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Good News For Vandy: Sarkisian Takes The USC Job

sarkFirst, he said he’d spoken with Southern Cal AD Pat Haden about the Trojans’ job.  Then he said he hadn’t interviewed at all.  Now he’s the new head coach at USC.

Good to see the Trojans have found another honest guy to replace Lane Kiffin.

With Steve Sarkisian agreeing to leave Washington for Southern Cal, Vanderbilt fans can breathe a sigh of relief.  James Franklin won’t be leaving Nashville for Los Angeles.


There’s now an opening at Washington.  And there will be more openings in the coming days.  Franklin — with the fine work he’s done at Vandy — will probably have his name attached to every single one of them.  That doesn’t mean he’s leaving, but it does mean Commodore fans still have to worry about that possibility.


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Williams Ready To Announce Decision

Running back David Williams from Philadelphia will announce his decision on Jan. 4 during the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl in Los Angeles.

Williams is considering South Carolina, Arizona State, Miami and Penn State.

South Carolina has continued to lead for the services of Williams thanks in large part to the recruiting of head coach Steve Spurrier and quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus.

“When I went down there I was impressed with the facilities and the area down there,” Williams told ESPN RecruitingNation. “Also, I got a great relationship with Coach Mangus and also talk to Coach Spurrier every two weeks.”

Williams told ESPN he will only visit South Carolina (Jan. 18) if he chooses the Gamecocks.

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UT’s Jones Tries To Coax Favorite Son Martin Back To Knoxville

You can call it the first major recruiting pitch of new coach Butch Jones’ career at Tennessee.  Yesterday he spent the day wooing ex-Vol quarterback Tee Martin back to Knoxville.

But while many folks always believe any alum would kills for a chance to return to his old school as a coach, the reality is a little different.  For fans, of course a player would return.  For players-turned-coaches, there are little things like money, family happiness, and upward mobility that weight into the decision.

Perhaps that’s why Martin — who led UT to the 1998 BCS championship as quarterback — spent the day in Knoxville yesterday and then scrambled back to Los Angeles and his job as Southern Cal’s receivers coach this morning without giving Jones or his old school an answer.  Martin was on the Kentucky staff that snapped a long losing streak to Tennessee.  He then went to work with Lane Kiffin, one of the most hated sports figures in the history of the Volunteer State.  In case you haven’t been keeping up, sentimentality doesn’t appear to rank too high on Martin’s list of reasons to accept/decline a job.

“Things went really good,” Martin told The Knoxville News Sentinel.  “I had an opportunity to meet the staff and see everything that’s changed (on campus).  I could tell they were headed in the right direction…

“We’ll see what happens.  Today was more about getting to know each other… It’s about making this decision for the right reason.”

The ex-QB also told (paywall) — the Rivals site covering Tennessee — that he was going back to California to “talk with Lane and then make my decision.”

So is Martin heading back to Southern Cal’s campus to tell Kiffin bye-bye in a face-to-face meeting?  Is he trying to convince his singer wife Toya to move from LA to Knoxville?  Or is he just using Tennessee’s offer to get a raise in California?

Whatever Martin’s motivations, this should show fans of all schools that there’s more to accepting a job than just spending four college years on a school’s campus.  For an assistant it’s a career move, a business decision.  Even for an alum.  Even if his blood runs (insert school color here).


UPDATE – Multiple reports from Knoxville are claiming Martin has rebuffed Tennessee’s offer. Martin: “I made a commitment to my players at USC.”

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Ramsey Plans To Return To Southern Cal

It’s been less than two weeks since Jalen Ramsey traveled from Nashville, Tenn., to Los Angeles to see the Southern California campus.

But that won’t keep the athlete from Brentwood Academy from making a return trip to USC on Monday to take part in the Rising Stars Camp.

Ramsey left his trip to USC earlier this month with the Trojans high on his list.

“The coaching staff was just great,” Ramsey told Rivals. “We really connected and we had a great time. The tradition at USC is just amazing. The academic part is something that didn’t shock me but it exceeded my expectations. I just really had a great time. USC is definitely one of my top schools right now.”

Could Ramsey commit to USC during his upcoming trip? He wouldn’t discuss that during his interview with Rivals, but the Trojans appear to have the upper hand in his recruitment.

“There’s nothing I didn’t like about USC,” said Ramsey, who’s considered the No. 1 prospect in Tennessee by Rivals. “It was all great to me.”

Vanderbilt is still in the race for Ramsey, who also has Auburn, Tennessee and Washington on his list.

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SEC Recruiting Headlines – 12/20/11

1. Florida has gone to the junior college ranks to find immediate help on the offensive line.

2. Defensive end Jonathan Bullard has decided to hold off on his college announcement.

3. Here’s a look at the recruiting efforts at Ole Miss under new head coach Hugh Freeze.

4. There’s more “Dream Team” talk in Athens again as Georgia’s 2012 class gains momentum.

5. Bryan Fischer of has a list of 2012 prospects who are on the way up and down.

6. Several schools remain in the mix for 2013 quarterback prospect Eddie Printz.

7. New UCLA coach Jim More Jr. has returned to Atlanta to steal a recruit for his first class in Los Angeles.

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Carolina Falls On Sword, Self-Imposes Penalties In Response To NCAA

Remember the Whitney!

That will become the battle cry of South Carolina compliance officials following an NCAA investigation into the Gamecock athletic program.  In response to allegations that the school failed to monitor housing arrangements for its athletes — and as a result Columbia’s Whitney Hotel provided some $47,000 in extra benefits (via reduced rent) to 10 football players and two track team members — the school has self-imposed a reduction of six football scholarships over the course of the next three years.

