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Bama’s Saban Doesn’t Want Your Hype, America

Nick Saban isn’t interested in the praise that’s now being heaped upon his Alabama football team following Saturday’s absolute annihilation of #8 Michigan, 41-14.  In fact, the coach claims he doesn’t even understand — yeah, right — why folks are making such a fuss:

 

“Everyone thought we were too young, too inexperienced, couldn’t handle success.  Everybody was saying all those things about our team.  Now, people are saying something different. But my question is what’s different?  Nothing.

We’re still young, we’re still inexperienced.  We’ve still got things to work on.  It’s going to be all about the maturity that the team has to be able to focus on what they need to do to correct the deficits that we have whether it’s individually, collectively as a unit in some part of our team, so that we improve as a team.”

 

Saban doesn’t want his team thinking it’s the bunch that won January’s BCS Championship.  He’s made that point all summer and he knows that a bit of complacency hurt the Tide in 2010 after his team won its 2009 crown.  Also, his points are valid — Bama is still young and inexperienced in many places.

But after whooping up on the Wolverines in Week One’s biggest game, come on, he’s knows what’s different.  His team’s now been seen and it looked every bit as good as last year’s unit.

Does that guarantee another title?  Nope.  In 2010, Alabama was awfully flying high after crushing #7 Florida at home, 31-6.  The next week the Tide lost to South Carolina 35-21.  His team went on to lose two more contests.

Football is a week to week venture and as Lou Holtz once said, coaches rarely see the same performance twice from their squads.  But Saban knows plenty well what’s changed between last week and this week.  The eye test.  And to a lot of sets of eyes — including mine — Alabama looks like the best team in the country.

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UF’s Muschamp Says Mizzou, A&M Questions Are Overblown

Speaking with ESPN, Florida’s Will Muschamp admitted that he was asked the same questions 15 times as he made his was through the SEC Media Days circuit (or circus).  Asked what single question he heard the most, the coach didn’t hesitate:

 

“Everyone is so curious about how A&M and Missouri will do in our league… they’re gonna do fine.  Gary Pinkel’s done a phenomenal job at Missouri.  They almost played for the national championship three or four years ago.  They do a good job offensively and defensively.  And Kevin Sumlin’s gonna do a great job at A&M.  They do a great job on offense when you look at what they did at Houston and also defensively.  And they’ve got a great recruiting base there in the state of Texas.”

 

Coach speak?  Possibly.  Lou Holtz-ing two teams on the Gators’ schedule this year?  Maybe.

But the fact of the matter is — and we’ve written this before — both Missouri and Texas A&M are stronger now than Arkansas and South Carolina were when they joined the SEC 20 years ago.  That may not result in immediate success, but the idea that the Tigers and Aggies will flounder at the bottom of their divisions for years to come is silliness spread only by extremists.  And by Kansas and Texas fans.

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Mullen Talks Up Kentucky

Football coaches are well known for talking up their opponents.  Lou Holtz, for example, used to be a master of that art. 

Apparently Dan Mullen is working on an advanced degree in puffery, too.  Check out what Mississippi State’s coach has to say about Kentucky, his Bulldogs’ foe on Saturday:


“One of the issues has been turnover ratio and I think that is what’s giving them their negative results.  All of a sudden, you take away their turnovers and they’re a pretty hot team right now.”


A pretty hot team?  UK did whip FCS-level Jacksonville State 38-14 over the weekend and they did pile up 445 yards of offense.

But out of 120 teams nationally, Kentucky ranks…


118th in total offense
117th in first downs
116th in passing offense
114th in 3rd down conversions
111th in scoring offense
107th in red zone conversions
106th in rushing defense
104th in turnover margin (a checkmark for Mullen on that one)
 

A pretty hot team?

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Director Of Football Ops Snow Leaves UK For U Of L

Kentucky’s Joker Phillips is entering his second season as UK’s head football coach.  Ditto Charlie Strong at Louisville.  And that’s what makes the following news so interesting.

Clifford Snow served last year as Phillips’ director of football operations in Lexington.  After one season — and in mid-June — he’s accepted the exact same position on Strong’s staff.

“I’m very excited to be joining Charlie Strong’s staff and the Louisville football family,” Snow said via press release.  “This was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up, and I’m very proud to be a part of the Cardinals’ bright future.”

Now, for all anyone knows there might have been family issues involved.  Maybe Phillips wanted rid of Snow.  Or maybe Snow is just a really big horse-racing fan.  But anytime someone leaves UK for U of L — or vice-versa — it makes news in the Bluegrass State.

And most people think long-term before switching jobs.  So does that mean Snow believes Strong has a better future with the Cardinals than Phillips does with the Wildcats?  Maybe. 

