Archive for the ‘Football’ Category

It’s not football season until I try to lower your expectations about the Gamecocks, right? Okay, you don’t have to answer that question. This could really be a season like no other. Because of that, I think we need to look a little deeper at what to expect. (Translation: I’m just making up an excuse to write more) We’ll split this preview up into three parts:

Part 1: Where is this team in the national pecking order?
Part 2: 1st half predictions
Part 3: 2nd half predictions and other useless stuff

For those of you just joining us, we are officially in the second half of the season (prediction wise). Five weeks of pure bliss ended with a loss to Georgia. What makes the loss even less awesome is that it comes right at the beginning of a Georgia-LSU-Florida gauntlet. Is it weird that I’m talking about this stuff as if it actually already happened? Are you ready for me to dive into the rest of the schedule? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

October 13: @ LSU
Full disclosure: I don’t think LSU is very good. Yeah, they won a lot of games by a large margin last year, but I think they’re closer to the team that looked constipated in the rematch against Alabama than the team who blew out Georgia/Oregon/West Virginia/Arkansas. It’s not as if the Tigers are a team full of scrubs, but I think that they’re rather beatable. Of course, it takes quite the effort to win in Baton Rogue, but it’s definitely not impossible (Just ask Stony Brook!!!). I fully believe that South Carolina will WIN this game. Not much doubt in my mind, actually. I’d go on about how I predicted the win in 2009 against (then) 4th ranked Ole Miss and in 2010 against (then) top ranked Alabama, but that’s not necessary. LSU is doomed in this game because their starting quarterback is trying to be Ben Roethlisberger, and not in a good way. You won’t win big college football games with those guys. (I’m sure you CAN win with those guys, but work with me here, folks)

October 20: @ Florida
I’d say that this would end the toughest part of South Carolina’s schedule, but it’s not like Tennessee + Arkansas + Clemson aren’t still on the schedule. Wanna know some crazy things about playing Florida?
-A win would mean that South Carolina has beaten Florida three times in a row
-A win would mean that South Carolina has won at Gainesville twice in a row. There has never been another SEC East opponent to ever do that. Ever. (I just spent way too much time on the Florida media guide looking up that fact)
-South Carolina’s 53 points in their last two wins against Florida still would not have been enough to beat Florida in 2009 (a 56-6 loss).
So, I’ve mentioned a few times that this is a season of insane expectations. It’s little things like this WIN at Florida that can exceed even the most lofty of expectations.

October 27: vs. Tennessee
As a fan of college football, there’s a lot to like about Tennessee: Smokey, Peyton Manning, beautiful Neyland Stadium, the Rocky Top fight song, and Derek Dooley’s amazing hair + custom tailored orange pants. It’s too bad that the Volunteers haven’t been very good for the past few years, because it seems like the fan base is fairly reasonable expectation-wise. Tennessee has a great quarterback and…well, uh, I like it when they wear the white tops and orange pants. And who can dislike Smokey? Anyway, the Gamecocks will WIN this game.

November 10: vs. Arkansas
It’s the final “Never Forget” game of the season. I’d argue that South Carolina played worse in the loss to Auburn last year, but obviously losing 44-28 “looks” worse than losing 16-13. The most frustrating thing about losing to Arkansas last year is that I don’t think the Razorbacks are that good. They benefited from being in the same division as LSU and Alabama. This is not to say that they don’t have good players—Tyler Wilson and Knile Davis are not scrubs. But if you think that you’re getting a good result out of a football team coached by John L. Smith, then you’ve got another thing coming. This will be a relatively easy WIN.

November 17: vs. Wofford
(Guess who just realized his birthday falls on a Friday this year?!!?!!?!!?!!?) If Congress wants to meddle in sports, perhaps eliminating these cash grab games (usually the lesser team gets a six figure payday to come and be beaten badly) would be worth the effort. It’s not like they succeeded at eliminating PEDs from baseball, so why not take a stab at something else. Oh yeah, I think this will be a WIN.

