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SEC Headlines 3/15/2014

headlines-saturdaySEC Football

1. Changes to alcohol policy for Georgia-Florida game “highly unlikely.”

2. Spring practice gets underway today at Alabama. Crimson Tide not just breaking in new players, but new coaches as well.

3. Big battle going on in the LSU camp at the right guard position. Coach Les Miles on his quarterback battle: “I think the quarterback position is a position of toughness.”

4. All four of Tennessee’s quarterbacks took reps in Friday’s first spring scrimmage.

5. With Tre Mason gone to the NFL, what are the running back options for Auburn this fall?

6. Missouri defensive end Shane Ray claims a 4.44 4o-yard dash this offseason.

7. SEC coaches divided on the idea of an early signing period for football.

SEC Basketball

8. As Auburn looks to replace Tony Barbee, Tigers will have a search committee of 1 – A.D. Jay Jacobs. 

9. If Auburn calls, Bruce Pearl will listen.

10. Alabama coach Anthony Grant will return.  Has the backing of A.D. Bill Battle.

11. Will Florida freshman Chris Walker return or enter the NBA draft?

12. Improvement will be expected in Rick Ray’s third year at Mississippi State.

13. Adjusting postseason expectations at Arkansas. The Razorbacks “big game hunt withered to small potatoes.”

14. Arkansas, Georgia (if it doesn’t win SEC Tournament), LSU and Missouri all look to be better fit for NIT than Ole Miss.

15. CBI bid possible for Texas A&M?

Extras

16. Did you know?  The Big 12 will be the smallest FBS conference in the country this fall when the Sun Belt expands to 11 football teams.

17. When it comes to earnings, Peyton Manning vs Tom Brady is not that close.

18. New York Times: “One major college basketball participant with no chance of advancing to the national tournament: Las Vegas…”

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SEC Headlines 2/9/2014

headlines-sun3-150x150SEC Football

1. Auburn signee Kalvaraz Bessent arrested on felony marijuana-related charges following a traffic stop Friday. If convicted on all charges, could face up to 11 years in prison.

2. Auburn coach Gus Malzhan “aware of the situation and is continuing to gather information.”

3. Tennessee players A.J. Johnson and Danny O’Brien arrested Saturday night – charges not described.

4. Coach Butch Jones: “We are aware of the situation and are still in the preliminary stages of gathering all facts and information.”

5. Arkansas hires Robb Smith as defensive coordinator.  Smith spent 2013 in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

6. LSU looking at several candidates for special teams assistant coach with Thomas McGaughey leaving for the New York Jets.

7. With transfer Christian Morris sidelined with an injured achilles, Ole Miss looking for a right tackle this spring.

8. Profile of Alabama strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran. “His reputation is bigger than the athletes he trains.”

9. Quarterback battle at Kentucky? Don’t expect it to “drag on like it did last year.”

10. How was Tennessee able to sign eight defensive linemen in its 2014 class?  Opportunity to play.

SEC Basketball

11. Tough year for Alabama basketball coach Anthony Grant.  What will A.D. Bill Battle do?

12. Cecil Hurt: “The identity Alabama basketball built over the previous four years has vanished.”

13. “The LSU basketball team is starting to resemble the New Orleans Saints — win at home, lose on the road.”

14. Stat of the game from Arkansas-Vanderbilt Saturday.  Razorbacks got 40 points from their bench.  Vanderbilt got two.

15. Missouri’s Jordan Clarkson on the loss to Ole Miss Saturday.  ”We didn’t rebound the ball. They just out-toughed us.”

Extra

16. Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart shoves a Texas Tech fan near the end of the game Saturday night.

17. “Am I the only one that realizes how lucky we were that this didn’t turn into some much, much worse?”

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Sanctimonious Saban Lays It On Way Too Thick About His Non-Move To Texas

BCS Championship FootballSports fans, you already know about the one story that dominated the sports scene last week — If Mack Brown is out at Texas, will Nick Saban replace him?  Day after day, minute after minute, Brown/Saban/Texas talk swirled.

