Strange: Chicken Curse favors scrambled SEC East

Mike Strange

I hope the merchants and bar owners of Atlanta are paying attention. If not, they'll be in for a rude surprise.

Every third year - 1998, 2001, 2004, 2007 - Tennessee has, on cue, showed up in the SEC championship game.

So when 2010 rolls around, you order the orange merchandise and dust off the "Rocky Top" recordings.

Obviously, the internal clock that regulates life in the SEC East has popped a spring. The Vols, 2-5 and 0-4 SEC, will miss their turn.

Whether Gamecocks or Gators, or perhaps even Bulldogs, take over Jocks & Jills on Dec. 4 is still to be determined.

In the 18-year history of the championship game, only Florida, Georgia and UT have represented the East. Now, South Carolina replaces UT on the potential guest list.

The Gamecocks (3-2) hopes to stay a step ahead of the three-loss mob Saturday by adding to Tennessee's misery. That's the easy part in the quest to exorcise the football portion of the Chicken Curse. Carolina gets Arkansas next then finishes in The Swamp.

"Historically, we have not finished very strongly around here,'' South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said Wednesday. "We're gonna try to finish strong.''

So are Florida and Georgia, each with three SEC losses but astride starkly contrasting momentum. They meet Saturday in Jacksonville in an elimination game.

Florida has lost three consecutive regular-season games for the first time since 1988. Georgia, which started 0-3 in the league, has won three in a row. No four-SEC-loss team has reached the championship game. Only twice has a three-loss team made it, LSU in 2001 and Arkansas in 2002.

"Even when we were oh-and-three in the league, it was not mathematically impossible,'' Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "I was personally keeping my hope the whole time. I wasn't talking much about it.''

Everyone is talking about how mystifyingly bad Florida's offense is. The Gators had a week off after being stunned 10-7 by Mississippi State on Oct. 16. Tim Tebow isn't coming to the rescue for a unit ranked 89th in the nation. Meyer would settle for a couple of guys who have been dinged up.

"There will be some changes,'' Meyer hinted. "Hopefully, the changes are having everybody back healthy.''

"We led the SEC in offense three or four years in a row. It was a guy breaking a tackle, a guy making a play and a guy outrunning the defense. That's what we have to get back to.''

Georgia-Florida kicks off about the time Tennessee-South Carolina is ending. There's no doubt for whom every cocktailgater in Jacksonville will be rooting.

Reduced to spoiler, Tennessee has its work cut out as a double-digit underdog for the fourth consecutive game.

UT's depth issues have been well chronicled. True to form this week, injury questions hover over the already thin ranks.

"But there's only 22 guys out there at a time,'' UT coach Derek Dooley said. "We've got to show improvement of the guys that are out there playing and that's all we can do.''

Florida and Georgia hope that's enough. South Carolina hopes it's not.

Mike Strange may be reached at strangem@knoxnews.com or 865-342-6276.

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Comments » 27

TommyJack writes:

Chicken curse? Voodoo? Eh Witchee?

dvols writes:

hmmm...the cam sham?

taylorsvolfan writes:

Can we please play a "whole game" and beat the Shamecocks !

pdhuff#552644 writes:

C*cks will not be crowing in Atl.

Like our Vols, they will be left out.

But, unlike us, they might make the Chicken Fillet Bowl.

crutch1966 writes:

we are gonna win! go vols! apologies to witch doc.
bones never lie!
come on vols! lets win!

stompintheswamp2 writes:

I gotta say I despise Spurrier more than the Gators and Bama. Spurrier has always trashed UT. I used to think he was just trying to rattle Fulmer (which he did) but he continues to trash UT any chance he gets. Why? I am not sure but it sure is funny he grew up in TN. Is he bitter we never offered him? I can't stand his SmartA** and that SH** A** look he gets on his face right before his one-liners. Let's keep beating his visor-boy gamecock arse so he will keep his big freakin mouth shut!! Vols please hit 'em hard all day and Give your All for the Vols!!

crutch1966 writes:

i hate spur also. but his can't spell citrus and auburn library jokes were great.

