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Bama’s Saban: Little Support For A 9-Game SEC Schedule

gfx-they-said-it4Nick Saban has been the only vocal proponent among SEC coaches when it comes to switching to an nine-game league schedule.  According to the coach, that’s because there’s not much support whatsoever for adopting a nine-game slate… vocal or otherwise:

 

“I don’t think there’s any support for that, it doesn’t seem like.  I think there’s a little bit more support for staying with an eight-games schedule and everybody playing a ninth opponent that’s in the five major conferences.

My thing is I’m for playing nine conference games and still playing another team in the major conferences, so you play 10 games because of fan interest, people coming to games looking forward to seeing more good games.

So that’s the starting point for me.  I think it’s important for the players to be able to play more teams in the SEC East, on the other side, which we only get to play one now.  I don’t know if we stay with the 6-1-1 or 6-0-2.  I don’t know.”

 

Saban might be the only smart coach in the conference when it comes to scheduling.  In terms of strength of schedule for the new playoff, it appears now that the SEC would be the only league not playing nine conference games and a 10th game against a power league.  That means each SEC team would play three cupcakes instead of two and that will give the playoff selection committee reason enough to exclude a second SEC team from the playoff in coming years.

Also, with schools battling attendance issues, one would think adding a league game would make for a better box office draw.  If you’re an Auburn fan, for example, would you rather see your team play Oregon or Charleston Southern.  Exactly.

The league’s coaches met yesterday.  SEC commissioner Mike Slive said last week that a decision on future schedules could come in the next couple of weeks.  One small group — likely led by Alabama, Tennessee, Auburn and Georgia — is probably going to vote in favor of a nine-game slate or an eight-game slate that protects crossover rivalries like Alabama/Tennessee and Auburn/Georgia.  Another small group — led by LSU and South Carolina — is expected to push for an eight-game schedule with no permanent rivals.  The SEC presidents will ultimately make the decision.  Best bet?  The compromise would seem to be the status quo — eight games with permanent rivals.

If/when the SEC gets bumped from the College Football Playoff over a strength of schedule issue, you can bet this topic will be revisited.

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2014 Schedule Breakout – October

crystal-ball2With football season fast approaching — the first leagues games are 18 weeks from tomorrow — it’s time to start the summer schedule talk.  On Monday, we took a look at each football weekend in August and September.  Today, we grade the games on the SEC schedule for the month of October.  Which are can’t miss and which are mere flip-bys… if that?

We break things down below.  And, yes, we’re trying to be discriminating when it comes to picking “can’t miss” games.

 

October 4th Weekend

Can’t Miss:

LSU at Auburn

Ones To Watch:

Alabama at Ole Miss (If the Rebels take another step forward, this could become “can’t miss.”)

Florida at Tennessee

Vanderbilt at Georgia

South Carolina at Kentucky

Texas A&M at Mississippi State

What Else Is On:

None!  (Gotta love those few weekends when all of the SEC’s teams are playing one another.)

 

October 11th Weekend

Can’t Miss:  

LSU at Florida (One of the league’s best games, especially if Florida rebounds this season.)

Georgia at Missouri (This could be an East Division elimination game.)

Ones To Watch:

Alabama at Arkansas

Auburn at Mississippi State

Ole Miss at Texas A&M (Depending on whether Ole Miss rises and/or A&M falls this, too, could become “can’t miss.”)

What Else Is On:

LA-Monroe at Kentucky

UT-Chattanooga at Tennessee

Charleston Southern at Vanderbilt

Read the rest of this entry »

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Missouri Might Go Back In Time With Anderson (Not That One)

kim-anderson-cutting-netsIt sounds as though Anderson is a serious candidate for the Missouri coaching job.  No, not Mike Anderson.  Kim Anderson.  The Missouri alum and former assistant under Tiger legend Norm Stewart looks to be a potential “back to the future” hire in Columbia.

First things first, the Tigers reportedly have Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall high upon their list.  No surprise there as every school with an opening has considered Marshall.  It’s just that it’s unlikely that Marshall will leave a safe gig for anything smaller than $3 million per season.

Next come the names of Chris Mack (Xavier), Matt Painter (who turned down Mizzou and stayed at Purdue three years ago), Michael White (Louisiana Tech) and Ben Howland (who everyone else has passed on).

But Anderson might make the most sense.  At 58, he just led Central Missouri to the NCAA Division II national title.  He’s been to three D-II Final Fours in 12 years.  He was named the D-II Coach of the Year after his work last season and he’s got an overal winning percentage of .745.  For those wondering if he can recruit at the D-I level, he’s been a Mizzou assistant twice as well as a Baylor aide.

