Saturday, November 3

A Note on the SEC East (or, Nothing Is Sacred)

Who would’ve thought Tennessee would end up in control of their destiny in the SEC East – twice? After a rough start to the season, including a blowout 59-20 loss at Florida I had the (mis)fortune of watching with one of my Gator friends, I figured that the Vols were staring a solid 8-5 season in the face – at best. Recent games haven’t really changed that outlook for me; the defense is still giving up yardage like they’re in C-USA, but the offense is capably solid. And yet they’re in 1st in the SEC East.

I suppose this is the part of the article where I offer up a somber thank-you to Georgia, with whom none of this would’ve been possible. If they hadn’t rolled over and played dead (dog joke – get it?) when they came to Neyland Stadium, Tennessee wouldn’t own the tiebreaker. Then again, if they didn’t put a beating on Florida we don’t get possession of 1st place again. (There’s a hearty “screw you” somewhere in here to Alabama – hope LSU runs 60+ up on you guys! Enjoy the Saban era, until he leaves for Michigan in two years.) Still, don’t confuse the begrudging thanks I’m giving Georgia for any kind of praise. When they all rushed the field after their first touchdown against Florida – an activity I’m sure they hadn’t seen in a while; if you saw the Georgia/South Carolina game, the descriptive phrase used to describe the Bulldog offense was “Penn State on the road” – I was yelling all kinds of profanities at the TV. It was the first time in years I wanted to see the Gators roll up 75 on an opponent, like the old Spurrier Specials we used to see against Bumblefuck U back in the late ‘90’s. (Spurrier, bless his heart, has already declared he’s sending out a scrub to start a fight if Georgia pulls that trick on his team. Couldn’t he just get Florida International to put a hit on the team?) And yet, that didn’t happen.

Of course, none of this would’ve been possible if Kentucky ’07 wasn’t busy turning into Kentucky ’05 at home against Mississippi State. I actually kind of like that version of the Bulldogs; they’ve had issues for the last few seasons (thank you, Jackie Sherrill; could you kick the state a little more on your way out, please?), but this year they’re finally reaching “annoying” status. They have two road SEC wins now over currently ranked teams (Kentucky, Auburn – but the Auburn win was pre-revival, back when we thought they really blew), played South Carolina tough for three quarters, and gave the Vols fits at home. They’re doing well. Special thanks should also go out to Ole Miss, whose premature firing of David Cutcliffe led to their immediate tailspin. Speaking of which, what were they thinking firing Cutcliffe anyway? It’s not like Ole Miss is normally good, and of course a team’s going to struggle when you lose a NFL starting QB. Way to act quickly. Also, bringing in a poor man’s Marcus Vick to run your offense? Not smart. Of course Brent Schaeffer tore up the JUCO ranks – but it’s almost like nobody actually saw him play in the SEC two years prior, when he was the other guy in the Tennessee two-headed freshman QB attack of mediocrity.

So that just leaves South Carolina, who’s managed to beat Kentucky and Georgia (in an Ugly Game Special), but lose to Tennessee, LSU, and Vanderbilt. Quick quiz: which one of those teams is not like the other? You’d figure on a team returning 19 starters they’d be able to execute against a team who only has 1 ½ players on offense, and that guy is named Earl Bennett. Guess Phil Steele was wrong about them – sorry, Phil. In memory of South Carolina’s dashed title hopes, my next post will not contain paragraph breaks and be written in Arial-size-5 font.

Maybe I’m just bitter. But that’s because I had a gate changed pulled on me at the last minute and I might’ve been charged triple-charged for wifi access at the airport. I hate Atlanta’s airport. It makes me not want to come back down here for the SEC Championship game if the Vols happen to win out. The way this season’s gone, I fully expect a 3-3 Vandy to somehow win out and land all the tiebreakers to get in. They’ll play against an 11-1 LSU team and lose by 50 – but hey, it’ll be better than LSU playing Florida again and getting nailed on SOS. What the hell?

Hey, at least it’d be fun. You’d enjoy it – I know I would. Wouldn’t that be a perfect ending to this season?