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Vanderbilt Continues Its Splash In Recruiting

Brian Kimbrow helped continue the trend of Vanderbilt’s 2012 recruiting class when he committed to the Commodores on Friday.

The reason I made that decision is I like to be different,” the Memphis, Tenn., tailback said during an announcement ceremony in Nashville, according to “I like a challenge. I don’t want anything given to me. It’s close to home and it felt like home and it gave me an opportunity to be successful after football.”

And Kimbrow should give Vanderbilt a better chance of being successful at football. He’s considered the state’s top prospect and the nation’s third-best all-purpose running back by 247Sports.

Kimbrow joins a recruiting class that is creating buzz around the country. Along with Kimbrow, Vanderbilt received commitments from defensive end Caleb Azubike and wide receiver Cory Batey on Friday. The Commodores have 11 commitments for the class of 2012.

First-year Vanderbilt coach James Franklin has been busy selling recruits on the idea they can get a quality education while also helping Vanderbilt change its luck on the football field.

“We can do something special,” Kimbrow told “That’s something I’m interested in.”

Schools like Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Notre Dame and Southern California were interested in Kimbrow. Oh yeah, Tennessee was, too. Kimbrow tried on a Vols hat before placing it down on the table during the ceremony, which was carried live on WGFX radio in Nashville.

“Nah, it didn’t fit,” Kimbrow said, according to SI. “It’s Vandy.”

And there’s the difference Franklin has made for Vanderbilt. UT isn’t used to losing in-state prospects to the other SEC team in the state. Franklin is trying to make it a trend and he’s challenging prospects to join him.

“If you feel that you are the best and the brightest, come prove it with me week in and week out,” Franklin told on Wednesday. “If you’re afraid of competition, then you’d better not be playing major division football, and you’d better not be considering the SEC.”

Where Vanderbilt’s class will finish among SEC teams remains to be seen. Remember, prospects can’t sign with schools for another seven months. Still, the most recent class rankings published by places Vanderbilt at No. 24 in the nation.

How will prospects view Vanderbilt if the Commodores struggle in Franklin’s first season on the field? We’ll see, but these prospects choosing the Commodores have already seen the struggle in the past.

“I’ve had a chance to think about this for two years now,” Kimbrow told SI. “I’ve been recruited since 10th grade. … This is where I feel comfortable. This is where I want to go.”

And other top prospects in the Southeast appear ready to join him.

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Kentucky #4 On List Of Best Hoops Jobs

Last week, Andy Staples of ranked the 20 best college football jobs in the country.  Not to be outdone Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News has posted his list of the 10 best college basketball jobs in the US of A.

Want a shock?  John Calipari’s gig at Kentucky doesn’t rank #1.  So it must be behind the North Carolina job at #2, right?  Uh, no.  That would be UCLA. 

So UK ranks third?  Uh-uh.  That’s Texas.  “There’s so much talent and money — and minimal pressure to win it all,” DeCourcy writes of the Longhorns.

And at that point — at #4 on the list — you’ll find Kentucky’s head coaching position.  “Perhaps more than any other program, Kentucky makes certain there is life beyond basketball for those who prove themselves to be committed Wildcats.”

Depending on your point of view, that line could be seen as a positive… or as a possible veiled shot at UK’s history of rules violations.

Reading the comments beneath DeCourcy’s post, it’s clear that most UK fans see their school’s gig as the top job in the country.  And that’s not a shock.

No other SEC jobs make the pundit’s list.

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Top MrSEC Clicks For The Week



The Presidents Will Vote On Oversigning Friday

The SEC’s football coaches have had their say, and now the SEC’s presidents will tackle a number of options and proposals regarding oversigning, ahem, we mean “roster management” on Friday.

If the presidents go with the biggest possible change, the SEC’s oversigning plan would become second only to the Big Ten’s hard 25-man signing class cap in terms of toughness.  Andy Staples of believes that a switch by the SEC to a 25-man cap would inspire the other major conferences to follow suit.

Nick Saban made his feelings quite clear today regarding a possible move from 28 to 25 signees:

“What’s the problem with 28?  You all are creating a bad problem for everybody, because you’re going to mess up the kids getting opportunities by doing what you’re doing.  You think you’re helping them, but you’re really gonna hurt them.  You take one case where somebody didn’t get the right opportunity but you need to take the other 100 cases where somebody got the opportunity because of it.”

Wow.  If only I believed Saban was motivated 100% by what’s best for “the kids.”  Not saying he doesn’t care a great deal, but I have a hard time believing some of his outrage isn’t tied to the fact that he’s going to a roster-building option.  (And this from someone who believes Saban is the A-1 best coach in college sports today, so hold your “You hate Saban” hooey.)

