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Richt, DE Smith Disagree Over Autograph Kerfuffle

stock-footage-hand-signing-a-contract-in-black-ink-signature-is-fake-detailWith Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel under the NCAA microscope because he allegedly received money for his autograph, a larger debate has popped up: Should players be allowed to make money off their signatures?

In Athens, senior defensive end Garrison Smith has one view while his head coach, Mark Richt, takes another:

 

“You should be able to make yourself some money.  You can’t have a job because of your football schedule, and school life is so busy.  So you need some kind of way to get some income…

So if you can get something and get some money off a simple signature, why not?  What’s so bad about a signature?  How are you hurting somebody by just signing something?  Some of the people you’re signing for are putting your signature on eBay.  So they’re making money off of you, so why is it wrong for you to make some money off yourself?  People have got families.  A lot of players I know have kids.  How are you gonna get your kids some diapers?  How are you gonna get your kids some baby food if you don’t have money?”

– Smith

 

“I just don’t know how it could all work where it didn’t become so hard to manage.  If you just said, ‘OK, everybody can sell their stuff,’ you can just imagine yourself what that might turn into and how problematic it could become.”

– Richt

 

Richt, his fellow coaches, and the SEC office are pushing the NCAA for the right to provide players with a couple of extra thousand dollars per year as part of full-cost-of-tuition scholarships.  The other BCS-level conferences are pushing for the same thing and eventually this will lead to a new subdivision at the tip top of Division I college football.

For now, allowing athletes to sell their signatures is not the answer.  We’ve touched on topic before so we’ll keep it short here.

If players were allowed to sell their autographs, cheating boosters would immediately take advantage of the enormous loophole created.  Unscrupulous boosters from rival schools could create a bidding war for a high school player’s services via autographs.

“Come to State and I’ll pay you $10,000 a year for autographed memorabilia.”

“Did he say $10,000?  Come to Tech and I’ll pay you $15,000 a year for signed items.”

And what of agents?  Think an agent looking to get his hooks into a star college player wouldn’t start paying him — legally, mind you — thousands of dollars for autographs?  It would have nothing to do with the signatures.  It would have everything to do with locking up a future NFL star.

Like it or not, so long as the NCAA is based on the amateur model, cash-for-autographs is bad idea.

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Arrested UF Linebacker Gets The Taiwenese Animators Treatment

Last week at SEC Media Days, Will Muschamp said that coaches are “100% responsible” for the off-field behavior of their players.  Less than a week later, Gator linebacker Antonio Morrison was arrested for barking at a police dog.  Yes, for barking at a police dog.  And then for resisting arrest.

It was Morrison’s second arrest in five weeks.  In June he was arrested for battery after punching  a bouncer at a nightclub.

Muschamp has responded by handing the sophomore-to-be an indefinite suspension.  He will “miss at least two games to begin the season.”  So a projected starting linebacker will miss games against Toledo and Miami (FL).  In our view, that’s probably a stiffer penalty than Muschamp’s predecessor, Urban Meyer, would have handed down.

Well now the famed Taiwenese Animators have used their talents to create a computer-generated video of the dog-barking incident.  They also have a little — OK, a lot — of fun with Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel.

 

Florida Gators Antonio Morrison arrested for barking at police dog

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Saban: “I’d Be Fine” With Top Five Conferences All Playing One Another

ALABAMA MEDIA DAYSThis fall, Alabama will host Chattanooga.  The Mocs are an FCS opponent.

Asked today if he will continue to schedule FCS foes like Chattanooga now that there will be a playoff (and strength of schedule will play a role in deciding who gets in), Nick Saban said:

 

“I was in the NFL for eight years where every team you played was in the NFL.  So if somebody wants to take the leadership and say, ‘OK, here are the five conferences that are the top conferences and we’re gonna play all our games amongst those people.’  I’d be fine with that.

But until someone says that, it’s gonna be impossible to schedule all your games with those teams.  So we will have to continue to play some of those games.

Now, do I think that’s what the fans want to see?  Probably not…

I think in the world that we live in I think it is impossible to schedule more than 10 games with real quality opponents.  It’s very difficult.  It’s very difficult from a financial/business standpoint because everyone want to play more home games… The more games you play with quality opponents you’re gonna have to play home-and-home so you’re gonna have less home games.”

