Posts Tagged 'football'


It’s that time, Sports Fans! It’s almost football season. As a Public Service, I am posting my SEC101 that I wrote in order to bring my Smurf City beau up to speed on REAL football. Thought I’d share it with you. I make no apologies for any bias in my writing. It is, after all, about the greatest football Conference in human history, warts and all.

SEC101 (in Alphabetical order):

The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama (AKA Aladamnbama or Bama) The Crimson Tide (but somehow they got represented by an elephant in graphics). Fans known as “Bammers” by the rest of the Conference. Proof that, like maggots, it’s possible to live off a dead Bear for 30 years. Colors are crimson and white. Houndstooth patterns, made popular by Bear Bryant’s signature hat, are also common. Rival is Auburn University. Home is Bryant-Denny Stadium (101,821).

University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas. (AKA “Arky”). Officially the Razorbacks, but also known as the Hogs, sometimes spelled Hawgs. Defected from the Southwestern Conference in 1991. Still waiting for its first SEC Conference Championship Game (SECCCG) win. Colors are Red and White. Rival is LSU. Most home games are played in Fayetteville’s Razorback Stadium (78,000), but games against LSU and Mississippi State are played at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock (54,000).

Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama (AKA “The Barn”) The Tigers or the Plainsmen (but represented by a golden eagle, who provides their rallying cry of “War Eagle”). Proof that you CAN be schizophrenic and still kick ass in football. Colors are blue and orange. Rival is Bama. Home is Jordan (pronounced JER-dan)-Hare Stadium (87,451).

The University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. The Gators. Highest concentration of jorts in the Western Hemisphere. Colors are blue and orange. The “chomp” is simply a two-handed version of non-Conference rival Florida State University’s tomahawk chop. Loved by its fans, hated by everyone else. Home is officially Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (88,548), but is much better known as “The Swamp.”

The University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia. The Bulldogs, but spelled “Bulldawgs” or “Dawgs” by the faithful. The oldest state university in the US, founded in 1785. Coach Mark Richt (affectionately abbreviated to CMR) is considered not only a outstanding coach, but an all-around good guy. Colors are red and black. When greeted with a loud “How ’bout them Dawgs?” the correct response is an equally loud “Them Dawgs is hell, ain’t they?” New mascot UGA IX makes his debut this season. Home is Sanford Stadium (92,746)

The University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky. The Wildcats, or Cats. Deafeningly silent during football season, but more than makes up for it with cries of “Fear the Cat” once basketball season starts. Infamously fired Bear Bryant after basketball coach Adolf Rupp complained about the inordinate amount of attention being shown the football team–just because they were actually winning games. Colors are blue and white. Home is Commonwealth Stadium (67,606).

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The Tigers. Abbreviation is LSU, but is known by other teams as “LSWho” or “Loser State.” Perfect season in 2012 shattered by Bama in the National Championship game despite beating Bama during regular season conference play. Rallying cry is “Who Dat,” for reasons unknown. Tiger Stadium (92,542) deemed most unfriendly locale for visiting teams in the country, especially if it’s a night game. Signs reading “Geaux Tigers” are legion. Colors are purple and gold. Despite the mutual season spoilage with Bama, rivals are actually Arky and Florida.

University of Mississippi, Oxford Mississippi. The Rebels. More commonly known as “Ole Miss.” Area known as “The Grove” on campus is not only considered the best tailgating in the Conference by its fans, but by many visiting teams’ fans as well. Most unjustly maligned team in the SEC. Not because of football–they aspire to mediocrity in that department–but because of their adherence to storied tradition by the diverse local and college community in the face of busybodies who’ve never set foot in Oxford. Most noted casualty was “Colonel Reb,” beloved mascot, in 2003. A campaign to choose a new mascot in 2009 went viral on the Internet and became the subject of a 5-minute feature on ESPN when a student organized an effort to make Star Wars’ Rebel leader Admiral Akbar the new mascot. The bid died when Steven Spielberg refused to allow licensing to the University, and a unanimously-hated black bear was forced on the fans by UM admins, who have since been driven from the University. Speed limit on campus is 17 mph, in honor of favorite son Archie Manning’s number. Colors are red and blue. Rival is Mississippi State. Sometimes called “Ole Piss” when disparaging is considered to be worth the effort. Home is Vaught-Hemingway Stadium (60,580).

