SEC: Bo Jackson

SEC viewer's guide: Week 13

November, 21, 2014
Nov 21
10:00
AM ET
Saturday feels a little like the calm before the storm in the SEC. There are eight games on the docket, including a couple of intriguing matchups, and yet everybody is already talking about the rivalry games next week.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Here’s a preview of this Saturday’s slate. All times ET.

Noon

Eastern Kentucky at Florida, SEC Network: It might be a bit strange to see Will Muschamp on the sideline Saturday considering he won’t be back at Florida next season, but he’s staying on to coach the team’s last two regular-season games. How will the players respond to a coach who’s on his way out? Based on Dante Fowler Jr.'s tweet this week, I'd expect them to come out and play hard for their coach. Also, the Gators become bowl eligible with a win.

South Alabama at South Carolina, ESPN3: Raise your hand if you had South Alabama becoming bowl eligible before South Carolina this season. If your hand is raised, you’re lying. Credit the job Joey Jones has done in his sixth season with the Jaguars, but don’t expect an upset on Saturday. The Gamecocks bounced back from that excruciating overtime loss to Tennessee with a solid, come-from-behind win in the Swamp last weekend.

Charleston Southern at No. 10 Georgia, SEC Network: If there was ever a week to give Nick Chubb a break, this would be it. With Todd Gurley out for the season, Chubb is once again the man in Georgia’s backfield, but fellow freshman Sony Michel is expected to return Saturday, and both he and Brendan Douglas should see plenty of carries. All three backs could be in for a big day against the Buccaneers.

[+] EnlargeBo Wallace
Troy Taormina/USA TODAY SportsBo Wallace and Ole Miss will have a tough matchup Saturday against an Arkansas defense fresh off a shutout win over LSU.
3:30 p.m.

No. 8 Ole Miss at Arkansas, CBS: After last weekend, Ole Miss still has a chance to win the SEC West. Auburn knocking off Alabama isn’t likely, but crazier things have happened. First, though, the Rebels have to take care of business Saturday against an Arkansas team that is dangerous at home and confident after winning its first conference game in over two years. The Razorbacks allowed a total of 31 points to Alabama, Mississippi State and LSU this season. That doesn’t bode well for Bo Wallace, who will be without top target Laquon Treadwell. With rain in the forecast, points might be hard to come by in this one.

4 p.m.

Western Carolina at No. 1 Alabama, SEC Network: The Alabama basketball team had trouble with the Catamounts earlier this week, but I don’t expect much of a struggle for the football team on Saturday. Western Carolina might be a “good little team,” as Nick Saban put it, but the Crimson Tide have dominated all three previous meetings and should do the same this season. If anything, it will give us another look at backup quarterback Jake Coker.

7 p.m.

Samford at No. 14 Auburn, ESPNU: There are a lot of connections between these two in-state schools. Samford coach Pat Sullivan won a Heisman Trophy at Auburn back in 1971. Samford assistant coach Kodi Burns played and coached at Auburn. And Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee spent a year at Samford before joining Gus Malzahn at Arkansas State. The game itself won’t be very entertaining, but it should get the Tigers back on track.

7:30 p.m.

No. 20 Missouri at Tennessee, ESPN: Missouri has to lose, right? There’s no way the Tigers can get back to Atlanta for the second straight season. Consider this -- Gary Pinkel’s team has won 12 of its past 14 conference games and has won nine straight road games, including seven straight in the SEC. Maybe it’s time we start taking this team seriously. The Tigers are going to have their hands full Saturday against a Tennessee team on the rise. The Volunteers have won back-to-back games with Joshua Dobbs under center, and a win over Missouri would make them bowl eligible for the first time since 2010.

Vanderbilt at No. 4 Mississippi State, SEC Network: Dan Mullen was a happy man Tuesday when the latest College Football Playoff rankings came out, as his Bulldogs were still among the four playoff teams despite losing to Alabama the week before. Now the question is: Can they stay in the top four and hold off teams such as TCU, Ohio State and Baylor? Mississippi State has two chances left to impress the committee, beginning with Saturday’s tilt against the Commodores. It’s important the Bulldogs not only win, but win big.
It's the Season, as in singular. There can be only one, which means along the way we had to make some some gargantuan choices.

This is what we set out to determine -- one great season by an individual that can be considered the best in the history of all 128 FBS schools. ESPN.com writers and editors, in consultation with sports information directors, settled on one player for each school.

As you would imagine in the SEC, there were some incredibly close calls. These are the top three, and we'd like your help to see if we got it right.


Auburn

Cam Newton, quarterback, 2010
SportsNation

Who had the best season in Auburn history?

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    46%
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    54%

Discuss (Total votes: 4,700)

Newton played just one season at Auburn, and boy, was it epic. He won the Heisman Trophy in a landslide, led the Tigers to an undefeated season and the BCS National Championship. His numbers were eye-popping: 4,369 yards of total offense, 51 touchdowns to lead the nation, 1,473 yards rushing to lead the SEC. It was, quite simply, one of the most dominant individual efforts in NCAA history.

Bo Jackson, running back, 1985
Twenty-five years before Newton, Jackson became a legend at Auburn with his intoxicating blend of speed, power and grace. He won the Heisman Trophy after running for 1,786 yards and 17 touchdowns. He averaged 6.4 yards per carry, which at the time was the best in SEC history. Jackson was recently named the greatest athlete of all time by ESPN Sport Science.


Tennessee

SportsNation

Who had the best season in Tennessee history?

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    77%
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    23%

Discuss (Total votes: 4,177)

Peyton Manning, quarterback, 1997
Few question Manning's place as the greatest Vol of all time. Heck, they even renamed one of the roads leading to Neyland Stadium, changing it to "Peyton Manning Pass." He surprised many by returning to Tennessee for his senior year and delivered an SEC championship after a 10-1 season. He threw for 3,819 yards and 36 touchdowns, which earned him the runner-up spot to Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson in the Heisman Trophy voting. Manning was, however, a consensus first-team All-American and won plenty of hardware after his memorable final season at Tennessee, including the Maxwell Award, the Davey O'Brien Award and the Johnny Unitas Award.

