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– Albert Pujos to the Angels was not necessarily about the money (although 10 yrs, $254 million is not “chump change”) as much as it was about the Cardinals not showing a lot of initiative to re-sign him. The fans in St. Louis are upset and rightfully so but they can’t or shouldn’t be upset with the player in this instance. This is more about management maybe being a little hesitant to give a great player a contract that would take him into his early 40s when they were probably eyeing maybe something around a 5 year offer. So with the defending champion Cardinals now without its two faces of the team (Pujos and Tony LaRussa), you have to wonder where the organization goes from here. As for the Angels, the sky is the limit provided Albert stays healthy and can continue to produce for them the way he did for St. Louis.
– The brawl this weekend between the Xavier Musketeers and the Cincinnati Bearcats was one of the ugliest in recent years for College Basketball and certainly it could have been a lot worse. Obviously with both of the teams in Ohio and not very far apart, the animosity in this rivalry has picked up over the last couple of years. But what occurred Saturday was just inexcusable and it shows the immaturity of the Bearcat squad. Even when Bob Huggins was the coach, it was know that the Bearcats were a very physical team that had players that actually looked as though they belonged on the “gridiron” rather than the “hardwood”. Who can ever forget the incident when form Bearcat hoopster, Art Long was arrested downtown Cincinnati (outside of a club) for punching a police horse…..yes I said a police horse. But the rivalry has spilled over to “Twitter” where UC players have allegedly being tweeting that the Xavier players were not good, specifically Xavier guard Tu Holloway and that if he was at UC, he wouldn’t even make the squad. Well I am not sure that is a true statement but then Holloway’s assessment of the incident in the post-game conference was not much better when he proclaimed “…..we have gangsters in our locker-room…..”! At this point, I am not sure that the six-game suspension handed down to UC PF, Yancy Gates was enough as he was the most serious offender in the brawl, as he literally knocked-out Musketeer big man, Kenny Freese with a stingy right hand. But I do know that as the Bearcats head into Big East play at the end of this month; this may not be the only on-court incident so coach Mick Cronin would be best served to get this under control now.
– The craze and the criticism that surrounds the new phrase: “We Got Tebowed” has merit no matter which side you are own. Tebow has helped elevate the Denver Broncos from a season to be lost to now possibly AFC West Champions and a play-off berth. Tebow is simply just a “winner” and always has been. He is not a prototypical QB and by no means will he ever be but he is a believer and a winner. The majority of the Bronco faithful are all in with the Tebow craze but they shouldn’t be completely secure for the future of the franchise unless a few things happen. #1 is that the Broncos need to make sure they give him a great QB coach that can continue to help him try and improve as much as possible. #2, the Broncos need to start to improve on the offensive line and add more talent (at the skilled positions) around him, particularly in the area of wide receiver. But for all it is worth, you have a guy just living out his dream of playing QB in the NFL and he is enjoying every bit of it.
– David Stern’s veto of the trade that would have sent Chris to the Los Angeles Lakers upset a whole lot of people but in reality, Stern was looking out for the NBA owned Hornets. Without Paul, and now with David West a pick-up the Indiana Pacers, who would have been even tougher to find an interested buyer for a Hornets franchise with no “name” player on its roster. The fact is simple, while “small market” teams are already behind the “big market” franchises in terms of money and fan support, the one thing small market teams hang their hat on is having a at least one star player to lure fans in. If Paul is in fact moved at some point, the Hornets will definitely need to recoup some young, serviceable talent in return as well as a stockpile of draft picks.