Then finally on Friday word came that Saban would sign yet another new deal with Bama.  (No wonder, UA’s giving him extensions and raises every few months.)  On Saturday, the coach had this to say:

 

“The way this sort of got spun, it was a little bit more like, ‘OK, he got a new contract at Alabama, so he’s going to stay at Alabama instead of going to Texas.  I never considered going to Texas.  That wasn’t even a conversation.

I knew that if Mack stepped down, there would probably be an opportunity, but it wasn’t something I was interested in doing, not at this stage in my career…

We’ve been trying to do this thing with Alabama all the way back into the season.  It really wasn’t about the contract.  It was about staying at Alabama, wanting to be at Alabama, wanting to continue to do good things for Alabama and our commitment to the players here, the university and the community.”

 

That whole “it really wasn’t about the contract” part?  Yeah, that’s a lie.

Readers of the site know that this writer in particular doesn’t view Saban’s dismissal of the Bama job while still the Miami Dolphins’ coach as that big of a deal.  Coaches blow off job opportunities and dance around job offers in order to keep their teams focused all the time.  That goes with the territory.  Sure, Saban was pressed again and again until he finally flat-out lied about the Alabama situation.  But again, what was he supposed to do?  Tell the truth and derail the Dolphins’ year?

This situation, however, is very much different.  The Crimson Tide team doesn’t have another game for weeks.  And last week’s nonsense was 100% about the contract.  If it were really only about “staying at Alabama, wanting to be at Alabama,” Saban could have spoken out before getting his new contract, couldn’t he?

Before Tide fans chime in — and, for the record, we said repeatedly that we didn’t believe he’d leave Tuscaloosa — Saban had said previously that he wanted to stay at Alabama.  We know that, no need to email.  When he signed a new deal in March of 2012 the coach said: “From my standpoint, the acceptance of this extension represents our commitment — my commitment, our family’s commitment — to the University of Alabama for the rest of our career.  We made that decision after the season when other people were interested.”  He then had his contract “amended” and “restated” again this past April.

But here’s our question: Why?  Why the need for a new contract this week?  If he’s already committed to Alabama for the rest of his career, why did Saban need his salary jacked again?  Why did he dance around the job topic while on ESPN a week ago?

Now we could have let all this slide had Saban not gotten a tad too sanctimonius about the way this all worked out for Texas’ Brown:

 

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mack Brown.  Mack Brown is the coach at Texas.  He deserves the right, based on his body of work, to be able to leave the program the way he wants to leave the program.  It wasn’t fair to him or to me to be speculating about this job, which I haven’t talked to anybody there about.

Really, the whole thing from my perspective stunk, but there wasn’t a hell of a lot I could to about it.”

 

Total.  Complete.  Utter… BS.

Unless Saban was so deep into “the process” that he was totally incommunicado, he could have could put an end to the Texas talk any day last week prior to finalizing his Bama pact.  He could have let Bill Battle or Jimmy Sexton put out a press release stating, “We’re working on a new deal and Saban is not even considering leaving Alabama.”  He could have let Miss Terry do the talking.  He could have pulled out his cell phone and called any writer or talkshow host in the country with a definitive answer to protect poor ol’ Mack Brown.

He didn’t.

He didn’t because doing so would have given away leverage and contract negotiations are all about leverage.  Anyone over the age of 10 with an IQ higher to match knows that to be true.  So there is no arguing what just happened in the Heart of Dixie.  Saban and Sexton — the wonder agent who’s mastered this routine — let everyone sweat just long enough to make sure the coach’s new deal would be super-sized and Tide fans would appreciate their beloved leader just a little bit more.  No more of this underappreciation crap for Saint Nick.

The coach may be committed to Bama, just not so much so to tell the school, “The last contract was fine, I’m not leaving, put that cash back into the academic side of the school.”  Not so much to shut down the Texas talk and help out Brown until he received another extension and another raise.

Fair enough.

