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So, with typical PMR form, I’m a little later posting my answers than I intended to be. Here are my answers with a brief round-up coming soon. Please refer to the C&W Blog for a list of participants with links.

1. There’s been a lot of talk about schedules and future opponents recently with Georgia Tech dropping off for 2012 and 1013. This question gets thrown around a lot, but it’s pertinent once again. Pretend you’re Mal Moore. Who do you target for a future home-and-home series or who would you seek for a one-shot, neutral site game?

Having a grandfather that was a die-hard Tech fan makes me pretty upset about this scheduling snafu. When he was a child, my dad used to travel with him to Grant Field from their NW Georgia home, via train, to watch games on Saturday. I was hoping to bring that full circle by going to the game there with my dad. Not that it won’t happen now, it’s just that my dad has slowed somewhat in his game attendance and I’m concerned that the more time that goes by the harder it will be to get him to go.

Anyway, I’m a sucker for traditional games or traditional teams. I’d love to see Notre Dame, Oklahoma, USC or Nebraska fill those vacancies. I know, I know, modern scheduling, and time are factors here, but the question is what I’d like, not what will happen.

2. The recently completed season has gotten us all filled with fresh, good memories. A new crop of players have completed their eligibility and endeared themselves to Crimson Tide faithful forever as have some guys that are still on the roster. Have any of the recent players unseated their predecessors for the top spots on your own personal “all-time greatest” players list? If so, who are they?

I love defense first and foremost. I’d rather see a sack or line of scrimmage stuff than a touchdown. I guess I just like the punishment. There hasn’t been anyone more punishing in recent memory that Rolando McClain. His physicality combined with his intelligence and humble nature easily push him to one of the top spots of most loved players. Javier was great too and you’ve got to give a tip-of-the-hat to Ingram. But for my money, they don’t come any better than Ro. Scoot over Biscuit, you’ve got some company.

3. Conference expansion is all the rage across the country, which in my opinion is a response to the recent and foreseeable dominance in the SEC. Now expansion of our conference is being discussed as a possibility. Are you for or against expansion of the SEC and why? Whether you are pro-expansion or not, list the teams you like to see added (and/or removed) to the league roster if expansion takes place.

This is a little complex. First off, I’m fine with the status quo, but if I’ve learned anything, it’s that the times, they are a changin. You either improve or at best you stagnate and that is the first step to rotting. If any other conference is going to grow beyond twelve members, it is absolutely imperative that the SEC does so as well and if you’re going to do it eventually you’re better to do it sooner rather than later. Sure we all love the way it is, but it won’t always be that way. The Beatles were great when they were churning out stuff like, “She love you” and “I want to hold your hand” but they would have soon been left in the dust bin had it not been for “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonly Hearts Cub Band” and the White Album. The conference has got to change if it wants to remain where it is.

So if it’s going to grow, let’s add some real power. You start with traditional rivals from the ACC: Clemson, Florida State, and Georgia Tech. You can throw Miami in to make it an even sixteen team conference. That way we stay regional and true to our roots. I understand the attraction of Texas, Texas A & M, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State but, a) it’s not regional and 2) something tells me you’ll never get them away from where they are; the Big XII ain’t great but they are far and away the most competitive conference after the SEC and those four teams, along with Nebraska, anchor it. I could be wrong, and often am, but I don’t see any of those four leaving unless the conference completely dissolved.

One final thought on this; I am totally in favor, however far fetched it may seem, of five or six “super-conferences” banding together and forming their own football league completely independent of the NCAA. The NCAA is too broad and detailed in its rules and as a result is arbitrary and capricious in meting out punishments that harm the wrong individuals. Sure the smaller, less traditional football schools won’t like it but it would be better for the “football” schools and we really don’t mind if Auburn rides our coat tails once again (ZING!). There never has and can never be an equal playing field when it comes to football. Is it fair that a school like Boise State doesn’t get the same opportunity as an Alabama or Texas? When it comes to football, absolutely! Football means more to people in Alabama, and Mississippi,  and Louisiana than it does to people in Idaho or Utah and the attendance, revenues and passion confirm that. Just because they have a few good years doesn’t put them on the same ground as the football powers and those powers shouldn’t be penalized so that an artificial “even” playing field can be created. We have that already and it’s called college basketball. Sure the Big Dance is great, but 95% of people don’t give a crap about college basketball until the Dance comes along. Regardless of what anyone says, I just don’t believe that translates to football nor would I want it to. Alright, I’m going to calm down now.

