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The SEC Needs A Rule Protecting Schools From Having To Face Players Booted For Disciplinary Reasons

gfx-honest-opinionLast week, Gary Pinkel surprised a lot of people — including many Missouri fans — when he jettisoned talented receiver Dorial Green-Beckham following his third run-in with police.  While the victims of the latest investigation into the player refused to file charges, the evidence suggests Green-Beckham busted into a girl’s apartment, shoved a friend of his girlfriend and then grabbed and dragged his girlfriend by her neck.

He earned his dismissal and Pinkel deserves credit for protecting the integrity of his football program.  Pinkel does not deserve to face Green-Beckham if/when the player purifies himself with a year of junior college ball.

We’ve stated this view on previous occasions.  Just last season, for example, Georgia had to face two starting quarterbacks  with the SEC who had previously been drummed out of Athens.  In the spring of 2009, freshman Zach Mettenberger was arrested.  Reportedly, he then failed to come clean to Mark Richt about the circumstances of that arrest and he was dismissed.  After a year at Butler Community College he transferred to LSU and almost knocked off Richt’s Bulldogs in a 44-41 thriller last year.

Later in the season, Georgia did fall 43-38 to an Auburn team quarterbacked by Nick Marshall.  Marshall began his career as a defensive back at Georgia, but he was dismissed from the team as a freshman in 2011 due to an unspecified violation of team rules.  After a year at Garden City Community College, Marshall landed on the Plains and came within one drive of leading the Tigers to a BCS championship.

Richt being Richt, he said he was happy that both young men had turned things around and found success.  We don’t doubt that.  But was it right for Richt to have to play two players that he had chosen to discipline?  The fact that a booted player could come back to haunt a coach down the road might lead some to hang onto players a bit longer even if they’ve proven to be bad news.

That wasn’t the case with Richt, nor was it the case with Pinkel.  They — among others over the years — made tough decisions to sever football ties with athletes who’d let down them and their programs.  One lost a game to a player he’d dismissed and might lose another to him this fall.  The other could wind up seeing Green-Beckham lined up against him somewhere down the road.  That’s not right.

The SEC should discuss at its spring meetings the possibility of taking a unified stance against players disciplined by member institutions.  There are 125 FBS programs in the nation.  Anyone thinking, “What about second chances?,” needs to remember that.  If a player errs so seriously or so repeatedly as to cost himself an opportunity to play for 14 of those schools — those in the Southeastern Conference — he would still have 111 other top-flight schools as possible landing spots.

(Interestingly, such a rule could have applied to an SEC coach in recent weeks.  If such a rule were put in place with regards to players — it won’t be — there would likely need to be a similar rule regarding coaches who lose their SEC job due to NCAA violations.  Now, would any school respect its leaguemates enough to back away from a proven coach who just happened to run afoul of the NCAA law at a conference rival?  No way.  Much to Bruce Pearl’s happiness.)

If maintaining discipline and protecting the reputations of schools is important in the SEC, the league’s schools should work in concert to make discipline a priority.  If a player is banished from one school for disciplinary reasons he should be barred from landing at one of that school’s conference rivals.  No coach doing the right thing should himself be punished for doing that very thing.

Pinkel has said that he wants what’s best for Green-Beckham.  ”I love that kid.  I want him to get some help.  He can go to another place and get a fresh start and he can still achieve his goals.”  Those are admirable comments from Mizzou’s coach.  But the Tigers shouldn’t be punished because they chose to punish a player who had brought negative attention to the University of Missouri and Tiger football.

We at MrSEC.com hope Green-Beckham does turn his life around and does earn himself a second-chance at another school.  But that school should be one of 111 schools across America.  That school should not be in the Southeastern Conference.

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Missouri And Texas A&M Worth $41 Million To The SEC In Year One

offering-cashAccording to the SEC’s federal tax return for 2012, the conference saw its revenue grow by $41 million dollars in its first year as a 14-school league.  USA Today requested the return which shows the SEC took in $314.5 million in 2012.  Missouri and Texas A&M were welcomed into the Southeastern Conference in the summer of 2012.

