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Saban’s Wife House-Hunting In Austin? Bama’s Coach To Texas? Yeah, Just Like Gruden To (Insert Team Name Here)

rumors-cartoonSorry, folks, but we’ve been down this road before.  A few dozen times.  Everytime a major job in America opens — especially the one at Tennessee — Jon Gruden’s name quickly becomes attached to it.

Mainly because his agent wants his name out there, because Gruden likes the attention, and because fans from Knoxville to Athens to Columbus to Madison to Austin to Los Angeles want to believe that Chucky would kill to land at their own supa-dupa school.

There’s a pattern to the Grudenmania.  A pebble of information turns into an rockslide.  Now it’s happening with Nick Saban.

All those fresh rumors about Saban’s wife house-hunting in Texas?  Yeah, we’re not buying.

We don’t mean to pick on anyone reporting this stuff, but we’ve come to know the drill.  We know that some people push this kind of stuff in order to drive up ratings/pageviews while others push it because they really want to believe it.  Either way, there’s an agenda.

BurntOrangeNation.com — the SB Nation site covering Texas — posted this story yesterday afternoon: “Was Nick Saban’s Wife House Shopping In Austin?  Reports Say: Yes.”  In the story, it’s written that the story of Terry Saban and her daughter-in-law house-hunting in Austin two weeks ago have been “confirmed by ESPN radio.”  The site goes on:

 

“With the backing of major players like ESPN allowing it over the airwaves and the historically accurate Jesus Shuttlesworth detailing her trip, it would be ignorant to treat as hearsay.”

 

Yes, who would ever label the reporting of a pseudonym-using man on a pay website (InsideTexas.com) as “hearsay?”

Also, there’s just one tiny problem with the whole “ESPN allowing it over the airwaves” thing.  The report was backed up by the afternoon radio host on Austin’s ESPN radio station.  An ESPN affiliate.  There are dozens of ESPN radio affiliates in dozens of towns big and small featuring hundreds of talkshow hosts credible and not.  No offense to Alex Loeb — said host on KTXX-FM 104.9 in Austin — but you can bet the brass in Bristol, Connecticut had zero idea what he was saying on his show.

Also, “Shuttlesworth” claimed that Terry Saban was interested in buying a “vacation home” in the Austin area.  (Conspiracy theorist: “Right, a vacation home.  Dude, he’s coming!”)

Now, the story blew up further when another KTXX-FM employee — on-air personality Erin Hogan – confirmed Loeb’s report and stated that “he has a source inside Travis County’s sheriff’s office who claims to have helped with Mrs. Saban’s security.”

(Conspiracy theorist: “Boom!  Gotcha now, Sabans!  Dude, he’s coming!”)

Apparently that report led numerous people to call the Travis County sheriff’s office to see if someone really did provide security.  But the stick-in-the-mud folks in that office told KXAN-TV in Austin that “they didn’t offer any kind of official security.”  The sheriff’s office also tweeted: “Regarding the Saban escort story it is hearsay.  There was no deputy escort”

(Conspiracy theorist: “No official escort by a deputy, but that doesn’t mean the sheriff his own self couldn’t have driven with them while off duty!  Dude, he’s coming!”)

A few thoughts:

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Carolina’s Spurrier Flip-Flops On Media Attention

steve-spurrier-looks-over-shoulderOn October 15th, Steve Spurrier was riding pretty high.  South Carolina had just whipped Arkansas on the road to the tune of 52-7.  Spurrier’s offense — led by quarterback Connor Shaw — was one of the SEC’s best.  And speaking of Shaw, the Ol’ Ball Coach made it clear that his QB didn’t care that he wasn’t getting enough attention from the national press:

 

“Having a wonderful season is a lot more important to them than how much attention they get.  Ten years from now, people aren’t going to ask Connor Shaw, ‘How much attention did you get?’  They’re going to ask him ‘What was your record?’ And he’s going to tell them what his record is.”

 

Fast forward to yesterday, October 21st, just two days after a shocking 23-21 loss at Tennessee.  It’s fair to say Spurrier’s views on the media coverage afforded his offense have changed:

 

“Maybe we had too much press.  We thought we were too good, maybe.  I don’t know.  I thought Tennessee played strong up front.  I thought their D-line played well, and their linebackers.  We did pop a few, and of course Connor had that one long run, but we didn’t have many passing yards, that’s for sure.”

