Saturdays in Athens


Saturday, 16th september 2023

It’s another week in SEC football and the all SEC conference games are now coming at us thick and fast.

We will be glued to our TV’s on Saturday to watch some great match up’s which may or may not throw us some early season suprises.

But before we get to Saturday lets have a look at the headlines which have dominated SEC football this week!

Welcome y’all to our weekly round up of life in the Southeastern Conference.

Here are this weeks headlines….let’s get started!

"What the hell is going on?"

Photo Credit: SEC Network

Tuscaloosa, AL

No great surprise that our first stop on the SEC road trip this week is Tuscaloosa, Alabama. In fact such has been the broo-ha-ha around the Crimson Tide this week that I could fill the whole column with news coming out of Bryan Denny. But I shall resist.

Whenever Alabama loses a game, the world seems to melt into chaos. While Alabama fans are spoiled putting it mildly with the rest of the CFB landscape being forever fixated on the Nick Saban era being over. So a loss is the perfect storm for both sides coming together to revel in the gloom and doom.

So let’s start there. Predictably many believed the latest defeat, this time to Texas in Tuscaloosa was enough to persuade Saban to hang up his fedora. Wishful thinking. Saban said this week during the Pat McAfee show,

“I love what I’m doing. I’m focused on the challenge. I’ve always said I don’t want to ride the program down. I don’t want to do this if I can’t do it anymore, but I feel great right now. I love it. We got lots of challenges this season. I’m looking forward to it and we’re all in.”

So there. Suck on that you non believers.

saban has a sense of humour!

Not only is the Alabama Head coach not going anywhere he seems relaxed and calm about the current situation. Which should concern the rest of college football.

This week on his weekly “Hey Coach” radio show Saban showed his humorous side. Most SEC coaches have their own radio show which allows the fans to call in and speak directly to their head coach. As you can imagine across the South, fans typically don’t hold back when it comes to their teams. Especially after a home loss.

When PeeWee, a regular caller into Hey Coach joined the show he got more than he bargained for. Saban decided to get in first and took the role of the irate caller – “so I wanted to ask you – What the hell is going on?” said Saban with a serious look on his face.

It really was a classic moment from one of football’s greatest ever coaches. If not THE best.

Buchner to start!

Photo Credit: University of Alabama Athletics

Tuscaloosa, AL

Let’s stay at Alabama just for a little bit. I promise you I won’t go back on my word to fill the column with Crimson Tide news.

However breaking news on Friday caught many people by surprise.

As QB1 of one of the best football program’s in the country you take most of the glory and all of the criticism. And following Alabama’s 34-24 defeat to the Texas Longhorns on Saturday, Jalen Milroe took all of the criticism. Some of it fair, some of it unfair, in my opinion.

Immediately post game Nick Saban defended his QB, however commenting on the play that turned the game, Saban said

“Obviously, the interception was critical in the game. We’re just gonna work to try to get all our players better.”

In the same post game conference Saban admitted to thinking about introducing other QB’s during the game but decided against it when Alabama took the lead in the 4th quarter. Which should have signalled to everyone that the Head coach isn’t sold on Milroe.

That theory was proven Friday when 247 Sports John Talty broke the news that Notre Dame transfer, Tyler Buchner is expected to start at QB for Alabama on the road against the University of South Florida.

Per Talty, Buchner has taken the lions share of the snaps this week in practice with a source confirming to Talty that Buchner is scheduled to start.

With Alabama favourite to win  in the Raymond James stadium against the South Florida Bulls, this seems a perfect opportunity to test out a second QB in a live game situation.

Buchner is known to Bama offensive co-ordinator Tommy Rees, with both being in South Bend with the Fighting Irish before moving to Tuscaloosa. 

Prior to the season beginning many in the media believed that TY Simpson may well win out the starting QB only for Milroe to play in the opening game against Middle Tennessee. Now to find Buchner being thrown into the limelight, it is sure to raise some eyebrows as to Simpson’s place in the team.


