Albama Arkansas Auburn Florida Georgia Kentucky LSU Mississippi State Missouri Ole-Miss USC Tennessee Texas A&M Vanderbilt

Slive’s Return For Another Year Is Good News For The SEC

Mike-SliveFile this one under: “Not a surprise.”

SEC commissioner Mike Slive revealed to The Birmingham News yesterday that he will stay on in his current position at least through the 2014-15 academic year.  With his contract set to run out this summer, some wondered if he might walk away.  Slive himself said last spring that he would take a few months to decide his future.

We, however, have said numerous times that there was no way in the world Slive would leave his post before the SEC Network actually launched.  To think he would step aside and watch someone else launch his crowning achievement was far-fetched at best.

The 73-year-old said:


“I’ve got too much going on.  I’ve got the (SEC) Network to work on.  I’ve got football schedule to solve.  We’ve got the NCAA restructuring.  We’ve got a lot of important issues to take care of.  I wouldn’t miss it for the world…

I’ll be here as long as you see me.  I’ll be working until I’m not working.”



While many fans take aim on authority — “The NCAA is out to get us.”  ”The SEC office is out to get us.  ”Slive is out to get us.” — the SEC’s current commissioner has done a spectacular job for the league.  He’s helped the SEC lead the way in television revenue via landmark contracts with CBS and ESPN inked back in 2008.  Now, seeing that league-specific networks are the future, he’s cut a deal with ESPN that will see the SEC Network reach more homes at start-up than any other conference channel in history.

Slive oversaw the league’s first expansion in 20+ years which has further increased the league’s wealth.   The SEC won seven consecutive BCS titles on his watch and nine of 15 (almost 10 of 16).  He led the way in terms of the soon-to-launch College Football Playoff.  He pushed hardest for full-cost-of-tuition scholarships and those will soon become a reality.  Hell, the league’s reputation as an outlaw conference has even been cleaned up a bit.

A bit.

About the only thing Slive has erred on — in our opinion — was botching the SEC basketball schedule and allowing countless longtime rivalries to wither away unnecessarily.  But if that’s the biggest misstep in 12 years of leading the league, well, that makes for a pretty good track record.

Slive’s return is good news for the league.

Post Comments » Comments (4)



Remember When Dumping Divisional Play Was Supposed To Help SEC Basketball?

man-taking-the-garbage-out“Our goal is to have eight teams in the discussion for the NCAA Tournament and we don’t want to hurt ht top teams from winning the national title.”

– John Calipari, Kentucky basketball coach, June of 2011


“The perception of the league has been that if one division was playing well, the other was getting criticized.  That can’t be pointed out anymore.  We’re hoping this will have traction for us going forward.”

– Jeremy Foley, Florida athletic director, June of 2011


Or not.

Back in the summer of 2011 the SEC was coming off a five-bid NCAA tourney.  Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee and Vanderbilt had all reached the dance.  On Selection Sunday, 21-11 Alabama — 12-4 in the SEC — was shunned.  The Crimson Tide had played in a weaker West Division.  Obviously, then, the perception of playing in a weaker division had scuppered Bama’s tourney hopes.  Doing away with those divisions would end eliminate that problem once and for all.

At least that was the thinking.

In reality, SEC basketball has only gotten worse since trashing divisional play in 2011-12, even with the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M.

Let’s take a look at the SEC’s history of NCAA bids from 1985 (when the tournament expanded to 64 teams) through 2011:


  6-Bid Years   5-Bid Years   4-Bid Years   3-Bid Years   2-Bid Years
  1987   1985   1986   1990
  1999   1988   1992   2009
  2000   1989   1993
  2001   1991   1994
  2002   1995   1996
  2003   1997   2010
  2004   1998
  2006   2005
  2008   2007


Now let’s look at those numbers another way including the years since divisional play was ditched…


1997: 5

1998: 5

1999: 6

2000: 6

2001: 6

2002: 6

2003: 6

2004: 6

2005: 5

2006: 6

2007: 5

2008: 6

2009: 3

2010: 4

2011: 5

2012: 4 (no divisions)

2013: 3 (no divisions)


Here in 2014, the league is struggling once again.  The SEC will likely receive three bids, but four bids or even two bids (which hasn’t happened since 1979) are still outside possibilities.