4. Pre-season indications (which are admittedly totally my own prognostications) are that our two biggest rivals, Tennessee and Auburn, are going to suck and be somewhat improved respectively. Agree or disagree?

Since I wrote the question, I’d have to agree. I generally don’t read others’ answers prior to writing my own, but I’m picking up a consensus opinion that people (and by that I mean anyone other than Auburn fans) believe that the Teagles are going to stink this year.  No one doubts UT’s level of sucktitude but all the signs are there: depleted roster and virtually no experience where it matters coupled with new coaches and systems combine for a long, long year on Rocky Top. But down on the Plains things aren’t as transparent.

Auburn started last year with two conference wins (on their way to 5-0 out of the gate) and managed to lose five of the last six against conference foes, including blowing fourteen-point leads in the last two. This was primarily because there was no depth on the defense and therefore that side of the ball played appallingly bad. The offense wasn’t the problem and despite the loss of a senior quarterback, the Tigers could actually be better this season at the signal-caller spot due to the arrival of super-hyped petty larcenist juco sensation, Cam Newton. Let’s just say they are as good as they were on offense last year, which I don’t believe is that big of a stretch, they will almost certainly be better on defense. Chizik is a good defensive coach and he’s got the hardware to prove it. I’m sorry, and I’m not trying to be a heretic here, but I think that Auburn will be improved. At least, unlike Tennessee, they have the possibility of it. Maybe it’s just me wishing that the game that takes place the day after Thanksgiving will have ramifications beyond that of bragging rights in our state.

5. Tell us what team will be the biggest surprise, good or bad, in the SEC this season.

I’m going with State. They aren’t sexy and the things that are required are not necessarily there on paper, but I believe that Mullen can coach.

One of the preseason mags I got this summer, Lindy’s, had a special section on the SEC with a half-page review of the four year standings of the conference. Prior to the just completed season it looked exactly like this:

Four Year Period Ending in 07-08
Team SEC Pct. All Pct. Ch./Div. M B
Auburn 26-6 .813 42-9 .840 1/1 1 4
LSU 25-7 .871 43-9 .826 1/2 2 4
Georgia 22-10 .688 40-12 .769 1/1 2 4
Florida 21-11 .656 38-13 .745 1/1 1 4
Tennessee 21-11 .656 34-17 .667 0/2 0 3
Arkansas 16-16 .500 27-22 .551 0/1 0 2
Alabama 15-17 .469 29-21 .580 0/0 0 4
South Carolina 15-17 .469 27-21 .562 0/0 0 2
Kentucky 10-22 .312 21-27 .438 0/0 0 2
Mississippi State 8-24 .250 17-29 .370 0/0 0 1
Vanderbilt 7-25 .219 16-30 .348 0/0 0 0
Ole Miss 6-26 .188 14-32 .304 0/0 0 0
Note: M=Major Bowl (BCS); B=Bowls

Auburn was still riding high from the success of their spectacular run in ’04 and LSU helped them to hold down the top two spots (in terms of conference winning percentage at least).

Instead of waiting until late June, I went ahead and crunched some numbers. All information came from the official athletic websites of the conference members. The bowl record and change from last years results are columns that I added.

