Review – ESPN documentary series SEC Storied: “The Play That Changed College Football”

The second of four documentaries set to air on ESPNU this year as part of the SEC Storied documentary series, “The Play That Changed College Football” is an intricate look at the first Southeastern Conference Championship Game played in 1992 between the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (11-0) and No. 12 Florida Gators (8-3).

Directed by Jeff Cvitkovic and narrated by Luke Perry, the film is centered on the thesis that one game – and more specifically one play – “helped shape how conferences are constructed and championships are decided.”

When the SEC expanded to 12 teams (adding Arkansas and South Carolina) nearly two decades ago, then-commissioner Roy Kramer chose to format the conference into two six-team divisions and add a championship game that was previously unheard of in Division I college football.

The prevailing thought was that a SEC team would never win a national championship because even if one got through the regular season undefeated, the team could be canalized in the title game and ruin its chances at national glory. What Kramer saw, however, was not the risk but instead the rewards of increased exposure, television revenue and conference prestige.

“You had a chance to have a team play for the national championship. Now, all of a sudden if they lose this game, they’re gonna lose their shot at a national championship. I was concerned we had shot ourselves in the foot,” he admitted.

The former commissioner is honest and forthcoming when admitting that, while he may be considered a visionary now, he was one play away from potentially being a pariah. Luckily for him, the former came true and not the latter.

Read the rest of OGGOA’s review of ESPN’s latest documentary…after the break!
Continue Reading » Review – ESPN documentary series SEC Storied: “The Play That Changed College Football”

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SEC “Storied” tackles Alabama-Florida game

ESPN debuted the new documentary series SEC “Storied” earlier this year and announced Tuesday that the second edition of the program will feature the first SEC Championship game played on Dec. 5, 1992 between the undefeated Alabama Crimson Tide and the Florida Gators. The episode, The Play That Changed College Football, will premier on Thursday, Dec. 1 at 11 p.m. on ESPNU.

Two decades ago, the SEC expanded to 12 schools and hosted a conference championship game for the first time in college football history. Many thought this would jeopardize national title aspirations for the schools involved. Undefeated Alabama normally would have gone straight to a matchup with Miami in the Sugar Bowl with the national championship on the line, but instead was forced to play Steve Spurrier’s Florida squad first for the SEC title.

No. 2 Alabama defeated No. 12 Florida 28-21 in the first SEC Championship, which was played at Legion Field in Birmingham, AL. The Crimson Tide and Gators went on to go head-to-head in each of the next two SEC title games with UF winning both. Florida captured four-straight SEC Championships from 1993-96 including three over Alabama.

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Gators DT Dominique Easley won’t be charged

Florida Gators sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley will not be charged with any wrongdoing by the state of Florida after it was alleged he committed misdemeanor battery, the State Attorney’s Office said in a statement released Thursday.

Easley was accused by former Alabama cornerback Reggie Myles of tackling him outside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in the early morning of Oct. 2 following Florida’s loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide. Myles took Easley’s cell phone from the scene and gave a sworn complaint to an officer.

Complaints against both men were submitted by the University Police Department to State Attorney Bill Cervone last week with Myles being cited for alleged criminal mischief, larceny and disorderly intoxication.

Cervone released the following statement in regards to his decision on the matter:

Having reviewed the reports provided by the University Police Department regarding Dominique Easley and Reginald Myles as they relate to events that occurred on October 2, 2011, and the allegations against each of them, I have reached the following conclusions regarding those events.

First, virtually everyone involved has provided contradictory information in some regard and some of those persons were apparently impaired from drinking to the point where their memory is not reliable in any event. The only exception to this is Easley, and that may be only because he exercised his constitutional right to remain silent and has said nothing. He cannot be compelled to do otherwise. Additionally, it is apparent that at least some of those involved have motives beyond what happened that raise questions of credibility.

Second, almost everyone involved has behaved badly in some way, including Easley, Myles and several of the witnesses, none of whom can be characterized as neutral or impartial. In some ways, that bad behavior might be provably criminal against Easley, Myles, or others, but just because it might be doesn’t mean that it should be when the cost and likely result of doing so would not warrant that.

