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SEC Headlines 2/24/2014

headlines-monSEC Football

1. Student attendance at Florida and other SEC stadiums will be a hot topic this offseason.

2. Georgia has a recruiting coordinator for the first time since December 2012.

SEC Basketball

3. Levi Randolph was the first Alabama player not named Releford to score 30 points in a game since 2008.

4. LSU used a lot of emotion in its overtime loss at Kentucky on Saturday.

5. Florida won’t benefit from being ranked No. 1, writes Pat Dooley.

6. There’s a lot to consider before Tennessee decides if it will buyout coach Cuonzo Martin, writes David Climer.

7. Former Vols coach Bruce Pearl – who many fans want to return to UT – said fans should support Martin and the team.

8. Missouri is on the bubble but still in the NCAA tournament, according to Jerry Palm.

SEC/NFL

9. Johnny Manziel impressed NFL folks with the way he carried himself at the NFL Combine. “He did a really nice job in there,” one GM said.

10. AJ McCarron didn’t run particularly fast, but he impressed in all other areas.

11. What’s the worst part about being named HaHa Clinton-Dix? “The whole President Clinton thing with Monica Lewinsky,” Clinton-Dix said. 

12. Former Auburn defensive end Dee Ford says Jadeveon Clowney “plays like a blind dog in a meat market.”

13. Tre Mason posted a 4.5 in the 40-yard dash. His goal was 4.4 or lower.

14. Former Mississippi State running back LaDarius Perkins had a productive day when he posted a 4.46 40.

15. Victor Hampton called Connor Shaw the “toughest quarterback in the SEC” and said he should get more NFL consideration.

Extra

16. Michigan beat Michigan State on Sunday, pulling off a season sweep over its rival.

17. Don’t sleep on defending champ Louisville, writes Scott Gleeson.

18. Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the Daytona 500. “I was like, ‘We just won,’ ” he said. “Holy cow, man!”

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SEC Headlines 2/21/2014

headlines-fri-150x150Hurry-Up Offenses & Proposed Rule Change

1. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier calls proposal “Saban rule.”  Tells USA Today - ”It’s ridiculous. Let’s let everybody keep playing the way they’ve been playing.”

2. Georgia coach Mark Richt: “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.”

3. Kevin Scarbinsky on comments by Arkansas coach Bret Bielema (earlier story here): “Bielema was wrong on so many levels… He actually made a case to ban the sport of football entirely.”

SEC Football

4. Mark Richt on the Josh Harvey-Clemons dismissal: “Guys understand that there are certain rules everybody needs to abide by and if they don’t they could possibly lose their privilege to play at Georgia.”

5. With the exception of offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, every Georgia coach will have some special teams responsibility.

6. That includes new inside linebackers coach Mike Ekeler who is fired up to be in Athens. “They’re gonna have to take me out of here at gunpoint.”

7. Arkansas has hired Clay Jennings from TCU to coach defensive backs.

8. Tennessee defensive lineman Danny O’Brien gets community service in exchange for having charges related to possessing a fake ID, resisting arrest and underage drinking dropped.

9. Alabama is suing former wide receivers coach Mike Groh for breaching his employment contract – claims he owes the school $57,000.

10. ESPN’s Chris Low takes a stab at the top-5 offensive linemen in the SEC heading into the 2014 season.

11. With Michael Sam and Kony Ealy off to the NFL, how does Missouri’s defensive line shape up for 2014?

12. A look back at Florida’s loaded 2007 recruiting class that included Cam Newton and here’s a review of Nick Saban’s first full signing class in 2008.

SEC/NFL 

13. Tom Brady to Johnny Manziel: “Ignore the noise.” Johnny’s official measurements - 5’11 and ¾ inches, 207 pounds –  but he has big hands.

