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ACC’s Swofford Responds To Spurrier’s Notre Dame Ramble

logo-notre-dameLast week, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier opened his media session with a meandering “state of the union” address that touched on everything from scheduling to coaches paying players out of their own pockets to the fact that Notre Dame should be forced to join a conference.  In fact, Spurrier said the league’s coaches voted unanimously in Destin that the Fighting Irish should join a league.  (As if the SEC’s coaches have any say on what deals a Midwestern university can cut for itself.)

Well, ACC commissioner John Swofford has responded to Spurrier.  Notre Dame, of course, will join that league a member in every sport but football.  The Irish will, however, play five ACC teams per year on the gridiron.  Swofford’s take on Notre Dame:

 

“It’s the right thing to do at this point in time.  It was a unanimous decision by our institutions and a very positive one that has already benefited us without question…

I’m really pleased and I know the vast majority of people in our league are pleased that ND is part of the ACC family under the conditions they are currently under.”

 

Hey, if there weren’t something special about Notre Dame, the Irish wouldn’t be able to cut special deals for themselves.  Other folks might not like it and it might not be “fair,” but as long as television networks, the College Football Playoff power brokers, and conferences like the ACC see great value in the Notre Dame brand, Notre Dame will continue to wield unique power.

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Franklin Talks About Vandy’s Membership In The 20/20/20 Club

VANDERBILT MEDIA DAYSVanderbilt coach James Franklin — a heckuva salesman — tosses out a new pitch today at SEC Media Days.  Didya know that only Vanderbilt and Notre Dame finished ranked in the top 20 last season, signed top 20 recruiting classes, and are ranked as top 20 academic institutions?

You do now.

That’s a pretty good sales hook, too.

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Richt Not Feeling More Pressure To Get UGA A National Crown

GEORGIA MEDIA DAYSAsked by the ESPN crew if he feels additional pressure to win a national championship at Georgia, Mark Richt provided a nuts and bolts answer:

 

“The thing that we can control is that we win the East.  If you win the East you play in the SEC Championship Game and if you win that one you’ve got a chance to play for a national championship.  So that’s our goal every year and it’s really not much different than any other year.”

 

Last year, Richt’s Bulldogs finished five yards shy of winning the SEC Championship Game and getting their own shot at Notre Dame in the BCS title game.

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Bielema Says Strength At The Top Is The Difference Between The SEC And The Big Ten

ARKANSAS MEDIA DAYSNew Arkansas coach Bret Bielema sat down with ESPN for a quick chat before entering the main media room in Birmingham.  Having moved from Wisconsin this past offseason, he was naturally asked to compare the Big Ten to the SEC.

 

“There are a set of teams who have won national championship after championship.  They’re in the running.  There’s probably four or five teams last year out of the SEC that could have argued they could have done just as well in that national championship game (against) Notre Dame.”

 

Bielema was also asked about the comment he made a year ago while coaching at Wisconsin that the Big Ten didn’t want to be anything like the SEC.  The remark was made because Urban Meyer — new to Ohio State — was recruiting players who’d already committed to Big Ten schools… which was a violation of a Big Ten gentleman’s agreement.

Bielema quickly pointed out the differences between the two leagues and then he backtracked from his famous quote:

 

“A broader national exposure… the SEC label and what that means.  The incident you’re referring to really it didn’t have anything to do with the truth of what was reported and I don’t think that guy (Meyer) has changed that league in anyway.”

 

Bielema will likely be asked about that comment a few more times this afternoon.

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Spurrier Kicks Off Agenda-Fest 2013

CAROLINA MEDIA DAYSSteve Spurrier is big on setting the table when it comes to the national sports conversation.  Today at SEC Media Days he opened his session by launching into a push to pay players.  The Ol’ Ballcoach said that he and all of the other SEC football and basketball coaches voted at this year’s SEC Meetings that players should receive some additional pay from their schools.  In fact, Spurrier said that all of the SEC’s coaches — football and basketball — were willing to cover the costs.

Whether the other coaches wanted Spurrier to reveal their behind-closed-doors discussion or not is anyone’s guess.