According to Steve Spurrier, the coaches voted 12 to 0 to keep the SEC’s cap at 28 today.  As we have said, we at would be in favor of a hard 28-man cap with no loopholes (as opposed to the 28-man “cap” that allowed a couple of SEC schools to ink 30+ players this February).

“We’re in favor of oversigning,” Carolina’s coach said.  “We’ve never had a problem of too many qualifying and not having room.  All the coaches are in favor of the 28 and so forth.  The presidents I don’t think are, but that’s OK.”

The trick for the SEC is to not put itself at a disadvantage.  As long as the SEC’s oversigning cap is comparable or even to other league’s oversigning caps, the SEC will still win in the long run.

There’s an old saying regarding fast football players: “If he’s even, he’s leavin’.”  Considering the SEC’s incredible talent advantage over other regions — more than 30% of the NFL’s draft picks since the late 1980s have come from the nine-state SEC region — Saban and Spurrier would still hold a major advantage over coaches from other regions… even with a 25-man or hard 28-man cap.  If they’re even, they’re leavin’.

But on Friday, the presidents will make the final call.  And no one knows for sure just how tough big of a change in the system they’re going to make.

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If you haven’t read Sports Illustrated’s cover story on now-deposed Ohio State coach Jim Tressel… you need to.  The piece by George Dohrmann and David Epstein is an unflinching look at the often nasty underbelly of college athletics.

Now that headlines about OSU and Tressel are piling up, it’s likely that the majority of America’s sports fans will simply say, “What a bunch of dirty cheaters” and then move right along.  But those who think a bit longer on the subject will consider Ohio State’s situation — and contemplate the rule-bends and look-the-other-ways documented in the SI piece — and wonder: “Does that kind of thing go on at my favorite school, too?”

The probable answer: Yes.

Anyone who’s spent time on a big-time college campus knows that some athletes drive very nice cars they have no business owning or driving.  They know that there are a few restaurants and bars on campus where athletes tend to congregate and that often those sites give the players “VIP treatment.”  Get to know an athlete and you’ll likely learn that players know who and where to turn if they should need a hundred bucks here or there. 

In other words, this kind of thing goes on everywhere.

Fans across the country point fingers at the SEC… and thanks to the league’s recent high-profile troubles, it’s hard to fend off the barbs.  But just as it’s inaccurate to suggest that only the SEC cheats, it’s just as improper to point a quick finger at Ohio State and declare them America’s top villain.

Cheating goes on, folks.  Everywhere.  Don’t believe me?  Then ask yourself how all of your favorite school’s top football and basketball players can afford to cover their bodies in tattoo “sleeves” that would normally cost them thousands of dollars.

Ohio State has been caught.  And Ohio State will be rightfully punished.  That’s how the system works and I’m all for a deterrent system based on smashing the guy who does get caught.

But the SEC, the Big Ten, and all the other conferences making up the NCAA have bigger issues than Tressel and OSU right now.  Some boosters will always look for advantage.  Some young men will always be willing to take an extra benefit here or there.  And some/many coaches will always be willing to look the other way.

Ohio State is just the latest symptom of a much bigger cancer that’s growing — right along with television contracts and coaches’ salaries — on the face of college athletics.

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SEC Headlines – 4/27/11

With storms and power outages rolling across the South today — and probably coming soon to Headquarters — we’re going to run through as many quicky headlines as possible for you.

Here goes…

1.  Alabama could have three juniors taken in the first round of tomorrow’s NFL draft.

2.  The Iron Bowl rivalry even extends to said Draft.

3.  Cam Newton’s lack of leadership skills will haunt him in the NFL…

4.  Or not.

5.  A pair of Arkansas O-linemen want to keep UA’s run of good fortune in the draft rolling.

6.  Hog QB candidates Tyler Wilson and Brandon Mitchell sound off about their leadership skills.

7.  Due to a lack of size — he’s 6-1, 305 — former LSU D-tackle Drake Nevis is expected to be a third-round pick at best.

8.  Derek Sherrod could be MSU’s first first-round draft pick in 14 years.

9.  Receiver Chris Smith’s jaw surgery went well.

10.  Quarterback Barry Brunetti’s clearance by the NCAA is another win for Ole Miss.

11.  Here’s more on Will Muschamp’s decision to boot Janoris Jenkins from Florida’s team.

12.  Did Justin Houston fail a drug test while at Georgia?

13.  Peter King of says the Atlanta Falcons are trying to trade up for AJ Green.

14.  Joker Phillips has confidence that Kentucky will soon be competing for an SEC title.

15.  NC State point guard Ryan Harrow might have visited UK’s campus yesterday.  And maybe he didn’t.

16.  Ex-South Carolina O-lineman Jarriel King could go in the first round of tomorrow’s NFL draft.

17.  Former Tennessee offensive lineman Jarrod Shaw is just hoping to get drafted.

18.’s Seth Davis says UT’s hire of Cuonzo Martin was the smartest basketball hire this offseason.

