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Florida WR Cunningham Picks Vandy Over Miami, FSU, And Stanford

mrsec-breaking-newsFour-star receiver Jordan Cunningham from Fort Lauderdale has announced he’ll be heading to Vanderbilt over Florida State, Miami and Stanford.  The 6-3 Cunningham is widely considered to be one of the 20 best receivers in the nation.

Kudos to James Franklin and his ability to sell Vandy as more than just a football program.  Cunningham announced that he’s working on “a 50-year plan” that includes playing receiver in college and then becoming a professional engineer and entrepreneur.  “Football’s going to end at some point and you have to have a backup plan,” Cunningham said.

While Cunningham seemed a little nervous during his presser, it’s clear the young man is very intelligent and has a great deal of perspective for his age.  Thumbs up to Cunningham and to Vanderbilt.

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Kentucky In Final Three For JoJo Kemp

Running back JoJo Kemp from DeLand (Fla.) High School has narrowed his list to three schools: Kentucky, Pittsburgh and West Virginia.

Kemp’s decision will likely come down to the style of offense he prefers, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

“Kemp said Monday he needs to decide if he wants to play in a pro-style offense, like that at Pittsburgh, or in the spread, like that of the offensive attacks at West Virginia and Kentucky. The Wildcats may even have more of a passing attack than what Kemp is looking for with new offensive coordinator Neal Brown at the helm under former FSU defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, now the head coach.”

Kemp, who previously committed to South Florida, had also considered Tennessee, where his cousin, Marlin Lane, plays running back.

UPDATE: It appears two more teams should be included in Kemp’s list of finalists. He tweeted a message Tuesday afternoon that included hashtags for Tennessee and South Florida.

Kemp told Volquest.com earlier this week that he plans to visit Tennessee on Jan. 18. It looks like that visit is still on.

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SEC Coaching Carousel Update – 12/3/12

Here’s your Monday morning catch-up on the three coaching searches still underway in the Southeastern Conference… plus some bonus news from Lexington and Nashville.

 

Arkansas

While our sources in Arkansas and in the industry continue to say that TCU’s Gary Patterson and Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy are the top two names on AD Jeff Long’s list, this story from a site called HogCountryOnline.com sent Razorback fans into a state of pure jubilation on Saturday.  According to the site, Boise State’s Chris Peterson “is expected to be named the new Razorbacks coach Tuesdsay.”  It’s even suggested that he could be introduced to fans at tomorrow night’s Oklahoma-Arkansas hoops game at Bud Walton Arena.

Petersen has turned down some awfully big jobs in past years to stay put at Boise State.  Perhaps the shifting conference landscape has him spooked or maybe he’s just really ready to move, but we’ll believe this one when we see it.  Petersen is the college equivalent of Jon Gruden.  Everybody wants him, but no one ever gets him.  If the Hogs do, Long will be hailed as a hero in Fayetteville (just as he was when he landed hoops coach Mike Anderson).

As for Gundy, he was asked yesterday about reports that he was interviewing for jobs elsewhere.  “I would never talk about any other jobs or any confirmation of anything that’s gone on.”  Gundy is an Oklahoma State alum, but he’s coming off a 7-5 season and may want to restart his coaching clock somewhere else.  He also currently makes $3.75 million per season and has a $3 million buyout that some school will have to work around if it wants him.

We have also been told that Baylor’s Art Briles is moving up the list at Arkansas.  Despite losing Robert Griffin III this year, his team still managed to lead the nation in total offense and he knocked off Gundy and OSU head-to-head on Saturday.  (No hire should be made based on one game, though.)

Meanwhile, former Arkansas offensive coordinator Paul Petrino has been named the head coach at Idaho.  Do the Vandals realize what the Hog offense looked like under Paul as compared to what it looked like under Bobby?

