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SEC Headlines 3/20/2014

headlines-friSEC Football

1. Urban Meyer on Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin:  ”There has been a lot of publicity about Lane Kiffin and I having issues. There’s none. ”

2. Florida coach Will Muschamp on new offfensive coordinator Kurt Roper: “Just a really good teacher, very fundamental in his approach.”

3. What do Georgia players think of new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt? “I think he might be a little more meaner than Coach Grantham,”

4. Why is Georgia restricting media access to spring practice when other schools open up to media and fans alike?

5. 61-year old David Kotulski is Vanderbilt’s linebackers coach – and an expert in the 3-4 scheme.

6. Alabama center Ryan Kelly: “This is a big spring.”

7. Auburn offensive lineman Shane Callahan has gained 29 pounds – up to 304. Dead heat in the left tackle race between Patrick Miller and Shon Coleman.

8. Big focus for the Auburn offense - cutting down Nick Marshall’s fumbles in the pocket.

9. Texas A&M will have its first spring scrimmage on Saturday.  

10. Focus at LSU’s Saturday scrimmage will be third-and-long situations.

SEC/NCAA Tournament Basketball

11. Mike DeCourcy: “Those who wonder where these supposed “upsets” come from… it’s often because the 12 seeds have no business being 12 seeds.”

12. Why did Florida struggle to win Thursday?  Perhaps because Albany is not your average David.

13. SEC NIT schedule.  Georgia hosts Louisiana Tech Saturday, Southern Miss at Missouri Sunday, Arkansas and LSU play Monday.

SEC/NFL

14. In defense of Johnny Manziel: “He’s a tough, almost elastic dude, in fact the toughest guy I’ve covered…”

15. Could Jadeveon Clowney be reunited with safetey D.J. Swearinger in the NFL?

16. At Missouri’s pro day on Thursday, they came to watch defensive ends Kony Ealy and Michael Sam but a few others stood out.  Lineman Max Copeland has lost 50 pounds and wants to be a fullback.

17. Vanderbilt holding its pro day today.

Extras

18. NCAA recorded a nearly $61 million surplus for its 2013 fiscal year.

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SEC Headlines 2/23/2014

headlines-sun3-150x150Hurry-Up Offenses/Proposed Rule Change

1. Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury on Nick Saban: “ I know the last three losses he’s had have been against so up-tempo teams. So I’ll just leave it at that.”

2. Kentucky offensive coordinator Neal Brown: ”I haven’t seen any research that backs the claim that we’re putting kids at risk. I just don’t think it’s true. I think it’s a farce.”

3. David Climer:  “Saban will not give up without a fight. It’s no secret he wants to restrict hurry-up offenses.”

SEC Football

4. Does Florida coach Will Muschamp think he’s on the hot seat? “We have to produce. I don’t think there’s any question about that.”

5. For the first time, Auburn’s athletic department budget has cracked the $100 million mark – football comprises 71 percent of budgeted revenue.

SEC/NFL

6. First overall pick of the draft – Jadeveon Clowney, Johnny Manziel or someone else? Manziel’s unofficial 40-time – 4.56 seconds. And a 4.47 for Aggies wide receiver Mike Evans.

7. New York Daily News: “The wise move for the league’s bottom-feeders may be to pass on Johnny Football.”

8. Auburn running back Tre Mason’s goal?  Run a 4.3 forty at the NFL Combine on Monday. LSU’s Odell Beckham runs a 4.31. Same time for South Carolina’s Bruce Ellington.  Again, all times unofficial.

9. Two of the top three offensive linemen times belonged to former SEC players - LSU’s Trai Turner and Auburn’s Greg Robinson.

10. Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron plays the disrespected card:  ”I feel like I’ve been disrespected my whole college career because I won.” College Football Talk: “Respect is earned.”

11. Missouri defensive end Michael Sam meets the media. Sports Illustrated’s Don Banks: “The league seems much more prepared to turn the page on his story and focus on his football prospects alone, compared to the media or society in general.”

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SEC Headlines 2/16/2014

headlines-sun3-150x150HUNH/Proposed NCAA Rule Change

1. Tim Sullivan: “The fact is that hurry-up/no-huddle offense levels a playing field that some people would prefer remain tilted.”

2. Duke coach David Cutcliffe: “All of the coaches that I have spoken with, and there have been numerous, we felt blindsided by this.”

