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SEC Headlines 3/23/2014

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1. Georgia wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell out for the rest of the spring with another leg injury.

2. Georgia coach Mark Richt: “The good news is we think he’ll be ready by the summertime to be working and be 100 percent by the time camp starts.”

3. Injury to his right foot likely means Auburn defensive end LaDarius Owens will miss the rest of the spring.

4. Salary pool for Auburn assistant coaches will increase by nearly $1 million.

5. Auburn defensive tackles Gabe Wright and Montravius Adams taking reps at defensive end this spring.

6. Arkansas quarterback’s Brandon Allen’s shoulder has healed completely.

7. LSU coach Les Miles is counting on his incoming recruiting class.  ”The recruiting class will hit us just where we need to be hit. Some of those guys are going to get first (team) snaps.”

8. LSU wide receiver John Diarse’s ankle is 100% after being redshirted last season following a high ankle sprain.

9. Ole Miss defensive coordinator Dave Wommack: “I love the energy of this team. The competition has been great.”

10. Alabama had two players put on more than 30 pounds in the offseason.

11. Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen and defensive coordinator Geoff Collins orchestrated an argument in front of the team.

12. About that Florida 4-8 season in 2013: “It seems inconceivable — and yet it happened.”

SEC Basketball

13. Wichita State vs Kentucky: “The team chasing 40-0 against the team that was supposed to go 40-0. ”

14. Will Kentucky guard Andrew Harrison be ready to play today?

15. Tennessee and Mercer are survivors – not Cinderellas.

16. “UT athletic director Dave Hart might be wise to extend Cuonzo’s contract rather than paying another coach not to coach.”

17. Bruce Pearls’ show cause penalty expires in August.  ”It’s up to Auburn to get the exact details of what Pearl can and can’t do for the next five months. ”

18. “Right now, Pearl is speaking to more potential recruits through the tube than he could on the phone or in person.”

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SEC Headlines 3/22/2014

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1. Alabama had a full-pads practice on Friday. One note: cornerback Tony Brown was out on the practice field.

2. Watch Alabama’s receivers, led by Amari Cooper, practice on Friday.

3. Auburn will be looking for toughness as it attempts to replace running back Tre Mason.

4. Jonathon Mincy wants to be Auburn’s boundary corner and a team captain.

5. Auburn is trying to replace Jay Prosch at H-back. Gus Malzahn: “Brandon Fulse, C.J. Uzomah are two guys that will definitely start out (at H-back).

6. Arkansas coach Bret Bielema sees a “feisty” team now that it’s going through its second spring with Bielema.

7. Expect LSU’s tight end to be “all over the place” in the Tigers’ offense in 2014.

8. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier’s donations back to the school have reached $1 million.

9. Barrett Sallee discussed Florida’s offense in his latest SEC football Q&A.

SEC Basketball/NCAA Tournament

10. Here’s a scouting report as Florida gets ready to take on Pittsburgh.

11. Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin has cooled off the “hot seat” talk as the Vols keep winning in the postseason.

12. Kentucky guard Andrew Harrison was listed as “day-to-day” after suffering a right elbow injury against Kansas State.

13. Mercer was confident heading into the Duke game. That helped Mercer pull off the huge upset.

14. LSU is preparing for a deep, physical team in SMU in the NIT.

15 Shane Rector is back with Missouri while Wes Clark remains suspended for a “violation of team rules.”


16. Mel Kiper Jr. has three Texas A&M players in the top 10 of his latest mock draft.


17. Marcus Smart’s college basketball career ended in disappointing fashion. Could Duke’s Jabari Parker return?

18. There’s still a perfect bracket out there. It won’t be winning $1 billion from Warren Buffett.

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SEC Headlines 3/20/2014

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1. Urban Meyer on Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin:  ”There has been a lot of publicity about Lane Kiffin and I having issues. There’s none. ”

2. Florida coach Will Muschamp on new offfensive coordinator Kurt Roper: “Just a really good teacher, very fundamental in his approach.”

3. What do Georgia players think of new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt? “I think he might be a little more meaner than Coach Grantham,”

4. Why is Georgia restricting media access to spring practice when other schools open up to media and fans alike?

5. 61-year old David Kotulski is Vanderbilt’s linebackers coach – and an expert in the 3-4 scheme.

