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LSU Officials: No Change In Game Plans Yet

LSU has announced on its official website that there is “no change in the status” of Saturday’s game between North Texas and the Tigers in Baton Rouge.  “LSU officials are monitoring Hurricane Isaac and will assess the impact of the storm after it has passed through Baton Rouge.”

Sadly, according to Weather.com, Isaac is bringing more rain than Katrina and that could really test the rebuilt levee systems in and around New Orleans.  The storm has basically decided to stall and sit for a while as it moves inland.  Heavy rain is expected in Baton Rouge today and tomorrow with winds as high as 55 mph.  By Friday, the chance of rain drops to 60% with scattered thunderstorms.  By gameday, the forecast calls for a 40% chance of scattered thunderstorms.

The bigger issue, of course, is the damage that might be done in Baton Rouge as the storm passes through.

All our best to those of you going through this.  Be safe.

 

UPDATE — LSU cancelled practice today.

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Three Texas Cities (Plus Atlanta, New Orleans) Bid For “Champions” Bowl

ESPN.com’s Brett McMurphy reported last night that two more cities — Houston and San Antonio — have decided to make bids for the new “Champions” Bowl being created by the Big XII and SEC.  Those two cities join Arlington, New Orleans and Atlanta in the bidding process.

The two leagues asked 10 cities in all to bid for the new game, but to date, Jacksonville, Nashville, Orlando, Phoenix (Glendale), and Tampa have all twiddled their thumbs.  The feeling is that officials in those five cities believe Arlington and New Orleans to be such heavy favorites to land the game that they don’t even need to get involved in this auction.

The fact that Houston and San Antonio have gotten involved is clearly a plus for both the SEC and Big XII as it will drive up the price of the game.  More bidders = a better deal.  For now, it’s believed the “Champions” Bowl will partner with an existing bowl, take part in the new playoffs as a semifinal game in four years out of the 12-year plan, and kick off for the first time on January 1st, 2015.

But no one is really sure of anything.

When first announced, it was believed the two conferences would create their own new game and bid it out to a different city each year like a Super Bowl or a Final Four.  Soon after, however, the new playoff was created and the idea of rotating the game became a bit more complicated — due to semifinal tie-ins, television contracts, etc.  Not to mention the fact that existing bowls already have the infrastructure in place to pull off a big game.

Now, as messed up and complicated as the new playoff and big bowl system will be — and if you thought the BCS was confusing, you ain’t seen nothing yet — it’s still theoretically possible for the SEC and Big XII to rotate their game between two, three or even more sites.  We just wouldn’t bet on it.  Like most others, we believe Arlington, Texas and Jerry Jones have the deepest pockets and that will result in the “Champions” Bowl becoming the Cotton Bowl.

At MrSEC.com, we would still prefer the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans get the nod because it’s more centrally-located between the two conferences and its a more tourist-friendly destination… but cash will likely rule the day.

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Report: A 2-City Race To Host “Champions” Bowl (But Not The 2 Cities Everyone Expected)

From the moment the “Champions” Bowl was announced over the summer, media attention has been focused on two cities in terms of host sites: Arlington, Texas and Atlanta, Georgia.  Arlington because Jerry Jones has a huge stadium and deep pockets.  Atlanta because, well, because Atlanta bids on anything and everything the SEC is involved in and it’s hosted every major sporting event from the Super Bowl to the Final Four to the dadgum Olympics.

Even when news broke that 10 cities had been asked to bid on the game, most of the focus continued to fall on Arlington and Atlanta.

But if ESPN’s Brett McMurphy is correct, the SEC and Big XII’s plan to turn bidding for the “Champions” Bowl into a 10-city race has failed.  Instead, it’s looking like a two-city race as most initially expected.

Only Atlanta isn’t one of the two locales leading the pack.  New Orleans is.  (Amen.)

According to McMurphy’s report, because Arlington and New Orleans are such prohibitive favorites to land the “Champions” Bowl, “as many as seven of the 10 cities that received a request for a proposal may not bid on the bowl” at all.  The third city to go ahead and bid on the thing?  Atlanta.  Of course.

