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If Your Team Loses In Week One, History Says Forget Winning The SEC Title

kickoff-charlie-brownHow important is the season-opener for each SEC squad?  Well, there have been 21 SEC Championship Games since the SEC first expanded in 1992.  Of the 21 league champions crowned since that date, not one — not a single solitary SEC Championship Game winner — has lost in its season-opening contest.

In fact, of the 42 teams to have reached the SEC title game, only four teams that won their own divisions did so after dropping their curtain-raiser.

Here’s the year-by-year breakdown with the SEC Championship Game victor receiving a * designation:

 

  Year   East Champion in Opener   West Champion in Opener
  1992   Florida 59-21 over S. Jose St.   Alabama* 25-8 over Vanderbilt
  1993   Florida* 44-6 over Arkansas St.   Alabama 31-17 over Tulane
  1994   Florida* 70-21 over N. Mexico St.   Alabama 42-13 over UT-Chattanooga
  1995   Florida* 45-21 over Houston   Arkansas 14-17 to SMU
  1996   Florida* 55-21 over SW Louisiana   Alabama 21-7 over Bowling Green
  1997   Tennessee* 52-17 over Texas Tech   Auburn 28-17 over Virginia
  1998   Tennessee* 34-33 over Syracuse   Mississippi St. 42-0 over Vanderbilt
  1999   Florida 55-26 over W. Michigan   Alabama* 28-17 over Vanderbilt
  2000   Florida* 40-19 over Ball St.   Auburn 35-21 over Wyoming
  2001   Tennessee 33-9 over Syracuse   LSU* 48-17 over Tulane
  2002   Georgia* 31-28 over Clemson   Arkansas 41-14 over Boise St.
  2003   Georgia  30-0 over Clemson   LSU* 49-7 over UL-Monroe
  2004   Tennessee 42-17 over UNLV   Auburn* 31-0 over UL-Monroe
  2005   Georgia* 48-13 over Boise St.   LSU 35-31 over Arizona St.
  2006   Florida* 34-7 over S. Miss   Arkansas 14-50 to Southern Cal
  2007   Tennessee 31-45 to California   LSU* 45-0 over Mississippi St.
  2008   Florida* 56-10 over Hawaii   Alabama 34-10 over Clemson
  2009   Florida 62-3 over Charleston So.   Alabama* 34-24 over Virginia Tech
  2010   S. Carolina 41-13 over S. Miss   Auburn* 52-26 over Arkansas St.
  2011   Georgia 21-35 to Boise St.   LSU* 40-27 over Oregon
  2012   Georgia 45-23 over Buffalo   Alabama* 41-14 over Michigan

 

There you have it.  Just four teams — Arkansas ’95, Arkansas ’06, Tennessee ’07 and Georgia ’11 — have bounced back from opening day losses to win their division.  But not a single overall SEC champion from the title game era has ever rebounded from a Day One defeat.

Obviously, past results don’t necessarily have any impact on future outcomes.  The fact that no team has lost an opener and gone on to win the SEC Championship Game in 21 seasons of action might actually mean that the league is overdue for just such an occurrence.

Still, SEC fans might want to take another long gander at their favorite schools’ openers.  History suggests any opening day losers can scratch “Gatorade shower in Atlanta” off their to-do lists.

 

Thursday

North Carolina at South Carolina

Ole Miss at Vanderbilt

 

Saturday

Alabama vs Virginia Tech (Atlanta)

UL-Lafayette at Arkansas

Washington State at Auburn

Toledo at Florida

Georgia at Clemson

Kentucky vs Western Kentucky (Nashville)

LSU vs TCU (Arlington)

Mississippi State vs Oklahoma State (Houston)

Murray State at Missouri

Austin Peay at Tennessee

Rice at Texas A&M

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Wow Headlines 6/2/2013

Arkansas A.D. responds to Ohio State President Gordon Gee regarding comments about Bret Bielema…
“I am deeply troubled by the unfounded and slanderous remarks…”
Gordon had said Wisconsin A.D. Barry Alvarez thought Bielema was a “thug”…
Gee has apologized for his remarks
Stadium capacity at Missouri’s football stadium will be temporarily reduced  by about 3,000 due to construction
The SEC distributed just under $290 million to its membersl in the 2012-2013 school year, $20.7 per school
Conference schedule will remain at eight games next years in the same 6-1-1 format
Kentucky safety Ashely Lowery still recovering from car wreck but expected to rejoin team in Lexington in early June
Texas A&M cancels an upcoming series with Southern Cal
Texas A&M president on rivalry with Texas – “isn’t relevant to us anymore”
SEC having discussions with Atlanta, Tampa and St. Louis about hosting upcoming SEC Basketball Tournaments
Follow SEC news year round at MrSEC.com and on Twitter at Twitter.com/mrsec

