The question: How to eliminate the paycheck games against Division IAA teams without killing the smaller schools financially while at the same time making Division I regular season games more competitive?
While some of college football’s most respected writers are contemplating the idea of scrimmages that will pit intersectional foes against each other – which would sell out at a bunch of places – here’s a novel approach.
Why not allow the Division I teams to host a Division IAA team for a spring game?
There is some logic to this. A lot of the D1AA teams get so battered and bruised during their paycheck games in the fall that it affects their conference seasons, which can get them into the playoffs. For a school in one of the power conferences, particularly, a game against a D1AA team can kill chances to get into the playoff because of strength of schedule (Hello Baylor!).
Instead, play those games in the spring. Since it would be real football against a real team, no need for these silly defense vs. offense scrimmages and it would certainly draw a very nice paying crowd, certainly enough to offer a nice paycheck to the D1AA teams. There wouldn’t be the embarrassment that Florida suffered in 2013 when Georgia Southern came in and won in The Swamp or when Appalachian State knocked off Michigan in 2007. And you wouldn’t have the worries of a D1AA team screwing up strength of schedule.
By eliminating the games against D1AA opponents, it might give the schools in the non-power conferences a better chance to get games against the power schools. For example, Doc Holliday has lamented that no school in the power five wants to play Marshall. That might change if the games against D1AA teams were eliminated.
Okay, so it isn’t exactly competitive football, but give Jim McElwain credit for trying to come up with something to entertain the fans at the annual Orange and Blue game Saturday in The Swamp. Because of shortages at running back, linebacker and on the offensive line, McElwain is going to figure out something creative to give fans a show.
It won’t exactly be a game, but McElwain is going to make it as competitive as he can. The two most important things that can come from this game are (1) no injuries and (2) getting to see how some of the younger players react in front of a large crowd.
Football won’t be the only game in town this weekend.
Florida’s third-ranked softball team (37-4, 8-4 SEC) will host Kentucky (27-11, 4-8 SEC) for a 3-game series starting Saturday and concluding Monday evening in a game televised on the SEC network.
Florida’s 10th-ranked baseball team (25-9, 6-6 SEC) plays host to #21 South Carolina (23-11 6-6 SEC) starting tonight at 7 at McKethan Stadium.
Florida’s sixth-ranked women’s tennis team (18-2, 10-1 SEC) plays host to #5 Georgia today (17-4, 10-1 SEC) and Tennessee Sunday morning (10 a.m.). If the Gators win both matches, they claim at least a share of the SEC championship.
The 10th-ranked Florida women’s lacrosse (10-4, 4-0 Big East) team will be home to face Villanova (7-5, 2-1 Big East) in a Big East match at 1 p.m. Saturday. The Gators hold a 1-game edge over UConn in the race for the league title.
1. John Hannah, Alabama, guard: Hawg Hannah is usually the first guy mentioned when you talk about the greatest offensive linemen ever, college or pro. Bear Bryant called him the greatest offensive lineman he had ever seen. He was All-SEC from 1970-72, first team All-America in 1971-72. In his pro career, he started all 183 games he played in and made first team All-Pro 10 times. He is a member of both the College and Pro Football halls of fame.
2. Bob Johnson, Tennessee, center: How good was Bob Johnson? He finished sixth in the 1967 Heisman Trophy voting, unheard of for a center. Johnson was an All-SEC and All-America selection twice (1966-67). He played 12 years in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
3. Barrett Jones, Alabama, center, guard and tackle: Jones is easily the most versatile offensive lineman in SEC history. He started at right guard on a national championship team in 2009 then made All-SEC and All-America at two positions – tackle (2010) and center (2011). He won the Outland Trophy (2011) and the Rimington Trophy (2011), all while maintaining a perfect 4.o in the classroom.
4. Chip Kell, Tennessee, guard: Kell was a first team All-SEC selection three times (1967-69) and a two-time first team All-American (1968-69). He was considered the best run blocking offensive lineman in the nation as a senior. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
5. Lomas Brown, Florida, tackle: Lomas was the best player on an offensive line (The Great Wall of Florida) that is still considered one of the two or three best in the history of the SEC. He was first team All-SEC and consensus first team All-American in 1984. The sixth pick in the first round of the 1985 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions, Lomas went on to make the Pro Bowl seven times. He was a 3-time first team All-Pro and 3-time second team All-Pro who played in 263 NFL games with 251 starts.
6. Chris Samuels, Alabama, tackle: Samuels started 42 straight games at left tackle and didn’t yield a sack until his final regular season game as a senior. He was first team All-SEC and first team All-America in 1999, the year he won the Outland Trophy. He was the third overall pick in the first round by the Washington Redskins, where he went on to be a 6-time Pro Bowl selection.
7. Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M, tackle: In Texas A&M’s first year in the SEC (2012), Joeckel had a dream season, making first team All-SEC, first team All-America and winning the Outland Trophy. He was the second pick in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
8. Ed King, Auburn, tackle: The best offensive lineman of the Pat Dye era at Auburn, King made first team All-SEC and first team All-America in his sophomore and junior seasons (1988-89). He bypassed his senior season to enter the NFL Draft where he was taken in the second round by the Cleveland Browns. He played seven years in the NFL before retiring.
9. Maurkice Pouncey, Florida, center: Pouncey started 40 straight games at Florida after coming off the bench in game one as a true freshman in 2007. He played left guard as a freshman, then moved to center in 2008. He was a first team All-SEC and first team All-America selection in 2009 when he won the Rimington Trophy. A first round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2010, he is a 4-time All-Pro center.