Or it could be that Snow simply wanted to again work with Strong.  The two men once served together on Lou Holtz’ staff at South Carolina.

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Final Thoughts on the SEC Championship Game: Time to Give Fate a Chance

South Carolina
Content provided by Garnet And Black Attack.

South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia drops back to pass during football practice in Atlanta, Friday, Dec. 3, 2010. South Carolina will play Auburn in the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game on Saturday. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

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John Bazemore – AP

about 6 hours ago:

South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia drops back to pass during football practice in Atlanta, Friday, Dec. 3, 2010. South Carolina will play Auburn in the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game on Saturday. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

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in 1999, the South Carolina Gamecocks wrapped up an utterly forgettable decade of football. Carolina won 45 games over the course of the 1990s, lost 69, and tied 3. That’s 45-69-3, if you needed me to repeat it. Much like they had hoped hiring hot young Bobby Bowden disciple Brad Scott would invigorate the stagnant program in 1994, Carolina fans had hoped that hiring legendary Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz would help the program recover from the depths Scott’s failed tenure took the program to. Holtz’s first year, though, was more of the same. In fact, it was worse–Holtz would take the Gamecocks to an unenviable 0-11 record.

South Carolina football has always been an exercise in futility. Carolina has one conference championship to its credit. It didn’t win a bowl game until 1995. It lost to Navy when it had a chance to come to within a game of playing for the national title. What happened in Hotlz’s first season in Columbia didn’t really surprise anyone. Carolina Gamecocks fans, however, have always stood by their team, even during that forgettable 0-11 season. They’ve always, often to the ridicule of their rivals’ fans, believed that it was fated that God would smile on the Gamecocks one day.

The ancient Greeks believed that fate was something that man couldn’t control, but these days, most of us believe that we make our own good luck. This isn’t the place to answer that age-old question, but it is worth observing here than when it comes to Gamecocks football, we’ve made our own luck as of late. Holtz and, later, Steve Spurrier wouldn’t have come here if they didn’t believe that this school and state have the resources and support available to provide the foundation for a championship contender. And, ever since that 0-11 record the Gamecocks fell to in 1999, things have been getting a bit better for us. 2000 and 2001 would be banner years for Carolina; the Gamecocks would go 8-4 and 9-3, respectively, and would punctuate both seasons with Outback Bowl victories over the storied Ohio St. Buckeyes.

Those two years inaugurated the most successful decade in Carolina football history. It hasn’t all been perfect, of course. The Holtz era ended on a prolonged down note, while the early promise of the Spurrier era hit some significant roadblocks in 2007 and 2008. However, the program has remained competitive, never quite returning to the depths of mediocrity it plunged too back in 1999. This is a different program. It’s one that’s grown over the past 10 years into a significant player in the SEC.

Earlier this year, when South Carolina achieved what I think we’ll one day look back on as a milestone victory over the Alabama Crimson Tide, Steve Spurrier told us that before the game, he had told his team that if they gave fate a chance, good things might work out for them. To hear him talk, you’d think that he thought that football is nothing but a game of chance. And maybe there is some chance involved in the path we’ve followed to get to what’s going to go down tomorrow. However, we all know that Steve Spurrier is no mystic. This is a guy who believes in his ability to make a difference. And when he came to Carolina, he saw an opportunity. “Why not us?” was not idle speculation; it was a reasonable statement of fact. Why shouldn’t Carolina do something that it’s always had the potential to do? I hate to put words into the guy’s mouth, but I think that when Spurrier told his team to “give fate a chance,” he just meant to go ought and finally make good on the investment that’s been put into Carolina football since the beginning. It took Spurrier to put the finishing touches on the team that would finally put itself in a position to do that, and for that reason I think we’ll remember him as the program’s greatest coach. But the potential has always been here; Spurrier knows that as well as anyone. That’s why he’s here.

Tomorrow afternoon, we play the Auburn Tigers for the SEC Championship. No one is giving us a chance to win. The Tigers are a consensus pick to play for the BCS Title and field the unanimous favorite to win the Heisman Trophy. Carolina, on the other hand, should just be happy to be here, right? The Gamecocks don’t really stand any chance of knocking off the mighty Tigers, do they?

Wrong. I not only think we stand a chance in this game; I think we’re going to win. Over the past few weeks, the light has come on for this team. The weight of history was lifted against the Florida Gators three weeks ago, and this team now realizes that it’s good enough to finish what it’s started over the course of the season. We’re confident and playing better than we ever have. Auburn won’t know what hit them.

How do I know this? Sometimes you just have to give fate a chance.


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