Read the rest of this entry »

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WOW Headlines – 11/30/12

Multiple reports claim Jon Gruden has turned down Tennessee’s advances regarding the school’s coaching job
Florida State AD Randy Spetman won’t comment on rumors tying FSU coach Jimbo Fisher to Auburn and to Tennessee
Missouri guard Michael Dixon will transfer after two rape allegations have come to light this week
Florida coach Will Muschamp says he’s not worried about losing staff members this offseason
A competency hearing has been scheduled for alleged tree-poisoner Harvey Updyke
Kentucky coach John Calipari was disappointed his team “didn’t compete” in a 64-50 loss to Notre Dame last night
LSU moved to 5-0 on the season with a 72-67 win over Seton Hall
Florida destroyed Marquette last night 82-40
Follow all the SEC’s coaching news and more at MrSEC.com and twitter.com/mrsec

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Let’s Stop Before We Start: Ex-Coaches Should Not Make Up The Playoff Selection Committee

The push has already begun.

Over the past month, several former college football coaches have said that they would like to take part in a new college football playoff selection committee.  Assuming the university bosses who sit on the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee will vote for the 4-team playoff plan that conference commissioners are sending them — either this Wednesday or later this summer — then the last thing anyone should want is a panel made up completely of ex-coaches picking the playoff teams.  Whether coaches campaign for inclusion or not.

Bobby Bowden was the first to OK the idea of serving on such an esteemed panel when contacted by ESPN.com back in early-June:

 

“I would be willing to serve on it.  I think ex-coaches have a lot of wisdom.  I watch the games.  And I watch the game films on my iPad.”

 

Several other ex-coaches have also made it known they’d be happy to take part in the committee: John Cooper, Vince Dooley, LaVell Edwards, Phillip Fulmer, RC Slocum, and Gene Stallings to name a few.

Cooper said:

 

“I would love to do this.  I would love to be a part of it.  My life revolves around college football and coaching.  I would vote for the best team, regardless of conference.  And I know we would operate that way.”

 

Sure they would.

Some of you might remember that MrSEC.com’s official suggestion was to put together a three-pronged system of selection with complete transparency that included media members, a single computer formula and a panel that included a few ex-players, ex-ADs and, yes, ex-coaches.  If the conference commissioners had pushed such a plan, no one group’s bias would have been able to sway the field entirely.  By using a selection committee only, however, one group will be given full power to shape the field each season.  And the last thing we need is an ex-coaches-only committee doing that job.

Everyone has biases.  And everyone who might be put on a blue-ribbon selection panel will have worked in college athletics so long that they will have certainly built up a list of friends, enemies, mentors and proteges.  But football coaches would have more tentacles stretching across college football than any other group of potential panelists.

Let’s take the well-respected, well-liked Bowden as an example.

Everyone associates Bowden with Florida State.  Having been ousted from FSU in favor of Jimbo Fisher, do you believe anyone in Tallahassee — including Fisher — would want Bowden to “impartially” decide whether or not the Seminoles are placed in or left out of a playoff?

Simple, you say, Bowden would recuse himself from the room when FSU came up as a candidate for discussion.

But Bowden was also head coach at West Virginia before moving to FSU.  Would have leave the room when the Mountaineers were discussed?

And what about the rivals of those two schools?  Think Florida or Pittsburgh fans would want to see Bowden weighing their schools’ playoff futures?

Let’s go back further.  Before transferring to Howard College in Birmingham, Bowden began his playing career on the University of Alabama’s football team as a freshman.  Couple that with the fact that Auburn fired his son Terry as head coach and you can assume Tiger fans might not trust Bowden anymore than Gator or Panther fans.

Now toss the Clemson Tigers into that mix, too.  Not only did Bowden coach against Clemson, but the Tigers — according to the elder-Bowden — fired his son Tommy as head coach.

You want to go further?  What if Bowden were asked to rule on Tennessee’s inclusion in or exclusion from a playoff?  New UT athletic director Dave Hart served as Bowden’s boss for 12 years as Florida State’s AD before he was forced out by then-school president TK Wetherell, the same man who gave Bowden the boot.  Might Bowden aid Hart’s school?  Or vote against it?  How would the Bowden-Hart relationship impact his votes?

