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SEC mailbag: On 'white' linebackers

10/29/2010

It’s SEC mailbag time, meaning, “What’s on your mind?”:

Barry in Birmingham, Ala., writes: What are your thoughts on Channing Crowder's comments about it being a disgrace to Florida football that the Gators’ quarterback, John Brantley, was run down by a “white linebacker.”

Chris Low: The “white linebacker” Crowder was referring to was Mississippi State’s Chris White, who just happens to be having an All-SEC season for the Bulldogs. He’s third in the league with 12 tackles for loss. That’s my first thought. My second thought is that I assume Crowder was trying to be funny. If he wasn’t, my third thought would be that any time you start stereotyping somebody because of race, you’re going down a dangerous and close-minded path. Crowder, who played at Florida and is now a linebacker with the Miami Dolphins, was also quoted as saying, “If a white linebacker is running down your running quarterback, we don’t have a chance.” The problem with that intellectual gem from Crowder is that Brantley’s not a running quarterback, and nobody ever said that he was. Of course, watching some of the things Florida has asked him to do this season, you wonder if the Gators’ coaches got the memo that Brantley’s strength was supposed to be throwing the football. But back to Crowder for a moment. He never played under Urban Meyer, and something says he and Meyer won’t be consulting any time soon about the direction of the Gators’ offense. And one other thing: Here’s betting White runs down a few more players this season -- both white and black. Then again, I didn’t know we were keeping count.

Rodney in Gainesville, Fla., writes: If Florida loses to Georgia, how can Florida get to the SEC Championship game? Thank you.

Chris Low: The short answer is they can’t. Running through all the different tiebreaker scenarios, Florida would be eliminated from the East race if the Gators lose Saturday to Georgia. The same goes for Georgia, too. If the Bulldogs lose Saturday in Jacksonville, they’re out of the East race and won’t be able to make it to Atlanta regardless of what happens the rest of the way. So from the standpoint of playing for an SEC championship, it’s do-or-die for both teams on Saturday. Oddly enough, Georgia could still win the East by winning over Florida and then losing at Auburn, but only if South Carolina loses two of its last three SEC games and one of those losses is to Florida. In other words, if Georgia beats Florida on Saturday and South Carolina loses at home to Arkansas on Nov. 6 and then on the road at Florida on Nov. 13, the Bulldogs would be the East representative in Atlanta regardless of whether or not they beat Auburn on Nov. 13. Whew, I’ve got a headache going through all those scenarios, but welcome to the East race this season.

David in Atlanta writes: Chris, you can answer this after the WLOCP tomorrow, but has Kris Durham played himself into the NFL? The guy's been clutch and does nothing but make some great catches. Love the blog, and I visit more times per day than my boss would care to hear about.

Chris Low: Thanks for reading. Just don’t get sideways with the boss. As for Durham, I concur. In fact, if I were doing an All-Underrated team in the SEC this season, he would be one of my first five choices. I know the Georgia coaches have liked Durham all along. There were just the injury concerns about him coming into this season, but I absolutely think Durham will get a shot in the NFL. It’s hard to say at this point where he might be drafted. But a 6-5, 212-pound receiver who runs the way Durham does and can go up and get the football is always going to have a place in pro football. Durham will run a lot faster times at the combine than people think he will, too. He’s averaging 20.6 yards per catch, and I’ve seen him hold onto several balls this season after taking major blows. He’s been a rock for the Bulldogs.

Jared in Greenville, S.C., writes: Avid fan. English and Journalism teacher. You missed Stephen Garcia as “Jekyll and Hyde” in the favorite Halloween costume category. Keep the blog rockin'.

Chris Low: That’s priceless. You’re right. How could I miss that one? The Gamecocks definitely need the “Jekyll” version, or better yet, the “Alabama” version of Garcia to show up the rest of the way if they’re going to be in Atlanta on Dec. 4.

Darrin in Chicago writes: How much of a homer can you be, Low? Peyton Manning is in your “trinity,” but Tim Tebow isn’t? How about Danny Wuerffel? Peyton never beat Florida, never won a national title or a Heisman. He was (and continues to be) a choke artist in big games. Tebow and Wuerffel dominated their rivals. Each won a Heisman and a title. Tebow gets an assist for No. 2. They both dominated the college football landscape for two-plus seasons, and Peyton barely squeaked out on SEC title during his tenure in Knoxville. Give me one good reason he should be ranked above either of them. Weak sauce, dude.

Chris Low: First off, in my job, everybody thinks you’re a homer of every other school but the one they cheer for. It comes with the territory when you’re covering the SEC. Secondly, you’re probably right. I should have made it my “holy quartet” or even my “holy quintet” when I made that statement, because Tebow is easily one of the best players I’ve seen play in this league. Truthfully, there have been so many great players in this league over the past 30 years that Tebow, Manning and Walker might come to mind when I’m writing one piece, and a week later, maybe it’s Jackson, Derrick Thomas and Reggie White and then six months later it’s Cornelius Bennett, Emmitt Smith and Walker. Thirdly, I’d hardly call one of the top four or five quarterbacks (Manning) to ever play the game a choke artist. And finally, the three players I think are the best to ever play in this league might differ from what you or any number of people think, but that doesn’t make anybody wrong or right. There are no wrong or right answers here. Besides, I never said they were the three most accomplished players I’d ever seen in the SEC or the three players who won the most titles. I said simply that they were the three best players I’d ever seen in this league. I also tend to believe that Ted Williams was the greatest hitter who ever lived … but he never won a World Series championship.

Robert in Franklin, Tenn., writes: Do you have to write something highly negative or say something on the radio highly negative every single day about Tennessee’s football program? That is what you have done since you joined ESPN. No kidding.

Chris Low: Robert, please see above. Most of the fans in this league either think I’m a homer of one team or go out of my way to hate on their team. Hey, the passion of the fans in the SEC is a big reason why this league is the envy of the rest of college football. As for Tennessee, I have a lot of respect for what Derek Dooley is trying to do there, the way he’s going about it and the magnitude of the job he faces. He inherited a mess. There are several to blame for it being a mess, and Dooley is not one of them. I’ve said repeatedly that it won’t be fair to evaluate him until the 2012 season at the earliest. The truth is that it’s been a pretty miserable run for the Vols when you consider the way the program has fallen off, the NCAA poking around in football and basketball and Lane Kiffin coming in with his whole “street cred” approach and embarrassing the university. When that happens, sometimes the line is blurred between what’s negative and what’s real.