Thursday, July 31, 2008

Virginia Faces Uncertainty Heading Into 2008

ACC Coastal #5 - Virginia Cavaliers

2007 Season and Offseason:
Al Groh notched an ACC coach of the year award last year after starting off the season on the hot seat in Charlottesville. Groh's club set an NCAA record with 5 wins by 2 points or less. The Cavs had a rough off season after their collapse in the Gator Bowl losing star DE Chris Long and suffering some academic susp. (Jameel Sewell), some defections (Jeffrey Fitzgerald) and a few arrests.

2007 Record: 9-4, 6-2
Returning Starters: 11
Returning Lettermen: 31
Off PPG: 23.5 (5), RYPG: 130.6 (6), 219.6 (6)
Def PPG: 18.9 (3), RYPG: 105.6 (6), 216.8 (4)

Offense (6 Ret Starters, 14 Lettermen)
UVA's offseason troubles centered mostly around the QB position. Last year's starter, Sewell, decided not to enroll for spring semester and is out this season due to academics. Soph Peter Lalich was handed the reins, but had troubles of his own. Hoping to alleviate the problems at QB will be RBs Cedric Peerman and Mikell Simpson. Peerman was the ACC's leading rusher until he got hurt. Simpson was the 'Hoos leading receiver and Groh wants to use him in a Reggie Bush type role. At receiver, Virginia gets their '06 leading receiver back from injury, Kevin Ogletree. The O-line will be a big question mark this year after losing 3 starters, including 1st round pick Branden Albert. Groh will count upon T Eugene Monroe to live up to his hype.

Defense (5 Ret Starters, 16 Lettermen)
The D-line was without question the strength of this team LY led by #2 pick overall Chris Long. But Long is gone now along with Allen Billyk, and the aforementioned Fitzgerald. The Cavs will have 3 new starters in their 3-4 scheme. But backing them up will be one of the best LB corps in the conference. The Cavs has 3 seniors returning and all are likely to get All ACC consideration. The defensive backfield suffered another academic casualty in CB Chris Cook. Also lost is SS Nate Lyles who started every game LY.

Special Teams
Virginia lost both their kicker and punter from last season. Cedric Pearman could be a best again at KR where he averaged over a 27 a return.

Newcomers of Note:
DL Buddy Ruff should get some snaps on a depleted line. Torrey Mack was a good get, but will likely be redshirted due to the depth at TB.

UVA wanted to have it easy in game 1 so they invited Southern Cal to Charlottesville. Other non-conf foes are Richmond, @UConn, and East Carolina. From the Atlantic, UVA gets vMaryland, @Wake, vClemson. Virginia's final 6 is brutal with trips to GT (road team is 1-12 since 95), Wake, and VT and home against UNC, Miami, and Clemson.

Final Thoughts:
Virginia will fall the hardest of all the ACC teams from last year. They had an unusual number of offseason incidents with key players at key positions. Do not be shocked if Virginia falls behind Duke this year in the standings and Groh will probably be back on the hot seat after this season. If they are going to ride to a bowl game, they will have to do it on Cedric Peerman's back.

Likely Wins: v Richmond
Likely Losses: vUSC, @ Wake, vClemson, @VT
Swing Games: @UConn, @Duke, vMaryland, vECU, vUNC, @GT, vMiami

1-7, 3-9

My Duke and NC State previews in case you missed them.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

NC State, Tom O'Brien Look For Second Year Improvement

ACC Atlantic #6 - NC State Wolfpack

The Skinny:
2007 Record: 5-7 (3-5)
Returning Starters: 10
Returning Lettermen: 28
Off PPG: 18.0 (11th), RYPG 79.4 (11th), PYPG 247.4 (2nd)
Def PPG: 31.0 (11th), RYPG 187.6 (12th), PYPG 218.8 (5th)

Offense (6 Returning Starters, 12 Lettermen)
The QB situation is still somewhat up in the air in Raleigh heading into Fall. Senior Daniel Evans (2,030 PY LY) will battle Harrison Beck and true freshman Mike Glennon (Sean's brother) for the job. The running back spot was going to be a bright spot going into last year but Toney Baker (pic above) was injured in game 1 and Andre Brown in midseason. Subsequently, NC State fell to 11th in ACC games in rushing. When healthy, the two are the second best RB tandem in the ACC. At receiver, NC State lost all three starters, but gets TE Anthony Hill back from an injury last year. Hill led the Wolfpack in yards in 2006 and will be a favorite target of Evans. The O-line has good size up front and returns 7 players with starting experience with G Curtis Crouch anchoring. O-line play was a trademark of O'Brien at BC so look for improved play from this bunch in year two.

