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SEC Headlines 5/10/2013

headlines-friSEC Football

1. Is Auburn still shopping for a transfer quarterback? “We’ve got two guys currently, we’ve got three coming in. We feel like all of them can play.”

2. The trial of  former Auburn player Dakota Mosley - who was prominent in ESPN’s coverage of failed synthetic marijuana tests – remains tentatively scheduled for June 10.

3. Auburn assistant coach Dameyune Craig is getting attention for his work on the recruiting trail. (Also see our SEC Recruiting Notebook from earlier today).

4. Nick Saban with an endorsement of a power conference schedule.  He likes what the Big Ten is doing – moving away from playing FCS schools.  “I’m for five conferences – everybody playing everybody in those five conferences.”

5. Jeff Schultz on the Alabama coach : ”When Saban speaks, everybody listens now.” Pat Forde: “There is no longer a viable excuse for the rich not to play a nine-game conference schedule.”

6. Saban updates spring practice injuries – including running back Derrick Henry.

7. Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and his NFL critics.

8. Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo is guarding against complacency.  ”I’m not the most popular guy with our offensive football team right now.”

9. Tennessee secondary looks thin after the departure of cornerback Daniel Gray.

10. Some marquee non-conference matchups involving SEC teams.

Bob Stoops/SEC

11. David Climer on Bob Stoops’ comments regarding the SEC.  ”The Oklahoma coach is right.”  Top six SEC teams went 30-0 against the bottom eight in 2012.

12. Matt Hayes disagrees: “Last year, the Big 12 had one team in the top 10 of the final BCS regular season poll. The SEC had six.”

13. Joe Walljasper: “Look, we don’t judge the Jacksons on the merits of Rebbie and La Toya.”

14. MrSEC’s take  -  top to bottom –the SEC dominates everyone else come bowl season.

SEC Basketball

15. Long rumored – finally happening. Georgia assistant coach Kwanza Johnson leaving for a job with TCU. Bulldogs only getting Florida, Tennessee and Kentucky on the road next year.  Coach Mark Fox:  ”Those are our biggest draws, and we don’t have that at home, so that’s concerning,”

16. I count five former SEC players on this list of those invited to NBA combine.  One of them is former Mizzou point guard Phil Pressey.

17. The question that will be asked all year – Kentucky or Louisville?

18. Referees could be getting some leeway on players elbowing an opponent above the shoulders. Also some changes coming to the block/charge call.

Extras

19. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany will be deposed in Ed O’Bannon lawsuit against NCAA.

20. . Concern over a toe was apparently the reason why former Alabama running back Eddie Lacy fell to late in the second round of the NFL draft.

21. Jeff Pearlman: “ Were it not for (Donald) Trump, (Tim) Tebow may very well have a job right now.” (If you’ve ever watched the ESPN documentary-  ”Small Potatoes: Who Killed The USFL?” – you’ll know why Pearlman’s comments make sense.)

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Big Ten Throws Down The Gauntlet: No More FCS Opponents

gauntletIf you don’t think the Big Ten is serious about trying to force the SEC to up the level of its non-conference competition, you’re not paying attention.  On Monday, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said his league would be moving to a nine- or 10-game league schedule.  Last night, Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez said the following:

 

“The non-conference schedule in our league is ridiculous.  It’s not very appealing… So we’ve made an agreement that our future games will all be Division I schools.  It will not be FCS schools.”

 

How soon the Big Ten can go to that new standard depends on its members’ existing contracts with FCS opponents.  Still, it’s clear that the Big Ten is trying to create better content for its own Big Ten Network and toughen its teams’ strength of schedule numbers at the same time.

Ah, but will the SEC follow suit?

This past season, the league’s 14 teams played 15 FCS foes.  You can be sure the league’s television partners would prefer more/better choices when it comes to setting their broadcast schedules.

For fans who are against a nine-game SEC schedule and also enjoy playing FCS foes — I took a lot of heat last year from Mississippi State fans who told me they enjoyed attending creampuff games, thank ya very much — the guess here is that you won’t be pleased when the league formally reveals its plans for an SEC Network.

It’s a virtual lock that there would be more money to be made as well as better odds of placing multiple teams in the new football playoff with rougher, tougher schedules.  Mike Slive and the SEC’s presidents certainly recognize that fact.

 

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Cotton Bowl Domination; Johnny Manziel And Texas A&M Crush Oklahoma

postgame-linksTexas A&M 41 – Oklahoma 13

1. Johnny Manziel rushes for 229 yards – an FCS record for a quarterback in a bowl game. Aggies set Cotton Bowl record with 633 total yards.

2. “Manziel made the Heisman jinx look like a silly concept.”

3. Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops on Manziel: “Best player I’ve ever played.”

4. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops: “Johnny Manziel is everything he was billed to be.”

5. Oklahoma writer: “Thank God for conference realignment.”

6. Fort-Worth Star Telegram Writer: “The Sooners had talked before this Cotton Bowl about “making it personal” and debunking the alleged myth of SEC superiority. They failed miserably.”

7. Aggies finish the season with over 7,000 yards of offense - Manziel over 5,000.

8. Complete video highlights of the game can be found here. A special Johnny Manziel highlight reel is below.

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Ex-UT WR Rogers Reportedly Heading To Tennessee Tech

When Derek Dooley announced an indefinite suspension for oft-troubled wideout Da’Rick — or should it be Da’Wreck? — Rogers last week, he said that he did not expect the star to return.  It appears he was right on that front as multiple reports now have the junior set to transfer to Tennessee Tech of the FCS level. 

Rogers would have two years of eligibility remaining, but given his history, it’s likely he’ll head to the NFL after this season.  Assuming he makes it through the season.  Rogers led the SEC in catches last year (67) and accounted for 1,040 receiving yards.  He also became the dominant personality in the Volunteer locker room… a fact that didn’t sit well with several former teammates.

If he tried to dominate the locker room in Knoxville, Tennessee, just what might he try to do in Cookeville, Tennessee?

Update: Transfer confirmed by Tennessee Tech.

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Report: Ex-LSU Star Mathieu Skipping Football For Rehab

According to WVUE-TV in New Orleans, in addition to “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington” and “An American Tail: Fievel Goes West,” we now have “The Honey Badger Goes To Rehab.”

In a surprise move, ex-LSU star Tyrann Mathieu will not transfer to an FCS school, play football this fall, and then jump to the NFL next spring.  Instead he will be at the Right Step recovery center in Houston with ex-NBA player/coach John Lucas.  Obviously, that means that Mathieu will not be attending class at LSU this fall, either.

So after everyone — including yours truly — laid out Mathieu’s options as #1, #2 or #3… he chose #4.  And good for him.  Here’s hoping he can kick what most believe to be a marijuana habit.

The station spoke with Mathieu’s father who said the family decided as a whole for their son to remain in rehab for the fall:

 

“The Honey Badger’s father, Tyrone Mathieu, tells FOX 8 Sports that he and Tyrann agree — until he conquers his demons, he won’t be successful at his future endeavors, wherever they unfold.  The senior Mathieu says both Tyrann and his family are committed to restoring Tyrann’s health, no matter what it takes, believing football will take care of itself down the road.”

 

We’ve been running this site for about five years now and I can’t stress enough how refreshing it is to write about a young man making a smart decision after getting intelligent advice from his loved ones.  In most cases, either money or athletics comes first.  On this occasion, Mathieu’s health and future were put front and center.

Good luck to him.

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Is He Or Isn’t He? Mathieu’s Dismissal From LSU A Confusing Mess

Thursday he was being taken off Twitter.  Friday he was being booted from Les Miles’ team altogether.  Then word came Monday via ESPN’s Joe Schad that Tyrann Mathieu wanted to stay in school and return to LSU’s football team in 2013.

So where do we stand today?  That depends on who you talk to.

According to Jim Kleinpeter of (what’s left of) The New Orleans Times-Picayune, a source close to Mathieu revealed last night that a return to the Tigers “wouldn’t be happening,” that multiple failed drug tests were the reason, and that a transfer to an FCS school was always in the plans.  Kleinpeter states that Mathieu will announce his new football home tomorrow.

Yesterday afternoon, Glenn Guilbeau of The Shreveport Times said that LSU’s senior associate athletic director for NCAA compliance told him that Mathieu is: “permanently ineligible to play football at LSU.  That’s definite.  That’s what was said Friday.”

So he’s dunzo in Baton Rouge then.  Well, not according to a tweet put out by Herb Vincent, the associate vice chancellor and senior associate AD at LSU.  He tweeted after Guilbeau’s report:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guilbeau’s source — Chris Bahnsen — said he’d been quoted out of context.  Guilbeau didn’t like that and he took to Twitter his own self:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile, the top story at TigerBait.com — the Rivals site covering LSU — states today that Mathieu can return:

 

“According to LSU officials, Mathieu can enroll as a student when classes begin next week.  School officials would not comment on the possibility of Mathieu rejoining the football program.  LSU Director of Athletics Joe Alleva said last Friday that Mathieu has lost his scholarship.”

 

You’ve heard of a non-denial denial?  Well, this appears to be a non-dismissal dismissal.

Unless, of course, you believe Kleinpeter’s source who says Mathieu is bound for an FCS school.  Or maybe you believe The Baton Rouge Advocate’s Randy Rosetta who also went to Twitter to state that Mathieu has asked LSU officials to only allow McNeese State and Nicholls State to contact/chase him.

