football Edit

The Mailbag, presented by HillCo Insurance, Edition 244

It's time for The Mailbag, presented by HillCo Insurance, Edition 244.

I asked for your questions. You delivered. I'll get to my answers in a moment, but first, a message from our sponsor, Davey Farris:

First of all, thank you to the people who have reached out. I can write policies in all 50 states for both personal and commercial lines. I can look at almost anyone's home, auto, umbrella, or commercial needs. I have tons of vendors to shop your risks to. I can't win all the time, but at the very least, I can either get you a better policy or confirm that what you are doing the right thing. I pride myself on customer service and always answering the phone.

Now, let's get to the meat of the conversation. How can I motivate you guys to reach out and help me raise tons of money for The Grove Collective? I want this to be huge for our programs. I want to, with all your help, win national championships and get the best players possible. Lane continues to say NIL is the No. 1 need we have. I imagine the other coaches would echo that. Once we get more momentum with our program I will post monthly the amount of money we are giving back to our sports programs.

I have so many different ideas I would like to implement to make this a fun program for all of us. My question to you is what is holding you back from making the change? Let's make something we all hate paying for bring us some joy on the sports field. I am excited to hear from you guys; one of the biggest reasons I did this is to meet more OM fans. I can feel a little isolated out here in Dallas!

Thanks again for any feedback and I am including a link that will allow you to easily send me your policies and take a look at them for you. So, follow the link and let’s get some more 5 stars.

From handyandy1031: If the Rebs when the SEC West, will you commit to a Handy Andy's restaurant review?


Sure. Why not? You'll have to tell me what I'm ordering and all of that, but yes, if Ole Miss wins the West, I'll go to Handy Andy's. Godspeed to the treadmill before and after that meal.

From awrebel: How do you prevent shin splints?

Knock on wood, I've never gotten them. Balky right knee? Yes. Hip and glute tightness/soreness that sometimes makes me completely lock up? Yes. But I've been able to avoid shin splints. I'm pretty good about stretching, so maybe that has helped.

From chattreb: I have been a little surprised that Caden Davis has evidently beat out Caden Costa as our place kicker. That being said, thus far Davis has performed brilliantly. I was under the impression that Davis was brought in for primarily kick off duties. Did I dream that?

No, that's accurate, but he's been terrific and has won the job.

From Loblolly7: Who are the biggest “sleeping giants” in each power 5 conference?

Pac-2: Oregon State

ACC: I can't think of one. I really can't. Maybe SMU, but that's a stretch.

Big Ten: Wisconsin comes to mind. Most of the giants in that league are fully awake already. And I keep thinking Nebraska is going to become a big deal again.

Big 12: Maybe UCF?

SEC: Is Ole Miss a "sleeping giant?" I mean, it's already pretty relevant. Kentucky and Arkansas both have the capacity to throw a ton of money at a sport and become powerful. But I don't know how we're defining this.

From North Tampa Rebel: How big a game is this for Pete Golding? Going back to coach at Tuscaloosa, a place where the fans had tired of his work as DC. Only now, the offense is down for the Tide and Golding has a chance to shove it back in their face.

It has to be huge. Alabama fans were vocal in their dislike of him the past couple of years. I'm sure he'd love to watch those fans head for the exits with sad faces on Saturday.

From North Tampa Rebel: If Saban retired after this season after going 10-2 and missing the playoff, who would be your top-3 replacements at Bama?

I really don't know. The names you hear the most from informed people are Dan Lanning, Mario Cristobal and Demeco Ryans, but again, I have no idea. I would think Saban will have a major say in it.

From SaladThunder: You always claim you dont know anything about football (the x's and o's) but you've spent three or so years with Pete breaking down film. You also have covered the sport for 20+ years. Surely there is something you've picked up. Why do you take a back seat in your football knowledge? Sometimes it's strange to me how you always use such a caveat. Stick that chest out brah you've got the experience to back it up!