6. Alabama center Ryan Kelly: “This is a big spring.”

7. Auburn offensive lineman Shane Callahan has gained 29 pounds – up to 304. Dead heat in the left tackle race between Patrick Miller and Shon Coleman.

8. Big focus for the Auburn offense - cutting down Nick Marshall’s fumbles in the pocket.

9. Texas A&M will have its first spring scrimmage on Saturday.  

10. Focus at LSU’s Saturday scrimmage will be third-and-long situations.

SEC/NCAA Tournament Basketball

11. Mike DeCourcy: “Those who wonder where these supposed “upsets” come from… it’s often because the 12 seeds have no business being 12 seeds.”

12. Why did Florida struggle to win Thursday?  Perhaps because Albany is not your average David.

13. SEC NIT schedule.  Georgia hosts Louisiana Tech Saturday, Southern Miss at Missouri Sunday, Arkansas and LSU play Monday.


14. In defense of Johnny Manziel: “He’s a tough, almost elastic dude, in fact the toughest guy I’ve covered…”

15. Could Jadeveon Clowney be reunited with safetey D.J. Swearinger in the NFL?

16. At Missouri’s pro day on Thursday, they came to watch defensive ends Kony Ealy and Michael Sam but a few others stood out.  Lineman Max Copeland has lost 50 pounds and wants to be a fullback.

17. Vanderbilt holding its pro day today.


18. NCAA recorded a nearly $61 million surplus for its 2013 fiscal year.

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SEC Headlines 3/20/2014

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1. Report:  Texas A&M sophomore defensive lineman Isaiah Golden has withdrawn from school.

2. Want to own your own LSU locker?  It can be yours for $3,950.

3. LSU defense shuffling its linebacking corps.

4. LSU A. D. Joe Alleva on the current scheduling format: “The ADs will not change their votes. “The only hope for change is for the (SEC) presidents  to realize it’s not an equitable schedule.”

5. Goal for Florida this spring? “We gotta get better on offense.” Quarterback Jeff Driskel made his return Wednesday.

6. Alabama linebacker Trey DePriest on hurry-up offenses: “It’s just something that you have to prepare a little bit harder for. That’s really it.”

7. Alabama gets in the first spring practice in pads.  Coach Nick Saban: “Some of the guys have to mature a little more…”

8. How are Alabama players adjusting to new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin?  “He pays attention to everything — every little thing.”

9. Full pads and full contact for Arkansas today.

10. Ole Miss offensive lineman Aaron Morris continues his recovery from a torn ACL.  Expected to totally cleared by August.

11. Big things expected this fall for Mississippi State running back Josh Robinson.

SEC Basketball

12. Five reasons why Florida will win a national title – and five reasons they won’t.

13. Matt Hayes on the Florida program: “Embrace the beauty that is Billy Donovan, everyone.”

14. FiveThirtyEightSports says Florida has a 14% of winning it all, 2% chance for Kentucky, less than 1% for Tennesse.

15. Thursday and Friday NCAA Tournament TV schedule. Stuck at work?  You can watch online.

16. Iowa coach Fran McCaffery on Tennessee:  ”I was really impressed with those guys and the program that Cuonzo [Martin] has built there.”

17. Missouri will host Southern Miss in the second round of the NIT. Arkansas will travel to Cal. Bears beat the Razorbacks earlier this season.

18. Will new Auburn coach Bruce Pearl use the job as a springboard to another destination?  ”No way. No. Not happening,”

19. Auburn has received more than 500 ticket orders since Pearl was announced as the head coach

20. Pearl on Mike and Mike – “Still the craziest coach in the country.”

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SEC Headlines 3/19/2014

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1. Why is former Texas A&M defensive end Damontre Moore lashing out at the Aggies athletic administration?

2. Spring practice gets underway today at Florida with a focus on the offense and new coordinator Kurt Roper.

3. Some players to watch and some questions to ask at Florida this spring.

4. Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen appreciates having some depth at quarterback this spring. Bulldogs kicked off spring practice Tuesday.

5. Concern at LSU?  Tigers backfield lacks depth.

6. Those four Georgia players charged with  multiple counts of theft by deception on Monday were back on the practice field Tuesday but Mark Richt not ruling out any dismissals. Bulldogs potential national title contender in 2014?

