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Urban Meyer Resigns from Florida: What It Means for Carolina Fans

South Carolina
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Phil Sandlin – AP

Florida’s coach Urban Meyer holds up the BCS Championship trophy in Gainesville, Fla. on Sunday, Jan. 11, 2009 during a ceremony honoring the team for their win over Oklahoma for the National Championship. (AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)

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As Skulls reported earlier, Urban Meyer has retired from the University of Florida. Meyer cites his desire to spend more time with his family as his motivation. Meyer, of course, resigned last season only to retake his post a few days later, and there will be some speculation that that’s what he plans to do again. This time, though, it sounds like he’s for real; Gators AD Jeremy Foley had this to say on that note:

“It’s so much different that it was a year ago,’’ Foley said. “He went through some tremendous issues a year ago. But I see his face now and I see the peacefulness. He’s totally at peace with the decision. He certainly has given every fiber of his body to this university. I’ve seen it every day. The results speak for themselves, but to get those results, how do they happen? That guy has given everything he had to this university.

“It was just time. He wants to spend more time with his family. He’s got daughters who play college volleyball; he’s got a son who is growing up. Urban loves his family. When all is said and done, he loves us, he loves the Gators, he loves football, he loves his players, but his world revolves around his family. I think more than anything else that was the impetus for this.’’

That doesn’t sound like an AD who thinks there’s much of a chance that his coach is going to do a 180, and, at any rate, you have to think that Foley wouldn’t be inclined to put up with a Favre routine if that’s indeed what Meyer has in mind.

What does the resignation of the coach at the SEC East’s premier program mean for Carolina? In the short term, I think it’s a good thing. Florida and Foley will compete for an elite coaching prospect, but as with all regime changes, there will be a transitional period for Meyer’s successor. Players will leave, this season’s recruiting class will take a hit, and, depending on the new hire, schematic changes will take time to implement. With Carolina poised to make another run at Atlanta next season, a weakened Florida may have a tough road to hoe in Columbia next fall.

In the long run, though, this might not be good. Florida was starting to struggle under Meyer, and no Carolina fan can say the he would have minded if the current Gators staff stayed in place. The short list at Florida, it seems, is Bob Stoops and Dan Mullen. Either one will bring a staff that’s superior to what the 2010 Gators had, and I have no doubt that they’re capable of carrying on the winning tradition in Gainesville. That’s bad news for Carolina, of course. Will the Gators get either of these guys? Stoops may be a stretch, but I don’t think he’s out of reach. Stoops has UF ties, and word over the past few years has been that he feels his program in Norman has become stagnant. Like his mentor Steve Spurrier, Stoops is the kind of guy who believes ten years in one place is enough. If the Gators can’t get Stoops, though, I have a hard time believing Mississippi St. can convince Mullen to stick around.


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Old Wine in New Bottles: Why the Georgia Bulldogs’ Change of Strength and Conditioning Coaches Inspires More Hope Than Confidence

Georgia
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When attempting earlier this season to address the problems in the Georgia Bulldogs’ football program, we looked at the team’s strength and conditioning regimen, and the general consensus appeared to be that this was at or near the top of the list of issues in need of correction.

Accordingly, the news that a change was being made at the top of the Bulldogs’ strength and conditioning program was greeted with mixed emotions: Georgia fans were pleased to learn that the organization had decided to go in a different direction, but many were lukewarm at the announcement that this was accomplished by reshuffling the organizational chart rather than by going outside the program. Joe Tereshinski is a damn good ‘Dawg with an unimpeachable Georgia pedigree, and we all hope he will restore the toughness that was a hallmark of the Red and Black in their heyday, but, lately, hiring from without (Warren Belin, Todd Grantham, Greg McGarity) has worked out a good deal better than promoting from within (Mike Bobo, Damon Evans, Willie Martinez).

How critical is conditioning to the Bulldogs’ success? Consider these data:

  • Against the South Carolina Gamecocks, Georgia trailed by eight points after three quarters. The ‘Dawgs lost by eleven points.
  • Against the Arkansas Razorbacks, Georgia tied the game with just under four minutes to play. The ‘Dawgs gave up a three-play game-winning touchdown drive in the final minute.
  • Against the Mississippi St. Bulldogs, Georgia trailed by one point after three quarters. The ‘Dawgs lost by twelve points.
  • Against the Colorado Buffaloes, Georgia led by ten points with eight minutes remaining in the third quarter. The ‘Dawgs were outscored 15-3 down the stretch and lost by two points.
  • Against the Florida Gators, Georgia tied the game with just over nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. The ‘Dawgs were outscored 10-7 down the stretch and lost by three points.
  • Against the Auburn Tigers, Georgia trailed by four points after three quarters. The ‘Dawgs lost by 18 points.

