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SEC Headlines 5/13/2012

1. Three Arkansas football players arrested and charged with burglarizing dorm rooms.

2. Kevin Scarbinsky on The Sporting News ranking of Alabama’s Nick Saban at No. 1 and Auburn coach Gene Chizik at No. 36: “The Sporting News got it right, and The Sporting News got it wrong. There isn’t a better coach in college football than Saban. There aren’t 35 coaches in college football better than Chizik.”

3. What will those same rankings look like in 10 years? “Here’s a wild card: Bobby Petrino. He’s 51, banished from the current rankings but there’s still time to get back in the hunt.”

4. Just how good was the 2011-2012 athletic season for the University of Alabama?  “It’s the best in a long, long time.”

5. Could former Alabama quarterback Phillip Sims play sooner rather than later at the University of Virginia?

6. Sims’ departure has moved incoming freshman Alec Morris one notch closer to the top.

7. A “monster rebuilding project” awaits new Mississippi State basketball coach Rick Ray.

8. John Calipari’s search for one more recruit at Kentucky.

9. Why Houston’s Mack Rhoades is probably not a candidate for the athletic director job at Texas A&M.

10. Why football will endure:  ”Football will continue — will survive, endure, ramble on — because there will always be a stream of players to play it.”

Extras:

11. Mike Bianchi: More than ever, Florida State fans feel they are a football school hopelessly trapped in a basketball league. 

12. Dan Wetzel on the ACC television deal: “In Tallahassee, it may have been the last straw.”

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SEC Headlines – 5/3/12

1.  Virginia officially welcomed ex-Alabama quarterback Phillip Sims into its fold yesterday.  (No word on whether he’ll try to get an NCAA hardship waiver.)

2.  Receiver Quinta Funderburk is also reportedly headed to UVA after being granted a release from Arkansas.

3.  The Razorback players who passed on early NFL entry say they have no regrets.

4.  While this year’s LSU-Arkansas game is back on the Friday after Thanksgiving, it will shift from Little Rock to Fayetteville for the first time in nearly two decades.

5.  Here’s a quickie, post-spring look at Mississippi State’s pass-catchers.

6.  Rick Ray is set to make a million bucks a year at MSU and his assistants will makes $155,000 apiece.

7.  The Texas A&M board or regents will consider simply buying out the rest of AD Bill Byrne’s contract when they meet today and tomorrow.  (We told you two weeks ago that we didn’t see anyway he’d “transition” into any new role other than that of a non-A&M employee.)

8.  Kevin Sumlin says Aggie running back Ben Malena “is one of the guys we can count on.”

9.  After a mediocre first season in Gainesville, Will Muschamp is still popular among many Florida fans.  (It says something about our microwave insta-culture that this fact actually needs to be made.)

10.  One of most powerful, most outspoken, and most influential presidents in the NCAA — Georgia’s Michael Adams — has announced that he will retire next June after 16 years on the job…

11.  But what will athletics legacy be for the man who forced out Jim Donnan and Vince Dooley, who hired Mark Richt and Jim Harrick, and who long ago for a college football playoff system?  Adams has been a controversial figure to say the least.

12.  Another day, another possible transfer into Kentucky’s transient, yet uber-succesful basketball program.

13.  Ex-Cat Anthony Davis could find himself on the US Olympic Team this summer.

14.  South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney hopes to get his off-field act together in the coming months.

15.  Vanderbilt hoops assistant Dan Muller is expected to interview for the head coaching job at Illinois State, his alma mater.  (Muller was briefly mentioned in connection with the Mississippi State job this offseason.)

16.  Missouri might need to start finding a few more pro-caliber offensive lineman as the school enters the SEC.

17.  The healing process from shoulder surgery has been “so far, so good” for Mizzou quarterback James Franklin.  (But sadly things don’t look so good for running back Henry Josey.)

18.  This writer has LSU #1 and Alabama #3 in his post-spring rankings.

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Sims’ HS Coach Explains QB’s Decision To Leave Alabama

On Friday, it was announced that backup quarterback Phillip Sims would transfer from Alabama.  This just a year after competing with and eventually losing out to AJ McCarron for the starter’s job… a job McCarron did pretty well with considering that whole BCS Championship thing.

