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Pearl: “These Were The Best Years Of My Life!”

Still no official word from Tennessee yet, but Bruce Pearl has confirmed his firing at UT on his Facebook page:


– As many of you know, I have been fired as head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers.  This really does not come as a surprise to me, but my emotions are getting the best of me.  This is perhaps the saddest day in my life.  I loved everything about Tennessee, Knoxville and the Volunteers.  These were the best years of my life!


That post followed up this post from yesterday afternoon:


– I will preface this by saying that I love the University of Tennessee and the Volunteer pride.  That said, I have disappointed not only myself, but you as fans, in my actions involving violations of NCAA rules.  I am forever grateful to the fans to let me coach their team.  I will be a Volunteer for life!


Tennessee must now set out to hire a coach who will be willing to take a job:


a) Where the AD is in hot water and just undercut his coach two days before the NCAA Tournament

b) Where the NCAA might hand down some stiff — but not as stiff now — sanctions

c) Where he will have to replace an incredibly successful and popular coach who was as much loved for his personality as his wins

d) Where in a couple of years, fans will definitely start a “Bring Back Bruce” campaign if the new coach isn’t succeeding early.

Best bet?  Some up-and-comer who would jump at the chance to make a million bucks.

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SEC Power Poll Ballot: Week 13

South Carolina
Content provided by Garnet And Black Attack.

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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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Kentucky Wildcats @ Tennessee Volunteers: Open Game Thread

Kentucky
Content provided by A Sea Of Blue.

Well, ‘Cat fans, it’s sunny and 42 degrees here in chilly Las Vegas, and 2000 miles away in Knoxville, the Kentucky Wildcats are suiting up for their annual tilt against the Tennessee Volunteers, a game in which the Volunteers have walked away the victors for the last 25 years.

Contest particulars are as follows, courtesy of UKAthletics.com:

Kentucky @ Tennessee
Game Notes UK Notes Get Acrobat Reader | UK Depth Chart Get Acrobat Reader
UT Notes Get Acrobat Reader | UT Depth Chart Get Acrobat Reader
Date & Time Saturday, Nov. 27
12:21 p.m
Coverage TV: SEC Network
Radio: BBSN
Online Audio listen
GameTracker
Online Video via ESPN3
Location Neyland Stadium
Knoxville, Tenn.
Gameday Information

 

It’s totally unnecessary to go on and on about the importance of this game, or the historical abuse Kentucky has suffered at the hands of the Vols.  This year has a chance to be different.  This year, the Wildcats have a real shot at winning, even though the game is on the road.

Keys to the game for Kentucky:

  • Run the football.  As good as Kentucky’s passing attack has been, the Vols are mediocre at stopping the run, and they will expect UK to throw a lot.
  • Find a way to get pressure on Tyler Bray.  If UK cannot, the secondary will have to have a monster game.
  • Take care of the football.  Turnovers have killed UK this year.
  • Get the ball to Derrick Locke and Randall Cobb early and often.
  • Don’t be afraid to win.  I think the history between these teams has gotten into the heads of some of the previous teams.  This is just another football game, and UK needs to go about this in a professional manner, without being too up or too down.
  • Play well on special teams.  Special teams play has been inconsistent for the Wildcats this year, and has arguably cost us at least one game.

I’ll be cheering from the sports book, or wherever I can find a TV to watch the game on.  I know we all want this game.  Let’s try to enjoy it.

Go ‘Cats!


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Bowl Eligible Cats Head to Knoxville to Take on Streaking Vols

After taking down Vanderbilt to gain bowl eligibility two weeks ago, the University of Kentucky football team returns to the field to take on the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn., in its regular-season finale Saturday.
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SEC Power Poll (Week Twelve): Nothing in These Rankings Will Make Georgia Bulldogs Fans Feel Thankful

Georgia
Content provided by Dawg Sports.

It was an exciting yet ultimately uneventful Saturday in the Southeastern Conference, as a couple of upsets almost happened but didn’t. Accordingly, the SEC Power Poll looks much the same as it looked last week. Here, from first to worst, are the twelve teams of the SEC:

1. Auburn Tigers (11-0): Yesterday, the Plainsmen were idle. Insert your favorite age-old cliché about the devil’s workshop here.

