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Despite Loss To Ga. Southern, Muschamp Expected Back In 2014

will-muschamp-huh-faceAccording to The Orlando Sentinel, anyone hoping an embarrassing loss to Georgia Southern… of the FCS… in the Swamp… would lead to Will Muschamp’s ouster can forget it.  Athletic director Jeremy Foley still stands by his endorsement of the embattled third-year coach, according to Florida senior administrator Steve McClain.

The Gators continue to rack up the injuries, losing more bodies during Saturday’s upset.  They’ve now lost six straight games.  They won’t be going bowling.  And the offense — with a third-string quarterbacks running it — looks completely impotent.

But…

The Gators are coached by the same man who was SEC Coach of the Year last year.  Ron Zook — that comparison is getting so very old — never approached an 11-win season or a major bowl game.  Which is why Florida is wise not to judge its coach on this year alone.  Heck, take it from Muschamp pal Jimbo Fisher, the coach of Florida State and the man most likely to hand Florida its eighth loss of the year on Saturday:

 

“Will’s a heck of a football coach and a good guy.  You have injuries and things that go on.  You can’t judge a person on one season.  Will’s a heck of a football coach.  He’s a great friend, but he’s a heckuva football coach.  I’ve coached with him.  He does a great job at Florida.  I’ll guarantee you this: They’ll be ready to play when we go down there next week.  I know that.”

 

So you’re saying he’s a heck of a football coach?

Yes, it’s a bit self-serving for Fisher to talk up the Gators and Muschamp before he plays them.  The man’s in a BCS title race and he doesn’t need people talking down his schedule.  But that doesn’t mean he’s wrong about judging a coach on one season alone.

Examples:

 

*  A team goes 6-6 in its regular season and loses to Louisiana-Monroe at home.  The coach?  Alabama’s Nick Saban in 2007.  We know what he’s done since.

*  A coach goes 5-6 and getting crushed by Kentucky 33-0 at home and losing to his team’s three biggest rivals.  The coach?  Georgia’s Vince Dooley in 1977.  Dooley won a national crown three years later.

*  A coach opens the season 0-6 (with losses of 25 to LSU, 32 to Auburn, and 28 to Washington State) before finishing 5-6.  The coach?  Tennessee’s Johnny Majors in 1988.  Majors went 29-6-2 and won two SEC titles over the next three seasons.

 

Good coaches can suffer through bad seasons and bad breaks.  The book on Muschamp suggests there is a high side to ability.  This season — Gators fans must hope — would be the low side.  But Florida is wise to give Muschamp one more year to make that point clear.  Even after Saturday’s miserable defeat.

Hiring a four new coaches in a 13-year span is no way to build a stable, successful football program.

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Wallace To Become AU’s Third Starting QB This Season

Auburn is just an overtime win over Louisiana-Monroe from being 0-8 on the season.  Original starting quarterback Kiehl Frazier is dealing with a bum shoulder, though he’ll be listed as the Tigers backup on Saturday.  The Tigers’ second starting quarterback of the season — Clint Moseley — is questionable with an ankle injury sustained last week.

So why not go to freshman quarterback Jonathan Wallace as AU’s third starting signal-caller of the season?  And that’s just what Gene Chizik says he’s going to do Saturday against New Mexico State:

 

“I think a lot of it is really just going back and reviewing how he played Saturday.  I think that was big.  It was the first time that he got an opportunity to do more than the initial role that we had planned for him in some of the Wildcat stuff with a couple of throws off of that.  We threw him in.  And, again, he’s in every meeting, he’s at every practice, and he works them.  When you watch him execute in a game with more than his role in a game as we put him in there, we just felt like he did well. I think that merited a chance to give him a starting nod.

I hate to use the word surprised, because that makes you think that I think he couldn’t do it.  I thought he was extremely poised under pressure.  I thought he made some throw under pressure that were really, really good. I thought that just handling some of the calls out there that he’s definitely had reps at, but not near enough reps that a starter would, I thought it was really impressive.”

 

Wallace was completed six passes in nine attempts for 122 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s 63-21 loss to Texas A&M.  He also rushed 13 times for 71 yards, but it should be noted that the Aggies were using quite a few backups as the game wore on.

Still, what’s Chizik got to lose at this point?  His job’s probably already beyond saving.

