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SEC Headlines 7/24/12

1. Georgia coach Mark Richt said the Bulldogs are interested in Penn State’s players.

2. Georgia AD Greg McGarity hopes lessons are learned from the Penn State story.

3. Some schools have already begun aggressively pursuing some of Penn State’s players.

4. One SEC school started its pursuit Monday morning, according to ESPN’s Mark Schlabach.

5. If a school wants to land Penn State running back Silas Redd, it will likely have to battle Southern Cal.

6. Ole Miss tight end Jamal Mosley has been suspended after another arrest.

7. Here’s a sneak peek of Mississippi State’s new football uniforms.

8. Will Mississippi State pursue Penn State players? Here’s an early look.

9. Michigan – Alabama’s opening opponent – has suspended its starting running back.

10. Will Auburn see Clemson’s star wide receiver Sammy Watkins in the opener?

11. Here’s a podcast with SEC coaches Gene Chizik, Gary Pinkel and Kevin Sumlin.

12. Tennessee coach Derek Dooley knows why people speculate about his job.

13. LSU coach Les Miles is showing confidence in quarterback Zach Mettenberger.

14. South Carolina basketball forward Carlton Geathers will have right knee surgery.

15. Florida coach Will Muschamp will go through the “Car Wash” at ESPN on Tuesday.

16. Some Penn State players will decide to leave. Here are some possibilities.

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Fulmer Would Have ‘Jumped All Over’ Arkansas Job

Former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer’s name surfaced last month in connection with the Arkansas coaching job after the Razorbacks fired Bobby Petrino.

Doug Matthews – a former Tennessee assistant coach and friend of Fulmer – told WGFX-FM in Nashville that communication had been made by Arkansas with Fulmer, who denied at the time having been contacted by the Razorbacks.

Arkansas, of course, decided to hire John L. Smith, who served as an assistant in Fayetteville from 2009-11 before leaving for a brief stint as Weber State’s head coach.

But Fulmer, who was selected to the College Football Hall of Fame on Tuesday, made it clear he would have been very interested in coaching at Arkansas had the Razorbacks offered him the position.

“The Arkansas job I would have jumped all over,” Fulmer said Tuesday during an interview on WGFX. “That was a really special situation and a really good team and had a chance. And that’s what I’ve said all along – I’m looking for an opportunity you can go compete for championships. At this stage in my career, I’m not looking for a dead end somewhere.

“I miss coaching. I also enjoy time with my family and children and grandchildren and all those things and the business that I’m in. Once you’ve done it for as long as I have, you have a passion for young people and the competition and all those things. You obviously miss it.”

Fulmer, who told WGFX that Arkansas officials spoke to his representatives, said he recognized why the Razorbacks went with Smith.

“I certainly understand the familiarity with John L. was a good thing for them as it turns out and I hope he does well,” Fulmer said.

Fulmer is more than familiar with Tennessee having served as a player, assistant coach and head coach at the school. He was asked if he could see himself returning to the school in an administrative or other role in the future.

“You never say never in the athletics world,” Fulmer said. “Today is kind of more of a day to celebrate what all we accomplished as a staff and as an organization during that time and not really to reflect on what could be somewhere down the road. Tennessee is my school and I love it dearly and the people that had anything to do with my leaving Tennessee are not there any longer and we’ll see what happens.”

Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart appears hopeful that Fulmer’s presence on campus will be more frequent. He was asked Tuesday during the school’s caravan stop if he would like to see Fulmer around the program more often in the future.

“Absolutely, and that’s what I’ve stressed to him,” Hart said.

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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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Hogs’ Long Draws Praise From QB Wilson; Shows That Ex-Coaches As A.D.s Can Still Make Sense

Since pulling the trigger on the Bobby Petrino dismissal two weeks ago, Arkansas AD Jeff Long has received support from the vast majority of the Razorback fanbase, from some cash-tossing big boosters, and now from members of the UA football team.

