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Security “Beefed Up” Ahead Of Saban Speech In Vol Country

pitchforks-torches-mobIn the get-a-life department…

Alabama football coach Nick Saban will be the featured speaker tomorrow night at a benefit dinner in Athens, Tennessee.  Athens is about an hour south of Knoxville and the University of Tennessee campus.

Reaction to the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce’s decision to bring Saban across enemy lines has been both good and bad.  Good in that a sellout crowd of 1,500 is expected to attend (and pour cash into the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce).  Bad in that security is having to be “beefed up” ahead of the event.

According to the president of the AACofC, Rob Preston, there have been more than 100 complaints about Saban’s invitation to the McMinn County event.  “We’ve gotten emails.  We’ve gotten phone calls.  Most of the phone calls happen at 2 o’clock in the morning or when we’re not here.  They leave it on the machine.”

Interestingly, Tennessee native and current South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier was the first coach to speak at a benefit for the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce.  According to Preston, there was hardly any negative feedback associated with Spurrier’s appearance.

So why the anger over Saban’s invite?  “Some people say this is a combined effort to help Alabama’s recruiting.  I know to you that sounds ridiculous — and it is very ridiculous — but (some) people think that’s what this is about.”

Previous speakers have included the aforementioned Spurrier, actor Kirk Cameron, actor Lou Ferrigno, former Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl, and former baseball star Pete Rose (quite an eclectic bunch).  Last year former Tennessee football coach Phillip Fulmer and a pair of players from his 1998 BCS championship team headlined the event.

None of those speakers drove ticket sales as high as Saban has… which is precisely why the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce invited the four-time BCS champion coach to speak at their benefit.

For those misguided individuals who believe the city of Athens and Alabama’s coach are working in cahoots to open a Bama recruiting pipeline into Southeast Tennessee, well, there have been about 100 players from the entire Volunteer State drafted into the NFL since the late-80s.  If Saban’s accepting speaking engagements in order to help with recruiting, he’d be better served by accepting offers in Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi or Texas.

It’s a speech at a benefit dinner.  Relax.

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SEC Headlines – 6/9/11 Part One

1.  Auburn’s football team was honored at the White House yesterday.

2.  The Tigers enjoyed their trip to DC and meeting with a “real cool” president.

3.  Russell Wilson — the former NC State quarterback who is considering Auburn — had what one source called a “grand slam” visit to Wisconsin.

4.  This writer says Mike Hamilton’s resignation “feels like desperation” and “the next strange act in the Tennessee circus.”  (We’re reminded of how Pete Rose was told to admit he bet on baseball, he did, and then everyone said, “Well, you didn’t seem contrite enough.”)

5.  Here’s a list of all the SEC players who have departed via injury, transfer or other unexpected reason since last fall.

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SEC Headlines 4/16/2011

1. Jon Solomon on Auburn and Alabama: “From back-to-back champions to back-to-back probations?”

2. Georgia’s spring game – it’s steak and lobster for the winners, beanie weenies for the losers.

3. Ole Miss spring game – the focus is on the defense.

4. Houston Nutt’s most important spring game?

5. Alabama spring game – all eyes on the quarterbacks. Left tackle is another spot to watch.

6. Auburn spring game – offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn: “We do have so many young guys, so many inexperienced guys.”

7. Malzahn on quarterback race -“fairly close in my mind.”

8. Tennessee spring game – Vols need versatility from their linebackers.

9. John Adams: “Georgia qualifies as the only team in the SEC East better set at quarterback than Tennessee.”

10. “Slim pickings” for the pre-season SEC quarterback?

11. Vanderbilt spring game (Sunday) – Larry Smith is the man to beat at quarterback.

12. Series of concussions end the career of Kentucky offensive lineman Dave Ulinski.

13. The LSU-Oregon game in September is already generating buzz.

14. Two Florida wide receivers are headed elsewhere.

15. Steve Spurrier gets a raise but not an extension.

16. Arkansas running back Broderick Green expected to miss the 2011 season with an ACL tear.

17. Razorbacks linebacker Ross Rasner arrested on drug and alcohol charges.

18. Rule changes are coming to college football this fall.

19. The “Dooley Rule” arrives.

20. Kendall Durant and Jason Carter are leaving the Alabama basketball program.

21. Jeff Van Gundy on former Florida Gators in the NBA playoffs. Of 9 former Gators in the league, 8 of them are in the playoffs.

22. Does Kentucky really need a new basketball arena?

23. David Cason once played for Kevin Stallings.  Now he’s joining him as an assistant coach.


24. Banning the “Kiss Cam”.

25. The myths of college basketball’s one-and-done.

26.  Who would you put in the Hall of Fame first – a gambler or a steroid user?  Pete Rose turned 70 this week.

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