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Missouri And Texas A&M Worth $41 Million To The SEC In Year One

offering-cashAccording to the SEC’s federal tax return for 2012, the conference saw its revenue grow by $41 million dollars in its first year as a 14-school league.  USA Today requested the return which shows the SEC took in $314.5 million in 2012.  Missouri and Texas A&M were welcomed into the Southeastern Conference in the summer of 2012.

Interestingly, the SEC showed an overall deficit for its fiscal year which ended on August 31st, 2013.  While the league brought in $314.5 million, it spent $317.9 million.  Most of that money went back to the member institutions in the form of annual payments.  The league will hand out new checks next month during the SEC Meetings in Destin, Florida.

The SEC’s tax return also shows:


*  Missouri and Texas A&M each made about $19.5 million in their first year in the SEC.  The two schools made a little more than $12 million in their final year in the Big 12.

*  Mike Slive’s base pay increased to nearly $1.2.  His overall income was down from 2011 when he received more than half a million dollars in bonuses.

*  Slive’s base salary in 2012 was less than what fellow commissioners John Swofford (ACC), Jim Delany (Big Ten) and Larry Scott (Pac-12) made in 2011.


The Southeastern Conference fell $1 million shy of the Big Ten’s revenue total ($315.5 million) from the previous year.  When compared to all other conferences, the SEC and Big Ten are still dominant financially.  For example, the ACC ranked third in revenue in 2011, making $223.3 million.

The SEC’s revenue will continue to rise over the next few seasons as the new playoff system will debut, new bowl partnerships will kick off and the SEC Network will launch.

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Kentucky Falls Just Short Of National Crown & Other Basketball Notes (Part 2)

BioIBjOCEAABT9ZThe three SEC squads that did make this year’s NCAA Tournament each had a nice run.  Tennessee reached the Sweet Sixteen and was three missed free throws away from making the Midwest Regional final and SEC versus SEC showdown.  Kentucky went on to win that regional and advance all the way to the national title game before finally running out of steam.  And on the other side of the bracket, Florida cruised all the way to the Final Four before falling to eventual national champ, UConn.

Will that success lead next year’s NCAA Tournament selection committee to send the SEC a few more invitations to the Big Dance?  Probably not.

Hey, in theory, impressing in this year’s tourney could sway next year’s panel when it comes to SEC teams on the bubble.  But the committee doesn’t often take last year’s success/failure into account when doling out at-large bids.  First example: After winning back-to-back national championships in 2006 and 2007, Florida’s bubble was popped two years in a row sending the Gators to the NIT.  In 2012, Kentucky won the national title.  In 2013, UK was given a thumbs-down on Selection Sunday, dropping them into the NIT.  One year’s success or failure doesn’t have much impact on who the committee picks and doesn’t pick for its tournament the following year.

On the flipside, perhaps the tournament runs by UF, UK and UT will have a positive impact on the SEC’s overall conference RPI ranking.  That might not guarantee more bids in 2015, but it couldn’t hurt.


Early top 25 rankings look awfully familiar

Will the SEC be better next season?  Not in the eyes of a couple of national hoops writers.  ESPN’s Eamonn Brennan posted an early top 25 preview for next season.  He has Kentucky — with a new batch of highly-touted freshmen — ranked #3 in the nation and Florida ranked #8.  That’s it.  Two ranked teams.  He does mention Tennessee among his group of 15 teams that “may crack the list at some point before November.”

Meanwhile, Rob Dauster of NBC and College Basketball Talk has posted his own early top 25 rankings.  Kentucky is ranked #5.  Florida is ranked #14.  And that’s it.  No other Southeastern Conference squad earns a mention from Dauster.


UConn’s basketball success doesn’t mean much in a football-crazed culture

Connecticut’s men’s basketball team has won four national championships in 16 seasons.  Over that same span the UConn women’s team has won seven national crowns and will be playing for their eighth tonight.  If there’s a D-I campus where basketball is king, it’s the one in Storrs, Connecticut.

And that fact hasn’t helped the Huskies one bit in terms of conference affiliation opportunities.

UConn has campaigned try and gain inclusion in the ACC.  No dice.  Boston College wants to be the New England team in John Swofford’s conference.  For that reason, Louisville — hardly a team located on the Atlantic Coast — got the nod to replace Maryland over UConn and others.

