crowell’s high school coach also believes his former pupil has learned his lesson.

Lucky for Crowell his lesson seems to have come in a relatively minor way.  There was no arrest.  There was no violent crime, no DUI.

One failed drug test can serve as a wake-up call.  Here’s hoping Crowell answers that call.

On a sidenote, the AP has now quoted two people “familiar with the results” of the drug test as saying that the tests were administered last Wednesday, but the results were not confirmed until Tuesday, when the suspensions were announced.

Georgia AD Greg McGarity said yesterday, “We don’t play games around here.  For someone to insinuate that we are being selective like that is absurd.  We don’t manipulate things.  We are going to conduct our program with respect and do things the right way.  For anyone to claim otherwise is irresponsible.”

Richt added: “We didn’t know anything until Monday evening.  That’s when we knew we needed to start thinking about what’s going on.”

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Garcia “Shocked And Completely Flabbergasted” By Carolina Boot

Following his dismissal from the South Carolina football team, Stephen Garcia texted an AP reporter to say that he was “shocked and completely flabbergasted to be honest” by his ouster.

The oft-troubled quarterback reportedly failed a random substance test on October 4th — just one day after Steve Spurrier gave the starting nod to backup quarterback Connor Shaw — and that led to his final dismissal yesterday.

While the rest of the sporting world shrugged its shoulders, not surprised that the five-times-suspended Garcia had somehow stumbled again, the player’s father — Gary Garcia — gave a more complete picture of what’s been going on with his son to Josh Kendall of The State:

“He kind of made his own bed, and this is the culmination of some of those earlier mistakes.  He’s upset that he’s not finishing what he came here to do and that’s win an SEC championship, but he also is maybe kind of relieved to get a little bit of fresh air…

This has got to be the worst two weeks of his life, but it’s not going to be the worst two weeks in his life going forward, I can tell you that.  You deal with trials and tribulations, and you learn from it.  Hopefully, he continues to learn and grow.  We’ll let the dust settle for a couple of weeks and then look at what his options are.”

In addition to losing his starting job and being kicked off Carolina’s team in the past two weeks, Garcia also had to attend his grandfather’s funeral last week.  His father said, “The death of my father along with the Auburn loss and being benched contributed” to his son’s most recent violation.  It’s been reported that the test showed alcohol and marijuana in the younger Garcia’s system.

In the end, we’re talking about a 23-year-old college graduate who needs to get his life in order.  As his father correctly pointed out, Garcia will face more trials and tribulations in his life moving forward.  There are plenty of people twice his age who still rush to a dime-bag of pot or a bottle of liquor when they’re faced with crises.  Here’s hoping Garcia won’t be one of them.

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Mizzou Needs to Mi-Zippit

Earlier this evening we posted comments in response to an AP story in which an anonymous Missouri official said that his school prefers the Big Ten to the SEC.  “That’s what’s left,” the source said of Mike Slive’s conference.

Immediately, Missouri fans set out to prove that they really are a fit for the SEC by pushing conspiracy theories:

* ESPN was making the story up (even though it was an AP story and not an ESPN story)

* Kansas people were planting the story

* Anti-Missouri media members were working against the Tigers

Except… this isn’t the first time Mizzou has had a problem keeping its collective mouth closed.  In our initial story, we pointed out that MU officials had publicly bungled their attempt to jump to the Big Ten last year.

And let’s not forget that it was just last month when another anonymous Missouri source leaked word that the SEC had invited the school to join.  That remark was immediately shot down by the Southeastern Conference.

Now, for those Missourians who believe this small-time stuff, answer this question?  At what point during Texas A&M’s courtship did an Aggie source say, “Well, we’d prefer to go to the Pac-12.”  At what point did anyone in College Station say, “Yep, Slive’s already called us.”

That’s right.  It never happened.

And when was the last time an expansion-related leak emanated from anywhere inside the SEC itself?  There’s the occasional remark about finding a 14th school, yes, but no one ever leaks a peep about who that selection might be.

Slive is running the sports equivalent of the Manhattan Project while Missouri appears to have more Deep Throats than a sleazy video joint.  That’s not a good match.

If Missouri is going to get along in the Kingdom of Slive someday, its school officials will need to learn to either close their mouths or speak in unison when they open them.

The Big 12 is every man for himself.  But that league is a house of cards built upon sand just above a fault line.

In the SEC, there’s the company line and then there’s… well, that’s pretty much it.  There’s the company line.

So if Missouri’s going to join the SEC, it’s going to have to make sure everyone on the payroll is capable of zipping his lips.

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AP: Mizzou Hopes For SEC But Would Have Preferred Big Ten

Missouri makes sense. 

When it comes to making a business decision, Missouri would be a good one for the SEC.  From a TV perspective, from a basketball perspective, and from an academic perspective, etc, etc.

But the folks at Mizzou really aren’t very good at PR.  At all.  And that makes us wonder if the Tigers really do make sense if spreadsheets and mortarboards and included in the conversation.

Last summer, the school made it very clear that it would like to receive an invitation from the Big Ten.  When that league added Nebraska, Mizzou was left with an egg the size of the Gateway Arch on its face.

