Points to Ponder

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As the high school football season ends, college football season enters its stretch run and basketball begins, I have a few musings for this week.

Ride the wave with me folks, okay?

I’m no Alabama fan, but I hate what happened to star quarterback Tua Tagovialoa. More than being a talented football player, he’s a good kid, the kind you’d want your daughter to date, the kind you’d want your son to look up to. I know he wanted to play against Mississippi State, and I know he said he lobbied to stay in the game when Bama coach Nick Saban tried to get backup Mac Jones ready. But it seems Saban should have had some veto power. And it makes me wonder why he even played in this game.

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How does big Jalen Hurts’ departure to Oklahoma feel now with the Alabama faithful?

In case you missed it, the Tennessee Volunteer football team may have been off this week, but the basketball team played Saturday in Toronto. And, oh by the way, the Vols beat No. 20 Washington 75-62. The Vols are 3-0 for the third straight year. Sure, we hear about Jordan Bowden and Lamonte Turner, but an encouraging development for this year’s team is the evolution of forward Yves Pons. He has had 15 or more points for the third straight game. This from a guy who averaged 2.2 points per game a year ago.

Back to SEC football: South Carolina is consigned to a losing season this year after suffering a 30-6 loss at Texas A&M Saturday night. The trajectory of the program is not heading in the right direction to the satisfaction of Gamecock fans. Last year’s 7-6 campaign was, as some put it, underwhelming. This year, SC will likely finish 4-8, unless it takes down Clemson. If that happens, I’ll look for a star in the east. 

SC athletics director Ray Tanner just gave head coach WIll Muschamp a raise last year, and to buy him out will cost the school $20 million — $18.6 if they fire him after the season. But the problem is that SC athletics is set to make $121 million this year. Here’s the problem part: SC will spend more then $113 million of that, making a buyout tough.

Being honest, most SEC fans outside the Palmetto state sort of hope he sticks around.

Georgia clinched a spot in the SEC title game for the third straight year. Bulldog coach Kirby Smart has done a pretty good job elevating the Bulldogs from the 10-win pit, ahem, that Mark Richt left them in. But the Bulldogs have one SEC crown to show for it and are 0-2 versus Alabama, despite leading the Crimson Tide for 118 of the 120 minutes the two teams have played. We saw it at Auburn Saturday. Sometimes Smart won’t get out of his own way.

Georgia will likely face No. 1 LSU in the title game … that is if LSU beats Arkansas next week. Good luck to Georgia. And Arkansas.

For Tennessee football, it enjoyed an open date this week. The Vols have had plenty of time to get ready for a trip to Missouri. Here’s the deal: If Tennessee can defeat either Mizzou or Vanderbilt, it will be headed to a bowl game this year. Seems simple enough, but that’s what we thought each of the past two years. Vandy has beaten UT three straight times (which last happened before 1926) and Missouri has outscored the Vols 100-34 the last two meetings. 

But you get the idea that this is a different Tennessee team this year. Consider that if the Vols can run the table, they’ll be 7-5, 5-3 in the SEC and will finish as the third-place team in the East.

Nobody even considered that after Aug. 31.

Jim steele is a correspondent for Magic Valley Publishing and host of The Pressbox, which airs 4-6 p.m. CT, Monday-Thursday on WRJB 95.9 FM, Camden, Tenn.

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