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SEC Headlines 7/26/12

1. Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray won’t be charged in a beer bottle throwing incident.

2. Here’s a look at Alabama’s group of wide receivers and tight ends.

3. AL.com has a breakdown of Auburn’s defensive backs.

4. That list doesn’t include Jonathan Rose, who won’t return to Auburn for his sophomore season.

5. The Alabama game will be “crucial” for Arkansas, according to coach John L. Smith.

6. The chances for ex-Georgia DB Chris Sanders to return to the Bulldogs appear to be finished.

7. Georgia’s tight ends are young but talented as they prepare to replace Orson Charles.

8. The Gainesville Sun‘s Pat Dooley believes Florida’s season will come down to the quarterbacks.

9. Florida coach Will Muschamp is “hungry” after losing six games last year.

10. Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin is proud the Aggies have arrived in the SEC.

11. Sumlin has a lot of work to do as his offense prepares for a new system.

12. Mississippi State’s shooting guard was arrested for bringing a BB gun into the dorm.

13. LSU coach Les Miles is ready to get the season started and move on from 2011.

14. Brishen Matthews is the 16th most important player on the Ole Miss football team.

15. Marcus Lattimore and Aaron Murray overrated? This writer doesn’t think so.

16. Arkansas running back Knile Davis is ready to run again in the SEC.

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SEC Headlines 7/25/12

1. Steve Spurrier took a jab at Ole Miss during his “Car Wash” tour at ESPN on Tuesday.

2. Spurrier sat down with ESPN’s Chris Fowler for a video interview.

3. This ESPNU podcast features several SEC coaches, including Spurrier, Mark Richt and Nick Saban.

4. Texas A&M has something to prove now that it’s in the SEC.

5. Arkansas has launched its “TD2012″  campaign for post-season awards this year.

6. Arkansas fans are ready: The Razorbacks’ home game against Alabama and LSU are sold out.

7. Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said yesterday UT has had contact with Penn State players.

8. Florida coach Will Muschamp preached caution with the recruitment of Penn State players.

9. Muschamp isn’t asking for patience but reminded everyone where Florida has been.

10. Can Penn State hold off a mass departure? Ivan Maisel asked coach Bill O’Brien.

11. Here are some highlights from Nick Saban’s “Car Wash” tour on Tuesday.

12. If a Penn State player wants to leave Alabama, Saban “could certainly entertain it.”

13. Auburn could be in the running for Penn State’s players, too.

14. Here’s a look at Auburn’s linebackers heading into fall camp.

15. Mississippi State could be hurting at point guard when the season rolls around.

16. Has the SEC basketball schedule changed for the upcoming season? It appears so.

17. The SEC has the top two coaches in the nation, according to this ranking.

18. Georgia’s running backs coach is again preparing young backs for the SEC.

19. Could Missouri battle Texas A&M for ESPN’s “College GameDay” on Sept. 8?

20. Eddie Crawford has never looked to be anywhere but Ole Miss.

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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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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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Ex-AU RB Dyer’s Gun Was Used In 2011 Robbery

Former Auburn running back Mike Dyer testified today that a gun used in an alleged robbery involving four other ex-Auburn players was his.  Former Tigers Antonio Goodwin — on trial now — Dakota Mosley, Shaun Kitchens and Mike McNeil were arrested in March of 2011.

Dyer — Auburn’s leading rusher the last two years and the MVP of the 2011 BCS Championship Game — testified that he and Mosely, Goodwin, and Kitchens were drinking beer and smoking synthetic marijuana while watching an NBA game when “Dakota asked me if I want to hit a lick.” 

“Hit it a lick” means — apparently — “let’s go rob someone.”

Dyer said he wouldn’t do that.  Yet it was his gun that was eventually used in the robbery that also involved McNeil.

Dyer has since followed Gus Malzahn to Arkansas State.

Auburn fans enjoyed a fantastic season in 2010.  But from L’affair Newton to a much-hyped HBO investigation to an NCAA investigation to the dirt that’s going to come out from these guys’ trials… all the memories of that team might not be good ones for Tiger backers.

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Massive FB Phillips Leaves Auburn

Running back Ladarious Phillips arrived on Auburn’s campus at a whopping 291 pounds in 2010.  He was expected to drop some of that excess weight, but that didn’t happen.  And now AU’s dropping him.

Phillips — who was expected to be a fullback for the Tigers this fall — is walking away.  “He will not be on our football team and we’re going to with him well,” Gene Chizik said yesterday.  “He’s decided he’s not going to play.”  At Auburn, that is.  He’s been granted a full release to transfer to any school of his choice.

