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WOW Headlines – 1/2/12

Northwestern defeated Mississippi State 34-20 in the Gator Bowl on Tuesday
South Carolina defeated Michigan 33-28 in the Outback Bowl on Tuesday
Georgia defeated Nebraska 45-31 in the Capital One Bowl on Tuesday
Louisville defeated Florida 33-23 in the Sugar Bowl Wednesday
Georgia LB Alec Ogletree will turn pro early after a 13-tackle performance in the Bulldogs’ bowl game
Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin says he’s in no rush to hire a new offensive coordinator
New Arkansas linebackers coach Randy Shannon says the staff Bret Bielema has assembled “is going to be unbelievable.”
Florida receivers coach Bush Hamdan is leaving for a spot on Arkansas State’s staff
Tennessee DL Daniel McCullers will stay in Knoxville for his senior season
Alabama C Barrett Jones was back from an injury at practice on Tuesday
Memphis basketball coach Josh Pastner says he will no longer schedule Tennessee
Follow the Southeastern Conference every day on MrSEC.com

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Report: Clemson Fires Steele; Back In Play At UT?

When Justin Wilcox announced he was leaving Tennessee for Washington, the first name connected to UT’s open defensive coordinator position was that of Kevin Steele.  (And no, we don’t count Randy Shannon, because messageboards and Twitter connect him to every job in America that comes open.)

Steele is a Tennessee graduate and he has coached in Knoxville in the past.  Derek Dooley tried to hire him away from Clemson when he first arrived at UT in 2010, to no avail.

The two talked about the current opening in Knoxville last week, but it was believed Steele passed on the opportunity to return home.  He may have a different take on that now.

According to reports from Clemson websites — like TigerIllustrated.com, the Rivals site covering Clemson — Steele has been fired by Dabo Swinney.  This after Swinney initially said he would make no staff changes this offseason.

If the report is true, then Steele could join Sal Sunseri (Alabama), Buddy Green (Navy) and Pat Narduzzi (Michigan State) as candidates at UT.

Steele’s defenses ranked 20th, 19th and 71st (this year) during his Clemson tenure.  He joined the Tigers in 2009 after leaving Nick Saban’s staff at Alabama.

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UT Eyes Bama’s Sunseri For DC Spot

Head coach Derek Dooley worked under Nick Saban at two different stops.  New AD Dave Hart came from Alabama as well (with or without a banjo on his knee).  With Hart came a number of athletic department aides.  Now Tennessee is targeting someone else with ties to the Crimson Tide.

Despite rumors of Randy Shannon being the Vols’ guy last week, Dooley is now set to welcome Alabama linebackers coach Sal Sunseri to Knoxville today.  Sunseri coached with Dooley on Saban’s staff at LSU.  He spent seven years in the NFL with the Carolina Panthers before rejoining Saban in Tuscaloosa in 2009.  He also served as a defensive coordinator at Illinois State and Alabama A&M in the 1990s.

Sunseri — a former Pittsburgh players — was a candidate for the Panthers’ head coaching job last year. 

One has to wonder, however, if Sunseri is truly interested in becoming D-coordinator for the Vols or if he’s simply angling for a raise at Bama.  His son Vinnie (photo of the two together at left) just completed his first season as a Bama defensive back and special teamer.  Would Sunseri leave be willing to leave that set-up?

Dooley hasn’t had an easy time filling the vacancy on his staff.  Brian VanGorder was believed to be a target, but he chose a more stable situation as Auburn’s D-coordinator.  UT couldn’t come to terms with Baylor’s Phil Bennett, either.  Dooley’s job security — and a nice fat multi-year contract for coordinator candidates — have been the issue so far.

Navy defensive coordinator Buddy Green and TCU defensive coordinator Dick Bumpas have also reportedly met with Dooley.  If Sunseri, Green or Bumpas lands the job, one wonders if current assistant Lance Thompson might be the next to exit Knoxville as it’s believed he wants the promotion to coordinator.

Stay tuned…

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Meyer Rips NCAA And Outlaw Coaches

Last week, former Florida coach Urban Meyer sounded off on the NCAA, the lack of ethics in college football, and outlaw coaches in a radio interview.  Now off the sideline, Meyer’s comments spewed forth like he’d just popped the cork on his inner monologue.  And it’s made national news.


