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SEC Headlines 11/15/2013

headlines-friSEC Football

1. Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy a game-time decision; Gators likely to start redshirt freshman Skyler Mornhinweg.

2. Before the season, the line on the Florida-South Carolina game was 3 1/2 points.  It’s now double-digits.

3. South Carolina running back Mike Davis once thought he was going to a Florida Gator.  The bitterness persists. With 1,508 yards, he’s the SEC’s leading rusher.

4. Texas A&M receiver Malcome Kennedy channels his inner Bob Dole in support of Johnny Manziel’s Heisman campaign: “He knows it, we know it and people who watch sports know it.”

5. Archie Manning on Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron: “All he does is win.”

6. Gary Danielson on differences between Alabama and Auburn: “Alabama really strives for balance…But Auburn’s definition of balance is different.”

7. “So what, exactly, happened at Auburn last year?..As it turns out, the core issue wasn’t talent.”

8. Auburn has to play Georgia every year as their permanent cross-division opponent but you don’t hear them complain about it.

9. A comparison of current Auburn QB Nick Marshall to former Auburn QB Cam Newton.

10. Plenty of Georgia natives on the Auburn roster.

11. Here’s a headline you don’t see everyday: “Why I relish UK-Vandy Football”

12. Mississippi State’s offense has struggled at times this year scoring points in the fourth quarter.

13. Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace is on a roll - nearly 72% completion rate the last four games.

14. Vanderbilt’s sophomore class is beginning to emerge.

15. If Missouri doesn’t win out, Cotton Bowl is a possibility with a rematch against a former Big 12 rival.

16. With eight SEC teams already bowl eligible, the jockeying for position has begun.


17. NCAA president Mark Emmert says the organization continues to oppose payments beyond scholarship value to student athletes: “There is virtually no interest among university presidents and athletic directors in turning student-athletes into paid, unionized professionals.”

SEC Basketball

18. Georgia coach Mark Fox wanted Auburn QB Nick Marshall to play basketball for the Bulldogs.

19. Is the series between Georgia and Georgia Tech headed for extinction?

20. Why South Carolina’s Sindarius Thornwell is a freshman worth watching.

21. Sports Illustrated has Louisville No. 1, Kentucky No. 2. Florida comes in at No. 9.

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With The Playoff Selection Panel Set There’s Only 1 Question: How Do They View The SEC?

gfx - honest opinionThe Southeastern Conference has thrived under the BCS system.  Nine national titles in 15 years to date.  That’s unmatchable stuff.

But now college football’s means for determining a national champ is changing.  Starting next year a four-team playoff will finally come to college football.  Yesterday the men (and woman) tabbed to handle the selection of playoff teams was officially announced.

There are ex-coaches and sitting ADs on the panel.  A former Air Force general and a former Secretary of State are on the committee as well.  One ex-sportswriter is in the group.  Of the 13 members, ten played college football.

For now… all’s good.  Anyone asking a question about the exclusive club will be painted as a grumbler.  Question the inclusion of Condoleezza Rice for any reason and you’ll be labeled as a knuckle-dragging cave man (even if you suggest that there are more qualified women out there).

So be it.  We’ll play along.  To quote Rip Torn from “Men In Black,” the following group is the best of the best of the best.  Their belonging on the committee is self-evident:


Chairman Jeff Long (current Arkansas athletic director)

Barry Alvarez (current Wisconsin athletic director and former head coach)

Lt. General Mike C. Gould (retired Air Force general and former superintendent at the Air Force Academy)

Pat Haden (current Southern Cal athletic director)

Oliver Luck (current West Virginia athletic director)

Tom Jernstedt (former supervisor of the NCAA’s board of directors)

Archie Manning (member of the College Football Hall of Fame)

Tom Osborne (former Nebraska athletic director and former head coach)

Dan Radakovic (current Clemson athletic director)

Condoleezza Rice (former Secretary of State, former National Security Adviser, and former provost at Stanford)

Mike Tranghese (former Big East Conference commissioner)

Steve Wieberg (former college football writer)

Tyrone Willingham (former head football coach)


Thumbs up.  Love it.  Geniuses, one and all.

But what do they think about the Southeastern Conference?

You see, in the end, that’s all most of you are going to care about.  If next year, your favorite SEC school doesn’t make the playoff field despite being ranked inside the top four or five in the national polls, you will lose your ever-lovin’ mind.  You know it.  I know it.

