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Sugar Bowl Not So Sweet For Alabama

postgame-links-150x1501Oklahoma 45 – Alabama 31

1. Alabama ends the season with two consecutive losses for the first time since 2008.  Nick Saban: ”You’ve got to give Oklahoma’s team a lot of credit. they were fired up and ready to play, like most teams we play.”

2. Kevin Scarbinsky: “For all of its talent, for all of its accomplishments, this wasn’t a championship Alabama team.”

3. “Alabama was repeatedly pushed around, run by and slammed to the ground against an Oklahoma team that struggled to find its identity until late in the season.”

4. Berry Tramel on Oklahoma: “It pulled the veil not from the SEC’s soft middle, but from its epic program.”

5. AJ McCarron’s 387 passing yards were the most of his career, but he also had two turnovers.  ”I had two turnovers, ended up scoring 14 points, and we lost by 14.”

6. Lars Anderson: “The story of the Sugar Bowl was these two quarterbacks—one at the start of his college career, the other at the end.”

7. Four turnovers on the night for Alabama including an “exceptionally costly T.J. Yeldon fumble.”

8. Alabama’s season – 121 points allowed in three games against OU, Auburn and Texas A&M; allowed 60 points combined to everyone else.

9. Alabama running back Kenyan Drake puts transfer rumors to rest.

10. Oklahoma players give the ESPN crew a scare after the game.

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SEC Headlines 6/15/2013

headlines-saturdaySEC Football

1. Georgia freshman cornerback Reggie Wilkerson is out for the season after undergoing knee surgery Friday.  Will have a second surgery to reconstruct the ACL.

2. A pink uniform for Mississippi State?

3. Line from a new song by an Alabama musician: ”Nick Saban and Jesus, yeah, that’s our guys.”

4. Freshman quarterback Ryan Buchanan will have a chance to compete for the No. 2 job at Ole Miss.

5. Former Tennessee safety Eric Berry on Butch Jones:  ”I love the guy and what he stands for.”

Football Safety Issues

6. Major agenda item at the athletic directors convention this week in Orlando - head-trauma and concussion concerns

7. Pro Football Hall of Famer Lem Barney: ”I can see in the next 10 to maybe 20 years, society will alleviate football altogether.”

SEC/College News

8. T-shirt spotted at the College World Series - “Mississippi State Rebels.”

9. Auburn hires Oklahoma’s baseball coach. Sunny Golloway had 14 NCAA Regional appearances in 15 years at OU.

10. What kind of impact has changing the bats made on college baseball?  Composite batting average this year of .274 lowest since 1975.

11. State of the athletic programs at Tennessee?  Plenty of room for improvement.

12 .If the NCAA wins the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit - it may seek to recover millions of dollars in legal expenses.

13. What’s at stake in the O’Bannon case? “The current model of college sports.”

SEC Basketball

14. Jerome Seagears time at Auburn lasted a month.  He’s returning to Rutgers.

15. Kentucky commitment Karl Towns wants to play for the Dominican national team.

Extras

16. TV sideline reporters made their debut at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville back in 1974 as part of the coverage of the Tennessee-UCLA game.

17. 80-year Vince Dooley goes sky-diving with his grandson.

 

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Sources: The Big Ten Did Expansion “Homework” On Vanderbilt, Kansas & Oklahoma

vandy-university-logoWhen the smoke cleared following the ACC’s announcement of its new grant of rights agreement, we mentioned that there still be some talk of the Big Ten chasing an SEC team like Kentucky, Missouri or Vanderbilt.  According to The Omaha World-Herald, at least one of those schools was researched by Jim Delany and crew.

Citing sources “from conference offices and major college athletic departments,” The World-Herald’s Lee Barkfknecht says there are a lot of folks who still don’t believe a grant of rights is any more powerful than a regular ol’ exit fee.  He also wrote:

 

“As a sidenote, two sources have told The World-Herald that the Big Ten has done prior ‘homework’ on Oklahoma, Kansas and Vanderbilt among other schools who might some day be expansion targets.  The Big 12 grant-of-rights deal didn’t stop a look-see for OU and KU.”

