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SEC Headlines 5/3/2013

headlines-friSEC/NCAA News

1. Auburn president Jay Gogue on allegations surrounding the program: ”When you get in and begin to do all your careful reviews and analyze everything said, we didn’t find anything.”

2. Remember those proposed new NCAA rules that would have allowed unlimited communication between coaches and recruits?  They’ve been suspended and academic standards won’t be raised in 2016.

3. Don’t expect the college football playoff committee to have its members anytime soon.  Executive director Bill Hancock: “We want to be deliberate.”

SEC Football

4. Possible motive in the bar fight involving LSU running back Jeremy Hill?  Attorney says Hill was heckled about past legal trouble.  Search continues for second suspect –  not believed to be LSU football player. Update: Second person arrested.

5. LSU-Wisconsin in Houston in 2014?  Not so fast.  ”Nothing has been finalized.”

6. Nick Saban on why he wants the SEC to adopt a nine-game conference schedule: “I personally feel like strength of schedule is going to be a real important thing in the future.”

7. Auburn president Jay Gogue also likes the nine-game idea. “I’d be one of those that would be supportive.”

8. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn has already starting watching game tape on the Tigers first opponent, Washington State.

9. Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace has resumed throwing - coming of shoulder surgery in January.

10. Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel picks up his Manning Award trophy. Archie Manning:  ”Thanks a hell of a lot, Johnny.” NFL general manager on Manziel – He’s “more like a Brett Favre.  He’s got some cowboy in him.”

11. Athlon asks the question – will the Missouri Tigers make a bowl game this season?

12. Florida coach Will Muschamp on running back Matt Jones: “He attacked the offseason. He’s up over 230 pounds. He looks great.”

13. Gators linebacker Ronald Powell cleared for a full return in August after undergoing two ACL surgeries on his knee in the past year.

14. What does Tennessee coach Butch Jones look at on a transcript? Tardiness and absences. “That tells me everything I need to know.”

15. Former Tennessee coach Johnny Majors on Jones: “His practices have great tempo, they’re organized to the hilt and there’s nobody standing around.”

SEC Network

16. Analyst on the distribution challenges awaiting the new network:  ”I think it all comes down to how you price it. But I would say it’s going to take them a long time to get off the ground.”

17. Mike Slive on having the network headquartered in North Carolina.   “I’m delighted to have a presence in North Carolina.” Care to elaborate? “No. I don’t need to.”

18. Tony Barnhart: “Slive cemented his legacy as one of the impactful commissioners in the history of college athletics with Thursday’s announcement.”

19. David Climer: “It’s good to be the king.”

20. Kentucky coach John Calipari on the impact the network will have on basketball.  “From teams seven to 14, those teams now have a chance to recruit, because they will get fully exposed.”

SEC Basketball

21. The mother of Alabama basketball player Devonta Pollard charged with kidnapping a six-year old girl.

22. Florida’s non-conference schedule includes Kansas, Memphis and Wisconsin.

23. Missouri will reportedly play in Las Vegas in November. 

24. Ole Miss still looking to fill one scholarship spot.

Extras

25. Columnist: “Big Ten football in its current state is a fraud.”

26. With Notre Dame playing Arizona State at Cowboys Stadium, the Fighting Irish have their eyes on Texas recruits.  Coach Brian Kelly: ”There’s no question that when you talk about playing here at Cowboys Stadium, that gets every recruit’s attention.”

27. Texas coach Mack Brown is handing out rings.

28. World War II veterans of the Normandy Invasion get to meet Kentucky Derby horse Normandy Invasion.

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ACC Grant Of Rights Deal Could End Realignment Madness For A While

shockNow here’s something unexpected…

David Glenn of WCMC-FM in Raleigh — that’s not him at left — is reporting today that the schools of the ACC will soon announce a “unanimous 15 school agreement extending” a grant of media rights to the league office.  If/when such a move occurs, it will likely serve as an emergency brake for the runaway train known as conference realignment.

According to Glenn, who is also the publisher of the ACC Sports Journal at ACCSports.com, the deal is expected to run through the conclusion of the current ACC/ESPN television contract in 2027.

ESPN’s Brett McMurphy has confirmed the report through his own ACC sources and David Teel of The Daily Press in Hampton Roads, Virginia has reported that the GOR was distributed to ACC schools three to four weeks ago for their review.