Mississippi State University, Starkville, Mississippi. You can’t get there from here (or from anywhere else). The OTHER Bulldogs. Known as “Moo U” by fans of rival Ole Miss, but no one else really bothers. Colors are maroon and white. Home is Davis Wade Stadium (55,082).

University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri. The Tigers (again?) AKA “Mizzou,” but “Mizz-ery” is also used by non-fans. Joins the Conference in 2012 for reasons the rest of the Conference is still trying to figure out. Even more head-scratching was their placement in the East Division. Colors are black and gold. Rivalry to be determined. Home is Faurot Field (71,004)

University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina. The Gamecocks, or Cocks. Women’s teams known as the “Lady Cocks.” Considered to be chicken by the rest of the Conference. The Original “USC,” having claimed that monogram in 1801, when California was still a Spanish backwater. The last meeting between the two USC’s resulted in an epic student-created sign in the stadium: “No Trojans can hold our Cocks.” Joined the SEC in 1991 as an independent school. Despite having being led by the likes of Lou Holtz and Steve Spurrier, has yet to win a SECCCG. Main rival is non-Conference Clemson University, but consider Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida to be rivalries as well. Colors are garnet and black. Home is Williams-Bryce Stadium (80,250).

University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee. Home town known as ObKnoxville by non-fans. The Volunteers, or “Vols” for short. Band only knows one song, “Rocky Top,” and will play it at the drop of a hat. They will even play it if the hat DOESN’T drop. Also known for outlandish orange-and-white checkerboards in their end zones, and still can’t get past the shadow of former coach Phillip Fulmer’s beer gut, although current coach Derek Dooley’s devotion to orange pants is also the stuff of nightmares. A movement to convince alum Peyton Manning to leave the NFL and take a coaching position gains momentum with every Vol loss. Fans still cry “Go Big Orange” (abbreviated to “GBO”), however. Biggest rival is Florida, but games against cross-state conference team Vanderbilt are becoming less and less lopsided. Colors are orange and white, in case they haven’t already made that abundantly clear. Home is Neyland Stadium (102,455)

Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas. The Aggies, or Ags. Mascot is Reville, a collie (I’ve met her). She is the highest-ranking member of the Corps of Cadets, and is assigned to a Cadet Corporal (being chosen is one of the highest honors available), who is her constant companion, including attending his classes. If “Miss Rev” barks during class, the class is immediately dismissed. If she jumps on a bed, the student who has that bed sleeps on the floor until she chooses to get off. Joining the Conference in 2012. Steeped in tradition and should be a good fit, despite the stretch in geography. Expected to renew the dormant SWC rivalry with Arkansas and to intensify the long-standing rivalry with LSU, although not expected to be a Conference power unless the alumni (known as “Former Students”) release their death-grip on the Athletic Department. Not likely to happen, since they didn’t for Bear Bryant when he coached there. They have “yell leaders,” not cheerleaders, and they are all men. It is considered heresy by fans to sit during a game, as all consider themselves to be the team’s “12th Man,” ready to suit up and take the field if needed. Colors are maroon and white. Home is Kyle Field (82,589), which is considered sacred ground. A member of the Corps of Cadets once rushed (with saber drawn) a Southern Methodist cheerleader who had unknowingly stepped onto the turf.

Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee. AKA “Vandy.” The only private college in the Conference. Called the “Commodores,” or “Dores” in honor of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, who founded the school. Known as the “Commodes” by those who think trash talk is worth the effort. Although a member of the SEC since its founding in 1932, has never won a Conference Championship in football. Main foe is cross-state rival Tennessee. Colors are gold and black. Home is Dudley Field (39,790).

Since the 1991 Conference expansion, there have been two divisions. East Division teams are Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt. West Division teams are Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss, Miss. St, and TAMU. The winner of each division (determined by regular season W-L record) plays in the SECCCG, played in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta since 1994 (the first 2 games were played at Birmingham’s Legion Field). Winners of the SECCCG have been Florida (7 wins in 10 appearances), Bama (3 wins in 7 appearances), LSU (4 wins in 5 appearances), Tennessee (2 wins in 5 appearances), Auburn and Georgia (each with 2 wins in 4 appearances). Arkansas has appeared 3 times, and Mississippi State and S. Carolina have each appeared once, but have never won.

A Little Cheese to Go with the Longhorns’ Whine

In the “Definition of Chutzpah” department, University of Texas coach Mack Brown fired the first salvo in the Longhorns’ bid to be voted the AP Coaches’ Poll National Champion after UT’s pitiful performance in last night’s Fiesta Bowl.  In todays’ Austin American-Statesman, Brown (who does, by the way, gets a vote) said:

I wasn’t sure before, but on Friday, I’ll vote Texas No. 1 because I believe this is the best team in the country.

Get real, Mack.  The way you’re dancing to the tune played by the Texas Ex’s (their Alumni Association) is more in line with a head coach at Texas A&M than UT.  It’s especially embarrassing in light of the fact that the Aggies haven’t won a piece of a National Championship in football since 1939–and never won one outright.

Last night, for 59 of the Fiesta Bowl’s 60 minutes, Texas produced their most lackluster performance of the season.  The Keystone Cops were better organized than the Longhorns’ offensive line.  Don’t believe me?  Look here.

OK, so Colt McCoy made a (literally) last-minute drive to save some semblance of the season.  Big deal.  For 59 minutes and 43 seconds, the Longhorns could not obtain a lead over the most over-rated team in the NCAA.  Ohio State lost its last two bowl games by a total of 30 points.  The Longhorns barely managed to beat the Buckeyes by three.

I know I am not making any friends in my adopted home here in Austin, but the truth hurts.  That’s the good thing about being a die-hard disciple of the Southeastern Conference in the land of what I call “The Big Two (and all those other guys).”  Objectivity.

That is, to a point.  I will be hollerin’ “Boomer Sooner” Thursday night while huddled over the download to my laptop hoping for a massive Oklahoma win. (Do we eschew cable/satellite because Hubby’s a techno-geek or because we’re just too dadgum cheap?  Inquiring minds want to know.)  I’m not backing OU just to shut up the whiners once and for all.  I’m doing it because I’m Bulldawg born and Bulldawg bred and I wouldn’t root for Florida with three engines out on the team plane.  The thought of the Phlorida Philistines with more bragging rights just curdles my stomach.

Besides, I live for those shots of Urban Meyer hiking up his britches after a play goes south.  You’ve never noticed he does that?  To resurrect a popular catchphrase from the recent Presidential campaign, “You betcha! *wink*”  It’s just as much fun as watching Steve Spurrier throwing down his headphones, his visor and (FTW!) his clipboard.

If there is any justice in this world, on Thursday night Urban Meyer will walk off with a permanent wedgie.

Then again, we are talking about the BCS.  “Justice” doesn’t exist.

The Poetic Side of the BCS

The Muse hit me last night–hard.  She kept pestering me until I took advantage of the fact that my mentor teacher (who is also in charge of the Christmas program) was leading the class in rehearsal, so I grabbed a thesaurus to aid in finding synonyms that could rhyme easily, and scribbled down this tribute to NCAA football since 1998.

Ode to an Anachronism

Oh, what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practice to conceive
A way to determine a champion national
Totally devoid of analysis rational.

