SEC Tournament Wrap-Up, Day Two. It's the second day (and night and subsequent early morning) of the double-elimination SEC baseball tournament, which means someone's headed home. Sometwo, actually, as regular season co-champion Ole Miss gets drummed out of the tournament by Florida and LSU sends fourth-seeded Alabama back to Tuscaloosa.
For Ole Miss, the eight-inning, mercy-rule pasting at the hands of the Gators could deal a devastating blow to any hopes they had of being a national seed in the NCAA tournament. (National seeds get home-field advantage until the tournament moves to Omaha for the College World Series.)
But with a solid overall record and a regular season SEC championship in its possession, Ole Miss appears to be in good position to host one of 16 NCAA Regionals next weekend when the sites are announced Sunday.
Still, Bianco knows his team did itself no favors.
"You hope to do well (at the SEC Tournament) and hope to pad your resume a little bit," Bianco said. "But certainly what we did here is not going to help."
Florida, meanwhile, sees this as a boost to the Gators' hopes for a national seed. We'll see. The more teams from a single conference that get a national seed -- and LSU is virtually guaranteed one, win or lose the rest of the weekend, and the tournament winner could lock one up depending on whom it is -- the harder scheduling gets.
Alabama also has more problems than simply leaving Hoover -- they do so with an injured third baseman/pitcher Jake Smith, who is out for the season. It's impressive enough that Smith can both play third and take the mound -- the fact that he does both so well is astonishing. It also shows how badly he could be missed when Alabama takes the field for the NCAAs.
In the winner's bracket, Georgia edges Arkansas in 10 innings to earn a day off, while Vanderbilt won a thriller of the nine-inning variety against South Carolina and can also cool its heels until Saturday.
And so your two games for Friday, keeping in mind that I am 1-7:
No. 2 Florida vs. No. 7 Arkansas, 4 p.m. ET, FSN, XM 199
The Hogs played Georgia tough, but Florida likely has the offensive firepower to end Arkansas' title dreams. C&F picks: Florida
No. 1 LSU vs. No. 5 South Carolina, 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN, XM 199
That's what I get for doubting LSU. The Bengals' win Thursday sets up a game between the two teams to lose to the eighth-seeded Dores. It's hard to go against a team that's a good bet to make Omaha. C&F picks: LSU
Note that the nightcap should begin at around 8:30 p.m. ET at the latest. (The first game of the day usually starts about on time, and then all bets are off.) This should spare us the whining of sports writers who are missing their bed times.
To an extent, I agree that the games are running too late. I certainly don't enjoy staying up until well past 2 a.m. ET just to watch the Gamecocks play. But I don't see any way around it, unless you want the tournament to take a week. As someone who's had the opportunity to see many baseball fields prepared for games and cared for after games a 45-minute turnaround is outstanding. Playing any baseball game in much less than three hours is fast, not the usual, as Cleveland suggests. And, no, clocking the time between pitches would not make the game any more fun for this fan.
If you're going to play four games a day, and they have to to make it manageable, you're going to have some late games.
I am SEC, hear me roar. Urban Meyer has foresworn saying anything interesting in the wake of his self-induced you're-either-with-us-or-you're-with-the-terrorists debacle.
Before speaking to the Broward County Gator Club on Tuesday night, Meyer said, "What happens is you can't speak anymore. You can't talk. There is no 'off the record' or anything. You can't have fun. It's a shame."
My question is: Since when was talking to a group of 700-plus people "off the record?" Meyer is the only one to blame, because he is the one who chose to air his grievances in a public forum. He did not go off on a tangent, the way he insists. He made a point to call out former athletes who criticize the program.
Despite the shellacking she gets in the comments, Andrea Adelson is spot-on. For Meyer to somehow think that his comments in front of a room full of booster are going to be secret for long is absurd.
Furthermore, isn't it kind of hypocritical for Florida fans to get worked up about what Boy Wonder said in Knoxville gatherings where he 'didn't think there were any cameras' and then rally behind Meyer when he rips the media for reporting his comments.
Finally, how exactly do you intentionally avoid saying anything interesting, particularly when Meyer was obviously surprised by the firestorm caused by his initial comments?
Steve Spurrier, meanwhile, proves to be as willing as ever to follow his pledges to refrain from sniping at other coaches. Boy Wonder, this is how it's done.
"We had 20 commitments when we fizzled out at the end of the year," Spurrier said. "We didn't lose any of them. Our former recruiting coordinator went to Tennessee with his brother-in-law and they tried to recruit just about every one of the kids that were committed to us. They got zero."
Boy Wonder thinks it's great that Spurrier mentioned the Vols, because comments like this one will help so much with RECRUITING.
The players are also getting in on the act in basketball, as UK's Patrick Patterson enthusiastically joins his coach's efforts to tamp down anticipation about next season, with the player telling fans to "Expect greatness."
As the VolWorld Turns. Meanwhile, another South Carolina coach drawn to Tennessee by Boy Wonder is now on the outs with his new boss. How on the outs? Strength and conditioning coach Mark Smith is either "under strict review" or has "agreed to part ways" with the Vols, depending on who's reporting it. Actually, all the stories say pretty much the same thing: The "review" language is code for figuring out how much money will change hands.
Sources told ESPN.com that Kiffin and his strength and conditioning coach, Mark Smith, met on Thursday and agreed to part ways. The details of Smith's departure as strength coach were still being finalized, and Tennessee athletic department officials declined to comment.
See that bright comet, streaking quickly across the sky? That's Lane Kiffin's Tennessee coaching career, ladies and gents. Watch it while you can.
Or not. See, Mr. Kiffin is just "misunderstood."
'Let them eat cake.' I'm as critical as anyone about those who sling accusations of indifference or misplaced priorities at athletics departments during tough economic times. But sometimes the PR people are just asleep at the wheel.
Undeterred by the tough economy, the University of Georgia Athletic Association board of directors on Thursday approved spending $40 million to expand and renovate the football facilities at the school's Butts-Mehre athletics headquarters building. ...
The project was approved at the board's spring meeting at the Ritz-Carlton Lodge on Lake Oconee. ...
Evans said the "guesstimated" cost is $39.5 million and won't be allowed to exceed $40 million. He said $19.2 million has been pledged by donors, and the rest will be borrowed, probably via 20-year bonds. [EMPHASIS C&F's]
And after "guesstimating" how much more money than most Georgians will see in their lifetime will be spent on athletics, the board retired to the smoking room to sip on centuries-old brandy and laughed at the plight of the penniless professors thrown into the cold in the service of fiscal responsibility.
Meanwhile, LSU could "save money" by scheduling in-state patsies instead of out-of-state patsies. Actually, C&F has long said one way to remove the stain of playing FCS teams is to schedule in-state institutions where the players and fans can actually get something out of it. But this excuse is stretching things a bit.
Wind Sprints. Surprising no one, QB Robert Marve chooses Purdue ... Spurrier also announces that defenders Ladi Ajiboye, a key piece of the Gamecocks' front seven, and C.C. Whitlock are back on the team but will be suspended ... Early-season football game previews from Track Em Tigers (Auburn vs. Mississippi State) and Garnet and Black Attack (South Carolina vs. N.C. State) ... 'We'd like to gradulate the Gamecock for being thoroughly average' ... Alabama-Virginia Tech is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET on Sept. 5. I hope Rick Cleveland wasn't planning on watching it ...