Kane Webb: Thursday Morning-ish Quarterback

 

Where post-game meets pre-game 

Hey kids. Dried out yet from that weekend orgy of college football? I still feel a little bloated. Maybe I should have stopped at five games. This weekend, I promise to be more responsible. No last rounds of PAC-12 with a Mountain West chaser. No mixing the SEC with the Big 10. (What’s the saying? LSU before Wisconsin, never fear/ Wisconsin before LSU, mighty risky? I forget.) No getting up early to watch Central Florida live from Ireland. Central Florida.

With me? No? Great. So let’s start Thursday Morning Quarterback with a leisurely lap around the Southeastern Conference:

Arkansas — OK, Hog fan, raise your right hand and repeat after me. “I, state your name and favorite all-time player and, yes, we know they don’t make ‘em like that anymore, resolve not to get too high or too low until after the Texas A&M game.”

Auburn — possibly as good or better than last year, but surely not as lucky, right? Right?

Alabama — Is it just me, or does Lane Kiffin look as if he snuck onto the sidelines from kinesiology class, which he was already skipping to hang out at the Delta Chi house? I vote for a Kiffin-Nick Saban cam at all future games. That sideline dance could prove a lot more interesting than what happens on the field.

Ole Miss — Just watching the Rebels makes me pine for an afternoon in Oxford, Miss., at Square Books. Okay, you talked me into it. Let’s tour Rowan Oak, too.

Mississippi State — They played Alabama-Birmingham. Doesn’t Gene Bartow coach that team?

LSU — The Tigers are as incorrigible as their coach. They had no business beating Wisconsin. But talent, habit, maybe boredom and the slightly-out-of-it-doesn’t-know-any-better-when-the-sky-is-falling bravura of Les Miles somehow carried the day. Paging Leonard Fournette! Paging Leonard Fournette! Your fan base is waiting.

Texas A&MOhhhh, it was Kevin Sumlin then. Good to know. This week’s can’t-wait, game-of-the-year-so-far: Aggies at Alabama, Oct. 18.

Missouri — I’m a Mizzou alum. Class of ’86. And I’ve got a complaint. I don’t like the all-black uniforms. I know they’ll change another half-dozen times before season’s end. I know the kids like them. I know NIKE or Under Armour or whoever pays squillions of dollars to outfit these college teams like them. I know I’m 50, and I’m not supposed to like them. I know that I just don’t get it.

So I concede. I understand that the fashion in college football these days is to wear uniforms that look like a cross between the old World Football League, the United States Football League, the Oregon Ducks and the Miami Sharks from “Any Given Sunday.” Got it. Check. Understood.

But here’s a modest proposal from a well-aged fan: What about one game a year in which the ol’ alma maters wear throwback unis? I envision my Tigers in old gold and black with a block gold “M” on a black helmet. Imagine the Razorbacks in, say, their 1969 get up — crimson jerseys, white pants with thin red stripes down the side, a modest white hog on a red helmet. No pizzazz. Plenty of nostalgia. Can’t you just see Chuck Dicus hauling in a spiral from Bill Montgomery? At least if they don’t win, they’ll remind you of a team that used to.

Kentucky — I still think the Wildcats are going to miss Julius Randle this year, don’t you?

Vanderbilt — Top-shelf economics department. Lovely campus. For years, my favorite athletic programs were Rice because its Rice and Vandy because it didn’t have an athletic department. Then the Commodores won three straight bowl games and the Owls put together an 11-win season. What th’? That’s no way to be an underdog. Happily, in week one, both Vandy and Rice looked like Vandy and Rice.

An aside: I once had the basketball coach at Rice return my call this way: “Hello, this is (full name without “coach” honorific). I’m the head men’s basketball coach at Rice University. (pause) In Houston. (pause) Thank you for calling me.”

No secretary. No “please hold for Coach Important.” It was so endearing. I just needed one quick quote — of the gosh-Arkansas-is-loaded variety — but we chatted for almost an hour. Wish I could remember that coach’s name. He didn’t last long. My instinct is that he was smart enough to get out of the business.

Georgia — Athens. What a great college town. Home to musical group . . . wait for it . . . c’mon, you know this . . . R.E.M. Some others too, but I don’t feel like doing a Google search right now. As for the Bulldogs: (1) running back Todd Gurley is so good he may be drafted in the, oh, third round (thanks a lot, Trent Richardson); (2) they’re the team most likely to be over-hyped after week one.

South Carolina — the team most likely to be over-hated after week one. My favorite pundit theory as to what went wrong against Texas A&M was this: Steve Spurrier spends too much time playing golf and not enough time studying film. Which surely explains why the ol’ ball coach has been such a failure. (Overall college record: 219-80-2, one national championship, loads of fun.) And don’t you know that a few more hours of film study will turn all those defensive backs into Richard Shermans and all those defensive linemen into Jadeveon Clowneys? Maybe if the Hogs’ coaching staff had studied one more hour of game tape, it would have made Duke Williams slower.

Apropos of nothing: I spent a few days in Columbia, S.C., covering the 2008 presidential campaign. Mike Huckabee was still in the race. Hillary and Barack swung through. A reporter from the Chicago Tribune talked me into going to a barbecue place in town that promised to change my life. World’s greatest and all that business. Did you know they put mustard in their barbecue sauce in those parts? Mustard.

Mustard.

Florida — So they don’t play football in the rain any more? When did this happen? Is this part of America’s agreement to replace baseball with football as the national pastime? Now there are rainouts? When I was growing up, we played football in the rain. “Coach” scanned the forecast for the worst weather in the area and made us practice in it. “Coach” was downright giddy during tornado warnings. “Coach” waxed poetic about the glories of playing touch football in a hurricane on Okinawa during the war. I think “Coach” had a metal plate in his head. His breath smelled like Fritos.

Tennessee — Ripe for an upset against Arkansas State? Am I right? Are you on board? No? Not at all?

Mustard.

This week’s…

Games you want to watch

Michigan State at Oregon. Cue talking heads: “It’s a contrast in styles in Eugene, Oregon! Smash mouth vs. Speed! Big D vs. Big O! You’re looking LIVE at Whoa nelly!” No team is more fun to watch in a blowout than Oregon. The Ducks’ 59-14 track meet of a victory over Tennessee last year was like watching a video game. Entertainment Value: three out of five beers if it’s close; four if the Ducks roll.

Arizona at UTSA. That’s the University of Texas at San Antonio Roadrunners. Any team nicknamed the Roadrunners has me at hel- . . . beep-beep. Both teams have coaches who used to be semi-famous and now seem to have reached that eff-it stage of life. What’s not to like? EV: three and a half beers.

Southern Cal at Stanford. I guess. EV: three beers. Maybe.

Games you want to avoid

Michigan at Notre Dame. Again?! I thought they dropped this series. They promised they wouldn’t play any more. Is there any rivalry that’s less interesting relative to its hype?

SEC teams vs. Florida Atlantic, Toledo, Alabama-Birmingham, Ohio, Eastern Michigan, East Carolina and San Jose State. Let’s make it more interesting: Loser leaves the league.

The Meh Game of the Week

Arkansas vs. Nicholls State. Because if you didn’t have to … 

This week’s sign of sanity

Courtesy of Grantland via Tulsa safety Demarco Nelson, who was presented with this inevitable post-victory question: “What does this win say to the rest of the conference and to all of college football?”

Sayeth Demarco, our new favorite football player: “I mean, it doesn’t really say anything. It’s the first game.”

quarterback lane kiffin with saban

 

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