“I want the schedule to be fair and I want it to give everybody the same opportunity,” Miles said today in Birmingham at a luncheon for the Changed Lives Christian Center. “I’m for the Western Division deciding the Western Division champion and the Eastern Division deciding the Eastern Division champion.”
He doesn’t like playing Florida.
I swear, the coaches don’t want to play nine conference games and they don’t want to play tough cross- divisional games. How ’bout we let them play twelve games against Sun Belt and MAC teams and then vote on which teams they think are best suited for the SECCG?
This is a topic I delved into in the blog’s early days. It’s been more than five years now, and I think the subject is worth exploring again… lots of water under the bridge since then.
But let me start by going back to that post for a couple of things. First, this is my list of the features that define a rivalry:
History. Two things factor in here. How often have the teams faced each other? And, over time, how competitive has the series been?
Scheduling. How often do the teams play each other at present?
The Stakes. In terms of winning championships, how often do the games between the teams assume importance?
Geography. This one is pretty obvious.
Miscellaneous Factors. Mergz lists South Carolina as a rival. That can only be for one reason – Steve Spurrier. (It helped that Spurrier beat Florida in his first crack, which is something USC had never accomplished previously.) I expect LSU-Alabama to attain a similar level of intensity because of Saban.
I think they still stand. Based on those, here’s the (alphabetized) list of Georgia’s rivals I came up with back then:
Auburn, by virtue of almost every factor I’ve listed above;
Florida, again, for all of the above;
Georgia Tech also reflects all of the above (true, there are no conference stakes anymore, but being an end of season game, there are potential BCS stakes in most years);
South Carolina may not seem deserving from a historical perspective, as Georgia has dominated the series. But it’s been intense since I’ve been following it, starting in 1980 (Rogers vs. Walker!). And Spurrier’s presence certainly adds some spice. Also, Georgia hasn’t won the SEC East in any season that it didn’t beat USC.
Tennessee is a rivalry born out of divisional realignment. It wasn’t a historically significant series, as the teams didn’t play that often. Since 1992, though, in most years, Georgia, Florida and UT have to dance the dance with each other to decide which school makes it to the SECCG. Fulmer’s recruiting tactics (and success, unfortunately) and Donnan’s hiring away of Garner have contributed heat, as well.
So what’s changed in five years? First, the “you can’t win the SEC East without beating South Carolina” rule is dead. But, if anything, I’d say the series has intensified over the past two or three seasons because the ‘Cocks appear to have taken a step up to legitimate division contender status. Tennessee, however, may have lost some of its flavor as a rival under SOD. Partly that’s because the Vols haven’t been in contention for a division title in a while; partly it’s because Dooley doesn’t seem to raise our ire in the way that his two predecessors did.
But all in all, the list continues to work, I think. The other three still qualify and no doubt will continue to do so until Buzz Bissinger gets his wish and college football gets banned. As for new additions, the Dawgs don’t have another opponent outside of the SEC they play often enough to qualify and there really isn’t another team in the East ready to step up (although James Franklin would probably like to argue about that with me).
One more way that SOD is special: “At a meeting of the University of Tennessee Athletics Board on the morning of the Vols’ spring game, it was announced that season ticket sales were down for the third straight year…”
“My guess is we’ll have more live kicking reps in the fall than we’ve had in a while,” Richt predicted of the Bulldogs’ open preseason camp in August. “Some of that is because we’re going to be breaking in a new punter and a new kicker. They need to be under pressure as much as possible and it’s hard to create that pressure unless you’re doing some live situations.
“But we also just need to see for our own eyes can a guy make a tackle out in the open. Drills are great, but when it gets down to it, you have to have that sensation of being able to corral a guy out there when you’re covering a punt or covering a kick. You need to have your punts rushed full speed to make sure there’s no problems.”
“We were just wanting everybody to understand that everybody and anybody could end up on special teams — a starter, a second-teamer, whatever it is. We need all hands on deck like I’ve been saying,” Richt said at the end of spring practice.
“So the drill work that we worked on we think will give us an idea to understand who to start out on these units, who’s second team on these units and then also hopefully it gave them some experience doing the things that they’ll have to do to get the job done.”
This from the man who had no problem trotting Logan Gray out there to field punts and play on the kickoff coverage team. Better late than never, I suppose, because last year’s special teams play epically sucked, a point which Ching miserably details. Although I do have to disagree with him about one thing. He’s wrong about the low point of the year. Yeah, the timing of the Mathieu punt returns was brutal, but at least they were delivered by a guy who was if not the best at that in the conference, at least very close to it.
On the other hand, there’s very little excuse for letting this happen:
All I could think while watching that play unfold in front of me was how goddamned long it took. Just awful, awful special teams play, which was inexcusable for a team with Georgia’s resources. So, by all means, throw the kitchen sink at the problem this offseason. If 2011 is a benchmark, that might mean the difference between a couple of wins and losses in 2012.
… James seemingly has everything else. He’s got the looks, the buzzwords and the ESPN-honed ability to speak at length without saying much. Being a former football star in a football state would normally help, too.
It was all there Friday night in Dallas in a debate among Republicans competing for Texas’ open U.S. Senate seat. James was vague, offering little insight, but when did that ever stop anyone in politics?
James said he was just a citizen who would be guided by the Constitution and his faith. “I want to go do the work of ‘We the People,’” he said, which sounds nice enough.
So does his Facebook page. There, under activities, he lists “ranching, real estate, restoring traditional values.”
For those who don’t know: Before restoring, strip and sand with steel wool.
If he sounds insipid, that’s because insipid can be effective in an election. James is not unlike other celebrities who skip steps to run for high office. They lean on name recognition.
But that’s the catch — James’ name gets recognized the way the guilty do in a police lineup…
Ah, that’s good. I really dig that “the ESPN-honed ability to speak at length without saying much” part. Nice killing two birds with one shot stuff there.
“And Georgia fans, don’t be turds. Enjoy this. Soak it up. It’s awesome. If you don’t win this year, it’s still not a failure. It’s a heck of a run. Back-to-back in the Playoff era hasn’t been done. So, to ask for a third I feel like it’s gluttonous. I feel like it’s not OK. But we’ll be in the mix.”-- David Pollack, On3.com, 5/9/23