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SEC Headlines 10/1/2013

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1. What is it about James Franklin and Southern Cal?  “I wonder if Franklin will remain a candidate if he’s 0-6 in the SEC in a month?”

2. Vanderbilt coach asked about the speculation Monday.  “I mean, for once I’d like to sit in this press conference and talk about either the game before or the game we’re playing this week.”

3. Missouri lost to Vanderbilt last year 19-15.  Tigers want revenge: “I’d be lying if I said that feeling wasn’t there, because it is.”

4. Missouri is the first team to have two players ejected under beefed-up targeting rule.

5. Georgia safety Tray Matthews says he was warned by referees during the LSU game to be mindful of the new rule.

6. Main issue with the Georgia defense is the secondary - “against LSU, there was often mass confusion in Georgia’s secondary.”

7. Similar story at LSU.  Les Miles: “Well, certainly we can’t have blown coverages.”

8. Florida coach Will Muschamp on Arkansas: ”Defensively, we have not seen a team like this.” But do the Razorbacks know about the Gators nature walk?

9. Arkansas coach Bret Bielema has only lost more than two straight just once in his career. He’ll need a victory over Florida to prevent it from happening again.

10. Matt Hayes on Florida: “Clearly has the SEC’s — and probably the nation’s — best defense.”

11. It’s a story of good friends and similar backgrounds when Gus Malzahn and Auburn face Hugh Freeze and Ole Miss Saturday.

12. Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee on the message to his team: “The biggest thing we’re preaching to them…is the urgency.”

13. Jackie Sherrill on Texas A&M’s defense: “Lacking depth and experienced players needed, especially up front.”

14. Kevin Scarbinsky on Alabama playing Georgia State: “The best program in college football has no business playing what is quite possibly the worst team in the sport.”

15. Nick Saban on  associate director for player personnel Tyler Siskey’s role in the Ole Miss game: “He wasn’t on the headset, didn’t talk to anybody during the game.” The MrSEC view? Much ado about something that goes on every week.

16. With the 13th worst rushing defense, Kentucky will have its hands full with the South Carolina running game.

17. Mississippi State is in the midst of a stretch of five straight games of 6 p.m. or later kickoffs.

18. Ten Heisman candidates on this watch list.  Four of them are SEC quarterbacks. Three SEC QBs on this list.

Practice/Injury Reports

19. Nick Saban on giving players an extra day’s rest: “Two days rest does 10 times more good than one. It doesn’t do two times more good, it does 10 times more good.”

20. Ole Miss freshman Robert Nkemdiche has a broken finger and wide receiver Donte Moncrief has a sprained shoulder – neither one expected to miss any time.

21. Florida tight end Kent Taylor still battling ankle injury – yet to play this year. Gators cornerback Marcus Roberson and running back Valdez Showers are expected to play this weekend.

SEC Basketball

22. Tennessee guard Jordan McRae added nearly 15 pounds of muscle over the summer.“I can feel that I’ve gotten bigger and stronger.”

23. Kentucky coach John Calipari likes his team. “I went home singing to myself.”

24. Vanderbilt opens practice today with a revamped roster.  Four underclassmen left the program for various reasons.

25. Alabama returns five of the top seven scorers return from last year’s NIT quarterfinal team.


26. Could the Navy-Air Force game be a victim of the federal shutdown?

27. From phenom to flop – the coaching career of Lane Kiffin.

28. “Karma Is A Butch”


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New SEC Drug Policy Push: “Do It For The Athletes”

Urine SampleWe already linked you to this story in today’s headlines, but since we’ve been banging the very same drum for several years now, we thought we’d give it an extra push.

Kevin Scarbinsky of writes today that former Florida tight end Aaron Hernandez — who’s looking more and more like a troubled youth who never had anyone yank him in line — is the poster boy for league-wide drug testing in the SEC.

The same could be said for ex-LSU star Tyrann Mathieu and many others, but Hernandez is certainly a person in the national spotlight at the moment.  Scarbinsky uses his many drug-related issues at Florida to hammer home the point that without a league-wide drug testing policy off the field, some teams are able to improve their chances of winning games on the field:


“Two more words for any SEC coach, administrator or fan who thinks the SEC doesn’t need a league-wide drug policy: competitive advantage.

