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Ex-Dawg Ealey Lands At Jacksonville State

Looks like Georgia Southern was serious about not taking Washaun Ealey.  Despite months of speculation that the former Georgia tailback would transfer to GSU, the ex-Dawg has landed at Jacksonville State where he began school today.

Jacksonville State — which won at Ole Miss last year — is coached by former Arkansas head coach Jack Crowe.

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SEC Football Schedule Released

The SEC has released the official, finalized football schedule for 2011.  Click right here for a full breakdown of each week’s games.

At the bottom of the page, you’ll find the number of Top 25 teams (from last year) and bowl teams (from last year) on each squad’s schedule.  Of course, that was last year.  And teams like Auburn — for example — might not be quite so formidable this year as they were last year.

UPDATE — Just to kick start this year’s whining, here’s how many times an SEC team will face an SEC rival that’s coming off an open date:

Alabama (3) — LSU, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt
Georgia (2) — Auburn, Florida
Florida (1) — Georgia
Kentucky (1) — Mississippi State
LSU (1) — Alabama
Ole Miss (1) — Arkansas
Tennessee (1) — South Carolina

Tennessee’s open date comes before it’s game with Buffalo.  Kentucky’s open date falls before Jacksonville State visits Lexington.

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Final SEC Coaching Grades – Post-Bowl Edition

The season is over and the bowls have run their course.  With that in mind we take one final look back at the men who led the SEC’s football programs in 2010.  Below are our final grades for each man’s work this season.  And we’ve changed a couple since the end of the regular season.  Like the Birmingham school district, we reserve the right to make adjustments when necessary.

1.  Gene Chizik — A+

Auburn’s coach earned an additional “+” for winning the BCS Championship Game and that results in him being the SEC Coach of the Year.  Prior to the national title game, we had marked his grade down a tad because Chizik’s team happened to boast the obvious best player in college football.  The thought being: Just about anyone could win big with Cam Newton.  But three things changed our thinking on Monday night.  First, Newton wasn’t at his best against Oregon.  Second, Auburn won that game with defense… and defense is Chizik’s specialty.  Third, when you win a national crown, you deserve an A+ even without the benefit of the last two facts.

2.  Dan Mullen — A

Mullen got more from less than any other coach in the league this year.  A 9-4 record, bowl win, and heartless beatdown of Michigan (and a then-fading Rich Rodriguez) were all accomplished without the aid of a star player.  If you asked a college football fan in Colorado to name an MSU player from 2010 you’d get a blank stare in response.  Now Mullen will have to prove that he was the man behind the Bulldogs’ success and not departed D-coordinator Manny Diaz.

3.  Les Miles — A

Miles looked to be in serious trouble after he nearly bungled the end of the Tigers’ game with Tennessee.  Fans began making it very clear that they were tired of his time-management woes.  But Miles led LSU to an 11-2 record, a Top 10 finish (for the first time in three years), and a big bowl win over Texas A&M.  Most importantly, he also went head-to-head with Nick Saban and won.  Tiger fans loooooved that.

4.  Bobby Petrino — A

The Razorbacks were blessed with a Heisman-candidate quarterback and a high-flying offense.  They were expected to step forward and make their presence known on the national stage in 2010.  They did.  The Hogs won 10 games, wound up ranked 12th in the country and earned the school’s first BCS berth.  If only they hadn’t gotten stage fright against Ohio State.  Petrino has the Razorbacks headed in the right direction.

5.  Steve Spurrier — B+

The final record for Carolina was 9-5.  The nine wins were special (considering the Cocks’ history).  But it’s hard to grade someone too highly when their team loses five games, gets whipped in the SEC title game and fails to show up for their bowl game (again).  But we’ll give Spurrier a “+” mark because he did lead Carolina to its first SEC title game.  We’ll not be so easy on the Ol’ Ball Coach next season.  His team should be better in 2011.

6.  Nick Saban — B

Saban is in most folks’ opinion the best coach in the country.  But he didn’t prove that this year.  Saban’s team had most of its talent returning from the 2009 BCS championship squad.  But the Tide never seemed to have the same mental toughness as the previous year’s team.  Three losses — especially the loss at LSU — with such a strong team were surprising.  It goes to show how difficult repeating as SEC champs can be.  The blowout win over Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl gave Saban a late grade boost.

7.  Derek Dooley — C

Dooley inherited a mess at Tennessee and he finished with a 6-7 record.  His unit did reach a bowl game and that counts in his favor.  But Dooley’s season went just as most had predicted.  Zero wins over teams with winning records, six wins over traditional doormats.  That’s an average job.  But Vol fans can thank him for keeping their zillion-year streak over Kentucky alive.  For Dooley, the big test comes on signing day.

8.  Robbie Caldwell — C

How can we give Caldwell a “C” grade when he went 2-10 and was fired?  Because a 2-10 record and a firing were the expectations for 2010.  The Commodores were bad.  Caldwell was a stop-gap hire.  He did exactly what we expected.  Thus, an average grade.

