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SEC Headlines 4/6/2013

headlines-saturday1. Auburn releases Selena Roberts interview request – calls it “gotcha, hide-the-ball journalism at its worst.”

2. Did former Auburn safety Mike McNeil get his grades altered to keep him eligible?  He says yes – a source says no.  

3. Verdict on Texas A&M’s Friday Night Lights scrimmage – defense more than held its own. Kevin Sumlin had a DJ spinning tunes from an 18-wheeler trailer.

4. Arkansas coach Bret Bielema changes his mind – opens today’s scrimmage to the public.

5. Georgia’s spring scrimmage game is an opportunity to get a look at a defense hit hard by graduation and early defections to the NFL.

6. Florida coach Will Muschamp likes where his offense is: “I think we’re much more efficient.”

7. Because Mississippi State returns so many experienced running backs, thousand-yard rusher LaDarius Perkins could actually get fewer carries this season.

8. First scrimmage of the spring this afternoon  for Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium It will be a learning opportunity for the Crimson Tide’s seven early enrollees.

9. Former Alabama center Barrett Jones is the SEC’s male scholar-athlete of the year.

10. Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson wants better tackling at the Tigers first scrimmage.  ”The most disappointing and concerning thing right now is just our tackling.”

11. Second scrimmage of the year for Tennessee – defensive coordinator John Jancek is also focusing on tackling.  “You can’t be a good defense and not be able to tackle.”

12. After a 5-7 season, it’s open competition at Missouri, where three quarterbacks are vying for reps. Some good news for the Tigers regarding Henry Jose.

13. South Carolina assistant coach Shawn Elliott on his offensive line: “We have four returning starters and two other guys that have started at times that are going to be back.”

14. How the tight end position could become a key weapon at Kentucky this fall.

15. Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze on new cornerbacks coach Jason Jones: “He has the same core values that we have.”

16. Balanced attack a focus at Vanderbilt – offensive coordinator John Donovan wants a 50-50 split between passing and running.

SEC Basketball

17. NBA scout on incoming Florida guard Kasey Hill:  ”Florida had a good season, but I felt like at times the guard play held them back. Kasey will help in that area.”

18. Louisville in the Final Four - “If there is such a thing as Big Blue Hell, this weekend is its fiery (red) apex.”

19. Most memorable moment in the history of the NCAA Tournament?  Kentucky fans know what it is – and probably never want to see it again.

20. Three of the top-10 TV markets for the NCAA Tournament are in SEC country.

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WOW Headlines – 12/7/12

Tennessee has hired Cincinnati’s Butch Jones as its new head football coach
Auburn has hired Rhett Lashlee from Arkansas State as its new offensive coordinator
Auburn has hired former Southern Miss head coach Ellis Johnson as its defensive coordinator
New coach Gus Malzahn is cleaning house at Auburn replacing all assistants and strength coach
Kentucky has hired former Florida State assistant DJ Eliot as its new defensive coordinator
Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel has won the Davey O’Brien Award as the nation’s top quarterback
Mississippi State CB Johnthan Banks has won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s best defensive back
Get all your SEC news from MrSEC.com and twitter.com/mrsec

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SEC Coaching Headlines 12/5/2012

Coaching News/Rumors/Reactions

1. Did Auburn repeat a mistake and skip over more qualified candidates?

2. Stewart Mandel: “Auburn AD Jay Jacobs essentially conceded what many already believed — that Malzahn was the real brains behind Chizik’s 2010 national-title team.

3. Bo Jackson on Malzahn: “(A)ctually, we were surprised that he was as sharp as he was.”

4. When Auburn phone Bobby Petrino this week, the questions and comments  “all revolved around Petrino’s personal life and why Arkansas fired him in April.”

5. Bret Bielema was a surprise hire at Arkansas to many people, including the state’s governor.  “I never heard him mentioned, so it is a surprise.”

6. Andy Staples on Bielema: If he considered (Urban) Meyer a ruthless foe, wait until he meets Nick Saban and Les Miles.”

7. Dan Wetzel: “There’s hardly any legitimate competition between the Big Ten and the SEC anymore. At least, not on the field. That’s just reality.”

8. Bielema’s deal worth $3.2 million annually over six years.

9. “Both schools found capable coaches, but chose very different approaches.” The challenges the two men will face.

10. Texas A&M offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury a possible candidate to replace Gus Malzahn at Arkansas State?

11. Texas Tech offensive coordinator Neal Brown on rumors linking him to Kentucky.

12. Ellis Johnson reportedly interviewing for defensive coordinator at Auburn. Future plans for Gene Chizik?

13. What does the future hold for Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo?

14. What about former Florida coach Ron Zook for the University of South Florida?

15. For the fifth straight year, the GoDaddy.com Bowl losing a coach who guided team to postseason.  This year, both teams, Arkansas State and Kent State, will be looking for new coaches.

