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SEC Headlines 11/26/2013

headlines-tueSEC Football

1. Would losing to Auburn be the most crushing defeat of Nick Saban’s career?

2. Saban on Auburn fullback Jay Prosch: “You can’t say enough about what that guy does for them.”

3. Expect Auburn freshman quarterback Jeremy Johnson to play in the Iron Bowl.  Gus Malzahn: “We do have a plan for Jeremy, package wise, for this upcoming game.”

4. This will be the ninth Iron Bowl for defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson - but his first on the Auburn sideline.

5. Bruce Feldman: ”To me, there is a big, big difference between a one-loss team and an unbeaten team.” 

6. How can Missouri stop Johnny Manziel? Defensive coordinator Dave Steckel: “I don’t think the right word is stop because you’re not going to stop Johnny Manziel.”

7. Bryan Burwell on the Tigers:  “An SEC East title carries a lot more weight than a Big 12 North crown.”

8. Mark Bradley on Florida coach Will Muschamp: “I’d have fired him Saturday.”

9. Is Connor Shaw the best quarterback in South Carolina history?

10. Why the Cotton Bowl could be a destination for the Gamecocks.

11. If Mississippi State beats Ole Miss, the BBVA Compass Bowl will include the SEC.

12. Kentucky running back Raymond Sanders – the team’s leading rusher – suspended for the Tennessee game.

13. Tennessee needs a win against Kentucky to avoid the first eight-loss season in the program’s history.

14. If Arkansas loses to LSU, it will be the program’s first winless conference season since 1952.

15. Instead of two games a year, Arkansas will play just one a year in Little Rock for the next five years.

16. LSU freshman cornerback Rashard Robinson had a spectacular game against Texas A&M - held Mike Evans to four catches and intercepted a Johnny Manziel pass.

SEC Quarterbacks/Injuries

17. With quarterback Aaron Murray the latest, Georgia has had four offensive players tear their ACLs this year. Read MrSEC’s take on injuries in college football.

18. Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason will get his first start this weekend since 2009 when he was a senior in high school.

19. With Dak Prescott out with an elbow injury and Tyler Russell day-to-day, quarterback Damian Williams’ performance could have a big impact on the Egg Bowl.

20. Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace says his flu-like symptoms this weekend have passed.

21. Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy remains questionable - not cleared by medical staff. Full Florida injury report.

22. Tennessee coach Butch Jones confirmed Monday that freshman quarterback Riley Ferguson fractured his tibia before the Alabama game. ”Josh Dobbs will be our starting quarterback.” Tennessee has scored just three offensive touchdowns in last four games.

23. Vanderbilt is comfortable with its two quarterback system. Coach James Franklin: “I look at it as nothing but an advantage.”

SEC/NFL Draft

24. Would South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney be the perfect fit…for the Atlanta Falcons?

25. After pleading guilty to trying to cover up an alleged rape, former Vanderbilt wide receiver Chris Boyd will attempt to go pro instead of transferring.

Extra

26. What are the similarities between the rape cases at Vanderbilt and Florida State? ”The biggest similarity between the two cases is secrecy.”

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LSU Dominates A&M; Murray Reportedly Tears ACL In Georgia Victory

postgame-links-150x1501LSU 34 – Texas A&M 10. Video Highlights

1. LSU offense rolls up 517 yards – 324 on the ground.

2. For the second year in a row, the LSU defense throttles Johnny Manziel and the Aggies offense.

3. “Welcome back, guys. You’ve been missed.”

4. A&M offense fails to score 40 points for the first time in 14 games. “It was by far the most miserable day for the Aggies since they joined the Southeastern Conference, and it had nothing to do with the weather.”

5. Give a lot of credit to LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis.

6. Aggies lose more than the game – any chance at a BCS bowl  and a second Heisman Trophy also gone.  Manziel: “We got punched in the mouth today, and it wasn’t fun.”

Georgia 59 – Kentucky 17. Video Highlights

7. Blowout victory by Georgia spoiled by knee injury to quarterback Aaron Murray.  Coach Mark Richt: ”It’s just sickening.”

8. His last Sanford Stadium pass was an interception but Murray had four TD passes and become only the third quarterback to pass for 3,000 yards in all four seasons.

