SEC Football: Week 12

Were it not for Vanderbilt upsetting Kentucky last week, I would have gone 7-0. 69-19 is now the tally on this 2022 SEC Football season. The pct. is .784. Got some cupcakes along with some very good SEC only games in week 12. And you know what’s up next week?! It brings Egg Bowl, Iron Bowl, et al! Will Friend and Ike Hilliard have done a good job of getting the AU running game at its peak and I look forward to continued improvements, and hopefully, some of those adjustments in the passing game to give the Tigers some more growl for that little contest in T-Town. Let’s roll!

Austin Peay at Alabama (No line)

The Governors have their “work work work” (See Blazing Saddles’ “Gov”) cut out for them in T-Town in this nooner (the First of four 12 ET games). The Tide scores early and often in a rout. No drama here unless you do happen to be wagering against the spread. You can get a spread in Vegas. Alabama 55, Austin Peay 3.

TSU at Mississippi State (No line. Again.)

The Buccaneers of East Tennessee State are the sacrificial lambs at StarkVegas. Will Rogers should be able to “slang it around” as he pleases. The Pirate versus the Buccaneers. Just thought of that. Would you like icing on that cupcake, Coach Leach? Miss State 48, ETSU 10,

Florida (-14) at Vanderbilt

Hey! Anchors away! Dores won at the Kentucky Kroger Wildcats last Satday. Why not this Satday? Well, the Water Lizards hammered USC East in The Swamp and they’ll reduce the NashVegas homies to rubble also. Florida 38, Vanderbilt 13.

Georgia (-22.5) at KK Cats

Dawgs are a true force of nature. They be wompin’ the competition left and right. And down the middle. tomorrow in the Bluegrass will be no different. Buster Brown continues to march the Hedgers to Hotlanta. Georgia 38, Kentucky 14.

Western Kentucky at Auburn (-5.5)

The Hilltoppers score points by the bucketful, 42 last week and 59 the week before. Coach Lac and DC Schmedding will have to get that D fine tuned. The visiting Bowling Green, KY gang can”slang it good” themselves. The Tigers’ running game has been quite good as mentioned above, and I expect Tank and Jarquez to lead a ground game that maybe hits 300 yards Saturday. Gotta get up a full head of steam as they head for Bryant-Denny the next week.Could be a dandy but I hope not. Auburn 37, Western Kentucky 24.

Tennessee (-22) at South Carolina

Cobs and Roosters! Rocky Tops and Cockabooses. The Knoxvillians could be playoff bound. They take on Vandy next week to close the season. Almost certain to finish at 11-1. The SEC Championship game is set between UGA and LSU. The Vols get to rest and wait, eagerly. Josh Heupel will have UT focused and ready. The Cocks will crow but not loudly enough. Tennessee 45, South Carolina 17.

Ole Miss (-2.5) at Arkansas

Now this one SHOULD be a dandy! Amidst all the Kiffin to the Plains talk, he’s had him a huge game to plan for this week. Sam Pittman’s Pigs have had some ups and downs in 2022. I feel they will be primed for a fight with the Black Bear Rebel Sharks. It could go down to the wire with… Ole Miss 35, Arkansas 28.

New Mexico State at Missouri (-29)

The Aggies of Las Cruces (beautiful place in southern New Mexico) are severe underdogs and won’t pull off the upset. Mizzou has been so very close in its losses. Not a close one in Columbia, MO this week. The second set of SEC Tiguz romp. Missouri 42, NMSU 13.

UAB at LSU (-15)

Blazers and Bayou Bengals. And the Bhammers have been to Red Stick before when they toppled Nick Saban’s Tigers. It can be done. Hit won’t Saturday. But it could be fun. Here’s to hoping! LSU 34, UAB 16.

Here are some recommendations for the sporting weekend.

Detroit Deep Dish Pizza from Little Caesar’s. We cannot get those Anchor Bar wings from Buffalo but Taco Mac has some very good ones as does Three Dollar Cafe, and I bet that there is a local restaurant near each one of y’all that has good ones. Hey! Would you post on here where that would be in your neck of the woods? Everybody is near a Hardees. Good biscuits. I like the pork chop with egg. And anyone can also get some Milos iced tea. Also a bottle of tequila and a margarita mix will do the job.

How’s all that sound? Good luck to one and all. I hope your team wins unless you’re a Western Kentucky fan. Peace, love, and music. Safe travels. Love your neighbor. I’m outta here!

Photo credit Pexels Free Photos

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SEC Football: Week 11

Here we are once again. Staring at a blank screen. Thinking about SEC Football. The Allman Brothers Band raging on a Whipping Post from August of 2003. I have SiriusXM tuned to the Jam On station. Now there’s a group named ALO doing ‘Cowboys and Chorus Girls’. Never heard of it or them. Time to learn someone new. That’s fine. What’s not fine was my pickin’ results from last weekend. I think I had a losing record. Time to tally up!

Ouch!!! that’s awful! I was 2-5. That’s makes me 63-18 on the season. And that is .777. Slipping a bit since we’ve gotten seriously into the red meat of the 2022 SEC season. There are seven picks this week with all of them SEC matchups. No out of conference or Group of Five or FCS opponents. As Archie Bell and The Drells sang, “Tighten Up!”

Brang it!

Missouri at Tennessee (-20.5)

Eli (I’d just love to have a) Drinkwitz you got a very generous new contract extension recently. Not bad for someone with a losing record (4-5). I like the guy and wish him well. A beaten and angry Vols squad at Neyland Stadium is not the place to even that record at 5-5 this Satday. Kirby’s Dawgs put a butt whuppin’ on them down Twixt the Hedges. The Corn Cobbers return to their pre-Gawja ways and whack the Show Me Tigers. Tennessee 42, Missouri 17.

Lucky To be Alive by My Morning Jacket is now playing on the radiddio. It’s a good one.

LSU (-3.5) at Arkansas

I was not the least bit surprised that The Bayou Bengals upset the Tahd down in Red Stick. You Gotta Give Batman Kelly credit. He has these Tiguz improving each and every Saturday. Arky seems back to be back to form, as well. Should be dandy as the line would indicate. The visitors are in the Catbird Seat in the SEC West. Who’d a thunk it? The road to Atlanta continues for… LSU 37, Arkansas 28.

Ok ok! Now on SiriusXM. Ready? Vieux Farka Toure/Khruangbin – Tonga Barra. Pretty good!

Vanderbilt at Kentucky (-17.5)

The last of a Noon ET Tripleheader. The Nashvillians invade the Bluegrass. Who would Bill Monroe pull for in this clash of SEC Easters? I hear Easter in the Bluegrass is lovely. Too bad it’s mid-November. Kroger Field will be rife with savings galore. Get that gasoline discount before ye return to NashVegas. It’ll seem like a long trip. With an 88% chance to win… Kentucky 31, Vanderbilt 14.