The league has gone from averaging 5.6 bids per year (1997-2008) to just 3.8 bids over the past five seasons (2009-2013).  The SEC’s basketball problem is larger than divisional play, folks.  It’s a lack of basketball talent in the SEC footprint, lower-priced coaches, facilities that lag behind football, and so on.

Tossing out divisions in basketball hasn’t helped on the NCAA Tournament front.  An argument could be made that the decision has actually hurt the SEC on its home front.  Missouri and Texas A&M have quickly adapted to football life in the SEC, but the same can’t be said for basketball.  If Missouri were in an SEC East Division in basketball, playing twice the same teams it faces in football each year, the Tigers’ might create rivalries more quickly.  And if Texas A&M were battling the likes of Arkansas, LSU, Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss and Mississippi State twice each, it might generate more interest than Texas A&M versus Georgia or Texas A&M versus Tennessee.

That said, the SEC is currently right in step with the other major conferences from a scheduling format perspective.  Only the Big South, Mid-American, and Ohio Valley Conferences have failed to dump divisional play.  So be it.

But nixing the divisions sure hasn’t helped as much as the SEC’s ADs and coaches hoped it would back in the summer of 2011.



Post Comments » Comments (21)



Pearl Deserves A Second Chance… With Conditions

bruce-pearl3Hey.  Ya heard that Bruce Pearl’s show-cause penalty ends in August?

Of course you have.  A possible Pearl return to college coaching has been tackled by writers for CBS, Fox and USA Today in the past 10 days alone.  Nowhere is this possibility a hotter topic than in Knoxville, Tennessee where Pearl still lives and his replacement still struggles to win over fans.  A disappointing Year Three for Cuonzo Martin might leave his Vols out of the NCAA Tournament and — if things break badly — the coach out of a job.

The majority of Volunteer fans want Pearl back, regardless of Martin’s finish this season.  A worst case scenario for the school might be allowing its ex-coach to move on to another school as it retains Martin or hires some other replacement.  Boston College is Pearl’s alma mater and the Eagles’ job in the ACC will probably be open at year’s end.  If Pearl returned to Chesnut Hill it would be far better for UT than if an SEC school did the hiring.  It’s one thing for Pearl to succeed in the Northeast (and he’s likely to succeed wherever he goes).  It’s another for him to succeed in Tennessee’s back yard.

But that’s all if a school offers Pearl a job.  And that’s not as much of a guaranteed cinch as most seem to think.  (More on that in a second.)

Our feelings on Pearl returning to the sidelines somewhere?  Hey, everybody deserves a second chance.  By August he’ll have done his time in the NCAA hoosegow.  If a school has no worries about further incidents, who’s to block his return?  Any school making such a move, however, should consider the fact that the coach has twice found himself at the center of controversy — as an Iowa assistant who secretly tape-recorded a recruit in order to turn in another school and as the man who needlessly messed up his own good thing at Tennessee.

Schools considering Pearl are also likely to take into account what happened to Indiana when Kelvin Sampson proved he couldn’t stop over-dialing recruits.  Sampson had gotten Oklahoma’s program into trouble.  The NCAA put restrictions on Sampson at OU but Indiana hired him anyway.  When he was found guilty at Indiana of violating those limitations that had already been put on him, he was handed a five-year show-cause penalty (that ended last November).  The Hoosier program struggled to rebuild in the aftermath of the NCAA investigation.  You can be certain any school hiring Pearl will be inviting NCAA sleuths onto its campus just as Indiana did when it hired Sampson.  So Pearl’s re-entry into basketball coaching is not a sure thing.

Those are simple facts.  So is this: Most ex-cons don’t land jobs working bank security fresh out of the big house.  Translation: Pearl probably shouldn’t be allowed to pick up right where he left off.  That’s not to say he should be branded or forced to wear a scarlet letter, but any school bringing him on board should protect itself as best as possible against any future slip-ups.  There should be stipulations in any contract put before Pearl.