3. Hugh Kellenberger: “You would never know it’s the middle of February by all the commotion college football stirred up this week.”

4. Cecil Hurt: “There has been effusive commentary blaming the rule on one individual: Nick Saban.”

SEC Football

5. Charges may have been droppped against Auburn signee Kalvaraz Bessent but an Auburn official Saturday said coach Gus Malzahn is still gathering information on the situation,

6. Alabama freshman Shaun Dion Hamilton was an AAU basketball teammate of five-star linebacker signee Rashaan Evans.

7. Auburn fan in Tennessee gets a “Kick6″ license plate.

8. Mark Richt’s son is joining the Georgia staff.

9. Kentucky linebacker Avery Williamson’s playing days in college are over, but he’s still having an impact on younger players.

10. Mississippi State baseball coach John Cohen helped bring football coach Dan Mullen to the school.  The two men have bonded ever since.

SEC Basketball

11. Former President Bill Clinton along with former Arkansas coaches Nolan Richardson and Eddie Sutton were honored at halftime of the game against LSU on Saturday.

Michael Sam

12. Protests greeted with counter-protest.  “We Are All CoMoSexuals.”

13. Missouri defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski: “Our team was able to move past it and work together. Why shouldn’t a bunch of NFL players be able to?”

14. Sam and the Missouri football team accept the Cotton Bowl Trophy at halftime of Saturday’s Mizzou-Tennessee basketball game.

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SEC Headlines 2/15/2018

headlines-saturdaySEC Football

1. There will be no spring football game at Texas A&M.  Considered but rejected moving game off campus in the wake of Kyle Field renovation.

2. Backlash over a proposed rule that would slow down play brings up the question - who exactly is on the rules committee?

3. His lawyer says all charges stemming from a drug arrest have been dropped against Auburn signee Kalveraz Bessent.

4. Former Alabama running back Alvin Kamara arrested Thursday.  Charged with driving on suspended license among other charges.

5. Missouri was on the breakout teams in 2013.  Can the Tigers keep it going in 2014?

Michael Sam/Gay Athletes

6. Michael Sam’s announcement has caused some universities to review their protocols.  Some – not all.  Notre Dame A.D. Jack Swarbrick: “Among student-athlete and coaches, their reaction to this has sort of been, ‘Why are people treating this like a big deal?’”

7. Bloomberg Businessweek: Congress to Michael Sam: You’re On Your Own, Pal

SEC/NFL

8. Over the past four years, no SEC school has more NFL Combine invites than LSU.

SEC Basketball

9. Since 2007, the SEC has had 23 first-round NBA draft picks.  That’s the second fewest among major conferences.

10. Kentucky fans gear up for ESPN Gameday.

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SEC Headlines 2/14/2014

headlines-friBacklash From Proposed NCAA Rule Change

1. “The best defensive coaches have admitted defeat and asked for help, and sadly, the NCAA is riding to their rescue.”

2. Texas A&M Coach Kevin Sumlin:  ”No way should the defense be able to dictate the pace of the game. That’s why it’s called ‘defense.’”

3. Florida offensive coordinator Kurt Roper; “I just wish coaches would be honest and stop using player safety as their only reason they want to slow down offenses.”

4. Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy: “The 10-second rule is like asking basketball to take away the shot clock – Boring!”

5. Arkansas coach Bret Bielema declines comment.  Nick Saban unavailable Thursday.  Neither man was on panel but did address the NCAA committee that proposed the rule change. Proposal was also a topic at a mid-January AFCA Convention.

6. Matt Hayes:  ”So a new rule could prevent the offense from snapping in the first 11 seconds of a play. Do you really think that’s going to slow down offenses?”

7. National coordinator of officiating: “I think it’s fair to say there’s not really much hard data on this.”

8. “You could get a delay of game penalty for going too quickly in college football in 2014.”

9. FBS teams averaged 71.8 plays per game in 2013, compared to 70.5 in 1973.

SEC Football

10. Arkansas’ director of recruiting Chris Hauser is leaving. Fourth member of staff to leave since the end of the 2013 season.

11. Ole Miss defensive end Channing Ward pleads guilty to DUI charge.  Will pay a fine and attend classes.

12. Is Ole Miss the biggest potential sleeper game on the Texas A&M schedule this fall?

13. Tennessee linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen on Butch Jones’s recruiting style: ”Butch does the best job in America with the communication and the constant mailing and constant direct messaging…”

14. Re-ranking the recruiting class of 2011.

SEC Media/Gay Athletes

15. Pat Forde on the Michael Sam story: “Young people today do not see it as salacious or sensational. They see it as personal and largely unremarkable.”