Now it’s Jackie Greene on vocals with Gov’t Mule covering David Bowie’s ‘Changes’. Yes ma’am! I’m a huge Mule fan. Gov’t Mule has been my favorite live band for some years. Used to be that if they were within six hours of 116 Sundown Way, Acworth Gee A, Me and Paul were there. Our first live show was at The Tabernacle in Atlanta on 10/20/2001. One of those musical epiphany nights that transports and transforms you. They don’t happen often. But oh are they sweet! Like sugar! And speaking of sugar…

Alabama (-12) at Ole Miss

One of these two could very well wind up in NOLA as the SEC New Year’s Six representative in the Sugar Bowl. My guess is it will be Bama. It has a waaaaaay outside chance of making the SEC Championship Game. But I’m thinking LSWho is making the trip to Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Hotlanta. As a matter-of-fact, the Tuscaloosans could lose this contest in Groveville. They will if they are not on their best game. Another OT nail-biter for Nickydemus. Alabama 38, Ole Miss 35.

South Carolina at Florida (-8)

“Swamp Fox, Swamp Fox taił on his hat, nobody knows where the Swamp Fox is at. Swamp Fox, Swamp Fox living in the glen, he runs away to fight again.” The Swamp Fox was a Disney show from long ago. Taco time !!! It’s been awhile. If one of you can tell me who played Francis Marion (Revolutionary War hero) you win a taco! No cheating! But, as always, wagering is encouraged. Is coach Billy Napier now the Swamp Fox? Or is it QB Anthony Richardson? Napier’s Water Lizards spanked the Aggies last week. More on them later. It’s Senior Day in Gainesville. Florida 34, USC East 24.

Georgia (-16.5) at Mississippi State

The Bullpups were most fortunate to score more points than Auburn, in StarkVegas, Saturday previous. That shall not happen tomorrow. The visitors from Hedgeville will win this game. The Kirbyites might struggle a wee bit early in the game. And The Pirate’s aggregation of canines might be able to sling it around for a spell. But in the end… Georgia 40, Miss State 16.

And finally! Drumroll please!

“Well there she sits buddy just a gleaming in the sun, There to greet a working man when his day is done, I’m gonna pack my pa and I’m gonna pack my aunt, I’m gonna take them down to the CADILLAC RANCH!” YAY HEEEE! WDE!!! And gracias, Bruce Springsteen!

Texas A&M at Auburn (-1.5)

Yes, the Carnell Williams led Auburn Tigers are favored to defeat the Fighting Jimbos! The loser sinks to the bottom of the SEC West. Now, I am here to tell you this. I haven’t seen, or felt, this kind of excitement surrounding an Auburn Football game since the Penn State game back in mid-September. The sold out Auburn crowd will be raucous and rockin’ old Jordan-Hare tomorrow night! Coach Lac will have 25-30 of his former teammates with him in the locker room prior to the game. They come as a show of support of their beloved fellow Tiger, and many of them were together on that National Championship team form 2004. Arguably the best team in Auburn Football history. And, hell yes, they were champions! Raise the banner! (Along with the ’83 teams and a handful of others.) But more on that another day. I expect Auburn to come out on fire and jump out to a quick lead, and then they will proceed to trounce the Aggies on their way to wins in its final two outings to go 6-6 and make a bowl game. Never flag in zeal! “On to victory! Strike up the band!” Auburn 27, Texas A&M 21.

SiriusXM closing with St. Stephen by The Grateful Dead. How apropos! The mood at Auburn has turned on a dime and excitement, once again, abounds! Should be a great weekend for SEC football. Football all over the USA for that matter. Enjoy it!

As Hillbilly Jim says on his Outlaw Country radio show, “I’m not here for a long time. I’m here for a good time!”

Have fun! Be safe! And LOOOOVVVVE your neighbor as yourself! Peace out!

Photo Bird LeCroy

SEC Football: Week 10

I do hope y’all had a Happy Halloween. Auburn was pretty darn scary but we have hit the reset button, down on the Plains, and WE COMIN’!!! Trust me on that. Oh Lane, where art thou? Oh Prime, we need that recruiting machine to crank back up. I hear Coach Cadillac is doing that with ferocity. More on all that later. Yes, Halloween. We didn’t have a lot of visitors so I put the Twix bars on top and the fun size Snickers on the bottom of the bowl. Strategy worked! I only gave out the Twix and the Snickers were all left for Me & Paul. Everyone was happy!

We have ourselves some big ol’ fat stem-winders coming down the pike this weekend. Two games will decide who the leaders are in both the East and West divisions of the Southeastern Conference. Haw!!! And besides the monster clashes in Red Stick and Hedgeville, we have highly competitive games all over the SEC.

I got my Swami hat on, so let’s do it!

Kentucky at Missouri (A pick em)

Can’t get more competitive than a pick em. Both teams will sport 5-4 records if the Tigers win. I don’t think they will. I believe the Cats are getting back on track and will find a way to escape Columbia intact. There remains the possibility of a 10 win season for Mark Stoops and the Bluegrass Boys. Kentucky 24, Missouri 21.

Florida at Texas A&M (-3)

We continue to burn barns down in College Station. I do believe they have a big yell thing going on somewhere near the Aggie campus Friday nights for home games. Billy Napier’s Water Lizards better have their tough hides greased and ready. Speed talkin’ Jimbo got some much better offensive production last Satday and here’s saying he’ll get enough out of the O to pull out a win over the visitors. A 3-5 record ain’t sitting well with the fans in Texas. And that huge contract Coach Fisher has? WHEW!!! Texas A&M 27, Florida 23.

And now we move away from the also rans to the contendas. The Big Boys. Number One versus Number Three! Haw Deux!!!

Tennessee at Georgia (-8.5)

Mercy me! Mercy me! Hit don’ get no better! Twixt the Hedges. ZERO losses between the two of them. Whoa Nellie! We have a dandy in the making! I wish Keith Jackson was there to call this Monster Match. Brad and Gary will be there. Don’t you just love Gary? All sarcasm aside, I wouldn’t be surprised if the ghosts of Larry Munson and John Ward came down to haunt this huge, juicy plum of a football game. I think there will be multiple leads changes and the last team with the ball will win. That would be… Great Corn Cobs! The Rocky Toppers! In an upset! Tennessee 35, Georgia 31.

Liberty at Arkansas (-14.5)

The Fighting Falwell Freezer Flames and the Razortuskbackhawgs! Another dandy? Most assuredly there will be fireworks. Hugh and Sam. The Escorter and Old Cold Beer.Yes, we are hearing Freeze to Auburn as well as many others. Ain’t nobody supplanting Coach Caddy until, probably, after the Iron Bowl. And what if he wins out? No, I’m not drinking.Yet. Ok, back to Fayetteville. There used to be a place called the AQ Chicken House where I loved to eat when my travels took me to Northwest Arkansas. A great big honky tonk I liked as well. K K! Football. Arkansas 38, Liberty 24.

Alabama (-13.5) at LSU

Yay Heeee! Baton Rouge at night. Death Valley. Blah blah blah. Not what it once was. The Crimpson Tide has fared exceedingly well down on the Bayou. Hey! We broke the hex down there last year. It is soooo very tempting to pick the upset. It could happen. I wouldn’t be surprised at all. But I think Nickydemus will have his squad ready to roll. Another nail-biter. Alabama 30, LSU 27.