If that’s the case, it sure sounds like Mathieu is headed to the FCS level.  And that he knows it.  Whether all LSU officials are in agreement over that fact or not.

But stay tuned.  This is a program driven by a coach known as the Mad Hatter.  There could be a few more twists and turns before the Honey Badger saga comes to a close.

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LSU Players Move On, But Report Claims Mathieu Wants To Return

On Friday, Les Miles made the surprise announcement that Heisman hopeful Tyrann Mathieu had been dismissed from the LSU football squad.  Failed drug tests and synthetic marijuana were believed to be the cause.

On Saturday, the Tigers held their first fall scrimmage and tried to move forward without their ex-star teammate.

Defensive end Barkevious Mingo said: “It let us move our thoughts toward actually getting ready to play than on the guy we lost.  It helped… It’s a sad situation, but we must go on and lead this team.”

Ah, but Mathieu isn’t completely out of the picture at LSU after all.  Gone for this season?  Yes.  Definitely transferring to an FCS school like McNeese State to play right away?  Not yet, according to ESPN.com’s Joe Schad who writes that his sources say Mathieu has expressed an interest in staying in school at LSU and then returning to Miles’ team in 2013:

 

“Mathieu has been described as ‘heartbroken’ and ‘grieving’ since his dismissal from the team.

Mathieu has told people close to him that he is interested in working on his maturity and character and also in seeking out any way to continue his education at LSU.

The possibility to declare for the NFL draft after this season also exists.  But Mathieu has told people close to him that draft status is not a priority at this time.  If he were to stay at LSU, paying his own way for at least one season is a possibility.”

 

To be clear, Mathieu’s options are transfer to another FBS school and sit out a year, transfer to an FCS school and play right away, or work out a deal with LSU and Miles in which the player stays in school and returns to the Tiger team next year… rather than jumping to the NFL as an early entrant in spring 2013.

For Miles, this could be a tougher decision than one might think.  If the top administrative brass at LSU okays a stay on campus for Mathieu, the coach will have to decide whether or not keeping the kid near his football team would be a good thing or a bad thing.

Miles clearly likes Mathieu, saying nice things about him even as he announced his one-year suspension on Friday.  He may feel that he and the LSU support group could best help Mathieu moving forward.  Or he may look at it and realize that despite numerous warnings, he really never got through to the superb return man at all.  At least not enough to keep him from doing whatever it was — and we all think we know what it was — that earned him his heave-ho.  In other words, it might be best for the young man to suffer the consequences of his actions and then grow up elsewhere.  (Knowing football coaches, that’s a slim possibility, but it’s a possibility nonetheless.)

As for his own team, keeping Mathieu in Baton Rouge might be a positive.  Like an injured player, Mathieu could be around without actually being on the squad.  The players — one would think — would be glad to see their old teammate around campus.  But on the flip side of that coin, what if Mathieu fails to change his ways?  Again?  In that case, the coach would look foolish for giving him an umpteenth chance and the players would have to go through the emotions of losing Mathieu all over again.

If Mathieu wants to stay at LSU and return to Miles’ team next season, here’s betting that’s what will happen.  But there are potential positives and negatives to that plan for both the player and LSU’s football team.  No matter how dazzling a return man Mathieu might be.

 

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LSU’s Miles Announces Dismissal Of Mathieu

Major news from Baton Rouge today as defensive back/return specialist/Heisman-hopeful Tyrann Mathieu has been dismissed from the LSU football team.  Coach Les Miles would not specify what rule his star had broken, but Mathieu was suspended last season after a drug test revealed the presence of synthetic marijuana in his system.

Miles said that he expects Mathieu to transfer to another school.  He still has two years of eligibility remaining, but if he wants to play immediately, he’ll need to transfer down to the FCS level.

Mathieu’s dismissal compounds the loss of fellow corner Morris Claiborne who left early for the NFL in the spring.  Will the loss of the Honey Badger be enough to drop LSU from the role of SEC and BCS favorite?  Quite possibly.  Two of his punt returns completely turned around last season’s SEC Championship Game in the Tigers’ favor.

Big news on a Friday.  Just weeks before the start of the season.

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As Camp Begins, The Opening Lines Are Already Up

When it comes to the casino sportsbooks in Las Vegas and sports betting sites, it’s never too early to  post lines for games… or to adjust them.  It’s August 1st and fall camps are opening across the SEC this week.  Already, the opening lines for Week One action have gone up and — in some cases — been tweaked.

Just for kicks, here are some of the SEC’s opening lines as well as the current number (which is a composite of what most Vegas and web books are saying today).

