Sprints Respects Cam Newton as a Runner. And a Trailblazer // 12.03.10

Now, they find out how true that really is.

SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

You can go one of two ways with this
I think both teams probably ought to like what they read in Travis Haney's latest dispatch, though for different reasons. Haney looks at Auburn's emergence against South Carolina as the de facto start of his Heisman campaign. (Fun fact: The Gamecocks also helped launch Mark Ingram's drive to the trophy as well.)

South Carolina's coaches saw a 6-6, 250-pound quarterback who wanted to throw first and run second. The new JaMarcus Russell, they called him. That's what film against Arkansas State, Mississippi State and Clemson had shown them.

Well I think we can all agree they got that wrong. Here's Shane Beamer, a member of the defensive brain trust that made that observation:

"We probably didn't have as much respect for him as a runner as we did a passer."

So, if you're a South Carolina fan, you can pin your hopes on the fact that the defense can't possibly have a worse starting point for the game plan this time than they did in September. If you're an Auburn fan, you're probably enthusiastic about facing the coaches that defended Cam Newton the way they would JaMarcus Russell.

How will the Georgia Dome affect the game?
Eh, probably not that much. But the Times-Free Press takes a look at the question and points out that Auburn has a more recent game in a dome. Like, much more recent.

Ziemba is among a handful of Tigers who played in Atlanta's climate-controlled facility during a Chick-fil-A Bowl overtime victory over Clemson that capped their 2007 season. South Carolina has yet to visit the Georgia Dome, which was built in 1992, and hasn't played inside since Sept. 21, 1973, when the Gamecocks lost to Houston in the Astrodome.

Kickers and quarterbacks might be thankful for the lack of wind, but I like what Spurrier says: "it's still blocking and tackling and passing and running and all that kind of stuff."

ALABAMA AND FLORIDA ARE DEAD!
Gary Danielson might be slightly overstating his case about the seemingly newfound parity in the league after a couple of years of Florida and Alabama running the joint.

"It’s not going to be easy this year or in the future for Alabama or Florida to just roll their helmets out there and win," Danielson said. "No one is intimidated by Florida or Alabama anymore."

First of all, it's still the SEC and not the Sun Belt. I don't think they ever expected to "just roll their helmets out there and win."

But the post that quotes Danielson also makes much of the fact that two teams lost a combined eight games this year. That ignores the fact that Florida has five of those losses and Alabama has three, which are very different seasons. Even if you let that go, consider that one of the losses was in the ACC. That doesn't really make anyone in the SEC fear Florida or Alabama less, except the whole "Ha! Ha! Ha! You lost to the ACC!" factor. It doesn't give anyone experience in beating Florida or Alabama.

So we're down to seven SEC losses. Take out the Alabama win against Florida, because it still doesn't matter much to other teams. Four of the remaining six losses were against two teams: LSU and South Carolina, both of whom defeated both of the contestants from last year's SEC Championship Game. The other losses were Alabama against national title contender Auburn and Florida against surprisingly good Mississippi State.

My point is that a couple of teams have caught up, but there's not much to make a Kentucky, Ole Miss or Vanderbilt think that they can defeat Alabama and Florida on a consistent basis. (Well, if it's the Houston Nutt surprise of the year, that's one thing ... ) The mystique might not be quite as powerful, especially for some of this year's upstarts, but it's not entirely gone.

THE BALLAD OF CAM NEWTON

Blah blah blah
I'm not going to focus too much on Mark Emmert's statement, because Year2 covered it pretty fully. But it boggles my mind that the NCAA is essentially saying that it's okay for parents to ask for money if their students don't know anything about it. They'll fix it later, they assure us. Which is better than not doing anything, but I've got to ask: What about the students that are being recruited right now? Are their parents free to ask for money from schools? Literally, that's what the NCAA is saying in this case. Just look at Emmert's statement.

We will work aggressively with our members to amend our bylaws so that this type of behavior is not a part of intercollegiate athletics.

Which means that it is now. The NCAA had a chance to make sure that it wasn't a part of the game to begin with, and they blew it. The rest is just bureaucrats running for cover, knowing that they have put the sport in a terrible position and can't do anything to fix it.

Oh, and there's this.

Q: Why do we not make all of our information public?

A: Protecting student-athletes’ privacy rights is always the NCAA’s top concern.