Auburn at Mississippi State (-12.5)

I’ll take the points yet again. Unless you’ve been spelunking heavily, you know what has happened in the Loveliest Village this week. It was a Bloody Monday. Roberts and Cohen working hand in hand to right the ship and get this thing pointed back in the right direction. I think their plan will succeed. Mightily. Sooner than later. You can rest assured that they have already been in talks with agents and the wheels are turning rapidly. And the guy might come out of left field as has happened so often in the past at AU. I’d love to have the Lane Train or Deion, but who knows. I do trust our admin this time. I also trust Carnell Williams to take a relaxed yet fired WAAAAY UP group of Tigers to StarkVegas. The Tigers will play with great passion and find a way out of the second half malaise they have been in since the State game last season. They intend to go to Mississippi and win. And win they will. Auburn 28, Miss State 26.

South Carolina (-6.5) at Vanderbilt

Live from Music City. Another potential upset. Clark Lea’s Commodores and Shane Beamer’s Fighting Cocks. I honestly cannot remember the last time Vandy won an SEC game. Decent chance here. Mizzou put an end to the USC East momentum that had been gathering steam and had these Columbians ranked in the AP top 25. Roosters get their swagger back but not without a real fight from the Dores. South Carolina 30, Vanderbilt 23.

Y’all have a great weekend! Enjoy yoselfs! Be safe. Love your neighbor. and peace out!

Photo Credit Pexels Free Photos

SEC Football: Week Nine

Good afternoon! It has been four weeks since we’ve done SEC Predictions, Banter style. As George Jones used to say when he was opening his shows, “How y’all doin’? Bless your hearts! Welcome to our show.” Then he’d usually kick it off with the song No Show Jones, followed by The Race Is On, and then he’d slow it down with Once You’ve Had The Best (a personal favorite). And that’s what we try to give you here at Bird’s Banter. The best. If we aren’t the best pickin’ show out there then we’re surely the most fun!

So welcome to our show! I’m Braxton “Bird” LeCroy. I don’t have a band, like The Jones Boys, but I do possess a proclivity for having a good time. So let’s do it!

Another quick “Jones” aside before it’s time to pick. I saw ‘The Possum’ on a televised show from Church Street Station in Orlando many moons ago. The crowd was really revved up that night and when Ron Gaddis, George’s faithful bass player and front man, introduced Possum, ol’ Jones was “revved up” and goes into his “how y’all doin'” intro and says, “Welcome to… where are we, Ron?” Ron, “Church Street Station.” Jones, “That’s right! Beautiful Church Street Station in Orlando, Florida!”

Now! Let’s do it!

Arkansas (-3.5) at Auburn

At first glance this contest has all the appearances of a real stinker. But both teams can put points on the board and neither defense is playing well at all. Auburn was able to run the football well last time out against Ole Miss. Problem is, the Rebel Land Shark Black Bears ran it even better. Seems like we’re looking at a wide open affair. The Tigers actually have a decent chance to post a victory over the Piggies. They’ve had the opportunity to regroup and heal some wounds, same with Arky, and have something to build on. If the boys from the Plains can play even a wee bit of defense then they could even their record at 4-4. The Ozark Mountain Porkers would fall to the same record of 4-4. Here’s saying that is what will happen! Auburn 34, Arkansas 30.

Florida at Georgia (-23.5)

The World’s Largest Cocktail Party. That moniker is not “allowed” anymore in describing this game which always comes to you form Jacksonville, FL. I like the descriptor and I will continue to use it in reference to the Gators versus the Dawgs. Jawja is ranked number one and I’ll second that emotion. They good! The Water Lizards do have a winning record, 4-3, and could be chomping for a little while. The Hedgers are deeper, wider, and more talented, obviously. That’ll be enough to secure another W over Billy Napier’s gang. Georgia 38, Florida, 17.

Missouri at South Carolina (-3.5)

More Tigers and the Roosters. And would you look at who is number 25 in the AP poll?! Yep! The Cocks! They’re playing some Beamer Ball in this Colombia. The other “Columbians”? Not so much. Eli “Can I have a” Drinkwitz you has hit on some tough luck with his Felines. The Show Me squad could pull off the minor upset. Nah! Cockadoodle DOOOOO! South Carolina 28, Missouri 23.

Kentucky at Tennessee (-12)

The Blue Cats (any “Ozark” fans out there?) had a nice win over The Pirate’s Bullpups one Saturday hence. The undefeated and untied Rocky Toppers are layin’ pipe. Highly ranked and upsetable, the Vols better take extra care this weekend. We’re looking at under the lights in wild and “shined” up Neyland Stadium. Corn cobbin’, pass throwin’, battery tossin’, and mustard slingin’! Ol’ Smokey will be howling at the moon when this un’ is done. Tennessee 38, Kentucky 27.

And lastly on the schedule…

Ole Miss (-1.5) at Texas A&M.

Jimbo’s Aggies have been stinking the woods up as of late. Speaking of stubborn coaches. Geez Fisher! IT AIN’T WORKING!!! Lane “Popcorn” Kiffin knows what works. The visitors to Kyle Field can tote the rock and sling it too. But that was a butt whoopin’ last Saturday in Red Stick (better watch out for Kelly’s crew). The margin is razor thin between these two sets of Gridironers. Ever ironed a grid? It could be insightly. It could be exciting. The 12th man will help a little but not enough for the College Station based battlers to prevail. Ole Miss 26, Texas A&M 24.

Last week Ole Miss was my only miss. Hmmm. 4-1 it was. The season continues to go quite well for yours truly. We’re now 61-13. That’s .824.

That New England/New York/Buffalo Winging/Rock and Roll Hall of Faming trip was about as special as it comes. But we’re very happy to be back in the Peach State and watching college football from our home at 116 Sundown Way in Acworth Gee A!

As as my girl Joanie sings it so well, “I love rock and roll, so put another dime in the jukebox baby!”

Love y’all! be safe! Love you neighbor! Peace out!

Photo credit Pexels Free Photos

SEC Football: Week Three

10-2 was my record in Week Two and the 2022 season total now stands at 24-3. That’s 89%. Oh I wish that this would be the percentage on the Monday after Thanksgiving weekend. Once the SEC begins to go head to head every week things get a wee bit more dicey. One more quick note. My lock last week, even though not designated so, was App State and the points. Thank you Mountaineers and thank you Jimbo! Why dally around? Let the prognostications begin!

Georgia (-24.5) at South Carolina

The new number one team in the country waltzes into Columbia after a workmanlike win over Samford. Bulldogs over Bull pups as it were. Mayo Man Beamer is cock-a-doodle doing along pretty darn well as head ball coach at South Carolina. Buster Brown Smart ain’t doing much dumb in Athens either. The Dawgs look ferocious at this early juncture, Anyone can be had. That’s not gonna happen Satday at noon (ET) though. Georgia 38, USC East 17.

Youngstown State at Kentucky (-25.5)

Ding ding ding! Taco time! (No winners last week). Name the visiting squads mascot. Without looking, Googling, etc., of course. Very nice win down in the Swamp last week, brother Stoops! Yo Cats were my second choice as the lock last weekend. Plus 4.5. Boom! Knock em out John! Errr… Mark! Youngstown is 2-0 and playing good ball. The Bourbon and Bluegrass Boys are playing sho nuff good. Another nooner here. Ranked in the Top Ten… Kentucky 35, Youngstown State 13

Abilene Christian at Missouri (-33)

Abilene might not feel so Christian after what looks to be a thrashing coming its way in another 12 PM kickoff. Remember ET, the Wildcats also might want to phone home, collect, at around 3:30 PM. Kansas State beat the snot out of Eli’s Kitties in its last game. The Columbia, Mo betters will rebound with a vic’try. “Abilene, Abilene, prettiest town that I’ve ever seen. Women there don’t treat you mean…” Really? do they elsewhere? Missouri 40, Abilene Christian 17.