Defense (4 Returning Starters, 11 Lettermen)
Under Amato, NC State was known for the defensive line play culminating in number 1 pick overall Mario Williams. The Pack has to replace three starters from a line that ranked 12th in RYPG a year ago. Willie Young is undersized on the end but a classic speed rusher with 10TFL last year. The LB corp was also decimated after last year losing all 3 starters. The secondary will have to carry this defense especially early as they return 3 seniors and sophomore Javon Walker who started the second half of the season.

Special Teams:
State lost a really good kicker in Steven Hauschka and return man Darrell Blackman. The punting duties will fall to returning starter Bradley Pierson.

Newcomers of Note:
QB Mike Glennon is the gem of this class and could see some early action if Evans continues his struggles from last season. LB Terrell Manning will likely see action in a young LB group as well.

NC State has a tough non-conference schedule with 3 teams with a .500 or better record last year. State starts the college football season off at South Carolina on Thur, Aug 28 and they have East Carolina and USF at home back to back in late September. They have a manageable schedule from the Coastal with @UNC, @Duke, vMiami.

Most programs see a big jump from year 1 to year 2 in a new system. However, NC State returns just 10 starters and 28 lettermen from a team that was very streaky. Tom O'Brien needs some more time to build and coach up the talent level again that Amato had but couldn't take full advantage of.

Games as TD plus favorite: William & Mary, @ Duke (Likely Wins)
Games as TD plus dog: vSo. Carolina, @Clemson, vUSF (Likely Losses)
Games within a TD: vECU, vBC, vFSU, @Maryland, vWake, @UNC, vMiami (Swing Games)

4-8, 2-6

Tomorrow, ACC Coastal #5

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

David Cutcliffe Era Begins At Duke

ACC Coastal #6 - Duke Blue Devils
The Skinny:
2007 Record: 1-11 (0-8)
Returning Starters: 17
Letterman Returning: 50
Off PPG: 16.4 (12), RYPG: 64.8 (12), PYPG: 189.9 (11)
Def PPG: 33.1 (12), RYPG 165.0 (11), PYPG: 229.1 (9)

Offense (7 returning starters, 20 letterman):
Duke ranked last in the ACC in offense last year scoring just 16 ppg and averaging 255 ypg. The unit returns 7 starters from a year ago and will be led by QB Thaddeus Lewis. The junior QB (2,430 yds, 21 TD 10 INT) had an up and down year last year that started out well, but faded down the stretch. I expect the Blue Devils passing game to be much improved this year under the schooling of David Cutcliffe. Lewis' favorite target will be Senior Eron Riley who led the nation in ypc last season (20.8ypc). On the ground, Duke must improve on its paltry 117 ranking in rushing offense. Duke has not had a 100 yard rusher in 16 straight games. This year may not be any relief as they lost 3 starters on the o-line.

Defense (10 returning starters, 27 lettermen):
Duke returns all 4 DL who started the final 5 games, but this unit isn't going to scare anyone. The LB corps lost just 1 key player off last season and will be the strength of the D. The player to watch is Michael Tauiliili (108 tackles). The DBs really struggled last year after losing John Talley. However, this unit should be better with 3 starters returning.

Special Teams:
The kicking game may have what been the end for Ted Roof as 3 missed FG against UNC helped prevent Duke from beating their arch rival. Cutcliffe has solid ST at Ole Miss so expect improvement here.

Newcomers of Note:
The top player in the class by far is QB Sean Renfree. The Arizona native orginally committed to Georgia Tech but switched to Duke when GT hired Paul Johnson. This kid could be a star at QB under Cutcliffe in a few years.