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Wow Headlines June 1 2013

The SEC distributed just under $290 million to its membersl in the 2012-2013 school year, $20.7 per school
Conference schedule will remain at eight games next years in the same 6-1–1 format
Kentucky safety Ashely Lowery still recovering from car wreck but expected to rejoin team in Lexington in early June
Texas A&M cancels an upcoming series with Southern Cal
Texas A&M president on rivalry with Texas – “isn’t relevant to us anymore”
SEC having discussions with Atlanta, Tampa and St. Louis about hosting upcoming SEC Basketball Tournaments
Follow SEC news year round at MrSEC.com and on Twitter at Twitter.com/mrsec

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Snoop Lion’s Son Offered A Scholarship By LSU

Cordell-BroadusReceiver prospect Cordell Broadus has a snared himself a new scholarship offer to go along with previous offers from California, Duke, Oregon State, Southern Cal, UCLA, Washington and Tennessee.  LSU is the latest school to put an offer on the table.

So why is this story on our homepage and not just on the recruiting page?

Because you might have heard of Broadus’ father — Snoop Lion.  Though you might know him better by his pre-Rastafarian name — Snoop Dogg.  And Snoop Dogg’s ties to LSU and its coach might help the Tigers’ chances in the race for Broadus.

The rap star is a massive sports fan and has backed a number of colleges over the years with Southern Cal’s and LSU’s jerseys being among his favorites to wear in public.  At one time he also had a house in Baton Rouge.  And in 2008, he popped up with Les Miles at a Rotary Club meeting, prompting Miles to say: “I defend his music and am much more a fan of the person.”

Snoop Dogg, er Lion said he showed up at the event (pictured below) “to give my love and support to Coach Miles.”

 

snoop and les

 

At the moment, Broadus seems to be more wowed by Southern Cal’s offer, having grown up a Trojan fan.

Still, Miles’ friendship (?) with the junior-to-be’s father can’t hurt LSU’s chances.

After Tyrann Mathieu’s alleged admission that he failed double-digit drug tests for weed while in Baton Rouge, we’ll let you insert your own joke about the Tigers now chasing the son of a tried and true Rastafarian.

In the words of Broadus’ father: bow wow wow yippee yo yippie yay.

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UT’s Jones Tries To Coax Favorite Son Martin Back To Knoxville

You can call it the first major recruiting pitch of new coach Butch Jones’ career at Tennessee.  Yesterday he spent the day wooing ex-Vol quarterback Tee Martin back to Knoxville.

But while many folks always believe any alum would kills for a chance to return to his old school as a coach, the reality is a little different.  For fans, of course a player would return.  For players-turned-coaches, there are little things like money, family happiness, and upward mobility that weight into the decision.

Perhaps that’s why Martin — who led UT to the 1998 BCS championship as quarterback — spent the day in Knoxville yesterday and then scrambled back to Los Angeles and his job as Southern Cal’s receivers coach this morning without giving Jones or his old school an answer.  Martin was on the Kentucky staff that snapped a long losing streak to Tennessee.  He then went to work with Lane Kiffin, one of the most hated sports figures in the history of the Volunteer State.  In case you haven’t been keeping up, sentimentality doesn’t appear to rank too high on Martin’s list of reasons to accept/decline a job.

“Things went really good,” Martin told The Knoxville News Sentinel.  “I had an opportunity to meet the staff and see everything that’s changed (on campus).  I could tell they were headed in the right direction…

“We’ll see what happens.  Today was more about getting to know each other… It’s about making this decision for the right reason.”

The ex-QB also told VolQuest.com (paywall) — the Rivals site covering Tennessee — that he was going back to California to “talk with Lane and then make my decision.”

So is Martin heading back to Southern Cal’s campus to tell Kiffin bye-bye in a face-to-face meeting?  Is he trying to convince his singer wife Toya to move from LA to Knoxville?  Or is he just using Tennessee’s offer to get a raise in California?

