Mike Zimmer rips Bobby Petrino, Bobby Petrino backer rips Mike Zimmer, Anthony Stalter rips backer

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 07:  Head coach Bobby Petrino stands on the sidelines with Joey Harrington #13 of the Atlanta Falcons after taking him out of the game against the Tennessee Titans during their game at LP Field on October 7, 2007 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

I remember when Bobby Petrino ditched Louisville to join the Atlanta Falcons in 2007. The writers for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution briefly mentioned Petrino’s penchant for leaving teams in the dust for bigger and brighter opportunities, then they moved right into breaking down his offense and how he could transform Michael Vick into an elite quarterback.

Not too long after Petrino left Atlanta in the middle of the night to go “Call Hogs” in Arkansas, those same writers ripped him for being a coward. He kind of has that way about him.

When he’s on your side (no matter how briefly), you want to overlook his many weaknesses. But as soon as he shows you his true colors, you hope he never wins another game.

Mike Zimmer, who was the Falcons’ defensive coordinator in Atlanta when Petrino performed his disappearing act, had some not-so-nice things to say about his former boss in a recent interview.

“I never even was there,” said Zimmer. “When a coach quits in the middle of the year and ruins a bunch of people’s families and doesn’t have enough guts to at least finish out the year … I am not a part of that.

“You can put that in the Arkansas News-Gazette. I don’t really give a (hooey). I am serious. He is a coward. Put that in quotes.”

“Most people in football have enough courage about them and enough fight to stick through something and not quit halfway through the year. It is cowardly,” said Zimmer. “He came in and said he resigned, he would talk to us all at a later date, walked out of the office and no one has ever talked to him since. Not that anybody wanted to.

“He’s a gutless (expletive). Quote that. I don’t give a (hooey).”

If you’re abreast of the situation, then you know that Zimmer spoke the truth. But apparently at least one writer in Arkansas is still blinded by Petrino’s lore and took exception to Zimmer’s comments.

These are excerpts from an article by Jim Harris of ArkansasSports360.com in reference to Zimmer’s comments:

Zimmer said earlier this week that Petrino ruined lives when he abruptly left Atlanta for Arkansas with three games left in the 2007 season. Please.

Zimmer’s had a very difficult four years of his life, both on the field and off it. Some of it tragic. His parting with Petrino was not among the tragic occurrences, as Zimmer had a contract and also was able to find work with Cincinnati.

Lives were ruined by Hurricane Katrina. Lives are ruined daily in Haiti, in the aftermath of an earthquake and now a cholera epidemic in a country with no money.

Harris’ mention of how Zimmer has “had a very difficult four years of his life” is in reference to the defensive coordinator finding his wife Vikki dead in their home in the middle of the football season. And while Harris has a good point about Hurricane Katrina and Haiti, let’s not mince words here.

I’m willing to bet that Harris doesn’t know Zimmer personally, so how would he know if the situation ruined Zimmer’s life or not? Besides, isn’t Harris being a little too literal here? I’m sure Zimmer would say that Hurricane Katrina was a bigger deal than Petrino leaving Atlanta, but the situation still affected his life in a profound way. It essentially cost him his job with the Falcons and while he still wound up on his feet in Cincinnati a year later, that doesn’t mean that Harris has the right to downplay the situation and go with the standard “life is bigger than sports” anecdote that some writers use these days.

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2010 SEC College Football Preview: Alabama still reigns supreme

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 07: Head coach Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrate with the BCS Championship trophy after winning the Citi BCS National Championship game over the Texas Longhorns at the Rose Bowl on January 7, 2010 in Pasadena, California. The Crimson Tide defeated the Longhorns 37-21. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Here’s a quick and dirty look at how I see things playing out in the SEC this season:

#1 Alabama
Led by head coach Nick Saban and Heisman winner Mark Ingram, this is by far the best team in the country. While they don’t come weakness-free, the Tide have the best combination of talent and coaching in all of college football. They play in the nation’s toughest conference so there’s always a chance that they could lose a game during the season, but this is your clear national title favorite. Their defense might be even better than it was a year ago.

#2 Florida
The Gators lost Tim Tebow, Riley Cooper, Aaron Hernandez, Maurkice Pouncey, Carlos Dunlap, Jermaine Cunningham, Brandon Spikes, Ryan Stamper, Joe Haden and Major Wright from their squad last season. In one word: Ouch. Outside of running back Jeff Demps, they lost their top player at nearly every position, which would usually destroy a program’s chances of competing the next year. But this is Florida – they reload every year. This year’s crop of starters has seen time in either part-time action or spot starts over the last couple of years, so the Gators will compete. Are they a top 5 team? We’ll find out soon.

#3 Arkansas
All right, so I might be drinking too much of the Ryan Mallett Kool-Aid by ranking the Razorbacks ahead of Georgia and LSU. But even though Bobby Petrino is a turd, the man knows how to run an offense (a college football offense, that is) and Arkansas will be explosive on that side of the ball again this year. The question is whether or not their defense will step up so that this team can reach its full potential. As it stands now, it’s probably safe to say that Arkansas is going to have issues slowing teams down this year, but I just can’t stop starring at that offense. It’s like a tractor beam of hotness.