So let’s say that due to all those types of connections, Bowden would be forced to leave the room when any ACC, SEC, or Big 12 team cam up for discussion.  Well, then what’s the point?  For Bowden to keep his eyes on the Pac-12 and the MAC?

And even if you go that far with Bowden — or any other coach — what about all of his former assistants and players who are now on coaching staffs that might be up for a playoff bid?  Do you know how big some coaching trees have grown?  How many friendships exist?  How many enemies have been made?

As noted above, coaches have more connections across college football than anyone else.  Sure, they know the game and as exes they would most definitely like some spotlight and power again… but no group has anywhere near the potential conflicts of interest as ex-coaches would.

Heck, need we even mention this quote from former Tulsa, Arizona State and Ohio State head coach Cooper from January:

 

“I’m told, I don’t know and I haven’t coached in that league, but I’m told that down south the Alabama’s and LSUs and some of these teams that have these great players, that maybe the NCAA needs to look into their situation.  Those teams have been on probation.  As you know, Alabama’s certainly one of the most penalized teams in college football, as is the Southeastern Conference.  We say the SEC’ the best and they are the best, but they’ve also had more NCAA violations than probably all the other leagues put together the last 10 years.”

 

Would a remark like that force Cooper out of the room whenever an SEC team came up for discussion?  (He’d already have to leave when Pac-12, Big Ten and Conference-USA teams were on the table.)

To make up for so many possible recusals, the new selection committee would have to be large.  Really large.  So at what point, then, are we just back to using a poll?

On the surface, no one knows college football better than ex-college football coaches.  If some could have been included as part of a much, much larger selection process, we’d be fine with including them.  But there’s also a greater potential for bias with that group than any other.  So using a panel of ex-coaches only should be a non-starter… even though lots of writers and bloggers have been pushing for just that.

For that reason — and since the conference commissioners seem to have already decided that a selection committee alone is the way to go — it’s probably best that the presidents create a committee much like the one they use to select the NCAA’s basketball tournament field each year.  That panel is made up of current ADs, commissioners and administrators.  They may have biases, too, and that’s why we’re against a panel-only move.  But they would have far fewer potential issues than ex-coaches would.

So let’s start the “just use ex-coaches” movement before it really picks up steam, shall we?

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How The New SEC Schedule Formats Came To Be — Groupthink

Last Friday, the Southeastern Conference took a wrong turn when it came to its new football and basketball schedule formats.  The league yielded — in our view — to schools’ self-interests rather than pushing for what was best for the conference and its fans long-term.

You know the backstory:

 

* The SEC’s eight-game 6-1-1 football schedule does protect three of the league’s oldest rivalries (Alabama-Tennessee, Auburn-Georgia, and Ole Miss-Vanderbilt), one important television draw (Florida-LSU), and it should help to create a new border war (Arkansas-Missouri).  That much we like.  Unfortunately, the new plan also means that cross-divisional rotating foes will visit one another just once every three presidential terms.  Think about that.  Worse, it opens the door for all the legion of non-SEC fans out there — from conference commissioners to the media to the people who might wind up on a playoff selection committee — to point to the fact that the SEC as a whole schedules more FCS foes and fewer BCS-level foes than any of the other five major conferences.

* The 1-4-8 basketball format is a slap at any SEC fan who happens to care about the league’s history and tradition.  (Judging from our emails, there aren’t many out there who do care about basketball and that’s darned disappointing.)  Rather than protecting two, three, or even four  permanent rivals per school, the league voted instead to protect only one per school as a yearly home-and-away foe.  Games that have been played more than 180, 190 and even 200 times a piece will now be once-a-year affairs in some cases, including arguably the SEC’s best traditional rivalry: Kentucky versus Tennessee.