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AU’s McNeal Craps All Over Ex-Coordinator Roof

Fresh off a good defensive showing against LSU — you could argue it was Auburn’s first good defensive showing of the year — at least one Tiger is ready to roar.  Safety Demetruce McNeal gave credit to new defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder for AU’s surprisingly play on Saturday while simultaneously throwing his ex-coordinator, Ted Roof, under the bus for last year’s defense:

 

“Last year we weren’t coached very well.  We weren’t as smart as players as we are this year with a change on defense.  Last year, we put on kind of a clown show, a lot of guys not doing their work and not going their job.  This year we just detailed our work.”

 

McNeal failed to explain why Auburn’s defense tackled like clowns against Clemson, Mississippi State and Louisiana-Monroe earlier this month… with Roof way up north at Penn State for all those games.  Perhaps it took three games for VanGorder’s defense to click and the Tigers have now turned a corner of sorts.  Or perhaps Auburn simply played with emotion and inspiration due to the death on Saturday of 23-year-old student-assistant Joe Bagwell.

Either way, McNeal’s shots at Roof are about as rough as you’ll hear — on the record — from a player regarding one of his ex-coaches.  Of course, McNeal’s comments also reveal that last year’s Tigers were incapable of “doing their work” without someone forcing them to do it.  That doesn’t say much for McNeal or his 2011 teammates, either.

UPDATE — Gene Chizik was asked if his team knew of Bagwell’s death before or during Saturday’s contest and he replied: “Not that I’m aware of.”

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Hogs’ Smith (In Deep Debt) Explains “Smile!” Stunt

Earlier this week, embattled interim Arkansas coach John L. Smith held a press conference and threatened not to speak to the media until they smiled.  The video went viral.  (What doesn’t these days?  At least Smith didn’t go Gangnam Style on everyone.)

Last night, the coach tried to explain his comments on his weekly radio show.  ArkansasNews.com provides a transcript and some addition commentary at their site.  Here’s the meat of Smith’s explanation:

 

“We talk to our football team and our players all the time about body language.  And what does your body language portray.  If you have negative language it’s going to exude nothing but defeat.  In fact, I met with one of our players right afterward and said you know you’re walking off the field with your head down and your chin on the floor.  That exudes nothing but defeat.  But the alternative is to be positive.  To throw your shoulders back, to look up, to maybe smile once in awhile and exude a little positive body language.  And then that will exude the opposite: Winning.  OK?  How do you get anything accomplished in life if you’re negative?

So I walk in, the media, you know that’s kind of like walking in and addressing my football team.  You look … What is going on?  Everybody’s head is down.  It’s like we’re crying.  These guys (referring to his players) will tell you, I’ll say, ‘Hey, turn, sit up, pay attention.  Put a smile on your face.  We’re going to get something accomplished.’  And that’s what I would’ve told you guys (again referring to players).  So that’s kind of what happened.  I walked in there and, my goodness, I’ve never felt so much negativity coming at me in a long, long time.  So I said, ‘Hey, put a smile on your face. Let’s go get something accomplished. Let’s get better.’  You know?

And if somebody in the media or the fans out there would ever misconstrue that as not being serious about the game … then they don’t know us very well do they?  That’s our life.  Football is our life.  And coaching these young men is our life.  And winning is our life.  So to misconstrue trying to be positive, trying to exude a little positive energy to not caring or not being serious, whoever they are, those people are sadly, sadly mistaken.  And I apologize if that’s the way it came across.

In athletics, what do we teach our guys?  Don’t show pain.  Right?  Why would you show that they’ve hurt you?  Right?  So why would I walk into a press conference and say, ‘Nick Saban just ripped my heart out?’  Even though you feel that you’re not going to say that.  You’re not going to act like that.  You’re not going to show that.  So, yeah, again, you want to be positive.  You want to teach your guys how to handle it.  And that’s what we teach in athletics is don’t let them know that they’ve hurt you. Right? So we’re not going to cry.  We’re going to get up.  And we’re going to bounce back and we’re going to carry on.  And we’re going to get better.  And that’s the way we are.”

 

Personally, I feel sorry for Smith.  Yes, he bailed on his alma mater and screwed over the players at Weber State just so he could rush back to Arkansas, but the man — according to court documents – owes $25 million in various debts and has only about $800 in his pocket/bank account thanks to some bad real estate deals a decade ago.  Who wants that kind of news to flashed across the country?

