Not that it really matters, but the NCAA has vacated Georgia Southern’s 26-20 win over Florida on November 23, 2013. It seems Georgia Southern got caught by the NCAA for some academic hanky panky and it turns out that three players who were part of that win over the Gators (Georgia Southern was Division IAA at the time) were academically ineligible. Imagine that.
Georgia Southern can’t claim it as a victory but Florida still has to claim it as a loss, which means once again the NCAA doesn’t reach the equivalent of the Mendoza Line in terms of common sense. Not that it would really change anything even if the game were considered a forfeit, however. We all remember what actually happened so there is no need to break into your happy dance.
Nothing the NCAA can do will ever change the fact that a Division IAA team came into The Swamp and beat the Gators. While Jeremy Foley took into account the injuries that decimated a Florida team that had won 11 games the season before, there was absolutely nothing he could do to change the perception that Will Muschamp had the Gators in a bad place. It’s not like Georgia Southern came into The Swamp with a razzle-dazzle attack that dazed and confused folks. This is a barely break even (6-5) team that didn’t complete a pass in the game and ran the same 3-4 plays over and over again and UF was essentially helpless to stop the Eagles from controlling the ball and the clock.
The Georgia Southern loss didn’t cost Muschamp his job, but it did raise the bar on the 2014 season high enough that the Gators couldn’t reach it. As the 2016 season approaches, job security will be a problem for nearly half the coaches. Here is a look at job security in the Southeastern Conference.
UNTOUCHABLE: There is only one and you know who that is.
1. Nick Saban, Alabama: He could run for governor and win in the biggest landslide in political history. The Alabama fans in the state would all vote for him because they adore him. The Auburn fans would all vote for him because he couldn’t be governor and coach Alabama at the same time. Unless Nick does a Joe Gibbs and has this sudden penchant to do something with automobiles (Joe does racing; Nick and a partner are buying Mercedes-Benz dealerships), he will coach at Alabama until he dies or gets bored, whichever comes first.
WHAT? ME WORRY?: For the most part, these guys have little to worry about.
2. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State: The best coach in Mississippi State history is Allyn McKeen, the guy who won the school’s only SEC title way back in 1940. McKeen won 65 games in 9 years. Mullen has been in Starkville 7 years. He’s won 55 games and taken the Bulldogs to 6 straight bowl games. Success is Starkville is measured like dog years. One bowl season is like 7 at Alabama. The biggest concern in Starkville is that Dan will have a Navin Johnson moment and ask what else it out there?
3. Les Miles, LSU: Everybody wants to talk about last year when Les was a Jimbo Fisher yes away from being gainfully unemployed. Well, they didn’t have the cash to pay for Jimbo’s buyout, Les won the last game of the year and then blew the doors off Texas Tech in the bowl game for his ninth win of the year. There is a reason he’s called Lucky Les. That was then and this is now. This year he’s got Leonard Fournette in a contract year and a DC in Dave Aranda who will make folks in Baton Rouge think they turned the keys to the Cadillac over to the cabana boy (Kevin Steele) last year.
FEELING NO PAIN: These guys have a good thing going and are on a path to the good life.
4. Jim McElwain, Florida: Last year, the experts predicted 6 wins and Mac delivered 10. It would have been more if his QB hadn’t discovered it’s not nice to try to fool the NCAA. This year he’s actually got four QBs who can (a) see over the line of scrimmage and (b) throw a 20-yard pass for which a receiver doesn’t feel the need to throw up a fair catch signal. Give it another year and there will be lots of fun times in Gainesville.
5. Bret Bielema, Arkansas: Talk about the perfect fit. Bret Bielema grew up on a hog farm in Illinois. Now he’s the spiritual leader of the Hog Nation at Arkansas. Considering what he inherited and how far the Hogs have come in his three years in Fayette-Nam, Bielema is about one good season away from the good life or about as good as you can get in Northwest Arkansas, which isn’t the end of the earth although there are signs that will direct you there. Folks figure that a coach who looks like Bielema and has a wife that looks like Jen has to be lucky enough to win a championship someday.
LIVING ON THE EDGE: On the surface, these guys are okay, but bad news from the NCAA or a bad loss or two could change things in a hurry.
6. Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss: Let’s start by putting things in perspective. Ole Miss hasn’t won a championship – SEC or division – since 1962. From a strictly football standpoint, Hugh has the Rebels more competitive than they have been since Jim Weatherly decided he would rather make music (he wrote “Midnight Train to Georgia” and “Neither One of Us”) than get flattened in the pocket by some pass rusher his left tackle forgot to block. How Ole Miss suddenly got competitive after all these years has the men in blue suits from Indianapolis asking all these difficult questions to folks
7. Butch Jones, Tennessee: Butchie dodged a Title IX bullet earlier in the week when the eight women who sued UT settled for a collective $2.48 million, of which their lawyers will probably take 60%. Folks will forget that the federal government is the only one swimming in more red ink than the UT athletic department if the Vols somehow live up to expectations that are through the roof this year. Circle September 24. If the Vols lose to Florida (again), Butch will be asking if it’s hot in here!
COME ON BABY, LIGHT MY FIRE: The match has been lit. Someone only needs to turn on the gas and things will go boom.
8. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M: The over-under is nine. Nine or more and Sumlin is gainfully employed next year. Under nine and he will discover that his buyout won’t save him. Keep this in mind: Only God and the Longhorns have more money than the Aggies.
9. Gus Malzahn, Auburn: When he has a QB who can run the football Gus is genius enough to score more points than the other guys and let’s face it, the only two stats that count in college football are PF (points for) and PA (points against). Gus has to hope his QB can really run the ball well this year because his DC is Kevin Steele. See the video of the Kevin Steele they remember at Clemson (he was the DC).
10. Derek Mason, Vanderbilt: In the land of the politically correct, Derek Mason gives heartburn to the folks chowing down on Chardonnay and Brie at tailgates. It’s so unpleasant firing a coach, particularly one who came to Vandy from Stanford. Six is Derek’s magic number because that’s a bowl game. Six wins at Vandy is very big deal. It will get you fired just about everywhere else in the SEC.
11. Mark Stoops, Kentucky: Now that Stoops seems to have solved the problems on offense, you look over on the other side of the ball and the defense is seriously devoid of talent. Not a good sign for someone who needs to go bowling to keep his job. In the immortal words of Roseanne Roseannadanna, “It’s always something … if it isn’t one thing it’s always something else.”
MULLIGANS: These are first year guys who won’t have to sweat until the midway point of 2017.
12. Kirby Smart, Georgia: There are people who say Georgia is poised to overtake Alabama thanks to Kirby Smart. Some of the people making that prediction are the same ones who claim the Bulldogs had something they describe as a “near national title” in 2007, which is rivaled only by that NNT in 2002 when the Bulldogs vanquished 13 opponents but couldn’t beat a Florida team with Rex Grossman confined to throwing 3-inch passes because of the tendonitis in his arm. Kirby Smart has never been a head coach before. If having an impeccable pedigree and a can’t lose situation were all it took, then Will Muschamp would still be the head coach at Florida.
13. Will Muschamp, South Carolina: Before you start predicting the date buzzards begin to circle over the football offices in Columbia, South Carolina, may I remind you that athletic director Ray Tanner understands you have to search far and wide to find less Division I talent than Will Muschamp will take into battle this year.
14. Barry Odom, Missouri: Odom is a defensive coach and that’s good because that’s where all the talent is located at Mizzou. Over on the offensive side of the football, it’s nuclear winter, but not so on the defensive side where the Tigers will have one of the finest tandems of tackles in the country in Harold Brantley and Terry Beckner Jr. flanked by stud pass rusher Charles Harris. Barring a run-in with the NCAA or some other kind of scandal, Odom is safe this year, won’t start feeling heat until next year and can figure sweat time begins in 2018.
I’m admittedly not a great soccer fan, but I don’t think anyone who lived outside Portugal or France would have thought a Portugal-France Euro final was in the cards a month ago.
Serena Williams won her semifinal at Wimbledon while sister Venus lost. The way Serena is playing I will be surprised if she doesn’t beat Angelique Kerber in straight sets in the finals. I would be shocked if the Williams sisters fail to win the doubles title.
It’s an all-Euro semifinal today on the men’s side. If pushed to pick winners I would go with Roger Federer and Andy Murray but it’s been so long since I watched a tennis match from start to finish I have no clue which one is playing great right now. I remember when Wimbledon was meaningful.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Which three SEC coaches do you think are sitting on the hottest seats heading into the 2016 season?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
I read recently that Eric Clapton has health problems that may require him to quit playing the guitar. What a shame that would be. Just to remind folks what a genius he is, this is a concert that features former Dire Straits lead Mark Knopfler in a concert from San Francisco in 1988.