– Robert Griffith III was the correct pick for the Heisman based on the voters but he may have not been the popular pick by the people. Andrew Luck would have been just as deserving but it is hard to argue with what RGIII did against good competition. He opened the season with a bang when Baylor beat TCU. He was able to continue his play against the rest of the non-conference slate on into the Big 12 season. But what he did to Oklahoma (of course the Baylor’ “D” had a hand in it too) and Texas, both games toward the end of the season put him on the mind of a lot of voters as opposed to Luck. In fact, with Baylor playing the last weekend of the regular season and Stanford and Luck being off probably was just as key as anything. RGIII had the stage all to himself to make his bid for the Heisman. Now the talk that he could rival Luck for the #1 overall spot or at least the overall #1 QB taken in the 2012 NFL Draft is foolishness. While Griffith is definitely worthy of being one of the Top 5 QBS taken is one thing but Luck is NFL ready now in terms of almost every aspect of the game. In fact, the Indianapolis Colts may be so fortunate as to be able to draft Luck and still have Peyton Manning around for 1 or 2 more years. The Colts nor any other franchise looking to pick a QB in the draft should not be fooled into putting Griffith ahead of Luck. In fact, Griffith’s talents may best fit with a team like Kansas City Chiefs, the Seattle Seahawks or the Miami Dolphins. The Colts and the Washington Redskins would both be disastrous fits for RGIII if he was chosen either of those teams.
Kentucky 10 – Tennessee 7: The “Streak” is finally over………after 26 consecutive losses spanning back to 1985, the Kentucky Wildcats (5-7), behind WR turned QB for at least this game, Matt Roark used a stingy defense and an old school offensive game plan to beat the Vols (5-7) in Lexington, KY on Saturday. With QBs Morgan Newton and Maxwell Smith both injured and less than 100%, Joker Phillips turned to Roark, a former high school QB, to run the “Wing-T” for the majority of the game and that obviously was something Derek Dooley and the Tennessee Vols were not prepared for. Roark carried 24 times for 124 yds while passing for just 15 yds. But combine that with the running of Coshik Williams and any other back that entered the game and UK piled up over 220 rushing yds against a stunned Vol’s defense. Meanwhile, the Kentucky defense played absolutely “lights-out” in stuffing the run game (Taurean Poole had 32 yds on 9 carries) and confusing QB Tyler Bray most of the day by mixing-up its coverage. Bray passed for 215 yds, 1 TD & 2 INTs in route to one of his worst performances while wearing the Orange & White. The Cats not only ended a 26 game losing streak to the Vols, but they also prevented Tennessee from gaining bowl eligibility meaning both team’s seasons are over.
Georgia 31 – Georgia Tech 17: The Bulldogs seem as if they are ready to do battle with #1 LSU this Saturday in the SEC Championship Game; so they decided to get an early win in Atlanta as they disposed of their arch-rival, the Yellowjackets (8-4) in a game they took control of early. Georgia QB, Aaron Murray passed for 252 yds, 4 TDs & 1 INT while the Georgia (10-2) defense slowed down Tech’s potent rushing attack, holding them to under 200 yds on the ground. Murray has been red hot over his last 3 games throwing 4 or more TD passes in each. He will need to be just as hot this weekend because the “LSU express” is showing no signs of slowing down as they can see the National Championship game on the horizon. For Georgia the season has turned around since starting 0-2 and they would love to cap it off with an upset if the #1 team in Atlanta.
LSU 41 – Arkansas 17: In a game that started off rather precarious for the #1 Tigers, it was their ability to just make plays that was the difference in a match-up of #1 & #3 in the BCS on Friday. Arkansas (10-2) jumped out to a 14-0 lead behind an offensive & defensive score in the 2nd Qtr. That was about all that the Razorback fans would have to cheer for though as LSU would proceed to run off 21 straight points and 24 of the next 27 scored between the 2nd and 3rd quarters. The Tigers (12-0) would then add 17 points in the 4th to put the game away. Tiger QB Jordan Jefferson had his best game since coming back from an earlier suspension as he passed for 208 yds w/ 1 TD and he also had a 48 yd TD run in the 4th qtr. RB Kenny Hillard ran for 102 yds on 19 carries and the Tiger offense was just too balanced for Arkansas’s “D” to deal with. For Arkansas, QB Tyler Wilson passed for 207 yds & 1 TD but he was battered and bruised as he took numerous hits from the LSU defense. The game really changed when CB / PR Ryann Mathieu returned a punt for a TD in the 2nd qtr; however Mathieu would not stop there as he went on to strip D.J. Johnson of the football later on in that quarter when the Razorbacks were driving. LSU will prepare to battle Georgia for the SEC Championship on Saturday; but the goal is much higher than that; they want to be there playing for the National Title in January.