7. Plenty of new faces and new roles along Missouri’s offensive line but center Evan Boehm will be the anchor in the middle. Is Tigers running back Russell Hansbrough one of the players poised for a breakout season?

8. Vanderbilt redshirt freshman C.J. Duncan is changing positions.

9. Germain Ifedi started every game at right guard for Texas A&M last fall.He could wind up playing tackle this fall.

10. Linebacker Trey DePriest will be a leader of the Alabama defense.

11. Auburn safety Trent Fisher, son of St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher, may no longer be on the team.

12. South Carolina sophomore Jamari Smith trying to get the jump on five freshmen cornerbacks who will join the program this summer. A couple of South Carolina linebackers undergo arthroscopic surgeries.

13. Arkansas had to replace three assistant coaches in the offseason - but none of the changes came on the offensive staff.

14. Tennessee football is on spring break this week but here’s an updated look at the depth charts.

Bruce Pearl to Auburn reaction

15. Auburn’s new basketball coach meets the media.  ”When I made the mistakes that I made at Tennessee, I let a lot of people down.” Pearl gets six-year deal worth $2.2 million annually.

16. Pearl turned 54 Tuesday.  “Happy belated birthday, Bruce Almighty. Or should that now be Bruce Au-mighty?”

17. Pearl believes the hiring had the blessing of SEC Commissioner Mike Slive: ”I’m sure I wouldn’t be getting this second chance unless it met with his approval.”

18. “He will be a catalyst for change in the league, to the delight of commissioner Mike Slive.”

19. Pearl met with Auburn A.D. Jay Jacobs at his Knoxville home Monday night - deal hashed out on the kitchen island.  One Tennessee reaction to Pearl’s hiring?  Relief.  

20. Kevin Scarbinsky: ‘A popular analogy already has started making the rounds...Pearl will be to (Anthony) Grant as Nick Saban was to Tommy Tuberville.

21. Paul Finebaum: (Alabama A.D. Bill Battle) “woke up today and found out his worst nightmare – at least from a basketball standpoint — has come true.”

22. Mike DeCourcy: “How many active coaches are better? Let’s just say they could all probably fit in one clown car.”

SEC Basketball

23. Tennessee meets Iowa tonight.  Vols are 0-2 in NCAA Tournament games in Dayton, Ohio.

24. The 13-year old son of Iowa coach Fran McCaffery will have surgery to remove a thyroid tumor just hours before tonight’s tipoff. Update: “Today’s surgery for my son Patrick went as planned.”

25. Georgia hosts Vermont tonight in the NIT.  Bulldogs going for their 20th win of the season.

26. LSU travels to San Francisco to meet the Dons tonight in NIT action.

27. Texas A&M plays Wyoming tonight in the CBI Tournament.  Coach Billy Kennedy:  ”Our guys have been good in practice, and it helps us more for next year more than anything, just playing another game, and practicing helps for the future.”

28. Freshman guard Shawn Smith still not with the Aggies.

29. With a win Tuesday night, Albany gets to play Florida in the first round.  Trivia question: Know their team nickname?

30. The President has Florida in his Final Four but picks Michigan State to win it all.

31. Florida Center Patric Young wants to become a minister after basketball.


32. Johnny Manziel and his “Fighting Ducks” Nike shoes. Merrill Hoge on Johnny Football: “He’s got bust written all over him.”

33. Here’s a look at the rings given to Florida State players and coaches for winning the BCS title.

34. Actor Vince Vaughn pays $6.5 million for Lane Kiffin’s California home.

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Pearl To Auburn A Done Deal; Tigers Get A Winner

Auburn basketball is getting an upgrade.  The Tigers have hired Bruce Pearl as their new basketball coach.

Pearl — a man who has won at Southern Indiana (D-II), Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and at Tennessee — will take over a Tiger program that has been woeful since the departure of Cliff Ellis a decade ago.

Expect the NCAA to keep a close eye on AU hoops moving forward.  Expect one heckuva game between Auburn and Tennessee next season.  And expect several people to ask questions about the way Pearl landed at AU and about potential conflict of interest inside the NCAA at the time of his show-cause ban.

