Saturdays in Athens


Saturday, 23rd September 2023

The season is flying by us at a frantic speed and we enter week 4 which means we are already a quarter of the way through the season – scary!

But now we are well into conference play with some huge matchups featuring weekly, which is why we love the S-E-C!

So welcome again to our weekly round up of life in the Southeastern Conference.

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

Milroe is qb1 (for now)

Photo Credit: Gary Cosby Jr. -USA TODAY Sports

Tuscaloosa, al

If you cast your mind back to SEC Media Days, Alabama head coach Nick Saban used the analogy of baking a cake. Grandma Saban’s cake.

Three turbulent games into this season, Saban was asked how the cake was coming along.

“well I think the cakes been in the oven, out the oven, back in the oven and I think its ready to go”.

Which nicely sums up the crisis that Alabama finds itself in. Post the Crimson Tide’s defeat to Texas, Saban and his coaching staff decided to snatch the keys to the Crimson Tide offense from Jalen Milroe and hand them to quarterback and Notre Dame transfer, Tyler Buchner. 

This was a game that Alabama was meant to win against their opponents, the University of South Florida. While the Tide won the game, it was not easy nor pretty to watch. Buchner had a rough ride with his involvement in the game ending in 5-14 attempts for 34 yards and no scores. Buchner was replaced by Ty Simpson in the 2nd half. Simpson fared better scoring one touchdown and leading the team to a 17-3 victory.

Despite the victory neither Buchner nor Simpson did enough to keep the job. Saban announced this week that Jalen Milroe would return as QB1 when Ole Miss travel into Bryant Denny on Saturday.

Milroe returns

This apparent U-turn has been enough to send most commentators and pundits into meltdown that the Crimson Tide head coach has lost his mind. So if the coaching staff can’t find their #1 QB, could there be a scenario where the system caters for two or more quarterbacks to feature? This was a resounding no for Nick Saban,

“we have not considered that” said Saban when asked if a two quarterback system could be an option  for the Ole Miss game this weekend.

Of course, Alabama has gone further than this by appointing, or should I say, re-appointing Jalen Milroe as QB1 for the Ole Miss game.

“He’s our guy. He’s the guy that I have confidence in. I just had a meeting with him a little bit ago — clean up some fundamental things, and watch him play” said Nick Saban on the Pat McAfee show Thursday.

Saban had told the media on Monday that Milroe would start against Ole Miss. The others had their chance but had not taken it.

“From a quarterback standpoint, this is all I’m going to say about this: Jalen really showed the leadership that I was looking for, in terms of supporting his teammates and doing the things he needed to do. He’s had the opportunity to play, and so have the other guys. Jalen’s played the best of all those guys. He’s earned the opportunity to be the quarterback.”

This goes one of two ways. Milroe is motivated by his benching and returns to guide the Crimson Tide to a National Championship (this has been done before during the Nick Saban era) or Ole Miss beats Alabama and the wheels fall off the season before it gets half way through the season.

Watch this space!


61-yard walk off field goal!

Columbia, Mo

Hands up if you thought that the Mizzou Tigers would be 3-0 at this point in the season?


Yet here we are with Mizzou going into Saturdays game against Memphis at a neutral site in St Louis with a very impressive start to the season.

The most impressive win in that trio being the 30-27 victory over the #15 ranked Kansas State. The K-State Wildcats were hotly tipped to win out against the Tigers but a last second walk off field goal saw Mizzou move to 3-0.

However, the last second walk off field goal doesn’t quite do the drama justice. With seconds left Mizzou made it into K-State territory, leaving what would have been a 56-yard field goal to win the game. However, bizarrely, Mizzou suffered a delay of game penalty after the coaching staff lost track of the game clock. The resulting 5-yard delay of game penalty pushed the kick to 61 yards.

“I thought our players did an outstanding job” said Drinkwitz when asked about the end of game fiasco.

“the coaching staff had a serious blunder that we have got to have fixed and have a better communication plan on what exactly happened there” Drinkwitz said during Wednesday’s SEC coaches teleconference.

