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SEC Recruiting Notebook: Lock Helps Missouri Bolster Offense

sec-recruiting-notebook-gfxMissouri’s offense received a big lift this week when it received commitments from quarterback Drew Lock from Lee’s Summit (Mo.) High School and running back Natereace Strong from East St. Louis (Ill.) High School.

Lock, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 5 pro-style quarterback by Rivals, chose Missouri over Tennessee. Kentucky, Ole Miss, Michigan State, Ohio State and Texas also offered Lock a scholarship.

Lock said during a press conference Wednesday night that Missouri led throughout the recruiting process. His father, Andy Lock, played on the offensive line for the Tigers from 1986-89.

“I don’t feel like I could have played anywhere but Missouri because I feel like that’s where their heart lies, and that’s where my heart lies, too,” Drew Lock said. “(Lock’s father) did walk out into that stadium. To think that so many years later, I’m going to get the chance to actually do that, it’s surreal.”

Missouri’s recruiting on the offensive side of the ball is off to a strong start in the 2015 class.

The commitment from Strong, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 21 running back by Rivals, is the third running back commitment for the Tigers. He told Rivals he believes he will fit in nicely to Missouri’s offense.

“Their offense is a good offense – they are powerful and physical,” Strong said. “They put up numbers and I want to be in an offense that puts up numbers because that will help me get to the next level and that’s where I want to be.”

Lock plans to help Missouri put up those numbers. The Tigers’ recent quarterbacks, including Chase Daniel, James Franklin and Maty Mauk, have shown the ability to throw and run. Lock believes he can follow in that line.

“I would definitely say that my label is a pocket passer,” Lock said. “But I feel like I can bring so much more to the University of Missouri and the college level. I can get out and make plays if I need to, if the pocket breaks down. That’s something I take pride in.”

Lock has always taken pride in his family’s connection to Missouri. Andy Lock recalled a conversation he had with Drew about the future of the quarterback position at Missouri.

“Drew, would you be comfortable with somebody else quarterbacking the University of Missouri for three or four years, however long you get to play?” Andy remembered. “He goes, ‘Absolutely not.’ I said, ‘There you go. You just answered your own question.’

“That right there. He kind of went, ‘No, Dad, I’m not OK with that because I love that school and my family loves that school so, no, it would hurt me.’”

And Missouri is glad Lock will be there to help the Tigers.

 

Tennessee continues in-state run

Athlete Jauan Jennings gave Tennessee good news when he committed to the Vols on Monday.

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SEC Commitment Comparator – 4/9/13

blue_poker_chipsYou know what today is?  It’s exactly 44 weeks from National Signing Day 2015.  So why the heck not compare the league recruiting classes to date?

As usual, we’ve used Rivals.com’s star rankings as our foundation.  For each star they award a prospect, we assign one point.  We also give a point to the 0-star recruits who’ve yet to be graded by Rivals.  Toward the right of the table below you’ll see the total points amassed by each SEC program up until now.  On the far right you’ll also see the average points per commit for each school.

It’s early — obviously — but as the recruiting process begins earlier and earlier each year, it’s not too early to begin to draw a few conclusions.  Over the past few years we’ve seen that those programs that can lasso a large number of commitments early create a momentum that’s hard to stop.  In the age of social media, committed prospects serve as additional recruiters.  And those players who’ve already committed will have the opportunity to woo other prospects at various camps and combines this summer.

