Saturdays in Athens


Saturday, 9th September 2023

With week one in the bag there was more excitement and action than you could shake a corndog at! And, with week two now upon us the chaos and controversy has not slowed. So there is literally a ton to talk about this week!  Let’s not waste any more time with jibber jabber…..

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

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

Noles slay the tigers

Photo Credit: AP Photo/John Raoux

Camping World Stadium, Orlando, FL

LSU head coach, Brian Kelly promised us that his Tigers would “beat the heck out of Florida State” ahead of the season opener in Florida on Sunday night.

After the Noles slayed the Bayou Bengals 45-17 inside the Camping World Stadium, Kelly was forced to admit that the result was “a total failure from a coaching standpoint and a player standpoint”.

What was worse for Kelly was that his team held a slim 17-14 lead at half time but went on to capitulate in the 2nd half when Florida State scored 34 unanswered points.

Remember, this is an LSU team that many thought would repeat their SEC West success of last year and challenge Georgia for a SEC title.

“We certainly are not the football team that I thought we were.” 

Said Kelly, which is a terrible admission for a head coach to make following his team’s first game of the season.

LSU may recover from this, as they did last year, when they also lost to FSU in the season opener. But, last season the game was tight with a last minute field goal winning it for the Noles. On Sunday only one team had the “heck beat out of them” and that team wasn’t from Tallahassee.

Talking in the post match press conference a downbeat Kelly seemed to suggest that his team had underestimated the opposition.

“The buck stops with me” said Kelly immediately after the game.

“and I’ve got to get our football team to understand and recognize that you’ve got to play this game for four quarters with a mentality. We just did not, for some reason. We thought we were somebody else. We thought we were the two-time national champion Georgia Bulldogs or something. I don’t know what we thought, but we were mistaken.”

Next up for the Tigers are Grambling State who travel into Death Valley on Saturday.

The Tigers, Grambling not Louisiana will be canon fodder when they enter the Tigers Den in Baton Rouge, Saturday. This will give Kelly and his caching staff an opportunity to press the reset button and take stock before they face Arkansas the following week.

As you might expect LSU fans are livid at this point which gives Brian Kelly and his Tigers very little room for manoeuvre in the remaining fixtures. LSU recovered last year, can they do it again?


you want them to sing two songs less?

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Thomas Graning

Oxford, ms

Mississippi head coach, Lane Kiffin is no fan of the rule changes which keep the clock running on first down.

The rule change was designed to speed up the game meaning players are on the field for fewer minutes, therefore limiting playing time and hopefully injuries.

However, Kiffin does not see the sense in shortening the product for the paying public.

“I just don’t understand it,” Kiffin said Wednesday during the SEC head coaches midweek teleconference call.

“People pay to see, they sit down as a family to watch the game. They pay for tickets to go to a game, and we’re going to shorten it. It’s not like it was broke, and we’ve got a lot of problems that need to be fixed in the world around college football than running the clock so a game’s quicker, I don’t get it”.

Kiffin went on to compare the football product on the field to other sources of entertainment that the fans might choose to attend.

“you go to a country concert, you want them to sing two less songs? At your favorite concert? No, well why do you want a game to be shorter. They just don’t really show much awareness about what should be getting worked on and fixed around college football in my opinion.”

This is sure to be a topic which rumbles on this season. No doubt.

This Saturday, Ole Miss travel to New Orleans  to face a top-25 ranked Tulane Green Wave team.


Tennessee's next superstar

Photo Credit: Yahoo Sports

knoxville, tn

On Saturday, the spotlight was on Joe Milton as the Tennessee Vols defeated Virginia 49-13. The Vols fans have high expectations this year for Milton.

However, during the fourth quarter with the Vols leading 42-10, a new chapter started in Knoxville.

As the end of the game neared, a game which was finished by all intents and purposes, the chant of “Nico, Nico” started around Neyland Stadium.

Nico Iamaleava is the future at Tennessee and enrolled early at UT to enable him to be part of the Vols preparations for the Orange Bowl back in December.

Iamaleava was a five star QB recruit and was ranked #2 in the 247 Composite ranking index. He chose the Vols over Georgia, Alabama, Oregon and Miami. Understandably hopes are sky high for the young Californian.

Iamaleava joined the game against Virginia with a touch under 13 minutes left on the clock and was 2-for-3 passing for 11 yards with one rush for an 8-yard gain.