Reggie White, defensive end, 1983
Before he became known as the "Minister of Defense," White was a relentless, dominating defensive end for the Volunteers. After a subpar junior year (by his standards), White was a force of nature in his final season wearing Tennessee orange. He set the school's single-season record with 15 sacks, and also had nine tackles-for-loss and an interception. White recorded 100 tackles, including 72 solo stops -- ridiculous numbers for a lineman. He was named the SEC Player of the Year, a Lombardi Award finalist and was a consensus All-American.


Ole Miss

SportsNation

Who had the best season in Ole Miss history?

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    40%
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    60%

Discuss (Total votes: 3,958)

Eli Manning, quarterback, 2003
Manning holds most of the Ole Miss passing records, but his senior season stands above the rest. He threw for a school-record 3,600 yards and 29 touchdowns in leading the Rebels to a 10-3 record, a share of the SEC West crown and a Cotton Bowl victory. He was a first-team All-American and racked up several honors, including SEC Player of the Year, the Maxwell Award as the nation’s best all-around player, and the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.

Archie Manning, quarterback, 1969
The patriarch of the first family of Southern football, Archie Manning is revered in his home state. He held several of the school records that were eventually broken by son Eli. In his junior season, Archie was named SEC Player of the Year after throwing for 1,762 yards and nine touchdowns. He also ran for 502 yards and led the SEC with 14 rushing TDs. Manning won the Walter Camp Memorial Trophy, given annually to the college football player of the year. He also earned All-America and All-SEC honors and came in fourth in the 1969 Heisman Trophy voting.

You can also vote on who had the best individual season in college football history. Stay tuned throughout the week as we narrow the list from 16 to one.
SEC legends Steve Spurrier, Bo Jackson, Charles Barkley, Frank Thomas and Chucky Mullins are among the subjects of upcoming “SEC Storied” documentaries that will air on the SEC Network.

Four new documentaries will debut in a three-week period between the new network's launch on Aug. 14 and Sept. 4. The films and schedule were revealed this week at SEC media days.

Here's a quick rundown. Click the movie titles to view the trailers:

“The Stars Are Aligned”
Directed by Andy Billman
Thursday, Aug. 14, 9 p.m. ET
On the first day of the new network, a group of 14 famous figures each representing a different SEC college -- including actress Ashley Judd, musician Darius Rucker, political consultant James Carville and Governor Rick Perry -- explain how they live and die with their respective SEC schools. Some other celebrities included in the documentary are Shepard Smith, Emmitt Smith, Jonathan Papelbon, Melissa Joan Hart, Charlie Daniels, Amy Robach and Ralphie May.

“Bo, Barkley and The Big Hurt”
Directed by Larry Weitzman
Thursday, Aug. 21, 8 p.m. ET
Told through their reunion at the 2013 Iron Bowl, this documentary recounts how future Hall of Famers Charles Barkley, Bo Jackson and Frank Thomas arrived at Auburn in the 1980s and brought their teams to national relevance. It started with oversized, wisecracking basketball player Barkley's arrival on the Plains, followed by multi-sport star Jackson picking the Tigers over Alabama and continued with Thomas, who will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on July 27, initially coming to Auburn to play football when no MLB club drafted him.

“The Believer”
Co-directed by Kenny Chesney and Shaun Silva
Wednesday, Aug. 27, 8 p.m. ET
Country music star Kenny Chesney co-directed this story about South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier's long history within the conference -- growing up as a Tennessee fan, winning a Heisman Trophy at Florida and later leading the Gators to a national championship, and now as the coach who has built the Gamecocks into a national power. It will air on Aug. 27, the day before the Gamecocks host Texas A&M in the first football game on the SEC Network.

“It's Time”
Directed by Fritz Mitchell
Thursday, Sept. 4, 8 p.m. ET
Inspired by an unlikely friendship born out of tragedy, “It's Time” explains what happened after a 1989 play when Ole Miss defensive back Chucky Mullins suffered a broken neck while hitting Vanderbilt running back Brad Gaines -- a play that did not injure Gaines but left Mullins as a quadriplegic. The two became close friends over the next two years until Mullins died of a blood clot in a Memphis hospital room, with Gaines by his side.

Iron Bowl stakes have never been higher

November, 25, 2013
11/25/13
2:00
PM ET

Good luck finding a rivalry in college football as deep-rooted, passion-filled and polarizing in one state as the Iron Bowl.

Alabama and Auburn get it on every year in late November, and they spend the remaining 364 days in that state reliving the game.

It’s not just football. It’s life.

And while it’s a rivalry that has spawned scores of legendary names, games, moments and memories, it has been a while since an Iron Bowl has meant more for both sides going into the game than the one that will be played Saturday afternoon on the Plains.

[+] EnlargeJordan-Hare Stadium
Elsa Hasch/Getty ImagesThe anticipation for Saturday's Iron Bowl on The Plains is palpable.
It’s only the second time in Iron Bowl history that both teams have been ranked in the top five nationally. Alabama is No. 1 and Auburn No. 4 in the latest BCS standings.

The only other time came in 1971, when Alabama entered the game No. 3 in the Associated Press poll and Auburn was No. 5. The Crimson Tide rolled the Tigers and Heisman Trophy winner Pat Sullivan 31-7 that day to capture the SEC championship.

The buildup to that game was obviously huge, especially with both teams being unbeaten and Sullivan being announced as the Heisman winner on Thanksgiving night, two days before the game.

The same goes for the 1989 game, which was the first Iron Bowl to be played at Auburn. Previously, the game had always been played in Birmingham at Legion Field, and there are a lot of Auburn people who will tell you that there will never be a more important game in the series for them than that 1989 affair.

Of course, it helped that the Tigers beat the No. 2 Crimson Tide 30-20 in Auburn's Jordan-Hare Stadium to earn a share of the SEC championship along with Alabama and Tennessee.

One of the strangest Iron Bowls was played in 1993, when Auburn was on probation after being hit with NCAA sanctions. The game couldn’t be shown on television. So other than those at Jordan-Hare Stadium that day, the only people who saw Auburn's 22-14 win were the 40,000 or so fans who watched the game on closed-circuit television at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Alabama’s campus. Auburn's victory completed an 11-0 season under first-year coach Terry Bowden.

