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The Future Of Football Stadiums Is Here; How Long Before An SEC School Follows Suit?

49ers-stadiumThe Southeastern Conference is the leader in terms of college football attendance in America.  That’s not likely to change anytime soon because the SEC boasts the biggest stadiums in the nation as well.  More seats, more rumps to fill them.

But leading the country in attendance ain’t what it used to be.  Last season, nine of the SEC’s 14 schools saw a decline in game attendance.  That trend can be blamed on many things — price of tickets and parking, lack of Wi-Fi and cell coverage in stadiums, high-definition TVs, more games on television than ever before, etc, etc.

The SEC announced in May that it had taken notice and created the “Working Group on Fan Experience.”  That team of SEC administrators found that cell and Wi-Fi service needed to be upgraded at each stadium (at a cost of about $2 million per).  They decided more replays were needed inside stadium.  Student attendance would have to be improved.  The quality of games was also a topic of discussion (which gets back to our old push for a nine-game conference slate).

All that is well and good, but at some point an SEC school is going to take the big dollar approach.  Instead of trying to appeal to the average Joes — who in many cases have already been priced right out of games — some school will eventually just go ahead and target the uber-rich.  The country club approach already exists in the pro ranks.

Most NFL stadiums seat fewer than 70,000 fans.  Yet those buildings boast more club seats and luxury suites than the typical college venues.  If you can’t get the little fish anymore, make sure you land the whales.

In Santa Clara — where the San Francisco 49ers will soon be moving — the new stadium under construction is at the forefront of technology, too.  In addition to massive boxes and suites for the wealthy, the 49ers new home is being built with the 21st century sports fan in mind:


Welcome to the Most Tech-Savvy Stadium in America


How long before an SEC school decides to replace 10,000 to 20,000 seats with larger, more opulent skyboxes?  How long before a school goes all-in with technology, as the 49ers are doing?

Our guess… give it 10 years and someone will have tried it.

If going to a game once again becomes a status symbol, an exclusive “thing to do,” it will drive up demand for tickets and put more money in schools’ coffers long-term.  Sounds good.  And it’s just a question of when, not if.

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Congrats To 11 Ex-SEC Super Bowl Champs

harbaugh-lombardiWith the Baltimore Ravens win over the San Francisco 49ers last night, 11 ex-SEC players will be getting Super Bowl rings in the coming months.  Congratulations to:


Josh Bynes (Auburn)

Terrence Cody (Alabama)

Emanuel Cook (South Carolina) (Is on Ravens’ IR list)

Morgan Cox (Tennessee)

Dannell Ellerbe (Georgia)

Pernell McPhee (Mississippi State)

Michael Oher (Ole Miss)

Deonte Thompson (Florida)

DeAngelo Tyson (Georgia)

Courtney Upshaw (Alabama)

Bobbie Williams (Arkansas)

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Nearly Two Dozen Former SEC Players On Super Bowl Rosters

SuperBowlDogs The Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers will meet in the Super Bowl a week from Sunday.  On the rosters of those teams are nearly two dozen players from teams represented in the conference – 12 from the 49ers and 11 from the Ravens.Even after backing out three players from Missouri and Texas A&M (who played their college ball in the Big 12) – that still leaves 20 guys with SEC roots.

Here’s the entire breakdown:

San Francisco

Carlos Rogers – Auburn

Ray McDonald – Florida

Demarcus Dobbs – Georgia (reserve/injured)

Ricky Jean-Francois – LSU

Curtis Tayler – LSU (practice squad)

Anthony Dixon – Mississippi State

Aldon Smith – Missouri

Justin Smith – Missouri

Patrick Willis – Ole Miss

Chris Culver-South Carolina

Parys Haralson – Tennessee

Tony Jerod-Eddie – Texas A&M

Baltimore Ravens

Terrance Cody – Alabama

Courtney Upshaw – Alabama

Bobbie Williams – Arkansas

Josh Bynes – Auburn

Deonte Thompson – Florida

Dannell Ellerbe – Georgia

DeAngelo Tyson – Georgia

Pernell McPhee – Mississippi State

Michael Oher – Ole Miss

Emanuel Cook – South Carolina (reserve/injured)

Morgan Cox – Tennessee

The two Mississippi State players represented here – Anthony Dixon of the 49ers and Pernell McPhee of the Ravens – are featured in a new billboard campaign across Mississippi.  MSU announced the billboards (click the icon up top for a larger version)are launching in Tupelo, Jackson and Columbus.

