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Ex-Coach Chizik Says AU The “Most Scrutinized” Program, Throws A Jab At MSU, And Is Right In All That He Says

gene-chizik-leatherGene Chizik has apparently had it up to the neck of his favorite leather jacket with allegations of wrongdoing in the Auburn football program during his tenure.  Specifically, it’s clear that now midway through 2013, he’s tired of having to answer questions about what went on way back in 2010:

 

“It’s really just hard to operate day by day with what I consider to be the most scrutinized, and sometimes villainized, program in the country…

What is somewhat of an enigma to me is how back in 2010 what started out as a Mississippi State program, all of a sudden became an Auburn problem.  It never ended.  It went on for 13 or 14 months and then there seemed to be a trail that kept following a lot of accusations, a lot of allegations but I’m looking for facts.  It’s very difficult for the Auburn people, and it’s not fair.”

 

Chizik — who spoke with reporters following a radio interview on WJOX-AM/FM in Birmingham yesterday — is of course referring to the recruitment of Heisman Trophy-winner Cam Newton.  In late-2010 it was determined that his father had asked MSU boosters for cash, only to be rebuffed.  The NCAA and SEC tried to avoid a real pickle — with Auburn sitting on top of the national polls late in the season — by ignoring Newton’s father’s actions.  The NCAA has since closed “the Newton loophole” and ruled that in future years if a parent or guardian acts as an agent, the player will be ruled ineligible whether he knows of the pay-for-play scheme or not.

The problem for Auburn at the time was the assumption by many that if Cecil Newton had asked Mississippi State for cash, he most likely had put his hand out when it came to the folks at Auburn, too.  Just ask Danny Sheridan and his bagman.  Or any number of other people who claimed to have tape recordings of the Newtons talking about cash with other schools.  (Of course, we never did learn the bagman’s name and we never heard any of the alleged tapes.)

Fed up with this continuing saga, Chizik also took a few shots yesterday at the journalists who’ve launched investigations into Auburn:

 

“I’m going to go one step further for all the people that are educated and have common sense.  If you don’t know how the NCAA works, they’re very thorough in their investigations.  Let me make that clear — they’re very thorough in their investigations.  You want me to back that up with fact?  I’ll name ‘em: Miami, Ohio State, North Carolina.  Most recently, Oregon.  USC.  So how could they come into Auburn and leave and find nothing, and that becomes a one-sentence statement after getting drug through the mud for 13 months?  How is that right?  It’s not right…

If everybody in journalism was measured 12 times on a Saturday by what they wrote, what they put out, what was on TV, it would be really interesting to see what their record would be, like coaches.  I’m not going to point the finger at anybody, I’m only going to address what I think were false, unsubstantiated allegations.”

 

First, Chizik is playing a pretty strong hand right there.  The NCAA will sometimes go beyond its own rules — in the case of Miami, for one — to uncover evidence of wrongdoing at a school.  Yet in three years of digging into accusation after accusation at Auburn, the governing body’s investigators have dug up nothing to date that will stick.

That hasn’t kept fans and some in the media from simply assigning Auburn a bit of guilt anyway.

At MrSEC.com, we call this the John Calipari Syndrome.  There might have been some major issues around that coach’s past programs — at UMass his star player had an agent while in school and at Memphis a player was initially cleared to play by the NCAA only to be ruled ineligible after the fact — but Calipari has never been specifically charged with any wrongdoing.  The NCAA has trailed him for years, but they’ve found nothing.  You can be sure other coaches are watching him and the Kentucky program closely  — like Auburn, UK has an NCAA rap sheet that is hard for people to ignore — to make sure there’s no hanky-panky underway in the Commonwealth.  Yet there’s never been so much as a peep about even little things… like too many phone calls to a recruit or a dreaded “butt dial.”

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SEC Recruiting Headlines 4/10/2013

recruiting-headlines-gfx

SEC Football

1. A former Auburn commit now says wants to play at Alabama. Jovon Robinson originally signed with Auburn. The running back  left the school after an NCAA investigation into his high school transcripts and is now at Georgia Military College where’s he working to regain eligibility.  Regardless of where goes, he’s not eligible to play Division I football until December 2014.

2. Alabama is also after a 2014 Auburn commit.  Lineman Josh Casher committed to Auburn back on March 31, calling it “the perfect fit.” After earning offensive line MVP honors at the Rivals camp over the weekend, Nick Saban called today. Here’s what his high school coach told AL.com: ”I figured after this weekend, they probably would. They had been recruiting him. They never had backed off him, actually — just as far as an actual offer, they hadn’t yet.”

