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APR Results A Reflection Of Academics… And Coaching Stability

mortar-board-on-footballWant to know what a football program must do to score highly on the NCAA’s academic progress reports?  First, get kids to class.  That’s obvious.  Second, make sure those football players get consistent leadership from someone they respect.

The NCAA released the latest round of football APR numbers yesterday — the scores are a four-year rolling average from 2008-09 through 2011-12 — and here’s how the SEC’s schools fared:

 

1.  Missouri 982 — The league’s newest member lived up to its AAU reputation in Year One.  Gary Pinkel has been at Mizzou for more than a decade.

2.  Alabama 978 — Not bad for a BCS champ, no?  Nick Saban has been coaching (and winning) in Tuscaloosa since 2007.

3.  Vanderbilt 973 — Would you expect anything less from Vandy?  The Commodores had three coaches between 2008 and 2012, but, again, it’s Vanderbilt.

4t.  Florida 968 — Another AAU school.  Very good numbers despite one coaching transition.

4t.  Georgia 968 — Not an AAU member but certainly one of the SEC’s more respected academic institutions.  Also, Mark Richt has been running the UGA program for more than a decade.

6.  Mississippi State 967 — Dan Mullen has been at State since 2009.

7.  South Carolina 966 — Steve Spurrier is entering his ninth season in Columbia.

8.  Texas A&M 954 — One coaching change, outside this window.

9.  Auburn 950 — Another school with a coaching change this past season.

10t.  LSU 944 — Les Miles has been in Baton Rouge for nearly a decade, so this number is a bit surprising.  However, the Tigers have had a large number of NFL early-entrants in recent years.

10t.  Ole Miss 944 — Houston Nutt entered in 2008 and exited after 2011.  That’s basically two coaching changes within this APR window.

12.  Kentucky 943 — Two coaching changes overall including this past offseason.

13.  Arkansas 938 — Bobby Petrino gave way to John L. Smith who’s given way to Bret Bielema his offseason.

14.  Tennessee 924 — Since 2008, UT has been coached by Phillip Fulmer, Lane Kiffin, Derek Dooley and now Butch Jones.  The Volunteers are below the 925 penalty-line, but Jones and the school are already working to improve the program’s academic scores.

 

Bottom line?  Stability at the top of the program leads to stability throughout the program.  Coaching changes lead to transfers and that impacts APR scores.  It’s no surprise that — for the most part — the programs with the SEC’s highest APR results have had the least amount of coaching turnover.  That works in reverse as well.

On a sidenote, many coaches and athletic directors have APR- or other academic-related bonuses built into their contracts.  Carolina’s Spurrier will get an extra $100,000 for his program’s score.  LSU’s Miles missed out on a $200,000 bonus because of the Tigers’ low number, but he can still earn extra scratch if a good percentage of his players reach a specific GPA level or graduate on time.

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SI’s Staples Weighs In On A&M, Mizzou Moves

missouri-texas-am-logoSports Illustrated’s Andy Staples has today ranked all of the major conference realignment moves that have taken place in the past three seasons.  The best move?  Texas A&M’s to the SEC.  Among the many reasons the Aggies’ move got an A grade from Staples:

 

“… this union was a perfect cultural fit.  Fans at other Big 12 schools considered the buzzcut-sporting, whooping Aggies a tad odd.  Most SEC fan bases believe there’s something wrong with a school if its fans aren’t odd.  The Longhorns, who have the quietest 100,000 fans in America on fall Saturdays, look down on the Aggies.  Florida, LSU and Alabama fans just said, ‘Welcome to the Party.’”

 

But Staples’ take on Missouri — he gave the Tigers’ move a C — is a bit more interesting:

 

“One bad football season does not make this a terrible move.  Remember, in the preceding five years, Missouri was much better at football than Texas A&M.  The Tigers certainly need to get better on the football field — because their new rivals in the SEC East aren’t getting any worse — but calling this move a mistake because of one lousy football season is premature.  If, in 10 years, Missouri has not moved out of the SEC’s cellar, then feel free to say that the Tigers traded a world of pain for the financial security of the SEC.