Conditions like these…


1.  His salary should start on the low side (especially if we’re talking about Tennessee, where he was already given a $1 million parting gift even as he left the school in the NCAA’s sites).  Let’s say $500,000 per year.  Total.  The school could then build in some major escalators tied to NCAA compliance, player grades, player behavior and, of course, wins.  Those add-ons might make such a deal more palatable for Pearl.  But the fact remains, if he returns to coaching immediately off of his show-cause penalty he’ll be the first hoops coach to do so.  Any school dealing with Pearl will hold all the cards during contract negotiations.  And if Pearl really wants to return to coaching and to do things the right way, he should have no problem taking a little less cash up front — a mere $500,000 — and meeting some performance goals to hike his salary.

2.  The school in question should use a bit of the savings from Pearl’s salary offer and hire an extra compliance officer or two.  Pearl will need to earn his employer’s trust (whoever that employer might be).  Until he proves he’s ready to live up to all the nice things he’s been saying over the last three years, a school should protect itself by putting its own gumshoes on his case.  Bumps, butt-dials, other bungles… even the slightest accidental misstep by the coach or his staff would need to be immediately reported to the NCAA.  Pat Haden tripled the size of Southern Cal’s compliance staff when he took over as the Trojans’ AD.  There’s no need to go to that length, but a couple of extra compliance folks to work with Pearl would be a smart move.

3.  Finally, Pearl’s contract should state that any misinformation provided to his campus bosses and/or NCAA officials would result in his immediate dismissal with zero buyout for the coach.  Pearl has told group after group that he’s learned a hard lesson about honesty.  (Who of us ever really learns to be completely honest all of the time?)  A new employer would need for Pearl to make good on his word to, well, make good on his word.  The message in a Pearl contract should be simple and clear: “If you lie, you’re gone.”


If Pearl wants back into coaching, a lower starting salary, some extra compliance officers and a clause saying he won’t lie to his bosses or the NCAA should not be dealbreakers.  Especially since any school hiring him will be taking an NCAA risk to do so.

Pearl has made mistakes.  He shouldn’t be banished from the hoops world for them.  But he’ll also need to gain the trust of whoever out there is willing to hire him.  That goes for non-SEC schools and SEC schools alike.  And it’s especially true at Tennessee where Pearl burned an administration that initially tried to stand by him even after he’d admitted to lying to the NCAA and even after he’d called a player’s parent in order to coax him into a cover-up.

At, we’re all for second chances.  If Martin gets KO’d at Tennessee, we’re all for Pearl getting a second chance at UT.  But he’d have to earn it.



Post Comments » Comments (12)



The SEC Might Land 3 In The NCAA Tourney, But Only 2 Deserve To Go

gfx-by-the-numbersThe NCAA Tournament has grown in recent years to a bizarre 68-team format that includes a pair of play-in games for 11- or 12-seeds.  Aside from aiding television viewership, having play-in games for teams not on the extreme outside of the tourney bubble makes zero sense.  Logic suggests those games should be reserved for squads fighting for the 16-seeds, but the networks know that a few big conference teams will provide better ratings for the “First Four” than four games featuring the likes of North Carolina at Winston-Marlboro, Texas Amish University and Eastern Adirondacks State.

That said, no one should be happier about the fact that some big schools can play their way into the dance than the folks in the SEC office.  If not for those play-in games, the Southeastern Conference is looking like a two-bid league at best.  Heck, it should be a two-bid league.

Obviously, the SEC’s bubble teams will be compared to bubble teams from across America, not just against one another.  As of this morning, however, only two SEC squads rank in the top 49 of the all-important RPI.  Missouri’s loss to Georgia dropped the Tigers to #50.  Tennessee ranks 56th, LSU 68th and everyone else is ranked 70th (Arkansas) or worse.

Using the NCAA’s official RPI from the past three Selection Sundays (since the field expanded to 68), we’ve found the following to be true:


*  There were 31 automatic bids and 37 at-large bids into the 2011, 2012 and 2013 tournaments.  (This year there will be 32 automatic bids and just 36 at-large bids.)

*  Of the 111 at-large bids awarded over the last three years, 82 have gone to teams ranked between 1 and 39 in RPI.

*  Of those same 111 at-large bids, just 15 have gone to teams ranked between 40 and 49.

*  Of those 111 at-large bids, only 11 have gone to teams ranked between 50 and 59.