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Newton Goes 54-For-65 At Pro Day; Reviews Mixed

Maybe Cam Newton can take his Auburn receivers with him to the NFL.  Last month at the NFL combine, Newton had a disappointing day throwing the football and he blamed his problems on poor timing with his receivers — who came from all over country.

Yesterday, Newton had no problems hitting his old, familiar AU targets.  In fact, after completing just 11 of 21 passes in Indianapolis, the former Auburn star connected on 54 of 65 passes yesterday.

According to D. Orlando Ledbetter of The AJC, Newton “dazzled more than 125 NFL executives” in a “spectacular workout.”

“We wanted to show everyone who was in attendance, not only the intermediate game, but the perimeter throws, the (skinny posts) and the out routes,” said Newton, who also worked from under center.  “For me, I just wanted to show everybody what I’ve been working on.”

Ah, but not everyone thought the workout was as great as Mr. Ledbetter did.  Rob Rang of gave Newton a “B” grade. analyst Tony Pauline said Newton’s work was “solid, not spectacular.”

NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock believes Newton’s footwork “has a long way to go,” but he added that that’s the case with “any young, spread quarterback.”

ESPN analyst Todd McShay — who gave Nick Fairley high marks for his pro day work — says Newton’s throwing motion “did seem a bit mechanical at times,” but he also said it’s clear the QB is making progress.  His overall views:

His accuracy and consistency are not elite, but he offers rare athleticism and playmaking ability.  For most quarterbacks, this kind of pro day performance would have been enough to make teams comfortable selecting him anywhere int he top five overall.

However, Newton isn’t a squeaky clean prospect and there are enough character concerns and unanswered questions to give teams something to think about.  The physical tools are there and will likely keep him in the top 10-12 picks, but in the end it will come down to teams being comfortable enough with his mental makeup and work ethic to pin the hopes of their franchise on him.

When it comes to the NFL draft, it only takes one team to fall in love.  Don’t be surprised to hear Newton’s name called in the first three to five picks with that team’s GM saying, “We just couldn’t pass on a guy with this much potential.”

Perhaps a GM like Ron Rivera of the top-pick-owning Carolina Panthers?  Rivera and Newton “could be seen joking, laughing, and having extensive conversations” yesterday.  Hmmm.

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Arkansas A.D. Says Report On Crime “Misleading”

Yesterday, posted a report detailing a six month investigation (by and CBS News) into the criminal records of a number of college football players.  The report used only the teams ranked in SI’s preseason Top 25 last year.  Background checks were done on more than 2,800 players on the those teams’ rosters.

It was found that Arkansas had 18 players on its roster who had been arrested or charged with a crime at one time or another, the second-highest number on the list.  Now Razorback athletic director Jeff Long has issued a response.

“The University of Arkansas has high standards and expectations for all of its students, including those who take part in intercollegiate athletics,” Long said via statement.  “When a student violates the law or the student conduct code, they are held accountable.  Students who participate in intercollegiate athletics are also held accountable to our student-athlete conduct code.”

“The Sports Illustrated/CBS News article on Top 25 football programs cited 18 members of the Razorback football team who had violated the law.  While I am in no way dismissing or rationalizing the infractions, I do want the public to know the nature of those infractions.”

Of the 18 players arrested, UA says seven were picked up on traffic violations that did not involved any illegal substances, three were arrested for driving while intoxicated, five were picked up on charges involving the illegal use or possession of alcohol, two was picked up for marijuana possession and one was nabbed for shoplifting.

“It is worth noting that none of these violations involved acts of violence,” Long said.  “Unfortunately, the article placed our students in a misleading context, one which failed to distinguish the nature and severity of violations from those featured in the story.”

I have no problem with Long explaining the arrests or defending his program.  That’s his job.  Also, Arkansas had no charges of violence, a claim not all schools can make.

But looking at this as a larger issue — which was the point of the SI/CBS piece — wouldn’t it be better if there were fewer arrests in college football?  Wouldn’t it be better if college coaches were a little more selective and less likely to chase recruits who’ve had run-ins with the law during high school?

And aren’t the answers to those questions self-evident?

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Arkansas Led The SEC’s Top Teams In… Arrested Players On The Roster?

Sports Illustrated and CBS News have just wrapped a six-month investigation into college football.  The two parties took SI’s 2010 preseason Top 25 and did criminal background checks on all 2,837 players on those teams’ rosters.  Some of their findings included:

* 7% of players (one out of every 14) in last year’s preseason Top 25 poll “had been charged or cited for a crime, including dozens of players with multiple arrests.”