Four Year Period Ending in 08-09
Team SEC Pct. All Pct. Ch./Div. M B B Rec. Change
Florida 26-8 .765 43-9 .827 2/2 2 4 3-1 up 3
Georgia 23-10 .697 39-12 .765 1/1 2 4 3-1 up 1
LSU 22-11 .667 42-11 .792 1/2 2 4 4-0 down 1
Auburn 20-12 .625 34-16 .680 0/0 0 3 2-1 down 3
Alabama 20-13 .606 35-17 .673 0/1 1 4 2-2 up 2
Tennessee 17-16 .515 29-21 .580 0/1 0 2 1-1 down 1
South Carolina 15-17 .469 28-22 .560 0/0 0 3 2-1 up 1
Arkansas 15-18 .455 27-23 .540 0/1 0 2 0-2 down 2
Kentucky 12-20 .375 26-24 .520 0/0 0 3 3-0
Vanderbilt 12-22 .526 21-27 .438 0/0 0 1 1-0 up 1
Ole Miss 9-24 .273 19-29 .396 0/0 0 1 1-0 up 1
Mississippi State 8-24 .250 18-30 .375 0/0 0 1 1-0 down 2

Well as you can imagine, things changed up quite a bit this year. Gone is the statistical magic of an unblemished season and Florida, along with their Eastern Division brethren Bulldogs have combined to take over the top two places.

I’m happy to announce that Alabama jumped two spots and is now just behind Little Brother, who leads by the slimmest of margins.

Another thing to note is that with the holiday trips of Ole Miss and Vanderbilt, all twelve teams in the conference have now been to a bowl game within the last four seasons- actually all have been within the last two seasons. I’m not sure, nor am I going to take the time to verify that right now, but I doubt that any other conference can say that. Combine that with three of the last four national championships, and it presents a very strong case for the overall strength of the conference.

I’m certainly interested to see how the balance of power continues to shift.

A few other things I noted:

  • Alabama won their division with a better record than LSU did the previous year and finished the season with the same record that was good enough to garner LSU a national championship. Don’t tell me that record alone is a good enough of an indicator to determine the best of the best.
  • Alabama is also the only team to finish the regular season unblemished in the four year period. Subsequently they are the first to do it since Auburn in 2004.
  • In the study period, there were only three squads that won eight conference games in a season. Alabama was the only one that did and did not win a national championship the same year. (Florida ’06 and Florida ’08 are the other two)
  • Ole Miss is the only team to fail to win a conference game in a single season over the four year period (’07).
  • In spite of Florida’s dominance during this period (two conference championships and the best league record) they have won only one game over 75%. Despite three great years followed by one substandard year means that LSU has won exactly two-thirds of their conference games.

Take a look and let me know what else you can gleam from this.

At a Christmas party this past Saturday night, in the hours after the announcement of the hiring of Auburn’s new coach, some friends and I coined a new word.

Chizik

Sure, it’s already a name but we decided a new definition would suit it just fine and thus Chiziked was born. I won’t bore you with the properties of this new word, I’ll just use it for you in a sentence:

“I had some bad Mexican food today and spent about two hours on the john busting a Chizik.”

Or a more apropos usage: “Auburn really took a Chizik with the results of  their latest coaching search.”

Gene Chizik? Really? What, was Mike Shula not answering his phone?

It’s looking more and more like Mike Leach might be the new man on the Plains (ht: Holly).

Leach might be the big name in football because a) he’s bananas and b) because he has Texas Tech at 11-1 (after playing two, yes two, FCS opponents) but let’s keep it real folks.

I present you two reasons not to fear the consumate pirate in the best damn conference on college football.

Exhibit A: The 2006 Cotton Bowl: Alabama 13 Texas Tech 10

and even more telling,

Exhibit B: Greg McElroy

If Shula could beat out Leach for a kid from his own state (Texas at that time), I don’t think Saban will have much to worry about.

While I believe that the axiom about college football that “every game means something” is not only true, and is also one of the main reasons that it is the greatest sport on the planet, it is true that you really have to get to a certain point of the season for that high-stakes drama to really get you involved. That’s why that even though my beloved Tide is off this week, I’ll still be glued to the television all day tomorrow.

Below is the cheat sheet I’ve made for myself for a day in the recliner with the remote in one hand and a beverage in the other. Chores you (and my spouse) ask?  That’s what the other three seasons are for – this is football season.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring this to your attention first; If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to be in one of those “House Divided” marriages that are all too common in our part of the world and unfortunately advertised with one of the worst license plate designs ever, then check out Holly and Doug’s dramatic masterpiece on the relationship between a Vawl and a Dawg. Part one is at Holly’s place and parts two and three are at Doug’s.