So what does this mean?

 

* It means John Swofford has solidified his Atlantic Coast Conference.  That was a Herculean task with Jim Delany and the Big Ten bearing down on his league.  Kudos to the ACC commish.

* It means that any school attempting to leave the ACC prior to 2027 would have to forfeit its rights (ie: television money) back to the ACC regardless of what league it wound up in.  Not only would the school lose millions upon millions of dollars, but any league looking to add an ACC school would — theoretically — see no real financial reward from bringing in said school.

* It means the Big Ten, Big XII and SEC won’t be making raids for schools such as Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Duke, NC State, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Florida State, or Miami as many had expected and some had hoped.

 

And before you start wondering, there are already reports that the ACC plans to stand pat at 15 schools (14 full members plus Notre Dame).

Ironically, the last major conference without an official grant of rights deal is the SEC, though with the league buying back most of its schools’ third-tier media rights and rolling them into the league’s new deal with ESPN, it might as well have such a document.  Also, while the Big XII might eye Arkansas or the Big Ten might consider Kentucky or Vanderbilt or finally Missouri, there’s really very little chance of any SEC school leaving.  As Mike Slive is fond of pointing out, the SEC has no exit fee (because no one would ever want out).

So if the Big Ten truly wants to grow into a 16-school league, UConn and Cincinnati remain available.

If the Big XII wants to expand past 10 schools, BYU, Cincinnati, UConn, or other smaller Midwestern/Western schools (such as Boise State) would appear to be the best bets.

For the SEC, it looks as though the league will remain a 14-school league after all, which is exactly what multiple SEC sources have told us the conference was hoping for lo these many turbulent months.  If the ACC’s grant of rights agreement comes about and it is as ironclad as most lawyers believe these types of agreements to be, any SEC move into Virginia or North Carolina won’t occur on Slive’s watch.

And for the average college sports fan who was just praying for an end to the expansion/realignment madness, this shocker of a move should serve as a belated Christmas present.

Big news.

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UF President: SEC Could Expand If An “Ace Jewel” Came Calling

The SEC and Big Ten appear to be playing cowboy these days.  Jim Delany and Mike Slive seem to be locked in a showdown, both men with hands on their holsters just waiting for the other guy to twitch and try to draw first.

And this showdown seems to be just as tense (and slow) as the famous climactic gunfight scene from “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.”  (Pencil Big XII commish Bob Bowlsby into the third gunman’s role.)

 

The Good The Bad and the Ugly Finale

 

While Slive has been quick to say that he’s simply keeping tabs on the situation, most believe he’s secretly working the phones and using back channels to communicate with other schools who might be on the SEC’s wish list.  An ACC source told The Sporting News months ago that the SEC has been chasing North Carolina and Duke for three years.

Well today, Florida president Bernie Machen has revealed that, yes, that SEC might expand again if “some ace jewel called us and said, ‘Can you help us?’”  But in a conversation with CBSSports.com’s Jeremy Fowler he added: “We haven’t had any calls like that.  We haven’t made any calls.”

As we’ve stated previously, most of the folks we’ve spoken to at SEC schools say they would prefer the league finish digesting Missouri and Texas A&M before it bellies back up to the realignment buffet.  For that reason, we at MrSEC.com continue to believe that the next domino to fall will have to be knocked over by the Big Ten and Delany rather than by the SEC and Slive.

Earlier this year, Ohio State president Gordon Gee let it be known that the Big Ten is still considering expanding further.  We’ve been saying for several months that Virginia and Georgia Tech have been in contact with the Big Ten.  It’s also been reported that North Carolina has spoken with the Big Ten at some level.  Other rumors have connected Duke, Pittsburgh, Florida State and Kansas to Delany’s conference.

Fowler, in addition to speaking with Machen, also talked with outgoing Nebraska AD Tom Osborne and he, too, seems to think the Big Ten will keep adding schools:

 

“From the way things are going, I would assume there may be some desire to add a couple more schools.  This is strictly opinion, no hard data or anything like that.  Where exactly they would go, I don’t know.  I’d imagine there would be some interest to the East.  I think the Big Ten’s wide open to looking to other places, too.”

 

Stay tuned.  Especially if an “ace jewel” decides to dial up the SEC office in Birmingham.