 

MrSEC.com prediction: The big story that will be written and re-written about all summer long — how ironclad are grants of rights?

For those worried about an SEC defection, don’t bet on one.  The league has no official grant-of-rights contract and it also has no exit fee, but there’s a reason.  No school will walk away from the millions upon millions of dollars the conference’s members stand to make with the new SEC Network and the bundling of the league’s television and digital rights with ESPN.

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“Out Of Jail” And “Off Twitter”: OU DC Mike Stoops Offers Advice To Johnny Manziel, Then Apologizes

gfx - they said itFrom gratuitous insult to late-night apology, the age of instant media was on full display Friday.

It started on an Oklahoma City sports talk show where Sooners defensive coordinator Mike Stoops was the guest.  Stoops had some glowing comments for Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and his performance in the Aggies 41-13 Cotton Bowl victory. “I’ve seen a lot of football players play a lot of different styles with guys, but never seen anything like that in my whole life.”

But Stoops decided to ratchet things up  a notch and that’s where it got interesting.

 

“They’re gonna be tough to deal with. If they can keep him out of jail or keep him eligible, he’s gonna be pretty good.

“If they can keep him off the Twitter, he might win three or four Heismans. He’ll have that type of ability.”

 

As expected, the twittersphere/blogosphere exploded and the comments went viral. Stoops comments alluded to  an incident over the summer where Manziel was charged with disorderly conduct and having a fake drivers license and some photos on his Twitter account where Manziel hasn’t been shy about celebrating the good life in the wake of his Heisman Trophy win.

News of Stoops’ comments apparently made its way to Manziel who posted a picture and a note on Twitter:

 

“Great visit to the hospital today in Connecticut made a ton of new friends. Hopefully this picture passes compliance..”

 

By late night Friday night, Stoops was backtracking. Through an OU spokesman, Stoops wanted everyone to know he had the “utmost respect for Texas A&M and Johnny Manziel.”

Manziel, it should be noted, had 516 total yards against Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl, including an FBS bowl record 229 rushing yards.

You can listen to a podcast of the interview here.  The part about Manziel is at the end.

 

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Texas A&M To Land WR Transfer From Oklahoma, Maybe

Oklahoma receiver Kameel Jackson won’t be in Norman much longer.  The former 4-star signee from Arlington, Texas announced last night that he’s planning a move back to his home state in order to play at Texas A&M:

 

 

There’s just one small problem.  According to SoonerScoop.com – the Rivals site covering Oklahoma — Jackson hasn’t asked OU and Bob Stoops for permission to transfer to A&M.  The site also writes today:

 

“(A) source tells us A&M, and even head coach Kevin Sumlin, was unaware Jackson was interested in transferring to A&M as of last night.”

 

According to AggieYell.com — the Rivals site covering A&M — “A&M apparently isn’t interested in Jackson and he has not contacted them about transferring there.”  The site also says Jackson has not filed the necessary paperwork to transfer.

Both Rivals sites mention the fact that Jackson “could be facing disciplinary issues due to (academic) issues.”

Jackson played in eight games for Oklahoma last year as a freshman.  He caught 12 passes for 165 yards and no touchdowns.  His best performance came in the Sooners’ win over Iowa in the Insight Bowl in which he had three receptions for 45 yards.

Stay tuned.

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Mizzou Site Reports MU To SEC Is Dead After Slive Works For Mega-Deal

The folks at PowerMizzou.com — the Rivals site covering Missouri — are reporting behind their paywall that according to a source at Texas A&M, Missouri will no be getting an formal or informal invitation from the SEC any longer.

Also, the site states:


“The SEC talked to (Oklahoma president) David Boren late last night about the possibility of MU, OU, and OSU going to the SEC.  That was rebuffed.  OU is staying in the Big 12.”