Connecticut hasn’t had much luck talking their way into the Big Ten, either.  UConn lacks the resume — meaning a membership in the Association of American Universities — for which Jim Delany’s league lusts.  Maryland and Rutgers received Big Ten invitations instead.

Conference expansion/realignment has been driven by just about every factor out there except basketball.  And that’s a shame for Connecticut because UConn is fast becoming Basketball U with both its men’s and women’s teams.


What would a big game be without a few couch fires

Pity the poor, innocent couches.  It’s become commonplace in recent years for college students to burn couches after big losses (Ohio State).  They also light ‘em up after big wins (West Virginia).  Mostly they just burn them when they’re feeling good and liquored up, regardless of a big game’s outcome.  Last night, Kentuckians got in on the act.

According to The Lexington Herald Leader, there were 19 couch fires, several small trash fires, 31 arrests, and 23 injuries after Connecticut topped Kentucky 60-54.  It was a disappointing, immature reaction that’s made news all across the web, the nation and the world.

There are worse things, however.  Like being stuck with a tattoo bearing the words “2014 National Champions” above the UK logo.  For the record, Tyler Austin Black says he’s going to keep the tattoo.

Betcha he has some work done to cover up the “2014″ at least.

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Arkansas’ Bielema, Carolina’s Martin Proving “Name” Hires Aren’t Always The Best Hires

bret-bielema-and-frank-martinQuick.  Which SEC coach is the biggest jerk: Arkansas football coach Bret Bielema or South Carolina basketball coach Frank Martin?

To be honest, those two are really the only coaches in the running.  Both have said/done things just in the last few weeks that have embarrassed themselves and their universities.  Neither has won games as expected (though it’s still very early in their tenures).  So who ya got?  Bielema or Martin?

The Razorbacks’ coach has garnered more press.  Dating back a full year prior to his joining the SEC, he stated publicly that the Big Ten — where he was coaching Wisconsin at the time — wanted to be nothing like the league he currently represents.  Soon after arriving in Fayetteville he “joked” about having a better Big Ten record than Alabama’s Nick Saban had had while he coached Michigan State.  We suspected he’d make some noise at SEC Media Days… and he did.  His temper flared when someone fed him a quote from Auburn’s Gus Malzhan that Bielema took personally.  There was Swinging Gate-Gatein which he violated an SEC rule by talking about an alleged Auburn rule violation.  Later he complained about “the location of some of these (SEC) universities and the towns around them” while hotel-hunting prior to the Hogs’ trip to Ole Miss.

Making matters worse, Bielema’s first Arkansas team went belly-up.  The roster he inherited wasn’t built for the style of play he prefers and it showed.  UA went winless in league play for the first time in decades and set a school record by losing its last nine games.  Congratulations.  We wondered by mid-November if Bielema could be labeled a fish out of water in the SEC.  That was before a lackluster signing day and his latest remarks regarding no-huddle, hurry-up offenses.  Back on February 20th when he was asked about evidence of increased injuries he responded: “I’m not talking about injuries, I’m talking about death.”  That was in reference to California’s Ted Agu who had died on a conditioning run in early February.  Cal’s AD immediately called Bielema’s comments “misinformed, ill-advised and beyond insentive.”

So just how bad has Bielema bungled things in his short Arkansas tenure?’s Stewart Mandel put it this way last month:  “With Lane Kiffin now muzzled as a member of Nick Saban’s staff at Alabama, Bielema is well on his way to replacing him as college football’s most reviled figure.”



Now Martin at South Carolina doesn’t have a resume of missteps that long and he’s actually nearing the end of his second season in the SEC.  But his offenses — depending on your point of view — are nastier than Bielema’s.  Carolina’s coach appears to be this generation’s Bobby Knight, minus the chair-tossing and player-choking.  (That said, would anyone be surprised if a cell phone video of a Martin practice someday leaked out and revealed that he’d strong-armed a player or two?)

Last February, Carolina’s coach — who routinely berates his team and his players during games — said after an 18-point loss to LSU:


“I’ve been doing this for 28 years, nine of which as a junior varsity high school coach.  That means I’ve dealt with 14-year-olds.  I’ve never been more embarrassed to call myself a basketball coach than I am today…

If this was the NBA, we’d fine (the players), we’d take their money, we’d release them and say, ‘Good luck with ever finding another job.’  I shouldn’t coach basketball ever again if this is how my team plays.”