The Classic City Canines have been in a position to win the game in the fourth quarter of all six of their losses this season, but they are not closing the deal. Heck, they aren’t even holding the line; they’re surrendering late leads and falling by double digits to teams they trailed by single scores. Even in last weekend’s win over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, the Red and Black were up 35-21 with 15 minutes to play and were outscored in the fourth quarter . . . and that is in spite of the fact that the Golden Tornado voluntarily conceded a touchdown to the Bulldogs in the closing minutes of the contest. Last Saturday marked the sixth time this season that Georgia has been outscored in the fourth quarter.

Prior to one of the brutal battles between the Bulldogs and the Clemson Tigers in the 1980s, John Brantley—the Georgia linebacker, not the Florida quarterback—said the border war was “to see who the men are. It is the kind of game where women and children need to be sitting in the top level because bones are going to be cracking. It’s going to be really intense.” Clemson coach Danny Ford summed up a familiar Tiger lament: “They’re taught they can whip us in the fourth quarter.”

The ability to whip the opposition in the fourth quarter is not now a defining characteristic of the Bulldogs, and Georgia’s hard-earned reputation for intensity and toughness has been squandered. Coach Tereshinski is a part of the Red and Black’s proud past, who certainly has the ability to hand down the lessons Vince Dooley and Erk Russell once taught in Athens. The question is whether what David Pollack describes as Coach Tereshinski’s “very, very old school” approach is what best serves the program at this point. Says Pollack:

I don’t think there’s anyone that ever pushed me harder than Coach T. Just old school, hard work, you’re going to do things the hard way. He’s just got that really passionate, fiery, he’s gonna let you know if you’re not doing it his way. It’s different.

At this point, I’m on board for “different,” because whatever the ‘Dawgs are doing now ain’t working. Here’s the problem, though: Georgia’s best chance for restoring its elite status in the SEC isn’t “to do things the hard way,” it’s to do things the smart way. Nick Saban didn’t restore Bear Bryant’s Alabama Crimson Tide program by taking his players to Junction, Texas; he restored it by hiring Scott Cochran, who was born the year Coach Bryant won his last national championship.

I don’t mean to sell Coach Tereshinski short; now that he has been given the opportunity to take charge of his alma mater’s strength and conditioning program, he may make sweeping changes to modernize Georgia’s approach. I certainly hope that is the case, and I will be encouraged if the next report we get out of Athens is of a phone call from Coach Tereshinski to Coach Cochran to discuss the younger man’s methods. Until we start to see results on the field, though—not reports from the spring of how the players are “really getting after it”; not even three quarters’ worth of toughness in next fall’s opener against the Boise St. Broncos, but 60 minutes of solid football—I am going to raise four fingers into the air over Sanford Stadium to the tune of “Krypton Fanfare” with high hopes but muted expectations.

Lateral moves are not necessarily bad moves, and splashy hires are not always the best hires, but this program will not cure what ails it with “more of the same.” This may be a step in the right direction, but it just as easily could prove to be rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, and I had been hoping for a more confidence-inspiring hire than this.

Go ‘Dawgs!


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NCAA Rules Newton Eligible for SEC Championship Game

South Carolina
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FILE - This Nov. 13, 2010, file photo shows Auburn's Cam Newton (2) reacting with fans after a 49-31 win over Georgia in an NCAA college football game at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala. Newton is eligible to play in the SEC title game, even though the NCAA says his father broke rules by shopping his son to another school. The NCAA released its finding in a statement on Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Dave Martin, File)

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Dave Martin – AP

about 4 hours ago:

FILE – This Nov. 13, 2010, file photo shows Auburn’s Cam Newton (2) reacting with fans after a 49-31 win over Georgia in an NCAA college football game at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala. Newton is eligible to play in the SEC title game, even though the NCAA says his father broke rules by shopping his son to another school. The NCAA released its finding in a statement on Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Dave Martin, File)

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Apparently, Auburn won’t receive any punishment for the Newton situation. The NCAA ruled that Newton’s father did indeed shop his son around to Mississippi St., but it’s letting Auburn and Newton off because they apparently didn’t know about the actions of Newton’s father. I would assume that this is case closed on this issue unless additional facts become available. That means that in addition to having their star QB this weekend, Auburn won’t forfeit any of its victories or any titles it might win over the next few weeks. Sorry, ‘Bama and UGA fans.

