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SEC Headlines 4/28/12

1. The NCAA chose not to add on to South Carolina’s self-imposed penalties.

2. Once highly-touted quarterback Phillip Sims has decided to transfer from Alabama.

3. Another Alabama defender, this time Courtney Upshaw, went quickly in the NFL draft on Friday.

4. Recruits were paying attention to Alabama’s success in the draft on Thursday night.

5. Here’s a look at the SEC defenders selected in the NFL’s first round.

6. Tony Barnhart of CBSSports.com believes Nick Saban’s team is helping provide hope to Tuscaloosa.

7. One writer believes former Gator Janoris Jenkins – taken by St. Louis - will be the next Pacman Jones.

8. Outside of Jankins, Florida saw its draft drought continue into the second day of the draft.

9. Here’s a preview for Texas A&M’s upcoming spring game at Kyle Field.

10. We’ll get a new look at Texas A&M’s defense on Saturday.

11. Mark Wiedmer of the Chattanooga News-Free Press shows us a nice side of Tennessee coach Derek Dooley.

12. Bill Belichick believes former Arkansas defensive end Jake Bequette will be productive in New England.

13. Arkansas hasn’t had any receivers selected in the draft. That will change today.

14. Matt Hayes of Sporting News believes it’s time for college football to finally land a commissioner.

15. The LSU Board of Supervisors has unanimously approved an expansion of LSU’s Tiger Stadium.

16. SEC coaches can use the NFL draft as a three-day recruiting tool.

17. Former Georgia offensive lineman Cordy Glenn will help where needed in Buffalo.

Extra:

18. Here’s a look at the conference champion only idea for the future BCS.

19. Here’s another preview of Missouri’s offense as it enters the SEC.

20. Vanderbilt coach James Franklin will surely use Casey Heyward’s drafting in recruiting.

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SEC Recruiting Links 4/27/12

1. Georgia basketball coach Mark Fox is confident in his recruiting despite criticism.

2. One prospect who did sign with Georgia is Houston Kessler, who Fox called a “skilled forward.”

3. How important is it for Florida to land basketball prospect Anthony Bennett?

4. Shooting guard Andre Applewhite should complete the spring class for Mississippi State.

5. Why has Vanderbilt’s spring recruiting efforts been a problem for coach Kevin Stallings?

6. Arkansas’ assistants were a key factor in the Razorbacks landing their first commitment for 2013.

7. Could Urban Meyer be starting to make an impact on recruiting in Florida?

8. Michael Carvell of the AJC looks at the top quarterback prospects in the state of Georgia.

9. Point guard Willie Moore took an official visit to South Carolina.

10. Video: Craig Haubert analyzes the linebackers in the initial ESPNU 150 list for the 2013 class.

Alabama commit Reuben Foster is the highest-rated linebacker on the 150 list. Here’s why.

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Basketball Prospect Williams Set To Announce

Forward Troy Williams is expected to announce his decision by next weekend.

Williams, who attends Phoebus High School in Hampton, Va., has narrowed his choices to Kentucky and North Carolina. Williams is ranked the nation’s No. 6 prospect in the class of 2013 by ESPN RecruitingNation.

Forward Derek Willis from Mt. Washington, Ky., is Kentucky’s only commitment for the 2013 class.

Here’s a look at Williams’ game.

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SEC Headlines – 4/27/12

Hate to do this to you, but yours truly has an early doctor’s appointment today.  That means quickie headlines from across the league.  Thanks for your understanding and patience this week.  April’s a busy month for behind-the-scenes business work.  And a doc appointment is just the thing to make it all better.  (Sarcasm.)  Here are the big stories today…

 

1.  With a four-team playoff on the horizon for college football it can now be said that the BCS was killed off by SEC dominance.