Worse, the fact that Arkansas fans actually felt he was walking into a ready-made BCS title-contender meant that what he was really walking into was a no-win situation.  Arkansas wasn’t going to beat Alabama or LSU this season even with Bobby Petrino as coach.  The Razorback defense just isn’t good enough and it hasn’t been championship-caliber under the ex-coach, either.  Now, Petrino might have had a backup ready to roll had Tyler Wilson gone down — as he did on Smith’s watch — against Louisiana-Monroe.  I’ll give ya that one.  But still the Razorbacks have been living out a nightmare since the spring and Smith just walked into it.  He didn’t cause it.

There’s no denying the season’s gone sour — at least for now — but Smith is catching too much of the blame for that.  Even though “Smile!” type press conferences make him an easy target.  Hey, look, I may feel a bit sorry for him, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a goofball.  He is.  He always has been.  Arkansas AD Jeff Long knew that when he brought him back.  So did the other assistants on the staff who supported that move.

Right now, the best thing for Smith, Arkansas and shell-shocked Hog fans would be to get Wilson back.  While the quarterback has been practicing and the team is optimistic he’ll be cleared to play against Rutgers on Saturday, that hasn’t happened yet.  Wilson’s return would almost certainly kickstart a sputtering Hog offense and that should be enough to get past the Scarlet Knights.  And stopping the bleeding is the first goal.  Only then can the Hogs begin work repairing their entire season.

Oh, but if Wilson doesn’t play and Arkansas somehow finds a way to lose?  Poor, poor Smith.  (Two poors… one literal, one figurative.)

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Wow Saturday Schedule 9/15/2012

Saturday SEC Football Finals
Auburn 31  - Louisiana Monroe 28 (OT)
Vanderbilt 58 – Presbyterian 0
Alabama 52 – Arkansas 0
Texas A&M 48 – SMU 3
Florida 37 – Tennessee 20
Mississippi State 30 – Troy 24
Missouri 24 – Arizona State 20
Western Kentucky 32-  Kentucky 31  (OT)
South Carolina 49 – UAB 6
Georgia 56 – Florida Atlantic 20
LSU 63- Idaho 14
Texas 66 – Ole Miss 31

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Wilson Not Cleared For Hogs, Won’t Play Versus Tide

Apparently that’s that.

According to local radio and TV reports from Fayetteville, Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson has not been cleared by doctors and will not play tomorrow against top-ranked Alabama.  Wilson suffered a concussion last Saturday.  He also suffered a concussion last year.  (Don’t think NFL GMs won’t consider that next April.)

That’s a tough break for Wilson, a tough break for the Razorbacks, and a really tough break for John L. Smith.  If the loss to Louisiana-Monroe didn’t guarantee his departure from Fayetteville at year’s end, what’s likely to occur when Arkansas starts a backup against Bama probably will.

Brandon Allen went 6-of-20 for 85 yards with a TD and an interception when he was thrown in against Louisiana-Monroe last weekend.  As ULM proved, anything’s possible… but if Arkansas upsets the Crimson Tide with a backup quarterback, it’ll go down in the Hog history books.

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SEC Headlines – 9/14/12

SEC WEST

1.  Nick Saban and Alabama are getting separation between themselves and other programs.

2.  Bama hasn’t trailed in regulation time in eight games and its last three foes each had less than 10 offensive snaps on the Tide’s side of the 50.  Wow.

3.  Gene Chizik says he’s had “several meetings and several heart-to-hearts about growing up” with struggling Auburn QB Kiehl Frazier.

4.  Arkansas John L. Smith says Bama’s offense is not “going to be as hard as preparing for some other people because… they’re not going to fool you with variety.”

5.  Hog backup QB Brandon Allen says he grew up a lot in last week’s loss to Louisiana-Monroe.

6.  Assuming LSU takes care of business with Idaho, two pretty big records will fall tomorrow in Baton Rouge.

7.  Tiger punter Brad Wing says he really wants to win the Ray Guy Award.

8.  Byron De’Vinner keeps right on talking, but for Mississippi State “it only matters what he’s told the NCAA.”

9.  Why will MSU travel to Troy on Saturday?  In the words of Navin R. Johnson, it’s a profit deal.

10.  Ex-Bulldog defensive coordinator Manny Diaz will be heading up Texas’ D when the Longhorns visit Ole Miss.

11.  Winning has made football fun again in Oxford.  (Ya don’t say.)

12.  Kevin Sumlin gave Texas A&M tailback Christine Michael just two second-half carries last week “based on health history.”