 

For those who haven’t been keeping score at home, Spurrier is not a real big fan of the media.  He plays the media like harp every season at SEC Media Days, tossing out pie-in-sky ideas that get repeated over and over by those of us in the press, but that doesn’t mean he likes the fourth estate.  Check out his comment from yesterday regarding Missouri, Carolina’s opponent on Saturday:

 

“According to the media experts, ESPN and all those guys, nobody saw this team coming from where they are now.  They weren’t picked to do much that I know of by hardly anyone, but they have got an excellent team — offense, defense, special teams, the whole bit.  They haven’t been winning by any fluky means.”

 

One must wonder where an “expert” like Spurrier would have placed Mizzou in his preseason picks.

Spurrier’s voicebox has ruled the SEC for two decades.  Whether he’s joking, needling, or complaining, the media is ever-quick to disseminate whatever Spurrier says.  It’s ironic, then, that he can find ways to dig at the press regardless of whether reporters are giving his club too much press or not enough.

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SEC Odds And Television Listings – 10/21/13

tv-remotesThe SEC has released the television listings for this Saturday and the Saturday that follows.  We’ve got both schedules below and we’ve also included the early betting lines from Las Vegas for this week’s action:

 

October 24th, Thursday

Kentucky at Mississippi State — 7:30pm ET on ESPN — Line: Mississippi State -10 (now -10)

 

October 26th, Saturday

Vanderbilt at Texas A&M — 12:21pm ET on SEC TV — No Vegas Lines Posted As Of 1:45pm ET

Tennessee at Alabama — 3:30pm ET on CBS — Line: Alabama -26.5 (now -28.5)

South Carolina at Missouri — 7:00pm ET on ESPN2 — Line: South Carolina -5 (now -5)

Furman at LSU — 7:00pm ET on Pay-per-view — Line: LSU -47 (now -47)

Florida Atlantic at Auburn — 7:30pm ET on FSN — Line: Auburn -28 (now -24.5)

Idaho at Ole Miss — 7:30pm ET on CSS — Line: Ole Miss -40 (now -41)

 

November 2nd, Saturday

Mississippi State at South Carolina — 12:21pm ET on SEC TV

Georgia vs Florida at Jacksonville — 3:30pm ET on CBS

Auburn at Arkansas — either 6:00pm ET on ESPN2 or 7:00pm ET on ESPN

Tennessee at Missouri — either 6:00pm ET on ESPN2 or 7:00pm ET on ESPN

Alabama State at Kentucky — 7:30pm ET on CSS

UTEP at Texas A&M — 9:00pm ET on ESPN2

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Missouri Upsets Georgia, Loses QB Franklin To Injury

postgame-links-150x1501Missouri 41 – Georgia 26

1. Missouri coach Gary Pinkel believes the “respect level” for Missouri “went up a couple notches” after the Tigers’ win.

2. The win for Missouri was costly: quarterback James Franklin separated his right shoulder. He’s out indefinitely.

3. Missouri wide receiver L’Damian Washington earned a helmet sticker from ESPN for his big performance.

4. Georgia’s defense struggled to get stops on third down. “That’s a big issue, obviously,” defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said.

5. What now for Georgia? Saturday likely confirmed this won’t be the Bulldogs’ year to win a BCS title.

6. Click here to watch coach Mark Richt’s postgame press conference. “We just can’t let the world stop. We’ve got to keep pressing forward,” Richt said.

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Schools’ Greed Damaging The Future Of College Football

empty-bleachersIf a college football game were played and there was no one on hand to see it, would it actually be played?  That’s the somewhat discouraging outlook for college football as fewer and fewer students are attending games.

Watching the Georgia/North Texas game last Saturday on television, it was alarmingly clear that Sanford Stadium had large swaths of empty seats.  Interestingly, The Wall Street Journal picked that game — and its lack of attendance — as a launch point into the obstacles now popping up between schools and their students when it comes to college football attendance.