In most cases it pays to get the ball rolling early.  The table below will give you an idea of who’s done just that…

 

  School   Commits   5-stars   4-stars   3-stars   2-stars   1- & 0-stars   Total Points   Avg. Pts/Commit
  Alabama   9   0   8   1   0   0   35   3.88
  Texas A&M   9   0   8   1   0   0   35   3.88
  Tennessee   10   0   5   4   1   0   34   3.40
  LSU   9   2   1   5   1   0   31   3.44
  Miss. State   9   0   2   5   0   2   25   2.77
  S. Carolina   7   1   3   2   0   1   24   3.42
  Arkansas   7   0   4   2   0   1   23   3.28
  Georgia   5   0   4   0   0   1   17   3.40
  Kentucky   6   0   0   5   0   1   16   2.66
  Ole Miss   4   0   1   3   0   0   13   3.25
  Auburn   5   0   1   2   0   2   12   2.40
  Missouri   4   0   2   1   0   1   12   3.00
  Florida   5   0   0   3   0   2   11   2.20
  Vanderbilt   2   0   1   0   0   1   5   2.50

 

As you can see, Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M — as usual — are off to good starts.  Ditto Tennessee where Butch Jones is off to a hot start for the second year in a row.  Dan Mullen and Mississippi State are racking up commitments as well.  And while MSU’s point total isn’t quite as high as those mentioned ahead of them, there is reason for optimism in Starkville.

At the other end of the spectrum, Auburn, Georgia and Florida all have just five commitments to this point.  For Auburn and Georgia, there’s little reason to worry as those schools typically finish strong.  The same can typically be said for Florida, but the temperature of Will Muschamp’s seat leaves us wondering: Are the Gators just taking their time or are prospects leery of committing to a coach who might not be in Gainesville a year from now?  Time will tell.

Missouri, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt all have four or fewer commitments.  Derek Mason is just getting his feet beneath him at Vandy.  Hugh Freeze has shown that he can recruit, though his most successful class — a top five class two years ago — benefited from a hot start.  Missouri fans — as one pointed out via email today — can be pleased with the fact that Missouri has two four-star prospects out of its four-person class.  Last year the Tigers signed just two four-star prospects in their 28-man haul.

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SEC Recruiting Notebook: Lineman Harris Chooses Missouri

sec-recruiting-notebook-gfxMissouri received a commitment Tuesday from offensive lineman A.J. Harris from Blue Valley High School in Stilwell, Kan.

Harris gave the commitment to Missouri coach Gary Pinkel and his staff during a trip to Columbia.

“There are a lot of good things about Mizzou, but some of them are that I have a former teammates that played there, Clay Rhodes,” Harris told PowerMizzou.com.  ”When I talked to him about it he told me it would be the best decision I ever made.

“Also, none of the coaches BS about the recruiting process. Coach Pinkel got the extension to 2020, so that added a lot of stability to the decision, too. Plus, all the faculties and my dorm are all within a square mile.”

Harris’ home is less than three hours away from Missouri’s campus. That proximity and Harris’ familiarity with the program helped the Tigers stand out early in the recruiting process.

“I’ve known it would be Missouri for about a month, but me and my dad wanted to wait to make sure the feeling stuck and to make sure nothing would change my mind on such a big decision,” Harris said. “I also wanted to do it in person, so we waited until I came (Tuesday) and I told the coaches in person.”

Harris, who considered offers from Arkansas, Illinois, Nebraska, Ohio State and Oklahoma State, is the third prospect and first offensive lineman to commit to Missouri’s 2015 class. The other two commitments are from running backs Chase Abbington and Ryan Williams.

Missouri’s coaching staff will likely pitch the early offensive commitments to quarterback Drew Lock. The Lee’s Summit (Mo.) High School standout is a high priority for Missouri’s 2015 class.

Lock told 247Sports last month he’s torn between the options of playing for the in-state school or leaving the state to experience something new.

“Missouri is up there for me as far as being the hometown school and my dad went there,” Lock said. “Then again there is a side of me that wants to get away and a side of me that wants to stay home. It is 50/50 and how anyone would feel.”

 

Harris releases top 10

Running back Damien Harris from Madison Southern High School in Berea, Ky., recently released a list of the top 10 schools he’s considering.

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Fox Goes From Hot Seat To Contract Extension At Georgia; SEC A.D.s Starting To Wise Up

gfx-honest-opinionYesterday the University of Georgia announced that it was extending the contract of head basketball coach Mark Fox.  Back on New Year’s Day, most would’ve predicted Fox would be cleaning out his office this month, not putting down new carpet.