Ole Miss (-16.5) at Georgia Tech

“Oh if I had a daughter sir I’d dress her in white and gold, and take her to the campus sir to cheer the brave and bold…” What a great fight song! “Like all other jolly good fellows I drink my whiskey clear…” Do they mean the whiskey itself is clear or do they mean they kill it in one long swallow? Anyhow, the Yellow Jacket alumni might drink it any way they can get it come Saturday night. Popcorn Kiffin and his Rebel Black Bears will take the sting out of Buzz. Ole Miss 34, Georgia Tech 17.

Vanderbilt at Northern Illinois (-2.5)

WHOA!!! The Huskies are favored and the Dores have a 66.2 chance to win, says BSPN. Say whaaaaat? Tweetie is confused. I find that is not uncommon when one has just begun decade number 8 on this beautiful blue marble. I don’t have time to sort all this. Coach Clark Lea! Damn the torpedoes! Vanderbilt 31, Northern Illinois 28.

UL Monroe at Alabama (-49)

Seriously?

UL Monroe at Alabama (-49.5)

See! Even when I tried to “decline”, it raised the line and hit me again. OK! I’ll pick it! Dang! Terry (Maybe more Buster Brown than Kirby) Bowden leads the Warhawks into Bryant-Denny Stadium to take on the shaken and stirred Crimpson Tide. In Saban’s first year at the Capstone, 2007, UL Monroe bested Bama. The next Auburn game we attended, after that upset, I saw a couple of students wearing Warhawks t-shirts. I saw Bama fans sporting Oregon regalia when the Tigers played the Ducks in the BCS Championship game. I don’t really care. Alabama 56, UL Monroe 9.

Mississippi State (-2.5) at LSU

Brian “Batman” Kelly and the Tiguz rebounded nicely against Southern, their crosstown “rivals”. The Pirate has found his footing in StarkVegas, Kelly has not done so in Red Stick. He probably will at some point. But I hope he takes a few classes at the Arthur Murray School of Dance first. Mike Leach told a story about going to the Flora-Bama Lounge when queried as to where the best party was that he ever attended. Will Rogers WILL carve up the Bayou Bengals’ secondary like a Thanksgiving turkey. Miss State 33, LSU 28.

Missouri State at Arkansas (-23)

Guess who the head coach is at MO State? No tacos on this little jewel. Jeopardy theme plays. BUZZZZZ!!! Ready for this? Bobby Petrino. You can’t make this stuff up. Insert Harley joke here. About 50 jokes popped into my head when I read this in prepping for the game. The thing is, ol’ Easy Rider has built an FCS championship contender down in Springfield. I spent a few weeks in Springfield back in my AAA days. It’s where cashew chicken was invented. At a Leong’s Restaurant. It was delicious! No, the Cashew Chickens is not the teams nickname. Taco time! You guess what the nickname is and a couple of carne asada tacos are yours! I like mine with soft flour tortillas, cilantro, lime, and salsa. Pigs 42, Pollos 16.

Akron at Tennessee (-47.5)

Seriously Deux?

Akron at Tennessee (-47.5)

(In my best Ronnie Reagan voice) Well,there you go again. Can’t decline. Must pick. Waste of time but it pads my stats. Same thing for The Corn Cobbers. Tennessee 55, Zips zip

South Florida at Florida (-24)

From the land of Tom Petty. An oh so dear friend of mine, who shall remain nameless, has a sister who dated Tom Petty way back in the day. God bless her and God bless Tom Petty. He is missed by so many. My favorite song of his is ‘You Don’t Know How It Feels (To Be Me)’. Speaking of music, The Boss’s ‘From Small Things Mama (Big Things One Day Come)’ is playing at full volume on my Sirius/XM Deep Tracks station right now… Pause to sing and play air guitar… Back to the Swamp. Florida 41, South Florida 20.

Miami at Texas A&M (-6)

The Hurricanes and Aggies. Hurricanes are good drinks and Aggies are good folks. Jimbo has an $86.5 million buyout. No need for one, at least in the immediate future. Who knows by season’s end. I thought I talked with great rapidity. Jimbo talks faster than a used car salesman on meth. One can procure a great deal of methamphetamine for $86.5 mill. I have a couple of meth stories. I will not share them here. I will tell you, in person, if you desire to hear such foolishness. SMH. My lock!!! Miami 23, Texas A&M 21

And now boys and girls! The Big Kahuna!

Penn State (-3) at Auburn

You can sub this contest for my “lock” if you like. The Nittany Lions trip to the Plains has been circled on thousands of Auburn fans’ calendars since the 2021 game’s completion. It will be the first game Me and Paul shall attend here in 2022. I am ready. All Auburn fans are ready. As I posted on Facebook, “White out, smite out, Orange Out At Jordan-Hare Saturday, WDE!!!” Hooooweeee!!! I hope the hospitable PSU fans have a most enjoyable trip except for three plus hours of burning hell on Saturday afternoon. This is the first time a Big Ten team has visited Jordan-Hare since 1931 when our boys took on the Wisconsin Badgers. AU has to run and stop the run, of course. It also MUST put pressure on QB Sean Clifford and get some good coverage from the secondary. If Mercer and San Jose State can throw the ball that well, think about what a sixth year senior and a talented team like Penn State could do. Auburn has four turnovers on the young season and has created… zero. That cannot continue. I do think the Tigers will play with great ferocity, passion, and intensity. I think they will get a couple of turnovers. I also believe Tank, Jarquez Hunter, and company will tote the rock quite well. T.J. has to be on the money. Ashford needs to have some nice plays. The sideline has to be better, as well. Coach em up!!! I’m feeling better about it as the kickoff draws nearer. The final nail in the coffin? Daniel Carlson. Auburn 26, Penn State 24.

No one garnered tacos last week. I hope to have a winner or two in Week Three. It should be a beautiful weekend for football in the SEC. Ya’ll enjoy the games. As Hillbilly Jim closes with on his show on Outlaw Country, “I ain’t here for a long time, I’m here for a good time”. Well, that’s close.

Take care out there. Tip your servers, and be sure to love your neighbor. Peace out.

Photo courtesy of Pexels free photos.

SEC Football: Week Two (2022 CE)

Dear diary. Wait! Wrong mode.

Welcome college football fans! That’s “butter”, as Gus used to say. It’s time to pick some Southeastern Conference gridiron games and you have landed on THE spot to do so while having a whole lotta fun in the process. Let us roll!

Week One and Week Zero (there we go with that head scratcher of a way to identify the grand opening of this great sport) saw your swami correctly assess 14 out of 15 contests for a .933 pct. How bout dem apples? Only LSWho let us down in her loss to The Semi-Holes. No problem. Let’s boogie!

Alabama (-20) at Texas.

In 1991 my son, Luke, and I took a road trip to Austin, TX. Auburn was 2-0 and highly ranked. The Horns were 1-1. I had heard about what a great atmosphere it was deep in the heart of Texas. Also what a special moment it was when the crowd stood and sang “The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You”, accompanied by the marching band. I was ready. Well, that moment came and went and was, honestly, a bit of a let down. In fact, that was one of the three or four least intimidating atmospheres I have ever experienced, and I’ve been to a boatload of college football games, from Berkeley, CA to Boston Mass. The crowd might be more up in arms over this one but it won’t faze the Crimpson Tide. Alabama 42, Texas 17.

