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Congrats To Bloom On Carolina Move

SEC associate commissioner and PR man extraordinaire Charles Bloom is leaving the league office to take over as senior associate athletics director of external affairs at South Carolina.

Bloom has done a great job for the SEC over the years and he’s been very kind to this website and this writer.  No question has gone unanswered and his responses have usually been quite rapid.

Carolina got a good one today.

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SEC Explains Spot Of The Ball In Alabama, Ole Miss Game

Well, we started our day with the questionable spot in the Alabama/Ole Miss game and that’s where we’ll finish, too.

SEC associate commissioner Charles Bloom was kind enough — as usual — to respond to our query about the video you can watch below:


Alabama Moving spot for first down


Bloom’s response:


“On a 3rd down play at the 13:31 mark of the first quarter, an Alabama pass play was completed to the Alabama 32-yard line and signaled for a first down. 

A YouTube video calls attention to the placement of the football.  The following outlines the sequence of events leading up to the first down placement:

1)  The receiver is down outstretched with the football inches shy of the 32 yard line and at the line to gain when his knees touch the ground;

2)  The head linesman immediately stops the clock and gives Alabama the first down (By Rule, clock stops at the awarding of a first down);

3)  The head linesman is seen stopping the clock and initially places the ball shy of where the football was declared dead and shy of the previously awarded first down;

4)  The head linesman uses an incorrect mechanic in looking back to the first down marker to move the football back to the original correct spot;

5)  Video review of this sequence confirms that the final spot of the ball is correct.”


Now, this writer is not concerned with where the person controlling the video pauses it.  That’s his opinion of when the ballcarrier’s knee hit the ground and his view and angle are different from those of the official marking the spot.

However, it does appear to me that the official runs in to spot the ball where he thought it should be marked, then looked back to the marker (incorrectly, as Bloom notes) to make sure he’s putting it where he’d lined it up initially.

Personally, I don’t think it looks like he marks the ball in the same spot as he initially meant to.  But that’s my take.  Officials — especially linesmen — would have a better idea of whether or not this mark was correct.

The key here — and I wish I’d picked up on it earlier — is that the linesman does stop the clock before marking the ball.  That means that in his live-action view, the ballcarrier got past the first down marker.  You can argue about where the ball was when the knee hit, but the official didn’t have the benefit of a high-angle camera and slow-motion eyesight.  He saw the play, marked the spot, blew his whistle… and then tried to make sure he placed the ball where it had initially gone down (and I think he goofed on that front.)

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SEC Clarifies Policy On Oriakhi-Type Transfers

Earlier today we told you that UConn senior-to-be Alex Oriakhi plans to transfer from Storrs and is on the radar at Florida, Kentucky, and Missouri.  If UConn can’t play in next year’s NCAA Tournament due to NCAA sanctions — and the school is still waiting to hear about its appeal — Oriakhi could play his senior season immediately without sitting out a year.

However, as we also told you today, the SEC has a policy in place that is designed to prevent schools from simply bringing in rent-a-players for a single season of football or basketball.  In Mike Slive’s own words last summer: “It is not acceptable for a student-athlete to transfer in solely for an athletic experience.”

But with at least three SEC institutions chasing Oriakhi anyway, we turned to the SEC for an explanation.  The league’s quick-to-respond PR king Charles Bloom said that he’s been getting several questions about the league’s stance today and that the statement below “is our policy.”

SEC Bylaw 14.1.15

“A student-athlete who, upon enrollment at the certifying institution, has less than two years of eligibility remaining, is not eligible for financial aid, practice or competition at the member institution.  A member institution may request a waiver from the Conference office for a student-athlete transferring from an institution discontinuing a sport, or for a student-athlete transferring for the purpose of enrolling in an academic program not offered at the institution from which he or she is transferring.”

In other words, as long as the league allows it, Oriakhi could transfer to an SEC school and play if he simply enrolls in an academic track not offered by UConn.