The object was to get this post up yesterday and start off by recommending that you watch Clemson at Wake Forest last night. I was hoping for a Clemson victory to give the Tide a little more street cred but that didn’t work out so well. This was a total show of offensive ineptitude that came close to giving the epic in Starkville, between State and Auburn, a run for its money. Clemson’s offensive line is terrible. Just terrible. You could have an all-universe backfield (and they are not far form it) but without a line there are no holes to run in or time to target receivers. I’m thinking Bowden is on his way out.

Moving on to Saturday:

Mimosa and Bloody Mary Games

The day starts off with a doozy in the Red River Shootout. This is the first time in a few years that this game has had this much importance (11:00 cdt, ABC), but it is not a stretch to say that the winner of this game will have made it through the first stop on the way to Miami.

Thirty minutes later you can flip during commericals to ESPN for Colrado at Kansas – the Jayhawks are unbeaten- or to Raycom for South Carolina at Kentucky. I’d like to see the Wildcats win and make Alabama look a little better.

Be checking the bottom line scores for Nebraska at Texas Tech. The Red Raiders should win this easily against the inept Husker defense but I’m of the camp that believes beating two FCS division teams earns you absolutely nothing. If the Leach led bunch wins this going away I’ll consider them a little more for the Mumme Poll.

Wings and Beer Time

The 2:30 time-frame games offer many good contests. The SEC fans will tune in to CBS for Tennessee at Georgia to see if Fulmer is indeed on his way out or if Richt’s team can continue the momentum they were gaining in the second half of the Blackout Beatdown. The Vols could be mathematically eliminated from the  Eastern Division race or the Dawgs National Championship dreams might be snuffed out for this year.

ABC has several regional games at the same time and all have good story lines. Arizona State at USC offers a glimpse at the Trojans climb out of the cellar efforts while over on the East Coast and mid-West everyone will be wondering if North Carolina is for real or if Notre Dame will prove everyone but Lou Holtz correct by losing. Ohio State is still seeking redemption and Purdue comes into the Horseshoe to see what that feels like (hopes of redemption not visiting the Horseshoe).

The Deuce has Michigan State at Northwestern. Northwestern is also undefeated at this point but a resurgent Michigan State team will be their first real test. That’s on at 2:30 as well.

Check the bottom line for: Vanderbilt at Mississippi State

Cocktail Hour (or I switch to bourbon)

Other than Texas/Oklahoma, the marque game of the day and a contest that certainly holds more regional interest is LSU at Florida. This is somewhat cliche but true nonetheless, the winner of this game the last two years has gone on to win not only the conference but also the national championship. A loss for the Gators would but them behind the eight ball in their quest to get to Atlanta after they slipped up against Ole Miss. A loss by the Tigers would not be quite as damning as it appears the only other contender for the West is our own Alabama team, whom they still must play, but with Georgia still on the schedule it would take away any room for error. This game could go either way and the winner would still control their own destiny. That game is the second of the rare CBS double-header and comes on at 7:00.

Over on ESPN 2, Oklahoma State takes their perfect record into Missouri to take on the high-flying Chase Daniel led offense of the Tigers. Somebody has to lose this one and it makes the second contest of the day of ranked, undefeated teams.

ESPN has Penn State at Wisconsin and while this could be an upset for the Badgers that would require that they end a possible three-game losing streak. Confidence is not high.

Other games you can’t watch, unless of course you have Gameplan, are Arkansas at Auburn – story lines galore the least of which would be Auburn’s total elimination from the division race – and New Mexico at BYU – no offense to my NM homies but despite the upset of Arizona, the Lobos suck. Keeping with the UNM/BYU storyline that highlights undefeated, untested teams that face competition they should beat but just might get upset by, you have Ball State at Western Kentucky and Boise State at Southern Miss.

In conclusion, tomorrow is a great day to watch football. Conference play is well under way with a few big rivalries taking place, but beyond that there are a few unbeatens that will not finish the day that way and a few more big upset chances. As we do every week of the season we will finish the day with a few answers and a lot more questions. But perhaps the best thing about tomorrow is that Alabama will start and finish the day 6-0.