South Carolina at Arkansas (-8)

It was a nice, hard fought win last Satday in Fayetteville as Coach Sam (Cold Beer) Pittman’s Piggies defeated Coach Luke Fickell’s Cincinnati Bearcats. Now Coach Shane (Mayo) Beamer heads for the Ozark’s with his contingent of angry Cocks. Feathers will fly and the Roosters will crow but the hometown Hawgs will topple the visitors from Columbia, SC. Arkansas 34, South Carolina 20.

Wake Forest (-12.5) at Vanderbilt

Vandy has gotten pretty cocky themselves with a shiny 2-0 record and have scored a heap of points in doing so. There’ll be a lot of action down on Broadway in the NashVegas honky tonks, with consumers paying that 23% added tax on wine on liquor by the glass. Let’s be honest. Ol’ Dudley Field won’t be rocking’ raucously. The Demon Deacon fans will be praying for a victory and the Dores fans will show up late and leave early. This could be a decent little football game. 23rd ranked Wake has too much firepower in the end. Wake Forest 42, Vanderbilt 24.

Missouri at Kansas State (-7.5)

The wagering seems to be trending toward the Tigers and the points for showtime at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. We traveled to watch Auburn beat the Kitties there in 2014. Great people and a heckuva good atmosphere. This un is a Big Twelve rematch from days gone by. Eli’s coming and the Manhattan welcome wagon will be waiting. In a dandy! Kansas State 34, Missouri 28.

Appalachian State at Texas A&M (-19)

The line has actually risen from 18 to 19 on the Aggies in an intriguing matchup of Power Five vs. Group of Five. Which five do you like? That’s what I thought! The Power! Me too! No brainer! The Mountaineers will give Jimbo’s boys all that can handle though. Should be fun! Texas A&M 35, App State 23.

Tennessee (-6) at Pitt

Live on ABC from the land of three rivers. Taco Time! Can you name those three where the waters flow free? Hint. An Oak Ridge Boys tune. Huh? Pat Narduzzi will have armed Pitt with the necessary weapons. Will it be enough to pull off the upset? Maybe. But I don’t think so. The Smoky, Rocky Topping, Corn Cobbers have plenty in its arsenal. That will be enough to vault them to a conquest over the Panthers. Tennessee 38, Pitt 30.

Samford at Georgia (-52)

Dawgs versus Dawgs. That is absolutely where a favorable comparison of these teams ends. Haw!!! The Baptist Boys from Birmingham have zero (yeah, old naught again) chance ‘Twixt The Hedges’ and Buster Brown’s Brigades. Nada, Zilch. Okay, you get the message. Here comes a ‘number six’! Georgia 63, Samford Zero. Zilch. Nada.

Kentucky at Florida (-6)

Billy Napier’s Water Lizards are a bit sassy after scraping by a very much overrated Utah team. Mark Stoops’ Felines certainly won’t run all over the Swampers (“Muscle Shoals has got the…”). Leading rusher Chris Rodriguez is not expected to play for the Cats. Yet, a donnybrook is in the making. Florida 28, Kentucky 24.

Central Arkansas at Ole Miss (-34)

Taco Time Two! Can you name Central Arky’s nickname without looking? These are all no lookers. Therein lies the fun! My Trojans gave a valiant effort at Vaught-Hemingway this past weekend. It’s not that I expect the visitors to spend all day in The Grove and play drunk. They simply do not have a chance. Ok, a 0.9% chance according to BSPN. Ole Miss 48, Central Arkansas 0.

Southern at LSU (-47.5)

It’s not like Southern is AT at LSU. Both schools call Red Stick home. The Tiguz did not look good in the Big Easy opener with Florida State. That last drive almost saw some of that famous Voodoo assist LSU to an improbable TD. But alas! A blocked PAT gave the Tallahassee gang the win. The “visiting” Jaguars can block all seven of the homey’s extra points and still lose by a hefty margin. Let’s say they do. LSU 45, Southern 6.

Mississippi State (-11) at Arizona (“Hey won’t you go my way…”)

The late great Mel Tillis once crooned, on a tune taken from Clint Eastwood’s movie ‘Every Which Way But Loose’, “Go on and send me down to Tucson and I’ll get the job done…”. Speaking of Mel Tillis. The first show I saw in Branson, when I was assigned the Western TN/KY, Southern MO, and all of Arkansas territory when working for AAA, was at ol’ Mel’s theater. After an opening song or two, he began the introduction segment of the show by saying, “I’m P P P P P Pam’s daddy.” Dude could sing! The Pirate and his Bullpups, lead by QB Will Rogers, Lord there’s another sidebar, WILL take a “W” back to StarkVegas. Miss State 38, Arizona 21.

San Jose State at Auburn (-23)

Our Tigers had their moments in the opener with Mercer. Another Baptist school. Somebody liable to get wet! Rain is in the forecast. “Dunk em Tigers just like preachers!” And then give em “hell”. Well, we did hear a heap about Hades growing up. But As Karl told Vaughn in ‘Slingblade’, “I don’t think you ‘re going to ‘Hadis’.” Neither am I. Nor neither are you. But I digress into the theological. The Spartans are coming to Jordan-Hare on Pat Dye Field Saturday night. ‘Neath the glistening skies! “Some people call it a slingblade, I call it a Kaiser blade.” I’ve done the Dionne Warwick song reference before in evaluating a contest involving San Jose State.It’s a tried and true one. “I’ve been away so long.” Silicon Valley. Yadda yadda yadda. I saw Willie Nelson, in the round no less, in San Jose back in ’87. Lord! The ramblings of an old man. Auburn 37, Sn Jose State 17.

Our taco winners last week were Claudia Swift and Ed “The Bear” Starkie. Two of my favorite folks! Let’s hope we have more winners this round. I hope we have winners every week. We’ll just have a taco fest somewhere. Maybe throw in some chips and salsa, as well as your favorite beverages and some sopapillos!

Love y’all! Safe travels and love your neighbor! Peace out.

Photo courtesy of Pexel Photos

SEC Football: Week One (2022 AD)

So, how was Week Zero for you? Weak? That’s what I thought. I have come to bring you good news of glad tidings and great joy! There are 14 SEC football games coming to you you over the next four days, and we here at Bird’s Banter are prepared to share our prognostications to one and all so that ye might find treasures and riches galore. Once again, we provide you the winners. It’s your job to find them. (And again, $1 to Jeff Shultz for that wee morsel of truth.)

Onward and upward my fellow gazers of the gridiron! The games are listed in the order in which they will be played. Movin’ On…

Ball State at Tennessee (-35.5)

Do it to it like Sonny Pruitt! (You must pay attention to the references. That’s half the fun!) He of 18 wheeler fame is the proper example of gittin’ er dun! And ex Vol head man, Jeremy Pruitt is not. “At McDonald’s, we do it all for you.” Dave Letterman’s alma mater stands zero, there’s that dang word again, chance of defeating the hometown Corn Cobbers. Actually, it stands a 4.9% chance of toppling the Rockies according to BSPN. Tennessee 52, Ball State 6.