Which means all the bluster about last year’s “no more one-year transfers” policy was just that — bluster.  Unless, of course, the commissioner is actually prepared to refuse said waiver.

There was much talk last summer about the SEC nixing oversigning.  In reality, it didn’t.  Schools could still oversign thanks to a “soft” cap of 25 signees that still allows for backcounting.  The move was a step in the right direction, yes, but there was more PR involved than actual change.

It seems what became known as “the Jeremiah Masoli rule” was created with PR in mind, too.  We may soon find out if that’s the case or just the appearance.  If Oriakhi chooses one of the three SEC schools chasing him, Slive will have to either provide a waiver or deny the member institution’s request for one.

Though it would seem Florida, Kentucky and Missouri have a feeling such a waiver would be granted or else they’d probably not be wasting their time pursuing Oriakhi in the first place.

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SEC Clarifies New Signing Cap Rule

Each time we write a post that references the SEC’s new soft 25-man signing cap, we receive a number of emails from people asking why we use the word “soft” in front the cap part.  We do that because, technically, SEC schools can still sign more than 25 players per season.

Under the first-year signing cap, SEC programs are still allowed to “back count” early enrollees to the previous year’s signing crop.  Nothing has changed on that front.  A school can bring in more than 25 in a class if there’s room in the previous class for back counting and if those players enroll early.

On a related note, SEC PR man Charles Bloom has informed Seth Emerson of The Macon Telegraph that one thing has changed:

“If a player signs, he counts without regard to whether or not he actually enrolls.  ‘Back counting’ is only permitted for mid-year enrolles who are able to be included as an initial counter for the academic year in which they enroll.  ‘Back counting’ is an artificial term for this discussion and not accurate as the question is about the signing limit.”

What you need to know:

* If a school signed 23 players last year, it could techically back count two early enrollees this year and still sign 25 more players… giving the school a 27-man class on paper.  Thus our use of the term “soft 25-man signing cap.”

* If a player signs with a school and fails to qualify academically or enroll for any other reason, tough noogies.  (Never wrote that before.)  Schools must count all players who sign, not just the ones who enroll.

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No Permanent Cross-Divisional Rivals In The SEC?

Here’s one that will get Alabama and Tennessee fans fired up.  SEC associate commissioner and chief PR guy Charles Bloom told Kirk Bohls of The Austin American-Statesman that the league’s permanent cross-divisional rivalries could go bye-bye as soon as 2013:

“There might not be a permanent rival.  Don’t read anything into next year’s schedule (2012).  But we are staying with eight conference games.”

For many fans across the SEC, the permanent cross-divisional rivalries serve no purpose.  Kentucky and Mississippi State have no hatred for one another.  South Carolina and Arkansas have little history.  And Florida and LSU would rather not have to face one another every year.

But there are other schools that do have reasons to maintain those cross-division games.  Alabama and Tennessee — traditionally speaking — is the SEC’s biggest game, played annually between the two teams who own the most SEC titles all-time.

Georgia and Auburn is the oldest rivalry in the Deep South.  Ole Miss and Vanderbilt have played 86 times.  And Missouri desperately wants to keep Texas A&M on its schedule for recruiting purposes.

Killing cross-division games is not a good solution.

We’ve said repeatedly that we believe the SEC will eventually go to a nine-game league schedule.  We’ve taken that stance because the SEC has almost always in the past acted wisely from a business sense.

But if the league does away with permanent cross-division games and discards three of the league’s oldest rivalries in order to allow its schools to schedule more pitiful home games with schools like Georgia State and Elon, then the league will not be acting wisely.

If the league fails to follow the lead of most other BCS conferences that will be going to nine-game league slates by 2017 if not sooner, then — to be blunt — the SEC will be acting cowardly.

And if the SEC maintains permanent cross-divisional games while eliminating a rotating cross-divisional foe — meaning schools will visit one another every dozen years — the league will be undermining the very thing that makes it great: fantastic rivalries.

