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Scooter Hobbs Archive
8/13Column: SEC Network Figures To Be A Channel Changer
 Having done due diligence in studying up on the SEC Network for you, I can safely report to you that much of it is mind-boggling, particularly the cash money involved.

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8/12Foster Back Where He Started At LSU
 BATON ROUGE — LSU’s third-string quarterback is best known for the circus catch he made in the Texas A&M outfield. It was a game-saver for the Tigers — the clutch catch of the season — in baseball. Now the multi-sport Tiger is back where he started at LSU on the football field. He’s not likely to start at quarterback this year — freshman Brandon Harris and sophomore Anthony Jennings have a spirited competition in place for that honor — but he’s happy to be back in helmet and pads. “It started off a little slow, I’m just knocking the rust off and throwing the ball again,” said Foster, who hasn’t played in a live football game since his senior year at Barbe in 2010, and hasn’t even practiced the sport since the following fall of 2011.

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8/11Column: Young Tigers At Least Look The Part
 BATON ROUGE — LSU threw open the ceremonial doors on its 2014 football season Sunday and, frankly, I was expecting to find a day care center inside. There were no practices Sunday, just the controlled frivolity and cell phone photo bombs of the annual Media Day, but several of us veterans worried that we might catch the Tiger varsity involved in designated nap time after cookies and milk and a quick bedtime story. The media had already talked to Les Miles and both coordinators, so I was looking for the equipment manager and the designated diaper changer, or maybe the Kool Aid czar would have the real scoop on these newest Tigers. That’s what we’d been led to believe. Ravaged and ransacked by the NFL for two years running — you probably heard many of the innocents were kidnapped by the lure or pro money — this is the year Miles’ “next man up” theory will really be put to the test.

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8/6Column: Don't Read Too Much Into Quarterback Race
 Last weekend I was approached by a very courteous LSU fan with the following: “Have you heard who LSU’s quarterback is going to be this year?” This was a day before the Tigers even reported for preseason practice, two days before the first workout. So I thought maybe he had some inside information. But it turned out he was picking my brain, wanting to know if I’d uncovered anything yet. Well, sad to say, that’s not quite the way it works.

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7/30Column: Playoff Committee Has Small Shoes To Fill
 It was Nick Saban, back in his LSU days, who noted that maybe a playoff to replace the hated 2-team BCS system might not be the be-all, end-all. Even then, of course, the BCS was the sports world’s designated root of all evil. I never quite understood that. Though far from perfect, it at least attempted to get the two best teams in a national championship game — a big improvement on leaving it to the luck of the bowl pairings and their automatic tie-ins. Anyway, Saban was addressing the playoff-centrists’ hot topic of the day, notably the suggestion of going to a genuine 4- or 8- or 16- or — who knows? — maybe a 324-team playoff. Saban wasn’t so sure that any number in a playoff would end all the chronic bickering.

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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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