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SEC Hoops Roundup 12/22/2013

gfx-hoops-round-upA 6-3 basketball Saturday for the SEC.  Two teams hit with roster shakeups and the last undefeated team in the conference goes down to defeat.

1. Kentucky 93 – Belmont 80. Video Highlights. Career-high 29 points for Julius Randle who also added 10 rebounds for his ninth double-double of the season.

2. Georgia 65 – West Carolina 63. Tied at 63, Charles Mann hits two free throws with just seconds left to give Bulldogs the victory.  Georgia trailed by 10 points with seven minutes to go in the game.

3. Vanderbilt 76 – Georgia Tech 63. Video Highlights. Down by 14 in the first half, Vandy rallies to win by 13. Rod Odom led the Commodores with 18 points.

4. Florida 66 – Fresno State 49.  Gator defense holds Fresno State to 32 percent from the floor. Billy Donovan: “This was probably our best game defensively from start to finish..” Damontre Harris leaving team.  Former South Carolina transfer never played a game for the Gators.

5. LSU 86 – UAB 63.  Tigers jump out to 16-point first-half lead.  Johnny O’Bryant led LSU with 17 points, one of four players to score in double digits.

6. Illinois 65 – Missouri 64.  Jabari Brown’s three pointer put Mizzou in the lead with just under 15 seconds.  Illinois hits two free throws with less than five seconds to win it and knock Tigers from the ranks of the undefeated.

7. Oklahoma 64 – Texas A&M 52.  Aggies lose the game and J-Mychel Reese.  Sophomore point guard dismissed from team after the game. Neither Reese nor his father – an assistant coach on the team - made the trip for Saturday’s game.

8. Xavier 77 – Alabama 74. Crimson Tide lose 12-point second-half lead.  Loss drops Alabama to 5-6 on the season.

9. Arkansas 72 – South Alabama 60. Video HighlightsRazorbacks get a team-high 15 points from Bobby Portis.  Arkansas now 9-2 on the season.

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Big East Has Talked To BYU, Fresno State, And UNLV

According to’s Dennis Dodd, new Big East commissioner Mike Aresco has either reached out to or had informal conversations with BYU (football independent), Fresno State (MWC), and UNLV (MWC).  The league and schools have spoken about bringing their football programs to that revolving door of a conference.

In theory, the Big East will have 13 schools playing football by 2015.  Barring more changes — ha! — the league’s football roster will include Connecticut, Memphis, South Florida, SMU, Cincinnati, Temple, San Diego State, UCF, East Carolina, Houston, Boise State, Tulane and Navy.

The Big East’s schools are all looking to move up the food chain and make more money.  The league itself is trying to hold on as a football conference because that sport is what drives television revenue.  But it’s hard to hold on as a league when everyone in the league is either new, looking to get out, or — remarkably — both.

Poor Aresco.  When he accepted the role of Big East commissioner in August he might as well have been taking the wheel from Titanic’s captain Edward Smith.  No one’s had more reason to cry since this guy:


The Crying Indian – full commercial – Keep America Beautiful

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Bama OC McElwain Lands CSU Head Coaching Gig

So much for Alabama hanging on to both its coordinators.  Colorado State is set to introduce Jim McElwain as its new head coach today.

McElwain pulled his name out of the running at Fresno State over the weekend.  Now the Tide offensive coordinator is headed west anyway, to take over a program that has finished 3-9 in three consecutive seasons.

The 49-year-old McElwain is a Montana native.  He interviewed for the head coaching job at Colorado last offseason.

On the positive side for Bama, it’s believed McElwain will continue to coach the Tide offense through its BCS Championship Game rematch with LSU next month.  The coach already has one BCS title ring from Alabama’s 2009 championship.  He has coached in Tuscaloosa since 2008.

Now the question becomes: Will Nick Saban bring in an offensive coordinator in or will he promote someone currently on his staff?

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SEC Headlines 12/10/2011

1. For the second time in three years, an Alabama running back is in New York as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.

