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The Morning After: SEC Players Implicated, SEC Fans Fret

mushroom-cloudWelcome to the new reality of college athletics.  In this reality, college athletics — the actual athletic events — are only background noise.  The focus instead is on scandal.  One after another.  Week after week.  School after school.

Penn State.

Oregon.

Miami.

Johnny Manziel.

Oklahoma State and Les Miles.

Alabama, Mississippi State and Tennessee players.

Agents.

Boosters.

Hostesses.

Saturday’s Alabama/Texas A&M clash might as well be hyped as Player Autographs versus Agent Money.

Enjoying it all?  I hope so because with more and more media there will be fewer and fewer secrets.  Some might think complete transparency is a good thing.  In theory, it probably is.  But this writer believes the fact that every $100 handshake — a practice that has gone on since the dawn of college sports — is now going to be uncovered by a website or just a guy with a cell phone camera and a Twitter account, will serve as the death blow for college athletics as we’ve known them.

The NCAA is a doomed organization, but not through any fault of its own.  If everyone has boosters who cheat or players who take money from agents — and they do — then everyone must go on probation or be stripped of wins.  With more and more schools in the NCAA hoosegow, who’ll be left to play the games?

Some of you are likely thinking, “What kind of nimrod believes it’s better if we don’t know about rule-breaking?”  But the point is this: If every jaywalker in New York City was cited or arrested Barney Fife-style, think of the backlog of cases in NYC courts.

Another example: The police in your state know that they can’t catch all speeders.  So they catch a few and hope that the randomness of their ticket-writing scares other drivers into slowing down.  Until now, that’s basically been the NCAA’s plan, too.

Now, however, the NCAA is going to be forced to act again and again by enterprising reporters… or by angry fans with internet access.  Think Alabama and Auburn backers haven’t mastered the art of mudslinging and scandal-finding?

This won’t end well, folks.  We are headed toward the day — and we’ve written this on other occasions — when college sports teams are basically semi-pro squads, complete with bi-weekly paychecks and sponsor logos on helmets and jerseys.  Schools will use them for marketing purposes and the rules will be relaxed to 19th Century Tombstone, Arizona standards.

What we’ve watched and enjoyed for generations is dying.  An omnipresent media will kill it by exposing every toe that goes over an NCAA line.

 

Here’s a quick wrap on what’s being said this AM:

*  As you know, Yahoo! Sports has revealed that five SEC players received extra benefits (cash) from agents/runners between September of 2011 and December of 2012.  Those players documented — key word — to have received cash were ex-Alabama offensive lineman DJ Fluker, ex-Mississippi State defensive lineman Fletcher Cox and ex-receiver Chad Bumphis, ex-Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray and current Vol defensive defensive lineman Maurice Couch.

*  Columnist Kevin Scarbinsky wonders if Fluker could be Alabama’s version of Reggie Bush, leading to the loss of a pair of BCS titles.

*  Anyone remember Fluker tweeting in April: “Yea I took $ n college so wat. I did wat i had to do. Agents was tryin to pimp me to I pimped them. Cast da 1st stone.”  At the time, his agent claimed Fluker’s Twitter account was hacked.  Uh-huh.  You can be sure that there will be plenty of angry Tide fans ready to “cast da 1st stone” at Fluker’s noggin if his decision to accept cash hurts their program.

*  Nick Saban said yesterday taht he would handle the Fluker allegations appropriately.  When pressed for answers on the Fluker topic, Saban grew angry and left his presser with the words: “I appreciate your interest in the game.”

The runner in this case is ex-Alabama defensive lineman Luther Davis.  Yahoo! Sports has records suggesting that Davis funneled at least $45,000 to the five players implicated.

Some Alabama players are defending the school’s compliance department.

Here’s the breakdown of the Yahoo! story from a Mississippi State perspective.

Ex-Bulldog Bumphis hung up on a reporter from The Jackson Clarion-Ledger when contacted last night about his involvement in the story.

