COLUMBIA -- Let's at least try to get this straight.
South Carolina linebacker Rodney Paulk is suspended a half for a hit that wasn't called a penalty on the field, one that no one outside Gamecocks defensive head coach Ellis Johnson thought of as even questionable.
Meanwhile, Auburn's Nick Fairley was penalized and criticized for his malicious and dangerous spearing of Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, well after a play in Saturday's game. And, yet, Fairley will be allowed to play on without any sort of suspension?
You've got to be joking. If the SEC office is serious about policing illegal hits, it had better exercise consistency. Fairley's might not have been a helmet-to-helmet hit, a buzz phrase in today's consciousness of caution. But Fairley used his helmet as a weapon. And that's worthy of punishment, if we're aiming for player safety. His actions were indefensible.
For that hit, and a growing track record of unnecessarily violent hits, Fairley should be sitting the first half -- if not more -- against Alabama.
You don't want to say the SEC is taking it easy on Fairley and Auburn, because it's the conference's final national title contender, protecting the Tigers against Alabama. But, well, we just said it.
Watch: The Tide wins that game, with or without Fairley on the field.
--The thing you forget about Marcus Lattimore is that he's a freshman. To take the load of 40 carries and 212 yards to help the Gamecocks beat Florida is one thing. The way he seems to handle success and the burden of expectation is nothing short of remarkable. It has certainly led to the unraveling of highly considered backs in South Carolina's past. But Lattimore is different, on and off the field. And he's a huge reason why the Gamecocks will be in Atlanta for the first time.
--Is this when we ask why Tyler Bray wasn't playing sooner for Tennessee? The freshman, still in need of some sort of weight-gaining formula, has given the Vols a spark that was well beyond much-needed. He might be in the process of saving the Vols' postseason hopes. Wins against Vanderbilt and Kentucky are very doable. Said it last week, but we'll say it again: Bray to Hunter. Get used to that. Bray twice went to freshman Justin Hunter last week for touchdowns.
--The Ughban Meyer offense showed up again -- and at a rather inconvenient time for Florida -- in a game that could have improbably sent the Gators to the SEC title game. Coach Urban Meyer admitted the Gators panicked against South Carolina, getting away from using Trey Burton and Jordan Reed.
--A better question: Why aren't you exclusively using Burton and Reed? John Brantley, we're sure, is a fine football player -- in another system. Being stubborn, rewarding Brantley's loyalty. Say what you want. Brantley doesn't need to be in there. No fault of his own. He was a bad fit in September. He's a bad fit now.
--We're just hopeful no one's injured Thursday when Georgia State and Alabama play one another. Yeesh. Sure, it helps Georgia State with credibility and exposure and all of that. But at what cost? The Panthers are 6-4, some have argued. The six wins? Shorter, Campbell, Morehead State, Savannah State, North Carolina Central (overtime), Lamar.
Please don't hurt them, Bama.
Les said it
"You look at a youthful, and those guys are playing very much veteran." -- LSU's Les Miles on getting to play freshmen in a 51-0 blowout of Louisiana-Monroe.
--It was only a matter of time before Alabama got going again. Don't know you it would love nothing better than to ruin Auburn's season? Next week is the Tide's BCS title game, in effect.
--Wouldn't it fit South Carolina's season to look like dogs against Clemson and then win the SEC title?
--Georgia has a week to heal before a huge ballgame against Georgia Tech. The Bulldogs can ill afford to sit at home during bowl season, something that could hurt big in terms of recruiting.
--Meyer says Steve Addazio will return next season. He's your buddy. We get it. But, c'mon.
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