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SEC Headlines 4/20/2014

headlines-sun3-150x150SEC Coaching Searches

1. Tennessee focused on Louisiana Tech’s Michael White? Former Ole Miss player and assistant coach for the Rebels has a $600,000 buyout.

2. White would be right...for Missouri?

3. Does Missouri need to go for the “home-run hire” to energize the fanbase?

Spring games

4. Big step forward for Alabama’s defensive backs but did quarterback Blake Sims’ performance raise a few red flags? Running back T.J. Yeldon the game MVP.

5. Competition at running back still wide open at Auburn. Quarterback Nick Marshall offensive MVP.

6. Auburn draws more than 70,000 fans but the crowd at Alabama was even better despite lowest attendance of Saban era.

7. One thing clear from Missouri’s spring game – this is quarterback Maty Mauk’s team. But there’s also some talent at the bottom of Mizzou QB depth charts.

SEC Football

8. Mississippi State will not face punishment from NCAA over a Yahoo! Sports report linking former Alabama player Luther Davis as a middle man for agents and potential NFL draft picks.

9. Arkansas defensive lineman Horace Arkadie no longer with the team.

10. $46 million east-side expansion at Missouri’s Memorial Stadium expected to be ready for season opener.

11. Auburn’s trip to the BCS title game cost over $3 million - money that will recouped after bowl payouts.

12. With former assistants now elsewhere, Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze had his team change the names of every formation and play call in its offense this spring.

13. Texas A&M wide receiver Ricky Seals-Jones - potential Heisman candidate in 2014?

14. If Georgia receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley can be healthy by June, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo’s “s blood pressure will go down considerably” according to coach Mark Richt.

15. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier on quarterback Dylan Thompson: “He does make good, quick decisions.”

16. Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott: “I’m a quarterback that can run. And I can get out of bad situations.”

17. Coming out of spring, obvious that Jeff Driskel will be Florida’s quarterback but backup battle will continue this fall.

18. What makes coaching at Vanderbilt such a tough job got even tougher because of heightened expectations.

SEC Basketball

19. Former Marshall guard Kareem Canty reportedly transferring to Auburn. Update: Will visit South Florida before making final decision.

20. Paying tribute to former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson: “His unique brand of hoops forced the rest of the SEC to adjust, much as Florida coach Steve Spurrier’s “Fun ‘n Gun” passing offense did in SEC football during the ’90s.”

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When It Comes To SEC Basketball Jobs, Who’s Better And Who’s Best?

Who's_Better,_Who's_BestMick Cronin.  Ben Howland.  Chris Mack, Tim Miles, Archie Miller and Richard Pitino.  For kicks throw in Gregg Marshall and Shaka Smart, too.

With the Tennessee and Missouri jobs now open, you can expect to see many of the same names on the Vols’ and Tigers’ lists of coaching candidates.  From our list above, expect Howland to push for both UT and MU, though there’s a reason he’s been passed over by Cal, Marquette, Boston College, Wake Forest, Tulsa, and everyone else he’s contacted this year.  (The reason is likely this.)  On the other side of the coin, Marshall and Smart aren’t likely to being going anywhere at all this offseason (but never say never).

That means Mike Alden and Dave Hart will be probably end up chasing those other guys.  Aware of that fact, Cronin, Mack, Miles, Miller and Pitino will be able to drive up their salary demands accordingly.  Two jobs in the same league open?  It’s called “leverage” and coaching candidates will have it.

But which school has the better basketball program?  Which school is the bigger draw?

Below we present you with our ranking of all 14 SEC jobs as if they were open right now.  We based our selections on facility size (fan support), stability (recent coaching turnover), and overall tradition (titles and tourneys).  We’re not just throwing out names from the top of our heads here.

