Saturdays in Athens
George Somerville. Saturday 25th July 2020
Welcome to our weekly round up of life in the Southeastern Conference.
It’s been another roller coaster of emotions this week with more bad news on the likelihood of playing football in the fall.
But in this week’s column we focus on the positive – recruitment news, the new ‘Bama locker room, just how ready is Coach O to play ball and will we get a Texas rivalry game….?
So, here are this week’s headlines….
Let’s get started y’all!
Best O-Line Ever?
It has been a big week of recruiting for Alabama. Spoiler alert: if you’re a Texas fan, best to look away now.
Christmas came early for Nick Saban this week when he received commitments for the 2021 season from 5* Offensive Tackle Tommy Brockermeyer, his twin brother 4* Center James Brockermeyer, and if that wasn’t enough, 4* Offensive Guard Terrence Ferguson.
With 5* offensive tackle, JC Latham already committed, the 2021 class is shaping up to be a generational class of talent, which some commentators are suggesting may be the best O-Line ever.
Alabama got off to a slow start in the recruiting process with Florida and even Tennessee storming ahead & leaving the Tide in their wake. However the Brockermeyer twins choosing ‘Bama over Texas (where they had legacy) signalled a turn of the Tide – if you can excuse the pun…
If recruiting continues alongside expectations it is entirely possible that Nick Saban could recruit an entire O line in one recruiting cycle. That in itself is unheard of without taking into account the elite level of the recruits so far.
With the quick starts that Tennessee and Florida made to recruiting, whispers had started that Nick Saban had lost his edge. But as has been proven time and time again, this is a marathon and not a sprint. With the commitments received this week, there was no doubting Saban’s impact remains on recruits, even in lockdown. While Alabama may have been slow out of the blocks, by the end of this week Alabama was ranked the #1 recruiting class in the SEC and 2nd nationally.
We will need to wait for some time to find out if the 2021 Offensive Line class will be the best in the history of the college game. But I would suggest this – write Nick San off at your peril.
The Bama Factor
Let’s stay in Tuscaloosa, as this week the Crimson Tide unveiled its new locker room.
And it is impressive, as the video below shows. The cost of the locker room has not been divulged but is part of a $106m upgrade to Bryant-Denny stadium which is anticipated to be completed for the start of the 2020 season. This in turn is part of a $600m investment into Alabama Athletics made over a 10 year period, called the ‘Crimson Standard’.
Of course while all of this glitz and glamour is great for the players it is of equal if not greater importance during the role of recruiting. As the previous article proves, show a high school football facilities like these and you’re literally a touchdown ahead.
Coach O - "We're Ready To Play"
Baton Rouge, LA.
LSU Head football coach Ed Orgeron joined Marty & McGee on the SEC Network to talk about the upcoming season.
Asked about the Tigers’ preparation for the new season, Coach O had this to say about the work done so far:
“We’re ready to play. There’s no uncertainty here, I can tell you that. We’re focusing on having a great season and the task in hand. We understand that there is some stuff going on out there about what time the season is going to start. Who we’re going to play, when we’re going to play. That doesn’t mater to us.”
Of course much if not all conversation about football these days is centred around the likelihood of football being played in the fall of 2020. This is what Orgeron had to say about the season starting on time:
“Obviously this is not my decision, but my gut feeling is that we are going to play. We’re preparing to play… Whether we start September 5th or a little bit later, I don’t know that for sure. Whether we play in conference or out of conference, that doesn’t bother me.
But I do believe we are going to play. I am almost certain that we are going to play. The SEC needs football. The State of Louisiana needs football. Our culture needs football. It’s time to get going.”
There’s no doubt when Coach O says his team are ready and it’s time to get going, he means it. So if anyone was expecting the Tigers to be sleepy out of the gate, they may want to think again.
If you are a fan of Marty & McGee, check out the latest College Chaps podcast* where the Chaps had Ryan McGee as a special guest.