When those quotes went viral and led many to say he’d thrown his team under the bus, Martin laughably responded with this beaut:


“If you know anything about me, for 28 years I have never thrown my players under the bus.  I threw the culture under the bus.  I threw our approach under the bus.  Don’t ever say I threw my players under the bus.”


We’ll allow you to re-read that first quote and then decide for yourself if Martin was throwing his players or USC’s culture under the proverbial bus.

Fast-forward to January 22nd when this site wrote a story headlined: “Martin Apologizes For Rant At Player (And It’s Unlikely To Be The Last Time We Write That).”  At that time, Carolina’s coach had ripped into senior guard Brenton Williams during a loss to Ole Miss.  Fast-forward to Tuesday of this week and our parenthetical proved true:


Frank Martin suspended


That was Martin unleashing a flurry of profanities at his team, specifically freshman guard Duane Notice.  His Gamecocks dropped the game to top-ranked Florida, but the blow-up from the coach became the key takeaway.  And now Martin himself has been taken away… suspended for one game by South Carolina AD Ray Tanner, himself an ex-coach.  “The one-game suspension is a result of inappropriate verbal communication as it relates to the well-being of our student-athletes,” Tanner said in a press release.

One can’t seem to ever say the right thing.  One can’t seem to ever stop ripping his players and team.  And making matters worse for Misters Bielema and Martin is the fact that neither is winning.

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Report: NCAA Hopes To Give Big Conferences More Autonomy By August

Cubes - 267 - AUTONOMYAccording to Wake Forest president Nathan Hatch, the push to allow big leagues and big schools more autonomy within the NCAA structure is just months away from reaching its conclusion.  Hatch told that wealthier leagues (meaning the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC) will be granted “a range” of autonomy hopefully as soon as August.

“We’re not talking about full autonomy,” Hatch said.  ”We’re talking about a range of issues.”

The biggest issue is the right for the big schools in the big leagues to offer full-cost-of-tuition scholarships to football players.  What that dollar amount will be has yet to be decided, though most seem to believe two thousand bucks per semester is a likely endgame.  Where things go from there — lawsuits over Title IX, lawsuits from players of non-revenue sports, a new players union — is anyone’s guess.

Hatch is part of a seven-member “steering committee” charged with making enough change to please the NCAA’s highest-dollar programs.  As we’ve said for years now, there was never any real chance of a full breakaway from the NCAA.  Such a move would have required too much work on the part of the big schools to build a new structure from the bottom up.  No, the most likely outcome was a fix within the current model.  Hatch believes that’s coming, though the new autonomy will only go so far.

“There’s a range of things that would not be under autonomy.  Trying to distinguish what is and what isn’t is our current challenge.  We hope the (NCAA Division I) board (of directors) can approve this by the summer.”

Tip: Don’t expect the conferences to be allowed to re-write the NCAA rule book carte blanche.

It will be interesting to see how the upcoming changes will play out over time.  Some — like Alabama coach Nick Saban — believe the biggest schools should simply create their own super-division at the top of the NCAA food chain and schedule only amongst themselves.  The smaller schools don’t want to lose the revenue that goes along with being an FBS-level football program (booster donations go way up) nor do they want to lose the big paydays involved with visiting the stadia of America’s top teams (like Georgia State traveling to Tuscaloosa to face Saban’s Bama squad).

The current movement is designed to keep all the current FBS teams as part of one club, albeit with some members a lot more monied than others.

At first blush, it would appear that big-money programs offering full-cost-of-tuition scholarships would more easily out-recruit the little fish.  But, for the most part, the best recruits in the country are going to select SEC and Big Ten schools over Sun Belt and MAC schools anyway.  So how much more powerful can the most powerful schools really become?

Again, it will be interesting — very interesting — to see how this new autonomous structure plays out over the course of the next few years.

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OL Prince Chooses Maryland Over Florida, Carolina (And, Yes, Maryland)

PLAYER UPDATEOne of the nation’s top offensive lineman has picked the Big Ten over the SEC.  Tackle Damian Prince committed moments ago to Maryland — his home state university — over both South Carolina and Florida.

