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SI.com Tabs 11 SEC Stars As NFL First-Rounders

mock-draft-silhouette-goodellFirst, a simple point: Projecting the NFL draft in September seems a wee bit silly.  Many college teams have yet to play four games and exactly none of the professional teams have played more than three contests.  There are two months of college ball to be played.  There have been no combines or workouts (college or personal).  No early entrants have declared themselves eligible.  No one can even guess at the NFL draft order at this point, which is kind of a biggie since team needs usually dictate team selections.

All that said, SI.com has posted its 2014 NFL Mock Draft 2.0 today.  And on that list you’ll find the names of 11 current SEC stars.  What you won’t find is an SEC player — cough, cough, Jadeveon Clowney, cough, cough — in the top spot.  According to SI.com’s Chris Burke, the first pick next April will be quarterback Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville.  Burke believes he’ll go to the quarterback-deficient Jacksonville Jaguars.

As for the SEC’ers on the list…

 

2.  Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina to the Oakland Raiders

6.  Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M to the St. Louis Rams (via trade)

8.  Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama to the Arizona Cardinals

10.  Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M to the Philadelphia Eagles

11.  CJ Mosley, LB, Alabama to the New York Giants

15.  Dominique Easley, DT, Florida to the St. Louis Rams

16.  Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee to the Tennessee Titans

17.  Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M to the Cleveland Browns (via trade)

19.  Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama to the Green Bay Packers

23.  Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt to the Kansas City Chiefs

32.  Adrian Hubbard, LB, Alabama to the Denver Broncos

 

Johnny Football to the Eagles to play in Chip Kelly’s hurry-up, huh?  Interesting.

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SI.com Drops Bombshell #3 On Oklahoma State, Miles (But An Oklahoma Paper Fires Back)

les-miles-osu-capWhat?  You thought we’d forgotten the Les Miles semi-scandal because of the newer scandals at Alabama, Mississippi State and Tennessee?  Come now.

Sports Illustrated dropped the third installment of its investigation into the Oklahoma State football program today.  This one deals with drug use in Stillwater.  Again, several players go on the record to discuss how rampant the problem became… much of it under the watch of then-coach Miles.  Here’s an example:

 

“It is unclear when marijuana use became so pervasive that a player like (Andrew) Alexander would feel excluded for not smoking.  Andre McGill, a quarterback in 2000 and ’01, says it coincided with the arrival of Les Miles, but that is at least anecdotally false.  Players from earlier years say that marijuana was used before Miles was named coach in December 2000, though they say it increased during his tenure.”

 

Whew!  There for a second it looked like SI’s writers were going to claim Miles introduced his players to weed.

Frankly, in light of the documented evidence uncovered by Yahoo! Sports — and they really are the best thing going in sports journalism today — this SI.com piece seems a bit light.  Especially when you consider the fact that one Oklahoma paper pointed out earlier this week that most of the players who’ve gone on the record to talk about the issues at OSU left the school before their careers were up.  In other words, a lot of those doing the talking have a bone to pick with the school and/or Miles.

Last evening, The Tulsa World interviewed former Cowboy quarterback Aso Pogi about his “interview” with SI’s writers.  Turns out it was more of a hit-and-run than an interview.  At least that’s what the ex-QB says.

Meanwhile, Miles defended his running of the Oklahoma State program during yesterday’s SEC teleconference.  According to USA Today, the coach’s voice cracked while discussing his days on that campus.  “I revered my time at Stillwater,” Miles said.  He added (in vintage Miles-speak):

 

“And the idea that somebody would characterize the program that was run there as anything but right and correct… Did we work hard?  You betcha.  Did we make tough decisions about starting lineups?  You betcha.  But every guy was encouraged to get his degree, to stay the course and to fight.  And I can tell you that (former players) that were commenting on the state of the program weren’t there long enough to figure it out.  And that they heard me tell them, ‘Attend class and do the right things,’ and heard me routinely.  So, I’m going to withhold a further comment.  I can tell you that staff, families and friends and anybody that sat in our meeting rooms knew that this thing was done right.  I will hold further comment because frankly I want to get a team ready to play against a very quality Kent State, and that’s my push.  I like my practice.  I like my team.”

 

The fourth part of Sports Illustrated’s investigation will launch tomorrow

Oh, boy.

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SI.com Hits LSU’s Miles For Deemphasizing Academics At Oklahoma State

les-miles-pointsThey said, he said.