Duke has been downright awful at football over the last 60 years. They have just 3 seasons of 6 wins or more since 1945 and 2 of those came under Steve Spurrier. Since their last 6 win season, Duke has just 9 ACC wins. David Cutcliffe brings renewed optimism in Durham, but the Blue Devils has a ways to go to being a bowl team.

Almost Certain Wins: James Madison
Almost Certain Loss: @ GT, v Miami, @ WF, @ Clemson, @ VT
Swing: v Northwestern, v UVA, @ Vandy, v NC State, v UNC
3-9, 0-8

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Best of Everything About the ACC & SEC

Best ACC vs SEC Rivalry of Today: Clemson - South Carolina
While Florida-Florida State in yesteryear had national titles on the line, fans in the state of South Carolina have no pro sports and no other game matter more. You can argue Miami is bigger rival for FSU or Georgia for Florida, but nothing stands in the way of South Carolina and Clemson.

Best ACC vs SEC Rivalry of Yesteryear: Georgia - Clemson
These teams battled all throughout the 80s winning a national title each. The two school are only separated by about 90 miles. CBS Intro 1987.

Best QB:Tim Tebow, Florida
Only Heisman winner as a Sophomore.

Best SEC Coach: Les Miles, LSU

National Title - Check, SEC Championship - Check, BCS Bowl Win - Check, Recruiting - Check

Most Appropriate Nickname:Tie - Tennessee Volunteers, North Carolina Tar Heels
Because they are actually relevant to the state and to human beings.

Best Stadium Entrance:Clemson
The Most Exciting 25 seconds in college football

Best Stadium Entrance By A Non Human:War Eagle, Auburn
We have always been fascinated by flight and football and War Eagle combines both.

Best Place For A Night Game:Tiger Stadium, LSU
Lets tailgate all day in the heat with cajun food and then go watch one of the best teams in the nation play.

Best Player:Tim Tebow, Florida
Follow Tebow at last year's Heisman presentation.

Best NFL Prospect:Michael Oher, Ole Miss
Tackles get paid very well when drafted, just ask Jake Long.

Best Tailgating:The Grove, Ole Miss
Heck, the football game is the second attraction in Oxford to The Grove.

Best Place To Tailgate While Boating:Tennessee
Don't worry about hauling that SUV to the game in Knoxville which sits on the Tennessee River.

Best Place To Become An Internet Sensation: Florida State
Best Mascot: Uga, Georgia
Any mascot, who attacks an opposing team’s player (Auburn 1996), must be a pretty good mascot. Uga is one of the few mascots who can run onto the field with their team and interact with fans. With the passing of Uga VI we will see a new Uga this year.

Best Stadium (football):“Tiger Stadium aka Death Valley”,LSU
After a night and day and maybe night again of tailgating with crawfish you have some rajun cajuns and a pretty good football team.

Best Stadium (basketball): Cameron Indoor Stadium,Duke
With the Cameron Crazies right on top of you in a building that is kept at about 80 (it seems) it makes a very tough visit to Durham (and that is without the refs against you too).

Best ACC Coach (football): Jim Grobe,Wake Forest
Grobe took Wake Forest to an ACC Championship two years ago with a freshman QB and a converted TB from WR. He is also going for his third straight winning season which would be a Wake first. All of this at the 2nd smallest Division I-A school.

Best Coach (basketball): Mike Kryzewski,Duke
Three National Titles and Six ACC Tournament Titles from 2001-2006. Ol' Roy Williams is creeping up fast though.

Best NFL Pedigree:Miami
Miami is a big reason why the ACC is neck and neck every year with the SEC in number of draft picks.

Best NBA Pedigree:North Carolina
I don’t think this needs any explanation, but does Michael Jordan, Vince Carter or James Worthy ring a bell?

Best College Town: Athens, GA
35,000 football mad students in a town with 50+bars where the town revolves around the University. Thrown in a 60% female student population and you get the idea.

Best Fans (football): South Carolina
Every year Gamecocks fans sell out Williams-Brice Stadium, which is not in the best part of town, and cheer loudly for their team, which is not always the best either.

Best Fans (basketball): Duke
Students sign up for fall classes on Monday and begin camping out for tickets on Wednesday.