“I’m probably going to get criticized for saying a few things, but I’m good.  I’m no longer a football coach and that had a part to do with why I stepped away.

“I’m not the lone wolf here, there are some great football coaches that are still coaching.  They have to be very careful, politically correct, say all the right things and do all the right things and deep down their hearts (are) getting ripped out because they’re at a competitive disadvantage and that’s just not right.

“But at the end of the day the people that pay the worst price is the 19-year-old young man knows that’s it’s wrong but still deals with agents when he’s not supposed to, taking things from agents and getting recruited illegally.  At the end of the day that’s going to affect that young man for the rest of his life because a precedent has been set in his mind that taking a shortcut is okay.”


Strong words from a man who no longer has to play the game.  Except… what in the above statement could Meyer not have said while coaching?  That agents are bad?  That some coaches cheat?  If he felt so strongly about things, what stopped him from speaking out while he still ran a program?

That point aside, it’s interesting that Meyer is going down the “competitive disadvantage” path.  Apparently he did not cheat in any way while at Florida.  I find it hard to believe that a coach in this day and age could avoid breaking every single rule in the NCAA’s overstuffed rulebook, but, let’s give him that one.  (Even though he once called a recruit’s athlete girlfriend who was also considering Florida, which is an NCAA violation.)  Still, couldn’t a coach like Randy Shannon talk about the “competitive disadvantage” that he faced thanks to coaches who gave actual outlaws chance after chance after chance following their run-ins with the law?  Couldn’t Shannon — whose Miami program had fewer arrests during his tenure than just about any other BCS program — throw some stones at guys like Meyer and his ilk for watching over (and I use that term loosely) a program that saw 30 players arrested in a short span?
 
Meyer also fired shots at the NCAA for not enforcing its own bylaws.  Think he might have had the Cam Newton situation in mind?  But what of a coach who supposedly told quarterback prospect Jevan Snead that he was recruiting Tim Tebow to play linebacker.  Repeat after me: “Your ethical lapses are unforgivable, my ethical lapses are small and can be explained.”

Meyer continued his rant and let his feelings bubble through regarding Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl.


“What I’ve seen the last five years is a complete turn in the integrity of the college coaching profession.  It’s completely turned the other way.  Right now, it’s not good because the risk-reward is ‘have at it, do what you’ve got to do (to) get the great player, go win games and at the end of the day we’ll find out what happens down the road.

“You tell me how a young man who is a wide receiver and he lied to the NCAA and they took away his eligibility and he was never allowed to play again.  And then there’s violations in other areas of the country and that doesn’t happen.”


Dan Dakich who was conducting the radio interview pointed out the obvious fact that Pearl “sat out eight games, lost a little money and he’s back coaching right now.”


“And Dez Bryant is out of the profession, I mean college football. …

“I actually put one together last year, a recommendation and sent it to a good chunk of athletic directors and presidents and commissioners.  You can have group committees, group hugs, group discussions.  You can have whatever you wants, at the end of the day, if you enforce the law people will have an opportunity to break that rule less. 

“If there’s a law and it’s an unenforceable law, and deep down they don’t want to enforce it, you are officially in the wild, wild west and anything goes.  We need to revamp this thing.”


There’s danger in Meyer’s words, of course.  It’s possible that a few more stories — like the one about Snead’s recruitment and the one about Meyer’s phone call to a UF gymnastics recruit will come to light.

And if/when Meyer returns to coaching — say when Brian Kelly washes out at Notre Dame — you can trust he’ll be under some double-secret scrutiny from his fellow coaches. 

His comments leave us wondering about Pearl (who Billy Donovan has actually defended on a personal level), the Auburn staff, the Mississippi State staff and ex-aide Dan Mullen (who were alll involved in Newton’s recruitment), Newton himself, and the entire SEC coaching fraternity since that’s who Meyer recruited against.  That’s a lot of besmirching.

In response, others may just wonder publicly how a man can act holier-than-thou when it comes to NCAA rules violations… while captaining a ship filled with many young men who broke the actual rules of society?

Apparently, rule-breaking is a bad thing because it hurt Meyer’s chances of winning.  Law-breaking, well, that’s excusable because kids will be kids.  And because his look-the-other-way attitude actually helped Meyer’s chances of winning.

I’m a believer in second chances.  But if I were a coach who handed out dozens of them over a six-year span, I’d probably not pop off to loudly about the ethics violations of others.  Lest they call my own liberal discipline into question.

