Bragging rights

Bragging rights are one of sports ultimate prizes

By Hunter Ford

“I don’t have to say anything. But if I want to I can.”- Sylvester Croom.

Ouch! Those words should sting any Auburn, UAB or Alabama football fan. Sylvester Croom, a native son of Alabama and former football player and assistant coach at the University of Alabama, has put his foot to the backside of the Tigers, Blazers and Tide this year.

Auburn’s Tommy Tuberville is apparently using possible head coaching vacancies at other schools to negotiate a better deal at Auburn.

UAB officials thought Neil Callaway was a better choice than Jimbo Fisher.

Alabama emptied the bank vaults to hire Saban.

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As head football coach for the Mississippi State Bulldogs, Croom punked all three of those coaches this year.

I wonder if Croom’s name will be batted around as a possible replacement for coaches at Arkansas, Nebraska, or Texas A&M?

If Les Miles leaves LSU for Michigan, will Croom be considered to replace Miles in Baton Rouge?

When Mississippi State beat Auburn earlier this year Croom shrugged it off as no big deal.

“I’ve beaten Auburn plenty of times,” he said.

As a player and as an assistant coach at Alabama, Croom did beat Auburn many, many times.

It would be fun to peer into a parallel universe and see what would have happened if Alabama had chosen to hire Croom in 2003 instead of Mike Shula.

Shula couldn’t beat Auburn, and when he lost to Croom last year, the cowpies hit the fan.

If Croom could raise the Bulldogs from the ashes, what could he do with Alabama?

Although Croom has scored some signature wins against Florida, Auburn and Alabama twice, don’t forget his Bulldogs lost to the Maine Black Bears not to long ago.

No SEC team should lose to Maine, ever.

I wonder if it is more satisfying for Croom to have beaten his alma mater, its biggest rival and its stepchild all in the same year, or if he would have preferred to have been given the keys to the Crimson Kingdom instead?

Of course, if the Saban-Tide marriage somehow fails in the next couple of seasons, Croom could still have the chance to coach at Alabama. If Tuberville leaves Auburn, would Croom not be an intriguing candidate to lead the Tigers?

For now, he holds the deed to some serious bragging rights.

State High School Playoffs
Bragging rights for state high school teams are on the line this week as the playoffs move into the second round.

After experiencing the thrill of victory all season long, the previously undefeated McAdory Yellow Jackets felt the agony of defeat in a first-round overtime loss to UMS-Wright last Friday.

McAdory, which had shutout five opponents and held four to less than seven points in a 10-0 regular season, surrendered two touchdowns in the second half and couldn’t hang on in overtime. Three other Western area teams were put out in the first round.

Oak Grove lost its game to Andalusia 49-21,

Midfield lost to Madison County 21-16 and Fairfield was sent packing by Eufaula in a 35-0 rout.

On the winning side, three Western juggernauts kept rolling along.

Bessemer Academy continued its dominance of AISA Class 3A by beating Macon-East 47-20.

Jess Lanier opened the playoffs in style by disposing of Greenville 35-14.

The Hueytown Golden Gophers cruised past Pinson Valley 31-14, setting up a showdown with Hoover.

Hoover edged Florence 31-28 at Florence with some last minute heroics.

The Buccaneers have taken massive hits off the field this year, with scandals and rules violations leading to the resignation of head coach Rush Propst and the forfeiture of four games.

But the Bucs have been unaffected on the field. Several teams have played Hoover close this year, but none have been able to claim bragging rights on Propst and his pirates.

There are some intriguing possible match-ups after the Hoover-Hueytown game.

The winner between the Gophers and Bucs will play the winner of the Hewitt-Trussville-Vestavia game.

Hueytown fans would savor the win against Hoover, and would be happy to play anybody in the third round.

If Hoover wins, Bucs fans would like the chance to rub Vestavia into the turf for the umpteenth time. Rebel fans would like nothing better than one last shot at beating Propst.

A Hoover versus Hewitt match-up would make one person I know happy.

Shane from Center Point (the famous caller on the Finebaum Radio Network) has publicly said he wanted to see Rush Propst and Hoover derailed so the playing field would be even for teams like Hewitt-Trussville.