10. Michael Oher, Ole Miss, tackle: Oher has already had a book written and a movie made about his life prior to Ole Miss (“The Blind Side”). He was a freshman All-America in 2005, second team All-SEC in 2006, first team All-SEC in 2007-08 and unanimous first team All-America in 2008.
Honorable mention: Dwight Stephenson, Alabama; Matt Stinchcomb, Georgia; Zeke Smith, Auburn; Bob Gain, Kentucky; Bruiser Kinard, Ole Miss; Alan Faneca, LSU; Shawn Andrews, Arkansas; Jonathan Luigs, Arkansas; Reese Dismukes, Auburn; Marcus McNeil, Auburn; Jason Odom, Florida; Pat Dye, Georgia; Jeff Zimmerman, Florida; Andre Smith, Alabama; Ben Wilkerson, LSU; Warren Bryant, Kentucky; Royce Smith, Georgia.
1. Bear Bryant, Kentucky/Alabama: He is still the winningest coach in Kentucky history (60-23-6) and it’s been 62 years since he coached there. At Alabama, Bryant won six national championships and 13 SEC championships. Bryant wasn’t afraid to change. He re-invented himself at least four times and won big with each re-invention. When he retired, he was the winningest coach in college football history (323-85-17). He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame
2. Bob Neyland, Tennessee: Neyland was a West Point grad who was appointed a professor of military science at Tennessee in 1925. One year later he became the head football coach. During a career that was interrupted by World War II (he rose to the rank of Brigadier General), he won four national championships and five SEC titles. His 1938 national championship team gave up only 16 points while his 1939 team went unbeaten, untied and unscored upon in the regular season. It must be noted that he never lost to Bear Bryant although they played to two tie games. His career record was 173-31-12.
3. Steve Spurrier, Florida/South Carolina: Spurrier gets the edge over Nick Saban because he completely revolutionized the SEC in his 12-year stint at Florida (122-27-1, 6 SEC championships, 1 national championship) and then he turned perpetual doormat South Carolina into a consistent winner (84-45). Spurrier changed the way football was played in the SEC with his wide open offense that produced four SEC titles in a row (1993-96), something that not even Bear Bryant was able to accomplish. He is the winningest coach at both schools and counting a stint at Duke he has a career head coaching record of 226-85-2. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame as a player.
4. Nick Saban, LSU/Alabama: Saban has won four national championships at two schools (LSU 2003; Alabama 2009, 2011-12). He was 48-16 at LSU with two SEC championships (2001, 2003) and is a staggering 86-17 at Alabama with three SEC titles (2009, 2012, 2014). Counting stints at Toledo and Michigan State, Saban’s career head coaching record is 177-59-1.
5. Urban Meyer, Florida: Meyer won SEC and national championships in 2006 and 2008. He produced three consecutive 13-1 seasons (2006, 2008-09) and compiled a 65-15 record for his six years on the job. Since leaving Florida after the 2010 season, Meyer is 37-3 with a national championship at Ohio State. For his coaching career, he has a 141-26 record.
6. Johnny Vaught, Ole Miss: Vaught was the absolute master of one-platoon football. He won all three of his national championships (1959-60, 1962) and five of his six SEC championships in the one-platoon system. A graduate of TCU, Vaught spent his entire head coaching career at Ole Miss where he went 190-61-12. Ole Miss has won neither an SEC nor national championship since he retired. Vaught is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
7. Bobby Dodd, Georgia Tech: Dodd was an All-American at Tennessee under Bob Neyland. His entire head coaching career was spent at Georgia Tech where he won the 1952 national championship and SEC titles in 1951-52. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame as both a player and coach.
8. Vince Dooley, Georgia: Dooley played college football at Auburn then worked as an assistant at his alma mater until Georgia called in 1964. In his 25 years on the job in Athens, the Bulldogs won six SEC championships and the 1980 national championship. His entire head coaching career was spent at Georgia where he compiled a 201-77-10 record. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
9. Shug Jordan, Auburn: Shug is the winningest football coach in Auburn history (176-83-6) and he’s also one of the school’s winningest basketball coaches (136-103). A 3-sport star at Auburn, Jordan was an assistant for Wally Butts at Georgia when Aubburn hired him in 1951. For the next 25 years he was a 4-time SEC coach of the year, winning the 1957 SEC and national championships.
10. Frank Thomas, Alabama: A former Notre Dame quarterback famous for playing for Knute Rockne in the same backfield with the legendary George Gipp, Thomas succeeded a legend in Wallace Wade and then went on to win two national championships (1934-41) and four SEC titles. In a coaching career that produced a 141-33-9 record, Thomas was 115-24-7 at Alabama where one of his best players was Paul W. “Bear” Bryant.
Honorable mention: Gene Stallings, Alabama; Phillip Fulmer, Tennessee; Pat Dye, Auburn; Johnny Majors, Tennessee; Paul Dietzel, LSU; Charley McClendon, LSU; Ray Graves, Florida; Wally Butts, Georgia; Doug Dickey, Tennessee/Florida.
Do you think college football should tinker with spring football and allow scrimmages or games against an opponent or should things remain status quo?
The Dixie Dregs haven’t produced an album in years but they still do an occasional concert. In the early 1970s, the Dregs tried their hand at vocals but that didn’t last long. They went back to their all-instrumental format (guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and violin) where they combined jazz, southern rock and country. Their albums were very good, but the band was always best live. Today’s music is a live performance of “Kat Food” from the Dregs’ 1981 album “Unsung Heroes.”