Saturdays in Athens


Saturday, 2nd September 2023

Did you wake up this morning to a chill in the air? Can you smell tailgate smoke already? Is there a palpable excitement in the atmosphere?

Well, that’s because SEC football is back!

With all due respect to Vandy kicking us off for the season, the Commodores victory over Hawaii last week was merely the appetiser.

This week we have the full conference in action which is what we have been waiting for ever since January, when those Dawgs picked up a second successive Natty.

So it’s great to be back and to 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!

Gators fall to the utes

Photo Credit: David Bowie for Gator Country

rice-eccles stadium, Salt Lake City, UT

It’s really not a secret that teams from the South don’t travel well to the West coast.

And that statistic didnt get any better on Thursday night when the Gators travelled to Salt Lake City for the road game in the series they started with Utah last season.

You will recall that Florida won that showdown last year in the Swamp. Getting Billy Napier’s tenure as Gator head coach off to a great start.

Not so much this year. The Gators fell to the Utes by 24-11.

Utah started the game without QB1 Cam Rising, giving Florida the slight edge on paper at least.

All eyes were on Wisconsin transfer Graham Mertz who Napier announced would be his starting QB. 

Truth is, Mertz had a good start to his Gator career. Florida ended up throwing the ball more than anticipated as the run game was restricted to just 28 yards from 10 plays.

Mertz received pass marks from most but was still sacked five times for a combined loss of 45 yards. It was the ill discipline from his team  that will frustrate Napier.

Missed field goals, an equipment violation penalty, fielding two punt returns (not just one!) on their own five yard line. Special teams was a disaster. 

In total Florida recorded nine penalties for 45 yards. It was not a great display.

And the Gator fans did not hold back on their criticism. They really didn’t. “Napier must go” and “have they practiced” were some of the nicer things said.

Next up for Florida is McNeese State which gives Napier and his staff a chance to reset and gather their thoughts. Which is just as well because the following week Tennessee visit the Swamp.

A humbling defeat to the Vols will place Napier in a very tricky situation.


Midnight in the garden of good and evil

Photo Credit: University of Georgia Alumni Association

Athens, GA

You can’t help but associate Georgia football with its mascot UGA. UGA is one of the most identifiable mascots in college football.

Current UGA – the real bulldog who is the gameday mascot – is number 11 in the lineage of UGA’s.

This week the owner of UGA and the lineage of dogs used as mascots over the years, Frank “Sonny” Seiler passed away after a short illness, aged 90.

Before we get to the UGA connection you may have wondered about the headline. Seiler was an attorney and was lead defense counsel in a notorious case that was featured in the book and subsequent movie “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”.

However, it was Seiler who started the UGA tradition in 1956 when he brought his English bulldog to the season opener. Seiler had been asked by then Georgia head coach, Wally Butts to bring his dog along.

Since that day an UGA, from the same line of UGA the first, has been the gameday mascot in Athens. 

If you’re not overly familiar with UGA, he is treated like royalty and lives like a king. His kennel at Sanford Stadium is air conditioned for hot days and warmed for cool days. UGA travels to most road games and is a huge celebrity in his won right.


College football in movie theatres this fall!

Photo Credit:

SEC Nation

It’s ironic that in a year when the ESPN Player has been removed from the UK, that ESPN has announced the roll out of live games into movie theatres across the US this fall.

This is an expansion of an existing deal with the Theatre Sports network which saw the College Football playoff games and National Championship game shown live in movie theatres.

This year the expanded deal which will feature mostly ACC games at this stage will show 75 live games. 

However, as well as showing regular season games, Cinemark theatres will include all of the New Year’s Six bowl games plus CFB Playoff games and the Natty itself.

If you can’t make it to the game in person, I can’t think of a better way to watch a classic match up than on a very large screen with Dolby surround sound!

It’s just another reason to want to move to the US of A!



Image Credit: AP Photo/Phil Sandlin,


No question that Paul Finebaum is an outspoken, sometimes polarising figure. No-one can deny that Finebaum speaks his mind and he did so again this week.

The topic of how Nick Saban treats the Alabama beat writers rose its head again this week after the Crimson Tide head coach called out a question he got about the Bama depth chart.

Speaking on the Matt Barrie show Finebaum addressed the remarks Saban made on Tuesday

“Every time I say this, people in Alabama get mad, I don’t like the bullying of the media. Don’t bully people because you can, and Saban has made a career at Alabama and maybe elsewhere of bullying those who are weaker than him and don’t have the ability, and that’s just not a good look. That is my only complaint about this.”

It is a newsworthy story given that this is the first time in 17 seasons that head coach Nick Saban has chosen not to release a depth chart ahead of the new season. However, it’s not the first time that this topic has risen it’s head. Last season Saban had a grumble about the Media’s fixation on depth charts. Back then he said “Y’all may have seen the last one. Because that’s all you worry about.”

On Wednesday Saban followed through on his threat when he scrapped the forlorn price of paper.

“I want all of our players to continue to compete, continue to compete for playing time, to try to play at the highest level. And I don’t want anybody on our team to think they’re a backup player or whatever.” said Saban during his Tuesday press conference.

Finebaum’s remarks came on the back of a tweet by Tim Brando of Fox Sports who did not like the response that the Crimson Tide head coach made. Brando said via Twitter,

“Why bully his local media in such a manner? The ***kissing he’s demanding here is a joke! When much is given, much is also expected and the Goat needs to act like the greatest as opposed (to) using your brand as a bully pulpit and that’s all this is!”

Interestingly the Bama beat writers that Brando was seemingly sticking up for took Saban’s comments in good humour. They are used to the head coach sounding off.’s Michael Casagrande wrote,

“That was Depth Chart Monday.


Cause of death: Annoyance”.

Which is how the Bama media deals with this. They don’t need Tim Brando or Paul Finebaum for that matter to defend them. Maybe Brando wanted clicks. And of course Finebaum isn’t writing a book about the Saban dynasty is he? Oh wait….

It feels like a storm in a teacup.


Game of the week!

Photo credit:Charles Mays/Tomahawk Nation

Orlando, FL

It’s awesome to see a full SEC slate back for the first time since early December. But let’s be honest not all games are built equally.

Yes, we want to see how Jalen Milroe will perform in his first game at QB for Alabama (will he play his first game?), or how many points Georgia runs up against TN-Martin?

These games will be helpful for head coaches to settle their teams into the new season and prepare them for week 2, where there are some huge games.

But in week 1 the games that jump off the sheet are Thursday’s game in Salt Lake City as the Gators travel west to visit Rice-Eccles stadium. But by the time you read this, that game is over.

The next game is North Carolina travelling into Bryce Williams to face South Carolina. This is an intriguing game with high hopes for this Tar Heels side. But, South Carolina is a program on the up. So this is one to watch.

That said, the clear game of the week is Florida State v LSU. This a clash of two ranked teams with the ‘Noles ranked at #8 in the pre season and LSU at #5.

There are sky high hopes for both teams and LSU will be desperate to avenge last seasons opening game defeat.

Again, the game will be played at a neutral venue,  at the Camping World Stadium, Orlando. Average ticket prices are coming in around $450 on resale sites which shows the demand for this game.

Vegas has LSU as favourites but there is hype about how good this Florida State team can be this season. 

Last season, FSU pipped the Tigers by 24-23 with LSU missing a last second field goal. 

Whatever you do, don’t miss this game – if you can find a screen to watch it on!

This games kicks off on SUNDAY night 12.30am UK time!