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SEC Headlines 3/8/2014

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1. Report: Dan Mullen and Mississippi State in contract talk extensions.

2. Texas coach Charlie Strong wants to renew the rivalry with Texas A&M.  ”When there’s been so much tradition there, you’d like to see it continue on.”

3. No Johnny Manziel but still plenty of options at quarterback for the Texas A&M.

4. John Theus is moving from right tackle to left tackle for Georgia.

5. Tennessee coach Butch Jones on competition at the quarterback spot:  ”That competition, that’s how you get better, that’s how you grow.”

6. Plenty of options at running back for Ole Miss.

7. Early signing period for college football?

SEC/NFL

8. Couple of NFL draft analysts now have Johnny Manziel going fourth overall to the Cleveland Browns.

SEC Basketball

9. SEC Commissioner Mike Slive: “One of the primary focuses that we have is changing the perception of our basketball over the next several years.”

10. Andy Staples on Florida: “These Gators won’t overwhelm anyone with their athleticism, but they might overwhelm a team with their defensive stubbornness.”

11. Auburn A.D. Jay Jacobs will sit down with coach Tony Barbee at the end of the season.  Is his job in jeopardy?

12. An argument to keep South Carolina coach Frank Martin suspended until he cleans up his “expletive act.”

13. If LSU beats Georgia today, Tigers will clinch the sixth seed in the SEC Tournament. And if Georgia loses and Tennesse wins, Vols claim third place in the SEC.

14. Missouri has received more points and rebounds from this freshmen class than any of the past four seasons.

15. Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy on the future of his program: “I’m really high on some of our young guys.”

16. Jerry Palm on bubble teams and potential bid stealers.

Extra

17. Paul Finebaum’s book on the SEC goes on sale in August.  Here’s a look at the cover.

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WOW Headlines – 4/24/13

Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze: “As spring revealed, we’re not where we need to be depth-wise.”
Tennessee has hired former Cleveland Browns scout Bob Welton as the football program’s new director of player personnel
Auburn S Demetruce McNeal’s status is “still up in the air” due to off-field issues
The SEC and ESPN are scheduled to formally announce their new SEC Network on Thursday, May 2nd in Atlanta
The FBS presidents have decided to call the new college football playoff the “College Football Playoff”
Analyst Mel Kiper has 10 SEC players projected to go in the first 25 picks of this week’s NFL draft
Alabama G Trevor Lacey will transfer from Alabama, leaving the Crimson Tide with just 10 scholarship players next season
Follow the SEC all year long on MrSEC.com and twitter.com/mrsec

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Browns RB Richardson Can’t Picture Saban In The NFL

Since The Boston Globe first spread the rumor that Nick Saban might leave Alabama for the Cleveland Browns, we’ve pooh-poohed the idea.  And we’re not big on pooh-poohing things around here.  But since then everyone from Bama AD Mal Moore to Crimson Tide “insiders” to the coach himself have shot down the reports.

Now you can add another name to the list of folks who can’t see Saban leaving Tuscaloosa for another shot at the pro game — current Brown and former Alabama running back Trent Richardson:

 

“I can’t see him coming to the NFL.  I can see him staying at Alabama and retiring at Alabama.  That’s what I can see.  He just has so much put into it.  There’s so much there for him.  There’s no reason to leave…

The way he lives his lifestyle down there, the way he loves playing football.  He loves intensive football, where every game counts.  One game you might be out.  That’s the intensity he loves in every game.  Those players are just like robots down there.  They know what Coach Saban wants and they’re going to do what Coach Saban says.”

 

No more.  Oh, we might put something in headlines when this pops up again, but it’s the last time we’ll write about Saban-to-the-NFL unless Saban actually shocks everyone around him and does leave the college game for the pro game.

As we say each spring when the John-Calipari-to-the-NBA rumors start, if a coach has the primo job in your college sport, why leave it to return to a league where you previously washed out?

