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SEC Gameday Links: Afternoon Delights 11/9/2013

gameday-links-150x150Arkansas at Ole Miss

1. Arkansas would tie a school record with seven consecutive losses if it falls to Ole Miss today.

2. The Razorbacks may have the advantage in the rushing game and on the defensive line.

3. But the Ole Miss running attack has been impressive in the absence of Jeff Scott. Rebels now have multiple backfield options.

4. Conditioning could be an issue for some Ole Miss players – especially Robert Nkemdiche – returning from a hamstring injury.

Appalachian State at Georgia

5. Appy State’s spread offense can put up some points.  Quarterback Kameron Bryant leads the Southern Conference in passing efficiency.

6. Georgia nose guard Garrison Smith has become a force in the middle – fourth on the team in tackles, third in sacks.

Mississippi State at Texas A&M

7. Mississippi State may look to run the ball on the Aggies defense which is giving up more than 200 rushing yards a game.

8. Last time Mississippi State played in College Station?  1913.

9. Special day at Kyle Field. “This class of outgoing Aggie players helped write a significant chapter in Texas A&M’s history.”

10. Perspective on the Aggies program: “Playing the SEC’s 2:30 p.m. game on CBS in November says all you need to about where the program is right now.”

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Wow Weekend Headlines

SEC Championship Game
Alabama 32 – Georgia 28
Alabama will play Notre Dame January 7th in the BCS Championship game
Saturday SEC Basketball Finals
Providence 73 – Mississippi State 63
Baylor 64 – Kentucky 55
Ole Miss 80 – Rutgers 67
Missouri 72 – Appalachian State 56
Cincinnati 58 – Alabama 56
Villanova 62 – Vanderbilt 52
Texas A&M 70 – Houston 59
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, Louisville coach Charlie Strong and Oklahama State coach Mike Gundy expected to be targets for open Tennessee job
Follow all the SEC’s coaching news and more at and

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Grant’s Stand Could Cost Tide, But Kudos To Him For Taking It

Anthony Grant may not be the SEC’s Coach of the Year in 2011-12, but he’s got this writer’s vote for Man of the Year.  Why?  Because he could be scuttling this season for the greater good of building a disciplined program at Alabama.

Every sports fan knows that the more talent a player has, the more second- and third-chances he will get following poor off-court behavior.  Just as true: Coaches needing wins are averse to disciplining players for key games.

We’ve all seen it.  The third-string linebacker gets the boot while the starting quarterback gets a one-half suspension.  Key players are disciplined not for a Week Five matchup with LSU, but for a Week Six contest against Appalachian State.

That’s not the case with Grant.  At least it doesn’t appear to be.

After Alabama dropped a fourth game in a row back on January 25th, Grant said his team was “playing an entitled brand of basketball, and it’s very frustrating as a coach.”  His team responded with two consecutive wins.

Then last week, Grant suspended forward Tony Mitchell for “conduct detrimental to the team.”  His Tide won the next night at Auburn.  But then came the real bombshell — facing LSU on Saturday, Grant suspended JaMychal Green, Trevor Releford and Andrew Steele for violations of team rules.  The trio was sent home from Baton Rouge before the game… which resulted in an Alabama loss.

These aren’t scrubs.  These are key figures.  Benched in the middle of an NCAA Tournament push.  Mitchell, Green, Releford and Steele account for 45.4 points and 20.4 rebounds per game.

For the moment — and it may be to the chagrin of Tide fans who expected a Top 20 team and a deep NCAA tourney run this year — it appears that Grant is willing to sacrifice the present for the future.  That’s not an easy call to make.  But if he had allowed important veterans to break rules and get away with it because of their value to the team, his younger players would have seen it.  Instead, he’s sent a message that he hopes will resonate as he continues to build his program.

Question is: When will he allow the suspended quartet to return?  If he waits too long, the Tide could play itself right out of March Madness.  That might eventually land Grant on a warming seat in Tuscaloosa and that could ultimately impact just how long he actually gets to build his program.