Interestingly, the SEC showed an overall deficit for its fiscal year which ended on August 31st, 2013.  While the league brought in $314.5 million, it spent $317.9 million.  Most of that money went back to the member institutions in the form of annual payments.  The league will hand out new checks next month during the SEC Meetings in Destin, Florida.

The SEC’s tax return also shows:

 

*  Missouri and Texas A&M each made about $19.5 million in their first year in the SEC.  The two schools made a little more than $12 million in their final year in the Big 12.

*  Mike Slive’s base pay increased to nearly $1.2.  His overall income was down from 2011 when he received more than half a million dollars in bonuses.

*  Slive’s base salary in 2012 was less than what fellow commissioners John Swofford (ACC), Jim Delany (Big Ten) and Larry Scott (Pac-12) made in 2011.

 

The Southeastern Conference fell $1 million shy of the Big Ten’s revenue total ($315.5 million) from the previous year.  When compared to all other conferences, the SEC and Big Ten are still dominant financially.  For example, the ACC ranked third in revenue in 2011, making $223.3 million.

The SEC’s revenue will continue to rise over the next few seasons as the new playoff system will debut, new bowl partnerships will kick off and the SEC Network will launch.

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Kentucky Falls Just Short Of National Crown & Other Basketball Notes (Part 2)

BioIBjOCEAABT9ZThe three SEC squads that did make this year’s NCAA Tournament each had a nice run.  Tennessee reached the Sweet Sixteen and was three missed free throws away from making the Midwest Regional final and SEC versus SEC showdown.  Kentucky went on to win that regional and advance all the way to the national title game before finally running out of steam.  And on the other side of the bracket, Florida cruised all the way to the Final Four before falling to eventual national champ, UConn.

Will that success lead next year’s NCAA Tournament selection committee to send the SEC a few more invitations to the Big Dance?  Probably not.

Hey, in theory, impressing in this year’s tourney could sway next year’s panel when it comes to SEC teams on the bubble.  But the committee doesn’t often take last year’s success/failure into account when doling out at-large bids.  First example: After winning back-to-back national championships in 2006 and 2007, Florida’s bubble was popped two years in a row sending the Gators to the NIT.  In 2012, Kentucky won the national title.  In 2013, UK was given a thumbs-down on Selection Sunday, dropping them into the NIT.  One year’s success or failure doesn’t have much impact on who the committee picks and doesn’t pick for its tournament the following year.

On the flipside, perhaps the tournament runs by UF, UK and UT will have a positive impact on the SEC’s overall conference RPI ranking.  That might not guarantee more bids in 2015, but it couldn’t hurt.

 

Early top 25 rankings look awfully familiar

Will the SEC be better next season?  Not in the eyes of a couple of national hoops writers.  ESPN’s Eamonn Brennan posted an early top 25 preview for next season.  He has Kentucky — with a new batch of highly-touted freshmen — ranked #3 in the nation and Florida ranked #8.  That’s it.  Two ranked teams.  He does mention Tennessee among his group of 15 teams that “may crack the list at some point before November.”

Meanwhile, Rob Dauster of NBC and College Basketball Talk has posted his own early top 25 rankings.  Kentucky is ranked #5.  Florida is ranked #14.  And that’s it.  No other Southeastern Conference squad earns a mention from Dauster.

 

UConn’s basketball success doesn’t mean much in a football-crazed culture

Connecticut’s men’s basketball team has won four national championships in 16 seasons.  Over that same span the UConn women’s team has won seven national crowns and will be playing for their eighth tonight.  If there’s a D-I campus where basketball is king, it’s the one in Storrs, Connecticut.

And that fact hasn’t helped the Huskies one bit in terms of conference affiliation opportunities.

UConn has campaigned try and gain inclusion in the ACC.  No dice.  Boston College wants to be the New England team in John Swofford’s conference.  For that reason, Louisville — hardly a team located on the Atlantic Coast — got the nod to replace Maryland over UConn and others.

Connecticut hasn’t had much luck talking their way into the Big Ten, either.  UConn lacks the resume — meaning a membership in the Association of American Universities — for which Jim Delany’s league lusts.  Maryland and Rutgers received Big Ten invitations instead.

Conference expansion/realignment has been driven by just about every factor out there except basketball.  And that’s a shame for Connecticut because UConn is fast becoming Basketball U with both its men’s and women’s teams.