Because of Long’s willingness to talk with the team about the situation, quarterback Tyler Wilson has been singing the praises of his school’s AD:


“He acted like he was the man in charge, and he is.  I appreciate that from him.  He’s an athletic director, not a football coach, but he has been (a coach) in the past.  I think that’s great.  I’m proud of the leadership he’s displayed.  Absolutely.”


Wilson brings up an interesting point.  As athletic departments have evolved into multimillion dollar business entities, more and more of the men (and women) running those departments have come up through the sales, marketing or accounting ranks.  There are fewer and fewer ex-coaches at the tops of big-time athletic departments today because schools want proven business people overseeing what amounts to big business.  Hard to blame them.

But in situations like this with Petrino — scandals, coaching changes, etc — it’s probably good to have an ex-coach at the helm.  Long knows how to talk to a team.  He knows what the men (or women) in a locker room are looking for in terms of answers from him. 

Long has proven to be the best of both worlds for UA — an ex-coach (at Miami of Ohio, Rice, Duke, NC State and Michigan) and a seasoned administrator.  This seems to be especially true in terms of dealing with the current football team in the midst of this current upheaval.

Now if he can just find the right coach to finish what Petrino started.

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Enough Already: More Docs Released In Petrino Scandal

Bobby Petrino had an affair.  He also lied to his boss and hired his mistress and tried to cover-up who was with him during a motorcycle crash… but the big news is he had an affair!  Oooooh.  Scandalous.

And that’s why there’s still a big dig going on for any document tied in any way to Petrino’s ouster from Arkansas.  Late yesterday, the University of Arkansas released 300 pages from the personnel file of its ex-coach following a Freedom of Information Act request.  A full 131 of the pages were added during the review that eventually led to the coach’s ouster earlier this month.

In the notes we basically learn three things:


* Jessica Dorrell was more forthcoming than Petrino.

* Petrino tried to deny everything right up until the end.

* AD Jeff Long was skeptical of Petrino from the beginning of the process and he didn’t find many of the coach’s answers to his questions to be believable.


Aside from that, most of the info that’s being talked about today regards the affair – when did it start, when did it end, did it ever really end, etc.  And that’s where I lose interest.  When Petrino first kissed Dorrell doesn’t matter nearly as much to this writer as does the fact that he hired the woman and gave her $20,000 in gifts. 

The AP’s version of the story actually includes this bit:


“At one point last October, Petrino and Dorrell were sitting in a car, eating lunch and talking and ‘she said are you going to kiss me,’ according to Long’s notes of his April 10 conversation with Petrino.”


Ah, important to know.

We said we’d cover the news of this story when it first broke.  For soap opera coverage, you can find plenty of other outlets.  Paul Finebaum, for example, has had a bevy of sex experts and urologists on to discuss ED and sexual addictions.  Ha-ha.  Several lives are ruined so let’s all laugh about it.  (Until of course we’re the ones caught with our flies open and then we have to beg for forgiveness and mercy and understanding.)

Eventually this story was going to bring out the gawker in all of us.  That’s happening now. 

We know why Petrino was fired.  We know why Dorrell is gone, too.  Sorry, but I don’t care to know how many dinners or evenings the two shared together before were exited from the UA campus.

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Fulmer Backpeddles, Carroll Pushes Mariucci For Hogs Gig

Jeff Long must have one of those big, spinning prize wheels behind his desk.  Arkansas’ AD is now into Week Two of his coaching search and no one’s really sure what he’s planning to do:


* Leave interim coach Taver Johnson in place for the fall?

* Promote another interim coach from the current staff?

* Go outside and find a caretaker interim like ex-Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer?

* Chase a man with ties to the Hogs like new UAB coach Garrick McGee?

* Or just go all out and make the biggest possible splash he can make right this instant?


If he’s looking to make the biggest splash, he certainly did a cannonball yesterday.  KFSM-TV in Fayetteville reported yesterday that Long had reached out to one-time Hog grad assistant Pete Carroll regarding the Razorbacks’ job. 

Yes, the same Carroll who reportedly makes $7 million per year with the Seattle Seahawks.  The same Carroll who ditched Southern Cal after captaining that ship right into an NCAA iceberg that’s going to leave the Trojans a full 30 scholarships down over the next few years.