The game in 2010 will go down as the most electrifying comeback in the series. Cam Newton and Auburn rallied from 24 points down to win 28-27 in Tuscaloosa and save the Tigers’ national championship season.

Legendary names on both sides have left their mark in this series.

Ken Stabler's Run in the Mud in 1967 will never be forgotten, nor will Bo Jackson's going over the top in 1982 to beat Alabama in what was Bear Bryant’s last Iron Bowl.

Perhaps the most stunning finish came in the 1972 Punt, Bama, Punt game. Auburn's Bill Newton blocked a pair of punts in the fourth quarter and both were returned for touchdowns by David Langner to give Auburn a 17-16 win over No. 2 Alabama.

It’s hard to find a more thrilling game than the 1985 classic. Van Tiffin booted a 52-yard field goal in the closing seconds to give Alabama a 25-23 win. There were four lead changes in the fourth quarter alone.

So as we try to put into perspective where Saturday’s game ranks in the annals of this storied rivalry, we could go on endlessly talking about the memorable players, plays and games that the Iron Bowl has provided.

But in terms of stakes for both teams, I’m not sure we’ve seen anything quite like this.

Alabama is chasing history and looking for a third straight national championship, something that hasn’t happened in the modern era.

Imagine the thrill for Auburn to be able to end the Crimson Tide’s historic run right there on the Plains, especially when you consider the way Auburn was reeling this time a year ago.

The Tigers were putting a miserable 3-9 season to bed in which they closed out their SEC schedule with a 38-0 blowout loss to Georgia and an even more lopsided 49-0 loss to Alabama.

Now, a year later, here they are going toe-to-toe with Alabama, with the SEC’s Western Division title on the line. Not only that, but Auburn could thrust itself right into the middle of the national championship picture with a win, especially if Florida State or Ohio State stumbles in these next two weeks.

For a rivalry that has given college football junkies just about everything we could ask for over the years (and then some), this game Saturday might be the most anticipated yet because of what it means to both sides.

Let’s hope the game can match the stakes.
The ESPN.com college football reporters are on a foreign mission this week. We're venturing outside our conference footprints to see how folks in other parts of the country experience the game in their own unique ways. College football means different things to different people in different places. We're heading out there to soak it in and report back what we see, hear, smell and taste.

For those who don't know us, Adam covers Big Ten football from his Chicago base, while Edward is all over the SEC happenings from his headquarters in the ATL. We both have ties to our regions and attended schools in the leagues we now cover.

We'll trade places later this week, as Edward ventures north to Madison, Wis., for Wisconsin's game against Indiana, and Adam takes in the oldest rivalry in the Deep South: Georgia-Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium. It'll be different, eye-opening and a whole heck of a lot of fun.

Let's get started ...

Adam Rittenberg: Edward, I'll admit I'm a Yankee. I grew up first in the Northeast (New Jersey and Massachusetts), spent most of my formative years in Northern California and have called Chicago my sweet home for the past 14 years. If there's a blue state, I've probably lived in it. My experience in the South has been limited to major cities like Atlanta and New Orleans, one of my favorite places on earth. My college football roots are firmly in the Big Ten with a little Pac-12 mixed in. But after hearing about the SEC's game-day experience from you, C-Low, that Schlabach fella and others, I'm ready to see it for myself.

[+] EnlargeToomer's Corner
AP Photo/Dave MartinThe oak trees no longer stand on Toomer's Corner, but the tradition is still rich on The Plains.
Auburn is a great place to start. I'm looking forward to seeing what The Loveliest Little Village on the Plains is all about. Checking out Toomer's Corner and where the oaks once stood definitely is high on my to-do list, and I'll obviously head back if Auburn beats Georgia on Saturday. Sources tell me the lemonade isn't bad there, either. What's the War Eagle tradition all about? I'm going to find out. I'll check out the Tiger Walk -- and the Reverse Tiger Walk -- and the tailgating around Jordan-Hare. I'll talk to people who have been around Auburn football, and learn about Pat Sullivan, Zeke Smith, Bo Jackson, Terry Beasley and, yes, Cam Newton. I cover the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry, considered the most intense in all of sports. Auburn fans surely will disagree, and will tell me why Auburn-Alabama is king.

I'll leave my heavy jacket at home, but should I bring my houndstooth hat along? Kidding, kidding.

My main objective is to have fun and to identify the answer to a question you and I have often discussed. Why does college football mean so much in the South? Don't get me wrong: It resonates in Big Ten country, too, but so do other sports, both at the college and professional levels. As you'll find out, Big Ten folks take great pride in their tailgates, their stadiums and their game-day traditions, but football seems to consume the communities more in SEC territory. Why is that the case, and how that passion impact the product on the field?

Auburn, here I come. Can't wait. What are you looking forward to in Mad City?

Edward Aschoff: Well, you certainly have done your homework when it comes to Auburn. Just make sure you check out Toomer's Drugs, where you can get the best lemonade under the Mason-Dixon Line. Oh, and watch your head because Auburn's War Eagles have a tendency to go rogue sometimes. You're gonna have a blast, especially with Auburn back in the national spotlight.

I'm so excited to see Madison on game day. You know, I have some Midwestern roots. Half of my family calls Iowa City/Cedar Rapids home, so the cold weather will be nothing new to this southern gentleman. And I've been to Madison a few times in the past, but never for a game. Actually, I've never been to Madison when the sun was shining or the temperature rose above 50 ... and I was there for a few days in July!

But I couldn't care less about the weather during this trip. I'm ready to see State Street and all its game day glory. I want to see Camp Randall on a Saturday when the students are at their very best. You know, when the, uh, "water" is flowing through their veins. I'm ready to smell the brats and cheese curds early Saturday morning. As a former member of the drum line at the University of Florida, I'm excited to see Wisconsin's band during its pregame concert at Union South and during the Fifth Quarter.

[+] EnlargeWisconsin Badgers
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesWisconsin students "jump around" after the third quarter at Camp Randall Stadium.
Obviously, I plan on throwing my body around with those Mad-town students during "Jump Around," and because I grew up in a household that embraced "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," I'm dying to school some kids in the Time Warp.

