ITK Answers the Roundtable Questions

My thanks to Cappy for inviting me to answer this week’s questions. Agree or disagree, here is my take:

What do you think of SEC Commissioner Mike Slive?
I believe that Commissioner Slive has done a remarkable job.  Picking up the pieces from his obviously biased and corrupt predecessor, Slive has restored dignity to the office and carried the torch to champion the best college football conference in all the land.  And this is not to mention his influence on all of college football.  He continues to embody all that is right in college football.

What do you think of the state of the Southeastern Conference?
Alabama is again the bell cow of the conference, so all is right with the world.  An impartial view sheds some concern on the state of coaching in the conference.  Once you get beyond Saban and Meyer, who are the marquee coaches that strike fear in the opposing sideline?  Where is the leadership?

I honestly think Dooley has the means to lead the Vols back to dignity, but it will take a while, and whether or not they grant that time is a question.  Dan Mullen has potential, but at that point that’s all.  Coordinators have a long history of proving they belong in the pressbox.  Richt is proving what I believed he was long ago; a nice, grounded fellow who walked into a goldmine of a situation.  But if you can’t coach the goldmine often goes dry.  Spurrier should retire; period.  He and Petrino have yet to prove their college careers can be resuscitated, though Bobby hasn’t been given as much time as Steve.  The golf course is calling Steve’s name…permanently.

Then you have the the clowns in the league who are more of a circus sideshow than anything else.  The league has figured out the Hat. Say bye-bye to prominence LSU, let alone dominance.  It’ll be interesting to see how Abarn’s dipsy-doo, trickeroo offense makes it in the SEC this season, where man football determines the outcome, not cotton candy, touch football.  Can the Chiznik improve on his stellar opening 3-5 conference campaign.   My guess is 5-3 is possible, which will lead to a statue being erected. After all, mediocrity is rewarded in Lee County.   They go back to little league, where everybody gets a trophy.

Then you have Joker at Kentucky, which “joke” and football usually go hand in hand.  And Vandy is Vandy.

So overall, the state of the SEC to me is good talent wise, but the coaching beyond Alabama and Florida gets murky real quick.

Was Lane Kiffin the best thing ever for SEC football fans? Could he have left Tennessee in greater disarray? How does that make you feel?
Like I said, I really like Dooley. But I really like the “Mike Price” effect Kiffin had on UT.  Their program is in the worst shape it has been  in since Johnny Majors took over.  It will be a joy to watch.

Thinking about SEC rivals, Alabama has won two straight over Auburn. Alabama has won three straight over Tennessee. Alabama has won two straight over LSU. Who snaps the Crimson Tide’s winning streak first? Which streak continues the longest?
When it comes to rivalries, emotion jumps in and tells you “this is our year”…the basis simply being (1.) how bad you hate your rival and (2.) how tired you are of losing to them.  “Anybody can win on any given Saturday”, right?  And a few positive signs leads you to get your hopes up (see Alabama 2000-2007…listen to me people, I’ve LIVED it.).

But there are far great factors involved.  The better team usually wins; it’s just fact.  Take the Iron Bowl as your example.  “Throw out the records” is a bunch of baloney.  1984’s and 2001’s don’t occur that often.  The team with the better talent, coaches and program usually wins that and any rivalry game.  Trap games don’t come with this same disclaimer; when a team believes it can walk on the field and win, you see the impossible happen.  But rivalry games, where a team is fully aware of the stakes, and powerhouses want to beat their limping rival 100-0 if possible, are a completely different story.

Now, to answer the question, you have to consider these facts:

1. Alabama’s program is in it’s healthiest state since the 1970’s.  Can a letdown occur?  Absolutely, but understand, a rival getting “up” to play Alabama right now is like you getting “up” to fist-fight the reigning UFC Champion.

2. Which of the program has the most to gain?  Hands down, its Abarn.  A win would lend credibility to their naked emperor who everyone in orange and blue swears is wearing clothes.  But it’s much harder than that.  Urban Meyer dominated the SEC until Saban got pissed off enough to devote a year to figuring out how to stop him and Tebow.  The systematic dismantling you saw in the Georgia Dome is but a glimpse of what happens when Saban gets challenged and has a year to get ready for the next contest.  Abarn won’t be first.

3. Tennessee hates Alabama almost as much as Abarn, but Kiffin left UT in Shula/Price/probation-like turmoil.  They’ll recover sooner than later, but it’ll be a couple of years.  We’ll get to don our own version of the fear the thumb shirts before they play Rocky Top at our expense again.

4. Finally, you have LSU.  This is a program who isn’t married to their coach anymore.  Unlike Abarn or UT, they aren’t intoxicated anymore with the notion that their coach is the answer.  LSU is a great program with raunchy fans, and a tough out on at Saturday night in Baton Rouge.  LSU will be first, under a new coach, but two season from now.

What do you think of the Justin Knox situation now that the family has threatened legal action against the University?
What’s so amazing about this is that these situations occur every year in college athletics.  But because he wants to transfer to UAB and play immediately the Birmingham News is crying aloud for the poor Knox family.  Last I heard, he was still having his education paid for by the University.  That’s more than I got.  And last I heard, they weren’t barring him from playing at UAB, just making him sit out a year.  Is that fair?  And keep in mind, we’re talking about a player who averaged single digits and mediocre presence on the court.  When I read he was “considering UNC” I almost spewed my coffee.  Do the Tarheels need a ball boy?  I think emotional legal fluff like this is why we have attorneys, and I’m sure the University has plenty of good ones who will quietly help the Knox family understand the breach of contract with the education the University of Alabama has provided comes with a cost.  Welcome to life, Justin.