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SEC Headlines 6/20/2013

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1. One take on Georgia’s defense: “The optimism from Georgia fans’ about this young defense may have actually reached the point where too much is being expected.”

2. One take on Tennessee: ”The Vols really can’t continue to be as poor as they’ve been over the past five seasons.” Butch Jones new artwork.

3. Is time running out for South Carolina to win an SEC championship?

4. Vanderbilt’s new $31 million practice facility is on schedule and on budget – portion of it will be completed by the end of October.

5. “I think Auburn is going to be a significantly improved football team.” Tigers and seven other SEC teams make the list for having the best offseasons.

6. Former Florida Gator Josh Evans on the Sugar Bowl loss to Louisville: ”People were feeling sorry for themselves they weren’t in the national championship.”

7. One of the top SEC games this fall is Florida vs. Miami.  Enjoy this one because you may not see another one for a while.

8. Can Ole Miss running back Mark Dodson make the leap his freshman year?

SEC/College News

9. Financial situation in Tennessee’s athletic department improving from a four-million dollar deficit to breaking even over the next few years.

10. Tentative verdict reached in the Miami investigation?

11. What changed the game in the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit? When a judge ruled “that current college athletes could join the suit and that athletes could go after a cut of the money the NCAA and the conferences receive for the broadcast rights to college sporting events.”

12. Judge hearing arguments today in the O’Bannon case over whether to certify a class action lawsuit. Wall Street Journal: The NCAA Nears Judgement Day.

13. Lawyers for the plaintiffs say they have proof that video-game avatars resembled college athletes and that the NCAA knew about it.

14. Why not a “dry run” for college football’s playoff committee?

SEC Basketball

15. JUCO transfer Malcolm Canady is one of eight newcomers at Auburn.  Point guard released from Tulane commitment after he didn’t meet academic requirements. Chose Auburn over St. Louis.

16. Keith Hornsby, son of Bruce, is officially an LSU Tiger.  Transferred from North Carolina-Asheville.

17. 22-year old African native Rawane “Pops” Ndiaye hopes to contribute at Tennessee.

18. New Missouri assistant coach Mark Phelps will be expected to recruit for the Tigers.  ”This is going to be a great place to recruit to.”

19. Derek Millinghaus’ game-winning shot against Mizzou in the SEC Tournament “changed the entire perception of the basketball program” at Ole Miss.

20. Kentucky coach John Calipari will be an honorary pace car driver at an upcoming NASCAR event.

Extras

21. Denard Robinson’s cold weather tip for Eddie Lacy: “What I did was put Vaseline on, a lot of Vaseline.”

22. Home of Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops burglarized – vehicle stolen.

23. What’s the latest with Aaron Hernandez?

24. RIP James Gandolfini.  His best non-Sopranos roles.  ”The Sopranos didn’t just change television in its era, it defined greatness for all time.”

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UT’s Jones To Be At NBA Finals Game 7 To Support Heat’s Spoelstra

butch-jones-tennesseeTonight in Miami, Tennessee football coach Butch Jones will be on hand for Game Seven of the NBA Finals between the Heat and Spurs.  If he’s lucky maybe he’ll get to sit next to Johnny Manziel.

Jones and Miami coach Erik Spoelstra struck up a friendship after meeting through their shared agent, Trace Armstrong.  Jones, sounding a bit like someone from an eHarmony ad, had this to say of the pair’s relationship:

 

“We really hit it off.  We started to build a relationship and that trust factor.  We found out we believe in a lot of the same core values and principles about motivating and developing your team from a leadership standpoint.  And then we just kept talking and talking.”

 

Jones sat courtside last year as the Heat captured the NBA crown in five games versus Oklahoma City.  Then he was taken into the locker room for the postgame celebration.  Tonight, he’ll once again be flown into town as a guest of Spoelstra.  If he gets to take part in another locker room celebration this evening he’ll be well on his way to becoming the official good luck charm of the Miami Heat.