Finebaum is reporting that all signs indicate that Snitching Ass Tony Franklin has been terminated but cannot verify.

Wasn’t it just yesterday that Tubs was telling everyone that there were going to be no changes in the staff?

Update: Article up on the Opelika/ Auburn News. (HT: EDSBS)

Update 2: “Let’s make it official jackass. Let’s make it official”

In a well deserved acknowledgment, the SEC named Alabama’s senior quarterback, John Parker Wilson, the conference Offensive Player of the Week.

Wilson looked like a true leader on Saturday night.

On another note, it’s hard to watch or listen to a media outlet in this state this morning and not hear about the Tide. It’s even harder to peruse the internets and not see Alabama as a major topic on conversation today. I’ve heard or read national championship more time than I can count this morning and the phrase, “undefeated LSU and Alabama meeting in November is huge” has been uttered more time than a few.

Let’s do a good job and keep this in perspective. There are seven more gamers to be played
starting with an undefeated Kentucky team this weekend. Kentucky is unranked and has a chip on their shoulder because they are not getting any respect.

Ole Miss, who Alabama faces in a little less than three weeks, just defeated Florida, at home.

Tennessee, who seems to be headed toward oblivion, will not roll over and die when Alabama comes into town at the end of the month. In fact, nothing would make Fulmer happier than to upset Alabama as it might save his job and will certainly be a point of pride.

Arkansas State would love nothing more than to upset Alabama on homecoming and will put forth their best effort.

I don’t believe that I need to say anything about LSU.

State has a two game winning streak against Alabama and always, always plays out of their minds against the Tide.

And Auburn. If you don’t think that Tuberville can whip those guys into a frenzy to play Alabama then you haven’t been watching football.

There is a long, long way to go. Just as the team needs to focus on the the next game, so do we. It’s nice to dream and speculate and it’s wonderful to celebrate, God knows we’ve needed that win to charge us up. But let’s keep focus.

There is nothing at this point but a good Kentucky team that can beat Alabama unless the Tide gives their best effort. Let’s be ready to fill Bryant-Denny on Saturday and cheer as if that is the only game left to play, because in truth, if we (every last one of us)  don’t, it just might be.

Roll Tide! Beat the Wildcats!

There is nothing better than spending a day on the Quad and topping it off with a game in Bryant-Denny Stadium, especially  if it is a big game against one of Alabama’s chief rivals. To me it is one of the greatest things in life. I unabashedly love Alabama Football and attending games is, to me, the best way to experience all the good things it has to offer. The travel that away games offer and the opportunities to experience how football is “done” in other places always make road trips worthwhile.

It safe to say that I love going to football games. However, every once in a while the stars and planets align and the networks get out of their own way long enough to provide one on the biggest joys that I know: Spending All Day In Front Of A Television Watching College Football. And I mean all day.

Tomorrow just happens to be one of those days and I’m more than a little excited about it. At the worst there will be two hours in the morning, before Big and Rich offer up the awful refrains about them coming to our Sitay,  that do not contain some football, but other than that there will be high quality football that involves massive rooting interest the rest of the day. Tomorrow it will be good to be alive (unless Alabama starts the day by throwing one away).

Let’s take a quick look:

9:00 am: College Gameday (brought to you by the home depot) (ESPN) -coming atcha live from the proud home of the booger eater nation. The over/under for signs about Alabama, despite the fact that they aren’t playing in the highlighted game, opens at 6. Just what will our orange and blue clad brethren do to make us cringe at the thought of us sharing a state with them- don’t worry they won’t disappoint.

11:30 am: Alabama at Arkansas (Jefferson Pilot) – despite the fact that we got Daved, after three straight weeks of night games, I’m pretty pumped about having this game kickoff first. First, it’s an excuse to drink before noon (as if I needed one). And B, I don’t have to worry about how the team is going to perform while watching other teams that our team will eventually play. This is so much more preferable than these other games being time killers while anticipating the main event. Plus, the Tide should roll. Let’s face it, no one outside of Fayettenam is picking the Hogs. Not that Alabama can sleepwalk through this one but they should win the game.

