Hannah Rogers allowed only one hit through the first six innings and finished with a four-hit shutout, her third of the Women's College World Series, as the Gators mowed down Alabama, 5-0, in the first game of the best-of-three championship series in Oklahoma City. Rogers was almost untouchable through six innings as she faced the minimum 18 batters and while Alabama touched her for three singles in the seventh, she was always in control as Florida moved within a game of its first national championship in softball. While Rogers had her way with the Alabama hitters, Florida finally solved Bama ace Jackie Traina, knocking her out of the box in the seventh inning. Traina threw a pair of two-hitters against the Gators in the regular season. Florida got the only run it needed from Aubree Monroe, who launched her third home run of the season in the third inning. The Gators added insurance with two runs in the fifth and two more in the seventh.
Tommy Tuberville is still steamed that Auburn's undefeated team in 2004 wasn't awarded the national championship after Southern Cal was stripped of the title. Auburn finished 13-0 that year and didn't get to the BCS championship game because it started the season way down in the rankings and both Southern Cal and Oklahoma, which started the season 1-2 in the rankings, never lost. It was easy to argue then just as it's easy to argue now that Auburn deserved a shot at the title. If that happened in 2014 Auburn would have a chance to prove it as part of the four-team playoff.
The BCS could have awarded Auburn the national championship when Southern Cal's title was vacated thanks to the Reggie Bush incident(s), but since there is no way to prove that Auburn could have beaten Oklahoma, it chose to leave the title vacant. Tuberville thinks that's wrong as do most Auburn fans, but that's the system we live with.
Of course, that hasn't stopped Auburn from claiming the 1913, 1983 and 1993 championships. Something called The Billingsley Report gave Auburn the 1913 national title and also the 1983 title along with something called the Nutshell Sports Football Ratings and the New York Times. In 1993, when Auburn was on probation, the Tigers went 11-0 in Terry Bowden's first year as head ball coach. FSU won the national championship that year but once again the fine folks at Nutshell Sports Football Ratings (among others) awarded the national title to Auburn. Auburn also has national championships for 1914 (awarded by James Howell) and 1958 (Montgomery Full Season Championship).
Auburn isn't the only school in Alabama that claims obscure national titles. Alabama can lay claim to 14 national championships that are widely recognized, but College Football Data Warehouse shows 29 national titles if you count the obscure. Among the obscure, Alabama was awarded national titles in 1936 (Cliff Morgan, Mel Smith, Ray Byrne and The State's National Champions), 1937 (Ray Byrne), 1941 (Houlgate System), 1945 (Cliff Morgan, Ray Byrne, National Championship Foundation), 1950 (Bob Kirlin), 1962 (Montgomery Full Season Championship), 1963 (Jim Coger), 1966 (ARGH Power Ratings, Cliff Morgan, Clyde Berryman, Earl Jessen, National Championship Foundation, Soren Sorenson); 1974 (Washington Touchdown Club), 1975 (ARGH Power Ratings, Bob Kirlin, Matthews Grid Ratings), 1977 (Bob Kirlin, College Football Researchers Association, Harry Frye), 1980 (Annual Football Predictions, Montgomery Full Season Championship), 1991 (Annual Football Predictions) and 1994 (Annual Football Predictions).
If you want to count all the obscure national titles among SEC schools, Arkansas has three (legit 1964, obscure 1965, 1977), Georgia has 11 (legit 1942, 1980; obscure 1920, 1927, 1941, 1946, 1966, 1968, 1982, 1983, 2007), Kentucky one (obscure 1950), LSU 11 (legit 1908, 1958, 2003, 2007; obscure 1935, 1936, 1959, 1962, 2001, 2006, 2011); Missouri two (obscure 1960, 2007); Ole Miss four (legit 1960, 1962, obscure 1955, 1959); Tennessee 14 (legit 1938, 1950, 1951, 1998; obscure 1914, 1927, 1928, 1931, 1939, 1940, 1951, 1956, 1967, 1985, 1989); Texas A&M six (legit 1918, 1939; obscure 1917, 1927, 1976, 2012) and Vanderbilt four (obscure 1910, 1918, 1921, 1922).