SI.com has released the second installment in its week-long expose of the Oklahoma State football program.  Second verse, same as the first.

Once again there’s quite a bit of focus on the Les Miles era in Stillwater.  And once again, Miles doesn’t hold up well under the microscope.

Among Sports Illustrated’s allegations:

 

*  Miles deemphasized academics during his tenure at OSU.  According to SI.com, “13 Cowboys who played between 2000 and ’11 told SI that they participated in some form of academic misconduct, and 16 others were named by teammates as also having had schoolwork done for them.”

*  One former OSU player, Fath’ Carter, said, “The goal was not to educate but to get them the passing grades they needed to keep playing.  That’s the only thing it was about.”

*  Carter also said the Miles brought in players who were “lesser students” and “things had to be put in place to help them.”

*  More damning, one academic adviser tossed Miles under the bus (a school bus in this case):  “There was never pressure (to cheat), but Miles was like most coaches who want to be somewhere else.  They’re going to do what they need to do for two or three years, and they’re not going to have to deal with whatever the fallout is.  So, no, he didn’t promote academics.”

 

Quite naturally, Miles denied the accusations.  “I always said, and I always meant, that academics was the most important thing.”  OK, but the coach did admit to telling his team, “Academics first,” while holding up two fingers and “Football second,” while holding up a single finger.  According to the coach he did that just once in “a moment of humor.”

As SI’s drip-by-drip, water torture of the coach continues, it’s doubtful Miles is feeling many moments of humor these days.

In Miles defense, a number of former Oklahoma State players came forward to rip the piece.  The snitches who told their stories to SI.com’s writers are being quickly discredited as well.  The Tulsa World claims: “of the 12 former players either pointed fingers or admitted guilt, nine either were kicked out of school, dismissed from the program, transferred for playing time issues or just quit.  Of those, several had criminal records.”

The never over-the-top Jason Whitlock has also come forward to eviscerate former colleague Thayer Evans, one of the co-writers of SI’s Oklahoma State piece.  Yesterday, Whitlock had this to say to Oklahoma City radio station WWLS-FM 98.1:

 

“Having worked with Thayer Evans at Fox Sports, having followed his work for some time, I am completely and utterly flabbergasted that a legitimate new outlet would allow Thayer Evans to be involved in some type of investigative piece on college football that tears down a program, and particularly one that tears down Oklahoma State when it is no secret what a huge, enormous, gigantic Oklahoma homer Thayer Evans is.  This is just incredible.  Knowing the lack of competence that’s there with Thayer Evans, knowing the level of simplemindedness that’s there with Thayer Evans, to base any part of the story on his reportign is mind-boggling…

When I learned Thayer Evans was involved, I just said, there’s no way I’ll read this because there’s no reason to trust this reporter on anything of any substance…

He’s simpleminded.  He’s a hack that can’t write.  This isn’t personal, I promise.  I have no reason to dislike Thayer Evans personally, and I don’t.  But I’ve read enough of his work (and) this guy isn’t qualified for this job and by now Sports Illustrated and anybody else should be well aware of this…

Let me end by saying this and I honestly mean this without malice.  It wouldn’t shock me if Thayer Evans couldn’t spell “cat” and I say (that) in all seriousness.”

 

Um, yeah.  That’s doesn’t sound personal at all.

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Part One Of SI’s “Dirty Game” Investigation Into Miles’ Oklahoma State Program Isn’t Pretty

screen-captureBad news first: current LSU head coach Les Miles is mentioned prominently in Sports Illustrated’s new expose on the Oklahoma State football program.

Worse news?  Today’s post at SI.com is the first installment in a five-part series.  So get ready for more and more dirt, LSU fans.

According to SI writers George Dohrman and Thayer Evans (alert the Tiger conspiracy theorists), Miles opened the door to boosters when he arrived in Stillwater in 2001.  Soon, “boosters were permitted in the locker room; they were often on team flights and bus trips; they turned up at the training table.”  After Oklahoma State’s win over Oklahoma in ’01, it’s alleged that OSU boosters were allowed into the Cowboys’ locker room after the game and that they “approached key players and slipped cash into their hands.”  One ex-player told the magazine, “We are talking about $500 handshakes.”

Miles — as SI.com points out — denies that players were paid and he claims “he gave boosters less access to the program, not more.”