14. NFL Network’s Mike Mayock on Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy: “He hustles, plays hard, has some natural edge ability and, in today’s NFL, that all adds up to a first-round pick for me.” Mel Kiper:  “Ealy is a guy, had he gone back, would have been a much higher pick…”

15. Likeliest first round picks from LSU are wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr and Jarvis Landry

16. One take on former Georgia running back  Isaiah Crowell who’s entering the draft after his junior year at Alabama State – “extremely immature and has a history of off-field issues. Can be difficult to coach.”

SEC Basketball

17. With a win over Ole Miss Saturday, Florida will win its 19th straight and potentially vault to No. 1 in the polls.

18. Florida center Patric Young apologizes for calling Boston College “awful.”

19. Time to be optimistic or pessimistic on Auburn basketball?  Tony Barbee has a chance at his first winning season.

Headline of the day

20. Vomiting from car window, Oklahoma man hits head on mailbox.

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SEC Headlines 2/20/2014

headlines-thuSEC Football

1. LSU quarterback Stephen Rivers is transferring.  He’s the younger brother of San Diego Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers. At 6-8, believed to be tallest QB in LSU history.

2. Georgia freshman defensive lineman DeAndre “Moose” Johnson not expected to continue his career – medical reasons cited.

3. Alabama adds Louisiana-Monroe to its 2015 schedule.  The Warhawks beat the Crimson Tide back in 2007 – Nick Saban’s first season as coach.

4. Auburn has five empty spots on its support staff and coach Gus Malzhan may not fill them all.

5. How Missouri’s offensive line shapes up heading into spring practice.

6. Spring practice dates for all SEC teams. Here are some SEC quarterback battles to watch.

SEC/NFL

7. Brett Favre on watching Johnny Manziel:“I almost thought I was watching film of a young Brett Favre,”

8. NFL analyst Charles Davis on Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans: “I’ve been told — and we will see at the combine — that he could run a high 4.4 time. And if that’s the case, then game, set, match, off he goes.”

9. Josh Kendall on the expectations for Jadeveon Clowney -”everyone expects him to be an otherworldly freak.”

10. The Alabama players with the most to gain from the NFL Combine.

11.  Florida’s Dominique Easley a potential mid-round steal?

SEC Basketball

12. Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy: “This may sound crazy, but we are real close to doing some special things with this team and with this program.”

13. The Texas A&M woman’s team has outdrawn the men’s team the last two home games.

14. Alabama forward Nick Jacobs has taken a leave of absence from the team.

15. ESPN analyst Jimmy Dykes thinks four SEC teams will make the NCAA Tournament – Florida, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee. Arguments for and against the Vols.

16. With Syracuse losing, is Florida the nation’s top team?

17. Kentucky coach John Calipari sounds off on other coaches’ opinions of social media.  ”They know nothing about social media. Nothing. They don’t do it.”

Extra

18. What’s the difference between NFL and college football?  Sports economist: ”The difference would be … the NFL pays their players.”

19. Judge dismisses lawsuit filed against Nick Saban’s daughter.

20. Football season (FCS variety) will kickoff August 23rd.

21. Never too early to start campaigning for the Heisman.

Heisman squirrel

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South Carolina’s Spurrier Says Clowney’s Work Ethic Was “OK”

gfx-they-said-it4In an interview this morning, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier gave former defensive end Jadeveon Clowney plenty of credit for his talent.  As for his work ethic?  Well, not so much:

 

“Even though his production this year wasn’t near what it was last year, he had two or three guys waiting on him just about every play.  His run defense was very good, though, and he chased down a bunch of guys and made tackles.  His sacks — he had to run around two or three guys just about every game.  I don’t think teams will quite do that in the NFL, but we’ll have to wait and see…

(His work ethic) was OK.  It wasn’t like Marcus Lattimore, you know, every player is a little difference.  His work habits are pretty good, they’re not quite like Lattimore, maybe Stephon Gilmore, Melvin Ingram, some of those guys, but when the ball is snapped he’s got something no one else has.”