We suggested last week — when word leaked that 10 cities were in the running — that the SEC/Big XII were simply trying to drive up the price of the game by inviting more bidders into the auction, if you will.  The conferences asked the three cities already mentioned as well as Houston, Jacksonville, Nashville, Orlando, Phoenix (Glendale), San Antonio and Tampa to bid to host the game.  If the game were to rotate from city to city, then a metro area like Phoenix might have a shot.  But if the game is going to be a one-city-every-year event, then Glendale would seemingly have no real shot at landing the contest.  Which city leaders there apparently realize.

McMurphy states that Phoenix, Nashville and Tampa have already decided not to bid on the “Champions” Bowl.  The remaining four towns — Houston, Jacksonville, Orlando and San Antonio — are all still deciding whether to get involved or not, though “sources said most of the ‘four’ undecided cities likely won’t submit a bid because of the reality ‘that it’s a two-horse race.’”

On the positive side, we’re getting a better idea of what the “Champions” Bowl is expected to become… one bowl game.  With requests for bids going out to 10 cities, there was much speculation that the leagues might simply rotate their game on a yearly basis as was initially expected when the game was announced.  The SEC and the Big XII will be keeping all the TV and title sponsor cash — according to the leagues — so why not just put the game up for bid each year like a conference tournament, a Super Bowl or a Final Four?  That was the first stated plan.  But then came the new playoff system which will launch in 2014 along with the “Champions” Bowl.  Waters were muddied.

We spoke last week to an SEC source who told this website that the game was “still finding its legs.”  Translation: We’ll do whatever brings in the most cash, whether that’s one site or different sites every year.  But now it sounds like the options are narrowing for the SEC and Big XII.  If Atlanta is truly out, then the leagues must hope that Arlington and New Orleans throw down mondo cash in a head-to-head bidding war over who’s to become the annual host of the game (meaning the “Champions” Bowl would become the Cotton or Sugar Bowl in name).

Atlanta — for the record — should be out of the mix.  Not that it’s not a great city, but the SEC Championship Game is already held there.  Asking SEC fans to go to the same place twice in a month is a bit much.  And having Big XII teams play in the very heart of the SEC wouldn’t appear to be very fair, either.

Arlington has the cash, but it’s fast becoming the Atlanta of the Big XII.  The old Big Eight members of the Big XII have said for years that their league has been taken over by all things Texas.  Well, if the Big XII has set up shop in the Metroplex, why would the SEC be any more interested in going there than the Big XII is in going to Atlanta?

Cash, of course.

But here’s hoping the leagues do what makes the most sense.  If the game can’t/won’t be rotated between the two cities — which we would be fine with, by the way — then it should land in New Orleans permanently.  Yes, LSU is nearby.  But NOLA and Houston are the most centrally located venues for the game.  St. Louis (if it had a bowl game) and Memphis (if it weren’t viewed so unfavorably by so many) would make sense as well.  But the Big Easy trumps all of those cities when it comes to tourism infrastructure and experience hosting major, major sporting events.

If it’s a two-horse race between Arlington and New Orleans and there’s room for only one of them in the winner’s circle, here’s more hoping/wishing/praying that the latter edges the former at the wire.

But it’ll all be decided by cash.  And that would mean Arlington is still probably in the lead.  Even if it is the Big XII’s version of Atlanta.

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Oh, Please Let The “Champions” Bowl Partner With The Sugar Bowl

Dallas or Atlanta.  Atlanta or Dallas.

As the SEC and Big 12 try to pick a new city/bowl partner for their “Champions” Bowl game, this writer wants to cast his vote — not that I’ve actually got a vote, of course — for New Orleans.

Atlanta is a fine city, but don’t SEC fans already get their fill of the Georgia Dome?  You’ve got the Chick-fil-A Kickoff games.  The Chick-fil-A Bowl.  The SEC Championship Game.  The SEC Tournament every few basketball seasons.  Atlanta is a great city, a fun city (especially if Ray Lewis isn’t in town).  Heck, it’d be a good city for the occasional college football championship game.  But the SEC is in danger of becoming all Atlanta’d out.  Plus, Big 12′ers might not be eager to make the long trip to mid-Georgia.