The simple way out would have been for Grant to allow all four players to keep hitting the court, regardless of their actions.  It’s been done before at many, many programs.  Grant instead chose the more controversial approach.  It may work, it may not.

But we applaud him for showing some gumption and making the less popular decision.

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News From The SEC Coaching Carousel

Just a few nuggets, tidbits, rumors and, yes, actual news items to mention on the SEC coaching carousel this morning:

* Joker Phillips has filled out his coaching staff at Kentucky with the official hiring of Mike Cassity as the Wildcats’ defensive backs coach.  Cassity’s replaces Steve Brown who went from defensive coordinator to co-defensive coordinator to gone in the span of two years.

Cassity has been at Marshall as secondary coach since 2009.  He began his coaching career at Kentucky and handled DB duties there in 1980 and 1981.  Joker Phillips was a freshman with the ’81 Cats.

* As noted in our headlines section and on our Facebook page yesterday — are you following us on Facebook? — the University of Florida has officially hired Jeff Dillman to be their new strength and conditioning coach.

Dillman is the former head of physical conditioning at the IMG Performance Institute in Bradenton, Florida.  Previously, he served on the strength staff at LSU (for their 2003 BCS championship) and he was the head strength coach at Appalachian State when they won back-to-back national crowns in the FCS (2006 and 2007).

Dillman also served as strength coach at Appalachian State when when they won He replaces Mickey Marotti who recently left the Gator program to join ex-coach Urban Meyer at Ohio State.

* At Tennessee, Derek Dooley has three slots to fill on his staff and that’s making recruiting a bit more challenging.  It’s been widely reported that UT has targeted Clemson’s Kevin Steele, who almost took the same job with the Vols two offseasons ago.  Whether he would be willing to leave the ACC champs to join a head coach on the hot seat in Knoxville is anyone’s guess.  Steele’s co-defensive coordinator at Clemson — Charlie Harbison — is also a name to watch.

Former LSU and North Carolina special teams (and defensive line) coach Joe Robinson has been mentioned in connection with UT’s open special teams coordinator slot.  The Vols also have an opening at the linebacker position.

Keep an eye on current assistant Lance Thompson.  He may be a fallback choice as UT’s coordinator, but he’s also coached both the D-line and linebackers in Knoxville, which might give Dooley some flexbility.

* Kevin Sumlin continues to fill out his staff at Texas A&M.  According to multiple reports, Kliff Kingsbury will serve as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.  Former Kansas co-offensive coordinator David Beaty is expected to join the Aggie staff as receivers coach.  BJ Anderson will move from Houston to cover the offensive line duties.

On defense, three names bear watching: Michigan State’s Pat Narduzzi, Northwestern’s Mike Hanwitz (who just allowed 33 points and 300+ yards passing to A&M in a bowl game), and Chris Wilson of Mississippi State.

Wilson coached with Sumlin on Oklahoma’s staff from 2005 through 2008. 

* With success comes interest from other schools.  New Illinois head coach Tim Beckman has raided Vanderbilt for receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Chris Beatty.  Beatty — who joined James Franklin’s staff after a successful stint at West Virginia — will be the co-offensive coordinator for the Illini.

Franklin said, “We did some things to try to keep him, but I wouldn’t do anything to mess up the chemistry on our staff right now.”  The coach said he is already interviewing four candidates to replace Beatty.

* At Auburn, Gene Chizik is still working to find to replacements for offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn and defensive coordinator Ted Roof.  One candidate to take over the Tigers’ defense is now off the table.

Florida State announced yesterday that D-coordinator Mark Stoops has been given a new contract worth $568,850 per year, which is nearly a $130,000-a-year raise.  According to The Tallahassee Democrat, both Auburn and Texas A&M made runs at Stoops.  Some reports have claimed Chizik offered Stoops somewhere in the neighborhood of $1 million to come to the Plains.

* Current Alabama receivers coach Mike Groh continues to be mentioned as a possible replacement for departing offensive coordinator Jim McElwain.  Nick Saban has said he’s more focused on the BCS title game — naturally — than on filling his coordinator slot.  Saban also runs a pretty tight-lipped search.  So it’s possible that Groh is getting write-ups and being mentioned on the Tuscaloosa grapevine because there are no other leads to follow at the moment.