There is a preference in the law that those who come before the courts seeking the redress of grievances should do so with clean hands. In my view, that includes in the criminal as well as the civil courts even though it is the State and not an individual that is the aggrieved party in a criminal case. There are no clean hands in this situation.

There is also no harm done, despite protestations to the contrary, that outweighs these factors. Any harm to either party is in essence canceled out by the harm to the other party. To use an appropriate analogy, I am therefore calling off setting penalties and declining to file any criminal charges against either Easley, Myles, or anyone else.

Easley has not yet nor is expected to miss any game action.

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Weis not tipping hand on Gators’ starting QB

The position of quarterback is one that demands stability, and the Florida Gators had that this season until redshirt senior John Brantley went down with a high-ankle sprain on Saturday against the No. 2/3 Alabama Crimson Tide. Set to square off against their second top-ranked opponent in as many weeks, Florida goes into their game against the No. 1/2 LSU Tigers uncertain who will be under center on the first series.

Speaking with the media on Tuesday, offensive coordinator Charlie Weis refused to indicate who that might be, even though freshman Jeff Driskel has been the second-string quarterback all season long up to this point.

“I can tell you, but I’d have to shoot you,” Weis said jokingly. “We don’t know yet. We’re practicing as the head coach has already previously told you. Brantley’s out and we’re practicing the other three guys. By the end of the week, we’ll decide who the starter is.”

Aside from Driskel, Florida has redshirt freshman Tyler Murphy and freshman Jacoby Brissett on the roster. Whoever Weis chooses will be tasked with starting the first college game of their young career, a big step up from starting in high school.

“The first thing they have to realize is…you were the star in high school and it came easy for you. Now there’s 90,000 people every week when you go to play,” he said. “The stage is the first thing you got to get used to. It’s a different set of circumstances. A lot more people involved and a lot more pressure involved [and you’re playing] against better athletes. With every young quarterback, every play they’re out there, he’s getting more experience, which only makes him better in the long run.”

Weis said he will “objectively” pick his starter for Saturday but admitted that Driskel “has obviously got the upper hand because he has played and the other guys really haven’t played meaningful football yet.” However, all three are getting reps early in the week and Weis anticipates each to succeed in his own way.

No matter who eventually wins the battle, Weis is much more confident in being able to create a game plan for a back-up given a week to prepare rather than having to scrap one in the middle of a game and start from scratch.

“I feel a lot better now than I would have doing it last week in the game. You devise a game plan really around John, and when John goes down, you have to cut back in what you’re doing,” he said. “Now at least knowing that John is out for this week, you can devise a game plan around less experienced guys rather than more experienced guys.

“The best thing for this week versus last week is everything’s being tailor made around these guys. You don’t add more, you cut back so you get used to doing the things that they feel comfortable doing. You don’t expose them to as much material, which gives them a lot more confidence.”

Weis was also quick to point out that replacing Brantley is not a one-man job. The entire team will have to step up to fill the void created by their signal caller’s untimely injury.

“Everyone knows that part of their responsibility with Brantley out is everyone, on both sides of the ball and on special teams, has to pick up some of the slack,” he said. “There isn’t one guy that picks it up. It isn’t the backup quarterback coming in alone that picks up the slack. It’s everyone that has got to kind of pick up the slack.

“We can’t lose the line of scrimmage. [If] we lose the line of scrimmage Saturday afternoon, we’ll be in for a long day. It starts there with making sure that you don’t go get roughed up. If you control the line of scrimmage with the players we have on offense, I like to think that will give us a legitimate chance.”

In a hostile environment against a tough opponent trying to fight back after a disappointing showing at home one week earlier, chances are the Gators will have plenty to worry about on Saturday in addition to their quarterback situation.

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Gators DT Dominique Easley accused of attacking former Crimson Tide CB Reggie Myles

Updated Oct. 4 at 5 p.m.

Florida Gators sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley has been accused by former Alabama Crimson Tide cornerback Reggie Myles of attacking him outside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium Saturday evening following Florida’s 38-10 loss to Alabama.

According to the Tuscaloosa News, Myles “filed a complaint with the University of Florida Police Department” alleging that, unprovoked, Easley “tackled [him] from behind…on a walkway outside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium shortly after midnight.”