November 24: @ Clemson
This has to be the most anticipated meeting with Clemson in at least the past 10 years, right? You know the back story, maybe:
-South Carolina beats Clemson 34-17
-Todd Ellis says something that he thought Steve Spurrier said, and people ran with it
-Turns out Steve Spurrier didn’t say it (I guess)?
-No one tells Dabo Swinney this, who then says stuff about the real USC and real Carolina and real pulled pork and real breasts
-Everyone in the state of South Carolina gets lathered up and their panties in a wad at the same time. State unity, y’all!
Of course, both teams come into the season with high expectations. Would the National Guard be called in if both teams are 10-1 (or 11-0) coming into this game? Would people outside of the state of South Carolina give a crap? It should be noted that Clemson still has a solid upper hand in the overall series, but the Gamecocks have won the last three. A 4th consecutive win would probably get Dabo Swinney fired would be the first time that was done by the Gamecocks in almost 50 years. It would also legitimize the team. Get through an SEC schedule with just one loss and beat your in-state rival? Not bad, guys. Not bad at all. WIN

Loose ends
-While I’m not predicting any postseason games at this point, I do think the Gamecocks will make it to the SEC Championship. I think Georgia loses at Missouri and against Florida.
-I think you will see Lou Holtz literally drool on television this year.
-I believe that Erin Andrews will always have great hair, as will Derek Dooley.
-A white quarterback will win the Heisman trophy. Been too long of a drought for those guys.
-You will hear the word “physical” somewhere around 4098 times in a football game before mid September.

It’s not football season until I try to lower your expectations about the Gamecocks, right? Okay, you don’t have to answer that question. This could really be a season like no other. Because of that, I think we need to look a little deeper at what to expect. (Translation: I’m just making up an excuse to write more) We’ll split this preview up into three parts:

Part 1: Where is this team in the national pecking order?
Part 2: 1st half predictions
Part 3: 2nd half predictions and other useless stuff

So, have you taken a look at the schedule yet? Because I’m a man who’s about full disclosure, I’ve probably looked at the schedule 4 times before today. In a related story, I wasn’t really excited about football season until about a week ago. Anyway, the typical September cupcake feast (excluding the opener, which happens in August anyway so it doesn’t count) gives way to a pretty brutal October (vs. Georgia, at LSU, at Florida) and the typical end of season challenge (hosting Tennessee, Arkansas and Wofford and traveling to Clemson). It’s not necessarily easy street, but that’s a good thing. Win 9 games, and the team is sure to be looked upon favorably by the pollsters. Win 10 or more games, and you’re a contender. Go 7-5? Well, “the schedule was difficult”. It’s a win-win, you guys!!! Anyway, let’s see how this season turns out, shall we?

August 30: @ Vanderbilt (Thursday)
I will forever be terrified of Thursday night games. At least America doesn’t have to suffer through listening to and looking at Craig James. (For what it’s worth, I do like David Pollack quite a bit. I appreciate any guy that can effectively use the word “cat” in a sentence, yet not in reference to the animal.) Anyway, you can actually say “Vanderbilt has a decent team” and actually mean it. Jordan Rodgers is a decent QB who should only improve, and if you have time to have a dance off during a team meeting, well, I think you’re doing something right. However, I think the Gamecocks have enough to overcome whatever the Commodores may throw at them. Try as they might, the Gamecocks have yet to lose an opener under Steve Spurrier. I think that continues here. WIN

September 8: vs. East Carolina
So, it looks like the Gamecocks will travel to Greenville to play the Pirates in…2015. That’s right around the corner! Now that things have shifted to a “playoff“, I really hope that the Gamecocks will start to schedule legitimate opponents for the non conference portion of the schedule. (And you can take your “but the SEC schedule is tough enough!” nonsense and shove it up your ass. I’m not sorry I said that.) Of course, the Gamecocks are not alone in “soft-ish” scheduling:
-USC Trojans (They’re the “realer” USC): Host Hawaii and Syracuse
-Oregon: Host Arkansas State and Tennessee Tech. Who? Exactly.
-Florida State: Hosting Murray State and Savannah State
-Oklahoma State: Hosting Savannah State and Louisiana-Lafayette. Savannah State is popular, it seems!
-Clemson: Hosting Ball State and Furman
Sure, you can argue that “everybody else is doing it”. That doesn’t make the actual game any more exciting. Anyway, East Carolina made the Gamecocks sweat for a while, and lost by a wide margin even though South Carolina turned it over approximately 59 times. The first game jitters should be out of the way, so this will be a WIN.

September 15: vs. UAB
The Blazers are no strangers to being a sacrificial lamb playing South Carolina in September. And, given that South Carolina didn’t have a good result the last time they were in Birmingham, I can see why this game is usually played in Columbia (that and, well, who wants to watch a football game in Birmingham?!!? I don’t know anything about UAB, and I’m not sure that I really *need* to know anything. What I do know is that this should be a rather easy WIN for the Gamecocks.