16. Butch Davis to Florida International?

17. All these coaching searches have sparked an Internet feud.

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SEC Headlines – 12/27/11 PM Edition

1.  Here are this week’s SEC basketball Players of the Week.

2.  If Florida hires Jeff Dillman — as expected — as its new strength coach, the way the Gators lift weights will change.

3.  All Georgia’s football players are present and accounted for as bowl week preps kick off in Tampa today.

4.  As for next year, this writer says it’s all but certain the Bulldogs won’t face Alabama.

5.  UGA forward Marcus Thornton — the Dawgs’ leading rebounder — is undergoing exploratory knee surgery today.

6.  Joker Phillips wants Kentucky to build next year on its “strong finish” in 2011 (meaning a nine-point loss to Georgia and a win over 5-7 Tennessee).

7.  This writer believes South Carolina’s best possible move might be to promote Lorenzo Ward to replace Ellis Johnson.

8.  Folks in the Volunteer State are looking forward to the mid-season arrival of true freshman hoopster Jarnell Stokes.

9.  This scribe says Tennessee fans should also be paying attention to Vanderbilt’s recruiting class.

10.  Vanderbilt moved its Liberty Bowl practice indoors as rain fell on Memphis.

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SEC Headlines – 12/21/11

1.  A number of Alabama footballers are weighing their NFL options.

2.  The Tide hoops team will try to regain its shooting touch against Oklahoma State tonight.

3.  Alabama, Auburn and LSU lead the SEC in football staff salaries.

4.  Tiger defensive back Jermaine Whitehead had to grow up fast this season.

5.  Arkansas had to overcome some cold shooting to off EKU last night.

6.  Les Miles is the AP’s Coach of the Year in college football.

7.  LSU expects another physical game with Alabama in the BCS title game.

8.  Mississippi State’s defense is ready for Wake Forest’s undersized offensive line.

9.  Dan Mullen won’t say if Chris Relf or a banged-up Tyler Russell will start at quarterback.

10.  Hugh Freeze says he did his best to keep assistant coach Gunter Brewer at Ole Miss, but he’s going to North Carolina anyway.

11.  But former UM player Grant Heard will join the Rebels’ staff as receivers coach.

12.  It sounds like Florida’s Brian White has a leg up on the vacant offensive coordinator gig.  (Here’s what we wrote on that topic yesterday.)

13.  Grad assistant Jeff Blasko is being promoted to quarterbacks coach at UF.

14.  The loss of strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti to Ohio State was a big, big blow to some Gators.

15.  Move over, Micheal Scott.  Georgia’s Mark Richt is the World’s Greatest Boss.

16.  UGA has more questions at the quarterback position than you might think.

17.  Samford’s Princeton-style offense was good practice for Kentucky last night.

18.  UK walk-on Sam Malone will have to have a fourth major knee surgery… a situation John Calipari calls “heartbreaking.”

19.  Ellis Johnson won’t be coaching South Carolina’s defense in the Capital One Bowl after all.  (We’re hearing increasing rumors of a bit of rift between Johnson and Steve Spurrier, by the way.)

20.  Spurrier says he has “several guys in mind” that might replace Johnson and current defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward is one of them.

21.  Kenny Miles will start at tailback for the Cocks rather than Brandon Wilds.

22.  Tennessee beat back the losing-streak virus last night against UNC-Asheville.

23.  The Vols finally toughed out a win.

24.  Vanderbilt’s perimeter defense will be tested by Lafayette’s long-range gunners.

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Carolina’s Johnson To Be Head Coach At USM

In a blow to the South Carolina football program, the Gamecocks’ top defensive assistant, Ellis Johnson, will be taking over as head coach at Southern Miss according to The Jackson Clarion-Ledger.  The hire is expected to be made official today.  With Larry Fedora coaching USM once last time in their bowl game, it’s expected that Johnson will stay with USC for its Capital One Bowl date with Nebraska.

Johnson was in Hattiesburg interviewing for a second time with the school yesterday.  The 59-year-old — who turns 60 on Friday — once served as an assistant at USM in 1988 and 1989.

He has served as defensive coordinator at Clemson (1995-1996), Alabama (1997-2000), Mississippi State (2004-2007) and at South Carolina since ’07.  From 2001 to 2003 he served as the head coach of The Citadel.