OrangeinCarolina2 writes:

Come on UT! We've proven that we can play with anybody for 30 minutes. Let's take it to the next level. Believe in yourselves. Let's see some feathers flying Saturday. Just play hungry and enjoy some chicken. GO VOLS!

VOLinATL writes:

My heart is with the Vols, but my wallet is with the Gamecocks. If SC goes to the SEC title game, my tickets will be worth a fortune!

VOLS_SEC_RULES writes:

in response to Agent_Orange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yes, wouldn't it be funny to say "You can't spell CITRUS without USC"?

brush#220070 writes:

in response to stompintheswamp2:

I gotta say I despise Spurrier more than the Gators and Bama. Spurrier has always trashed UT. I used to think he was just trying to rattle Fulmer (which he did) but he continues to trash UT any chance he gets. Why? I am not sure but it sure is funny he grew up in TN. Is he bitter we never offered him? I can't stand his SmartA** and that SH** A** look he gets on his face right before his one-liners. Let's keep beating his visor-boy gamecock arse so he will keep his big freakin mouth shut!! Vols please hit 'em hard all day and Give your All for the Vols!!

ss2: stevie boy grew up in Johnson City & was a star at Science Hill institute of technology (sh*?) as we TN High Vikings lovingly called them-he apparently wanted to be a Vol but was told our single wing offense at the time had no place for him-so to gator land,heister trophy,on to Duke as launching pad when he beat Vols and rest is hateistory
Go Vols!!
Love-peace-& Chicken grease

Bellem13 writes:

OK, now what. 0-4 SEC, no bowl game. I know what we can do. We should just pee in SC's Wheaties, yeah that will be some consolation for us. That would be our BOWL GAME!

My UT Vols! Just play your best for 1hr. not 1/2hr.

My best to you.

crimsonviper writes:

I don't know much about chicken curses,but this is a fact..
If the Vols lose Saturday, Naffy will choke his chicken,again...multiple times.

Ban naffy.....Free the Witch Doctor.

gnm53108 writes:

in response to crimsonviper:

I don't know much about chicken curses,but this is a fact..
If the Vols lose Saturday, Naffy will choke his chicken,again...multiple times.

Ban naffy.....Free the Witch Doctor.

Haha

You're presuming that ole naffster is a rooster and not a hen.

CrankE writes:

"But there's only 22 guys out there at a time", UT coach Derek Dooley said.

...Or 24...

Now that's funny right there, I don't care who you are.

dk writes:

I can't understand all the Spurrier hatred?? It is true that when he coached at Duke, he beat Tennessee once or twice when the Vols were heavily favored (Just remember who was coaching the Vols then)and when he went to Florida and got all those great players, he certainly took care of Tennessee all but a couple of times. First game and last game that he coached against the Vols while a Gator.

Mike Hamilton has taken a bunch of abuse from posters here, but his biggest mistake was not firing "the legend in his own mind" about 5 o 6 years sooner, because he could have gotten Steve to come to UT as head coach then. During the short interim between Kiffin fleeing town and Dooley being announced as HC at UT, I saw an interview with Coach Spurrier and he was asked about coming to UT as head coach. He said not now at his age. But 5 years ago he probably would have come. Then we would all have loved him, for he is a great coach.

BigVolFaninSC writes:

We gotta stop Lattimore first and then stick to the tall WRs! Our young OL has to step it up this week so that Poole can shorten the game! If those things can happen, then the "Superior Visor" will get a good workout and that arrogant, condescending SO- will have to keep his mouth shut! Don't get me wrong; I like chicken...grilled, fried, slow-roasted...GO VOLS!!

gnm53108 writes:

in response to CrankE:

"But there's only 22 guys out there at a time", UT coach Derek Dooley said.

...Or 24...

Now that's funny right there, I don't care who you are.

