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Scooter Hobbs Archive
7/21Column: Ranking The SEC Coaches On Entertainment Value
 There is such a thing as “winning the press conference.” Face it, SEC Media Days is over and it’s still almost a month and half until an actual kickoff, and for the life of me I can’t get excited about wondering how Georgia’s offensive line is going to pan out. It’s not that time yet. What it is, as South Carolina’s Steve Spurrer as usual said best, is “the talking season.” It doesn’t mean jack about who’s going to win or lose games, but fans must have something to tide them over until the real taunting begins. So coaches talk. Some better than others.

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7/18Column: This Can't Really Be Part Of "The Process"
 HOOVER, Ala. — Maybe this is what a two-game losing streak at Alabama does to you. Thursday was “Nick Saban Day” at SEC Media Days and, as usual, it was quite a circus down in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency. But in contrast to recent years, the crowd was merely jam-packed, anxious and gleeful — as opposed to breaking all fire codes, near-riotous in its celebration of all things Bama and a pretty good psychological case-study in fan adoration gone horribly haywire.

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7/18Crimson Tide Wins Unreliable Preseason Poll
 HOOVER, Ala. — Big surprise, huh? Never mind that Alabama will start the season on a two-game losing streak. The Crimson Tide was still the overwhelming choice to capture the SEC football championship in voting by the press corps as the league’s annual media days came to an end Thursday. Alabama got more than half of the 293 votes to win the overall title, with arch-rival (and defending conference champion) Auburn the second choice. The Tide got 154 of the votes while Auburn got 75.

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7/18SEC Notes: Tidbits From SEC Media Days Thursday
 SOME LOVE FOR LES: Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze has a 15-year-old daughter, Ragan, who is quite the football fan, often making her dad introduce her to opposing coaches before games. In fact, every year she ranks the SEC coaches from top to bottom, “I don’t know that I will give you the whole ranking,” Freeze said. “But No. 1 in her book is Les Miles. In Baton Rouge he spent 10 minutes talking to her. Then last year when (LSU) came to our place, she was out there without me talking to him. So to her, that’s her favorite.”

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7/17LSU Quotes From SEC Media Days
 HOOVER, Ala. — A collection of quotes from LSU coach Les Miles and players from their appearance at SEC Media Days on Wednesday. “I like us. I like us in every game.” — Les Miles on LSU this season (he says that every year) “If you think we were loud before, we just got louder.” — Miles on the expansion of Tiger Stadium to over 100,000

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7/17LSU Will Count On Well-Fed Freshmen
 HOOVER, Ala. — Perhaps you’ll be relieved to learn that LSU football players are not going to bed hungry at night. University of Connecticut basketball player Shabazz Nabier generated headlines during the NCAA tournament last winter when, making the point that a scholarship wasn’t enough for college athletes, said that “there are hungry nights that I go to bed and I’m starving.” Maybe there’s just more food in Louisiana. But LSU running back Terrence Magee begs to disagree. “There’s never been a night at LSU that I went to bed hungry,” Magee said during his visit to SEC Media Days Wednesday. “I can’t imagine that. I mean, even if you didn’t have any food, you’ve got about 100 teammates. Somebody is going to have some food they’ll share with you. I don’t know anybody at LSU that’s hungry.”

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7/17Column: Miles Messes With Texas
 HOOVER, Ala. — Don’t look for Les Miles to be appointed as the United States ambassador to Texas anytime soon. Yes, your favorite Hat was at it again Wednesday, coming up with another entertaining, slightly tongue-tied, pure Les performance at SEC Media Days, one that ended with him muttering to long-time LSU sports information director Michael Bonnette that “I’m going to catch all kinds of hell from Texas.” He well might. It’s a long story. Complicated. Probably a misunderstanding. A foul-up in communications. Evidently something got lost in the translation — that unique brand of Miles-speak always has a way of confounding the stenographers the SEC hires for this event.

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7/16Column: More Spurrier, Please, Head Ball Coach
 HOOVER, Ala. — Oh, thank you, Steve Spurrier. This SEC Media Days needed a shot of adrenaline. No Johnny “Football” Manziel, for one thing. No silly story lines to pretend to chase down. Thus far, no coach has even tried to pick a feud with another over, say, the inherent dangers to student athletes of the hurry-up offense. Spurrier, on the other hand, just kind of jabs subtly. The South Carolina coach can’t help himself. It just comes naturally. The Head Ball Coach kind of shrugs his shoulders, gives you that little chagrined smirk, and it’s no harm done. Nobody does what Spurrier refers to as “the talking season,” that period between now and the actual kickoff of football, better than the HBC.