 

This shoots down a criticism that’s often hurled Saban’s way whenever he pushes for a breakaway division of the biggest, richest schools or lobbies for a nine-game SEC schedule: “If you want to play nothing but good teams why don’t you go ahead and do it?”

Well, because it would be bad business and it would place Alabama at a competitive disadvantage if the Crimson Tide decided to walk down that road all by their lonesome.

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Miles Draws Laughs In Talking Social Media

laughing-smiley-faceAsked about his own social media policy, Les Miles joked that 20 years ago there were no Twitter or Facebook policies.  “I bet 20 years ago no one was doing the Harlem Shake,” the coach said to laughs.

 

“I can’t tell you the number of wonderful men I have on my team.  Quality, quality guys, good students… who when they get behind the social media cloak, they get to speak in a totally different way. 

‘It’s like, where did you get this?  How did you think that this was even appropriate?’”

 

He then drew more laughs while shooting down the argument that coaches should just ban Twitter (which happens to be an argument we support and that more coaches are following):

 

“Before they had cars, can you imagine: ‘I’m not allowing any of my players to drive cars.  Why?  Well, I like the ol’ buggy.  It’s safer.  As long as you keep the horse pointed in the right direction you’re OK.’

We’ve got computers now.  You get to carry ‘em in your pocket and if you hit the right buttons you get to talk to people.  For us not to admit that that’s America and that’s what we’re doing… now let’s do it right.  It’s not easy, it really isn’t… We’re trying to educate, not necessarily making it yes or no.

Now, if I find a guy that becomes a repeated issue, he represents our brand at LSU.  He’ll those that responsibility or the opportunity to be in that team room real quick.”

 

Is there any doubt that Miles would be the choice in a “Which SEC coach would you like to have a beer with” poll?

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UF’s Muschamp Says Coaches “100% Responsible” For Their Players’ Off-Field Behavior

FLORIDA MEDIA DAYSFlorida’s Will Muschamp was asked today how much responsibility a coach has for the off-field behavior of his players.  His response was perfect:

 

“You’re a hundred percent responsible.  When you sign a student-athlete to come the University of Florida, I look at his parents or his guardians and I tell them it’s my job to be an extension of what’s already happened at home.  But you’re one hundred percent responsible for the young man…

I can’t possibly know everything that happens every single night with our football team, but you also can’t stick your head in the sand and pretend that everything’s OK.  You need to be very aware of the kind of guys your guys are hanging out with.  I encourage our (staff) to constantly be with our guys.”

 

Can a coach truly be fully responsible for what his players do?  No.  A coach can’t be with 100 players all day and all night every day and night.

Still, it’s refreshing to hear a coach take full responsibility.  And in Muschamp’s case, you get the sense he’s not just paying lip service to that notion.  After all, when he gave former star Gator defensive back Janoris Jenkins the heave-ho after repeated off-field incidents, Jenkins famously said, “If Coach (Urban) Mayer were still coaching, I’d still be playing for the Gators.”

Meyer talked a good game on the discipline front but his track record suggested it was all just a lot of hot air.  Muschamp appears to be running a tighter ship in Gainesville these days.  And that gives today’s statement a lot more weight.

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Kingsbury’s Message To SEC Coaches Worried About Pace Of Game: “Stop Recruiting These Beasts Up Front”

gfx - they said itAlabama coach Nick Saban has weighed in with his concerns over up-tempo offenses in college football.  So too has Arkansas coach Bret Bielema.  Now Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury is giving his thoughts and as you might expect, the former offensive coordinator at Texas A&M has a decidely different take.  

Saban and Bielema have voiced concerns over injuries because of the pace of play and the lack of ability to substitute players.  Kingsbury isn’t buying it.

 

“I would have to see some scientific or statistical information showing an increase in injuries, because to me right now it’s just talk. You want me to play slower, well, OK, you need to get smaller, less strong defensive linemen. To me, it’s asking to do that.

“Stop recruiting these beasts up front and we won’t run as many plays.”

 

Kingsbury suggested that SEC defensive numbers wouldn’t be as good if teams had to consistently face the up-tempo style prevalent in the Big 12.

