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Sprints Wants to Host a Regional // 05.26.09

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Teams begin fight to go to Omaha. Only in college football do people compete for a trip to Nebraska, but there you have it.

The complete list of regionals with SEC teams is here. The full bracket is here. And lots of people seem to have complaints.

Westerdawg isn't that upset with the regional Georgia is in, per se. Just that it seems a bit tougher than Georgia Tech's part of the bracket.

UGA lands in the second toughest regional behind the UC-Irvine bloodbath, and Tech gets a pillow fight. On the bright side, Tech won't advance far.

Not that he's bitter or anything.

Gator fans aren't much happier.

But as the National 8th seed, the selection committee did the Gators no favors. In the Gainesville regional are Bethune-Cookman (32-26) and Jacksonville (36-20); teams Florida (39-20) defeated once each in 2009. Also coming to Stadium Road is Miami (36-20), who swept the Gators in Gainesville over the last weekend of February.

Alabama, meanwhile, is facing an age-old foe. Or a season-old foe, as the case may be, heading once more into an event against Clemson. (At this point, I might have to join the Bama booster organizations.)

The two schools continue to cross paths. I think I've read CU beat writer Paul Strelow's blog on The State Web site as much as any all year. That includes most other SEC beat writers.

It's like that scene in Casablanca, when Bogart (as Rick) laments to Dooley Wilson (as Sam) about Ingrid Bergman (as Ilsa), "Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine."

The only advice C&F has for Alabama fans: Burn down the bar and collect the insurance.

A few potential second-round match-ups:

Ole Miss could face bazooka-armed Stephen Strasberg, expected to be simultaneously drafted by at least 15 MLB organizations. (Okay, you can't do that. But if you could ... ) Meanwhile, Georgia and Arkansas are the only two SEC teams that could face a league competitor in the super-regionals.

Mike Slive carrying ax toward goose. Golden eggs unnoticed. Few would be able to fault the business acumen of Mike Slive. This is, after all, the man who managed to sell the rights to SEC football television for a total of $3 billion over the next 15 years. But on the issue of coaches talking, he's dead wrong.

In other words, stop threatening to wreck the gravy train.

"I'm going to have conversations with everybody in the league and make some observations," Slive said. "Our focus should be on the great student-athletes in the league, the competition between institutions, and to enjoy the rivalries. The focus needs to be on the field and not off the field."

This is entirely the wrong approach. The SEC is not the most popular amateur sports league in the country despite the jabs between coaches. It is wildly popular in part because of the back-and-forth.

Solomon acknowledges that, but only to a point.

Personalities drive SEC football, for better and for worse.

It's that worse part Slive wants to end. Get ready for the muzzle.

It would be hard to find a site that's been much tougher on Boy Wonder than Team Speed Kills. To an extent, though we try to be pan-SEC here, that's probably to be expected from a blog written largely by a South Carolina fan and a Florida fan. But the "Urban still couldn't get him," the "pumping gas" and the war with Pahokee have been fun if nothing else. They've been entertaining. You know, kind of how sports are supposed to be?

The cynics among us, including the guy whose picture runs in conjunction with this column, believe this is a silly attempt to legislate honor among thieves. Just because you take the boxing gloves away, that doesn't mean you're ridding the conference of infighting among coaches. ...

Those who oversee football teams in the SEC are competitive by nature. They fight over the best recruits. They look for every advantage. They cannot peacefully coexist.

Besides, who needs a gag order? Frankly, it's been rather refreshing to stop, look and listen to the verbal jousting. It's really no harm, no foul.

We need villians in sports, and the off-season commentary provides that. And it helps made SEC fandom a yearlong condition. Kill that, and you've done a lot more danger to the business model than Boy Wonder's mouth ever could.

We now return you to our regular schedule, already in progress. Bruce Pearl puts togehter strong out-of-conference slates for the Basketvols, something he and others think the rest of the SEC could learn from.

"The way you make yourself relevant is through scheduling," Pearl said. "We don't have to have a top-five strength of schedule every year. But we need to be in the top 20 every year.

"Look at the teams we've played - Kansas, Memphis, Ohio State, Texas. Our fans got to see Kevin Durant. They have gotten to see the best players in college basketball." ...

But winning 20 games with the help of accommodating non-conference schedules sometimes provides nothing more than false security. Former Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie won 22 games this past season but lost his job when the Wildcats failed to qualify for the NCAA tournament.

Getting into the tournament is the thing. One way to do that is a strong schedule. What is C&F missing here?

Meanwhile, when it comes to the gridiron slate, Track Em Tigers wonders which ACC teams should be annual out-of-conference rivals for the SEC teams without one. Some of the choices -- Tennessee-North Carolina, Alabama-Miami, LSU-Virginia Tech -- are spot on, but others -- Mississippi State-Wake Forest and Auburn-BC -- are a bit baffling.

Wind Sprints. Now, Andre Smith's agents are dumping him. ... C.C. Whitlock got a second chance from Steve Spurrier. He appears to be unhappy with it, because he gave it right back ...