I also hear there's a pretty fun call-and-response between the students during games. We all know there's plenty of room for a potty mouth on game day!

Really, I'm just thrilled that I'll be stepping out of the South and into an environment where maybe the party really is bigger than the actual football game. I'm not saying that Badgers fans don't enjoy their football, but I just don't think it will be as ceremonial as it is down South. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm sure there's plenty of fun to be had up north!

Any other advice for me, other than packing my pea coat and mittens?

Rittenberg: The ATL Kid might end up being the Mad City Kid by the end of the weekend. You sound well prepared, my friend, certainly more than our pal Schlabach, whose system shuts down any time the temperature drops below 50 degrees.

Madison is my favorite town in the Big Ten, and you seem to have a good handle on it. Any place that ties its identity to beer, meat and cheese will warm a man's heart (and possibly block it). I expect you to come home 5-10 pounds heavier. Definitely check out State Street, buy a "Sconnie" T-shirt, check out the terrace and climb Bascom Hill on campus, where ESPN's "College GameDay" set up for its broadcast before the Wisconsin-Ohio State game in 2010.

Wisconsin's tailgating scene is arguably the best in the Big Ten (Penn State is also right up there), and despite the early start time, you should spend some time on Regent Street before the game. Stop by Lucky's for sure, as I saw people dressed up as sausages there before last week's game against BYU. The parties along Breese Terrace should be buzzing before and after the game. The neighborhood just west of Camp Randall is worth checking out.

Downtown Madison offers plenty in the way of fun, but to get a true sense of Wisconsin flavor, head on out to Quivey's Grove on the outskirts of town. It has been a regular stop for me the night before Badgers games. You'll leave stuffed and extremely happy. Other than that, you have most of your bases covered. You should spend some time in the student section, for sure, and enjoy one of the better in-game atmospheres. The Fifth Quarter also is a lot of fun. And if you can spend any time with Barry Alvarez, the face of Wisconsin's program, be sure to do it.

Any advice for me for my trip to the Plains?

Aschoff: I can already feel myself changing the word "Coke" to "pop" in my vocabulary. I'm really excited about everything. I actually have a Sconnie shirt and I'm on the email list, but I'll make sure I add to my collection.

If you think I'm going to gain some pounds, have fun getting in those pants after a few days with fried southern delicacies. While you're waiting for that prime-time kickoff, make your way to Momma Goldberg's and get a plate of nachos. They're simple, but well worth the trip and serves as a great pregame meal. Don't stay too long because you have to make it to what the folks on the Plains call the original Tiger Walk. Also, take a stroll near Samford Hall, which might be the most iconic building on Auburn's campus.

You'll certainly need to make enough time to walk around the glorious tailgating spots Auburn has to offer. Yes, expect to see chandeliers hanging in tents. The campus is absolutely gorgeous and don't worry if you don't have anything to share among your new family members, the folks at Auburn will have plenty for you to choose from ... as long as you aren't wearing red and black.

After the game, you'll have plenty of places to check out. Rumor has it that Good Ol' Boys has the best steaks in town and Niffer's Place is a great local spot. If want to try and run into Sir Charles Barkley while you're in town, check out Hamilton's, which is a bistro downtown.

You can also check out Cheeseburger Cheeseburger, which is a nice throwback place at the end of Toomer's Corner. You want a nice burger and a vintage milkshake? Well, then that's your place. Make sure you get there early because it will fill up quickly.

Trying to relive your college days where you try to outlast the moon, Adam? I'd head to the War Eagle Supper Club. There's live music, a bus bar out back, it doesn't close until the sun comes up and there's a van that will take you home. I mean, it just doesn't get any better than that.

I can't stress enough how much you need to get some of that Toomer's lemonade. According to urban legend, Abe Lincoln himself once sipped it.

Rittenberg: Lincoln was a Big Ten guy: Don't forget that, Aschoff. And please send along pictures of you wearing a Sconnie shirt, eating cheese curds and playing drums. You can let Bret Bielema know what he's missing.

Well, we both have plenty on our plates (literally) as we venture into the great football wilderness. But we need your help, too, to enhance the experience. Wisconsin/Big Ten fans, if you have some advice and recommendations for Edward when he hits the ground in Madison, send them here or tweet him at @AschoffESPN. Auburn/SEC fans, you can do the same for me here or tweet me at @ESPN_BigTen. Let's see what Southern Hospitality is all about.

That's it for now. War Eagle. On Wisconsin. It's time to hit the road.
SEC commissioner Mike Slive says he wants "football expertise" on the selection committee that will pick the four teams for the College Football Playoff starting in 2014.

The most intriguing component in the whole move to a playoff remains the makeup of that committee.

Who's going to be on it? Better yet, who wants to be on it?

From an SEC perspective and a football perspective, I've come up with a few possible candidates. And, yes, I realize that just about every one of these would be perceived as having some kind of bias, which is going to be the problem in finding a panel that satisfies everybody.

They're listed in alphabetical order:

Bill Battle: The new Alabama athletic director was the head coach at Tennessee in the early 1970s and later founded Collegiate Licensing Company and built it into a money-making empire.

Charles Davis: A former defensive back at Tennessee, Davis has carved out an impressive broadcasting career at several different networks and provides analysis for both college football and the NFL.

Vince Dooley: A true legend in SEC coaching circles, Dooley is about as intertwined with SEC football as it gets. He played at Auburn and was a Hall of Fame coach at Georgia.

Jeremy Foley: He's easily the SEC athletic director with the most clout nationally, although he's already said he wouldn't be interesting in serving on the committee.

Phillip Fulmer: Granted, the Alabama fans wouldn't be thrilled, but Fulmer won 98 SEC games, tied for the fifth most in history, and he's available.

Bo Jackson: Still very involved at his alma mater, Auburn, Bo knows football as well as he played it ... and just about every other sport imaginable.

Bobby Johnson: Now retired and living in Charleston, S.C., the former Vanderbilt coach is as sharp and respected as they come and would be a terrific choice.

