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Mizzou Folks Not Happy About New Helmet Rule… But They’d Better Get Used To It

For the past few seasons, Alabama’s Nick Saban and a few other coaches have beaten the drum for player safety regarding helmets that fly off during the course of play.  This offseason, the NCAA responded by creating a new rule.  If a player’s helmet comes off during a play, he has to leave the field for the next play.  The goal is to get players back in the habit of properly buckling their chinstraps.

With the new rule in place, the number of helmets flying off has now drawn the attention of fans, as well.  Watch a game and you’re bound to see someone have to leave the field of play after losing his headgear.  And always looking for any advantage they can find,  you can bet that some coaches are instructing their players to help their opponents’ helmets pop off.

Take it from Missouri quarterback James Franklin, who twice lost his helmet during Saturday’s game with Georgia:


“The second time I could feel it, but you could also see on film where (a Georgia player) was pulling on it.  It definitely was frustrating.  You try to make adjustments so they couldn’t just pop it off.  They say if they see a player intentionally pull it off you won’t have to come out.  But I think teams will definitely try to do that more.”


Outspoken Mizzou receiver TJ Moe made his feelings on the new rule known to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch:


“It’s a stupid rule that will be gone after this season.  Stupidest rule ever in college football.  If my quarterback leaves the game one more time because his helmet is ripped off, I’m going to lose it.”


Actually, it’s not a stupid rule.  Players have been losing their buckets more and more often over the past few years and several factors could be involved — looser helmet construction, players refusing to fully snap their straps, etc.  Old-timers will remember the days just 15 years or so ago when players would walk to the sideline, have to put their fingers in their helmets’ ear holes and pull the sides wide just to remove them.  Now notice how many players can easily slip off their helmets simply by lifting up on the facemask.  (Photo at left.)

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WOW Morning Headlines – 9/7/12

LSU starting LT Chris Faulk will reportedly miss the season with a knee injury
Alabama’s Nick Saban on available tickets vs W. Kentucky: “We can’t sell out with all the games we’ve won?”
Houston has reportedly put in a bigger bid to host the “Champions” Bowl than Arlington or New Orleans
Tennessee is paying nonconference foes Ga. State, Akron and Troy more than $2 million to visit Knoxville
Kentucky AD Mitch Barnhart: “We want people in the stands, but we’ve got to earn that back.”
Two W. Kentucky players promise a victory at top-ranked Alabama on Saturday
Follow all 14 SEC schools and their recruiting efforts every day on and

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Saban Wants Scheduling To Be Less “Divisional” Oriented

Asked whether a nine-game conference schedule would make it tougher for the SEC to win a national title, Alabama’s Nick Saban spoke the truth.  The fact that it meshed exactly with what we’ve stated time and again has not a thing to do with us posting his response verbatim, either.  Nope, not a thing.

Coach, take it away:


“Here’s the priority — trying to look at this whole thing from a thousand feet rather than lookin’ at it as how it just affects us — is my opinion is that the #1 priority should be that every player at every school have the opportunity to play every SEC school in his career…

It doesn’t have to be nine games, but what scheduling format gives us an opportunity to do that?…

Everybody’s got a self-absorbed opinion about why we shouldn’t do it, ’cause maybe they won’t get bowl eligible.  But people said when we started the SEC Championship Game that we’ll never be able to win a national champion(ship) because we play this competitive game at the end of the year and people will get knocked out.  But the fact of the matter was more teams got in the national championship game because of what happened in the SEC Championship Game than got knocked out…

I don’t think the difficulty of schedule would be any greater.  I think if you’re one of the best teams playing another team in our league it would just be an opportunity to prove that you are a quality team.  So I don’t know if it would or wouldn’t affect it one way or another.  I just look at it that the #1 priority should be that every player have the opportunity to play every school in the SEC rather than be so ‘divisional’ oriented.”


Keep in mind, Alabama and Saban have flourished with an eight-game schedule.  It would be easy for Saban to push for the status quo.  He isn’t.

Good for him.

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Alabama’s Nick Saban At The Podium – 7/19/12

We start the day with the man expected to lead his team to another BCS Championship this year.  But if someone brings up the word “defend” in reference to last year’s title, expect the obligatory, “We’re not defending anything, this is a new year” from Alabama’s Nick Saban.

Here we go…

* Saban opens by thanking the media — you read that right — for bringing exposure to college football and positive light to a lot of student-athletes.  Who reprogrammed Saban?

* Saban says excellence should be defined as “consistency in performance.”  He also said that it’s human nature to relax when you’ve had success.

* “High achievers don’t like mediocre people.  And mediocre people don’t like high achievers.  So everybody has to buy in” in order for a team to have success.

* Saban says this year’s team is different from the previous two.  He also points out that he’s lost 13 starters from last season.

* Pretty dry, but that’s standard for Saban.

* Saban says he wants to find out how his young players will take advantage of their opportunity to make this year’s Bama team “their team.”

* Bama fan/media guy just used the “We” word.  Ugh.