LA Tech at Missouri (-20.5)

The second of two SEC Thursday night clashes. Now, this one could get very interesting. If Eli (has a) Drinkwitz you before the game then the Rustonites could pull of the first big shocker of the weekend. No, Northwestern’s upset of the Huskers, speaking of corn, was pretty much expected by this fearless forecaster. I said hello country bumpkin, Scott Frost’s butt is on the stumpkin. Yep! No false Natties to claim in Lincoln. Buh bye! Anyhoo… Missouri 37, LA Tech 24.

Sam Houston at Texas A&M (-29.5)

“Jimbo Jimbo!” That was a quote of Terry Bowden summoning Coach Fisher on the headset during Auburn’s 1993 National Championship season. Some source(s) did declare it! I claim it! (Hey! This is FREE!) Just like JJ and Joe Willie say! Back to College Station. I don’t know why the Aggies continue to get so much love each passing year in the preseason. Show me! Naw, that’s MIzzou. Name Sammy Houston’s mascot with proper spelling, without looking, and you win one free taco the next time we bump into each other. At what other site do they just give away free food? Homeys cover. Texas A&M 42, Sam Houston 7.

Oregon vs. Georgia (-17) in Hotlanta

The defending National Champions (“We ain’t defending nuthnin'”. Oh yes you is!) take on former UGA defensive coordinator Dan Lanning’s West Coast Groovies (Follow the references).Teacher/pupil, blah blah blah. Former Auburn Tiger Bo Nix is QB1 in Eugene. Oh Karma where art thou? Buster Brown has “elite” talent across the board. The Ducks will quack loudly for a bit. Pups have too much talent and firepower in this “neutral site” game. (Remember Legion Field!) I hope you don’t tire of parenthetical phrases. Tweetie loves em! Georgia 31, Oregon 20.

Cincinnati at Arkansas (-6.5)

Potential upset alert but I doubt it. Fun no less. The Beatles White Album song just raced and snorted across my aging mind. Remember Leather (Tusc)adero on Happy Days? More tacos if you can name the actors/singer who played her. Hawgs lost a few guys but ol’ Sam Pittman is getting there. Remember the visitors to Northwest Arky? The last time we saw them they were the Group of Five sacrificial lamb to the SEC Champions/eventual national runner up to Spanky and his gang. Arkansas 28, Cincinnati 24.

Troy at Ole Miss (-22.5)

Just spent three days with seven of my former Troy State Lambda Chi fraternity brothers at the Fourth Annual Gathering of the Cracker Box Buds. (See Steve Straughn for moniker explanation. He is our host extraordinaire and truly one of the good guys. As are all the buds). We spoke of this game and what a great road trip it would be. “Oxfud” would “nevuh” be the same. We might not bring it with the same ferocity as we did in the early to mid seventies, but there remains some fire in the bellies. Long live bourbon, bushwhackers, and beer! And NSAIDS!!! Stop there Bird! Oh for the Trojan upset. LSU Deux? ‘Friad not. Black Bear Land Sharks 35, T-Roy 14.

Utah (-3) at Florida

An SEC the underdog at home on opening day to a PAC-12 sissy??!! How dare you suh?! Da Utes won the conference in 2021 and are favored to do the same thing in 2022. Dandy Dan Mullen is gone. “Tuesday’s Gone, keep up!, with the wind.” Introducing former Louisiana Ragin Cajuns head coach, Billy Napier. He should restore law, order, and respectability to the Gainesville Water Lizards, although that might not occur fully in 2022. I haven’t heard much out of the “Head ball Coach” lately. Ye? In a mild upset/squeaker… Florida 24, Utah 23.

Miami Ohio at Kentucky (-16)

The sun shines bright in Lexington after the second 10 win season under Mark Stoops. Hats off to the Cats boss. Well, maybe except for John “Whine” Calamari. A hotbed of MAC coaching travels to Lexington for a whuppin’. Enjoy the bourbon and bluegrass! Kentucky 38, Miami Ohio 10.

Elon at Vanderbilt (-19)

Who the Sam Hill is Elon? Elon, among other fine things, was where my former colleague, and friend, Jan Fuller, was a chaplain until very recently when she retired. She was in campus ministry at Yale when I was doing the same at SUNY Albany in the capital of New York. “Those were the days, my friend, we thought they’d never end…” Very good times in the mid eighties. That’s where I developed my addiction to Buffalo wings. We are returning to NY and New England for fall foliage in October. Paul retired June 1. “Look out mama there’s a white boat coming up the river…” I digress. More tacos for Elon’s nickname! Vanderbilt 45, Elon 10.

Utah State at Aaaaaaaalabama (-41.5)

A forty plus point favorite over a team that was ranked last season. And Nickidemus just signed an extension. Dear 9 lb 11 oz baby Jesus, please let coach Saban, who we all just love so much, retire very soon. We would like to play with the football too.

Love, Tweetie.

P.S. And please bring me an electric football game and a Tucker Frederickson jersey for Christmas.

Alabama 49, Utah State 3

Memphis at Mississippi State (-16)

I can’t remember who the head coach is at Memphis. Y’all? I can remember how much I love the ribs at Rendezvous and the house band at the Rum Boogie Cafe on Beale Street. My friend Tom Kimmel married the outstanding young woman who is now the pastor at the First Baptist Church of Memphis. Great BBQ, great preaching, and great music! Can’t beat it. But the game is being played in StarkVegas. What they got good to eat there? And music? And where is the Jesus hookup? Hey! This could be a good game. Or not. Pirate wins.They did have a Ruby Tuesday the last time I was in the City of Bully Dogs. “Who could hang a name on you?” Miss State 35, Memphis 17.

Georgia State at South Carolina (-12.5)

The Downtown ATL Panthers do not resemble the Carolina or Pittsburgh teams of the same nickname. Or do they? They almost beat Auburn last year. That was the emergence of T.J. Finley. AU QB numero uno. More on that later. The Cocks will rise to the occasion and defend the Columbia home turf well. Shane Beamer’s guys won the Duke’s Mayo Bowl last year. He was covered in the outstanding condiment after the game. Folks, I don’t make this stuff up. I’ll be 70 years old Saturday. I have seen the game I know and love so passionately evolve. Would that be that word? No no no! I have seen it Devolve. SMH. South Carolina 33, Georgia State 21.

Florida State at LSU (-3)

Jay-Sus! Can we get to the Auburn game??? Did y’all see new LSU top dog Brian Kelly doing the Batman dance behind one of the guys he was recruiting? Lights flashing, et al. Vincent Vega he ain’t. Bad at mocking a Cajun accent as well. A former Memphis head coach, Mike Norvell, now leads the Semi-Holes. I wonder if he ever went to Corky’s or the Rum Boogie Cafe? I don’t know if he can dance or talk Native American, but I know the great countrysiner-songwriter John Anderson had a big hit with Seminole Wind. Great song! Tempted to call an upset. But Tiguz win and cover. LSU 28, FSU 21.

And finally!

