Fans of universities from the Southeastern Conference don't tend to be easily impressed. And considering what those fans see every weekend from August to December in what is arguably the world's best college football conference, that is understandable. So it is worthy of comment when SEC fans, particularly SEC fans not know for being terribly generous with their compliments of opposing teams, start showing respect for an opponent. Especially when that opponent is us.
In today's Tennessean, Maurice Patton focuses in on Jeff Jennings' return to Commodore football and the immediate impact Jennings had against the Spiders. And, in his game notes piece, Maurice highlights Earl Bennett's SEC Player of the Week accolades (partly earned thanks to his potentially controversial recording-breaking performance).
In the City Paper, Brett Hait has an article about Vanderbilt players' barely contained enthusiasm to face the opportunity that playing Alabama presents. Hait also notes the respect that Alabama cornerback Simeon Castille has for Earl Bennett. And he's not the only one doing so.
Down south, in Moe-beel (Mobile, for the uninitiated), the Press-Register talks about the threat that Earl Bennett poses to the Crimson Tide secondary (and takes some not-so-subtle swipe at the Alabama recruiting staff who, it seems they think, let slip an amazing player out from under their noses).
Here in Birmingham (where, ferreted away amidst the law-book stacks, sits your humble author), the Birmingham News worries that the Tide defense could be in trouble against our Dores.
North of me, south of Nashville, the Huntsville Times notes with irony that two of the best players in this weekend's ocean battle (c'mon, Tide and Commodores? you knew I couldn't resist that for long) -- Chris Nickson for the Dores and Nick Walker for the boys in Red (ahem, "Crimson") -- are both from the tiny, lower-Alabama town of Brundidge (and actually, it's a great human-interest article). Strangely enough, the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (out of Columbus, Ga.) also picks up on the Nickson-Walker-Brundidge connection, and adds that they're also cousins. Only in the South, ladies and gents.
Elsewhere in lower Alabama (and not too far from Brundidge), the Troy Messenger gives Chris Nickson some respect in their article about his shining victory.
The Press-Register has a nice game notes article; and did you know that two 'Bama players, Keith Brown and Prince Hall, were suspended against the mighty Catamounts of Western Carolina? Neither did I.
According to the Huntsville Times, the game against Alabama this weekend is already a sellout -- with all 39,773 seats full (let's hope that only fifty or sixty percent, i.e., 20,000, of them are wearing Crimson -- of course, since we had around 33,000 wearing black-and-gold against Richmond, I think we can manage against the Tide).
Also down in Mobile, Paul Finebaum is cautioning Alabama fans that the Tide's first real test comes from the Dores (and though he does write, "Did I just say what I thought I said," he genuinely believes that Vanderbilt will pose a challenge for 'Bama).
Meanwhile, over at RollTide.com, the Alabama athletics folk give us their run down of the match-up between the Commodores and Crimson Tide (check it out, it's interesting to note which statistics the Media Relations people choose or highlight).
In the rest of the Vanderbilt blogosphere, our friends at Vanderbilt Sports Line (with whom we commiserate, since our law school didn't close for Labor Day either) note Earl Bennett's SEC kudos while delicately pointing out that our recently-departed Mormon priest-- err, umm, Chancellor, is forcing THE Ohio State University to remodel their President's Mansion. We concur with their view, too. There's a game-day post tracking the viewers' thoughts as the game went (they mirror mine from Section L at Vanderbilt Stadium, as well).
Over at Save the Shield, we get a nice Season Preview that accurately (?) predicts the Richmond score. Talk about psychic.
Not much new on the VandyMania or VandySports boards, but both have new premium content up that you should check out (if you can afford it, unlike this poor law student). You know the links: VM and VS. As an aside, does anyone else (who knows what I'm talking about) ever feel like VM and VS are like LexisNexis and Westlaw? E.g., both are niche service providers that cater to a very specific market, and both effectively have a duopoly. Ahem. Back to Naval Intelligence.
S&S is finally listed on the blogroll at Best of the SEC Blogs (hooray for us), and the blog itself highlights SEC bloggers' reaction to the Vawls' big loss to Cal (speaking of which, we have very mixed feelings about that game here at S&S: on the one hand, as Vawl-haters, we always enjoy seeing UT lose; but, at the same time, we do feel SEC solidarity, and it definitely sucks to lose to a Pac 10 team, so yeah).
That looks like everything for today -- or, maybe not. Brandon Barca just posted (around 3 pm on Tuesday) an updated image of the Memorial Gym floor. Umm, wow. What happened to our classic, understated gym floor? Apparently we're going to route of "The Summit" (or is "The Head" now?), and going gaudy.
On a happier note, Brandon also put a link to a 1996 play where the Commodores, deep in Crimson Tide territory at Bryant-Denny Stadium, fake a punt -- and take it to the house:
Of course, there is also still a lot of video and audio content on VUCommodores.com -- go check it out, and send Brandon Barca a note about how awesome he and his staff are doing with official athletics web- and other-media.
The Victory flag is flying, ladies and gentlemen, and the Foghorn has sounded: the season is here, and the Tide rolls in this week. Get ready.