Saturdays in Athens

George Somerville


31st December 2021

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

Well y’all we made it to the end of the year – so Happy Hogmanay (you won’t be saying that in College Station I bet!).

Given the impending Cotton and Orange Bowls it would be easy to dedicate the whole column to those games. But we know better than to expect there was nothing else going on in the SouthEastern Conference – of course there was.

So it wouldn’t be a Saturday In Athens without our old friend Mike Leach making some memorable comments, and then there’s Gamecocks HC Shane Beamer declaring his love for mayonnaise. Yup folks, it’s just another ho-hum week in the SEC!

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

Sleazy And Slimy And Dirty!

Photo Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Starkville, MS

For those unfamiliar with the history, Mike Leach and Texas Tech acrimoniously parted ways in 2009, and hard feelings – particularly on Coach Leach’s side – remain strong to this day.

Up until this point, Leach has never had to face TTU since he left Lubbock. But of course Mississippi State becoming bowl eligbible this year could only throw up one possible opponent – yep, those Red Raiders.

It was inevitable that Leach would be asked about his thoughts on the split with Texas Tech. And if you know the background, then you know that Leach continues in his litigious pursuit of the money Tech refused to pay out after terminating his contract.

Leach said this to ESPN at the start of this week as preparations for the bowl games started in Ernest,

“It’s indisputable they owe me the money, no one can dispute that. When it comes to the money, they don’t just owe me the $2.4 million. They actually owe me for four more years, but I’ve always said that I’d settle for the $2.4 million and an acknowledgement that I didn’t do anything wrong.”

There is no doubting that Texas Tech and Mike Leach were a marriage made in heaven and it is well known that Leach did not want to leave Lubbock – nor did the Tech fans, which made the split all the more acrimonious. Leach went on to talk about his affection for the town and it’s fans,

“I love Texas Tech. Being at Texas Tech were some of the best years of my life”.

Leach told ESPN,

“The Texas Tech fans are utterly fantastic and are on my side. The Tech fans would like to see this thing reconciled and I have no problem with them. The best football years at Tech were our 10 years there and we need to celebrate that together. The crooks at the top were the problem.”

Mike Leach continues his legal dispute against some of the parties involved, although his pursuit against the University has now been halted.

It is clear Leach continues to hold some deep feelings about the University administration and he continued to call out those responsible for his sacking. He called the administration while he was there “Sleazy and slimy and dirty”. You can see the rest of his rant in the video posted below.

And while we are in Starkville and it’s December 31st, wouldn’t we want to know what New Year’s resolutions Coach Leach has for 2022? I would definitely want to know that. 

Leach wasn’t so sure, citing there were a multitude of problems to fix. Leach said,

“I think the wise thing for me would to just have a couple. Because if we address all of the problems, it’s probably going to be too comprehensive to address. We’re going to have to work on this a couple of years at a time”.  

Never change Coach leach, never change.


I'm Not A Big Mayonnaise Guy...

Photo Credit: Barrett Sallee IG via ESPN

Columbia, SC

It started with Gatorade and has since continued with french fries (Famous Potato Idaho Bowl), Cheez-its (Cheez-It Bowl) and frosted flakes (Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl), meaning no winning Head Coach is safe from being doused with whatever the bowl sponsor has provided at the end, or near the end of the bowl game.

But most alarming & frightening of all is what was proposed for the winning coach of the Duke’s Mayo Bowl. Yes, you’ve been playing along, it is proposed that the winning coach is doused in a barrel full of Mayonnaise.

This years participants, South and North Carolina, entered into the spirit of things with both coaches appearing game to join the spirit of bowl season.

South Carolina’s Shane Beamer was as usual positive and up beat about the possibility. Beamer said,

“I’m not a big mayonnaise guy. I mean, I’ll gladly take one for the team on that one if it means we won a football game, but woof.”

North Carolina Head Coach, Mack Brown took his legendary will to win literally by saying,

“If we won a game, I’d let someone hit me in the face with a frying pan … I don’t care.”

Of course the bowl sponsors are putting up a $10,000 donation to the charity of choice of the winning coach. Which was South Carolina’s Shane Beamer who’s team won 38-21. Beamer said immediately after the game,

“oh my God I got to do this mayo bath thing”.

Shame on you if you don’t love the SEC.


Air Marshall Will Rogers

Image Credit: Mississippi State Athletics

Starkville, MS

If y’all can indulge me for a second I want to take the opportunity to tell you – I told you so.

Will Rogers has been horribly underappreciated this year. Under Mike Leach’s air raid offense, Rogers has flourished and has put up some truly incredible statistics.

Yes, I’m sure some clever clogs will give me a 100 reasons why Rogers won’t make it in the NFL. But if you have listened to me enough on College Chaps, you know I don’t care. These are two entirely different situatons.

Great college QB does not = Great NFL QB. If this was the case Tim Tebow would still be playing football in the NFL today and lifting one more Super Bowl trophy than Tom Brady. But life doesn’t work this way.

But hear me out. In the regular season, Rogers completed over 75% of his passes for 4,449 yards with 35 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

For Mississippi State.

In the SEC West.


Per PFF, Rogers has the highest QB grading of any QB coached by Mike Leach, including Gardner Minshew, so the young QB is developing very nicely and almost completely under the radar.

And in the Liberty Bowl against Texas Tech, Rogers surpassed Dan Prescott’s record at Mississippi State when Rogers passed the Schools 4,435-yard mark in total offense.


Saban 's Lack Of Patience


Dallas, TX

As many a media member will tell you, Nick Saban can show an incredible amount of patience. And on other occasions he can show absolutely no patience.

At some point in my future I would love to pull together a greatest hits of Saban rants. But this is folly and not for today.

This season, Saban’s patience has been tested many times by a young team as he has tried to preach the benefits of building value for themselves and playing for the collective team. Jahleel Billingsley take note.

Ahead of the Cotton Bowl, Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban was asked about this. Saban said,

“I don’t have any patience, so anything that happens is a test of my patience, including sitting in this chair right now,” 

Saban went on

 “We sort of anticipate that when we have a successful season and are coming off a successful season, but because we were young, it took this team a little longer to maybe respond on a consistent basis like we wanted them to.”