Whatever Martin’s motivations, this should show fans of all schools that there’s more to accepting a job than just spending four college years on a school’s campus.  For an assistant it’s a career move, a business decision.  Even for an alum.  Even if his blood runs (insert school color here).

 

UPDATE – Multiple reports from Knoxville are claiming Martin has rebuffed Tennessee’s offer. Martin: “I made a commitment to my players at USC.”

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That Didn’t Take Long, SEC Back In BCS Title Picture

When Texas A&M upset Alabama a weekend ago, the SEC needed some breaks if it was going to capture another national championship banner.

First, the league needed for Alabama to stay within the top four and not drop deeper down into the BCS standings well.  That happened as Bama fell only to #4.  Second, the SEC needed at least two of the three teams ahead of Alabama to lose over the course of the regular season’s final two weeks.  And darned if two of those three didn’t lose on Saturday night!

The current BCS standings now shape up as follows:

 

1.  Notre Dame — The Irish play at Southern Cal on Saturday, but the Trojans will be without starting quarterback Matt Barkley.

2.  Alabama – The Tide finish the season at home against 3-8 Auburn and will then face…

3.  Georgia – In the SEC Championship game.  The Dawgs close out the season with a visit from Georgia Tech this weekend.

4.  Florida -- The Gators face #10 Florida State in Tallahassee on Saturday.  Whether starting quarterback Jeff Driskel will be back from an ankle injury remains a mystery this morning.

5.  Oregon – The Ducks might be this year’s Alabama as there’s a chance they could lose their own Pac-12 North Division and still get voted into the national title game through a series of upsets and outside help.

6.  Kansas State – The Wildcats are probably done, barring a long series of miracles.

 

LSU is ranked #7, Texas A&M #9, and South Carolina #12 in the latest standings.

 

As for the BCS Championship Game picture, it appears as though Notre Dame is in with a win over disappointing Southern Cal in LA.  Then, barring a massive upset by either Auburn or Georgia Tech, the SEC Championship Game winner — either Alabama or Georgia — will most likely face the Irish in Miami with a chance to collect a seventh straight BCS crown for the SEC.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Bama #1; Six SEC Teams In The New Top 25

The new AP Poll is out and Alabama jumped to the top of the rankings.  The Tide’s 41-14 win over #8 Michigan — that’d now be #19 Michigan — was enough to push Bama past Southern Cal and old SEC pal Lane Kiffin.

The SEC landed five teams in the Top 10 overall and six in the Top 25.  But wait, there’s more.  An additional five league teams were among those receiving votes.  That means 11 of the SEC’s 14 teams received at least one vote in this week’s AP poll.  (Our condolences to Kentucky, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt fans.)

At any rate, here’s how the SEC fared in the AP voting after Week One:

 

1.  Alabama

3.  LSU

7.  Georgia

8.  Arkansas

9.  South Carolina (tied with West Virginia)

24.  Florida

 

Also receiving votes were Tennessee (which came in at #27), Missouri (#36), Texas A&M (#37), Mississippi State (#40), and Auburn (tied with MSU for what would be #40).

UPDATE — Nick Saban’s team has also claimed the #1 slot in this week’s USA Today Coaches Poll.

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After All That, UF’s Driskel Has A Sore Shoulder

Yesterday we used the case of Jeff Driskel’s sore/broken/bruised/destroyed/nicked shoulder to remind everyone — fans and media alike — that the current means of new dissemination has gone full-on wonky.  Turns out, all those reports that leaned toward a serious injury for the Florida quarterback were way off-base.  At least according to Florida officials.  And Driskel’s mom.  All of which just goes to prove that the ready-fire-aim, Twitterification of news is a bad, bad thing.

Ditto coaches’ ridiculous attempts to cut off any information they can from the media and, by default, their own teams’ fans.

In Driskel’s case, Twitter exploded yesterday with news of an injury to his non-throwing shoulder.  Reports varied from a small injury to a broken scapula.  Here’s a sampling:

 

The Palm Beach Post quoted a release from UF stating that “Jeff Driskel was a practice today and will be taking reps at practice on Wednesday.”  No biggie.

