Friday, September 22, 2017

the Friday Misery has bad news for Grantham's towel

A nun, a priest, and a rabbi walk into a bar in Starkville...

j/k Starkville has zero of those nouns.

Welcome to Athens!! We have beer drawn from kegs! Not your Uncle Rufus’ tub!
Back in '05 the wife and I spent a month in Starkville one afternoon, so what follows are factual accounts.

It’s the perfect town if you like to spend a day shopping for God’s word at the Bible Outlet store, crossing the road to the WalMart to replenish the underwear drawer, swinging through the Zaxby’s drive-thru to pick up some over-fried chicken, and then setting up a picnic under the town water tower.

And that’s just about it. The town is a desolate homage to what life was like during the post-depression era. It’s just that it has yet to progress any further.
Is that supposed to be a dog? A bear? A gopher?

Case in point, on Saturday find a Missy State fan that’s made the trip from Starkville. Now they have to have come from Starkville. Not one of those rare cowbell clanging fans that now lives in Atlanta, or anywhere east of the Tuscaloosa-Starkville-Meridian Triangle.

If you have trouble, listen for a couple discussing how in the world they are going to play this football game after dark. “I know Winona, I wus jus’ wondering the same thing. It’s gon be dark long before the bands even toot their marching horns! Now how’s Fitzgerald gonna tell the difference between the center and the left guard’s hindquarters?”

Anyway, find that fan, probably in a #7 maroon jersey fitted neatly under some overalls and wearing a cowbell around his neck, and ask him if he has a cell phone. Or even knows what one is.

Ask him if he has an opinion about whether The Stones were better than The Beatles.

Ask his wife anything about the Bay of Pigs and the resulting strained relations with Cuba.

Ask either of them their thoughts about milk going from cardboard cartons to plastic jugs.

Then prepare to stare into the actual and real face of Stupefied personified. Seriously, they will probably walk away quietly while whispering cautions of crop circles, aliens, and satanic worshippers.

Bubby, why don’t these people get their milk from glass jugs like normal people do?

After scaring the buhjeebus out of Mr. And Mrs. Clanga, catch back up to them and introduce them to the world of wonder that is Athens GA. In all of its Millennial brilliance! The lights, the vehicles not powered by two mules and a gust of wind, the delicious food, being able to walk more than two steps without having to negotiate a cow pattie, the trees, the running water, the “outhouses” made of plastic, THE LIGHTS!!

They might not want to leave. And really, why would they?

The part where Toddles waddles back ‘tween the hedges
Let’s be real, Todd Grantham did a lot to improve our defense when he arrived in 2010. It took a couple years, but we caught a glimpse of what a squad of eleven men can do when they’re coached to do football things like cover receivers. And tackle.

The douchebag deserves some credit there, okay? Really, he does.

That said, what a poser. What a coward. What a semi-deranged lunatic with an nonsensical white towel fetish.

His greatest memory in Athens - confronting Vandy’s penis-head of a coach at midfield. His lowest? Pick from a plethora of plays where the opponent had huddled, set, gone through a cadence of voice commands, and then snapped the ball all while our defense was gazing at the sideline like a herd of clueless sheep waiting on some kind of direction.

Here’s my take...Chubb breaks one and is running free along the Missy State sideline. All that stands between him and a touchdown is 60+ yards of Sanford paydirt. As the fans reach the top of their audible crescendo...wait, what’s that? No, who was that?

Grantham steps in front of Chubb waving said towel like some maniacal bull fighter whose cap is more than slightly askew and whose face is toxic with anger.

The cheers become gasps. Some avert their eyes in the milliseconds before impact. Others, now empowered with the full realization of what in the holy hell is actually happening right here under the lights on national tv and my God I think even some grandmas are watching, shriek like they’ve never shrieked before.


The rest trails off because when the dust clears there is just a towel, floating casually and effortlessly down towards the MSU 43 yard line, within feet of where Christian Robinson stands with mouth agape.

Then the cheers, slowly at first, begin to return. The dude in front of you points to the endzone and starts jumping up and down. Your eyes follow and that’s when you realize that the spectacle has only just begun. Nick Chubb’s arms are raised, and one of them hands Grantham the football.

“Is this what you were looking for a second ago Coach? Sorry, I wasn’t quite done with it.”

Grantham, his eyes dazed and his countenance thoroughly confused, reaches down and gently takes the ball. Then he slides off of Chubb’s shoulders and waddles back to the opponent’s sideline.

Drunk on night kicks
A couple weeks ago I told you that the Irish weren’t ready. And for the most part I was wrong. They played better than I thought they would. They’re a better team that I thought they were. To be perfectly honest, I underestimated them to some degree.

Now it’s game four and we’re still kicking off under the lights. In my nearly three decades of following Georgia football, I’ve never seen Sanford with the energy for a cupcake like we saw last week. It’s loud and people are into it, every aspect of it.