Pearl has become the first major-sport coach to come off a show-cause penalty and jump right back into coaching.

Auburn will still have to go before the NCAA to ask that Pearl’s penalty be ended ahead of August, as it’s currently scheduled.  A big, big get for Auburn and — let’s face it — a big, big get for an SEC in dire need of good basketball coaches.


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If Pearl Lands At Auburn, Get Ready For “Conflict Of Interest” Questions For The NCAA

dave-didionAs someone who covers SEC basketball, here’s hoping Bruce Pearl lands another coaching job if that is his desire.  Ole Miss, Eastern Connecticut State, wherever, Pearl is a larger than life character and a tremendous coach.  So bully for him if/when he coaches again.

Reports this morning suggest that Auburn has entered into negotiations with the ex-Tennessee coach and current NCAA analyst.  Auburn, huh?

About that whole “happy for him to coach anywhere” thing?  Let’s amend that.  How ’bout anywhere but Auburn?

No, this isn’t some “You guys hate Auburn” push.  It’s the situation that’s questionable, not the destination.

By now you know that Auburn senior associate athletic director Dave Didion (photo at left) was the lead NCAA investigator three years ago on the Tennessee case that ultimately led that school to fire Pearl and led to Pearl being handed a three-year show-cause penalty by Didion’s organization.  Last April, Didion resigned his post as the NCAA’s director of enforcement and accepted a job handling compliance issues for AU, a school he’d worked for once before.  At the time of his job switch, Didion had this to say:


“It’s personal, but I just wanted to go back to campus, and Auburn is one of the few places that I could go to.  I really enjoyed the people, and I enjoyed members of the coaching staff.  It’s a great community.  It’s a beautiful university.  No reason not to go back.”


And these comments were posted on Auburn’s website last June:


“I just told (AD Jay) Jacobs what the atmosphere was like at the national office but enforcement specifically, and told him I was looking for a different opportunity… He told me he was going to work on something…

“I’ve never lost my interest in Auburn University.  Jay can tell you that, because every time something good happened, I emailed him and congratulated him.  Every time something tragic happened, I emailed him.  I’ve always loved Auburn University — loved the campus, loved the people, loved the area.”


Interesting, no?

First, Didion was at/near the top of NCAA enforcement during the completely mishandled investigation into the University of Miami that led to an internal purge.  No wonder he didn’t like the atmosphere in his department, it was toxic.

Second, and most importantly, Didion’s comments about never losing his interest in Auburn open up a lot of questions about just how much he loved Auburn and how much he might have wanted to drive a winning coach from his job at one of Auburn’s rival.  To be fair, there’s no proof of a conspiracy and there’s no evidence that Didion always had his eyes set on an AU return.


Didion worked at Auburn.  Didion says he never stopped loving Auburn.  Didion was the lead investigator on the Pearl case.  Pearl got iced.  Didion landed back at Auburn.  And if reports are true, Didion has now cleared Auburn to hire Pearl.  Can you say “conflict of interest?”

Pearl was show-cause’d because he provided false information to NCAA investigators.  Aside from playing players, that violation is the grand no-no in the organization’s rule book.  And with college sports’ governing body owning zero subpoena power, it’s a necessary rule.  Well, just listen to what Didion said about those types of violations last June:


“What I’ve always told coaches — and it remains true — is if you do something that is wrong and you come and talk with us about it, we can fix it, we can help you, no problem.  We might have to report a secondary violation, but that’s OK.  No problem.  But if you try to hide something or don’t tell us the truth about something it’s really, really bad.  We’re not going to tolerate it.  I don’t think Jay is going to tolerate it.  I don’t think President (Jay) Gogue is going to tolerate it.”


Well, if Pearl lands at Auburn, the school, Jacobs, Gogue and the very man who made those comments will be hiring someone who did that very thing to the man who made those comments.

News flash: People don’t like the NCAA.  People don’t trust the NCAA.  Pearl to Auburn probably won’t help matters.  Anyone looking for a new line of attack on the NCAA will have it.

Now, in South Alabama where Pearl has gone from “cheater” (at Tennessee) to a good man done wrong (if he lands at Auburn), Didion’s clearance makes AU the perfect spot for Pearl.  Who better to clear him?  Who better to say the NCAA overreacted?