 

What would a big game be without a few couch fires

Pity the poor, innocent couches.  It’s become commonplace in recent years for college students to burn couches after big losses (Ohio State).  They also light ‘em up after big wins (West Virginia).  Mostly they just burn them when they’re feeling good and liquored up, regardless of a big game’s outcome.  Last night, Kentuckians got in on the act.

According to The Lexington Herald Leader, there were 19 couch fires, several small trash fires, 31 arrests, and 23 injuries after Connecticut topped Kentucky 60-54.  It was a disappointing, immature reaction that’s made news all across the web, the nation and the world.

There are worse things, however.  Like being stuck with a tattoo bearing the words “2014 National Champions” above the UK logo.  For the record, Tyler Austin Black says he’s going to keep the tattoo.

Betcha he has some work done to cover up the “2014″ at least.

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Next Hoops Season, Just Focus On Your Team’s RPI And Ignore The Game-To-Game Analysis

see_the_big_picture_260The big picture.

In college basketball the big picture is all that matters.  Is your favorite team’s resume good enough to earn it an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament?  The rest of it — the yo-yo, see-saw, roller-coaster, up and down, back and forth freak outs — is meaningless.

Don’t believe us?  OK, then how many Kentucky fans do you think are still sweating the Wildcats’ 72-67 March 1st road loss to South Carolina?  Anyone?

Kentucky began the 2013-14 season with dreams of an undefeated season.  As those dreams quickly disappeared thanks to November and December losses to Michigan State, Baylor and North Carolina, Big Blue Nation had a Big Blue Conniption.  From messageboards to Twitter, John Calipari was taken to task for not getting the most out of what was basically the world’s best AAU team.  So what if Coach Cal’s players were young and green?  Many UK backers simply weren’t accepting excuses (even legitimate ones).

Things only got worse as the Cats proved themselves to be inconsistent throughout SEC play.  There were two losses to Arkansas.  There was the South Carolina disaster.  There was a 3-4 stretch to end the regular season.  There also was a tie for second place in the SEC with Georgia.

That’s not at all what Kentucky fans and most media members expected to see as the regular season transitioned into tourney season.

Yet here we are, once again reminded that tourney season is really the only season that matters when it comes to college basketball.  The regular season is nothing more than a means of selecting 68 teams for the NCAA Tournament.  The regular-season games themselves?  They mean zip.  Kentucky lost three times to Florida this year.  But who’s in the national title game?  Kentucky, not Florida.

Tennessee lost to a seven-man Vanderbilt squad and lost twice to Texas A&M.  But the Vols still got into the tournament, they reached the Sweet Sixteen and they were just three missed free throws from reaching the Elite Eight.  The regular season that so angered the “Bring Back Bruce” crowd in Knoxville really meant little by season’s end.  The Vols did what they had to do to get in the field and then they took advantage of matchups to keep playing long after Kansas, Ohio State, Duke and Syracuse went home (despite those schools having better regular seasons).

Florida had a magnificent regular season losing just twice.  They were undefeated in SEC play and then they took their in-league record to a sizzling 21-0 in the SEC Tournament.  They were given the top overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.  But the Gators drew a bad matchup in the national semifinal game and fell to UConn, one of the two teams that beat UF back in the regular season.  So for all those regular-season wins and that top overall seed, UF will still be watching tonight’s championship game along with 349 other D-I schools.

At MrSEC.com, we vow never to go too overboard over the seeding implications of regular-season wins and losses, either.  Once a team is in the field, it’s all a question of matchups.  Matchups mean more than seeds.  Kentucky and UConn were seeded eighth and seventh in their respective regions.  One 10 seed and two 11 seeds reached the Sweet Sixteen this year.  One 11 seed (Dayton) advanced all the way to the Elite Eight.  And obviously none of the 1 seeds made it to tonight’s title bout.

So next basketball season, follow our lead and focus only on three things from November to March:

 

1.  What is my team’s RPI?

2.  What is my team’s strength of schedule?

3.  How close to 20 wins are we and do we still have time to hit that mark?

 

It’s all about being good enough to earn one of the 36 at-large bids handed out by the selection committee.  And all things being equal, that means your favorite squad will probably need to win 20 games, have an RPI inside the top 40 and a SOS rank of 100 or better.  Follow that.  Pay attention to that.  And get off the roller-coaster.