 

We made it clear last week that we believe the football issue will eventually be corrected.  Either the league will have to go to a nine-game schedule to squeeze more money from television networks looking for better games or the league will learn the hard way that its “more creampuffs” policy hurts it when it comes to anti-SEC’ers who are looking for any angle — including strength of schedule shots — to take down the biggest bully on the block.  Perhaps both.

And, yes, further expansion forced by a collapse of the ACC could lead to a nine-game schedule, as well.

As for basketball, well, it doesn’t appear there’s much hope for hoops.  We pointed out in January that it would be possible to protect more rivalries.  The league’s coaches and ADs and presidents cared not.  Tradition?  Hell with it.

Unfortunately this has only led to more people complaining about the SEC’s decision to expand in the first place.  But that’s not entirely fair.  As explained above and as we’ve written about for months, the conference could have added Missouri and Texas A&M and still done a better job with its schedules.  It could have protected itself from outside attacks.  It could have given TV networks better inventory.  It could have protected more heritage games.  The league’s power brokers chose not to.

So how did this come to pass?

First, Mike Slive is a consensus-builder.  Those who’ve sat in meetings with the man say he’s a master at working a room, keeping a conversation focused, and finding common ground.  Those are good traits.  It’s no wonder his work in 2008 with CBS and ESPN changed the way conferences make their money.

As a consensus-builder, however, there are times — it appears — that he can give too much power to the people.  Slive works for the SEC schools, but he’s been hired to lead them and steer them in sports-related issues.  In the case of the new scheduling formats, he allowed people to lean too heavily on their own self-interests, in our opinion.

Slive and the league put together a “transition team” tasked with creating schedules that everyone could agree upon (at least to some degree).  That unit was headed up by former Mississippi State athletic director Larry Templeton.  Templeton was joined by three others from the SEC office — Mark Womack (executive associate commissioner), Greg Sankey (executive associate commissioner), and Mark Whitworth (associate commissioner).

According to the SEC’s chief PR man and associate commissioner for media relations, Charles Bloom, Templeton’s squad worked with and contacted the league’s athletic directors throughout the process “including taking proposals to them at scheduled AD’s meetings.”  That included meetings in Nashville during the women’s basketball tournament and in New Orleans during the men’s basketball tournament.

So from the start, the league’s schedule-making group was getting feedback from the conference’s athletic directors.  Those athletic directors — obviously — were talking to their own coaches.  The ADs opinions were shaped by their coaches’ opinions.  The transition team’s proposals, therefore, were shaped by the ADs opinions and to some extent by the coaches’ opinions.

Not good.

Bloom also told MrSEC.com via email that the schools involved — specifically Missouri and Texas A&M — also had their own transition teams involved in the process.

All this looks to be where the breakdown occurred.  Rather than creating two plans that made sense for the conference’s long-term good in football and basketball and then setting out to build support for those plans, the SEC office seems to have tried to let everyone have a say from the get-go.  Instead of building a consensus behind its own scheduling formats, the SEC’s formats were built — to some degree — out of a consensus.  There’s a big difference there.

One tactic involves leadership and strong-arm tactics at the end of the process.  “This is what’s best for everyone and here’s why.”  The other tactic is really more akin to steering a large group of people toward common ground.  “Hey, let’s take part of Joe’s idea and mix it with a bit of Steve’s idea and see if Bob will agree to that.”

In a word: Groupthink.

Roy Kramer and the league’s decision-makers in 1992 acted boldly.  SEC football coaches were against an eight-game schedule and they surely did not want a championship game tacked on at the end of every season.  Tough.  Kramer’s group did what was best for the league.  Those bold actions set the table for much of the success Slive’s crew has enjoyed and built upon.