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Maisel: Muschamp Was Interested In Miami

Ivan Maisel of ESPN.com has an interesting nugget on his blog today and we thought we’d bring it to your attention here:


“The way I hear it, the board of trustees at Miami told athletic director Kirby Hocutt that he had to replace Randy Shannon with someone with head coaching experience.  Hocutt got a feeler from an associate of Will Muschamp, saying the Texas defensive coordinator wanted to know more about the Miami job.  Muschamp couldn’t even get a phone call from Hocutt.  A couple of days later, Urban Meyer resigned at Florida.  For Hocutt’s sake, Al Golden better win more than Muschamp.”


If this story is true — and you have to think it leaked out from someone close to Hocutt — it’s the board of trustees who should be praying for Golden’s success.  Sure, the AD will take the blame for a bad hire, but it sounds as if Hocutt’s hands were tied.

Very interesting indeed.

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Muschamp To Make $2.7 Million

So what kind of money could convince Will Muschamp to leave his coach-in-waiting gig at Texas for the Sunshine State?  Try $2.7 million a year for five years.

You can read the full report here at The Gainesville Sun’s website… if it’s working.  (Feel yer pain, brother.  Though when traffic slows you down, that’s a good problem to have.)

The Florida administration and the school’s prominent boosters all have Jeremy Foley’s back on the surprising hire of Muschamp.

Things are expected to be chaotic in Gainesville for the next few weeks.  Urban Meyer and his staff are prepping for a bowl game.  Muschamp is busy trying to put together a brand new staff.  And UF’s current assistants are trying to recruit and earn themselves a spot on the new staff.

Fans in the Jacksonville area are also excited about their new coach.

While filling out his staff, this writer believes Muschamp should try to hire former Miami head coach Randy Shannon.

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Coaching Search Update

Vanderbilt
Content provided by Vanderbilt Sports Line.

Mr.SEC.com has a great recap on the state of play in the Vanderbilt coaching search. The search for a new head football coach run by Vice Chancellor Williams has been a model from which future searches will be run in college (if Williams ever decides to run a seminar, I’d recommend Tennessee’s Athletic Director Mike Hamilton attend. Biddle and Climer can chip in for the registration fee). According to the Mr. SEC report and Jeff Lockridge’s Tennessean piece in yesterday’s paper, the remaining candidates are: Tulsa Coach Todd Graham, Nebraska offensive coordinator Shawn Watson, Maryland offensive coordinator James Franklin, Michigan State offensive coordinator Don Treadwell and Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Doeren. Of these 5 supposed candidates, only 1 is a head coach, 3 are offensive coordinators, and 1 is a defensive coordinator. Notably, 2 of the candidates come from the Big Ten, with 1 from the ACC, Big 12 (although soon to be member of the Big 10), and C-USA. The SEC does not have a representative according to the lists that are out there. According to Mr. SEC there are still people in Nashville who say Randy Shannon might not be completely off the list at this point, although FootballScoop.com says: “[Kentucky Head Coach] Joker Phillips is interested in hiring Randy Shannon to run the Kentucky defense.”

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Shannon’s Name Still Popping Up In Connection To SEC Jobs

Robbie Caldwell “resigned” a week ago Saturday.  On that same day Miami fired Randy Shannon.  And wheels started turning across the South.

“Vandy’s got an opening… Shannon’s now available…”

Only that rumor died down as VU fans began to fixate on Temple’s Al Golden and even Air Force’s Troy Calhoun.  (At least that appeared to be the case based upon the emails I’ve received.)

But some people in Nashville continue to connect Shannon to Vanderbilt’s opening.  And now other people are connecting his name to Kentucky.

UK announced today that Joker Phillips will be replacing running backs coach Larry Brinson and secondary coach Chris Thurmond.  Thurmond will be replaced by a co-defensive coordinator to work with Steve Brown.

The website KentuckySportsRadio.com is now reporting that Phillips is eyeing Shannon for that position.  According to the site, Chip Cosby of The Lexington Herald-Leader believes Shannon is Target #1 with former Cincinnati head coach Rick Minter as the back-up choice.