I would say the NCAA is letting Auburn off pretty easy here. Rules were violated and the letter of the law would suggest punishment is in order. However, I guess the NCAA let us off easier than they might have, too, considering that we have several players who not only sought but, at least according to the NCAA, received improper benefits. Fair enough, I say. I’m ready to see our guys play the game and quit worrying about the Newton off-field situation.


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SEC Power Poll Ballot: Week 13

South Carolina
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1. Auburn Tigers

Auburn just netted one of its most memorable wins in program history. Can they follow it up by winning even bigger prizes?

2. Arkansas Razorbacks

Arkansas was certainly no 2010 version of 2009 Ole Miss. Unfortunately for the Hogs, though, they picked the wrong year to have a great team.

3. LSU Tigers

Not the ending the Tigers wanted, but still a good season for them. They’re back in the SEC’s upper echelon.

4. South Carolina Gamecocks

The Gamecocks have come on very strong since the embarrassing loss to Arkansas.

5. Alabama Crimson Tide

The Tide have been good this year, but their fans have to be disappointed considering pre-season expectations.

6. Mississippi St. Bulldogs

Dan Mullen wrapped up a good sophomore season in Starkville. Will the Bulldogs be able to keep him when suitors come knocking?

7. Florida Gators

The Gators just want this season to end as soon as possible.

8. Georgia Bulldogs

Ditto for the Bulldogs.

9. Tennessee Volunteers

The Vols ended the regular season on a positive note.

10. Kentucky Wildcats

This season ended up looking like a lot of past ones for UK. Lots of wins over cupcakes, one signature upset over a good SEC team, a win over Vanderbilt, and not much else.

11. Mississippi Rebels

Is the Nuttster on the hot seat in Oxford?

12. Vanderbilt Commodores

Meh.


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SEC Power Poll Ballot: Week 12

South Carolina
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1. Auburn Tigers

The Tigers took a week off and remain atop my ballot. Tuscaloosa awaits.

2. LSU Tigers

Another week, another wild win for Les Miles and Co.

3. Alabama Crimson Tide

The Tide can salvage their season to some extent by upsetting Auburn.

4. Arkansas Razorbacks

The Hogs have a shot at a BCS bowl if they can knock off LSU.

5. South Carolina Gamecocks

Carolina finally looked Spurrier-esque against cupcake competition.

6. Mississippi St. Bulldogs

The Bulldogs fought hard against Arkansas but came up short. I’m sure a win over Ole Miss will assuage the pain.

7. Florida Gators

The Gators looked good against App. St., but can they do it against FSU? They’ve been dominating bad teams and stinking against good ones all year.

8. Georgia Bulldogs

The Dawgs will look to salvage a bad season with a win over Ga. Tech this week.

9. Kentucky Wildcats

The ‘Cats will be looking to end their losing streak against UT this week.

10. Tennessee Volunteers

The Vols can reach bowl eligibility with a win over UK, which wouldn’t be too bad in Derek Dooley’s first year.

11. Mississippi Rebels

Close but no cigar for Ole Miss against LSU.

12. Vanderbilt Commodores

After looking at the box scores from the past few weeks, I’m thinking that maybe Vandy should have started playing Jared Funk long ago.


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Knicely Done: Arkansas 38, Mississippi St 31

Arkansas
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Rogelio V. Solis – AP

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Just another nice, relaxing day in Starkville, right?

Knile Davis went from being the hero to the goat and then back to the hero as the Hogs gutted out a hard-fought win against Mississippi State. It was rarely pretty, but the Razorbacks showed a lot of toughness in knocking out the Bulldogs in the 2nd OT.

I feel very confident in saying that last year’s team definitely would not have won this game. And, you don’t get extra credit for style points, so it all amounted to a very good day for the Razorbacks. It was also a very good day for our own Stephen Expat who, in addition to celebrating the big Hog win, is also celebrating getting engaged last night. A successful weekend!

Up next: LSU and a shot at a BCS bowl. WPS!

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Blog Pollin Week 11

LSU
Content provided by And The Valley Shook.

As always, explanations after the jump.

1-5.  LSU jumps ahead of Boise on the back of its quality wins, but no quite ahead of TCU, who also gets a quality win over Utah.  Auburn still holds on to #1, as the LSU win looks even better.