Sure, sounds like just the type of guy to clean up Bobby Petrino’s mess.

Carroll actually replied to the story on Twitter, pushing ex-NFL coach Steve Mariucci for the job:


“I still love the Arkansas fight song… But Mooch is the man… Go Razorbacks!”


Mariucci, er Mooch, came up earlier this week in connection with the Hogs’ gig.  He said he’d had no contact with the school but that he might be interested in getting back into coaching someday.  He coached one season at California before jumping to the 49ers and then the Lions of the NFL.  So there’s another guy who has no problems getting when the getting’s good.

One guy who put down roots for more than a quarter-century in the same place — Fulmer as an assistant and head coach at Tennessee — spent yesterday denying comments made by one of his ex-assistants earlier this week.

Doug Matthews told Nashville radio station WGFX-FM that Fulmer had been contacted by the Razorbacks, presumably regarding an interim position.

Fulmer’s response to that yesterday? 


“I have not been contacted by Arkansas.  But I think Arkansas is a great place.

When I left Tennessee, I was asked if I would coach again, and I said I would consider it if it was at a place where I could compete for a championship.  Arkansas does qualify as that kind of place, as there is a very solid foundation there.”


So Fulmer hasn’t been contacted as Matthews suggested, but he would be interested.  And it sounds like he’d be interested in the full-time, long-term gig, too.

Trouble is, this is kind of the status quo for Fulmer in his post-Tennessee career.  A friend of the coach floats his name in connection with a job (like Kansas, like Arkansas), then the coach denies contact.  Methinks Fulmer — like most coaches — likes to hear his name tied to openings.  See: Tubby Smith, Jon Gruden, Houston Nutt, etc, etc.

As we mentioned yesterday, another of Fulmer’s ex-aides is currently on the UA staff — defensive ends coach Steve Caldwell.  If he knows anything of a Razorback-Fulmer connection, he’s decided to just be vague:


“I think he’s a great guy.  He’s just a good individual and a quality coach.  You don’t win 152 games in this conference and not be a good coach.”


According to The Sporting News, Long will make an announcement about his plans “early next week, perhaps as soon as Monday.”  But Long gave no timetable on Wednesday.  He did, however, post the following on Twitter yesterday:


“Hog Fans, please remain calm and please do not believe rumors.  But do come out to the the spring game and support our young men!!”


The double thes were his typo, not ours (for once).

Meanwhile, former Arkansas player and current running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Tim Horton continues to try and recruit amidst all these rumors.  In our view, Horton makes the most sense for UA in the short term.

Rather than making a quick decision on a splashy hire who might just make matters worse — again, Mariucci left Cal after a year and Carroll left Southern Cal in the NCAA crosshairs — Long should follow his own advice and “remain calm.”

Promote Horton to interim coach for 2012. 

Tab a grad assistant or bring in another interim coach to handle Horton’s running backs duties. 

Hand the recruiting coordinator job to someone else already on staff.

And spend the next eight months finding the best, safest bet to keep the momentum created by Petrino surging forward.

Or of course he could just spin that prize wheel and hope to get lucky.

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Ex-Coach Nutt Weighs In On Arkansas Situtation

Former Arkansas and Ole Miss football coach Houston Nutt made an appearance on Tim Brando’s radio show yesterday.  Not surprisingly, he was asked for his take on the decision facing Jeff Long — hire now or hand it the UA job to an interim for a year:


“Arkansas is a good job.  It’s a hard job, but it’s a good job. … I don’t know exactly what’s going on and you hear different rumors about (Long) going out to go get a big-name coach, which he probably could do.  But the problem is the timing.  The timing of everything now, as you know, it’s right here in the middle of April.  Most coaches are getting ready to finish up a spring game and get ready for recruiting in May and all of these things.  It makes everything very tough.  The interim position, there’s been talk of Tim Horton, who is a former Razorback, who has held recruiting together.  I know when we left he did an unbelievable job there of keeping all the recruits there at home.  So there’s been talk about him, what people have told me…

If you keep the interim, if you keep a coach there an you’re talking about now taking over the responsibility of being the voice, being the face, talking to the media, and your time is divvied up, it’s almost better if you ahead and say, ‘I’m going to hire another coach to take my spot and now I’m going to concentrate on being the manager.  On gameday I’m going to be the face.  I’m really going to take care of and get close to these players and take care of the media.”