*  And only three bids have gone to squads ranked 60 or higher.


From a percentage point of view, teams ranked in the top 39 of the RPI on Selection Sunday have taken up 73.8% of the at-large bids.  Only 13.5% have gone to teams ranked between 40 and 49.  Just 9.9% have gone to teams ranked between 50 and 59.  Only 2.7% of the at-large bids the last three years have gone to teams ranked 60 or higher in the RPI.

That tells us that as of today, Missouri and Tennessee would likely stand about a 10% chance of making the field.  And since neither of those squads have league records over the .500 mark in an SEC currently ranked as just the seventh best league, 10% might be pushing it.

However you slice it — by the numbers or via “the eye test” — only Florida and Kentucky appear NCAA-worthy as of today.  Can Missouri or Tennessee do enough over the final two weeks and the SEC Tournament to improve their chances?  Sure.  But from what we’ve seen of them, what gives anyone the confidence that they will take advantage of those opportunities?

It’s certainly fitting that Mizzou’s damaging loss last night came to Georgia.  The Bulldogs, as we’ve noted on several occasions, expose all that’s wrong with SEC hoops this season.  UGA went just 6-6 in non-conference play and they’ve lost four games to teams outside the RPI top 100.  Yet they now stand firmly in the third place in the SEC with a gaudy 10-5 mark (which should cool the seat from underneath Mark Fox’s rear).

The Southeastern Conference is a bad basketball conference yet again this season.  It appears to get worse with each game played.  And looking at the numbers, there’s just a 10% or so chance — as of today — that the league will receive a third at-large NCAA Tournament bid.

So thank goodness for those play-in games.  Without them, the SEC’s odds for grabbing a third invitation would be even longer.


Post Comments » Comments (14)



SEC Headlines 2/25/2014

headlines-tueSEC Football

1. Legendary South Carolina high school coach Bobby Bentley is joining Gus Malzahn’s staff at Auburn.

2. Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin needs to get the Aggies’ offseason together, writes Brent Zwerneman.

3. Florida has “more pressing needs” than an indoor practice facility, according to Will Muschamp.

4. Did you know? Matthew McConaughey’s father played football at Kentucky.

5. Athlon Sports ranks all 14 football rosters in the SEC heading into the 2014 season.

SEC Basketball

6. Basketball Hall of Famer C.M. Newton called for Alabama fans to leave Anthony Grant alone. “He’s a damn good coach,” Newton said.

7. Florida is No. 1 in the Associated Press poll for the first time since 2007. The Gators won the national title that year.

8. Florida will finish a four-out-of-five game road stretch when it plays at Vanderbilt tonight.

9. Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said the Commodores will have to play their best game of the year to beat Florida.

10. LSU forward Johnny O’Bryant says the Tigers will learn from their tough loss at Kentucky.

11. Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy on the SEC’s 7-way tie for fourth place in the SEC: “I have never seen it.”

12. Georgia will continue to battle as it holds onto third place in the SEC standings.

13. Kentucky coach John Calipari is holding out hope the Wildcats can land a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

14. Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin said he doesn’t “waste time and energy” on speculation about his job.

15. Missouri coach Frank Haith made it clear: the Tigers have to play harder.


16. Jadeveon Clowney ran the 40-yard dash in 4.53 seconds on Monday. Here’s a breakdown of that remarkable time.

17. Former Alabama cornerback Deion Belue feels “100 percent better” after he dealt with a toe injury throughout the season.

18. Auburn’s Greg Robinson is making a strong case that he should be the No. 1 left tackle in the draft.

19. There’s a sad detail from an otherwise inspiring story involving Robinson.

20. Former Tennessee left tackle Antonio Richardson wants to prove he belongs in the first round.


21. Can the NCAA legally define amateurism?

22. Baseball is providing Jameis Winston a break from football, which should help him return refreshed to the gridiron.

23. Kansas beat Oklahoma on Monday to ensure themselves a share of their 10th consecutive league title.

Post Comments » Comments (26)



Pressure On Tennessee’s Martin More About Pearl Than Martin

bruce-and-cuonzoYesterday in Nashville, Bruce Pearl dressed himself in orange and told a radio station’s fan festival: “I’m still a former coach of the University of Tennessee.  That’s who I am, and I’m proud of that.”