Spurrier did say that his plan is “not pay for play, so please don’t say that.”  In his view, it’s “just a little expense money” for the players and their families.  (Spurrier’s plan might not provide much pay for play, but it most definitely is pay for play.)

Like a ballcarrier with his head on a swivel, Spurrier quickly switched direction and dove into the debate over Notre Dame’s power in the college football world.  The coach wondered aloud why all of the FBS commissioners and Notre Dame’s athletic director were involved in the new playoff talks.  The coach’s rapid-fire comments really had nothing to do with anything.  Perhaps Spurrier should drop in to the ACC’s media event and ask there why Notre Dame isn’t a 100% member of that league.

And then finally came the scheduling issues.  Spurrier pointed out that last year’s division winners in football each missed playing the top three teams in the opposite division.  South Carolina’s coach didn’t offer any solutions, mind you, he just wanted to say that the current set-up isn’t fair.

It’s clear that Spurrier is determined to offer up his own “state of college sports” speech as a kickoff to his Media Days session each year.

It got laughs because it was Spurrier, but in truth, it was a bit bizarre.

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Former Texas Quarterback Connor Brewer Getting Interest From Alabama And Tennessee?

Connor BrewerThe Connor Brewer sweepstakes are officially underway.  The former Texas quarterback got a full release from the Longhorns program and is now considering his transfer possibilities.  Two of those programs are reportedly Alabama and Tennessee.

That’s according to a report from Arizona Central, which says that in addition to the two SEC schools, Brewer has also heard from Notre Dame, Stanford and Duke.

The Scottsdale, Arizona native says he would also consider the local schools. “I don’t have a place in mind. Definitely (Arizona) could be a good place to go. It’s still early, too soon to say where I’ll end up.”

Brewer’s high school coach is now an assistant at Arizona.  Wherever he winds up, the redshirt freshman will have to sit out the 2013 season.

(H/T CBSSports.com)

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Gator Bowl Expects A Deal With The SEC And Multiple Conferences

gator-bowl-logoSince January of 2011, the Gator Bowl has been an SEC bowl partner.  With a new series of contracts being drawn up and signed, it looks like that partnership will extend for a new six-year window between 2014 and 2019.

According to Gator Bowl president Rick Catlett, the current SEC versus Big Ten matchup will likely be tweaked moving forward:

 

“I believe we will have a deal with the SEC and we’re looking to create a relationship with multiple conferences.  We’re focusing on the Big Ten and the ACC and Notre Dame.  I feel like we’re really close…

The SEC will be our anchor conference and the team we get will be our home team each year.”

 

At MrSEC.com, we have stated that we would have like to have seen the SEC go a bit more national with its bowl schedule.  Big Ten teams, for example, will take part in bowls from New York to Florida to California.

We are also in favor a bowl “draft” that would allow SEC fans to see their teams battle teams from conferences they don’t often play (cough, cough, the Pac-12, cough).

Unfortunately, this appears to be more of the same.  We suspect when the SEC announces its new lineup of bowl partners, you’ll see a whole of SEC versus Big Ten and SEC versus ACC matchups.  A couple of bowls will likely feature games against the Big XII as well.  So much for variety.  Hey, we’re glad the Gator Bowl is branching out, but replacing a Big Ten team with an ACC team doesn’t do much for variety when it comes to SEC bowl foes.

Ultimately, the league is going in the complete opposite direction of the Big Ten.  Jim Delany’s league is going coast-to-coast in an effort to get more national attention and be seen in front of recruits from multiple regions.  The SEC is happy just to sit in its own backyard.  The best recruiting zone in America is in its geographic footprint and currently the league rules the national roost in terms of football and media hype.  League officials apparently feel no need to change.

That’s too bad for SEC fans… unless you enjoy seeing umpteen SEC/ACC and SEC/Big Ten matchups every December and January.

Personally we would have liked to have seen the SEC worm its way into the Las Vegas Bowl against the Pac-12.  Call us crazy.

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OSU’s Gee Takes Shots At The SEC, Notre Dame, Catholics, And Everything Else Under The Sun

gordon-geeSomeone might to check to see if Gordon Gee’s bowtie is tied too tight.  Ohio State’s president is acting like a man who’s not getting enough oxygen to the old noodle.