“I thought he showed some athleticism,” Tennessee head coach Heupel said after the game.

“I love the feel in the pocket, being able to step up and get out of it and go make a play with his feet. He is athletic enough to be used in the run game and escape the pocket. I thought some of the run-pass stuff he did a good job of. Made an athletic throw, didn’t complete it — throwing across his body on a little slant route.”

These are exciting times in Knoxville.

The Vols welcome Austin Peay into Neyland Stadium this weekend.


Freeze not California dreamin'

Image Credit: Montgomery Advertiser/ SEC Sports

Auburn, AL

Hugh Freeze is no fan of his team playing on the West coast against Cal this weekend. Why do I think this? Well because he said so.

“I don’t like scheduling teams on the West Coast,” Freeze told the Auburn press pack on Monday of this week. 

“I’d just as soon play somebody over here on the East Coast, but it was done. Me complaining or not embracing it is not the proper response.”

While head coach at Liberty, the Flames travelled across country to play BYU and Freeze did not enjoy that experience.

“I think it creates some challenges, but this will be a good test for all of us. Coaches, trainers, staff, nutritionists, drink staff, support staff, players. How do we handle it if things are a little uncomfortable?,”

In the UK we see on a regular basis how NFL teams make the long trip transatlantic although truth is many liken it to a coast to coast trip.

Over the years some teams have flown into London early and others late. Freeze wanted to travel as late as possible into California although the logistics frustrated him.

“We’re going to go as late as they would allow on Thursday,” Freeze said. “And try to get there fairly late in hopes that we can sleep in a little bit on Friday with the body on Central Time. Don’t know if that’s right, but that’s our plan.”

Freeze had wanted to fly to California late on Friday and stay on Central time, however the jet that Auburn chartered is being used by an NFL team on Friday meaning the Tigers had to travel a day early.

So Thursday it is and Freeze is still not happy.

Bulldogs honor Coach Leach

Photo credit: MIssissippi State Twitter

Starkville, MS

Last Saturday was emotional in Starkville as Mississippi State played their first game in Davis Wade stadium since the sad passing of Coach Mike Leach last year.

In tribute to the Pirate, the Bulldogs had various reminders in the stadium including painting the field.

A presentation was also made to the Leach family.

The Bulldogs beat Southeastern Louisiana by 48-7 in their season opener.

Across the state of Mississippi flags flew at half mast on Saturday in honor of the Coach they called “The Pirate”.


Image credit: Mississippi State Twitter

More TV Woes

Photo credit: Los Angeles Times, Twitter

Birmingham, AL

We know only too well in the UK the issues that the recent TV contract disputes have caused.

ESPN Player has disappeared from our screens and the transfer from BT Sport to TNT has heralded an ominous silence from either provider as to what, if any, college football is going to be shown this season. With us being two games into the season, we can assume there will be no college football available to us this season.

Given we are some 4,000 miles from the action it is safe to say that we, the UK & European public are out sight and out of mind.

On that basis you would expect that the US college football viewership is fine and dandy and currently sat on their couches watching all the college ball they can consume.

As a wise man says every Saturday from September to December…”Not so fast my friend”…

A now very public spat between cable provider Spectrum and the owner of ESPN, Disney has meant that college football was absent from the screens of millions last weekend.

With week one of the college football season stretching across the US Labor Day weekend it is estimated that college football was absent from 15 million screens.

Which as you can imagine went down like a lead balloon. So much so that one woman in Florida has filed a lawsuit against Spectrum for breach of contract when she was unable to watch Florida play Utah.

It remains to be seen whether the lady has rescinded her claim on the back of the Gators heavy defeat in the beehive state.

But all jokes aside this is now of great concern for everyone involved in the broadcasting of the college game.

So much so that the SEC put out a statement this week.

“As negotiations continue between Charter Communications and Disney Entertainment, Spectrum cable customers who are seeking SEC programming on ESPN channels, including SEC Network, can easily find and sign up for ESPN channels across all other major TV streaming providers like DirecTV, Sling, Hulu, YouTubeTV and FuboTV.”

With both sides in what seems like a stalemate, this has huge repercussions for the game if the blackout continues for a second week. Especially with Texas rolling into Bryant Denny to meet Alabama, which is considered the first real heavyweight contest of the season.


Image credit: Southeastern Conference Twitter