16. Michael Sam’s father claims he was “terribly misquoted” by the New York Times.

17. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is pretty sure there were gay players at Alabama.  How does he know?  He was their teammate.

SEC Basketball

18. Marquee Saturday matchup: Florida vs. Kentucky.  Gators start four senior – UK starts five freshmen.

19. John Calipari: ”For this game, I’m talking to our fans. The last eight minutes, no one sits down.”

20. Texas A&M freshman s Davonte Fitzgerald is out for the season.  Suffered knee injury in first half of game against LSU Wednesday night.

21. Tough stretch for Mississippi State.  Lost six games in a row – and 0-6 in SEC road play. Next two games are on the road.

Extra

22. Former Ole Miss player John Jerry linked to the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal. Some details in the 148-page report.

23. Johnny Manziel and the Houston Texans: “I want them to say absolutely, without a doubt, with 100 percent certainty, that I’m who they want.”

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SEC Headlines 2/12/2014

headlines-wedMichael Sam

1. Will the Michael Sam news spark negative recruiting? SEC assistant coach: “It’s a powder keg just waiting to explode,”

2. Sam texted his father last week to tell him he was gay.  Michael Sam, Sr. – “I’m old school. I’m a man-and-a-woman type of guy.”

3. Jason Whitlock: “Sam is riding a wave, not creating one.”

4. The story wasn’t news to many in Columbia who’ve known Sam.  ”People just knew it. ”

5. David Climer on the NFL’s decision: “We’re in uncharted territory here. Some teams will embrace the idea of drafting Sam. Others will defer.”

6. Sam gets the Sports Illustrated cover.

SEC Football

7. Assistant strength coach for Tennessee detained when he tried to intervene during the arrest of players Sunday morning. 

8. Steve Spurrier: “We don’t run into much of any negative recruiting around here as SEC coaches.” (A Big Ten school)  ”got negative a little bit…”

9. Alan Evans on the backlash from fans against his son Rashaan - who choose Alabama over Auburn. “It’s kind of disturbing to know that it’s such a thin line between love and hate.”

10. Kevin Scarbinsky: “What is wrong with you people?”

11. MrSEC: “Sadly, Tigers versus Tide takes first prize for lunacy.”

12. Five 2014 signees who could make an early impact at Alabama.

13. Five signees who could play this fall at Auburn.

14. Grading Tennessee’s class: “Coming off a 5-7 campaign, the Vols signed a class that stacks up to just about anybody in the nation.”

15. Former Kentucky defensive end Langston Newton will play for Purdue this fall.

16. Kentucky’s entire stadium will be re-ticketed as the stadium goes from about 67,000 to roughly 61,000 seats.

17. Georgia now has two two special teams coordinators. Will it make a difference? Running backs coach Bryan McClendon named recruiting coordinator.

18. Athlon Sports names the top 15 impact JUCO transfers.  Seven of them will play in the SEC this fall.

SEC Basketball

19. In town to watch Tennessee’s Jeronne Maymon last night, Wisconsin high school principal collapses in stands and dies prior to game.

20. Vanderbilt at South Carolina postponed until Thursday due to weather.  Short-handed Vanderbilt making pre-game shootaround optional

21. Reaction to the Marcus Smart incident with fan.  John Calipari tweet: “Just a friendly reminder to #BBN, we don’t root against other teams because it always comes back to haunt your team.”

22. Accentuate the positive.  Plenty of good things happening with this Kentucky basketball team.

23. Auburn hasn’t defeated Kentucky since January of 2000 – a span of 15 games.

24. Auburn junior guard KT Harrell has scored in double figures in all 21 games for the Tigers this year.

25. LSU plays at Texas A&M tonight.  Tigers need a road win.

26. How does Texas A&M 5’11″ walk-on guard Blake McDonald calm the hecklers?  He does a pre-game dunk.  “It’s pretty cool on the road when the students are heckling me before games because I’m the short white kid…”

27. Georgia at Mississippi State tonight.  Under coach Rick Ray, MSU is 0-11 in the month of February.

28. “The Southeastern Conference’s efforts to upgrade men’s basketball remain a work in progress.”