2. LSU Tigers (10-1): Let me get this straight; Les Miles didn’t go for it on fourth down even once, the opposing coach went for it on fourth down five times and moved the chains on four of those attempts, and the Bayou Bengals still won? Somewhere, Daniel Webster is preparing the closing argument he will deliver on behalf of the Mad Hatter.

3. Alabama Crimson Tide (9-2): I recently ran across a cool food weblog called Southern Fried Curry. I don’t mention that for any particular reason; it just occurred to me to pass that along to everyone instead of offering some smart-aleck commentary on Alabama’s most recent game.

4. Arkansas Razorbacks (9-2): If the placement of the two sets of Tigers atop my ballot did not provide enough evidence that there is no justice in the world, Bobby Petrino’s team beating Dan Mullen’s team in double-overtime surely proved it beyond a reasonable doubt.

5. South Carolina Gamecocks (8-3): At halftime, an astonished Steve Spurrier said the Palmetto State Poultry had never had a game like their outing against Troy, and he indicated that he intended to run the ball and play his reserves in the second half. Who are you, and what have you done with the real Darth Visor? More to the point, how the heck did the Evil Genius become the easiest coach for whom to root among the conference’s top five teams?

6. Mississippi St. Bulldogs (7-4): The Western Division Bulldogs probably are going to finish the autumn with eight regular-season wins, and they narrowly missed out on victories over my first- and fourth-ranked teams. Mississippi State has been the pleasant surprise of the season in the SEC.

7. Florida Gators (7-4): Give a Florida fan a bottle of bourbon or some sodium pentothal, then ask him whether he wishes Urban Meyer had stayed retired and Jeremy Foley had hired Dan Mullen to replace him. If you find a Gator booster who tells you he’s glad Nikki Meyer didn’t get her daddy back, let me know.

8. Georgia Bulldogs (5-6): For the seventh Saturday this season, some or all of the Georgia coaches and players took the weekend off. Unfortunately, the first six such Saturdays fell on days on which the Bulldogs had games scheduled.

9. Tennessee Volunteers (5-6): The Vols are one win away from earning a bowl trip to some exotic distant locale like Memphis or Nashville.

10. Kentucky Wildcats (6-5): Yes, I’m going ahead and counting the Blue and White’s upcoming loss to the Big Orange. You know as well as I do that the Kentucky fans have already moved on to basketball, anyway.

11. Mississippi Rebels (4-7): LSU-Ole Miss may be the conference’s most underappreciated rivalry. In the future, to save time, the league office may just want to give both teams 30 points and let them play for six minutes.

12. Vanderbilt Commodores (2-9): Bobby Johnson’s sudden change of heart about coaching this season makes a lot more sense now.

The order in which I have the SEC teams ranked seems pretty cut-and-dried to me, but, as always, I welcome your constructive criticisms and questions in the comments below.

Go ‘Dawgs!


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SEC Power Poll Ballot: Week 12

South Carolina
Content provided by Garnet And Black Attack.

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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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SEC Power Poll Ballot: Week Ten

South Carolina
Content provided by Garnet And Black Attack.

A fan holds up a sign after South Carolina returned from Florida after South Carolina's 36-14 win over Florida in an NCAA college football game, early Sunday, Nov. 14, 2010, in Columbia, S.C. No. 17 South Carolina is heading to its first Southeastern Conference championship game after winning the East division. (AP Photo/The State, Kim Kim Foster-Tobin)

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Kim Kim Foster-Tobin – AP

about 6 hours ago:

A fan holds up a sign after South Carolina returned from Florida after South Carolina’s 36-14 win over Florida in an NCAA college football game, early Sunday, Nov. 14, 2010, in Columbia, S.C. No. 17 South Carolina is heading to its first Southeastern Conference championship game after winning the East division. (AP Photo/The State, Kim Kim Foster-Tobin)

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1. Auburn Tigers

2. LSU Tigers

3. Alabama Crimson Tide

4. Arkansas Razorbacks

5. South Carolina Gamecocks

6. Mississippi St. Bulldogs

7. Florida Gators

8. Georgia Bulldogs

9. Kentucky Wildcats

10. Tennessee Volunteers

11. Mississippi Rebels

12. Vanderbilt Commodores


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Vanderbilt Commodores 20, Kentucky Wildcats 38: Postmortem

Kentucky
Content provided by A Sea Of Blue.