13.  An SMU beatwriter says the Aggies should beat their old rivals “by a couple of touchdowns” tomorrow.

 

SEC EAST

14.  The last time Florida lost to Tennessee, gas cost just $2.10 a gallon.

15.  The Gator/Vol rivalry is “gaining traction again.”

16.  Instead of 0-2 like last year, Georgia has started this season 2-0, but Mark Richt says the Dawgs have “got to keep fighting for our lives because it’s such a fine line between winning and losing.”

17.  Scheduling Florida Atlantic makes fiscal sense for UGA and FAU.  (Too bad it’s a “who cares?” game.)

18.  Turnover-prone Western Kentucky might be just what Kentucky’s defense needs.

19.  Andre Woodson believes Maxwell Smith will “be one of the best quarterbacks ever to come through” UK.

20.  Connor Shaw “hasn’t quite been 100%” and now Steve Spurrier says he’ll make a decision about which signal-caller to play tomorrow night.

21.  When it comes to linebacker Shaq Wilson, the Gamecocks “feed off his energy.”

22.  Juco nose tackle Daniel McCullers says Tennessee is “going to be ready” for Florida power running game.

23.  Writer: “With the season-ending loss to Kentucky last November, Rocky Top hit rock bottom.  On Saturday, we’ll see just how far the Vols have rebounded.”

24.  Vanderbilt’s James Franklin says his team’s got to get back to what it did a year ago — “which is fight… focus on the details… have a chip on our shoulder.”

25.  The Commodores passing game has been dodgy in 2012… but the run game’s been “almost non-existent.”

26.  Is there any chance Missouri will look past Arizona State to South Carolina?

27.  The Tigers’ banged-up O-linemen are dealing with position changes.

28.  Interesting note: Last week’s Mizzou-Georgia game did better TV ratings in Atlanta (no shock) and Kansas City than it did in St. Louis.  (But it was still the highest-rated ESPN college football game ever in the Gateway City.)

 

SEC/COLLEGE FOOTBALL

29.  Tons of game picks from CBSSports.com’s Bruce Feldman can be found right here.

30.  Get ready for legal haggling as the Big East suggests Notre Dame will have to negotiate itself out of the league. (Kinda like half the other teams in the league have done.)

31.  Fox’s Erin Andrews wants to know how close Tennessee is to being “back.”

32.  How dirty is recruiting in Memphis?  Dirty enough that it feels like old times.

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Wilson Misses Practice, Hogs To Make Decision Today About QB

A day after returning to practice and impressing teammate Chris Smith — “… his throws were sharp and everything like that, so he’s going to be ready to go Saturday” – Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson missed yesterday’s session.  Asked why his star couldn’t go on Thursday, interim coach John L. Smith simply said: “He was busy.”

The coach also told ArkansasNews.com that Wilson had not suffered a setback from the concussion-like symptoms he experienced after taking a hit to the head last weekend against Louisiana-Monroe.  So that much is positive.

So where do things stand for tomorrow’s game against #1 Alabama?

“I’ve got no answers,” Smith said.  “Nothing for you today.”  He then said “a decision has to be made” and suggested Wilson would need to be cleared by this morning at the latest if he’s to play tomorrow.

Backup QBs Brandon Allen and Brandon Mitchell have gotten plenty of reps in practice this week should Wilson’s return to action be delayed by doctors.

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Hogs’ QB Wilson Still Not Cleared For Bama; CB Mitchel Definitely Out

Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson was on the practice field yesterday after suffering a head injury and concussion-like symptoms against Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday.  According to teammate Chris Smith, “Tyler looked good today… his throws were sharp and everything like that, so he’s going to be ready to go Saturday.”

Not so fast.  Head coach John L. Smith admitted that Wilson was “out there on the field today, leading like he should,” but he would not say that his star QB has been cleared to play.  “That decision has not been made yet and it’s not in my hands,” the coach said.  “I’m keeping my fingers crossed.”

He needs to keep his fingers crossed.  Arkansas’ offense went belly-up when Wilson left last weekend’s game.  And that was against Louisiana-Monroe, not Nick Saban’s defense.