Here’s a look at things from a Tennessee perspective.  Associate AD Jimmy Stanton said: “We are aware of the article and are examining all of the relevant facts, and we will not comment further.”  UT coach Butch Jones has said that Couch probably won’t play against Oregon on Saturday.  (In reality, there’s little chance he’ll ever play again for Tennessee.)

 

Here are some quickie thoughts on the report and its fallout:

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LSU Coach Les Miles Talks Kent State & Oklahoma State Stories

On The SEC coaches conference call, LSU’s Les Miles is asked about the Oklahoma State stories published by Sports Illustrated. Miles also previews the Kent State game.

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SEC Headlines 9/11/2013

headlines-wedSEC Football

1. Suspended Vanderbilt wide receiver Chris Boyd is due in court Friday.

2. In defense of Jadeveon Clowney: “To expect perfection every snap from a 20-year-old, no matter how athletically gifted, is to expect the unattainable.”

3. Between his time at LSU and Alabama, Nick Saban is 15-2 when facing a team a year after losing to them.

4. Jimbo Fisher, Will Muschamp and Derek Dooley were in the room when Kevin Sumlin interviewed for Nick Saban’s LSU staff back in 2002.

5. Matt Hayes on the “Johnny Cam” Saturday:  “And you people wonder why college athletes have an entitled attitude.”

6. Mark Bradley on Alabama-Texas A&M:  “I think Alabama wins in College Station without undue stress.”

7. Gene Stallings on the comparisons between AJ McCarron and Johnny Manziel: ”A good question would be if you could just have one of them, which one would you take? That’s not a question I’m going to answer.”

8. Big question for Alabama – will the Tide see better play from the offensive line?

9. Behind the obvious Aggies-Crimson Tide matchup – you know what the second-most bet game is  this weekend?  If you guessed Kentucky-Louisville, you’re right.

10. Kentucky-Louisville and the battle for…Ohio?

11. Former Georgia quarterback David Greene on Aaron Murray: “It’s unfair how guys get labeled, because, honestly, a quarterback’s play doesn’t always correlate to a win.”

12. Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall saw improvement in his play from Week 1 to Week 2:  ”Yeah I made some improvement, but there’s still room to get better.”

13. Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen struggled in second half last week.  Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney: Allen was“pressing a little bit.”

14. Debate question: Is LSU a SEC title contender?

15. Message to South Carolina fans following the loss to Georgia: “Don’t buy those Music City Bowl tickets just yet.”

16. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier on two assistants caught on camera screaming at each other: “We hashed it out. They know we’re not going to have any more of that.”

17. Could Vanderbilt wide receiver Jordan Matthews be headed for a big weekend?  South Carolina’s secondary has some injury issues.

18. With Rajion Neal and Marlin Lane, Tennessee is establishing an effective tailback tandem.

19. Missouri coach Gary Pinkel wants his Tigers to play Kansas every year in Kansas City.

Practice/Injury Reports

20. Unclear if Auburn’s Dee Ford and Justin Garrett will be available for Mississippi State.

21. With Mississippi State starting guard Justin Malone out for the season with a broken foot, Ben Beckwith gets a chance to play on the Bulldogs offensive line.

22. South Carolina center Cody Waldrop ”very doubtful” to play Saturday – planning to see specialist about his sprained foot.

23. Texas A&M is focusing on tempo in practice as it prepares for Alabama.  ”We know it got on their nerves last year.”

24. Aggies safety Floyd Raven has a collar bone injury -won’t play Saturday.

25. Ole Miss wide receiver Vince Sanders has been out since camp started with a broken collarbone.  He may play against Texas.

26. Texas quarterback David Ash hasn’t been ruled for the Ole Miss game but he didn’t practice Tuesday.

27. How is Tennessee getting ready for Oregon? By listening to the Ducks fight song.

28. Georgia receiver Malcolm Mitchell had ACL surgery Tuesday - expected to apply for a medical redshirt.

29. After giving up 68 points and 921 yards in the first two games, Georgia gets an off-week to fine-tune its defense.

30. Missouri also gets a bye week to get healthy – linebacker Kentrell Brothers and cornerback E.J. Gaines banged up.

31. Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel not the only Gator hurt - “UF’s injury list is long and rather significant.” Most should be back for the Tennessee game.