More importantly, Anderson might buy Missouri AD Mike Alden some good will.  Yes, Alden’s the man who hired and stuck by Gary Pinkel, but ADs aren’t judged by their successes so much as by their failures.  And Alden’s had some failures in his hardwood searches.  He replaced Stewart with Quin Snyder, who blew up the program and his career with off-court issues.  Then came Mike Anderson who split for Arkansas after five years.  Then Alden handed the reins of the program to Frank Haith.  Behind-the-scenes issues reportedly played a role in Haith skedaddling for a job with Tulsa — Tulsa! — after going 76-28 in three seasons in Columbia.  It is believed that Alden asked Haith for his resignation when the NCAA started snooping into Haith’s Miami days a few years back.  Haith had the guts to say no, but his relationship with Alden never fully healed.

So with fans now starting to train their sites on the Tiger athletic director, Alden might feel that a good backup plan — in case a “name” like Marshall can’t be hired — would involve the hiring of someone tied to Mizzou’s hoops heydey.  That would be Anderson, who’s clearly earned consideration with his deeds, as well.  Already, some ex-Tigers are hailing a potential Anderson hire as “a no-brainer.”

Barring a surprise “off the radar” hire, we suspect Anderson will go from coaching the Mules of Central Missouri to the Tigers of Mizzou before next season.  Especially if Alden is wanting to win back a little fan love.

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Vols Finally Land Their Man In Tyndall, But What Does The Future Hold For Him?

donnie-tyndall-coachingBy most accounts Donnie Tyndall looks to be a pretty good hire for Tennessee’s basketball program.  The Vols’ new coach built up Morehead State over the span of six years.  At Southern Miss he slightly improved upon Larry Eustachy’s rebuilding job the last two years.  He knows the South, has recruited in the SEC before (as an LSU assistant) and — perhaps most importantly for some UT fans — he’s said to have a “big personality.”

There was also an NCAA run-in while at Morehead State, but apparently Tennessee brass heard a good explanation from Tyndall during their rushed Monday romance.

The Volunteers’ latest coach will officially begin his tenure today at 2:00pm ET in Knoxville.  You can bet he’ll say all the right things at that introductory presser.  He’ll know why a vocal part of the Big Orange fanbase turned on Cuonzo Martin — a slow style of play and an unwillingness to “sell his program.”  Expect Tyndall to talk about “embracing the fans,” playing “an exciting style” of basketball as well as stating that he’ll be happy to wear a bright orange jacket that Bruce Pearl and Martin wore for special rivalries.

It was only four years ago that a fella named Derek Dooley won Vol fans over by saying such un-Kiffiny things as “embrace the traditions” and “britches” at his press conference.  He never said “britches” again, never embraced Tennessee’s traditions and flopped on the field, proving that introductory comments really don’t mean much once the actual games begin.

For Tyndall’s sake, he certainly needs everyone in the UT fanbase to come together behind him.  That never happened for Martin.  From Day One he was simply “Not Pearl.”  He won 19, 20 and 24 games and went to a Sweet Sixteen.  Only John Calipari and Billy Donovan won more SEC games the last three years.  His thanks was an extension that would have put him at eighth on the league’s pay chart and a decreased buyout.  It’s a safe bet that no other SEC school outside of Kentucky would have run off someone with Martin’s record.  And Tennessee is no Kentucky when it comes to history.

Those against Martin were vocal from the start and with an underachieving regular season — not unlike Kentucky this year — their discontent spread quickly.  Several thousand folks put their names on a petition that helped steer several candidates (by all accounts) away from the UT job.  Not only A-listers passed, but so too did a three-year coaching veteran from Louisiana Tech.  Michael White wanted a big buyout for security’s sake.  No wonder.  But that didn’t happen and the La Tech coach passed on the Tennessee job, bringing to mind this:

 

 

So Tyndall became the guy because several other guys said “no thanks.”  That doesn’t mean he’ll flop anymore than saying the right things today will mean he’ll succeed.  If he does play an exciting style — Ken Pomeroy’s tempo ratings suggest his teams play only slightly faster than Martin’s teams — and if he does play the role of showman — one Vol writer says UT hoops fans require an “experience” to support hoops — then he’ll likely do just fine.

That is until he loses to Pearl and Auburn.  At that point, don’t be surprised if someone doesn’t break out a new petition.

Martin’s tenure showed that winning isn’t enough at Tennessee.  A coach has to win big and act as a salesman/promoter/carnival barker if he’s to win over all the Vol backers.  (It’s a good thing UT didn’t make a run at a guy like Ben Howland who’s not exactly known for being PT Barnum — though it sounds like his UCLA program did become a circus away from the court.)