9. Report: Murray has ACL tear in his left knee. Will have surgery on Tuesday. Update: Confirmed.

10. With two starting cornerbacks suspended, Kentucky’s defense shredded. Saturday, “Kentucky played like a team playing out the string…”

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Sumlin Says Manziel’s Draft Decision Coming Soon

johnny-manziel-holds-ball-smilesTexas A&M fans apparently won’t have to wait long to find out if Johnny Manziel is coming back for his junior season. Coach Kevin Sumlin says he expects the decision to come soon. Here’s what he said on ESPN Radio Friday.

 

“My job is to get him all the facts that we can get him. We’ll have that discussion after the Missouri game, certainly during the bowl preparation. I’m sure the announcement will be made at that time.”

 

The Missouri game is a week from today. The earliest SEC bowl game is December 30th.  Several mock drafts have Manziel going in the first round.

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Done Deal: Franklin To Start At QB When Mizzou Visits Ole Miss

james-franklin-mu-new-uniAs expected, Missouri’s starting quarterback slot will be filled by senior James Franklin when the Tigers roll into Oxford, Mississippi this weekend.  Back from an injury to his throwing shoulder, Franklin will reclaim his starting gig from backup Maty Mauk (who handled things pretty well in Franklin’s absence).

The Tigers are 9-1 on the season, ranked in the top 10, 5-1 in the SEC, and on path to reach the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta.  Mizzou’s only loss came in overtime to South Carolina as Mauk served as fill-in.  Gary Pinkel said last week that Mauk will still be used in some capacity on Saturday.

Franklin said yesterday that he doesn’t believe the final games of the 2013 season will define his career: 

 

“I pretty much feel like my legacy’s already been determined.  I’m not really concerned about how these last few games are gonna go.”

 

Regardless of what he means by that, you can bet many Tiger fans won’t like reading it.  And we can assure him that Missouri’s finish will indeed impact his legacy.  Players and coaches — unfairly — are only as good as their last game these days.  That’s no longer just a saying, it’s a fact.  And if the Tigers stumble down the stretch, Franklin — and Pinkel for playing him — will take some heat.

To capture the East Division title, the Tigers need to win on the road at Ole Miss and then beat Texas A&M and quarterback Johnny Manziel.  That’s a stiff challenge.  So stiff that no one should say MU chocked if they don’t win them.  (If they’d beaten those two early in the season and then lost to a Kentucky or Tennessee that would have been a choke job.)  Mizzou simply got no late-season break from the SEC schedule-makers.

But tough schedule or no, Tiger fans will be ready to celebrate or jeer Franklin depending on the outcomes of the next two Saturdays.

 

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SEC Headlines 11/18/2013

headlines-monSEC Football

1. Alabama turned the ball over four times against Mississippi State. Here’s a look at the Crimson Tide’s turnover issue.

2. Nick Saban (unhappily) explained why he didn’t challenge an interception thrown by AJ McCarron on Saturday night.

3. Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall’s miracle throw against Georgia wasn’t the first of his career.

4. Auburn’s offense has made a big leap since its first bye week.

5. It hasn’t been the lead story, but Johnny Manziel keeps making spectacular plays.

6. Georgia coach Mark Richt didn’t second guess the Bulldogs’ call on Auburn’s miracle touchdown play.

7. Freshman running back Kelvin Taylor has stepped up for Florida during a disappointing season for the Gators.

8. Steve Spurrier promises South Carolina won’t overlook Coastal Carolina. “This is a huge game” Spurrier said.

9. Tennessee once again needs to win out against Vanderbilt and Kentucky to become bowl eligible.

10. Vanderbilt will need to keep forcing turnovers to give itself a chance to win at Tennessee.

11. Barrett Sallee takes a look back at what we learned in the SEC in week 12.

12. Gary Pinkel is doing what he does as Missouri is back to winning again, writes Bernie Miklasz.

13. There will be plenty on the line when Alabama and Auburn play in two weeks.

14. South Carolina fans were quite excited on Saturday when they saw Auburn’s last-minute touchdown to beat Georgia.

SEC Basketball

15. Former LSU basketball star Joe Dean died Sunday at age 83.

16. Kentucky dominated Robert Morris on Sunday, winning 87-49 at Rupp Arena.

17. Here are some news and notes from Kentucky’s win over Robert Morris.

18. Clemson handled South Carolina on Sunday with a 71-57 win at home over the Gamecocks.

19. Forward Casey Prather has provided an early spark for Florida.

20. Arkansas expects to be tested as it prepares to host Larry Brown’s Southern Methodist on Monday night.

Extra

21. The race for No. 3 in the BCS standings should be a good one between Baylor and Ohio State.

22. The Denver Broncos confirmed defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio interviewed last week for the Southern California job.