You have got to be kidding me. What part of this case has not been reported? And if there is something that we haven't heard, is the NCAA not releasing it because they're worried about Cam Newton's privacy, or because they're worried that it will just confirm that the Association has once again become a joke?

Now, they're making me agree with the Up North commissioner
Jim Delany decides to talk about the Cam Newton case -- and what he says isn't incredibly stupid.

"What I would say on any third-party issue is that the analysis in my view, whether you’re an assistant coach, president or a booster or a parent, is that there ought to be accountability," Delany said. "There ought to be consequences."

But, Jim, Cecil Newton has to "limit" his participation in the Auburn program. That's a consequence, isn't it?

The good news about this -- if there is any to be found -- is that there seems to be momentum behind the idea that this is such an awful precedent that the loophole has to be quickly closed to keep this from happening again. It doesn't strike me as a fair trade for having a season full of unanswered questions, but it might be the closest thing we've got.

COACHING CAROUSEL

'There was nothing ever really serious about this'
Jon Gruden apologizes to Miami fans for all the speculation that his TOTALLY INSIGNIFICANT meeting with university officials caused.

Gruden added, "I know there was a lot of speculation over the last few days. For that, I'm sorry."

He might apologize to Mississippi State fans for not taking the job and putting them in the line of fire.

Randy Shannon now on Vanderbilt's short list
Also in the mix: Stanford assistant head coach of offense Greg Roman, who seems to be very excited about the possibility.

I would find it very interesting however, because of my experience bringing another academic institution to the top of the BCS football world. Vandy is very similar to Stanford!

Exclamation points rock! Stanford is similar to Vanderbilt, if you ignore the fact that Stanford has actually been to a BCS bowl during the lifetime of its current players.

Bill McCartney, civil rights warrior
It looks like Jon Embree will get the Colorado job, meaning Jim McElwain is likely staying in Alabama for now. And that's exactly how applicant Bill McCartney planned it all along. McCartney was only trying to groom the other coaches for the job, you know.

"It was never about me doing it again," McCartney said. "It was about setting the table for a black man to come in (as head coach). And he (Bohn) hired one. Now, give him a chance."

I'm sure that sounded a lot better in the mind of a 70-year-old than it looks on the page. But it's still rather blunt.

That said, it is good to see Embree get a chance, especially with Shannon getting the ax at Miami.

OTHER NEWS

The Tereshinskis Strike Back
Joe Tereshinski -- no, not that one, the other one. No, not that one, the other one. Any way, Joe Tereshinski Jr. will be the new strength and conditioning coach at Georgia. Current coach Van Halanger will be removed, sort of.

Van Halanger said Richt informed him Thursday during a meeting that he was being reassigned to a position as administrative assistant to Richt. ...

Georgia said Van Halanger now will oversee and/or work with programs that will include character education, a new mentor program, former student-athlete development and community service initiatives.

It's an odd way to fire Van Halanger, which is effectively what Georgia is doing here, but it probably beats being out of work in this economy.

Alabama defensive back has surgery
Mark Barron is out for the bowl game and now has to weigh whether to return for his senior season or go to the NFL.

Game Formerly Known as the Peach Bowl could be a noisy affair this year
If Mississippi State goes, fans can bring their cowbells. The racket in that stadium if a lot of people do it will be unbearable.

Remain focused
It might be hard to keep a straight face about a story with the headline "Lawsuit filed in alleged cowbell assault," but read through. First, the particulars:

The suit, filed late last month in Oktibbeha County Circuit Court, seeks unspecified damages from the SEC and commissioner Mike Slive because it says the league had a "knowing refusal" to enforce its own rule on artificial noisemakers that dated to 1974.

It has not been a good couple of months for Mike Slive.

The brush with the cowbell does appear to have done some real physical and mental damage to the plaintiff, as you would think might happen when someone gets hit with a cowbell. It's also got to be something of a problem for Mississippi State's drive to keep the bell.

Bruce Pearl, the floor is now yours
Lane Kiffin has responded to the "miss Lane Kiffin" remark from Bruce Pearl, and the basketball coach is going to need to come up with more than "Touche."

"Bruce is really smart," Kiffin says. "I can understand why he wouldn't want to talk about not being able to coach and violations, so he mentions Lane Kiffin. And everyone claps."

Kiffin also says that the $5 fine from Dillon Baxter will go to "gas-free golf carts." What could the coach possibly have against gas?

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