South Carolina one win away from College World Series title
The Gamecocks took the lead in the best-of-three championship set and now stand just 27 outs away from the first national title in any of the three major sports. (While we're grateful to the women's track team for breaking the drought and the women's equestrian team for winning two, those don't hold a lot of cachet with other SEC fans.) The 7-1 victory literally brings us to the cusp of history.
That said, it wasn't the best game of baseball that I've ever seen. Quite the opposite. The teams combined for four errors (not counting the error that should have been added when a South Carolina player was incorrectly called out at the plate) and a handful of other mistakes.
But the surprise of the game was the shellacking of UCLA's Gerrit Cole. (Well, the surprise for those of us outside the ESPN broadcast booth, where the residents were shocked to discover that -- gasp! -- both teams in the championship series had good players, instead of just UCLA. Gamecock Man has more on that here.) South Carolina clubbed 11 hits for six runs, four earned, against Cole -- then added another after Cole was out of the game.
Meanwhile, Blake Cooper -- whom ESPN had apparently not heard of, despite covering the entire NCAA baseball tournament -- pitched eight-plus innings of three-hit baseball. He ended up charged with one run after throwing 136 pitches, 89 of them strikes. John Taylor threw six pitches for three outs in the ninth to end the game. Which means that South Carolina's bullpen was practically untouched in the first game, always an advantage in a three-game series.
Game 2 is tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN and ESPN3.com. Garnet And Black Attack will have another open thread, at which you're all more than welcome. (Seriously; we were even polite to the Mayor when he dropped by last night.)
Fun with Ole Miss' search for a new mascot
You would think there would be no way for a school to have a worse mascot situation than not having a mascot as all. As Ole Miss has proven, you would be wrong.
For example, meet Hotty and Toddy:
The pair may be animals or original "muppet-like" characters, but completely unique to Ole Miss. They can get as spirited and excited as any Rebel fan, and they love to pump up the crowd. And once we win the game, they will gladly be gracious hosts, inviting the other team to come back for more! [Exclamation points sic]
If that sounds like the kind of thing Houston Nutt would come up with if he were tripping on acid -- it's not just you. But Ole Miss' mascot committee has more.
There's Rebel the Black Bear:
Our black bear would stare down the Ole Miss opponents as it prowls the Rebel sidelines. With a growl that would intimidate any opponent, our bear would be a real source of spirit. Off the field, "Rebel" would be a real Ole Miss ambassador… full of pride and welcoming any opportunity to spread the joy of being a Rebel.
Assuming, of course, that he didn't eat anyone. Or they could go with the Teddy Bear motif -- no, really, it's there on the site.
Rebel Blues Musician? The university goes from a cartoonish white plantation owner to a cartoonish black man. What could possibly go wrong?
Then there's the horse idea.
When the University of Mississippi was formed in 1848, the charter was delivered by horse. The first students arrived on campus by horse. Mischievous Ole Miss students frustrated early faculty by riding horses through the Lyceum. A costumed horse character would capture this history and the essence of the Ole Miss spirit. This concept could potentially be enhanced with a live horse leading the team onto the field at Vaught-Hemingway with our colors flying on a huge "Ole Miss" flag proudly held by its rider or leader.
W-i-l-b-u-r! What a marvelous idea!
[If a college student involved in coming up with this takes it the wrong way: All in good fun. We're sure that some of these ideas will be just fine. Especially Rebel Mojo. (Not even making that up.) Hey, my school has a huge stuffed rooster as its mascot. So who am I to talk?]
You get what you pay for
Kleph has a great post at Roll Bama Roll on coaches' pay in the SEC. One could almost write an entire post on the post, which has a ton of great information. I don't agree with all of it, but I also can't disagree with most of it -- the problem with a post that uses "numbers" and "facts" as opposed to opinion. Sigh. In any case, one thing kind of jumps out.
In fact, just two schools (that we know of) pay their OC more than their DC -- Auburn and Mississippi State.
Upon hearing that, the only accurate response is: "That makes sense."
Among those making some of that money ...
Members of Nick Saban's coaching tree, like the superbly talented MARK DANTONIO, and MARK DANTONIO, and MARK DANTONIO WILL YOU PLEASE COME TO SOUTH CAROLINA WHEN STEVE SPURRIER RETIRES?!? (Not trying to hurry you, Steve; just best to be prepared whenever that moment arrives. And the offer only stands if Dantonio avoids another 6-7 season.)
In any case, while Saban has a singular accomplishment (winning a BCS championship with two different teams), I'm not quite sure he qualifies yet as a singular coach. But he's getting there. And the coaching tree certainly strengthens the argument. (Especially when one of them is South Carolina alumnus MARK DANTONIO.)
Okay, this one I'm having a bit of trouble with
I realize it's hard to preview all the teams in the NCAA -- heck, Year2 and I have enough trouble doing just the 12 teams in the SEC. But Georgia -- at No. 64?!?
Don't get me wrong; I'm not as optimistic as some people about the Dawgs in 2010, and I think another subpar year by Georgia standards is possible. But to put this in a bit of context: Remember, there are 120 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision. So Georgia would have to be in the bottom half of the nation. That seems a bit, um, dramatic for a team that has never had fewer than eight wins under Mark Richt.
To start, let's look at the gimme wins: Louisiana-Lafayette, at Colorado, Vanderbilt, Idaho State. (4) Mix in the likely wins: at Mississippi State (sorry, they're not that much better), Tennessee, at Kentucky. (3) Now the toss-ups/teams that could conceivably win without a disaster year: at South Carolina, at Auburn, Georgia Tech. (3) These picks aren't binding for when we get to Georgia, but that looks like seven to nine wins on the year to me. And even if the Dawgs only win six in the SEC, are they really worse than 63 other teams?
'Can we take the field with 21?'
WR Todd Campbell has left Tennessee, though it's not expected to be a major loss.
This is why maybe the NCAA should tweak that whole 'can't talk about recruits' rule a bit
"Florida Gators land California linebacker Rahim Cassell," read the headline in the Orlando Sentinel. Which probably came as a surprise to the Florida Gators, who weren't aware they were trying to land California linebacker Rahim Cassell. (HT: Dr. Saturday)
Thoughts and prayers: Joe Kines and family
Kines' daughter died Monday in a car accident. Of course, Kines gained a special place in the hearts of many college football fans with his -- um, stirring -- halftime speech during the Independence Bowl a few years ago. Best to him and his family.