 

“There are some really good players in the Big 12 on defenses, but yards per game is through the roof. That’s just the nature of the game. If Alabama or LSU or those guys faced these offenses all the time, each and every week, it would be different. That’s just a fact.”

 

Both Saban and Bielema employ slower, more deliberate offenses.  Alabama ranked 114th in the country last year in plays per game.  Bielema’s 2012 Wisconsin team ranked 99th.

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Which SEC School Will Be The First To Go Nuts With Its Hoops Court Design?

Credit Oregon and Nike for starting two trends that are taking over college sports.  One is the necessity for darn near every school to have umpteen alternate uniforms.  The other is the growing practice of creating funky designs for a basketball court.

This is what Oregon’s court looks like:

 

oregon-court

 

That’s a salute to the state’s forests for those who can’t figure it out.

Now UCF — that’s Central Florida — is planning to get in on the act with a blacktop design that’s designed to mimic the look of outdoor courts:

 

ucf court

 

The University of Memphis recently allowed fans to vote on its new court design.  A few other schools have already gone in the same direction.

Eventually, an SEC school will go the whole nine yards with its court, too.  It’s really just a matter of time.  One website has already mocked up an Oregon-style, bayou-themed court for LSU:

 

lsu court

 

Love the cattails/corndogs in the design.

So which SEC school will be the first to go all-in with a new hoops court?  Here’s guessing it will either be a Nike school or a school that’s already shown a willingness to trot out dozens of different uni designs in football, basketball or both.

Best guess?  We’d put a buck on Mississippi State and Missouri, two schools that have worked hard to create/rebuild their brands in recent years.  MSU has gone uni-crazy through adidas.  Mizzou has allowed Nike to relaunch its look from the ground up.

If you’re looking for a long shot, consider Florida.  The Gators have been more than willing to trot out any new hoops or gridiron uniform that Nike has sent them.  If the Kings of Swoosh tell UF a new court design would help further the school’s brand and attract recruits, we would expect Billy Donovan to OK such a move.

All that said, here’s hoping this is one trend that does not spread to the Southeastern Conference.

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UT: More Hoops Games With Memphis; Memphis: Not So Fast

pastner-egg-on-faceFive months ago, the Tennessee/Memphis hoops rivalry appeared dead.  The final game in the series was on the docket for the first week of January and supposedly there were no ongoing discussions about creating a new contract.  Tiger coach Josh Pastner — who doesn’t want to let schools like Tennessee or Arkansas into Memphis for recruiting purposes — went so far as to say these (famous last) words:

 

“We will not play Tennessee anymore as long as I’m the head coach and I’m doing my scheduling.”

 

And…

 

“The facts are, this will be the last year of the series unless we play them in the postseason.  Now obviously, if any of my bosses want to play them, that’s… Me, as the head coach, the series is over, the contract is over, let’s move on.”

 

And…

 

“The contract’s ending, we have a new athletic director and he and I are on the same page with it.”

 

So much for being on the same page with his boss, AD Tim Bowen.  Yesterday Tennessee AD Dave Hart told The Knoxville News Sentinel that the two schools have “agreed in principle to a four-year home-and-home series in men’s basketball.”

“We’re going to play,” Hart said.  “We’re going to continue the basketball series.”

Ah, but Memphis officials have told The Memphis Commercial Appeal (behind a paywall), that no deal is in place until football is part of the equation.

There’s no surprise in any of this.  As we wrote in January, historically Tennessee has used its occasional gridiron games with Memphis as leverage to keep the hoops series with the Tigers alive.  It seems as if that’s part of the process this time around, too.

 

Tennessee:  Want a big ‘ol football game?  Play us in basketball.

Memphis:  Well, OK.  But basketball’s not a done deal ’til we line up a football date.

Tennessee: Well, OK.

 

The most likely end game?  Both schools will agree to an annual tilt in basketball and semi-annual contests in football.  Same as it ever was.

Unfortunately for Pastner, he’ll be left with egg on his face thanks to his AD not being upfront with him regarding the need to schedule Tennessee.

