SEC has lived up to its hype

Published: Thursday, November 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, November 1, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

Back before this college football season began - which seems like last year and yesterday all at the same time - there was a lot of talk about the SEC being perhaps the best football conference ever, unless you counted the NFC East.

And as the season went along, there was sentiment for the Big East and then the Pac-10. Let's face it, it's the most subjective of arguments anyway because there is no real correct answer.

But I will say this. The SEC has lived up to the hype.

Because to me, being a great conference means being a crazy conference. Those who subscribe to lazy thinking simply look at the top of a conference to judge its merit. But it's the depth of a conference that is the measuring stick.

And in the SEC, well, how about 11 of 12 teams being bowl eligible?

That's a pretty good sign of the strength of the conference and it could happen very easily.

Right now, there are 11 SEC teams with at least five victories. Only Ole Miss is out of the mix.

Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Arkansas, Tennessee and (gulp) Florida all still need one more victory to become bowl eligible. The league has never had more than nine teams qualify for bowl games.

Now for the bad news.

Just because 11 teams have six wins doesn't mean 11 teams will go bowling.

The league has automatic berths in eight bowl games. The SEC would get a ninth if it could qualify two teams for BCS bowls, which could happen if LSU wins out before losing in the SEC Championship Game.

But the chances are good that if 11 teams from the conference are bowl eligible, someone is going to be left out because the other conferences with tie-ins are in the same boat. The 12-game seasons and soft scheduling mean few openings for the SEC to slide into.

SEC officials have been on the phones trying to push for their teams, but they also know that six-win teams cannot be accepted into open non-SEC bowl slots until all of the seven-win teams are placed.

Wouldn't it be a shame if Vanderbilt finally qualifies for a bowl game and doesn't get to go? Or if Sylvester Croom gets his Bulldogs to finish at .500 and they don't even get an Emerald Bowl to show for it?

Those are the two teams with the smallest fan bases. It's going to take a lot of promised ticket sales to get either of those teams in ahead of an Arkansas.

"It would be disappointing," Vandy coach Bobby Johnson said. "It would be discouraging. All we can do is try to win as many games as possible."

HEISMAN HYPOCRISY: A week ago, there were a lot of people who would have put Tim Tebow and Andre Woodson 1-2 on their Heisman ballots. A week later, Woodson has no shot and Tebow is fading.

Woodson threw three interceptions in a loss to Mississippi State at home. But what did Tebow do wrong?

Well, you have to understand that the Heisman Trophy is not for the best player in America. It's for the best skill position player, preferably a quarterback or running back, who is a junior or senior playing on one of the top teams in America.

When Heisman winners talk about it being a team award, it's lip service that is actually accurate.

Some voters have been looking for a reason not to vote for a sophomore and Tebow gave it to them - he lost and he got hurt, both Heisman no-nos.

Face it, the voting for the Heisman is about as credible as American Idol.

LATERAL MOVE: If you haven't seen the video of Trinity College's last play heroics against Millsaps, you have to find it on the Web. It makes the Cal-Stanford band play look like a fullback plunge up the middle.

That play had five laterals. This one had 15. The play took 1:02 to complete. So much for "4-to-6 seconds." Riley Curry, who eventually scored the touchdown, was tackled ... twice. Each time he got off a lateral before his knee hit the ground.

It's difficult to see all of the laterals on the video, which looks as if it was shot by Abe Zapruder, but it takes the No. 1 spot as the play of the year.

By the way, the head coach at Millsaps is Mike DuBose, the former Alabama coach. Payback for past sins?

RUNNIN' IT UP: Millsaps may want to check out the coach at Smith Center High in Kansas, if Millsaps officials can find Smith Center, Kan. (population 1,931).

Smith Center scored 72 points in the first quarter last week against Plainville High, also of Kansas. Smith Center won 86-0 and has now outscored its opponents 640-0 this season.

It can't be good to be a Plainville fan right now. Smith Center had already beaten Plainville 69-0 earlier in the season.

JOE WOES: Could any two story lines be more similar? Two coaches, battling for the all-time wins title. Both of them have lost it. Neither of them can be fired. And neither will quit.

Noise is being made up in Happy Valley about Joe Paterno again after a demoralizing loss to Ohio State. It's noise we've heard before coming from Tallahassee.

Paterno lost 67 games in the 27 seasons before Penn State joined the Big 10. He has lost 57 games in the 15 seasons since. And Penn State under Paterno is 7-20 against Ohio State and Michigan.

CHAMPAGNE HIGH: I'm not sure who is getting more nervous - Larry Csonka or Steve Spurrier.

Csonka and his Miami teammates from the perfect 1972 team toast their season when the final team loses its first game in the NFL. The good news for those Dolphins is that the last two unbeatens play on Sunday, but the bad news is that either Indianapolis or New England is good enough to run the table if either team wants to do so.

Spurrier, on the other hand, said that he and administrative assistant Jamie Speronis pop open a bottle of the bubbly every time the last team in the NFL wins its first game because Spurrier was the quarterback of the 0-14 Tampa Bay Bucs. But both the Rams and Dolphins are threatening to bagel this season.

"They've got a lot more games left," Spurrier said. "We're hoping they win one soon."

SAWX RULE: Do you know it has now been 21 years since the Boston Red Sox have lost a World Series game?

And the Sox aren't going away. They are practicing Moneyball with real money.

Delirious Boston fans celebrated in Denver, then began chanting, "Don't sign A-Rod!"

PAT-POURRI: Maybe they should have called it the Gator Bowl. When Tampa Bay faced Jacksonville on Sunday, there were seven former Florida players starting in the game ... The Georgia Dome will undergo a facelift next year, receiving a red-and-black paint job inside and out to reflect the home team Falcons' colors, which just happen to be Georgia's colors as well ... Once the painters finish one side, they plan to rush the parking lot ... I wonder if the national talking heads who have praised Mark Richt's field-rushing Bulldogs would have felt the same way if Knowshon Moreno's touchdown had been reversed on the review and it was fourth-and-31 ... Rumor has it the NBA started this week ... Be safe.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or

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