Wednesday, September 23, 2009

UK Throws the First Punch.....and Misses

Today's Lexington Herald-Leader leads with an article by John Clay titled "Florida Gator haters abound in SEC," subtitled with a quote from noted SEC sports commentator Paul Finebaum, "Everything rubs people the wrong way about Florida." Clay then goes on to waste two perfectly good columns of print on the tired, and oft repeated, argument that UF isn't "Southern" and is somehow "different" from the rest of the SEC.

So, that got me thinking, what is the rest of the SEC anyway? We all know what they want us to think; the other schools carefully market images that include a generous helping of the more endearing attributes of the "South" with the suggestion of deep ties to tradition in all things, especially their football programs.

UF is inferentially declared a "carpetbagger," by reference to the hiring of SEC outsider, Urban Meyer, and a quote from Clay Travis, the author of an SEC football tome, Dixieland Delight, "Florida fans are the least Southern of all the SEC schools. As a group, they have a huge Northern influence since most of them didn't grow up in the state..."

OK, so if we're not "real" SEC because we brought in a coach without the appropriate SEC pedigree, then let's apply that same test to our sister institutions and see how they fare:

1. Ole Miss-Houston Nutt. A Little Rock native, he went to Arkansas during the SWC hey-day and then transferred to Oklahoma State because Lou Holtz wouldn't give him enough playing time. His assistant coaching career included 2 years at Oklahoma State, then to SWC Arkansas for a year, back to Oklahoma State until 1989, 3 more years as an Arkansas assistant (one of which may have been SEC). These were followed by head coaching stints at Murray State(Ohio), Boise State(Idaho) and then, finally, SEC Arkansas. This guy cut his chops in the Big 12 and SWC, not the SEC. His relationship to the SEC arose purely by chance due to the failure of the SWC.

SEC CarpetBagger Quotient: High

2. University of Arkansas-Bobby Petrino-Petrino grew up in Montana, went to Carroll College in Montana. His assistant coaching career began with a stint Weber State, then Carroll College, back to Weber State, followed by University of Idaho, University of Nevada and University of Louisville. He was then an assistant for the Jacksonville Jaguars. After 20 years of coaching made it to the SEC as Auburn's offensive coordinator. As we know, he went on to become Louisville's head coach and turned an embarrassing stint in the NFL as the Falcons head coach.

SEC CarpetBagger Quotient: Moderately High

3. University of Tennessee-coach Lane Quittin'-coach Quittin' attended Fresno State. His assistant coaching career included a year at his alma mater followed by, 1 year at Colorado State, a year as a "quality control" asistant for the Jacksonville Jaguars, then USC from 2001-2006. As all are aware, he spent a year as head coach of the Raiders, then a year out of football. He is then hired as UT head coach. As we all know, he is married to a UF alumna who is the daughter of former UF QB and assistant, John Reaves.

SEC CarpetBagger Quotient: High

UF Connection Quotient: High

4. University of Kentucky-Rich Brooks-Attended Oregon State University. He then coached at his alma mater for 6 years before working as an assistant at UCLA, the LA Rams, Oregon State (again), SF 49ers and UCLA (again). He was then head coach at Oregon for 18 years before coaching the St. Louis Rams for a year before serving as DC of the Atlanta Falcons for 3 years. In 2003, after 40 years of coaching, he finally entered the SEC when he accepted the head coaching job at Kentucky.

SEC CarpetBagger Quotient: High

5. Vanderbilt-Bobby Johnson-After playing at Clemson, he spent 15 seasons as an assistant at Furman and 2 at Clemson. After returning to Furman for 7 more years as head coach, in his 25th year of coaching, he entered the SEC for the first time.

SEC CarpetBagger Quotient: High

6. LSU-Les Miles-After growing up in Ohio and playing at Michigan, Miles served as an assistant 20 years at Michigan (two stints), Colorado, Oklahoma State and the Dallas Cowboys. He was head coach at Oklahoma State for 4 years before entering the SEC as head coach of LSU in his 25th year.

SEC CarpetBagger Quotient: High

7. University of Alabama-Nick Saban-After graduating from Kent State, he served as an assistant for a total of 20 years at Kent State, Syracuse, West Virginia, Ohio State, Navy, Michigat State, the Houston Oilers and Cleveland Browns. He spent 5 years as head coach of Michigan State before finally entering the SEC during his 26th year of coaching as head coach of LSU.