Best Fight Song: “Ramblin Wreck”,Georgia Tech
Football and liquor. Two things that are synonymous with college football and Ramblin Wreck combines both of them.

Best Chant: “Woo Pig Sooey”,Arkansas
No one else has a chant that is even remotely close that could double as a hunting call.

Best Tradition (football): Alabama
12 National Titles, 25 Conference Championships

Best Tradition (basketball): Kentucky
7 National Titles (#2 All Time), 48 Tournament Appearances (#1 All Time), 98 Tournament Victories (#1 All Time)

I did a Best of..back in 2006. Some things change, somethings stay the same.

Tomorrow, I start individual team previews counting down the conference winners

Les Miles Tops List of SEC Coaches

Yesterday, I ranked the ACC coaches. Today, we look at the SEC Coaches. The Southeastern is loaded in the coaching ranks from top to bottom. You have 5 (edit from 6) national championship winners including the last two. I will preface my rankings by saying 1-4 is splitting hairs and 5 and 6 are not very far behind. But here we go...I think many will be surprised by #1.
Ranking criteria:
  • overall record (vs SEC and non-conference)
  • what you have done over last 3 seasons (what have you done for me lately?)
  • what have you to work with (are you State U with 40,000 students or a small private school)
  • how well can you recruit (can you at least get the cream of the crop on campus)
  • where your recruiting rankings are vs on the field results (are you taking no names to championships
  • to be ranked a coach has to be a HC at least two season the conference
  • Bobby Petrino is not ranked due to this - just not enough on the SEC resume to get a true ranking
1. Les Miles
Just hear me out on this one. Although, Les Miles may not have the most eloquent speeches and interview sessions, the guy has done everything on that list above. National Title - Check, SEC Title - Check, BCS Bowl Wins - Check, Top Recruiting classes - Check, Players to the NFL - Check. LSU has no more advantage than the other two elite SEC programs (UF, UGA). Some will say he won with Saban's players, but the reason LSU led the SEC in 1st team players is beacuse of Miles' recruiting. I was in a quandry about #1 and #2, but Miles gets the tiebreaker with 2-1 head to head record vs Urban Meyer.
2. Urban Meyer

All of the checks Miles has also apply to Urban Meyer. The Gator Head Coach has his team poised for another national title run this year. Meyer is one of the fiercest competitors in the nation.
3. Mark Richt

The only thing keeping Richt from a higher spot is that elusive MNC. The former FSU OC was able to turn around the season last year and finish as one of the hottest teams in the nation. Georgia has a two year window where they have an excellent chance to get a national title for Richt.
4. Nick Saban

Like I said above, ranking 1-4 is like splitting hairs. The only reason I put Saban at #4 is because of his average season last year. Saban set the foundation at LSU that Miles has built upon. He is looking to do the same at Alabama after bringing in arguably the nation's best class last year. Still, Saban has to take care of business instate first by beating Auburn.
5. Tommy Tuberville

Number 5, though half way down the list, is not very far off from #1. Auburn has been one of the best in big games over the last several years, but they have to prevent that one lapse game where they lose as a big favorite. The turnover on TT's staff is concerning, but Auburn fans will take 6 in a row over 'Bama anyday.
6. Steve Spurrier

It is not that Steve Spurrier has fallen that far, it is that caliber of coaches in the SEC has risen so much. The Head Ball Coach is still one of the best, if not the best, game planners in the nation. He is suffering from a lack of recruiting at South Carolina.
7. Sly Croom

Here we see the first significant drop off in our rankings at #7. Still, what Croom has done as Miss State is pretty remarkable considering where they were when he took over. The Bulldogs have to start recruiting better if they want to stay as a bowl level team in the SEC
8. Phil Fulmer

It seems that I rank Fulmer pretty low on this list, but ranking coaches in the SEC is liking ranking steaks. You can get the ultra premium steak or you can still get a good steak for a good value. Fulmer took the Vols to the SECCG last year and nearly won. People continually say this is the year the Volunteers take a permanent step back, but that has been when they surprise everyone.
9. Rich Brooks