Gamecock and Gator fans have to be disappointed in losing a 5-star O-lineman to Maryland, even if that school is in his own back yard.

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At Arkansas – And Elsewhere – Unanswered Prayers Are Sometimes Best

prayingFans want “big name” hires.  They want the flash and hoopla that surround bringing in a proven coach from another program.  And why shouldn’t they?  Swiping a top coach from somewhere else ups a program’s street cred and earns plenty of “SportsCenter” pub to boot.

There’s really just one problem with the “big name” hire.  That’s the fact that name hires are just as hit or miss as up-and-comer hires.  Just ask an Arkansas fan.

Arguably, Razorback athletic director Jeff Long has been America’s best go-getter AD since 2007.  In football he stole Bobby Petrino away from the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and Bret Bielema from then-Big Ten champion Wisconsin.  In hoops he swiped former Hog assistant Mike Anderson from neighboring Missouri.

In terms of pleasing the ol’ fanbase, Long has been hitting on all cylinders with his hires.  And how’s that worked out for him?

Well, Petrino blew himself up with a scandal that could have left the University of Arkansas in legal trouble and Long without a job.  The first-year of Bielema’s rebuild earned Arkansas its first-ever winless season in conference play and it’s first-ever nine-game losing streak in a single season.

In basketball, Anderson has failed to take the Razorbacks to the NCAA Tournament in his first two years and it’s looking doubtful he’ll make it in Year Three.  After a loss at Tennessee last night, Anderson’s Arkansas teams are now just 2-21 in true road games and just 3-27 in games outside the Natural State since his coronation.

Long swung for the fences three times in a row.  One is already a strikeout.  It’s too early to make a call on the Bielema and Anderson hires, but suffice to say they’ve not turned into home run hires just yet.

This isn’t a knock on Arkansas, mind you.  It’s just a reminder that praying for a big name or a hot name doesn’t always pan out.

For every Nick Saban or John Calipari who lives up to expectations there’s a Bobby Petrino who leaves a program worse than he found it.  For every hot up-and-comer who pans out (Gus Malzahn, Billy Donovan) there’s an equal number of fast-risers who never quite reach the heights folks expect (Anthony Grant, Tony Barbee).

Sometimes the “who’s he?” hires — James Franklin at Vanderbilt, Hugh Freeze at Ole Miss — are better than the guys everyone dreams about.

Will what’s happened at Arkansas over the past few seasons prevent Jon Gruden rumors from popping up the next time a football job opens in the SEC?  Of course not.  Everyone will always want their school to hire a splashy name.

But sometimes the unanswered prayers turn out best.


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Fire Up The Realignment Talk: Maryland Claims The ACC – With The Help Of ESPN – Tried To Swipe 2 Big Ten Schools

thiefRemember that monster lawsuit between The University of Maryland and the Atlantic Coast Conference?  Yeah, well it just got taken to another level.

To briefly summarize, Maryland and Rutgers are scheduled to join the Big Ten this summer.  The ACC filed a $52 million suit against Maryland for jumping ship.  The $52 mil would be the Terps’ exit fee.  Already, the ACC has withheld $16 million in revenue from the school.

Maryland countersued.  As in the state of Maryland countersued the ACC.  And today, a new counterclaim was announced.  Specifically, a $157 million counterclaim against John Swofford’s conference.  According to Maryland attorney general Douglas Gansler, “Our lawsuit calls the ACC’s ‘exit fee’ what it really is: an antitrust violation and an illegal activity.”

This is all big news because future exit fees for schools leaving conferences could also be viewed as antitrust violations. If Maryland wins its case, suddenly the grant-of-rights agreements signed by leagues like the ACC and the Big 12 might not mean a thing.  (For the record, the SEC has no exit fees, but almost all of the league’s media rights were handed over to ESPN as part of the new SEC Network deal.)

Today’s suit also contained a surprise.  Maryland alleges that the ACC — with Wake Forest and Pittsburgh leading the way — attempted to recruit two unnamed Big Ten schools into the ACC.  Call it a “Terp-for-tat” move.  It’s also claimed that none other than ESPN provided “counsel and direction” to the ACC in its attempts to fend off losses and instead grow.  With Pittsburgh involved, Penn State is believed to have been one of the two schools the ACC chased, but neither Big Ten school will be officially identified until court proceedings ramp up.