Overall, Fox is 84-76 in five years at Georgia.  He’s reached one NCAA Tournament (in his second year) and his SEC record is just 40-44 overall.  But his team began the 2014 season 6-6 in non-conference play.  The Bulldogs were stuck in the 300s in RPI and strength of schedule.  They’d already lost to Georgia Tech, Davidson, Temple, Nebraska, Colorado and George Washington.  Their only victories were over Wofford, Appalachian State, Chattanooga, Lipscomb, Gardner-Webb and Western Carolina.

For a coach in a make-or-break fifth season, Fox quickly found himself with his back to the wall.  And then came the turnaround that would save Georgia’s season — leading to an NIT bid — and save the coach’s job.

Fox’s team finished 12-6 in the SEC, tied with Kentucky and trailing only Florida.  You might’ve heard that UK and UF will be taking part in this weekend’s Final Four.  The Dawgs managed to add another victory in the SEC Tournament and one more in the NIT to max out at 20-14 on the year.  That was good enough to save Fox and land him a two-year extension that will tie him to Georgia for four more seasons through 2017-18.

Now, that’s hardly a huge reward.  No raise was announced.  And some might say that UGA was stuck between a rock and a hard place.  Athletic director Greg McGarity couldn’t very well fire a coach who finished tied with Kentucky for second place in the league, but he wasn’t ready to give Fox a lifetime contract either.  So he gave him a two-year extension — which will make recruiting a tad easier — and stressed that more improvement is expected.

This from McGarity’s press release:

 

“The improvement our team made throughout the 2013-14 season was very encouraging, and with the loss of only one starter, the expectations for the coming season will be very high.  Mark and I discussed not only this past season, but spent the majority of our time focused on the next four-year period.  We discussed our recruiting plans, scheduling, academic progress and continued development of our program moving forward, and Mark fully recognizes the expectations in these key areas.”

 

In other words, “We want better than 20-14 overall and better than a 6-6 non-conference record.”  And, “NCAAs instead of NITs, please.”

But the reality is this: McGarity has seen enough of Fox to feel that building with him is a safer bet than starting from scratch with some other up-and-comer (which is likely the exact type of coach Georgia would have had to hire).  A similar scenario has played out at Tennessee this week as Vol AD Dave Hart announced that Cuonzo Martin — who turned down the Marquette job early Tuesday morning — will remain at UT with an extension and a raise (though contract details have yet to leak).

Martin has led the Vols to two NITs and the Sweet Sixteen of this year’s NCAA Tournament.  While many fans have demanded that he win at the same clip as Bruce Pearl, the fact is Martin inherited a mess.  He faced NCAA sanctions that impacted recruiting.  He had to clean up what was a poor culture inside the program.  And he had to do it all in Pearl’s shadow with fans clamoring for his return.

Hart, like McGarity, might not have absolute faith in his current head coach, but he has seen enough to give him the benefit of the doubt.  Again, the message seems to be: “Tis better to build with a guy who’s got a winning record at this school than to rush out and start all over with someone who’s got a winning record at some smaller school.”

Fans want championship banners and anything less is viewed as “settling.”  The truth is it takes time to build a program.  Fox will be in Year Six next season and the expectations will be higher.  Martin’s new contract at Tennessee should afford him a Year Five and Year Six, too.

In a league where only three coaches have been in place for more than five seasons — Billy Donovan at Florida, Kevin Stallings at Vanderbilt and Andy Kennedy at Ole Miss — it’s a wise move, in our view, for schools like Georgia and Tennessee to start erring on the side of stability for a change.

(CORRECTION — Andy Kennedy was initially left off the list of coaches with five-plus years of tenure.)