 

Coaches would kill for…

1.  Kentucky

All-time:  53 NCAA tourneys, 16 Final Fours, 8 national titles

Last 15 years:  6 Conference titles, 3 head coaches

Arena capacity:  23,000

Upside:  Limitless

UK is clearly the top job in the SEC and it’s in a group of just four or five schools that could make a legitimate claim to being the best gig in the country.  We believe it probably is tops in America, but schools like North Carolina, Duke, Kansas, UCLA and Indiana are all terrific.

 

2.  Florida

All-time:  17 NCAA tourneys, 5 Final Fours, 2 national titles

Last 15 years:  6 Conference titles, 1 head coach

Arena capacity:  11,548

Upside:  Limitless

Billy Donovan has turned Florida into a national power.  Now, whoever replaces him will have to survive in a legend’s shadow.  But the UF athletic department has been incredibly stable, the recruiting base is large, and most of the heat in Gainesville gets directed toward the football coach.  If Donovan left today, Jeremy Foley could have a new coach by suppertime.

 

Coaches would be interested in…

3.  Arkansas

All-time:  29 NCAA tourneys, 6 Final Fours, 1 national title

Last 15 years:  0 Conference titles, 4 head coaches

Arena capacity:  19,200

Upside:  Strong

Arkansas eeks into the three-slot based mainly on what’s happened there in the past, just not in the recent past.  The arena is top-notch and the recruiting base includes Memphis (if a coach can tap into it).  When the Hogs are rolling, a good case can be made that UA becomes a basketball school.  It’s also hard to ignore a place with six Final Fours and a national crown.  There’s plenty of upside in Fayetteville and Jeff Long has shown that he’ll spend whatever cash the Razorbacks’ biggest boosters will give him.

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SEC Headlines 4/18/2014

headlines-friCoaching Searches

1. With Cuonzo Martin and Frank Haith gone, are there legitimate questions about the work environment for a black coach in the SEC?

2. Richard Pitino on the short list at Tennessee?  One source says it’s not happening. Minnesota A.D. says Pitino is “not interested” in Tennessee job. Some other names to watch at Tennessee.

3. Who will replace Frank Haith at Missouri?  Here’s a wish list and some more realistic options.

4. Bernie Miklasz: Mike Alden can’t blow it…again.

5. Who gets mentioned in every coaching search?  Gregg Marshall and Shaka Smart.

SEC Football

6. Former Texas A&M quarterback Matt Joeckel says he’s headed to TCU.

7. Four Georgia players were arrested on the eve of spring practice at Georgia. Coach Mark Richt may not make their punishment public.

8. Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo on quarterback Hutson Mason’s spring: “I thought Hutson had an outstanding spring, really stepped up in the leadership department.”

9. Florida coach Will Muschamp’s message to fans:  ”I think the future is bright,”

10. Here’s a breakdown of Alabama’s offense and defense heading into Saturday’s spring game.

11. Expect Auburn to expand the playbook this fall. Coach Gus Malzahn: “Last year, we were a very, very simplified version.”

12. Auburn defensive end Carl Lawson has a knee injury.

13. Missouri’s spring game will be an opportunity to evaluate who best can replace wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham as a deep threat.

14. Mizzou quarterback Maty Mauk: “Everybody is picking us to be down at the bottom of the SEC East again. That’s just motivation for us.”

15. Speaking of Green-Beckham, Kevin Scarbinsky says “you can’t spell second chance without S-E-C.”

16. Five questions answered about Tennessee’s spring.

17. Someone spray-painted an orange tiger paw on the field near the South end zone of South Carolina’s Williams-Brice Stadium.

18. Suspended Ole Miss linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche has regained the right to work out with the team.

19. The Peach is back. Atlanta bowl game will be called Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.

20. Nick Saban hosts Peyton Manning.  What were they talking about?

SEC Basketball

21. Kentucky lost the national championship but still dominates the sport.

22. Backup forward Tim Dixon will transfer from Georgia.

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Potential Good News For College Hoops: NBA Pushing To Increase Age Limit

scaleThe one-and-done rule in today’s college game is a by-product of the National Basketball Association.  When the wave of high school players entering the league directly from high school started to produce more misses than hits, the league slapped an age limit on draft-eligible players.  The limit was a small one, meaning kids would now to college for a year… and then jump to the pros.