SEC Carpetbagger Quotient: High

8. Auburn University-Gene Chizik-After growing up in Tarpon Springs, FL he attended, and graduated from, The University of Florida before becoming a high school football coach at Seminole High School. After 3 years, he moved into the college coaching ranks where he served as an assistant for 14 years at Clemson, Middle Tennessee State, Stephen F. Austin before accepting a position at Auburn which he held for 3 years before departing the SEC for Texas and Iowa State.

SEC CarpetBagger Quotient: Low

UF Connection Quotient: High

9. Mississippi State University-Attended high school in New Hampshire, then Ursinus College in Pennsylvania. He spent 7 years as an assistant at Wagner, Columbia, Notre Dame and Syracuse before hooking up with UF head coach Urban Meyer at Bowling Green, following him to Utah and then UF for 4 years. He is known for being a member of a group of college football coaches called "the New Hampshire Mafia." His performance as UF offensive coordinator resulted in his current position.

SEC CarpetBagger Quotient: Moderate

UF Connection Quotient: High

10. University of South Carolina-Steven Orr Spurrier. Nothing else needs to be said.

SEC CarpetBagger Quotient: Nonexistent

UF Connection Quotient: Intertwined with identity.

11. University of Georgia-Mark Richt-After growing up in Boca Raton, FL, he attended University of Miami. He spent 15 years as an assistant at FSU and a year as an assistant at East Carolina before being hired as head coach at Georgia.

SEC CarpetBagger Quotient: High

State of Florida Connection: Extremely High

So, what conclusions are to be drawn?

Of the four SEC coaches actually born in what is considered the South (Spurrier, Richt, Chizik, Johnson), 2 were born and raised in Florida (Richt & Chizik) and 2 have strong UF connections (Spurrier & Chizik); leaving Johnson of Vanderbilt as the only Southern SEC coach whose identity is not intertwined with the State of Florida.

Mississippi State has a coach who was brought to the SEC by UF's head coach.

Tennessee's coach is married to a UF aluma who is the daughter of a UF player and assistant.

Other than the coaches with UF and/or Florida connections, all other SEC schools have brought in COMPLETE outsiders whose careers have absolutely no intersection with the SEC or the South. Only Vanderbilt's Robinson can claim a life connection to the South, even if he can't claim a professional connection to the SEC prior to his current position.

Rather than being the "carpetbagger," Florida is the source of the SEC connection for those coaches with SEC pedigrees and Urban Meyer is directly responsible for Dan Mullen's SEC pedigree.

Regarding Mr. Travis' assertion about the Northern influence in Florida. It can't be denied that a northern influence exists in Southeast Florida. However, many SEC states have undergone substantial demographic changes over the last two decades resulting from a northern influx. The population of Georgia increased by over 2 million (26%) between the 1990 census and the 2000 census. Likewise, the population of Tennessee increased by 16.7%, South Carolina-15.1%, Arkansas-13.7%, Mississippi-10.5%, Alabama-10.1%, Kentucky-9.7% and Louisiana-5.9%.

Mr. Travis' assertion is true for all SEC states except Louisiana.

For such irresponsible reporting, Mr. Clay, on this blog, your name is mud.

And the Florida arrogance?

That's been around since long before the Spurrier era, as evidenced by the last two lines of our Alma Mater, written in 1925 by Milton Yeats:

"For before her all are falling.
All hail, Florida, hail."

What's the alternative? Kentucky?


jj gator said...

As we say: if you ain't a Gator, you're Gator bait.

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Ethan said...

Great post! I had no idea the Alma Mater had a second verse!

Dan said...

Yet more proof that Clay Travis should go back to his lawyer day job. Actually, a decent attorney would have been able to make a better case for his silly assertions.

jj gator said...

Dan, let's not forget that it was that same Clay Travis who posed that asinine question about Tim Tebow's virginity at the SEC Media Days this past summer.

No wonder why Shakespeare once said "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers".

Gator KGB said...

Easy gentlemen, more than one of your humble bloggers are licensed Florida attorneys.

The quote is either a garden variety lawyer joke or a statement of what is necessary to effect revolution. It is delivered immediately after the character Cade describes an England under his dictatorship.

No one knows which it is...the Bard took it to the grave with him.

J. D. said...

You neglected to mention Chizik's stint as UCF's defensive coordinator. Other than that, great article.

Gator KGB said...

Yep. Sorry, it was on my list for him, I just overlooked it while typing, blog deadlines being what they are....

Dan said...

I only disparaged one attorney. That one being a pathetic, UT homer wanna be author imitating a credible journalist.

Mike said...