2:30: Florida at Tennessee (CBS) – for the first time this yea  I get to listen to Uncle Verne bungle his way through names that my pre-schooler has no problem whatsoever with. Plus, the shine is off the Clawfense and the bloodlust in me that longs to see the injured Volunteers gutted and left on the field to die a slow death that ends in the firing of the most loathsome figure in the SEC allows me to do something I rarely do; cheer for the Gators. The Vawls aren’t going to be undefeated when they meet Alabama in about five weeks, so I’d rather they be defeated over and over and over again (wouldn’t you love to see a soulless Vol squad Croomed prior to playing Alabama?) Go Gators!

There is a good possibility that I’ll have to switch from beer at around this point. It’s still little warm for bourbon but I might just get crazy.

6:45 LSU at Auburn (ESPN) – after a few minutes to reload (or pee) the prime-time showdown of the Tigers, one Bayou and one Eagles, takes place on the Plains. Which reminds me, what kind of idiot named the area around Auburn the Plains? It was obviously someone who had never really seen plains. I mean, I’ve been across West Texas and Oklahoma. Those are plains – Auburn just has pastures. Let’s try this, The Lovliest Village in the Pastures. There, that’s more like it. I digress, I’ve already sent an email to my lone Cajun friend and instructed him to have his team beat the hell out of Auburn. I realize that if Alabama ends the streak this year – and I believe that they will – that it would be sweeter if Auburn were undefeated and it kept them from Atlanta, but let’s be honest here. Auburn is not going to go undefeated. Not with the offense playing the way they are playing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not getting on the bandwagon here and saying that they are horrible because I don’t believe they are. It’s just that snitching-ass Tony Franklin’s offense has not taken hold. They have played consistently poorly over the first three games. And yes, State’s defense is good, but they aren’t LSU good. I’m not sold on LSU’s offense yet either but they have more pieces of the puzzle than Auburn does and their defense is equally or practically as good.

I believe that LSU will win, but an Auburn victory would not be surprising either. I just know that I’ll be pulling for LSU or at least against Auburn. I just can’t see it any other way. Alabama has to play both of them eventually and they both can’t win and in my den no one will see me bowing to the TV during Chinese Bandits, so I’m pulling for the Tigers that have no confusion that they are Tigers here.

7:00: Georgia at Arizona State (ABC) – this could be one of those games that surprises you but you have to think that the Dawgs will represent the conference well and bring home a W. At either rate I’ll watch this one on commercial breaks and that will be about all I’ll see of it – with the slug fest that AU-LSU will no doubt be this game will probably end prior to the one in Auburn despite the 15 minute head-start.

Sometime around 10:00 I’ll stagger to bed, or I might just pass out in my recliner. Either way, two things are certain about Saturday night. We will know much more about the conference and I will have spent one hell of a day doing something I love.

I was planning a post about things that get on my nerves about football – including but not limited to booing other teams (which coincides with Mal’s memo) and your own team, the use of possessive pronouns in describing the football team, and (I’m, sure I’m in the vast minorty here) the moniker, Bama. Something that has come up time and time again and I feel the need to address it, once and for all.

It has become a much more popular thing that it should – I’m certain that a lot of it has to do with antagonizing Alabama fans – but I’m really tired of the insinuation that Paul Bryant did not wear houndstooth; that somewhere in the mid-eighties somebody thought he wore houndstooth hats and without really checking the facts a trend that borders on obsession began.

To begin with I believe that the pattern has been exploited a little too much in its use for Alabama themed merchandise. I poked fun of this for my piece on EDSBS earlier in the summer, but I also truly believe that while it has become associated with Alabama, it will never replace Crimson and it is truly unique to Alabama. This is in contrast to, I don’t know, let’s see, yeah the color orange. Because nobody is using that. Also, if I shared the most common mascot name in college football, even if my “battle cry” is something different, that I’m going to go and poke ant hills just to stir them up while I’m standing next to them. I’d stick to my recent streak and leave it at that. Then again, that’s just me, and I’m a gambler.