23. Here’s a look at Jerry Palm’s latest bowl projections. The Sugar Bowl: Auburn vs. Central Florida.

24. The attorney of Jameis Winston was critical of the state attorney for his public comments regarding the ongoing investigation.

25. A final-minute three-pointer helped Belmont pull off the upset of North Carolina.

UPDATE — Meet the SEC’s football Players of the Week.

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Texas A&M’s Manziel Catches A Concert… Big Whoop

During the offseason, Texas A&M Heisman-winner Johnny Manziel was omnipresent.  He was at ballgames.  He was at concerts.  He was at parties.  And he was tweeting darn near every bit of it.

Not surprisingly, his Twitter account exploded with new followers.  The media started paying attention to his summer of fun.  Then folks started to wonder how he paid for this and paid for that.  Texas A&M’s compliance department had to ask Manziel about every jetsetting trip.  Then came the “mutual decision” for him to leave he Manning Passing Academy.  And then came the autograph charges that eventually cost him one half of one game due to NCAA suspension.

At the height of Manziel Mania we wrote that the QB would help his pro stock by laying off social media and becoming a hermit for the season.  For the most part, that’s exactly what he’s done this season.  And, no, we didn’t expect him to actually keep things on the QT.

Well, on Tuesday night in San Antonio, Johnny Football took in a concert by his buddy, Drake.  He had a photo snapped with OB O’Brien, a rapper from Drake’s entourage.  Manziel posted the picture on Instagram.  It’s now popping up in the places like The Dallas Morning News:

 

manziel-obrien

 

We get it.  He’s still a celeb.  And this is the same kind of action he repeatedly took last spring and summer.

But we say cut the guy the some slack.  He’s kept his nose clean and his profile low since A&M’s football season started.  He’s been a model citizen and anything but a distraction for his team.  His play has improved and he’s done exactly what he set out to do — run less and pass more effectively.

Manziel is certainly feeding his detractors by posting anything at all, but he’s proven over the past three months that he can put team before self and football before fame.  That will go a long with NFL general managers next spring.

So give the kid a break.  He cut loose for a night.

He’s earned it.

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A&M Flip-Flops Again On Value Of Manziel’s Heisman

Follow-UpOn November 1st, Bloomberg.com posted a story concerning the overall monetary value of Johnny Manziel’s Heisman win to Texas A&M University.  In it, the school claimed the award had brought in only about $20,000.  Several A&M officials made it clear in the report that Manziel’s win meant little in terms of sponsorship money, broadcast deals, ticket purchases, building campaigns, and even merchandise sales.

Yesterday, on November 4th, we pointed out the nonsense of those claims.  We also showed you that A&M had launched a post-Heisman campaign to cash in on Manziel’s win.  We showed you a number of Heisman-related items available for sale at Texas A&M’s official online store.  We also stated that it’s our belief A&M was trying to duck claims — correct claims — that it had profited from its player winning the trophy.  Obviously, all schools benefit from such exposure.

Today, on November 5th, Brent Zwerneman of The Houston Chronicle decided to dig into the exact same story from the exact same angle.  He basically recounts all of the things that we pointed out yesterday.  Like us, he even included a link to the original Bloomberg.com story.  Now, Zwerneman — whose work we link to all the time — didn’t feel the need to point out that another site — ours — had been the first to make these points or to ask these questions, but, hey, we get that a lot.  We drive business to other sites via links.  They refuse to return the favor.  Now we could be petty and call someone out for this — oh, wait, whoops — but instead we’ll link you right to The Chronicle’s piece… because Zwerneman’s done a good job of advancing the story.

Zwerneman writes that “based in part on a fan outcry that the athletic department suddenly seemed to be downplaying Manziel’s financial impact on the school,” — what could have caused a fan outcry yesterday? — A&M PR man Jason Cook went to the fan website TexAgs.com — look, a link for them, too — and posted the following comments in the messageboard area:

 

“Foremost, this story was not a result of a press release or any behind-the-scenes strategy.  The reporter contacted us over six weeks ago with a thesis that Texas A&M is ‘making millions’ off Johnny Manziel.  As our fans know well, we are in the middle of a perfect storm in which many things — SEC move, Coach (Kevin) Sumlin, Johnny, the Texas economy, enrollment growth, law school — have all come together to elevate the Texas A&M brand.  Johnny has certainly been a major component and catalyst of our tremendous growth… No one denies this fact.”