2.  Courtney Upshaw surprisingly didn’t make the first round, but that didn’t spoil Alabama’s draft party.

3.  Under Nick Saban, Bama is dominating recruiting season, football season, and draft season.

4.  Gene Chizik says Auburn is just one recruiting class away from solidifying its foundation.

5.  Arkansas interim coach John L. Smith doesn’t want to “goof up” the Hogs’ coaching staff.

6.  New LSU hoops coach Johnny Jones is putting his staff together with some ex-mates from North Texas.

7.  Former Tiger corner Morris Claiborne was stunned the Cowboys traded up to get him.

8.  MSU’s Fletcher Cox is viewed as a “rare guy” by Philadelphia’s front office.

9.  The new faces at Ole Miss are still out drumming up support and pushing fan unity.

10.  Ex-Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill is already dodging comparisons to Dan Marino in Miami.

11.  For the first time since 2006, no Florida Gators were picked in the first round of the NFL’s draft.

12.  Georgia O-lineman Cordy Glenn is still waiting to hear his name called in New York.

13.  So were the 2011-12 Wildcats the best Kentucky basketball team ever?

14.  John Calipari will be calling “Riders up!” at this year’s Kentucky Derby (much to Rick Pitino’s chagrin, I’m sure.)

15.  South Carolina had two picks in last night’s first round… the first time that’s happened since 1981.

16.  Derek Dooley says his Tennessee team’s GPA is now under control.

17.  Vanderbilt’s offensive line is still a work in progress.

18.  Missouri’s spread is about to meet the SEC’s defensive dread.

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“How Do We Know The SEC Is So Good?” Check The NFL Draft Board

Each year there are some fans around the country — many living in Big Ten or Big 12 country — who suggest the SEC is overrated.  In their view, just because a league won a national crown last year… that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best league this year.

Shoot, just because a conference has won six titles back to back to back to back to back to back… that doesn’t mean it’ll be the best conference the next year, either.  At least that’s their story as it’s not their favorite team’s conference that’s won six BCS championships in a row.

Well, for the Doubting Thomases out there from Ann Arbor to Dallas we humbly submit the first round of  last night’s NFL draft as further proof that the Southeastern Conference — love it or hate it — does indeed play the best college football in the nation each season.  The SEC has the best players.

As we showed you yesterday, the SEC has had more players drafted into the NFL each and every spring from 2007 through 2011.  And it’s won shiny, crystal footballs at the end of those seasons to boot, besting teams from the Big Ten and Big 12 twice each for good measure.  So you have two pretty significant sets of evidence there.  On-field results.  Talent out the proverbial wazoo.

That proved to be the case yet again last evening.  Ten players from Mike Slive’s league were picked among the 32 selected in last night’s first round.  Basically one-third of 32 best players in America toiled at what were SEC stadiums last year or will be SEC stadiums this year (counting ex-Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill).

Even more impressive was the fact that nine of the first 18 names called were those of men from the SEC.  Nine of the top eighteen.  Think about that for a second, SEC-haters.  Hell, think about that for a second, SEC-lovers.

Wonder why teams in the Southeastern Conference beat each other up and still get love from computers and poll voters?  There’s Clue #1 for ya.  Playing in the SEC is the closest one can get to playing in the NFL — insert snarky pay-for-play comment here — without yet being in the NFL.

Here’s the breakdown of last night’s first round by power conference:

 

   BCS Conference    First-Round Picks
   SEC    10 (9 without A&M’s Tannehill)
   Big 12    4 (5 with A&M’s Tannehill)
   Big Ten    4
   Pac-12    4
   ACC    3
   Big East    2

 

Even without Tannehill counted as an SEC player — and we did that to show that the SEC is going to be even tougher to win in coming years with Missouri and A&M added to the mix — the conference still nearly doubled its nearest rival league in terms of top o’ the line pro talent.

The best players in the country play in the SEC.  There should be no argument, then, that the best football is played in the SEC as a result.  Sure, one season the best team in the country might come from another league.  That’s why traditional powers like Texas, Florida State, Ohio State, Oklahoma and relative newcomer Oregon have been thrown up against the SEC over the last 14 BCS seasons.  None has ever won that last game against an SEC team, though.  In fact, if you want to see the SEC lose a title game, the best way to insure that is to put it up against another SEC team.  That’s what happened last year as LSU became the first-ever league team to lose a BCS Championship Game… falling to league rival Alabama.

