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Williams Leaves A&M For Raiders

When Kevin Sumlin took over in College Station, he retained one member of Mike Sherman’s old Texas A&M staff.  Now that coach has up and gone on his own.

Defensive line coach Terrell Williams has left the Aggies to join the staff of first-year Oakland Raiders coach Dennis Allen.  Allen just happens to be a former A&M player.  And Williams happens to be a California native.

Sumlin will now begin the search for a new D-line coach to fill out his initial staff at A&M.

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Texas A&M Lineman Killed In Car Crash

Sad news from the state of Texas as we head into the holidays – senior Texas A&M offensive lineman Joseph Villavisencio was killed in car accident yesterday.  Witnesses say the player swerved to avoid hitting a buzzard in the road ahead of him and his car went directly into the path of an oncoming 18-wheeler.

“The world lost a very special person today,” former Aggie coach Mike Sherman said.  “My heart aches for his mom, dad and sister, all of whom were so dear to him.  His teammates, coaches and fellow students will remember him as someone who would do anything for anybody.  I will always remember his as offering me a smile whenever we talked and would always answer my questions with a simple, ‘yes, coach’ or ‘no, coach.’  He was one of the most respectful and high character players I have ever coached.  It was an honor and privilege to have known him, and to have coached him.  Although his life on this earth was way too short, his impact on the people he me will be everlasting.  I will never forget him.”

Before the accident, Villavisencio had participated with his A&M teammates in presenting gifts that were purchased by the team for youngsters and families at a nearby mission.

From all of us at MrSEC.com, our thoughts and prayers go out to the young man’s family and to the Texas A&M football program.

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Richt To A&M And Other SEC Coaching Rumors

Coaching searches can lead to some crazy rumors hitting the ol’ interweb.  One out of a hundred might come true.  From someone we spoke to inside the Georgia administration, the first big rumor of the day will fall in with the 99 that turn out to be nothing more than talk…

 

* Mark Richt of Georgia to Texas A&M.  That rumor first floated earlier this week.  It went nuts yesterday with Brent Zwerneman of The Houston Chronicle and The San Antonio Express-News tweeted:

 

“Finally got confirmation the Mark Richt talk is legitimate.  Should A&M hire him, Bama DC Kirby Smart likely would head home to Georgia.”

 

He later wrote that a source told him Richt was “in the mix” for the Aggie job.

Then it hit the messageboards.  Then Paul Finebaum reportedly pushed the story as well.

But there doesn’t appear to be a whole lot to it.  We spoke with someone inside the UGA administration this morning and were told that Georgia officials fully expect Richt to be “back in Athens next football season.”

The coach was in Tampa for most of the day yesterday at an Outback Bowl function.  And who was spending most of the day with Richt?  His boss, AD Greg McGarity.  McGarity texted a number of UGA beatwriters yesterday — including Seth Emerson of The Macon Telegraph and The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer — to say “No truth whatsoever” to the Richt/A&M talk.

Emerson writes that “a source” he spoke to earlier in the week “questioned whether Richt would want to ‘uproot his family’ and start over now.”

More than likely, what you’re seeing is some old fashioned negotiating.  UGA and Richt are working on an extension following the school’s 10-win, SEC East championship season.  You can bet Richt and his agent would like one of those no-way-in-Hell buyouts that so many other coaches have.  He does not want to wind up right back on the hot seat the next time he loses four games in a season or slips against Florida.

Leaking word of contact between A&M and his client would be one way for Richt’s agent to try and create a bit more leverage for himself in negotiations.

At the same time, Houston’s Kevin Sumlin has appeared to be the frontrunner at Texas A&M since Mike Sherman was fired.  But speak to someone on that campus and you’ll find that the fanbase isn’t exactly thrilled with replacing Mike Sherman with another offense-first guy, one who happened to get drilled on national TV by Southern Miss last week.

All of a sudden — amidst a bit of a Sumlin backlash — A&M sources have started leaking word that Richt and Boise State’s Chris Peterson are serious candidates.  From a PR standpoint, Aggie brass might be trying to send the message to their fans that they’re going after the best of the best.  Better to do your due diligence and come back with Sumlin than to just go grab him.

Bottom line?  Richt might land at Texas A&M.  Anything’s possible.  But we don’t believe it’s going to happen and our source at UGA says the situation is a lot more smoke than fire.