This is a pet peeve of mine. I don't know the game well enough to break it down and 99 percent of the people in my field -- including the ones who try -- don't either. I actually give myself credit for being smart enough to acknowledge that.

From robert90: Why do professional soccer leagues around the world not use the count down clock like college soccer does? I went to a college soccer game this weekend and it was so rational how they keep time. Start the clock at 45 minutes and let it run down to zero.. If someone gets hurt they stop the clock. If there is an obvious delay in action by either team (faking injuries) they stop the clock. There is non of this stuff like professional soccer has where the teams are faking injuries to waste time. Players arguing with the ref to waste time. Walking off the field when they are subbed out at a snails pace. And then the ref adds a random amount of "extra" time at the end of each half. And then when extra time is up they still allow more time based on if the losing team has the ball. Just start it at 45 minutes and when it hits zero, the game is over. Thoughts?

You're right, but I suspect it's done this way because it's always been done this way.

From Levi275: Will Dabo Swinney be able to right the ship at Clemson? The program was the gold standard for culture and player evaluation in the mid/late 2010s. They don’t take transfers and they don’t let players committed elsewhere take official visits. The type of commitment to culture is admirable, but does it work in a transfer portal and NIL world?

My opinion is that program has peaked and is on its way down. I don't think all of his rules and standards work in the current environment. They're not as talented as they have been in the past, either.

From kirbos: If you had to hazard a guess, what's going on with Judkins? I agree with the sentiment on the podcast that he hasn't looked "right", whether it's him or the OL. Something is wrong there, but the fact that Dart and Bentley had success rushing against GT makes me lean more towards something being wrong with Judkins (even though the OL looks bad in general).

I think he's banged up and he's getting a lot of attention from opposing defenses. I have other theories, but I think it's best I leave those in my mind and not put them in print, if you will.

From Boot_Reb: I am sure you have answered this in the past and if you have I apologize, but what is your take on the whole Steve Bartman debacle from 2003? Does Alou make the catch? Do the Marlins still come back to win if the catch is made? Should there have been fan interference? I know those are hypotheticals, but I am genuinely curious of your thoughts -- not to bring back a tough Cubs memory.

Yes, Alou would've caught the ball. That would've been two outs with Pierre on second and the Cubs up three runs. Prior was cruising. The Cubs would've won the game and very likely won the World Series. However, they couldn't have called fan interference, as Alou's glove wasn't in the field of play.

From CoffeeRaccoon: Neal, I’m getting married Saturday.For the record, both my bride and I are team no fall weddings but circumstances required us to change course.We’ve got Rebs, bulldogs, tigers (3 kinds), gators, tarheels and Wolfpack attending. We’ve got the TVs, we’ve got the frozen drink machines. We’ve apologized profusely and provided avenues to catch the game.I digress. Any marriage advice for an early thirty something? Thanks - CoffeeRaccoon

Yeah, make your marriage your priority. Embrace her family. Be supportive. And once you're sure, have babies. There's nothing like fatherhood.

From RebelMatthew: Neal, I started following soccer in 2014 (when i was 45). My son and daughter have played on travel teams and for their school. I fell in love with the game. I ended up selecting Chelsea FC. It was one of the best decisions of my life even with the recent downturn. I think you have alluded to Carson being a Chelsea fan. I was wondering what club or clubs you follow?

I follow Chelsea just to be conversant with Carson and I follow Tottenham for some reason. I really enjoy it. I used to just watch with him but now I turn it on even when I'm by myself.

From Champ87: In your opinion, do you think the OL issues could be related to having a new OL coach? Even you said you noticed Pettis’s leverage issues. Could there be teaching issues. Also, just curious but why do you wear the headphones on the podcast and Chase doesn’t?

I'm sure there's a learning curve. I thought they looked better Saturday versus Georgia Tech. Pettus, in my opinion, tries too hard to be violent and doesn't focus enough on his technique.

As for the headphones, I like to monitor the audio. I don't "need" them, but if there's an audio issue, I won't know without the headphones. Chase probably doesn't want to mess up his hair.