As far as the SEC goes, Missouri was the only choice everyone could agree upon in the situation the league faced in 2012.  Some presidents and athletic directors wanted Florida State, but they faced fierce opposition from a bloc led by Florida and Georgia.  The most logical additions would have been Virginia Tech or NC State — which would have been geographic fits that opened new television markets — but neither wanted to leave the ACC.  Missouri was geographically contiguous and added two decent-sized television markets (St. Louis and Kansas City).  It also gave the SEC another AAU member.  Of course, if (former Ohio State president) Gordon Gee is to be believed, the Big Ten will try to snatch Missouri down the road.  That would be interesting, but it seems highly unlikely.”

 

Technically, Gee said that he would have liked to have added Missouri and Kansas already and that he could see that “potentially” happening in the future.  Gee is also known for making bizarro comments from far out in left field.  We at MrSEC.com don’t believe he was anymore speaking for Jim Delany and the Big Ten with regards to Missouri than he was when he made a poor joke about Catholics.

To a more interesting topic, the SEC’s expansion plans post-A&M were and are still shrouded in mystery.  Word leaked out quickly that Missouri and the SEC were playing footsie (as we had suggested might happen way back in the summer of 2010).  As for all the other schools mentioned, well, that depends on each writer’s sources.

Oklahoma was mentioned as a potential candidate because Mike Slive had spoken with Sooner brass a year earlier.  We don’t believe there was much to that.

Folks close to West Virginia University will tell you that Slive and Mountaineer AD Oliver Luck were secretly hoping Missouri would pass on the SEC and leave the door open for WVU.  The problem there?  If the SEC wanted the Mountaineers why didn’t Slive and company just invite them in the first place?

NC State and Virginia Tech were kicked around by several websites as potential targets should the SEC drive toward 16 schools at some point.  But at MrSEC, we never heard much talk about the two — aside from fan chatter — during the push to 14.

Several sources have said that Slive has longed for North Carolina and Duke for ages.  One ACC source even claimed to The Sporting News that the SEC commissioner had been wooing those schools for several years.  Obviously, if wooing went on, that wooing did not work.

Florida State would have been a brand name “get” — much like the Big Ten’s addition of Nebraska — but the SEC was more interested in growing its footprint in 2011 and adding cable households to its portfolio.  Only this offseason have we learned that FSU officials approached SEC officials — in 2013, according to reports — to see if the league Florida State once spurned might still have an interest in the school.  That answer was no.

The fact of the matter is we’ll likely never know for sure just who the SEC did speak with — either officially or unofficially — during the summer and fall of 2011.  What we do know is that Texas A&M and Missouri were the final choices.  And it will take a number of years to determine whether or not the SEC, A&M and Mizzou are a good match long-term.

 

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As Folks Work To Figure Out The Big Ten’s Moves, It’s Time For The SEC To Focus In On Six Possible Expansion Partners

Across the college sports landscape, folks are trying to make sense of what the Big Ten has just done.  While smack in the middle of negotiating a new playoff with all the other major football conferences, Jim Delany’s league was secretly negotiating with Maryland and Rutgers on the side.  Until the weekend, very few saw the Big Ten’s move coming.

Now that the Big Ten is a 14-team league and it’s caught most everyone off guard, what comes next?

 

*  Mark Schlabach of ESPN believes the age of the super-conference might finally be at hand.

*  Dennis Dodd of CBS says that television insiders are having trouble wrapping their heads around the Big Ten’s move.

*  Some folks are calling the Big Ten’s move “dumb” and “greedy.”

*  UConn and Louisville are the favorites to replace Maryland in the ACC.

*  Boise State, San Diego State and BYU could all join the Mountain West Conference.  (You know things have gone crazy when schools exit conferences as soon as they enter them.)

*  The Big Ten could target all sorts of southern schools.

*  Even Nate Silver — The New York Times blogger who nailed this year’s election projections — weighs in to say that the Big Ten’s move east could dilute the league’s brand.

 

The reality is pretty simple: The biggest schools want the biggest share of television revenue from college football and its new playoff.  Period.  End of story.