In the statement, Sims thanked Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide staff before assuring everyone that his decision to leave was “nothing more than a personal matter” and that he needed “to be closer to home to support my family at this time and that needs to be my priority right now.”

On Monday, news emerged that Sims would land at Virginia — in his home state — and that he might apply for an NCAA waiver that would allow the redshirt sophomore-to-be to play immediately.  Well, as far as that possible waiver goes, Sims had better hope NCAA officials don’t read The Virginian-Pilot newspaper.  It seems that even before Sims was tipping his hand about enrolling at Virginia, his old high school coach, Richard Morgan, was already talking about why his former protege was really leaving Tuscaloosa:

 

“McCarron still has two years of eligibility.  If it was the case where (McCarron) was a senior and Phillip had to sit one more year and then have two years, he wouldn’t leave.  Let’s face it, they did win the national championship.  So you’re not going to bench the quarterback who won the national title.  And (Sims) doesn’t want to sit because he feels he’s just as good.  So he has to go somewhere where he can play.”

 

D’oh!  That won’t help Sims’ cause.  But Morgan wasn’t done.  He also suggested that his old QB didn’t get a fair shake at Bama because he wasn’t actually a born and bred Bama boy:

 

“If it’s a close competition between an in-state guy and an out-of-state guy, the in-state guy is getting the job.  Phillip was in a situation where I thought he was the better quarterback, but he was the out-of-state guy.  That’s just the way it works in college.”

 

No it isn’t.  Here’s how it works in college:

 

* Coaches do anything they can to lure in the top prospects from across America to their schools.

* Coaches then invest time and energy prodding their signees to invest time and energy to make themselves the best players they can possibly be.

* Finally, with millions of dollars in salary riding on their win/loss records, coaches pick the very best guys at each position to help them win more games and earn more cash.

 

Saban is viewed by many as the most cold, business-like, pro-style coach in the college game.  If any coach were going to err on the side of playing the homegrown product over a better player, it would not be Saban.  But we don’t believe any coach would go that route.

Parents and ex-coaches often make these types of claims when their guy loses out in a position battle.  ”They wanted the local kid.”  ”The other kid’s family gives more money to the university.”  Read a messageboard, you’ll see the claims.

But the reality is that coaches have to win.  Bottom line.  End of story.  So if a coach thinks Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would give him a better chance at victory than his own blessed mother, you can bet the Iranian president would be tops on the depth chart.

Unfortunately for Sims, his coaches’ sour grapes are now being attached to his name.  Worse, his coaches’ comments about why Sims is really transferring might force his former pupil to spend a waiver-less year on the pine in Charlottesville.

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SEC Headlines – 4/30/12

1.  A few weeks ago we wrote that we hoped a new playoff system might actually help restore some glory to the old bowl system and New Year’s Day.  This writer — one of the best in the South — believes that’s exactly what will happen.

2.  Phillip Sims decision to transfer from Alabama will leave the Tide in a quarterback quandry.  (Looks like he’s off to Virginia, by the way.)

3.  From elementary school to high school to Arkansas and now on to the Minnesota Vikings, Greg Childs and Jarius Wright are joined at the hip.  (What were the odds against the two wideouts being picked #118 and #134 in the fourth round by the same franchise?  Cool story.)

4.  O-lineman Blaine Causell is making the most of his chances at Mississippi State. 

5.  Texas A&M’s defense is going to have to improve to survive in the SEC.

6.  One expert has two Kentucky players and then Bradley Beal from Florida as the top three prospects for this summer’s NBA draft.

7.  What’s next for seven Georgia footballers drafted last week?

8.  Tennessee’s lack of talent was on full display during the NFL draft.

9.  No shock here, Missouri’s recruiting in the Kansas City area hasn’t been hurt by the school’s move to the SEC.  (Hey, Jayhawks, you might want to re-think that whole “We won’t play you” thing, lest you start losing more prospects to Mizzou.)