 

Clowney has the talent to be a dominant pass rusher in the NFL (where he most certainly will not see anything close to a triple-team).  However, you can bet any GM thinking about using a top three pick on him will consider long and hard the work ethic questions that have dogged Clowney for the past year.  If his work ethic was just “OK” in college, what will it be once he signs his first contract and cashes his first big-money check?  There will more than one NFL executive who’ll worry that Clowney might check out just as soon as he cashes in.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

Tiger linebacker Donovan Bonner tweeted yesterday:

 

bonner tweets

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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SEC Headlines 2/2/2014

headlines-sun3-150x150SEC Football

1. The modern fax machine turns 50 this year.  Why does it still dominate signing day?

2. What happens when 5-star recruits don’t play right away?  AJ McCarron: “It’s a little entitlement, and when they don’t play off the bat, they get a little ticked off and they don’t want to work.”

3. LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron is reportedly keeping some very close tabs on recruits.  LA Times: “Why was it OK for Cameron to be on the same plane with three players? He is allowed to visit recruits one day per week.”

4. Why Alabama and Auburn coaches spent Saturday at the same birthday party - even took to the dance floor.

5. Attention recruiters – know your high school programs.   ”I get a lot of recruiters that will walk into my office, sit down across the desk from me, look me in the eye and say, ‘Hey, Coach. What kind of year did you have?’ I want to literally throw them out of my office.”

6. Just like four years ago, Georgia has made wholesale changes to its defensive staff.  But this time, recruiting has fared better in the transition.

7. Expect a quieter signing day at Tennessee this year.

8. Why is it that not a single name has emerged in an assistant coaching search at Mississippi State?

Super Bowl Sunday

9. Tennessee has the most players of any school suiting up for tonight’s game.  Here are a few other fact and figures - including a school you probably never heard of.

10. How Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson fared in college against teams from South Carolina.

11. Impact of a Broncos victory on Manning’s career? “Cement his status as not only the greatest quarterback in league history but also the best football player ever.” Keeping track of the “Omaha” calls.

12. Could former Florida star Percy Harvin be the difference tonight?

13. There are 15 NFL cities colder than the Super Bowl today.

14. Both NFL Rookies of the Year come from the SEC.  Alabama’s Eddie Lacy named the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year. Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson named Defensive Rookie of the Year.

SEC Basketball

15. Status of suspended Arkansas players Michael Qualls and Alandise Harris? “Remains to be seen…”

16. LSU has a basketball team that’s generating some buzz in Baton Rouge.

17. Kentucky followed up a road loss at LSU with a road win at Missouri. Coach John Calipari:   “Are we this team (Saturday) or the other team (Tuesday).”

18. What about Missouri players other than Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson?  ”They were present but not accounted for in Missouri’s 84-79 loss.”

Extra

19. Don’t look, Auburn fans. Florida State celebrates national title.

20. Greg Easterbrook: “Nearly all the social impact of football occurs outside the NFL. It’s youth, high school, and college players society should worry about.”

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Former Vandy QB Rodgers Eviscerates Alma Mater Right Before Signing Day

jordan-rodgers-vanderbiltYesterday, Former Vanderbilt quarterback Jordan Rodgers attacked his alma mater with an extremely long Twitter-based rant.  Whether Rodgers is right or wrong about the way former Vandy football players are treated after their careers end, he’s made new Commodore coach Derek Mason’s job even more difficult in the run-up to signing day.

Recently, Rodgers was not allowed in the Vanderbilt football facilities.  He was told he would have to pay a fee to use the school’s new indoor fields.

Now, we could post Rodgers’ rant tweet by tweet but, to be honest, it’s a bit tedious to read that way.  So here’s a link to his feed and here is what he tweeted last evening:

 

“It’s a shame but Vanderbilt will continue to be a stepping stone for coaches, a second rate program in the SEC and stuck in mediocrity b/c..

..of how the institution views athletics and treats their current and former players.  As a leader and starting QB during the emergence..