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7/16Aggies Ready For Life After Johnny Football
 HOOVER, Ala. — So ... where’s Johnny? Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin could dodge the question all he wanted, but he could not ignore the 600-pound gorilla that was not in the room when Sumlin took to the podium at SEC Media Days Tuesday. In a way, it was suggested, Texas A&M’s debut for the rigors of SEC football would actually be this year. Having Johnny Manziel at your beck and call for the first two years might have given Sumlin and the Aggies an unexpected and perhaps misleading advantage. First question: “What it is like NOT coaching Johnny Manziel?”

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7/15Column: SEC Network Step Toward More Autonomy
 HOOVER, Ala. — Pardon me while I ramble on. I mean, SEC Commissioner Mike Slive on Monday quoted from the book of Muhammad Ali, Nelson Mandela, Dwight Eisenhower and Sir Winston Churchill before working in the obligatory Booger McFarland reference. There was also a Duck Commander/Dynasty reference as SEC Media Days — now expanded to four, count ‘em, four days — opened here amid much pomp and a scattering of circumstance. Booger, the gregarious and delightfully chatty former LSU defensive tackle, may end up the big star by week’s end, perhaps even an historical figure.

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7/15Florida Could Follow Auburn's Lead — But Vandy?
 HOOVER, Ala. — Well this was different. Here you had a Florida head coach trying to make sense of the seven-game losing streak the Gators will open this season with, while the latest new Vanderbilt coach was talking not about putting out a dumpster fire, but of making sure the Commodores stay relevant. Welcome to the SEC’s parallel universe.

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7/3Column: Death Of The Home Run Cause For Concern
 College baseball has had a week now to digest the news. It’s mind-boggling, actually. No one saw it coming. Few thought it was even possible. The scoffers are still out there, dumbfounded, trying to make sense of it all. But it wasn’t a nasty rumor. It is true, not just an Internet hoax. Vanderbilt not only won the national championship — astounding enough news in itself — but won the title game on a bona fide home run for the deciding run in the eighth inning against Virginia. You know, those showy things that actually leave the ballpark and afford the perpetrator a leisurely trot around the bases. Nobody even considered such a thing. Not at TD “Grand Canyon” Ameritrade Park in Omaha — the new-age spaceship replacement for a perfectly functional and very honest old ballyard known affectionately as Rosenblatt Stadium.

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6/30Column: Give The Devil His Due — And Thank Miles
 Les Miles needs to send Greg McElroy a nice fruit basket, or at least put the former Alabama quarterback on his Christmas card list. McElroy did the LSU coach a big favor. LSU fans have long accused Miles of winning by accident, if not blind luck, often winning in spite of himself or by benefitting from sun spots or voodoo or Derek Dooley. They sometimes admit begrudgingly that Miles can recruit. But at times there seems to be a concerted effort to disavow any knowledge that any of Miles’ fingerprints could possibly be on any of the success the Tigers have had while he was winning more games over his nine years at LSU than any coach in the SEC. Maybe it’s the way he wears that ballcap. But McElroy had another explanation for Miles winning 95 games in nine years at LSU.

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6/25Column: Solving The World's Problems
 Like many of you, I’m sure, I’m trying to be as patriotic as the next guy, but still trying to come to grips with how in Sam Hill you can be on the world’s biggest stage in the world’s biggest sporting event with most of the third world agonizing over every fake-flop, set-piece and head-butt, and yet ... And yet they allow ties. Or “draws,” I believe they call them. Really? Shouldn’t something this all-fired monumental be important enough to emerge from the grinding tedium and endless monotony with at least a winner and a loser? Is this too much to ask? Discuss. Explain. Make something up. Anything, please. I’m searching. I mean, it seems like ties (draws) are not only tolerated on this biggest of all world stages, they are readily accepted and often, it seems, verily encouraged.

