SDS Mailbag: Inspiring struggling teams, best student sections and a Parks and Rec/Office crossover
This week was my wife’s, my dog’s and my cat’s birthday. They are all different ages, of course, but this has been quite a week at the Spencer household.
Meanwhile, my birthday isn’t until March (the 15th, if you want to send presents/cards), so I’m feeling a bit left out. Fortunately, college basketball also returned this week. Basically, it has been a pretty great week.
So, as I continue to celebrate birthday week at my house, let’s dive into your questions for this week’s SDS Mailbag:
Illinois invited legend Dick Butkus back for Homecoming against undefeated Wisconsin (who was a 31-point favorite). The Illini were 2-4 at the time and have gone 3-0 since then. Which SEC teams should make similar moves to inspire struggling squads?
First of all, how about Lovie Smith and those Illinois Fighting Illini? What an impressive turnaround it has been for the squad. Butkus clearly deserves most of the credit for the Illini getting back on the winning track.
There are six SEC teams with sub-.500 overall records this season, so let’s focus on those squads. Whom should they bring back to honor and give the players a pep talk? Let’s take a look (Note: I realize my choices skew a bit more recent than the Dick Butkus era):
- Arkansas (2-7) — Sadly, legendary coach Frank Broyles is no longer with us. Also, legendary RB Darren McFadden is actually around the program a lot, and it doesn’t seem to be making much of an impact. Let’s go with Hunter Henry, I guess? He could give his brother Hudson some motivation now that TE CJ O’Grady is no longer with the program.
- Vanderbilt (2-6) — Jay Cutler probably wouldn’t be much for pep talks, so we’ll have to go in a different direction. Let’s go with Kyle Shurmur. The Commodores could use someone to give this beaten-up QB corps a mental boost.
- Ole Miss (3-6) — I don’t know about you, but I don’t think Eli Manning would give a great pep talk. You know who would? Swag Kelly. Get him back in Oxford and let him (and maybe Marshall Henderson) speak with the team. Then the Rebels would instantly become the bad boys of the SEC again.
- Mississippi State (4-5) — Dak Prescott is the obvious choice here. He had the Bulldogs at No. 1 in the first-ever CFP rankings, and he is currently working his way to a huge contract with the Dallas Cowboys. He could teach these Bulldogs a thing or two about winning.
- Tennessee (4-5) — As bad as Eli might be at pep talks, I’d bet Peyton Manning is that much better. Have y’all seen Peyton’s Places on ESPN+? That show is great, and Peyton is a natural speaker. Coach Jeremy Pruitt … is not. Peyton could give this team the pep talk its coach can’t.
- South Carolina (4-5) — We could go with Jadeveon Clowney or Stephen Garcia or Alshon Jeffery. Another obvious choice would be Marcus Lattimore. He was so popular during his time at South Carolina and went through so much in his college and pro careers. However, he’s already on staff with the Gamecocks. Let’s choose Sterling Sharpe instead. Sharpe played with Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers and knows a thing or two about winning at the highest levels. He’d be a great source of inspiration for these Gamecocks.
Would any of these guys have the impact Butkus so clearly had on the Illini? There’s only one way to find out. Bring these former players back!
Which SEC schools have the best basketball and football student sections?
They’re not a student section, per se, so they don’t technically count, but I want to give a shout-out to The Antlers at Mizzou. Yes, they can be a bit vulgar at times (that’s kind of their thing), but those guys are there every single game, rain or shine, to support the men’s and women’s basketball teams.
For a basketball student section, though, I’m going to have to go with the Rowdy Reptiles at Florida. Yes, Florida basketball has really only come onto the main stage since 2000, but the fans have been showing up in force. With Kerry Blackshear Jr. in town this year, it could be another special season, so expect the fans to continue to provide support for Mike White’s squad.
For a football student section, I’ll go with LSU. Death Valley gets absolutely rocking on Saturday nights. It has proven to be quite the atmosphere for the Tigers, and it is a great home-field advantage. Runner-up honors go to Texas A&M. I mean, they literally make the press box rock there at Kyle Field.
If you had to swap one character from “Parks and Rec” with one character from “The Office,” who would it be and why?
In my opinion, this depends on whether you want to change the dynamic of the shows. If you want to keep both shows relatively the same, you could swap Kevin for Jerry/Larry/Gary and not make much of an impact on the story arcs.
However, if you ask me what the most interesting change would be, I’d say it would be fun to see Ben and Jim switch places. Pam would totally go for a lovable nerd like Ben. It would be harder to get Leslie to go for a laid-back guy like Jim, but it’s not completely out of the question. Jim can be pretty motivated when he has interest in the subject matter.
Meanwhile, the most catastrophic change would be Michael Scott for Ron Swanson. Ron and Michael have very different styles, and it would change the whole tone of both shows if Michael brought his goofy attitude to Pawnee and Ron brought his strict no-nonsense style to Scranton.
If you had to beat a randomly selected American in a game, do you pick bowling, darts or ping-pong?
“Randomly selected” is tough here. If it was “average” American, I’d have to go with ping-pong, because of the three, that probably requires the most … dare I say it … athleticism? And coordination. I’m pretty coordinated, and actually pretty good at ping-pong, too.
I’d probably go with ping-pong and then hope that the “random American” wasn’t someone like Serena Williams, some sort of American ping-pong champion or my old roommate Coop.
If the randomly selected American was either a 90-year-old or a baby, though, I’d like my chances in all three games.
BONUS: Dobbe’s Locks of the Week went a surprising 2-1 last week. Could this be the start of a turnaround? Here are Dobbe’s picks for this weekend’s games:
- Wyoming (+13) at Boise State — As a Mizzou fan, I respect this Wyoming team. The biggest factor in this decision is Boise State going with all-black uniforms despite not having black in its color scheme.
- LSU at Alabama (under 63) — Honestly, this is a reverse jinx. Since I’m wrong so much, let’s hope this means we get some fireworks from Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa. However, these coaches are going to be prepared. We know that much.
- San Jose State at Hawai’i (over 76.5) — Two hot offenses and two bad defenses. Hawai’i overs have hit in four straight games.
Dobbe’s Locks of the Week 2019 record: 12-19-1
Have a question for next week’s Mailbag? Tweet at us using #SDSMailbag or email me at ASpencer@SaturdayDownSouth.com.