Now, as the school apparently angle for an SEC bid, one Mizzou source has told the AP that the Big Ten remains the school’s top choice, but Jim Delany’s league “has not interest.”

Wait.  It gets worse.

“That’s what’s left,” the person said referring to the SEC.

That’s what’s left?

Uh, no… the Big 12 as Texas’ whipping boy is what’s left.  A Big East mish-mash is what’s left.  A drop down into Conference USA might be what’s left.

The natural reaction to this story from most SEC fans will be pretty darn negative.  That’s why it’s important to remember that this one “school official” might be a lone kook.  He or she may be the only person in Columbia who views the situation as being Big Ten — first prize, SEC — what’s left.

To find out MU’s true feelings, perhaps it’s time for commissioner Mike Slive to let Missouri sweat a bit.  If they’re not all in for the SEC then perhaps they shouldn’t be granted a seat at the table.

It’s not good when one school looks down its nose at its league partners.  Missouri should know that by now… as it’s been the school being looked down upon by Texas since 1995. 

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Seven SEC Teams Ranked This Week

Seven SEC schools are ranked in the AP and USA Today Coaches polls this week.  Eight if you count likely-to-be-a-member Texas A&M (#9 in both polls).

Here’s the SEC’s squads stack up (with Oklahoma remaining in the #1 slot):

AP Poll
USA Today Coaches Poll
#2 Alabama
#2 Alabama
#3 LSU
#3 LSU
#11 South Carolina
#11 South Carolina
#14 Arkansas
#13 Arkansas
#16 Florida
#17 Florida
#21 Auburn
#19 Auburn
#25 Mississippi State
#25 Mississippi State

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LSU Jumps Bama In AP Poll; AU And UGA Bounced

The new polls are out for Week Two and the AP voters have made a change near the top.  LSU — fresh off a 40-27 win over Oregon — has flip-flopped spots with Alabama.  The Tigers are now #2 and Alabama is #3.  You can reverse that order in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll, however.

Here’s how the SEC fares in the AP Poll:

2.  LSU (17 first-place votes)
3.  Alabama (9 first-place votes)
12.  South Carolina
14.  Arkansas
16.  Mississippi State
18.  Florida

Auburn and Georgia fell out of the poll altogether.

Here’s how things stack up in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll:

2.  Alabama (9 first-place votes)
3.  LSU (7 first-place votes)
12.  South Carolina
13.  Arkansas
17.  Mississippi State
18.  Florida
22.  Auburn

Georgia fell out of the Top 25 with last week’s loss to Boise State.

And in case you’re wondering, Oklahoma is #1 in both polls while Texas A&M is #7 in the AP and #8 in USA Today’s poll.

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No One’s Showing A Lack Of Respect For Auburn

Boy, there’s one storyline that’s already getting old when it comes to the 2011 SEC season.  As ESPN put it today: “Historic lack of respect for Auburn in polls.”


Chris Low does a great job and he’s certainly not alone in suggesting AU is getting cold-shouldered by pollsters — you can bet Gene Chizik and his aides are making that point to their players, too — but unfortunately that argument just isn’t true.

Sure, Auburn’s #23 ranking in the AP poll marks the first time in 20 years that a defending national champion hasn’t started the following season in the Top 10.  The horror.

But let’s look at the facts:

1.  You’d be hard-pressed to find another national titlist in that span whose success was so much attributable to one great player.  We’re not saying Cam Newton was the whole Auburn team, but how many of those close games would the Tigers have won last year without him?  For the record, seven of AU’s 14 wins were by determined by eight points or less.

2.  Newton isn’t around this year and the top two guys on the quarterback depth chart aren’t dual-threat guys like Newton (who actually led the SEC in rushing last season).  That’s really going to change the way Gus Malzahn calls plays.

3.  The Tigers also lost Nick Fairley, their most disruptive, dominant player on the defensive side of the ball.

4.  And Auburn lost 16 starters total from last year’s squad.  Those 16 slots will be filled — in most cases — by players who have little experience or by true freshmen who have none.

5.  Finally, AU’s schedule this season is much tougher than it was a year ago with road trips planned for Clemson, South Carolina, Arkansas, LSU and Georgia.  Toss in Mississippi State, Florida and Alabama for good measure at home.

Put Newton or Fairley of half of those lost starters back on Auburn’s squad and they would likely be smack dab in the Top 10.  Flip-flop this year’s schedule for last year’s and the Tigers would likely be getting more love from the voters, too.

But as it stands, there haven’t been many national champions in the last 20 years that have been so unproven going into the following season.

And let’s not forget that Texas’ precipitous fall from grace last season (from the BCS championship game to 5-7) is still fresh on pollsters’ minds as well.  They now know that the logo on the helmet doesn’t always offset the departure of a gaggle of stars.

We at expect Auburn coaches, players and fans to talk about how the Plainsmen are being disrespected.  By year’s end, they may be proven right.

But in August, looking at that schedule and all the uncertainty in that Tigers’ line-up, AU’s preseason ranking isn’t a story of disrespect.  It’s the story of playing the odds.  And no one should have to apologize for simply playing the odds.

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