According to The Journal, the major problems are (and you’ve heard these all before):

 

*  Cellular reception at the stadium is bad and 18- to 22-year-olds can’t watch a game without texting, tweeting or communicating in some other cell/internet fashion.

*  Students have lost interest in seeing their school’s team beat up on sub-par opponents.

*  High-definition television has made watching games from homes and bars infinitely more enjoyable.  (We at MrSEC.com would add that the explosion in the number of games now televised also plays a factor.  Not only do the games look better on TV, but now students and adult fans can watch their school’s game as well as dozens of others from their couches and bar stools.)

 

The Journal quotes Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin as saying, “We can’t afford to lose a generation.”  That’s frighteningly true.  If the students of today aren’t the hardcore fans of tomorrow, who’ll be making donations for facility upgrades or purchasing season-tickets in the years to come?

The Southeastern Conference is — like just about every other college conference or professional league out there — trying to get in front of the problem.  As noted during SEC Media Days in July, the league has hired a market-research firm that will “spend this season traveling to SEC stadiums, visiting fans watching at home to gather their opinions before presenting its findings after the regular season.”

Another problem in terms of student attendance is ticket price.  As in “there is a price.”  Though most schools charge only a small amount for student tickets, they are charging something.  And while many SEC schools offer up more than 10,000 seats for students (and charge a small activities fee as well as discounted ticket prices), it might be a better idea to offer fewer seats (a trend that’s spreading across the country) to students for free.  That’s right, let the students in free.  In other words, lure them in and then hook them for the future.

The issue of student attendance is a large one to be sure, but attendance is dropping seat by seat across the Southeastern Conference and the nation.  Aside from winning programs playing against name opponents or schools hosting games in small stadiums (Scott Field at Mississippi State, for example), you don’t see many sell-outs in college football anymore.  And that reflects only the number of tickets sold.  Check the upper decks of SEC stadiums while watching on TV (from your couch or bar stool) this Saturday and you’ll likely see plenty of empty seats.  Even those tickets that have been purchased aren’t always used.  Which cuts down on the amount of concessions sold on gameday.

In a sluggish economy, schools are looking to make every dollar they can.  This is where ticket pricing becomes more than just a student issue.  Most schools are increasing the amount of cash you have to spend to procure a ticket.  Concession costs are consistently on the rise as well.  Where they’re not going up, they’re flat-lining.  Good luck finding a school out there that is actually cutting down on its ticket and concession prices.

Unfortunately, this has more to do with greed than it does with the aforementioned sluggish economy.

Think of college football attendance as a circle of life.  At one point, stadiums were built bigger and bigger and ticket prices were set higher and higher.  Schools made the majority of their cash from the tens of thousands of fans who made the trek and paid the fees to enjoy the in-stadium experience.

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Rapper Drake Talks Up Texas A&M’s Manziel

drakeAs Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel dealt with media overexposure and multiple controversies this offseason — some real concerns, some not — the majority of Texas A&M fans stood behind him.  Face it, the kid has incredible talent on a football field and that will make up for NCAA investigations and and naughty tweets in a lot of folks’ eyes.

Aside from Aggie fans, there was one other person who backed Johnny Football throughout his trials and tribulations — rap star Drake.  Stopping by ESPN on Tuesday — which says a lot about what ESPN’s become – the rapper took the time to talk up his new pal:

 

“He’s a great guy and he’s got the best intentions.  He does nothing with malicious intent.  I love him to death.  We’ve gone from sort of like I’m a fan of his and he’s a fan of mine to genuine friends.  And I think we’ll be friends for a long time…

He is a pure soul… He’s not a wild guy.  He’s passionate about music and he’s passionate about football.  In his free time when he (wasn’t) playing football, he chose to come see me (in Toronto).”

 

The 26-year-old Drake also sees himself as a type of mentor for Manziel.  “Despite what some people report, I actually consider myself a positive reinforcement in his life,” the rapper said.  “I try to keep him on track.  I know he has a bright future and he’s displaying it right, especially in his last two performances.”

If Drake has had anything to do with Manziel’s numbers to date — 1,228 passing yards, 255 rushing yards, and 15 touchdowns total — he should go into the business of quarterback-whispering.

