By Mark Wallace Maguire

Well, it’s that time of year again. For good or bad, your annual football column from yours truly. Half-hopeful, half tongue firmly in cheek, but 100 percent all killer, no filler. If you want the hard stats and numbers, you may want to look to Phil Steele or Sports Illustrated, but if you want an earnest fan’s perspective, I got you covered.

1. CAN I FORGIVE THE FALCONS? You can’t live in the past, but our Dirty Birds have a history of passing on great draft picks. I still cannot believe they overlooked Todd Gurley II last year and used their fifth pick on Vic Beasley. You could say I am just being a UGA homer, except for the fact that Mr. Gurley won a little award called, “NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.” Yep, his over 1,000 yards rushing might not have salvaged the Falcons season, but it would have provided some must-see TV for the Falcons and boosted the mega market called sports merchandising with fans throughout the state wearing his jersey.

2. MULLET POWER? Oklahoma State Coach Mike Gundy is an interesting coach. I think he is a solid coach and runs a fun offense to watch. He is also – in case anyone forgot – the one who chewed out a reporter with the tirade along the lines of, “If you want to go after somebody [don’t go after my players], go after me. I’m a man, I’m 40.” But, this year, things are getting strange in Stillwater. Gundy debuted a mini-mullet at a press conference this summer. What is it with the mini-mullet? Too much Joel Osteen in that part of the country? Is Gundy going all 1980s on us? Will he unveil an old school Wishbone attack, sport a Swatch Watch or make his team wear half-top jerseys next?

3. BOOM! So Will ‘Boom’ Muschamp, the mercurial hot-headed former-coordinator-former-head coach-former-coach-in-waiting-former coordinator, is now the head coach of South Carolina. He has a reputation of losing his patience, making amazing contorted faces and, last year as an assistant coach at Auburn, getting his team penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct during a game. Let’s see if Boom cam improve on that this year. I really hope to see him get tossed out of a game this year as a head coach. I would really like to see it happen pro-wrestling style with him getting escorted off the field and then coming back onto the field with a chair and perhaps with a fog machine churning or a laser show.

4. IN THE NICK OF TIME: Here’s hoping UGA Running Back Nick Chubb stays healthy and has a good year. I think our culture has bought into the belief that every player can come back from an injury and be as good as they were before, but that is a tough, tough task, especially for the multiple knee injuries Chubb sustained. But, if Chubb can do half of what he did pre-injury, stay healthy and land a professional contract, I will be happy for this young man who exhibits great character and work ethic on and off the field.

5. BAMA BUSTS: Okay, before any of you Alabama fans goes crazy and sends met hate mail, let me get something straight. I do not hate Alabama. I do not want to fight you. I am just weary of Bama winning national championships year after year after year. I would love to see some upsets of the Mighty Tide this year just to mix things up. Of course, if Bama loses, we do want to keep the losses inside the conference right? How about Mississippi State or Texas A&M? The Burgundy Beat Up?

And finally, here is your one guaranteed win for the year:

Maguire’s Super Smoked Chicken Recipe:

You can add your own particulars to this, but the keys are brining and a decent charcoal grill or smoker.

Take two young chickens. Remove giblets and innards. Brine in huge Ziploc freezer bag overnight. Brine should be a mix of 1/2 water, 1/2 Dale’s Seasoning Sauce. Feel free to toss in whatever else you want. I generally will put in some fresh rosemary sprigs, salt, assorted spices and maybe a dash of another liquid sauce such as Soy. Do not brine in barbecue sauce or a heavy ketchup-based sauce as they will not absorb into the meat as well and will burn when placed on the grill.

On game day, prepare grill and/or smoker. I use a mix of 1/3 charcoal, 1/3 wood chips and 1/3 Cowboy Lump charcoal. Let the embers gray out, then push them to one side of the smoker. Place chickens to the other side of the grill. You want to cook them with indirect heat. Cover. Experts say the key to a great chicken is to let it smoke on low heat for a long time. I generally cook mine between an hour and an hour and a half. I recommend longer, but, with two boys, I simply don’t have the luxury to cook out all day while also keeping an eye on the lads.

Check your chicken occasionally, but not too often or the heat and smoke will escape. If the heat appears to be dying out, toss on some more wood chips. But remember, despite how cooked they appear, make sure to use a temperature gauge to ensure your chickens are ready before taking off the grill.

When the chicken is ready, take off the grill. Let the chicken sit for 10 minutes or so, then get after it.

Enjoy your fall.


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