 

Actually, the quotes from the Bloomberg.com story looked a lot like denials, but we’ll tackle that in a minute.  Cook continued:

 

“The reporter asked us for all kinds of data — licensing, football ticket sales, donations, media valuations, etc — which we provided.  We tried to communicate to the reporter that with so much change happening at one time, it’s hard to attribute our growth to any one factor.  Many factors are all working together.

Several weeks went by and the reporter asked me about the infamous (courtesy of the Darren Rovell tweets) football fundraiser dinner in which a donor paid $20k to sit at Johnny’s table.  I explained the situation to the reporter, particularly that we had many football players who were sitting with donors that evening under the same pretenses.  These dinners are quite commonplace in college athletics.  As you read in the article, that $20k was entirely misrepresented.  We all know that Johnny’s impact has truly been immeasurable.”

 

Well, not completely immeasurable.  As Zwerneman points out — links for everyone! – in January the school put a value of $37 million on the media exposure Manziel’s Heisman would bring to A&M.

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A&M Downplays The Value Of Manziel’s Heisman, But The School Sure Has A Lot Of Heisman Gear For Sale

manzieltimes+squareLast December, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel capped off his riches-to-more-riches meteoric rise by winning the Heisman Trophy.  But according to the school, having its QB win the award didn’t result in much of a cash windfall at all.  In fact, A&M claims it made only about $20,000 off Manziel’s victory.

Bull.  Sorry, we’re not buying that one.

The school says its tickets for the 2013 season were already sold out and its radio, TV and sponsorship deals were pretty much locked in, too.  Bloomberg.com reports that the school claims booster donations were tied to those seat purchases, not to Manziel winning the Heisman.  And that $20,000 includes a portion of the team’s $60,000 in royalties from jersey sales, too.

Additionally, the folks in College Station downplay the value of the media exposure provided by Johnny Football’s win.  AD Eric Hyman says the school’s conference swap was worth more than last December’s Heisman:

 

“People draw the conclusion that we make millions from Johnny winning the Heisman.  I’d say we’ve gotten more financial benefit from joining what’s widely perceived as the best football conference in the country and having a winning program.”

 

Well, no kidding.  But that’s like saying Peyton Manning’s new Papa John’s business dealings really aren’t worth much compared to his football money.  Yes, football has paid him millions upon millions, but there’s value in his Papa John’s venture as well.  It’s not nothing.

Hyman goes so far as to tell Bloomberg.com that the Heisman probably didn’t convince anyone to go to A&M.  More impactful was Kevin Sumlin’s up-tempo offense, the Aggies’ success on the field, and the opportunity to play in the SEC.

There have been rumors and reports of bad blood existing between Family Manziel and Texas A&M.  Hyman’s decision to downplay the value of Manziel’s Heisman win from every conceivable angle is so out of the ordinary as to draw attention back to the perceived rift between Manziel’s parents and the school.

And Hyman isn’t the only member of the Aggie brass saying that Manziel’s trophy was pretty much worthless.  A&M chief financial officer, Jeff Toole, had this to say about ticket sales: “If we had an 11-2 season, won the Cotton Bowl and he finished third, we’d be doing just as well because we already sold everything.”

The man behind TAMU’s campaign to raise funds for Kyle Field’s renovation, Mark Klemm, says Manziel’s trophy didn’t help that cash drive one bit: “You can’t remotely say that.  The planning for the stadium started before we joined the SEC and before Johnny Manziel became our starting quarterback.  It was just an amazing coincidence of timing.”

OK, OK.  We get it.  Manziel’s Heisman has been worth bupkes to the school.  Just a big ol’ nuthin’ that didn’t help recruiting, didn’t provide added exposure for the school, didn’t increase fan interest, and only brought in 20-thousand bucks.  Got it.

