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Plainslinks laughs last


So, how’s that working out for you? When the Outback Bowl announced it had matched up Auburn and Northwestern, the cries of “unfair!” from SEC quarters were predictable. But what took me off guard was the widespread accusation that bringing together a pair of evenly-matched teams with up-tempo, high-octane offenses somehow equaled “not a great game.” (Attention Mark Schlabach and Stewart Mandel: you both thought watching Pitt take on North Carolina would be more thrilling? Really?)

One 38-35 instant classic (and two sold-out ticket allotments) later, how do you think the folks at the Outback feel about their decision?

ESPN recorded a 7.1 rating in the Chicago designated market area (DMA) for the Outback Bowl, the network’s highest Chicago rating for a bowl game. The previous DMA record was Northwestern’s appearance in the 2000 Alamo Bowl, which attracted a 5.2 rating.

Nationally, the 2010 Outback Bowl attracted a 4.06 rating, a strong number for a 10 a.m. CT kickoff. The national rating is a 32% increase over the 2009 Outback Bowl between Iowa and South Carolina, and the bowl’s highest rating in four years.

The Wildcats’ exciting fourth quarter rally from a 14 point deficit attracted additional viewers to the broadcast, which held a 5.8 rating at the end of regulation and a 6.3 rating in overtime.

So, let’s see: enthusiastic ticket sales, a TV ratings bonanza, arguably the most exciting and memorable bowl game of the year, major buzz in one of the country’s largest metropolitan areas … Yeah, the Outback totally should have grabbed Kentucky and paired them with Wisconsin. Better kick the bums out while we still can.

‘Krootin. There’s a lot going on out there at the moment–Shon Coleman’s tearin’ it up at the Army All-American game (great news … if Auburn can keep him), Trovon Reed may take an LSU visit (fine by me, can’t argue with being sure about his decision)–but the most intriguing snippet I can offer that’s not behind a paywall is this bit from AuburnUndercover:

Probables (we expect these to sign with Auburn)

DE Corey Lemonier, Hialeah (Fla.); DT Jeffrey Whitaker, Warner Robins (Ga.); DE Ken Adams, Copiah-Lincoln CC.

Whitaker and Lemonier? Both of these guys would be huge coups: Whitaker‘s a consensus four-star, All-American, Rivals top-200 hoss in the middle, one that Georgia’s desperately trying to keep in state; Lemonier, though, might be even more coveted, as a top-100 overall top-10 DE with serious interest from Florida, and offers from Alabama, LSU, Florida St., etc. And they’re both “probable” to Auburn? (Beaver expects both to sign with Auburn, FWIW.) Wicked; if there’s any knock to be made against Auburn’s recruiting class as it stands today, it’s that it doesn’t seem to have nearly as much defensive punch as offensive … but guys like Lemonier and Whitaker would go a long way towards rectifying that situation.

I believe the appropriate word here is “LOL.” I’ve never gone in much for the feverish “got 12?” debunking some Auburn fans enjoy, mostly because

a) I couldn’t care less how many they’ve got, honestly; what some half-baked computer system from the ’60s has to say about something that happened in the ’30s has zero impact on what’s happening in 2010

b) it’s not even worth debating; no rational college football fan save those in crimson (a paradox, I know) is ever going to look at a season like 1941 and say “sure, that’s legit.”

So I find it boring. But that said, yeah, I got a kick out of this:

This much is certain: The 1982 media guide, the last for Bryant, lists 1934 as the only pre-Bryant national championship, adding it in a footnote of Alabama’s SEC history. In the year-by-year results in the ’82 media guide, only Bryant’s six national titles were listed.

Atcheson and Watson said it’s important to put Alabama’s claim of 12 in context because other schools have added debated championships, too.

“I tried to make Alabama football look the best it could look and just make it as great as it could possibly be,” Atcheson said. “I was a competitor myself with the other schools, and what they bragged about and boasted about, I wanted people to know the best about my school.”

Who these mysterious other schools are, of course, is never mentioned. I ought to be above typing things like “typical ‘Bama,” but still, I mean, isn’t this story absolutely typical ‘Bama? Some doof in sports information just wakes up and decides to count a bunch of retroactive titles (some awarded by entities no more authoritative than, say, Richard Billingsley) and now it’s gospel truth worthy of being defended at sword-point.

Whatever. Like I said, it’s their sandbox, they can build whatever they want in it. I should have just linked to Orson’s response and have been done with it. (More on the Tide and tonight’s game later this afternoon.)

No news is good news. As more prominent SEC players declare for the NFL draft, it’s worth noting that it’s all quiet on the Lee Ziemba front. I’m not expecting Ziemba to bolt–when your pro career is likely to be as short and brutal as the average NFL career is these days, why start it a year early for almost certainly less money than you’ll get a year later?–but as long as it’s a possibility, it’s nice to hear the sounds of silence from his corner.

Etc. More beat writer lookin’ ahead: Evan Woodbery examines the RBs and QBs, Andy Bitter the WRs/TEs … Burnt Orange Nation picks apart the Tide’s final drive against Auburn, and if the most interesting thing is their praise for Coleman, I’m not using the word “pick” here by accident … In case you missed it, no conference (Mountain West included) was more impressive this bowl season than the Big 10; it’s true … Morgan Jennings could return soon for the Lady Tigers … Jason Campbell finally gets mad.

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