3. Miami, Florida running back Dalvin Cook flipped from Clemson to Florida over the weekend.  This is a win for the Gators in the Miami area.  If the commitment sticks, Cook will be the first commitment from Miami since  Jabari Gorman in 2011.

4. Hebron, Texas defensive back Jamal Adams has over 20 offers.  Florida is one of the schools he plans to visit over the summer but next week, he’s headed to Texas A&M.  ”I’m excited about heading down to Texas A&M. They are definitely on the rise. Coach (Kevin) Sumlin is getting them right down there. Johnny Manziel doing a great job of leading the team too,” he said. “I’ve been to pretty much all of the Big 12 so I want to see something different. I want to see what the SEC is all about.”

5. Kyler Murray is one of the top prospects in the class of 2015 and a Texas A&M legacy.  Kyler’s father, Kevin Murray, played for the Aggies back in the 1980′s. While the Aggies have not officially offered Murray, he is reportedly high on their radar.

6. Here’s a look at Georgia’s 2014 commitments

SEC Basketball

7. Madisonville, Kentucky guard Dominique Hawkins is headed to Lexington this fall. He announced his commitment to play for John Calipari this morning.  Calipari had offered Hawkins a scholarship back on March 12, but he kept it a secret.  He told just two people -his mom and his girlfriend – that he had received the offer.  ”That’s it,” he said. “I could trust them, so that’s the only two I told.”  Hawkins will be the 17th Mr. Basketball in the state of Kentucky to play for the Wildcats.  Here’s a Q and A he did with the media after today’s announcement.

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SEC Headlines 4/10/2013

headlines-wedSEC Football

1. Georgia offensive line coach Will Friend was not happy with his unit’s performance in Saturday’s spring game. Returning starters  John Theus and Kenarious Gates worked on the second team in Tuesday’s practice. 

2. Mark Richt at public appearance: “I look like a bum, I apologize.”

3. SEC All-Freshman safety Rohan Gaines has noticed a change with the new Arkansas staff - they want him closer to the line of scrimmage with an emphasis on stopping the running game.

4. He pursued a career in professional baseball.  Now 28-year old Jai Miller is trying to earn a job in Nick Saban’s secondary.

5. Alabama receiver DeAndrew White is six months into his recovery from knee surgery. Expects to participate in full contact drills by the time fall camp starts.

6. What’s the future at wide receiver for Florida’s Loucheiz Purifoy? “It’s clear the coaches are determined to get Purifoy involved on offense.”

7. Vanderbilt defensive back Steven Clarke is competing for a starting spot at two different positions.

8. Auburn’s Chad Slade has started everywhere along the offensive line except for center. Looks like he has a permanent position at right guard. But several positions are up for grabs as the Tigers start the second half of spring practice.

9. There may be only one open spot on the Volunteers offensive line but there’s plenty of competition and cross-training going on at Tennessee.

10. John Adams on the Vols: “Although UT’s offensive line should be one of the best in the SEC, the running game is questionable at best. So is the defense.”

11. With other running backs injured, Mississippi State’s Derrick Milton is getting reps with the first-team offense.

12. Based on their spring play, these players could be on the verge of making noise in the SEC this fall.

SEC Basketball

13. Just one SEC team in the final USA Today Coaches’ Poll – Florida comes in at No. 9. Third straight top-1o finish for the Gators.

14. Alabama center Moussa Gueye plans to transfer. Alabama guard Trevor Releford recognized as the team’s most valuable player.

15. Kevin Scarbinsky: “The commonwealth of Kentucky is not the basketball equivalent of the state of Alabama in football. Not quite, not yet and probably not ever.”  But is it too early to talk about a possible Kentucky-Louisville title game showdown in 2014?

16. Mock draft has Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel going first overall but no Archie Goodwin in the first round.

Extras

17. Several (non-SEC) players announced Tuesday they’re leaving school early for the NBA.

18. Are Louisville and Michigan the model for how to re-energize college basketball? Rick Pitino’s getting a $425,000 bonus.

19. Recruit commits to Miami and says this about the NCAA investigation.  ”When you have a president like President [Donna] Shalala on your side, you can’t lose. And there’s no way Miami will lose this.”