ESPN’s involvement should surprise no one.  The network has deals with just about every conference in the country.  ESPN is partnered with the Big 12 (including an individual deal with Texas), the SEC (in a big way and growing), the Pac-12, and both the ACC and Big Ten.

ESPN owns the first-, second-, and third-tier media rights for the ACC through 2026-27.  They own first-tier rights to the Big Ten through 2016-17.

That’s where things get messy.  When the Big Ten chose to add Maryland and Rutgers — moves clearly made for television purposes — it stands to reason they consulted with both FOX (who co-owns the Big Ten Network) and ESPN.  ESPN was likely aware of — if not pushing for — a raid of the ACC for Maryland.

But if the claims made today are to be believed, ESPN then turned around and told the ACC who to go after in the Big Ten in order to stabilize itself after Maryland’s departure.  So ESPN was more than involved.  It appears the network was playing puppeteer for both leagues.  Surprising?  No.  Folks have been calling ESPN the man behind the curtain for years.  But that doesn’t make these latest claims any less slimy.  We’re talking about two leagues trying to lure schools from one another within a few months time all directed — allegedly — by the same adviser, ESPN.

Our question: How do any conference commissioners or university presidents trust their business partner, ESPN, to provide them with honest, sound advice when the network has its own interests in every contract, deal and move?

Stay tuned on this one…


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Arkansas AD Long Admits Playoff Committee Recusals Will Be Tricky

gfx - honest opinionIf you’ve read this site for any length of time, you know that officially we’re no fan of having a selection committee choose the squads for the new College Football Playoff.  That’s because a committee will lead to more complaints and more conspiracy theories than a poll or a computer system would.  If the idea is to make the process less controversial, the current BCS system should have been kept and used to pick the four playoff teams.  It ain’t perfect, but at least it involves a lot of different views — a coaches poll, a “legends” poll, and a computer component featuring six different formulas.

If a committee needed to be involved, we wrote many moons ago that it should be added to a poll and a computer system.  Let each component (panel, poll, ‘puters) have 33.3% of the call.

Instead, we get only a panel.  And with college football being so much more of a draw than college basketball, you can expect more grumbles and gripes each December than we hear each March when the NCAA tourney bracket is revealed.  That’s a lot of grumbles and gripes, folks.

Already there have been questions about the people on the committee.  Condoleezza Rice — a former government official — is on there (question her involvement at your own peril).  Retired Lieutenant General of the Air Force Micheal Gould is part of the crew (as opposed to long-time Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry).  Tom Jernstedt — a life-long basketball man — is a panelist as well.  There’s one ex-sports writer.

All of those folks went to a college and/or worked at a college.  So have the ex-players, coaches and ADs on the panel.  Jeff Long (the chairman of the committee), Barry Alvarez, Pat Haden, Oliver Luck and Dan Radakovich are all active committee members.  All are currently serving as athletic directors.

The fact that all of these folks have ties to at least one school will lead fans to wonder — and openly question — “How many biases have seeped into this year’s selection process?”  Obviously, panelists should have to leave the room when a school or conference they have ties to is brought up for discussion.  Arkansas’ Long had this to say just yesterday:


“Certainly it is one of those high-priority items for us.  If you look around this room, a number of us have worked at a number of different conferences, a number of institutions, so how we arrive at the ultimate recusal process is something this group will work on in the coming weeks and months ahead.”


To quote a “Seinfeld” episode: Good luck with all that.

Let’s look at just one example of the conspiracy theories that will start flying the minute this panel makes its first decision in about 13 months.  Longtime Nebraska coach and AD Tom Osborne is on the panel.  His Cornhuskers are in the Big Ten.  So let’s say he has to remove himself from the room when the Huskers or any Big Ten team is up for discussion.  And now let’s say a 1-loss Oklahoma team — Osborne’s biggest rival from Nebraska’s old Big 12 and Big 8 days — finds itself on the outside looking in for next year’s playoff.

The easy solution would be to have Osborne leave the room when the Big 12 comes up, too, right?

So Osborne would have to leave the room when TCU or West Virginia are discussed?  He has no deep ties to those schools.  That would make no sense.

And that’s just one man and just one example.  It’s not just where a panelist played, coached or was employed… it’s also the rivals of the schools where said panelist played, coached or was employed.