SEC/College News

32. Booster T. Boone Pickens responds to Sports Illustrated’s investigation into the Oklahoma State program.

33. Coach Les Miles left Oklahoma State for LSU in 2004.  Former A.D. Skip Bertman: “We did an extensive background check on a personal basis…Nothing showed in terms of NCAA issues – nothing.”

Extras

34. Football on Yom Kippur: What’s a Bama Jew To Do?

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SI.com Hits LSU’s Miles For Deemphasizing Academics At Oklahoma State

les-miles-pointsThey said, he said.

SI.com has released the second installment in its week-long expose of the Oklahoma State football program.  Second verse, same as the first.

Once again there’s quite a bit of focus on the Les Miles era in Stillwater.  And once again, Miles doesn’t hold up well under the microscope.

Among Sports Illustrated’s allegations:

 

*  Miles deemphasized academics during his tenure at OSU.  According to SI.com, “13 Cowboys who played between 2000 and ’11 told SI that they participated in some form of academic misconduct, and 16 others were named by teammates as also having had schoolwork done for them.”

*  One former OSU player, Fath’ Carter, said, “The goal was not to educate but to get them the passing grades they needed to keep playing.  That’s the only thing it was about.”

*  Carter also said the Miles brought in players who were “lesser students” and “things had to be put in place to help them.”

*  More damning, one academic adviser tossed Miles under the bus (a school bus in this case):  “There was never pressure (to cheat), but Miles was like most coaches who want to be somewhere else.  They’re going to do what they need to do for two or three years, and they’re not going to have to deal with whatever the fallout is.  So, no, he didn’t promote academics.”

 

Quite naturally, Miles denied the accusations.  “I always said, and I always meant, that academics was the most important thing.”  OK, but the coach did admit to telling his team, “Academics first,” while holding up two fingers and “Football second,” while holding up a single finger.  According to the coach he did that just once in “a moment of humor.”

As SI’s drip-by-drip, water torture of the coach continues, it’s doubtful Miles is feeling many moments of humor these days.

In Miles defense, a number of former Oklahoma State players came forward to rip the piece.  The snitches who told their stories to SI.com’s writers are being quickly discredited as well.  The Tulsa World claims: “of the 12 former players either pointed fingers or admitted guilt, nine either were kicked out of school, dismissed from the program, transferred for playing time issues or just quit.  Of those, several had criminal records.”

The never over-the-top Jason Whitlock has also come forward to eviscerate former colleague Thayer Evans, one of the co-writers of SI’s Oklahoma State piece.  Yesterday, Whitlock had this to say to Oklahoma City radio station WWLS-FM 98.1:

 

“Having worked with Thayer Evans at Fox Sports, having followed his work for some time, I am completely and utterly flabbergasted that a legitimate new outlet would allow Thayer Evans to be involved in some type of investigative piece on college football that tears down a program, and particularly one that tears down Oklahoma State when it is no secret what a huge, enormous, gigantic Oklahoma homer Thayer Evans is.  This is just incredible.  Knowing the lack of competence that’s there with Thayer Evans, knowing the level of simplemindedness that’s there with Thayer Evans, to base any part of the story on his reportign is mind-boggling…

When I learned Thayer Evans was involved, I just said, there’s no way I’ll read this because there’s no reason to trust this reporter on anything of any substance…

He’s simpleminded.  He’s a hack that can’t write.  This isn’t personal, I promise.  I have no reason to dislike Thayer Evans personally, and I don’t.  But I’ve read enough of his work (and) this guy isn’t qualified for this job and by now Sports Illustrated and anybody else should be well aware of this…

Let me end by saying this and I honestly mean this without malice.  It wouldn’t shock me if Thayer Evans couldn’t spell “cat” and I say (that) in all seriousness.”

 

Um, yeah.  That’s doesn’t sound personal at all.