* Hugh Freeze continues to put together his first staff at Ole Miss.  For those who haven’t been keeping track, his current line-up of assistants reads as follows: Dave Wommack (defensive coordinator and safeties), Tom Allen (linebackers), Chris Kiffin (defensive line), Derrick Nix (retained as running backs coach), Matt Luke (offensive line), and Maurice Harris (tight ends and recruiting coordinator).

Freeze was unable to hang on to Gunter Brewer who left to join Larry Fedora’s first staff at North Carolina.

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Hey, Maybe The SEC Can Invite These Guys…

They consistently compete for national championships.  They went into Ann Arbor and beat Michigan.  They would allow the SEC to dip a toe into the state of North Carolina.

Maybe the SEC should make Appalachian State the league’s 14th school.  An Appy State committee voted yesterday to recommend a move from the FCS to the FBS.  That’s just Step One in the process, however.

And, yes, we’re kidding about the SEC inviting the Mountaineers to enter the league.  (Though we do wish them the best in trying to move up the ladder.)

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Another Bungle? Fancher Says Nobody Told Him He Might Be Interim Coach At UT

There are reports this afternoon that former Appalachian State head coach Houston Fancher will be named the interim coach at Tennessee.  He served as UT’s director of video scouting the past two seasons.

One problem — “Nobody has told me that,” Fancher told The Knoxville News Sentinel.  “I think that’s just the scuttlebutt out there.  If that does occur, I would think they would tell me.”

Well, with the powers-that-be at Tennessee, you never know.

Either the reports are wrong… or UT fired its staff and has not given anyone the interim tag yet.  Which makes one wonder if anyone has called the Volunteers two most recent signees to discuss their futures.

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UF walk-on Gary Beemer nominated for Rudy Award

Content provided by Swamp Things – Gators Blog.

Walk-on defensive lineman Gary Beemer scored his first ever touchdown against Appalachian State on Senior Day last month. (AP photo)

Florida walk-on defensive lineman Gary Beemer had his Rudy moment. Now, the Gators’ senior has been nominated for the Rudy Award.

Each school can nominate a player, and 55 of the 120 FBS schools sent one in. The award honors student-athletes who demonstrate exemplary character, courage, contribution and commitment as members of their collegiate football teams.

Beemer provided one of the highlights of Senior Day in the Gators’ Nov. 20 win over Appalachian State. Late in the game, coach Urban Meyer put Beemer in to run the ball at the goal line. After three attempts, he was in for the first touchdown of his life.

“I grabbed the ball and I lowered my head and I ran and I closed my eyes,” he said after that win, “and when I opened them, I had scored a touchdown.”

Three players will be selected as finalists, and the two runners-up will receive an award and have an academic scholarship awarded to the university in their names.

The Rudy Award winner will be presented with the award by its namesake, Rudy Ruettiger,at the College Football Rudy Awards Ceremony on Jan. 11 in Dallas.

The winner will be chosen based on a fan vote and the choice of a selection committee. Voting is open until Dec. 13.


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SEC Headlines 11/28/2010 Part Three

1. Alabama 76 – Alabama A&M 50.  Tide breaks a three-game losing streak but junior forward JaMychel Green is suspended indefinitely.

2. Vanderbilt 86 – Appalachian State 73.  Vandy pulls away late.

3. Jacksonville 69 – Auburn 55. Tigers drop to 1-4 on the season.

4. South Carolina 87 – Western Kentucky 85. Gamecocks survive in double-overtime.

5.  Villanova coach defends Bruce Pearl.

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Video: Post-App. State press conference

Men’s basketball head coach Kevin Stallings, forward Lance Goulbourne, center Festus Ezeli and guard John Jenkins answer questions from the media following the Commodores’ 86-73 win over Appalachian State.

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Vanderbilt 86, Appalachian State 73

The Vanderbilt men’s basketball team defeated Appalachian State, 86-73, Saturday afternoon at Memorial Gym.

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