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SEC Clarifies Policy On Oriakhi-Type Transfers

Earlier today we told you that UConn senior-to-be Alex Oriakhi plans to transfer from Storrs and is on the radar at Florida, Kentucky, and Missouri.  If UConn can’t play in next year’s NCAA Tournament due to NCAA sanctions — and the school is still waiting to hear about its appeal — Oriakhi could play his senior season immediately without sitting out a year.

However, as we also told you today, the SEC has a policy in place that is designed to prevent schools from simply bringing in rent-a-players for a single season of football or basketball.  In Mike Slive’s own words last summer: “It is not acceptable for a student-athlete to transfer in solely for an athletic experience.”

But with at least three SEC institutions chasing Oriakhi anyway, we turned to the SEC for an explanation.  The league’s quick-to-respond PR king Charles Bloom said that he’s been getting several questions about the league’s stance today and that the statement below “is our policy.”

SEC Bylaw 14.1.15

“A student-athlete who, upon enrollment at the certifying institution, has less than two years of eligibility remaining, is not eligible for financial aid, practice or competition at the member institution.  A member institution may request a waiver from the Conference office for a student-athlete transferring from an institution discontinuing a sport, or for a student-athlete transferring for the purpose of enrolling in an academic program not offered at the institution from which he or she is transferring.”

In other words, as long as the league allows it, Oriakhi could transfer to an SEC school and play if he simply enrolls in an academic track not offered by UConn.

Which means all the bluster about last year’s “no more one-year transfers” policy was just that — bluster.  Unless, of course, the commissioner is actually prepared to refuse said waiver.

There was much talk last summer about the SEC nixing oversigning.  In reality, it didn’t.  Schools could still oversign thanks to a “soft” cap of 25 signees that still allows for backcounting.  The move was a step in the right direction, yes, but there was more PR involved than actual change.

It seems what became known as “the Jeremiah Masoli rule” was created with PR in mind, too.  We may soon find out if that’s the case or just the appearance.  If Oriakhi chooses one of the three SEC schools chasing him, Slive will have to either provide a waiver or deny the member institution’s request for one.

Though it would seem Florida, Kentucky and Missouri have a feeling such a waiver would be granted or else they’d probably not be wasting their time pursuing Oriakhi in the first place.

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Bolden: There’s No Drama At Ole Miss This Year

Ole Miss running back Brandon Bolden feels Ole Miss is in a better spot heading into the 2011 season than they were at this time last year.  Why?  The Rebels were still waiting for word on quarterback Jeremiah Masoli’s eligibility in late-August 2010.  This year, the Rebels know their quarterbacks and they know the system:

“No drama.  It’s straight to football.  We don’t have to get a quarterback adjusted to our offense and try to adjust our whole offense to fit the quarterback.  We have a system.  It’s not how it was last year.  It’s more focused right now.”

But will the lack of drama add up to a season-opening win rather than a season-opening loss?  Brigham Young is a bit tougher foe than Jacksonville State.

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Grad Student Exemption One Change The SEC Botched

The SEC is getting plenty of press — and heat — over the 25-man soft cap that it imposed on its football signing classes last week.  Some groups say the league went too far and has placed itself at a disadvantage.  Other groups complain that the SEC didn’t go far enough.

But most everyone agrees that the SEC’s presidents goofed when it came to one particular piece of its new policy — the grad student exemption.

Mike Slive and the league’s presidents said that the the loophole allowing graduates at one school to transfer into the SEC with one year of eligibility as a grad student was being exploited for athletic, not academic purposes.  And to be honest, that’s correct in most cases.

However, there are still two flaws in the SEC’s decision.  First, the rule was designed to reward students who do exactly what the league’s presidents should want them to do — get their diplomas.  Why disincentivize in that area?

Second, the SEC’s ruling to ban those who want to join the league for only a year — and only for athletic purposes — said nothing regarding the league’s one-and-done basketball stars.  Obviously, it’s harder to legislate against what someone is going to do in the future, but if you’re going to pick one type of one-and-doner to support, wouldn’t the best option be the guy who has already gotten his college degree as opposed to the kid who’s simply killing time until he can enter the NBA draft?

Jon Solomon of The Birmingham News puts it this way:

“One-and-done players without degrees on the front end?  No problem.  One-and-done players with diplomas on the back end?  No way.”

In reality, the league’s presidents were guilty of overreacting to the negative publicity given to the league over last year’s Jeremiah Masoli-to-Mississippi story.  Much of what the SEC’s presidents did in Destin was about PR and much of it was good, but Masoli is hardly the poster boy for the grad student exemption.  It’s rare that a school would go after a grad student who has been booted off his last team for illegal activities.  Masoli was the exception, not the rule.

In most cases the players seeking the grad student exemption are good people and — obviously — pretty decent students.

The SEC did some good things last week in Destin.  But its presidents were way off base on this one.

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Call Me a Nutt Job

Ole Miss
Content provided by The Ole Miss Blog – It’s not the official Ole Miss blog, but it should be.

I remember three short years ago, the Sunday after Ed Orgeron single-handedly pulled off one of the most moronic coaching jobs in moronic coaching history, receiving a text from a friend saying Orgeron he’d been canned. It was the most jubilant I’d been that entire fall. I’ll be watching twitter closely today. I need to feel that way again. 

