My all-time favorite sports cartoon was created by the late Charles Schulz for his comic strip Peanuts.
While he passed away several years ago, newspapers are rerunning his material as if it was newly drawn. I was delighted last Sunday to see the football strip reappear retitled Classic Peanuts.
In it Linus is telling Charlie Brown that he has just see the most unbelievable football game ever played.
"The home team was behind six-to-nothing with only three seconds to play," Linus says. "The quarterback took the ball, faded back behind his own goal posts and then threw a perfect pass to the left end who whirled away from four guys and ran all the way for a touchdown. The fans went wild. You should have seen them."
Charlie listens but says nothing. The excited Linus continues.
"People were jumping up and down, and when they kicked the extra point, thousands of people ran out onto the field laughing and screaming. The fans and the players were so happy they were rolling on the ground and hugging each other and dancing and everything. It was fantastic."
For the first time Charlie Brown spoke.
"How did the other team feel," he asked.
Could there possibly have been a better weekend for that strip to reappear than last Saturday? There were five inter-conference games played. The largest margin of victory was seven points, South Carolina over Vanderbilt 35-28 on a pass with 1:41 to go.
Ole Miss hung on by its fingernails to beat Kentucky by six, 13-7. The Rebels miss four of six field goal attempts to keep Kentucky in the game until the very end.
The other three SEC games were all three pointers. Georgia, expected to pound Arkansas, lost QB D.J. Shockley with a knee injury in the first half and barely edged the Hogs 23-20. Arkansas is still looking for their first conference win. Georgia has yet to lose any game. So go figure.
But the games of the day were Tennessee-Alabama and LSU-Auburn.
The Tide won on a field goal with 13 seconds left after UT fumbled the ball away when they had first and goal on ‘Bama's three yard line. The Tide marched down the field and kicked the winner.
Then there was the goalpost game at LSU. That one went into overtime. It was decided when the Tigers hit a field goal in the first overtime and Auburn's matching kick hit the left upright and bounced away. It was the fifth field goal attempt of the evening missed by Auburn kicker John Vaughn.
So how did Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Tennessee and Auburn feel? The television pictures said it all. Heads hanging. Pain etched on every losing face. I-can't-believe-it-looks on the part of many.
As for the winners, Linus described their reaction perfectly. Hollering, rolling on the ground, hugging each other. Small miracles do that, you know.
Only Mississippi State was disappointing this past Saturday, losing to Houston by 12. But that was a non-conference game which simply doesn't figure into a review of the past weekend. The Bulldogs are a poor team which still has a lot of building and recruiting to do before they can compete in our league.
On the other hand, neither Ole Miss not Kentucky are near the point where they can be a factor week in and week out. The Rebels are the victims of lackluster quarterbacking and an atrocious kicking game. All that preseason confidence by new coach Ed Orgeron in senior Michael Spurlock has proven to be misplaced. Orgeron indicates he still has faith in the youngster because he continues to start him and play him to the virtual exclusion of everyone else. In all fairness with a receiving corps that appears to smear their hands with butter rather than glue and a kicking game that mimics the gang that couldn't shoot straight, it makes his job much more difficult.
"We're dealing with what we have," Orgeron said about his kicking corps. "We're working very hard. We just have to find the right kicker."
Last year it was quarterbacking by committee. This year it is kicking by the same method. It didn't work last year and it's not working this season.
South Carolina found a way to put points on the board in the Vanderbilt game.. It keeps them in the hunt for a bowl game. They are currently 4-3 with Arkansas and Clemson still on the schedule along with Tennessee and Florida. Winning two of those four is quite possible. The Gamecocks haven't beaten the Vols since they edged them 24-23 on Halloween night 1992. This could be the year to break that 12 game losing streak.
If you use the word "parity" to describe the level of play in a conference, the SEC is the country's leader in parity. The eight "haves" are so evenly matched you can't feel certain about the eventual winner of any game. Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Ole Miss and Mississippi State are not at that level but pesky enough to cause trouble on certain days. Remember the Rebels-Alabama game and that of South Carolina-Georgia?
While we doubt if Charles Schultz had the SEC in mind when he drew his now famous cartoon the rest of us have reason to ask his question on virtually every Saturday as the scores come in.
How DID the other team feel?
Stan T - 'How did the other team feel?'
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