September 22: vs. Missouri
It’s the first game of the season (that I’m actually interested in)!!! This game probably got 42 times easier knowing that Henry Josey won’t be playing. Of course, I didn’t know who Henry Josey was before ten minutes ago. I really feel like Missouri is an intriguing team this year. I think they’re playing with house money (who knows what that means? I don’t) as a new member of the division, and it’s not like they’re a terrible squad. I think they’re better than Kentucky, Florida and Tennessee. They host Georgia, and they’ve beaten a top ranked Oklahoma in Columbia (Missouri) before. I think this should be a WIN for South Carolina, but only because they’re in “Never Forget” mode about the 2005 Independence Bowl. I really feel like this game could go either way. (Okay, maybe I’m the only person still bitter about that game. Whatever.)

September 29: @ Kentucky
This is a “Never Forget” game also. South Carolina rolled into Lexington in 2010 fresh off a win over (at the time) top ranked Alabama. After building a 28-10 lead, things fell apart. And by “fell apart”, I mean “the winning TD catch was caught by Kentucky’s best player who was WIDE OPEN“. While I believe that every conference road game presents a unique set of challenges, I still think that South Carolina is better than Kentucky. Doesn’t that still count for something? WIN

October 6: vs. Georgia
Did you know the Gamecocks play 9 weeks in a row to open the season? Jesus, be an ice bath! Of course, this is the first of three weeks against ranked (hopefully) opponents. A pu pu platter of Georgia, LSU, and Florida isn’t necessarily the most fun way to celebrate the midpoint in the season. To be honest with you, I’d rather play this game earlier in the season. Every good team has usually hit their stride come October, so the advantage of “not finding your groove yet” won’t be there for this game. I think this game will be a LOSS for a few reasons:
1. While Mark Richt has probably already lost control of the season, hard to think he could survive three losses in a row to South Carolina.
2. Georgia seems to find a way to win in Columbia. All of the time! I was there for the Blackout in 2004, only to see a 16-0 lead evaporate before our very eyes. That was sad.
(Okay, so maybe I only have two reasons. Whatever.)
I think the Gamecocks have a great team. I just don’t see that team starting out 6-0. I’d rather be wrong, but we shall see.

Check back for Part 3 to read how I see the rest of the season shaking out

What are the chances that we see another happy splash like this at the end of this season?

It’s not football season until I try to lower your expectations about the Gamecocks, right? Okay, you don’t have to answer that question. This could really be a season like no other. Because of that, I think we need to look a little deeper at what to expect. (Translation: I’m just making up an excuse to write more) We’ll split this preview up into three parts:

Part 1: Where is this team in the national pecking order?
Part 2: 1st half predictions
Part 3: 2nd half predictions and other useless stuff

How good is this team? No, really.
I imagine that you have some pretty fond memories of last season. The Gamecocks finished 11-2 and beat Nebraska in the Capital One Citrus Bowl, 30-13. First 11 win season in school history, (second double-digit win total overall, more on that later) best final poll ranking ever. Here are some other, um, accolades:
-Wins against Georgia, Tennessee, Florida and Clemson in the same season
-Connor Shaw finished second in the SEC in passer rating
-Marcus Lattimore missed the final 6.5 games of the year, yet finished 7th in the SEC in rushing yards
-Went undefeated vs. division opponents
-Beat Clemson for the 3rd year in a row
-Went on a legitimate run *after* losing the returning passer and rusher from the previous season

So, all of these things were great. No, really, they were. Hell, the HBC even gave the team rings (I’m not so sure if that’s the finished product) for their accomplishments. But since I’m supposed to be about perspective, let’s have just a little:
-In the loss to Auburn, the Tigers ran about 238 plays, and the Gamecocks were peeing their pants instead of driving down the field to either tie or take the lead.
-The team got rings for winning, among other things, the Citrus Bowl—which was played in front of about 10,000 empty seats. The Citrus Bowl is still played on New Year’s Day, which is great. But, it’s probably a 3rd tier game at best.
(So maybe it’s hard to really nitpick here. That’s not so bad!)

Anyway, the heights reached last season were dizzying, to say the least. But you have to wonder “Now what?”, right? Is it time to take another step into the rare air of “top five national title contender”, or did South Carolina miss out on taking charge while teams like Florida and Tennessee struggled? Will 11 wins and another 3rd tier (or second tier) bowl game be enough? How quickly would the city burn to the ground if the Gamecocks won the SEC Championship? Will this be a letdown season? What actually qualifies as a “letdown”? Since things could go either way, I’ll yo-yo between signs of a promising season and signs of a letdown. Let’s face it, folks: The “what if” game is really fun!!

