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Sources: The Big Ten Did Expansion “Homework” On Vanderbilt, Kansas & Oklahoma

vandy-university-logoWhen the smoke cleared following the ACC’s announcement of its new grant of rights agreement, we mentioned that there still be some talk of the Big Ten chasing an SEC team like Kentucky, Missouri or Vanderbilt.  According to The Omaha World-Herald, at least one of those schools was researched by Jim Delany and crew.

Citing sources “from conference offices and major college athletic departments,” The World-Herald’s Lee Barkfknecht says there are a lot of folks who still don’t believe a grant of rights is any more powerful than a regular ol’ exit fee.  He also wrote:


“As a sidenote, two sources have told The World-Herald that the Big Ten has done prior ‘homework’ on Oklahoma, Kansas and Vanderbilt among other schools who might some day be expansion targets.  The Big 12 grant-of-rights deal didn’t stop a look-see for OU and KU.” prediction: The big story that will be written and re-written about all summer long — how ironclad are grants of rights?

For those worried about an SEC defection, don’t bet on one.  The league has no official grant-of-rights contract and it also has no exit fee, but there’s a reason.  No school will walk away from the millions upon millions of dollars the conference’s members stand to make with the new SEC Network and the bundling of the league’s television and digital rights with ESPN.

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Bama And The Bear To Be Honored At Talladega This Weekend

In what’s become an annual tip o’ the cap to college football’s BCS champion, this weekend a NASCAR team will be sporting the colors of the current champ, the Alabama Crimson Tide.  Clint Bowyer’s #15 Toyota — co-sponsored by Aaron’s — will feature a crimson and white color scheme along with the dates of every national title the school claims as it wheels left and then left and then left again around Alabama’s own Talladega Superspeedway.  That’s 14 titles in all, by the way, ’cause Bama refuses to count just the major polls.

More interesting than the Alabama ride — and more likely to bring a tear to a Tide fan’s eye — will be the design on Bowyer’s helmet.  That’s it at left.  And, yes, that’s Paul “Bear” Bryant drawn right onto it.

(We’ll pause here to give Tide fans time to genuflect.)

Interestingly, it’ll be a Kansas fan who’ll be driving the Bama mobile in Sunday’s race.  ”I’m a pretty big KU fan,” Bowyer said.  ”I think everybody knows that.  But the Alabama partnership came along with Aaron’s, and the SEC partnership that they have after they had Alabama on it, and winning the national championship this year.  Certainly (I’m) a KU fan, but respect all athletics and certainly respect what they’ve accomplished in the past years.  It’s going to be fun to the Alabama colors for one day.”

Just wear that helmet with pride, boy.

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Auburn’s Malzahn Still Tied To Kansas Search

Despite telling friends that he would likely be back at Auburn next season, offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn remains a contender or the head coaching job at Kansas.  How serious a candidate he is depends on who’s talking.

A couple of coaching rumor sites report that Malzahn is the frontrunner as KU races to wrap up its search.  But other reports claim Malzahn is just one of many interviewees — along with Northern Illinois’ head coach Dave Doeren and Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst.  Just this morning, some online reports had Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis getting some backing at Kansas.  Ditto ex-South Florida head coach Jim Leavitt. 

Even earlier this week Phillip Fulmer and Houston Nutt were rumored to be candidates and/or interested in the job in Lawrence.

In other words, the Kansas reports are all over the board.  But this much we do know –  a year ago Malzahn turned down advances from Vanderbilt and Maryland.  Is a traditional cellar-dweller in the Big 12 more of a draw than traditional cellar-dwellers in the SEC and ACC?

Perhaps, if you consider the fact that Malzahn’s resume isn’t as sparkly as it was a year ago when he led Auburn’s offense to the top of most statistical categories and earned himself the biggest salary for an assistant in college football.

Maybe this time around the gettin’ is good.