I know you’re out there people who think it’s crazy to fire a coach for one bad year. But this wasn’t just a bad year. It was a catastrophically bad year. The Rebels lost to Jacksonville State and Vanderbilt – at home. And by the way, the Commodores sucked so bad they fired their coach last night. Ole Miss also lost to Tennessee (winless in the SEC until OM) 52-14. Topping it with a home manhandling by MSU pushes me over the edge.

There can be no doubt that Mississippi State was the FAR superior team to Ole Miss. They beat the Rebels in every facet of the game – starting with the coaching. Dan Mullen issued a challenge to Nutt, called him out on the turf and then proceeded to kick his team’s butt all over Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. If that doesn’t sting I don’t know what does.

I know. I know. Nutt’s been to two Cotton Bowls. First time in 50 years. Blah, blah, blah.

What real Ole Miss fan was happy with the product on the field last year? The Rebels were preseason ranked in the Top 10 and finished nowhere close. If not for stumbling across Dexter McCluster in October, the Rebels would have never seen the inside of the new Cowboys Stadium. That wasn’t good coaching. That was fast running by McCluster. The season was a disappointment in every other way. Jevan Snead – a HEISMAN TROPHY candidate – tanked.

Arkansas fans call Nutt a quarterback killer. We said they were jealous and crazy.

In a twist of sheer irony, enter one Jeremiah Masoli – a legitimate Heisman contender who should be playing for the BCS Championship in January.

Jeremiah Masoli now leads the SEC in interceptions. Another talent wasted.

That’s two Heisman contenders in two years doing belly flops on the artificial turf of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Snead’s talent was questionable. Masoli’s wasn’t. It’s not irony folks. It’s the coach. 

Maybe Snead wasn’t so crazy electing to enter the draft a year early after all. Maybe Kent Austin actually did had a good reason to move to upstate New York and disappear into the Ivy League. 

Where is the promise for the future? Where? Show it to me. Please. Make me believe Nutt and Ole Miss will be better next year. I want to believe. I really do. Until you can make me believe I’ll be watching my phone, hoping for a text message. 

Now I’ve got to go help my kids get ready for church before I get fired.

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Week Eleven On The SEC Hot List

It’s time for our regularly-scheduled SEC stock check and we’ll once again keep things short and to the point.  (After all, we’ve got more Cam Newton stuff to get to.)  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.

And away we go…

The Hot List

1.  Auburn

At this point, AU might as well just stick with Cameron Newton and roll the dice that the NCAA can’t find enough evidence to prove that he or his father did anything wrong.

2.  LSU

The Tigers are still alive in the hunt for a BCS bowl bid and, yes, possibly even a national title shot.

3.  Alabama

Mississippi State will provide a gut-check for a Bama team whose season was undone by a couple of freshman breakdowns in the secondary last week.

4.  Arkansas

Beat UTEP and the Hogs’ could be playing their final two games with a Sugar Bowl bid on the line.

5.  Florida

The Gators have piled up points via the run against Georgia and Vandy, but they’ll need to throw the ball successfully against South Carolina.

6.  Mississippi State

The emotions surrounding Nick Bell’s death and the distractions provided by the Cam Newton story could be as tough to overcome as Alabama’s team.

7.  South Carolina

Barring Florida turnovers, if Marcus Lattimore doesn’t get 25 touches the Gamecocks will not win in The Swamp tomorrow night.

8.  Georgia

The Bulldogs’ offense cannot afford to waste possessions if the Dawgs are to win — in shootout fashion — at Auburn.

9.  Kentucky

As long as UK’s players aren’t already looking down the road toward Tennessee, the Cats should ease past Vandy.

10.  Ole Miss

Even if Jeremiah Masoli doesn’t play, the Rebels will hold an advantage over Tennessee if they run the ball between the tackles all afternoon.

11.  Tennessee

Tyler Bray will try his gunslinging ways against a Rebel secondary that has been disappointing all season long.

12.  Vanderbilt

Injuries have made a bad team absolutely horrible.

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UM’s Masoli Still Questionable

Houston Nutt is still waiting for word that quarterback Jeremiah Masoli can play for his Rebels at Tennessee tomorrow.  He hopes that word will come today.

“I’m hoping (the training staff) can say he’s going to be all right.  That’s what I’m hoping.”

Masoli suffered what Nutt called a “mild concussion” early in last Saturday’s game against Louisiana-Lafayette.  Masoli “vomited some Sunday” — something I never thought we’d write here — but he’s improved as he week has gone on.

For that reason, folks in the Tennessee camp believe Masoli will play.  Derek Dooley hinted on his radio show this week that there could be a bit of gamesmanship going on in this situation.

“I think Masoli’s the guy we’re going to be defending.  I’d be shocked (otherwise).”

If Masoli can’t go, Nathan Stanley will get the start for the Rebels.

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SEC Game Day Headlines – 10/30/2010 Part Two

Auburn at Ole Miss

1. Jeremiah Masoli is a smaller version of Cam Newton.

2. Is this Cam Newton’s first and only season at Auburn?

3. “We have to start teaching ourselves not to be afraid.”

4. Auburn’s turn at the top of the mountain.

5. The Rebels get their shot at shaking up the football world.

Kentucky at Mississippi State

6. Bulldogs are after their sixth straight victory.

7. Kentucky vs. Mississippi State is a rivalry game.

8. The matchups favor the Bulldogs.

Vanderbilt at Arkansas

9. A new offensive coordinator for Vanderbilt but the playbook probably won’t change much tonight.

10. Doesn’t matter if it’s Vandy, Tennessee or Memphis – a sad state of football affairs in the Volunteer state.

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