But it’s hard to imagine the SEC adding games and a title bout in ’92 if the league’s ADs and even coaches had had a strong say in the process from the beginning.  Sadly, 20 years down the line, you’re going to hear different stories from different people regarding who did what and why.  Everyone involved at this stage will want to claim that they played a leading role in shaping the league’s future.  (Take for instance all the debate over the SEC’s approach to Florida State in the 1990s.  Depending on who’s telling the story: the SEC offered FSU, the SEC never offered FSU, FSU spurned the SEC, or FSU never had an offer to officially turn down.  You have to check the records and reports of the day to get a true picture of what happened.)

Slive is viewed by many as the strongest commissioner in college sports.  It’s hard to argue that point when his league has won six national football crowns and three national basketball titles since 2006… all with truly national television coverage of both sports and record profits thrown in for good measure.

We simply believe he should have acted more strongly this time around regarding the league’s schedules.  Rather than giving everyone a say along the way, he and the league would have been better off cooking up a pair of smart plans and then doing whatever it took to jam them down each school’s throat.

Slive, it must be noted, was trying to wrangle 14 cats this time around and there’s no question that’s a more difficult chore than getting 12 schools on the same page, as Kramer and his team did.

But Slive has shown that he’s capable of being a strong-arm type of guy.  Just a year ago, with football coaches lined up unanimously against a cap on signing classes, the commissioner coaxed and cajoled the bosses of the league’s coaches and athletic directors to go their own way.  The presidents did.  And even though not every president really wanted signing caps, Slive had the power of personality to convince everyone to vote unanimously in favor of adding a 25-man cap.

That’s power.  And we at MrSEC.com wish he would have used as much power on the scheduling front this year as he did on oversigning front last year.

The league would be better off today if he had.

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SEC Headlines – Memorial Day 5/28/12

The SEC Meetings kick off in Destin today with the league’s coaches arriving tomorrow (when things will really get rolling).

Conference expansion and realignment buzz continues to hum along.

 

It’s also Memorial Day and we hope you have a pleasant and safe one with your families.  We also hope you remember all of those men and women who’ve risked their lives from our Revolution to the Civil War (which gave us our first “Decoration Day”), to Iraq and Afghanistan.  You need not be a warmonger to respect those people who are willing to give so much.  And you need not be a pacifist to wish all of those serving now a speedy and safe return home.

 

Below are a few of the stories making headlines on this holiday:

 

1.  Some folks in Virginia wish the Virginia Tech-to-the-SEC talk needs to be buried for good.

2.  The ADs at Tech and at Virginia both trust their fellow ACC athletic directors when they say they’re not talking to other conferences.  (Obvious Point: It’s likely not the ADs who are doing any of the talking.)

3.  Naturally, people associated with the Big East are still saying all the right things — just as they did before losing Pittsburgh, Syracuse, West Virginia and never-even-arrived TCU.

4.  The new talking point for the Big 12 is “the electronic footprint” of its league, not its geographic footprint.  (Which is what I’d be talking about too if I had a league that might soon be spread across non-contiguous states.)

5.  This writer says many “if not most” Florida State alumni care more about football than basketball or academics, which makes a move to the Big 12 a potential big win.

6.  As you’ve probably seen by now, FSU’s travel costs would likely jump 40% if it moves to the Big 12.  (The fact that that research has already been conducted — an leaked — is telling.)

7.  The Parade All-America Basketball Team was announced yesterday and four from the 40-man roster are headed to the SEC (one to Georgia and three to Kentucky).

8.  Alabama will open the season against Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges… who was 4-0 versus the Tide while at Auburn (from 2004 through 2007).

9.  Arkansas interim coach John L. Smith says you’ve got to be able “to Facebook” and “to Twitter” in today’s world.

10.  Florida has helped its frontcourt by landing South Carolina transfer Damontre Harris.

11.  Two-way player Malcolm Mitchell figures to be Georgia’s most important footballer this fall.

12.  This writer says expansion might not be a good thing for middle/bottom-of-the-pack teams like Tennessee.

 

Finally, we don’t cover college baseball around here — hey, we’re three guys covering 14 schools, 28 teams and recruiting and expansion already — but we would like to congratulate…

13.  Mississippi State for winning the SEC tournament.

14.  And Missouri for winning the Big 12 tournament.  How ’bout that?  SEC squads won two leagues’ baseball tourneys over the weekend.  The win was the Tigers first baseball tourney championship since 1980… and their last official event as a Big 12 member.  (Talk about hanging mistletoe from the back of your jacket.)