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Part One Of SI’s “Dirty Game” Investigation Into Miles’ Oklahoma State Program Isn’t Pretty

screen-captureBad news first: current LSU head coach Les Miles is mentioned prominently in Sports Illustrated’s new expose on the Oklahoma State football program.

Worse news?  Today’s post at SI.com is the first installment in a five-part series.  So get ready for more and more dirt, LSU fans.

According to SI writers George Dohrman and Thayer Evans (alert the Tiger conspiracy theorists), Miles opened the door to boosters when he arrived in Stillwater in 2001.  Soon, “boosters were permitted in the locker room; they were often on team flights and bus trips; they turned up at the training table.”  After Oklahoma State’s win over Oklahoma in ’01, it’s alleged that OSU boosters were allowed into the Cowboys’ locker room after the game and that they “approached key players and slipped cash into their hands.”  One ex-player told the magazine, “We are talking about $500 handshakes.”

Miles — as SI.com points out — denies that players were paid and he claims “he gave boosters less access to the program, not more.”

Former OSU and Miles assistant Joe DeForest is charged with directly paying Cowboy players as part of a bonus system designed to reward good play.  Miles said Saturday night, “I don’t know of any improprieties while I was coaching there.”

Now, there will likely be no NCAA sanctions for any of this.  It’s outside the statute of limitations (though the NCAA has a funny way of picking and choosing what’s inside and outside it’s time limits).  The concern for Miles is that some enterprising Louisiana-based sportswriter starts snooping around to see if more boosters arrived on the LSU scene when Miles took over.

After today’s look-see into OSU’s alleged bonus system, booster payouts, coach payouts, and “bogus jobs,” SI will dive into academic fraud, drug use, and the use of hostesses to lure in Cowboy recruits with sex.  According to the magazine, Oklahoma State’s hostess program tripled in size under Miles.

If you listen closely, you can hear LSU beatwriters flipping through old media guides to see if LSU’s hostess program has grown since Miles arrived in Baton Rouge.

Not to provide too much cover for Miles here, but if you think there’s a football program in the country where some boosters don’t provide cash, where some players aren’t given bogus jobs, where hostesses don’t have sex with recruits, and where some athletes aren’t using drugs… you’re living a fantasy world.

People who know me often ask, “How can you not be a fan of a college football team?”  My response is always the same — If you spent the day touring a hot dog factory, you’re not going to order a hot dog for lunch.  There’s a lot of dirt out there.  Everywhere.  Some programs are dirtier than others and we may well find that Oklahoma State under Miles falls into that category.  But sex and drugs and boosters?  Sorry, that’s just the seedy underside of the game.

And, yes, it’s happening at your favorite school, too.

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Sports Illustrated To Detail Alleged Cheating At Oklahoma State… Dating Back To The Les Miles Era

les-miles-osu-hatOh, great.  Another potential scandal.

In case you missed it over the weekend, The Oklahoman newspaper reports that an upcoming Sports Illustrated report “will detail a wide range of corruption in the Oklahoma State football program dating back to the Les Miles era.”  The report states that SI will allege academic fraud, players being paid by assistant coaches or overpaid for work by boosters, as well as “an OSU hostess program that provided sex for recruits.”

Wait.  What?  You mean colleges have large hostess groups — not host groups, mind you — in order to use sex to lure in recruits?  Shocking.

Sports Illustrated’s report will come in series form and is scheduled to being “within a few days.”  That way Oklahoma State and LSU fans will get to experience day after day of misery, rather than getting it all over with at once.

OSU president Burns Hargis — how come no college president is ever named Rocko or Big Tony… it’s always a Burns or a Porter — released the following statement:

 

“Oklahoma State University is deeply troubled by these claims.  We will investigate the accuracy of the allegations and take all appropriate action.  We do not condone or tolerate improper conduct in our athletic programs.  OSU requires everyone affiliated with the university to follow the rules and adhere to the highest ethical standards.”

 

The Oklahoman also reports:

 

*  OSU has been told that 85% of the alleged events took place between 2001 and 2007.  (The NCAA’s statute of limitations is four years.)