That, of course, ties back to what we wrote just a few hours ago suggesting that UA promote an interim from withing and then hand a grad assistant some of the duties currently held by the coach being promoted.

Nutt also said that his heart went out to Arkansas players and fans in their time of hurting.  Yeah, I’ll bet.

As for possible big-name hires for the Hogs, how ’bout this name that was just tossed into the ring by an Arkansas sportswriter yesterday — ex-Kansas coach Mark Mangino.

Make cracks all you like, the guy won games at Kansas.  In football. 

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Dorrell Out, Fulmer In (?) At Arkansas

It was only a matter of time before Jessica Dorrell and the University of Arkansas parted ways.  The only questions were: How much would she be paid to disappear and how ugly would the episode become?

Turns out, not too much and not too ugly.


Dorrell — the young UA staffer who Bobby Petrino has admitted to having an “inappropriate relationship” with and who was on the receiving end of a $20,000 gift from the coach as well as a $50,000-a-year job — has resigned as the football program’s student-athlete development coordinator.  The University of Arkansas will pay her “approximately $14,000″ as part of a “settlement and resolution of all matters between the parties.”

In other words, the buy-off was cheap in terms of avoiding some form of potential sexual harassment suit.  Kudos to AD Jeff Long and the UA legal team and quite possibly to Dorrell herself for ending things quickly and somewhat amicably.  There certainly could have been a lot more mud slung in all directions and thankfully the school won’t be forced to endure that.

Long’s press release said:


“While Ms. Dorrell had a legitimate right to apply for and accept a position within the football program, the circumstances surrounding the former coach’s decision to hire here compromised her ability to be effective in such a position.  She and I believe she should have the opportunity to move on.”


Most importantly, the 14-page document Dorrell signed includes an “irrevocable release and covenant not to sue.”  When asked about her exit, “Ms. Dorrell covenants and agrees to state that any and all disputes were resolved amicably or words of similar effect.”

Meanwhile, some big money Arkansas supporters have shown their approval of the administration’s handling of this mess by turning over donations equaling $1.25 million in honor of “the courageous leadership demonstrated by Jeff Long in the course of recent events” saying his actions have “further affirmed our confidence in his leadership and his vision” for UA’s athletic future.

Meanwhile, the search for a new head coach — or a new interim coach — continues.  Yesterday that search took an interesting turn as a former Phillip Fulmer assistant told Nashville radio station WGFX-FM that the coach and UA have spoken in some fashion.  According to Doug Matthews:


“I know Phillip has had conversations with them.  And when I say with them, all that is going to take place behind the scenes.

But everything I’m hearing from Arkansas is the spring game, I think, is this Saturday.  ‘Let’s get through spring.  Let’s see where we are.’  But I think they’ll either go with a guy that they’ve got on the staff or they’ll bring in someone to be — caretaker’s the wrong word — but bring someone in who has been through it all before.

If there is a place for Phillip, that will be the place.”


Matthews made no mention — apparently — of who exactly Fulmer had spoken to and who it was that had done the initial contacting.  The former Tennessee head coach last led a team onto the field in 2008.

Those of you who’ve read this site know that we are firmly of the opinion that Arkansas and Long should rely on an interim coach for the 2012 season and use the next eight months to identify, target and land a perfect long-term solution for the Razorback program.  From Jack Crowe’s resignation after one game in 1992 — a loss to The Citadel — to now, UA has had more ups and downs than an elevator. 

And more and more people seem to be arriving at the same conclusion — there will be more and better candidates willing to jump to Fayetteville in November than there will be now.

That said, it will be interesting to see where Long turns if he indeed decides to go the interim route.  Fulmer makes as much sense as anyone.  He knows the Southeastern Conference and current Hog defensive ends coach Steve Caldwell was a long-time Fulmerite at Tennessee.  So the interim coach would have some insight into the personalities on the team and on the staff.