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Will The Circle Be Unbroken: How A Mistake 20 Years Ago Has Nuked Conferences And Rivalries

Over the weekend, we linked you to a story from The Kansas City Star in which writer Sam Mellinger wondered if Missouri was now having regrets about leaving the Big 12.  (Two notes: 1. That damnable Mia Hamm ad will pop up as soon as you click the link.  2.  Yes, Tiger fans, we know you think Mellinger is a pro-Kansas, anti-Missouri man.)  Well, Mellinger’s item got me thinking about how things in the SEC, Big 12, ACC and — if all heck breaks loose in the next two months — all of college athletics might have been different had one school not shot itself in the foot more than two decades ago.

Everything at present time is moving in circles.  Mellinger just must not have realized that.  In writing about how the new SEC-Big 12 agreement has made the Big 12 more stable than anyone would have imagined a year ago, he stated:

 

“There is no way to know the answer for sure, but there are now plenty of college sports insiders who believe MU wouldn’t have left for the SEC if it knew this is how the thing would turn out.

The SEC is the most powerful league in college sports, so it’s dishonest to call joining up a mistake, but it’s easy to imagine that in their most unfiltered thoughts the MU decision-makers are now less certain they did the right thing.

The mantra all along was stability, the Tigers saying their best situation would be a firm Big 12. Turns out that’s exactly what they left behind.”

 

Actually, no.  That’s not what Missouri left behind.

When Missouri left the Big 12 for the SEC, it was the fourth founding member to leave the league in about 18 months time.  Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State had all just been had their bids for membership in the Pac-12 rejected.  The league Missouri left was splintering.  (Heck, Oklahoma even came close to scuttling the conference’s plans to add West Virginia to replace Mizzou.)

It was Missouri’s departure that actually helped make the Big 12 stable again.  Scared that the league would blow itself to pieces and Big 12 teams would land everywhere from the ACC (who Texas also approached), the Pac-12, the Big Ten, the SEC and who knows where else… ESPN coughed up a huge payday for a 10-school league that covers just five states (including Iowa, Kansas and West Virginia, which are all rather sparsely populated).  ESPN feared that it would either a) have to renegotiate television contracts with every league under the sun or b) risk losing some games to other networks which were ready to bid — NBC/Comcast, Fox, etc.  As a result, the Big 12 got more than market value from ESPN (and from Fox).

But if Missouri doesn’t leave the Big 12, the only thing that’s made the league stable — all that television money — most likely doesn’t reach the levels it did.  Yet still, some question whether the Tigers should have just stayed put and enjoyed the Big 12′s current riches.

See the circle in all that?  Here’s another one.

Over on the Atlantic Coast, John Swofford’s basketball-first league tried to become a better football conference way back in 1991 by adding powerhouse Florida State.  In 2004, the ACC took things further and raided the Big East for Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College.  People forget that BC went to eight bowls in a row under Tom O’Brien and was averaging about nine wins per year when the ACC nabbed them.

But FSU’s program fizzled under an aging Bobby Bowden.  Miami’s program was undone by NCAA violations.  Virginia Tech never could win “the big one” and claim a national crown.  Boston College saw it’s successes diminish when O’Brien left for NC State in 2007.

The league’s football fortunes turned sour just as television contracts — which are driven almost entirely by football rights — were booming.  Now some of those very same football schools are talking about leaving the ACC which could ultimately bring down roof on Swofford’s head.