As for Dallas, well, the option on the table really isn’t even Dallas.  Or Fort Worth.  It’s Arlington.  And while that’s surely a nice place with some mighty hospitable folks ready to welcome the tourists, easily the biggest things going for that city are Jerry Jones’ stadium and his bank account.  In fact, Cowboys Stadium and Jones’ wallet will probably land the “Champions” Bowl.  But SEC fans might not be eager to make the long trek to mid-Texas.  And aren’t Big 12 backers leery of becoming to Metroplex-centric (a la the SEC and Atlanta)?

In this scibe’s opinion there’s only one place for the “Champions” Bowl.  It’s like a little foreign country — complete with different architecture, different cuisine, different accents, and a different culture — right in the middle of the United States.  That place is of course New Orleans.  A tourist Mecca.  So long as the fans promise to steer clear of Krystal after the game, the “Champions” Bowl should marry up with the Sugar Bowl ASAP.

The city’s location would even make it the easiest travel destination for fans of both conferences.

If you’re still not biting on New Orleans, here are 15 reasons to make the new SEC/Big 12 bowl a permanent resident of the Big Easy… provided by a frequent and recent connoisseur of the city:

 

15.  Above-ground cemeteries

You might’ve seen photos, but until you’ve driven by or toured one of these products of the area’s below-sea-level setting, you haven’t a clue as to just how freakin’ unusual they really are.

 

14.  Voodoo

While I was in the French Quarter last weekend, someone asked a New Orleans native barkeep is she would pose for a photo with his group’s souvenir Voodoo doll.  The response?  De-Nied.  The 20-something wanted no part of whatever karma or witchery might pass from the group to the doll to her.  Asking her about her response I was told, “I don’t believe much in religion, but Voodoo is a different beast.”  You won’t hear that in Arlington.

 

13.  The National World War II Museum

“Never was so much owed by so many to so few.”  Have any appreciation at all for the sacrifices made by the “Greatest Generation” in the world’s last, truly global war?  Then try to go through New Orleans’ D-Day Museum without getting misty-eyed at least once.  Moving.  Very moving.

 

12.  Civil War Museum at Confederate Memorial Hall

For those with interest in a different war — and more than a few of the folks I spotted there were real “Lost Causers” — swing by this little archive.  Even if basking in Confederate mythology isn’t your idea of fun, you’ll at least come to the realization from looking at the authentic uniforms on hand that 19th-century males were roughly the size of Hobbits.

 

11.  Swamp tours

Ever been to another planet?  Take an airboat tour through the swamps and bayous and you’ll get that feeling.  Do your research and find a good tour company, though.  Don’t do the brochure-from-a-street-vendor thing.

 

10.  Jen at Finnegan’s Easy

The best barkeeper in the Quarter.  Working at a laid-back joint, Jen’s anything but.  Say something stupid and you’ll likely find yourself tossed back out onto St. Peter Street.  Trust me, though, Jen’s tops…

 

9.  Dixie Beer

Especially if she’s serving up a bottle of ice cold Dixie Beer.  After Hurricane Katrina these suds are no longer brewed in New Orleans, but they still provide a step back into the past with the same old recipe.  (Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing depends on your own taste buds.)  The college kids will be drinking their Abita, but the old school, PBR-types will be sipping Dixies and digging the local music.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8.  Jackson Square

It’s the photo op that has to be done in New Orleans.  Local artists pitch their paintings.  Local musicians make their music.  And tourists throw money at both.  All in front of beautiful St. Louis Cathedral and the famous statue of Andrew Jackson, hero of New Orleans in the War of 1812.  (Jackson went on to become president and sign into law the Indian Removal Act which should be his lasting, shameful legacy.  Sorry, Jacksonites, I’m not a fan of the man.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7.  Zoo, aquarium and Imax

Yes, you can actually take the kids to N’awlins.  And while they’re enjoying kid-like things…

 

6.  Hand Grenades

You can enjoy the most famous product of The Tropical Isle.  Sweet, but not quite as sweet — or famous — as Pat O’Brien’s Hurricane, the Hand Grenade packs a much more powerful punch.  So be careful.  Though your girlfriend might love the melon taste, she’ll actually be pouring back some Pure Grain Alcohol.  The fact that you can’t taste said alcohol is the danger.  (I learned this lesson before a mid-90s wedding rehearsal of which I have zero recollection.)