If there’s a story to watch in 2012, it’s the final scheduling plan for the SEC moving forward into 2013 and beyond.  Will the SEC act wisely and boldly as it has in the past?  Or will it be motivated to act out of greed (one more home game for everyone!) or fear (nine games is too tough!).

Here’s hoping the league’s leaders wise up before they damage America’s best conference from the inside out.

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SEC: Not A 9-Game Schedule Now

When South Carolina president Harris Pastides said over the weekend that the SEC would go to a nine-game conference schedule, we said, “told ya so.”

When SEC PR man Charles Bloom — and a host of SEC athletic directors — quickly said the league was staying at eight games per year, we said, “not for long.”

So now comes word from SEC Executive Associate Commissioner Mark Womack that the league will not go to a nine-game schedule “at this point.”  So would the league ever go to a nine-game format?  “I don’t know.  That would be up to our ADs and presidents to look at it.  The past has indicated there’s been little support for that.”

He also told The Birmingham News, “I think (Pastides) believes it’s something we’re certainly going to look at or thought it might be an idea.  But it’s a topic that really hasn’t had a lot of discussion at this point.”

“At this point” being a key phrase in all of that.

As we told you yesterday, the president of an SEC school doesn’t make up theories and pass them off as fact to his own student-newspaper.  Pastides said a nine-game conference schedule is coming.  He said schools would have to buy out one of their upcoming non-conference games.  He even guaranteed that Arkansas and South Carolina would continue playing as cross-divisional rivals.  That’s a lot of details for something he “thought” the league “might” consider.

Our take on this matter remains unchanged.

The SEC’s presidents discussed scheduling on some level when they decided to vote in Missouri.  To suggest they never considered scheduling or the impact it would have on their universities’ bottom lines is ridiculous.

Pastides opened his mouth on what most see as the obvious long-term fix.  (We broke it down way back in October and explained why a nine-game schedule would be the best option.)

But coaches and ADs are against the move.  They believe a nine-game schedule will be too difficult and could cost their schools home dates each year.

For that reason, Mike Slive is likely doing what he always does before a key vote… he’s politicking.  When Slive brought up the oversigning issue heading into this past spring’s SEC meetings, most assumed the league’s presidents would defer to their coaches and vote to do nothing.  We suggested that Slive wouldn’t bring the issue to a vote if he didn’t know beforehand that he had the votes needed to make changes.  And he did.  And the coaches were ignored.  And a soft 25-man signing cap was put in place.

Slive is a sharp man.  He knows that the SEC would suffer if schools like Florida and Alabama, Georgia and LSU, Arkansas and Missouri see each other just once every 12 years.  He’s no doubt formulated his plan.  The presidents have an idea of what that plan is. 

But the athletic directors haven’t had their meeting with the commish yet.  When they do, we believe they’ll walk away with the knowledge that the SEC will be going to a nine-game schedule at some point in the not-so-distant future.

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SEC’s Bloom Says 8-Game Schedule For SEC

SEC public relations ace Charles Bloom — deluged with questions about a nine-game football schedule no doubt — has taken to Twitter to write the following:

“#SEC will continue to play eight conference games in football.  There has been no discussions on nine game schedule.”

So did University of South Carolina president Harris Pastides give false information to his own school’s student newspaper?  Did he simply give his opinion?  Did Josh Dawsey, the editor-in-chief of The Daily Gamecock misunderstand Pastides meaning?

Considering the fact that Dawsey relays quite a bit of detailed information from Pastides — ex: “The president guaranteed USC would keep its annual matchup with Arkansas.” — it’s doubtful that Dawsey was reading into things. 

It’s also unlikely that Pastides just flat-out lied to a reporter for the USC student paper.  He’s been quoted in that publication quite often in recent weeks — on sports topics — and we can’t recall any problems like this arising in the past.