SEC games against FCS opponents show no lines:

 

  Game   Opening Line   Current Composite Line
  Thursday, 8/30   S. Carolina -8 at Vanderbilt   S. Carolina -6.5, Vanderbilt +6.5
  Thursday, 8/30   Texas A&M -11 vs La. Tech (Shreveport)   Texas A&M -8
  Friday, 8/31   Tennessee -7 vs NC State (Atlanta)   Tennessee -3
  Saturday, 9/1   Buffalo +37 at Georgia   Georgia -37
  Saturday, 9/1   Bowling Green +23 at Florida   Florida -25
  Saturday, 9/1   Clemson -3.5 vs Auburn (Atlanta)   Auburn +3.5
  Saturday, 9/1   Alabama -11 vs Michigan (Arlington)   Alabama -11.5
  Saturday, 9/1   North Texas +48 at LSU   LSU -45
  Sunday, 9/2   Kentucky +13 at Louisville   Kentucky +13

 

As you can see, the only SEC underdogs in Week One are Vanderbilt (who is playing an SEC rival), Auburn and Kentucky.

The four SEC vs FCS schools that are represented are:  Jacksonville State at Arkansas, Southeastern Louisiana at Missouri, Central Arkansas at Ole Miss, and Jackson State at Mississippi State.

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Location, Location, Location: Barnhart Provides Further Proof That Location Is Everything In Conference Expansion

If we were having a conversation about conference expansion and I uttered the word “location,” you might roll your eyes.  ”If San Diego State can land in the Big East and Florida State and West Virginia could land in the Big 12, location is irrelevant,” you might counter.

Ah, but proximity to current schools in a conference is probably the least important aspect of location during short-term feeding frenzies (long-term, proximity does seem to matter and we’ll have more on that later) .  No, location matters in terms of a school’s nearest television market, it’s state’s population (for cable household purposes), and it’s recruiting grounds.

In 2010, we took a numbers-based look at possible SEC expansion.  You can read that here.  Last fall, we updated our data and took another look-see.  You can start reading that series here.  The final part of that series as well as links to all the parts in between can be found right here.

Today, Tony Barnhart of CBSSports.com examines many of those small programs that are announcing — daily it seems — that they’re planning a jump to the FBS level of the football world.  Specifically, he looks at Charlotte, Georgia State, Old Dominion, Texas-San Antonio and Appalachian State (an FCS school that wants to follow those others up the ladder).  What he found was that location, location, location matters more than just about anything else.

As Barnhart points out:

 

* Charlotte won’t play its first football game at any level until 2013.  By 2015, it’s already set to join Conference USA.  Why?  Charlotte is located in he 25th biggest television market in the country.

* Georgia State will be playing its third season of football this fall and it will jump to the FBS level and join the Sun Belt Conference.  Why?  Because Georgia State is located in the Atlanta television market as well as the recruiting hotbed of Georgia.

* Old Dominion has been playing football for just three seasons, but it will be joining Charlotte in Conference USA in 2015.  Why?  ODU is located in a Top 50 television market (Norfolk) and the Tidewater section of Virginia is rich in high school talent.

* Texas-San Antonio played its first season of college football last year.  It will play in the WAC this season before moving — sign of the times — to Conference USA in 2013.  Why?  San Antonio is the 36th biggest TV market in the country and I think we all know just how many recruits there are in Texas.

 

Sure they’re fledgling programs, but conferences are ready to snap them up because they provide inroads into good recruiting territory, populous areas, and sizeable television markets.

But then there’s Appalachian State.  Located in tiny Boone, North Carolina — population: 14,138 — the Mountaineers will mark their 85th year of football this year.  From 2005 through 2007, ASU won three straight FCS national titles.  They knocked off Michigan in Ann Arbor in ’07.  They led all FCS-level schools in attendance last season.  And they’ve made it know that they want to take a step up in class.

Only no one’s called them.  Conference USA and the Sun Belt would rather have the deep recruiting zones and television viewers provided by newborn programs than the proven football school located in a small, mountainous region of the Tarheel State.

As Barnhart points out, Appy State might still eventually land an invite into either C-USA or the Sun Belt, but as of now, those leagues are more interested in location than they are on-field proof of performance.

A year ago, we were bombarded with emails from West Virginia fans who were angry that we suggest WVU’s location wasn’t likely good enough to provide the SEC — or as it turns out the ACC — with what those conferences were looking for in terms of recruiting zones, total population, and television eyeballs.    That wasn’t a knock on WVU’s program which landed safely in the more distant, but once again strong Big 12.  It was simply a statement of fact.

And the fact is… location, location, location matters when it comes to conference expansion.  Whether that’s at the top of the food chain or the bottom of the food chain, as Barnhart points out in his latest column.

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