We’ll follow Mike Slive’s lead not step on any toes.  If you want to read more, you’ll have to buy a subscription to PowerMizzou.com.

You can choose to believe or not believe the claim above.  There are reasons that claim make sense… and reasons why it doesn’t…


Doesn’t:  Slive has been awfully careful not to appear to call any schools and the SEC has sure seemed spooked by Kenneth Starr and Baylor so far.

Does:  The SEC spoke with OU when the Big 12 almost blew up last year.  A&M and OU would be a great, big-name, splashy move on the part of the league.

Doesn’t:  Our sources have told us repeatedly that the SEC — now that A&M has coaxed it into expanding to 13 teams — wants a 14th team and that is all.  The SEC does not want 16 schools unless the whole landscape shfts.

Does:  It looks like the whole landscape me indeed be shifting.  And wrapping up three new states, multiple new TV markets and some good schools and athletic programs would be a strong, wise move.

Doesn’t:  But Slive and the SEC do not want to be blamed for the collapse of an entire league.  Grabbing Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Missouri would nuke the Big 12 just as it appears to be healing (again).

Does:  We have been told that SEC officials were not happy with the very loud leak that was sprung in Columbia yesterday.  The SEC conducts its business stealthily.  Missouri obviously cannot (especially considering last year’s nonsense with the Big Ten).


Got all that?

So believe what you will.  This thing could still play out in a million different ways.

If we had to bet, we think the SEC is currently looking at a 13-school set-up for the foreseeable future… unless the league and FSU decide to do what’s right by both parties and wed.

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OU Might Stay In The Big 12; How That Could Impact The SEC

I’ll be darned.  After all this there’s still a chance that the Big 12 could be saved.  All that has to happen is for Oklahoma to be treated like the king of the conference instead of Texas.  At least for a day or two.

Not even Captain Chaos could keep up with all this expansion nonsense.

A source has told The Oklahoman that OU brass will consider staying in the Big 12 – and saving that league — if Texas’ Longhorn Network is reeled in a bit and if commissioner Dan Beebe is whacked.  Well, not whacked, but they do want him fired.  You get the point.

“It’s going to take major, major reforms” for OU (and Oklahoma State) to stick around, according to the source.

That source also suggested that OU might ask for Texas to share a bit of its Longhorn Network loot with its conference partners.  Wow.

So OU’s going full-Texas with a list of its own demands.  How funny that UT is having to take orders from someone else for a change.  Kudos to Oklahoma for following Texas A&M’s lead and standing up for itself.

Speaking of A&M, the Aggies are saying they’re gone from the Big 12 no matter what.  OSU booster T. Boone Pickens tried to goad the school and Texas governor Rick Perry — an A&M alum — into sticking around, but an Aggie spokesman said: “Texas A&M has made our intentions perfectly clear.  We do not intend to be a member of the Big 12 past this season.”  Another school official said, “We are gone.”

If the Big 12 holds together, you can scratch Missouri from the list of SEC possibilities.  Where that leaves the league is anyone’s guess.

The ACC appears to be gaining strength and if the SEC had the ability to grab a school from that league it likely would have done so before playing footsie with Mizzou.

So if the Big 12 is saved, the SEC could be forced to remain a 13-school league for a while… which is a horrible scenario.  That or suddenly West Virginia could come back into play.  (We’re guessing the Mountaineers were gently rebuffed rather than out-and-out rejected by the SEC.  Never burn a bridge.)

But who knows if WVU would even be available should the SEC need it.  Representatives of the remaining football-playing members of the Big East will meet tonight to discuss the state of their crumbling conference.

It’s quite likely the SEC could offer WVU enough money to make it back out of any rebuilt Big East, but if that league puts in some sort of outrageous exit fee, who knows?

Bottom line: We don’t believe any deals are done when it comes to SEC expansion (with the exception of A&M).