But that could be changing.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver is advancing the idea of changing the age limit from one year after high school graduation to three.  Such a requirement be near identical to the current NFL rule.

Whenever this issue has come up in the past the biggest obstacle has been the NBA Players Association (college coaches and NBA franchises are in favor of a such a move).  But according to Sean Deveney of SportingNews.com, the league may be willing to give the union something it’s been wanting — a better paying Developmental League — in exchange for the increased age limit.

If the Players Association will acquiesce on the age requirement, it would vastly improve the collegiate game.  Imagine stars spending three years on a campus instead of one.  Consider the growth in chemistry players would enjoy if they played together for three years instead of one.  Think of the improved play we would see as experienced veterans replaced raw freshmen as the key cogs on many teams.

That would be good, good and good.

The biggest change on the collegiate level would come in the SEC at John Calipari’s Kentucky Kindergarten.  UK has proven that bringing in a fresh batch of newbies every season can work.  But, for example, how much better would the 2011-12 Wildcats have become over time if Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb, and Marquis Teague could have played together for another year or two?  Instead of one national crown, that group might have gone back-to-back or better.

An increased NBA age limit would be wonderful news for the college game.  Rosters would have to be rebuilt with less frequency, making the game much less transient.  Players would actually get three years worth of coaching, teaching.  And Kentucky fans wouldn’t have to learn the names of an entirely new team every season.

Cross your fingers, folks, and hope as we do that the NBA’s commish can push this one through.

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SEC Recruiting Notebook: Florida Lands D.C. Standout Lewis

sec-recruiting-notebook-gfxFlorida received a commitment Thursday from cornerback Marcus Lewis from Gonzaga High School in Washington, D.C.

Playing for Gators coach Will Muschamp was an important factor in Lewis’ decision.

“I liked the hands-on recruiting by coach Muschamp and (secondary) coach (Travaris Robinson),” Lewis told Rivals. “I can come in there and play early. They don’t have a lot of defensive backs.

“A few left after last year and Vernon (Hargreaves III) could be gone soon, too. They are constantly putting defensive backs in the pros and they need some more so my ability to come in and step on the field is tremendous.”

Lewis, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 8 cornerback by Rivals, is looking forward to playing alongside Florida cornerback Jalen Tabor. The Washington, D.C., native arrived on campus in Gainesville in January.

“It did play a small role,” Lewis said of Tabor’s presence at Florida. “We’re from the same area and we’re friends. It definitely played a part.”

Lewis, who previously committed to Virginia Tech and also considered Clemson and Miami, is Florida’s sixth commitment for the class of 2015. He’s the highest-rated prospect committed to the Gators, according to Rivals.

Florida hopes the commitment of Lewis will create some momentum with its recruiting on the defensive side of the ball. Cornerback Kareem Ali Jr. told Rivals he’s strongly considering the Gators and credited Tabor for helping sell the idea of playing for Muschamp.

“(Tabor) told me it’s real there and the coaches treat it like it’s the NFL and the coaches are hard on you to motivate you and they move fast,” Ali Jr. said. “He said they had a bad season last year, but they are on the come up with a young team and a good coach and are going to bring it back up this year.”

Ali Jr. said he plans to make his college decision in January.

“I just want to get everything off my shoulders,” he said. “I am just going to take visits and find what the best fit for me is.”

 

Missouri lands Georgia receiver

Missouri received a commitment this week from wide receiver Daniel Imatorbhebhe from North Gwinnett High School in Suwanee, Ga.