 

5.  3-for-1s

If you’re headed to Bourbon Street in order to party, you can do so on the cheap.  While spots in Arlington and Atlanta probably offer up 2-for-1 drinks during Happy Hour, several stops on Bourbon offer 3-for-1 beers at all hours.

 

4.  Architecture

Nola isn’t all about getting boozed up, of course.  The older you get, the more you come to appreciate the unique culture of the city.  From the balconies to the small courtyards, the architecture and look of New Orleans play a big part in creating the feel of New Orleans.  (Those French and Spanish street names in the Quarter give everything a slight “are we still in America?” quality, too.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.  Food

Five words: Jambalaya, etouffee, muffaleta, alligator, crawfish.  Again, New Orleans is like its own little nation.

 

2.  Music

It seems that on every street and every street corner live music can be heard.  Jazz (not my favorite), zydeco (close to my favorite), and blues (my absolute favorite) are omnipresent.  From professionals in the French Quarter clubs to bucket-banging street performers, they all create the soundtrack of the city.

 

1.  It’s the right thing to do

Until Las Vegas builds a football stadium capable of hosting 80,000 fans, there’s no city in America that is more geared toward giving tourists a warm, friendly welcome than New Orleans.  Since Hurricane Katrina, the city has rebounded and thankfully maintained much of its pre-disaster personality.  But the work isn’t done and the more money that gets poured back into that city’s economy the better.  So says this lover of the Big Easy.

So for fans looking for a good time in a town that’s darn near smack in the middle of Big 12/SEC country — and for the financial benefit of one of our nation’s most unique locales — the “Champions” Bowl needs to wind up in New Orleans either by hook or by crook.  (And if Louisiana politicians get involved, that would take care of the “crook” part.)

Nola, anyone?  Nola, everyone?

Nola it is.

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How The New SEC Schedule Formats Came To Be — Groupthink

Last Friday, the Southeastern Conference took a wrong turn when it came to its new football and basketball schedule formats.  The league yielded — in our view — to schools’ self-interests rather than pushing for what was best for the conference and its fans long-term.

You know the backstory:

 

* The SEC’s eight-game 6-1-1 football schedule does protect three of the league’s oldest rivalries (Alabama-Tennessee, Auburn-Georgia, and Ole Miss-Vanderbilt), one important television draw (Florida-LSU), and it should help to create a new border war (Arkansas-Missouri).  That much we like.  Unfortunately, the new plan also means that cross-divisional rotating foes will visit one another just once every three presidential terms.  Think about that.  Worse, it opens the door for all the legion of non-SEC fans out there — from conference commissioners to the media to the people who might wind up on a playoff selection committee — to point to the fact that the SEC as a whole schedules more FCS foes and fewer BCS-level foes than any of the other five major conferences.

* The 1-4-8 basketball format is a slap at any SEC fan who happens to care about the league’s history and tradition.  (Judging from our emails, there aren’t many out there who do care about basketball and that’s darned disappointing.)  Rather than protecting two, three, or even four  permanent rivals per school, the league voted instead to protect only one per school as a yearly home-and-away foe.  Games that have been played more than 180, 190 and even 200 times a piece will now be once-a-year affairs in some cases, including arguably the SEC’s best traditional rivalry: Kentucky versus Tennessee.

 

We made it clear last week that we believe the football issue will eventually be corrected.  Either the league will have to go to a nine-game schedule to squeeze more money from television networks looking for better games or the league will learn the hard way that its “more creampuffs” policy hurts it when it comes to anti-SEC’ers who are looking for any angle — including strength of schedule shots — to take down the biggest bully on the block.  Perhaps both.

And, yes, further expansion forced by a collapse of the ACC could lead to a nine-game schedule, as well.

As for basketball, well, it doesn’t appear there’s much hope for hoops.  We pointed out in January that it would be possible to protect more rivalries.  The league’s coaches and ADs and presidents cared not.  Tradition?  Hell with it.

