SEC coaches ranked on entertainment value? Sure, why not

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It’s late in the offseason, so that means it’s time for newspapers and blogs alike to stir up some manure and/or feces ahead of the start of a new season.

The latest example? The Montgomery Advertiser‘s Josh Moon.

Ahead of the start of SEC Media Days this coming week, Moon posted a ranking of the coaches in that conference based on what’s described as “entertainment value.” His No. 1? South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier.

Based on any metric you could possibly devise, Moon is absolutely correct. Spurrier is easily the most entertaining head coach in the SEC — and (ever-so-slightly) ahead of Mike Leach in the whole of college football. In fact, he’s so far ahead of the rest of the conference pack, at least No. 2 and possibly No. 3 should’ve been left blank in deference to the Ol’ Ball Coach’s intrinsic ability to entertain fans and foes alike.

For the most part, Moon’s list is what it is: a lot of fun and really well done. I will, though, for the sake of argument (and a weekend post on a slooow day) take exception to the slotting of two of the coaches.

First, Nick Saban is at No. 8 in the 14-team league. Here’s Moon’s rationale:

“Whine if you want, Bama fans, but you know it’s true. Watching Alabama football games is slightly less boring than C-SPAN’s coverage of a Congressional hearing on interest rates. I’d rather watch soccer. There’s more scoring.

And then Saban strolls to the mic for interviews and acts as if he’s working towards solving world hunger. Other than the occasional news conference tantrum and two watchable games per year, it’s dreadful. It’s like “Boardwalk Empire”: all the pieces are there, and they usually work OK, but it’s so boring your eyes bleed.”

Maybe it’s just me, but I love just about everything about Tuscaloosa Saban. Love watching Saban’s Tide football team play on the field, love listening to Saban any time off of it, love the ofttimes condescending nature of Saban’s tone with the media.  His views on fast-paced offenses are self-serving, but nobody’s perfect.

To me, Nick Saban is THE most fascinating person/personality in all of college football — yes, above Spurrier, Leach, Delany, Slive and the whole lot of them. Does that equate to entertaining? No, especially not if compared to the OBC or The Pirate. With all due respect to the esteemed Mr. Moon, though, No. 8 is just way too low for my tastes.

Even more “indefensible?” Les Miles at No. 4.

“The guy eats grass, wears a hat that’s a minimum two sizes too small, makes funny videos of himself, once invited me to ride along to the airport with him so we could finish an impromptu interview and routinely says some of the craziest nonsense you’ve ever heard. He also wins. His teams can be a tad boring at times, even a bit Bama-ish. But Les … oh, Les is never boring.”

OK, this slotting shouldn’t and won’t stand without some (lighthearted) push back.

Behind Spurrier? Absolutely; every other current head coach in the country stands in line behind the OBC. Behind Auburn’s Gus Malzahn (Moon’s No. 2) and Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin (No. 3)? Nope.

Les Miles rappelling down a building… Les Miles butt-tweeting… Les Miles making out with a pig… Les Miles exalting and basking in swatting away the basketball dreams of a child… Les Miles clapping like a seal that got kicked out of the rookery for said clapping… Les Miles just being Les Miles is infinitely more entertaining than anything anyone not named Spurrier could ever hope of putting on the table.

A solid offseason list and good fodder for discussion, but Miles at No. 4?  C’mon now Mr. Moon.

(Writer’s note: excellent work, good stuff.  Just having a little weekend fun.)

Miami turns Syracuse turnovers into 13-3 halftime lead

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A week after knocking off the ACC favorite and defending national champions, can Syracuse pull off another upset in the ACC? If Syracuse is going to do that against Miami, they have some work to do in the second half. Miami leads Syracuse at halftime, 13-3 while the Orange have had four turnovers.

The momentum of last week’s shocking upset against Clemson did not carry over on the road against Miami for Syracuse. Syracuse’s game-opening drive appeared to end on an interception off a tipped ball at the line of scrimmage, but Miami’s Demetrius Jackson had the ball stripped out of his hands after initially intercepting the ball. In the end, it turned out to be a Syracuse first down and what was effectively a loss of 12 yards on the play.

Turnovers would be the story of the half for Syracuse, however. Miami turned two Eric Dungey interceptions into 10 points in the first half. Malik Rosier completed a 10-yard touchdown pass to Christopher Herndon IV to put the Hurricanes up 10-0 eight plays after an interception by the defense. Miami added a field goal after Syracuse was intercepted on the third play of the ensuing possession.

The best drive of the half for Syracuse traveled 71 yards over 17 plays but ended with a 22-yard field goal by Cole Murphy to get the Orange on the board.