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Moves And Rumored Moves On The SEC’s Coaching Carousel

Here are the latest moves and rumored moves on the SEC’s coaching carousel…

* Arkansas has lost another assistant coach.  As expected, Weber State alum John L. Smith is returning to his alma mater to take over as head coach.  Smith — Arkansas’ special teams coach — is departing just a day after offensive coordinator Garrick McGee was named the head coach at UAB.  McGee will not coach the Hogs in the Cotton Bowl.

The man McGee replaced after the 2009 season — Paul Petrino — will be returning to Arkansas.  Bobby’s younger brother was on the Illinois coaching staff of Ron Zook who was blown up last month.  He’s expected to take his old job as offensive coordinator.

* Tennessee will be shifting quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw over to the receivers position to replace the retiring Charlie Baggett.  This after reports that claimed UT had approached former Vol and current Kentucky receivers coach Tee Martin about Baggett’s position.  Reports from Knoxville indicate the school never offered Martin the job.

Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney will take over the quarterback coaching duties which leaves an open slot for a running backs coach.  Former Memphis coach Larry Porter — who has offers across the South because of his recruiting ties — is believed to be a UT target.  Another target might be former UT player and current South Carolina running backs coach Jay Graham. is reporting that UT special teams coach Eric Russell is expected to take the same position on Mike Leach’s staff at Washington State.  Russell coached with Leach at Texas Tech.

And while we’re on the subject of Tennessee, The Lawrence Journal-World reports that ex-Volunteers head coach Phillip Fulmer is interested in the open Kansas job.  Fulmer has been out of coaching the since 2008.  The former national title-winning coach might like having his name tossed around in connection with vacancies, but we doubt he has a serious interest in KU.

* As we told you this morning, the latest name to be tossed into the mix at Texas A&M is that of Dan Mullen of Mississippi State.  It’s also been reported that A&M officials have already interviewed Larry Fedora — a College Station native who is also a leading candidate at North Carolina — and Kevin Sumlin.

Louisville’s Charlie Strong has also been mentioned in connection with the Aggies’ top job… and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney had his name attached to the gig yesterday.

Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart is also expected to interview with A&M officials at some point — if he hasn’t already.

* New Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze is expected to bring Dave Wommack (defensive coordinator), Tom Allen (linebackers coach), Grant Heard (quarterbacks coach), Chris Kiffin (defensive line coach) and Maurice Harris (tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator) with him from Arkansas State. 

We’ll have more on Freeze’s introduction in Oxford shortly.

* The University of Kentucky student newspaper has reported that co-defensive coordinator Steve Brown will not have his contract renewed when it expires in June.  Joker Phillips’ staff will include only two holdovers from Rich Brooks’ last staff — Randy Sanders (offensive coordinator) and Chuck Smith (linebackers coach).

We mentioned this story over the weekend, too, for those who missed it.

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Fallout From Missouri’s Move Continues

The dust still hasn’t quite settled from Missouri’s weekend move to the Southeastern Conference.  Below are some of the issues still playing out:

The Schedule

A Missouri associate AD said yesterday that the school’s cross-divisional rival is “more than likely to be Texas A&M.”  No newsflash there.

And with an eight-game schedule, that means Arkansas will travel to Columbia — and vice versa — about once every 12 years.

And that’s one of many reasons we continue to tell you what we’ve been saying since last month — The SEC will adopt a nine-game schedule at some point.  It must.

Aside from its schedule, MU will have to make a few other adjustments when it arrives in the SEC.

The Border War

Missouri’s departure from the Big 12 has upset Kansas officials, the other party in the more than a century old Border War rivalry.  On Sunday, the school’s public affairs office tweeted this childish response to MU’s decision: “Missouri forfeits a century-old rivalry.  We win.”

Well, not in the court of public opinion.  As has been said of Texas regarding their refusal to play Texas A&M post-move, the Jayhawks are not taking heat from outsiders who realize KU and MU could easily keep their rivalry alive.  MU is being blasted for departing Kansas City, but it’s Kansas that actually seems intent upon ending the annual showdown which has most recently been played in that city.