Lose early in season, a team’ll survive.
Lose even mid-season, they may still thrive,
But wait ’til the end-season riv’lry to lose,
By January 2nd, they’re yesterday’s news.

And God forbid there should ever be
Two teams in a conference winning each vict’ry
And meeting each other in a conference final
So that the loser drops below other teams idle.

But the most egregious aberration by far,
Is to have three teams at end of season reg’lar
Vying for the lone conference division spot
Leaving two teams surpassed by those who do not.

Tell me, what is the legitimacy here
To perpetuate this unfairness year after year
With teams of near-perfection penalized
For belonging to a conference championship-sized?

Or, even worse, using this B–no “C”–S,
To decide who in the conference is best,
And relying heavily on opinions hollow
Of coaches with no time for such things to follow.

Since teams in divisions once called “II” and “III”
Can work out a playoff so effortlessly,
And Division I basketball teams sixty-four
Can also succeed–can’t we have just one more?

Alas!  We’ll ne’er see an FBS playoff hence,
For the idea, unfortunately, just makes too much sense!

Still, the title may have done a disservice–an anachronism is something whose time has passed.   What is the name for something whose time never was???

The Big 12 and the BCS

The lack of time for blogging caused by my acquisition of gainful employment is forcing me to be alarmingly brief, but concise when it comes to the debacle of Oklahoma representing the Big 12 South after losing to Texas 45-35 at a neutral site (the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, perpetual home of the Red River Shootout).  Since my Okie friends aren’t football fans, I am plunging headlong into this fight that (as a die-hard SEC devotee) really isn’t mine.  All I have to say about this mess is the following:


‘Nuff said.

Tales Around the Gridiron

Last week was, without a doubt, the suckiest weekend for football since the NCAA quit allowing football games to end in a tie, thus eliminating forever the only suitable ending for a Florida-Tennessee game:  a 3-3 tie in 38-degree drizzle.  True, I had been saying all week long that Texas Tech was due for a win over the Longhorns, and since I don’t bleed burnt orange like most folks in Austin do, I wasn’t losing sleep over that upset.  Georgia-Florida?  I’ve done it before, and again, I will quote the one of the late, great Lewis Grizzard’s most famous columns for the Atlanta Journal-Constipation:

Frankly, I don’t want to talk about it.

This weekend, though, we’re kind of taking a football holiday.  Georgia-Kentucky is not being televised here, and I’m just not too terribly pumped about any of the other match-ups being offered.  I’ll check the scores on my Yahoo page from time to time, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet.  The desire to blog while the marinated chickens are being saturated with 250-degree mesquite smoke has taken priority.

Over our traditional Saturday in the country lunch of Mrs. Saucedo’s tamales, fresh from her cooler outside the Bellville Meat Market, we were all re-telling our favorite tales from the gridiron.  Now is as an appropriate time to share as any during the all-too short college football season.  The first two involve one of the most colorful characters ever to grace a sideline:  former Georgia Tech (ecch!) coach from 1974-1979 Pepper Rodgers.  Take a minute to check out the website that I just tagged.  It’s pure Pepper, believe me.

Anyway, Pepper had everything the Georgia Tech faithful wanted in a coach:  tutelage under their resident pigskin deity Bobby Dodd.  Pepper also had everything we Georgia fans wanted in a Tech coach:  a complete inability to win against the Dawgs.  What isn’t as widely known was that Pepper also played baseball.  A story about Rodgers’ legendary ego is a classic.  It may have been published before, and if so, let me know the credit, and I’ll give it.  Anyway, the story goes:

Pepper was at bat, and (as so often happens), the catcher was trying to psych him out.  “So you’re the great Pepper Rodgers,” said the catcher.  “They say you think you’re something.  They say you think you’re God’s gift to baseball.  They say you think you’re special.  Well, you ain’t.”

Without taking his eyes off the pitcher, Pepper replied “Know what they say about you?”

