Saturdays in Athens

George Somerville.

Saturday 12th december 2020

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

This week the teams contesting the SEC title game were decided with Bama beating LSU and the Gators victory over Tennessee. But it was a busy week elsewhere with the Gamecocks getting their new Head Coach and trouble continues to plague Coach O in Baton Rouge. And Devonta Smith….Oh Lordy what a player…..

Here are this weeks headlines….

So with all that happening, Llet’s get started y’all!

Gamecocks Get Their Guy

Shane Beamer
Photo Credit: University of South Carolina Athletics

Columbia, SC.

With Muschamp gone, the Gamecocks moved quickly to replace the angriest man in college sports.

Interestingly, the Gamecocks didn’t seek out someone with Head Coaching experience – although they did hire someone with a coaching pedigree. They also hired someone who had worked with the Gamecocks before. Someone who worked during the period many consider to be the greatest side seen in Columbia. 

So was it really a shock when the Gamecocks  Athletics Director, Ray Tanner introduced Shane Beamer as the next Head Coach? No, not really.

Pedigree? Well Shane Beamer is the son of legendary Virginia Tech Head Coach, Frank Beamer. So that is a tick in the box.

Knowledge of the Gamecocks? When USC Head Coach, Steve Spurrier called Shane Beamer to work on his staff, Beamer joined the Gamecocks family and his heart has never left the place. On his first stint at Columbia, Beamer told the media of the experience,

“Those four years would lead to four of the greatest years of my life…..Today is an absolute dream come true. I would have been crushed if this thing did not happen.”

Beamer went on to talk about his allegiance to the state of South Carolina,

“I have great pride in being from the state of South Carolina and I have great pride in being head coach of the University of South Carolina. We’ve done it before, at a high, high, high level and we’re going to get back to that”.

Beamer Jr was South Carolina’s recruiting co-ordinator in 2009 and 2010 during a time when the Gamecocks had arguably their best recruiting period in the School’s history. This recruiting class led the Gamecocks to three consecutive 11 win seasons and three consecutive top-10 finishes in the polls. So the new Head Coach certainly knows the type of player he needs in Columbia. The question is does he have it? And can he find it?


It Just Means More : ESPN Wins The SEC

Shane BEamer
Image Credit: SEC Nation/ SEC Network

Charlotte, SC.

Exciting and financially rewarding news for the South Eastern Conference this week with the announcement that media giants ESPN had signed a media deal with the Conference to broadcast college sports across ESPN and ABC for 10 years.

While financial details of the deal were not disclosed, according to Sports Business Journal the SEC will receive “in the low $300 million range” which dwarfs the $55m the Coference currently receives as part of its current media package to broadcast sports with CBS.

The deal is scheduled to start from the 2024 season with CBS continuing to broadcast through until 2023.

The BIG10 conference is midway through its six year deal with Fox, ESPN and CBS so the magnitude of ESPN’s deal is sure to create even more friction between College football’s two largest conferences.

When the SEC says “It Just Means More”…….it certainly does.

#ItJustMeansMore #SECNation #SECFootball

Keep On Keeping On

Shane BEamer
Photo Credit: USA Today Sports

Tuscaloosa, AL.

With the Crimson Tide’s 55-17 win over LSU, Alabama secured the SEC West title.

Similarly, Florida wrapped up the SEC East with their 31-19 win over Tennessee.

So, we now know that the SEC Title game will be contested between Alabama and Florida on December 19th in Atlanta. But more on that next week.

Alabama’s preparation for the LSU game was interrupted by some of their coaching staff having to isolate due to Covid-19 contact tracing as well as the power going out in their team hotel on the night before the game. But Head Coach, Nick Saban seemed to take it all in his stride, despite having missed the previous week’s game himself due to a positive test for the virus. Coach Saban said this of the disruption to his team,

“Stuff happens and everybody keeps on keeping on. When you have a good culture on your team and you’ve established that culture with your team, they can adapt and adjust to things that don’t go exactly to plan”.

As an aside, Saban is often asked of his ex-players who have moved on to the NFL. This week Coach Saban was asked about the news that ex Alabama QB Jalen Hurts would make his full NFL debut for the Philadelphia Eagles this coming weekend. Coach Saban said this of this former player during his midweek press update,

“The guy’s got great character. He’s as fine a person as we’ve ever had in the program. He’s a very good leader. He’s a hard worker. He’s well-liked by his teammates. Winning was important to him, and he wanted to do whatever he had to do to try to help his team have a chance to win. I think he probably went through a much more difficult circumstance here in terms of being 26-2 or whatever he was as a starter and then somebody else starting in his place, and then he had to take that person’s place in the SEC Championship Game and go in and win the game — and come from behind to do it. So, he’s been in a lot of tough circumstances, and he was very supportive when he was the guy, he was supportive of the guy behind him. When that guy became the man, he was very supportive of him when he had to sit behind him. And he also worked really hard in the backup role so that he could improve and get better so that he would have a chance to play in the NFL someday, and he really took advantage of that. So, when he went to Oklahoma, I thought he was a better passer and really did a lot of things really, really well. This is as good a person — and I feel bad for you all in Philadelphia if you haven’t had a chance to meet him because he’s a guy that’s really easy to fall in love with, that’s for sure, because he’s a great person and he’s got a great family.” 