20. Time to unionize college athletics?

21. Jay-Z’s stake in the Brooklyn Nets is worth less than a two-bedroom Brooklyn apartment.

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Mizzou A.D. Alden On Expansion, Football, The NCAA, And Former Big 12 Rivals

gfx - they said itNearing the finish line of the first academic year in the SEC, Missouri A.D. Mike Alden gave an interview to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that covers a variety of issues.  Alden had plenty to say on everything from expansion to renewing ancient rivalries.

1. Why he believes the immediate future of the SEC is 14 teams

 

“The goal there is to continue to improve that brand, and I think they can do that with the 14 institutions that they have. “But the one thing commissioner (Mike Slive) always says is, ‘We can’t sit back on our laurels.’ ”

 

An additional league-wide note. While not quoted in the story on the topic, Alden told the paper going from an eight-game conference schedule to a nine-game schedule is still being debated.

 

2.  On the importance of football and Missouri’s 5-7  record in 2012

 

“That’s the reality of college athletics. How are you utilizing that asset of football? … That’s our key…

“That was challenging to our fans to see that. … We don’t want to become accustomed to something like that. We’re used to bowl games and used to winning games, and I’m confident we’ll get back in there as we head into the 2013 season.”

 

3. The NCAA case against Miami, the former employer of Missouri basketball coach Frank Haith

 

“Just following that pattern and seeing where it currently is, certainly it gives us confidence in Frank. We’ve always had a lot of confidence in Frank, but it just reinforces for us a lot of the things that we’ve always seen in him.”

 

Asked if the NCAA’s credibility was at stake, Alden replied, “Yes, yes, and not just in the Miami case.”

 

4. Resuming competition with former Big 12 opponents

 

“We have relationships with all of those people in the Big 12. So I think once the dust settles on the move — it is settling; it hasn’t settled yet — I think there’s going to be more opportunity for us to schedule one another.

“I also think the relationship with the SEC and the Big 12, whether it has to do with the bowl game (the leagues have formed) or whether it has to do with a basketball challenge that we’re working on right now, those types of things are also going to help that.”

 

5. Missouri’s standing offer to resume the rivalry with Kansas

 

And we’re going to keep it there. We will keep it there. With (KU chancellor) Bernadette Gray-Little, I know (MU chancellor Brady) Deaton has done that. I certainly have done that on several occasions with (Kansas AD Sheahon Zenger).

“And we understand that Kansas, who we have a high respect for, they need to make that decision. We understand that. We’ll be patient on that, because we do think that the opportunity to compete against one another, that’s a generational thing. …

“The immediacy of leaving the league is, ‘We’re ticked,’ but the long-term play is this is a generational opponent and why wouldn’t you want two great institutions … to be able to compete against each other? And hopefully that will happen somewhere down the line.”

 

Alden was also asked about playing St. Louis University in basketball and indicated that part of the  challenge was geographical.  ”Our focus has to got to be instead of having two games in St. Louis, how can we have one game in St. Louis and one in Kansas City?”

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Another Day, Another Scandal: Claims About Auburn’s Program, Florida’s Coach Bring Fresh Headaches To SEC

scandalThere’s a running gag in the Ron Howard/Tom Hanks movie, “Splash,” that features Eugene Levy’s character repeatedly stating: “What a week I’m having.”

Somewhere, the great God of College Athletics must be muttering that line himself today.

Already this week we’ve had one of the worst sports injuries you’ll ever see traumatize an entire arena’s worth of people during Sunday’s Louisville/Duke basketball game.  The Pac-12′s head of officials was then exposed for “joking” about rewarding his refs if they would lob technical fouls at Arizona coach Sean Miller.  Then Rutgers’ hoops coach, Mike Rice, was canned after video emerged of him shoving and throwing basketballs at his players during practice sessions.  Yesterday, USA Today took aim at the background of NCAA president Mark Emmert, bringing up his potential wrongs and cover-ups at UConn and LSU.

Now this.  Auburn grad and blogger Selena Roberts has levied charge after charge against her alma mater’s football program.  One of the allegations involves then-AU assistant and current UF head coach Will Muschamp.  It’s rough stuff, not that Auburn officials or fans should be surprised by that anymore.  No school has been through the NCAA wringer more than AU and the string of alleged scandals in recent years is longer than a Tiger’s tail.