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Martin’s Last Stand At Tennessee? Vol Coach Has Plenty Of Reasons To Bolt

cuonzo-martin-hand-up-presserExcuse Cuonzo Martin if he’s not feeling all warm and fuzzy about his current job at Tennessee these days.  Sure, he’s got the Vols in the Sweet 16 against Michigan tonight.  Yes, he’s just one step away from reaching the Elite Eight and equaling the best work by his predecessor, a ghost that’s haunted him from his first day in Knoxville.  But this year has been far from easy for the Vols’ stoic third-year coach.

While his team was picked for third place in the SEC and not ranked in most preseason top 25 lists, many Volunteer fans assigned much greater expectations.  So when Martin’s team struggled with inconsistency for the first two-thirds of the season, things turned ugly.  More than 36,000 people signed an online petition to bring back then-on-the-market Bruce Pearl, the man who had left UT’s program under an NCAA cloud.  It was that very NCAA cloud that chased away more proven candidates and left Martin as the first man to say yes to the Volunteers’ offer.

The petition might not have been the worst of things.

According to VolQuest.com — the Rivals.com site covering Tennessee (paywall) — we learn that “multiple donors indicated to the athletic department that they no long wished to allow their private planes to be used for basketball recruiting purposes.”  That was in February, the site reports.  And it’s not surprising.

This isn’t a new move at Tennessee (or elsewhere, for the matter).  The Vols’ budget jumped during the Derek Dooley tenure for the same reason — the school had to start buying airline tickets for coaches on the recruiting trail rather than just using donated booster planes.

Martin didn’t get very much support from his boss through the season’s struggles, either.  Dave Hart — who inherited Martin — made it clear early on that he wanted to see “tournament success.”  MrSEC.com learned through an NCAA/NIT source last week that if the Volunteers had failed to reach the NCAA Tournament they would not have accepted a bid to play in the NIT.  Coupled with Hart’s silence, it’s not hard to figure out that Martin was likely standing right on the razor’s edge on Selection Sunday, desperately needing a bid.

But now his team is playing its best basketball of the season.  That’s not unusual.  Martin’s first team won eight of its last nine regular-season games.  Ditto his second squad.  And this year’s team is in the middle of an 8-1 nine-game stretch as well.  His first team — picked near the bottom of the SEC — managed to finish second in the league.  Last year’s club managed to work its way onto the NCAA bubble despite playing all season without preseason All-SEC first-teamer Jeronne Maymon.

In five years as a coach at Tennessee and Missouri State, Martin has won 19 or more games five times.  That’s hardly the work of a “bad” or “terrible” coach as so many folks have written on messageboards and Twitter over the first four months of the season.

Ah, but Martin lacks the personality of Pearl.  Nevermind that everyone else also lacks the personality of Pearl.  Vol fans wanted to see more fire from their coach.  In addition, they also wanted to see an up-tempo squad, like the ones Pearl put on the floor during his first three seasons in Knoxville.

Ironically, Martin’s team may still be alive because it does not play with such a style.  According to Ken Pomeroy’s stat-geek-heaven site KenPom.com, only three of the teams reaching the Sweet 16 this year ranked in the top 100 of his tempo category (possessions per 40 minutes).  Five squads — including Tennessee and SEC rival Florida — ranked outside the top 300.  Fast-pace teams rarely win in national championships (exceptions over 20 years: Rick Pitino’s Louisville, Gary Williams’ Maryland, Rick Pitino’s Kentucky, Nolan Richardon’s Arkansas).

So one of the things most often cited as a negative by the anti-Cuonzo/”Bring Back Bruce” crowd is likely a very big reason Martin’s team is having success now.

Martin has worked himself off the firing line, obviously, and now he’s in line for an extension and a raise.  Many Vol fans — those who supported Martin all along and those who’ve been won over by UT’s hot finish — are now hoping that the petition used against Martin and his recruiting and his program won’t come back to bite the school in the rear.  One pro-Tennessee website even penned an open letter to Martin this week begging for forgiveness. 

Why the sudden fear?  Because Martin might jilt UT if he gets a chance.  Could you blame him?  Now, his name has not been connected to any of the current openings at Wake Forest, Boston College, or Marquette (to name a few).  That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been some unreported back-channel communication between those schools and Martin’s representatives.