Extra

29. Snapchat gets the greenlight from the NCAA as a recruiting tool.

30. Assistant college football coach who’s packed his bags eight times in eight years.

31. Average ticket price for Duke-North Carolina tonight is cheapest in five years.

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Season’s Over, But Chalk Up Another Win For Sam, Pinkel And Mizzou

michael-samAnd here we thought Missouri’s biggest challenge during the 2013 football campaign was beating Auburn.

The SEC East Division champs fell in the league title game to that other set of Tigers, but they finished 12-2 overall, won the Cotton Bowl, and ended the season in the top five.  They also overcame what many would have assumed to be a team-splintering behind-the-scenes issue — an openly gay football player.

But in the case of Mizzou, defensive end Michael Sam and head coach Gary Pinkel, not so.

Give credit to Sam for announcing prior to the NFL draft — and risking millions — that he is gay.  In terms of guts, the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Year displayed a helluva lot of them in telling The New York Times and ESPN that he wanted to “make sure I could tell my story the way I want to tell it” and “own my truth.”

 

“I endured so much in my past: seeing my older brother killed from a gunshot wound, not knowing that my oldest sister died when she was a baby and I never got the chance to meet here.  My second oldest brother went missing in 1998, and me and my little sister were the last ones to see him… my other two brothers ahve been in and out of jail since 8th grade, currently both in jail.

Telling the world I’m gay is nothing compared to that.”

 

It shouldn’t be, but check the internet and you’ll see just how big of a deal it is for football to finally have an openly gay athlete who’s just beginning his pro career.  This was no announcement made post-retirement.  This one will be dissected and discussed from now right on up through the NFL draft this spring.

Give credit to Sam’s Missouri teammates who learned in August — from Sam himself — that they were sharing a locker room with an openly gay man.  There were no defections.  No disturbances.  Just a process of teammates learning not to lob quite as many homosexual slurs across their locker room.  Hopefully Sam’s NFL locker room will be as mature as the one he inhabited in college.

Tiger linebacker Donovan Bonner tweeted yesterday:

 

bonner tweets

 

Indeed it does.  Which leads back to the man at the top of the Missouri football program.  A player — whether teammates had suspected he was gay or not — openly announcing his sexual orientation could have been devastating if mishandled.  Pinkel and his assistants obviously handled things correctly.  The next time a Tiger fan questions Pinkel’s ability to run Mizzou’s program — and it’s absolutely laughable he entered last season on the hot seat — they should remember his handling of the Sam situation.

Stating yesterday that he was proud of Sam, the 61-year-old ex-jock added:

 

“Michael is a great example of just how important it is to be respectful of others.  He’s taught a lot of people here firsthand that it doesn’t matter what your background is, or your personal orientation, we’re all on the same team and we all support each other.”

 

Sam — who led the SEC with 11.5 sacks and 19 tackles for losses in 2013 — understands that his entrance into the NFL will now be more scrutinized than many a first-round quarterback selection.  And he’s not daunted by it.

 

“I understand how big this is.  It’s a big deal.  No one has done this before.  And it’s kind of a nervous process, but I know what I want to be… I want to be a football player in the NFL…

I’m not afraid to tell the world who I am.  I’m Michael Sam: I’m a college graduate.  I’m African-American, and I’m gay.  I’m comfortable in my skin.”

 

The comfort level of others when it comes to homosexuality is another matter entirely.  The reaction to this will run the gamut from wild support to the kind of hate mongering practiced by Westboro Baptist Church.

This writer has always felt that those who are most ardently anti-gay are most often less secure in their own sexuality.  I have had gay co-workers and gay friends.  None of them have ever tried to convert me to another lifestyle.  My life is my own as their lives have been their own… as Sam’s is his own.  Whether he’s gay or not shouldn’t matter.  He’s not going to send out some secret gay cooties to his teammates.  He’s going to be trying to take down quarterbacks and tackle running backs.

Still, you can be sure Sam’s announcement will be a top news item for the next few weeks.  Hopefully we’ll eventually get to a day when the words “Who cares?” and a shrug of the shoulders are all that meet this kind of story.

Until that day arrives, kudos to Sam, his teammates, his coaches and the University of Missouri for their handling of his situation.  None of them could have done much better on any front.

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SEC Headlines 2/10/2014

headlines-monSEC Football

1. Former Missouri standout defensive end Michael Sam announced he’s gay. He came out to his Missouri teammates before the 2013 season.