Thirty-five to seven in the third quarter and Samford has the ball looking for a first down, no matter. Dawg fans still up in their ears disrupting the set and the audibles.

And that’s so, SO important. Because the truth is that I don’t know if MSU is ready. I don’t know how good they are. I’d like to think we can contain this media darling quarterbacker they’ve got, force him into throwing it while applying the rush. I hope we can.

I also think our special teams can be a difference maker tomorrow night. They’ve been the model of consistency thus far. We had a long return called back in South Bend. Last week we had a blocked kick after Fromm fumbled. That tells me they’re capable of making that one play that is a huge difference in the outcome.

I think our offense can over-power their defense. I really think they can.

But I do know that I’m tired of hearing people talk about just how great “these Bulldogs” are just because they beat a half-assed LSU team at home. Who cares. We beat a pretty good Notre Dame team on the road. But that was two weeks ago. Teams are supposed to get better as the season progresses. The good ones do. Have we gotten better since boarding the busses in South Bend, prepping for Samford, beating them soundly, and then prepping for another team of bulldogs?

On the other hand, has Mullen’s team gotten better since last Saturday when they beat a team that’s notoriously hard to beat but is nothing more than a shell of its former self? Have they gotten better during a week when they’ve been continuously billed as the second best team in the SEC? “And Dan Mullen is the second best coach in the SEC!!

"These gloves make my face feel...different."

None of that matters tomorrow. It’s late September and I don’t give a damn who the second best team in the SEC is. I just want Georgia to be the best team on the field tomorrow night. I want Kirby to expose Mullen as a fraud and a joke, just another Urban Meyer project living out his days under the Starkville water tower, wearing wide receiver gloves on the sidelines to fight off a November chill.

And I want this amazing, uber talented, incredible game manager, dual-threat, future Heisman winning quarterback to completely and utterly fold like a cheap suit under the verified, the insurmountable, the downright imposing, the unified force of nature that is the deafening weight of Sanford Stadium. I want to see him try to bounce outside, think he’s gained the edge and then…


Roquan levels his ass and then Fitzgerald spends a moment on the turf seriously contemplating the consequences of returning to the next huddle.

We saw what Kirby’s team could do on the road against a storied program. It gave me a taste. Tomorrow night it’s just a casual rival that’s been continuously flagellated by the media all week, but it’s SEC football. Like the corny conference slogan says - “It just means more.

It does, and I want it because it will taste even better than those Irish tears. Now, please bow your heads. Lord, please make Grantham pick up his own dirty laundry. Our thoughts continue to be with everyone battling these hurricanes. We pray for their safety. And also, we pray that the Chapel Bell rings loud and proud late tomorrow night! Amen.

Go Dawgs y'all!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Is this the hottest collective SEC coaches' seat we've ever seen?

It's early and there's a lot of football left to be played. But I just keep wondering how many new coaches there could be in the SEC come next season. Some of these guys started the season in troubled water and have done nothing to even pick up an oar. Others seemed safe a month ago and now their days may indeed be numbered.

Then there's Derek Mason living that Nashville dream son!

Let's break all 14 down from the safest Saban to the hottest Sumlin.

Bama - Saban will coach in Tuscaloosa until he's ready not to. Next!

Vandy - Mason is the trifecta. 1) at a school that doesn't like to spend time on athletic decisions, especially coaching searches 2) he's a damn good coach that can steal some wins with less talent at a school that doesn't like to spend $$ on recruiting budgets, and 3) after a very slow start to his career, he's got that thing in a bit of a groove Stella.

Miss State - Mullen is also in the perfect place at the perfect time. Ole Miss could spend the better part of a decade getting out of where they're heading. Meanwhile, it's not beyond reason to think Mullen could host Alabama in a couple months with no more than one or two losses. Maybe less. That'll buy another water tower or two down yonder.

Georgia - Kirby's our guy. He got his signature win in South Bend, the next step is winning the East. If that doesn't happen this year, then it better next year or he'll be much further down this list.

South Carolina - Muschamp is recruiting well enough to bring that program above the hole Spurrier dug. He also seems to have matured some, which certainly helps. You know, he has more of that head coach vibe going for him. In Florida he just always seemed like an extra mad assistant.

Kentucky - Stoops can win enough games at a basketball school to survive as long as he doesn't take Calipari's parking spot.

Florida - McElwain is swirling above the turds...for now. But that mess is really starting to stink. If the team starts losing too (which should've happened Saturday to be honest), it's only going to swirl faster.

LSU - "Ol' Coach O need to coach em up now and coach dem up good too. Dem suits already made that move wonce so Coach O kno dey pissed. Woo boy yeh!"

Auburn - Malzahn's entire career is built on a quarterback that fell into his lap. We've been asking for years, "If he's such a genius, why can't he replicate stats and actual on field results?" He'll need better than 8-4 to have a chance. And nine wins doesn't look like enough unless one of them is against that King up there at the top.