Letdown Sign: Breakthrough years are sometimes followed up with breakdown years.
While I may have still been in diapers, I’m sure some of you are quite familiar with the Black Magic season of 1984. At that time, it was the best season EVAR for the Gamecocks. Wins over Georgia, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Florida State and Clemson led to a 10-2 record and a birth in the Gator Bowl against Oklahoma State. That next year? Not so awesome. And no, this isn’t just a South Carolina thing:
-Georgia Tech went 11-3 and to the Orange Bowl in 2008, only to go 6-7 in 2009.
-Kansas went 11-1 and won the Orange Bowl in 2007, but fell to 8-5 in 2008.
-Illinois made it to the Sugar Bowl with a 10-2 record in 2001, but fell to 5-7 in 2002.
-Maryland won 31 games (and the ACC once!) from 2001-03, only to go 5-6 in both 2004 and 2005.
-Ole Miss tripped (sorry, Eli) to 10-3 and the Cotton Bowl in 2003, only to go 4-7 in 2004.
(Of course, these are not elite programs in the slightest. Makes for great comparison to the Gamecocks, you guys.)
I understand that South Carolina went 9-5 in 2010, but if you recall how those last two games turned out, 2010 was definitely a breakthrough. Also, take a guess for how many 9 win seasons South Carolina has had in their history. Still guessing? The answer is 3. By comparison, Oklahoma has had 32 ten win seasons. So, yeah—last year was a breakthrough. Unfortunately, history isn’t very kind to that sort of thing.

Next Level Sign: Stability
For the first time in something like 309 years, Steve Spurrier has a quarterback that he’s pleased with. As I noted before, Connor Shaw was second in the conference in pass efficiency. The offense is no longer just a “See how far Marcus runs, pop five or six hemorrhoids, then throw it deep to Alshon Jeffrey” (my unbiased scout’s take). The offense has a foundation of the zone read, and there are capable receivers around to keep the defense from focusing on just one. Instead of going outside to get a defensive coordinator after Ellis Johnson left for Southern Miss, the team promoted Lorenzo Ward. Nothing “feels” different around here. That’s not really a bad thing at all.

Letdown Sign: Injuries
Okay, so injuries happen. And college football teams carry something like 174 players, so if someone gets hurt then the backup comes in and you’re set, no problem. There’s only one problem: It never works out that way. There is a general consensus that Marcus Lattimore is one of the best running backs in the country. Of course, he missed half of last year with a serious knee injury. I say serious knee injury because the school never said what actually happened to his knee. While there’s plenty of reason to think that Lattimore will play great this year, production after a serious knee injury isn’t really an exact science. Also, do you remember that Connor Shaw suffered two concussions last season (against Arkansas and Nebraska)? The more we learn about head injuries, the worse that sounds…right? Don’t let the drafting of Stephon Gilmore fool you, the South Carolina secondary was not awesome last year. Of course, now the team is down one starter in that part of the defense already. Again, injuries happen. But when thy happen to a team expected to actually do well, um…

Next Level Sign: About those expectations…
Sure, South Carolina starts the season ranked in the Top 10. Football Outsiders says the most likely result for the Gamecocks is 8-4. The average projected wins (still through Football Outsiders—they may be nerds, but they’re usually not wrong) is 7.7, which is lowest among any of the other teams ranked in the top 10. The media members who attended SEC’s media days think that Georgia will win the division. (Of course, Andy Staples favors the Gamecocks) From what I’ve seen, Sports Illustrated is the only major publication that has Georgia ranked below South Carolina (I need to renew my subscription!). Of course, since I have “Great Hype Falls Hard” tattooed on my chest, I think this is great news! If South Carolina continues to win, they’ll surely climb the rankings by default (because at least 3 of the teams ahead in the rankings will lose at some point). This “lying in the weeds” status is just the thing to lead to something awesome. And yes, I used the word “awesome”.

Letdown Sign: IT’S SOUTH CAROLINA!
I was going to use the schedule as a letdown factor, but I “knew” that LSU would likely be on the schedule this season, and The Swamp is only intimidating if Florida is actually good (that remains to be seen). As I mentioned before, the Gamecocks had only had three NINE win seasons, ever. Remember the mostly likely scenario I mentioned before? That would be the 11th eight win season ever. I will agree with you if you were to say that this has been a healthy growth for the Gamecocks. But, of course, that’s not the most difficult thing to do when you’re 11 games over .500—-all time. Remember those “successful” basketball teams from the late nineties? Flamed out in the first round. Even the back-to-back champion baseball team went down in a cloud of Asian-American + gigantic strike zone dust to Arizona. This is just guessing, but I believe there are more people who believe in non football forces (karma, the “football gods”, luck, the moon) when rooting for their team(s). Well, that sort of stuff has never really been on the side of the Gamecocks. There’s a certain Cubs/Clippers/Mets/Maple Leafs aura to the Gamecocks that just hasn’t been shaken…ever. Everything is seemingly in place now. Will that matter, though?