Many Kansas fans say — like basketball coach Bill Self – that they “don’t give a flip” about playing Missouri now.  If that’s the case, then Missouri — like A&M — should continue to make themselves available for the game which should continue to make KU — like Texas — look pretty childish.

And for a man who doesn’t give a flip, Self sounds like a man whose been scorned as he takes shots at Mizzou.  “There’s no ill feeling about them leaving but this isn’t Oklahoma or Texas leaving either, a school that could break the league up.  I’m happy with our league.”

Perhaps it’s time for MU officials to send their own childish tweet towards Lawrence, Kansas: “Glad you’re happy.  Enjoy the Big 12 (until the new media right deal runs out).”

West Virginia

Regarding the speed of Missouri’s departure from the Big 12, there’s a belief that West Virginia could help matters by escaping the Big East pronto.

But the Big East — which filed a countersuit against WVU last week — says that the withdrawal letter sent by the school to the league was not a proper withdrawal method.

In other words, WVU’s battle to leave the Big East might rage on for a while.

Gary Pinkel

Missouri’s head coach isn’t talking much about his school’s move to the SEC.  Instead, he’s keeping his eye on Texas and his Tigers’ last go-round with the Longhorns this weekend.

But he did make one comment: “Our administration has made a decision based on what’s best for the future of the University of Missouri and the state of Missouri to go to the Southeastern Conference.  I fully support it.  It was certainly based on a long-term decision.  As it sorts itself out, we expect it to be a tremendous plus for this university and the state.  We’re excited about that.”

Hurt Feelings

The Kansas City Star seems to be searching more than other Missouri newspapers for Tiger fans angry over the move and for numbers that show MU really wasn’t all that in the first place.

(An unscientific poll at The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s website shows that 65% of 1600+ respondents like Missouri’s move, while 19% don’t and 16% aren’t sure.)

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Big Blue Linkapalooza: Sunday Lick Your Wounds Edition

Content provided by A Sea Of Blue.

Brandon Knight still has a bit of figuring out to do.

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Eugene Tanner – AP

Brandon Knight still has a bit of figuring out to do.

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The Kentucky Wildcats have retreated to their den and begin the process of licking their wounds after being shot up by the Volunteers and mauled by the Huskies.  This has not been a particularly good week to be a fan of Kentucky mens sports.  But there will be others.

Here are a bunch of links to take your mind off the pain:

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Barnhart a KU candidate?

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Is Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart a candidate for the same position at Kansas? The…

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A Pothole On Barhart’s Potential Road To Kansas

As Kentucky athletic director combats rumors that he might be a candidate for the Kansas’ AD job, a contact in Lexington made a pretty good point to me today.

Kansas’ biggest sport is obviously basketball.  Bill Self is KU’s highly successful hoops coach and it’s not too far-fetched to think that he might have some say in KU’s choice of a new athletic director.

Well, you know who is buddies with Self and served as his assistant at one point?  A fellow by the name of Billy Clyde Gillispie.

Admittedly, there’s a lot of air in that mix, but it’s something to keep in mind nonetheless.  Would Self give his okay to the guy who whacked Gillispie?

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Kansas City Star says Barnhart not likely for Kansas

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J. Brady McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports on the Kansas athletic director search.

In it, McCullough writes:

One logical candidate for KU would be Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart, a Mission native who graduated from Shawnee Mission North High School in 1977 and attended college at Ottawa University in Kansas. At Kentucky the last nine years, Barnhart also has experience running a department that has a historically prominent basketball program as its lifeblood.

Evans would not identify who had interviewed for the job. But a source with knowledge of KU’s search told The Star that Barnhart is not likely to land the Kansas job.

“It’d be tough for him to get in there,” the source said. “I wouldn’t spend a lot of time on Mitch Barnhart.”

The source also said that the search committee’s current targets are, like Barnhart, sitting athletic directors with impressive resumes.

(Hat tip WHAS radio.)


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Barnhart a KU candidate?

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Is Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart a candidate for the same position at Kansas? The…

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