There is that old saying that you can’t win a national championship in college football in September but you sure can lose one. Alabama is everybody’s favorite, but Tennessee and Georgia fans seem to think an SEC East title is heading their way but it could turn out to be the cruelest month for both. Here’s a look at the schedules for all 14 SEC teams and predictions about who will have a September to remember and who will be sucking wind.
Florida: 9/3 UMass; 9/10 Kentucky; 9/17 North Texas; 9/24 at Tennessee
Prediction: Florida will go into the Tennessee game with a 3-0 record. Kentucky will be somewhat of a test but the game’s in Gainesville and the Wildcats haven’t beaten UF since the Reagan administration. W was the president the last time the Vols beat the Gators. That streak won’t end this year.
Georgia: 9/3 North Carolina (in Atlanta); 9/10 Nicholls State; 9/17 at Missouri; 9/24 at Ole Miss
Prediction: Georgia fans are already planning another of their famous almost national championships but title hopes will do the Roto-Rooter thing and swirl down the drain starting with that season opener against a North Carolina team that won’t be the least bit intimidated. The Bulldogs play at Ole Miss and the Rebels might be reeling at 1-2, but the bet here is that Ole Miss will have figured things out and Georgia will go 2-2.
Kentucky: 9/3 Southern Miss; 9/10 at Florida; 9/17 New Mexico State; 9/24 South Carolina
Prediction: The Wildcats will have a chance to finish the month 2-2 by finishing the month with sacrificial lamb New Mexico State and a South Carolina team that will be struggling early under Will Muschamp. If the Cats find a way to lose to South Carolina, buzzards will start circling above Mike Stoops’ office.
Missouri: 9/3 at West Virginia; 9/10 Eastern Michigan; 9/17 Georgia; 9/24 Eastern Michigan
Prediction: It’s going to be the same old story for Mizzou this year. The defense will be fierce and the offense will be a lost ball in the tall grass. The defense will get wins in home paycheck games against MAC bottom feeder Eastern Michigan and D1AA bottom feeder Delaware State.
South Carolina: 9/3 at Vanderbilt; 9/10 at Mississippi State; 9/17 East Carolina; 9/24 at Kentucky
Prediction: Will Muschamp has been dealt a cruel hand with three roadies in month one. The ECU game is the only one that looks winnable.
Tennessee: 9/3 Appalachian State; 9/10 Virginia Tech (in Bristol); 9/17 Ohio U; 9/24 Florida
Prediction: Virginia Tech is going to give the Vols fits at the Bristol Speedway with 160,000 fans watching. That’s a potential loss. So is the Florida game on 9/24. Ron Zook was coaching the Gators the last time UT got a win in this series. It won’t happen this year either. It’s either a 2-2 month or a 3-1, but the Vols’ bubble will burst either way.
Vanderbilt: 9/1 South Carolina; 9/10 Middle Tennessee State; 9/17 at Georgia Tech; 9/24 at Western Kentucky
Prediction: Vandy has a legitimate shot at going 0-4 but the prediction here is 2-2 with South Carolina and MTSU going down. An 0-4 means buzzards start circling in Nashville.
Alabama: 9/3 Southern Cal (in Arlington, TX); 9/10 Western Kentucky; 9/17 at Ole Miss; 9/24 Kent State
Prediction: Chalk up wins over Southern Cal, Western Kentucky and Kent State. Ole Miss? It’s in Oxford and the Rebels have beaten Bama the last two years but the Rebels have to open the season with FSU so they might be reeling. This month looks like 4-0 … unless Ole Miss beats FSU in the opener.
Arkansas: 9/3 Louisiana Tech; 9/10 at TCU; 9/17 Texas State; 9/24 Texas A&M (in Arlington, TX)
Prediction: The TCU game looks like a loss, which means that game with the Aggies might be the one that makes or breaks the season. This looks like a 3-1 first month.
Auburn: 9/3 Clemson; 9/10 Arkansas State; 9/17 Texas A&M; 9/24 LSU
Prediction: The all-Tigers games (Clemson and LSU) won’t be kind to Auburn’s Tigers, but Gus Malzahn won’t feel too much heat too early because he’ll get wins over Arky State and the Aggies. All four games are homers.
LSU: 9/3 Wisconsin (in Green Bay, WI); 9/10 Jacksonville State; 9/17 Mississippi State; 9/24 at Auburn
Dave Aranda replaces Kevin Steele as LSU’s DC and that means the Prediction: defense will be top 5 nationally. If Les Miles allows Cam Cameron to throw the ball on first or second down with enough regularity to back the safeties off the line, Leonard Fournette will crush people. A 4-0 month is in order.