A December loss to North Carolina?  A march loss to South Carolina?  Unless one or the other prevents your team from winning 20 or ranking in the top 40 of the RPI… those regular-season games should be taken with a grain of salt.  It’s time to just admit that fact and focus on the big picture instead.

That’s what we do on this site each year.  And you can bet we’re going to keep doing it moving forward.

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Bielema: Arkansas RB Collins Isn’t Transferring

alex-collinsArkansas running back Alex Collins isn’t going anywhere.  At least not according to head coach Bret Bielema who called social media “reports” that Collins would leave “completely clueless, baseless and senseless.”  

The sophomore-to-be finished seventh in the SEC last season in rushing yards per game with 85.5.  Overall he carried the ball 190 times for 1,026 yards and four touchdowns.  He earned SEC Freshman of the Year honors for his efforts.

But rumors have swirled that Collins might not be happy in Fayetteville, might be facing a multi-game suspension, and might be interested in transferring closer to his South Florida home.  You might recall that on Signing Day 2013 Collins’ mother raised a stink about her son going so far from home to attend college and play football.  Also, Collins was one of nine UA players suspended earlier this offseason, though no specific reason was given.

Bielema said Saturday — as he shot down those transfer rumors — that Collins has “really grown as a person.”  He added:

 

I think the thing about him is he’s had so much success in life, when he had a bump in the road he had a tendency to try to do things his own way.  And he had to learn how to do the things the way we are here.  I couldn’t be more pleased with where he’s at.  He had to grow a lot.  He had to earn respect from some of his teammates.  He’s doing that bit by bit now.”

 

Collins was part of a one-two punch at running back for the Razorbacks last season.  Junior-to-be Jonathan Williams finished with 150 carries, 900 yards and four touchdowns.

If Arkansas is to improve on it’s 3-9 (0-8 in the SEC) 2013 season, it will need Collins in the fold and on the field.

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Florida Vies To Pass Kentucky In Recent SEC Hoops Supremacy

florida-dunk-over-kentucky-2014Eighteen years ago, Kentucky basketball was sitting atop its traditional perch looking down the rest of the Southeastern Conference.  Rick Pitino would lead his final Wildcats team to the NCAA Tournament finals.  Tubby Smith would replace Pitino and win UK the national crown a season later.  The two combined for 70 wins in those crossover seasons.

But down in Gainesville, Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley had just made a move that would alter the course of SEC basketball for nearly two decades.  He hired a young coach named Billy Donovan.  The former Pitino player and assistant had served just two years as head coach at Marshall before Foley tabbed him to replace Lon Kruger.  Donovan’s record at the West Virginia school was 35-20.  After struggling in his first two years in the Sunshine State, Donovan’s career mark stood at just 62-52.  At that point, few would have guessed that he would be the man to challenge Kentucky’s long-held dominance in the Southeastern Conference.

In many ways, this year’s Final Four — if won by UF or UK — could serve as a sort of rubber match between the two dominant hoops programs.  The numbers including Donovan’s first two rebuilding years also include the final heights of Pitino and Smith at Kentucky.  Take those first two rebuilding seasons out of the mix and Florida has arguably been the SEC’s best basketball program over the last 16 seasons.

Below is a comparison of the programs including the 1996-1997 and 1997-98 seasons:

 

1996-97 through 2013-14

  Category   Florida   Kentucky
  Seasons   18   18
  30-Win Seasons   3   4
  20-Win Seasons   16   17
  NCAA Trips   14   16
  NIT Trips   3   2
  NCAA Titles   2   2
  NCAA Final Fours   4   5
  NCAA Elite Eights   7   7
  NCAA Sweet Sixteens   8   9
  SEC Championships   6   7
  SEC Tourney Championships   4   8
  Overall Winning Pct.   .728   .757

 

While Florida has put up a nice challenge to the Wildcats over that span, UK still retains the crown when you include the end of Pitino and the start of Smith.  While Donovan was rebuilding (27-32 his first two years with the Gators), UK was going 35-5 and 35-4, reaching the NCAA title game twice, and claiming one championship banner.