* The coach said he thinks Gary Pinkel is a fantastic coach.  Saban got off a good joke saying that he knows Pinkel said during his session that he’s younger than Saban.  He then said there are older guys in the SEC — like Steve Spurrier — that he looks up to.  (Laughs.)  He said he was thinking of wearing a visor to Media Days but he was afraid he’d throw it.  Back to Missouri, he said he thinks the Tigers will do well in the SEC.

* Saban said he hasn’t given much thought to how the league will look in 10 years.  Obviously didn’t like the questions, but he answered it by praising Mike Slive.  Praises the league for being “at the forefront from a leadership standpoint.”

* Asked about new rules, Saban said the #1 thing should always be player safety.  “I think there’s some facts out there that support there are more injuries on kickoffs and kickoff returns than we like.”  Didn’t seem to have a problem with moving kickoffs up and cutting down on returns if it helps protect players.

* Interestingly, asked about the Penn State situation, Saban said he didn’t have any feelings — but before he could finish, media members laughed at that statement — about the Penn State deal.  Odd moment.

* Saban says all his injured players would be ready to go if practice started today.

* Saban says he is indeed in favor of a nine-game SEC schedule because it would allow players to face every other SEC school.  He took a dig at people looking selfishly trying to maintain bowl eligibility.

* Asked about the perception that Saban and Alabama are the new Joe Paterno and Penn State, the coach said it’s not true.  When people err, the administration handles it and he doesn’t make decisions alone.

* Saban was asked if ex-assistants like Derek Dooley and Will Muschamp still seek advice from him.  He said he’s “always willing to be as helpful as I possibly can.”  He said he likes all his ex-staff members and that he wants to help them, if/when they ask for help.

* “I think Derek Dooley’s done a really good job” after inheriting a difficult situation.  Saban said “he had a stroke of bad luck last year when he lost a very good quarterback and a very good receiver.”

* Saban said he analyzed the things from the first LSU game that they didn’t do well or weren’t ready for and then did them better in the BCS title game last year.  He credited AJ McCarron and his defense’s execution as being “the difference” between the two games.

* Saban, naturally, says he thinks fans want to see the four best teams in the country in a playoff… not just conference champions.


Our overall grade for Saban’s “performance” based on comfort, friendliness, openness… we’ll give him a 4.  The guy just doesn’t come across as a warm, fuzzy fella.  As we’ve said many times, this has nothing to do with winning football games, but if we’re going to sit through these things, we’re going to tell you how entertaining, interesting they are.

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Bama’s Saban (No Surprise) Is Against A League Champs Only Playoff; We Think A Compromise Is Coming

Fact: There’s a desire by several conference commissioners to place additional roadblocks between the SEC and future BCS championships.  Larry Scott of the Pac-12 and Jim Delany of the Big Ten are interested in a college football playoff involving the four highest-rated conference champions in the land.

Problem is — and this is what’s motivating those commissioners — the SEC had two teams in the BCS title game last year and the team that did not win its conference title did win the national crown.

The coach of that team — Alabama’s Nick Saban — weighed in on the champs-only plan yesterday during a speech at a charity foundation yesterday in Nashville:

“No disrespect to any conference, but there are conferences that are in the BCS that if they played in the SEC their champion may be in fourth or fifth place.  I have a tremendous amount of respect for Roy Kramer and all commissioners of major conferences in the country.  No disrespect to anyone.  I disagree with that (plan).  If you’re one of the two best teams you should be able to play in the game and we were fortunate to have the opportunity to get back in the game this year and I think we proved with our conference that we should have been in the game.”

In fact, in nearly half of the years of the BCS’ existence, two SEC teams have ranked among the top four teams at year’s end.

If the champs-only plan had been in effect this past year, #1 LSU would have played #10 Wisconsin and #3 Oklahoma State would have faced #5 Oregon.

Second-ranked Bama and fourth-ranked Stanford didn’t win their league titles.  Neither did the teams ranked sixth through ninth.

We believe a four-team Plus-One system should include the four highest-rated teams in America.  If guys like Delany and Scott weren’t being so shortsighted they would realize that in 2006, both Ohio State and Michigan would have made a playoff from the Big Ten and that the Pac-12 would have had both Stanford and Oregon in the field in 2010.  The Big 12 would have had two teams in the field in 2008.

But, with so much of the motivation for a playoff coming from anti-SEC feelings, it’s likely that a plan involving the four highest-rated teams won’t fly.

At the same time, hopefully Mike Slive can get enough backing from another commish or two — perhaps John Swofford of the ACC — for a compromise plan.  The best fix: Invite the three highest-rated conference champs plus the highest-ranked non-champ to play.  Last year that would have included #2 Alabama at the expense of #10 Wisconsin.  (And if the top four teams all happen to be conference champs, obviously, they would all get invites.)

We at expect a 3-and-1 “wild card” system to be the eventual choice.  At some point we believe even men like Scott and Delany will realize that it could be their leagues left out if a champs-only system is implemented.

But a plan just taking the top four teams in the country would make even more sense.