If one school in the league has a three-strikes-and-you’re-out drug policy, and another requires four failed tests before dismissal, that can give the second school an edge in keeping its best players on the field.”


Of course it can.  But that hasn’t led the SEC’s presidents to OK a league-wide drug policy, despite the fact that the topic keeps coming up at the SEC meetings in Destin each year.  Perhaps if commissioner Mike Slive really wants to push such a plan through he should go the “welfare of the student-athlete” route.

The league’s presidents took a small step toward protecting student-athletes when they went against the league’s football coaches and voted to place a soft cap on the number of signees an SEC program can bring in in a given year.  The league has also pushed for student-athletes to receive full-cost-of-tuition scholarships.

Slive and ADs like Georgia’s Greg McGarity might want to tap into the presidents’ altruism by pointing out that a young man like Hernandez might have been better off if his school or his coach or — with a league-wide plan — the conference office had actually held him more accountable for his actions and delivered a bit more discipline.  If he’d actually learned that his bad actions would carry serious consequences, maybe he would be in a better spot today.

Ask yourself this: Did Urban Meyer’s decision to look the other way time and again with Hernandez help the coach or the player?

Well, Meyer’s making millions and will be spending his fall with yet another potential national championship team.  Hernandez may lose millions in civil suits and he could very well spend some of his fall behind bars.  You do the math.

Yes, the SEC needs a league-wide drug policy as Scarbinsky states today and as we have written once or twice per year since launching this site in 2008.  But if the presidents won’t agree to such a plan for their own sakes, just maybe they would do it for the good of the athletes.  As pollyannaish as that approach sounds, it has actually worked on them once or twice already.

Plus, the league’s presidents would have yet another opportunity to point out just how much they care for their student-athletes… enough to hurt their own sports teams if it means teaching players the difference between right and wrong.  (Please re-read that last line while softly humming the “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”)

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SEC Headlines 6/2/2013

headlines-sun3-150x150SEC Football

1. Arkansas A.D. Jeff Long is not happy with Ohio State president Gordon Gee and his comments regarding Arkansas coach Bret Bielema during his time at Wisconsin.  ”I am deeply troubled by the unfounded and slanderous remarks…”

2. Expect a rematch in Atlanta between Alabama and Georgia if the SEC’s 14 football information directors are right.

3. The SEC’s 2014 schedule expected to be released in the next few weeks: “And no one will be paying closer attention than the league coaches.”

4. Kevin Scarbinsky on Auburn: How long before the Iron Bowl is a game again?

5. Father of Kentucky twins Daron and Zack Blaylock, Mookie Blaylock , upgraded to “serious condition” on Saturday.

6. Stadium capacity at Missouri will be temporarily reduced by about 3,000 due to construction.

SEC/College Basketball

7. Tennesssee A.D. Dave Hart on whether there’s been any contract extension or renegotiation talk regarding coach Cuonzo Martin: “When we think we’re at a point where we have something to say about any of that, we’ll do so at the appropriate time.”

8. Making the case for 13 positions in basketball.

9. “The most significant college basketball program” – UCLA 1964 to 1975.


10. Bernando LaPallo has a new book coming out on his 112th birthday.

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SEC Hoops: Alabama’s Season Ends With One-Point Loss

basketballsMaryland 58 – Alabama 57

1. Alabama’s season ends when Trevor Lacey’s shot at the buzzer missed.  Crimson Tide finish 23-13.

2. Lacey: “I think if I shot it again, I’d probably lean into him and try to draw the foul.”

3. Reason for the miss - the ghost of Jarnell Stokes?

4. Kevin Scarbinsky on Alabama basketball: “Better than it used to be. Not as good as it needs to be.”

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Despite The Talk, Tomorrow’s Not A Must-Win For UK’s Calipari

Fans and media love to overhype things.  We enjoy making grand declarations.  We want definitive answers.  So anytime we can attach the words “once and for all” to something, we do so.

John Calipari has a chance to prove “once and for all” that he’s a great coach tomorrow in New Orleans.  If his Kentucky team defeats Rick Pitino’s Louisville squad — and then wins again on Monday — he’ll be given a key to the Mt. Olympus of college basketball coaches.

If he loses?  Then we’ll know “once and for all” he’s not worth the hype and praise he so often receives.