2. Four of the five finalists, including Trent Richardson, arrived in the Big Apple on Friday.

3. Richardson projected to finish third.

4. New York is also getting a taste of honey.

5. No matter how he finishes tonight, Tyrann Mathieu has already beaten the odds.

6. Paul Haynes is the new defensive coordinator at Arkansas.

7. Paul Petrino will make $425,000 as the Razorbacks offensive coordinator.

8. Arkansas punt return/receiver Joe Adams a finalist for the Paul Hornung Award.

9. Charlie Weis on becoming the head coach of the 2-10 Kansas Jayhawks: “It was too good of an opportunity.”

10. No current Florida assistants will join him.

11. Weis to his new players: ”(E) njoy your Christmas holidays — because when you get back in the middle of January it’s not going to be very pleasant.”

12. Bill Ritter: “There’s nothing like compounding one mistake by making another.”

13. Will Mike Shula replace Weis at Florida?

14. Alabam’s Jim McElwain or Oakland Raider’s assistant Kelly Skipper will be the next head coach at Fresno State.

15. Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari: ” I’d be surprised if I’m here longer than 10 years.”

16. It’s a homecoming of sorts for Kentucky guard and Indianapolis native Marquis Teague as the Wildcats face the Hoosiers.

17. Florida 90 – Rider 69.  Patric Young with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

18. Mississippi State faces a Troy team that leads the nation in 3-pointers.

19. Andy Kennedy on his 7-1 Ole Miss Rebels: “We’ve really struggled.”

20. Tennessee forward Jeronne Maymon looks to regain his Maui magic.

21. LSU basketball coach Trent Johnson will face his alma mater tonight.

21. Freshman BJ Young is becoming a leader of a young Arkansas team that goes up against Oklahoma today.

22. Roundup of the projected best and the blowouts from this weekend’s college basketball.

23.  Mark Stoops the next defensive coordinator at Auburn?


24. Memphis police will investigate sexual assault allegations against AAU CEO Boddy Dodd.

25. Is today the day for Kevin Sumlin and Texas A&M? Update.

26. Jim Mora expected to be named the next head coach at UCLA.

27. Wall Street Journal –  Tim Tebow: God’s’ Quarterback.

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McElwain The “People’s Choice” At Fresno State?

Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain seems to be a ready-made fit at Fresno State.  The man who either turned down Memphis at the last minute or got passed by Justin Fuente at the finish line this week — depending on who you to talk to — was Pat Hill’s top offensive coach in 2007, before joining Nick Saban’s staff.  According to one long-time FSU booster, McElwain expressed in the job two years ago.

“Just let me know when Pat Hill leaves or retires,” he told a group of Bulldog boosters at the 2009 Alabama-LSU game.  Well, Hill’s been forced out and now McElwain is believed to be a hot candidate for the job.  How hot?  Here’s what that long-time Fresno State booster, Harry Gaykian, told The Fresno Bee:


“I know he said he was interested (in) coming back to Fresno State before, and he’d definitely be a good choice for the university to consider.  Whether he’s the best fit, I don’t know.  I know a lot of people would be excited about him coming back.  He did a lot of good things when he was at Fresno.”


A Fresno State official also told the paper: “We can sell tickets with McElwain.  We can sell McElwain.  He knows Fresno and knows how to recruit in California.”

Personally, I can’t hear Fresno mentioned without hearing Johnny in “Airplane II” saying, “Fresno?  No one goes to Fresno anymore.”


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PM Coaching News From Around The SEC

With so many coaching moves — and rumored moves — today, this post will serve as our PM Headlines post.  And since we’re in the middle of doing radio shows from Tennessee to Arkansas to Kentucky to Alabama to Georgia… with CSS’ “SportsNite” coming up at 6pm ET, we’ll just cut to the nitty gritty.

1.  It’s being reported in Chapel Hill that Southern Miss head coach Larry Fedora has been offered the same job at North Carolina.  Fedora is in New York along with UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham and a deal could be struck today.  However, Texas A&M officials are in NYC, too.