 

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Picture Emerges Of Johnny Manziel Signing For Autograph Broker

On the eve of the Alabama-Texas A&M game, visual proof emerges of Johnny Manziel signing for an autograph broker.

ESPN’s Darren Rovell obtained the photo and published the story late Friday afternoon.  The photo shows Manziel signing for South Florida autograph broker Drew Tieman in early January.  Rovell says two sources have confirmed the photo as legitimate.

 

Manziel photo obtained by Darren Rovell

ESPN reported last month that Manziel signed more than 1,100 autographs for Tieman over a two-day period. ESPN sources say Tieman paid more than $10,000 to authenticate the autographs.  In all, sources told the ESPN program “Outside The Lines” that Manziel signed at least 4,400 autographs for Tieman and other brokers.

While an NCAA investigation failed to turn up evidence that Manziel received payments for signing the autographs, he was suspended for the first half of the season-opening game against Rice for violating an NCAA bylaw which states that student-athletes cannot allow products with their names and likenesses to be sold even if they do not profit from it.

CollegeFootballTalk.com wonders if Manziel could potentially face any other punishment from Texas A&M. “If it comes out that he did in fact lie and it can be proven by the NCAA and Texas A&M,then Manziel would also be in direct violation of Texas A&M’s honor code, which could lead to being expelled from the university entirely.” As USA Today points out, the NCAA can reopen its case if additional information is revealed.

That’s all to be decided on another day. For now, Manziel is the Aggies quarterback just hours from kicking off against Alabama. Will an off-field issue can become an on-field distraction?  We shall see.

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Stop Before You Start, Aggie Fans

Some Texas A&M fans are dead set on making their entire fanbase look downright silly.

For weeks they’ve screamed, shouted and cried that ESPN is out to get their school and its hero, Johnny Manziel.

Now, however, folks are retweeting ESPN’s Tom Luginbill as though he just walked down from Mt. Sinai with a piece of stone featuring 140 Hebrew characters or less.

So why is ESPN now to be trusted?  ‘Cause Luginbill is saying what Aggie fans want to hear, of course… that Kevin Sumlin didn’t ask Manziel a question on the sidelines Saturday:

 

luginbill tweet

 

Ah, ha!

Or not.

For some reason, this tweet is being hurled back at this site as a response to something we wrote earlier today.  Problem is, this tweet doesn’t refute a single, solitary thing in that piece.

No one at MrSEC.com suggested that Sumlin asked his quarterback a question.  We stated that Sumlin was trying to dance around the topic by suggesting that the media wanted Manziel to say something to him.  That’s not what anyone anywhere said.  What every-frickin’-body said was: “Manziel bumped into his coach and walked right by him without ever stopping to listen or to acknowledge his superior’s admonition.”

It’s no surprise that that point was totally missed.  The A&M fans who respond via Twitter and in comment boxes and with nasty emails — and they are likely a very small portion of the school’s fanbase — don’t ever bother to read what’s actually written.  So it’s no wonder that they view Luginbill’s tweet as a rebuke of all those who’ve been saying that Manziel should’ve responded to his coach… even though that’s not what anyone is saying.

The Manziel Situation (like “The Bonnie Situation” in “Pulp Fiction”) could go South at any time.  Hell, even the QB’s own father suggested as much in an ESPN “The Magazine” article.  Of course, some Aggies don’t believe Papa Manziel ever actually said, “It could come unraveled.  And when it does, it’s gonna be bad.  Real bad.”  That was an ESPN piece.  And everyone knows ESPN can’t be trusted.

Except when they back say something an Aggie wants to hear.  Then?  Gospel!

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A&M’s Sumlin Says Manziel Didn’t Ignore Him On Saturday; We Say “Yeesh”

gfx - honest opinionBy now you’ve seen the highlight.  Johnny Manziel throws a touchdown pass.  He taunts Rice players for (at least) a third time (Aggie fans on this site have said poor Johnny Football was simply responding to trash-talking Rice players so it’s really their fault).  He draws an immediate flag for unsportsmanlike conduct, costing his team 15 yards.  He walks to the sideline.  Head coach Kevin Sumlin says something to him.  Manziel keeps walking and never looks at his coach.  In fact, he actually bumps him out of the way and never turns his head back to Sumlin to apologize or acknowledge what his coach is saying.