Keys To The City
I wrote in this column a few weeks ago about the courageous stand that Mississippi State running back Kylin Hill took against the State of Mississippi flag. In response to the Governor’s comments about the changing of the flag, Hill said:
“either change the flag or I won’t be representing this state anymore & I meant that… I’m tired”.
While the debate over the State’s flag had been rumbling on for some time, Hill’s stand sparked a huge amount of interest and support amongst the Mississippi sporting community and subsequently, nationally.
Hill became a national figure as a result and this week was honoured by being granted the keys to his hometown city of Columbus, Mississippi.
Hill was joined at the ceremony by Mississippi State Athletic Director John Cohen, who said,
“Kylin is a courageous young man who did a bold and brave thing. He shared an emboldened belief shared by many Mississipian’s the a paradigm shifting change needed to be made. It was time for a new flag”.
Hill said of the honour,
“Getting the key to the city, it’s unreal to me. Everybody that knows me knows I claim Columbus to the fullest. The good and the bad. Columbus, Mississippi – that’s what I am. I’m born and raised here. When I retire from football, I’m still going to be from Columbus, Mississippi.”
Kylin Hill is regarded as one of the best running backs in the SEC. Last season Hill rushed for 10 touchdown’s and 1,350 yards making him the 3rd best in the conference. Hopefully a great season happens for him, keys & all.
Texas Want Aggie's Football
College Station, TX.
The Longhorns don’t like the Aggies and the feeling is mutual. But that’s not to say there isn’t a desire to resurrect that Texas rivalry game – a game that hasn’t been played in almost a decade as a result of Texas A&M running off for the bright lights of the SEC.
So while there is real momentum to save the COVID-threatened Bulldogs – Golden Jackets rivalry game in Georgia and the Gamecocks – Clemson battle in South Carolina, there is no Texas rivalry game to rescue.
Or maybe there is! According to the Austin-American Statesman*, Texas Head Coach Tom Herman said there was a desire to resurrect this game. At least on the Longhorns side. Per Austin-American Statesman, Herman told the Houston Touchdown Club:
“We’d love to play ’em, I know that. I know that at least within our program we would love to play Texas A&M, certainly. It’s no secret.”
Herman went on to say,
“You know, it’s mind-boggling to me — mind-boggling to me! — that Georgia-Georgia Tech figure out a way to play every year. Clemson-South Carolina, Iowa-Iowa State, Kentucky-Louisville. I mean, the list goes on and on and on of rivals, in-state rivals that happen to be in different conferences… Florida-Florida State. I mean, where do you want me to stop. They play every year.
“And I get it, we want a marquee game in non-conference because we don’t play a rival, a traditional rival at home. Our biggest rival in conference right now is Oklahoma; we play them at a neutral site in Dallas every year. So if I’m an athletic director, I’m going to want a marquee non-conference game at home every other year. Totally understandable”.
“But to fly to Los Angeles to play a night game on a Saturday night on West Coast time to say that we played USC, or to fly to Columbus, Ohio, or to fly to Gainesville, Florida, when we can hop in a bus and drive an hour and a half east, I’ll never understand it.”
Asked if he thought the scheduling problems caused by the pandemic could give rise to a change of minds, Herman said this,
“You know, we’ll see… …we’ve reached out to try to play them in the past. Didn’t go real well. And, you know, maybe this will be the catalyst to make it happen. I haven’t heard anything like that. But who knows? Desperate times calls for desperate measures, right?”
At this moment in time we will take any football. But a Texas rivalry game? If the pandemic brought us that, I might change my mind about this being a wholly negative thing…
A GLASWEGIAN LIVING IN LONDON, GEORGE IS A COLLEGE FOOTBALL FAN WHO FOLLOWS THE ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE. HE PROVIDES CFB CONTENT FOR THE TOUCHDOWN AND IS ONE THIRD OF THE COLLEGE CHAPS PODCAST.