*  Sports Illustrated told the school that there are no eligibility or NCAA concerns regarding current staff or players.

*  West Virginia University has already launched its own investigation into Mountaineer assistant coach Joe DeForest who will be accused of running a bounty/bonus program.  DeForest is in his second year at WVU.

 

Miles responded to a question about the piece on Saturday saying:

 

“I don’t know of any improprieties while I was the coach there.  I can tell you this: We have always done things right.  I really enjoyed my time at Oklahoma State.  I felt like I met a lot of wonderful people and we made our football team better.  We worked hard.  It has never been a place where you needed to cheat to have success.”

 

Yes, because recruits take one look around Stillwater and then mutter to themselves dumbstruck, “Heaven.”

Miles was the coach at OSU from 2001 to 2004.  While it doesn’t appear that any NCAA sanctions will befall the Cowboy program, Miles could find NCAA investigators paying a bit more attention to his Tiger program moving forward.

But if this one goes as all other scandals go, we can already predict the next few steps.  Miles will again deny any improprieties (likely using words, phrases or sentence structures that no one else in the 21st century uses).  Eventually he’ll choke off the story by saying he’s already answered questions on the topic.  LSU fans will claim that Sports Illustrated is nothing more than a tabloid with poor investigative journalists and an itch to damage Miles and the LSU program.  We’ll write about the story on MrSEC.com when it comes out and Tiger fans will attack us for even mentioning it (as it will prove that we’re part of the media cabal that’s working overtime to take down the Bayou Bengals).

And then some other school or player will named as part of another scandal, at which point we’ll all repeat this cycle.

As noted above — Oh, great.  Another potential scandal.

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SEC Headlines 9/3/2013

headlines-tueSEC Football

1. Georgia kicker Marshall Morgan will miss Saturday’s game against South Carolina.

2. The Bulldogs still have offensive line issues. They better fix that before they play South Carolina.

3. No surprise that Christion Jones was the SEC’s special teams player of the week. Here are the other week one winners.

4. Alabama’s offense is hoping to bounce back like it did early in 2008.

5. Auburn plans to open up its offense and give quarterback Nick Marshall a chance to make big plays.

6. Arkansas coach Bret Bielema is preparing for the Samford game in Little Rock like it’s a road trip for the Razorbacks.

7. Seth Fruge is helping LSU on special teams after beginning his career as a walk-on.

8. LSU wide receiver Jarvis Landry had a big game in the opening win over TCU. He gave credit to his teammates.

9. How justified was the criticism of Jadeveon Clowney following South Carolina’s opener? Here’s some data.

10. North Carolina coach Larry Fedora says there was no malicious intent when lineman Kiaro Holts dove into the back of Clowney’s legs.

11. Alabama is still No. 1 in Athlon’s SEC power rankings. Georgia remains in the top three.

12. Georgia is No. 6 in ESPN’s power rankings. Alabama is still No. 1 on the list.

13. Georgia’s loss to Clemson could be bad news for the SEC’s BCS title hopes, writes Barrett Sallee.

14. The media wants Florida to “add the Packers and everybody else” to Florida’s schedule, according to coach Will Muschamp.

15. Kentucky coach Mark Stoops reiterated it’s the coaches’ job to put players into a successful position. “That’s still our job,” he said.

16. Max Smith will start at quarterback for Kentucky. Jalen Whitlow will play, too.

17. South Carolina running back Mike Davis can “change the momentum of a game with one snap,” says running backs coach Everette Sands.

18. Tennessee’s offense will need to make more “big splash plays” down the field.

19. Gary Pinkel’s first head coaching job was at Toledo. Missouri will face the Rockets on Saturday.

20. Dennis Dodd fears an “amped-up defender” will take a shot at Johnny Manziel on the field.

Practice/Injury Reports

21. Alabama looked to be at full strength at Monday’s practice as the Crimson Tide prepares for Texas A&M.

22. Auburn hybrid defender Justin Garrett is day-to-day with a left foot sprain.

23. Ole Miss will use a rotation of players to replace guard Aaron Morris and linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche.