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Emails Reveal Lobbying Efforts At Kentucky; Many Wanted Petrino For Football Coach, 13-Year Old Fan Suggested Stoops

gfx - they said itThanks to Kentucky’s Open Records Act, the Louisville Courier-Journal has obtained more than 250 emails sent last fall regarding the football program at Kentucky. The emails sent to A.D. Mitch Barnhart reveal that several people wanted Bobby Petrino to replace Joker Phillips in Lexington.

According to the paper, Barnhart received more than 60 emails about Petrino with the vast majority of them supporting the hire.  About a dozen opposed the move. Here’s one mail from a Petrino supporter:

 

“I am praying night and day that you hire Bobby Petrino. He has made mistakes in the past, but who hasn’t? The Bible says that we are ALL sinners in need of forgiveness. … We are not trying to hire a minister or a social worker. We are hiring a FOOTBALL COACH. … PLEASE Mitch. Be our hero!”

 

The first email supporting the hire of Mark Stoops showed up in Barnhart’s inbox in October – weeks before Phillips was fired.  A 13-year old fan was the first of two emails backing Stoops.

 

“I have been to 78 straight UK home games,” wrote the teen, whose name and contact information were redacted by the school. “Please don’t right (sic) me off, I know my stuff.”

 

Former Kentucky governor John Y. Brown Jr. also got in the act, originally supporting former North Carolina coach Butch Davis.  In one email, he even went so far as to attach Davis’ coaching credentials and references.

 

“Your selection is a great opportunity to have a new start after nine straight losing coaches and fifty years of losing.  You got a chance to be a hero again so go get the best and give our fans something to be proud of.”

 

Brown sent another email to UK Board of Trustees Chairman Britt Brockman who forwarded the message to the university president.

 

No disrespect to coach (former UK coach Rich) Brooks. He brought a lot of pride to the program, but second-class bowls are not the agenda for my school. … Confidence and attitude and self-esteem are so important for a state, and sports has a lot to do with that. You see what Calipari has done with basketball. It’s just lifted the whole state.

“I think having a great role model as coach and a winning program has more effect than who the governor is.”

 

Later, Brown appeared to back off his support for Davis, saying the coach’s troubles at North Carolina were “more serious than I was aware.”

A list of minority candidates suggested to Barnhart by the Black Coaches and Administrators included former Oakland Raiders coach Hue Jackson, former Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell and former Western Kentucky coach Willie Taggert.

Barnhart replied to few of the emails sent his way but one name that did catch his eye was former Texas A&M offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury, who’s now the head coach at Texas Tech.  It’s clear that Barnhart liked what he read.

 

“Impressive. Just getting started. Your letter gives me some insight into Kliff. May reach out to you to get a number for him.”

 

The emails cover the period from October 1 through mid-November. Kentucky made the hire of Mark Stoops official on November 27th.

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Slive Gets National Writer’s Vote As College Sports Most Powerful Person… We Disagree (Barely)

slive-delanyAndy Staples of SI.com has today ranked the 10 most powerful people in college athletics for his readers.  Above NCAA president Mark Emmert there are two names.  You can guess both of them.  And though they’re friendly when in the same room, everyone knows there’s a bit of a rivalry between the two.

So here’s guessing Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany won’t like the fact that a national publication has ranked him below SEC commissioner Mike Slive.  Given Delany’s past comments regarding Big Ten superiority, he must feel a bit like Delta House has beaten his more prestigious Omega Theta Pi.

After explaining Slive’s power — and Delany’s — Staples explains exactly why he chose to put Slive atop his list:

 

“So why, when they seem relatively equal, does Slive get the nod over Delany?  Seven consecutive national championships in football, and Slive got everything he wanted in the negotiations for the format of the four-team playoff.  Remember, Slive proposed this very idea in 2008.  Delany opposed it until he saw no other option.  Had we made this list two years ago, Slive would not have finished so high.  A TV deal that looked like a Whopper in the post-crash world of 2009 looked like a junior cheeseburger in 2011.  So Slive changed the game.  The most important move so far in this round of realignment has been Texas A&M’s switch from the Big 12 to the SEC.  No matter what Slive actually said about fit and culture when the Aggies joined, the move was always a land grab to enlarge the SEC’s footprint.  Adding the nation’s second-largest state made a cable channel feasible and will allow the SEC to significantly increase its revenues.  No other move in realignment has had such a profound impact on one league.”