When you have Rich Brooks as your 9th best coach in your conference then you know you are deep. All Brooks has done is take Kentucky to two straight bowl victories, beat the national champ last year, and be the center of the college football universe for two straight weeks last season. Football will always be second fiddle on campus though and recruiting will have to be finding the diamonds in the rough.
10. Bobby Johnson

Vanderbilt has gotten so close in the last few years to getting to a bowl game, but have come up short. A good coach gets Vanderbilt to that point. A great coach gets them over the hump, and then leaves for a better job.
11. Houston Nutt

When Arkansas first let go of Nutt (don't kid yourself, Arky didn't want him around anymore), I thought "who do they think they are?" Then when they got Petrino, I said "oh, that is why!". Nutt was a good coach in Fayetteville, but he totally mishandled his QB situation two years ago. oh well, not his problem anymore.

Results from a survey I did a while back using their choice of a weighted average of rankings based on recruiting, player development, gameday coaching, and program control.

SEC Coaching Poll Results

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Jim Grobe Tops List of ACC Coaches

In addition to having a top QB, it is also necessary to have a quality coach on your sidelines as well if you want to win championships. A while back, I ranked all of the coaches at the request of an ongoing coaching poll using the requstors weighted average of: recruiting, player development, gameday coaching, program control (ACC Results). Here is my ranking of coaches (with 2 yrs exp) based on my criteria in no particular order.
Ranking criteria:
  • overall record (vs ACC and non-conference)
  • what you have done over last 3 seasons (what have you done for me lately?)
  • what do you have to work with (are you State U with 40,000 students and a traditional power or a small private school or who prefers basketball?)
  • how well can you recruit (can you get the cream of the crop on campus?)
  • where your recruiting rankings are vs on the field results (are you taking no names to championships?)
  • to be ranked a coach has to be a HC at least two season in the conference
  • Randy Shannon, Paul Johnson, David Cutcliffe, and Jeff Jagodzinski are not ranked because of this - just not enough on the ACC resume to get a true ranking
1. Jim Grobe - Wake Forest
Grobe is tops of my list for several reasons. He led Wake Forest to an ACC title just two years ago with a freshman QB and 3rd string tailback converted from WR. Grobe has elevated Wake Forest to play with the "big boys of college football" despite being the 3rd (edit) smallest Division I-A school. Despite being ranked near the bottom of the ACC every season in the February recruiting rankings, Wake Forest is likely head to their third straight (edit) winning season which would be a first in school history.
2. Frank Beamer - Virginia Tech

Beamer takes my second spot and before Hokie fans get riled up, think about the advantages Virginia Tech has over Wake Forest for football - enrollment, differing majors, tradition, recruiting area. With all that being said, Beamer is certainly no slouch at number two with 2 championship game appearances and 1 ACC Championship in the last three years. Beamer consistently brings in top 25 recruiting classes and has them ranked in the top 25 on the field the following fall.
3. Bobby Bowden - Florida State

Bobby's career is coming to a close at FSU and while the Seminoles have slipped on the gridiron, you can't ignore his accomplishments over the years at FSU. Bowden also has an ACC title in the last 3 years and can still bring in top 10 talent. FSU is in prime recruiting territory and needs to develop more of that talent to get back on top.
4. Butch Davis - North Carolina

Butch Davis is the first on our rankings to appear having come mostly from another ACC school - Miami. While at Miami, Davis restored the proud Hurricane tradition leading them to within a game of the national title in 2000. Davis put numerous players in the NFL recruiting from the rich South Florida area. At UNC, Davis will look to improve on his first year where the Heels suffered 6 losses by a TD or less.

5. Tom O'Brien - NC State

O'Brien had a rough 1st half of the year but ripped off four in a row before losing to Wake and Maryland down the stretch. The longtime BC head coach started a bowl winning streak in Chesnut Hill that still stands and is the longest active streak in FBS. Known for his no nonsense approach, O'Brien has been able to develop marginal talent into bowl teams over the years.

6. Tommy Bowden - Clemson

Bowden is one of most successful coaches in Clemson history, but the younger Bowden has yet been able to turn that success into an ACC title or even a championship game appearance. Tommy has certainly raised the recruiting level at Clemson to new heights, but the Clemson faithful are getting frustrated the talent hasn't lived up to its billing most years.