Ole Miss - Matt Luke is just borrowing the office on a six month lease. Could a miracle happen? Sure. If he rallies them to a big win or two he could at least get an interview. Also, Ole Miss could decide they don't have a better option for the time they're in NCAA purgatory. A lot still undecided here.

Arkansas - Bret coaching for his job this weekend against Sumlin. Who's the most desperate for the win? I think Sumlin is the better coach, but who has a firmer grasp of their team after rocky starts? A Razorback loss and Bret could have even more time for hoppin' on his wife.

Missouri - The only reason Odom isn't lower is because no one in Columbia MO is really interested in handing out a pink slip before summer is officially over. "Fired your defensive coordinator the second week of the season and then promptly lost to Purdue by 32 points? Alright, let's meet again in November Barry."

Tennessee - Butch needs to beat UMass Saturday and then beat Kirby the second time in as many meetings to stand a chance at seeing October. Lose to Georgia and his desk will be cleaned out before his post-game press conference is over. Lose to UMass and he may go missing before hitting the podium.

A&M - Sumlin is a dead man walking. It's not a matter of if, just when.

What an overall mess huh? Has there ever been a season that has seen this much coaching turmoil in one conference? It has everything from a scandal in Oxford to a glorified cheerleader in Knoxville trying to keep his career out of his own trash can. It's fun when it's not your team going through the uneasiness.

And it's going to be fun to see who can salvage enough to stay another year. As mentioned above, starting this weekend there will be a lot of games in the coming weeks that not only will decide places in conference standings, but also who starts shopping for moving companies.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Early thoughts on SEC play and the Starville pups

Georgia finally opens SEC play this week. After so many years of having the Gamecocks in week two or sometimes three, it feels weird opening up the conference schedule this late. But alas, the OOC slate is shelved until November and it's time to strap em a little tighter men!

Still a little surprised by what happened in Columbia Saturday night. No, not talking about Purdue. How did anyone think Missouri would stand a chance there? Can we officially get rid of those Tigers now? I guess not since they've actually competed in the SECCG twice since they joined the conference. But man, what a joke.

I, I'm referring to Kentucky beating South Carolina at their own game. Deebo socked them in the mouth the first play and those Cats just rolled with it. I hadn't completely bought into the Gamecock hype yet, but I thought they would push the Wildcats around. After all, that was the same Kentucky team that struggled some against Eastern Kentucky and even shuffled their quarterbacks around.

And now the Gamecocks have lost their best player for the season. Hate seeing such a good player go down like that, but this is football. Wish Deebo a speedy and full recovery.

Meanwhile, down in Gainesville Butch still has his DB's in press coverage on the final play of the game more than half the field away from the Florida endzone. You think Shoop wishes he'd played that just a little differently? Give credit where it's due, the Gators saw what they were up against and went right for the win and not the 30 yard out to hope for a true field goal.

(pardon me while I spit that foul taste outta my mouth)

Shout-out to Coach Bobo for hanging tough against Bama. Sure, they never had a chance because of course they were far and away out-matched talent wise. But the Rams made it respectable by halftime and then scored some points in garbage time late. Our old quarterback showed he can move the ball against another elite defense. Good on ya Mike!

Ole Miss played their bowl game in mid-September and shat their pants. Oh well, basketball season should bring that old consortium feeling back to Oxford.

Back to the East, with Florida and Tennessee still trying to find their identity (one in the aftermath of a credit card scandal, the other perhaps at the bottom of a trashcan), is Vandy going to step up with Kentucky as the darling picks to challenge in the East? Granted, the Dawgs haven't proven to be the top dog yet, but we've had the most complete start to the season. However, if Vandy can play Bama as hard-nosed and tough as they did K-State Saturday night, then I'll be a firm believer.

Jared Stitham leads the Southern Conference in passing after torching the Mercer Bears for 364 yards Saturday. We were talking about this at the tailgate. Until Cam Newton or Nick Marshall's kid turns 18, Malzahn is gonna keep paying on that loan for the Struggle Bus.

Which leaves us with the dog fight Saturday night under the lights in Sanford. I guess I'm not surprised Miss State beat LSU. But I was shocked by the score. That Tiger defense just laid down huh? Clanga clanga.

Regardless, as a result the Fake Dogs come in boasting about being just shy of a touchdown favorite. I still like our chances. On the one hand they've got a mobile quarterback that is averaging 7.8 yards per pass and 7.78 yards per rush (via I still like our defense's chances at making their offense beat us through the air. And if Malkom Parrish can indeed play, forget about it.

On another hand, word is that Grantham has really pared down his defense. So you're telling me that gone are the days of 10 of 11 guys staring at the sideline as the center snaps the ball? Okay, good for you Toddles. But even despite my frustration with Coach Chaney's play-calling at times, I'd still take Jim against a defensive coordinator that's been run out of the last two towns largely because he can't make any mid-game adjustments.

In other words, anyone remember the MVP of the 2014 Belk Bowl?