Former OSU and Miles assistant Joe DeForest is charged with directly paying Cowboy players as part of a bonus system designed to reward good play.  Miles said Saturday night, “I don’t know of any improprieties while I was coaching there.”

Now, there will likely be no NCAA sanctions for any of this.  It’s outside the statute of limitations (though the NCAA has a funny way of picking and choosing what’s inside and outside it’s time limits).  The concern for Miles is that some enterprising Louisiana-based sportswriter starts snooping around to see if more boosters arrived on the LSU scene when Miles took over.

After today’s look-see into OSU’s alleged bonus system, booster payouts, coach payouts, and “bogus jobs,” SI will dive into academic fraud, drug use, and the use of hostesses to lure in Cowboy recruits with sex.  According to the magazine, Oklahoma State’s hostess program tripled in size under Miles.

If you listen closely, you can hear LSU beatwriters flipping through old media guides to see if LSU’s hostess program has grown since Miles arrived in Baton Rouge.

Not to provide too much cover for Miles here, but if you think there’s a football program in the country where some boosters don’t provide cash, where some players aren’t given bogus jobs, where hostesses don’t have sex with recruits, and where some athletes aren’t using drugs… you’re living a fantasy world.

People who know me often ask, “How can you not be a fan of a college football team?”  My response is always the same — If you spent the day touring a hot dog factory, you’re not going to order a hot dog for lunch.  There’s a lot of dirt out there.  Everywhere.  Some programs are dirtier than others and we may well find that Oklahoma State under Miles falls into that category.  But sex and drugs and boosters?  Sorry, that’s just the seedy underside of the game.

And, yes, it’s happening at your favorite school, too.

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NCAA Prez Under Fire For Losing Unwinnable Game

Penn State Abuse EmmertTalk about your thankless jobs.

With so many people worried about the heat members of the new college football playoff selection committee will take, there’s already an important figure in collegiate sports who’s got it far worse than any playoff panelist — NCAA president Mark Emmert.

Emmert took the reigns of the NCAA more than two years ago.  Today he’s been riddled with more bullets (verbal in nature) than Sonny Corleone at a tollbooth.  Coaches don’t like the NCAA because its rulebook is too thick.  Fans don’t like the NCAA because the organization is basically the police force of college sports and if their favorite school is cheating in some way, well, they don’t want them to get caught.  Media members attack the NCAA because that’s just what we do.  We look at big organizations and attempt to critique them, often in unfair ways.

And if happen to be the poor sap who’s agreed to sit atop the NCAA’s org chart — as Emmert has — then you’re the guy that coaches, fans and media members will target most often.

This week, Sports Illustrated is running a lengthy story on the overall failure of Emmert to reform the NCAA during his tenure.  (Of course, when he’s attempted to actually reform the rulebook, the changes have all been ixnayed after the fact by coaches and athletic directors who were not consulted).  Among the many negative reviews of Emmert and his team from SI.com:

 

“In many interviews with NCAA officials about enforcement, the topic quickly shifted back to the leadership of Emmert, who is known internally at the NCAA as the ‘King of the Press Conference.’  That’s not a compliment.”

“A portrait emerged of a (enforcement) department battered by turnover, afraid of lawsuits and overwhelmed by scandal.  One ex-enforcement official told SI, ‘The time is ripe to cheat.  There’s no policing going on.’”

“When talking to a dozen college officials to get a pulse on Emmert, many struggled to answer the question, ‘What has he actually accomplished so far in his tenure?’  Even the harsh sanctions against Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal ($60 million fine, four-year bowl ban and the loss of 40 scholarships over four years) has painted Emmert in a bad light after he went on a television tour, which some perceived as a victory lap, to talk about the unprecedented action by the NCAA.”

“The NCAA failed to pass most of the initiatives Emmert has trumpeted.  Many agreed with the ideals behind Emmert’s ambitious agenda, including trying to give scholarship athletes a small amount of money to cover the full cost of school, and paring down the rulebook.  But the lack of results have highlighted the growing schism between have and have-nots in Division I and further polarized the athletic directors who feel largely ignored and highlighted how out-of-touch Emmert is with his constituents.”

 

Yikes.  It goes on from there and it gets no prettier.

Not to be outdone, The Sporting News put in some calls of its own to further pile on the easy-target NCAA president:

 

“Why does embattled president Mark Emmert still have a job?  The reason could be this simple: Firing Emmert could do more harm than good.  ‘If you force him out, you’re essentially telling everyone he has failed,’ one NCAA (university) president told Sporting News.  ‘When you’re dealing with (litigation), it’s not prudent to admit failure at the highest office.’”

