Saturdays in Athens

George Somerville. 

Saturday 11th July 2020

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

In this week’s column…. is Spring football a viable alternative, Paul Finebaum goes to Hollywood, Coach Sark in hospital, those Tiger rings, and is conference only such a bad thing?

So, here are this weeks headlines….

Fall back, Spring Forward!

Paul Finebaum
Photo Credit: Kevin C Cox, Getty Images

Birmingham, Al.

Football in the fall is pure folly. Who says so? Paul Finebaum. That’s who.

According to ESPN and SEC Network’s wise sage, time is running out fast for football to kick off in line with the published schedule. That would mean a season starting on 5th September. However, NCAA guidelines are such that teams need to be in facilities and preparing six weeks before the season opener. This would require teams to be in preseason preparation mode, on campus and in facilities by 25th July at the latest.

With the number of Covid-19 cases continuing to rise  across the nation, Paul Finebaum believes that too many questions remain unanswered at this stage to allow the season to go ahead as scheduled.

However, one alternative being mooted to allow football to be played at all, is the proposal for a Spring season, rather than the fall. 

Speaking on ‘Get Up’*, Finebaum had this to say about Spring football:

“College football administrators have spent all Spring looking at contingencies, how to open up and how to get to Labor Day weekend. They are extremely nervous about what they are seeing, what we are all seeing around the Country. Quietly they are whispering about a Spring football concept. They don’t want to do it because there are so many problems. It is likely that the best players wouldn’t play and besides, in some parts of the country it is bitter cold. But in a couple of weeks this could become a very big conversation”.

No sooner had those words come out of Paul Finebaum’s mouth but news followed suit that both Ohio State and North Carolina’s football program’s had been shut down because of significant numbers of positive cases confirmed within the football teams. Additionally, on a day which Finebaum described as “the worst that college athletics has had since that March day when the whole world shut down”, the Ivy leagues cancelled all sports in the fall. While no decision has been made whether sports could be reintroduced later in the season, this remains a possibility.

But as I write this, Conferences such as the Big10, ACC and Pac12 are starting to make noises about conference only games – signalling a shift in thinking that the season cannot and will not be in a format we expected.

Currently – and I mean currently, the SEC is still considering playing a full college schedule.. but lets see how that pans out.


There's Something About Paul

Paul Finebaum
Photo Credit: ESPN Press Room


Birmingham, AL.

While we are talking about the talented Mr Finebaum, here is a bit of positive news and some light relief from the inevitable Covid chat.

Rumours are circulating that the life and times of Mr Finebaum are to be the subject of a Hollywood sitcom. 

Finebaum confirmed these rumours in a recent interview with the Charlotte Observer where he is quoted as saying,

“There is a major Hollywood production company involved and already several writers are working on the script to be pitched to the major networks soon”,

While this may sound a wildly fantastic proposal, if you are a regular listener to the Paul Finebaum Show, this might not be so surprising. The show is based on a phone-in format which originally and continues to be broadcast out of the South, and has the widest array of wild and colourful characters that regularly appear on his phone in show. 

So while this might sound like a flight of fantasy, it really isn’t  a patch on some of the tales that come from dialling 855-242-PAUL – and I for one can’t wait.

A Lucky Escape

Paul Finebaum
Image Credit:


Tuscaloosa, Al.

In a statement issued by Alabama football, it was confirmed that Alabama Offensive Co-ordinator, Steve Sarkesian had undergone a procedure to correct a congenital heart condition. The statement confirms that the procedure was successful and was picked up during an annual executive physical carried out on the coaching staff.

This seems a lucky escape. We wish Coach Sark a speedy recovery.


Lords Of The Ring

Paul Finebaum
Photo credit: AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

Baton Rouge, La.

The subject of championship rings is a divisive one. Stylish and underrated they will never be, but they are a unique prize in the sporting world which typically rewards its winners with medals. But if you have ever seen a footballer wearing his championship ring, there is no question that he is a winner.

Interestingly the awarding of a championship ring to each member of the winning team is unique to North American sports. The history of a championship ring is attributed back to the 1893 Stanley Cup winners – the Montreal Hockey Club – who ordered rings which resembled wedding bands with two crossed hockey sticks. 

Oh how times have changed!

Bold, brash and in yer face, these rings are not for the shy and faint hearted.

So while I wouldn’t normally write about this stuff – the “hype” video which came out of Baton Rouge this week highlighting the Tigers Championship rings, is nothing short of cinematic art. Check this out. It is a thing of beauty. Enjoy.

Now you wish you had a ring…..



and Finally...

Paul Finebaum
Photo credit:Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images


Athens, Ga.

While a large section of this column over the last few weeks has been devoted to the negative impact of the Covid-19 crisis, I will leave you with this one thought.

Should the SEC decided to play a conference only schedule, the Crimson Tide’s season opener would be in Tuscaloosa against…yup those Georgia Bulldogs.

Just saying’…

#RollTideRoll #GoDawgs