 

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WOW Headlines – 12/12/12

New Arkansas coach Bret Bielema will bring defensive coordinator Chris Ash with him from Wisconsin
LSU coach Les Miles is the most popular college football coach… on Twitter
Texas A&M offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury remains a frontrunner for the head coaching job at Texas Tech, his alma mater
South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore is expected to announce his plans to turn pro this afternoon
Draft analyst Mel Kiper says Georgia QB Aaron Murray and Tennessee QB Tyler Bray could both use another year in college
Arkansas RB Knile Davis is expected to leave early for the NFL
Sources say the SEC, Big Ten, Big XII, ACC and Pac-12 will earn an average of $75 million per year more than smaller conference in new playoff revenue
Rumors continue to tie Alabama coach Nick Saban to the Cleveland Browns, but there appears to be little substance to the talk
Keep up with all the news from around the SEC each day on MrSEC.com

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Gruden Fever Explodes Again In Tennessee With Chattanooga Report; But No Proof Yet

The Chattanooga Times Free Press got Tennessee fans all a-Twitter yesterday with a late night story claiming that ESPN analyst Jon Gruden — the Vols’ great white whale — had a contract offer in hand and was mulling a serious job offer from Tennessee.  And yes, this story has officially become the thing that wouldn’t leave.

The paper claimed sources (plural) had confirmed that Gruden was indeed back in play for UT:

 

“‘Right now, the money is there for him (Gruden), but they aren’t as close as he would like for his assistants,’ one source said.  ‘It could happen as soon as this weekend or go into next week, but he’s pretty firm where he is and has already spoken with guys he wants to be on the staff with him.’

According to a different source, ‘He’s told them they aren’t close enough on money for the staff.  He’s very interested, but if they don’t come up with what they need for the assistants, he’s told them he’s out.”

 

This once again kickstarted the recent Tennessee tradition of predicting press conferences.  Fans and messageboards spread rumors after UT’s loss to South Carolina in October that a Gruden press conference would come the following day.  When it didn’t, rumors moved the presser to that Monday.  Then to “Monday Night Football” where Gruden would announce his decision on air.  On and on this “he’s coming!” game has played out over the past month.

There would be a press conference on November 15th.  No, November 28th.  No, 3pm on November 30th.  No, December 13th.  Seriously.  (We haven’t heard of a rumor past the 13th, but maybe that’s just because the Mayans have us all going bye-bye on December 21st.)

The trouble with the Chattanooga report is that no sources in Knoxville can (or will) confirm that Gruden and Tennessee really got close to a deal last night.  In fact, Knoxville radio station WNML-AM/FM is reporting that Gruden has told the Volunteers thanks, but no thanks.  (Here’s the tweet from that station’s Jimmy Hyams.)

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Wow Evening Headlines 11/28/2012

Les Miles staying at LSU – getting a raise and contract extension
Jon Gruden and the Cleveland Browns have denied reports that Gruden has been offered a stake in the NFL franchise if he accepts the Tennessee job
A meeting between UT and Gruden reportedly cancelled
MrSEC.com is reporting that Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher is at the top of the wish list for both Auburn and Tennessee
Kentucky has hired Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops as its new head football coach
Heading into the SEC title game, Alabama CB Dee Milliner On Georgia QB Aaron Murray: “He does all the little things right.”
If Alabama wins the SEC championship and BCS championship, Nick Saban will earn more than $6 million in salary and bonuses
Vegas odds have Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel as the favorite to win Heisman Trophy
South Carolina coach Frank Martin says two-sport standout Bruce Ellington is back with the basketball team until the Gamecocks start bowl practice next month
Follow all of the SEC coaching search news at MrSEC.com and twitter.com/mrsec

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Cowher Or Ryan To Cats? Gruden To Vols Or Hogs? Lombardi To Tigers? Making Sense Of The Nonsense

Each and every day this website gets ‘em.  Emails from folks who want so badly to believe that a big name NFL coach is coming in as their football program’s savior that they fall hook, line and sinker for every rumor they read on a messageboard.  And, heck, one day one of these “out there” stories might just come to fruition.  But when we see one of the following nuggets in an email, we immediately raise a cynical eyebrow:

 

* Coach X was seen in town eating with a prominent booster.  (Meetings with candidates are done outside of college towns to avoid both the media and every Tom, Dick and Harry with a cell phone camera.)

