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Thursday Thoughts About the SEC and the Funny Things in It

Larry BurtonSenior Writer IJuly 16, 2009

What happens when hillbillies from Tennessee go over and visit a young gal in Kentucky, and the good old boys in Kentucky get wind of it? 

You guessed it! 

Shotguns get pulled, and it takes the cops to sort it all out. 

Though no one has been officially charged, and getting details from the police is harder than a corn cob in a Tennessee outhouse in January, what is known is that players from Tennessee and Kentucky did a little feuding at an off-campus apartment complex.

Okay, maybe not shotguns—but they sure slung some strong-winded words, I'll bet you.

Dang nabit! Can't boys just play nice anymore?

Speaking of Tennessee, though they didn't lose any players to the Kentucky McCoys, players were dropping off the practice lineup faster than moonshine drips from a Kentucky still.

The Vols lost running back recruit Toney Williams, who also tore his ACL last month. There was another injury this week, a broken foot on wide receiver Denarius Moore. He'll be out for six to eight weeks.

With their three best receivers out, they're left with six receivers who have a combined 28 receptions, 179 yards, and three touchdowns.

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Let's see Lane Kiffin pull some receptions out of his hat now. 

Most people in the know are saying that Florida by 60 points is now looking more and more possible, but I'm not so sure. It seems Tennessee has an explosive offense—it's blown up before the season's even started.

I think Florida by 75 is possible.

But wait—there is hope. 

Tennessee is moving a rock—a sacred rock, a lucky rock, an 80-ton rock, a rock that just a few months ago was painted brightly "FIRE FULMER." It is THE rock on campus. As far as I know, it's the TOP rock they sing about.

I know it's the only place on campus where vandalism is not only common, but also encouraged. Observers say it's been painted so many times it's impossible to actually feel the rock anymore, and that the paint is so thick you can stab it with a knife.

Anyway, they're moving it from the present site across from the Athletic Offices to somewhere else where it can continue to be revered and vandalized.  

Maybe Kiffin just didn't want to pull into his parking space after the first season and see FIRE KIFFIN on it.

Whatever the reason, they could have educated a student for four years for what it will cost to move this rock. But hey, when you've got all that SEC TV money, why not?

Okay, let me leave the poor Vols alone. There are already too many people who think I won't drink orange juice and move onto TV's next big superstar...Houston Nutt.

Yes, coming to a TV near you this fall is Gridiron U. (Do they really think Ole Miss is Gridiron U?)

It will showcase how Nutt deals with failing again after expectations are high (the last few times it has happened, nobody really documented it). The show will be brought to you by TruTV—you know, the people that broadcast all those shows about people killing a spouse and being dumb enough to get caught.

So now in addition to teaching you the correct way to kill your spouse, they'll have Nutt show you how to kill all expectations of a great season (at least that seems to be Paul Finebaum's take on Nutt).

The show will revolve around Nutt and his assistants, with looks both on the field and behind the scenes involving coaching, personalities, and pressure.

I hope Nutt's got a cell phone they can't get records to this time, now that he's going to be a big TV star and start getting even more propositions than before.

At Alabama this week, the big news was that Greg McElroy just got back from the Peyton Manning Passing Academy, where he took the national big names to school and whipped Colt McCoy of Texas, Oklahoma's Sam Bradford, Ole Miss phenomenon Jevan Snead, and others in passing drills.

And to think there were some 'Bama fans that had as little faith in Greg as they did in Tommy Tuberville to continue that streak against Nick Saban.

Many of these are the same people who by the end of year will be saying, "I knew it all along. That McElroy's the best thing to happen to us since Joe Namath." 

We do that kind of thing at Alabama.

Switching to Florida, Urban Meyer said this week, "I will not be the coach at Notre Dame."  This can only mean one thing. 

Urban Meyer is leaving to coach at Notre Dame.

Why is it that when coaches are that emphatic, they're always not meaning it? Florida knows this too and is ready to renegotiate his contract, making him the second highest-paid coach in the SEC—where coaches' salaries are so high there's little coincidence that we share those initials with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

So why would Florida make him the second highest-paid?

Because LSU (which obviously stands for Lost Sanity Unquestionably) gave Les Miles a contract that said he would be paid $1,000 more than any coach in the SEC. 

Les is home right now on his knees praying for huge raises for Urban Meyer and Nick Saban, and he's writing blogs that teams are soon to be going after Mark Richt too, just for good measure.

I've been accused of being a Les Miles hater. I love old Les. He makes football fun. I also think he's a perfect fit for LSU—a crazy guy working for a crazy administration. 

What could be a better fit?

I guess I should give some time to mention South Carolina, Mississippi State, and Arkansas and all they'll bring to the SEC this season.

Okay, now that I've covered all their accomplishments and what I expect them to achieve, let's go on to Vandy—the SEC's version of Cinderella.

Vandy is going to shock the world with back-to-back bowl games. I can't tell you where the wins will come from, but I just can't tear myself away from the SEC's feel-good team. 

Vandy never seems to get in trouble, plays real student-athletes, and keeps those academic standards above those of the football program. 

When Vandy goes to a bowl, it's like I can still believe that college football is not all about the money, the TV contracts, and five-star blue-chippers. 

Months ago I had a chance to talk to Bobby Johnson, and he was very optimistic that they could not only keep the momentum building from this last bowl win, but also continue pulling in good enough talent to keep winning. 

You know, it goes against everything I know about football, but I believe him. Of course, my Thursday column confirms the fact that I do have a crazy side.

On that note, let me assure all the readers that no fish were harmed in the writing of this article, that this Thursday column contains more conjecture than facts, and that I'm really getting rid a week's worth of seriousness with this weekly diatribe.