 

* Down at Florida, Shortly after Charlie Weis was named the new head coach at Kansas — the formal introduction comes today — Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com wrote that “Florida coach Will Muschamp was not aware that Weis had even interviewed.”

But that’s certainly not the message Muschamp himself sent at a Gator Bowl event last evening.  He claimed that Weis told him of his interest in the KU job and that he is behind Weis “1000 percent.”  From what’s being posted on Twitter, Gator players were a lot more stunned than Muschamp.

Florida must now find a new offensive coordinator.  Muschamp says he’ll still go after someone to run a pro-style system.  In the interim, running backs coach Brian White will call the plays against Ohio State in the Gators’ bowl game.  White is an Urban Meyer holdover, by the way.

Muschamp said White would be a candidate for the full-time job (yeah, right) and that former Gator quarterback Kerwin Bell — now the head coach at Jacksonville University — would also be considered.  The early rumored favorite appears to be former Auburn and current Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges.  Muschamp served on the same AU staff with Borges, so he’s certainly familiar with him.

 

* Speaking of Auburn, the hot name connected to the Tigers’ defensive coordinator job appears to be that of Mark Stoops.  AU messageboards lit up with plane-tracking info yesterday, but Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher says no one has called him or FSU AD Randy Spetman to ask for permission to speak with his defensive coordinator.

Stoops oversaw a Top 10 defense in Tallahassee this past season.

 

* New Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze has announced the hiring of four coaches for his staff, but none are surprises.  All four men coached with Freeze at Arkansas State and were expected to join him in Oxford:  Tom Allen (linebackers), Maurice Harris (tight ends, recruiting coordinator), Chris Kiffin (defensive line coach), and Dave Wommack (defensive coordinator and safeties).

 

* Tennessee defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox remains a candidate at Arizona State according to various internet reports.  ASUDevils.com — the Rivals site for the Sun Devils — goes so far as to say: “It is expected that if offered, Wilcox would accept and possibly be in a salary range of $1.5 million to perhaps a maximum of $2 million annually.”

Speaking to a source inside the UT athletic department, it seems the Wilcox-to-ASU story is more rumor than fact at the moment.  The source said “a more realistic scenario” would have special teams coach Eric Russell heading to Washington State to rejoin Mike Leach.  As we reported earlier this week, Russell worked for Leach at Texas Tech and his name has been mentioned a number of times in connection with WSU.

 

* Robbie Neiswanger of ArkansasNews.com lists three names that have been connected to the vacant Arkansas defensive coordinator position: Tyrone Nix (former D-coordinator at Ole Miss), ex-Miami head coach Randy Shannon (who Neiswanger says “does not appear to be a candidate now”), and the much-rumored Paul Haynes of Ohio State.  Speaking to people in the Natural State, we have heard Haynes’ names — as well as Joe Whitt Jr.’s name — from the moment of Willy Robinson’s “resignation.”

Bobby Petrino is also search for a new special teams coordinator.

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SEC Headlines – 12/8/11 AM Edition

1.  Texas A&M AD Bill Byrne says he didn’t like having to fire Mike Sherman over the phone after news of the decision began to leak.  (A&M shouldn’t have fired Sherman in the first place, but we’ll have more on that when they make their hire.)

2.  This report — and there have been several varying takes on this subject — claims that Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain backed out on a deal with Memphis.

3.  Some homecoming, Alabama was upset 74-62 last night at Dayton, Anthony Grant’s alma mater.

4.  Bad statistical numbers finally caught up with ex-Auburn defensive coordinator Ted Roof.

5.  Running back Knile Davis says a positive attitude helped him get through rehab for his injured ankle.

6.  The awards keep rolling in at LSU.

7.  Despite all that offseason work with John Lucas down in Houston, MSU’s Renardo Sidney likely isn’t “draftable under any scenario right now.”

8.  Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze — just named the Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year — plans to discipline by “accountability groups.”

9.  Two names that popped up on the UM rumor mill pre-Freeze: Phillip Fulmer and Jimmy Johnson.

10.  Isn’t wasn’t pretty, but Florida bested Arizona 78-72 at the O-Dome last night.

11.  Georgia Tech won at Stegeman Coliseum for the first time in 35 years last night, 68-56, sending Georgia to its fourth-straight loss overall.

12.  Think Steve Spurrier’s recruiting well at South Carolina?  For the second year in a row his team features the SEC’s Freshman of the Year.