Unfortunately this has only led to more people complaining about the SEC’s decision to expand in the first place.  But that’s not entirely fair.  As explained above and as we’ve written about for months, the conference could have added Missouri and Texas A&M and still done a better job with its schedules.  It could have protected itself from outside attacks.  It could have given TV networks better inventory.  It could have protected more heritage games.  The league’s power brokers chose not to.

So how did this come to pass?

First, Mike Slive is a consensus-builder.  Those who’ve sat in meetings with the man say he’s a master at working a room, keeping a conversation focused, and finding common ground.  Those are good traits.  It’s no wonder his work in 2008 with CBS and ESPN changed the way conferences make their money.

As a consensus-builder, however, there are times — it appears — that he can give too much power to the people.  Slive works for the SEC schools, but he’s been hired to lead them and steer them in sports-related issues.  In the case of the new scheduling formats, he allowed people to lean too heavily on their own self-interests, in our opinion.

Slive and the league put together a “transition team” tasked with creating schedules that everyone could agree upon (at least to some degree).  That unit was headed up by former Mississippi State athletic director Larry Templeton.  Templeton was joined by three others from the SEC office — Mark Womack (executive associate commissioner), Greg Sankey (executive associate commissioner), and Mark Whitworth (associate commissioner).

According to the SEC’s chief PR man and associate commissioner for media relations, Charles Bloom, Templeton’s squad worked with and contacted the league’s athletic directors throughout the process “including taking proposals to them at scheduled AD’s meetings.”  That included meetings in Nashville during the women’s basketball tournament and in New Orleans during the men’s basketball tournament.

So from the start, the league’s schedule-making group was getting feedback from the conference’s athletic directors.  Those athletic directors — obviously — were talking to their own coaches.  The ADs opinions were shaped by their coaches’ opinions.  The transition team’s proposals, therefore, were shaped by the ADs opinions and to some extent by the coaches’ opinions.

Not good.

Bloom also told MrSEC.com via email that the schools involved — specifically Missouri and Texas A&M — also had their own transition teams involved in the process.

All this looks to be where the breakdown occurred.  Rather than creating two plans that made sense for the conference’s long-term good in football and basketball and then setting out to build support for those plans, the SEC office seems to have tried to let everyone have a say from the get-go.  Instead of building a consensus behind its own scheduling formats, the SEC’s formats were built — to some degree — out of a consensus.  There’s a big difference there.

One tactic involves leadership and strong-arm tactics at the end of the process.  “This is what’s best for everyone and here’s why.”  The other tactic is really more akin to steering a large group of people toward common ground.  “Hey, let’s take part of Joe’s idea and mix it with a bit of Steve’s idea and see if Bob will agree to that.”

In a word: Groupthink.

Roy Kramer and the league’s decision-makers in 1992 acted boldly.  SEC football coaches were against an eight-game schedule and they surely did not want a championship game tacked on at the end of every season.  Tough.  Kramer’s group did what was best for the league.  Those bold actions set the table for much of the success Slive’s crew has enjoyed and built upon.

But it’s hard to imagine the SEC adding games and a title bout in ’92 if the league’s ADs and even coaches had had a strong say in the process from the beginning.  Sadly, 20 years down the line, you’re going to hear different stories from different people regarding who did what and why.  Everyone involved at this stage will want to claim that they played a leading role in shaping the league’s future.  (Take for instance all the debate over the SEC’s approach to Florida State in the 1990s.  Depending on who’s telling the story: the SEC offered FSU, the SEC never offered FSU, FSU spurned the SEC, or FSU never had an offer to officially turn down.  You have to check the records and reports of the day to get a true picture of what happened.)

Slive is viewed by many as the strongest commissioner in college sports.  It’s hard to argue that point when his league has won six national football crowns and three national basketball titles since 2006… all with truly national television coverage of both sports and record profits thrown in for good measure.

We simply believe he should have acted more strongly this time around regarding the league’s schedules.  Rather than giving everyone a say along the way, he and the league would have been better off cooking up a pair of smart plans and then doing whatever it took to jam them down each school’s throat.

Slive, it must be noted, was trying to wrangle 14 cats this time around and there’s no question that’s a more difficult chore than getting 12 schools on the same page, as Kramer and his team did.

