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Sprints // 04.13.09

Iron Bowl on a Friday. A few days later, and it seems like sacrilege to this onetime (and still sometimes) Auburn fan to move the Iron Bowl to Friday. The Iron Bowl is not played on Friday, it is played on Saturday, the day when college football is supposed to be played. Of course, it should probably still be played in Birmingham, but I digress.

I'm still trying to figure this move out. To get the better Friday ratings for CBS? But doesn't that just move a weaker game (LSU-Arkansas, maybe) into a more competitive time slot -- Saturday afternoon? And that misses the fact that CBS is obliterating another tradition, this one stretching back a dozen years, of playing LSU-Arkansas on Friday. But, hey, CBS asked, so who is the SEC -- you know, the ones playing the football games worth $1.5 billion -- to challenge them?

Predictably, Alabama and Auburn fans are divided over this, though apparently your humble correspondent is on the wrong side of this one, if Jerry at The Joe Cribbs Car Wash is any indication.

it should help the game get more of the national audience IT DESERVES, and having it be the only Friday game of the season should make it feel that tiny bit more special than it already does.

Reaction at Track Em Tigers, though, is far less positive.

Roll Bama Roll's Todd, meanwhile, refuses to mince words, and is likely off Mal Moore's list of favorite people, if he was there to begin with -- which is doubtful.

Spare me your tears, Mal, and think twice about saying you "understand" the issues with travel and other considerations to a populace that forks out millions of dollars every year for tickets, pay-per-view broadcats, and merchandise so that the athletic department can afford little perks like private jets to games.  You clearly do not "understand" the issues and considerations here, or you might have taken into account that the entire state damn near shuts down for the Iron Bowl every year before accepting this "request" in the name of "exposure.

Todd has a prominent backer, though Nick Saban's objections were a bit more muted. At least in public.

Meanwhile, there are economic objections: When will the football fans shop?

Now, with the game on the celebrated shopping day itself, ardent football fans who double as die-hard shoppers might face a tough decision.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is your first indication that this was written by a business reporter. This is not a tough decision for football fans. Christmas itself can be put on hold for a day if college football demands it. Here's your second clue:

Getting the game out of the way on Friday frees up the rest of the weekend for football fans to go shopping, said Bob Robicheaux, a UAB retail expert.

"By Saturday, they might be in the mood to go shopping, either because they're joyous because their team won or because they need to go out and buy something to console themselves because their team lost," he said.

Um, again -- no. There's more college football to be watched Saturday. Why would you go shopping? 

But we all know whose opinion is really important. This guy:


So, please, Big E, let us know your opinion on this urgent matter. An entire state -- nay, a nation -- waits with bated breath.

Is Jackie Sherrill still playing fast and loose with the rules? Even as he sues NCAA investigators for "defaming" him in an investigation that found rule violations (though not any he took part in, wink wink), Sherrill's latest visit could bring NCAA scrutiny.

A few points here. First of all, why does a coach who's coaching the coaches need to talk to the players? That seems more than a touch suspicious.

Secondly, what exactly is the problem here anyway? Granted, any time Sherrill is at a practice, the NCAA is going to pay some extra attention, and probably should. But why would it be wrong for him to come and give students a couple of pointers, as long as it was only a onetime deal? If he was doing this every week, that would be one thing. But barring and old coach from visiting with players cuts at the very thing that has sustained the game: Tradition.

Oh, wait. Worrying about that would require the NCAA to care about something more than picayune adherence to its obsessive compulsive rules.

Lose to Utah, blame the fans. Why did Alabama get upset in the Sugar Bowl. Because of the fans, of course.

Number one: During the regular season, through the Southeastern Conference title game, when support was stellar and positive. ...

Number two: Then came the opposite effect. [The Sugar Bowl.] ...

And the result, well, was predictable: What Saban called the worst effort of the season.

Because, after all, Nick Saban is not to blame. He doesn't have time for that blame ****.

So, if Georgia has a bad season, will St. Nick say their G-Day crowd is to blame? (Course, there was a lot of "positive energy" at A-Day in 2007, and we all saw how that turned out.)

Why I don't like spring games. Either Georgia's defense is good, or their offense is bad. The same could be said for Stephen Garcia and Co. at South Carolina. We won't really know until these teams play other teams. Spring games aren't useless, but I don't find them particularly useful, in part because even if we could spend hours watching game type and analyze it as well as coaches, it would still only tell us a limited amount about how good teams are. Just a word of warning before everyone starts nominating Garcia for the Heism@n or giving the entire Georgia defense the Bednarik Award.

This should terrify QBs. Imagine being in a third-down, obvious passing situation and looking up to see Mt. Cody barreling down on you.

"If we can improve his mobility a little, he might become a little better pass-rusher for us and push the pocket in the middle," said Saban, whose team took Easter weekend off. "(That) to me is the most important thing about pass rush. So the quarterback can't step up and attack the middle of the field. One of our goals is to defend the middle of the field, and to have guys that can do that is very important."

Tim Tebow, Jevan Snead and Co. -- be very, very afraid. I don't think those 11 lost pounds will really make a sack feel any better.

At quarterback for Kentucky: Mike Hartline. And Randall Cobb. Joker Phillips, clarifying nothing. (HT: A Sea of Blue) Jared Lorenzen, for his part, is having fun playing indoor football.

A thought that occurs to me from the last two items. Imagine Mt. Cody tackling Jared Lorenzen. How many tectonic plates would shift?

Because soccer is so big in the South. Coming to a stadium near you: Football. No, not real football; what the Europeans call "football."

Also on U.S. Soccer's list are Birmingham's Legion Field, Atlanta's Georgia Dome and seven other Southeastern Conference arenas: Arkansas' Razorback Stadium, Florida's Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Georgia's Sanford Stadium, Kentucky's Commonwealth Stadium, LSU's Tiger Stadium, South Carolina's Williams-Brice Stadium and Tennessee's Neyland Stadium.

The committee said it is seeking smaller, college-town markets in addition to big cities in order to represent the vast number and outreach of world-class facilities in this country.

Now, as someone who only watches soccer during the World Cup, I hesitate to try to comment on its business model. However, if you're going to hold a soccer tournament, isn't it a good idea to hold it, you know, where there are soccer fans?

Compliance was so much easier in the days of carrier pigeons. The NCAA says its rules are "technology neutral," meaning that forming a Facebook group trying to woo a recruit to your school could lead to penalties for you and/or said school. (HT: Rocky Top Talk) At some point, the NCAA is going to have to recognize that it cannot engineer the world or cause human nature and behavior to bow to its whims. To go after someone for forming a Facebook group has to rank among the dumbest things a bureaucracy -- any bureaucracy -- has ever done. Web 2.0 isn't going to go away, and trying to make your rules "technology neutral" will instead render them something else.