But for Saban to then come out and say — after the contract was agreed upon — that “there wasn’t a hell of a lot” he could do about all the speculation?  Please.  We believe a line from “The Outlaw Josey Wales” sums up our feelings pretty well…

 

Don't piss down my back and tell me its raining

 

 

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SEC Gameday Links: Afternoon Delights 10/26/2013

gameday linksVanderbilt at Texas A&M

1. Two of college football’s finest wide receivers on display in this game – Mike Evans for A&M and Jordan Matthews for Vanderbilt.

2. Texas A&M needs its defense to get pressure on Vanderbilt redshirt freshman quarterback Patton Robinette

3. What does Vanderbilt coach James Franklin think about Johnny Manziel and his injured shoulder?  ”He’s going to be fine. I think he’s got like titanium bones.”

4. Vanderbilt needs to score a lot to have any chance to win this one.  Texas A&M averaging 46.9 points per game.

5. Vanderbilt gets introduced to Kyle Field today.

Tennessee at Alabama

6. The last Tennessee coach to beat Alabama in his first attempt?  Former Vols coach and current Alabama A.D. Bill Battle.

7. Not the first time this year Alabama has faced a team that’s playing better and seemingly has a little momentum.

8. Tennessee defensive tackle Daniel McCullers played a great game against South Carolina – he’ll need to do it again to give the Vols a chance today.

9. Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley on playing Tennessee and the possibility of shaking up the SEC schedule: “If we lose a game, this would not be the game to lose.”

10. Alabama’s secondary is banged up – could it mean a big day for Tennessee wide receiver Marquez North?

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Bama A.D. Battle Compares Saban To Bryant

gfx - they said itNew Alabama athletic director Bill Battle played under Paul “Bear” Bryant and led his own program as head coach at Tennessee.  In his view, current Tide coach Nick Saban is doing what’s never been done before:

 

“I think what they’ve done is unprecedented.  I have admired what they’ve done from afar, and for the last few months, have admired what they do up front.  Coach Saban has got a great program going.  He is as focused and intense a guy as I’ve ever been around.  Everything that they do, they peel back all the layers to get down to what needs to be done as well as anybody I’ve ever seen.”

 

The word “unprecedented” likely leaves some Bama fans wondering if Battle is putting Saban ahead of his own legendary coach.  Is he?

“What coach Bryant did was unprecedented at the time, I think.  This is a different time.  I don’t think that competition has ever been greater in the history of college football than it is today.”

Good sidestep.  Especially considering that both Bryant and Saban would likely find their faces on an SEC Mt. Rushmore should one ever be commissioned.

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SEC Headlines 4/12/2013

headlines-fri1. What’s the status of Tennessee running back Marlin Lane?  ”That’s up to Coach Jones.” Wide receiver injuries piling up for the Vols.

2. Peyton Manning on why he recruited Butch Jones…to Colorado. Impressed with coach – “I like his slogans and philosophies.”

3. Former coach on running back Braylon Heard, who’s transferring from Nebraska to Kentucky.  “He can change the game at the blink of an eye. He can go 80, 90 yards in a heartbeat.”

4. Kentucky preparing for a crowd as large as 50,000 for this Saturdays’ spring game. They won’t see any kickoffs or kick returns.

5. With Marcus Lattimore gone, a focus on running backs Mike Davis and Brandon Wilds at South Carolina.

6. Texas A&M’s spring game on Saturday will be carried live on ESPN for the first time in school history. Aggies overhauling linebacking corp.  ”“There’s a big hole to fill.”

7. Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin will serve as NFL Network analyst on the opening day of the NFL draft.

8. The first team will scrimmage the second team at Vanderbilt’s spring game on Saturday.

9. With the exception of Zach Mettenberger, LSU defenders had the go-ahead to hit all other LSU quarterbacks in practice the past few days.

10. With recruiting deregulation on hold, job responsibilities of support staff are up in the air at Auburn.  Gus Malzahn: “Right now, we’re just going day by day.”

11. Georgia’s spring practice is over but the competition for starting spots is just beginning. Coach Mark Richt: “If you’re working out this summer thinking you’ve got something nailed down, you better re-check your thinking.”