Academics play some role in all this — the Big Ten added two more AAU schools in Maryland and Rutgers, for example — and geography matters, too, if only in terms of adding cable households.  In addition, the biggest schools would like to pay their athletes “full-cost-of-tuition scholarships.” But all of those issues tie back to money.

So if we’re all headed into a super-conference era, you need to ask yourself two questions:

 

1.  Which schools can afford to give full-cost-of-tuition scholarships?

2.  Which schools can provide an increase in cable households for a conference?

 

We’ve already got the answers for you.

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Hoops Coaches Believe Most Big-Time AAU Programs Are Tied To Agents (Pay Attention, Football Fans)

This week, the folks at CBSSports.com have been running a series of stories tied to the anonymous responses of nearly 100 college basketball coaches to a series of questions regarding their sport.  Yesterday’s piece was a bit of a surprise (a lot of coaches want to shorten the 35-second shot clock.)  Today’s piece?  Not so much.

Asked what percentage of “prominent AAU programs” they believe are “tied to agents,” the coaches responded with an average percentage of 61.  Basketball recruitniks won’t be shocked by that one.  Matter of fact, many might be surprised that coaches believe just 61% of big-time AAU programs are connected to agents.

One coach said, “If 60% of AAU coaches are tied into agents, the other 40 are trying to get tied in.”

So one of things that makes college basketball recruiting shady is AAU basketball.  No gasps, please.

But here’s a little warning for all the football fans out there.  You need to be paying attention to this survey as well.  Instead of AAU programs, football has seen a boom in 7-on-7 camps and tournaments in recent years.  In 2011, the SEC banned those camps from league campuses.  Earlier this year, the NCAA followed suit by barring them from all college campuses.  There was quite a bit of grumbling when those decisions were made and some have since suggested that driving those camps off campus will only result in them becoming dirtier/grimier/seedier.

But those moves — by the SEC and then the NCAA — were made in an attempt to at least try and cut back the growing influence of outside parties on football recruiting.  The same kind of outside influences that college basketball coaches say is already prevalent in their sport.

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Oriakhi Free To Play Immediately… Somewhere

Yesterday the NCAA nixed UConn’s appeal of a 2012-13 postseason ban and that opens the door for transferring forward/center Alex Oriakhi to play somewhere immediately.  If that somewhere is in the SEC, he’ll also have to get a waiver from the league because he has just one year of eligibility remaining… but that looks to be a forgone conclusion.

The folks in Missouri — one of Oriakhi’s final four choices — believe he “could flourish” playing alongside point guard Phil Pressey who was his teammate in AAU ball back in Massachusetts.

But Oriakhi told CBSSports.com that he’s already spoken to top high school prospect Nerlens Noel about teaming up at Kentucky, another of his final four choices (along with Duke and North Carolina).  It was reported that the big man was scheduled to meet with John Calipari yesterday.

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Internal Report: Mizzou Studies Money, Academic Ramifications Of Move To SEC

If you’re wondering why Missouri is seriously pondering a move to the more brutal (at least football-wise) SEC, think green.  Lots and lots of green.

A confidential document obtained by The Associated Press — and leaked to them by someone at Mizzou — shows that MU research projects as much as a $12 million a year revenue bump for the school if it leaps from the Big 12 to the SEC.  The new cash involves additional television and cable revenue.

The 45-page report was reviewed by Missouri’s board of curators at a much publicized meeting last Tuesday.  As a result of that meeting, the board gave MU chancellor Brady Deaton the authority to explore new conference alignments for the old Big 8 school.  The report breaks down potential reasons to stay with the Big 12 or go to the SEC.  Among the most interesting revelations:

* Missouri believes it could earn $17.16 million in Big 12 television money in 2012 as compared to $19.25 million in the SEC for the same fiscal year.

* But the school believes there is the potential for a much larger “per member share” should the SEC renegotiate its Tier I television rights now that it has added that states of Texas and Missouri (which include about about 10 million cable households alone) to its footprint.