Roy Kramer: He might be the father of the BCS, but few men have helped to shape college football and the SEC in a positive way more so than Kramer, who's retired and living in East Tennessee.

Archie Manning: One of the SEC's greatest players, Manning still keeps close taps on college football in between watching his two famous sons play in the NFL.

Joe Pendry: A veteran of both the college and pro game, Pendry is now retired from coaching after helping to build some powerhouse offensive lines at Alabama.

Bill Polian: He's currently doing NFL analysis for ESPN, but few people anywhere know the game inside and out any better than Polian, one of the NFL's top executives for a long time.

Gene Stallings: He has ties to both Alabama and Texas A&M and played under the legendary Bear Bryant. Stallings knows what championship teams look like.

Sterling Sharpe: The former South Carolina and Pro Bowl receiver for the Packers is doing a little radio now in addition to his NFL Network duties. He would offer some keen insight in the selection of the teams.

Danny Wuerffel: The former Heisman Trophy winner at Florida would be an excellent choice. He was as smart as he was good and is one of the best people you're ever going to meet. He's also doing better after battling some health problems.
Auburn's football program is coming off of a bad week in the media world.

First, there was the report by former New York Times and Sports Illustrated writer Selena Roberts discussing grade changes, money exchanging hands and other recruiting violations conducted under the watch of former coach Gene Chizik.

Then, a six-month investigation conducted by ESPN The Magazine and "E:60" stated that a dozen players, including star running back, Michael Dyer, failed tests for synthetic marijuana during Auburn's national championship run in 2010.

Shortly after these stories ran, Chizik, former players and athletic director Jay Jacobs denied any wrongdoing. Jacobs even went as far as to write an open letter to the Auburn community disputing the ESPN The Magazine report. You can read Jacob's full letter here.

If you follow Twitter or Internet message boards, you'll notice that most of the Auburn faithful are quite upset with Roberts and ESPN The Magazine. No one likes when bad things are written about their teams, and they have every right to be upset by the negativity thrown Auburn's way. So do current players and coaches.

But you won't hear much coming from Auburn's team about reports. On the surface, players either don't care, aren't worried about any potential fallout or both. Honestly, there really isn't any other way players could handle the situation. Sure, they could be mad and sling mud at Roberts and ESPN, but they know this entire ordeal is out of their hands. They can't control what's been written, but they can control how they get through it and finish spring practice.

That's what's important to this team, especially after a disaster of a 2012 season that led to the firing of Chizik and the hiring of Gus Malzahn. Routes, schemes and technique should be on the minds of players, not the 2010 season.

Players have even said coaches haven't really addressed the allegations with them.

"You really just don't pay any attention to it," cornerback Joshua Holsey told members of the media last week. "You try to stay off the Instagrams and the Twitters and the ESPNs. You just try to block it out as much as you possibly can. It's really hard because there's so much of it, but you just try to do your best to not worry about it and focus on what you've got in front of you."

And what the Tigers have in front of them is the challenge of getting back to being a factor in the SEC West race again. Kudos to players and coaches for staying focused during a spring that has thrown a lot at them. A new staff is in town, so this team is trying to build trust while re-learning old stuff and digesting new concepts. There's no time to worry over allegations.

Even Auburn great Bo Jackson isn't sweating the negativity. Over the weekend, Jackson told reporters that he thinks attention might be the main factor behind the allegations from former players. One of those former players is defensive back Mike McNeil, who was the subject of the Roberts' report. Monday, he received a split sentence after pleading guilty to first-degree robbery.

"I don't even know the kids. I've probably met them. But it seems like to me somebody's fishing, somebody wants some attention, and they aren't getting it," Jackson said. "I actually wouldn't give those accusations the time of day, to be honest with you."

Opinions on the truth surrounding Auburn's situation will surely differ, and we may never truly get all of the answers, but that's not for these current players to worry about. Their concern should be elsewhere, and it sounds like they're doing a good job of avoiding what Chizik once deemed as "energy vampires."

A few more SEC upsets to remember

March, 28, 2013
3/28/13
4:50
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OK, I know I didn’t cover all of the memorable SEC upsets from the last 30 to 35 years in my earlier post.

And, yes, I’ve already heard from some of you about those that weren’t included.

So as promised -- and hoping that there are a few more compelling upsets to come in the NCAA tournament -- below are several more upsets involving SEC teams that fans have either tried to keep alive all these years or do their best to forget.

I’ve also included non-conference games and bowl games in this batch, and they’re listed chronologically.

Texas A&M 29, Alabama 24 (2012): The Aggies were a 13-point underdog on the road against the No. 1 Crimson Tide, and Johnny Football delivered the performance that won him the Heisman Trophy.

South Carolina 35, Alabama 21 (2010): The No. 1 Crimson Tide had their 19-game winning streak snapped before a raucous crowd at Williams-Brice Stadium. Steve Spurrier said afterward that his Gamecocks played close to perfection on offense. Naturally, South Carolina lost the next week at Kentucky.

Jacksonville State 49, Ole Miss 48, 2 OTs (2010): Ole Miss, coming off a nine-win season, opened the 2010 season by blowing a 21-point halftime lead and losing at home to the FCS Gamecocks.

Vanderbilt 17, South Carolina 6 (2007): The Gamecocks debuted at No. 6 that week in the first BCS standings, but were stunned at home by the Commodores. It was one of two SEC wins that season for Vanderbilt.

Kentucky 43, LSU 37, 3 OTs (2007): Braxton Kelly's stop of Charles Scott on fourth-and-2 in the third overtime preserved Kentucky's biggest win in decades and sent the No. 1 Tigers packing even though they rebounded to win the national title that season.

Auburn 20, Florida 17 (2007): Wes Byrum kicked a 43-yard field goal as time expired to end an 11-game winning streak for the defending national champion Gators and hand Urban Meyer his first loss in the Swamp.

Vanderbilt 24, Georgia 22 (2006): Bryant Hahnfeldt kicked a 33-yard field goal with seven seconds left to cap a game-winning 65-yard drive for the Commodores, whose only other wins that season were over Duke, Tennessee State and Temple.

Mississippi State 38, Florida 31 (2004): It’s an upset Ron Zook remembers all too well. It cost him his job.