For the time being, the only things we can be sure of are these five points:


1.  The ACC acted strongly and swiftly to upgrade its league and bring in more television viewers.

2.  The Pac-12 has already made more money than anyone dreamed without having adding Texas, Oklahoma and the rest.  And don’t rule this out — it’s possible OU is considering staying in the Big 12 because the Pac-12′s presidents aren’t in favor of expanding.

3.  The Big 12 is still in trouble.

4.  The Big East is in even more trouble depending on the future invasion plans of the ACC and the Big Ten.

5.  The SEC continues to play the nice guy role, owned at every turn by Baylor president Kenneth Starr.  History suggests Slive’s conference could still turn some heads with a couple of surprising, deft moves.  But as of right this instant, the SEC looks like a 13-school league that’s scared of litigation and incapable of luring in any “big name” expansion candidates other than Texas A&M.

But that could change.

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Mizzou Chancellor Talks OU, Big 12; What It Means For SEC

For those who believe Missouri will be the SEC’s 14th school, you’ll want to pay close attention to what Mizzou chancellor Brady Deaton told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch yesterday.

Deaton, you see, is also currently serving as the chairman of the Big 12 board of directors.  That makes for a mighty interesting conflict of interest.  On one hand, he has to make sure Missouri has a landing spot should the Big 12 evaporate.  On the other, he must publicly push for the salvation of that league.

He was in full-blown salvation mode yesterday saying:


1.  He hopes Oklahoma will decide to say in the league.

2.  In his view Texas A&M remains “full members of the conference until they are no longer members of the conference.”

3.  He believes that the Big 12 can survive even if several schools leave.


“I don’t want to go too far there, (but) there’s a legal basis for the Big 12 to go on and, certainly, I would expect that to continue.  If things change, we’ll try to keep it together and move forward with other members.  I’m a little more optimistic certainly today than I was maybe a week ago, but that’s based on the fact that I think good, careful reasoning and analysis of what’s in the best interests of each of our institutions will continue to bind us together as a conference.”


Deaton also said that he expects a decision from Oklahoma within 10 to 14 days.  “We’re being patient and working together, and certainly right now we’re in a little bit of a position where we need for Oklahoma to give us a sense of what they’re thinking about and take it from there.”

Laughably, Deaton also tried to suggest that his position as Missouri chancellor and chairman of the Big 12 board doesn’t force him to walk “a delicate line.”  Well, if it isn’t, then he’s letting down one institution or the other.  He needs to be exerting all of his energy to save the Big 12 or all of his energy to have options lined up for Mizzou.  That’s a pretty delicate line, in our view.

The Big 12′s final status will have a large impact on what the SEC looks like in the next couple of years:


1.  If the Big 12 survives and Oklahoma decides to stay, it’s most likely Texas A&M will be allowed to leave and join Mike Slive’s conference.

2.  If the Big 12 loses OU, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M — legal threats be damned — then it’s possible massive quakes begin to breakout across the college landscape.  In that scenario, the SEC might have an easier time finding a proper School #14 to join A&M.

3.  If the Big 12 fully folds, then Missouri becomes a much more likely option to join A&M in the SEC.  If the SEC wants it.  And if the Big Ten doesn’t.

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Your Tuesday Morning “Full Speed Ahead” Conference Expansion Update

Just when it seemed that the conference expansion race (the one no one says they want) was beginning to stall a bit, Monday erupted in rumors, reports, and even a few comments from SEC commissioner Mike Slive.

We’ll try to summarize and simplify everything that’s out there regarding Texas A&M, the SEC, and everybody else.  But these things change pretty quickly.  By the time you read this, the University of the Ukraine could be headed to the SEC West.

Here goes…

1.  Slive opened up about his conference’s plans while at a speaking engagement in Birmingham last night.  Not only did he take the unusual step of chatting about expansion, but he also had the story posted on the SEC’s official website.  So this was no off-the-cuff remark misinterpreted by some blogging stooge (you know, like us).  As a matter of fact, the details of Slive’s speech were posted on SECSports.com before the speech was even given.  What Slive said… he wanted all to know.  And here’s what he said:

“In the 78-year history of the SEC, the conference had accepted the membership applications of only two institutions — Arkansas and South Carolina.  Texas A&M is now the third.  We remain optimistic that Texas A&M will be a member of the SEC and have started to look at schedules for 2012-13 involving 13 teams.