Not surprisingly, those two teams dominated last night’s first round as well.

Alabama had four players selected.  LSU had two.  That’s six first-round picks straight from last year’s BCS title game (not to mention all the future first-rounders who remain at those schools for the moment).

South Carolina had two players selected as well.  Mississippi State had a first-rounder, marking the first time since 1982 and 1983 that State has had first-round picks in back to back years.  Then toss in SEC newcomer A&M to reach 10 picks overall for football’s King of Conferences.

This type of post is not meant to be viewed as gloating.  If the SEC had had three players selected you can be sure we’d be discussing what’s gone wrong with the league’s talent pool.  No, instead this little blurb is put forth to further undermine the sourpuss argument spoken by those who’ve grown tired of hearing “SEC this” and “SEC that” each fall.

From the BCS computers to the people voting in the national polls to the scouts, GMs and coaches of the National Football League… everyone’s clearly aware that the best players and the best football are played Down South.

It’s a fact.  Accept it.  Oh, and there’s little sign of that fact changing anytime soon, either.

 

   SEC School    First-Round Pick   Position Drafted    NFL Team
   Alabama    T. Richardson (RB)    3    Browns
   LSU    M. Claiborne (CB)    6    Cowboys
   Alabama    M. Barron (S)    7    Buccaneers
   Texas A&M    R. Tannehill (QB)    8    Dolphins
   S. Carolina    S. Gilmore (CB)    10    Bills
   Miss. State    F. Cox (DT)    12    Eagles
   LSU    M. Brockers (DT)    14    Rams
   Alabama    D. Kirkpatrick (CB)    17    Bengals
   S. Carolina    M. Ingram (DE)    18    Chargers
   Alabama    D. Hightower (LB)    25    Patriots

 

Congrats to those SEC players drafted last night.  And good luck to all those who still hope to hear their names called today and tomorrow.

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Brentwood Quarterback Calls Alabama ‘Best In The Country’

Alabama will have a good chance of landing Max Staver if it decides to offer the quarterback from Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy.

Staver, whose offer list includes Mississippi State, Louisville and Tennessee State, recently visited Alabama’s campus and plans to throw in front of Tide coaches in the future. Staver told ESPN RecruitingNation that Alabama is one of his top two schools despite the absence of an offer.

“It’s obvious it’s the best (program) right now in the country,” Staver said of Alabama. “I think the depth chart is favorable right now for a 2013 quarterback to come in.”

He’s right. Alabama is still looking for its first quarterback commitment for the class of 2013.

But the Crimson Tide could soon be facing more competition for Staver, who’s being recruited by Auburn, Tennessee, Duke, Florida State, Purdue and Virginia.

Staver believes his ability will show he deserves more offers than the three he currently holds.

“I see all these quarterbacks on the internet, and everybody’s talking big about them,” Staver told ESPN. “I’m only a two- or three-star on most things, but I’ve been to camps and competed against a lot of guys who are four-stars, and I’ve whooped their (butt), basically.”

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A&M’s Byrne Addresses His Imminent Departure

Last week, Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin confirmed that which had been rumored to be true in College Station for months — that athletic director Bill Byrne was on his way out.

Byrne has been at A&M since 2002, but it’s believed he was not fully onboard with so many other members of Aggie Nation regarding his school’s move from the Big 12 to the SEC.  Making matters worse for Byrne, one of his top lieutenants was caught posting insulting remarks about Loftin — Byrne’s boss — on an A&M messageboard late last year.

Oops.

So it was only a matter of time before Loftin and Byrne went their separate ways – perhaps they’ll play some air keyboards together – and that time is drawing nigh.  Loftin said last week that he and Byrne are continuing to work out a plan that would allow Byrne to transition into a new role at the school until his contract expires in 2013.

Yesterday, Byrne posted the following as part of a weekly column to Texas A&M fans:

 

“I’m hearing from a few of you who were surprised to learn last Friday I was at a point of transition from my role as Athletic Director at Texas A&M. President Loftin announced it after a workshop on conference realignment last Friday in The Zone Club.  As I enter the last period of my contract, President Loftin and I continue to work together to continue the tradition of excellence of Aggie Athletics.