Steve Spurrier’s turnaround of the Carolina program can be traced to two things: recruiting and defense.  Oddly enough, the Ol’ Ball Coach’s offense has not just found a way to take flight in Columbia.  A quick look at the Cocks’ D under Johnson shows how much improvement has been made on his watch:


2007 — 9th in total defense (SEC), 56th in total defense (nation)
2008 — 4th in total defense (SEC), 13th in total defense (nation)
2009 — 3rd in total defense (SEC), 15th in total defense (nation)
2010 — 7th in total defense (SEC), 46th in total defense (nation)
2011 — 4th in total defense (SEC), 4th in total defense (nation)


Clearly, Johnson has played a big role in changing the fortunes of his homestate school. 

This isn’t to say, of course, that Spurrier can’t find a new coordinator to fill Johnson’s shoes.  After all, he was the man who grabbed Johnson in the first place.

But it does mean the Cocks will have to wade out into the coaching pool and compete with the likes of Auburn for a top coordinator.  Better get out the checkbook.

Johnson was making $750,000 in Columbia as the “assistant head coach for defense.”  Lorenzo Ward actually bears the title of “defensive coordinator.”  So it’s possible that Spurrier will simply promote Ward if he feels he’s got the chops to run the show on his own.

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SEC Headlines – 12/16/11

Thanks for bearing with us the last couple of days.  We’ll be back to a full day’s work on Monday.  (Meanwhile, Mike and Josh will continue to handle weekend and recruiting news as usual.)

Here are your Friday headlines…

1.  Auburn will try to get its passing game cranked up in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

2.  The Tigers have sold about 15,000 of their 16,000 tickets to the game.

3.  Arkansas’ Joe Adams is an All-American.

4.  The hoops Hogs start a seven-game homestand tomorrow.

5.  LSU has started its title game preps for Alabama.

6.  The roundball Tigers shot just 31% last night… but they still managed to beat UC-Irvine.

7.  MSU cornerback Darius Slay is now playing a big role for the Bulldogs.

8.  Ole Miss is already keeping an eye on the RPI.

9.  Transfer Jelan Kendrick seems to be getting off on the wrong foot in Oxford.

10.  Florida is having struggles at the free throw line.

11.  Georgia’s Outback Bowl tickets are all sold out.

12.  The UGA hoops team will travel to Italy next summer.

13.  Chattanooga’s coach expects to run into a ticked Kentucky team after the Cats’ loss to Indiana.

14.  Are folks being too tough on UK’s Terrence Jones?

15.  South Carolina’s top defensive coach, Ellis Johnson, interviewed for the Southern Miss head coaching spot yesterday.

16.  An announcement from USM could come soon.

17.  Meanwhile, the Cocks are getting ready for their bowl date with Nebraska.

18.  New Tennessee AD Dave Hart wants to see “progress” from Derek Dooley’s program next year.

19.  The Vol hoops team is on its first four-game losing streak since 2004-05.

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SEC Headlines – 12/15/11

1.  Alabama and LSU grabbed plenty of All-American honors.

2.  Gus Malzahn will coach Auburn in the Chick-fil-A Bowl; Gene Chizik says there’s “no panic” in search for coaches.  (Anybody else think of this?)

3.  AU is 5-1 in hoops after a 52-40 win over South Florida.

4.  New Arkansas defensive coordinator Paul Haynes will make just short of $500,000 a year.

5.  Les Miles “wanted everyone to know that he is not interested in the Miami (Dolphins) job.”

6.  Recuperated LSU O-lineman Josh Dworaczyk can either take part in the BCS title game or gamble that the NCAA will grant him a sixth season of eligibility next year.

7.  LSU’s cornerbacks make history on the All-American team.

8.  Tiger hoopster Andre Stringer continues to undergo tests after fainting at practice last week.

9.  Ole Miss improved to 9-1 with a 66-54 win over Louisiana-Lafayette last night.

10.  Hugh Freeze will not honor the grayshirt agreement reached by quarterback Maikhail Miller’s family and Houston Nutt… yet another reason why player should look out for themselves.  (And, yes, the kid will be fined $364 for possessing less than an ounce of marijuana, but that’s hardly a murder charge.)

11.  Dan Mullen is going to get a contract extension at Mississippi State.  (Kudos to his agent for attaching his name to every job opening in the country.)

12.  Florida kicker Caleb Sturgis garnered All-America honors.

13.  Georgia landed two on the AP All-American squad.

14.  The length of Mark Richt’s contract extension will send a message to Dawg fans… and recruits.

15.  Kentucky’s Marquis Teague looked tougher against Indiana.

16.  South Carolina receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Steve Spurrier, Jr. is no longer a candidate for the head coaching job at Coastal Carolina.

17.  But Carolina defensive guru Ellis Johnson is reportedly a leading candidate for the top gig at Southern Miss.

18.  Here’s a good, lengthy look at USC’s NCAA response.

19.  Tennessee dropped to 3-6 on the season with a 71-65 loss at College of Charleston last night.  (The Vols have now lost to mid-majors Oakland and C of C in back-to-back years.)