2.  The Aggies interviewed Fedora yesterday.  Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart is also believed to have interviewed with A&M brass.  Kevin Sumlin continues to be mentioned in connection with that job, too.

This morning, — the Rivals site covering A&M — reported that Dan Mullen and Dabo Swinney had expressed interest in the job.  Now that site is reporting that Kyle Whittingham might be a player in the mix as well.

The site also shot down rumors that Georgia’s Mark Richt is a candidate in College Station.  (Uh, no kidding.)

3.  Reports from KFSM-TV in Fayetteville/Fort Smith claim that Arkansas defensive coordinator Willy Robinson has been dismissed.  Robinson was absent from a team meeting last night.  The station reports that former Arizona head coach Mike Stoops and current Green Bay Packers assistant Joe Whitt Jr. — who worked with Petrino at Louisville — will be candidates for the job.

Bobby Petrino has the Razorbacks rolling on offense.  That likely won’t change anytime soon.  If he can land the right mind to improve his team’s defense… look out.  UA has had back-to-back 10-win seasons in the SEC with so-so defenses.  If they can just go from so-so to good — not even great — they could compete for titles for years to come.  (Of course, they’ll also need to start recruiting a bit better on that side of the ball.)

4.  Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn is still being mentioned as a potential head coaching candidate — along with many, many others — at Kansas.  Malzahn, however, has told sources close to him that he expects to be back on The Plains at Auburn next year.

Speculation has also tied ex-SEC coaches Phillip Fulmer and Houston Nutt to the Jayhawks’ job.

5.  Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain has been linked to the head coaching vacancies at both Fresno State and Memphis.  McElwain served as the offensive coordinator at FSU under the recently fired Pat Hill for one season in 2007… before Nick Saban hired him at Alabama.

6.  Steve Spurrier had only good things to say about running backs coach Jay Graham who is leaving South Carolina for the same position at Tennessee.  “Coach Graham did an excellent job here for the past three years.  He told me that coaching at his alma mater is something he wanted to do.  He’s a very good coach and an outstanding person.  We wish him the best in his coaching career.”

Spoken like a man who once left Duke to go coach at his alma mater, Florida.

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Monday SEC Coaching Rumors

Just a quick catch-up on some of the coaching rumors making the rounds today…

* New Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze is expected to bring multiple assistants with him from Arkansas State.  Two names to keep an eye on are Chris Kiffin (defensive line coach) and Grant Heard (receivers coach).

It has also been reported by that Freeze has offered the offensive coordinator position in Oxford to…

* Current LSU running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Frank Wilson.  Wilson had been mentioned as a potential candidate to replace Bob Toledo at Tulane, but that job is expected to go to New Orleans Saints receivers coach Curtis Johnson.

* Carl Pelini has been named the head coach at Florida Atlantic.  Former Arkansas offensive coordinator Garrick McGee was a strong candidate for that job before officially accepting the job as UAB’s head coach yesterday.

John L. Smith — the special teams coach in Fayetteville — is rumored to be a top candidate at his alma mater, Weber State.  The school has scheduled a press conference to announce its coach tomorrow.

* Auburn’s Gus Malzahn appears to be totally out of the mix at North Carolina at this point.  Troy Calhoun of Air Force and Larry Fedora of Southern Miss appear to be the top candidates for that job.

* Fedora is also in the mix at Kansas and at Texas A&M.  Fedora is a native of College Station, was an Aggie fan growing up, and his brother coaches a nearby high school team.  His name began to shoot up the ranks after his Southern Miss team — 11-2 and C-USA champions — pounded previously unbeaten Houston on Saturday.  On the other end of that beating was Kevin Sumlin who is also a candidate for the A&M job. 

Currently, it sounds like Fedora and Louisville’s Charlie Strong are the leaders for the A&M gig.  Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart has also been discussed as a possible candidate.

We still wonder if A&M might not have been wiser keeping Mike Sherman as head coach — to allow for a smoother transition into the SEC — while adding a top-flight defensive coordinator.  Supposedly, if A&M goes with the offensive-minded Sumlin he will have to bring in a “name” D-coordinator.  Sherman’s offense was proven.  Seems like the safer and less expensive move would have been to simply add someone like Mike Stoops to Sherman’s staff… rather than start all over again from the top down.