The Syracuse defense has done their job. Miami has converted just one of six third-down plays for a first down, and the Hurricanes have not been able to do more damage on the scoreboard despite the abundance of Syracuse turnovers.

Tennessee hanging around with Alabama — and trailing by three TDs

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It feels like Tennessee is hanging decently well with Alabama, and yet the score is 21-0 Tide at the break in Tuscaloosa. Such is life in the Third Saturday in October rivalry.

Bo Scarborough lodged Alabama’s first two scores on identical plays, diving over a pile of humanity for 1-yard scores. The first came to end Alabama’s first drive of the day and the second came at the 4:48 mark of the second quarter. Damien Harris added the third on an 11-yard carry at the 1:18 mark.

Jalen Hurts has completed 9-of-17 passes for 144 yards, but the numbers look better than his performance has. The sophomore has been late and/or off-target with a handful of throws thus far.

It hasn’t mattered, though, as Alabama has racked up 108 yards on the ground and benefitted from a pair of drive-extending penalties by Tennessee.

Tennessee’s offense has avoided a critical mistake but hasn’t seriously threatened the Alabama defense. John Kelly has carried four times for 21 yards, and Jarrett Guarantano completed 7-of-11 passes for 38 yards while rushing eight times for 13 yards. As a team, Tennessee amassed 75 yards of offense and five first downs in the half.

Alabama will receive to open the second half.

Jimbo Fisher allows he ‘shouldn’t have said something’ to heckling fan

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Florida State’s off to a rough start on the field, which means have gotten a little bit tougher — and louder — off of it.

FSU lost to Louisville 31-28 Saturday afternoon in Tallahassee to tumble to 2-4, its worst start to a season since Bobby Bowden‘s final year in 2009.  After the game, as Jimbo Fisher was headed into the postgame locker room, he was greeted by a fan who shouted down from the stands “get new coaches.”

The head coach’s response? “Walk your ass down here and say it.”

After the game, Fisher was, of course, asked about the exchange. While he allowed that he “shouldn’t have said something” to the heckling fan, he passionately defended his struggling football program, from the football players on the roster to his coaching staff.

From the Orlando Sentinel:

It’s not frustration, just, ‘Hey, listen, be supportive,’” Fisher said of the interaction after the game. “There’s no reason to be nasty. I shouldn’t have said something.

“But at the same time, [I’m] defending players and people you’re with. I’m in charge of them, and I love them like a father. If they say something about your family, you take up for it. …

“Are you going to be a real fan or not?” Fisher said of general fan reaction following the poor start to this season. “Just keep fighting with us. We ain’t quitting on you. Please don’t quit on us. We’re going to keep fighting, scratching, coaching and playing, and you see the heart and desire of those kids.

“I understand you’re going to get on us [coaches]. That’s part of the business. That’s part of life. I understand that. … There ain’t no quit in us either. We’re right there. We just have to find a way to get it.

With this latest loss, FSU now needs to win four of its last five contests to qualify for one. One win is practically guaranteed as they face FCS Delaware State Nov. 18. Beyond that, their work is cut out for them as they have road trips to surging Boston College, Clemson and Florida, as well as a home game against a much-improved Syracuse squad that upset Clemson earlier this month.

Army officially accepts Armed Forces Bowl invitation

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The calendar may say October, but we’re already talking bowl bids.

Specifically, it was announced Saturday afternoon that Army has officially accepted a bid to play in the 2017 Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl.  The service academy’s sixth win of the season came courtesy of a 31-28 overtime win over Temple.

“We are absolutely delighted that Army West Point has accepted an invitation to play in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl,” bowl executive director Brant Ringler said in a statement. “Coach Jeff Monken has been outstanding since his arrival at West Point, and again reaching the post-season is a tremendous accomplishment. We are thrilled to be able to host the Army West Point football team and the cadets in Fort Worth.”

“To return to the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl is very special for our football program and the U.S. Military Academy,” Army athletic director Boo Corrigan said in his. “The bowl did an exceptional job in 2010 in our win over SMU and we are looking forward to another great experience for our players, coaches and staff in Fort Worth in December.

The bid acceptance is contingent, though, on Army not being selected for the Group of Five’s slot in a New Year’s Six Bowl.  The Black Knights are currently 6-2 on the season; as of this posting, there are two G5 unbeatens (USF, UCF) and four with one loss (Memphis, Navy, Marshall, Toledo).

As we noted this week, Army will be making its first back-to-back bowl appearances since the 1984-84 seasons.