Roberts alleges that nine football players’ grades were changed to keep them eligible during the school’s 2010 BCS championship run.  Going back further, she claims money was offered to certain star underclassmen to keep them from turning pro early.  Florida’s Muschamp allegedly handed $400 over to a player at one point.  It’s also alleged that then-head coach Gene Chizik spent well over the NCAA’s cash limit on recruiting visits.

Roberts’ allegations all tie back to ex-Auburn players, but many of the key figures have since claimed they were misquoted, claimed they were quoted out of context, or claimed someone else might have inaccurately quoted them to the reporter.

Asked about the denials, Roberts said her facts are buttoned-up and that the reversals just show how much pressure there is for Auburn athletes to keep their mouths shut about wrongdoing within the Tiger athletic department.  Roberts herself was formerly employed by both Sports Illustrated and The New York Times, so she’s got some good names on her resume.

A spokesperson for the Auburn athletic department declined a request from The Birmingham News for a comment.  Gene Chizik’s agent refused to comment, too.  In Gainesville, Will Muschamp isn’t scheduled to go before the media until Saturday, but a Florida spokesperson has denied the allegation that the current Gator coach paid a player while on Tommy Tuberville’s Auburn staff.

That’s the gist of the story, here are the questions raised by it:

 

*  Did the NCAA just ask the wrong people the wrong questions while investigating AU’s program again and again over the past couple of years?  For a body accused of going too far in its investigation at Miami, the NCAA sure came up empty time and again in Auburn’s case.

*  Did players speak more honestly to Roberts because more time has passed or because Chizik and Tuberville and a number of ex-assistants are now out of the picture?  Unless Roberts is trying to commit career hari-kari, her story can’t be the complete fabrication it’s being portrayed as.  So how much of it is true, who said what, and for what purpose?

*  Will the NCAA send a fresh team of investigators to the Plains to follow up on these accusations?  AU officials should be used to visits from the NCAA by now.  For that matter, will this scandal be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for Auburn AD Jay Jacobs, a man already under fire from his fanbase?

*  Is the NCAA in any position to investigate or punish any school these days?  If its case against Miami’s athletic department and several former Hurricane coaches is thrown out — as those accused are pushing for — can the governing body wipe the egg from its face long enough to go after another school?

*  Will this all just go the way of Danny Sheridan’s bagman, Scott Moore’s secret audio tapes, and “the HBO Four?”  Auburn’s been smoky enough to give the Devil a cough in recent years, but to date no actual fire has ever been found.  Accusation after allegation after claim have been made, but nothing has stuck.  So will Roberts’ piece just get tossed onto the pile with the other unproven claims?

*  And just how much should Florida supporters be worrying today?  Fans can claim that the mere suggestion that something’s wrong is driven by anti-school bias — a few of them do so on this site every single day — but no school officials like reading anything about their coach paying a player.  Ever.  Whether it’s true or not.  And Gator fans might remember that the university initially stood by UF assistant Aubrey Hill.  A year later Hill resigned on his own.  And then the other shoe dropped as he was hit by the NCAA with charges that he’d provided misleading information to the body’s investigators during their look-see/witch-hunt at Miami.

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Mizzou’s Haith Tries To Get NCAA Case Against Him Thrown Out

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 GreensboroYou can add another name to the list of folks trying to get the NCAA’s case against the University of Miami and several ex-coaches thrown out.  That name?  Frank Haith.

The Missouri basketball coach has been accused for failing to properly monitor his program in Coral Gables, before leaving for Columbia.  The NCAA alleges that Haith paid money to one of his Hurricane assistants who then gave the cash to imprisoned booster Nevin Shapiro as hush money.

The NCAA has botched the case, however, and the University of Miami and a number of former football and basketball coaches have asked that the case be tossed as a result.  A lawyer for Haith says the coach has filed a motion to dismiss the NCAA’s case and he’s waiting to hear back from the organization’s Committee on Infractions, which will decide whether or not to hold a preliminary hearing all of the parties involved.

Haith’s attorney, Wally Bley, says the NCAA has thrown out cases before an official hearing in the past, “albeit rarely.”

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SEC Headlines 3/28/2013

headlines-thuSEC Football

1. Kentucky starting defensive tackle Donte Rumph injured in spring practice. Coach Mark Stoops: ”It looks like it’s a fairly significant injury. He may be out for a while, may require some surgery.” Injury leaves a big void.

2. Challenge for the Ole Miss defense - only Mississippi State gave up more yards per play last season among SEC bowl teams.

3. Former Southern Miss quarterback Anthony Alford working out at safety for Ole Miss. Expected to sit out this season due to transfer rules.