“I’ve been looking forward to my life after athletics.  I will be right there with all of you rooting for our teams and watching Texas A&M strive for championships.  This is a wonderful time at Texas A&M and I look forward to announcing, with President Loftin’s support, my next steps.”

 

We still believe Byrne will be given a parting gift in the form of cash and will be long gone by the time any new AD takes over at A&M.

 

(Sidenote — Hopefully all Aggie fans are now happy with the tweaked, darker tone of A&M’s itty-bitty button/banner up top.)

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Hog QB Wilson Says Golf Helps Him On The Gridiron

Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson figures to put some big numbers in Bobby Petri — wait — John L. Smith’s offense this fall.  Big enough numbers to be considered a Heisman candidate heading into the season.  In addition, some NFL insiders have said pro scouts would have loved for him to have come out of school a year early as part of this year’s draft class.

But while it’s football that will one day pay his bills (quite well, in all likelihood), it’s golf that Wilson credits for helping him with this gridiron game:

 

“I think that golf and football, it’s so funny how they correlate because you have to focus for every shot in golf.  You have to focus on every single play and if you have a little bit of lack of focus you might not be where you need to be.

So, that’s what’s awesome, I think, is that I can play a sport I enjoy and it correlates to football as well as coming out here and continuing to work on the things I need to work on, which is footwork and the continual knowledge of the game.”

 

No word on whether or not he enters the huddle muttering things like this to himself:

 

Caddy Shack Cinderella Story Bill Murray

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SEC Headlines – 4/26/12

Quickie day of headlines today — more business meetings — but here’s what’s happening around the conference:

 

1.  This fine writer says college football’s new playoff needs a selection committee.  (That means it’s one of the few times we find ourselves disagreeing with him.)

2.  If the Georgia Dome is demolished — which is a possibility — a retractable roof dome could house the SEC Championship Game.

3.  Need more evidence of “The Nick Saban Effect?”  Bama was completely shut out of the NFL draft just four years ago.  Tonight, they’ll practically own it.

4.  Brandon Moseley will likely be Auburn’s first drafted player this week.  (Meaning in this week’s draft… obviously the Tigers have had a few folks drafted in prior years.  Hyuck-hyuck.)

5.  SEC coaches have good things to say about John L. Smith’s appointment at Arkansas.

6.  Les Miles was a last minute scratch for an LSU booster party last night due to a “a team and personnel matter.”  (Can we call him “No-Show” like The Possum?)

7.  Ole Miss offensive lineman Bobby Massie is hoping his decision to leave school early pays off tonight.

8.  MSU defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, meanwhile, is a sure-fire first-rounder.  (It’s likely, then, that State will have first-round picks in back-to-back years for the first time since the early-80s.)

9.  Texas A&M will open the 2013 football season against old SWC foe Rice.

10.  Florida’s talent dip in football will be revealed beginning tonight.

11.  Georgia answered some — but not all — questions this spring.

12.  Some ex-Kentucky players are hoping for some NFL love this week.

13.  South Carolina defensive line coach Brad Lawing helped turn around the attitude and career of Melvin Ingram.

14.  Tennessee is cutting back on the number of walk-ons Cuonzo Martin can carry on his basketball team.

15.  After a season of butting heads, James Franklin and quarterback Jordan Rodgers are now on the same page at Vanderbilt.

16.  Missouri’s Frank Haith has promoted Tim Fuller to the role of associate head coach.

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School By School: Which SEC Programs Produce The Most NFL Draft Picks

So which SEC schools crank out the most NFL draft picks?  How have those numbers changed over the last 20 years?  Who’s on a talent upswing?  Who’s not?

Below we’ve gone back over the past 20 years worth of NFL drafts.  We’ve tallied up the number of selections for each SEC school — including newbies Missouri and Texas A&M — and listed them for you in five-year intervals.  In the far right column, you’ll also see the number of total players selected from 1992 through 2011 (as well as the average number of players picked from each school each year).