*  We mentioned Smart above, but fellow Alabama assistant Jim McElwain — the Tide’s offensive coordinator — has been mentioned in connection with the open head coaching position at Fresno State.

* It’s been reported that Georgia AD Greg McGarity will begin working with Mark Richt on a contract extension in the next couple of weeks.

* is reporting that Kentucky receivers coach Tee Martin will not be heading to Tennessee.  Reports from the Volunteer State say Martin was never officially offered a job with his alma mater.

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UM’s Mackey Says Alabama “Can Be Beat”

It’s the equivalent of walking up the steps, facing the axeman and saying, “That blade doesn’t look too sharp.”

Ole Miss quarterback Randall Mackey — fresh off his first career start in a win over Fresno State — told reporters yesterday that the Rebels’ next opponent isn’t perfect:

“Alabama is just Alabama.  They’ve got a real good defense from the D-line to the secondary.  There are still, I’m not going to say weaknesses, you know, they ain’t Superman.  So they can be beat.”

Yes.  The Baltimore Ravens might take ‘em.  But the odds of Ole Miss getting the job done are pretty slim.  And when this quote hits the bulletin board in Tuscaloosa, those odds will get even slimmer.

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SEC Headlines 10/1/2011 Part Two

Mississippi State at Georgia

1. “Both sets of Bulldogs are in precarious positions.”

2. Mississippi State needs big performances from their two defensive tackles – Josh Boyd and Fletcher Cox.

3. The problem for Georgia’s defense? Outside runs.

4. Georgia remembers last year’s loss in Starkville: “The cowbells stand out the most,” Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray said. “Those things were loud.”

Auburn at South Carolina

5. The Tigers destroyed the Gameocks 52-17 in the SEC championship game last year, but South Carolina says this game is not about revenge.

6. South Carolina wide receiver Damiere Byrd finally gets the chance to start his college career and is expected to contribute immediately.

7. Keep your eye on running back Marcus Lattimore and Auburn’s defensive tackles. ”We’ve got to find a way to make more first downs,” said Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzhan.

8. Franklin Roosevelt was president the last time South Carolina beat Auburn.

Ole Miss at Fresno State

9. Houston Nutt: “This is the most important one of the year, without question.”

10. Of the last SEC eight schools to play in Pacific Time, they’re a combined 1-7 in their last appearance out west.

11. Keys for Ole Miss? Run the ball well and take the crowd out early.

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Dooley Would Be “A Great Pick” By Ohio State?

Here’s one that’s really starting to make the rounds on the messageboards today: A Cleveland blogger thinks Ohio State should take a good long look at Tennessee’s Derek Dooley to replace Jim Tressel.

According to Roger Brown of writes:

“He’s sharp and personable.  He took over a UT program that was rocked by the abrupt, sneaky departure of Lane Kiffin — and made the Volunteers a competitive, interesting team in the SEC, college football’s toughest conference.

In short, Dooley is a good football coach — and he’d be a great pick by OSU.”

Dooley is sharp and personable and he’s quickly rising as the go-to quote guy at SEC functions.  But in four years as a head coach at Louisiana Tech and Tennessee his record is 23-27 and he has just one winning season (8-5 with Tech in 2008) on his ledger.  In four years he’s beaten just one FBS opponent that’s finished its season with a winning record (beating 7-6 Fresno State in ’08).

Dooley may turn out to be a great find by UT athletic director Mike Hamilton, but would another major school already be willing to roll the dice on a guy with that record?

Brown also mentions LSU’s Les Miles among the top six coaches he’d like to see the Buckeyes pursue… with Miles ranking fourth, two slots behind Dooley.

As someone who lived in Columbus for a number of years and remembers the “hillbilly” insults tossed at former coach John Cooper — a Tennessee native — I seriously doubt the folks in the Buckeye State will look south of the Mason-Dixon line for their next coach.

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