20.  Perhaps that’s why this writer says UT has now fallen to “mid-major hell.”

21.  Vanderbilt promises to be aggressive on offense in the Liberty Bowl.

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Morning Notes From The Coaching Carousel

We’ll pick up this morning where we left off last evening… on the coaching carousel.  Here are the latest moves and rumored moves from across the SEC, starting with the last remaining head coaching vacancy.

 

* Texas A&M interviewed Southern Miss’ Larry Fedora twice, but North Carolina appears to have (finally) sealed the deal with the C-USA champion coach.  Fedora is a College Station native — and he was the top choice for many Aggie fans — but it looks like that ship has now sailed.

All told, just about every name but Knute Rockne’s has been attached to the job, but that’s a product of some serious spin.  A&M officials are leaking big-time names to give their job a boost and several agents are floating their clients’ names to build their cred.  Mark Richt, Kyle Whittingham, Dabo Swinney, Art Briles, Charlie Strong and Dan Mullen (of course), have all been tied to the job via reports and/or rumors.

In reality, it looks like the Aggies are headed toward Houston’s Kevin Sumlin, though Air Force’s Troy Calhoun reportedly interviewed well.

Also…

 

* Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart has interviewed for the A&M job.  But it’s not believed he’s near the top of the Aggies’ list.  In fact, his counterpart at Alabama may leave Tuscaloosa before Smart.

Offensive coordinator Jim McElwain is one of the finalists for the job and internet reports claim he is already working on terms with the Tigers.  If he does land the Memphis job, we’d like to wish him and his head coaching career well… because neither will be heard from again.  If Miami of Ohio is the “cradle of coaches,” then Memphis is the graveyard.

Another Alabama coach has also been connected to a new job via the rumor mill…

 

* Arkansas is looking for a new defensive coordinator following the dismissal of Willy Robinson yesterday and Tide assistant head coach and linebackers coach Sal Sunseri is a candidate.

Former Arizona head coach Mike Stoops, Joe Whitt Jr., and Mike Gillhamer have also been connected to the job via online reports and scuttlebutt that we’ve picked up from speaking to folks close to the UA program.

 

* One name that rarely pops up in connection to head coaching jobs is that of LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis.  But he remains one of the game’s top assistants as evidenced by his winning the 2011 Broyles Award yesterday, an honor that goes to the season’s top assistant coach.

Chavis beat out former Arkansas offensive coordinator Garrick McGee and Alabama linebackers coach Sal Sunseri among others.

 

* Yesterday, South Carolina lost running backs coach Jay Graham to Tennessee.  Today, Ellis Johnson — the Cocks’ assistant head coach, assistant coach of defense, and linebackers coach — is reportedly a leading candidate for the head coaching job at Southern Miss.  Carolina’s de facto defensive coordinator has ties to Mississippi, but he has deeper ties to Columbia and the Palmetto State.  From speaking to connections at USC, we would be surprised if Johnson departed.

 

* Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn has said that he wants to be a head coach at some point.  Last year he turned down overtures from Vanderbilt and Maryland.  Initially he was expected to be a serious contender for the North Carolina job, but it appears that was not to be.

His name is currently being mentioned with regards to the open job at Kansas, but would a man who passed on Vandy and Maryland jump to a comparable, bottom-of-the-league job in the Big 12?  We expect Malzahn to be back at Auburn next year.

 

* At Mississippi State, fans are once again having to deal with rumors of their head coach exiting.  Mullen — as noted above — had his name tied to the vacancy at Texas A&M earlier this week.  His name continues to pop up in connection with the Penn State opening as well, though the coach denied last week that there was anything to those initial reports.

At the very least, Mullen’s agent likes to float his client’s name whenever a top job becomes available.

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SEC Headlines – 8/16/11 Part One

1.  Florida sophomore Ronald Powell hopes to live up to the hype that made him America’s top prospect in 2010.

2.  This writer wonders how is Florida going to us Trey Burton this year.

3.  Gator cornerback Moses Jenkins is finally healthy again.

4.  Despite another scooter-related injury, Mark Richt isn’t banning his players from using them around the Georgia campus.

5.  AD Greg McGarity says scooters are just part of campus life.

6.  Richt is making a concentrated effort to bring more energy and enthusiasm into the Dawgs’ football program.

7.  John Calipari’s Dominican Republic national team whipped a team of ex-Kentucky greats by 18 in a Rupp Arena exhibition last night.

8.  Steve Spurrier bragged about his team’s GPA last night and said that South Carolina’s program “is healthier than it has ever been.”

9.  Ellis Johnson isn’t too worried about his defense… yet.

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