Folks across the SEC and that nation have been beating that drum all week:

“A loss here not only would be a loss with the best team with a national championship in sight, but a loss to Pitino, of all coaches, at Louisville, of all teams.  It wouldn’t erase what Calipari has accomplished in three years, but it would leave those accomplishments receding quickly.”

– Eric Crawford, The Louisville Courier-Journal

“Bottom line: (Calipari) can’t lose this weekend.  Not Saturday or Monday.  Especially not Saturday.  Not to Rick Pitino.  Calipari has his own aura, but it’s in need of an upgrade that only a national championship can provide…

For all the games he’s won at different program, Calipari doesn’t have any national titles.  It’s time to correct that oversight.  It’s time to win the only game he’s never won.  The one that matters most.  The last one.”

– Kevin Scarbinsky, The Birmingham News

Personally, I like both of those writers’ work.  And I obviously understand where they’re coming from.  As noted above, we as a people love “all the marbles” type games.

But win or lose, Calipari’s career won’t end on Saturday or Monday.  He’ll coach another season.  And then another.  And then another.

We want the race to be run yesterday.  But to quote “Ben Hur,” the race goes on.

Take for example the 2009 Indianapolis Colts.  As they were preparing to face the New Orleans Saints in the Super Bowl, the national ESPN-driven theme of the week went something like this: “If Peyton Manning wins his second Super Bowl he’ll be the best quarterback ever.” 

But what if he’d gone back to the big game five more times and lost them all to finish with a 2-5 Super Bowl mark?  Think folks would still be saying “best ever?”

Ask Tom Brady.  He was 3-0 in Super Bowls and now, having lost two — one in the final minute and one on a failed Hail Mary pass — he’s written off as just another good quarterback. 

But what if Brady reaches five more Super Bowls and wins them all to finish with an 8-2 Super Bowl record? 

Granted, it’s doubtful Manning or Brady — as great as the are — will either one reach five more Super Bowls, but you get the point.

Calipari is in the same boat with Manning, Brady and every other player and coach in the country in this day and age — his last game is the ultimate decider.  Win and he’s legitimized (until he falls short again).  Lose and he’s a joke (unless he goes right back to the Final Four next year and wins a national title).

I get the size and scope of tomorrow’s game from the standpoint of fans in the Commonwealth.  It’s huge.  We’ve said that since Monday.  Another game this is not.  It’s massive. 

But it’s not the final exam for Calipari that we in the media and on the messageboards and on talk radio want to make it out to be.  Until he hangs up his thousand-dollar suits and his coaching whistle for good, he’ll still be writing his legacy.

That means next March many of the same folks talking about his legacy now, will be doing the same thing all over again.

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Dyer’s Status At Auburn Still In Question

There’s a vacuum when it comes to true news on the status of Auburn tailback Mike Dyer.  Last week, a pair of Arkansas State players welcomed him to Jonesboro via social media.  Then Gene Chizik announced that Dyer’s status on the Plains was unchanged suggesting that he was still not currently part of the team — due to indefinite suspension — but was not dismissed from the team, either.

There have been plenty of rumors since, but no hard facts. 

Kevin Scarbinsky of The Birmingham News believes Auburn’s decision to nix Dyer from its bowl media guide and some end o’ the year highlight videos give you a good clue that he may be done with the Tigers.

Chris Bahn of states that there’s been no new information out of the Arkansas State camp.

For now — after talking to several people around the Auburn program — it sounds to us at like more people expect Dyer to be elsewhere in 2012.  And that likely means with Gus Malzahn in Jonesboro.

But even those close to the situation are being tight-lipped.  So until Chizik announces a change, we really can’t do much more than speculate.  Even if everyone seems to be drawing the same conclusions.

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Saban Suggests Bama Is The Ali Of College Football

If you’re looking for a flaw with unbeaten Alabama, occasional slow starts might be the area to investigate.  Here’s why:

* Alabama led Penn State 7-3 until there were 10 minutes to play in the first half.  Final score: 27-11

* Alabama was tied with Arkansas 7-7 until there were five minutes to play in the first half.  Final score: 38-14

* Alabama was tied with Florida 10-10 at the end of the first quarter.  Final score: 38-10.

* Alabama led Vanderbilt 7-0 until the final seconds of the first half.  Final score: 34-0.

* Alabama was tied with Mississippi 7-7 at the end of the first quarter.  Final score: 52-7.