Larry Smith dominated the Wildcats in the first half.  Not so much in the second.

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Ed Reinke – AP

Larry Smith dominated the Wildcats in the first half. Not so much in the second.

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Today was Randall Cobb day in the the Bluegrass.  Thanks in large part to Cobb’s heroics, Kentucky is bowl eligible again and will not have a losing season.

Nice effort by the Vanderbilt Commodores, who dominated the first half in almost every conceivable way.  Fortunately for Kentucky, they were only able to visit the end zone once in the first half, instead of three.  As maligned (and rightly so) as Kentucky’s defense is, they did manage two critical stops that forced field goals.

The Commodores really came to play today, but the injuries and lack of depth took a toll that eventually had them worn down.  At that point, Cobb, Hartline & Co. took over the game and put up 28 points to Vanderbilt’s 7 in the second half.  Both the Kentucky offense and defense played much better in the second half, eventually burying the Commodores under a fusillade of points.

I know most Kentucky fans will join me in the frustration I feel toward this team.  They do the most senseless things, from drive-killing penalties to end-zone celebrations to dropped passes to fighting and getting ejected.  It’s just not what we are used to seeing, and I am not really enamored of this new “Catitude” that I have been seeing lately.  Kentucky has been whistled for a ton of personal fouls this year, and I am getting sick of it.

The good:

  • Mike Hartline.  He threw the ball very well, hitting receivers in the right places all day.  He threw maybe one bad ball all day, an back-footed pass to Cobb that almost got picked.  But overall, he was very good.
  • The Kentucky offense.  It was a tale of two halves for them, but overall, they got the job done in style.
  • Special teams.  The punting unit did a good, if not great job.  The kickoff team was pretty good overall.
  • Danny Trevathan.  He’s always good, and had 10 tackles again today, at least two of them were touchdown-saving.
  • Derrick Locke.  He got better as the game went on, culminating in an 83-yard touchdown run.

The bad:

  • The defensive secondary.  They allowed a non-passing team to rack up 198 yards on them.
  • Chris Matthews.  Yes, he caught a touchdown, but he was personally responsible for 40 yards in penalties and dropped a perfect pass.  He sometimes plays out of control, and today was one of those times.
  • Martavius Neloms.  Not only did he get beat repeatedly on defense, he lost his mind and punched a Vanderbilt player.  He is likely to be suspended for at least one game, and I wouldn’t be upset if he didn’t play again until the post-season, if there is one.
  • The fourth and goal play that Vandy stopped.  What the heck was that?
  • The defensive line.  This is a close call, as they played much better in the second half.  Still, it took them until the second half to bring any pressure, and they repeatedly got moved out of their gaps allowing many big plays.

The studly:

  • Randall Cobb.  Wow.  He took the game over in so many ways, it’s just hard to grasp.  279 total yards is an amazing statistic for any player, but Cobb’s diversity of skill is breathtaking.
  • Winston Guy Jr.  Guy’s performance wasn’t flawless, he made several mistakes in coverage and gave up some big yards.  But 18 tackles in a game is studly, and that’s why he gets mentioned in here.

Overall, it was a typical Kentucky performance — lousy first half, stellar second half.  I don’t get it, but I suppose we can’t complain about a convincing win even if we had to wait a whole half for Kentucky to take control.  I continue to be frustrated with the play of this team on both sides of the football, but they could have thrown in a clunker here and refused to do so, mostly due to the inspiring performance of Randall Cobb.

Next up, the Tennessee Volunteers, who own the longest winning streak in the NCAA against the ‘Cats.  As you might expect, they have suddenly emerged as a dangerous team due to the emergence of freshman quarterback Tyler Bray.  Bray tossed for 323 yards today against the Mississippi Rebels and the Vols blew them out 52-14.  This is the same Ole Miss team than handed UK a loss down in Oxford.

But that game is two weeks away.  Perhaps we can be ready to end the streak by then.


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

Georgia
Content provided by Dawg Sports.

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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