The paper reports that Myles was able to identify his alleged attacker as Easley because a cell phone was dropped at the scene that he took into his possession and handed over to police. “[Easley's] parents were asking me for the phone back,” Myles told the paper, explaining that is how he determined to whom it belonged.

Myles himself was detained following the incident for public intoxication and criminal mischief due to his actions and behavior following the alleged attack. His lawyer expects those charges to be dropped.

The University Police Department had not identified Easley as the attacker as of Monday, but Sgt. Steve Wilder and Maj. Brad Barber told the Tuscaloosa News and The Gaiensville Sun respectively that an investigation is ongoing.

The Sun reported Tuesday that the UPD has been unable to speak with Easley in order to get his side of the story because the player’s attorney, Huntley Johnson, declined an interview on behalf of his client.

Barber also told the Sun that the UPD “will continue the investigation with the information we have at this time,” which does not include any surveillance videos as none are believed to be available at this time.

He added that the investigation will likely conclude soon, and the Sun said the UPD is looking into whether or not “Myles’s behavior might have contributed to the incident.”

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10/3: Will Muschamp’s Monday press conference

Head coach Will Muschamp meet with the media each Monday to wrap-up the previous Saturday’s game and look ahead to the Florida Gators next opponent. Below are some of the most important notes and quotes from the availability.

OPENING STATEMENTS

Muschamp began by discussing Florida’s flaws after a lackluster performance.

“Obviously I’m disappointed at the outcome of the Alabama game and I think it all starts with me,” he said. “We need to do a better job of coaching and player. It’s a line of scrimmage game and that was really the story of the game. We were dominated up front on both lines of scrimmage. Our inability to run the ball consistently in the game – when you become a one-dimensional team against them, it’s tough. And defensively [we need to improve] stopping the run, playing blocks up front, leveraging the ball and tackling.”

He also touched on a few positives.

“First half we moved the ball extremely well throwing the football,” he said. “John [Brantley] was completing over 70 percent of his passes and really played well on third down. John Brantley played an outstanding football game. It was unfortunate with his injury. We started the game fast defensively, came out in the second half and had some good stops. Settled down a little bit and played a little better technique as far as upfront playing blocks.”

Finally, he talked about what the LSU Tigers bring to the table.

“They’ve got a balanced football team,” Muschamp said. “Offensively they run the ball extremely well. They’re big up front. Spencer Ware and Mike Ford are two outstanding backs. They throw the ball well down the field. Jarrett Lee has played really well for them to this point. Getting Jordan Jefferson back, a guy that has won a lot of football games for them, does give them a different wrinkle offensively. Very talented at the wideout position, so we’ve got our work cut out for us.

“Defensively very good up front. Tyrann Mathieu is a guy, No. 7, who shows up an awful lot on film as far as his playmaking abilities. He’s an outstanding player. Got a lot of respect for John Chavis, their defensive coordinator. A lot of guys up front that can play. They do a nice job with their defensive line and rotating their guys. Special teams they’re top 15 in the country in net punting and they’ve got some very talented returners.

“Again, we’ve got our work cut out for us. But again, I think it’s a great opportunity for our football team. I told the team this morning, ‘Football is a tough deal. If you don’t’ play as well as you’ve liked to play, you got to wait a week to play. It’s not like basketball where you go out and play the next night. You got to get that taste out of your mouth. There’s no better opportunity than going to Baton Rouge and playing LSU.”

WEEKLY INJURY AND ABSENCE UPDATES

Redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown (knee) is out again this week, and Brantley will also miss the LSU game as expected. [More on Brantley’s injury and status here.] Freshman safety De’Ante Saunders, who was suspended for Saturday’s game due to a violation of team rules, will be available to play but will not necessarily get his starting job back right away. “We’ll work through the week and see who practices the best and gives us the best opportunity to be successful,” Muschamp said of Saunders.

STEPPING UP FOR DRISKEL

In order for freshman QB Jeff Driskel to step in and be successful while replacing Brantley, Muschamp indicated Monday that the entire team (not just the offense) is going to have to take their game to another level. “We got to pick it up around him,” he said. “We got to play better up front. We got to play better at wideout. We got to play better at tight end. We got to play better on defense. We got to do a better job on special teams in creating some momentum and controlling the field position. It’s not a one-man deal. It’s a collective deal around him as a football team.”