..and transformation of Vanderbilt into a contending and respectable program in the SEC I am ashamed at the treatment of some former players

..As I return to Nashville after my rookie year in the NFL I was excited to train at Vanderbilt with current players as well as pro day…

..and combine prep players. I have been throwing with current Vandy QBs and receivers and a receiver prepping for pro day. However, it has..

been a constant problem gaining access to the new “football” indoor facility during times it is “open use” I was turned away from the..

..indoor facility all together several times (even though the field was empty). After inquiring about the use of hte facility by active..

NFL alums and pro day players not currently enrolled. I was told I CAN’T use it unless I purchase a membership to the rec center!!!!..

..Vanderbilt and David Williams have “changed the culture”. NO.  The players (recruited by Bobby Johnson) and coach Franklin changed the..

..culture at Vanderbilt.  WE build that indoor by winning like no team in the history of VU. Now I have to pay to use it?! Pay to help..

..mentor and train with current players and alum trying to stick with a team in the NFL. WE built this program not some chancellor. This..

..is an embarrassment and only a reflection of the future of this program if it continues to put football and the success and treatment ..

..of its players as an after thought. I will choose to train somewhere else if VU has this little respect for its alumni who sacrificed so..

..much for this program. This is an embarrassment and a shame.  I love this school and program but it obviously is done with my services.

Let me reiterate: I would rightfully pay to use weight room, exercise classes, bball courts @ rec.I’m talking about 30 min/day on fball field

It’s not a me thing. There are 5+ ex VU players now in or continuing to pursue the NFL and a handful of recent grads trying for pro day

@VUNation @VandySportscom we didn’t request to drop in whenever. We gave a specific time window during open access hours to field.

It’s not about the $. It’s the fact that recent grads training for pro day in march and current NFL als can’t sue field without paying.”

 

Yikes.  Not surprisingly, Rodgers was quickly lit up on Twitter forcing him to post these follow-ups:

 

“Relax ppl and fans. I love you and Vandy! Just pointing out something that is disappointing for guys trying to make a name for themselves/VU

Twitter is a fickle thing. Love VU. What I said was truth. I will continue to search for resolution in house. Twitter can be taken out of..

..Context unfortunately. I am responsible for my actions and love my school. It will be better. It will be fixed.”

 

Twitter can be blown out of proportion, but it’s hard to see where anything Rodgers wrote last evening was taken “out of context.”  He ripped his alma mater, called the football program “second rate” and said it would be “stuck in mediocrity” before blasting the “culture,” the athletic director and the chancellor on a medium viewed by, well, everybody.

He didn’t put his foot in his mouth.  That would have gone unnoticed.  No, he put two feet on his keyboard.  And then things blew up for him.

In addition to ripping Vanderbilt’s program a week before National Signing Day, Rodgers also aligned himself with James Franklin who’s not exactly the most popular man in Nashville at the moment.  (Some people are trying to get his image erased from a local mural due to the fact that he left the Commodores and took half their recruiting class with him.)

Getting to the crux of Rodgers’ case, he’s actually in the right.  It’s foolish for schools not to welcome back alums.  Former players now in the NFL — or trying to reach the NFL — serve as good motivation for current players and can help lure recruits.  Unfortunately, Rodgers chose to take his argument to the people, did so with a hot head, and undercut the legitimate point he was trying to make.

Best of luck to Mason as he tries to cobble together a signing class in a two-week period while an ex-VU quarterback strafes his program with Twitter bombs.

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SEC Headlines 1/24/2014

headlines-friSEC Football

1. New Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason filling out his staff - indications are that defense could switch to 3-4 scheme.

2. Auburn close to completing pay raises for the football staff.

3. Of the five FBS schools in Alabama, four of them are led by former high school coaches.  Only exception is Alabama’s Nick Saban.

4. Missouri wide receiver Levi Copelin arrested for a misdemeanor peace disturbance.

5. Missouri defensive end Markus Golden – the makings of being a star in the SEC?

6. Former Florida tight end Kent Taylor is reconnecting with Charlie Weis at Kansas.

7. Two former LSU players headed to Southeastern Louisiana.

8. Mississippi State fans will get the chance to put their finger prints on the renovation of Davis Wade Stadium.

9. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier and Clemson coach Dabo Swinney cross paths at a Georgia high school.