Well writen. Did you send Travis an e-mail of this?
He's as big an idiot as the baseball writer in NYC, this week, who said that the Atlanta Braves didn't win World Series championships because they didn't have an elite pitching staff in the late 80's, 90's.
Even sports bloggers/writers should be required to have an 90+ IQ.

Gator KGB said...

I'll have myself tested immediately.

Gator KGB said...

In direct answer to your question, I did.

No response.

jj gator said...

Again I'm with Dan; that quote of mine was directed at Clay Travis, who yes, is nothing more or less a hack. Eve nworse is that he aligns his loyalty to that group wearing that God-awful creamsicle orange in the eastern part of a certain state whose northern border meets the southern edge of Kentucky.

Gator KGB said...

Was just kidding. I'm a lawyer and make lawyer jokes all the time, and consider anything and everything fair game.

Samuel Putnam said...

I hate this crap. First, we are one of the inaugural schools in the sec. Arkansas and SoCar can't claim that. Prior to that, we were in the southern conference.
Second, UF in Gainesville was established in 1905 but East Florida Seminary, one of the precursors to UF was established in 1853.
Third, most of the founders of Gainesville were not Yankees, they were southern farmers looking for more fertile land for agricultural endeavors.
Fourth, if you wanna talk about the "south", two Civil War battles were fought here and the South won both of them.
I don't know how you can get more southern than that. Also, Doug Dickey(UF graduate and head coach) invented the running through the T and the checkerboard endzone at UT. So much for southern tradition.

Tommy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tommy said...

Coupla critiques:

1. Kentucky sided with the North in the War of Northern Aggression, so they can bite me when it comes to lecturing the rest of us on what constitutes Southern.

2. Even if Houston Nutt were from Mars, there isn't a more Southern place on the planet than Ole Miss. That's not an opinion; that's empirical fact.

3. If Arkansas is a carpetbagger school because of its short history with the SEC, then so is South Carolina. The chickens hiring Spurrier and claiming SEC roots is a bit like Atlanta suburbanites driving pickups and adopting Southern accents. Sorry, not buying it.

4. Re: Population influx: Atlanta, Nashville and Greenville have added population due primarily to the economic booms that each city has gone through during the recent New South renaissance. That's true of Florida too, obviously, but none of those non-Florida cities attract anywhere near the steady stream of snowbirds of Yankee origin that Florida gets. That's my hypothesis anyway, but I have yet to see the stats to prove me wrong.

5. Gator bait, by definition, is material used to catch and kill gators. If the gator isn't caught or killed, then it's simply food. It is the gator's demise that defines the material as bait. Always amazes me that you guys and LSU lead with that.

Gator KGB said...


Since the 2004 hurricanes many, many Floridians have headed north to other SEC states. In North Carolina they have taken to calling them "half-backs" as in, "half-way back to NY." They have moved, en masse, to the N. Georgia mountains, North Carolina, Tennessee and, believe it or not, the Arkansas and the Ozarks. That, of course, is in addition tothe others pouring into the other SEC states.

I didn't bother pointing out South Carolina's short SEC tenure since their coach is clearly no SEC CarpetBagger, having hired UF's Spurrier.

You may have missed the point of the post. That is, that ALL the SEC schools have hired out-of-conference carpetbaggers....unless they hired a coach with deep Florida ties, like Auburn, S. Carolina and Miss. State.

That's why I call it the SEC CarpetBagger Quotient.

Sure I toss in a couple of asides, but it doesn't change the stated them towards the beginning of the post.

I went after the other garbage in the article as an aside to demonstrate the entirety of the fiction.

You are incorrect in your definition of "gator bait." Not that the term was included in the post.

According to Webster's, the noun "bait" is defined as:

1 a : something (as food) used in luring especially to a hook or trap

As we know, with Alligators, the bait is affixed to a large metal hook and then submerged in the water.

So, as you can see, it is not the demise of the alligator, it is the use of the food item that renders it bait.

While it is true, the intended use of gator bait is to catch alligators, the bait dies 100% of the time. The alligators, if you've ever been alligator hunting, not so much.

Tommy said...

It sounds like the admittedly inane John Clay piece took into account factors other than head coach origins, whereas you focused solely on the latter. If you want to argue his point, I'd argue all of it. Either way, I'd be shocked if a significant portion of Mississippi's new arrivals are non-Southerners. And absent conclusive data, we're talking out of our asses on this anyway.

Re: bait, that came from someone else's post. However you want to define it, generally bait originates from ill intent toward the baited. Why not Gator Food or Gator Prey?