Until Tyndall sinks or swims with his coaching and warmth, we would suggest Volunteer fans actually support the guy.  Buy in from the outset and let Tyndall prove you wrong.  If folks start out as skeptics, it’s much harder to win them over.  Ask Martin.

Tyndall is UT’s fifth basketball coach in 15 years.  If Tennessee’s fans support the man from the get-go and if he proves to coach and sell well, maybe he’ll be around Knoxville longer than the man he’s replacing.

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SEC Headlines 4/22/2014

headlines-tueSEC Football

1. Reggie Ragland believes Alabama’s defense is “more focused” and has more speed heading into 2014.

2. Greg McElroy had a problem with AJ McCarron saying some of his teammates became complacent last year.

3. Wide receiver D’haquille Williams was the top spring standout for Auburn. Here are some others.

4. SEC commissioner Mike Slive expects a decision on future football schedules to be decided sometime in May.

5. Arkansas unveiled new uniforms on Monday. It includes the new secondary Razorback logo.

6. Offensive lineman Austin Golson is considering transferring from Ole Miss. He’s projected to start at right tackle.

7. Who will lead the SEC in rushing in 2014? Several writers gave their opinion.

8. Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III wants to become more of a leader entering his second year on campus.

9. Collin Barber is optimistic he can regain Georgia’s punting job after losing it last season.

10. Injuries have mounted at receiver for Kentucky this spring.

Coaching Searches

11. Central Missouri coach Kim Anderson is a candidate for the Missouri job, according to ESPN.

12. Gregg Marshall’s agent said he hadn’t heard from Missouri officials as of Monday afternoon.

13. Here’s a look at what Donnie Tyndall accomplished before taking the Tennessee job.

14. Louisiana Tech’s Michael White wanted the Tennessee job until he met with UT officials.

SEC Basketball

15. LSU forward Jordan Mickey’s father said his son hasn’t decided whether he will enter the NBA Draft.

16. Kevin Brockway looks at the link between Florida coach Billy Donovan and the NBA.

17. A higher age limit to enter the NBA wouldn’t be fair, writes Tim Sullivan.

SEC/NFL Draft

18. Alabama receiver Kevin Norwood has plenty of confidence as he prepares for the draft.

19. Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews is scheduled to visit the Houston Texans this week.

Extra

20. NCAA president Mark Emmert cited “competitive fairness” when asked why athletes can’t capitalize off their likeness in college.

21. Slive believes autonomy for the big five conference represents a “vision for the 21st century as it relates to our relationship with student-athletes.”

22. Florida State took a financial hit playing in and winning the BCS Championship Game.

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Coaching Carousel: White Turning Down Tennessee, Donovan An NBA Candidate?

rumors-cartoonWhile Missouri’s search for a new coach creeps along stealthily, the same can’t be said for Tennessee’s hunt.  After attempting to woo some “A-list candidates” to Knoxville — only to be met with a lack of interest — the Volunteers turned their attention to Michael White of Louisiana Tech on Saturday.

White is a former point guard at Ole Miss and a former assistant coach there.  He has been at Louisiana Tech for three years and has never reached an NCAA Tournament (which means his resume is quite similar to the one Cuonzo Martin’s owned when he was hired by UT three years ago).

White is also on the verge of saying “thanks, but no thanks” to Tennessee’s offer.  According to CBSSports.com’s Gary Parrish:

 

parrish tweet

 

We at MrSEC.com were told last night that White would likely stay in Ruston.  We believe White is asking for a large buyout from the school and after paying buyouts for numerous coaches over the years, Tennessee does not want to go down the big buyout road.  The school’s reserve fund is currently less than $5 million.  Most SEC schools have reserves greater than $50 million.

Sadly for athletic director Dave Hart’s sake, those fans who signed a petition to bring back Bruce Pearl have made the UT job a tough sell.  Everyone — from the national media to most in the Knoxville media to the majority of the Volunteer fanbase — admits that fact.  (Those who did the petitioning say the job is peachy and Hart must be a bad salesman.)

White’s desire for security is quite natural.  If you were looking at a roster that’s losing four of its top five players — which doesn’t help matters — and you knew that the last guy was petition’d right out of town despite win totals of 19, 20 and 24 games in his three years, wouldn’t you be asking for petition insurance, er, I’m sorry, a big buyout?

If the White negotiations are indeed finished, look for Tennessee to turn to Donnie Tyndall of Southern Miss and Will Wade of Chattanooga as their search stumbles along.  As was the case when Mississippi State fans were driving away Rick Stansbury, we warned, “Careful what you wish for.”  And like MSU (which has lost 29 of its last 36 SEC games), UT  is having to come to grips with the fact that their job looks better through their orange-colored glasses than it does to outsiders.