From Brent Schaeffah: Neal, there is a rumor going around that QJ was listed "doubtful" Saturday not necessarily due to sore ribs but more so QJ holding out/requesting additional NIL before playing Saturday. This sounded silly to me until I heard the sourcing (I won't namedrop but 3 former players in the M-Club room prior to the game). You may or may not be able to comment, but I was genuinely curious if you've heard anything about this?

I've not heard that. There are definitely issues caused by NIL and there are egos attached to those issues, but I've not heard that regarding Judkins.

From WichitaReb: You eluded to Deion Sanders a little on OEP this morning. But since the opening week of football, I have been fascinated to get your unfiltered thoughts about Deion Sanders and what’s going on with Colorado? This media attention over it is staggering to me. On Sunday evening 60 minutes announced this is the first time in their HISTORY to ever cover a person twice in one year. HISTORY! Staggering to think about. So first Interested to know your thoughts on the media attention. Second, thoughts on them as a team. Weaknesses and strengths. Third, what is your observation of Shadeur Sanders game and his Heisman hype? Thanks again for all you do. Always enjoy your insight and coverage. Thank you

Colorado is drawing serious eyeballs and the media is latching on. Sanders is interesting. He's controversial. He's charismatic. He draws a lot of ire, sometimes plays the race card and checks every media box. The media is drawn to him financially and ideologically.

I think his team is headed for a reckoning. Period. They're about to lose games.

Shadeur is a good player. He plays with confidence. He's fearless. I think he's a little bit limited as a quarterback in terms of being elite, but I admire his tenacity.

At the end of the day, Sanders has made a dormant program a story. Everyone is either for them or against them and that makes for great television.

From treywarr: When will Lane stop getting asked about how great it was to work for Saban, and how much he learned from that experience?

I think he has to beat Saban to change that narrative. Simple as that.

From cctrey5: What’s the most tense press conference you’ve ever been a part of? (Player or coach)

Houston Nutt's press conference where he had his whole staff attend in 2011 was pretty damn intense. I can't remember if it was the same day or after Pete Boone basically castrated him with him in the room following the loss to Vanderbilt, but I remember thinking, "Holy hell, I can't believe this is happening."

From backdoor_cover: Defensively, it seems we’ve been bend but don’t break in the first half each of the last two games and attack more in second halves, but I’m not strong with schematics. Are we playing base defense early in games and then adjusting to more exotic packages after halftime? Or are we playing the same scheme throughout and just getting a better feel for what teams are trying to do thus equating to more 2nd half success (maybe also aided to some degree by a lot of guys getting snaps and limiting fatigue)?

Georgia Tech was far more productive in the second half than they were the first. Tulane didn't have its quarterback. Let's see what happens Saturday and then revisit. You might be onto something, but I'm not ready to go there.

From Kylethehoss: Do you think locker room issues are the cause for Alabama's issues? Players bucking over the QB?

It's conceivable, but it's more likely that the fall-off at quarterback and offensive line is the issue.

From Chief Brody: You're on a remote island in the caribbean... all inclusive resort, waiter on beach, etc..... what is your cocktail of choice?

I'm a sucker for a really well-made margarita. Maybe mix it up with some mezcal on occasion.

From Dallasreb972: Can we ever truly be free from our past, or do our experiences and traumas shape us forever?

Free from it? No, but I think you can learn from it, forgive yourself for things and move on. My dad once said something that really stuck with me. I was telling him that I didn't really understand the "born again" thing people sometimes discuss. He said every day is an opportunity to start over and do something special. Living with that mindset requires a ton of discipline, and I can't say that I do it, but I think he's right.

From ccreb1: What's the worst question you have ever heard someone ask at a press conference?

I once asked Andy Kennedy if he thought he would still be Ole Miss' coach after a loss at Mississippi State in early March. It was the wrong venue for the question. I worded it terribly. It was a low point in my career, which is saying something, as I've certainly had my share of low points. It was a terrible question. It took me a long time to get past it.