Auburn 23, Florida 20 (2001): The No. 1 Gators were a three-touchdown favorite and had won their first five games by a 244-45 margin. The unranked Tigers, though, sent Jordan-Hare Stadium into a frenzy when Damon Duval booted the game-winning 44-yard field goal with 10 seconds to play.

Mississippi State 47, Florida 35 (2000): The No. 3 Gators had their 72-game winning streak against unranked teams snapped in Starkville as the Bulldogs rolled up 351 yards on the ground.

Arkansas 28, Tennessee 24 (1999): The Vols were No. 3 and pointing toward a run at a second straight national title, but Clint Stoerner and the Hogs exacted revenge from the heartbreaking loss the year before in Knoxville when Stoerner stumbled and fumbled. When it was over, the Hogs’ fans tore down the goalposts and paraded them up and down Dickson Street.

Georgia 20, Auburn 16 (1986): It was a bitter home loss for the No. 8 Tigers and cost them a share of the SEC championship. It’s a game that’s probably best remembered for the water cannons at Jordan-Hare Stadium being turned onto the Georgia fans while they celebrated on the field after the game.

Miami (Ohio) 21, LSU 12 (1986): The eventual SEC-champion and Sugar Bowl-bound Tigers opened the season by taking down No. 7 Texas A&M and rose to No. 8 in the polls. The very next week, they were ambushed at home by Miami (Ohio).

Tennessee 38, Auburn 20 (1985): The Vols knocked eventual Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson out of the game and blistered the No. 1 Tigers in Knoxville behind four touchdown passes from Tony Robinson.

Georgia 10, Texas 9 (1984): The Bulldogs capped the 1983 season by upsetting No. 2 Texas in the Cotton Bowl and knocking the previously unbeaten Longhorns out of the national title picture. Vince Dooley said that Texas defense was one of the best he’s ever seen.

Tulane 31, LSU 28 (1982): It’s the last time Tulane has beaten LSU, which was ranked No. 7 entering the game and would go on to play in the Orange Bowl that season.

Georgia Tech 24, Alabama 21 (1981): This ranks right up there with some of the more improbable upsets in history involving SEC teams. Alabama was ranked No. 2, but managed to lose in Birmingham to a Georgia Tech team that finished 1-10 that season -- the lone win coming over the Tide.

Memorable SEC upsets

March, 28, 2013
3/28/13
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In honor of Florida Gulf Coast's stunning run in the NCAA basketball tournament, I started thinking back to some of the biggest SEC football upsets of my lifetime.

The mid- to late-1970s is about as far back as I go, but I’ve gone back and picked out some of the more memorable ones over the past 30 or 35 years.

These are all SEC vs. SEC matchups, and I’ll rank the top 5 as well as five more that just missed the cut. I’ll come back later Thursday with a few more, including some upsets in non-conference and bowl games.

Here goes:

1. Mississippi State 6, Alabama 3 (1980): The No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide had won 28 straight (and an SEC-record 27 straight conference games) and were heavily favored against the unranked Bulldogs. But Mississippi State played suffocating defense that day in Jackson, Miss., and snuffed out a late Alabama drive. The Crimson Tide had moved to the Bulldogs’ 4, but were out of timeouts. Alabama quarterback Don Jacobs took the snap and started down the line of scrimmage to the right side. Mississippi State’s Tyrone Keys shot through and tackled Jacobs, forcing a fumble that Billy Jackson recovered to seal one of the greatest wins in Mississippi State history. Alabama’s wishbone attack, which had been averaging more than 300 yards per game, mustered just 116 rushing yards against the Mississippi State defense. The Crimson Tide lost four fumbles in the game. And in a classy gesture afterward, Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant visited the Mississippi State locker room to congratulate the Bulldogs on the win.

2. LSU 17, Alabama 13 (1993): The No. 5 Crimson Tide had gone 31 straight games without a loss and were coming off an unbeaten national championship season. Inexplicably, they lost at home to an unranked LSU team that had lost five of its first seven games that season and finished 5-6. The Tigers were a 24-point underdog that day and in the midst of their fifth straight losing season. Alabama starting quarterback Jay Barker was out with an injured shoulder, and the Tide -- using three different quarterbacks -- threw four second-half interceptions. Coach Gene Stallings finally went to David Palmer at quarterback late in the third quarter, and “The Deuce” directed the Tide on a pair of scoring drives. But LSU held on for the win, and Stallings said afterward that he waited too long to go to Palmer, who was normally a receiver.

[+] EnlargeTim Tebow
AP Photo/Phil SandlinTim Tebow bows his head in dejection after his No. 4 Gators lost 31-30 at home against Mississippi on Sept. 27, 2008.
3. Ole Miss 31, Florida 30 (2008): The Rebels would go on to have a very good season, but ventured into the Swamp that day as a 22-point underdog with losses to Wake Forest and Vanderbilt during the first month of the season. Nobody gave them a chance. The Gators were ranked No. 4 and riding high with Tim Tebow running the show. But the Rebels stuffed him on fourth-and-short late to pull off an improbable road win. The game is best remembered for Tebow’s emotional speech afterward, when he promised that nobody would work harder than him and his teammates the rest of the season. The Gators would go on to win their next 22 games in a row, including the 2008 national championship.

4. Auburn 23, Georgia 23 (1994): Even though it wasn’t a loss, it sure felt like one for No. 3 Auburn, which had its 20-game winning streak under Terry Bowden stopped. The Bulldogs were unranked and had lost at home to Vanderbilt a few weeks earlier. But they rallied from 14 points down on the road thanks to a couple of Eric Zeier touchdown passes and survived a missed 44-yard field goal attempt by Auburn’s Matt Hawkins with 13 seconds to play. That was Ray Goff’s next-to-last season at Georgia, which finished 6-4-1 and didn’t play in a bowl game. It didn’t get any better the next week for Auburn. The Tigers, who were on NCAA probation, lost to Alabama.

