Mark's Malarkey

Welcome everyone, to yet another edition of <STRONG>Mark's Malarkey</STRONG>, where we all gather to have mature, eloquent discourse about the state of intercollegiate football competition. In other words, some good ole' pigskin passion.

Last week we got things off to a rousing start by examining the western side of the SEC, and promised to set things straight for the eastern side this week, before moving on to other important revelations. With practices fully under way everywhere, that familiar anticipation is in the air, so let's not waste any time...

Before we go on though, I must say that emails from the last column were quite illuminating. On the one hand, I was quite intrigued to learn from all the LSU faithful that there is "NEAUX" WAY POSSIBLE that Rohan Davey will be injured this season. Wow. Must be nice to be that confident. I stand corrected. (And by the way, do all you Cajun girls kiss your mommas with those mouths?! Sheesh.) And then there were the numerous Arkansas' "scholars" that proudly corrected me regarding the use of the word "ascending." Only problem was, they just further proved my point. From dictionary.com, Razorbacks:

as·cend·ing (-sndng) adj. "...Moving or progressing toward a higher level or degree: an ascending order..."
I obviously progressed towards a higher degree in my statements, as in 6,5,4,3,2,1. And even a Tennessee tutor will tell you that is most definitely "counting backwards." So I digress, but hey, thanks for playing!

Now what happens in the mighty East this year? Well, glad you asked...

KENTUCKY - So towel boy was cheating all those years, paying for players to come to Lexington? Wow, could've fooled me, with those results. Guess that shows that in a league with geniuses like Mike Dubose and Jim Donnan, Mumme was still in way over his well-coifed head. The good news is that a no-nonsense coach has control now. The bad news is that NCAA sanctions will really have him handcuffed. There's still no defense in horseracing country, either, so another year down the drain, Wildcats. At least there is basketball season to look forward to. Again.

VANDY - Last year saw Vandy poised to make some news in the East, but hopes were dashed in Music City. That's a shame, as Vandy's consistent academic standards normally has them more suited to ACC competition, than SEC. This year they still have good personnel by their standards, with an underrated offense and great defensive coaching. Still, it's not near enough in a league with three resource-laden programs and South Carolina on the rise.

USC - No, not the Trojans but the new rising powerhouse, South Carolina under master-motivator Lou Holtz. Gamecock fans are "crowing" mighty loud this year, only for once they actually have some reason to. Defensive coordinator Charlie Strong is the real deal, Watson and Pinnock challenge Mississippi State for the best running attack in the league, and no one motivates like Holtz. Still, you aren't going to sneak up on anyone this year, and that schedule is brutal. So this ain't the year, Cocks, but win enough to keep recruiting going and happy days might be here to stay...

GEORGIA - Finally, Georgia tired of an insufferable ego in the head coaching office that couldn't back up his big words, or recruit offensive linemen. So they turned to a different beast all together, in that of Mark Richt. Richt has been pleasantly surprised with all the talent he inherited in the starting 22, and has quickly returned a sense of discipline and unity to Ohio State, oops, I mean UGA. Depth might be the only thing that keeps these dawgs off the porch, this year. But listen to Neil Callaway, coach Richt, when he says "run the ball," and you'll be able to do great things at Georgia, in time...

TENN - After feeling some ill effect from graduation losses early last year, UT solidified towards the end of the season and returned to form somewhat. That'll continue this year, with a dominating Henderson and Overstreet-led defense leading the way. Lack of depth and experience at the important running back position, a questionable secondary, and the intimidating trek to The Swamp provide obstacles however, so no corn liquor in the Georgia Dome for UT, this year.

FLORIDA - Sigh. Proving he is indeed the spawn of Satan, grinnin' Steve Spurrier's Gators are once again thought to be in the title hunt this year, both in the SEC and the nation. Prognosticators who think that didn't see the games I saw, though, in that the same team last year with Kenyatta Walker and Gerald Warren struggled at times. Still, the orange-and-blue clad scholar-athletes (ahem) have enough to make it out of the east, I'm afraid. So once again look for tank tops and cutoffs in Atlanta, come December.

There you have it, no need to even play the season (ha ha). Florida and Mississippi State for the crown. Easy pickings, right? Florida in a gimme? As John McLaughlin would say, WRONG. Don't think the 351 rushing yards yielded last year to the more physical Bulldogs won't weigh heavily on the Florida players' feeble minds. Sherrill proves who the evil genius really is, this time at least.

Stay tuned as we next tackle some important topics, like explaining why the passing game is overrated in today's game, or defending the BCS, or breaking down the current SEC coaches, or whatever else pops in my head. And as always, feel free to share your esteemed insight...


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