One year ago, Ole Miss did a billboard campaign before the Super Bowl featuring Eli Manning of the Giants and BenJarvis Green-Ellis of the Patriots. This year, Ole Miss has Michael Oher of  the Ravens battling Patrick Willis of the Niners. The lineman and linebacker will no doubt be staring each other down at some point during the game - maybe a little like this.

With two former Auburn players headed to the Super Bowl - San Francisco cornerback Carlos Rogers and  Baltimore linebacker Josh Bynes – this makes the 29th time out of 47 Super Bowls a former Tiger has made it to the championship game.

Former Georgia Bulldog and current Baltimore Raven Dannell Ellerbe got a shoutout on Twitter last night from Mark Richt after intercepting a Tom Brady pass in the fourth quarter.

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SEC Headlines Christmas Eve 2012

SEC Football

1. Arkansas coach Bret Bielema has hired Washington running backs coach Joel Thomas – official announcement came this morning.  Fumbling the ball has been an issue for the Razorbacks.

2. Alabama will face a talented front seven in Notre Dame’s defense.  Here are two big reasons they are so good.

3. Teammates provided Alabama right tackle D.J. Fluker with a little extra motivation.

4. Alabama won a national title 20 years ago, but a signature on a napkin would haunt the program for years.

5. LSU or Clemson - which stadium is the real Death Valley?

SEC Basketball

6. Florida guard Kenny Boynton is in the worst shooting slump of his career – just 4 for his last 32 attempts behind the three-point arc.

7. Sports Illustrated’s Rob Dauster on Florida: “For as good as the Gators are defensively,they are not an elite team when they are getting production from their backcourt.” 

8. Jeff Eisenberg at Yahoo! Sports on Saturday SEC basketball: “On a day when Texas A&M lost to Southern, Alabama fell to Mercer and Auburn failed to beat Winthrop, Ole Miss somehow, someway may have suffered the SEC’s most damaging defeat.”

9. Ole Miss bounced back on Sunday.  Rebels beat San Francisco 85-78 behind 23 points and 13 rebounds from Murphy Holloway.

10. Since John Calipari has coached Kentucky, Rick Pitino is 0-4 against his old team.  But that may change on Saturday when Kentucky travels to Louisville.


11. Former Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy became the first New York Jets QB to be sacked 11 times in a game since David Norrie in 1987.

12. Naming McElroy the starting quarterback in New York had Tim Tebow so frustrated he reportedly opted out of any Wildcat packages on Sunday. Tebow is a popular guy.

13. Former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, made contact with an official and appeared to have kicked an Oakland defensive lineman in yesterday’s 17-6 Carolina win.

14. Source on chances that Nick Saban stays at Alabama vs. heading to the Cleveland Browns? “80-20 he stays.”

15. The only college coach with perhaps even more rumors than Saban? Oregon’s Chip Kelly.  The Philadelphia Eagles reportedly after him.  Just last month, Eagles fans (and more than a few Tennessee fans) were screaming for Jon Gruden.

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SEC In The NFL – Campbell’s Collarbone, Cutler’s Comments

 The Oakland Raiders Jason Campbell (Auburn) suffered a broken collarbone Sunday but the quarterback says he could return to action as soon as six weeks.   An earlier report had Campbell out for the season.

“I’m having surgery today. It was a tough break,” Campbell said. “I’m going to stay positive. If everything goes right I could be back in six weeks.”

The Raiders are now 4-2 on the season after beating Cleveland 24-17.  Campbell went down with the injury in the second quarter.

With the trade deadline on Tuesday, what are the Raiders to do?