7. Ralph Friedgen - Maryland

The Fridge blew the doors off in College Park his first two years, but has slipped into mediocrity in the last several years. Known as an offensive guru, Friedgen has yet to develop a top QB talent like he did at Georgia Tech. Ralph has been able to bring in some talent to Maryland, but largely the Terps are middle of the pack in recruiting and on the field.

8. Al Groh - Virginia

Groh had his best season in years last year and some of his most talented players are no longer on the team (some voluntary, some not). Despite all the NFL talent Virginia has put into the NFL the last several years, Virginia has wallowed in mediocrity most of those.

Tomorrow, SEC Coaches Ranking

Friday, July 25, 2008

Tim Tebow Tops List of QBs

Having a great QB is becoming more and more necessary in college football as spread offenses and passing become more and more popular. Having an above average QB is essential for a title run just like in the NFL. Today we look at the best QBs in the SEC and ACC. Please feel to comment on who you think are the best QBs in the conference.

Any QB list in the SEC will start with Tebow and Stafford. These two QBs are big reasons why these teams will be competing for a national title this year. There are only 3 proven QBs heading into the season, but a few will emerge as we go along.

1. Tim Tebow - Florida
The returning Heisman Trophy winner tops the SEC list and is the best QB in the nation. It is quite possible Tebow may own every QB record in the SEC by the time he is done. He also performs minor miracles.

2. Matt Stafford - Georgia
Stafford came in the same class with Tebow and while he has not had the statistical sucess of Tebow, he has enjoyed stepped progress each year. The junior is looking to take the next step and lead Georgia to an SEC title and MNC. He will have Knowshon Moreno to help take the
pressure off.

3. John Parker Wilson - Alabama
John Parker returns for his third season starting at Alabama and Nick Saban has big plans for his QB. Wilson had some incredible games last year (Tennessee), but also was the goat in others (LSU). There is a big drop off from #2 to #3 in these rankings as Wilson needs to develop more consistency in the pocket.

4. Jonathan Crompton - Tennessee
My first flyer in the ranking with new Tennessee starter Jonathan Crompton. Crompton has sat behind Erik Ainge but now gets his turn. Crompton had high accolades out of high school and several years of schooling under one of the best QB coaches, David Cutcliffe.

5. Kodi Burns - Auburn
We got a glimpse of what Kodi Burns could do in Tony Franklin's new offense in the Chick Fil A Bowl last year. Burns will have some competition at the position but should have plenty of opportunities in the spread offense that focuses on getting 85+ plays off a game.

Sleeper: Jevan Snead - Ole Miss

One main reason why the ACC has suffered in recent years is the lack of quality QB depth in the conference. This year the ACC has two very solid QBs, but overall the conference is still uncertain at the position.
1. Cullen Harper - Clemson
Not much was expected of Harper before last year, but the then junior delivered big for Clemson right from the gate against Florida State. The senior has been voted preseason player of the year. Not surprising considering Clemson was also voted as preseason confernence champs.

2. Riley Skinner - Wake Forest
Skinner, now a Junior, already has an ACC title on his resume but would like to add another. Skinner is not an expceptional passer or runner but does both very well and moves the ball consistently in Jim Grobe's misdirection offense.

3. TJ Yates - North Carolina
TJ Yates was an afterthought in UNC's recruiting class a few years back but not any more after having a fantastic first season as a starter.

4. Sean Glennon - Virginia Tech
Some Virginia Tech fans will disagree with...probably most Virginia Tech fans will disagree with me, but I think Glennon is the better QB in Blacksburg. He definitely had his trouble in the past, but once he became the starter again last year he was an asset for the Hokies.

5. Thaddeus Lewis - Duke
Lewis suffers from having no talent around him. I expect a more poised QB this year after gaining knowledge from one of the best in the business as his head coach.