If Tennessee loses tonight and sees what has to be deemed a successful season come to close, will it be Martin’s last game with the Volunteers?  Next year figures to be a rebuilding year if the squad loses junior Jarnell Stokes to the NBA or Europe.  Many of the same fans who’ve gone from “hate him” to “love him” over the last three weeks will more than likely slide right back into the “hate him” camp after two or three losses next season.  Martin must know that.  And while he’s not talked about the petition or the lack of booster planes, he’s had to deal with both.  (Think that petition helped his recruiting efforts?)

For now, win or lose tonight, it looks as though Tennessee will be set to cough over some more cash to its coach in order to bring him back.  Whether or not Martin accepts UT’s cash and a contract extension is still very much in question.  Things have changed from February to now.  The Volunteers are no longer in control of the situation.  The ball is now clearly in Martin’s court.  For Tennessee fans hoping to hang onto him, they’d better be hoping he’s a forgiving man.

Update: Marquette Targets Cuonzo Martin

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Auburn’s Pearl Talks Coaching Opportunities, Show-Cause Appeal

Bruce-Pearl-my-players-1024x712Readers of this site know that beginning in January — when the “Bruce Pearl will be the hottest coaching candidate in the country” talk began — we consistently wrote that if any school were to make a play for a man currently riding the NCAA pine due to a show-cause penalty it would be Auburn.  Obviously, Auburn did indeed make Pearl their new coach.

So did Pearl have any other major schools chasing him?  Did he have serious offers from any smaller schools?  Not according to what the Tigers’ new boss told The Birmingham News today:

 

“I did have a couple calls but they were early on and from mid-major programs who wanted to know if I’d be interested.  (Auburn AD) Jay (Jacobs) wasted absolutely no time.  So then I looked, as you should, if Jay’s interested, maybe somebody else is.  What else is open?  One, I really wanted to go to work for someone who wanted me with all my baggage, my history, my challenges, with a show-cause.  And do you really want me knowing I can’t recruit until August?  (Auburn associate AD) Dave Didion, who was director of enforcement of the NCAA during my investigation, he knew what we did, he knew what we didn’t do.  He wanted me?  Here?”

 

According to reports, Didion’s review had more to do with “he’s learned his lesson” than it did with what Pearl did or didn’t do to earn himself a three-year show-cause penalty.

The bigger question is this: If Pearl wasn’t a hot commodity, how did he and his attorney milk a six-year, $14.7 million deal out of Auburn?  Pearl’s $2.2 million salary is larger than what he was paid at Tennessee before spending three years in NCAA lock-up.  Consider Pearl’s contract to be his first big victory on the Plains.

If Pearl wins ballgames, too — and it’s likely he will — Jacobs and AU may well look at Pearl’s salary as money well spent.  But if he doesn’t win, then you can bet there will be some questions asked of Jacobs regarding his contract negotiation skills.

As for Pearl’s show-cause penalty, the coach isn’t ready to say whether or not he and Auburn will launch an official appeal that would end his punishment early, before August:

 

“When I got my penalty, I had 30 days to appeal.  I thought my penalty was too harsh and I said that.  But I chose to not appeal because I had a choice between trying to get less or being accountable… I’ve already missed three seasons of basketball.  I’ve missed three recruiting cycles.  I am serving my sentence.  I didn’t know this, but when Auburn chose to hire me, there then was another 30-day window where Auburn has to show cause as to why they hired me and in that there’s an opportunity to discuss what the rest of the show-cause looks like.  And between three years ago and now, have some circumstances changed?  Now I have a job; I didn’t before.  I’ve served my three years; I hadn’t before.  So I think we’ll be discussing the timing of a June (2011) hearing and an August (2011) penalty and see what that looks like.”

 

So long as Pearl avoids future NCAA entanglements, it’s hard to imagine his hiring being anything less than a hit at Auburn, where basketball has languished since the turn of the century.

