Goin’ bowlin’. The big news around SEC country is the shake-up in the league’s bowl tie-ins that broke yesterday–the Gator Bowl will now play host to yet another SEC-Big 10 matchup. Rather than try to finagle yet another SEC team into eligibility (I’m not sure the math would even make it possible) a year after the SEC failed to fill two of its pre-approved slots, the SEC and the long-lived scrappy underdog Indepedence Bowl have ended their 15-year partnership.The changes take effect in 2010.
For the SEC, exchanging the Independence for the Gator is an obvious win. One is a low-level early-December bowl in a Louisiana backwater; the other is a nationally-broadcast New Year’s Day event in the largest city in Florida. Payout, attendance, prestige … the Gator provides all of these in spades and spades when compared to the homely Independence.
But from the standpoint of the fan, I’m not so sure this is such a positive development. For starters, the Gator might not even move ahead of the Chik-Fil-A bowl in the SEC pecking order, meaning that Vanderbilt is now within striking distance of a New Year’s Day bowl game. That’s just … wrong. Plus, the traditionalist in me who’s loved both having Shreveport as a kind of byword for league mediocrity and having the SEC provide its support to a venerable, small-town civic institution hates seeing the Independence Bowl unceremoniously dumped.
But worst of all is seeing the SEC and Big 10 paired up yet again on New Year’s, making the “SEC-Big 10 Challenge” joke that’s been floating around for years even less funny and more like plain old reality. Was anyone really clamoring for an SEC-Big 10 tripleheader? I don’t know any SEC fans that were, and the Big 10 fans might be even less enamored with it. Starting next year the SEC’s tie-in opponents break down like so:
Big 10: 3 (Cap One, Outback, Gator); Big 12: 1 (Cotton); ACC: 2 (Chik-Fil-A, Music City); C-USA 1 (Liberty); Big East 1 (papajohns.com).
Would it really hurt so much to spread the love a little bit more? Oh well.
TWER. Some good stuff ’round these parts: Thor Burk’s weekly viewing guide is available for your reading pleasure in advance of tonight’s big Missouri-Nebraska matchup and the biggest Saturday of the season to-date. Thor’s also provided his weekly update on how our beloved ex-Tigers are faring in the NFL.
John Magruder updates his graph-o-matics and spread sheets through the Tennessee game, but before that he also discusses how Auburn is progressing through the “Chizik hire-archy”:
A football team has a similar sort of hierarchy, and the more I look at this year’s tiger squad, the more I see that each of these needs is being fulfilled in succession. Our first game against Louisiana Tech proved – if nothing else – that Auburn has the necessary tools at her disposal to field an effective football team. We could be said to be sound of mind and body, even if a WAC team wouldn’t be stiff enough to prove much beyond that. Against Mississippi State, we proved that we could measure up not just against WAC contenders, but also against SEC competition. The West Virginia game removed any shadow of doubt that we were Auburn again – family again. And after a brief tune-up against Ball State, we traveled to Neyland Stadium to face the defense that fought like hell against the Gators, a tough unit with a tougher man commanding them. Auburn stared Tennessee down, finally earning a measure of esteem, and is now validated in the polls for the first time in almost a year. And we certainly have earned it. We’ve proved that we can hang with explosive offenses and rock-solid defenses, and we’ve come out on top each time. It’s time to recognize.
Yes. There’s also time for one last anti-Tennessee takedown from John Comer. It’s been a fun couple of weeks, hasn’t it? But speaking of the Vols …
Playing nice. We’ve poked a freaking ton of fun at Tennessee this past several days: their coach, their quarterback, their fans who can mistake Kiffin’s bombast for actual accomplishment. But it’s only fair to point out–as Braves and Birds is–that Kiffin is accomplishing something on the recruiting trail, and that the Vols aren’t likely to be so poorly coached as to follow in the all-recruiting-no-production footsteps of the Zook and Orgeron regimes. (I have to wonder, of course, if the quarterback position isn’t going to sink the whole ship–a spindly true frosh QB in front of next year’s rebuilt o-line seems like a bad idea. 2011 better be good.)
As for the Vols’ fans, can’t say anything bad about terrific breakdowns like this one at Rocky Top Talk of Hardesty’s fourth-quarter touchdown. Let’s try to stay out of each other’s way next time, eh, gentlemen?
BlAUgosphere. Rob Pate says Auburn’s biggest enemy Saturday is, in fact, the league television executives:
First morning game. Totally different atmosphere and feeling running out to play a football game in the AM vs PM. Even worse on the road. The entire itinerary is turned on its head. Wake up call will come around 5:30. Meetings are abbreviated, and even the pregame meal is altered. Then, in the second half of the game, you’re hungry because you haven’t eaten since 7:00 am (and no one feels like eating much of anything a few hours before you lay your guts on the line in an SEC battle). But you force-feed yourself because if you don’t eat you won’t have the energy to make it through the game. I bet we haven’t practiced in the AM since preseason camp. This will be our largest obstacle this week, even greater than who we’re playing.
Greaaaaaaaaat. Elsewhere, Auburntron has both some sweet Auburn art and some sweet Auburn stats comparing the current undefeated Tigers to past undefeated Tigers. And at Track ‘Em, Acid touches on several topics as we creep closer to the Arkansas game.
Charts and Analysis for the Tennessee game possibly up this afternoon, possibly up first thing tomorrow a.m.