Alabama 42 – Auburn 14: Alabama’s mantra all year has been “Never Again” which is a reference to their blown 24 point 2nd half lead against Auburn last season. Well this time around, there would be no magic for the Tigers (7-6) as the Tide took control early and did not take their foot off the gas until the final horn. Alabama (11-1) led 24-7 at half-time (just like last season) but they outscored Auburn 18-7 in the 2nd half to insure there would be no comeback this season. RB Trent Richardson ran for 203 yds on 27 carries and QB A.J. McCarron passed for 184 yds. & 3 TDs. For Auburn, the defense spent way too much time on the field, largely in part to their continued problems on offense. Auburn had less than 200 yds of offense as their 2 scores came via the defense and special teams. The Tide can only sit and wait to see if they will be selected to possibly oppose what is thought to be LSU in the National Title game; a rematch Nick Saban wants very badly.
Vanderbilt 41 – Wake Forest 7: The Commodores (6-6) knew their bowl hopes rested on whether they could go on the road and beat a fairly solid Wake Forest squad. Well Vandy left nothing to chance as they jumped out to a 27-7 half-time lead and cruised to their 6th victory of the season. For Wake Forest (6-6), they are also bowl eligible but they seem to struggle over their last 4 games as they had a real shot of winning at least 8 games before their mini-collapse. Commodore RB, Zack Stacy ran for 184 yds & 3 TDs and Wake Forest really had no answer for him.
Florida St. 21 – Florida 7: In a game between to in-state rivals in which neither was ranked for the first time in over 12 years, it was the Seminoles (8-4) had more juice than the Gators (6-6). If the sting of seeing their club go just .500 for the season wasn’t enough, the Florida faithful are really mad after seeing former coach (1 year removed) Urban Meyer announce that he has accepted the head position at Ohio State this week. Gator fans are going to want answers from a man who supposedly was stepping down for health reasons and is all of a sudden better and ready to coach again. Well aside from that, Gator QB, John Brantley was absolutely horrendous against the Noles “D” as he tossed 3 INTs (including 1 taking back for a TD) and passed for just 104 yds. On the other side, Seminole QB E.J. Manuel was equally ineffective as he passed for just 65 yds. Neither team’s running game ever really got going but the turnovers absolutely killed Florida.
Mississippi St. 31 – Ole Miss 3: In a game that really didn’t mean much outside of the state of Mississippi, in a battle know as the “Egg Bowl” it was the Bulldogs (6-6) gaining bowl eligibility by beating cross-town rival Ole Miss (2-10). Neither team had the kind of season either was expecting but for Ole Miss it has been especially disappointing. They will now have to look for a new coach (there are plenty out there to choose from) and then try to rebound from the last two seasons. For the Bulldogs, it just seems as if the QB play really hurt them this season and that is something Coach Dan Mullins will have to address in the off-season and recruiting wise. But back to the game, Miss. St. ran out (literally) to a 21-0 lead at the half and that meant the ending was never in doubt. RBs Vic Ballard and Ladonn Perkins ran wild on the Rebel defense as each scored 2 TDs apiece (1 receiving & 1 passing), all plays longer than 15 yds. QB Chris Relf passed for 70 yds and both of those TD passes to Ballard and Perkins and that was all of the offense they needed. Ole Miss was held to under 225 yds of offense again, which was about 8 or 9 out of their 12 games.
South Carolina 34 – Clemson 13: The Gamecocks had a plan and it did not include losing to in-state rival Clemson this season. While they fell short of their goal to play for the SEC Championship in Atlanta, it appeared that Steve Spurrier’s club took out its frustrations on the visiting Tigers (9-3). South Carolina (10-2) got 3 TD passes from Connor Shaw (210 passing yds) and he also led them in rushing with 107 yds & 1 TD. WR Bruce Ellington had 3 grabs for 71 yds & 1 TD. For Clemson, the last couple of weeks have been anything but Stellar as they have lost two straight and 3 of their last 4. QB Taj Boyd passed for just 83 yds and he struggled all day long. The South Carolina defense looked as good as they did in any game this season. While both teams are bowl bound, they seem to be heading in different directions heading toward Bowl Season.