“What?” asks the catcher.

“Nothing,” said Pepper, as he belted a line drive for a go-ahead RBI base hit.

Before he came back to become the head coach at Tech, though, Pepper came through the ranks at UCLA, first as an assistant, then as the Bruins’ head coach.  Pepper picked up a few habits in “LA-LA Land” that caused some consternation among the Old Gold and White’s Old Guard, such as wearing loafers without socks, and allowing a bit of flightiness to enter that self-hallowed brain.  In fact, Pepper had become downright eccentric, which is the term we in the South use when someone has either too much money or position to have his sanity called into question.

Back to the story:  one evening early in his tenure at what we Dawgs call the North Avenue Trade School, Pepper was slated to address a group of well-funded Tech supporters on the “rubber chicken circuit.”  Pepper left his office in midtown Atlanta without incident, headed to whatever hotel conference room across town where the dinner was scheduled.  Arrival time arrived, no Pepper.  Thirty minutes passed, still no Pepper.  Keep in mind, this is still two decades before cell phones became commonplace.  No one has any idea of what’s happened to the man of the hour.

After 45 minutes, the kitchen staff is beginning to worry about maintaining the quality of their hotel dinners (as if they had cause to worry about the quality getting any worse to begin with).  It was decided to go ahead and serve the guests.  Pepper will surely arrive during the dinner, and he can speak during dessert.  The salad was served, eaten, and removed:  still no Pepper.  The “Boneless Chicken Mariott” was served, eaten, and removed–still no Pepper.  The dessert was served, eaten, and removed, and yet again, the keynote speaker had failed to show.

Just as the organizers, seeing their prospects for a huge infusion to Tech’s scholarship fund evaporate into a massive loss, were about to profusely apologize to the supporters and send them home, Pepper arrived disheveled, filthy dirty, clothes wrinkled beyond comprehension and smeared with dirt and grease.  Without missing a beat, he bounded to the dais and began his explanation.

“I had just left the campus and gotten onto the [Downtown] Connector,” began Pepper.  “All of a sudden, I hear ‘ka-THUNK, ka-THUNK, ka-THUNK, ka-THUNK, ka-THUNK’!  The tire had blown.  So I pull over, get out the jack and the spare, lie down on the shoulder and change the tire.  When I’m done, I throw my stuff in the back of the car, and take off again.  I don’t even get back in traffic before I hear ‘ka-THUNK, ka-THUNK, ka-THUNK, ka-THUNK, ka-THUNK’ again!”

“You had another flat tire?” asked an incredulous VIP at the front table.

“Naw,” replied Pepper.  “I’d changed the wrong tire!”

Well, I didn’t intend for today’s blog to be a tribute to the clown prince of the Sith, but, “Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate” aside, Pepper Rodgers is the funniest guy you’ve never heard of.  Some of his most hilarious moments are intentional, others not, but Pepper doesn’t care as long as you spell his name right. (Notice the “d” in the middle????)  He even made a foray into writing the Great American Novel.  No, Fourth and Long Gone didn’t win a Pulitzer (or even come close to nomination, for that matter), but it is one of the funniest accounts of the cutthroat game of recruiting in the Holy See of Collegiate Football: the various impoverished, ill-educated, and remote pockets that dot the Southern US.  It also has as a secondary story one of the most classic prolonged practical jokes ever depicted in literature.  An incompetent assistant, the lone holdover from the previous coach’s tenure who was kept only because he knows all the shortcuts around recruiting rules that were already established, is given the sole task of keeping tabs on the weekly stats for a fictitious out-of-state recruit named “Tnassip.”  For weeks after the high school season has ended, stats are called in for the nonexistent phenom, which the incompetent faithfully reports to the only other member of the staff not in the know–the head coach.  The scene in which the hoax is revealed during a coaches’ meeting by writing the recruit’s name backwards to reveal the most common nickname used by coaches for their players is classic!