According to the Associated Press, OSU held a meeting of its athletics council in December.  Gee — who served as chancellor at Vanderbilt from 2001 through 2007 — fired off a number of jokes about various schools and conferences during the meeting.  He even managed to insult Catholics.

We know this because the notes from that meeting have now gone public.

A few of his inappropriate jokes:

 

*  On why Notre Dame wasn’t invited to join the Big Ten: “The fathers are holy on Sunday and they’re holy hell on the rest of the week… You just can’t trust those damn Catholics on a Thursday or a Friday, and so, literally, I can say that.”  (Gee is a Mormon.)

*  On what the Big Ten looked for in expansion partners: “… institutions of like-minded academic integrity.  So you won’t see us adding Louisville.”  (He then said the Big Ten wouldn’t be adding the University of Kentucky, either.)

*  When asked how Big Ten fans should respond when SEC fans say people in a 14-team league called the Big Ten can’t count: “You tell the SEC when they learn to read and write, then they can figure out what we’re doing.”

 

Gee also said that the Big Ten made a mistake in not adding Missouri and Kansas when it had the chance, which could possibly be taken as an insult by fans of Nebraska, Maryland, and Rutgers.

Most of Gee’s remarks sound like the kind of thing a person would say jokingly to his peers behind closed doors.  But in this day and age there are no closed doors.  Gee, a university president, should know that and he should have been more measured in his comments.

As for joking about Catholics, well, that was just pure stupidity for a man in Gee’s position.  If he were hosting a late-night talk show?  Fine.  But a university president can’t say those kinds of things.

Ohio State — sorry, The Ohio State University — has called Gee’s statements inappropriate and said that their president is undergoing a “remediation plan” as a result.  Gee himself put out a statement apologizing:

 

“The comments I made were just plain wrong, and in no way do they reflect what the university stands for.  They were a poor attempt at humor and entirely inappropriate.”

 

Some guys just don’t know how to tell a joke.  They go too far, they joke when they shouldn’t, etc.  That seems to be the case with Gee.  After all, this is the same man who once joked during the Jim Tressel scandal that he hoped the coach wouldn’t fire him.

As someone who once lived in Columbus, I can tell you that fans of Ohio State athletics were very glad to see him leave OSU in 1998.  And after he did away with Vandy’s athletic department, Commodore fans were just as happy to see his taillights heading right back up I-65 toward Columbus in 2007.

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FSU’s Fisher Says “Perception Is A Huge Part” Of The SEC’s Reputation

Duke v Florida StateAnother coach has decided to tweak the SEC’s nose and this time he’s not a Big XII’er.  Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher told The Tallahassee Democrat this weekend that the ACC compares quite well against the SEC.

Asked what his conference needed to do to get more national respect, Fisher said:

 

“Wake y’all media people up a little bit (laughing).  I say that jokingly, but if you look at the numbers, perception is a huge part of it.  When you look at number of recruits in the top 150 players in the country, SEC and ACC are by far the top two.  So it’s the two most athletic, competitive conferences.  Now we (as a conference) have to win more games.

Everybody says that about us (Florida State), but we’ve only lost to one SEC team (in three years).  Florida last year was the first time we’ve ever lost to one.  We beat Florida (twice), beat South Carolina… (Last year’s Florida game was) the first one we’ve lost.  We beat Notre Dame.  Beat South Carolina in a bowl game.  Now we have to keep winning games and make ourselves relevant again.  And I think the (NFL) draft also proves it…

Perception sometimes… once something’s said over and over and over again… sometimes it’s not always reality.”

 

Fisher is correct on two fronts.  First, recruiting grades and NFL draft results do suggest that the ACC has plenty of talent within its borders.  Second, the ACC has “to keep winning games” to make itself relevant again.

The Southeastern Conference not only leads the way in recruiting rankings and NFL draftees, it wins on the field.  Among the five power conferences, the SEC’s bowl record is far and away the best dating back 15 years.  The league has won nine of the 15 BCS championship games played since 1998.  The only SEC squad to lose a BCS title game (LSU) was beaten by another SEC team (Alabama).

The ACC has talent.  It just needs more of its teams to use that talent to win ballgames.

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