The general theory is that Bryant wore plaid hats and that they were not houndstooth and that we are all a bunch of rubes (or putzes, I believe) to follow like sheep and purchase or wear anything with the pattern on it. You really must not know anything about fashion, or clothing in general, whatsoever to put yourself out there and make that assumption. Or really be to lazy to check before you put something out there so emphatically that you’re willing to belittle others while actually shining the light back on yourself. Of course when your wardrobe consists of a slew of Tiger Rags tee-shirts and Wal-Mart camoflage and you beleive that last year’s clearance bin Tommy Hilfiger polos are the apex of men’s fashions then what do you expect (I’m just kidding guys, my vet’s scrubs look really nice whether he’s in his office or after hours).

My parents and several other successful business people that I have sought to emulate have always taught me that looking well and presenting yourself are important parts of succeeding. It is only natural that one would learn a little bit about fashion or more so what’s both appropriate and appealing to others. And while I can’t claim the expertise of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” I can safely offer a little lesson on houndstooth.

Houndstooth is a type of plaid. It is characterized by a checked pattern alternating between dark and light colors. Don’t believe me, then go here (note the Bryant reference as well). The size of the pattern is not important, thus there is a broad range in appearance.

This is houndstooth:

As is this:

The pattern is employed on anything and everything but typically the tighter the weave the more suited it is to more formal occasions. Suits, pants, shirts, and yes even fedoras have been constructed of it for a long time and are sold in places where no one has ever heard of Alabama. At a distance the smaller pattern can appear almost gray. The trend lately, especially in merchandising has been to accentuate the pattern and make it more recognizable.

So yes, the rabblerousers who so quickly accuse Alabama fans of living in the past or not letting the man die yet keep dredging up ways to talk about him are correct, to an extent. Most of the hats he wore were plaid. But they were also assuredly hounstooth. A few pictures to settle the debate:

Note the houndstooth coat or scarf under the lighter colored overcoat

The pattern is clearly visible in the photo above. Plaid? yes, but also houndstooth.

Above with former LSU coach Jerry Stovall who is wearing hounstooth slacks.

I think that should just about do it. Claiming that he didn’t wear houndstooth but plaid is the same as saying Alabama fans don’t wear crimson they wear red. They would both be incorrect statements.

Finally, the assumption that Paul Bryant didn’t wear houndstooth can be attributed to ignorance. I’m not using that word to insult anyone; you’re ignorant if you don’t know the facts. The good news is ignorance can be cured and in fact, just was. Unfortunately there is no known cure for stupid.

[Eds. Note: Will Heath brought a great comment and I wanted to include it in the post.

“the fact is Bryant didn’t start wearing the houndstooth until some time in the 1970s — and then, he wore it because it was a gift (either from his granddaughter or someone else’s, I don’t recall). Note that in all those photos of him wearing houndstooth, he’s quite old — for most of his career he wore a regular, non-houndstooth, men’s hat. It became his signature after he died because it was distinctive, but it wasn’t his modus operandi until very late in his career.”

This is the great thing about the blog. Will added a great bit of knowledge that I did not know.

Also I’ll give credit where it’s due, Nixforsix at Drunken Tailgate, on of the conspirators, acknowledged his error. That is also commendable. I’ll do the same. The last picture (the one with Stovall) is really the truest form of houndstooth and the closest one to what is being seen in today’s merchandising. The others could be construed as just plain plaid. I might be completely wrong in my assumption that the tiny checks in the plaid are considered houndstooth. I’ll have to check further into this. Thanks to Will and to Nix for Six (this is actually a pretty cool site I will be checking with more often).]

When I was a kid I had a book that allowed me to make decisions and alter the story I was reading based on the decisions. Basically, the story was not set in stone; there were many directions that you could take the tale. College football is exactly like that and as much as the experts -and wannabe experts -like to drone on about who will do what, there really is just no way to know. It is a large part of the appeal of the sport to me.

Welcome to Week 2, where the landscape has changed completely.