If any player in the SEC did that to his coach, you would read about it here on MrSEC.com because it’s not something often seen.  Quick, name the number of times you’ve seen a player breeze by a coach who’s talking to him, bump him, and keep walking.  Exactly.  So spare us all the “high-tech lynching” and “ESPN narrative” bull.  It was an unusual act and such an act would get attention regardless of the player.

Well, now some of the A&M faithful — you gotta admire their total and complete devotion to Johnny Football — have emailed a hundred links to Sumlin’s Tuesday press conference to the MrSEC.com offices.  Guess what Sumlin said.  He said that the media made too much of the act:

 

“When he came off the field, basically I made two statements to him, neither one of which should he have responded to.  They weren’t questions.  They were direct statements that I can’t repeat right now.  So what’s amazing to me is the perception that he ignored me.  The worst thing that could have happened was for him to reply, based on what I told him.”

 

And here I expected him to say, “Yeah, he ignored me and I have no control of the team.”

Ridiculously, a few Texas A&M fans are buying this load of crap and once again ignoring the big picture.  Did anyone suggest that Manziel should have talked back to Sumlin?  I don’t believe so.  The problem was that Manziel never stopped to listen and he didn’t even give so much as a “Yes, sir.”

Hmmm.  Ya think A&M cadets can just breeze my their officers — or bump them — without a “Yes, sir” as Manziel did?  Here’s guessing not.  Apparently all that “military discipline” stuff Aggie fans like to trumpet doesn’t apply to their football team.

If you were making a point to your son or daughter, would you want them to stop and listen to you?  Or would you be okey-dokey with them marching by you without ever turning their head?  You can be sure Sumlin wasn’t happy with Manziel’s response regardless of what he’s having to sell to the media.

Sumlin can’t be shown up by Manziel in front of his team.  He doesn’t want other players following Manziel’s lead.  So, of course, he said the player didn’t ignore him while also twisting the situation to suggest that Manziel actually showed him respect by not responding.  Responding?  How ’bout listening?  How ’bout not bumping?

Once again, Sumlin is trying to avoid looking weak in light of his quarterback’s actions.  As we’ve pointed out before, this is a coach who hinted multiple times at SEC Media Days that he’d told Manziel to back off from Twitter.  Manziel responded to like questions by saying, “Maybe I haven’t had anything to say.”  And then he began tweeting again that very night.

Those Texas A&M fans who are, oh, so delusional about Manziel won’t see that.  They’ve been brainwashed.  Hell, one of them compared this writer to Joseph Goebbels yesterday.  Yeah, ESPN is blowing the Manziel thing out of proportion, but the deeds of this website are comparable to those of a Nazi.  Got it.

No, the Cult of Johnny crowd still see a player who can do no wrong.  Had Manziel walked to the sideline Saturday and cold-cocked Sumlin, a portion of the A&M fanbase would have loudly stated that the coach must have deserved it.

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What’s Up With Alabama Quarterback AJ McCarron? Likely An Ingrown Toenail

FeetWith Alabama a prohibitive double-digit favorite against Virginia Tech later today, could there be any drama or suspense left before kickoff?  Yes.  Sort of.  If an ingrown toenail qualifies.

Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron was spotted wearing a walking boot and sources tell ESPN’s Mark Schlabach that he was wearing it because of an ingrown toenail.

AL.com says McCarron has no known injury, practiced all week and that walking boots are common when a player is not seriously injured.

Here’s the photographic proof from his arrival in Atlanta Friday.  Looks like something from an episode of ”Homeland.”  Will it impact his play?  I guess we’ll know more if ESPN brings in a podiatry expert.

Update: Alabama coach Nick Saban asked about the walking boot for McCarron this morning on ESPN. “Well this is the most famous in-grown toenail ever known to man. It makes it more comfortable to be in a boot because his hard-sole shoes hurt his feet. But his cleats don’t and he hasn’t missed any practice, and I think he’s fine for the game.”

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