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Former Vol Aide Says He Left For Job Security

Since a season-ending loss at Kentucky last November, the Tennessee football program has hemorrhaged some seven assistant football coaches from a staff that only runs nine-deep.  Former Vol tight ends and special teams coach Eric Russell — who left UT to join ex-boss Mike Leach at Washington State — undoubtedly spoke for many of his former co-workers when he said an uncertainty in the staff’s status contributed to his departure:

“I think at Tennessee, it was going to come down to how many games you won the next year, and unfortunately nobody’s got a crystal ball.  I tried to take the sentimental stuff out of it.  A chance to be an assistant head coach and concentrate purely on special teams was a little bit of a unique situation.”

Let’s play a little game.  Let’s say you’re an assistant football coach.  You can either:

A.  Stay in your current job on a one-year contract knowing that if your squad doesn’t win seven or eight games for some reason, you’re a goner at year’s end.


B.  You can re-start your coaching clock by going to another school and getting more guaranteed time (or money should you be blown up after a year).

I think it’s pretty clear that Option B is the safest, smartest bet.  Which explains — in part — why several Derek Dooley aides have vamoosed to other schools for job titles that would have to be considered even.

The fact that Dooley — like Alabama’s Nick Saban, his old boss — has a reputation for not being the best guy to work for likely also added to the mass exodus from Knoxville.  Of course, in Saban’s case, his assistants are paid handsomely and have plenty of security via their tremendous success. 

That’s not been the case at Tennessee under Dooley.

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RB Taylor Signs With UK, Not Bama

Atlanta running back Justin Taylor has inked scholarship papers with the Kentucky Wildcats.  Taylor made national news recently when Alabama’s Nick Saban told him that the school would no longer have room for him as an immediate signee, despite the fact that Bama had held Taylor’s commitment for nearly a year.

Taylor told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution two weeks ago that Saban wanted him to grayshirt and become a part of the Tide’s 2013 class.  Taylor waffled back and forth before deciding to take the bird in hand UK was offering.

Taylor is recovering from a torn ACL he suffered last September.

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SEC Headlines – 11/29/11 AM Edition

1.  Alabama’s Nick Saban wants BCS voters to be fair when picking the two best teams in the country.  (Sidenote: Even Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy said he’d have a hard time voting his Cowboys ahead of Bama.)

2.  Auburn went to 4-0 last night, but Tony Barbee says he’s “not enjoying coaching their group right now.”

3.  The University of Arkansas football team said their goodbyes as former teammate Garrett Uekman was laid to rest yesterday in Little Rock.

4.  Les Miles believes safety Eric Reid will be ready to play when LSU faces Georgia on Saturday.

5.  Gunter Brewer is Ole Miss’ one-man recruiting staff at the moment.

6.  Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox says he plans “on coming back” for his senior season.

7.  Florida’s Billy Donovan locked up his 400th career victory last night.

8.  Georgia’s assistants will be receiving bonuses for winning the SEC East… just weeks after an 0-2 start had folks thinking they’d be receiving pink slips instead.

9.  John Calipari says Kentucky’s #1 ranking just puts a bigger target on the Wildcats’ backs.

10.  Receiver Alshon Jeffery and guard Terrence Campbell both broke bones on Saturday, but they’re expected to be A-OK by the time South Carolina goes bowling.

11.  This writer says Tennessee has become a bottom-tier SEC football program.

12.  A Vanderbilt transfer led his new team — #11 Xavier — to an overtime win at #20 Vandy last night.

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Saban Talks SEC Expansion

When it comes to conference expansion and radical realignment, Alabama’s Nick Saban says he’s not looking for any say in who the SEC has invited or who it will invite in the future:

“I’ve always said I have tremendous faith, trust and confidence in our administration, our president, Mal (Moore, UA’s AD), and the SEC commissioner to make the decisions about what’s right for the SEC in the future.

It’s like I don’t think it’s my responsibility to change the uniforms around here.  It’s not my responsibility to worry about who we decide is the best fit for the SEC in the future in terms of expansion, if that’s the best thing for the league, and I’m not saying that it is or it isn’t.  I’m just saying if those people think it is, then they need to make those decisions…

(Adding Texas A&M) does open up a different market to the SEC, so there are positives.  I’m sure you could sit down and figure out some negatives if you’re willing to take the time to do it.

But I don’t know a lot about it, to be honest with you.  I know these things sort of get decided way above, and I don’t have any favorites.”

Bama’s coach did say that he hopes “the integrity of the rivalries” in the SEC will avoid damage in expansion.

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Saban Says SEC Big Games Prepare SEC Teams For Ultimate Big Game

Speaking with ESPN, Alabama’s Nick Saban attempted to explain why the SEC has such success in big games like the BCS title game:

“I do think the competition in our league and the parity in our league — last year at the end of the season we had five out of the six teams in our division in the West that were in the Top 20 — actually prepares you to play in those kinds of games.  Those kinds of big, difficult, tough games.  And I think the intangibles your players learn of being a relentless competitor, being able to finish, being able to focus on the things that you need to… I think those are probably the things that benefit you the most when you gotta play in that many big games in a season.”

Saban reportedly took time to sign autographs for all who wanted them before leaving SEC Media Days.  Class move.

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