Over in Gainesville, Dan Mullen’s guidance of the Gators beyond Georgia to a SEC title game has got people in Florida excited. And not just Florida. Rumours were abound this week that Mullen was on the short list of Head Coaches for a Texas job that doesn’t exist yet or even a role in the NFL.

Unsurprisingly, Mullen isn’t having any of that chat derailing his Gators appearance in Atlanta in two weeks. Mullen said this about the speculation,

“No, I haven’t talked to anybody from the NFL. But they’re like in the middle of their season still. I’m happy to be the head coach for the Florida Gators right now, getting ready to go to Atlanta and play for an SEC Championship. That’s what we’ve worked really hard for. I’m going to really just enjoy that”.

It’s becoming obvious that Dan Mullen is building something special in Gainesville, however a SEC title, which almost certainly would bring a shot at the National Championship and a likely Hesiman winner would build Mullen a lot of credit for future Head Coaching jobs. 

These are interesting times in Gainesville.

#RollTideRoll #GatorChomp

Gilbert To Transfer?

Shane Beamer
Image Credit: HILARY SCHEINUK, The Advocate

Baton Rouge, LA.

The news from LSU just keeps getting worse with Ed Orgeron’s confirmation that tight end, Arik Gilbert has opted out.

Twitter was awash with rumour post the Alabama game that Gilbert was looking to transfer out of Baton Rouge. However, LSU Head Coach Ed Orgeron confirmed that his Tight End was considering sitting out to let his body recuperate. Per an interview with ESPN’s WNXX-FM on Tuesday, Orgeron said,

“Arik did talk to me. He is thinking about opting out for the season. He said his body is hurting and he has to get better. His mother’s in town and speaking with him right now. I don’t know if if he’s officially announced it yet, but that’s where we are and what we discussed yesterday”.

Orgeron went on to say that if Gilbert opted out that he would welcome him back at anytime,

“If he opts out and he wants to come back, definitely I’m going to take him back. He’s a great player and a great young man. I recruited him and we treat him like family, just like everybody else”.

While Gilbert’s absence means very little for a 3-5 record, it would be a real blow for the Tiger’s recovery in 2021. A must if Orgeron is to convince the football world that 2019 wasn’t a one off.

And just as a side note to the trouble that LSU finds itself in at this moment in time. The video posted below (courtesy of@BHollandSports) shows Coach O’s reaction to another busted coverage which led to a second Alabama touchdown in the first half of last week’s game. Which was not the last in the first half against the crimson Tide. For what it’s worth I can’t see Coach Orgeron sticking with Defensive Coordinator Bo Pelini, this just feels like an experiment which hs gone badly wrong.

We discussed this with Saturday Down South’s Chris Marler on @thecollegechaps this week


SIA: SEC Player Of The Week

Shane Beamer
Photo credit: Hillary Scheinuk, The Advocate

Tuscaloosa, AL.

As the headline below says, “Devonta Smith is Ridiculous”, which is very true. In fact the Alabama wide receiver, who elected to come back for his senior year is indeed, having a year.

So let’s have a look at Smith’s season so far. Against LSU, Smith recorded his sixth 100+ yard game of the season and his fifth game with multiple receiving touchdowns.

On Saturday against LSU, Smith would end the game with eight catches for 231 yards and three TD’s. And for a lad who hails from Louisiana he surely enjoys playing against the Bayou Bengals. In two outings against the LSU Tigers, Smith has 15 catches for 444 yards and 5 touchdown’s. “Smitty” is a thorn in the Tigers side.

But if that wasnt enough a superstar player needs a superstar play to cement his star status. And Smith got that from his 20 year catch from Jones which will be replayed time and time again, reminding us more of a young Randy Moss than anything else. If you missed the play, or like me want to see it again and again, the clip is below.

This play was Smith’s third touchdown in the first half alone in a game where Alabama delivered a record number of points scored against a battle weary Tigers side. But the question is – was this Smith’s Heisman moment?

After such a performance it is no great surprise that Smith was awarded the Maxwell and SEC Offensive Player of the Week awards. 

So it seems appropriate that he should also receive SIA SEC Player of the Week to make up the trio on his mantlepiece.

#ItJustMeansMore #RollTideRoll