2. How will Sam’s announcement affect his NFL draft stock? Eight league executives and coaches weighed in.

3. Update on the arrested Tennessee players: Senior LB A.J. Johnson “provided alcohol and marijuana to numerous underage individuals,” per police.

4. Auburn will attempt to restock its offensive line in the next recruiting cycle.

5. Robb Smith has been hired to become Arkansas’ defensive coordinator.

6. Dwight Collins provides an SEC football pre-spring perspective.

7. Georgia wide receiver Chris Conley gathered friends to film a video homage to “Star Wars.”

8. How much did James Franklin’s departure hurt Vanderbilt’s recruiting in the 2014 class?

9. Who will be the SEC’s top quarterback entering the 2014 season? Barrett Sallee takes a stab at it.

SEC Basketball

10. LSU guard Malik Morgan is lost for the season with a torn knee tendon.

11. It’s hard to predict if LSU will be able to turn the corner this season.

12. Don’t bring up the idea of Florida going 18-0 in the SEC, writes Pat Dooley.

13. This NCAA tournament projection at USA Today has only three SEC teams being selected.

Extra

14. Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart will serve a three-game suspension for shoving a Texas Tech fan Saturday night.

15. This story by Eric Prisbell will help people learn more about Smart’s history.

16. Metta World Peace said he believes Smart can learn from the mistake he made on Saturday.

17. Florida and Kentucky remain the only SEC teams in the CBS Sports top 25 (and one).

18. No. 1 Syracuse improved its record to 23-0 with a 57-44 win over Clemson.

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Mizzou Outlasts Oklahoma State In Cotton Bowl Shootout

postgame-links-150x1501Missouri 41 – Oklahoma State 31. Video Highlights

1. Leading by just a field goal and Oklahoma State driving, defensive end Michael Sam sacks quarterback, forces fumble that leads to game’s final touchdown.

2. Joe Walljasper: “Gary Pinkel became the winningest coach in Missouri football history in the most Gary Pinkel way possible.”

3. Vahe Gregorian: “Simply put, the Tigers had to win this to make this season special.”

4. Bryan Burwell:  ”This was a perfectly delicious way to end a special Mizzou football season.”

5. Berry Tramel:  ”To raise its stock substantially, the Big 12 needs to beat the SEC. “

6. Backup quarterback Maty Mauk provides a spark but plays just two series while starting QB James Franklin struggled most of the night.

7. While Franklin struggled, the running game flourished.  256 yards on the night – average of 5.4 yards per carry.

8. Goodbye Kony Ealy.  Junior defensive end intends to declare for NFL draft.  Fellow defensive end Markus Golden says he’s staying; running back Henry Josey undecided.

9. Gary Pinkel busts a move.

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Pinkel’s Decision To Go Easy In Mizzou’s Fall Camp Paying Dividends So Far

bubble-wrapAs early as SEC Media Days last July, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel let it be known that he would ease up on the amount of hitting in his team’s fall camp.  The Tigers’ 2012 season had been scuppered early on by numerous injuries.  Mizzou’s hot-seat-bound coach didn’t want a repeat performance in 2013.

But on August 1st, we pointed out that Pinkel previous successes at Missouri — the man won 30 games between 2006 and 2008 — had not been undercut by breaks, sprains and tears during rough-and-tumble preseason practices.  We also made note that previous SEC squads had tried to avoid injuries by cutting down on practice hitting… only to wind up with less than physical teams once the actual games began.  Georgia’s disappointing 2010 was the last, best example of this.

On October 23rd, it looks as though our fears were unfounded.  If anything, Mizzou’s 2013 team looks more physical than its 2012 incarnation.

Currently, the Tigers rank third in the SEC in rush defense.  They are allowing just 116.5 yards per game and a miniscule 3.61 yards-per-carry average.  That last number is second only to Alabama on the SEC statistical charts.

On the other side of the ball, Missouri is second in rushing yards per game (234.4) and third in yards per rush (5.72).

And do you know who leads the SEC in sacks?  Uh-huh.  Missouri has 23 through seven games for an average of 3.29 per contest.  Nine of those sacks belong to defensive end Michael Sam.

Pinkel’s 2013 squad appears to be the exception to the rule that states you have to be tough in August to be tough in the fall.  We’ll have to remember that the next time a coach decides to take it easy on the contact front in preseason camp.  Clearly — at least on this occasion — some SEC teams really can benefit from putting on the bubble wrap.

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