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Condi On The Committee? Ex-Auburn Coach Dye Not A Fan… And He’s Right

Condoleezza_Rice_croppedThe addition of Condoleezza Rice to the new college football playoff selection committee is being widely hailed as a genius move.  At this point — as Dennis Dodd of points out — no one can dare question the intelligence of any of those selected to be on the most-powerful panel in the history of college football:


“After reviewing the names of the 12 named to date, one word comes to mind: unassailable.  This isn’t a sports committee, it’s a presidential cabinet.  Rice is part of it.  So is (ex-Stanford coach Tyrone) Willingham.  Even in football coaching absentia, he projects an air of authority, knowledge and trust.  So do Archie Manning, USC’s Pat Haden, Wisconsin’s Barry Alvarez and Tom Osborne.

There’s a retired lieutenant general who was superintendent of the Air Force Academy.  How do you ask Michael Gould, a man who has spent a life training men to go to war, why Boise State didn’t get in?

As national security adviser, Rice spent part of her life outscheming terrorists.  It seems almost inappropriate chatting her up on how Alabama outschemed Georgia.

You see what the BCS commissioners — oops, now called the Management Committee — have done here, right?  They’ve made what projects to be the most powerful body in amateur athletics Teflon.  I’m sure there will be tough questions to ask these people in the future I’m just not sure how to ask them.  After reading the roster, football just doesn’t seem important.”


That, of course, is the problem with putting non-football people — like Rice — on the panel.  “Football doesn’t seem important.”

But point out that fact as former Auburn coach Pat Dye did yesterday and you’ll be labeled a chauvinist.  That’s where’s Tom Fornelli went when he heard these comments from Dye:


“All she knows about football is what somebody told here.  Or what she read in a book, or what she saw on television.  To understand football, you’ve got to play with your hand in the dirt.

I love Condoleezze Rice and she’s probably a good statesman and all of that, but how in the hell does she know what it’s like out there when you can’t get your breath and it’s 110 degrees and the coach asks you to go some more?”


Fornelli wrote: “Maybe what Dye meant to say was that Rice doesn’t know anything about football because she isn’t a man.”

Yeah.  Maybe that’s what he meant.  Or maybe he meant Rice has never had a thing to do with football and is just a fan.  Which is the case.  Aside from the fact she served in the George W. Bush administration — and half the country would view that as a negative rather than a positive — what football clout can she boast other than being a mega-fan?

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Ole Miss To Announce Freeze As Coach Today

Ready for a pun?  I started to headline this post: “Ole Miss To Announce Hiring Freeze.”

Hugh Freeze of Arkansas State will be introduced today at 3pm ET as the Rebels’ next head football coach.  As the school put it in a press release:

“A Mississippi native, inspirational leader and one of the nation’s top rising coaches, Hugh Freeze was the first choice to return championships to Ole Miss Football and will be introduced as the Rebels’ 37th head coach today…”

The whole “first choice” part might not be exactly true as a few reports have claimed Southern Miss’ Larry Fedora — who’s being listed in connection with several higher-profile jobs, including Texas A&M — turned down overtures from Archie Manning’s search committee.

Freeze may well turn out to be the right choice for the job, but he certainly isn’t the splashy choice.

Fedora has turned Southern Miss into arguably the best program in the state of Mississippi.  He’s also lived in the state for four years and knows every dusty Delta backroad when it comes to recruiting inside the Magnolia State.

Mike Leach and Rich Rodriguez were available for pursuit as well.  Manning and crew decided to look elsewhere.  Now Freeze will be held up to the successes (or failures) that Leach and Rodriguez have at Washington State and Arizona respectively.

Also, we do not believe Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart — despite several reports to the contrary — was ever given a serious look by the UM search committee.

If Fedora, Leach, Rodriguez and/or Smart flourish elsewhere while Freeze becomes the umpteenth UM coach to flame out by The Grove, it might just put a tiny dent in ol’ #18′s halo.

We have no problem with Manning and crew deciding not to pursue an assistant like Smart.  The Rebel program needs a proven head coach at this point.  Unfortunately, Freeze is hardly proven.

As you’re sure to hear time and again in the coming weeks, months and years, Freeze was coaching high school football and girls’ basketball in 2004 at Briarcrest Christian School in Memphis.  His star player there was Michael Oher of “The Blind Side” fame.