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SEC Commitment Comparator – 3/25/14

blue_poker_chipsIt’s roughly 10 months until National Signing Day; do you know how your favorite football program stacks up?

Below is our much too early commitment comparator for the class of 2015.  Only, it really isn’t much too early.  As the recruiting process speeds up and prospects commit earlier and earlier, those schools that get out to an early jump on the competition typically gain momentum throughout the process.  Using social media, committed players often work as recruiting agents for their schools of choice, luring in friends and contacts from camps and all-star teams.

As always, we’ve used the star ratings provided by Rivals.com to put together our own quickie update.  For now, we’ll look only at quantity (total points) and quality (average points per commit).  For each star Rivals has assigned, we’ve awarded a point.  Where Rivals hasn’t provided a star grade (because they haven’t viewed tape of a prospect yet), we have awarded a lone point anyway because we’re softies.

So where does your team rank in comparison with its SEC foes?  Here’s your answer…

 

  School   Commits   5-stars   4-stars   3-stars   2-stars   1- & 0-stars   Total Points   Avg. Pts/Commit
  Texas A&M   9   0   8   1   0   0   35   3.88
  Alabama   8   0   7   1   0   0   31   3.88
  LSU   9   2   1   5   1   0   31   3.44
  Tennessee   9   0   4   4   1   0   30   3.33
  Miss. State   9   0   2   5   0   2   25   2.77
  S. Carolina   7   1   3   2   0   1   24   3.42
  Arkansas   7   0   4   2   0   1   23   3.28
  Georgia   5   0   4   0   0   1   17   3.40
  Ole Miss   4   0   1   3   0   0   13   3.25
  Auburn   5   0   1   2   0   2   12   2.40
  Florida   5   0   0   3   0   2   11   2.20
  Kentucky   2   0   0   2   0   0   6   3.00
  Vanderbilt   2   0   1   0   0   1   5   2.50
  Missouri   2   0   0   1   0   1   4   2.00

 

As a reminder, Alabama and Tennessee finished among the top four in the SEC in total points last signing day.  Alabama, LSU, Tennessee and Texas A&M also finished among the top five in the league in average points per commit.  The takeaway?  The top schools in the 2013/14 recruiting field are off to hot starts for 2014/15 as well.

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Georgia’s Richt Warns About Dangers Of Football Early Signing Period

gfx-they-said-it4For years there has been an assumption in the press that most football coaches would fall all over themselves to rubber stamp an early recruiting period for their sport.  But that has not been the reaction to word that the NCAA will soon discuss creating just such a window.

Speaking to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, here’s what Georgia’s Mark Richt had to say:

 

“I always say, ‘Be careful what we ask for’ because I don’t know what that will do to our recruiting calendar.  I think there’s some sanity to it right now.  I think if everybody plays by the same rules, then it’s good as it is.  I’d be afraid to change it.  I don’t want to turn the regular season into such a recruiting frenzy that you can’t even coach your team on a weekly basis.  I enjoy coaching football, too.

I think if you moved the signing date up, I think you push more official visits to the football season.  Sooner or later, they’ll say, ‘We don’t want all these official visits during the season.  Why don’t we move them to the summer?’  Then we’ll have official visits in the summer, and no one will get any time away.  Not me, not our assistant coaches, not the kids, not the high school coaches, and not the families.  Where does it end?”

 

That’s just one concern.  Stanford’s David Shaw voiced another and his concerns make as much sense as Richt’s:

 

“What’s going to happen is, if a kid wants to change his mind late after the early signing period, he’s going to appeal and that appeal is going to go through because the committees that decide those appeals, they always give in toward the student-athlete.  So you have a kid that might be 16 going on 17 that commits and then really has a chance to think about it and changes his mind and we’re going to try to hold him to it.”

 

The NCAA’s consideration of an early signing period for football appears to be very real.  But the devil is in the details, as they say.  And the more one compares the pluses — some coaches won’t have kids flip on them late — versus the minuses — no downtime for coaches and players, committees to rule on signed kids who want to flip, a tougher landscape for coaches at academic schools and at schools with little in-state talent — the more the negatives appear to outweigh the positives.

