BARNEStorming: Thoughts Around the College Football World
Let’s face it, Matt Corral’s performance against South Carolina Saturday was a thing of beauty. He threw for a school record 513 yards in a 59-42 win over the Gamecocks. He also threw a gorgeous pass to Elijah Moore for a 91-yard touchdown, the longest in Rebels’ history. In short, it was the prettiest thing Ole Miss has seen in a long time.
Actually, the most beautiful thing from Oxford was selected about a week ago.
Ole Miss’ Asya Branch was named Miss USA, 2020 Nov. 9. She will now advance to compete in the Miss Universe Pageant.
Miss Mississippi USA Asya Branch Is Crowned Miss USA 2020 https://t.co/PuDTHryDeU
— People (@people) November 10, 2020
She has good company in her victory. Ole Miss has had three students crowned Miss America.
Mary Ann Mobley and her sorority sister Lynda Lee Mead were back-to-back Miss America’s and Susan Akin won the crown in the mid-1980s to give Ole Miss more winners than any other school.
The old saying is true: some schools redshirt tailbacks, Ole Miss redshirts beautiful ladies.
THE TV NON-SCHEDULE
It is not often the public feels sorry for television networks, but Saturday afforded that opportunity. Not only did the SEC have over half of its schedule cancelled but ranked Ohio State and Coastal Carolina also had games scrubbed by COVID-19.
How tough was it for the SEC Network? After the Kentucky-Vanderbilt game aired, guess what game followed on the network? The replay of the Kentucky-Vandy game.
Saturday reminded me of my childhood days. Those were before there were 12 million games to choose from, so we watched the game-of-the-week. I saw a lot of Ohio State-Michigan, Oklahoma-Nebraska and Notre Dame vs. anybody. But I was also able to see the 1972 Iron Bowl when Auburn blocked two Alabama punts in the fourth quarter to beat the Tide 17-16. I saw Lindsey Scott of Georgia run the length of the field with a Buck Belue pass in the final minutes to break Florida’s hearts, and I saw a valiant effort by Ole Miss fall just short in a 33-32 loss to Alabama. But I can handle that loss – the game introduced me to a fella named Archie Manning.
COACHES’ REPLAY SHOWS
Something else I miss from my days as a kid is the coaches’ replay shows. That is right, the coach of a team had a show on Sunday showing the highlights of the prior day’s game. Yes, I am old enough to have looked around and said to my friends, “why don’t we call it dirt?” (I stole that line. Thanks, Tom.)
Sunday mornings before the Saints or the Dolphins came on (there were no Bucs or Jaguars then) I could watch the highlight show from Notre Dame and Grambling. It seems neither of those teams ever lost. In the afternoon, I saw the Auburn Football Review, followed by Bear Bryant’s show.
Coach Bryant and his host Charlie Thornton always thanked the sponsors by opening a bag of Golden Flake potato chips and taking a swig of Coke. (Watch, below.)
Years later I was able to share a breakfast table with Thornton. I mentioned I had never seen him eat anything but potato chips. He responded, “Yeah kid, I’ve never heard that one before.”
Wouldn’t coaching shows featuring Lane Kiffin or Mike Leach be entertaining?
ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST
In addition to all the postponed games over the weekend, another program has announced it will not participate in a spring schedule.
Florida A&M, a member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, says it will not play the proposed league spring schedule. The Rattlers join fellow MEAC member Bethune-Cookman in opting out of the football season.
KEEP YOUR EYE ON THIS GUY
Cincinnati is undefeated and has joined the top-ten rankings. The Bearcats have relied on quarterback Desmond Ridder and they should. This guy is a clone of Daunte Culpepper when he was at UCF. Friday, Cincy beat up on East Carolina and Ridder led the ‘Cats with 327 yards passing and 75 yards on the ground. For the season, the junior has thrown for 1,483 yards and 14 touchdowns and is second on the team in rushing.
Desmond Ridder drops a dime to Tre Tucker for a 45-yard TD as Cincinnati (-27.5) takes a 28-10 lead
— Bet The Pigskin (@betthepigskin) November 14, 2020
The Louisville native has Cincinnati poised to play in a New Year’s Six bowl. He also proves recruiting is an inexact science. He chose to play for the Bearcats over Eastern Kentucky.
His comparison to Culpepper should continue this week. Ridder plays against UCF in Orlando.
JUST A QUESTION FOR TRIVIA BUFFS
Kyle Trask of Florida has worked his way into the conversation of Heisman candidates this season. He wears number 11 for the Gators. Trask became the first quarterback to start a game for the Gators wearing No. 11 in more than 50 years. The last player who wore it? Steve Spurrier in 1966 — the year he won the Heisman.
The question: Since Spurrier also wore number 11, have there ever been TWO Heisman winners from the same school who wore the same number?
THIS ONE’S FOR JOHN
That line was spoken by Denver Broncos’ owner Pat Bowlen after winning the Super Bowl with John Elway at quarterback. It was more appropriate Saturday in Lexington.
Kentucky offensive line coach John Schlarman lost his long battle with a rare form of cancer this week. Besides serving as an assistant coach at UK, he was also an All-SEC guard during his playing days for the Wildcats.
The Kentucky offense honored their coach on the first play against Vanderbilt Saturday. They took the field without a left guard and took a penalty that the Commodores’ graciously declined. Then a left guard took the field wearing number 65 – Schlarman’s number from his playing days.
Kentucky O-line coach John Schlarman died on Thursday after a battle with cancer.
His team honored him by leaving a spot open on their offensive line for the first play of the game 💙
(via @SECNetwork) pic.twitter.com/JIJR3ndE9L
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 14, 2020
I met coach a couple of times when he was on the staff at Troy. I remember asking him about the Trojans’ potent passing game, but he always would change the subject to tell me how well Troy was running the ball because of “his guys” up front.
The world and college football are lesser places without Schlarman.
This tribute video to John Schlarman is beautiful pic.twitter.com/omKUMsugbX
— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) November 12, 2020
Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers.
He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio.
A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series.
Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time.
He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk.
Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.