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Sheridan’s Back, Says The NCAA Is Investigating Auburn

Oddsmaker and self-describe knower of “the bagman” Danny Sheridan was in Tuscaloosa last night and he had a lot more to say about Auburn.  Last year Sheridan caused a stir by claiming to know who acted as an alleged go-between when AU supposedly funneled money to the family of Cam Newton to gain the player’s services.  He revealed no name when asked to do so on a nationally syndicated radio program and was branded a fraud/buffoon by most.

Now he’s back with new claims:

 

“Based on what I’ve heard, the NCAA is looking at their program.  I’ll say that on the record…

I will quickly say, I hope they are exonerated. But if it’s true that they’ve taken two of their coaches off the road, that generally speaking is not a good sign. Usually when you take a coach off the road, it’s an effort to placate the NCAA.”

 

The Birmingham News has some videos from Sheridan’s speech here.

Whether Sheridan is correct this time around or not, Auburn could do without the national headlines the oddsmaker’s claims will bring.  Gene Chizik and AD Jay Jacobs must feel as though the walls — if not the NCAA — are closing in on them.

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A&M QB Manziel On Pace To Break Newton’s Total Offense Mark

As Texas A&M mushed through its preseason camp in August, no one knew which of four quarterback candidates would land the starting job under first-year coach Kevin Sumlin.  When he selected redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel, it surprised many.

Half a season later and that decision might have been the best Sumlin’s made since arriving in College Station.  And he’s made several good decisions as evidenced by the Aggies’ surprising 5-1 start and #18 BCS ranking.

Manziel’s record-setting ways have been a big reason for A&M’s successes so far.  In fact, he’s been downright Cam Newton-esque.

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Who’s The Better Coach: AU’s Chizik Or ISU’s Rhoads?

At the end of the 2008 season, Auburn AD Jay Jacobs fired Tommy Tuberville and his staff following a 5-7 season.  Jacobs hired former Tuberville assistant Gene Chizik away from Iowa State and much head-scratching ensued on the Plains.  To fill the vacancy left by Chizik in Ames, ISU turned to former Auburn defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads who’d just been let go by the Tigers.

In January of 2010, Jacobs looked like a genius.  Chizik had a BCS championship ring and Cam Newton had a Heisman Trophy.  (Of course, the school also had to deal with all manner of scrutiny and accusations regarding Newton and the NCAA even changed a rule after the fact to close the so-called “Newton loophole.”)  But two years later, it’s fair to ask who really wound up making the better hire back in ’08: Auburn or Iowa State?

In two years in Ames, Chizik posted a 5-19 record, including an 0-8 Big XII record in 2008.  At Auburn, his teams have finished 8-5, 14-0 with Newton, 8-5, and now 1-4 to begin the 2012 campaign.  Tally it up and that’s a 36-33 mark over five-and-a-half seasons as a head coach.  Take out the Newton season and Chizik is just 22-33 overall, 17-14 at Auburn overall, and just 7-12 in the SEC.

Meanwhile, Rhoads took over a team that had gone 5-19 under Chizik and has reached two bowl games, finished with a winning record in his first season, and now has Iowa State at 4-1 this season following a 37-23 win at #15 TCU on Saturday… a win that ended the nation’s longest win streak at 12 games.  Rhoads also has upsets over #22 Texas in 2010, #19 Texas Tech in 2011, and a 37-31 shocker over then #2 Oklahoma State last November under his belt.  He’s currently 22-21 as the Cyclones’ head coach.

You won’t find Rhoads matching up well with Chizik in the recruiting rankings.  Currently, Auburn is #9 in terms of 2013 commitments while Iowa State is #60.  Last year, Auburn’s post-signing day rank was #10 in the nation.  Iowa State was #87.

But ISU’s coach appears to be a guy who can do more with less, while Chizik is a guy who’s looking increasingly like a guy who can do more… with Cam Newton.  Iowa State appears to be getting better.  Auburn appears to be getting worse.

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SEC Media Days Roundup: Day One

1. South Carolina as national championship contenders? Dennis Dodd: “Once you get past Alabama, LSU, Arkansas and Georgia in the SEC, Carolina is one hell of a fifth option. Not just for the conference, for the national championship.

2. South Carolina will use last year’s loss to Auburn as motivation.

3. Maybe it was losses to the Tigers that had Steve Spurrier forgetting Cam Newton.

4. Scott Rabalais:  ”There ought to be a Steve Spurrier channel.”

5. What to expect from South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw this fall: “I’m not going to take my legs away me, but I’m definitely going to rely on my arm more.”

6. James Franklin knows how to sell Vanderbilt football: “We have more things to sell than any other program. If you’re the best and the brightest, where else would you go?”

7. Robbie Andreu on Franklin:” In his one year in Nashville, he’s made Vanderbilt relevant.”

8. Franklin on the Vandy-Tennessee game: ”To be honest with you, I don’t really consider it a rivalry,” Franklin said. “It has to be a lot more competitive before it becomes a rivalry. It’s been onesided.”