12. Hey Georgia fans, who do you want on the cover of Athlon’s preseason college football magazine?  You can vote for either Aaron Murray or Todd Gurley here.

13. With his Bulldogs team getting ready for its second spring scrimmage, Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen is looking for leaders.

14. With defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson gone to an NFL as a likely first-round pick, Missouri needs someone to step up in the middle of the defensive line.

15. Arkansas defensive coordinator Chris Ash on safety Eric Bennett: “He’s been a great player. He’s been a great student of the game.”

16. With a year under his belt, expect even bigger things from Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper.  ”Everything is easier. “When I first came in, I didn’t know a lot of plays.” Dee Hart may return punts or kicks for Alabama this fall.

17. A profile of Alabama A.D. Bill Battle and his business career.  What if he hadn’t gone to Selma?

SEC Basketball

18. Billy Donovan’s wish for his Gators next year.  ”We have to get more competitive. Nastier.”

19. They may not think it now – but Missouri fans will miss Phil Pressey - “the Jerry Lewis of point guards..”

20.  Garry Parrish on why Kentucky deserves to be ranked No. 1 heading into next season.

Extras

21. When Eli and Peyton Manning need a tune-up, they turn to Duke coach David Cutcliffe.

22. The NBA’s early entry deadline has some issues.  The case of Louisville’s Russ Smith is a perfect example.

23. “Louisville faced the easiest path, seed-wise, of any national champion since UNLV in 1990.”

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New Bama A.D. Battle Talks About His Decision To Leave Coaching Behind

bill-battle-nowNew Alabama athletic director Bill Battle ran a pair of companies worth billions.  He played for Paul “Bear” Bryant in Tuscaloosa.  He was friends with the man he recently replaced, Mal Moore (who passed away on Saturday).  But he was also an SEC football coach at one time.

From 1970 through 1976, Battle coached at Bama’s rival, Tennessee.  Hired to replace Doug Dickey, Battle was the youngest coach in America — just 28 — when he took over in Knoxville.  He had plenty of early success, but his record declined sharply in the few years leading up to his firing.  Still, most coaches don’t post a 59-22-2 record and then leave the game forever.  The Ron Zooks of the world start over again at lesser programs.  The Mike Archers become assistants.

But Battle walked away after his Vols saw their win total drop from 11 to 10 to eight to seven to six during his tenure.  Why the exit?

 

“We had some really good teams at Tennessee and a few that weren’t that good.  I decided well before my time there ended that I didn’t want to be a 65-year old coach.  Now, I didn’t want to get out when I did. But my kids were growing older and I wanted to have time with them, and I wanted to try the business end of athletics.  I didn’t know if I would be out of it for a year and want to get back in.  I had some friends in coaching who were that way, who were miserable when they weren’t coaching.  I had some chances to get back in, especially in that first year after I finished at Tennessee.

But I had a great opportunities with Larry Striplin.  I enjoyed what we were trying to build.  Larry was a dynamic man, a smart man, and we experienced great growth.  It was a great experience for me and I decided to stay with that, to stay out of coaching.  Managing a business is a lot different than coaching, but there are parallels.  You’ve got to get great talent, you’ve got to work hard, you’ve got to stay ahead of the competition.  So I loved business.  But I do want to say I had a wonderful experience at Tennessee, wouldn’t take anything for it.”

 

Striplin hired Battle to run a window company for him in Selma, Alabama.  While working with Striplin, Battle developed the vision for his own business, Collegiate Licensing Company, which has become a billion dollar operation under current owners IMG.

Having been fired as a coach, Battle was asked in a quick Q&A by TideSports.com if he might have to pull the trigger on any Alabama coaches in the near future.  “We will take the blueprint we have in place, we will meet with the executive staff members who have the responsibility for each sport, and we will see what we are doing well and what we need to improve,” the ex-coach said.  “And if there are issues, or opportunities that we are missing, we will deal with those things.  Over the next few months, we will do a lot of that.”