4. Billy Gonzales is the fourth wide receiver coach at Mississippi State in four years.  Wide receiver Jameon Lewis:  ”He’s got a different burst of energy that makes you go get it.” Bulldogs practice in pads for the first time Wednesday.

5. It’s all about tempo at Auburn.  New coach Gus Malzahn wants things faster:  ”The X’s and O’s will come, but the main thing is we have to learn how to practice.” Approach vastly different from Gene Chizik.

6. More Malzahn: “When I first got the job, it was evident we had some players with mental scars and all that…”

7. Bruce Feldman on Florida’s BCS championship odds: “At 25-1, the Gators are worth a long look.” (Also likes Texas A&M at 15-1).

8. Butch Jones, Nick Saban and the speaking wars of East Tennessee.

9. Saban on new Alabama offensive line coach Mario Cristobal: “He brings some new ideas, that’s always welcome when you have new coaches join the staff…”

10. As an early enrollee in the class of 2009, no one has been a part of the Georgia program longer than Dallas Lee.

11. Some shuffling along the offensive line at Texas A&M.

12.  Arkansas fullback Kiero Small back to full strength after missing 11 games last season with a broken foot.

13. Missouri coach Gary Pinkel: ”I Twitter guys all the time now, and I didn’t even know what Twitter was” a few years ago.

14. Tony Barnhart: “The SEC West is the toughest division in the toughest college football conference in America. This is not debatable.”

SEC NFL Prospects

15. Thirty-one NFL teams on hand Wednesday at South Carolina’s pro day to watch Marcus Lattimore.  First time in Williams-Brice Stadium for Lattimore since knee injury last fall.

16. No players at South Carolina guaranteed to go in first two rounds of draft - Ace Sanders projected as fifth or sixth-round pick.

17. Tyrann Mathieu among the former players who participated in LSU’s pro day yesterday.

18. Will defensive end Barkevious Mingo’s low sack total last season scare away NFL teams?  Les Miles: ”If they don’t want him (in the NFL), we’ll take him back.”

19. AFC general manager on former Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel.  “Everything is perfect with him.”

20. Former Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner will meet with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Cleveland Browns.

21. Former Auburn defensive end Corey Lemonier meets with the Atlanta Falcons, will meet with Tampa Bay soon.

22. Seven NFL coaches have visited Georgia in the past week.

SEC Basketball

23. Does a Willie Cauley-Stein tweet indicate the Kentucky freshman is leaning toward leaving for the NBA?

24.  Florida will bring a group of about 115 to Dallas for the NCAA Tournament.  NCAA pays the expenses for 75.  

25. Putting Alabama’s season in context - Tide picked to finish sixth – ended up tied for second. Suggestions on getting Alabama to play to its full potential.

26. How should Tennessee’s basketball program be judged? “In the context of the SEC, the Vols are barely middle of the pack.”

27. If Mike Anderson can take credit for Frank Haith’s players, Haith can take some credit for things at Miami, right?

28. Questions facing Mizzou next year include Haith’s NCAA case at Miami.

Extras

29. More questionable NCAA behavior in the Miami/Nevin Shapiro investigation. The University of Miami will submit motion to dismiss the case on Friday.

30. BCS “playoff group” receives bids from four cities – Atlanta, Dallas, Phoenix and San Diego.

31. Confused with realignment in college sports?  This graphic should help.

32. Michigan State coach Tom Izzo on his 13-year old son’s bracket.  “The damn kid picked Duke.”

33. Heads are rolling at the Sporting News.

34. More cash hungry states look to legalize sports betting. Polls show a growing acceptance among the public.

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FGCU Capable Of Playing David To Florida’s Goliath

david-and-goliathOne school has a pair of national championships, three Final Fours, and five Elite Eight appearances under its belt since March of 2000.  The other has been playing Division I basketball for all of two years.

With Florida Gulf Coast University into the Sweet Sixteen — the first #15 seed to ever go so far, in case you haven’t already heard 30 times — and facing off with big, bad Florida Friday night in Austin, Texas, you should prepare yourself to see plenty tale-of-the-tape comparisons between the two neighbors.