Hey, we like the idea of a four-team playoff.  But the selection committee — as we’ve said from the outset — will be a bigger target for the 120+ schools-worth of fans who don’t make the playoffs than the BCS system has ever been.

Wait and see.


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Is Arkansas’ Bielema A Fish Out Of Water?

fish-out-of-waterWhen the out-of-nowhere news of Bret Bielema’s move from Wisconsin to Arkansas first leaked out a year ago, there were gasps from the Dells to the Ozarks.  How in the world did Razorback AD Jeff Long pull off such a coup?

Of the four SEC jobs open, Arkansas scored the man with the best track record as a head coach.  Easily.

Bielema was no up-and-comer.  He was a seven-year vet.  He hadn’t won at a small school, he’d won at one of the top programs in the country.  The 43-year-old had earned three Rose Bowl berths in a row at Wisconsin.  he’d put together a 12-win season, two 11-win seasons, and one 10-win campaign.

Put simply, Bielema was a home run hire.

But to date, he’s looked like a home run hitter in Triple A ball, not the majors.  And that’s not just a knock on his record to date.

You know the situation in Fayetteville this year.  The Hogs entered the season with a roster built to play Bobby Petrino’s spread passing game.  Their defense had never been a strong point under their ex-coach (or under interim coach John L. Smith last season).  A new quarterback would have to be broken in to boot.

So it’s way too early to doubt Bielema’s ability to coach.  Even if his first Arkansas team is 3-7 on the year, 0-6 in the SEC (for the first time ever), and riding a seven-game losing streak.  Such a skid matches the worst runs in school history.

In its last seven games UA has lost by four to Rutgers, by 12 to Texas A&M, by 20 to Florida, by 45 to South Carolina, by 52 to Alabama, by 18 to Auburn, and by 10 to Ole Miss over the weekend.  The Razorbacks are last in the SEC in scoring offense and 13th in scoring defense.

Yes, they’re bad.  Injuries haven’t helped.  But Bielema knows how to coach.  We just wonder if he’s ready to coach in the SEC.

Dragging behind Bielema like a Dickensian chain is his famous February of 2012 comment:


“I can tell you this, we at the Big Ten don’t want to be like the SEC — in any way, shape or form.”


Bielema was hot and bothered by newly-arrived Ohio State coach Urban Meyer daring to break a gentleman’s agreement that Big Ten coaches would not recruit kids already committed to other Big Ten teams.  But the “in any way, shape or form” part of the quote suggests Bielema wasn’t a fan of Mike Slive’s conference in many, many areas… not just its recruiting tactics.

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Arkansas’ Bielema Not Thrilled With Oxford’s Lack Of Hotels

no-vacancy-neon-signOne thing we’ve learned about new Arkansas coach Bret Bielema this year — he’s not afraid to speak his mind.  During yesterday’s SEC teleconference he let the world know what he thinks of the hotel situation in Oxford, Mississippi, where his team will play on Saturday:


“We’re staying in Memphis, got about an hour, hour and 10-minute drive.  When you know that in on the front end of an early morning kickoff, it leads to a really early morning.  This is our third one so our kids are a little more well-versed, but that’s probably the only thing that jumps out to you with the location of some of these universities and the towns around them.

It’s just not real convenient for the visiting tream to have a hotel that’s within a reasonable driving distance.  That’s a challenge, as is the early game, but it’s not something we can’t overcome.”


We’ve made the case in the past that the over-the-top fan passion in the Southeastern Conference is fueled in large part by the fact that most of the league’s schools are located in — no offense — one-horse towns.  With the exception of Vanderbilt in Nashville, the other 13 SEC cities and towns live and die with the local college team.

Bielema comes from the Big Ten.  Played at Iowa.  Coached at Wisconsin.  And several Big Ten schools are located in large cities — Minneapolis, Ann Arbor (a half-hour drive from Detroit), Chicago, and Columbus.  Even the smaller cities in the Big Ten have, for the most part, larger populations than Oxford (20,000ish), Starkville (25,000ish), and Auburn (55,oooish).

Bielema’s comment simply reinforces the idea that Arkansas really did hire an outsider as its new coach.  How long it will take Bielema to adjust to his new Southern home is anyone’s guess.

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