The official MrSEC.com verdict on this idea?  It’s unnecessary.  Don’t do it, NCAA.

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SEC Headlines 3/2/2014

headlines-sun3-150x150SEC Football

1. Big difference with Texas A&M’s defense?  Depth.  Aggies return 18 players who started at least one game last season.

2. High expectations at Georgia for freshmen running backs Sony Michel and Nick Chubb.

3. Could redshirt freshman Riley Ferguson be the man to beat at quarterback for Tennessee?

4. Craig Naivar reportedly next special teams coach at Kentucky. Defensive coordinator at Texas State past three seasons.

5. What about beer and wine sales at neutral site games?

SEC/NFL

6. Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews on toughest defensive ends in the SEC: “I thought Kony Ealy was really good at Missouri.”

7. Scratched from the NFL Combine, Auburn’s Dee Ford is expected to take part in the Tigers’ Pro Day on Tuesday.

8. The top 32 players in the draft according to seven draft experts. Ten of the players are from the SEC.

SEC Basketball

9. One take on Kentucky’s loss to South Carolina: “This is an embarrassing loss in an embarrassing week.”

10. Pat Dooley: “The problem isn’t that John Calipari is recruiting a bunch of one-and-doners. The problem is that he is recruiting players to come to Kentucky and get ready for the NBA. “

11. Here are some SEC Tournament and tie-breaker scenarios.  Currently in third place, Georgia controls its destiny.

12. Former Tennessee great Dale Ellis had his number retired Saturday. Spoke to team on Friday. “He said you have to have a love for your team.”

Extras

13. Wichita State completes a perfect regular season.  Last two teams do that – the 1991 UNLV team and 1979 Indiana State squad that featured Larry Bird.

14. Eight ranked teams lost to unranked opponents on Saturday.

15. ESPN’s Dan Dakich on referee Ted Valentine: “He’s not even close to a great official.”

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Get Ready For More Canned Music At SEC Football Games

woman-covering-earsOver the past couple of seasons a number of college football stadiums have cut down on in-game band performances in order to crank up rock, rap and country music during timeouts.  Not all fans have been fond of the move to bring in gameday DJs.

Those fans won’t be happy about a change that will lead to more piped in music this fall.

According to Georgia AD Greg McGarity, the Southeastern Conference has decided to relax its rules regarding sound and music being played in between plays:

 

“If you need to get people revved up for a big third-down play, you can do that.  You could always do it with your band, but now you can do it any way you want to.  You still have to stop once the quarterback gets over the ball, gets under the center or in the shotgun…

They were able to do things in the ACC that we were not in the SEC.  The rules have changed now for 2014 where we’re able to utilize songs and music up until the point when the quarterback gets over the ball.  That’s a big change in the in-game atmosphere.”

 

So what was behind this move?  Well, McGarity is on an SEC panel charged with improving the gameday atmosphere for fans… in order to fend off the attendance declines experienced nationwide since the advent of HDTV and the explosion in the number of televised games.  ”Those of us who saw what it did at Clemson, it energized their fanbase with certain songs.”

We believe there’s another angle at play here, too — recruiting.  Each year, more schools are tossing out tradition in favor of mix-and-match uniforms that utilize black, gray, all-white and pink color schemes, to name a few.  Teenagers like bizarro uniforms, so coaches and schools trot out bizarro uniforms.  Now what do you think teenaged recruits would prefer on gameday — a fight song played by a live band or a blaring hip-hop beat or a heavy metal riff?  Our money’s on the beat or the riff.

For SEC traditionalists — meaning: older fans — the news that piped-in music will be used in between plays likely won’t be met with much joy.  But if the changes help to lure in recruits and fill the student sections once more — areas that are home to tomorrow’s donors and boosters — the old-timers will just have to hold their ears.

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