The Cowboy in Me

The Cowboy in Me

I got a life that most would love to have
But sometimes I still wake up fightin’ mad

The Cowboy in Me – Tim McGraw 2001

Welcome back to campus where college football coaches and players are apparently channeling their inner “cowboy” from Tennessee to Tucson. Professor’s Picks are below, but first a few fightin’ words.

This fall’s pugilistic proliference actually started before the season when several LSU Tigers celebrated the end of football camp with a parking lot brawl outside a bar called (appropriately enough) Shady’s. Starting QB Jordan Jefferson was initially suspended after being charged with felony battery, but was reinstated after the charge was lowered to a misdemeanor.

This past week really got the cowboy blood boiling in a couple of SEC coaches. Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin took offense to some mouthing off by Georgia defensive back Shawn Williams in the aftermath of the Commodores close loss to the Dogs. UGA defensive coordinator Todd Grantham in turn blew his top and engaged in a good, old nose-to-nose screaming session with Franklin (below).

Finally, last night a “knucklehead” (in the great description of ESPN’s Rece Davis) prompted a donnybrook between Arizona and UCLA that was far more entertaining than the 48-12 beating administered to the Bruins by the Wildcats.

The fighting filtered down to the high school level as well. Warren County (GA) High head coach David Daniel suffered a severe beating from Hancock Central players after his squad won a road game last Friday night. When Daniel tried to break up a post-game altercation between the teams, a Hancock player allegedly struck him in the face with a helmet and then several players beat him. Daniel suffered crushed bones in his face, but is now out of the hospital.

Since many faculty and students are engaged in Academic Advising this week, allow me to provide some advice for our gridiron grapplers.

1. Coaches get control of your teams. If you promote a cocky attitude and allow the constant jabbering and posturing after even mundane plays – which many college programs do – then you should not be surprised when somebody on the team crosses the line.

2. Coaches get control of your own emotions. Todd Grantham of Georgia is fiery (which a lot of Dog fans like because of the contrast with the placid demeanor of head coach Mark Richt), but he cannot come unglued like he did at Vandy. Watching the game live, I truly thought he might take a punch at Franklin. Similarly, we saw Jim Harbaugh of the 49ers and Jim Schwartz of the Lions tangle after an NFL game last week … if players see their coaches out of control, why should they maintain their own composure.

3. Administrators get control of everybody. Athletic Directors, conference commissioners, and even college presidents need to be more proactive. The SEC suspended a couple of Georgia players (one for a punch and one for a late hit) and one Vandy player (for a particularly dirty late hit to the back of a knee) for a grand total of …. one half! Boy, that’s strong. Still, that’s better than the ADs at Vandy and Georgia. Neither publicly addressed the penalties imposed on their childish coaches.

I teach a Sport in Society course spring semesters that addresses ethical issues in sport. All are welcome to enroll.

Professor’s Picks

2011 Overall Record: 59-12
Last Week’s Record: 10-1

Around the Nation

12:00 PM ET No. 4 Oklahoma State at Missouri … Cowboys look to keep riding high into Bedlam with a shot to play for BCS title. Professor’s Pick: OK State

12:00 PM ET North Carolina at No. 7 Clemson … following a terrific comeback, the Tigers face the talented but unpredictable Tar Heels. Professor’s Pick: Clemson

3:30 PM ET Air Force at No. 5 Boise State … one of the few tests left for Boise, but the Falcons probably cannot swoop in and derail another unbeaten season. Professor’s Pick: Boise State

3:30 PM ET No. 22 Georgia Tech at Miami (FL) … The Ramblin’ Wreck crashed unexpectedly in Charlottesville and must regroup in a tough place against a decent team. Professor’s Pick: Miami

7:00 PM ET No. 21 Penn State at Northwestern … great seasoned coach in Joe Pa against fine young coach in Paddy Fitz – nice matchup. Professor’s Pick: Penn State

7:30 PM ET USC at Notre Dame NBC … the nation’s most famous intersectional rivalry moves to prime time in South Bend. Irish are favored and also unveiling new helmets and (most likely) green jerseys but I think USC has a very good chance to spoil the party. Professor’s Pick: USC

8:00 PM ET Texas Tech at No. 3 Oklahoma … Sooners typically handle Tech pretty well. Professor’s Pick: OK

8:00 PM ET No. 6 Wisconsin at No. 16 Michigan State … Really looking forward to this pairing of the Big Ten’s most physical teams. Suspension of Sparty’s William Gholston is a difference maker. Professor’s Pick: Wisconsin

AROUND THE SEC

Headlines (courtesy of SECsportsmedia.com)

• SEC Football Players of the Week for games of Oct. 15 are Alabama RB Trent Richardson (offense), Auburn DE Corey Lemonier and South Carolina FS D.J. Swearinger (co-defense), Auburn P Steven Clark (special teams), LSU OT Chris Faulk (offensive line), Mississippi State DT Fletcher Cox (defensive line) and South Carolina WR Bruce Ellington and Georgia OLB Ray Drew (co-freshman).