Florida has three legitimate national titles (1996, 2006, 2008). The 1984 national title was awarded to UF by both The New York Times and The Sporting News. Florida was indeed the best team in the country that year and would have annihilated national champ BYU, which squeaked by 6-6 Michigan, 24-17, in the Holiday Bowl, which was played almost two weeks before January 1. There is also that 1985 title that was awarded by someone named Steve Eck.
Considering some of the obscure national championships claimed by Florida's SEC brethren, perhaps it's time to claim that New York Times trophy.
1. A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama: He's that two-gap guy in the middle that makes Nick Saban's 3-4 work. At 6-4, 330 he's going to command the double team every single snap. He had 5.5 sacks as a freshman, impressive for a nose tackle.
2. Dante Fowler Jr., DE, Florida: When Dominique Easley went down last year it made it much easier to double up on Fowler. He still wound up with 10.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, seven quarterback hurries and three forced fumbles. He should have a true breakout year.
3. Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State: He's a two-gap nose tackle who had seven tackles for loss, three sacks and 10 quarterback hurries last year as a freshman. He spends half his life, it seems, in the backfield.
4. Robert Nkemdichi, DT, Ole Miss: He's so quick and so mobile that he was the short yardage fullback last year as a freshman, gaining 32 yards on five carries. He figured things out by midyear on the defensive line and became a dominator who finished with eight tackles for loss, two sacks and three quarterback hurries.5. Alvin Dupree, DE, Kentucky: There weren't a lot of bright spots for Kentucky last year, but Dupree was one of them. He finished with seven sacks, 9.5 tackles for loss, three quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles.
6. Trey Flowers, DE, Arkansas: He was the only Arkansas D-lineman who could get pressure on the quarterback last year. Finished with 13.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, five quarterback hurries, three forced fumbles and an interception even though he was double-teamed every snap.
7. Markus Golden, DE, Missouri: He was a pass rush specialist last year when he returned an interception 70 yards for a touchdown and registered 13 tackles for loss to go with six sacks, four quarterback hurries and a forced fumble.
8. Jermauria Rasco, DE, LSU: He's the latest in a long line of athletic defensive ends who create havoc at LSU. Last year he had 6.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, five passes batted down at the line of scrimmage, eight quarterback hurries and a forced fumble.
9. Gabe Wright, DT, Auburn: He's another guy who occupies two gaps and makes running the ball very difficult. Wright had 8.5 tackles for loss, three sacks and eight quarterback hurries from his nose tackle position last year.
10. Issac Gross, DT, Ole Miss: A 250-pound defensive tackle is supposed to be a liability in the SEC, but not if you're as quick as Gross, who had nine tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and four quarterback hurries as the smallest nose tackle in the SEC last year.
Steve Masiello is now a college graduate. Good for him and good for Manhattan College, which was willing to take Masiello back as long as he completed his degree at the University of Kentucky. Masiello, if you recall, was the first choice to replace the fired Stan Heath as USF's next basketball coach, except a routine resume check found that he had never graduated from Kentucky. Enter Orlando Antigua at USF, exit Masiello. This was a serious embarrassment for both Masiello and USF, but one that will probably work out for the best. USF has a terrific young coach in Antigua, who will indeed make the Bulls relevant in basketball and Manhattan has a humble, but better for the experience Masiello, who can build on the good things he's already done at the school.
Which is more irritating: fingernails on a chalk board or listening to Beth Mowins call any game in any sport on ESPN?
I've been a Warren Haynes fan dating back to his days when he was the lead guitar for David Allen Coe's band. After that he worked with Dickey Betts and then the Allman Brothers. He still works with the Allman Brothers, Gov't Mule, which is a band he formed, and with The Warren Haynes Band, whose 2011 CD "Man in Motion" is required listening if you ever got into southern style rock and roll. This is the title song from the "Man in Motion" CD, performed live at the Moody Theater in Austin, Texas. He will be touring with the Allman Brothers and Gov't Mule early in the summer then in the fall will be touring with the Warren Haynes Band.