Jay Prosch — an All-America transfer from Illinois — is slated to be Auburn’s starting fullback in Scot Loeffler’s new offense.

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UVA Guard Transferring To Auburn

Earlier this month, two Auburn Tigers decided to transfer from the Plains.  Today, a new player — and a good one at that — is planning to fill one of the open slots left in Tony Barbee’s program.

Former Virginia guard KT Harrell has transferred to Auburn, where he will have to sit out one season before joining the AU team for the 2013-14 season.

Harrell is an Alabama native and was actually a Top 30 player in America (four stars) according to Rivals.com when he came out of high school.  He played two seasons with Virginia and will have two seasons of eligibility remaining.

According to Harrell’s father, Auburn’s style of play was a big factor in his son’s decision to transfer to the school.  “The style of play that Tony Barbee wants is exactly what we want, that dribble-drive offense, and it’s going to work out great for everyone.”

Harrell started 15 games for the Cavaliers during the 2010-11 season and played in all 31 contests averaging eight points and two rebounds per game.  He played in just 11 games this past season.

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Another Black Eye For Auburn – The Latest On The Ward Case

Auburn fans are just like any other fans.  They cheer for their teams.  They spend money to follow them.  They send us ugly emails and suggest we’re fans of some other SEC team anytime we so much as mention a negative associated with their teams.

They don’t deserve what’s been tossed their way the past couple of years.  Cecil Newton asked — and he’s admitted doing so to NCAA officials — for money from Mississippi State backers in order to have his son sign with the Bulldogs.  Because Cam Newton inked, played, and thrived at Auburn, the Tigers were the target of an NCAA investigation and numerous media probes.  No smoking gun was ever found.  No bag man was ever named. 

Auburn got a black eye for nothing.  (Though the NCAA has now changed its rules as a result.)

Now Tiger fans are going to have to hunker down for yet another string of cloudy days.  Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports revealed yesterday afternoon that suspended Tiger Varez Ward and formerly suspended Tiger Chris Denson were involved in an FBI investigation into point-shaving.

Denson was found to have had no involvement and was allowed to suit up again for Tony Barbee’s squad.  The FBI still has questions for Ward regarding a pair of losses this season — an 18-point loss to Alabama and a three-point loss to Arkansas — and possibly more. 

Auburn officials have clammed up after releasing a short statement:


“Auburn officials were made aware of a rumor regarding an allegation two weeks ago and immediately reported it to the FBI, the NCAA and the SEC.  Because of the nature of the allegation, Auburn is not in a position to make any further comment on the situation.”


Barbee would only reiterate yesterday what the school had already released in its statement.

Yahoo! Sports reports that AU officials were made aware of the rumor when a current Tiger player alerted an assistant coach to his concerns.  Meanwhile, NCAA honchos have said that Auburn will likely face no penalties if it’s found that Ward — acting on his own — did shave points.  The body’s official statement:


“The NCAA takes any allegation of point shaving very seriously because sports wagering threatens two of our core principles — the well-being of student-athletes and the very integrity of intercollegiate sport.  As allegations of point shaving, if proven, are also potential federal crimes the NCAA will defer action until any process with the FBI has concluded.”


As for Ward, Al.com reports:


“Ward has privately confirmed that federal authorities have questioned him about point-shaving allegations in games he played for the Tigers this season.  He has denied those allegations, according to a source familiar with Ward’s version of events.

Ward has said that federal authorities seized his phone through a court order and questioned him with a lie-detector test, according to the source.  Ward was not aware of the current status of the investigation.”


Regarding evidence of point-shaving, Covers.com — a site focused on sports gambling — claims that managers of four different sportsbooks told the site they’d neither seen nor heard anything suspicious regarding Auburn’s program or the games in question.  In fact, AU still covered the 9.5-point spread in its loss to Arkansas.  (Ward only played 19 seconds in that game before leaving with a knee injury.)

In the Alabama loss — in which the Tide was favored by five — Ward scored just three points and turned the ball over six times.

However, directors of three Las Vegas sportsbooks told Al.com that they have not been contacted by the FBI, which is usually a given in a point-shaving case.  One anonymous bookmaker said: “We haven’t heard from them about any Vegas action.  If there is something wrong, if something happens here, they’d absolutely be involved.  There’s been nothing at this time.”

Of course, there’s still the possibility that offshore sportsbooks might have been used.