 

Staples goes on to suggest that Delany could jump Slive on his list if he decides to expand south and east.  His take on the Big Ten expansion situation mirrors what we’ve written on this site… the Big Ten is waiting to see what Maryland has to pay to leave the ACC and if it does decide to expand, schools like Virginia and North Carolina would likely prefer the the Big Ten to the SEC:

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WOW Headlines – 2/27/13

Wednesday night SEC Basketball
Kentucky 85, Mississippi State 55…LSU 65, Arkansas 60
Ole Miss 82, Texas A&M 73…Vanderbilt 63, Georgia 62
Mississippi State  tight ends coach Tim Brewster reportedly accepts job at Florida State
Vanderbilt RB Warren Norman is having to give up football due to thinning cartilage in his knees
Georgia FB Zander Ogletree will also give up football due to an unspecified injury
Players from the SEC and other conferences will wear electronic chips in their jerseys… The data will be used to improve on-field safety
South Carolina’s season-opener against North Carolina will kickoff ESPN’s Thursday night football coverage this fall
Follow the SEC every single day at MrSEC.com

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Court Won’t Dismiss The ACC’s Lawsuit Against Maryland

gavelThe ACC scored an expected win yesterday when a North Carolina judge refused to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the league against the University of Maryland.  The school had argued that that a court in the Tarheel State — which happens to be the home state of the ACC’s league office — held no jurisdiction over a school in the state of Maryland, meaning the league’s $52 million lawsuit/exit fee should be tossed.

Yesterday’s ruling simply sets the stage for another court case.  Planning an escape to the Big Ten, the University of Maryland has no intention of paying the $52 million exit fee the ACC agreed upon last year.  A spokesman for Terrapins’ lawyer Douglas Gansler said last night that “the state is going to be considering its options in light of this ruling.”

Gansler had stated when filing his motion to dismiss that the ACC’s enormous exit fee was “an antitrust violation and an illegal penalty.”  He had also said that his motion “in North Carolina will insure that a Maryland court will rule on the case.”

D’oh.

Multiple sources have told MrSEC.com that Virginia and Georgia Tech have had conversations with the Big Ten, but all parties involved are waiting to see the outcome of the ACC/Maryland battle before deciding to wed.  There have been other reports that the Big Ten has had contact with North Carolina and Duke as well.

Jim Delany’s league and any ACC schools on its wish list could announce plans to wed before Maryland’s case is settled, but at this point that seems unlikely.  So this not-so-unexpected delay in the courts might slow down — for a bit — the inevitable expansion/realignment shuffle to come.

To date, conference exit fees have been negotiated down as schools have found legal loopholes.  But keep in mind, they’ve been negotiated down.  They’ve not been thrown out altogether.  Schools have found enough reason for leagues to believe they could lose a court battle… so rather than risk a court defeat, force schools that want out to stick around, and slow their own re-growth plans, conferences have been willing to negotiate lower settlements.  But the ACC’s exit clause might be more ironclad than other leagues’ contracts.  Again, the exit clause was re-worked last year after the ACC saw school after school talk their own settlements’ down with other conferences.  It’s possible the ACC learned something by watching those other leagues buckle.

Also, seeing as most believe Maryland’s departure could be the first domino to fall in a potential ACC collapse, John Swofford’s league might be more willing to fight this thing in court than other conferences would be.

The irony is that representatives from ACC schools are talking to other conferences about exiting at the exact same time those schools are trying to prevent Maryland from exiting.

 

(CORRECTION — The original headlines said the “NCAA” won’t dismiss the ACC’s lawsuit.  Total bungle on my part.  Had just been reading up on the NCAA/Miami case and my brain did its typical early morning flub thing.  Apologies.)

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Big Ten To Add More Conference Games; Is This Another Lure For UVA, GT, UNC And Duke?

luresThe Big Ten will move to at least nine conference football games per season and possibly 10 according to league commissioner Jim Delany.  The move has been rumored for several weeks, but Delany confirmed the decision yesterday:

 

“There’s real recognition that we now live in two regions of the country, and we want to make sure those are bound together as best we can, so more games (makes sense).  Eight games is not on the table.  It’s nine or 10.”

 

Ohio State AD Gene Smith also said: “There’s television considerations there when you have intriguing conference matchups that are better than some of our non-conference matchups, that’s an important piece.”