Would Shannon be interested in taking such a big step back from his days as head coach at Miami?  Remember, his Hurricanes will play in their third straight bowl later this month and the program was amazingly free of negative off-field headlines.  He will likely get a second shot somewhere.  So it would seem more likely that he would take on another head coaching job (if he can find the right one) rather than go all the way down the ladder to a secondary coach/co-coordinator position.

Also remember that Shannon came to Miami after a short stint in the NFL.  He could go back to the pro game… if there is a pro game next year.

Either way, Randy Shannon’s name continues to be whispered in SEC circles.

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Hurricanes Down To Four Commitments For 2011

Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater from Miami Northwestern High School is the latest prospect to decommit from Miami.

The Hurricanes are still searching for a new head coach to replace the fired Randy Shannon. Miami, which had seven commitments when Shannon was let go, now has four pledges for 2011.

Cornerback Albert Louis-Jean and offensive lineman Marcus Jackson are the other two prospects to decommit from Miami.

Jackson recently visited Tennessee
for the second time this fall.

It’s unknown what Bridgewater, who’s a U.S. Army All-American, will do. He had offers from Florida, LSU and UT when he committed to Miami, according to Rivals.com.

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Time to Talk Randy Shannon

Vanderbilt
Content provided by Vanderbilt Sports Line.

We know that Randy Shannon is on the short list and is the subject of an alumni email campaign supporting his candidacy. We know that when he was defensive coordinator at Miami, his squad was one of the best in the country. We know that he’s brought in top-15 recruiting classes the past few years running. We know his recruiting connections in the state of Florida run deep, which is partly why schools like Minnesota are interested in nabbing him. We know that he raised the academic (all teams in APR top 10) and disciplinary (no arrests during his tenure!) profile of a Miami Hurricanes program in which both were sorely lacking before he took over as head coach. And finally, we know that if his star QB hadn’t gotten injured and his team had won two games it should have won this season (UVA and South Florida), giving them a record of 9-3 instead of 7-5, that Shannon probably would not have been let go this past weekend after four seasons at the helm. (For what it’s worth, Bobby Bowden thinks Miami made a big mistake.)

Coach Shannon is about as good as you could ask for on paper, and I don’t have any inside information to this effect, but he sounds like a man of outstanding character to boot. His personal story, for those not familiar, is nothing short of inspiring.

I’m not as concerned as some might be about his overall record as a head coach (28-22, 16-16 ACC), nor do I care all that much about the decidedly strange tale of Robert Marve, in which Shannon was a key player. I’m not certain about this, but I think Shannon’s got the stuff that it takes to be a very good D-I head coach (though to the extent there are questions about that, there are similar questions about all the “unproven” offensive and defensive coordinators currently on the search list).

The main question I have about Shannon is unique to Vanderbilt’s situation. We’ve seen that he can take a program with discipline issues and an undistinguished academic track record and instill some positive values. But that hasn’t translated into success on the field, at least not the kind that they’re accustomed to at “The U.” Vanderbilt is a different animal. We’ve got the student-athlete thing down (to some extent, and let’s not be unrealistically arrogant about it) and we’re not constantly worried about which key player is going to get arrested from one week to the next (please join me in knocking on wood). In Commie Country it seems that fans are proud of the “clean and scholarly” reputation, but ready for something more. We’re ready for wins. At least enough wins to be competitive for a bowl game, any bowl game, year-in and year-out.

Is Randy Shannon a “winner”? I don’t know, but I certainly wouldn’t say he’s a “loser.” Looks like he may have gotten a raw deal at Miami and, as a consequence, it’s possible that he’ll be one of the best bargains on the market. Hard to know from the outside looking in. Also hard to know what kind of offensive staff he would bring in, seeing as he axed his previous OC who ran the spread attack in favor of an NFL-style offensive look. In any event, you’d be hard pressed to argue with the job he did recruiting at Miami (even though The U probably sells itself to a certain extent), and Vanderbilt could absolutely use (read: desperately needs) a guy who knows how to bring in strong recruits. For this reason and because everything I’ve read about his departure leads me to believe he is good at establishing relationships with his players (if not the bizarre Miami fan base), I am excited about the prospect of hiring a Randy Shannon.

This marks my newest tangent and at least the fifth time I’ve been stoked about a different coach in which DW is taking an interest. Other than me being fickle and nerdy, I’m taking that as a signal of the quality of coaches out there on the market. Vanderbilt needs to get this right, but as I see it they’ve got a lot to work with.

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