Had the ACC not added all those schools and had it remained a tight-knit, basketball power it likely wouldn’t be as rich as its neighboring leagues, but it certainly would be tougher to blow apart than it is now.  Dumping 60 years of tradition is tougher than walking away from 20.  Or eight.

Want another circle?  Let’s focus on Florida State.

In 1990, the Southeastern Conference put on a song and dance routine in Tallahassee in an attempt to lure the Seminoles into the SEC.  There were no certainly roadblocks from the folks in Gainesville 22 years ago.  FSU officials decided instead that the ACC was the better place for them.  They could dominate in football and bellying up to the lectern with strong academic institutions like Duke, North Carolina, and Virginia put a charge in the bow ties of FSU’s academicians.

But as noted above, FSU’s dominion over the ACC and college football ended.  In the 90s, the move looked sound. In the 2000s, not so much.  State became an average football team and that helped drag down the value of the entire ACC as television rights fees grew.  State fell behind the SEC and rival Florida in the money race.  FSU’s fans complain about having to play basketball schools like Wake Forest on the gridiron (maybe because the Demon Deacons have taken four of the last six from the Seminoles).

Now Florida State is on the verge of leaving the ACC because it can make more money elsewhere.  Even though it’s the top reason the ACC isn’t worth as much.

See the circle?  Now look at it in big picture form.

If Florida State had had the foresight in 1990 to join the conference that was clearly the best fit for it, the school would probably be healthier and wealthier today.  But it snubbed the SEC for the ACC.  The SEC got rich without FSU.  It’s landmark television deals in 2008 set off a series of conference moves that wound up destabilized the Big 12.  Eventually, that led Missouri to leave its old Big Eight rivals and flee the Big 12 for Mike Slive’s league.  ESPN then threw huge cash at the Big 12 in the hopes of saving it.  It worked.  And now Florida State is eyeballing a possible move from the ACC to the Big 12.

If FSU had simply done the sensible thing in 1990, the SEC’s roster of teams would definitely look more sensible on a map today.  Florida State would be on solid ground.  The ACC might have remained a basketball-first power and not brought in schools that would have no problem leaving and splitting up the conference.  Missouri might not have had a greener pasture to head to and might have stayed put in the Big 12 to preserve its old rivalries.  And perhaps leagues across the nation wouldn’t be trembling with fear over more possible expansion, realignments, and breakups today.

If FSU had moved to the SEC, Missouri might not have.  And if Missouri hadn’t left the Big 12, FSU might not be contemplating a move to the the Big 12.

And we all might never have become trapped in what seems to be a never-ending cycle — make that circle — of change.

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SEC And Expansion/Realignment Headlines – 5/23/12

Let’s start with the expansion stuff, shall we?  (And beware… some of this stuff might be behind paywalls.)

1.  Clemson AD Terry Don Phillips says there’s “no substance with regard to a report” from Orangebloods.com that there’s been informal contact between the Big 12, Clemson, Florida State, Virginia Tech and Miami.

2.  Here’s the original Orangebloods piece claiming that one Big 12 source puts the odds of expansion at “55 to 60 percent.”

3.  Today that site claims that Georgia Tech “has also put out informal feelers to the Big 12.”

SIDENOTE — “Informal feelers” could mean a single rogue booster who wants his school to move has put in a call to someone he knows at a Big 12 school.  Either way, it seems that reports of a “done deal” for FSU and Clemson to join the Big 12 were exaggerated.

4.  Texas AD DeLoss Dodds told CBSSports.com yesterday that he’s against expansion and that he thinks the new playoff system will make league’s playing championship games think twice… but he also says he’s been courting Notre Dame for a while.  (Of course he’s against expansion.  The more schools that join the Big 12, the more Texas’ power and revenue share will decrease.)

5.  ESPN’s Chris Low said on The Paul Finebaum Show yesterday that he believes more expansion is coming and “I can tell you that the SEC has their eyes on Virginia Tech.”