As a result of all of this, ESPN is now jumping all over the story and you can bet it will be a staple of its 24-hour news cycle.  So as Kevin Scarbinsky of The Birmingham News correctly points out: “The words ‘Auburn” and “point shaving” have been linked nationally.”

Such scandals hurt Boston College in the 1970s, Tulane in the ’80s, Arizona State and Northwestern in the ’90s.  Kentucky was given a one-year ban in 1952-53 due to point-shaving.  Then-national power CCNY saw it’s entire program start to crumble as a result of the same investigation that took down UK.

Rest assured rival coaches will use the words “Auburn” and “point-shaving” together when recruiting against the Tigers in the coming months.  All through no fault of Barbee or Auburn. 

By all accounts so far, as soon as the Tiger staff learned of the issue, they sent the info up the chain of command.  Ditto the school which — again by all accounts — quickly turned over the info to the SEC and the NCAA and the FBI.  Following the Newton scandal, AU officials probably had a good idea of how to handle such a fiasco and plenty of motivation to avoid another yet drawn-out investigation filled with innuendos.

Still, it’s Barbee’s program and its fans who will pay the price for this story coming to light in the first place.  Throw any hatred you might have for Tiger fans out the window and put yourself in their shoes.  You’d be asking, “What’d we do to deserve all this?” too.

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FBI Investigating AU’s Ward In Point-Shaving Case

So much for sitting down to watch a little of the SEC Tournament.

Yahoo! Sports is reporting that suspended Auburn point guard Varez Ward is currently under investigation by federal authorities as part of an ongoing probe into point-shaving.

Pssssssssssssssssssssssss.

That’s the air coming out of the SEC tourney balloon in New Orleans.  Mike Slive, you’ve got a new crisis to handle.  Auburn fans, well, get ready for another scandal and wall-to-wall news coverage.

Charles Robinson reports that:

“Three sources with knowledge of the case said the FBI has been investigating Ward since late February after he and guard Chris Denson were suspended by the Tigers prior to a Feb. 25 home game against Arkansas.  Two sources said Denson was also questioned as part of the point-shaving investigation, but he was cleared of any wrongdoing and returned to the team after sitting out the loss to the Razorbacks.  The sources said additional players have been questioned in the case about whether Ward — who has not been with the team since being suspended — attempted to enlist them in a possible scheme.  The sources said at least two games are under scrutiny: a 68-50 loss to Alabama on Feb. 7 and a 56-53 loss to Arkansas on Jan. 25.”

Ward is a native of Montgomery and transferred into Barbee’s program after beginning his career at Texas.

Oddly enough, we earlier today linked you to a story from The Opelika-Auburn News in which Tony Barbee talked about the state of his program and the improvements made since his first season.  Whether it’s his fault or not, the words “point-shaving scandal” will be attached to his squad until the FBI’s investigation into Ward concludes… and perhaps even after depending on what they find.

ESPN has not always rushed to report stories broken first by other parties — namely Yahoo! Sports which is becoming the sports version of Woodward and Bernstein at this point.  With ESPN partnering with the league — via it’s “SEC Network” syndication package — to air this week’s tournament, it will be interesting to see and hear just how much time the network dedicates to covering this new hurricane-sized cloud that hangs over Auburn and the Southeastern Conference.

All that said, Tiger fans are well aware that accusations don’t always result in players being found guilty when it comes to buzz-creating scandals.  But when you add the words “point-shaving” and “FBI” together, there aren’t a whole lot of reasons to expect a positive outcome in this one.

The folks at the Federal Bureau of Investigation don’t need Danny Sheridan to come forward with a bag man to help them with their work.

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AU, Chizik Searching For A New Secondary Coach

Say goodbye to the last assistant coach with Tommy Tuberville ties at Auburn.  The school announced yesterday that secondary coach Phillip Lolley would be moving into an administrative role with the program, creating the third coach search Gene Chizik has had to undertake since the end of the regular season.

“We appreciate Coach Lolley and the contribution he has made to the Auburn football program in his various roles over the years,” Chizik said in a press release.  “We look forward to him continuing to help with the program’s success in his new capacity.”

Already being mentioned as a potential replacement is one Willie Martinez.  Martinez served as secondary coach under new defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder at Georgia before succeeding him in that role in 2005.  After being dismissed in Athens, he moved on to Oklahoma for two seasons before being replaced there by Bob Stoops’ brother Mike this offseason.

In addition to Lolley’s successor and VanGorder’s replacement of Ted Roof, Chizik has also hired Scot Loeffler to replace offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn.

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