24. Quarterback Tyler Russell isn’t the only Mississippi State player dealing with an injury following the loss to Oklahoma State.

25. Florida running back Matt Jones is back and will play against Miami on Saturday.

26. The status of Tennessee linebacker Curt Maggitt and defensive end Jacques Smith will be known as the week progresses.

27. Vanderbilt coach James Franklin defended the decision to put receiver Jordan Matthews back in the game against Ole Miss.

Extra

28. Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston faced plenty of hype in his debut. He more than lived up to it on Monday.

29. Sideline reporter Pam Oliver suffered a concussion last month when a ball hit her in the head.

30. J.W. Walsh has been named the full-time starter at quarterback for Oklahoma State.

31. A California defender was ejected following a targeting penalty against Northwestern. The Pac-12 admitted the play was never reviewed.

32.  Yahoo! Sports’ Pat Forde on Johnny Manziel: “So they are all-in for Johnny Football at Texas A&M, with no apparent ability to rein him in.”

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Florida’s Win Gets An Apology, Razorbacks Roll In Bielema Opener, Mississippi State Throttled By Cowboys

postgame-linksFlorida 24 – Toledo 6 – Video Highlights

1. First-time starting tailback Mack Brown rushes for 112 yards and two touchdowns. Coach Will Muschamp: “Nothing shocks me with what he did today.” Muschamp not happy over incorrect published reports about a player suspension.  ”That was very irresponsible journalism.”

2. Despite several suspended players, Gators pass their first test.  Quarterback Jeff Driskel: “We’re a deep team.”

 

3. Kirk Herbstreit picks Toledo – apologizes after game.

 

Arkansas 34 – UL Lafayette 14 – Video Highlights

4. Bret Bielema era opens with dominating performance – 522 yards yards of offense.  Center Travis Swanson: “It’s just a sigh of relief almost.”

5. Running back Jonathan Williams left the field just before half – finished with 151 yards on 18 carries.

6. Arkansas intern injured by a malfunctioning t-shirt gun.

Oklahoma State 21 – Mississippi State 3 (Highlights Not Available)

7. Mississippi State’s offense gets a field goal from the opening drive- and nothing the rest of the game. Fewest points since 2009.

8. Bright spot for the Bulldogs.  Defense holds Oklahoma State to lowest output since 2010.  

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SEC Recruiting Notebook: Will Sims Help Alabama Recruit Louisiana?

sec-recruiting-notebook-gfxAlabama hopes its commitment from Cameron Sims is just the beginning of a strong run in Louisiana.

Sims, who attends Ouachita Parish High School in Monroe, La., is ranked the nation’s No. 6 wide receiver and the No. 9 prospect in Louisiana by ESPN RecruitingNation. He committed to Alabama this week over offers from schools like Auburn, Georgia, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State and Southern California.

Alabama has turned its interest to Sims’ list of friends, which includes offensive lineman Cameron Robinson from West Monroe (La.) High School and safety Laurence “Hootie” Jones from Neville High School in Monroe.

Sims said on ESPN he’s spoken to Robinson about joining him at Alabama.

“Hopefully big Cam comes where I’m at,” Sims said. “We talked about it a lot. Hopefully he can come be with me at Bama nation. Big Cam, you need to come with me.”

There’s reason to be optimistic Sims can help the Crimson Tide land Robinson. The two are good friends, according to Sims, and Robinson has shown a strong interest in Alabama.

“We’re real close,” Robinson said. “I grew up with Cameron. Growing up, we lived maybe 30 seconds away from each other. He was like my little brother. We played basketball and football together growing up. I talk to him almost every day.”

Robinson, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 1 offensive tackle by ESPN, will announce his decision on Wednesday. It looks like an Alabama-LSU battle for Robinson, who has visited both schools multiple times.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune ranked Robinson behind only running back Leonard Fournette in its “Nifty 50″ in the state of Louisiana.

