Kevin C. Cox
Consider how one might hypothetically beat Alabama. Not than I'm counting any metaphorical domestic fowl before their metaphorical emergence from their calcified gestation vehicles, but if someone were to hypothetically have to game plan to play Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, what would be the key strategic elements? I think the answer involves stretching the field vertically and taking advantage of every opportunity. This weekend Zach Mettenberger looked relatively effective against the Tide secondary, and he doesn't have a lot of throws in his arsenal that Aaron Murray doesn't. As with LSU last year, at least offensively, Georgia is probably the SEC East squad best equipped to attack the Tide where they're (relatively) vulnerable. Of course, that doesn't mean the 'Dawgs would be able to win. But on Saturday night the LSU team that lost to Florida came very, very close to taking down the team that some have already penciled in to hoist a second crystal football.
Consider the likelihood of Oregon returning to the national championship game. They have remaining games against Cal, Stanford, and Oregon State, none of whom is likely to be able to put up enough points to hang with the Ducks. Even assuming some distraction, even an injury or two, do you really see any of those teams putting up the 35+ points which is the metaphorical buy-in to play with Chip Kelly's squad? I don't.
At this point no one wants to play Alabama. But if you asked the nation's head coaches who among the other remaining unbeatens they'd most want to line up against for all the marbles, I sense that some would say Kansas State, some might say Notre Dame, and a few jokers would say Louisville. But no one wants to game plan for Oregon's offense, or face their personnel.
Retire my store of Joker jokes. The rest of the SEC has wondered for weeks where the breaking point is in Lexington vis-a-vis football futility. Apparently a 40 point loss to Vandy is that point.
Kentucky AD Mitch Barnhart says that they are looking for a coach to help the Mildcats contend for a conference championship. For starters, I don't think even he believes that. Kentucky has never done any such thing in football. Second, he has some stiff competition. There are other, better jobs coming open, almost certainly at Auburn, Arkansas, & Tennessee, and possibly at Texas and Iowa. I think I could make a compelling argument that Paul "Bear" Bryant was the greatest college football coach of all time. He left Kentucky because he was tired of playing second fiddle to Adolph Rupp. I know of no reason why a bona fide hot coaching commodity would come to Lexington to reprise that drama with John Calipari playing the role of Rupp. I mean derby pie is great and all, but not that great.
Personally, were I the Kentucky AD, I'd be on the lookout for a guy who's proven he can win using unconventional strategy and tactics, and give him 4 years minimum to do that. Kentucky will never, ever be able to recruit well sandwiched among Tennessee, Notre Dame, Louisville, Ohio State, Alabama and the like. Their best bet will be to find the next Mike Leach and let him do what he does. Of course, that's a lot more easily said than done.
Pour one out for Marlon Brown. Brown came to Athens as one of the most highly-touted receiver recruits in recent memory, but struggled to adapt to SEC competition. He'll complete his Bulldog career with 55 receptions for 851 yards and 8 touchdowns. In 2012 he had finally hit his stride, continuing a career-long trend under which his numbers improved measurably every single season. And he proved at times over the past couple of seasons to be an absolute matchup nightmare at times, the kind who would have been very helpful in a (once again, hypothetical) SEC Championship Game matchup against Alabama. Now the Bulldogs will soldier having lost yet another of their big, physical, middle of the field receiving threats (the other having been Michael Bennett). Perhaps Mike Bobo will work the tight ends into the passing game to make up for that, but really a tight end is no substitute for a big receiver split out wide. It's generally a different matchup altogether (on linebackers and safeties rather than corners).
Begin the upset watch. Yes, Auburn is down and out. Yes, it kind of appears that the players are just playing out the string and wondering who their new daddy will be. But in this series, between these teams, that seems to be when things are at their most dangerous. Georgia will travel to Jordan-Hare Stadium this Saturday with a lot on the line, to play a night SEC road game against a team with nothing left to lose. That troubles me greatly, especially if the Bulldogs decide to dawdle around for a quarter and a half as has been their recent MO.
Try to figure out why the UCLA assistant coaches were wearing war paint of some sort against Arizona. Fail entirely. Whatever the rationale they led 42-3 at the half against the fighting DickRods enroute to a 62-3 thrashing of the Wildcats. I don't understand you, college football, and that's 3/4 of why I love you.
Until later, enjoy the remains of your work day, and . . .