“If I was in at quarterback,” Darren McFadden (Arkansas) joshed Sunday, “we probably would have thrown for 600 yards, and the running backs would have been mad at me.”

A more serious option for Oakland could be Denver’s Kyle Orton, suddenly out of a job now that Tim Tebow (Florida) is now the Broncos starting quarterback.

Filling in for an injured LaGarrette Blount, Tampa Bay running back Earnest Graham (Florida) made the most of it Sunday, rushing for 109 yards in the Bucs 26-20 victory over New Orleans.  It marked Graham’s first 100-yard game since 2008.

“That Earnest Graham kid is a pretty good player,” said cornerback Ronde Barbee

Jay Cutler (Vanderbilt) had a special message for someone last night.

“Tell him I said (bleep) you,” was picked up by the cameras as Cutler moved to the line of scrimmage.

The subject of Cutler’s line was unknown but speculation has centered on Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz, known for taking his time calling plays which in turns leads to blowing multiple timeouts.

Cutler threw for 267 yards, connecting on 21-of-31 passes and two touchdowns as the Bears routed the Minnesota Vikings 39-10.

The Bears quarterback, who’s taking a beating this season from defensive lines, was sacked by the Vikings only once.

Chicago has changed its play-calling to help the offensive line.

‘It was a group effort,’’ Cutler said. ‘‘We’re all trying to manage what we can do on the football field. If we are smart about it, do the things we did [Sunday], more than likely we’re going to be successful.’’

A few other SEC-related notes from around the league:

Peyton Hillis (Arkansas) suffered a hamstring injured early in the Browns loss to the Raiders and underwent an MRI today.  Coach Pat Shurmer says Hillis is not being shopped prior to Tuesday’s trade deadline. Hillis rushed for 14 yards on six carries Sunday.

The New York Giants are 4-2 and lead the NFC East after the victory on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.  Eli Manning (Ole Miss) threw for 292 yards on 31 throws and coach Tom Couglin praised his quarterback after the game.  He “played very, very well,” said Coughlin.

Matthew Stafford (Georgia) threw for 293 yards and two touchdowns but struggled in the red zone as the Lions lost for the first time this season.  Stafford was only 4-of-10 in the red zone as San Francisco beat the Lions 25-19.

“We threw the ball a lot tonight, and sometimes that’s going to happen,” said Stafford.  “They played a lot of man underneath coverage, so you know your completion percentage isn’t going to be as high. Guys did a great job catching the ball for me.  We just didn’t do enough and make enough plays to win the game”

The Lions loss was overshadowed by fireworks after the game between the head coaches as Lions coach Jim Schwartz took exception to the celebration and post-game handshake from San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh.

The NFL announced that neither coach will be fined.

“On Detroit-SF coach incident, fortunately, there was no fighting and thus no basis for a fine,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said. “However, both coaches told Ray Anderson today that their post-game conduct was wrong and will not happen again.”

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SI’s Banks: 6 Of First 8 NFL Picks Will Come From SEC

NFL writer Don Banks of — one of the best in the business, by the way — has posted his latest mock draft for tomorrow’s this week’s NFL selection party.  Among the first eight picks, he expects six ex-SEC names to be called.

His SEC first-round picks:

1.  Carolina Panthers — Cam Newton, QB, Auburn

2.  Denver Broncos — Marcell Dareus, DE-DT, Alabama

4.  Cincinnati Bengals — AJ Green, WR, Georgia

6.  Cleveland Browns — Julio Jones, WR, Alabama

7.  San Francisco 49ers — Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU

8.  Tennessee Titans — Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn

15.  Miami Dolphins — Mike Pouncey, G-C, Florida

28.  New England Patriots — Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama

29.  Chicago Bears — Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State

Nine SEC players in a 32-pick first-round?  Sounds about right.  The Southeastern Conference usually accounts for about one-third of the first round selections.

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Bulldog World Series Begins Wednesday At Dudy Noble

STARKVILLE, Miss. – It's World Series time, both in San Francisco, Calif., and Starkville, Miss.

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