Here’s hoping that I’ve worked you up into a nice enough lather in order to read my predictions for every game next season. To be continued.

I know, I’ve been gone a while, you guys (and gals). I’ll be upfront: Ever since I found out what the other santorum meant, I’ve been too scarred to write. I’ve been taking it day by day, really. I think I’m finally on my way back. I appreciate all your potentially not giving a damns.

Here’s another thing: I haven’t written about the NFL at all this season! That’s ridiculous, right?!!? It’s not like I haven’t been watching (and talking) about football all season. As my girlfriend would probably gladly attest, I didn’t miss a beat this season. I just didn’t blog about it. Anyway, I figured that I’d unnecessarily throw my two cents in…because, y’all need it, right? Right?!!!??!!?? Anyway, here are a few things I picked up on throughout the season:

1. People like Tim Tebow.
Okay, I am one of those people. There were a lot of great things that happened this NFL season (the assault on passing records, the surprising debut of Cam Newton, the impact of less training camp due to the lockout). But the most talked about player was a guy who threw bounce passes on simple 10 yard comeback routes and completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes (and his team finished 9-9). I knew that people had already jumped the shark on Tebow when fans were calling into radio shows reading Revelation and equating that to Tim Tebow. Yes, guys, that really happened.

I don’t know where this Tebow thing is going. I’m still perfectly fine with not trying to “explain” it and letting it ride. And I’m also glad that the Broncos are no longer in the playoffs, simply because they really weren’t that good to begin with. I’m still embarrassed to say that he was the guy that got the most attention this season.

2. Great hype, as always, falls hard.
Remember when the Eagles signed all those players, Vince Young likened it to playing for a “dream team”, and the “experts” were convinced that the NFC title was their (Philly’s) birthright? Yeah…they didn’t make the playoffs. Or how the Packers were unstoppable, and there was a chance they’d go undefeated? Yeah, there were actual cries for the backup quarterback last week. Games are never won off the field, but you’d never know that sometimes.

3. Even grown men like to complain.
Here’s a new item to add to the ever expanding Football Drinking Game: When a receiver misses a pass while being defended and begs for a flag to be thrown. Or when any player begs for a flag to be thrown. Guaranteed to get you at least tipsy by halftime, if not the end of the first quarter. Sure, there are rules violations on every play. But I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to play your game and let the refs do their job. But hey, I think I’m making sense right now—and that just isn’t allowed in the NFL.

Okay, let’s talk actual games now! For what it’s worth, I do think that these are the four best teams remaining. Lots of incredible storylines: great uniforms, (49ers, Giants) old guys who are somehow gaining muscle mass, (Ray Lewis) players inexplicably coming up large in the clutch, (Alex Smith) the “old guard” gunning for another championship, (Tom Brady) the idiotic “nobody believed in us” line (well, Joe Flacco takes the cake here since his own defense seems to doubt him). So, who do I think will win?

(Home team in caps. Just in case you didn’t know)

PATRIOTS (-7) over Ravens
I wouldn’t trust the Ravens to take my trash out. I know that’s really harsh, but am I really supposed to believe in a team that lost by double digits at San Diego, could not get more than 10 points at Jacksonville, and got blindsided at Seattle? Really? The Ravens would get the trash outside, but somehow

"Oh my, that's a lot of plays..."

the trash would never get in the trash can. And then they’d blame it on like…a cat or something. And I actually like Joe Flacco. As a matter of fact, I think he’s a top 15 QB. Greg Cossell is a well-respected NFL nerd, and he thinks the Ravens are limited by:
1. Their receivers are terrible at separating from man coverage. Yeah, that’s not a good thing.
2. Their formations rarely offer a 3rd receiver. Only 8 plays with the 3rd wideout vs. the Texans last week. That would work—if this were 1982 and not 2012.
Say what you want about the defense, but I don’t think that it really scares the Patriots in any way whatsoever. Who’s going to cover the tight ends? Baltimore got 0 sacks against the Texans last week. Tom Brady was last sacked sometime in 1987. Yeah, that’s never a good thing. If the Ravens can go into Foxboro and beat this Patriot team, then I will tip the cap. But I just don’t see that happening today.

