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LSU Fullback Copeland Says Auburn “Didn’t Want To Hit At All”

LSU fullback JC Copeland has fired a shot toward the Auburn football program that you can bet has fans of the Plainsmen riled up today.  The 280-pound bruiser remembers his Tigers 45-10 win over AU’s Tigers for the hits he didn’t have to dole out:

“The most memorable game I’ve had this year, I’ve got to say, was Auburn, because after the first couple of hits, everybody (on AU’s defense) was just backing up.  They didn’t want to hit at all. … Before I got to them, they just fell down and just laid on the ground.

I actually said, ‘C’mon man, you’re better than that.  C’mon, hit me.  That was like the only game I went home and had no nicks and bruises at all.”


Makes you wonder if Georgia’s Mark Richt was referring to Auburn’s D when he said pre-SEC title game: “I’ve seen people just start jumping out of the way of this guy, literally.”

One thing you can be sure of is this… you can bet that Gene Chizik will post Copeland’s comments all over Auburn’s football complex in the week running up to next year’s LSU game.

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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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LSU And Georgia Rewarded For Showing Patience

Heading into the 2010 season, LSU’s Les Miles sat on the hottest seat in the SEC West.  His program had lost nine games in a two-year span and with his salary, Louisiana’s depth of talent, and the success LSU had enjoyed in previous seasons, fans were talking dismissal.

Heading to the 2010 season, Georgia’s Mark Richt sat on the warmest seat in the SEC East.  His Dawgs finished 2008 with five losses… his worst mark to date in Athens.  A year prior they have failed to live up to preseason #1 expectations.  And the coach continued to lose to Florida.

In 2010, both coaches had their struggles.  Miles was the butt of jokes — and the target of fans’ anger — after his team nearly blew a home game to hapless Tennessee through game-management issues.  Richt saw his team get off to an 1-4 start en route to a 6-7 finish.

But from 2009 to now, both coaches have silenced many (if not all) of the critics demanding their ousters.  As Mike Herndon of The Mobile Press-Register writes:

“Yet, here they are two years later, preparing for the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta on Saturday.  One with a shot at a second national title and the other with his first division title in four years. Patience may be a virtue after all, even in the win-now world of college football…

LSU and Georgia could have gotten antsy a couple of years ago.  They are being rewarded for their patience this week.”

Patience.  It’s an interesting idea considering Kansas and Memphis both fired coaches after two short seasons and, inside the SEC, many fans at Kentucky and Tennessee would like to see their coaches dismissed after just two years, too.

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Contract Extension Talk For Richt (And Grantham) At UGA

The 2011 football season has had one focus in the state of Georgia — Mark Richt’s job status.  And while UGA AD Greg McGarity has said any contract change for Richt would be handled after the season, there’s growing speculation that the top Dawg will return next season complete with a contract extension.  (So long as he beats Kentucky and reaches the SEC title game, of course.)

There’s talk that defensive coordinator Todd Grantham might receive an extension to keep him in Athens for a longer run.  Grantham’s agent let it be known that he’s already “gotten inquiries” from NFL clubs interested in hiring his client as a D-coordinator.  And he says he’s “gotten feelers” from representatives of colleges regarding Grantham’s possible interest in a head coaching job. 

Regardless of the situation involving Grantham it certainly appears that Richt has saved his job with what’s currently an eight-game win streak and a likely East Division title.

So let’s send out this long-distance dedication to the SEC’s dean of coaches:

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Like Everyone Else, Richt Expects SEC To Add A 14th School

If you think a 13-school SEC is a awkward set-up, you’re not alone.  Just about everyone — including several SEC sources who’ve gone public to multiple media outlets over the past month (including this one) — believes the SEC wants a School #14 regardless of what Mike Slive is saying officially.

Georgia’s Mark Richt can be added to that group:

“Well, if (Texas A&M is) joining us, you’d think there would be at least another one joining somewhere along the way.  It’ll be interesting to see how it all shakes out at the end.  Life it changing as we know it around college football.

This may be a massive movement across the country.  I don’t know exactly how it’s going to end up.  It is certainly interesting what is happening in our league.”

The SEC continues to state that it’s only interested in adding Texas A&M and that it is not pursuing any schools at this time.

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Energy Vampires Moving East From Auburn To Athens

Back in March we told you that Auburn’s Gene Chizik was no fan of people he termed “energy vampires.”  As he told at the time, Chizik wasn’t going to worry about people making allegations of wrongdoing regarding his football program.

“They’re going to say what they’re going to say and discuss what they’re going to discuss, and you have absolutely no control over that,” Chizik said.  “I call those energy vampires.  They’re not going to suck my energy out worrying about that.”

Now it seems that energy vampires have crossed the West Georgia border and have headed East toward Athens.  Or at least Chizik’s term has.