Ed Orgeron plucked Freeze from the high school ranks — and landed Oher, too — when he made the coach an assistant AD for football external affairs in 2005.  In 2006 he became Orgeron’s recruitng coordinator and tight ends coach.  He then became the team’s receivers coach as well.

When Orgeron was ousted in 2007, Freeze headed to NAIA Lambuth University as head coach.  He went 20-5 at Lambuth in 2008 and 2009.

In 2010, he moved to Arkansas State as offensive coordinator.  The team finished 4-8 and head coach Steve Roberts was replaced by Freeze last offseason.  In his first year as head coach of the Red Wolves, Freeze led the team to a 10-2 record and a Sun Belt Conference title.

While his rise has been impressive, it’s hard to ignore the fact that this is a mighty big gamble or Ole Miss.  Freeze may eventually prove that he was indeed the best choice the UM search committee could make.  But there’s not much on the resume — at least not on the BCS level — to suggest that will be the case.  It’s a long way from coaching girls basketball to competing with Nick Saban, Les Miles and Bobby Petrino in the toughest division in college football.

Archie Manning released a video on UM’s official website today announcing the hire.

The Jackson Clarion-Ledger has more here.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal has more here and here.

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Hudspeth Pulls Name From UM Search; Manning Wants Process Done Soon

You can scratch Mark Hudspeth’s name from the list of potential Ole Miss candidates.  Louisiana-Lafayette’s coach — who reportedly interviewed with the Rebels’ search committee on Sunday — has pulled his name from consideration, according to David Johnson of 

Hudspeth — a former assistant under Dan Mullen before moving to UL — “alluded to Johnson” that the committee led him to believe “that Hudspeth’s ties to Mississippi State were an issue.”

If that’s true, then Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz might come off the list, too, due to the year he served in Starkville.

Archie Manning has told The Memphis Commercial Appeal that he “very much wants to” have a candidate to take to UM chancellor Dan Jones within two-and-a-half weeks.

“We’re moving fast as we can,” Manning said.  “We’ve conducted some interviews on the phone and in person, and we’ll conduct some more this week.  There are some coaches still playing some games this upcoming weekend that we want to interview.  There are some coaches we’re interested in that didn’t coach this year.”

The coaches still coaching this weekend are likely Larry Fedora of Southern Miss and Hugh Freeze of Arkansas State.

As far as men who weren’t coaching this year, Mike Leach does not appear to be a candidate and Rich Rodriguez has already landed the job at Arizona.

So here’s one for the messageboarders to have some fun with — Who did Archie’s boy, Peyton, play for at Tennessee?  A currently out-of-coaching Phillip Fulmer.

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SEC Headlines 7/31/2011

1. Arkansas running back Knile Davis can bench press 430 pounds, squat 550 pounds and run a 40-yard dash in 4.29 seconds.

2. Expect a better running game from Tennessee this year.

3. John Adams on Tennessee sports: “What else can the NCAA do that won’t qualify as overkill.” Take solace, Vol fans, at least you’re not North Carolina.

4. Tennessee defensive end Malik Jackson has delivered some bulletin board material for SEC opponents.

5. Jadeveon Clowney: “I’m ready to have a big season…”

6. ESPN wants South Carolina and Vanderbilt to kick off the 2012 season.

7. Big expectations for LSU football this fall. Archie Manning noticed a big difference in Jordan Jefferson this summer.

8. Putting the Iron Bowl rivalry in perspective - from Afghanistan.

9. Beyond the quarterback competition, five key questions Alabama needs to answer as its roster continues to churn.

10. As an  overhauled Georgia football team starts practice this week, here are five key questions facing the team with practice starting Thursday.

11. A preseason view and ranking of the Bulldogs.

12, A Level 1 secondary violation for Georgia over an inadvertent text message.

13. Open practices this first week for Missisippi State and Ole Miss.

14. Don’t forget State’s Vick Ballard when discussing the conference’s running backs.

15. Want to win a national championship? It starts with the defensive line.

16. Will Muschamp says recruiting in Florida is tougher than Texas. The SEC is full of rivalries for the new Gators coach.

17. The city of Memphis is a SEC melting pot.

18. The genius of John Calipari was on display this week.


19. What would you do?  Go to college or take $7.5 million?


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