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SEC Schools Have Averaged 3 Changes In Power Positions Over The Past Decade

gfx-by-the-numbersThe University of Tennessee is currently searching for it’s third new basketball coach since 2005.  The Vols have also had to hire three new football coaches in that span.  We believe such turnover suggests to outsiders that there’s some serious dysfunction that exists inside the walls at Tennessee.  And we stated yesterday that Vol AD Dave Hart will likely have to answer questions about all of UT’s changes when discussing his hoops job with candidates.

Our observations didn’t sit too well with a few folks who let us know about it via email.  The general gist was this: Every SEC school has turnover.

We decided to take a look and see just how much turnover should be considered normal.

We tallied the number of football coaches, basketball coaches and athletic directors for each athletic department from 2005 to now.  While we list them below, we did not count interim hires as changes (because a full-time hire could have been made instead).  We also did not count retirees who were allowed to walk away after lengthy careers (though they are listed below, as well).  We were simply looking for changes necessitated by firings, force-outs and unexpected departures.

Below is our look at stability in the power positions across the SEC:

 

Alabama 2005-2014

Football:  Mike Shula, Nick Saban

Basketball:  Mark Gottfried, Anthony Grant

AD:  Mal Moore (died), Bill Battle

Total:  3 changes… We count this as 2 changes as Moore left office due to illness shortly before his death.

 

Arkansas 2005-2014

Football:  Houston Nutt, Bobby Petrino, John L. Smith (Interim), Bret Bielema

Basketball:  Stan Heath, John Pelphrey, Mike Anderson

AD:  Frank Broyles (retired), Jeff Long

Total:  6 changes… We count this as 4 as Broyles retired and Smith was hired purely as an interim.

 

Auburn 2005-2014

Football:  Tommy Tuberville, Gene Chizik, Gus Malzahn

Basketball:  Jeff Lebo, Tony Barbee, Bruce Pearl

AD:  Jay Jacobs

Total:  4 changes

 

Florida 2005-2014

Football:  Urban Meyer, Will Muschamp

Basketball:  Billy Donovan

AD:  Jeremy Foley

Total:  1 change

 

Georgia 2005-2014

Football:  Mark Richt

Basketball:  Dennis Felton, Mark Fox

AD:  Damon Evans, Greg McGarity

Total:  2 changes

 

Kentucky 2005-2014

Football:  Rich Brooks (retired), Joker Phillips, Mark Stoops

Basketball:  Tubby Smith, Billy Gillispie, John Calipari

AD:  Mitch Barnhart

Total:  4 changes… We count 3 as Rich Brooks actually retired from coaching.

 

LSU 2005-2014

Football:  Les Miles

Basketball:  John Brady, Trent Johnson, Johnny Jones

AD:  Skip Bertman, Joe Alleva

Total:  3 changes

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SEC Headlines 4/17/2014

headlines-thursdaySEC Football

1. More player arrests at Texas A&M.  Senior defensive end Gavin Stansbury arrested on assault charges, two other players arrested for failing to appear in court.

2. Could former Texas A&M quarterback Matt Joeckel be headed to TCU?

3. Threatening message cancels classes at Auburn Wednesday.

4. Auburn A.D. Jay Jacob’s letter to fans regarding ESPN and Saturday’s spring game: “When their cameras pan the stadium, I want their viewers to see a packed house…”

5. Alabama wide receiver Chris Black’s role is evolving under new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin.

6. Missouri’s departing receivers caught 195 passes last season.  Those returning caught 72.

7. Missouri spent more than a half-million of its own money to go the Cotton Bowl.  Received more than $1.3 million from the SEC to attend.

8. Expect Vanderbilt’s new 3-4 defense to showcase its linebackers.

9. Florida defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin on defensive end Dante Fowler Jr: “He’s been great all spring. He’s stepped up as a leader as well.”

10. Arkansas coach Bret Bielema calls the defensive secondary the most improved unit of the team.

11. LSU makes a home-and-home series with Syracuse official.  Will start in 2015.

12. Plenty of primetime television opportunities for SEC teams on college football’s opening weekend.

SEC/NFL

13. Former South Carolina cornerback Victor Hampton reportedly arrested for dispute with his sister.

14. Quarterback Aaron Murray on his performance at Georgia’s pro day: “I think I’ve shown everyone they don’t have to worry about my injury.”