That could also be an important piece for the SEC moving forward.  Under current plans, the Big Ten, Pac-12, and Big XII will all be playing at least nine conference games per year.  The SEC currently plays eight league games.  The SEC’s format results in one more cupcake game per year for each school and fewer visits to and from conference rivals.

Eventually — as we’ve stated for more than a year — the Southeastern Conference will move to a nine-game schedule.  It will have to (barring a scheduling alliance with another conference).  Its television partners and the league’s own SEC Network will require such a move for content purposes.  And with a selection committee deciding each year’s four playoff participants, the SEC won’t be able to allow other leagues to claim their teams are playing tougher schedules.  There is already a move to “spread the wealth” of football championships or else there would be no new playoff in the first place.  If members of the selection committee can point to something as simple as “SEC teams play more creampuff non-conference games,” you better believe they’ll do so in order to get teams from as many leagues as possible into the playoffs each year.

But look again at Delany’s statement.  “We now live in two regions of the country,” meaning the Midwest and the East.  There are hardly as many Big Ten schools in the East as there are in the Midwest.  But more are probably on the way.

In recent weeks we’ve reported that our sources have said Virginia and Georgia Tech have both had contact with the Big Ten.  We’ve been told those schools are waiting to see the final bill Maryland will have to pay to get out of the ACC before they decide whether or not to follow the Terrapins’ lead.  Everyone and their brother is now reporting the same thing (or at least reporting on the reports that are already out there).

There have also been rumors that the Big Ten is wooing North Carolina, Duke, Boston College, and Florida State.  At MrSEC.com, we don’t see BC or FSU as being realistic partners with the Big Ten as they lack AAU status, but we’ll mention the rumors just the same.

By adding Maryland and Rutgers late last year, Delany’s league made it clear that it is a) looking to add large numbers of cable households for its Big Ten Network and b) trying to expand southward.  As Delany himself has mentioned time and again, part of the decision to look south is driven by population shifts and demographics.  Several Big Ten states have the slowest growth rates in the country.  Some of the fastest growing states are in the South.  So if you want more television revenue and you need robust populations to create new students and donors, clearly you try to grab a number of top schools farther south.

So what’s this have to do with adding conference games?

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2013 Signing Class: Georgia’s Target Zone

target-with-dartsGeorgia added 32 players from 7 different states on Wednesday and Thursday.  A breakdown of the Bulldogs’ “target zone” is below:

 

Georgia = 18 recruits

Florida = 5

Mississippi = 4

Virginia = 2

Indiana = 1

North Carolina = 1

South Carolina = 1

 

In-State Signees = 56.2%

Out-Of-State Signees = 43.7%

 

Observation:

First, the bad news.  Nine of the top 10 prospects in the state of Georgia — including four 5-star prospects — decide to migrate out of the Peach State this week.  Now the good news.  The state is so deep in talent the Bulldogs still signed 18 local products and still wound up with a class ranked in just about everyone’s top 15.  UGA owned the state just two years ago and the Dawgs’ recent success would lead one to believe things would have stayed the same.  But this looks more like a one-year glitch to us than some sort of beginning-of-the-end scenario.  Mark Richt faced one of those on the field a couple of years ago.  He’s gone 22-6 since.  Don’t be surprised to see Georgia owning its backyard again by next February.

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2013 Signing Class: LSU’s Target Zone

target-with-dartsLSU added 27 players from 11 different states on Wednesday and Thursday.  A breakdown of the Tigers’ “target zone” is below:

 

Louisiana = 12 recruits

California = 2

Florida = 2

Georgia = 2

Mississippi = 2

North Carolina = 2

Illinois = 1

Nebraska = 1

New Jersey = 1

Tennessee = 1

Virginia = 1

 

In-State Signees = 44.4%

Out-Of-State Signees = 55.5%

 

Observation:

Aside from Nick Saban, is there anyone in the SEC who makes recruiting look this easy year-in and year-out?  Credit Saban for kickstarting the juggernaut on the Bayou, but Miles has continued to land just about any top Louisiana prospect he goes after.  This year he inked seven of the state’s top 10 recruits and it would have been eight if defensive back Jeremy Cutrer hadn’t had to go the juco route to qualify.  There’s nothing mad about Miles’ recruiting hat.  He wears it well.

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