Georgia’s Mark Richt is using the “energy vampire” moniker as a means of keeping his players on a positive vibe.  “If you say something negative, if you’re not doing something positive when we’re doing activities as a team, you can be called an ‘energy vampire,” explains linebacker Chase Vasser.  “Anybody who hears you say something like, ‘I don’t want to be here,’ you can be turned into the coach and you’ll get your face on the board.”

Chip Towers of The AJC explains the rest:

“If a teammate (is) nominated by another player for the ‘energy vampire’ board and coach Mark Richt approves, he ends up with his picture plastered all over video boards in the weight room, usually Photoshopped to include fangs and other unflattering enhancements.”

Of his new motivational tactic, UGA’s coach just said, “We’re looking for guys who want to be positive.”

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Richt Says Oversigning Is An Integrity Issue

As well as stating that he would be in favor of dumping kickoffs from the game, Georgia’s Mark Richt once again tackled the issue of oversigning while meeting with the press yesterday.

Take it away, Marc Weiszer of The Athens Banner-Herald who starts with a quote from Richt:

“Oversigning.  I’ll just say this.  You guys can figure it out.  85 on scholarship, ok?  If 15 guys leave, how many do you have room for?”

Richt said it wasn’t a trick question.

“Fifteen,” one reporter said.

“Thank you for being brave enough to answer that question,” Richt said.  “How many are you allowed to sign?”

“Twenty-five,” he was told.

“Is 25 more than 15?,” Richt said.  “I don’t know if you catch my drift of what I’m trying to say. …All I’m saying is you can still oversign with 25.  If you only have 15 and you sign 25, you still sign more than you got.  The questions is everybody’s integrity.  That’s the question.  Are we all going to do things in the right way?  I think everybody’s trying to do that.  It’s not an easy thing to manage.  It really is not.”

Richt also said that if a school signs only to the 85-man limit, that number could be down to 79 by the time August begins, just udue to normal attrition.

“It’s not as simple as everybody wants to make it.”

No, it isn’t.  But it is possible to create a uniform standard for each conference and program in the country.  The SEC now has a 25 man “soft” cap that will still allow for backcounting on top of those 25 yearly signees.

The Big Ten allows its schools to sign just three more players than the slots it has available.  To use Richt’s 15-man example, a Big Ten school could sign 18, not 25.

Eventually, the NCAA will likely go to a 25-man policy to match the SEC’s recently passed plan.  After all, they followed the league’s lead when they went to a 28-man cap.  But that won’t stop Big Ten folks from saying they are still showing more integrity than their neighbors to the East, West, and South.

And like it or not, they’re right.

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Buyout Should Keep Nutt’s Seat From Becoming Truly “Hot”

Kyle Veazey of The Jackson Clarion-Ledger doesn’t get it.  He doesn’t get why people keep listing Ole Miss’ Houston Nutt among those coaches perched upon hot seats this fall.

To the outside world looking in, Nutt’s third season in Oxford resulted in a 4-8 record — not good.  In addition he’s dropped the last two Egg Bowls to Mississippi State and the ever-talkative Dan Mullen.  Making matters worse, his 37-man signing class and his decision to grab Jeremiah Masoli both brought bad pub to Mississippi’s program and the SEC (where rules have since been put in place to nix others from doing likewise).

But there’s one reason Nutt likely won’t really be on the hot seat this fall and Veazey — as he initially pointed out in May — brings it up again today: Nutt has a $6 million buyout.

That’s $6 million for Nutt.  Depending on their contracts, Nutt’s assistants might need to have a year or two bought out, too.  And if Ole Miss decided to do all that, they would still have to pay a new coach’s buyout from his old school and create a package lucrative enough to lure in a good replacement.

So is Nutt’s seat truly hot?  Probably not.  But is it the hottest in the SEC?  That’s a different question and Nutt would likely rank pretty close to Georgia’s Mark Richt in that category.

Whether he’s the six million dollar man or not, Nutt needs to do some winning — especially in the Egg Bowl — if he wants to get fans back on his side and get his name off of next year’s “hot seat” lists.

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Richt Amazed By The Noise Surrounding Newton Saga

Preparing to face Auburn and Cam Newton on Saturday — we think — Georgia’s Mark Richt had to answer questions about the quarterback’s saga yesterday.

“There’s nothing that’s been proven, that’s been done, that’s been inappropriate in any way.  But it’s just amazing the amount of noise there is around it.”

The even-tempered Richt went on to say just about what we would have expected him to say:

“That’s the thing about it, whether somebody does it or not, there’s just a lot of attention put on things that are accusations that may or may not be true.  I’m not even talking about this one in particular.  Someone gets accused of something, and it’s like a bomb goes off.  Whether or not it’s true, and I don’t know if some people care if it’s true or not, they’re gonna sensationalize it, and make a big deal of it.

“I think anybody is innocent, unless there’s some proff that they’re guilty.  So that’s America.  That’s how we’re trying to operate.  That’s the way it should be.”

Too bad it’s not.

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