6-10.  Oklahoma St. rockets up the BlogPoll with a quality win over Baylor and A&M joining the BlogPoll.  they went from zero top 25 wins to two in the space of a week.  Nebraska has great quality wins but that Texas win keeps looking worse.  Stanford’s USC win looks better.  Michigan St is clinging to the top ten as my second Big Ten team.

11-15.  Ohio St. still lacks any good wins.  They are getting by on laundry more than any other team.  Ohio St has two wins over bowl eligible teams: Miami and Ohio.  That’s right, Ohio is their second best win.  Arizona stays ahead of Iowa by virtue of their head to head win.  Arkansas is still hanging out without any big wins, though A&M is now their best win.  The Hogs, of course, will have the chance to move up the ballot.

16-20.  Mizzou had a bad week.  Not only did they lose, but their best win is Oklahoma, which now lacks panache.  Mississippi St is still chilling out with their two good losses.  Florida and Oklahoma both setlle into the poll. 

21-25.  Four new teams, as I struggle to find teams worthy of the ballot.  VT’s terrible JMU loss matters less and less as they storm through the ACC. USC’s late heroics get them on the ballot, and A&M’s big win puts them on the ballot.  Miami gets in over Maryland in a battle of ACC Mediocrity.  And I don’t have the heart to drop Baylor yet, as no one is forcing their way onto the ballot.   


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SEC Power Poll (Week Ten): Two Sets of Tigers on Top; Military Mascots Bring Up the Rear

Georgia
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Fresh from Saturday’s victory between the hedges, I am back in the saddle and ready to cast my belated ballot to determine which of two scoundrels is the lesser evil in the Georgia gubernatorial race the order in which the twelve teams of the Southeastern Conference ought to be arranged. Here is how I see the league at this point in time:

1. Auburn Tigers (10-0): The good news for the Plainsmen is that they’re undefeated. The bad news for the Plainsmen is that, given the history of their program, an undefeated season at Auburn pretty much has to be accompanied by an NCAA investigation. It’s like convening a grand jury as soon as a new mayor is elected in Chicago; it just saves time.

2. LSU Tigers (8-1): Fortunately for the Bayou Bengals, a team’s record contains a number for “you win some” and another number for “you lose some,” but not a number for “how you played the game.” Seriously, were any of us surprised to learn that Les Miles is on grass?

3. Alabama Crimson Tide (7-2): Two ‘Bama losses this season? Who could have seen that coming?

4. Arkansas Razorbacks (7-2): For my birthday last week, my wife and children gave me a membership in Zingerman’s monthly bacon club, which began with Tanya Nueske’s Wisconsin Applewood-smoked bacon. That’s neither here nor there, really, but I thought I’d mention it in relation to the Hogs, for the benefit of upcoming Arkansas opponents who are interested in feasting on the flesh of the enemy. Clearly, that didn’t help South Carolina in this weekend’s battle of the barnyard, though.

5. Mississippi St. Bulldogs (7-2): How ‘bout them ‘Dogs?

6. Florida Gators (6-3): Deep down, we always knew the Sunshine State Saurians were going to cruise to a first-place finish in the SEC East. We just didn’t know that achieving that feat would be less impressive than winning the Big 12 North.

7. South Carolina Gamecocks (6-3): Columbia is home to a quality college baseball program that produced the 2010 national champion. Perhaps the Palmetto State Poultry’s solid diamond tradition explains their sports programs’ propensity for ceasing to play after the World Series ends in October.

8. Georgia Bulldogs (5-5): The Bulldogs rank fourth in the league in scoring offense, they rank fourth in the league in scoring defense, and they’re .500 ten games into the season. What’s wrong with this picture?

9. Kentucky Wildcats (5-5): That couple who got married at a tailgate before the Wildcats’ homecoming loss to Georgia will be relieved to learn that, in the Bluegrass State, John Calipari is vested with the authority to grant annulments.

10. Mississippi Rebels (4-5): Admiral Ackbar really dodged a bullet on that whole mascot selection thing.

11. Tennessee Volunteers (3-6): The Vols can hang half a hundred on an in-state opponent any time they like. It’s just those teams from the other 49 states that give them trouble.

12. Vanderbilt Commodores (2-7): Robbie Caldwell comes across as an exceptionally likable fellow. We all know where nice guys finish.

Honestly, those rankings seem pretty clearly set in stone to me, but I welcome your constructive criticisms in the comments below.

Go ‘Dawgs! Auburna delenda est!