Mississippi State: 9/3 South Alabama; 9/10 South Carolina; 9/17 at LSU; 9/24 UMass
Prediction: The Bulldogs know how to schedule. They’ll be halfway to bowl eligibility (3-1) when the month is over. LSU is the only obstacle.
Ole Miss: 9/5 Florida State (in Orlando); 9/10 Wofford; 9/17 Alabama; 9/24 Georgia
Prediction: Ole Miss could beat FSU. Could, but probably won’t. Ole Miss has beaten Alabama two straight years. That streak probably ends this year. By the time Georgia comes to Oxford, Ole Miss will be ready to destroy someone. Call it 2-2 but if Ole Miss is 3-1 or 4-0, the Rebels are going to be serious contenders.
Texas A&M: 9/3 UCLA; 9/10 Prairie View A&M; 9/17 at Auburn; 9/24 Arkansas (in Arlington, TX)
Prediction: The Aggies will do fine first two games, then its two straight weeks of road kill.
SO LONG HOSS
Dwight Adams died. If you knew him, he wasn’t Dwight. You called him Hoss or you called him coach. He was the godfather of Florida special teams tradition. It started back in 1983 when Pell had special teams coaching divided up among his assistants. In an interview we did a few years ago, Hoss told me he went to Charley and told him, “You turn special teams over to me and give me one graduate assistant to help me out. That way when you want to chew somebody’s ass out for screwing up you won’t have to go far and you won’t have to call a convention. You can just chew me out.”
Hoss had this radical idea of taking guys buried on the depth chart and walk-ons to play special teams as a way to give them experience while they were working their way up. The grad assistant was Charlie Strong.
Patrick Miller became one of the greatest special teams players in college football history, a coverage guy who routinely knocked returners into next week and a punt blocker supreme. Ray Criswell could launch punts that seemed to come down wet and Patrick Miller was there to hammer the returner. Ricky Nattiel became one of the scariest punt returners in the country. John David Francis kicked the field goals inside 50 yards and Chris Perkins was the distance guy.
Hoss also coached Florida’s outside linebackers. His greatest accomplishment was taking this former tight end and turning him into a rather fierce linebacker. You might remember the guy – Wilber Marshall.
PAT SUMMITT VS. COACHING LEGENDS
Pat Summitt retired at age 60 with 1,098 wins and 8 NCAA women’s championships.
John Wooden retired at age 65 with 664 wins and 10 NCAA men’s championships.
Adolph Rupp retired at age 71 with 876 wins and 4 NCAA men’s championships.
Dean Smith retired at age 66 with 879 wins and 2 NCAA men’s championships.
Bob Knight retired at age 68 with 902 wins and 3 NCAA men’s championships.
Geno Auriemma will be 62 in March. He has won 955 games and 11 NCAA women’s championships.
Jim Boeheim will be 72 this year. He has won 988 games and 2 NCAA championships.
Mike Kryzyzewski will be 70 in February. He has won 1,043 games and 5 NCAA men’s championships.
To put 1,000 wins in perspective, a coach who averages 33 wins for 30 years will still be 10 wins short of 1,000.
REMEMBERING PAT SUMMITT
John Adams, columnist for the Knoxville News-Sentinel: “She never developed a sense of entitlement as the most prominent person in her sport. She kept pushing her staff and players as though their next national title would be their first. She also kept promoting her program as though she feared there was a possibility no one would show up when the arena gates opened on game night.
“She has done more than anyone to push and pull the sport right along with her to today’s heights. She has been a wonderful role model for femail basketball players and women in general.”
UConn coach Geno Auriemma: “The game of women’s basketball was pretty much defined, and other people have defined it for very, very short periods of time, but from the time I got to Virginia in 1981 to when Pat stopped coaching, she was the defining figure of the game of women’s basketball. Lots of people coach the game, but very few get to define the game.”
Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com, the best college basketball writer in the country: “The sad irony is that almost none of us will ever create the memories she created, and yet this disease, by the end, robbed her of the ability to remember her best moments. That's unfair. But the good news is that Pat Head Summitt made such a huge impact on everybody whose presence she ever graced, and women athletes in general, that the world will never forget her or her accomplishments. And that undeniable reality, I hope, provides a little peace for her family and friends who have lost a loved one far too soon to a disease way too cruel.”
Former UT All-American Chamique Holdsclaw: “She was something like a superhero to me. In the face of adversity she never showed weakness, she never backed down.”
Sports Illustrated writer Lindsay Schnell: “For all her on-court success, Summitt’s greatest accomplishments will always be what she inspired in the thousands of young women (and men) who looked up to and learned from her. She could always make you believe—in the game, in your teammates and mostly, in yourself. And if you didn’t, one good stare-down usually did the trick.”