* The school believes those renegotiated TV deals could earn Missouri up to $12 million more per year than it currently makes with the Big 12.  (If those numbers are correct: $17 million plus $12 million would equal $29 million per SEC school under a new contract.  That’s the equivalent of about $406 million per year for what would be the league’s 14 schools.  Currently the league makes a little more than $200 million per year from its deals with CBS and ESPN.  If MU — and the SEC — believe doubling the intake is possible, they must also be factoring in the possibility that a network like ESPN will have more money to spend now that the Big East is considerably less valuable.  We believe that number seems awfully high, but we’re going from the numbers reported by the AP and not the numbers from the actual 45-page document the AP examined.  In other words, something could be getting lost in the translation.)

* The internal report also shows that Missouri believes it can “leverage (its) Tier 3 (rights) more.”  According to one source who had seen the report, “There are 33 million reasons” to join the SEC.  The school official was referring to the number of total households within what would be the SEC’s 11-state footprint, which suggests that the league is indeed considering the launch of its own SEC Network.

(Please remember when you see another website claim that it was the first to report the possibility of an SEC Network, that actually, we have been mentioning that possibility since May 19th of 2010at a time when everyone else believed that possibility to be stone dead.  In fact, we brought up the subject again on September 20th of this year, a full week before anyone else started saying, “Hey, we think the SEC could start a network.”  There are lots of good sources for information out there, but we believe in taking credit for our own ideas and giving credit to others for theirs.  Other sites might have posted more hypotheticals on a potential SEC Network — and those are very much worth reading — but they did so long after we’d discussed the possibility of said network.  It’s a big enough beach for everyone to have plenty of room to play without stepping on one another’s toes.)

* The study looked at a number of factors from “faculty honors” to the “increased travel costs” of moving to the SEC.  (In other words, the school looked at academics and proximity — two things we broke down in our 10-part “Expansion By The Numbers” series – as well as a long list of other categories.  Now why didn’t we think of that?)

*  The AP claims that the report “said Missouri would not suffer a dramatic loss in academic prestige with an SEC move,” proving once and for all that a) schools do consider academic reputation in this expansion/realignment game and b) the SEC is looked down upon by many schools and rival conferences (whether that’s fair or not).  The report also mentioned the fact that the SEC would have four AAU members with the addition of Missouri.

* Also the report said “Missouri would rank lower overall in the SEC than it does in the Big 12 in terms of enrollment, faculty members who belong to the National Academy of Sciences, federal research financing, average SAT scores and athlete graduation rates.”  That’s surprising considering Missouri’s academic reputation and AAU status.  It does, however, show that the SEC isn’t the football-first league many present it to be… an image SEC presidents and Mike Slive are eager to shake.

* Finally, the report looked at exit fees for Mizzou should it abandon the Big 12.  If Mizzou left in time to join the SEC for next football season, the school would risk a $25.9 million penalty.  But the document states that MU could get that exit fee down to a more manageable $10.4 million by giving the league longer notice (“as much as two years,” according to the AP).  We believe it is still likely that Missouri — like Colorado and Nebraska last year — will be able to negotiate their exit fee down without having to stick around for two more seasons.

* Would the Big 12 want to keep Missouri around for as much at two more years?  Unlikely.  However, now that the Big 12 is officially adding TCU — to get back to 10 schools — it may want to take its time in expanding to 12 teams.  Strong-arming Mizzou into staying would also the Big 12 to window shop for a good while longer, rather than rushing into marriages with two new schools.

The bottom line on all of this?  Missouri is extremely serious about moving to the SEC and it likely wouldn’t have gone this far — especially after the embarrassing Big Ten debacle of a year ago — if it hadn’t received some form of a “we’ll get you in” assurance from Slive.

With realignment, nothing’s over til it’s over… but it looks to us like the Tigers will be making the move the SEC in time for the 2012 or 2013 seasons.

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Vols Land First 2012 Basketball Commit

Tennessee has received a commitment from wing prospect Derek Reese of Olympia High School in Orlando, Fla.

Reese, who chose UT over offers from Central Florida, North Florida and Jacksonville, will take an official visit to UT this weekend.

“I am excited to see a Tennessee football game for the first time,” Reese told GVX247.com. “I have never been to a college football game at all, so that should be a great experience.”

Reese believes his experience at different positions has made him a valuable prospect. His offer came from UT after an impressive AAU circuit in July.