10.  Here’s one man’s take on all 42 SEC players selected in last week’s NFL draft… no really, all 42 in one place.

11.  And AthlonSports.com looks at 10 teams that could end the SEC’s six-year BCS title streak.

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SEC Headlines 4/28/12

1. The NCAA chose not to add on to South Carolina’s self-imposed penalties.

2. Once highly-touted quarterback Phillip Sims has decided to transfer from Alabama.

3. Another Alabama defender, this time Courtney Upshaw, went quickly in the NFL draft on Friday.

4. Recruits were paying attention to Alabama’s success in the draft on Thursday night.

5. Here’s a look at the SEC defenders selected in the NFL’s first round.

6. Tony Barnhart of CBSSports.com believes Nick Saban’s team is helping provide hope to Tuscaloosa.

7. One writer believes former Gator Janoris Jenkins – taken by St. Louis - will be the next Pacman Jones.

8. Outside of Jankins, Florida saw its draft drought continue into the second day of the draft.

9. Here’s a preview for Texas A&M’s upcoming spring game at Kyle Field.

10. We’ll get a new look at Texas A&M’s defense on Saturday.

11. Mark Wiedmer of the Chattanooga News-Free Press shows us a nice side of Tennessee coach Derek Dooley.

12. Bill Belichick believes former Arkansas defensive end Jake Bequette will be productive in New England.

13. Arkansas hasn’t had any receivers selected in the draft. That will change today.

14. Matt Hayes of Sporting News believes it’s time for college football to finally land a commissioner.

15. The LSU Board of Supervisors has unanimously approved an expansion of LSU’s Tiger Stadium.

16. SEC coaches can use the NFL draft as a three-day recruiting tool.

17. Former Georgia offensive lineman Cordy Glenn will help where needed in Buffalo.

Extra:

18. Here’s a look at the conference champion only idea for the future BCS.

19. Here’s another preview of Missouri’s offense as it enters the SEC.

20. Vanderbilt coach James Franklin will surely use Casey Heyward’s drafting in recruiting.

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Saban Not Ready To Pick A Starting Quarterback

Alabama has been slotted in the #2 spot in the AP’s preseason football poll.  Several publications have projected the Tide to finish one slot higher than that come January.

Yet Alabama’s starting quarterback will have limited experience when he takes over in two weeks.  And, more importantly, no one even knows who that starting quarterback will be.

This weekend, Nick Saban said that AJ McCarron and Phillip Sims have played “pretty evenly” during preseason camp.  He also hinted that the quarterback competition isn’t likely to end soon:


“These two guys are probably a couple of the best players on our team.  It’s no out of the question that both have roles on our team in some kind of way.  I know that’s not what everybody wants to hear, but both of those guys have done a good job in what we’ve asked them to do.”


When a team has two completely different types of quarterbacks — David Greene and DJ Shockley, Chris Leak and Tim Tebow — it’s possible to have great success with some sort of QB rotation.

But McCarron and Sims are similar.  “We’re both pocket passers,” Sims told The Dothan Eagle.

With that being the case, we’ll simply toss out that old, old adage one more time: “Show me a team with two good quarterbacks and I’ll show you a team with no great quarterback.”

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The QB Duels Continue For The Bammers And The Barners

Midway through August, the quarterback competitions at Alabama and Auburn are still red hot.  Both Nick Saban and Gene Chizik addressed their teams’ QB situations this weekend and both said they’re far from naming a starter.

Chizik said of his quarterbacks: “We don’t have separation.  They all did some nice things.  We’ll decide who the starter is at the right time.”

Saban said his quarterback situation remains unsettled and added: “We have a long way to go as a team.  We probably had far too many penalties out there today, too many missed assignments, too many mental errors.”

So for the time being, AJ McCarron and Phillip Sims will continue to duke it out in Tuscaloosa while Barrett Trotter, Clint Moseley and Kiehl Frazier will do the same down on The Plains.

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McElwain Says He Feels Good About Bama QB Situation; We Say UA Needs To Find A Clear-Cut Starter

Alabama is a consensus preseason Top 5 team.  In many circles, they’re viewed as a potential national champ, too.

