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Report: Tennessee O-Coordinator Bajakian On Bowling Green’s List

mike-bajakianThe coaching wheel is spinning at full speed these days and it’s not just head coaches who’re the subject of rumors.  Tennessee offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian is reportedly on Bowling Green’s list of possible replacements for departed head coach Dave Clawson.

Ironically, Clawson served one miserable season in Knoxville as the Vols’ O-coordinator before he himself landed the Bowling Green gig.  His one season in the SEC resulted in a 5-7 season and Phillip Fulmer’s forced resignation.  Since landing in Ohio as head coach — which he’d been at Richmond prior to his Tennessee move — Clawson has improved he Falcons’ record from year to year.  Last week his team won the MAC Championship Game and handed Northern Illinois its first loss of the season.

Bajakian is a graduate of Williams College in Massachusetts (also like Clawson).  He has bounced around quite a bit in his coaching career.  Since 2007 he’s been the offensive coordinator for Butch Jones, first at Central Michigan (in the MAC like Bowling Green) and then at Cincinnati.  In other words, he knows the conference and he has recruiting contacts in Ohio.

Clawson accepted the head coaching job at Wake Forest this week, potentially opening the door for Bajakian to move up.

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Alabama Dominates Kentucky; Mississippi State Holds Off Bowling Green

postgame-links-150x1501Alabama 48 – Kentucky 7

1. Alabama’s record is where it was supposed to be when the season began: 6-0.

2. Kentucky was the first team to score on Alabama since Texas A&M. Alabama took that game personally, according to safety Vinnie Sunseri.

3. Alabama freshman defensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson is making a big impact. He’s among the nation’s top sack leaders.

4. Another freshman – offensive tackle Grant Hill – is “ready” to help Alabama, according to left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio.

5. It was clear Kentucky was outmatched by Alabama, which outgained UK 668-17o in total yards.

6. Kentucky’s Air Raid 2.0 offense isn’t like the original version. Is offensive coordinator Neal Brown’s unit snakebit?

Mississippi State 21 – Bowling Green 20

7. Bowling Green gave Mississippi State a scare. Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen: “A win’s a win. We’ll take it.”

8. Quarterback Tyler Russell saw the majority of snaps for Mississippi State.

9. There were tough kicking decisions to be made by Mullen in the second half.

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SEC Gameday Links: Saturday Night Lights 10/12/2013

gameday linksAlabama at Kentucky

1. Here’s a look at the matchups entering the game. Spoiler alert: Alabama has the edge.

2. Alabama’s secondary should be tested by Kentucky and its Air Raid offense.

3. Here are keys for Kentucky. One must: The Wildcats can’t commit turnovers against Alabama.

Bowling Green at Mississippi State

4. Mississippi State’s young offense versus Bowling Green’s veteran defense will be a key matchup to watch.

5. Bowling Green is “relatively healthy” as it gets ready to play Mississippi State.

6. Is Dan Mullen on the hot seat? He shouldn’t be, writes Greg Ostendorf, but “nothing is out of the question” in college football.

Texas A&M at Ole Miss

7. Ole Miss will be challenged to slow down big wide receiver Mike Evans.

8. Video: Ole Miss offensive line coach/co-offensive coordinator discusses the matchup with Texas A&M.

9. Bo Wallace said last month that Ole Miss has better receivers than Texas A&M. We might find out tonight.

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MSU’s Mullen: “Eight Wins Have Kind Of Become The Norm”

gfx - they said itWith SEC coaches going through the “car wash” at ESPN this week, we were bound to hear a lot of spin and a lot of recruiting pitches.  Those coaches aren’t going on television to impress Ma and Pa Viewer.  They’re trying to reach the high schoolers out there who turn to ESPN as often as they turn to Twitter.

One man putting a slight spin on things yesterday — in order to pump up his program — was Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen.  Heading into his fifth year, the coach had this to say when asked about getting into the 10 or 11 win range:

 

“It’s a good thing that they are crying for it with us.  You know what it is, building that foundation, coming from being a three or four win team, to going to 10, 11 wins in one season, for our program we’ve built this foundation where eight wins have kind of become the norm.  I think our guys understand that we’re going to make that big change, that special season; that special season that gets to be an 11, 12 win season for us.  We have to do it.  We’ve been recruiting a lot of good young talent and you just keep the consistency and we’ll put ourselves in position for a good year.”

 

To date, Mullen has finished 5-7, 9-4, 7-6, and 8-5 at State.  That’s an average of about seven wins per season overall.  If you consider his first year a rebuilding year and just look at the last three years, then yes, MSU is averaging eight wins a year.

Regardless of the number, Mullen was trying to show that he’s changed the expectation level for Bulldog football.  And he has.  Which is the rub.