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Mizzou, Haith Ready For NCAA Hearing Tomorrow

gfx - they said itTomorrow is finally D-Day for the Missouri basketball program.  More specifically, tomorrow head coach Frank Haith will finally go before the NCAA Committee on Infractions.  The coach has been charged with a failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance and a failure to monitor the activities of his staff while at Miami of Florida.

Once the coach gets his day in court, as it were, the committee will likely take a month to decide on possible penalties, though we believe any punishments will probably be light.  We suspect a very short suspension (three or four games) might be the final verdict.

For Haith it’s simply good to have his case moving forward:

 

“I’m excited about that.  We’re right at the end.  I think that it’s been a tough two years.  I look at any negative and find a positive out of it.  I’ve grown from going through this existence.  I talk to my team about adversity and how to handle it.  Everybody’s going to have some adversity.  This has been something we’ve had to go through for two years.”

 

The length of investigations is one of the most common complaints about the NCAA judicial process.  Unfortunately, that’s a by-product of being short-staffed and having no real subpoena power.  In other words, don’t expect the NCAA to find a way to fast-track investigations moving forward… unless a whole lot of money is earmarked for enforcement department hires.

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Bowl Games In Dublin And Dubai? There Must Be Plenty Of Cash On The Table

dubaiAh, there’s just nothing like Christmas in Dubai.

It should be obvious to all fans these days that big-time college athletics — at least football and men’s basketball — is all about money, cash, bread, loot, simoleons.  For those few remaining dullards who’ve yet to grasp that fact, a news story from ESPN.com’s Brett McMurphy this morning should help pound the message home.

With a new bowl cycle set to begin next season, the five smallest FBS conferences are looking to create their own new bowl games.  That’s because the five largest FBS conferences are planning to play one another in most of the existing bowls.  And where might these new bowls be located?

According to McMurphy, in Miami, Orlando, Little Rock, Boca Raton, Montgomery, Los Angeles, Ireland, Dubai, and either Toronto or Nassau (the Bahamas).

Miami, Orlando and the LA area already have bowls.  Little Rock, Boca Raton and Montgomery aren’t exactly top o’ mind when it comes to holiday football, but if Shreveport can pull it off, why not those three cities?

As for Ireland, Notre Dame played Navy in Dublin last September.  Toronto hosted the International Bowl from 2007 through 2010.  Nassau would be the first Carribean-based bowl since the Bacardi Bowl was last played in Havana in 1946.

Dubai, well, that’s another story.  The city has become a desert playground for millionaires and billionaires.  One would suspect that the people pouring money into the Dubai’s growth are willing to pour a lot of money into a small conference football game if it means three-plus hours worth of advertising on American television.

Granted, there’s something to be said for the life experience the players would gain from traveling abroad for bowl games.  But how many fans will travel to Dublin or Dubai or Nassau?  This is about cash, pure and simple.  The smaller conferences feel themselves being squeezed further and further out of the football picture by the five ever-growing power conferences.

Further proof that a new line of division between the haves and have-nots is imminent.  Further proof that college athletics is all about the Benjamins.

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SEC Headlines – 5/27/13 (Memorial Day Edition)

2008 Memorial Day Poster #2SEC Football

1.  LSU AD Joe Alleva on dumping permanent cross-division rivals: “I think there’s a shot, but I wouldn’t put very good odds on it.”

2.  Tiger coach Les Miles can’t stop crying about having to play Florida.

3.  We know you’re wondering — Who is Ole Miss’ 67th most important player?  Why backup quarterback Maikhail Miller, of course.

4.  Georgia’s Mark Richt says he’s discovered some real talent at previous summer camps… and the dates are set for this year’s UGA camps.

5.  The Dawgs’ fifth most important player for 2013 is linebacker Jordan Jenkins.  (No word on #67.)

6.  South Carolina AD Ray Tanner on why people in Columbia love Steve Spurrier: “He didn’t have to come here, and his intentions are to remain here.”