Giants (+1.5) over 49ERS
Truth be told: I just flipped a coin (best of 7) to see who I should pick to win this game. The coin said San Francisco. Yes, you can definitely make a case for the Niners. And yes, this is my favorite game of the two because:
-Both teams have terrific uniforms (the Giants road uni is the best in the NFL, and the Niners went back to their ever so classic design from the 80s). Hey, other NFL teams: Making a nice, classy looking uniform isn’t that hard!
-I’m not going to waste my time to look this up, but surely not one publication had this game in their season preview. I’m always excited about the unexpected!
Anyway, if the 49ers were to win this game, I’m pretty sure they’d be the most unlikely Super Bowl team

Awwww the Eli Face!!!

since…maybe the Rams in Super Bowl 34. (Okay, maybe the Cardinals from Super Bowl 43). Is that really going to happen? Can I really bank on San Francisco getting multiple turnovers (as they did in the regular season game vs. the Giants and against New Orleans) again? Do I think the Football Gods want to subject America to The Eli Manning Face? I’m answering all those questions with a “No”. It’s been a great ride, San Francisco. Hard to see tonight being your night.

Of course, if I’m wrong about all of this…pretend that I didn’t write any of it.

I’ve been wanting to write about both of these guys for a while now. So, consider it a double treat.

By popular request, here I am Tebowing for the strength to write this post.

Tim Tebow: Just let it ride, y’all.
I’m pretty sure that I’m a Tebowmaniac. No, I’m not convinced that he can lead the Broncos to the Super Bowl. Frankly, I don’t know if he could lead the Broncos to eight wins. However, I firmly believe that he belongs in the NFL, and this “thing” that he’s currently doing (It’s like snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, but more like actually going down the throat of defeat and yanking victory out of defeat’s esophagus) is working, whether I want to admit that or not. People talk about the “it” factor in sports often (probably too much). Somehow, Tim Tebow has been able to get his teammates, the city, and the most polarizing sports pundit in America to believe in him. That’s remarkable.

You may be surprised to know that Aaron Rodgers has 31 touchdown passes against just four interceptions this year. Or that there are four quarterbacks who have thrown for more than 3000 yards already this season. None of this has really mattered since Tim Tebow has entered the equation. I can honestly admit that his “classic quarterback” pedigree is nearly nonexistent. He’s not an accurate passer. Only Taylor Martinez has a worse throwing motion (probably on the entire planet). As a matter of fact, the reason why he runs so much (and has the 7:1 TD:INT ratio) is because he rarely throws it. Even with his success and popularity, it seems that the Broncos are still hoping to find a front-line quarterback in next year’s draft (Of course, you can’t convince me that John Elway knows what he’s doing yet, Von Miller not withstanding). It’s not fair to mention Tebow’s success without pointing out his shortcomings.

Even with his shortcomings, (and the notion that he did not “earn” the starting QB position in Denver) he is still the most discussed player in the NFL right now. The fascination with Tebow has carried over from college, and because the NFL is so popular, Tebow has infiltrated the mainstream. Peter King shared an email that he got from a guy who overheard two other guys in London arguing about Tebow’s merits as a quarterback. After Thursday night’s game, I posted this on Facebook:

Here’s my thing on Tebow: He’s the outlier. He can’t hit open receivers, his throwing motion looks like a root canal I think, but he makes things happen. No rhyme or reason. BUT WE DON’T NEED ONE. Just let the good, really unbelievable times roll.

I followed that up with this:

People spend so much time talking about how he can’t throw. Or how bad he looks out on the field. Or how they would be offended if they only threw 8 passes in a game (SHUT UP STEVE YOUNG). Sometimes, there are things you can’t explain. I’ve been watching football for 20 years, and I sure as hell can’t explain THIS. So…I won’t. I’ll just watch and spaz out on Twitter when Tebow does what he did in the fourth quarter tonight.

I’m not saying that you should do exactly as I have (though the world would be a better place if you did!) when it comes to Tebow. But whether we like it or not, this Tebow wave will last for as long as he’s in the NFL. Instead of letting it affect your blood pressure, just let. It. Ride.

Dabo Swinney
I’m going to put it on the table, folks: Dabo Swinney is my favorite coach in any sport. Ever. That is pretty delusional coming from someone who roots for the Gamecocks. (But Clemson is our RIVAL, right? Well, “they’ve” beaten “us” almost twice as many times as “we’ve” beaten “them”…so it’s really difficult for me to really have any hatred toward Clemson.) Here’s a little trivia about Dabo: His real name is William Swinney. He got the name “Dabo” from his family because his brother was trying to say “that boy”–but apparently “Dabo” came out instead (and yes, I got that from Wikipedia, so I “know it’s real”).

I’m not sure what the general consensus on Swinney is. Opinions seem to range from “he’s a bumbling idiot who’s nothing more than a glorified cheerleader” to “he’s only good because he has Rob Spence as an offensive coordinator!” Three thoughts here:
1. Swinney majored in business administration at Alabama, and was on the All-SEC Honor Roll team in college.
2. The Tigers were in the ACC conference championship in 2009. It’s not like they suddenly got good.
3. Sure, we’ve seen Happy Dabo. Even more than once. Is this really supposed to be a bad thing?