* Coach X was seen in town playing golf with a prominent booster.  (See explanation above.)

* Coach X’s wife was in town to look at houses.  (Any coach’s wife interested in a house can have a surrogate go to said town and scout out houses if necessary, but they do have these newfangled virtual tours of houses, too, you know?)

* Coach X has a clause in his TV contract that states he can’t coach in the NFL next year.  (Ex-coaches leave the broadcast booth every year to return to the sidelines despite having spent the previous season holding production meetings with coaches and players from other teams.  If ex-NFL coaches had binding deals with networks, you’d think NFL insiders like Chris Mortensen, Adam Schefter, etc, would know about them.)

 

All that said, the rumors are swirling in the Bluegrass State that Super Bowl-winning coach Bill Cowher is considering the Kentucky job.  First, there’s the obvious question that must be thrown out regarding any NFL coach: “Why would he take less money in the college game and have to recruit when he could take more money in the pro game and not have to recruit?”  Second, if Cowher did decide to coach in the college ranks for the first time ever, do you think he’d pick Kentucky of the Southeastern Conference over — potentially — NC State of the ACC?  You see, Cowher played football at NC State.  Seems the Wolfpack would have a bit of leg up on the Wildcats if NCSU drops the hammer on Tom O’Brien.

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We Must Be Nearing October… The Gruden Talk Has Begun

There are three things in life that we can all count on: death, taxes, and Jon Gruden’s name being mentioned in connection with every job opening — or potential job opening — in the Southeastern Conference.

Well, we must be nearing October because the Gruden talk is heating up once again.  By November, he’ll be spotted golfing with boosters, searching for houses with realtors, and visiting potential schools for his kids.  From one end of the conference to the other, too.

Last week, word started to percolate out of Knoxville that Gruden — who is famously married to an ex-Tennessee cheerleader and who reportedly owns land in East Tennessee — had let it be known that this time he would really be interested in chatting with the Volunteers… should Derek Dooley not earn himself a fourth season.  Check the messageboards and you’ll see the details.  “Gruden talks to boosters,” etc, etc.

This week, we’ve also received two long, detailed emails from the Natural State suggesting that Gruden has let Arkansas AD Jeff Long know that he’s interested in the Razorbacks’ job.  I just got off the phone about 30 minutes ago with an Arkansas-based radio host wanting to know what I’d heard on the Gruden front.  I told him what I’m about to tell you:

Gruden’s agent, Bob LaMonte, must be floating his client’s name again.

Since January of 2009 when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fired the coach known as Chucky, Gruden’s name has been connected to one job opening after another.  Tennessee has come up before.  In fact, our sources say UT officials have twice reached out to Gruden to see if he had any interest in returning to the school where he served as a grad assistant back in the mid-80s.  The answer was “thanks, but no thanks.”

And when Georgia’s Mark Richt entered last season on a hot seat, who was rumored to be interested in the job?  Gruden.

As soon as Bobby Petrino crashed his motorcycle and his career in Fayetteville, Gruden’s name became a hot topic.  Arkansas had an opening.  Gruden was available.  Bada-boom, bada-bing, Gruden would become a Razorback.

And it’s not just SEC schools.  When the University of Miami was searching for a coach in late-2010, Gruden reportedly said no, then showed some interest, and then said no again.  Gruden’s name has been tied to Louisville (where his brother played quarterback), Ohio State and Oregon as well.

But every time he’s rumored to have talked to a college or pro team — he reportedly spoke with the Cleveland Browns in 2011 — he’s wound up staying put in the ESPN broadcast booth.  Last October he inked a new deal with the network designed to keep him on “Monday Night Football” through the 2016 season.