SEC Basketball

15. Will fan criticism directed at Cuonzo Martin make it harder to attract a new coach at Tennessee?  A.D. Dave Hart: ”I think this is an extremely attractive job.”

16. ESPN’s Jay Bilas: ”It’s in a great league, and they’ve won there.”

17. How much is Tennessee willing to spend?  ”Hart and Tennessee were willing to pay Martin in the range of $1.8 million, and the Vols likely would have to go above the $2 million threshold to attract more proven coaches.”

18. Martin appeared on a Knoxville radio station this morning: “Really, no hard feelings at all…because Tennessee gave me a platform and I’m certainly grateful for it.”

19. Missouri guard Jabari Brown and coach Frank Haith release statements confirming Brown’s decision to go pro.

20. College of Charleston assistant coach  Amir Abdur-Rahim  will join Billy Kennedy’s staff at Texas A&M.

21. Lexington mayor on the lack of state funding for Rupp Arena renovation: “It’s a setback.”

Extras

22. Florida State responds to a New York Times story involving allegations surrounding quarterback Jameis Winston.

23. Dan Wetzel on a religious complain filed against Clemson and coach Dabo Swinney:  ”If Swinney is, at the very least, walking a Constitutional line, then he sure isn’t the only one.”

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Slive: “I Live In Tomorrow” As Decision Over Scheduling Looms

the-future-signIn a speech at the University of Massachusetts’ Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management last night, Mike Slive described where his focus must be stay:

 

“Today doesn’t exist for me.  I live in tomorrow.  That’s my job.  Today is the job of 35 other people (on the SEC’s staff).  I am the trustee of a sacred public trust, and if you live in the South, you know exactly what I mean.”

 

ESPN.com’s Ivan Maisel points out that Slive also stated last night that the SEC will decide at next month’s spring meetings whether or not the league will switch from an eight-game football schedule to a nine-game conference schedule (beginning in 2016).

Slive’s views on today/tomorrow are shared by any good executive, any good leader.  During the recent conference expansion craze, for example, Slive had to consider how additions to the league would look in 20 years or 50 years, not just in the now.  The same goes for everything else the man does.  What are the long-term ramifications of his league’s actions?

At MrSEC.com, we’ve stated on many occasions that we believe the league should move to a nine-game  conference slate.  Such a move would protect the league’s oldest rivalries (Alabama/Tennessee, Auburn/Georgia, Mississippi/Vanderbilt).  And when it comes to protecting “a sacred public trust,” there is nothing more important than the traditions built over the past 81 years.

A nine-game schedule would also allow SEC schools to see teams from the opposite division more often.  Call us crazy, but if you’re in a conference you should probably see everyone else as often as you can.

But switching to a nine-game schedule would also aid the league moving into the future.

We suspect that the new College Football Playoff selection committee will do it’s best to pick teams from four different conferences when it comes selecting who’ll compete for the national crown.  Strength of schedule will be a important factor in that process.  The Big Ten has announced nine-game schedules beginning in 2016.  The Pac-12 is going with nine-games as is the Big 12.  ACC commissioner John Swofford said in February that there is “considerable support” for a move to nine games in his league as well.  If the SEC doesn’t move to nine, it will be the only major conference playing eight league games… which means SEC teams will likely play one more cupcake than teams in other conferences will.  If the selection panel is looking for reasons to keep a second SEC team out of its playoff, you can bet the cupcake issue would loom large.

Nick Saban is just about the only SEC football coach to date to publicly push for a nine-game schedule.  Most other coaches want to avoid anything that might make getting to six wins and a bowl game more difficult.  But if Slive’s job is to think about the future, he needs to convince a few more coaches, ADs and presidents that a move to nine games is most likely the wisest step.