• The SEC has six teams ranked in this week’s AP poll and the consensus 1-2 teams in the major polls. LSU and Alabama are ranked 1-2 in the AP, Harris Interactive and BCS Rankings this week.

• Ole Miss DE Jason Jones is this week’s SEC Community Service Player of the Week.

• The SEC has a 29-4 mark in non-conference games this season (87.9 percentage). The mark is second this season to the Big 12’s 26-3 (89.7 percentage) record.

• LSU has won at least two SEC road games every season since 2001. The 11-year streak is the longest in the conference.

• Vanderbilt’s 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Andre Hal against Georgia was the first allowed by an SEC team this season.

• LSU’s 16-play, 99-yard, 8:44 touchdown drive against Tennessee is the longest in the SEC this season in all three categories.

• The Auburn-LSU series (Saturday, CBS Sports, 2:30 p.m. CT) is the ninth closest in the SEC since 2000 with an average margin of 11.27 points. Six of the 11 games during the time have been decided by nine-points-or-less.

SEC Professor’s Picks

Jacksonville State (5-1) at Kentucky (2-4, 0-3 SEC)
12 p.m. ET • ESPNU
Lexington, Ky. • Commonwealth Stadium / C.M. Newton Field (67,942)
Series Record: First Meeting
Comment: Kentucky will take a win against any level, but Gamecocks are not pushovers.
Professor’s Pick: UK

Arkansas (5-1, 1-1 SEC) at Ole Miss (2-4, 0-3 SEC)
11:21 a.m. CT • SEC Network / ESPN3.com
Oxford, Miss. • Vaught-Hemingway Stadium / Hollingsworth Field (60,580)
Series Record: UA records list UA, 31-25-1 • UM records list UA, 30-26-1
Last Meeting: Oct. 23, 2010 at Fayetteville (UA, 38-24)
Comment: Rebels look like worst team in the league while Razorbacks are not out of title contention just yet. Houston Nutt would love to knock off his old team, but don’t think he has the squad to do so.
Professor’s Pick: Arkansas

Auburn (5-2, 3-1 SEC) at LSU (7-0, 4-0 SEC)
2:30 p.m. CT • CBS Sports
Baton Rouge, La. • Tiger Stadium (92,542)
Series Record: LSU leads, 24-20-1 • Last Meeting: Oct. 23, 2010 at Auburn (AU, 24-17)
Comment: The suspensions of two top LSU Tigers hurts, but Auburn will be throwing a new starting quarterback (Clint Moseley) into the din of Death Valley against one of the nation’s top defenses. I still think Les Miles is going to harm LSU’s title chances by expanding the number of snaps Jordan Jefferson gets at QB. I’ve noticed what looks like a decline in confidence by Jarrett Lee … Jefferson should not be playing in this professor’s gradebook.
Professor’s Pick: LSU

Army (2-4) at Vanderbilt (3-3, 1-3 SEC)
6 p.m. CT • ESPNU
Nashville, Tenn. • Vanderbilt Stadium (39,773)
Series Record: Tied, 4-4 • Last Meeting: Oct. 10, 2009 at West Point (Army, 16-13, OT)
Comment: James Franklin better calm down this week or an Army coach might really show him how to handle an altercation. Improving Commodores should beat Cadets.
Professor’s Pick: Vandy

Tennessee (3-3, 0-3 SEC) at Alabama (7-0, 4-0 SEC)
6:15 p.m. CT • ESPN2
Tuscaloosa, Ala. • Bryant-Denny Stadium (101,821)
Series Record: UA leads, 47-38-7 • Last Meeting: Oct. 23, 2010 at Knoxville (UA, 41-10)
Comment: This great old southern rivalry may be on its last legs because the game is probably gone (at least on an annual basis) if Missouri joins the SEC. For that matter, Vol fans might prefer not to play it this year.
Professor’s Pick: Alabama

OPEN: Florida (4-3, 2-3 SEC), Georgia (4-2, 3-1 SEC), Mississippi State (3-4, 0-4 SEC), South Carolina (6-1, 4-1 SEC)

See you at kickoff!

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