When a coach says eight wins are expected, well, he has to then win (at least) eight games to keep his fanbase happy.  Mullen’s team will play its usual SEC West schedule, plus a toughie from the East and — kudos on this point — they’ve finally scheduled a meaty non-conference foe to open the season.  Do you see eight wins for State on this schedule:

 

Oklahoma State (in Houston)

Alcorn State

at Auburn

Troy

LSU

Bowling Green

Kentucky

at South Carolina

at Texas A&M

Alabama

at Arkansas

Ole Miss

 

It’s possible, of course.  But once again the back end of the schedule could cause some problems.  Remember, the Dogs opened last season with seven wins before dropping five of their last six games.

Mullen was pumping his program on ESPN.  In the process, he gave State fans a number that he considers to be the “norm” in Starkville now.  If he doesn’t win eight games and hit that norm this fall, it will be interesting to see just how warm his seat becomes.

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Driskel Earns The Start At QB For UF On Saturday

Jeff Driskel’s performance against Bowling Green on Saturday was enough.  After a spring, summer and fall of battling back and forth with fellow quarterback Jacoby Brissett, Driskel was named Florida starting quarterback by Will Muschamp today.

Muschamp said he told Driskel, “I don’t want you to be looking over your shoulder, but you need to play well.”  At which point Driskel probably started looking over his shoulder.

Driskel’s ability to move around in the pocket turned out to be a key difference between himself and Brissett.  “The rhythm of the game dictated that we were going to need some movement in the pocket,” Muschamp said.  “Jeff gave us that opportunity.”

And now Muschamp is giving Driskel the opportunity to start Saturday’s contest at new SEC rival Texas A&M.  “It’s been a lifelong dream,” the sophomore said.

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WOW Headlines – 9/3/12

Missouri DT Sheldon Richardson says Georgia plays “old man football”
Richardson adds: “If we execute, nobody in this league can touch us.”
Missouri opens SEC play with Georgia on Saturday
Texas A&M opens SEC play with Florida on Saturday
A&M coach Kevin Sumlin thinks UF held back in 27-14 win over Bowling Green
S. Carolina QB Connor Shaw is having “trouble lifting his right arm”
Shaw’s bruised shoulder might keep him from playing against E. Carolina on Saturday
Tennessee coaches waiting for word on LB Herman Lathers’ injured shoulder
Louisville whips Kentucky 32-14 on Sunday
Get all your SEC news from MrSEC.com and twitter.com/mrsec

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Tyler’s Take: Which SEC Teams Cover The Spread In Week 1?

Tyler B.

USC -7 @ Vanderbilt

The fact that I’m leading off with this game says it all. The biggest home game in Vanderbilt history – and ushering in the college football season – the outcome of this game drastically shapes the East. A Vandy win knocks USC out of the SEC East race before we even get to Week 2 and the Vanderbilt momentum marches on. For all the hype let’s not forget how good USC really is and that Vandy only won seven games last year, not 14. Vanderbilt will cause some problems in the East this year but it’s still too early to ask this much from them.

USC Covers: Cocks 31 – Vandy 21

Bama -14 vs. Michigan

The #8 team in the country is a 14-point underdog? I didn’t know that was even possible and it has to some kind of record. Despite a truckload of talent departing for games played on Sunday, “The Process” simply means Saban and his Tide roll on. I’m not sold on Michigan’s record from last year and a speedy quarterback hasn’t fared well against an SEC defense in quite some time. The best offensive line in the country means Bama continues to score late and Kirby Smart’s defense doesn’t allow cheap points.

Bama Covers: Bama 31- Michigan 14

Clemson -3’ vs. Auburn

Clemson will have a big year and it’s going to be a disappointing one for Auburn. Being buried in the deep SEC West still means Auburn can compete, but Clemson is simply better.

Clemson Covers: Clemson 24 – Auburn 13

Tennessee -3’ vs. NC State

The “any team in the SEC is better than any team in your conference” logic pulls me towards taking the Vols but UT is just really, really bad. The pressure has been on for quite a while for the Man in the Orange Pants, and the loss of Da’rick Rogers simply gives them one less weapon. Neither team exactly lights up the scoreboard, but the edge definitely goes to the Pack when comparing the two. We all know about Tyler Bray’s awesome tattoo, but Mike Glennon threw for nearly 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns last year. Did I mention that Tennessee is awful… and they are favored by a field goal and the hook?  The ACC sweeps the mighty SEC and Dooley has just about completed his Green Mile sprint. (I bet the Georgia Dome loves this game)

NC State Covers: Pack 24 – Vols 14

Louisville -14 vs. Kentucky

UK will not win one SEC game this year and rivals the 1994 team that ended up 1-10. This is not good for Joker Phillips who gets fired if the Cats go 5-7. It’s a home game for the confident Cards; however, the remnants of hurricane Isaac will dump a ton of rain during the game meaning one or two plays could give the Cats a chance. In a mild surprise the Cats keep it close and score late to cover the spread.

