Saturdays in Athens

George Somerville

The Aftermath of SEC Championship Game 

11th December 2021

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

It’s hard not to discuss the fallout of the SEC Championship game, but we find enough to talk about this week with Heisman finalists, what could have been for Jimbo Fisher, the College Football Playoff’s are seated, and of course Nick Saban is talking about rat poison.

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

The Stage Is Set


Arlington TX/ Miami FL

Following Alabama’s against the odds win over Georgia in the SEC Championship game, the College football playoff committee settled on the four play off spots, late on Sunday evening UK time.

Georgia fell to #3, swapping places with the Crimson Tide. Michigan – who emphatically defeated Iowa in the BIG10 Championship game – retained their #2 ranking. Cincinnati did what they had to do, defeating a spirited Houston team to win the American Conference for the second straight year, and stayed at #4.

This means that the playoff is set…

Alabama will play Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl, scheduled for 31st December. The game will be played at AT&T stadium in Arlington at 3.30pm ET (8.30pm UK time) & broadcast on ESPN.

Of course history will be made as Cincinnati are the first Group of Five team to make the CFB Playoff adding some additional spice to this clash.

On the same day Michigan will play Georgia in the Orange Bowl to be played at the Hard Rock stadium in Miami. This game is scheduled to kick off at 7.30pm ET (12.30am UK time), also being broadcast on ESPN.


Heisman Moments

Photo Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Tuscaloosa, AL.

In a season where it appeared not one player wanted to separate themselves in the Heisman race, Alabama’s quarterback took a big step to lifting the trophy after stellar performances in back to back games.

While Bryce Young may have been many’s pre-season favourite to lift the trophy, his performances in the early part of the season saw him drift in and out of the conversation.

In the early part of the season, Matt Corral seemed to be a certainty. But Ole Miss went off the boil and so too did Corral’s Heisman hopes. As did Ohio State when only three weeks ago we had seemingly presented CJ Stroud with the trophy. Then the Buckeyes fell to Michigan.

Consistently through the season there have been regular and deserving cries for a defensive player to win the Heisman trophy. Campaigners for Jordan Davis, Aidan Hutchinson & Will Anderson were loud in putting forward their cases that any of this trio were the best players in college football

It is Anderson’s claim which appears the most compelling, albeit he will not make the trip to NYC. 

Anderson has been dominant for Alabama this season leading the nation with 91 tackles (52 solo), 32.5 tackles for loss and 15.5 sacks.

Aiden Hutchinson, who is a finalist for the trophy and will be in New York, has comparable but not better stats than Anderson – 58 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, 13.5 sacks

This week Anderson won the Bronko Nagurski award beating out other outstanding candidates, Jordan Davis and Kayvon Thibodeaux. Anderson was also a finalist for the Bednarik Award but lost out to Jordan Davis. And no Heisman. 

Bryce Young secured his place in voters hearts with a splendid performance in the  41-24 victory over Georgia. if Young’s “Heisman moment” hadn’t already materialised in the Iron Bowl defeat of Auburn, it appeared in the space of one minute either side of the half time interval. With the game tied 17-17 shortly before halftime, Young used his legs effectively to rush 19 yards to score and take Alabama into the lead for the first time in the game. At the start of the 2nd half Young threw to Jameson Williams for a 67 yard touchdown taking the game to 31-17 and effectively out of the reach of the Bulldogs.

So yes, Bryce Young is fully deserving of the Heisman. But it doesn’t mean I’m not salty about Will Anderson.


Yummy, Rat Poison


Atlanta, GA.

As the dust settled in the Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Alabama head coach Nick Saban savoured the victory over Kirby Smart and his Georgia Bulldogs. During the post match press conference, Coach Saban was asked if going into the game as underdogs motivated his players. Saban responded using a familiar analogy…rat poison.

“You guys gave us a lot of positive rat poison”

The Alabama Head coach said,

“The rat poison that you usually give us is fatal. But the rat poison that you put out there this week was yummy”

On a more serious note, Saban would go on to say that wide receiver, John Metchie III would likely now miss the rest of the season with a suspected ACL tear.

Saban said immediately after the game,

“John Metchie is probably going to be out now, and we have a couple other guys that may be injured,”

Saban went on to say

“It creates a lot of opportunity for a lot of other players. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get them to step up.”

The work to replace Metchie who has become a consistent target for Bryce Young begins now. Slade Bolden is the likeliest to step into the role.


How Much? Wow - Geaux Tigers....

Baton Rouge, LA.

Now that Bayou Brian Kelly has his feet under the desk at Tiger Stadium, you would think that we would all settle down to let the man perfect his Southern accent and plot the downfall of the SEC West.

But while not entirely disruptive, it would not be considered  helpful that news broke this week of the simply huge deal that LSU were prepared to pay Jimbo Fisher to be their next Head Coach. As we now know Fisher rebuffed the Tigers to stay in College Station. But what we didn’t know was what he had given up to stay in Texas.

Per Brett McMurphy via Action Network HQ and Billy Liucci of, the Tigers were prepared to pay Fisher a staggering $125m over 8 years. This would have made Fisher the highest paid coach in College football. It would probably have made Fisher one of the highest paid coaches in football.

But it turned out it wasn’t enough to tempt Fisher to Baton Rouge, which paved the way to Kelly’s appointment instead. But I can’t help wonder what we will be saying in 8 years time. 

Just a footnote while we have stopped off in Louisiana; The negative energy around Baton Rouge continues with the news that Quarterback Max Johnson has entered the transfer portal. This news comes on the back of another LSU QB – Myles Brennan – also entering the transfer portal. This leaves only freshman Garrett Nussmeier at Quarterback. This year Nussmeier started four games for the Tigers. If he plays in the Tigers bowl appearance he will lose a year of eligibility – quite the dilemma for the young QB.