So we suspect the SEC office might be making sure that everyone’s unanimous regarding schedules moving forward.  Schools like Florida and Georgia and Arkansas and Texas A&M, who play at neutral sites, would stand to possibly lose a bit more cash from the loss of another home date every other year.  Those schools’ presidents probably need a bit more coaxing and cajoling when it comes to a nine-game schedule.

But as we pointed out here, the most likely path for a 14-team SEC is one that leads to a nine-game schedule.  Unless the league is cooking up some sort of free-for-all plan, the best way to insure balance, the continuation of old rivalries, and regular matchups between all league foes is to move to a nine-game schedule. 

Bloom’s comment?  We think it’s spin control.  The SEC doesn’t want one president to say a deal’s done before all 14 presidents have OK’d said deal.

Do you really believe 13 SEC presidents just voted to add another school without anyone ever asking what that move would mean for scheduling?  For travel?  For home game revenues?  So it’s pretty hard to believe there have been “no discussions.”

And for how many weeks did SEC officials claim that they were considering a 13-team schedule only for 2012… only to have an ESPN executive and then Mike Slive himself admit otherwise?

The league will go to nine-games just like all the other BCS leagues are planning to do.  It’s as sure a thing as Missouri’s entry into the SEC was.  An eight-game schedule will hurt the league long-term.  Slive has to know that.  Pastides knows that.  It’s our bet a few more presidents just need convincing of that. 

We now expect Pastides to try to somehow distance himself from his earlier comments for the purpose of maintaining league harmony.  But that won’t change the fact that a nine-game schedule is coming at some point.

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SEC Looks Into Grantham / Franklin Mess; UGA Assistant Meets With A.D.

The SEC has asked both Georgia and Vanderbilt officials to file reports with the league regarding the postgame flap between VU’s James Franklin and Georgia’s Todd Grantham.  SEC associate commissioner Charles Bloom said today that it’s “too early for any decisions yet” as the league continues to gather information.  The league could reach a decision by sometime tomorrow.

Here’s a quick breakdown on the latest:

* Franklin was asked about the mess today at his weekly presser.  He said that he spoke with Mark Richt “man to man” yesterday.  Asked if he regretted his own behavior at game’s end, Franklin said:

“I’m not a guy who really has a whole lot of regrets.  I’m pretty calculated and pretty well thought out for the most part with the things I do.  I am an emotional guy, as you guys now.”

* Grantham told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today that he regrets his actions:

“First of all, I love my players and appreciate their hard work and investment in our program.  I feel a responsibility and loyalty to protect and stand up for them.  However, I feel it’s important to educate them in all areas of life.  While my intentions were genuine, I feel it was unfortunate that things escalated to a confrontation.  However, I’ll use it as a learning experience for myself as well as my players so that we all become better men.”

* Meanwhile, Georgia AD Greg McGarity has gotten involved.  He spoke with Richt by telephone yesterday and then met with Grantham in person today.  Of those conversations, McGarity would say little:

“There were lessons to be learned here.  Obviously the conduct that was displayed was not representative of how we want to conduct ourselves after a hard-fought game.”

* McGarity spoke with the Touchdown Club in Atlanta today and had the following to say to that group:

“I think the whole story will come out at some point in time.  Right now both institutions are basically filing a report to the Southeastern Conference office on really what happened from Todd’s standpoint and, I’m sure, from Coach Franklin’s standpoint…

I won’t get into specifics, but I think if you ask Todd if he had to do it over again, I think he definitely would do some things differently.  I think that’s not the way you want to represent your institution on either side.  At the end of the day, I think you’ll see that.  But I know Todd is in the process of making a statement.  We want to get ahead of this and deal with it up front to where there’s nothing out there that we need to be worrying about the rest of the week…

So it’s something we’re really not proud of, and we’ll deal with it and learn from it and also teach our student-athletes on the positives and negatives of situations like that.”

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