But how does the story read since Donovan got his program up and running?  Below are the accomplishments of Florida and Kentucky from the 1998-99 season forward:

 

1998-99 through 2013-14

  Category   Florida   Kentucky
  Seasons   16   16
  30-Win Seasons   3   2
  20-Win Seasons   16   15
  NCAA Trips   14   14
  NIT Trips   2   2
  NCAA Titles   2   1
  NCAA Final Fours   4   3
  NCAA Elite Eights   7   7
  NCAA Sweet Sixteens   8   9
  SEC Championships   6   6
  SEC Tourney Championships   4   6
  Overall Winning Pct.   .757   .746

 

While not a complete flip-flop, Florida does hold what we consider to be a slight advantage over Kentucky since 1998-98.  Looking back 16 years instead of 18, Donovan’s two worst years are taken out of the mix.  Also gone are two of UK’s best years.

It also must be noted that while Donovan has been the only man in charge of the Gators during the past 18 seasons, the Wildcats have had four bosses: Pitino, Smith, Billy Gillespie and John Calipari.  Advantage: Florida on the stability front.  However, at his current pace, it appears Calipari is going to have Kentucky flying at high altitudes — right along with Florida — for as long as he remains in Lexington.

This year’s Final Four could result in a third national crown for Florida (over 16 or 18 seasons).  Looking at it only since Donovan built up UF, that would give the Gators a three-to-one advantage in NCAA hardware since 1998-99.  A national title for Kentucky would even the two schools with two crowns apiece since Donovan turned Florida into a national power.

It’s possible, of course, that neither Florida nor Kentucky will win this season’s national title.  Here’s hoping one or the other does cut down the nets in North Texas.  If for no other reason than to further spice up the debate as to whether or not the Gators have surpassed the Wildcats when it comes to recent SEC hoops supremacy.

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SEC Headlines 4/3/2014

headlines-thuSEC Football

1. Report: LSU defensive end Jordan Allen planning to transfer.

2. Mark Richt says redshirt freshman outside linebacker outside linebacker Paris Bostick will transfer from the Georgia program.

3. Announcement coming this afternoon that Vanderbilt and Ole Miss will play at LP Field in Nashville this year.

4. Will Ole Miss have the best secondary in the SEC this fall?

5. Alabama running back Altee Tenpenny is due in court April 10th after being charged with possession of a controlled substance over spring break.

6. Kentucky wants to have its starting quarterback in place before the first game this year.

7. Mississippi State tried Brandon Hollloway at wide receiver but he”ll be a running back this fall.

8. Texas A&M sophomore linebacker Jordan Mastrogiovanni  on his freshman season: “To be honest with you, it was overwhelming at times a year ago, really in every aspect of the game.”

9. Auburn is the midpoint of their spring schedule. Receiver Marcus Davis: “I think we’ve made a lot of progress.”

10. Athlon Sports is inviting Georgia fans to pick a magazine cover.

SEC/NFL

11. ESPN analyst and former NFL player Teddy Bruschi on Jadeveon Clowney: ”Turn in the card now to the commissioner. Just turn it in, because he should be Houston’s No. 1 overall pick.”

12. Steve Spurrier regrets comparing Clowney’s work ethic to that of Marcus Lattimore: “I maybe should not have compared them.”

13. Defensive end Jacques Smith on Tennessee’s pro day.  “This is our last hour of being a Vol.”

SEC Basketball

14. Missouri’s Zach Price – a transfer from Louisville – arrested Thursday morning for assault. Now suspended.

15. As expected, Mizzou guard Jabari Brown enters NBA draft . Has until April 15th to change his mind if he doesn’t like NBA evaluation.

16. Tennessee’s Quinton Chievous is leaving the program. Free to transfer anywhere outside the SEC.

17. Lexington police to Kentucky fans – enough with the fires.

18. Does experience and overcoming adversity give UConn an edge over Florida?

19. Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy on the impact J’Mychal Reese’s dismissal had on the season: “It changed the whole kind of organization of our roster…”

20. Alabama coach Anthony Grant on a formidable out-of-conference schedule his team will face next season: “I’m not afraid to fail.”

