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SEC Notebook: Mixing politics and football
Regardless of the subject, James Carville has an opinion
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James Carville is worried about his beloved LSU Tigers.

Carville is one of the best known political consultants and commentators in the country. The Ragin’ Cajun is also about as big an LSU fan as you’ll find and he’s concerned the talented Tigers lack focus.

"They could be one of the best college football teams ever," he said in a recent telephone interview. "They’re lacking right now. They can be sloppy. They can make mistakes.

"They’re good and they know it. They strike me as a team that plays as hard as they have too."

Carville, who became a political pop star after helping Bill Clinton get elected president in 1992, is as opinionated about sports — especially college football — as he is about politics.

He does a weekly sports talk show on XM Satellite Radio with Luke Russert called 60/20 sports, which airs Fridays at 8 a.m. EST. Carville is 63 years old and Russert is 21, hence the name of the show.

Carville is about as big a fan of the Bowl Championship Series as he is of the electoral college — that is to say not a fan at all.

The difference between the two:

"With the electoral college, great and noble people came up with a bad idea. The BCS was created by greedy, bad people who came up with an evil idea."

Carville grew up about 25 miles away from Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge. His family has had season tickets in the southeast end zone for decades. Carville said he watched Billy Cannon’s famous punt return for a touchdown that beat Mississippi in 1959 from those seats.

The Tigers have provided plenty of excitement for Carville and the rest of their fans this season. They won their first five games going away, but since then it’s been one heart-stopper after another, including last Saturday’s come-from-behind victory over Alabama.

LSU scored two touchdowns late in the fourth quarter to beat the Crimson Tide — and former LSU coach Nick Saban — 41-34 in Tuscaloosa.

"These last four games have been about as exciting as any sporting event I’ve seen," Carville said.

The lone loss this season for the Tigers came in triple overtime at Kentucky last month, a 43-37 thriller. Carville said he had a bad feeling about that game and he’s starting to get the same uneasy feeling about LSU’s game against Arkansas on Nov. 23.

"I’m scared to death of Arkansas," he said. "(Darren) McFadden is the best college running back since Jim Brown."

All black

Georgia’s fans are being asked to wear black to the Bulldogs’ game Saturday against Auburn, but coach Mark Richt says he isn’t sure of the reason.

Richt announced at his weekly news conference that the seniors had made the request. He compiled by passing it along.

"I asked them why, and they said it would be cool and a great sign of unity," Richt said.

Junior tight end Tripp Chandler said he supports the attire suggestion.

"This could be something really cool if everyone participates," Chandler said. "Fans have to commit to it though. We can’t have just students doing it or just the alumni or half and half. Everybody has to do it."


Tennessee’s offensive package that places backup wide receiver Gerald Jones behind center has been dubbed the "G-Gun" by some.

In the play, Jones, who played quarterback in high school, takes the direct snap and runs. The Vols tried the G-Gun on Saturday late in the game against Louisiana-Lafayette, and Jones ran 20 yards on two carries, including a 12-yard touchdown run.

Quarterback Erik Ainge said he’s not afraid to line up at receiver, as backup quarterback Jonathan Crompton did Saturday.

"I told Gerald (on Monday), ‘If they don’t guard me, you better throw me the ball.’ I played basketball in high school, I’ll just post him up," Ainge said of facing a defensive back.

Offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe wouldn’t mind seeing Ainge go one-on-one with a defensive back.

"Let’s see if he wants to take that on. Erik’s a 6-6, 225-pound guy. He knows how to take care of himself. I’d be interested to see how that matchup went," Cutcliffe said.

Ainge said he doesn’t foresee the G-Gun playing a big role in the No. 22 Vols (6-3, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) overall offensive scheme Saturday against Arkansas (6-3, 2-3), who runs a similar scheme with running back Darren McFadden, who’s been known to throw for a few touchdowns.

"He can get a big play if you spring it on somebody when they’re not expecting it," Ainge said.

"But I think we’ll just keep doing what we’ve been doing."

Hardy return

Mississippi defensive end Greg Hardy could return for Ole Miss’ Nov. 17 game against No. 2 LSU.

Coach Ed Orgeron said this week he might lift Hardy’s indefinite suspension for violation of team rules this weekend.

"I’ll review his situation," Orgeron said. "I gave him certain things to follow. I’ve been tracking it closely, and so far he’s been perfect. I’ve talked to him and his parents, and things are going very well."

Hardy is a rising young star in the SEC. He’s been out two straight games because of the suspension, yet still leads the league in sacks (eight) and tackles for loss (1.94 per game).

Orgeron wouldn’t reveal what rules Hardy broke, but said later the sophomore did not do anything illegal.

Record in sight

Mississippi State’s Wes Carroll is two attempts shy of the NCAA freshman record for passes without an interception to start a career.

Coach Sylvester Croom lauded Carroll for his performance so far and said offensive coordinator Woody McCorvey deserves recognition as well. The assistant has had to start three quarterbacks in each of the last two season because of injuries.

"It’s gone unnoticed, but for two years we’ve been in this situation and I don’t think anybody has had to deal with this more than he has," Croom said. "For two years now our quarterback situation hasn’t been stable and he has battled through it and has gotten whoever’s left ready to play. And he has done an outstanding job."

Carroll was third on the depth chart when the season began. But after injuries sacked starter Michael Henig (hand) and backup Josh Riddell (knee), Carroll took the job and won’t let it go. He has completed 54.7 percent of his passes for 702 yards and four touchdowns with a pass efficiency rating of 107.42.

With two pass attempts against No. 21 Alabama, he’ll pass Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy’s record of 138 without an interception. Gundy set the record playing for the Cowboys in 1986.


The SEC players of the week were Arkansas tailback Darren McFadden, who tied the league record with 321 yards rushing against South Carolina, LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey and Alabama punt returner Javier Arenas.

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