As I said over the past year or so, the SEC has had no particular interest in expansion.  We were, and are, happy with 12 teams.  If Texas A&M’s president, Dr. Bowen Loftin, had not called me in late July, we had no plans to explore adding an institution.

However, when President Loftin called we became interested.  Texas A&M is an outstanding academic institution with an exceptional athletic program, passionate fans and wonderful traditions.  While the SEC wasn’t think about expansion, it was impossible not to be interested in Texas A&M.  As you can see from the unanimous vote of our twelve presidents/chancellors, we would very much like to have Texas A&M as a member of our conference.

When Texas A&M joins our conference, we don’t have immediate plans for a 14th member.  We aren’t thinking in terms of numbers.  We think about the strength of the SEC and the attractiveness of Texas A&M as an institution.”

Our many takes on these comments:

* What a clear message to A&M fans that the SEC hasn’t forgotten about them.  Only the most paranoid Aggie-backers were becoming angry with the conference for not zipping through Baylor’s legal roadblocks, but this should let that crew know that Slive’s league is merely doing its due diligence.

* What a clear message to Baylor — and any judges who may have to listen to a BU court case — that the SEC simply answered its phone when A&M called back in July.  Translation (for the thousandth time): “We didn’t call them, they called us.”

* Tip of the cap to Clay Travis who claimed weeks ago that the SEC would be willing to stick at 13 schools if need be.  Numerous SEC sources — some on the record — said otherwise.  “If we grab 13, we’ll need to grab 14, too” was the message.  Many of us with our own SEC sources said the same thing — “the goal is 14.”  But now the commish himself is saying 13 isn’t unlucky in his eyes…

* That said, we still believe the SEC was hoping that a good “get” would dial up the league offices just as A&M did.  But most of the schools not named A&M and Oklahoma are trying to maintain the status quo.  That limited the SEC options and left Slive and company to accept the idea of 13 schools.  You can bet, however, that the SEC would have loved for Virginia Tech or North Carolina to have asked for an application.  Fourteen schools would have been the best possible scenario and that was — from what we’ve been told by multiple SEC sources — the unstated but obvious initial goal.

* We’ll tip a cap toward ourselves for pointing out in great detail last summer that A&M was a perfect fit for the SEC.  In our “Expounding on Expansion” research piece, we pointed out that A&M would be a quality stand-alone addition and not just a “We’ll take ‘em if we can get Texas” throw-in candidate.  For nearly two years now we’ve detailed how Texas A&M and the SEC have flirted with one another dating all the way back to the mid-80s.  We’ve told you how serious things got when LSU AD Joe Dean agreed to sponsor an A&M entry into the SEC after discussions with A&M AD John David Crow in the late-80s.  And last summer — just as the Big 12 was announcing its salvation — we stated flat out that A&M would eventually be a member of the SEC.  That all seems quite obvious now.  It wasn’t at the time (and we have the nasty emails to prove it).  So we’ll take a bow along with the aforementioned Travis and a few other blind squirrels across the globe.

* A 13-school SEC is far from ideal.  Other leagues have thrived with an odd number of schools, but not when divided into divisions for the purposes of holding a league championship game in football.  If A&M and Oklahoma set off realignment armageddon, we still believe there’s the potential for a 14th institution to join the SEC in time for the 2012-13 season.

And now, more scuttlebutt and hearsay on the expansion front:

2.  Baylor president Kenneth Starr has penned yet another op-ed piece angling for the resuscitation of the Big 12.  This time his work appears in The Houston Chronicle.  In it, he makes it clear that there’s just somethin’ special about Texas football!  (Just not special enough to have earned Houston, Rice, SMU and TCU slots in the Big 12 when Baylor dumped them in 1996, mind you.)