5. Alabama 9, Tennessee 6 (1990): The Vols were ranked No. 3, coming off a 45-3 demolition of Florida and very much in the national title picture. Alabama had started the season with three straight losses, the first season with Stallings as coach, and was unranked entering the game. But Alabama’s defense stole the show that day before a stunned crowd at Neyland Stadium and shut down Tennessee’s high-powered offense. With the game tied at 6-6, the Vols were able to get into a position for a 50-yard field goal attempt with 1:35 to play, but Alabama’s Stacy Harrison blocked it. The ball scooted more than 20 yards the other way to the Tennessee 37, and Phillip Doyle won it for the Crimson Tide with a 47-yard field goal on the last play of the game to make it five in a row against the Vols.

The five that just missed the cut:

Ole Miss 22, Alabama 12 (1988): Yep, it's the infamous brick through the window game. An irate fan tossed a brick through the office window of Alabama coach Bill Curry after the Rebels stunned the No. 12-ranked Tide in Tuscaloosa. It was Ole Miss’ first win ever against Alabama in the state of Alabama, and spoiled the dedication of the new Paul “Bear” Bryant Museum. Alabama didn’t complete a pass that day.

Alabama 17, Auburn 15 (1984): The Alabama fans refer to it as the “Wrong Way Bo” Iron Bowl. Auburn coach Pat Dye elected to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1 late in the fourth quarter, but Bo Jackson went the wrong way on the play. Alabama’s Rory Turner forced Brent Fullwood out of bounds on the sweep, and the Tide held on to beat the No. 11-ranked Tigers and knock them out of the Sugar Bowl. It was a sweet end for Alabama to its first losing season since 1957.

LSU 31, Tennessee 20 (2001): The No. 2-ranked Vols were coming off a huge win at Florida and poised to go to the Rose Bowl to face Miami for the national championship, but backup quarterback Matt Mauck rallied the Tigers in the second half after filling in for the injured Rohan Davey and gave Nick Saban his first of two SEC titles in Baton Rouge.

Georgia 24, Florida 3 (1985): The Bulldogs romped past the No. 1-ranked Gators with freshman running back backs Keith Henderson and Tim Worley both rushing for 100 yards. It was the only game Florida lost all season. The Gators were ineligible to play in the Sugar Bowl because of NCAA sanctions, but finished No. 5 in the final Associated Press poll.

Arkansas 25, Tennessee 24 (1992): The Vols were ranked No. 4 and had already beaten Florida, Georgia and LSU. The Hogs opened that season, their first in the SEC, by losing to The Citadel, resulting in the firing of Jack Crowe as coach. Joe Kines took over as interim coach and guided a 1-4 Arkansas team to a stunning comeback win against the heavily favored Vols in Knoxville. Todd Wright won it for the Hogs with a 41-yard field goal with two seconds left.
We've ranked our top five individual seasons in the SEC over the past 50 years, and I'm sure everybody agrees.

It was close for the top spot, but Auburn winning the national championship in 2010 nudged Cam Newton ahead of Tim Tebow.

Here's a look at 10 other outstanding individual seasons that just missed the cut. They're listed in alphabetical order:

Shaun Alexander, RB, Alabama, 1999: His 24 touchdowns that season remains the SEC record, and he also rushed for 1,383 yards in leading Alabama to the SEC championship. Alexander scored four touchdowns in the 40-39 overtime win against Florida.

[+] EnlargeRandall Cobb
Mark Zerof/US PresswireRandall Cobb set the SEC record with 2,396 all-purpose yards during the 2010 season.
Randall Cobb, WR, Kentucky, 2010: He set the SEC record with 2,396 all-purpose yards and accounted for 16 touchdowns -- seven receiving, five rushing, three passing and one on a punt return. With 424 rushing yards and 1,017 receiving yards, Cobb just missed becoming the first player in SEC history to rush for 500 yards and have 1,000 receiving yards in the same season.

Chris Gaines, LB, Vanderbilt, 1987: An All-American for the Commodores, Gaines was a tackling machine and racked up a school-record 214 tackles in 1987, including 136 solo stops. He had 37 total tackles in a single game against Tulane. Gaines also tied for the team lead with nine tackles for loss that season.

Terry Hoage, S, Georgia, 1982: He led the nation with 12 interceptions, which has remained the SEC record for nearly 30 years, and also collected 101 total tackles as the rover in Georgia's defense. Frank Broyles said Hoage was an "end, safety and cornerback combined."

Bo Jackson, RB, Auburn, 1985: In romping his way to the Heisman Trophy, Jackson rushed for 1,786 yards, third all-time in the SEC, and 17 touchdowns. Despite carrying the ball nearly 300 times, he averaged an astonishing 6.4 yards per carry.

Peyton Manning, QB, Tennessee, 1997: After returning to school for his senior season, Manning made it count with the first of back-to-back SEC championships for the Vols. He passed for 3,819 yards and 36 touchdowns that season.

Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas, 2007: His 1,830 rushing yards that season rank second all-time in the SEC to Herschel Walker's 1,891 yards in 1981. McFadden, a two-time Heisman Trophy runner-up, also set the SEC record for all-purpose yards that season with 2,310, a record that was broken in 2010 by Kentucky's Randall Cobb.

Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU, 2010: Cam Newton wasn't the only SEC player who had a sensational season in 2010. Peterson won both the Thorpe and Bednarik awards while establishing himself as the top cornerback in the country. He also returned two punts for touchdowns, and was one of the nation's leaders in kickoff return average.

Jake Scott, S, Georgia, 1968: One of the best all-around athletes to ever play in the SEC, Scott had 10 interceptions, which tied the SEC record at the time, and also led the SEC that season with a 12.6-yard average on punt returns. He was named the SEC's Most Valuable Player, and led the Bulldogs to the SEC championship.

Reggie White, DT, Tennessee, 1983: The "Minister of Defense" racked up 100 total tackles and 24 tackles for loss, including 15 sacks. His school sack record has stood for nearly 30 years, and he had 72 unassisted tackles, which is unheard of for an interior defensive lineman.

Lunchtime links

April, 24, 2012
4/24/12
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Time for links.

Recapping Auburn's spring game

April, 16, 2012
4/16/12
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Auburn’s annual A-Day spring game Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium before a crowd of 43,427 was an offense versus defense scrimmage, and the offense wound up winning 36-27 based on a scoring format devised by the coaches.