21...24...But no,I found no humor in watching it.

None at all.

TommyJack writes:

in response to dk:

I can't understand all the Spurrier hatred?? It is true that when he coached at Duke, he beat Tennessee once or twice when the Vols were heavily favored (Just remember who was coaching the Vols then)and when he went to Florida and got all those great players, he certainly took care of Tennessee all but a couple of times. First game and last game that he coached against the Vols while a Gator.

Mike Hamilton has taken a bunch of abuse from posters here, but his biggest mistake was not firing "the legend in his own mind" about 5 o 6 years sooner, because he could have gotten Steve to come to UT as head coach then. During the short interim between Kiffin fleeing town and Dooley being announced as HC at UT, I saw an interview with Coach Spurrier and he was asked about coming to UT as head coach. He said not now at his age. But 5 years ago he probably would have come. Then we would all have loved him, for he is a great coach.

Glad he's never been invited here. Great coach? A great coach when he has an abundance of talent. Not so great with the skins or cockers.
And that perpetual smirk....what a pile of it he is.

BigVolFaninSC writes:

in response to dk:

I can't understand all the Spurrier hatred?? It is true that when he coached at Duke, he beat Tennessee once or twice when the Vols were heavily favored (Just remember who was coaching the Vols then)and when he went to Florida and got all those great players, he certainly took care of Tennessee all but a couple of times. First game and last game that he coached against the Vols while a Gator.

Mike Hamilton has taken a bunch of abuse from posters here, but his biggest mistake was not firing "the legend in his own mind" about 5 o 6 years sooner, because he could have gotten Steve to come to UT as head coach then. During the short interim between Kiffin fleeing town and Dooley being announced as HC at UT, I saw an interview with Coach Spurrier and he was asked about coming to UT as head coach. He said not now at his age. But 5 years ago he probably would have come. Then we would all have loved him, for he is a great coach.

Yeah, and maybe we can raise Bear Bryant from the dead and get HIM to coach at Tennessee, also! Are you kidding me?!

gnm53108 writes:

in response to TommyJack:

Glad he's never been invited here. Great coach? A great coach when he has an abundance of talent. Not so great with the skins or cockers.
And that perpetual smirk....what a pile of it he is.

Thanks TJ,if I was to explain why we hate mr snarky visor I would get banned...and would probably be about the same length as congress's stimulus package.

trubleoj#657755 writes:

Witch Doctor needs more chicken bones for his fortune telling.

And I know just where he can get them-- at that ACC stadium, down by the tracks in the SC state fairgrounds.
Yardbird tastes good.

volsreign writes:

It hasn't been Jock's and Jill's for a long time, Mike. It's Dantanna's now.

CrankE writes:

in response to gnm53108:

21...24...But no,I found no humor in watching it.

None at all.

You know the only difference between Les Miles and Derek Dooley?

Wins.

CrankE writes:

in response to TommyJack:

Glad he's never been invited here. Great coach? A great coach when he has an abundance of talent. Not so great with the skins or cockers.
And that perpetual smirk....what a pile of it he is.

I could never "prove" this, but I firmly believe that Spurrier was at the very least, nudged towards the door as a result of the loss to UT in 2001. Think Jeremy Foley would let a costly loss like this pass without taking action? UF went from BCS #2 to empty handed thanks to the loss to UT.

By comparision, what did UT do to Fulmer as a result of the costly loss that sent UT from BCS #2 to empty handed? Nothing.

Spurrier was already going downhill in 2001. So he left and went where little was expected. And by and large, he's met those expectations-only messing with the outcomes, never really contending. It would not surprise me if SUC mysteriously collapses at UF-and-shazam! hands the Gators another ticket to the Dome.

bah4vols#266620 writes:

in response to bankofdad3:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I know.I agree.

not_guilty writes:

I'm no Spurrier fan, but I would like South Carolina play in a bowl game against Oregon State.

As in the C0ck$ versus the Beavers

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