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Saban Says He’ll Be At Bama Until Retirement

That whopping new extension Nick Saban signed yesterday — the one that’s been broken down as paying him anywhere from $5.1 to $5.6 million this year, depending on the source — well, the coach views it as a contract for life.


“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.”


As for who came calling, Saban said “it doesn’t really matter… we wanted to stay at Alabama.”

Saban has been viewed as a bit of a bounder — hat tip, Jerry Seinfeld — but that reputation stems almost entirely from his short stay with the Miami Dolphins.  In reality, he’s held just five jobs in the past 21 years:


1991-94 – Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator (From Bill Belichick’s staff he became a head coach in the Big Ten, an upgrade.)

1995-99 — Michigan State head coach (In five seasons he revived a program that was fraught with internal turmoil before making another upgrade-type move.  At State, he was at the #2 program in a state not known for great recruiting, but…)

2000-04 — LSU head coach (In Baton Rouge, Saban was at the #1 school in a very fertile recruiting zone, another upgrade.)

2005-06 — Miami Dolphins head coach (Like, oh, so many coaches who have to scratch an itch to be the best at the best level, Saban gave it a shot as an NFL head coach.  It wasn’t a fit.  And when pressed midseason about reports that he was going to Alabama, he lied to the press in order to keep his Miami team from quitting on him.  Thus the Petrino-esque reputation.)

2007-Now — Alabama head coach (Saban left the NFL but he landed at arguably the most tradition-rich school in the nation, another upgrade.)


One could argue that Saban — aside from Miami — has made a step up the ladder with each and every move.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  It’s good business.  And in an age when fanbases tire of a coach after nine or 10 seasons, restarting the clock as we so often say is the wise move for coaches.  Saban’s done that repeatedly.

There are people close to Saban who will tell you he regrets ever leaving LSU in the first place.  Hindsight is 20/20, etc, etc.  So when he says he’ll be at Alabama for the duration of his coaching career, we believe him.

As for his contract, he will indeed make — as we reported yesterday — $5.3 million for 2012.  By the end of his deal in 2020 he’s due to make more than $5.9 million.  He would be 68 at that point.  (He doesn’t look 60, does he?)

When Saban was hired at Alabama and he and his staff were paid a total of $6.24 million, American sports fans gasped.  “For a college coaching staff?”  Now Saban and crew are making $9.11 million — a 31% increase over five years — and you could argue they’re underpaid.

“It doesn’t really matter what my opinion is or anyone else’s opinion (regarding the salaries),” Saban said.  “The market is what it is, and if we’re not willing to pay that to the best people that we have, they’re not going to be here.”

Two national championships and three BCS bowl games (and payouts).  All the added exposure that’s come from that.  All the increased merchandise sales.  An expansion of Bryant-Denny Stadium that brings in millions of dollars more per year for the university.

Even paying $5.3 for Saban and $9.11 for the total staff, the University of Alabama is bringing in far more from football than it’s paying out.  It’s no wonder — barring changes to other coaches’ contracts — that Saban is set to be the highest-paid college football coach in the country.

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Arkansas Hires Another Ex-Ohio State Assistant; Targets Ohio Prospects

Bobby Petrino has added another ex-Buckeye to his 2012 Razorback coaching staff in the person of linebackers coach Taver Johnson.  Johnson  coached cornerbacks at Ohio State from 2007 through this past fall.  His hiring in Fayetteville was reported yesterday evening.

Johnson is an Ohio native and has coached across the state at the small college (Wittenberg), big college (OSU), and pro (Cleveland Browns) levels.  In Columbus, he served under recently-hired Arkansas defensive coordinator Paul Haynes.

Johnson replaces Reggie Johnson who went with ex-Hog offensive coordinator Garrick McGee to UAB.

Johnson and Haynes give the Hogs some good ties to the state of Ohio, one of the most talent-rich states in the country.  As you must know, Arkansas is one of the most talent-poor states in the SEC when it comes to producing future NFL players.  And with Texas inroads already laid, Petrino now appears to be turning his attention to the Buckeye State.

Wise move.

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