9.  Joker Phillips — C-

Phillips’ Wildcats took a slight step backward from 2009 with a 6-7 finish and a bad, ugly loss to a coachless Pitt team in the BBVA Comp… oh, whatever it was called.  The Cats were picked to finish ahead of rival Tennessee this year in the SEC East.  They did not.  And Phillips wasn’t able to stop UK’s losing streak against their most-hated rivals, either.  The fans noticed.  And they responded by letting Phillips and his team travel to Birmingham all by their lonesome.  Phillips has some work to do in 2011… just to win over Cat fans.

10.  Urban Meyer — D

Not the best way for Florida’s legendary coach to go out.  But the expectations were high in Gainesville.  A roster stocked with four- and five-star recruits led most everyone to believe the Gators would keep right on rolling sans Tim Tebow.  Not so.  And when things went from bad to worse on offense, Meyer never really came up with an answer.  There were no major changes made to his system.  With each loss he simply threw another quarterback into the rotation.  Meyer will be remembered for his great days at Florida… not his final season.

11.  Mark Richt — D

Who knows if Georgia gets off to a better start with AJ Green on the field in September or not?  Clearly, Green’s suspension hurt, but the coach had 84 other scholarship players to work with.  His team improved once Green returned and his staff did get quite a bit out of a redshirt freshman quarterback, too.  But the failure to show up for the Liberty Bowl hurt.  It’s one thing to lose to C-USA — the SEC always struggles in that bowl — it’s another to show no fight.  Richt is on a very hot seat in 2011.

12.  Houston Nutt — F

Speaking of hot seats.  Nutt took the Rebels to their first back-to-back New Year’s Day bowls in 50 years.  Just ask him.  But 2010 was a nightmare.  It started with the bad press received for bringing in Jeremiah Masoli.  It continued with losses to Jacksonville State and Vanderbilt.  It grew worse as the defense went totally belly-up.  And a second-straight loss to Mississippi State was the kicker (in the pants).  Nutt’s program at Arkansas had its high moments but it never seemed stable.  The pattern seems to be repeating in Oxford.

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Week Ten On The SEC Hot List

It’s time for our regularly-schedule SEC stock check and we’ll once again keep things short and to the point.  Below you’ll find our most recent Hot List rankings as well as one sentence on each squad as they head into Saturday’s action.

Here goes…

The Hot List

1.  Auburn

The Tigers don’t have much to worry about with Chattanooga… but you can bet they’ve got plenty of other things on their minds.

2.  Alabama

The Crimson Tide and LSU have the two toughest defenses in the SEC.

3.  LSU

But Alabama’s got a more balanced offense and that should be the difference at Tiger Stadium tomorrow.

4.  Florida

The Gators’ rejiggered offense should have no trouble outscoring Vanderbilt.

5.  South Carolina

The Gamecocks will top Arkansas if Steve Spurrier pounds the ball with Marcus Lattimore on the ground.

6.  Mississippi State

The Bulldogs have a weekend off to mourn, regroup and try to steady themselves for a tough stretch run.

7.  Arkansas

Carolina might be tempted to attack the Hogs’ short corners, but the Razorbacks are 4th in the SEC in picks per pass attempt.

8.  Georgia

Dawg fans are howling and it’s likely Mark Richt’s squad takes out their frustrations on poor Idaho State.

9.  Kentucky

If UK somehow stumbles and falls to Charleston Southern, the Joker Phillips era could crumble before it ever really begins.

10.  Ole Miss

Not even the Rebels’ defense is bad enough to lose to Jacksonville State, Vanderbilt and Louisiana-Lafayette.

11.  Tennessee

The Vols need for Tyler Bray to smoke a horrible Memphis defense and put an end to UT’s quarterback controversy.

12.  Vanderbilt

No Warren Norman, Adam Smotherman or chance against Florida.

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Ole Miss – Auburn Warning Sign #3

Why are so many talking heads predicting 3-4 Ole Miss (a team with losses to Jacksonville State and Vanderbilt) will upend BCS top team Auburn? 

Below is Reason #3 of the day:

Cameron Newton has looked unstoppable this year… but Auburn’s team has not looked unbeatable.  As good as Newton has been, the Tigers have needed one fourth-quarter rally after another.

September 9th:  Auburn 17, Mississippi State 14
     Cameron Newton was the clear difference in the game.

September 18th:  Auburn 27, Clemson 24 in overtime
     Auburn had to come back from a 17-3 deficit at home and won on a missed do-over field goal attempt by Clemson’s placekicker.

September 25th:  Auburn 35, South Carolina 27
     The Tigers had rallied from a 27-21 4th quarter deficit and Carolina was throwing into the end zone on its last possession.

October 9th:  Auburn 37, Kentucky 34
     Auburn needed a last second field goal to edge the Wildcats.

October 23rd:  Auburn 24, LSU 17
     The Tigers got the go-ahead score from Onterrio McCalebb with five minutes left to play.

Gene Chizik’s team even needed a comeback in their 65-43 rout of Arkansas.  With less than 12 minutes to play, the Razorbacks held a 43-37 advantage in that game before their wheels came off.

You can look at the above facts and easily see why Tiger fans believe their team to be clutch with a capital C.  But you can also see why some pundits believe Auburn has caught more than its share of breaks this season.

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