Unfortunately, we don’t believe that will happen.

That means come 2016 and 2017, the SEC will be at a disadvantage in the new playoff landscape that was created immediately after the BCS featured an SEC versus SEC title game.  The playoff now exists to prevent such SEC dominance.  A decision to become the only eight-game league in the Big Five conferences would only aid those who are looking to “spread the wealth” among all the leagues.

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SEC Headlines 3/16/2014

headlines-wedSEC Football

1. Two SEC quarterbacks are on the move.  Jalen Whitlow is leaving Kentucky and Coach Mark Stoops says he’s “disappointed,” wanted him to consider moving to wide receiver. Started 15 games in two seasons at Kentucky.

2. Matt Joeckel departing from Texas A&M. Joeckel has already graduated and will be immediately eligible at an FBS program. Aggies down to sophomore Kenny Hill and freshman Kyle Allen.

3. With Dorial Green-Beckham’s dismissal, Missouri has lost three receivers 6-4 or taller.  They’re being replaced by receivers all 6-3 or shorter.

4. Florida coach Will Muschamp likes his wide receiving talent: “I think we’re as deep as we’ve been at wide receiver…”

5. Georgia’s focus this summer – getting players leaner. “This league is a lot of no-huddle. We can’t be 330 pounds out there.”

6. Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt wants leadership from his upperclassmen: “We need more out of them,”

7. LSU’s opener in Houston against Wisconsin will kick off in prime time.

8. LSU quarterback Brandon Harris will spend the month of May with former LSU quarterback Craig Nall and quarterback guru George Whitfield.

9. Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson on injuries this spring: “We had probably about a dozen guys that either missed all of spring practice or a great portion of spring practice…”

10. The left tackle battle at Alabama is a two-man race between third-year sophomore Brandon Greene and freshman Cam Robinson.

11. Kevin Scarbinsky defines the Bowden Triangle: “It’s the place where the best high school and junior college prospects come to play and the rest of the Football Bowl Subdivision’s dreams of a national championship go to die.”

12. Many thought Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen was on the hot seat last season but A.D. Scott Stricklin says that wasn’t the case.“What people on the outside seemed to perceive wasn’t really the case.”

SEC/NFL

13. Former South Carolina players Kelcy Quarles and Victor Hampton are expected to be drafted next month.  They’re also reportedly wanted for questioning for their roles in a New York City nightclub fight.

14. Johnny Manziel will work out for the Cleveland Browns this weekend.

15. Missouri’s Max Copeland was a guard in college – wants to be a fullback in the NFL. Lost 50 pounds.  ”I would work until I puked and then keep working.”

16. 23 NFL teams at Georgia’s pro day.

Cuonzo Martin and Tennessee

17. David Climer on Cuonzo Martin’s departure from Tennessee: “While Martin was never fully embraced at UT, he never fully embraced UT, either.”

18. Tennessee A.D. Dave Hart: “There were a lot of distractions, you know what they were, you reported on them.”

19. “Hart and the rest of the UT administration should never again treat a coach the way they allowed Martin to be treated.” 

20. MrSEC: Martin was never embraced in Knoxville for one reason — he wasn’t Pearl.  

21. Martin on his new job at Cal:  ”It’s a place I could spend the rest of my life.”

SEC Basketball

22. Slate: Bill O’Reilly’s Racially Coded Interview With Kentucky Coach John Calipari

23. Rupp Arena renovation plans up in the air after legislature fails to vote on $80 million in proposed state aid.

24. ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla on Missouri’s Jabari Brown – projected as a second-round pick: “I think he’s going to play in the NBA someday, but there’s a difference between playing in the NBA and becoming a true NBA player — a guy who stays in the league for 10 or 12 years.”

Extras

25. Unlimited meals and snacks on the way for college athletes.

26. The New York Times on the Jameis Winston case – “there was virtually no investigation at all, either by the police or by the university.”

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