SEC/NFL

10. Nick Saban on the record number of underclassmen entering the NFL draft:  ”I don’t think the NFL really wants this, I don’t really think the colleges want this.”

11. Alabama’s Kevin Norwood out to prove at the Senior Bowl that he can a 40-yard dash faster than 4.6 seconds.

12. Auburn’s Cody Parkey will kick for the South team at the Senior Bowl. His holder will be Alabama punter Cody Mandell.

13. Former Florida defensive back Jaylen Watkins making an impression in Mobile this week.

14. Players at the Senior Bowl have plenty of opinions about a variety of topics including hiring of coaches and Johnny Manziel’s chances in the NFL.

SEC Media

15. ESPNU’s signing day coverage will feature reporters at five SEC schools - Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Tennessee and Texas A&M.

SEC Basketball

16. Kentucky basketball assistant strengh coach Brian Shorter arrested Thursday morning.  Accused of shoving his wife into unheated garage and pouring water on her.

17. Arkansas A.D. Jeff Long on the Razorbacks 1-4 start to SEC play.  ”You know, if there was a magic formula I would utilize it now, but we’re close. I think our fans can see we’re close.”

Extra

18. Super Bowl in the snow?  Latest weather forecast says there’s a 30% chance.

 

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Ex-Tide Star Fluker Says Bama Practices Tougher Than The NFL

gfx - they said itThis time last year, DJ Fluker was preparing for the NFL draft.  Taken #11 overall by the San Diego Chargers, the former Alabama offensive lineman went on to make the NFL’s All-Rookie team this past season.  According to the player, NIck Saban’s practices in Tuscaloosa were good prep work for the challenges he’s experienced at the professional level:

 

“Playing at Alabama, practise-wise, is probably a lot harder than playing in the NFL.  Being under Coach Saban and the practices he makes each and every day was like an NFL game.  That prepared me the most, being in that environment every single day…

Coach made everything organized, just like being in the NFL.”

 

Gee, you don’t think Alabama will use Fluker’s comments on the recruiting trail, do you?

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SEC Headlines 1/23/2014

headlines-thuSEC Football

1. Quarterback Jacob Coker granted release from Florida State.  High school coach says he’ll visit Tuscaloosa in the “near future.” Would have two years of eligibility starting this fall.

2. Report: Georgia is set to hire South Alabama defensive coordinator Kevin Sherrer on its defensive staff.

3. Four LSU players - defensive backs Derrick Raymond and Jerqwinick Sandolph, linebacker Lorenzo Phillips and offensive lineman Derek Edinburgh Jr. – have left the team. All four are from the 2012 signing class.

4. Former Alabama defensive end Ed Stinson: “I wish we would have prepared more for the Auburn game.”

5. With Chris Davis and Tre Mason headed to the NFL, Auburn needs to find replacements in the return game. Also looking for a new high school relations director.

6. Auburn assistant Dameyne Craig claims a quote was taken out of context - not frustrated about lack of head-coaching opportunities.

7. Who will be “next year’s Auburn?” Fans think it could be Florida or Tennessee.

8. Of recruits signed, how many actually get playing time?  At Missouri under Gary Pinkel, the answer is 78%.

9. Early Heisman campaign? Mississippi State unveils Dak Prescott billboards.

SEC Basketball

10. Lexington police investigate ticket fraud involving Kentucky basketball tickets.

11. Florida at Alabama.  Crimson Tide haven’t lost SEC home game since February of 2012.  The opponent was Florida.

Extras

12. With the NFL talking about eliminating the extra point, would college football follow suit?

13. Florida fan wants to trademark “Bortles and Jameis.”

14. Michigan State recruit accused of body slamming security guard at his high school. Arrested and charged with Assault and Battery.

15. Ever wonder what it’s like to skydive into a packed sports stadium?

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