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6/2LSU Blows Lead, Houston Forces Winner Take All Game
 BATON ROUGE — If momentum means anything, LSU may be in trouble. The Tigers were counting down the outs after benefiting from a bizarre home run Sunday night. But LSU couldn’t overcome a rare implosion from its normally reliable bullpen as three Tiger relievers coughed up a 4-run lead and Houston eventually beat LSU 5-4 in 11 innings to force a final, deciding game in the Baton Rouge NCAA Regional. “We seemingly had the game in hand,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri admitted. “I felt like we should have been up more than we were (4-0). We were crushing balls all over ... swinging the bats well. “Unfortunately the balls weren’t falling for us. Still it looked like we had an insurmountable lead ... (until) every ball they hit found a hole. The breaks of baseball went against us.”

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6/1Tigers Win One For Nola
 BATON ROUGE — So the truth comes out. For LSU this whole thing is all about extending the Aaron Nola Farewell Tour. If Saturday night was the next to last appearance by the LSU ace, it was plenty good enough as he handcuffed Houston to help the Tigers take control of the Baton Rouge Regional with a 5-1 victory over the Cougars. “Our goal is to get Aaron Nola one more start in Alex Box Stadium,” said shortstop Alex Bregman, who had a key RBI single and a spectacular catch that got Nola out of his only jam of the night with light damage. “Our whole goal now is to get Aaron Nola one more start in Alex Box Stadium,” head coach Paul Mainieri after his ace struck out seven. That would have to come in next week’s super regional — and history is on LSU’s side. “We haven’t won anything yet,” Mainieri cautioned. “But we like our position.”

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5/31Column: Not In This Box, You Won't
 BATON ROUGE — It’s always something. Mostly a steady stream of what-ifs and might-have-beens. But LSU has still never lost a first-round NCAA tournament game in the old or the new Alex Box Stadium, and, if Friday was any indication, the Tigers probably never will. Forget the 8-4 final score over Southeastern Louisiana. LSU certainly had every opportunity to break the streak. There were tense moments when LSU trailed 4-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh, and there was still a lot of squirming when the Tigers went to the bottom of the eighth tied at 4-all. Not that anybody was really worried. This was Alex Box Stadium/Skip Bertman Field for a regional. In the end, there was really nothing new — and the Lions could break no new ground. Check the history books, and you’ll find the Tigers have had plenty of chances to lose opening round games. They just never quite get around to it.

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5/31Tigers Rally Late To Whip Lions
 BATON ROUGE — Small ball, long ball, LSU didn’t seem to care much Friday. But mostly it was the errant balls tossed indiscriminately by Southeastern Louisiana that helped the Tigers overcome a late deficit and beat the Lions 8-4 in the opening game of the Baton Rouge Regional at Alex Box Stadium/Skip Bertman Field. LSU had 14 hits, but made better use of three throwing errors and two wild pitches by the Lions to overcome a 4-2 Southeastern lead and advance in the winners’ bracket. “We had to just grind this one out,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said after the Tigers’ ninth straight victory. “At times it wasn’t pretty, but we did what it took to win. I don’t think we played poorly. I give more credit to their pitcher (Andro Cutura). “He did a great job.”

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5/30Column: Mainieri's Best Coaching Job Has LSU In Familiar Spot
 Watching LSU in the SEC tournament last week, I was thinking the same thing, but maybe it’s better if you hear it from Skip Bertman. He was talking, as he is prone to do, about LSU baseball, specifically head coach Paul Mainieri. “This is his best coaching job,” Bertman said this week. Pretty good recommendation. Hard to argue. None of it will mean much if LSU doesn’t end up in Omaha for the College World Series — right or wrong, that’s how LSU seasons are forever judged. And there are no guarantees. Remember 2012? You never know when a Stony Brook might happen.

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5/30Tigers Will Send Poche Out For Opener
 In the end, LSU’s Paul Mainieri slapped himself in the forehead and told himself to quit overthinking the situation. So of course he’s going to send a freshman to the mound to open LSU’s quest for Omaha when the Baton Rouge regional opens today with the Tigers playing Southeastern Louisiana at Alex Box Stadium/Skip Bertman Field. And of course Aaron Nola will be there to pitch in what, one way or the other, is typically the pivotal second game for the Tigers. “Sorry for keeping you on the edge of your seats all week,” Mainieri said Thursday as the Tigers went through a final workout before the NCAA tournament. The Tigers actually started grooming Poché for this role three weeks ago when he pitched the opening game of the final regular season series against Auburn. He also led off on the mound for the Tigers in last week’s SEC tournament.

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