Sleeper: Josh Nesbitt - Georgia Tech

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Ranking the Stadiums of the SEC and ACC

Check out the 2009 ACC Stadium Rankings

To help us get ready for the season, I will be doing some rankings from each conference and a best of. Today we start off with the best stadiums in each conference. The SEC has by far and away the best stadiums on anyone in the country and much better than most of the ACC. In ranking the stadiums, I took into account capacity, winning percentage, location, and pregame experience. Here it is...

1. LSU
Saturday nights at Tiger Stadium are one of the true gems of college football. LSU fans tailgate with the best of them before heading into to watch their team in "Death Valley". The atmosphere is so electric inside Tiger Stadium that a small earthquake was registered on the school's Richter scales after a tying TD pass against Auburn back in 1988. Earthquake Game

2. Florida
The stadium is built for optimum noise containment and Urban Meyer has made it a priority to win at home with just 1 loss in 3 seasons in "The Swamp". Even though Spurrier coined the nickname, Urban Meyer has made Ben Hill Griffin Stadium tough to get out alive.

3. Tennessee
Neyland Stadium takes the #3 spot by a small margin due to its size and location. Tennessee is in a seat race with Michigan and Penn State every year for biggest stadium in the country. The atmosphere outside the stadium is unique with the Volunteer Navy arriving to tailgate on the Tennessee River.

4. Georgia
Georgia may have the best field of anyone in the SEC "between the hedges" in Sanford Stadium. Recent additions have pushed the capacity north of 90,000 and a rabid fan base keeps it sold out year after year.

5. Auburn
Its not pronounced like "Jordan" but "Jerden" if you are around Auburn fans. The stadium also features hedges, but the main draw is the War Eagle intro. This stadium accents the loveliest little village on the Plains nicely. War Eagle Flight

6. Alabama
Alabama announced their spot on the national stage again with a sell out for Nick Saban's first spring game a year ago. The Crimson Tide are looking to regain their spot at the top of the SEC West once again.

7. South Carolina
The most loyal fans in the SEC pack Williams Brice Stadium year after year win or lose in Columbia. Williams Brice Stadium would be higher if the Gamecocks were able to hold court better than they have.

8. Arkansas
Bring your ear plugs for the calling of the Hogs in Fayetteville. Razorback Stadium has gone under recent renovations and has drawn more of the big games that used to be played in Little Rock. Still, the Razorbacks lack of home domination pushes them down the list.

9. Kentucky
If South Carolina gets the nod for most loyal fans, then Kentucky is #2. The Wildcats have had spotty success in football at best, but these basketball blue bloods still pack Commonwealth Stadium.

10. Ole Miss
The Rebels stadium is only the #2 football attraction on campus behind tailgating at The Grove. Ole Miss is looking to recapture a consistent home field advantage not seen since the name of the stadium was coaching.

11. Mississippi State
Scott Stadium has come light years as a structure in the last 10 years. But the Bulldogs have not been able to take advantage of their cowbells and home field in Starkville until last year.

12. Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt is just lucky if their fans outnumber the opponents when teams like Tennessee and Georgia come to town.

The ACC is definitely a notch below the SEC in terms of stadiums. Some have unique charm, but only the top 3 really compare with the top 6 or 7 in the SEC.

1. Clemson
The Hill, Howard's Rock, and occasional purple pants make Clemson number 1 in the ACC. The stadium sits right on Lake Hartwell and seems to go straight up. If you want an idea of the noise check out You Tube for the Clemson - Miami game in 2005. It was loud.

2. Virginia Tech
Lane Stadium lost out on #1 by a slim margin. I give the hill entrance the slightest of edges over Enter Sandman in Blacksburg. The Hokies have added capacity recently putting their capacity in the uppper echelon of the ACC.

3. Florida State
It used to mean when the spear was planted at midfield by Chief Osceola it signaled the end of the opponents chances, but a few opponents have been able to crack the Seminoles home dynasty in the last several years.

4. NC State
The Wolfpack surprisingly check in at #4. NC State has made a lot of improvements to Carter- Finley in Amato's era bringing it up to snuff with the best in college. The fans are surprisingly loyal to the program even though it is largely considered a basketball school. Tom O'Brien hopes to change this.

5. Georgia Tech
What Bobby Dodd Stadium lacks in size it makes up for in location and history. The oldest stadium in Division I-A sits a stones throw away from downtown Atlanta. If you want a great view, try the West side upper deck at a night game for a magnificent view of Midtown Atlanta.

