Wait before proclaiming West as best


Published: Wednesday, October 1, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, October 2, 2008 at 12:44 a.m.

When East meets West in the SEC, there is often some reflection on what it means when actually it means nothing. It's just that particular matchup on that particular day.

But with the West going 3-0 last week against the East and knocking off two of the powers in the division, there has been plenty of chirping and by chirping I mean radio hosts around the Southeast asking me about the balance of power shifting from the East to the West.

Three things:

1. It's early. Way early. It was one loss by Florida and Georgia. Both teams have two more games against the West. But nobody likes to wait for the final results.

2. The West has actually beaten the East more than the other way around. It's 150-139 right now. Although some of that is skewed by Vanderbilt, which ironically has the only East-over-West win this year. Still, Vandy is 7-42 since divisional play began in 1992.

3. Uh, didn't LSU win the national title last year?

The reason there is a perception that the East has been the more powerful conference is, well, because it's not a perception. The Big Three (er, the former Big Three) in the East (UF, Georgia and Tennessee) are a combined 97-48-2 against the West and the East has won 10 of the 16 SEC Championship games.

But I go back to point No. 1 it's early.

HEISMAN WATCH: Speaking of too early, the Heisman polls and watches are in full spin since the season is all of five weeks old. All we know for sure is that the chances are really good we won't have a repeat winner.

But I am baffled by this quote from Ohio State's Chris Wells.

"I like to think that the Heisman is not out of my reach, because a lot of times people get to thinking the Heisman is all about numbers and a team's record," Wells said. "But when it all comes down to it, it's (about) who is the best player in college football. Plain and simple."

No, it's not. It is about numbers and a team's record. It's not about who is the best player in college football. Last year, it might have been, but as a rule it goes to a skill player on a good-to-great team.

Wells isn't out of the running, but a lot of players have to falter for him to be considered. It's more likely to go to one of the three Big XII quarterbacks Missouri's Chase Daniels, Oklahoma's Sam Bradford or Texas' Colt McCoy. But who knows with so much football remaining to be played.

Maybe the most amazing thing is that the SEC player with the best chance as we sit here right now is not Tim Tebow or Knowshon Moreno, but LSU tailback Charles Scott. He's putting up the big numbers (535 rushing yards, 6 TDs) for an undefeated team and will have plenty of chances to showcase his talents.

If Scott does win, he'd be the first SEC running back since Bo Jackson (Auburn) in 1985.

END OF AN ERA: Those of you who read this column on a regular basis know about Maddux, my dog of 11 years who was named after former Atlanta Braves pitcher Greg Maddux.

Tragically, Maddux developed lung cancer and was put to sleep on Sunday.

Those of you who don't get the rest of us won't understand the pain my family is dealing with now. Maddux and I'm not exaggerating was like the son I never had.

The last thing my wife said to Maddux summed up his life perfectly. "You never did one thing wrong your whole life."

Oh, he did knock over the trash can in the kitchen a few dozen times. Hey, he was a dog. He smelled something tasty like the plastic wrapping from ground beef or gnawed rib bones. How many of us wish we could say the worst thing we ever did was knock the trash over?

You never know what a dog is thinking for sure, but I'd like to believe that other than the last 10 days he lived a great life. And I know that, thanks in part to Maddux, when it's my time I'll be able to say I lived a great life, too.

ESCAPE FROM AL: If I'm Lane Kiffin, I feel like I broke out of jail today.

Getting away from Al Davis has to feel like that. The situation there is a mess with players similar to what happened with the Redskins and Steve Spurrier complaining to the owner instead of taking it up with their coach.

I don't know Kiffin, but I still feel compelled to offer him some advice.

Don't be Brooks Hatlen. He was the character in "The Shawshank Redemption" who couldn't stand to be out of prison.

So if Syracuse calls, don't answer the phone.

Kiffin is rumored to be the leading candidate there when the school fires Greg Robinson. Run away.

Nothing against the school or the city or the state, but that's a bad job.

DEE-FENSE: Like I said, it's early. But it's pretty obvious that defense lives in the SEC.

Eight of the teams are not in the NCAA's top 70 in total offense with unbeaten Vanderbilt the lowest ranked team at 112th.

PAT-POURRI: Sports Illustrated's cover shot this week is Greg Hardy hitting Tim Tebow. It's the first Ole Miss cover of SI since 1962. ... Ole Miss received votes this week so all 12 teams from the SEC have appeared somewhere in the AP and coaches' polls. ... Florida will technically have two former players honored at halftime of the SEC Championship game in Atlanta as an SEC Legend. Errict Rhett is Florida's choice and Tennessee went with Doug Dickey, who played at Florida. ... They're starting to talk about more than a BCS bowl in the Mountain West Conference. They're talking about the possibility of the BCS bowl game for Brigham Young. ... I love you Maddux. ... Be safe.

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