Tide clinches SEC West, seals Chizik’s fate

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Georgia did its part on rivalry Saturday, easily taking care of business in dropping in-state rival Georgia Tech.  A few hours later, Alabama easily did the same.

And, in all likelihood, put the final nail in the coffin of their in-state rival for good measure.

Entering the game as anywhere between 31- and 35-point favorites, the Tide did the expected, rolling to a 42-0 halftime lead over the hapless and helpless Tigers en route to 49-0 woodshedding for the ages.  It was the worst margin of defeat for either side since Alabama dropped 55 on Auburn while shutting out the Tigers way back in 1948.

And it could’ve been an even more of an historical shellacking had the Tide kept its foot on the Tigers’ throat.  In jumping out to that 42-point lead after two quarters, Alabama had outgained Auburn 338-99 in total offense, with the dogs — or elephants as the case may be — being called off in the second half.

The Tide’s evisceration also officially sets up a winner-take-all SEC championship game next weekend in Atlanta.

Alabama, No. 2 in the latest set of BcS rankings, clinched the SEC West with the win and will face Georgia, BcS No. 3, in the Georgia Dome Saturday.  Barring the near-impossible transpiring next Sunday night when the final regular season rankings are released, the winner of the conference title game will fill one of the two spots in the BcS championship game Jan. 7 in Miami, giving the SEC the opportunity to extend its streak of BcS titles to seven.  If Notre Dame can handle USC later tonight, it would set up an Irish-Bulldogs/Tide matchup for all the crystal footballs.

Looking ahead to the upcoming conference title game, the Tide and Bulldogs did not face each other in 2012.  In fact, the two haven’t squared off since 2008, a 41-30 Alabama win over then-No. 3 UGA in Athens in Nick Saban‘s second season as UA’s head coach.

As for Chizik’s fate on The Plains?  The combination of yet another NCAA investigation (somewhat) and miserable on-field performances the past two years (mainly) has the fourth-year coach ticketed for the unemployment line in short order.

The Tigers have lost 10 straight SEC games, with their last win coming Oct. 29 of last year against Ole Miss.  Since winning the BcS championship last season, AU’s 11-14 overall and 4-12 in SEC play, hitting rock bottom in 2012 with a 3-9 record and its first winless conference slate since 1980.  Doug Barfield was fired as head coach following that season, replaced by Pat Dye.  Coincidentally enough, Dye has become one of Chizik’s staunchest supporters.

Whether that support can keep Chizik from being Barfield’d remains to be seen, although there’s even been erosion on the Dye front of late.

Regardless of whether an ex-coach does or doesn’t have the current coach’s back, it’s expected Chizik will be fired as early as Sunday.  The embarrassing loss to Alabama won’t be the determining in Chizik’s fate, though; it’ll merely serve as the icing on a cake that’s gone stale sans a dash of Cam and a pinch of eye of Newton.

Illinois boots three players charged with home invasion and robbery

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Illinois head coach Lovie Smith has dismissed three players charged with home invasion and robbery. Offensive linemen Darta Lee and Howard Watkins and tight end Zarrian Holcombe have all been dismissed from the program, according to a statement.

Lee and Holcombe were previously suspended by Smith for violations of team rules. Watkins had also been indefinitely suspended following the initial allegations. All three players claimed the incident that led to the charges was nothing more than an innocent prank, but the authorities and Smith didn’t seem willing to buy that claim.

Each player faces a mandatory prison sentence of 4-15 years on each count against them if found guilty.

Report: Conference USA to air at least 15 football games on Twitter in 2017

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Conference USA is in a position where it needs to think outside the box and look to stay ahead of the curve in a changing TV landscape. It appears to be ready to air games on Twitter in 2017.

A report from The Virginian-Pilot says broadcast company STADIUM will air at least 15 football games involving Conference USA teams this fall. STADIUM is the result of a recent merger between the American Sports Network, 120 Sports and Silver Chalice (which also owns Campus Insiders and the online ACC Digital Network). The ASN had owned the broadcast rights to Conference USA games through the end of the 2017-2018 sports season that will carry over to the STADIUM deal (allowing for Conference USA basketball games to be aired on Twitter as well). It was announced earlier this month STADIUM intended to broadcast Conference USA games on Twitter, but it was unknown how many games might make it to the networking service. STADIUM reportedly has an interest in continuing to air Conference USA contests beyond the next athletic season.

Conference USA still has broadcast deals with ESPN and CBS Sports in effect as well, so don’t expect the premiere matchups in the conference to be aired on Twitter. However, by sharing the games online, Conference USA is hoping to reach a wide-spread audience and have the opportunity to be a trending topic. It could work, as Twitter would make sure the game is given a steady feed to allow for a pleasant viewing experience and fan interaction in real time.

Conference USA saw TV revenue take a big hit over the last year. Last summer, Conference USA’s television revenue reportedly dropped to just $2.8 million for the entire conference following realignment changes. Finding a home on a streaming platform now would be key for the conference’s future stability.

Alabama DC Jeremy Pruitt named son after former Tide linebackers Reuben Foster and Ryan Anderson

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It is not at all uncommon for children born in the state of Alabama to be named after Alabama football legends, but it is not every day you see a child of an Alabama coach receives a name inspired by former Alabama football players.

Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt announced the birth of his new son, Flynt Anderson-Foster Pruitt, on Twitter. Alabama fans will likely already know the connection to the new child’s name, as used the last names of two former Alabama football players to create the middle name of Anderson-Foster; Ryan Anderson and Reuben Foster.

Maybe this is more common than I’m aware of, but regardless of how often a coach names a child after former players, this is a testament to the relationship the Pruitt family established with both former Alabama linebackers. And now there will be a bond for years to come between the coach and his family and Anderson and Foster.

Helmet sticker to Al.com.

Wisconsin’s season tickets for 100th anniversary of Camp Randall are a thing of beauty

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The Wisconsin Badgers are gearing up for their 100th season playing home football game sin Camp Randall Stadium. As part of the season-long celebration, Wisconsin put some brilliant artistic detail into their season tickets for the 2017 season.

Each ticket to a home Wisconsin game is designed like a retro-style program. These are beautifully done and mimic the style of a program cover from decades past. I’m particularly fond of the program cover for the Purdue game, which features Wisconsin’s Bucky floating in space with a ship with the Purdue logo nearby. Is that a space train? The Band Day program for the game against Florida Atlantic also looks fantastic.

These tickets will surely be must-have collectibles for Wisconsin fans. If Wisconsin wants to make a few extra bucks, then blowing up these images and selling them as posters may be a good decision as well. And I wouldn’t put it past Wisconsin to suit up in a retro-style uniform for at least home game this season in Madison.