Knowing that, it seems some A&M boosters should be pretty ticked right now.  See, if there was so little value to Manziel’s Heisman win, the school shouldn’t have spent up to $500,000 on Manziel’s pre- and post-Heisman campaign.  The school shouldn’t have wasted money on a Times Square billboard.  The school shouldn’t have blown cash by placing more than 400 other billboards referencing Manziel’s win all across the country.  The school shouldn’t have bought congratulatory ads on ESPN.com, SI.com and USAToday.com.

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A&M’s Sumlin Thinks WR Evans Should Be Getting Some Heisman Love

mike-evans-tamu-practiceThe latest USA Today Heisman Poll is led by Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota.  Behind him comes Florida State QB Jameis Winston.  At #3 is the reigning Heisman-winner, Johnny Manziel.  Then come two more signal-callers: Baylor’s Bryce Petty and Alabama’s AJ McCarron.

That’s a whole lotta quarterbacks.  And while Kevin Sumlin is sure to be happy for Johnny Football, he believes one of his quarterback’s key weapons deserves some Heisman hype as well.  Where’s the love for Aggie receiver Mike Evans?

“I think he’s as good a player as there is in the country,” Sumlin said yesterday.  “I’m more surprised there isn’t any Heisman talk about him.”

Obviously, Evans and Manziel are tied to one another when it comes to on-field success.  Manziel leads the SEC in passing with 2,594 yards, 22 touchdowns, and a completion percentage of 73.0% through eight games.  Evans is the SEC’s leading receiver with 137.6 yards per game, 1,101 yards overall, and 11 touchdown catches.  He also leads the league in average yards per catch with a 22.94 yard-per-catch clip.

Both Manziel and Evans are sophomores.  “They are playing at a high level and have played at a high level,” added Sumlin.  “And I don’t anticipate that changing.

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SEC Headlines 10/28/2013

headlines-monSEC Football

1. Alabama was dominant in October. Here’s a look at just how dominant the month was for the Crimson Tide.

2. Alabama will spend its bye week working on “improving, maintaining focus and discipline.”

3. Auburn linebacker Justin Garrett is deciding if he will redshirt this season. He was expected to start before the season.

4. Arkansas is trying to “fight off” the struggles of the past two seasons.

5. LSU needs this off week as it gets ready to play at Alabama on Nov. 9.

6. Alabama should recharge LSU and its fans after a long nine-week stretch of games.

7. LSU running back Jeremy Hill is continuing to climb statistical charts.

8. The biggest positive for Ole Miss in its win over Idaho: The Rebels escaped without adding major injuries.

9. Mississippi State is about to be tested as it prepares to travel the next two weeks.

10. There were several positive surprises in Texas A&M’s win over Vanderbilt on Saturday.

11. Georgia is dealing with injuries and a “bruised ego” as it gets ready to play Florida, which is also banged up.

12. Here’s a look at Kentucky’s statistics compared to the rest of the nation.

13. South Carolina QB Connor Shaw battled illness along with his injury before helping the Gamecocks rally to beat Missouri.

14. Saturday’s loss to South Carolina was disappointing. Will Missouri bounce back strong as it gets ready for Tennessee?

15. Vanderbilt has plenty of work to do as it enters its bye week with a 4-4 record.

16. Missouri slid to No. 6 in Athlon’s SEC power rankings. Alabama, LSU and Auburn hold the top three spots.

17. What did we learn during week nine of the SEC schedule? Barrett Sallee takes a look.

Injuries/Practice Reports

18. Auburn QB Nick Marshall should be able to play against Arkansas on Saturday after injuring his shoulder against Florida Atlantic.

19. Georgia running back Todd Gurley “remains on track to play” against Florida. WR Michael Bennett should be back for UGA.

SEC Basketball

20. Arkansas scored a lot of points in its scrimmage over the weekend.

21. Three of Kentucky’s top opponents this season have players suspended indefinitely. How might they affect the Wildcats when they return?

Extra

22. Oregon passed Florida State for the No. 2 spot in the BCS standings despite FSU’s 49-17 win over NC State on Saturday.

23. Johnny Manziel’s top three party guests: Charlie Sheen, Rob Gronkowski and Tiger Woods.

24. Oregon’s offense gets plenty of attention. Its defense is playing very well, too.

25. The upsetting defeat vaulted Missouri to No. 1 in Dan Wolken’s Misery Index.

26. Which BCS title contender has the best chance to remain unbeaten? Stewart Mandel examines.

27.  The SEC has announced its Players of the Week.

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