Sports Illustrated writer Alexander Wolff: “…consider for a moment the chorus line of men who served alongside her in Knoxville over 38 years: In football, Bill Battle, Johnny Majors, Phillip Fulmer, Lane Kiffin and Derek Dooley; In men’s basketball, Ray Mears, Don DeVoe, Wade Houston, Kevin O’Neill, Jerry Green, Buzz Peterson, Bruce Pearl and Cuonzo Martin. Some are remembered as promoters, others for their integrity, while a few collected a brace of winning seasons and one even a national title. But none, if honest with himself, would claim to have reliably delivered on all counts, certainly not at the standard she did. How’s this for a deal? Come play four years for me, and you’ll get your degree and reach at least one Final Four.”
Mr. College Football, Tony Barnhart: “Each year at the SEC Spring Meetings in Destin, Fla., there is a reception that most of the coaches attend. Summitt would be working the crowd but eventually she would gravitate toward some of the football coaches. Invariably, she and Steve Spurrier would huddle to exchange ideas They became fast friends. Greatness likes to be around greatness.”
Duke basketball coach Mike Kryzyzewski: “Really one of the great coaches of any sport, let alone basketball, is Pat Summitt. I can remember early in my career, C.M. Newton, one of the great guys in men’s college basketball, wanted to hire her to be a men’s coach. He said, ‘Look, you should go to one of her practices. She knows how to coach.’ “
Stetson women’s basketball coach Lynn Bria: "I think the demands on the players at Tennessee were extremely high, and she just wouldn't lower the bar. You either met that or you weren't going to make it there. She would never, ever lower the bar ... Her values were what they were, and she didn't waver on them."
Washington Post columnist Sally Jenkins, co-author of three books with Summitt: Pat married so many contradictory qualities in one slenderized figure. She had majesty and humility. Baffling naivete and genius. She was demanding and gentle. She never stayed still, and as a basketball coach was the single most discontented creature after a win that you ever saw. Winning wasn’t good enough: As soon as things were going well, Pat had to change it all up, create a new edge.”
Auburn and former Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl: “Pat Summitt saw things in people that they did not see in themselves. Pat Summitt never apologized to any one of her players for expecting the most out of them, demanding it and getting it.”
THE 10 BEST CENTERS IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL 2016
1. Pat Efflein, Ohio State, SR
2. Ethan Pocic, LSU, SR
3. Jay Guillermo, Clemson, SR
4. Dan Voltz, Wisconsin, JR
5. Frank Ragnow, Arkansas, SR
6. Kyler Fuller, Baylor, SR
7. Tyler Orlosky, West Virginia, SR
8. Coleman Thomas, JR, Tennessee
9. Ross Pierschbacher, Alabama, SO
10. Cameron Tom, Southern Miss, SR
Don’t call Coastal Carolina Cinderella anymore. The Chanticleers have forced a game 3 at the College World Series after their 5-4 win over Arizona Tuesday night. With Andrew Beckwith throwing tonight with 5 days of rest, I like their chances to turn Conway, South Carolina into the party capital of the world tonight.
Former University of Miami coach Al Golden was so disliked by Cane fans. Turns out he wasn’t very well liked by his former players, either. On WQAM, former UM O-lineman Jonathan Feliciano, now with the Oakland Raiders, said, “We had Stephen Morris playing on one Achilles the whole season that they didnt want to get an MRI until after the season because we really needed Stephen at that point … We didn't find out the extent of Stephen's injury until the [NFL] Combine. By that time, it’s a red flag, he has a ruptured Achilles. Go on and Stephen doesn't get drafted. He's bouncing around the league now. Coach Golden has a degree in psychology and he definitely used that."
On a week in which there is so much bad news, there is even more. William “The Refrigerator” Perry is in serious decline, his health and finances in very bad shape. Rick Telander of Sports Illustrated reports that Perry drinks way too much, is at least 150 pounds overweight, refuses to wear hearing aids even though he can barely hear and has diabetes and Guillain-Barre’ syndrome. Fridge lives alone in a retirement facility. Younger brother Michael Dean Perry believes his older bro has “traces of CTE,” the debilitating brain condition tied to football concussions.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Which SEC team has the easiest September and which one has the most brutal schedule?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
There are days when nothing seems to satisfy my music needs more than ZZ Top. The Little Band from Texas will be in Europe until Mid-July but won’t swing south until the fall when they will play Augusta, Altanta, Sarasota, Hollywood (FL), Naples and St. Augustine. Todays’ music is a live performance from Texas.