3.  Let’s now look toward Oklahoma.  If the Sooners choose to stay in the Big 12, that league will likely survive.  But according to Orangebloods.com, a source “close to OU’s administration” says the school will apply for Pac-12 membership by the end of the month and Oklahoma State will follow soon after.

4.  It was also reported Monday that officials from Oklahoma and the University of Texas met over the weekend to discuss their future plans.  (While UT officials want to keep their Longhorn Network intact, they have reportedly offered to split all Tier I Big 12 television revenue evenly with their league-mates in order to save the Big 12.  OU officials are believed to be past the point of turning back, however.)  One Oklahoma source told The Oklahoman: “Everybody’s sitting around right now… the shoe has to drop at A&M before anything goes on.”

5.  While an OU source is saying his school will wait on A&M to make a move, an A&M source tells The Houston Chronicle that “the SEC and the Aggies will wait and see what happens on the Oklahoma front.”  No shock there.  We wrote on Monday that OU/Pac-12 and A&M/SEC will likely find themselves locked in a staring contest for a bit longer.

6.  Andy Staples of SI.com likens the current situation to a game of chicken.

7.  The board of regents at Oklahoma has scheduled a meeting for September 19th (next Monday) and it’s expected that conference realignment will be a main topic.

8.  If the Longhorns are serious about convincing Oklahoma to stick around the Big 12, this writer believes the school should end its partnership with ESPN.  (Yeah.  That’ll happen.)

9.  Meanwhile, according to The Austin American-Statesman, Texas has “three viable realignment options.”   If the Big 12 goes bye-bye, those options include the ACC (which might divide into four four-team pods), the Pac-12 (which would also require a number of issues to be worked out), or independence (which UT claims it does not want).

(On a sidenote, “a well-placed source at a Big 12 school” told The Statesman that “The Big 12′s done… Oklahoma wasn’t open to creating Big 12 stability.”)

10.  One thing’s for sure: Texas is no longer operating from a position of strength.  Looks like UT’s done overplayed its hand.

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Report: OU Sooners Ready To Move West

For SEC and Texas A&M fans hoping that a union between the two would go smoothly… it looks like you’re out of luck.

Baylor slowed down the process last week by threatening to sue the SEC (and maybe even Mike Slive) if the Big 12 blew apart.  At this point, Iowa State and Kansas also appear to be holding out when it comes to waiving their rights to sue.

The best case scenario for getting things back on track was for the Big 12 to pull together and agree to carry on as a unit.  In other words, if Oklahoma agreed to stay, Baylor wouldn’t start filing lawsuits.

Well, according to Orangebloods.com — the Rivals site covering Texas — Oklahoma will apply for Pac-12 membership by the end of the month.  As has been made clear throughout this recent wave of realignment talk, if OU goes, so too will Oklahoma State.

According to “a source close to OU’s administration” has told Orangebloods.com that the school’s board of regents is “fed up with the instability in the Big 12.”

This comes one day after The Oklahoman — and former Charleston Post & Courier beatwriter Travis Haney — reported that OU and OSU might not get as cushy an offer from the Pac-12 as they received last year before the league expanded by two.  “A Southeastern Conference official” also told the paper over the weekend that the league “expects Texas A&M eventually to be cleared to join the SEC.”

If the Orangebloods.com report is true — big if — we could be looking at a month-long game of chicken.  A&M and the SEC might try to wait out Oklahoma and the Pac-12.  Even though A&M wants to move yesterday, it would probably be in the school’s best interest to let OU make the first move.

If Oklahoma announces a move first, then Baylor might have a new target for Ken Starr’s legal team.  And that might further protect the Aggies and the SEC.

However, knowing that potential lawsuits and time and money and headaches are on the horizon for anyone moving first, it’s likely that we’re in for a long staring contest.

If Oklahoma really is preparing to leave, then this whole mess could be decided by who blinks first — the Sooners or the Aggies.

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