*  “‘He is incapable of looking in the mirror and figuring out that he could be the problem,’ one administrator of a BCS school told Sporting News.  ‘A leader with a personality like that, it affects everyone he manages and it affects the way the organization is run.’”

 

The real problem might just be that reforming the NCAA is a goal that cannot be accomplished, a game that can’t be won.  Sci-fi heads, think “Kobayashi Maru,” the ultimate no-win scenario.

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SEC Headlines – 2/18/13

headlines-monSEC Basketball

1. There will be a lot of Kentucky reaction this week. John Calipari did his own reflecting.

2. Jeff Goodman predicted post-Noel success for Kentucky. He wants a do-over.

3. Kentucky has some growing up to do, which it better do quickly.

4. Tennessee PG Trae Golden looks headed in the right direction. Good timing.

5. LSU (15-8, 6-6) isn’t great, writes Scott Rabalais, but the Tigers are “pretty good.”

6. Could Florida receive the SEC’s only bid into the NCAA tournament?

7. Kentucky was a loser on ESPN’s weekend bubble watch. Who was the SEC’s winner?

SEC Football

8. Meet Alabama’s new offensive lineman, Leon Brown, who arrived from junior college.

9. Auburn running backs coach Tim Horton has fit in nicely since arriving from Arkansas.

10. Auburn assistant J.B. Grimes wants his offensive line to “knock people around.”

11. Assistant coaches are receiving credit they deserve for their work in recruiting.

12. Here’s a look back at LSU’s recruiting sleeps in the last 10 years.

13. SI.com is the latest to ask: Can Butch Jones lead a turnaround at Tennessee?

14. Ready for football? Here are 10 intriguing matchups for the 2013 season.

Extra

15. CBSSports.com has its Top 25 (and one) in college basketball.

16. Here are some risers and fallers following national signing day.

17. California basketball coach Mike Montgomery shoved a player during last night’s game.

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Honey Badger’s Family Calls Sports Illustrated Story “Ridiculous”

Yesterday we told you of Sports Illustrated’s new profile of former LSU defensive back Tyrann Mathieu.  The profile was not the most positive thing ever written as it dealt with the Honey Badger’s dismissal from LSU’s team this season, his brief drug rahab stint, and possible NCAA violations that he might have committed while still a member of the Tiger football team.

According to SI.com, Mathieu’s image was used to promote parties at nightclubs in both Baton Rouge and New Orleans.  His image appeared on fliers and in video promotions for the events and — according to Sports Illustrated — Mathieu and current Tiger defensive tackle Anthony Johnson might have also received VIP treatment at the clubs.  If true, those claims could cause worries for LSU and Johnson.  They could also prevent Mathieu from returning to the Tigers next season as he had hoped.

Well, his adoptive parents have lashed out at SI.com over the report.

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LSU Now A “King”, UT Just A “Baron” According To SI.com Writer

Five years ago, Stewart Mandel of SI.com classified the nation’s BCS football programs as kings, barons, knights, and peasants.  In the five years that have passed, a number of SEC schools have risen or fallen in his view.  In terms of the top strata, one SEC school achieved kingly status, while another fell from that rank in the last half-decade:

 

“Ten years ago, LSU was coming off its first outright SEC championship in 15 years, having upset Phillip Fulmer’s second-ranked Tennessee squad. Four months after this column ran, the Tigers knocked off the Vols in Atlanta again en route to their second BCS championship in five years. While LSU solidified itself as a bona fide national power, Tennessee fired Fulmer a year later and sank further into a decade-long bout of mediocrity.”

 

It’s an interesting take, even though it’s just one man’s opinion.  (Bet he’ll be getting a lot of nasty emails today from folks all over the country.)  Not to steal his thunder — we encourage you to read his post in full — but here’s how he ranked the teams of the SEC five years ago and how he ranks them today:

 

  SEC School   2007 Rank   2012 Rank
  Alabama   King   King
  Arkansas   Knight   Knight
  Auburn   Baron   Baron
  Florida   King   King
  Georgia   Baron   Baron
  Kentucky   Peasant   Peasant
  LSU   Baron   King
  Miss. State   Peasant   Peasant
  Missouri   Knight   Knight
  Ole Miss   Knight   Knight
  S. Carolina   Knight   Knight
  Tennessee   King   Baron
  Texas A&M   Baron   Baron
  Vanderbilt   Peasant   Peasant

 

For those wondering how Ole Miss can still rank ahead of Mississippi State or why South Carolina failed to move up, Mandel reminds his readers that he’s not ranking winning percentages, but: “… a certain cachet or aura.  It’s the way a program is perceived by the public.”