But Slive has shown that he’s capable of being a strong-arm type of guy.  Just a year ago, with football coaches lined up unanimously against a cap on signing classes, the commissioner coaxed and cajoled the bosses of the league’s coaches and athletic directors to go their own way.  The presidents did.  And even though not every president really wanted signing caps, Slive had the power of personality to convince everyone to vote unanimously in favor of adding a 25-man cap.

That’s power.  And we at MrSEC.com wish he would have used as much power on the scheduling front this year as he did on oversigning front last year.

The league would be better off today if he had.

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LSU Pursuing Tide Commit Jones

Tyren Jones’ commitment to Alabama hasn’t affected LSU’s interest in the running back from Walton High School in Marietta, Ga.

The Tigers appear to still be in heavy pursuit of Jones despite his pledge to Alabama.

Despite that “solid” pledge, Jones’ recruitment could still be worth monitoring. The Crimson Tide already has a commitment from running back Altee Tenpenny from North Little Rock, Ark. Another running back choosing Alabama could influence Jones to look elsewhere, including LSU.

Other schools to offer Jones include Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Clemson and North Carolina.

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Johnson Officially Resigns At LSU; Where Do The Tigers Turn?

Trent Johnson’s days on the Bayou are officially over after four seasons.  The LSU basketball coach officially resigned yesterday and will be introduced as TCU’s new hoops coach today.

Johnson — who led the Tigers to one SEC regular-season title, one NCAA Tournament and one NIT — was never viewed as a good “fit” with the LSU fanbase.  So while the school is losing a coach with a proven track record, there will be few tears shed in Baton Rouge today.

Tiger AD Joe Alleva admitted as much yesterday:


“Sometimes coaching changes work out well for all parties involved, and we will take this opportunity to see out the best coach for the long-term future of LSU men’s basketball.

We will move quickly but deliberately to find a coach who will lead our program with integrity and discipline, someone who will recruit effectively in order to build championship teams while inspiring success in academics, and someone who will energize our fan base.  I wish Trent all the best in his new job.”


Key phrase: “Someone who will energize our fan base.”

Johnson had had success at Nevada and Stanford when he arrived at LSU.  He was the example of a proven, “name” coach who did not work out.  Will Alleva now chase another proven, “name” coach — as South Carolina did with Frank Martin — or will he go the assistant/up-and-comer route — as Mississippi State did with Rick Ray?

Already, several coaches with ties to the Pelican State have been mentioned as potential candidates:

Valparaiso’s Bryce Drew was born in Baton Rouge while his father Homer Drew served on Dale Brown’s Tigers staff in the 1970s.  Drew met with AD Scott Stricklin about Mississippi State’s job before deciding to remain at Valpo.  Drew’s brother, Scott, has turned Baylor into a national power, but news is out today that he and his staff — as well as BU’s women’s staff — have made more than 1,200 impermissible phone calls and text messages to recruits over the past two-and-a-half years.  That’s Scott, not Bryce, but still, it bears mentioning.

UTEP’s Tim Floyd played at Louisiana Tech and coached at New Orleans before moving on to Iowa State and the NBA.  Working against Floyd is the fact that after the NBA, he landed at Southern Cal.  There he resigned after a report claimed he paid money to a street agent in order to sign OJ Mayo.  The Trojan program got smacked around by the NCAA and Floyd landed in El Paso.

Marquette’s Buzz Williams was an assistant at Northwestern State before becoming the head coach at New Orleans for a season.

Whoever lands in Baton Rouge will inherit a program featuring only eight returning players at the moment.  Justin Hamilton announced last week that he would turn pro early.

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Ex-Williams Assistant At UGA Talks Bounty-gate

Second-year Georgia inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti came to the Dawgs from the NFL.  For four of his 11 seasons in pro football he was an assistant under Gregg Williams — scorn of the sport, pariah, and the man behind Bounty-gate.

Players have come forward to say that Williams not only had a bounty system in place in New Orleans, but also at Washington… where he supervised Olivadotti.  (And is there any doubt Williams did the same thing at his previous coaching stops as well?)

