Friday, October 14, 2011

Paging Dr. Lou

Alright, 2011 SEC Season.  Into the locker room.  Or better yet, just stay on the field, behind the goal post, where coaches direct their team at halftime when they are so disgusted with them that they cannot wait to get behind walls to unleash their fury.  We're at the midpoint of the season, and just like Frank Costanza during Festivus, it's time I let you know just how much you've let me down this year.  So take a knee, take your hat off, and take what's coming to you.  Just remember, it hurts me more than it hurts you.

While we're on the subject of pain, why don't we let the first request be for you to STOP HURTING ALL MY FAVORITE PLAYERS.  I know you have a reputation to keep, what with the SEC being the biggest, baddest bully on the block, but you have to at least allow some of its stars to keep shining.  You took out Knile Davis before the season started.  He might have been the best running back in the conference.  After that, you took out his backup, Dennis Johnson.  When you gave Johnson back, you apparently took out HIS backup, Ronnie Wingo.  Then you took out four starters for Arkansas during their toughest three-week stretch of the season.  You tried your hardest to take out Tyler Wilson, the best quarterback in the conference, but he apparently is either too dumb or too numb to realize your intentions.  He just keeps playing and setting records.

You're not limiting yourself to Arkansas, either.  You decimated Georgia's running back corps in the preseason, and since kickoff you've whacked both Tennessee's best receiver and their starting quarterback, who might be the second best passer in the league behind Wilson.  In a cruel twist of irony, you refuse to injure Barrett Trotter, yet you take out his top two wide receivers... presumably in nothing more than a capricious act of evil brilliance, because he certainly needs no extra help in failing miserably as an SEC quarterback.  Oh yeah, you also ended the season of Florida's one viable quarterback option, John Brantley, and while you were at it, took out his cherubic understudy as well.  I think that kid might have been fourteen, and you trotted him out there against Alabama, bless his heart.  You should be ashamed of yourself.

Second, I'm going to need a little more ineptitude in the officiating department before this SEC season can really be deemed as legitimate.  Over the past few years fans of the SEC have gotten used to officials making themselves part of the equation that determines the winner of any given game, instead of removing themselves from that equation.  Excessive celebration penalties, unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, fumbles that were and touchdowns that weren't, we've gotten used to hating on the officials.  There is little doubt in my mind that the officials still suck, but you're going to need to give us more of an opportunity to affirm that for this season.  So far, all we've had is a clock-controversy over one second in the Auburn-South Carolina contest that was really much ado about nothing.  The officials got it right, and even if they hadn't, it's not like South Carolina would have been able to do anything with their one remaining tick.  Still, the Ole Ball Coach at least deserved a chance to see if he could coax brilliance out of his drunk quarterback and chunky wide receiver one more (or in the case of Garcia, just one) time.

Third, people are going to stop watching SEC football if LSU and Alabama turn the featured television slot into a blowout each week.  There hasn't been a CBS game worth watching this season, but the best one of the bunch as far as entertainment value was the first one aired, between Florida and Tennessee, which ironically enough featured the worst matchup in terms of talent and rankings.  Alabama and LSU are going to demolish every team they play, and even if it doesn't appear that way on the scoreboard, it will seem that way to those tuning in, because a 10-point lead for either team is insurmountable.  I was in the stands at Bryant-Denny Stadium, and I am a diehard Razorback fan who refuses to give up, but I knew well before the fourth quarter of the game between Arkansas and Alabama that my Hogs didn't stand a chance.  The Tide are that good. LSU isn't on that level, in my opinion, but they are certainly good enough to take every team in the SEC, save two, to the cleaners.  It's why the SEC, even at midseason, and even with two of the top three teams in the country, is being branded yet again as being "down".  Whatever that means.  So how about some exciting matchups?  If not great football, could you at least throw some intrigue our way?  Require Les to eat some other strange non-food?  Steal another game from Derek Dooley just to see if he breaks down and cries on the 50 yard-line?  Or steal the first game from Will Muschamp to see if his head does, in fact, explode like an overfilled balloon, right there on the sideline?  Just give me something... anything.  Remember, these few Saturdays are what we live for.

The second half is almost upon us, so I'm going to close the way that all great coaches close and send you out on a positive note, with fire in your belly and a gleam in your eye.  We laid an egg that first half, guys, but the SEC season is built for second-half comebacks.  We have rivalry game upon rivalry game, stacked up so high that some bitter feuds might get relegated all the way to the SEC Network slot.  Every week, a game will be played that is highly important for no other reason than the teams playing hating each other so much.  We have a Cocktail Party and an Egg Bowl and an Iron Bowl and a Battle for the Boot and so many more.  We have a conference championship game that will likely send a team to claim a BCS Championship for the sixth straight year.  We have Trent Richardson chasing a Heisman trophy and Tyrann Mathieu, the Honey Badger himself, making his own case for being the best player in America.  And we have an ace up our sleeve.  We have a game on November 5th that can reinforce with undeniable resonance that the best football in America is played here, in our region and on our fields.  Sidebars with Stephen Garcia and Jordan Jefferson may pass the time, and debates over conference expansion  and the job security of Mark Richt and Houston Nutt may hold our interest temporarily, but for true college football fans, what it all boils down to is getting to watch GREAT football... and that's what the matchup between LSU and Alabama will deliver.  That's what the SEC does, and that's what will make this second half so great.

So let's get to it.

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