Kiffin gets sued!

Photo Credit: Ole Miss Athletics

Oxford, ms

The SEC is full of surprises. There is rarely a dull day across SEC land but yet I did not expect to be writing about Ole Miss Head coach, Lane Kiffin being sued.

To be fair it’s not just Kiffin but Ole Miss football and the University of Mississippi also.

The Rebel’s defensive tackle Desanto Rollins filed a lawsuit on Thursday of this last week for failure to provide equal protection, racial and sexual discrimination, and multiple other allegations per the papers filed.

It is alleged that Rollins sought time out – on the advice of a school counsellor – post the passing of his grandmother. The papers go on to describe that Rollins was already suffering from depression following multiple injuries that sidelined him from the team.

It is understood that Ole Miss elected to move Rollins from the defensive side of the team to offensive tackle on the scout team which Rollins refused to do.

The lawsuit alleges that Kiffin told him “if he didn’t like it then he should quit.”

ESPN has published a transcript of a recording Rollins made of an alleged conversation that Rollins had with Kiffin, without the Head coach’s knowledge of it being recorded. While ESPN could not attribute the voice recorded to Kiffin the transcript doesn’t make for good reading. 

Kiffin has yet to comment with Ole Miss making a statement that at the time of the request that they had not received or seen sight of the lawsuit.


Familiar eagle in Philly?

Image Credit: Auburn University

Auburn, AL

A bit of light relief away from all the legal action if you don’t mind.

Just prior to the Eagles kick off against Minneapolis at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia an American Bald Eagle circled the stadium.

Auburn fans could have been forgiven for rubbing their eyes at a familiar sight as the Eagle set loose over Philly was Auburn’s mascot Independence or Indy as she is better known.

Indy flying over Jordan Hare every other Saturday to the chant of War Eagle is one of the SEC’s more memorable spectacles.

Indy has been seen at other sporting events, including baseball but is kept at home in Auburn where she performs her traditional flight at each home game. 

Indy is War Eagle # VIII and has a mighty wingspan of 6’5″. Her first game was in 2018 against Liberty.

It really is quite a sight.


Will the real Spencer Rattler please stand up!

Photo credit:Jeff Blake USA Today Sports

Columbia, SC

May I have your attention please! Will the real Spencer Rattler please stand up?

The South Carolina Gamecocks travel into Georgia to play the Bulldogs in an all SEC East clash this weekend. Arguably this is the Georgia Bulldogs first real test of the season, albeit the Gamecocks are not firing on all cylinders yet.

An unexpected lost to rivals North Carolina followed by a convincing victory over Furman gives Shane Beamer’s team a 1-1 record going into the Georgia game.

The victory over Furman was so convincing that Gamecocks QB, Spencer Rattler was named the SEC offensive player of the week.

Rattler threw for 345 yards and 3 Touchdowns for South Carolina in their 47-21 win over Furman.

Thus far Rattler during his time in Columbia has proven to be something of an enigma. At times like the Tennessee game last year when Rattler threw for 438 yards and 6 touchdown’s he showed his genius. But too often he has not fulfilled his promise.

And truth is, if Shane Beamer is to record his first victory over Kirby Smart, Rattler will need to be at this very best.

However, the inconsistency of the Gamecocks QB did not deter Georgia Head coach, Kirby Smart from singing the praise of the young Rattler.

“He’s got an arm” said Smart during the SEC coaches midweek teleconference.

“he gets the ball out quick, he’s accurate, he’s athletic, he steps up in the pocket well, he knows when to run, he knows when to throw – he can make all of the throws, I can promise you that”

Said Smart who couldn’t help but share his appreciation of Rattler’s ability.

But will the real Spencer Rattler please stand up? He will have to. 

The  Bulldogs are a 27.5 favourite over the Gamecocks. It feels like it’s going to be a long afternoon for Rattler and his Gamecocks.