Asked about the scandal yesterday, Olivadotti wanted no part of it.  The Macon Telegraph reports that he said the issue is “out of my pay grade” and that he was “not touching it.”  He also said, “I have an opinion on it, but I’m not gonna say anything about it.”

Pressed for more by the evil media horde — how dare they do their jobs? –  UGA’s assistant finally offered up the following:


“You never want to injure somebody.  You never want anybody to get carted off the field or any of that stuff.  That’s not what you want to do with that stuff.  You want to play the game the right way, there’s a physical aspect to it, that you want to knock people back there.  There should be some wide receivers hearing footsteps, and all that kind of stuff.  Well, there’s a way to do that and do it the right way, and do it withing the right rules.  There’s a right way to do it and a wrong way…

Knocking your head off is one thing, but going after specific stuff (like knees)… There’s a way to play and a way not to play.  And this game has been played for a long time and it’s going to be played a long time after us, and there’s a right way to play and a wrong way to play it, and you’re supposed to play it hard, it’s supposed to be physical, it’s supposed to be knock-back, you’re supposed to run into dudes as hard as you can, they’re supposed to run into you as hard as they can, and that’s physical enough.  That’s physical enough.”


So apparently there’s a right way and a wrong way to play.  Okay, got that part.  But the Williams’ bounty situation puts a stink on everyone connected to him.  The audio tapes released yesterday make it clear that Williams wasn’t just trying to get his guys to play tough, he was literally targeting opposing players’ body parts.

Is this the first and only time something like this has happened?  Of course not.  But it’s the first time something so over-the-top and graphic has been laid bare before a world where the media — and media consumers — are omnipresent.

Olivadotti danced around the topic as best he could.  You can bet he won’t be the only ex-Williams co-worker to have to answer questions about Bounty-gate.

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UK To Go For Title #8 Tonight; SEC Looking To Continue Major Sports Dominance

It’s a big night in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and across the entire Southeast.

Kentucky is poised to finally reach the summit of the college basketball world once more.  The Southeastern Conference is set to continue its dominance in the three biggest men’s sports.

When UK steps on the floor against Kansas tonight, the Cats will be playing for their eighth national title all-time, second only to UCLA.  Fittingly, the winningest program in basketball history will have to best the second-winningest team in history for the title.  With a victory John Calipari will get a King Kong-sized monkey off his own back while allowing his employer to hang its first NCAA championship banner since 1998.

But Kentucky is also representing the SEC tonight in New Orleans.  Since the calendar turned to January 2006, the league has dominated college football, college basketball and college baseball:


Season
BCS Football Champ
NCAA Tourney Champ
College World Series Champ
2005-06
Texas
Florida
Oregon State
2006-07
Florida
Florida
Oregon State
2007-08
LSU
Kansas
Fresno State
2008-09
Florida
N. Carolina
LSU
2009-10
Alabama
Duke
S. Carolina
2010-11
Auburn
Connecticut
S. Carolina
2011-12
Alabama
???
???



A Wildcat victory tonight would give the SEC 12 national titles out of a possible 21.  No other league has more than two in that span in that seven-year span.

So while Kentucky will be trying to usher in a new golden age tonight, the SEC will be hoping to keep its golden age rolling right along.

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UK-Louisville Headlines – 3/30/12

It’s almost time for the big Kentucky-Louisville showdown in New Orleans.  We continue to give this monster game its own set of headlines…


1.  Everyone in Kentucky is taking sides for tomorrow’s Final Four matchup.

2.  This Cards-Cats game overshadows the rest of the weekend.

3.  The players don’t feel the off-court hate that UK and U of L fans do.

4.  John Calipari thinks it’s bad karma to root against a team.

5.  Here’s a Calipari/Rick Pitino history lesson as told by coaches, players and more.  Good stuff, ESPN.  Good stuff.

6.  For the uninitiated, the two coaches have a bit of an ongoing feud with one another.

7.  Louisville wants to create chaos with its defense.

8.  This year’s Kentucky team is different from Calipari’s previous squads.

9.  Anthony Davis’ knee is 90% healthy.  (He also won the AP’s Player of the Year Award today.)

10.  In the end, reality is not on Louisville’s side.

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