“My versatility is the biggest thing – just being 6-8 and being able to handle the ball and shoot the ball,” Reese said. “That is what they are looking for, and I think they can push me and get me better for the next level. I am going to do whatever it takes to make that happen.”

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NCAA: UGA’s Jones Didn’t Break Any Rules

The NCAA is a tough group to read.  In our million-miles-an-hour society, we deal in generalities, headlines and Twitter posts.  Info is passed along quick and easy.  So to us — and I’m including me in that us — the case of Georgia’s Jarvis Jones looks like it’s being handled differently than the case of LSU’s Russell Shepard or even the case of Georgia’s AJ Green last year.

Jones was allegedly given airplane tickets (and possibly a computer and cash) by an AAU coach while he was in high school and then at Southern Cal during his freshman year.  How could he not be suspended for at least a game or two?

But we don’t have all the details of Jones’ case.  At least not all the details that UGA turned over to NCAA investigators.  And when it comes to comparing cases, we don’t have all the details on other cases, either.  We have headlines.  We have newspaper summaries.  But we don’t have all the facts that were available to the NCAA.

So when the NCAA tells Georgia — as it did yesterday — that after reviewing UGA’s internal report it decided that Jones hadn’t violated any NCAA rules, we need to accept that on face value.  Why would the NCAA be playing favorites with Georgia now… after not playing favorites and giving Green a four-game suspension for selling a jersey last season?

So while fans and media types like us try to compare the apples of one case to the oranges of another, the reality is that each case is different.

Which might explain why Dawg hoopster Kentavious Caldwell-Pope — who’s been tied to the same AAU scandal — still hasn’t had his eligibility ruled upon yet.

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Report: Jones In The Clear For UGA

Now here’s a surprise…

Linebacker Jarvis Jones — recently tied to an AAU scandal from his high school days — has been cleared by the SEC and the NCAA to play for Georgia this fall.  At least that’s the take of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

If, as expected, a press release is sent out this afternoon delivering that news, then it’s great news for the Dawgs who have been suffering from attrition all offseason.

A police investigation had found that Jones’ AAU coach had likely provided him with plane tickets while he was still in high school and possibly had given him a computer and/or cash during his one year at Southern Cal.  Jones transferred back to Athens this past year.

The fact that Jones won’t have to sit for even a game should come as a pleasant surprise for Georgia fans.

No word yet on the status of UGA basketballer Kentavious Caldwell-Pope who was also tied to the AAU scandal.

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Records Show UGA’s Jones Might’ve Received Cash In AAU Scandal (While At Southern Cal)

Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones — who just transferred to Athens from Southern Cal — might have a harder time gaining eligibility than initially thought.

Last month, a police investigation into what amounts to a slush fund in the office of Columbus, Georgia’s former parks and recreation department director showed that Jones and UGA basketball signee Kentavious Caldwell-Pope likely received improper benefits while playing AAU basketball in high school.

It was believed that Jones had received Atlanta-to-Los Angeles (and back) airline tickets.  However, a report in The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer today states that:


“Further investigation into police records shows (the P&R director/AAU coach) also withdrew $700 in cash from the account and made notes on the transactions that may link them to Jones.


Georgia AD Greg McGarity said earlier this week that his school is finalizing its report on the Jones/Caldwell-Pope matter and hopes the NCAA will rule quickly on Jones’ status with the Bulldog football team.

Question is — Did UGA know about this new information or are they now having to restart from ground zero on their report?

If true, it’s possible that the NCAA could sit Jones for a few games and require him to donate to charity an amount of money equal to what he received during his AAU days.  Of course, it’s also possible they could bag him entirely.

What doesn’t appear likely at this point is Jones taking the field with his Georgia teammates when they face Boise State in little more than a month.

UPDATE — Our bad, folks.  We missed a rather big point in this story.  It seems Jones was given the money while attending Southern Cal, not during his AAU days.  (Only the plane tickets were provided during his AAU days).  In February of 2010, Tony Adams withdrew $400 from the questionable account and labeled the transaction: “Jarvis laptop.”  Then in March of last year, he withdrew another $300 and labeled that transaction: “Georgia Blazers Jarvis Jones.”  The Georgia Blazers are the AAU team Adams coached and Jones played for.

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