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Sprints Wonders About Tennessee Receivers and Kentucky Rumors // 07.15.09

Nightmare on Phillip Fulmer Way. Today was the roughest day for Tennessee fans since -- when was the last time Lane Kiffin shot his mouth off? Thursday?

First came word that Austin Rogers, a fifth-year senior, would miss the season with a torn ACL and would have to appeal for another year of eligibility. (His chances for a sixth season seem pretty good, since he has almost zero chance of taking the field this year.)

Before long, Boy Wonder had revealed that fellow WR Denarius Moore was likely also out for "a couple" of games. Panic ensued.

Okay, so "panic" might be a bit strong. But 3SIB mixes those bits of news with the injury that will keep Gerald Jones on the sideline for at least a few weeks and comes to a grim conclusion about the state of the WR corps without its three leaders.

we’re left with six receivers who have a combined 28 receptions, 179 yards and three touchdowns. That is not good. At all.

Those are career numbers, by the way. At this point, the better question might be whether Lane Kiffin can get a redshirt season.

Maybe Eric Berry could play both ways to bolster his Heism@n campaign. And I'm only kind of kidding.

What Happened in Kentucky? Volunteer fans are also keeping an eye on an unfolding situation in Kentucky. A Sea of Blue is among those saying that something appears to have happened.

I have read some usually reliable sources that give some information, but it is vague, unspecified and therefore unreportable.  I have no clear idea of what happened, and there have been numerous Internet reports from people who claim to have been in close proximity to the events that have caused all this concern.  At this point, though, there is nothing that I can report with any confidence.

Rocky Top Talk distills some of the detailed rumors.

On Kentucky chat boards, speculation seems to be focusing toward this scenario:

--A UK female student-athlete (who may have been from Tennessee) invited some UT football players up for a visit.

--The visit got a little tense, and somebody called UK football players in.

--The incident got heated.

--A weapon (read: gun [read: handgun] ) was involved.

--No injuries are reported or speculated.

I've redacted at least one name and am staying away from some of the sketchier details until we have more.

Mississippi fans heart Paul Finebaum
Just listen to the love from The Dead Guy to Finebaum after the columnist predicted an "Ole Miss trainwreck" this year.

Whether or not the Rebels win the SEC West this year remains to be seen, but win or lose, I'll still be a Rebel and you'll still be a washed-up never-was that panders shamelessly to anyone that will actually read or listen to you, the overwhelming majority of which recognize you for the fraud you are. 

A bluer response from Red Cup Rebellion is here. (Strong language advisory.)

In fairness -- and I know I'm doing exactly what he wants me to, but I just have to demonstrate -- this is one of the most noxious columns Finebaum has ever written. And that's a pretty high bar to clear. Some of the choice lines:

But there is a major problem for the Rebels and their quest to take on Florida in the SEC Championship Game. You can't get to Atlanta from Oxford. It's not going to happen.

Why not? Because they're Ole Miss. ...

Have you ever seen the book: "Greatest Moments in Ole Miss Football History" at the bookstore? No, and there's a reason. They've only had two. When Archie Manning signed his letter of intent and when Eli followed suit 32 years later. ...

But this column clearly isn't inflammatory enough. After all, most of these shots are playground-level taunts, but that's Finebaum's usual fare. It needs something. Ooh -- I know! How about we play the race card?

Do you think it's a coincidence that a school whose nickname is the Rebels hasn't won a league title since blacks started playing in the SEC?

This would be a lot easier to swallow if Finebaum had ever shown himself to be an advocate for racial justice. I would say Finebaum owes Mississippi an apology -- but at this point, he doesn't even deserve to give them one.

I'm sure Georgia will be happy to hear that
Florida Charlie Strong speaks in Tallahassee.

Strong was very diplomatic in speaking about the SEC teams, but made the point that LSU will be the most difficult game this season since it is at Baton Rouge.

In response, Georgia players learned the Macarena.

Tony Barnhart says Alabama will win the SEC West
So that's that. They play Florida in the SEC Championship Game, if it still exists. (More on that later.)

What do we acquire next?
The SEC already has ESPN and now, from the looks of things, Sports Illustrated. What more do we need? 

Arkansas comes in at No. 49 on The Quad Countdown

But this team will be much better than it was last fall, mostly because of what I think will be a very explosive offense -- one that may end up being in the top three in the conference. Much of that potential success will depend on how Mallett plays in his first game experience in two seasons. He has all the tools and has a great coach showing him the ropes, leading me to believe he will flourish. Though not immediately, as it will take Mallett some time to reacclimate himself to the college game. This is similar to Arkansas as a whole, as I predict the team will get better and better as the season wears on (like Ole Miss last fall), and could be one of the hottest squads in the F.B.S. heading into bowl play.

Has it really been more than 540 days since Mallett transferred? Time flies when you're watching Casey Dick. And Nathan Dick.

Solution: Sumo wrestlers as offensive linemen
Problem: South Carolina has been awful as a running team ever since Cory Boyd left. Spurrier's teams actually rely a lot more on the run than his reputation would have you believe, but last year's team hit 112th in the nation in rushing offense.

There is still hope for Mark Richt
The Mayor does a good job of highlighting the real rule that governs coaches who generally win national titles.

Coaches who keep their teams in contention, year in and year out, eventually will catch the breaks that make the difference between 11-2 and winning it all.

Richt will be fine. As I said before, I hope he does win a crystal football -- and as I'm not sure I said before, I believe he will do so. That, by the way, meets my quota of nice things to say about Georgia for the month.

I disagree completely
Nico2.0 at Roll Bama Roll believes we should do away with the SEC Championship Game.

The bullet points of my disagreement:

--Getting rid of South Carolina and Arkansas is based more on sentimentality than on football program quality;
--This is a football-only solution that would hurt basketball and baseball, the latter of which now also features the SEC as its pre-eminent conference;
--The MAC is an awful example, in part because it is a 13-team conference split into two divisions -- this by Yankees who are supposed to be smarter than us;
--The two best teams in the MAC did meet. Maybe not in the championship game, but they met at some point in the season;
--Even so, the SEC is not the MAC. Every participant in its conference championship game has been ranked, and only six of the 34 teams to take part in the game have been ranked outside the Top 15 at the time.

Nico had mentioned doing this article to me about a year ago, so I am sure that the article has nothing to do with the fact that the team that would have won the SEC in 2008 had there been no championship game would have been...

Alabama. Hmm. (In seriousness, the post is worth a read. I just happen to strongly disagree.)