13.  Tennessee’s Jeronne Maymon needs to start working the glass a bit more.

14.  Festus Ezeli was back in the lineup and Vanderbilt got back in the win column with an 87-83 victory over Davidson.

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SEC Headlines – 12/2/11

1.  Alabama’s 24-game home winning streak ended on a last-second shot by Georgetown in a 57-55 thriller last night.

2.  The Chick-fil-A Bowl would have no problem with an Auburn-Clemson rematch. 

3.  Auburn coaches received an eye-popping $2.6 million in bonuses for winning last season’s BCS Championship Game.  (Kinda puts LSU’s $1.15 million best-case bonuses to shame.)

4.  Arkansas is waiting to learn its bowl destination.

5.  UAB is reportedly interested speaking with Hog offensive coordinator Garrick McGee and Auburn running backs coach Curtis Luper — among others — about its head coaching job.

6.  The Ole Miss roundball team recorded a 70-68 win at DePaul last night.

7.  MSU’s Dee Bost is benefiting from a shade less playing time this season.

8.  Texas A&M might not have done itself any favors in firing Mike Sherman.

9.  After 20 years of success, was Florida due for a down season?

10.  Despite an 81-59 win over St. John’s (and North Carolina coming up next), John Calipari says his team was “just inept offensively.

11.  With a loss to Providence last night, South Carolina is off to its worst start in 47 years.  Ouch.

12.  This writer says Derek Dooley can’t ignore the role he played in Tennessee’s 5-7 season.

13.  James Franklin isn’t going anywhere… Vanderbilt will announce a new deal with the young coach today.

14.  Missouri has launched its own Mizzou Network… on the internet.

15.  Special bonus: How long before Nike brings this idea to the US… allowing you to put yourself on the field with your favorite team (sort of)?


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Texas A&M Fires Sherman; Will Enter SEC With A New Coach

When you’ve got oil money behind you, it appears you can pay a $9 million buyout pretty easily.  (UPDATE — Sherman’s buyout is only about $5.8M as opposed to the $9M that was reported earlier in The Houston Chronicle.)

Texas A&M has fired head coach Mike Sherman just a week after president R. Bowen Loftin gave him a vote of confidence.  Of course, a heartbreaking loss to hated Texas played out between then and now and that defeat clearly served as the straw that broke Reveille’s back.   The Aggies finished 6-6 despite preseason predictions for a Top 10 season.

Ole Miss fans are fearful that Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart might be on A&M’s wish list — because the Rebels are looking him over, too — but we hear the Aggies might actually stay close to home to find their next coach.  Houston’s Kevin Sumlin wouldn’t have far to move.

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SEC Recruiting Headlines – 10/18/11

1. Athlete Channing Ward put on a show last week for Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen.

2. Offensive tackle Avery Young will take his first official visit to Auburn on Oct. 29.

3. Auburn commit Josh Holsey is planning to visit other schools.

4. Vanderbilt recruits weighed in on the confrontation between Commodores coach James Franklin and Georgia assistant Todd Grantham.

5. 2013 Orlando linebacker Ryan Rankin is headed to Tennessee if the Vols offer him a scholarship.

6. Clemson is back in the picture for running back Todd Gurley of Tarboro, N.C.

7. Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman discusses the school’s move to the SEC and the impact on recruiting.

8. Alabama could receive a visit from a former Southern Cal commit.

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SEC Headlines 10/1/2011 Part One

Kentucky at LSU

1. Limiting turnovers a key for Kentucky.  LSU is first in the SEC and fourth in the country in turnover margin.

2. The quarterback spot at LSU: Will an “offense with identity” be threatened by the return of Jordan Jefferson?

3. Kentucky’s biggest (only) advantage? Since 1960, LSU has won 78 percent of its home night games, but only49 percent during the day.

4. Jim Kleinpeter: LSU fans get a chance to celebrate the No. 1 team in the nation Saturday - if they can get up early enough.

Buffalo at Tennessee

5. The maturation of quarterback Tyler Bray: ” I think he’s on a really nice growth pattern right now,” says offensive coordinator Jim Chaney.

6. “Today is the last mulligan for Dooley and Co.”

7. Tennessee leads the SEC in passing offense but has just 245 rushing yards in the first three games.

Alabama at Florida

8. No. 3 vs. No. 12.  Alabama wide receiver Darius Hanks: ““That’s why you come to Alabama, to play in big games like this. Big-time players make big plays in big games.”

9. Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis: “There’s a difference between hoping to win and expecting to win. And I promise you, we expect to win. We’re not hoping.”

10. Since people began calling Ben-Hill Griffin Stadium “The Swamp”, Florida is 8-7 against higher-ranked opponents.

11. Will Muschamp: “It’s going to come down to tackling.” LA Times: “Florida might have as much to say about this year’s title race as any team.”

12. Chris Rainey had a reputation for opening his mouth before he thinks – but that’s now changing.

Texas A&M vs. Arkansas

13. Aggies coach Mike Sherman is 0-for-4 against the SEC.

14. Will the Aggies be able to rush the Hogs?

15. Once A&M enters the SEC, will SEC fans travel to College Station.

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“A&M To SEC” Topic — All Aboard!

The rumored move of Texas A&M to the SEC has been a fun one to watch for those of us here at MrSEC.com.  A year ago, most pundits were projecting Clemson, Georgia Tech or Florida State to the Southeastern Conference.  A&M was viewed as a throw-in candidate only if the league could grab Texas.

We saw things differently.  In our multi-part series “Expounding on Expansion” — which was about 75 pages if printed out — we looked at expansion from a business sense, not from a fan perspective.

Despite the mutterings of the masses, we knew and stated the following:


1) Academics would play a big role in expansion.  (At the league’s spring meetings, we saw SEC presidents prove that football doesn’t rule the roost, despite the money it brings to league coffers.)  I recently spoke to someone who served in Penn State’s athletic department during that school’s move to the Big Ten.  In his view, academics absolutely drove the bus on that move.  Ignore the facts if you wish, but these are schools first and while football is a large part of the equation, it isn’t the only part of the equation.  (This piece on academics and politics includes a history lesson on A&M-SEC relations.  And here’s a conference-by-conference, school-by-school look at academics.)

2) Distance and travel wouldn’t be the end-all, be-all.  Most fans aren’t driving from Gainesville to Fayetteville now, yet the SEC hasn’t collapsed.  The Pac-12 stretches from Seattle to Tuscon.  The Big East reaches from New York to Chicago to Ft. Worth.  And the ACC’s footprint spreads from Boston to Miami.  It’s an atlas, not a Bible.  Don’t grow too attached to it.

3) The “South” has nothing to do with it.  “SEC” is a brand, not a definition.  The conference doesn’t have to look inside its own borders to expand.  The idea is outward growth — bringing in new TV markets, new recruiting ground, and new fans.  Interestingly, I recently read someone who pooh-poohed Missouri as a potential SEC candidate because the state is not football crazy and because it was a border state in the Civil War.  Egads.  I don’t guess that person realized that he’d just described Kentucky, as well.  (Here’s our take on why the SEC should act boldly on the expansion front.)


Last summer, we looked at 18 different schools as expansion candidates.  We graded them in several different areas: population base, academics, athletic budget, athletic success, location, etc, etc.  (Here’s a look at how we chose our criteria.)

You can read our reviews of each school here.  Pay close attention to our review of Texas A&M.

By the numbers, we found that A&M ranked behind only Texas in terms of being a great potential mate for Mike Slive’s league.

Even after Expansionpalooza wound down last June, we wrote in July that A&M to the SEC was just a matter of time.  And in January of this past year, we speculated that the Longhorn Network could provide the Aggies a final push eastward toward the SEC West.

Now it seems that the whole world is dancing to the “A&M to the SEC” beat.  Well, we say, “welcome.”  This story is no more clear today than it was 15 to 18 months ago when we first started writing about it, but at least a few more people are opening their eyes and recognizing that this marriage will eventually come to fruition.

Twitter exploded yesterday with unconfirmed reports that A&M and the SEC were already working out membership details and that the Aggies were prepping to give their Big 12 mates the news by the end of August.

Messageboards were filled with conspiracy theories.  OutkickTheCoverage.com bought into one — the idea that Texas has been forcing the likes of Nebraska and Colorado and Texas A&M to make moves with a flurry of DeLoss Dodd’s Jedi mind tricks.

All the talk meant A&M coach Mike Sherman had to dance around the SEC topic at practice yesterday.

We stated yesterday that our sources inside the SEC were mum on the subject.  For that reason, we didn’t buy into yesterday’s Twitterlanche. 

Turns out, Brent Zwerneman of The San Antonio Express-News and The Houston Chronicle poured some cold water on the hullaballoo courtesy of a “high-ranking A&M official” who said there will be “no imminent announcement or anything of that matter” anytime soon.