And that will have to be the spin from Auburn, correct?  Either that or Didion and company will have to admit: “There equals bad; here equals good.”

For Auburn fans grumbling that anyone might question this whole Pearl/Didion/AU storyline, let’s try and provide some perspective.  Let’s say an Alabama associate AD goes to work for the NCAA.  He then investigates Auburn which leads to Gus Malzahn receiving a show-cause ban.  Then the same man returns to Tuscaloosa — admitting that he never took his eyes off the place — and Alabama hires Malzahn to replace Nick Saban as soon as his show-cause is up.  Ya know who’d be raising holy hell?  Auburn fans.  And all of you darn well know it.

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SEC Fans All Clamoring For Pearl (Which Is Why He Should Sit Tight)

bruce-pearl3Over the weekend, Auburn sports information director Kirk Sampson decided to follow Bruce Pearl’s Twitter feed.

The internet then exploded.

Auburn fans — spurred on both by Sampson’s Twitter move and a pair of reports from AU-centric pay sites — caught Pearl Fever.  An announcement of his hiring was first expected Sunday.  Now some say an announcement could come today.  Pearl’s fellow ESPN’er Dan Dakich was having some fun with the hubbub last night, saying “War Eagle” while Pearl was across the desk from him during a bracket breakdown show.  An Auburn fan joined in the fun and games by editing Pearl’s Wikipedia page to read: “On March 16th, 2014, Pearl was hired as the head basketball coach of Auburn University.”

We’ve been down this road before with Nick Saban-to-Texas and Jon Gruden-to-Tennessee reports.  For that reason, we’ll believe the Pearl-to-Auburn rumors when the coach puts pen to paper.  That doesn’t mean AU athletic director Jay Jacobs isn’t chasing Pearl, just that we’d be surprised if he jumps at the offer.

A quick Twitter check yesterday revealed in one quick five-minute burst that fans of Auburn, Missouri, Ole Miss, and Tennessee were calling for Pearl to be hired by their favorite school.  To heck with Frank Haith, Andy Kennedy and Cuonzo Martin.  And more than a few Alabama fans were still grousing about Anthony Grant getting another year when Pearl is just sitting out there waiting for a phone call(!).

This is no knock on Auburn and if Pearl really wants to dive back into coaching, best of luck to him and the Tigers.  Lord knows the SEC needs another good basketball coach.  But why jump at the first opportunity?  Clearly, the longer Pearl sits out the more other fanbases will scream for him.  It seems he becomes a better coach with every game he doesn’t actually coach (and he was pretty darned good to start with).  Also, this time a year from now his show-cause will be over and no school hiring him will have to go before the NCAA to ask for any kind of early parole.

Auburn has a small, 9,000-seat arena.  Would Pearl view that as a big enough stage for his triumphant return?  It’ll be up to Jacobs to convince him that it would, if indeed Pearl is Jacobs’ top choice.

For those Tiger fans who’ve already gotten their hopes up — and Sampson’s Twitter move certainly set things up for some “anticipointment” if Pearl doesn’t land the job — they should remember that all coaches like to hear their names called.  It’s fun to be wanted.  So when Pearl said last week that he would listen to AU or anyone else who called him, you can believe it.  Whether that means he’ll take the first offer he gets is another matter.

For Pearl, we wouldn’t be surprised to see him wait things out for another year.  He has the personality to become ESPN’s next Dick Vitale if he decides that’s the route for him.  Meanwhile, Tennessee — Pearl still resides in Knoxville — will be rebuilding next year and Misters Martin, Haith, Kennedy, Grant, Mark Fox, Billy Kennedy and Josh Pastner at Memphis will all be just a few losses away from fans revolting.  Matter of fact, if Mike Anderson doesn’t improve things next season, expect some Arkansas fans to join in on the “We want Bruce” chants, too.  If Frank Martin at South Carolina continues to make a rear of himself… ditto.

For Auburn fans, Pearl would indeed be a home run hire if the NCAA feels he’s paid his debt in full.  He would give clout to the Tiger program, boost recruiting, and become a one-man marketing army.  Past history suggests he’d also win on the Plains.  Quickly.