With that as a guide, I would think it would be very difficult for schools to rise and fall at all in terms of national clout and perception.  Recognition is built up over time, not just five-year periods.  That’s why the winningest programs in college football history always seem to hit the deck for a while… only to rise again.  See: Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas, Southern Cal, Michigan, etc.  And, yes, as one of the top 10 winningest football schools in history, it’s likely Tennessee will rise again, too.  Eventually.

So while Mandel’s exercise is interesting — we linked to it, didn’t we? — it seems that five years might be too little time for a school to truly change its image in one direction or another.

But like Mandel, I’m just giving you one man’s opinion.

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Bracketologists Break Down The SEC’s Tourney Chances

The bracket brainiacs are out in full force trying to project this year’s NCAA Tournament field.  (You can read our take on who in the SEC fits the NCAA profile and what they need to do in the league tourney right here.)  From ESPN to CBSSports.com to Sports Illustrated to Yahoo! Sports, everyone’s got an opinion.

For the sake of argument, here are those latest opinions:


Joe Lunardi, ESPN

SEC: 5 bids (Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt)

Tennessee is listed among “first four out” and Ole Miss is listed as “also considered.”


Jerry Palm, CBSSports.com

SEC: 5 bids (Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt)

Ole Miss is listed among “first four out.”


Brad Evans, Roto Arcade and Yahoo! Sports

SEC:  5 bids (Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt)

Tennessee is listed as being “on the bubble.”



Andy Glockner, SI.com

SEC:  5 bids (Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt)

Neither Ole Miss nor Tennessee is listed among the last four out.


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SI’s Staples: The Big 12 Should Let Mizzou Go To The SEC

Andy Staples of SI.com sounds fed up with a legal posturing and the resulting delays they cause in the current expansion/realignment game.  We feel ya.

In his latest column for Sports Illustrated’s online arm, Staples states that it’s time for the Big 12 to just let Missouri go to the SEC if it wants to go.  In fact, he’s for a full free agency period.  “If a school wants to move, let it move,” he writes.  “Let every school take the best conference deal it can get, sign some new media rights contracts and let the rest of us enjoy what’s left of this football season before the world changes next year.”

And what prompted this talk?  The slow dance Missouri and the SEC appear to be making toward one another:


“… the SEC isn’t going to just sniff the roses Mizzou sent, blush and invite the Tigers to share in its overflowing honey pot.  SEC presidents are as worried now about potential litigation from Big 12 leftovers as they were when they began their forbidden dance with Texas A&M this summer.  This is not a done deal yet.”

When the SEC accepted Texas A&M’s membership application unconditionally, it was widely speculated that the SEC must’ve gotten some assurance that the remaining Big 12 schools were no longer considering lawsuits.

But if you read this site everyday, you know that we did not share that view.  In fact, we wrote that Baylor president Kenneth Starr, specifically, could still attempt a lawsuit against the SEC even if the Big 12 managed to survive.  He could claim that by taking A&M, the SEC had harmed the Big 12… not killed, but harmed it.  Would he win such a suit?  He might not care.  The goal might be as simple as warning future deserters to think twice before attempting to tunnel out of Stalag (Big) 12.

In our view, the SEC’s decision to finally officially welcome A&M was based upon the league’s view that it could easily win any lawsuit Starr tossed out against it.

But if Missouri were to leave the Big 12, then all bets will be off.  Again.  Such a move cause Starr and others to dial up their lawyers.  The SEC may feel buttoned up with A&M, but not so buttoned up with A&M and Missouri.  Only Mike Slive and the SEC’s presidents know for sure.

The legal posturing is ridiculous, of course.  The ACC just raided the Big East.  The Big East is planning to grab schools from other conferences.  And Starr’s own Big 12 has stated — via interim commissioner Chuck Neinas — that it will go after any school it likes.

For some reason, the SEC appears to be the only league slowed by legal threats.  And Starr and Baylor appear to be the only school serious about filing lawsuits.

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