“Making an argument for Robinson being No. 1 is very feasible here. After all, he is at one of most valued positions in all of football, offensive tackle, and Fournette is a running back, which is generally viewed as less valuable for various reasons. Add in the fact Robinson is a tremendous tackle prospect with a rare blend of size, attitude and athleticism and you have a real race on your hands for the No. 1 prospect in the state.”

The hype surrounding Robinson shouldn’t imply Sims was offered a scholarship just to land his friend. Sims is a talented receiver who believes he can help Alabama right away.

“Seeing Amari Cooper and Kenny Bell do that, it makes me believe I can go out there and play as a freshman,” Sims said. “I can do big things like they did.”

Alabama’s class will have the potential to do big things if it continues the momentum its built in recruiting. The Crimson Tide has the nation’s top-ranked class by Rivals.

Prospects like Robinson and Harris will be key in Alabama going for another recruiting national championship. Like Robinson, Harris has strong interest in Alabama and LSU.

“Alabama and LSU are the top two for me right now,” he told Rivals. “It’s pretty much just them, but I like TCU. I don’t really know when I will make my decision. I’ll commit whenever it hits me. I talk to Alabama a lot more than I talk to anyone. I don’t know if you can say they are recruiting me the hardest, but I do talk to them more. Alabama and LSU are pretty much equal.”

 

Receiver Bone chooses Kentucky

The Wildcats might have pulled off a steal when they convinced wide receiver Blake Bone from Woodruff (S.C.) to commit to Kentucky this week.

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Big 12 Lineman Says SEC Defenders “Aren’t Very Well Conditioned”

Kids say the dumbest things.  Or do they?

With his team preparing for its opener against Mississippi State in Houston next weekend, Oklahoma State offensive lineman Parker Graham popped off about the SEC and the conditioning of its players:

 

“You know, I just think that the SEC is blown a little bit out of proportion.  There’s a lot of great players down there and it’s a heavily recruited area, but at the same time we play really fast offense here and sometimes those SEC defenses lose their breath against it.  They have big guys but they aren’t very well conditioned.  We’re gonna play our best ball and see what happens.”

 

Fair enough.  Has Graham been having that drummed into his ears by Oklahoma State’s coaches all summer?  Probably.  Isn’t that how you would try to motivate your team as it prepares for an opener versus an SEC team?  (Having a player spout it back to the media likely wasn’t the plan, though.)

The question here is simple: Is Graham right about SEC teams sometimes losing their breath against fast-paced, high-octane Big 12 offenses?  Yes and no.

Over the past five seasons, SEC squads have matchup against Big 12 opponents 15 times.  The guys from Dixie have won 11 of those 15 matchups.  Only five times in those 15 games did a Big 12 offense score more than 24 points:

 

  Year   Result   Winner   Loser   >24 Pts
  2012   L   Texas 66   Ole Miss 31   Yes
  2012   W   Texas A&M 41   Oklahoma 13   No
  2011   W   Arkansas 42   Texas A&M 38   Yes
  2011   W   Arkansas 29   Kansas State 16   No
  2010   W   Arkansas 24   Texas A&M 17   No
  2010   L   Colorado 28   Georgia 27   Yes
  2010   W   LSU 41   Texas A&M 24   No
  2009   W   Alabama 37   Texas 21   No
  2009   W   Arkansas 47   Texas A&M 19   No
  2009   L   Oklahoma State 24   Georgia 10   No
  2009   W   Georgia 44   Texas A&M 20   No
  2009   W   Ole Miss 21   Oklahoma State 7   No
  2008   L   Texas 51   Arkansas 10   Yes
  2008   W   Florida 24   Oklahoma 14   No
  2008   W   Ole Miss 47   Texas Tech 34   Yes

 

Ironically, five of the SEC victories against the Big 12 came against Texas A&M.  But as soon as the Aggies jumped into the SEC, they ran up an 11-2 record and throttled Oklahoma, holding them to just 13 points in last season’s Cotton Bowl.  Welcome to the club, Ags.

Going back a full 10 seasons the SEC has faced off against the Big 12 34 times.  The league’s record is 22-12 over that decade.  Big 12 teams crossed the 24-point barrier 13 times in those 34 contests.

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