But be careful not to get your hopes up, Tiger fans.  Coaches love to be chased and there are plenty of people who know Pearl who don’t believe Auburn will be his top choice.

The clock’s ticking.  Maybe we’ll know something soon.  Heck, according to some messageboards, an announcement could be coming today, remember?

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SEC Headlines 3/16/2014

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1. Arkansas opens spring practice today.  Coach Bret Bielema: “I can’t wait. I think our kids have been chomping at the bit.”

2. Georgia’s new defensive era under coordinator Jeremy Pruitt begins with spring practice starting Tuesday.

3. Tennessee coach Butch Jones on five-star running back recruit Jalen Hurd: ”I thought Jalen Hurd really started to run like we expect him to run.”

4. Missouri defensive end Shane Ray on the plan for him and teammate Markus Golden: ”We hope to have two All-Americans, two first-round draft picks. That’s the plan.”

5. Alabama coach Nick Saban on the Crimson Tide quarterback battle: “It’s going to be a long time in us developing those players…”

6. Alabama redshirt freshman wide receiver ArDarius Stewart experimenting as a safety. Backup center Chad Lindsay plans to transfer.

7. Special teams a focus for Auburn in spring practice as the Tigers have to replace both their kicker and punter.

SEC Basketball

8. Is Alabama coach Anthony Grant the first coach on the hot seat for the 2014-2015 season?

9. Cecil Hurt: “SEC basketball, unless you are at Florida and Kentucky, is a tough world, and it chews up coaches — even good coaches — pretty quickly.”

10. Key for next Auburn coach? “You have to have some Auburn in you or it’s not going to work.”

11. Florida coach Billy Donovan on the one-and-done rule: “College basketball coaches and programs are taking on all the risks.”

12. Kentucky guard James Young on today’s matchup with Florida: “We’re glad we got them. And we’re just going to fight and leave it all out on the court.”

13. Last time Kentucky lost three times to the same team in a season?  Tennessee in 1978-79.

14. Bracketology breakdown with three SEC teams in NCAA Tournament – Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee. Arkansas and Missouri among first five out.

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SEC Headlines 3/14/2014

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1. The frenzy over Tennessee redshirt freshman quarterback Riley Ferguson. “He is Peyton Manning with quicker feet, Heath Shuler with more accuracy, Casey Clausen with a bigger arm.”

2. Tennessee offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian on wide receiver and JUCO transfer Von Pearson: “Von’s very, very, very talented.”

3. High winds do some damage to Neyland Stadium’s Jumbotron.

4. Who will replace Cyrus Kouandjio at left tackle for Alabama?

5. Jonathon Mincy will be expected to provide leadership in the Auburn secondary this fall.

6. Texas A&M and UCLA will play a home-and-home series starting in 2016. LSU and Syracuse working on a deal.

7. Nine SEC staffs had some turnover this offseason.  Here’s a rundown of who’s in and who’s out.

SEC Basketball

8. Bruce Pearl’s top six programs in the SEC apparently don’t include Auburn.

0. Former Auburn coach Sonny Smith on the challenges the program faces: ”What makes the job somewhat difficult is the area that it’s located in.”

10. An argument to give Alabama coach Anthony Grant one more season.

11. LSU and Kentucky will meet for the third time this season. Tigers forward Johnny O’Bryant: “Oh, man, I can’t wait. Can’t wait.”

12. Would a signature victory over Florida be enough to push Missouri in to the NCAA Tournament?

13. Florida forward Casey Prather:  ”I feel like as long as we continue to stay on the path we’re going, then we’ll have no trouble.”

14. Atlanta-area starters a big part of Georgia’s success this season. Bulldogs beat Ole Miss by one point in their only regular season matchup.

15. Tennessee opens tournament play with South Carolina.  Coach Cuonzo Martin: ”I think the guys are loose.”

16. This breakdown of the NCAA Tournament says Arkansas’ loss yesterday has cost them a bid.


17. ESPN’s Mel Kiper projects three Texas A&M players going in the first ten picks of the NFL draft. Expects three Alabama players to go in first round.

SEC Media

18. Brent Musburger out – Chris Fowler in as play-by-play announcer for  ABC’s Saturday night college football broadcast.


19. Former chief executive of the Fiesta Bowl is headed to prison.

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