The offense received points for touchdowns, field goals, plays of 15 yards or longer and consecutive first downs. The defense received points for touchdowns, turnovers, sacks and three-and-outs.

Auburn coach Gene Chizik downplayed the stats from the game, but sophomore quarterback Kiehl Frazier was named the offensive MVP, defensive end Dee Ford the defensive MVP and punter Steven Clark the special teams MVP.

The Auburn coaches were generally pleased with the way the Tigers ran the ball, and fullback Jay Prosch has been a huge addition to the running game. Prosch transferred in from Illinois and has been a one-man bulldozer in the way he’s cleared running lanes for the Auburn running backs.

The most impressive drive of the scrimmage came with Frazier at quarterback, and it covered 80 yards in 11 plays and consumed more than seven minutes. Corey Grant capped the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run.

Frazier finished 7-of-9 for 92 yards and showed off his ability to scramble around and make plays. Still, Chizik said the quarterback competition would extend into the summer. Clint Moseley was plagued by a sore throwing shoulder for much of the spring.

“We’re not ready to pull the trigger (on a decision) any time soon that I see,” Chizik said.

The best news for the defense was that it generated consistent pressure, led by Ford and LaDarius Owens. The Auburn defensive ends combined to produce five sacks.

"We have a couple of guys that have really stepped forward in rushing the passer. They're going to be difficult to block in certain situations off the edge," Chizik said.

You can get stats, photos and quotes from Auburn's spring game by going here.

Prior to the game, Auburn unveiled statues of its three Heisman Trophy winners -- Bo Jackson, Cam Newton and Pat Sullivan.

Bo Jackson chatting today

March, 22, 2012
3/22/12
2:00
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We have a real celebrity taking over ESPN's chat today.

Former Auburn great Bo Jackson will be live to answer all your questions at 4 p.m. ET. The Heisman-winning running back will stop by to talk about being a two-sport star, as well as his charity work.

From April 24-28, Jackson will ride 300 miles across the state of Alabama in his Bo Bikes Bama ride to raise money for the Governor's Emergency Relief Fund to help the victims of the state's deadly tornado outbreak in 2011. Jackson hopes to raise $1 million for his ride.

This might be showing my (young) age, but I once did a report on Jackson when I was in elementary school. And yes, I did get an A.

Stop by and chat it up with one of the SEC's best this afternoon, whether you're an Auburn fan or otherwise.
Auburn's A-Day festivities just got a little more exciting.

The school will unveil statues commemorating its three Heisman Trophy winners -- Pat Sullivan, Bo Jackson and Cam Newton -- in a ceremony prior to the Tigers' spring game on April 14.

The ceremony will take place on the east side of Jordan-Hare Stadium, where each statue will be permanently located. Fans will get a glimpse of the trio in person, too, as Sullivan, Jackson and Newton are scheduled to be in attendance for the event.

Sullivan won the award in 1971, Jackson in 1985 and Newton in 2010.

Newton is coming off his rookie season in the NFL with the Carolina Panthers, in which he set a rookie NFL record for 4,051 passing yards and was named the named the Offensive Rookie of the Year by The Associated Press.

Counting down the 'Yards To Glory'

August, 2, 2011
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Today's installment of our "Yards To Glory" project features touchdown plays from 80 to 61 yards.

Once again, there's a distinct SEC flavor.

Here's a look:

79. Dunn Deal
Warrick Dunn silences crowd at The Swamp
Nov. 11, 1993: In front of what was then the largest crowd (85,507) to witness a football game (professional or college) in the state of Florida, and facing third-and-10 from Florida State's 21, freshman Warrick Dunn, who was a second option for quarterback Charlie Ward on the play, silenced The Swamp when his 79-yard catch-and-run put the Seminoles up 33-21 over Florida late in a win that propelled the Noles into the national championship.
-- Edward Aschoff

77. Johnny On The Spot
Johnny Rodgers' punt return leads to national title
Jan. 1, 1972: Defending champion Nebraska entered the game undefeated staring across at No. 2 Alabama and Bear Bryant, carrying an 11-0 record. This one was over quickly, though, courtesy of a Johnny Rodgers 77-yard punt return on the final play of the first quarter that put Nebraska up 14-0 on the way to a 38-6 win for a national title. The Huskers led 28-0 at the half after adding 14 points in the second quarter.
-- David Ubben

75. Tommie Boy
Tommie Frazier breaks tackles and Florida spirits
Jan. 2, 1996: Tommie Frazier's stampede through Florida epitomized Nebraska's physical mauling of the Gators in a Fiesta Bowl matchup that doubled as a de facto title game. It was a simple option right at the end of the third quarter, with Frazier keeping and cutting upfield. He encountered roughly half the Florida defense, but the Cornhuskers quarterback kept his legs driving and broke free for 75 yards. On TV, Jim Nantz sounded as though he'd given up on the play until Frazier suddenly and incomprehensibly was in the clear. "How many tackles can one man break?" Nantz shouted.
-- Pat Forde

71. Bo Knows
Bo Jackson powers Auburn to SEC title
Dec. 3, 1983: A year after leading Auburn to a victory over rival Alabama with a last-minute touchdown run in the Iron Bowl, Tigers running back Bo Jackson ran for 256 yards and two touchdowns in a 23-20 win over the Crimson Tide in 1983. Alabama, in its first season under coach Ray Perkins, took a 20-16 lead late in the second half. But then Jackson scored on a 71-yard touchdown run, giving the Tigers their first SEC title since 1957 and a Sugar Bowl appearance.
-- Mark Schlabach

61. Southern Comfort
Johnny Mack Brown seals Alabama win in Rose Bowl
Jan. 1, 1926: Alabama wasn't the first or even third choice for the 1926 Rose Bowl, and even after Alabama accepted the invitation, many thought bringing a team from the South would hurt the game's tradition. Alabama trailed Washington 12-0 at halftime but scored three touchdowns in the third quarter. Pooley Hubert's 61-yard touchdown pass to Johnny Mack Brown cemented Alabama's 20-19 victory and is considered by some to be the play that elevated Southern football.
-- Edward Aschoff

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