Mercer at Auburn (-31.5)

Saved my boys for last even though it ‘s out of order in terms of when the games are played. T.J., as aforementioned, is the man. Bryan Harsin has been separating the wheat from the chaff and the man who hired him is gone. And some folks wanted Harsin gone. Sometimes I get so damn mad at what goes on at one of my three alma maters I could scream. But she’s mine and I love her (Beatles song reference). My .02? Harsin is a badass. Leave him alone and he will get this thing on track. Auburn will surprise people this season. In a good way. The first five games are at home. There is a distinct possibility of entering October at 5-0. There is talent and pretty good depth on this Lee County aggregation. Tank is primed for a massive year. The D is looking really good. The hunger is there in spades. The chip is planted squarely on the shoulder. Beware all ye who enter here! WDE! Auburn 44, Mercer 14.

So there you have it! Whew! We’re at 100% with the Commodores opening shellacking in Week Zero!

Y’all have a fantastic Labor Day weekend! Be safe! And as always, love your neighbor! Peace out!

Photo credit Pexels

Basketball. Yes, Basketball!

I was in the fourth grade, in Miss Nell Jones’ class, and my brother, Jerry, would have been in the eleventh grade, when daddy put up a basketball goal in our backyard. This was 1961 or 1962. Jerry was on the high school team and I was a tiny little fellow who had, most probably, never shot a basketball. And when I say I was tiny, I mean I was very little. Earlier that year my mother had even taken me to a doctor in Selma to check out why I was having headaches around the same time every day at school and to see if he could determine why I did not seem to be growing. The headaches stopped, but I didn’t really start growing into the size I am now until the ninth grade. That was the year I was the manager of the basketball team and played church basketball for the RA’s. The Royal Ambassadors.

“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ…” Two Corinthians (wink) 5:20. And truly I was not an an ambassador for Christ until I had a “Damascus Road” conversion experience in the summer of 1975. I even went to two different seminaries and entered into the ministry. Blogs discussing this can be found right here on Bird’s Banter and were written back in the summer of 2014, if you are interested.

Anyway, back to basketball. I attended my first college basketball game in that same winter of the fourth grade,1962, at Garrett Coliseum in Montgomery, AL. Auburn vs. Alabama. The “Iron Bowl” basketball games were played exclusively in Montgomery back in those days. The first one I saw on a campus was in the old Foster Auditorium in Tuscaloosa back in the winter 1967-68. Freshmen didn’t play on the varsity back then, and the freshman game was played before the varsity game in a double header. Auburn great, John Mengelt, was on that freshman team and I was quickly taken with him and his style of play. He remains my favorite Auburn basketball player to this day. (Sorry Sir Charles. I do love you but you’re number two). Auburn won the freshman game. Unfortunately, Alabama won the varsity game on a last second score by Mike Nordholz.

Back to Montgomery. My close friend, Tommy Ratcliffe, went to that first Auburn-Alabama game with daddy and me and Auburn did win that game as well as the freshman game. Herbert Greene led the freshmen to their victory. The names I remember from the varsity were Layton Johns, Billy Tinker, and Larry Chapman (who later became a legendary coach at AUM). Joel Eaves, as in Beard-Eaves Coliseum, was the coach. The Tigers had a very good team that year. 18-6 and 11-3 in the SEC. and some of you folks will remember The Barn (Auburn Sports Arena) that they played in at home. That was the building that infamously burned to the ground during the Auburn-LSU football game in 1996. My son, Luke was a freshman at Auburn at that time.

And we return to our backyard. As I said, I was a wee lad and couldn’t even get the basketball to the goal then. I had to shoot it ‘Granny Style”, with two hands from under my legs. I became pretty good shooting in that manner, but Rick Barry didn’t, later, have anything to worry about. I think he shot about 90% on his free throws using the “Granny Style” during his time with the Golden State Warriors.

Years later our backyard became a serious hub of neighborhood roundball. I even put up a spotlight in a pecan tree and ran an extension cord through a window in my room so we kids could play anytime, day or night. I became quite proficient shooting the ball at that goal over the years. I could just about shoot it with my eyes closed and make shots on that goal. The backboard was dead as a stump and you could hit a bank shot with ease. The goal also bobbed up and down a bit when you shot one that didn’t “strip” it.

I went on to play on the “B” team in the 10th and 11th grade and was on the “A” team as a senior. That 11th grade team went 17-0. Also on the team were Frank McGraw, Johnny “Stick” Dunnam, Steven Terry, Billy Ray Hughes, and five other guys that I cannot remember. Some of the dads of the players and a few other men in Camden, including beloved Mayor, Johnny Mott, had a celebration catfish and oyster dinner for us at the Legion Hut. Johnny Mott tried to get me to eat a raw oyster which I declined to do. Later I did learn to sho nuff love raw oysters.

After high school I played some intramural basketball in college, at Troy, and at seminary in Fort Worth, TX. I believe “String Music” was our team’s nickname in Fort Worth. Also played church league ball in Selma when I was the pastor of the Shady Grove Baptist Church in Burnsville. It was all great fun. And no “Granny Style” anymore!

Yes. Basketball. I have had a passion for the game for 60 years now. And I say all of the above to say this. War Eagle!!! The Auburn men’s basketball team is now NUMBER ONE in the nation and all of creation! ($1 to Big Daddy Lawler). That is according to the AP Poll released today (1/24/21) at noon. The team would also probably be the number one seed in the NCAA Tournament if it were to begin shortly.

Yes! Auburn has the deepest, 11 deep, and best basketball team in all of college basketball. The team is supremely talented and coached by the best in the business, in my estimation. Bruce Pearl has taken a program without a pulse and made it into a perennial power. At Auburn. I think most experts would have told you, over seven years ago when Coach Pearl took the reins of the program, that that would be a virtual impossibility. Yet… here we are. TODAY. “Simply the best, better than ALL the rest.”

WAR DAMN EAGLE!!!

SEC Media Days Final and 2021 Prediction

Company’s Comin’!

“Oh Mama, I’m excited, I’m almost out of breath
What I saw like t’made me run myself to death
I was on the mountain side when I looked down below
And glory be I thought I’d better come and let you know
That we got company comin’, company comin’, we got company comin’ up the road
They’re down the road about a mile they’ll be here in a little while
There’s company comin’ up the road.”

That is the way I feel after hanging with SEC Media Days this week. Football is upon us and practice begins in two weeks. This week was the unofficial beginning of the season and I can’t remember when I have been more excited about an upcoming autumn of college football, and in particular, SEC Football. It’s like what Porter Wagoner was trying to communicate in that great song of his. We got company comin’ mama and they’re almost here! As Jerry Clower used to say, “Haw!”

Eli Drinkwitz (MIssouri), Sam Pittman (Arkansas), and Bryan Harsin (Auburn) wrapped up the four days of coaches sharing the views and visions, Thursday afternoon, of their respective teams and it about is about time to put the foot to the pigskin. Haw, indeed!

Let’s get to it! I will finish up with my impressions of the coaches and follow it with predictions of how I think it will all shake down in the Southeastern Conference.

Eli Drinkwitz is yet another of these impressive “new” SEC coaches. He is entering his second year at Mizzou but this was his first Media Days appearance, with the the 2020 meeting being cancelled due to COVID. He has ties to Bryan Harsin, “owes him a debt”, and also Gus Malzahn. The former Tiger coach was a mentor to him when he spent time on the Auburn staff.