Kentucky Covers: Louisville 27 – Kentucky 17

UGA -38 vs. Buffalo: UGA Covers 51-10.

Florida -29 vs. Bowling Green: Bowling Green Covers 35-10

LSU -43 vs. North Texas: LSU Covers: 49-3

Missouri – NL

Texas A&M/La. Tech Postponed.

Tyler B. works as a communications specialist for a Louisville, Kentucky company.  A lifetime SEC fan – long before it became “acceptable” to cheer for every team in the conference – he plans on writing several books about college football that have a fantastic chance of never being written. 

 

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Texas A&M’s Season Opener Postponed

Louisiana Tech announced Tuesday afternoon it has postponed its opening game against Texas A&M because of weather concerns.

The news could be significant for Texas A&M on the field.

The Aggies will now open their season against Florida on Sept. 8. That means Texas A&M, which will begin the season with a redshirt freshman quarterback, will enter SEC play without facing a non-conference test. Florida will host Bowling Green on Saturday.

Texas A&M will also lose its mid-season bye week. The Aggies were scheduled to be off the weekend of Oct. 13 before hosting LSU on Oct. 20.

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UF Releases Depth Chart… But Two-Headed Monster At QB Remains

There’s an old adage in football and I happen to be a big believer in it:

 

“Show me a team with two good quarterbacks and I’ll show you a team without a great quarterback.” 

 

For the sake of Florida’s fans, I hope that’s not the case in Gainesville this season.  But it sure seems to be.

Today, Will Muschamp unveiled his depth chart heading into Saturday’s opener with Bowling Green.  The quarterbacks, however, were listed with a great big “OR” between their names.  Oh, sure, there’s an element of gamesmanship involved in this.  But make no mistake, Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett have been splitting reps from spring onward.  Even with Driskel suffering a bruised scapula, Brissett was apparently not able to grab the starting job and run with it.

And these aren’t drastically different types of quarterback.  This isn’t a change-of-pace kind of deal.  Show me a Leak/Tebow or Greene/Shockley dynamic and I’ll buy forget about that old adage above.  But Florida’s QBs are similar.  One’s 6-6, 237.  The other is 6-6, 229.

In 2012, Driskel was 16-of-34 for 148 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions.  He had 16 rushes for 18 yards.  Brissett was 18-of-39 for 206 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions.  He had 13 rushes for seven yards.

Sim-i-lar.

Perhaps one or the other will prove himself be a gamer come Saturday.  For now, though, it appears that Florida will have to lean pretty heavily on Mike Gillislee and the new Gator ground game in 2012.

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WKU Confirms Bjork To UM; But Will UM Have To Schedule WKU As A Result?

Western Kentucky has confirmed that Ross Bjork — the nation’s youngest athletic director — will be leaving the Hilltoppers after just two years to take over at Ole Miss.  The school’s statement includes this quote from Bjork:

“I have decided to accept the director of athletics position at the University of Mississippi and depart WKU.  While I was not seeking to leave WKU, the opportunity to oversee and manage the athletics department at a historic and prestigious university in the Southeastern Conference was one that we had to examine and ultimately accept.”

Interestingly, Bjork’s WKU contract contains a clause that could force Ole Miss to schedule the Hilltoppers in football and basketball.  And not just in Oxford.

In the past year, we’ve seen more and more small schools build “if you leave for another school you’ll have to schedule us” clauses into the contracts of ADs and even basketball coaches.  But what makes this deal unique is that it calls for Bjork to “use his best efforts at the hiring institution to schedule two-year home/home game series between the men’s and women’s basketball teams and one home/home series for the football team.”

“Best efforts” is awfully vague and it would seem that Bjork and Ole Miss would have some serious wiggle room thanks to that phrase.  Basketball probably wouldn’t likely be a problem anyway, but football might cause a hold-up.  No Southeastern Conference team is going to want to visit a lower rung FBS program like WKU (although Mississippi State did play at UAB this past season).  Whether it happens or not, it was a sharp idea by the folks at WKU.  Not only would they get national exposure, they’d get national exposure for their own campus, stadium and fans.

We’ll see if Bjork indeed makes his “best efforts” to line up the Rebels and Hilltoppers in football in Bowling Green anytime soon.

UPDATE — Ole Miss has now made the hiring of Bjork official on its end, too.

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