6.  At about the same time, the athletic directors at Virginia Tech and Virginia were saying they don’t feel there is “a serious threat of someone leaving the ACC.”

SECOND SIDENOTE — We’ll have more on the Virginia Tech talk a little later today.

7.  Here’s a graphic look – literally — at what expansion and realignment has meant for basketball.

8.  This writer says college football needs an early signing period.

9.  The season-opener between Alabama and Michigan in Arlington, Texas will — no surprise — kick off at 8pm ET on ABC.

10.  Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson has been pleasantly surprised by how quickly he’s developed a relationship with new offensive coordinator Paul Petrino.

11.  LSU’s football players are eager to get the “taste” of defeat out of their mouths.

12.  Transferring Texas A&M hoopster Naji Hibbert says he can be better on and off the court at Gardner-Webb.

13.  The Aggies come to the SEC with some peculiarities, says this writer.

14.  Will Muschamp believes his young Florida offense will grow up.  (Yeah, but how quickly?)

15.  Freshman Georgia placekicker Marshall Morgan will need to quickly do some growing up, too.

16.  Six Kentucky basketballers have been invited to the NBA’s draft combine.

17.  Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said of the felony theft arrest of tight end Cameron Clear: “I am aware of the situation but I can’t comment and won’t comment till I get all the details.”

18.  When Dooley was initially asked about rumors that Clear had stolen items from athletes on campus back, he said on May 7th: “I’ll classify it as messageboard journalism, like a lot of things that come through.”)

19.  Finally, here’s another writer’s look at the most important transfers in college basketball (and three are coming to an SEC arena near you).

THIRD AND FINAL SIDENOTE — If I open one more website and see Mia Hamm pop up in a video ad I’m going to punch something.

 

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SEC Headlines – 5/22/12

1.  We’ve received a lot of emails over the past few weeks asking about the SEC’s stance on Florida State.  It certainly seems to us that FSU had its chance, passed, and isn’t likely to get another.  Now, from a pair of Seminole trustees talking about the SEC to the school forming its own expansion committee last fall as the SEC was in the process of adding Texas A&M and Missouri, it appears that some in Tallahassee would just love to get a call from Mike Slive.  In September of last year, we posted the following info regarding the SEC’s unofficial invitation to FSU in 1990.  A lot has changed since that post went up — namely, FSU has gone from apparently not wanting Texas in the ACC to wanting to join Texas in the Big 12.  Go figure.  But for those interested in the history of FSU’s relations with the SEC and why a few old-timers in the league still hold a bit of grudge, this is still an interesting history lesson.

2.  This writer says the SEC-Big 12 bowl deal shows that the ACC and Big East should have been angling for an eight-team playoff.

3.  This national writer looks at the eight most important basketball newcomers to the SEC next season.  (Not surprisingly, three will dress in Kentucky blue.)

4.  The Alabama fan charged with committing sexual battery on an unconscious LSU fan after the BCS title game pled not guilty yesterday.

5.  Arkansas has named six captains for this year’s football squad.

6.  Crews have started work on the new $4.6 million HD video screen at Razorback Stadium.

7.  Will Muschamp says having two quarterbacks push one another will be good Florida’s offense.  (Sounds nice, but he’d better hope one of them separates himself from the other.)

8.  Meet Georgia cornerback Damian Swann… the Dawgs’ fourth most important player in 2012.

9.  John Calipari tweeted some photos from inside Kentucky’s new Wildcat Coal Lodge.  (And, yes, the big booster behind the new digs is a coal magnate.)

10.  This writer believes further conference realignment could help UK while hurting in-state rival Louisville.

11.  AthlonSports.com previews South Carolina, their preseason #10 team.

12.  The Tennessee football team made big improvements in the classroom from last fall to this spring.

13.  ESPN lists the top 10 football players in the SEC.

14.  Conference commissioners are hoping to agree upon a new playoff format by July 4th, but a lot of people are still on completely different pages.

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