* Of the 277 incidents uncovered, nearly 40% “involved serious offenses, including 56 violent crimes such as assault and battery (25 cases), domestic violence (6), aggravated assault (4), robbery (4) and sex offenses (3).”  The report also states that there were 41 charges of property crimes such as burglary and theft.

In case you didn’t know it by now, college coaches tend to give a lot of guys second- and third- and fourth-chances.  Some — like Houston Nutt — will tell you they’re in the business helping people, but in reality, coaches are in the business of winning and they’ll sign just about anybody with talent regardless of their criminal history.

But let’s focus in on the SEC here.  Last year, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida and LSU were in SI’s preseason Top 25.  Of those four squads, Arkansas led (?) the way with 18 players on its roster who had been arrested/charged with a crime at one time or another.  The Razorbacks’ total tied with Iowa for second place on the “most arrests” list behind only Pittsburgh (22 players who had been charged). 

Florida’s roster featured seven lawbreakers, Alabama’s five and LSU’s three.  Of the 25 teams in the poll, only TCU had a squeaky clean roster with nary a jailbird on the squad.

The piece is worth a read as it raises an all too familiar question: Does college football really have anything to do with a university’s true mission?

Of course it doesn’t.  College football is a breadwinner, a donation-getter, and a huge advertising vehicle for schools.  But there’s not a school in the country that would go out and actively seek regular students who’ve been charged with violent crimes.  A and B just don’t jive.

At, we love us some college football.  But that doesn’t mean the sport isn’t overdue for a good bath. 

An 85-man roster featuring 18 players who’ve been arrested or charged with a crime?  It’s hard to defend that.  (Though we know folks will.)

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The Media Hammer Falls On Hamilton

If there’s one man in America who’s catching more heat than Bruce Pearl or Lane Kiffin today it’s the guy who hired both of them at Tennessee.  Just check out a few of the national pundits who are calling for the head of UT athletic director Mike Hamilton…’s Gregg Doyel:
  “Why is Hamilton still there?  No idea.  None.  He may well be a good man, as readers have e-mailed me over the years.  But he’s a lousy AD.  Hires poorly.  Doesn’t make sure they act ethically.  Doesn’t do anything with teeth when they get busted acting unethically.”’s Stewart Mandel:  “But what of Hamilton?  Under his watch, one of the nation’s proudest athletic programs has deteriorated into one of its most shameful.  Will Tennessee chancellor Jimmy Cheek go along with the illusion that the football mess can be blamed entirely on that mercenary scoundrel Kiffin, and that reducing Pearl’s salary last fall was an adequate show of force?  Or, will he do the right thing: recognize that Hamilton was ultimately Pearl’s and Kiffin’s greatest enabler; that Hamilton’s department is a textbook example of the risks of allowing splashy head coaches the freedom to act as their own freewheeling autocrats; and that ultimately Hamilton and his whole department should be replaced and rebuilt?”’s Pat Forde: 
“If I were the president at Tennessee, the man in charge of an athletic department that has hemorrhaged credibility at an alarming rate in recent years would need a Committee on Infractions miracle to keep his job.  Nothing short of an exoneration of both programs would be enough to spare Hamilton — and chances of that happening are even smaller than the chances that Tennessee plays in the next BCS championship game.”

Brutal, no?  But here’s the interesting thing: No one in the Knoxville media is actively calling for Hamilton’s ouster. 

In years past, some Knoxville columnists have flat-out called for coaches to be fired.  They have critiqued and criticized Hamilton himself.  But no one — as of today — has written a “Can him now!” piece like the ones cited above.

Perhaps the folks nearer to the situation have a better take on why Hamilton should remain employed than Misters Doyel, Mandel and Forde.  Or, perhaps a more distant view is necessary.

We just think it’s interesting that the national view is one of outrage while the local view is, well, kinda quiet.  That might be telling. 

As for why this site isn’t calling for Hamilton’s head on a stick, we rarely call for executions.  Unlike some writers, we don’t find that kind of thing to be much fun, even if it is very easy to do and it’s guaranteed to drum up pageviews. 

Hell, we were the one site on the web that tried to show a little compassion toward former Georgia AD Damon Evans following his DUI arrest last summer. 

Oh, we’ll write about wins and losses and we’ll certainly tell if you we think someone is doing a good job or not — so far UT’s Hamilton has a sub-par judge of character with a flair for raising funds — but we’ve never hollered for scalps and we don’t intend to start.

Besides, if the NCAA throws the book at UT (and Pearl) in the penalty phase, there’s a pretty good chance the Hamilton issue will settled by the powers-that-be at Tennessee anyway… and not by the sportswriters at SI, ESPN and CBS.

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