Meanwhile, current Vol basketball coach Cuonzo Martin is watching what’s left of his own fan support disappear.  Many Volunteer fans wish he were the “former coach” and that Pearl would be reinstated in Knoxville.

Pearl told fans Sunday that they should support Martin.  He declined to comment on the possibility of returning to UT.  But if he really wanted to help Martin — or if he thought there wasn’t at least a chance of his returning — he’d have stated flatly, “That’s not going to happen.”  Instead, folks close to the coach say he is naturally monitoring the situation at Tennessee.

A majority of UT fans have already made it clear via social media, talk radio, messageboards and online petitions that their old coach back (even if the NCAA puts a couple of watchdogs on this tail).

At the moment, it’s extremely unlikely that many of the same University of Tennessee administrators and top boosters who let Pearl go — in the hopes of dodging NCAA sanctions — will backtrack and invite him to return.  Yet the grassroots movement is gathering steam.  Fans make statements with ticket sales and the number of empty seats for UT hoops games has been growing.

In many fans’ eyes, Martin is nothing more than an obstacle blocking Pearl’s return.

Tennessee was expected to finish third in the SEC this season (that’s still technically possible) and reach the NCAA Tournament (that’s not likely).  It’s been a disappointing year on Rocky Top and Martin can’t escape that fact.  But a quick look at a similar situation suggests Martin’s real problem is who he followed, not his record.

Martin took the Tennessee job in 2011 with an NCAA cloud still hanging over Thompson-Boling Arena.  Bigger fish weren’t interested in the job so the Missouri State coach jumped at the opportunity when it was offered.  Since then he’s gone 19-15 (finishing second in the SEC), 20-13, and now 15-11.  Overall at Tennessee his record is 54-39 which is a winning clip of .580.  Over the last three seasons, only John Calipari and Billy Donovan have posted better league marks.  But Martin has never reached an NCAA tourney and he looks bubble-strapped again.

Martin sits on a very hot seat.

But Prior to Pearl, Tennessee’s coach from 2001 through 2005 was Buzz Peterson.  His first three years at Tennessee looked like this: 15-16, 17-12, and 15-14.  He even had a losing SEC record of 23-25.  But there was little debate about a fourth year; Peterson got one.  He then went 14-17 in that fourth season and still there were many who wanted to see the personable coach get a fifth year to prove himself.

Martin’s three-year record: 54-39, .580.  Peterson’s first three years: 47-42, .528.  Peterson got a fourth year.  Most betting men would put money on Martin getting the boot.

Now, it can be said that Pearl raised the bar and that UT fans are no longer willing to accept anything less than NCAA Tournament berths.  Fine.  But the bottom line is Martin’s troubles have more to do with Pearl’s record (and his availability come August) than they do his own.  Peterson did less than Martin but he felt less heat at the same stage of his UT tenure.

As we noted on Friday, Pearl’s reputation around East Tennessee has grown with each game he hasn’t coached.  Martin can’t live up to the comparison.  If Martin is let go and Pearl isn’t re-hired, it’s doubtful anyone else could live up to Pearl’s legend, either.  (Not to mention this fact: What coach would want to sign on with Tennessee when thousands of Vol fans are signing a petition to bring in some other guy?)  This writer wonders whether or not even Pearl could live up to the hype that currently surrounds him if he were to be re-hired.

Martin sure can’t.

Post Comments » Comments (32)



Bret Bielema Apologizes For “Unintentionally Hurtful” Comments

SorryThat didn’t take long.  One day after referencing the death of a California football player while  voicing support for a proposed NCAA rule change that would try to slow down up-tempo offense, Arkansas coach Bret Bielema apologized for “unintentionally hurtful” comments.

Bielema had reference Cal football player Ted Agu, who died in a team training run earlier this month, when responding to a question about a proposal that would  prohibit offenses from snapping the ball until 10 seconds have run off the 40-second play clock.

Those comments came Thursday night.  By Friday, Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour called the remarks “beyond inappropriate” and took aim at the Arkansas coach in a series of tweets.