After the NBA draft in June, I decided to step away from Tailgate Review for a little while. Not because I didn’t love the site, our readers, and being involved in the UK blogosphere, but for a much more positive reason. After some trials and tribulations that many of us endure, my wife and I were expecting our first child in August! As the dads in the audience will attest too, there are many preparations that take place before a bundle of joy comes roaring through the doors. With that, along with the fact it was a down time for UK sports, I decided to step away.
On August 2, my little boy, Robert Allen Pedigo, Jr., arrived! It was the greatest day of my life, by far. Unfortunately, on August 3, I had the worst day of my life when my little brother, Eric, was diagnosed with cancer. We found out a week later that it was stage 4 rectal cancer and had spread to his liver. On September 12, after surgery to remove the cancer from his liver, Eric passed away at the age of 30.
As you might imagine, the last few months have been very bittersweet for me and my family. We have found out the joys of life and the misery of death very quickly. My wife and I now have a nearly 4 month old and a 12 year old, Blake, my brothers little boy. After Eric passed, we were granted custody of Blake. The transition that is still occurring in my home is extreme for all parties. After going so long without a child, we got two, remarkably fast.
As you have probably figured out in the short history of TGR, I am a proud member of Big Blue Nation, as was my brother. My family lives and breathes everything UK, no matter the sport. I had missed one home UK football game since Rich Brooks first season until this year. With all of the things going on, I missed 3 home tilts in 2011. Saturday’s game with Tennessee, was not one that I missed. In fact, it was the first tailgate and game that I really enjoyed since my brother’s passing. My mother and I both expressed the feeling to one another that we felt Eric with us all day long. I figured since we both knew he was there with us, we might as well give him what he so wanted for so many years, a win over Tennessee.
As my Mom and I sat in our seats we shared with my brother for so many years, we watched the Cats take a 10-0 lead over the Vols. As many of the Kentuckians in attendance did, I looked to my mother and asked, “How are they going to break my heart this time?” Big Blue Nation was not asking this because they did not believe in the guys on the field on Saturday, they asked it because they had seen it happen to so many teams before this one. For so many years, BBN had their hearts ripped out by phantom calls, strange fumbles, goal line stands, and various crushing moments during the Tennessee-Kentucky rivalry. In fact, so many of these moments occurred over the duration of the streak, the Tennessee-Kentucky rivalry was no longer considered a rivalry by many. IT had turned into a hammer and nail rivalry and I shouldn’t have to explain who was who.
As the clock ticked away and Morgan Newton fell to a knee, the emotions of the long streak overwhelmed the entire Commonwealth Stadium crowd, including my mother and me. As Morgan continued to kneel down, I thought about my brother. I thought about all of the great days we shared at Commonwealth in the last few years. I thought about how Winston Guy had visited Eric in the hospital in Eric’s last days. I thought about how “on, On U of K” played at Eric’s funeral as his friends and family left the church. I thought about all of these things and I thought about how so many who don’t care about UK or football or tailgating don’t understand how something so insignificant can mean so much to those of us who love it, and I felt sorry for those people. When I grabbed my mother and held her and said, “ That one is for Eric”, as the tears ran down our faces, it mattered. For Danny Trevathan, Winston Guy, Matt Roarke, and the rest of the seniors, it mattered. For the thousands of fans and students who spilled out onto the field after the game, it mattered. For Kentucky’s much maligned head coach who had to choke back tears after the game, it mattered. For one reason or another, it mattered for all of Big Blue Nation. Regardless of where, when, or why it happens, whether it is on grass or the hardwood, it will always matter to us who love it and share it with those we love. Thanks Cats! C! A! T! S!