6. North Carolina
Kenan Stadium may have the prettiest setting this side of West Point, NY. The Tar Heels have not been extremely successful at home but the ambiance of the surroundings lift their ranking.

7. Wake Forest
Before Jim Grobe came to town, Groves Stadium was marked a 'W' on most ACC school's scheules - not any more. The Deacs sell quite well for being one of the smallest Division I football schools.

8. Boston College
Alumni Stadium was a tough venue for foes in the Big East and not much has changed since BC joined the ACC. The size of the stadium and sometimes lackluster crowd push the Eagles' stadium down.

9. Virginia
Colin Cowherd made fun of Virginia's wine and cheese crowd a few years back and while most of it is deserved, Scott Stadium is up there with Kenan Stadium for beauty. Cowherd Rant on UVA Football.

10. Maryland
Byrd Stadium just lacks in all the major categories - size, ambience, beauty, history... nothing really sticks out.

11. Duke
Its Duke... where they still have a track around the field and football is just a diversion to basketball season.

Miami is not ranked due to having a new stadium this year (Dolphin Stadium)

Friday, July 18, 2008

What To Make of Steve Spurrier

The Ol Ball Coach is not scripting ball plays this July but fending off rumors of an imminent retirement after just 3 seasons at South Carolina. Spurrier
denies the rumors, but the question is raised of how long he will be in Colombia as he is in his 60s. The Ol Ball Coach, known for his innovative offenses, has passed off some of the playcalling duties to his son, Steve Spurrier, Jr, but assures Gamecock supporters he will still be an integral part of the offensive strategy. "I will oversee all the playcalling. I'm still the offensive coordinator," Spurrier said. "In fact, I plan to spend more time with the quarterbacks and the offense this year than maybe I have in three years." Is this shared responsibility a sort of passing of the torch?

So what do we make of Spurrier's tenure so far and his future at South Carolina?
Last season had to be a frustrating one for Spurrier. After starting 6-1 with win over Georgia and a top 10 ranking, the Gamecocks proceeded to lose 5 straight and finish at .500, including a last second loss to arch rival Clemson. In his three seasons, Spurrier has taken South Carolina to two bowl games, but his still far from reaching his goal of an SEC title.

When given time, Spurrier is still one of the best if not the best game planner in the country as evidenced by his win at Georgia last year with far less talent. But South Carolina as a football program has many challenges. They are in a small state with a small recruiting base where you have to compete with a big program like Clemson in state. Not to mention schools like Georgia, Florida State, North Carolina, and Tennessee among others cherry picking your local talent as well. Throw in the fact that you are in the toughest division of the toughest conference in the nation and you have quite a job on your hands. The game has certainly not passed Spurrier by but he needs a good QB to run his system and he has not had one yet. His prize QB recruit of two years ago, Stephen Garcia, has been pulling more fire alarms than snaps from center so far and is currently suspended from the school. Even with all of this, South Carolina fans start each year with some of the most optimistic views in college football and loyally fill Williams Brice Stadium every game, but many times by late October those title dreams have been dashed.

Obviously, time will tell if Spurrier can get South Carolina over the hump and into Atlanta. I think we will see Spurrier coach at least two more years. At that time he will evaluate whether or not he can get South Carolina an SEC Championship in the next two seasons. If he feels he can, then he will stay. If he feels he is no better than he was two years prior, then he retires to the golf course. I think we see Spurrier at Augusta National before we see him at the Georgia Dome.

AJC Article

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Georgia's Top 10 Athletes

SI On Campus is doing a series on the top 10 athletes all time at schools around the nation. The latest is the Georgia Bulldogs.

From Hines Ward to Herschel Walker...

Sunday, July 13, 2008

NCAA Football Helmet Quiz

A little slow here in the offseason, but this is a good quiz to pass the time. The site below has a quiz of 50 football helmets. I got a 49 only because I typed "Miami Ohio" instead of "Miami of Ohio". Spelling counts!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Happy 4th of July

From the best mustache on Earth to the best country on Earth, Happy 4th of July.