He also said that offensive coordinator Charlie Weis would work with Driskel this week to figure out exactly what he’s best at and scale down the playbook to better suit his skill set. “More than anything, you do what he can do and you do what he does well,” Muschamp said. “That’s what Charlie will do. We’ve talked about it this morning as far as how we’ll approach the game. There’s no question that you hit it with the mindset of doing the things he feels comfortable with. It’s no different than we did with John.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» On junior linebacker Jon Bostic losing his cool during the game: “It’s not something that we’re going to have at the University of Florida and Jon understands that. Jon’s a good football player and a great young man. There are times that we lose our composure and our poise a little bit. We got to be able to maintain that.”

» On junior S Josh Evans taking some bad angles during the game: “We need to leverage the ball better. There’s no question about that. When the ball hits the second level, we need to get it on the ground.”

» On how the offensive line can improve its protection: “Movement up front as far as just gaining some movement so you can positively get the ball down the field. We were throwing the ball extremely well, so we kind of went with what was working at the time, and that was throwing the football. We threw for close to 200 yards in the first half and John was completing 70 percent of his passes.”

» On senior defensive tackle Jaye Howard coming in for extra film work on Sunday: “We have a lot of guys that come in on Sunday. That’s the day off for them.”

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Muschamp rules QB Brantley out against LSU

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp, at the start of his weekly press conference on Monday, ruled out redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley for Saturday’s road game at the No. 1/2 LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge, LA.

Brantley, who injured his lower right leg against the Alabama Crimson Tide late in the second quarter last Saturday and did not return to the game, has reportedly been diagnosed with a high ankle sprain but no further information (such as severity and timetable for return) has been made available.

Brantley has has started every game for Florida since Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow graduated in 2009 but will likely be replaced by freshman QB Jeff Driskel on Saturday. Driskel will be the first true freshman to start at quarterback for the Gators since Chris Leak (vs. Kentucky, 2003) if he continues to beat out redshirt freshman Tyler Murphy and freshman Jacoby Brissett during practice this week.

“Jeff is a very mature young man,” Muschamp said of the team’s back-up. “He’s a guy that went through spring with us. He’s an outstanding athlete and an outstanding quarterback. He’s got legs and he can run. He’s a guy that can give you some variety as far as escape in the pocket, evading the rush. That’s a positive.”

Muschamp provided few details about Brantley’s injury on Monday, saying simply that the player hurt his lower leg and that surgery has been ruled out. He promised to update Brantley’s status each Monday, indicating that the injury will keep him out multiple weeks.

“John’s disappointed. He’s playing very well. He really threw the ball extremely well against a really good football team,” Muschamp said. “He’s disappointed and it hurts for him, but it’s time to pick up the other guy. And that’s what our team will do.”

Driskel is 7/16 for 73 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions this season.

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Brantley’s status iffy at best for LSU game

Florida Gators redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley, who injured his right leg against the Alabama Crimson Tide late in the second quarter on Saturday and did not return to the game, has been diagnosed with a high ankle sprain according to three separate reports from ESPN, the Palm Beach Post and InsidetheGators.com (sub. req.).

Brantley has started every game for Florida since Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow graduated in 2009 and did not miss a single start in 2010 even though he was injured during the year and had his quarterbacking duties split three ways throughout the second half of the season.

The difference between a normal sprained ankle and a high ankle sprain is that the latter consists of torn ligaments in the lower leg (between the tibia and fibula) rather than in the ankle itself. It is typically more severe than a regular sprained ankle (even grade three sprains) and usually takes an extended period of time to fully heal.

Head coach Will Muschamp did not provide much comment about Brantley’s injury after Saturday’s game but promised to provide an update on Monday when he holds his weekly press conference.

Seeing as the Gators have kept most of the players’ injuries close to the vest this season, Muschamp may or may not provide a completely clear picture as to Brantley’s injury and expected recovery period.

Should Brantley be unable to go Saturday, freshman QB Jeff Driskel will make his first start against the No. 1/2 LSU Tigers on Saturday in Baton Rouge, LA. Driskel is 7/16 for 73 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions so far this season.

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