Drinkwitz is sharp, bright, articulate, and young. The youngest head coach in the SEC. And he is funny. A really incisive sense of humor is almost always a big plus. I will be surprised if Mizzou is not highly competitive and successful under his tutelage. He has a dynamic quarterback in Connor Bazelak, and appears to be assembling the other vital pieces together in order to win in the toughest conference in college football.

I really like Sam Pittman, of Arkansas as well. And I was happy to learn that he is a big music fan, primarily country music, and plays the piano and guitar. He comes off as tough, hard working and thorough. A good teacher. He is a very good recruiter also. He said that recruiting comes easy to him. You don’t hear or find that in every coach.

Arkansas has been at the bottom of the West for many years but under Pittman’s leadership, I think it has begun its ascension up the daunting ladder that is the SEC West. Arky will surprise a few people in 2021.

And then is the man that will lead my Auburn Tigers forward after an highly successful run at his alma mater, Boise State. I am more excited about this hire than any in my 60 years of following Auburn Football very, very closely, and I’m talking about when the hire was made. Harsin is a winner. Big time. And, IMHO, he has the tools to succeed like this anywhere chooses to hang his hat, regardless of the circumstances he might find himself in. He has the vision, work ethic, discipline, know how, and “sticktoitiveness.” He also has that keen eye for detail and the ability to pull people together and lead them to “win.” Even in drag racing, as you may know.

Coach Harsin is a family man. It was of the utmost importance that his family would find it comfortable and be happy living down on the Plains. Auburn has exceeded his expectations in that area.

I believe that the Auburn Family will be proud every time that their team sets foot on the field and that the team will leave everything out there on that turf. Wins and losses? I think this team is capable of going 8-4 or even 9-3 with a bit of luck. And in time, it will win championships.

Now on to how I think the chips will fall in the SEC.

East

  1. Georgia
  2. Florida
  3. Kentucky
  4. Missouri
  5. Tennessee
  6. South Carolina
  7. Vanderbilt

West

  1. Alabama
  2. Texas A&M
  3. Auburn
  4. Ole Miss
  5. LSU
  6. Arkansas
  7. Miss State

My feeling is that this in finally Georgia’s year. Alabama Has to replace a lot in 2021. As I mentioned in a post on Facebook, and you have heard the term many times before (Fill in the blank) does not rebuild, it reloads. That is true of Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide. But Georgia is loaded to the gills, as well. They have the experience and talent at quarterback and at most every other position on the field. think they will light it up on offense. They always play great “D”. It should be a monumental SEC Championship game. Bama could certainly win it, but in the end, the Georgia Bulldogs will weigh in as 2021 SEC Football Champions.

Take care out there and be sure to love your neighbor.

And War Damn Eagle!

Holiday Ramblings

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, sports fans and members of the draft resistance! (And thanks for the patience with the 60’s stream-of-consciousness reference). That’s the way all columns are penned here at Bird’s Banter. Sit down. Face the computer. Type. Who knows what pithy profundities will avail themselves. I don’t, as I am only pawn in game of life. Break out the beans! Mongo is with us.

As you have, possibly, noted, the scribe has been low on inspiration here as of late, and the blogs have been few and far between (the devil and the deep blue sea). Apathy had begun to seep in and take hold. And then? Boom! The Christmas Spirit began to open avenues of joy, hope, peace and love and the Auburn Tigers made, IMHO, a home run hire in newly installed head football coach, Bryan Harsin.

And we are OFF!!!!!!

My beloved Tigers have found a winner. An intense, focused, driven, tough, humble man of passion and integrity. And win the Tigers will. Immediately. The cupboard is nowhere near bare. Everyone returns on the starting offense and the defense has many key components returning. Most assuredly, there are areas that need to be shored up in personnel. I trust that these concerns will be addressed and that the new head coach, and soon to be staff, will recruit with great agressiveness. I do not expect Auburn to win every game, but I can assure you that it will play with ferocity and purpose and make you proud every time they take the field.

War Damn Eagle!

Christmas. It has truly been a most blessed holiday season. I can feel a renewed sense of inspiration and purpose on a daily basis. 2020. What can one say? What a challenge! There is no need to reiterate the many pitfalls and disasters of the past year. They have been plentiful and often cruel. With the help of God and The Grateful Dead, I have survived a prostate scare/biopsy, an abnormal ECG and a positive echo stress test leading to a heart cath, recurring bladder infections, double hernia surgery and COVID-19. 2021 is in clear view and I can feel myself turning the corner and embracing her with open arms. I hope and pray that is the case with each and every one of you.

Peace on earth and good will to all men, women and children across the globe.

What’s been happening in the world of music, sports, politics, et al?

You know the Auburn story. Alabama is on the verge of playing for, yet another, National Championship, as is Clemson. I do think those two will meet in the title game. Kentucky has the worst record of all SEC teams in men’s basketball. Pitchers and catchers report in the not-too-distant future and things are looking good for the Atlanta Braves. The World Series? Finally? Who knows.

Bob Dylan sold his music catalog. Let that sink in a minute.

He has also gotten into the wine business. “Planet Waves 2002, a blend of Montepulciano and Merlot, pairs the legendary singer with Antonio Terri,” From Wine Spectator. Truth is stranger than fiction.

Hopefully, we will once again have live music in 2021. I feel strongly that we will. I could use a good “ass kicking” from Gov’t Mule and a dose of Dead and Company.

America will have a new president and a female VP. And I will leave it at that. We do not get into the black hole of politics on Bird’s Banter. We do touch on religion occasionally. There is a deep sense of spiritual hunger out there and, in here, from my point of view. One day at a time, an AA mantra, and a great way to live for all of us. As Ray Wylie Hubbard states, “And the days I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations, well, I have really good days.”

Entertainment. We enjoyed both Flight Attendant, on HBO, and Hillbilly Elegy, on Netflix. The Undoing, with Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant was also very good and quite intense, as were the aforementioned titles. Something lighter, maybe? Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee is hilarious.

In books, I completed all of Michael Connelly’s catalog this year, after beginning it in 2019. I loved every one of them. His latest, The Law Of Innocence, was excellent. It was the sixth installment of the Lincoln Lawyer series. I also read the first three novels of the Tana French Dublin Murders series. Brilliant writing and true hand wringing, heart pounding thrillers. Read a couple of more books on The Grateful Dead. My hunger for all things Dead is insatiable. The Good Ol’ Grateful Deadcast if glorious if one is so inclined. The reissues of their classic albums, Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty are sublime.

What else? Ah! 2021 begins with a feast of football games on New Years Day. It begins with the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl (Cincinnati vs. Georgia), followed by the Citrus Bowl, pitting Auburn against Northwestern, more on that in a moment. Next come the College Football Playoff semifinals. First, Alabama plays Notre Dame. The last game of the day has Clemson and Ohio State locking horns. Oh yeah!

Back to the Citrus Bowl. Auburn needs to win this game. I do hope much of the enthusiasm and intensity of our new head coach wears off on the team. Kevin Steele will coach the team along with our 2020 staff, They will have to be hitting on all eight as Northwestern will be chomping at the bit to topple an SEC team and Pat Fitzgerald WILL have them rarin’ and ready. You can count on that. The Wildcats play excellent defense and I expect a low scoring game. Once more with feeling, Tigers. Auburn 23, Northwestern 21.

Y’all continue to have a wonderful holiday season! Be safe out there and be sure to always love your neighbor as yourself.