Meanwhile, another player who suffered an “above the shoulders” injury last Saturday will definitely not play against the Tide.  Starting cornerback Tevin Mitchel has had his gall bladder removed.  That surgery was “completely unrelated” to injury that left him lying motionless on the field against the Warhawks.  Mitchel spent the weekend in a Little Rock hospital.

Without Mitchel, Arkansas will play senior corners Kaeloon Kelleybrew and Darius Winston.  Freshman Jared Collins might lose his redshirt and see some action as well.

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SEC Headlines 9/12/2012

SEC East

1. What about Georgia’s Jarvis Jones for the Heisman?

2. Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease likes the progress that quarterback Jeff Driskel is making: “OK, the kid’s growing up.”

3. Pease on running back Mike Gillislee – the SEC’s leading rusher. “I knew in the spring, this kid’s got something.”

4. Is the Tennessee-Florida game reclaiming its spot as a premier rivalry?

5. In the history of Tennessee football, only two players have caught 17 passes in the first two games.  Justin Hunter is one of them.

6. Derek Dooley on quarterback Tyler Bray: “I wouldn’t trade him.”

7. What does Kentucky look for in its offensive lineman? “We know we’re not the strongest offensive line; we’re not the fastest, but we’re going to be the smartest.”

8. From one Kentucky quarterback to another – Andre Woodson on Max Smith: “I think he’ll be one of the best quarterbacks to ever come through this university.”

9. South Carolina safety D.J. Swearinger emphasizes film study of early games.  “You just get to see the little things that you need to work on.”

10. UAB’s coach has Steve Spurrier concerned.  Garrick McGee was Arkansas’ offensive coordinator the past two years.

11. On second thought, after reviewing the tape, maybe Mizzou ran the ball against Georgia a little better than thought.

12. Vanderbilt’s opponent Saturday – Presbyterian – is the smallest school in the Football Championship Subdivision.

SEC West

13. Debating the quarterback position at Auburn – just how sore is Clint Moseley’s shoulder? Kiehl Frazier will start against Louisiana-Monroe.

14. Auburn defensive back T’Sharvan Bell: “I wouldn’t say the effort is poor, but I’m not going to say that we’re giving a championship effort right now.”

15. Four LSU players – including linebacker Tahj Jones - declared academically ineligible this year. 11 players lost since the start of fall camp.

16. “LSU has so much depth on its defensive line that sometimes a guy can drown in it, then resurface.”

17. Multiplicity – Crimson Tide style.  Alabama used 22 combinations of defensive linemen on 62 plays Saturday.

18. Nick Saban can dish it. Can he take it?

18. When it comes to both Alabama and LSU – “All else is prelude to the main event.”

19. Gary Danielson on the Arkansas offense:  “They’ve got to find some help for Tyler Wilson if he plays or whoever the quarterback is because they’ll kill the next quarterback if they can’t help him.”

20. Razorbacks preparing with Brandon Allen and Brandon Mitchell taking snaps. Allen the likely starter if Wilson can’t go.

21. Texas A&M is pleased with the transition to a 4-3 defense.

22. Mississippi State receivers coach Tim Brewster on Chad Bumphis: “I’ve been around a lot of really good wide receivers, particularly slot guys that are choice options runners, and Chad Bumphis is as good as I’ve been around,”

23. Ole Miss and Oxford are expecting a crush of people for this weekend’s Texas game.  Now about those Matthew McConaughey and Willie Nelson rumors…

Media

24. New book on the SEC includes a chapter on Lane Kiffin’s time in Knoxville.  Anonymous email to AD Mike Hamilton: “I hope you budgeted extra money for defending (NCAA) violations.”

25. Also from the book – “How The SEC Became Goliath” – the Manning Passing Academy helped former Florida quarterback Chris Leak.  Archie Manning phone message to Urban Meyer following the Gators national championship: “How did we do?”

26. Don’t blame the fans for leaving games early – blame the TV networks for their crazy schedules.

27. Sneak peek at the ESPNU documentary on former Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom that premiers September 25th.

SEC/College News

28. Top 20 coaches on the hot seat includes more than one from the SEC.

29. Tennessee in 1998, Florida in 2008, Auburn and Alabama the last two years have a few things in common.  All won national championships – all led the SEC in rushing.

30. Mark Bradley: “Well, it’s official. The ACC is bigger than the SEC.” Who could the ACC add to make it 16?

31. Eight surprising 2-0 teams in college football.

 

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