I’m sold on the guy. This is really cliche, but Clemson really seems to take on the personality of their coach. When they’re playing well, they’re full of energy. It’s almost like they come in an unstoppable wave. At the end of the game, there’s Dabo saying something that will get you fired up (or at least that’s the intent). Maybe I’m just used to Mr. Fidgety I Usually Hate What My Team Is Doing (Steve Spurrier). Maybe I’m easily influenced. Maybe it’s a little of both. Either way, I think it’s time that you should start appreciating him. He’s a breath of fresh air to the tight-lipped coaches that are full of football speak.

(Of course, if this Daboslurp I’m pulling results in a Gamecock victory Saturday, then I’ll do this every year.)

How are Tebow and Dabo related? Well, most of their detractors are convinced that both are all hype. Also, I seem to work myself up in a pretty good lather whenever talking about either individual. Also, they’re white men who have mentioned Jesus in postgame interviews. That’s four things! So, obviously this post makes complete sense! I’m sure that your minds are already made up about either guy. But it’s nice to see another point of view…every few years or so.

What are your thoughts on Tim Tebow? What about Dabo Swinney? Do you think that either person will ever be properly evaluated by fans/journalists/critics?

BREAKING NEWS: Yours truly will actually not be working on Saturdays and Sundays now. This makes me…just like most of you. Anyway, this means that I could actually write about football on Sundays from now on. I know you’re SO excited about this.

So, even though I worked from mid morning until the early evening, I still watched football from noon til midnight. (That’s how Gs do it, y’all.) I got a good enough look at all of the other games to waste your time with telling you what I thought about things to come away with a lot of thoughts. I was impressed by quite a bit yesterday. Here are the five teams that impressed me the most (in most impressed to not as impressed but still impressed):

(All photos “borrowed” from the guys at 30 FPS. Aren’t they cool?)


1. Clemson
I got into a friendly, yet passionate debate via Twitter about the merits of Clemson after their wins over Auburn and Florida State. I just didn’t think that those two teams were that good, and the games were in Death Valley (every team SHOULD have an advantage when playing at home). If there was any team that had a tall task Saturday, it had to be Clemson. Playing in Blacksburg against a Virginia Tech team that had won 12 conference games in a row? A Tiger team that has disappointed in the past when expectations have been high? Well, Clemson went to Virginia Tech and laid the hammer down, 23-3. And to think, Tajhjhjhjhjihjhjh Boyd (I know that’s not his real name, but his real name is spelled stupidly enough) was 13-32, and threw a touchdown pass after doing about a 42 step drop. The defense was in the backfield all evening, and now Clemson’s schedule lines up quite nicely for the rest of the season. Hell, even Dabo Swinney looked great in his varsity jacket. I think it’s time to finally take notice of the Clemson Tigers, folks.


2. Alabama Crimson Tide
Sure, Alabama made things look easy by winning 38-10. And, yes…it helps when John Brantley went down in a heap just before halftime. But after the game, Nick Saban mentioned how their man-to-man defense wasn’t working early on (Brantley was just torching the Tide with deep passes early). So, once they switched to zone, that gave them a chance to get more pressure on the quarterback. That was really the difference in the game. Of course, it helps having Trent Richardson and a suffocating defense. But I think that Alabama has been a tad bit overlooked this season. They’ve still got LSU and Auburn, so it’s not as if it’s time to crown them. But anytime you can go in and win by 20+ in Gainesville…that’s impressive.


3. Auburn Tigers
You can’t dance with the champ, you gotta knock him down!!
I use that phrase from time to time because I’m an idiot whenever there’s a team playing the defending champ. Say what you want about Auburn, but they did win the national championship last year. And, South Carolina booty danced with them yesterday. Of course, it helps when opposing team’s quarterback is 9-23 with two INTs, your opponent has some hideous crap on their pants and the stud running back loses a fumble. Also, Auburn ran 92 plays. 92!!! As well as the Gamecocks seemingly played on defense, letting Auburn run so many plays is dancing with the champ. Now, I won’t go on about how some sexy ass blogger predicted this outcome back in August, but this is still an impressive result for a team that seems to believe in itself every week. And it also gets Auburn in my Most Impressed List!


4. Wisconsin Badgers
Okay, so it’s hard to not be impressed with a 31 point win over the eight ranked team in the country. Also, credit to anyone who was able to sit and watch that entire game without your eyes bleeding. It was like a candy cane orgy. I’m not really into that sort of thing, y’all. Wisconsin has been good for the past two years. I would love to see them play against an Alabama or LSU.