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Decade Debate: 10 Worst NFL Head Coaching Hires

Perhaps more than any other sport, a bad head coaching hire in the NFL can ruin a franchise for the better part of a decade. When you consider the free agent and draft acquisitions that are made to fit a coach’s style and philosophy, it’s no wonder that it usually takes years for a team to rebound after a bad coaching hire. As part of our ongoing Decade Debate series, here are the 10 worst head coaching hires of the past decade. To be clear, this ranking is based on the result of the hire, and not necessarily the hire itself. (Although the ranking could be a combination of the two.)

10. Eric Mangini, Cleveland Browns, 2009

One might argue that since Mangini hasn’t even gotten through his first year in Cleveland yet that he doesn’t deserve to be on this list. But others will argue that since he was absolutely despised in New York that the Browns should have never hired him in the first place. After all, was the one winning season he had with the Jets worth the Browns giving him a shot? Some of the moves that Mangini has made since arriving in Cleveland haven’t been bad at all: Trading Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow, trading down multiple times to acquire more picks in the draft, acquiring safety Abram Elam, etc. But considering he hasn’t won many players over with his crass attitude, has made two quarterback changes and only has one win under his belt, things couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start in Cleveland. It’ll be interesting to see if the Browns fire him after only one season.

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Florida survives scare against Arkansas

One would have thought that Tim Tebow and Florida learned from their loss to Ole Miss last year to never take an opponent for granted. Maybe that wasn’t the case on Saturday, but it sure seemed like it.

The Gators are extremely lucky to still be undefeated and when the BCS releases its standings for the first time on October 20, Florida will be extremely lucky if they’re still ranked No. 1.

The word “lucky” might not sit well with some Gator fans, but most teams that play as bad as Florida did in its 23-20 win over Arkansas on Saturday usually don’t win. The Gators turned the ball over four times, benefited from two Razorback missed field goals and had no answer for backup running back Dennis Johnson, who broke so many tackles the stats people will need a calculator to add them all up.

Tebow was good – damn good. He threw for 255 yards on 17 of 26 passing with one touchdown and also added 60 rushing yards on 24 carries. But the key in this game wasn’t Tebow – it was that Arkansas didn’t capitalize on Florida’s mistakes. For all intents and purposes, it was a game they probably should have won.

But “should have” and “did” are two different things. Bobby Petrino’s squad didn’t win and that’s the bottom line. They could have shocked the college football world by beating the No. 1 team in the nation but in the end they choked. That said, this is one of the most dangerous unranked teams in the nation, which they’ve proved over the past two weeks by routing Auburn and hanging with Florida.

Back the Gators. If Alabama comes out and absolutely crushes South Carolina, does the Crimson Tide deserve to be No. 1? Alabama hasn’t suffered one setback this year – not one. I realize Florida still won today, but the Gamecocks are ranked and would therefore prove to be a more worthy opponent than Arkansas.

If ‘Bama produces a rout tonight, Nick Saban’s squad has an argument that it deserves to be No. 1. Tonight should be interesting.

Spurrier the one who didn’t vote Tebow All-SEC

One of the greatest unsolved crimes in sports history now has a resolution. We can now put our children to bed at night without this shroud of mystery hanging over our heads and breathe a sigh of relief knowing that a major villain has been outed for his crime against humanity.

That’s right, folks: We now know the one person who didn’t vote for Florida’s Tim Tebow as All-SEC quarterback. And it wasn’t that punk Lane Kiffin, nor was it that weasel Bobby Petrino either. Hell, it wasn’t even Nick Saban, who can’t step one foot inside Baton Rouge or Miami without somebody wanting to shove a first down marker where the sun don’t shine.

Nope, it was Steve Spurrier…well, kind of. Apparently it wasn’t actually him, but the director of football operations he had vote for him. Whoops.

Spurrier explained that his director of football operations had filled out the ballot and brought it in to him. Spurrier said he glanced at it, signed off on it, and then realized his mistake much later.

The ballot submitted to the SEC from South Carolina had Mississippi’s Jevan Snead as the first-team quarterback, and not Tebow.

“I take full responsibility,” he said, emphasizing that he believed Tebow to be one of the best quarterbacks in Florida history. “I’m embarrassed about it, I feel badly about it … I apologize to Tim Tebow.”

SEC associate commissioner Charles Bloom confirmed to ESPN.com that Spurrier called within the past 24 hours and asked that his ballot be changed to include Tebow as the first-team quarterback. Spurrier told Bloom that his initial ballot, with Snead as the first-team quarterback, was a mistake.

If you couldn’t tell by the sarcasm I used at start of this article, I don’t think this is a big deal. It’s just a preseason honor and I highly doubt Tebow is losing sleep over this. It’s nice that Spurrier tried to correct the mistake and owns up to it, but again, this is hardly worth getting upset about.

But perhaps an underlying issue (and Pat Forde touched on it in the ESPN article) here, is that these coaches continue to let other people in their programs vote for things like all-conference nominations and even the USA Today Coaches Poll. So you have a director of operations having a stake in which teams could potentially play for a national title, and not the coaches themselves.

This is just reason No. 1,900,340,000 why the BCS system is an absolutely joke. We need a playoff.

By the way, how does Jevan Snead feel right about now? If I’m him I’m like, “A mistake? Gee, thanks Spurrier – tell me how you really feel you son of a bit…”

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