But it might be better for Long to simply promote from within to maintain some semblance of stability.  Bringing in an outsider — whether that be anyone from Fulmer to Ron Zook to Sean Payton to Lou Holtz to Frank Broyles himself — could create unnecessary turf wars and friction within the staff, within the team.  (And no, we’re not serious about Payton, Holtz or Broyles.)

It might be wiser to promote an existing staff member to interim coach for 2012 — as Ohio State did last year with Luke Fickell — and hand some of that coach’s duties off to a grad assistant who is already working with and familiar with the current roster.

And for those who’ll point to Fickell’s 6-7 record in 2011, remember, the Buckeyes lost a number of players in their dust-up with the NCAA, including their star quarterback.  That won’t be the case at Arkansas.  Whoever takes over in Fayetteville — be it Paul Petrino, Paul Haynes, Taver Johnson, Tim Horton, Fulmer, or the reanimated body of Knute Rockne — will be taking over a roster primed to win double-digit games in 2012.

We believe promotion from within is the simplest, quickest solution.  But the school could do worse than Fulmer if it’s looking for an outsider.

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UA Linebacker Gilbert Arrested On Burglary Charge

New linebackers coach Taver Johnson is in charge of the Arkansas football program at least through the end of spring.  Today, he had to suspend one of his own players.

Razorback linebacker Tyler Gilbert was arrested on a charge of aggravated residential burglary and theft of property and was booked shortly after noon ET today.  The school announced that Johnson has suspended Gilbert indefinitely.

Gilbert is the third Arkansas footballer to be arrested this spring. 

On a sidenote, aren’t Hog fans due for a little good news for a change?

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Where Was Long While Petrino Hired His Mistress At Arkansas?

When Bobby Petrino hired Jessica Dorrell as the student-athlete development coordinator for his football program, he did more than hire a woman he’d been having an “inappropriate relationship” with… he put his own boss, athletic director Jeff Long, on the hot seat.

A review of the 159 resumes Arkansas received shows that Dorrell was not necessarily the most qualified candidate for the job.  That happens.  If resumes were the only things that mattered, interviews would never be conducted.  However, a review of the hiring process shows that it was actually sped up at Long’s request, despite regular UA hiring procedures.

And that is a big deal.

According to the school’s policy — in accordance with an affirmative action policy — the interview process cannot begin until 30 days have passed from the time a job is posted.  The job Dorrell eventually landed was posted on March 4th.

But on March 9th, Arkansas’ AD wrote to the assistant director of affirmative action at Arkansas, Danielle Wood, and asked that the process be sped up in this case.  On March 12th, Wood asked the human resources manager for the UA athletic department, Carrie DeBriyn, why the process should be fast-tracked.

“Coach Petrino would like to request to interview early due to needing a Player Development Coordinator as quickly as possible,” DeBriyn responded in writing.  “Fantasy Football Camp preparation, Red White Game preparation and all recruiting coordination is falling short due to not having this position filled.”

Later that day, Wood approved the speed-up.  Dorrell — it turns out — was already interviewing for the job by the time the fast-track plan was actually approved.

Sex and motorcycle wrecks and phone records and bikini models make for big headlines.  So do coaching searches and the decision whether to go with an interim coach or hire a brand new man in April.  We get that.

But eventually Long will have to explain how Petrino’s actions took place right under his nose.  And in the case of the hiring process acceleration, with his actual blessing and aid.

Long has done a tremendous job at Arkansas.  He’s raised money, built facilities, and excited fans with his big name hires.

In this case, however, the University of Arkansas could face several potential lawsuits due to the actions that took place in a department that he is charged with overseeing.  Yes, Petrino is the man who tied a noose around the UA department.  But it was Long who gave him rope enough to do so.

At some point you can bet Long will have to address the subject and that he will say new safeguards have been or will be put in place to better monitor the hiring practices of his subordinates.  But that won’t save his department or the university the cost of legal fees tied to the hire Long allowed Petrino to make on a sped-up schedule.

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