The school also will dissociate itself from three boosters, including two from the Student Athlete Mentoring Foundation who provided extra benefits worth more than $8,000 to Gamecock athletes.

In its letter of response, USC basically admits that all of the “major and serious” violations it was charged with did occur.  The school also will pay a fine of $18,500 for four football player who played while ineligible in 2009.  In addition, the school’s former head of compliance has been demoted.

Despite falling on their swords, South Carolina officials will still have to appear before the NCAA’s committee on infractions.  That group includes president Harris Pastides, AD Eric Hyman, and head football coach Steve Spurrier.  The hearing is set for February in Los Angeles.

According to the school, the former compliance director — Jennifer Stiles — made a “good faith error in judgement” when she approved the athletes’ lease terms. 

Spurrier’s reputation has been a clean one over the years and the fact that others — especially the school’s compliance director — made errors around him shouldn’t do much to sully his name.  In this case, he is not charged with any wrongdoing by the NCAA, in fact.

But still, it’s his program.  And when you’re dealing with compliance officials, 100 athletes, assistant coaches, athletic department staff and various boosters, it’s always dangerous to make comments like these:

“Anyone can poke around our program.  We don’t have anything to hide.  Poke on everything — the hours we practice and train.  They can poke everything we do.  And our compliance people poke, too.”

That’s what Spurrier said when the Whitney story first broke last August.  And as we said at the time, “most schools find that when the NCAA comes around, somebody does indeed get poked.”  Now it’s happened to Spurrier and his on-the-upswing Carolina football program, too.

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Could An AAU Basketball Slush Fund Bring Down Richt?

For years, Mark Richt has been known as the “good guy” of the SEC.  He’s respected by his peers.  He’s won a whole lot more than he’s lost.  He’s represented his school well.

But now he sits on a hot seat coming off the first losing season of his tenure.  It’s a win or else type of year for the Bulldogs’ coach.  And the actions of a pair of parks and recreation officials could lead to end of the coaches’ reign.

Here’s how:

* Tony Adams and Herman Porter work for the city of Columbus, Georgia’s Parks and Recreation Department. 

* A police investigation has found that they used an unauthorized bank account to pay for Jarvis Jones — a local football star who had also played on the local Georgia Blazers AAU club — to fly to Los Angeles after he signed with Southern California’s football team in February of 2009.

* The four flights back and forth between Atlanta and Los Angeles cost $828.40.

* AAU athletes can have their room, meals, and legitimate team-oriented travel costs covered, but they aren’t allowed such things as personal airline tickets.

* Jones — who has since transferred to Georgia and is expected to land a starting outside linebacker job — must now wait to see what the NCAA says about his eligibility.

* If, like Georgia receiver AJ Green last year, Jones is forced to sit for a few games — let’s say two — he will miss two of UGA’s most important games: Boise State and South Carolina.

* If Jones misses those games, there’s no reason to believe Georgia can’t replace him.  However, given the team’s psychological funk following the Green suspension, there’s also no reason to dismiss the possibility that UGA could once again get a case of the early-season blahs.

* If the Dawgs lose one or both of those early games, many fans will be woofing for Richt’s head.  And who knows how his team would respond to such a loud distraction as that?

That’s a lot of ifs to be sure. 

But given what UGA went through last year without Green — who was admittedly a much bigger impact player than Jones — it’s not too far-fetched to say that an illegal AAU basketball slush fund back in 2009 might make Richt’s 2011 campaign just a little bit tougher.

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SEC Headlines – 6/24/11 Part One

We’re going to have lots of headlines today due to an unavoidable doctor’s appointment for yours truly.  And believe me, I’d rather be here than at the doctor’s.

That said…

1.  Here’s Athlon’s preseason All-SEC team.

2.  Ex-Gators Chandler Parsons and Vernon Macklin go in the second round of the NBA draft.

3.  The impending NBA lockout could hurt the chances of Alex Tyus and other undrafted players.

4.  Florida’s Patric Young has made Team USA’s U19 team.

5.  Barring trades and cuts, Travis Leslie and Trey Thompkins will be teammates again in Los Angeles.

6.  Enjoy 101 reasons to be a Georgia fan.
7.  Here’s a look at Kentucky’s football team… from a Florida perspective.

8.  The Cats had four players drafted into the NBA last night (making nine in two years under John Calipari).

9.  Coach Cal calls that “The Kentucky Effect!”

10.  UK officials are changing Rupp Arena’s seating plan to create handicapped-accessible space.

11.  Defensive back Victor Hampton still has to “do some things” before being fully reinstated to South Carolina’s football team.

12.  Darrin Horn believes his Gamecock program is on the right path.

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Tailspin, Nosedive, Whatever You Want To Call It… The Vols Are In One

Just eleven days ago, Tennessee basketball was nearing its high point under Bruce Pearl.  The Vols were coming off a road beatdown of #3 Pittsburgh.  they were climbing the national rankings and #1 in the RPI ratings.  Since New Year’s Day arrests on January 1st, 2010, the Vols had gone 25-7 and reached an Elite Eight.

And then…

Three straight losses to unranked foes now have Bruce Pearl and company looking for answers and Vol fans’ holding their stomachs.

“It was a very disappointing loss,” Bruce Pearl said of last night’s 65-64 loss to Southern Cal and former Vol coach Kevin O’Neill.  (O’Neill also beat Tennessee in Los Angeles last year.)  The loss to the Trojans came on the heels of upset losses to Charlotte and tiny Oakland.

Overall, this is just the second three-game losing streak of the Pearl Era at Tennessee.

Up next: A home game with unranked Belmont… a school that has made the NCAA Tournament three times since 2006. 

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