I made some predictions a while back and while some are proving to be wrong, others are proving to be somewhat more prophetic. For instance, I predicted, in one of the roundtables, that Nick Fanuzzi would be the second stream quarterback. Fanuzzi left the team after not being listed on the depth chart. On the other hand I stated that Tennessee would lose to UCLA. One thing that I don’t like in a lot of football pundits is that when they are wrong they really never discuss it after the fact. Sure, there are many unknowns and it is impossible for anyone to be right all the time. There is analysis and there is instinct and I believe that you have to have a good mix of the two to do a good job and be respected in your picks. I readily admit that I am far weaker on the analysis than I should be – this isn’t an excuse, I just don’t have the time. One thing I do have in ample supply is instinct. Which I confuse sometimes with emotion.

I don’t bet on college football. I am the first to admit that I get too emotional about it and my judgment is often clouded, especially with teams that I love or hate.

With that being said, I wanted Alabama to beat Clemson and in my heart expected them to beat Clemson. Looking at it on paper however, I just couldn’t get over some things that stared back at me. I freely admit that I love Alabama and am biased toward them but I also want to keep at least a little bit of perspective as I look at games involving my alma mater. Anybody can bet Alabama is going to win every game and be right part of the time. Usually when the team pulls that upset they’re the first ones yelling, “I told you so”. That doesn’t endear you to many people.

Growing up an Alabama fan in the time that I did you just believed that Alabama could win every game. It has been hard to let that go, even when all factors point the other direction. In my heart, I still believe that Alabama can win every game – that’s part of the reason I still go even when it’s unlikely that they will – but in an effort to be objective, when the facts say otherwise I feel the need to follow my head instead of my heart.

I picked Clemson to win not once, but twice prior to the game. I don’t regret that decision. Given the information I had I made a wise choice and the majority of the sports world backed me up. I was wrong and I’m glad I was wrong. There, that’s my mea culpa.

Back to the changing ending deal I was talking about earlier. Alabama’s win has enabled them to have a very different ending to the season. Let’s look at the facts:

  • Last week, Alabama would have been an underdog in five, maybe six, of its twelve games. It was an underdog in the first and will now be a dog in only two more contests(Georgia and LSU). Today, after Saturdays season opening win, Alabama would not be a dog against Arkansas, Tennessee, or Auburn – maybe pick-em but not dogs.
  • That means that today, one could make an argument for Alabama to finish the season 10-2. That’s a far cry than where they were. I think Tim Brando said that Alabama fans were crazy to be believe better than 8-4. Todd McShay, who picked 10-2, on the other hand, looks pretty smart today.

I will say this, just as Alabama was not back on October 4, 2005, after its defeat of Florida, it is not back after this defeat of Clemson. Remember the feeling you had in the third quarter Saturday night, like this one is not nearly over? You need to have that feeling for the rest of the year. Things are static for only this week. Anything can happen. My advice is to enjoy this victory until kickoff for Tulane (that’s for fans only, the players should have been done with it Sunday night) and keep your head down and your mouth shut about what “we’re gonna do”. Alabama has the potential for a great year. Clemson had the potential for a great year until game time. Wait until January 8, 2009 to tell me Alabama’s back or that Saban’s process has worked completely.

One thing I wasn’t wrong about, at least for the week, was the continued demise of Tennessee Football. The Vols were the better team and didn’t come away with a win. They will be the better team only three times before November. There is the possibility that it will take a win against Alabama for them to reach .500 at 4-4. Either way, I’m sticking with my predictions that UT will be out of the conference race by the Third Fourth Saturday. I did pick a UCLA win back in the summer but honestly that was more of a hope type thing because on paper UT should have won, but it also speaks to my adamant belief that the glory days of Tennessee Football, at least under Phil Fulmer, are gone.

Finally, Auburn shut-out a team that beat Alabama last year. I watched none of it and I’m not ready to buy in to the “death of the spread eagle” I’m hearing about . But, if Tuberville has done anything in his time at Auburn it is that he has improved them from the beginning of the season to the end. That started the season with a shut-out victory. That’s a great platform to build from. Nitpicking the way they did it is tantamount to making fun of a guy that’s driving an old beater when you can’t drive. Judgment about Auburn, at least from me, will wait for at least three more weeks.

I can’t wait for the next game.

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