7.  Tennessee’s Butch Jones has quickly built a solid foundation of support.

8.  This writer believes it’s time for the SEC to go to a nine-game conference schedule.

SEC Basketball

9.  Tennessee has landed a replacement for departing point guard Trae Golden — former Memphis point guard Antonio Barton plans to transfer in and play immediately.

Extras

10.  Congrats to LSU, SEC baseball tournament champions after beating Vanderbilt.

11.  Nevin Shapiro has now admitted to lying on the witness stand during the trial that sent the ex-Miami booster to prison.  Shapiro’s claims about improprieties at Miami are at the heart of the NCAA’s case against the Hurricanes.

12.  New Rutgers AD Julie Hermann — under fire for alleged acts 16 years agogets some backing from former colleagues.

13.  Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson says he’ll be back in school and on the team by 2014.

14.  Cars were damage and 10 fans were injured when a cable for FOX’s overhead camera fell on the track during the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte yesterday.

15.  This Memorial Day, take time to remember the reason for the holiday.

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Wow Headlines 5/26/2013

SEC spring meetings set for this week in Destin, Florida….
Nine-game conference schedule expected to be topic of debate…
Permanent cross-division rivalries also expected to be discussed…
Decling attendance a league concern…
Nine of 14 SEC teams suffered attendance declines in 2012
SEC could move to eight-man officiating crew starting as early as 2014
Noon game-time for Florida-Miami on September 7 has fans upset…
Miami petitioned for later start but was turned down by ESPN
Follow SEC news year-round at MrSEC.com and on Twitter at Twitter.com/MrSEC

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Wow Headlines 5/25/2013

SEC could move to eight-man officiating crew starting as early as 2014
Noon game-time for Florida-Miami on September 7 has fans upset…
Miami petitioned for later start but was turned down by ESPN
Georgia A.D. Greg McGarity on possible nine-game conference schedule…
“At the end of the day, the presidents will decide, like everything else in the conference”
Georgia approves $93 million athletic department budget that includes more than $1 million for improvements at Sanford Stadium
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer on Alabama’s 2012 season: “Should have lost three games”…
Meyer on Florida’s 2008 team: “As good or better than any team to ever play college football”
Vanderbilt’s basketball team will play in Greece and Italy this summer
SEC spring meetings set for next week in Destin, Florida
Follow SEC news year-round at MrSEC.com and on Twitter at Twitter.com/MrSEC

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Ex-Miami Coach Claims SEC Teams Cheat More Than His Canes Did

gfx - they said itMaybe we should call this one a “Who Said It?” instead of a “They Said It.”

Over the weekend, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald included an interesting blurb from an unnamed ex-Miami assistant coach as part of a catch-all blog post.  Miami, of course, is under NCAA fire thanks to the accusations of former booster — and current prison inmate — Nevin Shapiro.

According to Jackson:

 

“One former UM coach accused of wrongdoings complained privately that what the ex-UM coaches allegedly did paled in comparison to unreported violations committed in the SEC.”

 

That’s it.  End of blurb.

While it’s short, you can be sure Mike Slive isn’t happy to read it.  Slive worked hard to improve the image of the Southeastern Conference upon his arrival and for a while his efforts seemed to be working.  But then came a textbook scandal at Alabama, John Calipari brought his reputation to Kentucky (whether his reputation is deserved or not), Lane Kiffin and Bruce Pearl drew NCAA attention at Tennessee, and Auburn, well, pick a scandal.

So the SEC’s reputation is once again that of a shady league.  Winning seven consecutive BCS crowns has also led jealous folks from other region to conclude that school’s Down South must be cheating.

But in this case, who is the coach who made the above claim to Jackson.  If the person is current Missouri hoops coach Frank Haith that would be a story.  But I think we can all agree is probably not Haith.

Did the coach making the claim have any evidence of wrongdoing in the SEC?  Had he himself coached in the league and seen illegal activities firsthand?

