Saturdays in Athens
Saturday 8th august 2020
Welcome to our weekly round up of life in the Southeastern Conference.
This week we take further baby steps towards an SEC season, a couple of famous brothers walk on at Kentucky, Nick Saban has been busy, we find a new joker in amongst SEC coaches and Coffeetown football is back!. Its not all serious business!
Here are this weeks headlines….so lets get started y’all:
I wrote in this column last week about the SEC’s decision to play conference-only football.
This week, the SEC announced further steps in the right direction. Including the two additional conference games which will make up the full schedule….so hold on to your hats. Here we go.
Look away now if you are an Arkansas or Missouri fan.
Eliah Drinkwitz just hasn’t caught a break in his first year at Mizzou. Why so? Well the two additional games are against LSU and Alabama. Wow. Welcome to Columbus Coach.
Things don’t get a whole lot better for anyone in Fayetteville. Two additional opponents? Georgia and Florida. Wow.Wow.
The tables at the top of this section detail the games which have been scheduled. So it’s fair to say that Mizzou and the Razorbacks have drawn the short straw.
But what of the mouth watering games which have now been created?
Certainly Texas A&M vs Florida in College Station is a huge game. Florida – a team many predict to win the East – will not relish travelling to play the 12th man.
Kentucky going to Tuscaloosa is another interesting game in so far that The Wildcats are starting to appear as dark horses in some coaches polls. Could Kentucky shock The Tide in Tuscaloosa?
And finally Mike Leach taking his own Bulldogs into the den of those in Georgia is a fascinating match up. Can the air raid take down the Dawgs – the other Dawgs?!
Practice schedules and Covid Protocols
Announced late last night, the SEC announced the two additional games that the teams would play. The current conference schedule allows for eight games, so to make u the 10 game conference schedule
With the SEC season set to start on September 26, the SEC has revised its preseason football calendar. This revision allows student athletes more days off and fewer practice sessions than under NCAA guidance.
What does this mean? Well, beginning from August 17th until the start of the season, teams will be allowed to carry out 25 practices per week with a maximum of 20 hours of practice time in that week. In addition, student athletes will be given 2 days off per week, each week up until the week before the season starts.
A quick update to this story. The SEC has just announced (as this goes to print) that players will be tested twice weekly and three days before games. Coaches and staff will also be tested twice weekly. Testing will be carried out by an independent third party.
But still no sign of a schedule.
Excited? You betcha…..but please. Just wear your mask.
NEWS-@SEC has adjusted dates for preseason FB activities with the first allowable practice now scheduled for Aug 17. New calendar provides student-athletes with more days off than required by NCAA & fewer practices than permitted by current NCAA rules.https://t.co/6vfps274Yy— Southeastern Conference (@SEC) August 4, 2020
This week, two brothers announced that they would be transferring to Kentucky University with their intention to play for the Wildcats football team as walk-on’s.
Nothing particularly unusual or newsworthy about that statement, I hear you say?
True, except the two brothers are Rayshad and Rahsaan Lewis, sons of NFL legend Ray Lewis.
So how did the Lewis brothers end up in Lexington? Well, that journey has been something of a long & winding road.
Rayshad started his college career at Utah State in 2016 where he had limited playing time before transferring to Maryland in 2017. That transfer required him to sit out the season. Whilst originally a wide receiver, at Maryland Rayshad moved to defensive back and kick returner for the Terps. He finally moved back to wide receiver in his final year at College Park before his move to Lexington. Rayshad has the advantage of immediate eligibility as he transfers as a graduate.
Rahsaan started his career with Central Florida before transferring to Florida Atlantic in June of 2019, where he played in four games before redshirting last year. Rahsaan also plays as a wide receiver.
Whether the Lewis brothers will turn their walk-on’s into a starting place remains to be seen. But they come from a royal football bloodline so lets see if they can follow in Lewis Snr’s footsteps.
The public perception of Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban is that he is a grizzly tyrant, an impossible to please taskmaster who doesn’t suffer fools gladly. I have no doubt that all of these traits are true. But you don’t get to the top of the coaching tree without doing it your own and single minded way.
But there is another side to Coach Saban. A more personal side, of which there were two prime examples this week.
The first of these was news that the Sabans made a donation to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center Fundraising drive which was set up to keep Museum and Space Camp open. If you haven’t followed this campaign it has tugged at the heartstrings of a US nation which knows that Space Camp* is a key part of growing up.
While the Saban’s donation was undisclosed it is no coincidence that the campaigned surpassed it’s fund raising goal that same day.
Also this week was the welcome news that Mike Locksley, head coach of Maryland, announced the creation of the National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches.
“When I took the Maryland job last year and looked at the landscape of college football, I thought to myself, There’s something missing. I’m on the back nine of my career and the pathway to becoming a head coach is still as difficult as when I got into the business in 1992.
I wanted to create an organization that would be able to help prepare, promote and produce the next group of coaches coming up through the ranks at every level.”
Only three NFL teams have a black head coach, and incredibly there are only fourteen black head coaches amongst the 130 football bowl subdivision teams.
The premis of the coalition (which will be a not for profit organisation) is to identify and groom both male and female coaches of colour for upward mobility, and to create a candidates list which will be vetted by a board of director’s that includes an esteemed list of respected people from sports.
Amongst those appointed to the board are Ozzie Newsome, Bill Polian, Mike Tomlin, Doug Williams, Chris Grier, Willie Jeffries, Debbie Yow and Nick Saban. Locksley said of the board of directors:
“These are all people that have either hired head coaches or coordinators or filled upper-level positions throughout their careers. They all have been at the top of the mountain, per se, in their respective areas, whether winning Super Bowls or national championships or being pioneers, like Debbie Yow and Willie Jeffries. We want to use their experiences to help us formulate and produce the list of qualified candidates, so when people say there aren’t enough minorities to fill the positions that have come open over the years, we’re going to produce a list of qualified people that shows there are qualified people. What’s needed is opportunities.”
Locksley was on Saban’s staff from 2016, first as an analyst and then as offensive coordinator. During his time as the Crimson Tide’s OC, Alabama achieved an impressive 7.76 yards per play in 2018 with QB Tua Tagovailoa throwing for 3,966 yards and 43 touchdowns.
Coaches interested in joining the coalition can find more information and join at NCMFC.com*.
Joker In The Pack
The SEC is blessed with some characters for head coaches. The double act in Mississippi – Kiffin and Leach. Muschamp at South Carolina and of course Coach O down in the bayou at Baton Rouge.
But a new joker in the pack is emerging.
I would wager that not many Mizzou fans would have known the name of the Appalachian State Head Coach who was to be linked with the Tigers head coaching job little over a year ago. But the fan base is taking to Eliah Drinkwitz, and this has been helped by his outgoing and slightly zany style.
Like Kiffin and Leach, Drinkwitz is no stranger to a tweet. Following Thursday’s announcement by the SEC of a conference-only schedule, much debate started around how the 10 game schedule would be made up. Drinkwitz had this gem to offer Mizzou fans, which I admit struck my funny bone.
Finally, while there was a lot of broo-ha-ha made of the SEC schedule, a much greater fanfare was lauded for the greatest team in the South East. After much pent up frustration due to the delay in issuing the schedule, Coffeetown football fans now know their schedule for the upcoming season.
And there were sharp intakes of breath when it transpired that those dirty cheats Briarton were lined up as the opening game. Talk about a clash of the titans. I cannot wait.
Wear your damn mask.
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.