When looking at the numbers, keep in mind that the NFL had 12 rounds of picks in 1992 and eight in 1993.  Since 1994, the draft has lasted but seven rounds.  In other words, the numbers from the first five-year period will be a bit inflated.  Still, for a pure school-by-school comparison, those numbers are worth including.

We’ll list the schools in alphabetical order just for the sake of easy reading.  Here goes:

 

   School    1992-1996    1997-2001    2002-2006    2007-2011    Total Draft Picks
   Alabama    26    14    22    19    81 (4.05)
   Arkansas    5    13    11    15    44 (2.20)
   Auburn    15    14    16    19    64 (3.20)
   Florida    25    26    27    27    105 (5.25)
   Georgia    14    23    32    25    94 (4.70)
   Kentucky    10    9    5    9    33 (1.65)
   LSU    9    14    26    30    79 (3.95)
   Miss. State    15    17    7    7    46 (2.30)
   Missouri    4    5    7    13    29 (1.45)
   Ole Miss    11    9    10    11    41 (2.05)
   S. Carolina    7    6    16    14    43 (2.15)
   Tennessee    30    31    30    18    109 (5.45)
   Texas A&M    25    22    14    9    70 (3.50)
   Vanderbilt    2    8    4    6    20 (1.00)

 

Observations:

 

* What’s now being called “The Nick Saban Effect” is absolutely massive.  Look at LSU pre-2002 (Saban arrived in 2000) and post-2002.  Toss in the numbers from what are expected to be big drafts for LSU and Alabama this year and his legendary production of NFL-caliber athletes will only grow further.  The guy is simply the best at luring in pro prospects and helping them reach their potential.  He turned LSU from an also-ran into a recruiting dynamo and he’s re-established Bama as a signing day juggernaut.  (Kudos as well to Les Miles who’s kept the production line on the Bayou running quite smoothly since Saban’s departure, by the way.)

* Mark Richt has made a pretty big difference at Georgia.  Even with some longer drafts in the early-90s, pre-Richt Georgia didn’t produce nearly the amount of talent that Richt has.  He may not have a national title, but there’s a reason he’s won two SEC crowns and just played for another.

* Woe is Tennessee.  The Vols still rank tops in the SEC in draft picks over the last 20 years, but the drop-off from the end of the Phillip Fulmer era to now is quite evident.  Blowing up the roster with two coaching changes in three years will do that for you.  But, boy, did Johnny Majors and Fulmer have things rolling in the 90s?

* Florida has been the SEC’s model of consistency.  Until now.  The Gators could conceivably have just one player drafted this week, proving that — as has been the case at Tennessee — attrition follows coaching changes.

* For Dan Mullen to actually cash in on some of the momentum/excitement he built early in his tenure at Mississippi State, he’s going to need to start signing and producing more NFL-caliber players.  Depending on how the Bulldogs do in this year’s draft, we might actually see a step in that direction.

* Steve Spurrier gets a world of credit for improving South Carolina’s roster — and deservedly so — but Lou Holtz should be remembered for starting the ball rolling in terms of talent-production in Columbia.  He didn’t get a lot of wins with ‘em, but Holtz improved the type of athletes Carolina signed.  Spurrier has raised the bar even higher since taking over for his friend.

* Texas A&M could produce a number of picks in this week’s draft, but the overall decline of talent in College Station is scary.  Mike Sherman helped replenish the roster and Kevin Sumlin may well  reap the rewards, but it’s hard to believe that the #2 legacy program in the talent-rich state of Texas has only produced 23 draft picks over the last 10 NFL drafts.  Talk about underachieving.

* Missouri has had fewer players drafted into the NFL than Kentucky since 1992.  Think about that for a second.  But now look at the upswing that’s been created during the Gary Pinkel era.  Clearly, he’s improved the Tigers’ roster.  Heck, Mizzou was ranked #1 in the nation late in 2007… so there’s some more proof for the MU skeptics.  But if Pinkel is to compete for SEC championships, he’ll need more pro prospects coming to the Show-Me State.

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