Not long after, Bielema issued an apology.  a statement:


“It was brought to my attention that remarks I made yesterday evening while discussing a proposed rule change were unintentionally hurtful. I am very passionate, as we all are, about the serious nature of protecting the well-being of student-athletes. Earlier today I was interviewed by Andy Staples to explain my stance on the proposed rule. In my press conference last night, I referenced information about the tragic loss of a life of a student-athlete. My comments were intended to bring awareness to player safety and instead they have caused unintended hurt. As a head coach who works with young individuals every day, the passing of Ted Agu is a reminder to us all how short and precious life is.

“I would like to extend my deepest condolences and sympathy to the Agu family, Coach Sonny Dykes and to the University of California family.”


In an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples earlier on Friday, Bielema attempted to put the Agu comments in context by saying,  ”We all have sickle cell players. To me, it’s the most scary individual thing we face. There are no signs. There are no indicators. ”

Bielema and Alabama coach Nick Saban have been two of the coaches most critical of hurry-up, no-huddle offenses.

It’s not an opinion shared across the conference.  South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier has called it the “Saban Rule” and says he hope it doesn’t pass. Said Georgia coach Mark Richt this week: ”I feel like if you can train offensive players to play five or six plays in a row, you can train defensive players to play that many plays in a row, too.” Auburn’s Gus Malzahn  is skeptical of claims linking pace of play to safety issues.  ”There’s absolutely zero evidence, documented evidence, that (it) is hazardous on the pace of play, only opinions.”

The vote on the proposal is scheduled for March 6.

Post Comments » Comments (10)



Hold Off On Those Firings, SEC Fans… No One Wants Your School’s Crappy Job

gfx-honest-opinionSoutheastern Conference basketball stinks.  No matter how you slice it, hoops in Dixie is just as bad as Southern football is good.  Meaning it’s really, really bad.

Three NCAA Tournament bids last year.  Just 23 NBA draft picks since 2007 (about 20 of which came from Kentucky).  A lack of high school roundball stars from inside the SEC’s geographic footprint.

Bad.  Bad.  Bad.

Hell, as of right now only two SEC squads — Florida and Kentucky — appear to even be locks for the NCAA tourney.  Sure a Missouri or Tennessee will probably sneak in, but one can’t completely rule out the possibility that the Big Dance might feature just two SEC squads.

Naturally, such overall suckage has left a number of SEC coaches sitting on scorching hot seats as we speed toward March.  Let us compare their situations.

For the purposes of making an apples-to-apples comparison, below we’ve listed the league record for each current SEC coach over the past three seasons.  To the right of those numbers, the coaches’ overall career SEC marks are listed.

Do not expect to be dazzled…


  Coach   3-Year SEC Record (Win Pct.)   Career SEC Record (Win Pct.)
  J. Calipari (Kentucky)   38-9 (80.8%)   62-17 (78.4%)
  B. Donovan (Florida)   37-10 (78.7%)   188-100 (65.2%)
  C. Martin (Tennessee)   28-19 (59.5%)   28-19 (59.5%)
  F. Haith (Missouri)*   18-13 (58.0%)   18-13 (58.0%)
  A. Kennedy (Ole Miss)   27-20 (57.4%)   72-70 (50.7%)
  A. Grant (Alabama)   25-22 (53.1%)   43-36 (54.4%)
  J. Jones (LSU)*   16-15 (51.6%)   16-15 (51.6%)
  K. Stallings (Vanderbilt)   24-23 (51.0%)   117-122 (48.9%)
  M. Anderson (Arkansas)   22-25 (46.8%)   22-25 (46.8%)
  M. Fox (Georgia)   22-25 (46.8%)   36-43 (45.5%)
  B. Kennedy (Texas A&M)*   13-18 (41.9%)   13-18 (41.9%)
  T. Barbee (Auburn)   12-35 (25.5%)   16-46 (25.8%)
  F. Martin (S. Carolina)*   7-24 (22.5%)   7-24 (22.5%)
  R. Ray (Miss. State)*   7-24 (22.5%)   7-24 (22.5%)


* Just two years as SEC coach


Nasty stuff, huh?  Only two Southeastern Conference coaches have won more than 70% of their league games the last three seasons.  You have to round up Cuonzo Martin’s record just to find three league coaches who’ve won 60% of their games or better.