Until we know who was talking to Jackson — and it’s likely we never will — it’s impossible to take such a claim seriously.  From here it sounds like the same ol’ types of cries we often hear from schools’ supporters whenever the NCAA comes snooping around their favorite campus: “But other schools do a lot worse than what we’ve done!”

Yeah, yeah.  Tell it to the judge.

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Linebacker Thomas Wants Release From FSU

Florida State linebacker signee Matthew Thomas from Booker T. Washington High School in Miami is seeking a release from his national letter of intent.

Thomas, ranked the nation’s No. 2 outside linebacker in the 2013 class by Rivals, signed with Florida State on Feb. 6. He had originally planned to sign with Southern California but ultimately chose Florida State after his mother refused to sign off on USC.

“We couldn’t agree, but it’s my mom, I just did what I had to do,” Thomas told Noles247.com at the time.

Thomas has since changed his mind. He told the Miami Herald he recently informed Florida State’s coaching staff that he would like a release so he can sign with Georgia or USC.

Thomas said Florida State’s coaches don’t want to release him and plan to visit Miami soon to try to convince him to stick with the Seminoles. If Thomas chooses to attend another school without a release from Florida State, he would have to sit out one full academic year that would count against his five-year window of eligibility.

Thomas told the Herald he wants out of his letter of intent because he prefers to attend a college outside the state of Florida.

“I’ve been in Miami all my life,” he said. “Georgia needs linebackers. It’s a big program. I have family in Georgia. USC, growing up I never thought I would have an opportunity that big. I just want to go have fun and play football.”

Thomas’ situation is the reason I wrote last week that high-profile players should avoid signing a national letter of intent. The letter does very little to help athletes while providing all the power to schools.

A school isn’t even required to guarantee the athlete a spot on the team when he signs the letter of intent. It just agrees to provide financial aid to the athlete.

Thomas could have signed a financial aid agreement with Florida State while leaving himself the flexibility to attend another school. Instead, his future is in the hands of coaches who have the authority to penalize him if he doesn’t attend Florida State.

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MU’s Haith Wants To Know How The NCAA Got His Bank Records

Image: Miami Hurricanes head coach Frank Haith watches his team play the North Carolina Tar Heels during their NCAA men's basketball game at the 2011 ACC Tournament in GreensboroEarlier this year the NCAA admitted it had crossed some of its own lines in gathering information against the University of Miami athletic department.  Now a former Miami coach at the center of that investigation wants to know if the NCAA crossed some legal lines while digging into his bank account.

The attorney for Missouri basketball coach Frank Haith filed a petition in court today in an attempt to determine how the NCAA was able to access detailed bank records.  CBSSports.com’s Dennis Dodd reports that Michael Buckner “is trying to determine whether information from canceled checks in the coach’s account were improperly — and possibly illegally — obtained.”

Uh-oh.

The gist of the case is as follows:

 

*  Haith provided the NCAA with a specific number of bank records as investigators tried to determine if he had passed money along to former Hurricanes booster Nevin Shapiro for his help in recruiting a prospect.

*  Additional information could have been obtained improperly by accessing the microfiche reproductions of Haith’s checks, which were not turned over to the NCAA by Haith.

*  Bank of America employees could be served with subpoenas to see if they turned over the additional information to the NCAA.

*  A judge will have to grant the petition before the subpoenas could go out.

 

According to the petition:

 

“Bank of America may have permitted or allowed an unknown person or person to gain access to, or to acquire, non-public information into (Haith’s) Checking Account without authorization.”

 

If that’s true it would be a black eye for Bank of America and yet another black eye for the NCAA… which would have once again gone too far in trying to track down information on Miami and its coaches.

Haith has been charged by the NCAA with failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance while coaching at Miami.  He just finished his second season at Missouri.

Even if the charges against Haith stand, it’s unlikely he’ll be hit with any serious, long-lasting sanctions.

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