Nevermind the fact that the Crimson Tide still has no official starting quarterback.  And you can count Bama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain among those who aren’t worried by the lack of a sure-fire starter:


“We’re very excited about what we have happening at that position.  A lot of people will through and have a quarterback situation where they’re wondering who to play simply because they don’t really have a capable player at that position.  I think we’re fortunate here — and we’ll identify when the bullets fly — but we’re very fortunate about having some quality players at the position.  Phillip Sims, AJ McCarron, Blake Sims, have done a fantastic job at the position, and have learned and really done a good job of studying.”


As any Tide fan can point out, Bama didn’t know what it was getting in 2009 with Greg McElroy, either.  And that campaign turned out pretty well (if you like crystal footballs).

But at least McElroy grabbed the job and became the clear leader of Alabama’s offense.  This season, the Tide isn’t just dealing with a lack of experience, it’s dealing with a potential rift on the football team.

For their part, Sims and McCarron are laughing off — literally, they say — the idea that the two QBs are so competitive that they’re not friendly to one another.  We’ll take them at their word.

That doesn’t mean, however, that if Sims and McCarron both do some good and some bad early in the season, there might not develop a debate between all those offensive players around them.  The longer the two players split playing time, the more likely it becomes that two camps will develop.  That’s only natural.

Having two quarterbacks isn’t always a curse.  Last year LSU finished 11-2 with Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee sharing some duties.  But in a perfect world, a team will have a clear-cut, most-talented, starter and leader at signal-caller.  Alabama doesn’t have that in August.  The quicker it finds one in September or October, the better its title chances will become.

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Tide QB McCarron Has A Heckuva Tattoo On His Back

Will AJ McCarron be the star quarterback that Alabama fans hope?  For that answer we’ll have to wait til Fall… to see if he even beats out Phillip Sims.

A better question — that everyone can answer for themselves now — is whether or not he’s got the slickest back tattoo among SEC signal-callers.

McCarron’s tattoo (at left) features an image of Jesus, the words “Ma” and “Pops,” what appears to be an image of a dove of peace, and the words “Bama Boy.”  Among other things.

Impressive.

Ah, but last November we showed you a photo of the tattoo Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray sports on his back.  As we now know, the photo is legit and the tattoo features the letters: B-R-A-Y over four big stars.

So who’s got the best tat?  That probably depends on whether or not you wear crimson or orange.

(Sidenote — In light of the recent Ohio State scandal, whenever we see an athlete with a big, flashy tattoo we immediately wonder: How’d he pay for that?)

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Two Spots Are Tight On Bama’s Football Team

A pair of tight position battles are going right down to the wire as Alabama prepares for its spring game tomorrow.

First, quarterbacks AJ McCarron and Phillip Sims will play for both the Crimson and the White tomorrow.  As part of the evaluation process, they’ll both get time with those first- and second-string units.

“Every time they have an opportunity to play, we’ll see how they respond to that circumstance and that situation, just like we’ll see how they play in this game,” Nick Saban said.  “And that’s why I want both of them to play with both teams just to see how they respond to the situation.  It’s part of the overall evaluation.  If they both respond well, then that’s a good thing.”

Meanwhile, there’s been an unexpected twist in the competition to protect those guys’ blind sides.  Alfred McCullough has been dueling with juco transfer Aaron Douglas for the left tackle spot all spring, but right guard Barrett Jones has now been moved into that slot.

Saban told Al.com that McCullough’s natural position is at guard and that Douglas — a former freshman All-American at Tennessee — is still learning the Tide’s system.

Jones — who last played left tackle in high school — is fine with the move.  “It’s been very different but it’s been a challenge.  It’s exciting to be challenged.  I feel comfortable at guard, but it’s an opportunity for me to show versatility.”

Most Tide fans had hoped that the big-armed McCarron would pull away from Sims this spring.  And many people expected Douglas to step right in at left tackle.  The fact that neither player has grabbed the reins as hoped/expected might be a bit disappointing down at the Capstone, but it’s still only April.

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