Depending on who you ask, Anthony Grant (did anyone tell his team they had a game last night?) and Tony Barbee are all but gone down in the Yellowhammer State.  The aforementioned Martin is believed to be in trouble at Tennessee (thanks in large part to the ever-growing reputation of Bruce Pearl, who appears to gets better with each game he doesn’t coach).  Mark Fox looked like a dead man walking two months ago but now his Georgia team stands at 8-5 in conference play (which says more about the league than the Bulldogs).

Throw in guys like Mike Anderson ($2.2 million per year for a 46% winning clip inside a bad league?), Billy Kennedy, Frank Martin and Rick Ray and more than half the league’s fanbases are grumbling.

But before anyone gets tossed overboard, perhaps a few folks need to look around the SEC and realize this: No “sure thing” coach will want your school’s crappy job even if it does come open next month.

Let’s just nix all the fantasies and hopes and dreams right here and now.  The SEC has a bad reputation for basketball.  On top of that, every “name” coach in the country knows that football is king in the SEC and as a result he’d have to be part carnival-barker to grab fans’ attention.  For those of you now screaming “Pearl, Pearl, Pearl!’ just know that a team of NCAA sleuths will likely eyeball his every move at his next stop.

In recent years, up-and-coming coaches like Brad Stevens and Shaka Smart have stayed put at hoops-first schools like Butler and VCU rather than jump to traditional basketball powers like UCLA and NC State.  If UCLA and NC State can’t lure guys like that, what hope is there for the Alabamas and Auburns of the SEC?

Before you say it, of course, Bama did land Smart’s predecessor at VCU back when Grant was the hot name in the country.  Aside from his bank account, Grant has plenty of reasons  today to wish he’d just stayed put in Richmond and passed on the Crimson Tide gig.

Most SEC schools — like it or not — have to go the up-and-comer route due to all those negative issues we have outlined above.

Grant came from VCU.  Barbee was at UTEP.  Fox was at Nevada.  Jones was at North Texas and is an LSU alum.  Ray was an assistant at Clemson (suddenly Rick Stansbury doesn’t seem so bad, eh?).  Frank Haith was a so-so coach at Miami running from a program that had the NCAA on its tail.  Andy Kennedy was an interim coach at Cincinnati.  Tennessee’s Martin was at Missouri State while Texas A&M’s Kennedy came from Murray State.  Longtime Vandy coach Kevin Stallings came from Illinois State.

Even Florida’s Billy Donovan came from Marshall.

Read the rest of this entry »

Post Comments » Comments (12)



SEC Headlines 2/17/2014

headlines-monSEC Football

1. Nick Saban signed four junior college players in the 2014 class. How did the previous 11 he signed turn out?

2. Early enrollees will help bolster Alabama’s roster when they the Tide hits the field this spring.

3. Florida could be looking at a bounce-back season in 2014, writes Barrett Sallee.

SEC Basketball

4. Different players continue to show Florida has the important “want-to,” writes Pat Dooley.

5. Billy Donovan on Casey Prather, who continues to play while recovering: “He’s getting better. He’s still not there.

6. Georgia has clearly improved during SEC play, but an NCAA tournament spot is still a long way away.

7. Looking back, Kentucky didn’t let the game slip away against Florida. The Gators took it away.

8. John Clay writes “this has turned into the year where old guys rule.”

9. Brad Evans’ Big Board has four SEC teams in the NCAA tournament as of now.

10. Florida is up to No. 2 in the CBS Sports top 25 (and one).


11. Former Alabama running back Alvin Kamara is headed to junior college.

12. Former coach Gene Stallings: If you stop a team on its first three plays, “you don’t need to worry about tempo.”

13. Nebraska upset Michigan State in East Lansing on Sunday.

14. Doug McDermott had another big game as Creighton picked up another big win over Villanova.

15. The Pac-12 admitted officials should have called a technical foul on Arizona State late during its win over Arizona.

16. Mike DeCourcy looks at the bubble with 27 days to go until Selection Sunday.

Post Comments » Comments (19)



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.


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.”

Post Comments » Comments (6)



Follow Us On:
Mobile MrSEC