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Former Bama A.D. Moore Dies At 73

mal-mooreJust days after stepping away from his role as Alabama athletic director, Mal Moore has died.  The 73-year-old who’d been connected with Crimson Tide athletics for six decades died today at Duke University Medical Center.

Moore had been battling serious heart problems for the past month.  Alabama’s new AD, Bill Battle, said in a UA press release:

 

“The University of Alabama and the world of intercollegiate athletics have lost a legend, and I have lost a dear friend.  My heart goes out to his family and close friends in this time of sadness. After a time of grieving, we can begin to celebrate Mal’s life, as his legacy will last for generations.”

 

Nick Saban was also quoted in a press release:

 

“Mal was truly a special person in every sense of the word.  We can talk about all the championships Mal has been involved with, but I think what will be remembered most was the man he was.  He always put the best interests of others ahead of his own, he carried himself as a first-class gentleman, and he helped bring out the best in those around him.

Mal was an outstanding leader in terms of all he did for Alabama athletics.  Most importantly, he was a great friend to me and my family.  Mal was the No. 1 reason we decided to make the move to Tuscaloosa.”

 

Our sympathies go out to Moore’s family, as well as the University of Alabama family.

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WOW Headlines – 3/21/13

Tennessee was upset 75-67 by Mercer last night in the first round of the NIT
The SEC is now just 1-2 in the NIT with only Alabama moving on as Kentucky and Tennessee fall
Alabama has hired former player and former Tennessee football coach Bill Battle as its new athletic director
Mal Moore stepped down as Alabama’s AD yesterday citing health issues
Missouri will open NCAA Tournament play on Thursday versus Colorado State
Ole Miss WR Philander Moore has been dismissed from the Rebel football team following an arrest for domestic assualt
Alabama has announced that it will open the 2015 football season in Arlington, TX against Wisconsin
Follow SEC football, basketball and recruiting at MrSEC.com and twitter.com/mrsec

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Bama To Hire Ex-Player, Businessman Battle As A.D.

bill-battleWell that didn’t take long.  And you can throw out all those candidate lists.  The University of Alabama has settled on a new athletic director already.  Indeed he’s an ex-Bama player and a former Tennessee employee.  But he’s not Dave Hart, he’s former Bear Bryant pupil and ex-Volunteer head football coach, Bill Battle.

The University of Alabama has put out a release this morning quoting school president Judy Bonner on Battle’s hiring:

 

“Over the past several weeks, we have had multiple conversations about who should follow Coach (Mal) Moore as AD.  Based on Mal’s strong endorsement as well as Coach Battle’s affiliation with UA as a player, partner and donor, his experience as a coach and his significant business background, I am confident that he is the right person to serve UA in this position.  I am looking forward to working with him as we continue to build on the foundation of excellence that is the hallmark of Coach Moore’s tenure.”

 

In Battle, Alabama has landed a tremendous businessman who happens to have a strong background in Crimson Tide and SEC athletics.  Battle formed Collegiate Licensing Company in 1981.  That company opened the door for colleges to begin protecting their logos and trademarks, which it turn led to the schools licensing out those marks for profit.  It was a brilliant move and Battle’s company was eventually purchased by sports giant IMG (along with another company Battle founded).

Battle said in the release that his “instinct was to say no” to the job when first approached.  After speaking with various officials at UA, however, he “couldn’t find a way to say no.”

The 71-year-old battle played at Alabama from 1960 through 1962.  He then served as an assistant at Army and Tennessee before being promoted to the Volunteers’ head coaching position in 1970.  At 28, he was the youngest coach of a major program in the country.  He had a career record of 59-22-2 at Tennessee, but the program declined on his watch and he was eventually fired in 1976.  He never coached again, but five years later, he began CLC and the rest… is history.

Given Battle’s age and his lack of experience running an athletic department, it’s expected that he will take over Moore’s duties which focused mainly on raising funds and improving facilities.  Shane Lyons will likely continue to handle the day-to-day operations of the UA athletic department.

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