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UK’s Barnhart Against A 9-Game Schedule

Mitch-BarnhartFile this under “No Surprise.”  Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart wants no part of an expanded, nine-game conference schedule:

 

“Nine games is not something we favor.  I do not think a nine-game schedule would serve Kentucky well…

History says it’s very difficult for us to have the level of depth, the second, third, fourth lines of players, that some of the other schools in our league have just as a means of their in-state recruiting situations.  When we have to play a long line of league games, it’s a grind, our teams can get beaten up physically.  It’s better for us, for our players, when the schedule allows us to have some so-called breathers, so that our kids can sort of restore themselves physically in-season.”

 

Translation: “We’re weak.  We know we’re weak.  We don’t foresee a day when we’ll be strong.  So we need cupcakes on the schedule.”

Barnhart isn’t the only AD in the league to make comments like this.  Mississippi State’s Scott Stricklin has said that his school needs pastries, too (though we send kudos to MSU for taking on Oklahoma State this year).  Vanderbilt coach James Franklin has said he’s against a nine-game schedule, too.

Simply put, you can be sure that most of the traditional non-powers in the SEC hope to avoid a nine-game schedule.  OK.  They have their reasons.  Everyone wants to win games and everyone wants to go to a bowl game.

But do any fans really want to hear their school’s athletic director say that their program has to have “breathers” in order to win and reach those bowl games?  Where’s the ambition in that?  Where’s the confidence?

Laugh if you like, but any school can win.  If Kentucky had beaten Alabama to the punch and hired Nick Saban in 2007 is there anyone out there who doesn’t believe UK would be competing for SEC titles today?  In addition, it should be left to the fans to make the “we’ve got no in-state talent” argument.  Barnhart’s job is to find someone who can recruit kids from inside and outside the Bluegrass State.  That’s the lay of the land.  It can be done.  Some of UK’s SEC neighbors have proven it can be done.

In terms of NFL draft picks produced by SEC states, Tennessee and Arkansas rank at the bottom of the SEC along with Kentucky.  Tossing out Ivy League schools, Tennessee is one of the 10 winningest programs in the country all-time.  Arkansas is in the all-time top 20 for victories.  No in-state talent?  Recruit out of state.

Hey, we get that Kentucky doesn’t have the tradition or the recruiting base of some of its rivals.  But an athletic director admitting that his school can’t succeed without “breathers” and patsies?  Sorry.  That’s just not what an SEC athletic director should be saying.

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“Extra Security” For Nick Saban Appearance In Tennessee

nick-saban-blesses-the-massesThe Athens, Tennessee Chamber of Commerce is having a benefit dinner in June and Alabama coach Nick Saban is scheduled to speak.  That’s angered some Tennessee fans who are making their feelings quite clear.  According to Mark Wiedmer of the Chattanooga Times-Free Press, one upset fan even went so far as to make a death wish.  

Chamber president Rob Preston told Weidmer the disturbing phone call came over Easter weekend.

 

“It was filled with cuss words. It said, ‘Whoever is responsible for this should be dead.’…

“We’re going to have extra security that night, both for Coach Saban and myself. We’ll be prepared.”

 

Preston says that’s not the only feedback he’s received.  Several people have emailed him to voice their displeasure.

 

(email 1) “If you do not cancel Saban AND apologize for being so financially irresponsible, we are taking the list of members and are going to actively boycott any and all businesses who are members or are related to the chamber in any way.”

(email 2) “You are an absolute joke and a disgrace to the state of Tennessee. Why do you think it is OK to bring in Nick Saban to speak? … Are you hoping he will get to do some recruiting and further damage the state of Tennessee’s football program? I wish you all the worst and hope your event is a complete failure — Rocky Top for Life.”

(email 3) “This is the ultimate disrespect to the University of Tennessee and all Vols fans, and it amounts to kicking us when we’re down. It’s the college sports equivalent of scheduling a Nazi to speak in Israel. I hope your power fails, your catering is illness-laden and that the backlash boycott sets Athens businesses back 25 years.”

 

Preston says the event has sold 1,376 tickets compared to 276 people who showed up last year to see former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer and players Al Wilson and Peerless Price from the 1998 national championship team. Ticket sales will be cut off at 1,500 because of facility size limits.

The money goes to help local businesses and organizations.  ”This will be, by far, the most money we’ve ever raised from one dinner.” (Hat tip - AL.com)

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