Not unlike this one:

 

  University of Florida   Florida Gulf Coast University
  Established   1853   1991 (Classes opened in 1997)
  Enrollment   49,589   12,683
  Endowment   $1.295 Billion   $57.1 Million
  NCAA Tourney Appearances   15 (2 vacated)   1
  NCAA Tourney Wins   34   2

 

The two schools are separated by 200 some-odd miles on a map, a million miles in terms of name recognition and past basketball achievements.  One is famous for the Gator chomp.  The other might be more famous for its coach’s ex-model wife.

FGCU’s Andy Enfield has been a head coach for two seasons — his school’s only two Division I seasons — and has won 40 games in his career.  UF’s Billy Donovan is in his 19th season.  A win on Friday over Enfield would be Donovan’s 45o career victory.

So do the underdog Eagles have a legitimate shot against the Gators, one of America’s top programs?  Of course.  And FGCU forward Eric McKnight is looking forward to it.  “That is going to be a great deal,” he said yesterday after the Eagles’ win over San Diego State.  “It’s going to be so much fun because we’ll have a chance to prove who’s the best in Florida.”

When asked who is the best in Florida, McKnight didn’t hesitate: “FGCU.  FGCU.”

Gator fans shouldn’t laugh.  The Eagles have an RPI of 67 which puts them in the same company with several SEC bubble teams this year.  They’re also a pretty respectable 3-3 against RPI top 50 teams.  They beat one #2 seed in Georgetown to begin their tournament run.  Back in November they beat another eventual #2 seed — Miami — 63-51.

If McKnight and can crew topple Miami and Florida in the same season the Eagles really will be able to call themselves Sunshine State champs this year.

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Recruiting Headlines: Georgia Bullseye, 300-Pound Linemen, A Final Four With Three In The SEC

recruiting-headlines-gfxSEC Football

1. Biggest negative recruiting weapon to be employed against Georgia? Probably defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, argues Michael Carvell at AJC.com.  The reason?  He has a track record, valuable NFL experience and because he’s a hot name in coaching circles, questions are being raised about how long he’ll be in Athens.  Coach Mark Richt: “We will always have great assistants here at Georgia. You know, we can’t control what everybody is going to do but neither can any other program sit around and promise they’re not going to have an assistant coach have an opportunity that he might take.”

2. The latest 300-pound behemoth to get an offer from Alabama?  6-foot-7, 310 pound Roderick Johnson from suburban St. Louis, MO.  ”All I have to say is it’s Alabama. It’s Alabama baby. The last three years they have run the SEC.” Johnson is now the fifth 300-pound + lineman that Alabama has offered since Mario Cristobal became the offensive line coach.

3. Five-star defensive back Tony Brown wants to play two sports – football and track.  The Beaumont, Texas star is tied for the fastest 60-meter hurdle this year at 7.76 seconds. He has offers from than 20 schools, including LSU.

4. Joliet, Illinois linebacker Clifton Garrett is a top target of Ole Miss for 2014. Rivals rates him the 53rd best player in the country.  Garrett is expected to visit Oxford later this spring. Here’s what his high school coach had to say: “I know that he likes (Ole Miss). To what extent he’s interested? That I couldn’t tell you.”

5. The Ole Miss 2014 class is up to six players with the commitment of Greenwood, Mississippi wide receiver Sammie Epps.

6. One of the  nation’s top wide receiver prospects has an offer from Auburn.  Homestead, Florida wide receiver Ermon Lane said recently he prefers a pro-style offense ”because that’s what most of the NFL teams run.”  Lane’s cousin is a former Miami linebacker.  In addition to Miami, Florida, Florida State, Alabama, Georgia, and LSU are all thought to have a shot.

7. Texas A&M’s 2014 class is up to 10 commitments, seven on the defensive side.  Defensive back commitment Cedric Collins: “The excitement around A&M right now is well deserved for the year we had. The win over Alabama was just the beginning. The goal is not just to win the SEC, but a (national) championship, and Johnny winning the Heisman was just a great way to start with our first year in the SEC.”

8. Charleston, Arkansas quarterback Ty Storey threw for almost 4,400 yards his sophomore year.  He visited Arkansas over the weekend. Storey likes Bret Bielema’s offense: “I like it because it’s more like a pro-style offense so it gets you ready for the next level and hopefully I can be there one day.” Gus Malzahn offered Storey a scholarship when he was at Arkansas State.

SEC Basketball

9. Little Rock, Arkansas guard Anton Beard decommitted from Missouri in February.  He now has a new top four and three of them are in the SEC.  Beard tweeted this morning: “Narrow my list to 4- Umass, Arkansas , LSU , Tennessee …”

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SEC Headlines 2/22/2013

headlines-friSEC Football

1. The $425 million renovation of Kyle Field will begin November 10th – one day after Texas A&M’s final home game this fall.  A&M president R. Bowen Loftin: “This is probably the largest project ever done at Texas A&M.”