9. Vanderbilt quarterback Jordan Rogers on his coach: “He’s a psycho but we love him.”

10. Bruce Feldman on Texas A&M:  “There is a lot of reason for optimism.”

11. Key for the Aggies? Replacing their quarterback.

12. Players get a lot of questions about SEC competition: Aggies linebacker Sean Porter: “I don’t think it’s going to be overwhelming for us.”

13. Ron Higgins: “If this thing gets any bigger, they may have to move it to a domed stadium.”

14. A thousand media members with a thousand questions.  For A&M and Missouri – welcome to the SEC.

15. Andy Staples: “On the field, the Tigers and their fellow newcomers from Texas A&M have been warned that the league’s teams stock their rosters with fire-breathing, boulder-chewing monsters whose Ess Eee See Speed allows them to outrun Camaros.”

16. The Missouri Tigers want everyone to know their spread offense is different:”We had the ninth-best rushing team in all of college football last year,” wide receiver T.J. Moe said. “We had 3,000 yards running and 3,000 yards passing. 

17. Moe on the Missouri-Georgia game: “If you ask me, it’s probably going to be the most anticipated game in Missouri football history.”

18. And what do the Tigers know about the Bulldogs? “Not a whole lot yet.”

19. Matt Hayes on the Tigers: “It could be a defining moment. Or it could be, meh.”

20. Mizzou coach Gary Pinkel defends Joe Paterno: “Joe Paterno’s a friend that I got to know professionally, and you can’t take away the greatness of this man.”

21. Day One - best and worst moments.

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Juco WR Patterson Arrives At UT With Big Expectations

Cordarrelle Patterson was the top junior college receiver in the nation last year.  On Monday, he officially enrolled at the University of Tennessee.  But while many Vol fans are already dreaming of a pass-catching trio consisting of Justin Hunter (extremely talented, if 100% after knee surgery), Da’rick Rogers (talented, if focused) and Patterson… Patterson’s new coach wants to temper the excitement a bit.

According to Derek Dooley:

 

“The expectations are too high.  They are for everybody on our team.  But that’s okay; he’s got to learn to manage that.”

 

His position coach Darrin Hinshaw also cautions against over-hyping Patterson:

 

“You always have high expectations that you want them to come in and contribute some way.  How can we do that?  Well, we’ve got to learn the offense first.  We’ve got to learn what we’re doing and be able to play and then work on technique and understanding that.  There’s a learning curve that has to happen…

He’s very, very smart.  He understands the game really well, and when he gets here, the competition’s going to go through the roof.  That’s what we want.”

 

What any school wants when they ink a top juco prospect is the next Cam Newton or the next Terrence Cody — a player who can make an immediate impact on a team’s record just as soon as he steps foot on the playing field.  Unfortunately, the list of juco signees who disappoint is a heckuva lot longer than the very short list of game-changers who arrive on campus via that route.

So will Patterson be the star UT fans hope?  Or will he be another juco receiver — like former hyped Vol juco signee Kenny O’Neal — who enters and exits without making an impact?  (O’Neal caught two passes for the Volunteers during his career.)  The jury on Patterson, obviously, is still out.  Whether the verdict comes in positive or negative could have a large impact on Tennessee’s offense in 2012 and therefore on Dooley’s chances of sticking around to see 2013 as well.

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Barkley: “In The SEC, Dude, We Make Sure You’re Well Taken Care Of”

When Charles Barkley speaks, you have to wonder what is reality and what is exaggeration.  The ex-Auburn and NBA star is no stranger to controversial statements because a) he loves to hear himself talk and b) he doesn’t take himself or — it seems — anything else too seriously.

That’s what makes him fantastic on TNT’s NBA coverage.

Unfortunately, it’s also what makes him the worst thing possible for Auburn’s image as well as — now — the SEC’s reputation.

CBSSports.com’s Gary Parrish brought our attention to a short video of Barkley — hamming it up as a storyteller in an informal setting — in which he claims that he tried to buy current NBA star Dirk Nowitzki for his alma mater many years ago:

 

“So I call Nike and I says, “Find out about this kid and tell him I’ll give him anything he wants to go to Auburn.  Just tell him, anything he wants, we’ll get it done.”

 

Barkley claims Nowitzki scored “like 52″ on Scottie Pippen while playing as a soon-to-be-drafted German teenager, which prompted his interest.

Worse that the statement above, however, Barkley also said:

 

“(Nowitzki) would have fit right in in the SEC.  In the SEC, dude, we make sure you’re well taken care of.”

 

Oh, Mike Slive will love that comment bouncing around the internet today.  But was Barkley joking?  Nearly 30 years removed from his playing days in the SEC, does he even know what today’s Southeastern Conference is like?  Well, he sure chimed in on the Cam Newton situation as if he did — albeit in a lighthearted manner:

 

“Everybody wants to give us a hard time about giving Cam Newton $200,000.  That’s called a good damn investment.  We got him for 200 grand?  Are you kidding me?  That’s a good deal!”