21. Mike Anderson says help is coming for Ky Madden and the point guard position at Arkansas.

22. USA Today: “The players in this year’s Final Four attend schools where the gap between their scholarships and the total cost of attendance is about $2,300 to $5,400 a year… Yet the coaches…are collecting an average of $3.1 million from their schools for this season.”

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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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The SEC In The NBA Draft: Who’s In Good Shape And Who Isn’t

nba_logoAs we finish up the final week of the 2013-14 basketball season, players across the nation are announcing their NBA intentions.  In the last three days LSU’s Johnny O’Bryant and Missouri’s Jordan Clarkson have both revealed that they will be leaving school and turning pro early.

Every player’s case is unique to them — family issues, monetary needs, scholastic troubles — so it’s impossible to say definitively, “Yes, that guy made a mistake.”  For some a six-figure salary in the Netherlands or Turkey might be an A-OK next step.  For others missing out on the guaranteed contract that comes with being a first-round selection will very much disappoint.

Below is the current list of SEC players as ranked by DraftExpress.com, one of the more trusted, quoted mock drafts on the web.  It’s an indicator of who’s in good shape to land one of those guaranteed NBA contracts and who isn’t…

 

4.  Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky, Freshman

12.  Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky, Sophomore

25.  James Young, SG/SF, Kentucky, Freshman

 

That’s it for projected first-round picks, folks.  Three players.  All from Kentucky.  All underclassmen.  Not a single upperclassman from the SEC is expected to be first-round material.

Here’s who’s listed in the second round by DraftExpress…

 

41.  Patric Young, PF/C, Florida, Senior

46.  Jabari Brown, SG, Missouri, Junior

47.  Jordan Clarkson, PG/SG, Missouri, Junior

49.  Johnny O’Bryant, PF/C, LSU, Junior

50.  Jarnell Stokes, PF, Tennessee, Junior

60.  Jordan McRae, SG, Tennessee, Senior

 

From purely a basketball perspective, Brown, Clarkson, O’Bryant and Stokes should return to school.  Clarkson and O’Bryant have already announced their plans to leave.  But as noted earlier, we don’t know the personal issues facing any of these players.  We don’t know how scouts will view them if they go through workouts for the pros.  And we don’t know if what’s dropped these players deep into the second round this year could be patched up over the course of another collegiate season.

A few other quickie thoughts:

 

*  From the looks of this list, Florida has dominated this season more through the craftiness of veteran players than through sheer NBA talent.  Kudos again to that team and to Billy Donovan.

*  Only three Kentucky kids projected to be drafted?  Why, production at John Calipari’s player factory has darned near slowed to a drip.  (Sarcasm.)

*  Tennessee has two upperclassmen projected to go in the final 11 picks of the draft.  No wonder the Vols made it to the Sweet Sixteen.

*  Missouri, on the other hand, failed to reach the NCAA Tournament with its own pair of slightly higher-rated stars.  Don’t think Tiger fans won’t let Frank Haith hear about that one.

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Clarkson – SEC’s #7 Scorer This Season – Leaves Missouri For The Pros

Jordan+Clarkson+2013+Continental+Tire+Las+VFczzADmhfulJordan Clarkson averaged 17.5 points per game for Missouri last season.  The guard who’d transferred in from Tulsa wound up #7 on the SEC scoring list this season.  But he won’t be back for his senior year.

Clarkson’s father, Mike, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch yesterday that his son will turn pro and is planning to sign with an agent, which would make a return to Mizzou an impossibility.  The elder Clarkson is battling cancer and it’s believed his diagnosis led to an uneven performance from his son as the Tigers finished up their season.

The younger Clarkson said:

 

“It’s hard to find the right words to say because this coaching staff, my teammates, this school and these fans have been so incredible to me during my two years here at Mizzou.  Obviously this was not an easy decision for me and my family, but it felt like the right time to take this step in my career, especially with graduation this spring.”

 

Missouri might also lose the SEC’s top scorer in Jabari Brown.  The junior who averaged 19.9 points per game for the Tigers this season is mulling the possibility of an early exit to the NBA as well.

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