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SEC Power Poll Ballot: Week Ten

South Carolina
Content provided by Garnet And Black Attack.

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1. Auburn Tigers

The Tigers can wrap up the SEC West this weekend with a victory over UGA.

2. LSU Tigers

The Mad Hatter strikes again in a wild victory over Alabama. I’m beginning to believe again, like I did in 2007, that there may be a method to his madness. I’m sure he’ll lose a last-second thriller due to clock mismanagement, though, to prove me wrong.

3. Alabama Crimson Tide

The Tide blew their shot at returning to a BCS bowl by losing to LSU.

4. Arkansas Razorbacks

The Hogs dominated South Carolina and appear to be gearing up for a strong finish.

5. Mississippi St. Bulldogs

The Bulldogs have a shot to move up a bit if they can beat Arkansas and / or Alabama. Def. the league’s surprise team of the year.

6. Florida Gators

The East is on the line in Gainesville this week.

7. South Carolina Gamecocks

Was that the beginning of another November swoon? The ‘Cocks still have a chance to win the East if they regroup.

8. Georgia Bulldogs

UGA has a chance to much up Auburn’s dream season this weekend.

9. Mississippi Rebels

The Rebels will have to figure out a way to win two of three against UT, LSU, and MSU to make bowl eligibility. Think they’d like those games against Vandy and Jacksonville St. back now?

10. Kentucky Wildcats

The Wildcats should wrap up bowl eligibility against Vandy this weekend. The real target, though, is ending their losing streak against Tennessee.

11. Tennessee Volunteers

Still not out of the running for bowl eligibility if they can win out.

12. Vanderbilt Commodores

Utterly demolished by Florida.


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Kentucky Wildcats @ Mississippi State Bulldogs

Kentucky
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Tonight, it’s the Kentucky Wildcats versus the Mississippi St. Bulldogs in Starkville, Mississippi.  The Dawgs are currently ranked #23 in both polls, and it would be a big upset if Kentucky can go down to cowbell territory and get a win.

Game particulars as follows, courtesy of UKAthletics.com:

Kentucky @ Mississippi St.
Game Notes UK Notes Get Acrobat Reader | UK Depth Chart Get Acrobat Reader
MSU Notes & Depth Charts Get Acrobat Reader
Date & Time Saturday, Oct. 30
7:00 p.m
Coverage TV: ESPNU
Radio: BBSN
Live Stats
Online Audio listen
Location Davis Wade Stadium
Starkville, Miss.
Gameday Information

 

Tonight’s game is important for Mississippi State, because this represents the last game in which they will likely be favored this year (except for perhaps the last one at Ole Miss).  The Dawgs have already done the minimum necessary to get a bowl invite, although there is no doubt they would like to reach the magical 7th game before visiting Tuscaloosa, hosting Arkansas, and heading up to Oxford for the Egg Bowl.

For Kentucky, the Wildcats must win two of the four remaining games on their schedule to reach the six wins that the Bulldogs currently enjoy.  The good news for UK is that in every one of the remaining games, except for this one, they should be favored to win.

Winning on the road in the SEC is always tough, but Kentucky has done it more often against Mississippi St. in the last few years than versus any other SEC team except the Vanderbilt Commodores.  That doesn’t mean UK will win this game, of course, and the Bulldogs have beaten two SEC foes that defeated Kentucky — the Georgia Bulldogs sans A.J. Green, and the Florida Gators in the swamp.

At the moment, the Dawg offense represents the 8th ranked scoring offense in the SEC, while Kentucky represents the #2 scoring offense behind the #1 Auburn Tigers.  On the other side of the ball, the roles are flip-flopped — Mississippi St. is the #3 scoring defense, while UK is #11 in that statistic.

So what we have here are two teams going strength against strength, and weakness against weakness.  We even see this in more specific areas, where UK’s passing offense is currently the second-best in the league, and MSU’s pass defense is only 8th.  MSU’s rushing offense is second in the SEC, and UK’s rushing defense is 11th.

This should be a very interesting game.  If Kentucky can find some way to keep Chris Relf and MSU out of its red zone at least some of the time, the ‘Cats have a chance to outscore the Dawgs.  If the Bulldogs can find a way to pressure Mike Hartline and force errant throws, the Wildcats could have difficulty scoring.

It seem likely that we will see a chess match between these two coaches, and whoever manages to either hide or shore up their weakness the most should win this game.

UK could really use a big upset here.  For the Bulldog perspective, be sure to visit For Whom The Cowbell Tolls.


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