Saturdays in Athens

by George Somerville


4th September 2021

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

Well folks, this is the day we have been waiting for since the clock turned 0:00 in Mercedes Benz stadium back on January 21.


In this week’s column, eyebrows are raised as a Gamecocks assistant is named QB1, the Tigers get out of Baton Rouge safely, Jimbo gets PAID and the Gators got SWAG!.

It’s the start of a new season of SEC football – Let’s get started y’all!

Good Luck Uncle Rico!

Photo Credit: Charlotte Observer

Columbia, SC.

In the lead up to the season I have talked a lot about the positive environment that new South Carolina Head Coach Shane Beamer has created around his young program. Even the injury to his QB1 Luke Doty did not seem to break Beamer’s stride.

But I have to say that eyebrows were raised this week when Beamer announced that Doty’s replacement is going to be Graduate Assistant, Zeb Noland.

Noland had come to the Gamecocks from North Dakota State where he had thought he had played his last snap as Quarterback for the Bison back in 2020. While Noland still had a year of eligibility remaining, he jumped at the chance to join Beamer’s coaching staff as an assistant.

With Doty not likely to be fit for the season opener against East Carolina, Noland was forced to take reps along with back up QB Jason Brown.

As it transpired, Noland won out in that battle and will take the field against the Pirates.

Beamer said this about the move to name Noland his starter,

“Like I told you when we activated him to our roster, he’s played in a college football game a hell of a lot more recently than anybody on our team. Is it a little bit unique? Yes. But it wasn’t like he played a few years ago. He played a few months ago.”

Beamer went on,

“I know what the narrative may be out there, so let’s forget about it and lose the narrative that [Noland] hasn’t played a football game in two or three years and he was walking up and down the hall like Uncle Rico talking about what he did back in the day as a quarterback, He played quarterback a couple of months ago — three months ago. He’s been a graduate assistant coach since June”.

In the 2019 season, Noland was back up to Trey Lance as the North Dakota State Bison won the FCS National Championship.

That was 2019, this is 2021 in the SEC. Good luck Uncle Rico – you will need it.


Tigers Flee Ida

Photo Credit:Gary Cosby Jr. via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Baton Rouge, LA.

Firstly, everyone at The Touchdown, sends all our best wishes to the people in the Gulf Coast impacted by Hurricane Ida, and hope that they are all safe and return to normality soon.

Upon news that the Hurricane was expected to hit land with a route through Baton Rouge, the Tigers took the decision to relocate everyone associated with the Team to Houston – well out of the way of the storm – ahead of the trip to Los Angeles this weekend to play the season opener against UCLA.

The team arrived in Houston on Saturday evening and practised Sunday at the Texans NRG stadium.

Once the team was settled, attention was directed towards staff and players’ families left behind in the region. Baton Rouge was directly hit by Ida, with power still out in the area.

Orgeron said this of the situation,

“Our administration has been trying to help with anyone who has needed help. Everybody’s OK. Some of their houses are really damaged. Some are displaced in hotels. For the most part, I think everybody’s fine.”

Hopefully with the knowledge that everyone is safe the Tigers can turn their attention to the game against UCLA. But that won’t be easy for some of these young players who may have lost possessions or indeed homes.


Jimbo Gets Paid $$$

Image Credit:

College Station, TX.

It’s been a roller coaster summer for Jimbo Fisher and the Texas Aggies. Heading into SEC Media Days, the Aggies were riding high – touted as serious contenders to take the King’s crown from Nick Saban. Nothing much has changed in this regard except their thunder was somewhat stolen a matter of hours later when it was announced that Oklahoma and rowdy neighbours Texas were joining the SEC.

As we know from the quotes from Media Days, TAMU AD Ross Bjork and Jimbo Fisher were far from pleased with this news.

But call it coincidental, call it tit for tat, good news came for Jimbo Fisher especially – and Aggies fans, when the university confirmed that it had extended Fisher’s contract through 2031, with Fisher being paid $95m over that period. This contract outstrips the one Ed Orgeron signed¬† after his National Championship win in 2019, and leaves Fisher only behind Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban in the SEC Coaches pay scale.

Given that TAMU are hotly tipped to take the SEC West title from Alabama, the timing of this announcement is either incredible foresight from the Texas A&M Regents, or they cashed their chips in too early. Let’s round back on this in January, why don’t we….?


Gators Got SWAG!

Photo credit: HypeBeast/ Air Jordan

Gainesville, FL.

This final story is not what you would usually find in the tomes of this column, however it is the start of a new season and we all get crazy ahead of college ‘ball.

To mark such an occasion, those cool dudes over at Air Jordan have been designing special school exclusives for the players to wear throughout the season. The Gators will be wearing these Air Jordan 5 Low Cleat in ‘Marina Blue’ (without a hint of Orange I may add). But nonetheless these will go down a storm in Gainesville.