The one thing those of us from the Deep South enjoy more than a reverent regard for football is the ability to tell a great story.  Pepper Rodgers has both.  Even if he’s a Tech product, he’s an entertaining so-and-so, and that’s good enough for me.

Alabama 41, Georgia 30

Once again, quoting the late, great Lewis Grizzard:

I don’t want to talk about it.

It’s Almost Football Season!!!!! Dawgs on Top!

Less than a month to go.  I’m a kid who just celebrated Thanksgiving and is already sleepless at the thought of Santa’s impending visit.  On August 30 at 12:30 pm Eastern, my beloved University of Georgia Bulldogs (hereafter known as “the Dawgs” will kick off their 2008 season against Georgia Southern.  You will find me either glued to the TV or downstreaming Larry Munson’s audiocast, or perhaps both.  As a warm up, enjoy this article from Cary Estes, a contributor to  I like the way this guy writes!  The message isn’t half bad, either.

\”Georgia great, but it\’s still easy to doubt Dawgs\” from NBC Sports

If you don’t enjoy gushing over the gridiron, be forewarned regarding the next 5 months.  I love football.  I live for football.  My father started working part-time for the UGa Athletic Department when I was 1.  When he retired from there, I was married and had 3 kids.  Bulldog sports wasn’t just entertainment; it put food on our table.   It paid for the little extras.  It got my brothers and me out of school on the Friday before the Georgia-Florida football game the first weekend of November every year (although, since the SEC went to 12 teams, the game has been moved to the last Saturday in October).

Thanks to Daddy’s position with UGAAA, I got to meet my first celebrity outside of UGa Athletics.  In 1976, the Dawgs were on their way to their first SEC championship in 8 years.  They had fired up the fans the year before by labeling Defensive Coordinator Erk Russell‘s squad the “Junkyard Dog Defense,” taking the name from the last line of the chorus of Jim Croce‘s #1 hit song, “Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown.”  The Godfather of Soul, James Brown (an Augusta native and a HUGE Bulldog fan), wrote his own anthem to celebrate the Dawgs’ athletic achievements and to, in his own unique way, wave the flag of the Bulldawg Nation.  He was to perform his song, “Dooley‘s Junkyard Dogs,” named in honor of the beloved (and later legendary) head coach, during the halftime show.

I just happened to find a video of James Brown’s performance on YouTube.  I was there, and thanks to the kind soul who not only had the forethought to film it, but the generosity to post it.  Enjoy, sports fans!

Since Daddy had to be at the Gator Bowl Stadium 2 hours before the gates opened, so did we.  Mom was letting my older brother and me (my oldest brother was in the Army by that time) burn off steam by walking laps around the empty stadium.  We happened to look down, and I saw for the first time in my life a limousine.  I thought it was the biggest, fanciest thing I had ever seen.  There was a small group of people gathered around a man in the flashiest red suit I had ever seen.  Amazingly, Mom took us downstairs to meet James Brown himself!  He was in a jovial, generous mood and spoke very kindly to this 12-year-old white chicklet who wasn’t fully aware at the time of the greatness she was meeting.  He even autographed my game-day program, right above the Jack Davis (another illustrious–pardon the pun–Bulldog alum who gives back during football season) cartoon that was the cover art.  I still have that program–I was looking at it just last week.  I really need to frame that thing.

You know, the Redcoat Band still plays exerpts from both songs during football games!  “Leroy Brown” gets played after a great defensive play, and “Dooley’s Junkyard Dawgs” usually before or after the game, even though Coach Dooley retired as Head Coach after the 1988 season and as Athletic Director after the 2004 season.

There are more Tales to tell about Life, the Universe, and the Bulldogs, but I’ve got the whole season to tell them.  For now, all problems are overshadowed by the fact that the USA Today Coaches’ Poll put my beloved Dawgs at #1 in the preseason!  Life is good!  How ’bout them Dawgs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

June 2020

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