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Teams bring circus to SEC

When Arkansas and South Carolina were added to the Southeastern Conference, we were told the league was picking up new fan bases, storied traditions and talented teams. Nobody mentioned the SEC was also getting a circus sideshow.

Between them, the Razorbacks and Gamecocks are 2-9. But porous play is only a small part of the story.

Arkansas took center ring early on by firing its coach before he even got on the field against an SEC team. A couple of weeks later, the Razorbacks hired NCAA antagonist Danny Ford as a special consultant.

Now, South Carolina has brought its act into the spotlight. Gamecock players reportedly voted overwhelmingly this week that coach Sparky Woods should resign. But before they could even get their resolution out of the locker room, Woods barged in to find out what was going on.

Crank up the calliope.

Woods says he will not resign and claims things have gotten back to normal in South Carolina. The problem, he said, is some seniors on the team misinterpreted a newspaper report as being critical of them.

The article contended that South Carolina's nine-game losing streak _ the longest in Division I _ was due to its small number of fourth- and fifth-year seniors. Woods pointed out that the 1988 recruiting class was hampered by steroid allegations at the school and the 1989 recruiting class was signed just days after the death of coach Joe Morrison.

"The story didn't say the players from those years were bad, it just said that they're not here," Woods said. "Of the 22 we signed in '88, only seven are left. There were 20 in '89 and nine are left."

First vs. First: On the surface, indicators look good for No. 4 Alabama in Saturday's game against 13th-ranked Tennessee. The Crimson Tide has the nation's third-longest winning streak, has beaten its opponents by an average of 30-6 this season and has won six straight against the Volunteers.

But remember this: Alabama has yet to be tested this season. None of the Tide's first six opponents had a winning record. Combined, those teams are 12-21.

While the game is an interdivision matchup in the SEC, it holds plenty of importance for both sides. A Tennessee win would eliminate virtually every team in the Eastern Division except Georgia. An Alabama win would give it at least a two-game lead on everybody but Mississippi State.

Late bloomers: LSU may have the best fourth-quarter offense in the SEC. Unfortunately, the Tigers aren't real hot in the first three quarters.

Of the 109 points LSU has scored this season, 58 have come in the final period.

Between the numbers: Mississippi State safety Kelvin Knight has eight interceptions in his career. Five have come against Auburn quarterback Stan White. Georgia tailback Garrison Hearst is averaging 7.5 yards per carry. The SEC record for backs with at least 200 rushes in a season is 6.4 set by Bo Jackson in 1985. Florida safety Will White had nine interceptions in his first 17 games as a starter. He has four in UF's past 17 games.

Testy Gamecocks: Some South Carolina fans are touting Ford _ the former Clemson coach and current Arkansas consultant _ to replace Woods as coach. Bumper stickers have shown up in Columbia, S.C., that read: "You may have to drive a Ford to get out of the Woods."