Meanwhile, ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reports that the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves are considering Florida’s Billy Donovan as their next coach.  Yes, Billy Donovan.

 

donovan tweet 1

 

donovan tweet 2

 

 

That would seem like a very long shot from our perspective.  In June of 2007, Donovan left the Florida Gators to become the head coach just down the road with the Orlando Magic.  But he changed his mind soon after and returned to Gainesville within the week.

If he couldn’t leave Gainesville for Orlando, would he really uproot his family for Minneapolis?

Still, it’s an interesting story to keep an eye on.

As for Missouri, the Tigers’ search seems to be focused in on the same list of candidates that were on Tennessee’s initial list: Gregg Marshall of Wichita State, Mick Cronin of Cincinnati, Archie Miller of Dayton, Tim Miles of Nebraska and Chris Mack of Xavier.  Marshall will want about $3 million to move and it’s doubtful AD Mike Alden will go that far.

If Mizzou finds it’s hunt to be as tough as Tennessee’s search, one wonders if ex-UCLA coach Ben Howland — a man whose name hasn’t gained traction in any search this offseason — might creep into the Tiger mix.  He certainly has a good track record on the court.  Not so much off it.

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2014 Schedule Breakout – August/September

crystal-ball-fortune-teller2Over the next three days we’ll be breaking down the SEC’s schedule month by month.  Fans at Missouri and Tennessee still have an eye towards basketball, but elsewhere the beginning of summer means the beginning of serious football discussion.  And that means figuring out which games are the ones to watch each week.

Today, we start with the last weekend of August and roll right on through the final Saturday in September.

 

August 30th Weekend

Can’t Miss:

Alabama vs West Virginia in Atlanta

Clemson at Georgia

LSU vs Wisconsin in Houston (like a BCS bowl game in August)

Ole Miss vs Boise State in Atlanta (Thursday the 28th)

Texas A&M at South Carolina (Thursday the 28th and a biggie for the SEC Network)

Ones To Watch:  

Arkansas at Auburn

Idaho at Florida (to see the Gators’ new offense)

Southern Miss at Mississippi State (kudos to MSU for playing their in-state rival)

Utah State at Tennessee (Sunday the 31st and the Aggies will be a preseason Top 25 team)

Temple at Vanderbilt (to see Derek Mason’s debut)

What Else Is On:

TN-Martin at Kentucky

South Dakota at Missouri

 

September 6th Weekend

Can’t Miss:

None!

Ones To Watch:  

Ole Miss at Vanderbilt

Missouri at Toledo (the Rockets aren’t bad and an SEC team is visiting their pad)

East Carolina at South Carolina (the Pirates were 10-3 last season)

Arkansas State at Tennessee (another solid team visits a young UT squad)

What Else Is On:

Florida Atlantic at Alabama

Nicholls State at Arkansas

San Jose State at Auburn

Eastern Michigan at Florida

Ohio at Kentucky

Sam Houston State at LSU

UAB at Mississippi State

Lamar at Texas A&M

Read the rest of this entry »

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SEC Headlines 4/21/2014

headlines-monSEC Football

1. Jacob Coker could certainly help Alabama immediately this year. Here are four others who could help the Tide this fall.

2. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn expects to have a fully healthy football team this fall.

3. Auburn’s offense is going to be scary, writes Barrett Sallee.

4. Arkansas still has two jobs open on the offensive line following spring practice.

5. Robbie Andreu looks at several questions surrounding Florida entering the rest of the offseason.

6. Expectations will be high this season for South Carolina running back Mike Davis, who had a relaxing spring.

7. The NCAA has notified Mississippi State that it’s role in the Luther Davis probe is considered closed, according to CBS Sports.

Coaching Searches

8. Michael White appears to still be the focus of Tennessee’s search but “it’s not a given that he will head to Knoxville.”

9. Dave Matter looks at the history of Missouri’s coaching searches along with offering the latest with the current one.

SEC Basketball

10. Kentucky forward Julius Randle is expected to announce he’s leaving for the NBA this afternoon.

11. Marshall transfer Kareem Canty wants something to compare Auburn to before he decides if he will play for the Tigers.

 

SEC/NFL Draft

12. Johnny Manziel spent time with the Cleveland Browns this weekend. Only 17 days to go until the draft.

13. Evan Silva’s latest mock draft has three of the top four picks coming from the SEC.

14. Georgia’s Garrison Smith believes he can prove he belongs in the NFL.

Extra

15. Bo Jackson’s advice to two-sport star Jameis Winston: “I would follow my heart because I did the same thing.”

16. CBS Sports discovered a document that reveals Northwestern’s anti-union dialogue with the players.

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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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