2. Will Kyle Field surpass Neyland Stadium as the largest in the SEC?

3. Where will Josh Harvey-Clemons play for Georgia this fall?  Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham could be tipping his hand.

4. Why so many missed tackles in college football? Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson: “A lot of the missed tackling in college football today is because the game has changed. It’s faster, it’s more spread out and there are better-skilled athletes playing than when I started out coaching.”

5. When spring practice starts at Auburn, the Tigers will have just two quarterbacks on scholarship in uniform, Kiehl Frazier and Jonathan Wallace.  Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee: ”There’s two guys that are going to get a lot of opportunity in the spring.”

6. Brent Dearmon hired at Auburn, third high school coach hired for an off-the-field role on the Tigers staff. He joins former Auburn cornerback Dell McGee and Chip Lindsay who’ve accepted positions on Gus Malzahn’s staff.

7. Kentucky coach Mark Stoops has bought a home for $1.45 million.  According to the Fayette County property valuation administrator:  ”That makes it the third-highest single-family home sale in the past year.”

8. Mississippi State expects to improve its run defense in 2013.

9. Will we see top prospect Robert Nkemdiche lining up on the inside on passing downs this fall at Ole Miss? The Rebels secret to success?

10. Spring practice dates set at South Carolina. 

11. Most season-ticket holders at Missouri will pay the same price this year. No increase at Auburn this year.

12. LSU legend Billy Cannon released from a hospital on Thursday.  Had suffered a stroke earlier in the week.

NFL Scouting Combine

13. Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel is out to prove he’s worthy of the No. 1 overall selection and thinks SEC defenses helped him prepare: “SEC defensive lines are the best in the country.”

14. Could Alabama’s Chance Warmack make draft history?

15. Former Alabama center Barrett Jones is six weeks in to a four-month timetable toward full recovery.  Recovering from foot surgery.

16. Just four months removed from hip surgery, former Auburn tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen said there no “red flags” raised by teams on Thursday.

17. Former Tennessee offensive lineman Dallas Thomas is in Indianapolis but recovering from a torn labrum: “I might be injured, but I’m still the same player that I was.”

18. A hamstring injury hampered his senior season but Missouri linebacker Zaviar Gooden thinks he can run a 4.3 second 40-yard dash at the combine.  ”Yeah, it’s possible. I’ve done it before. I’ve just got to do it on the big stage.”

19. NFL combine invitees for all SEC schools over the last three years. LSU has the most – Vanderbilt the least.

NCAA Miami Investigation

20. With the formal charges made, where does Missouri basketball coach Frank Haith go from here?

21. Three former Miami assistants want their case dismissed because of mistakes by the NCAA. Update: NCAA reportedly agrees to hear the request.

22. Possible for Miami to sue the NCAA? “I think Miami would have a case.”

SEC Basketball

23. Do the recent struggles at Ole Miss spell doom for coach Andy Kennedy? Canceled his scheduled press conference Thursday.

24. Auburn-Ole Miss and Missouri-Kentucky are two bubble games to watch this weekend.

25. So who needs a win more Saturday – Missouri or Kentucky? Dick Vitale: “It’s much bigger for Kentucky.” But the Tigers are in need of a quality road win. ESPN’s GameDay will be on hand – a lonely job for the driver of the bus.

26. When it comes to fans - does Kentucky basketball equal Alabama football? “To me, they’re identical programs.”

27. Missouri’s Phil Pressey has his father to thank for making him a point guard: “My dad noticed I wasn’t growing. I wasn’t going to be a shooting guard. He said, ‘Son, you need to start passing the ball.’”

28. When Florida hosts Arkansas Saturday night, Billy Donovan wants to see more production from Patric Young. ”I would just like to see him rebound better.”

29. Nerlens Noel still the favorite to win the SEC’s Freshman of the Year honors.

30. Seth Davis on the NCAA Tournament selection process: “Regardless of what you think about the RPI, the fact is that most fans really have no clue how it is actually used.”

Extra

31. Tennessee lawmakers consider legislation that would require schools to adopt concussion p0licies.

32. New Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly hires a former Navy SEAL to be the team’s “Sports Science Coordinator.”

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