 

No, most likely that’s just Barkley being Barkley.  But it’s also a nightmare on the PR front for Auburn and for the Southeastern Conference.

And It’s also going to be taken as Gospel truth handed down from on high by Alabama fans looking for any reason at all to throw a bit more mud at their hated rivals.

Here’s the clip (with some obscenities):

 

Dude, who the hell are you?

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AU’s Jacobs Says He Saw 2011 Coming

Would the real Gene Chizik please stand up?  Is the guy who won five games in two years at Iowa State?  Is he the man who’s led Auburn to two 8-5 campaigns in three years?  Or is he multi-millionaire, top o’ the line coach who led the Tigers to their first national crown in decades?

That’s what many Auburn and SEC fans would like to know following last year’s post-Cam Newton season.  But Auburn AD Jay Jacobs isn’t reading too much into last season because he says he and Chizik knew early on what was coming:

 

“2010 was a magical year for us.  Back when I interviewed Gene in December ’08, we knew that 2011, as far as the number of players, was going to be challenging.  I couldn’t be more proud of how the guys played.  There was only one institution that played more freshmen than we did this past season.  I’m proud of how hard they worked and how they stayed to the task at hand and continued to build this foundation that’s going to take us back to an SEC championship.”

 

Sounds good.  And we believe it’s too soon for anyone to start writing Chizik off as a one-year wonder.  But…

For Jacobs to have known back in 2008 that the roster would be so full of holes in 2011, he would have to have foreseen some real problems coming with Chizik’s first two signing classes.  After all, 43% of the players from Auburn’s ’09 and ’10 classes aren’t at Auburn or never arrived.

For that reason — while we say it’s way too soon to panic on the Plains — we also aren’t buying Jacobs’ “we knew it was coming” message.

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NCAA Closes The Newton Loophole (And Bama Gets Some Bad Pub, Too)

Auburn fans, be glad that the NCAA was slow on the trigger.

Today, college sports’ governing body closed the so-called “Cam Newton loophole” by ruling that in the future any parent found to be soliciting the services of his son or daughter to an NCAA institution will be designated as an agent.  And when an agent solicits money from a school, the player becomes ineligible.

But don’t go calling this the “Cam Newton rule.”  CBSSports.com’s Dennis Dodd tweeted today that he had been told “the impetus for the Cecil Newton Rule, actually started with Alabama’s Andre Smith.”

You might remember that Smith — a star left tackle for the Crimson Tide in 2008 — was not allowed to play in the team’s Sugar Bowl loss to Utah in January 2009. 

And that’s why we say Auburn fans should be glad the NCAA acted slowly.  For if the NCAA had changed its rulebook after Smith’s issue came to light, Cam and Cecil and the 2010 Tigers would have been outta luck before ever making their run at the Heisman Trophy, the BCS Championship and history.

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Malzahn’s Wife Goes Viral

To those who’ve emailed us the link 50 times today, yes, we’ve seen the video of Gus Malzahn’s wife Kristi giving a bizarro interview.  Everyone’s seen it.  And if you somehow haven’t, here it is:

Do we believe that interview has anything to do with Malzahn’s name reportedly cooling at North Carolina?  At Ole Miss?  No, we do not.

We believe his non-Cam-Newton-led offense has something to do with his star fading a bit, but not this.  If a guy can win, no one cares what he or his wife says.  And here’s guessing Ms. Malzahn won’t be doing many more of these interviews in the future anyway.

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SEC Headlines – 11/8/11 Part Two

1.  Alabama is battered and bruised heading to Mississippi State on Saturday.  (Trent Richardson on the LSU game: “Just imagine you got two 18-wheelers going at it.”)

2.  Anthony Grant’s hoops team won a hard-fought exhibition game with Alabama-Huntsville 67-60 last night.

3.  The documentary “Roll Tide/War Eagle” will debut tonight at 8pm ET on ESPN.  (Expect to see Harvey Updyke, Cam Newton, Paul Finebaum and the usual cast of characters.)

4.  Tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen has turned into a key performer for Auburn.

5.  Trovon Reed and Emory Blake are back and bringing some spark to Gus Malzahn’s offense.

6.  Bobby Petrino wants his team to have a “narrow focus” moving forward.

7.  Maybe that’s because too many people in the Natural State are freaking out over the BCS standings every week.  (Note: If you’re not in the BCS top two, those rankings don’t matter a lick.  Win your games, Hogs.)

8.  LSU is sticking with its two-quarterback system.

9.  Alabama’s linebackers and safeties were too big and slow… to deal with the Tigers’ option game.

10.  MSU needs to avoid mistakes against Bama this Saturday.

11.  Rick Stansbury’s basketball Bulldogs opened their season with a 76-66 win over Eastern Kentucky last night.

12.  This writer says Ole Miss made changes that needed to be made in firing Houston Nutt and accepting the resignation of AD Pete Boone.

13.  And this writer says UM’s search should start with Mike Leach and Rich Rodriguez.

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