While Mizzou tried to get the yardage back they were unsuccessful which left kicker Harrison Mervis with a 61-yard kick. As it turns out this was a new SEC record after Mervis split the uprights with his kick.

This sparked wild scenes as fans stormed the field to celebrate a remarkable victory. A field storming which sees Mizzou censured first under new SEC sanctions which are designed to dissuade or “re-educate” fans over field storming.

Quarterback, Brady Cook shared what he said to Mervis right before the kick,

“I told him right before the kick, ‘Listen, you’ve been doing this your whole life. This is your opportunity,'”

An opportunity Mervis took, turning him into Mizzou’s new hero.


Greg Brooks has surgery

Photo Credit: Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Baton Rouge, LA

LSU Safety Greg Brooks was noted as ‘missing’ for Saturday’s win over Mississippi State for “a medical emergency”. Brooks situation became clearer mid-week when his family released a statement that the LSU player had undergone surgery to remove a brain tumour.

Earlier this year Brooks had suffered from a bout of vertigo which led to him undergoing an MRI scan. 

Speaking on the SEC Coaches midweek teleconference Tigers Head coach, Brian Kelly said that Brooks had made his mind up about returning to play for the Tigers.

“he was pretty clear about playing again this year. But that’s Greg Brooks”.

Brooks was a transfer from Arkansas this year where he is fondly remembered by his teammates and his former head coach, Sam Pittman.

Also speaking on the SEC Head coaches  teleconference this week, Pittman said

He was a wonderful teammate here and I could not think of one negative thing to say about him or his family.  So it’s tough, our kids know it as well, but all we can do is represent him in the way that we play.”

Pittman was asked if he would try to visit Brooks and his family as Arkansas travel into Baton Rouge this weekend to play LSU. Despite the circumstances contact under NCAA rules prohibit Pittman from contacting a player not on his team.

“I can’t really answer that right now because I haven’t spoke with coach (Brian) Kelly. I want to make sure that, I don’t want to overstep any type of boundaries there and things of that nature. I want to have high respect for him and their program as well.“If it’s at all possible, if I thought that it would help him, I certainly would,” Pittman said. 

Both teams will wear #3 helmet stickers on Saturday to honor Brooks.


better than the Super Bowl!

Image Credit: UAB Athletics

birmingham, AL

As a quarterback, Trent Dilfer led the 2000 Baltimore Ravens to a Superbowl.

As a coach, Dilfer takes his UAB Blazers into the Dawgs Den against Georgia, Saturday night.

Speaking to the media this week, Dilfer told us what we already knew. The SEC is different…it just means more!

“An SEC football game at night is a way better atmosphere than the Super Bowl. I think it’s the second-coolest thing I’ve ever been to as a spectator.” said Dilfer midweek.

I am sure the NFL fraternity will register their disgust that there is competition to the greatest show on turf, but Dilfer knows & tells the truth.

If you are interested what Dilfer thinks is the coolest thing he’s been to….well that would be the Kentucky Derby!

swamp skirmish

Photo credit:USA Today Sports/ SI

Gainesville, FL

Last Saturday night the Swamp was rocking’ for the visit of arch rivals Tennessee. And the raucous crowd was not disappointed as the Gators chomped the Vols, winning out 29-16.

Sadly though, the shine was taken off the win with an onfield skirmish during the final play of the game. A melee which involved most, if not all, of the players from both teams.

On the final play of the game, as Florida QB Graham Mertz looked to take a knee to finish the game, frustration got the better of Vols defensive tackle, Omari Thomas who made a late hit on Mertz. This sparked a furious reaction from the Gators players with numerous punches thrown.

Following a video review by SEC officials, three Florida football players and one Tennessee football player are now suspended for the first half of their next respective games for flagrant unsportsmanlike actions.

Offensive lineman Damieon George, Jr., offensive lineman Micah Mazzccua and tight end Dante Zanders of Florida have been suspended for the first half of the Gators’ game with Charlotte on Saturday in Gainesville.  Defensive lineman Omarr Norman-Lott of Tennessee is suspended for the first half of the Volunteers’ game with UTSA on Saturday in Knoxville.

Costly and pointless.