So here’s what everyone needs to keep in mind at this point:


1) Slive and Texas A&M officials came close to making a deal last summer — with help from A&M regent Gene Stallings.  The groundwork for a deal is in place, you can be sure.  So in all likelihood it wouldn’t take much for A&M to land in the SEC.

2) Slive wants no part of blowing up or breaking apart someone else’s league.  The SEC nabbed Arkansas from the SWC back in the day, but Slive and the current league presidents don’t want to go that route again.  Therefore…

3) The ball is in A&M’s court.  When the Big 12 finally breaks apart — and it will — the Aggies will call Slive and Slive will answer with a smile on his face.


That phone call isn’t coming anytime soon.  The Big 12 schools will try to hold together for now.  They will all experience life in a Longhorn Network world and then make their decisions as to how each wants to react.  When that happens, the Aggies will move to their right. 

But it’s going to take some time.

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Could New Texas Network Drive A&M To The SEC?

Last spring and summer, we took a detailed look at what conference expansion could mean for the Southeastern Conference.  You can download and read our multi-part series “Expounding on Expansion” right here. 

In our research, we determined that one school would be (and is) a sure-thing fit with the SEC: Texas A&M.  Going back as far as the 1980s the school and the conference have flirted with one another.  We pointed out that A&M is very much an SEC type of program — rural, massive facilities, rabid fans and rich tradition, etc.  The school also offers just about everything the more sought-after University of Texas offers — major television markets and a foothold onto fertile recruiting grounds — without all the ego.

Then, lo and behold, we all learned that A&M and the SEC had already been chatting it up again.  While Texas was winking at the Big Ten and playing footsie with the Pac-10, the Aggies were meeting with Mike Slive.  And former Alabama coach Gene Stallings was using his regent status at A&M to push the school East from the inside.

A&M to the SEC likely would have come to pass, too, had the Big 12 not been saved at the last minute using duct tape and Super Glue.

As we’ve written previously, eventually it will come to pass.

Now that Texas has unveiled its new television network partnership with ESPN, more folks are wondering if A&M might head to the SEC sooner rather than later.

Kirk Bohls of The Austin American-Statesman wrote late Sunday night that one prominent Aggie told him: “I certainly think (Texas’ network) is going to create some reaction from some Aggies who will say, ‘(The heck with) Texas.  Let’s do our own deal.’  I don’t think Texas is winning friends and influencing people among their Big 12 brethren.”  Bohls, however, does point out that his source doesn’t sense “a groundswell” of support from A&M’s president or athletic director for an SEC move at the moment.

There are those who feel A&M needs to remain locked to Texas like a remora to a shark.  ESPN.com’s David Ubben is one of those folks.  He believes A&M should just stay put even though “the majority of the fan base supported a move to the SEC” last summer.  Ubben writes that A&M has “historically been an underachieving program” and would “win less in the SEC than it already has in the Big 12.” 

Just a couple of quick questions for you at this point.  How’s Arkansas’ program looking these days with Bobby Petrino at the helm?  Do you think A&M would win if it hired Nick Saban?

The point is this: Recruiting and fanbase and money are important, but if you land the right coach, everything else will fall into place.  A&M might have the right coach in Mike Sherman.  And even if he’s not the right guy, the next guy might be.  A move to the SEC should not be ruled out due of fear. 

What Ubben fails to grasp is the level of parity that exists in the SEC.  Texas and Oklahoma dominate the Big 12.  They will always dominate the Big 12.  Have-nots do not traditionally rise in that league because they can’t compete financially.  But in the SEC, it’s a different story.  Revenue is shared.  So is hope.  Example: No league champion has repeated since 1997-98.

Since 1998, five league schools have won national championships.  Throw in Georgia’s #2 finish in 2007 and half the conference has been ranked #1 or #2 in the final polls over that span.

Four schools have won titles in the last five years alone, including Auburn.  No knock on Auburn, but the school is as rural as you can get. You think Texas A&M doesn’t have the tradition, facilities and recruiting base to compete with Auburn?  With Arkansas?  And those schools are competing quite well with Alabama, Florida and LSU.  Why couldn’t A&M?

Whether or not Texas’ new network will speed up the Aggies’ drive to the SEC remains to be seen… but it certainly can’t be doing much for the Big 12′s espirit de corps.

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