There is one thing that does annoy me though: The super fawning over Russell Wilson. These commentators act like he’s the greatest quarterback ever, without ever mentioning that he was decent but not spectacular while at NC State. Also, that pass to Nick Toon? Yeah, that was a bad decision, and a lucky catch by Toon. But, whatever, I digress. Wisconsin’s a good team, but it’s not just because of Russell Wilson. They went to the Rose Bowl last year without him! Still, they did enough last night to color me impressed.


5. Washington Huskies
Okay, so you probably don’t watch the Huskies very much. And, it helped that Utah had a questionable choice in uniform (I didn’t even notice those horrendous undershirts. Ye gods!!!). Anyway, Washington barely beat Eastern Washington, got blasted at Nebraska, but yet are 2-0 in conference play after winning by 17 at Salt Lake City. As much as Jake Locker was hyped, his replacement Keith Price has completed 68 percent of his passes with a YPA of 8.5 (Let’s put it this way—Jake Locker never, ever did that). Not sure if I’m just feeling nostalgic, (Holy Marques Tuiasosopo, guys!) but I like where this team is headed. There’s a lot of crud in the Pac-12, but I don’t think that’s coming from the Washington Huskies. At least I don’t think so.

What teams/players/moments impressed you this football weekend? Do you think Clemson is over/underrated or properly rated? Any other things that stood out to you from Saturday? Leave it in the comment bin. Please!

Welcome to the debut (and with my track record, probably the one and only) What If(?) Wednesdays! Something that fits the bill of an explanation can be found here. I’m always asking “What if?” Mostly, it’s about sports. So, we’ll keep it at that for the time being.

HBC's shirts > Skip Holtz's shirts

Okay kids, let’s take a trip back to 1998. (It was a tough time for your boy. I had really huge glasses, bad haircuts, and I wore out shoes so badly that they were literally talking as I walked.) The South Carolina Gamecocks had just hired Lou Holtz to become the head coach of the football team. Allegedly, there was a cause in Lou’s contract that Skip Holtz would succeed Lou as head coach when Lou retired. Of course, that didn’t work out so well. But, what if it did? Seriously, what if Skip Holtz had become the head coach (and not Steve Spurrier)? Is the answer so simple?

Now, allow me to fact check myself: After the 2003 season, Skip Holtz was demoted from his position of offensive coordinator (sources say that he spent the final season as the guy who got Cocky into his outfit). So, it would have been extremely unlikely that the whole “coach in waiting” plan would still be in effect after a change like that was made. Of course, this is why we’re doing the “What If?” game in the first place!

Well, for one thing, I think the actual news of the coaching change wouldn’t have been so mishandled. Believe it or not, there was a time where we didn’t always know what would happen before it was announced (Oh, the good ole days of 2004. There was no Twitter, and you couldn’t post status updates on Facebook). Anyway, it wasn’t supposed to be known that South Carolina had agreed to a contract with Steve Spurrier. it turns out that a source leaked the information to a Tennessee paper, and that was that. I remember asking Mike Douchebag McGee (the then athletic director) about the information getting out before they wanted it to, (for a story I was doing) and…surprise surprise, he didn’t want to talk about it. Had the succession plan gone into place, I think that the chance of any information leaking beforehand would have been extremely low. So, things would have been a little more smooth when it came to the actual transition.

I decided to do some number crunching. I’m going to throw some records at you:
Coach A: 50-32, 31-16 (in conference games) since 2005
Coach B: 49-33, 25-25 (in conference games) since 2005
The overall records are pretty identical. Who are these coaches?

Well, Coach A is Skip Holtz at Connecticut and South Florida. Coach B is Steve Spurrier at South Carolina. Other than the conference record, they’re rather identical. Now, before you start the “But Skip’s not coaching in the almighty SEC!” talk, just realize that, um, I know that. 49-33 is indeed one of the best stretches that the Gamecocks have ever had (Of course, that statement alone is pretty pathetic. But I digress.). Knowing the success that Skip Holtz has had in the time that the HBC has been in charge, it’s not entirely impossible that Skip Holtz would have a similar record in the same time frame.

Now, this isn’t to take anything away from Steve Spurrier. He’s upgraded the facilities, he’s excited the fan base, and he has players who have bought into the team mentality. He also has his own line of clothing. Take that, Bill Belichick! But given the success that Skip Holtz has had, I think that it’s at least a question that you can ask (and not seem like an idiot. Well, at least not like a total idiot).

What are your thoughts? Would South Carolina be better/worse off, or about the same, if Skip Holtz had succeeded his father as head coach?