* Alabama was tied with Tennessee 6-6 at the end of the first half.  Final score: 37-6.

Kevin Scarbinsky of The Birmingham News asked Nick Saban yesterday if he had concerns about his team’s slow starts.  Apparently not:

“I guess the expectation is, if you’re Muhammad Ali, you’re gonna knock everybody out in the first round.  I don’t think he did that in every one of his fights.  Sometimes he sparred.”

Scarbinsky said that Saban “downplayed the slow starts and accentuated the strong finishes that have defined his team.”  He also came about as close to bragging on his squad as you’ll ever hear.

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Auburn To The SEC East? If The League Expands West, Then Yes

If the SEC were to expand and add Texas A&M and another member from the Big 12 (Oklahoma or Missouri, for argument’s sake), the big question would be: How will the league divvy up its 14 schools?

The simplest plan — and a plan that we believe would be A-1 on top of Mike Slive’s list of options — is one that Kevin Scarbinsky of The Birmingham News writes of today.

Auburn would move to the SEC East. 

That’s not far-fetched, folks.  There was debate when the SEC split into divisions 19 years ago over the placement of Auburn and Vanderbilt.  Grab a map and you’ll see that Auburn is actually a good bit east of Nashville.

Also — as Scarbinsky points out here – the Tigers have a deeper history with teams in the SEC East than with many of the teams in the SEC West.

Here are the five league schools Auburn has faced most often in football:

1.  Georgia — 114 games (the oldest rivalry in the Deep South)
2.  Mississippi State — 84 games
3.  Florida — 82 games
4.  Alabama — 75 games
5.  Tennessee — 51 games

The Tigers have played Georgia, Florida and Tennessee more than they’ve played Ole Miss, LSU and, obvisously, Arkansas.  For that reason, moving Auburn east would be quicker and less painful than just about any other scenario. 

The Iron Bowl game would become the permanent non-divisional game for both Auburn and Alabama.  And, yes, that could mean two AU-UA games each year if both schools won their divisions.  (Sidenote — If the SEC wanted to preserve the ancient Alabama-Tennessee rivalry, it might consider going back to having two permanent non-divisional rivals for each school.)

Either way, if the SEC adds just two teams and both come from west of the Mississippi River, we at would fully expect the league’s divisions to shakeout as follows:

SEC West
SEC East
Missouri or Oklahoma
Miss. State
S. Carolina
Ole Miss
Texas A&M

As we’ve said time and again, however, we believe we’re still a long way from the SEC announcing any new editions to its roster of schools.

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SEC Headlines – 7/29/11 Part Two

1.  Kevin Scarbinsky does a nice job of explaining how overzealous fans can love their programs to death.  A good read if you’re wondering about the hubbub regarding T-Town Menswear.

2.  Alabama needs to restock its backfield.

3.  Tide hoopsters Ja’Mychal Green and Tony Mitchell are trying to make Team USA for the World University Games.

4.  At Auburn, folks are asking how important returning starters are anyway.

5.  It looks like Arkansas will face Michigan in basketball this season.

6.  This fall, the expectations are high for Razorback players and coaches.

7.  Ole Miss fans can set their preseason football calendar.

8.  Could it be that MSU’s Renardo Sidney is more interested in himself than his team?

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SEC Headlines 5/22/2011

1. 10 questions for Kentucky sports.

2. John Calipari likes his team.

3. Q and A with SEC commissioner Mike Slive.

4. Extending the definition of a scholarship would cost an estimated $2,000 to $5,000 per player.

5. Kevin Scarbinsky on Trevor Lacey: “Alabama didn’t just sign the best player in the state. Alabama signed the best player in the state away from the other SEC school in the state. Alabama signed the best player in the state away from two of the premier programs in the nation.”

6. Mississippi State AD Scott Stricklin doesn’t sound crazy about changing the format of the SEC basketball tournament. More on the possible changes here.

7. The LSU basketball team wins again in Italy.

8. It’s time for the Tigers to honor former coach Dale Brown.

9. A lot of SEC coaches were stalking the sidelines at an Alabama high school spring game.

10. A late bonus for the Ole Miss defensive backfield.


11. College coaches are sounding the alarms about street agents.

12. Former Florida Gator Joakim Noah has become a mentally tough pro player.

13. Ways to radically reinvigorate the game of golf.

14. Drake wins a college football game in Africa.

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