The Gainesville Sun reported: “Although a source close to the Florida football program told The Sun that quarterback Jeff Driskel has sustained a ‘significant’ shoulder injury, UF released a statement Tuesday afternoon saying Driskel will practice with the team Wednesday.”  The paper’s source claimed Driskel injured his shoulder Sunday, did not realize it until Monday, and the “unspecified injury” was discovered after that.

The Orlando Sentinel wrote that Driskel “was injured during practice Sunday, but he is expected to return to workouts this week.”

InsideTheGators.com — the Rivals site covering Florida — reported behind a paywall that the injury was “minor” and that Driskel “seems fine,” according to a source.

Meanwhile, USA Today went straight to the horse’s (mother’s) mouth.  According to Mary Driskel, her son “told her he injured his left, non-throwing shoulder in drills on Sunday and woke up sore on Monday.  She said Driskel did not practice Monday or Tuesday.  He is expected to return on Wednesday.”

 

All that after the rampant speculation on Twitter had hyped the boo-boo into a major injury.

There are three reasons stories like this get blown out of proportion:

 

1.  Paranoid coaches close off as much info as possible… and fans actually applaud them for it.  Most NFL teams don’t close practice.  Pete Carroll didn’t close practice at Southern Cal.  Writers are simply expected to keep certain things quiet and when they don’t, they get booted.  But the media is allowed to see who’s at practice and how healthy those persons happen to be.  That hasn’t hurt NFL squads and it sure didn’t hurt Carroll at USC.  Coaches who don’t like stories like Driskel’s being blown out or proportion have themselves to blame.

2.  Fans — the same ones who cheer their coaches for fighting off the big, bad media — will scour the earth for every nugget, tidbit, or rumor that they can find regarding their favorite teams.  Credibility doesn’t matter nearly as much as speed.  “Gimme, gimme, gimme… but don’t give it to the media,” seems to be the mantra.  Better to get bad info fast from a messageboard or Twitter than get good info a hair slower from trained professionals.

3.  Media members know the score on all that.  Twenty years ago, the goal was to research a piece and get more details than the other guys in town.  Now, if you want credit, you tweet what you know when you know it.  Whether you actually know it or not.  That’s a bad system and a recipe for trouble and even good journalists fall victim to it.  Gotta get eyeballs.

 

We’re all to blame, people.  You, me and that coach who’s shutting his doors to journalists and the fans to whom they report.

It’s a ridiculous situation.  And it’s only going to get worse and worse.

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UGA’s Official Scholarship Tally: 72

It took a freedom of information request for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution to finally obtain a full tally on the number of scholarship players Georgia will have available for football this fall.  That number?  72… 13 below the 85-scholarship limit.

Chip Towers of The AJC points out that Southern Cal — starting its scholarship reductions this season — will have three more scholarship athletes than the Bulldogs.  That should put things into perspective.

Still, recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner says he’s happy with the thin red line that remains in Athens:

 

“I do like the quality of the young men that we have in the program.  Some of the guys that we’ve lost — and we’ve lost a lot of guys — you wish you could have been able to save a few of those.  It definitely would have helped our situation.  But a lot of those guys we made the decision to cut and move on.  It wasn’t a university decision or whatever.  It was just, what do we want this program to be known as, what do we want it to be?  It’s a double-edged sword.”

 

Sounds good, “What do we want this program to be known as,” and all.  And we all know that UGA has rather strict policies when it comes to arrested players.  But Georgia’s high horse isn’t quite so high after word came Saturday that cornerback Branden Smith — arrested in March for misdemeanor marijuana possession — will not start the season on suspension as expected.

“After just gathering all the information, determining what happened, we’ve got peace that we’re doing the right thing,” Mark Richt said.  Indeed, the head coach has likely got more details on what happened with Smith than any outside party.  Also, Smith entered a pretrial diversion program in May, which apparently allowed the starting DB to avoid suspension.

A misdemeanor marijuana possession charge probably wouldn’t have ended with a suspension at many schools, but Georgia has touted its tougher standards for quite a while now.  You can’t have it both ways.  You can’t point to a strict rulebook one minute only to look for loopholes if your secondary depth starts to look bleak heading into an SEC opener at Missouri.

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Preseason Coaches’ Poll Has LSU, Bama 1-2 Again

Sorry, America.  If the USA Today’s Coaches’ Preseason Poll is correct, the two teams most likely to square off in this year’s BCS Championship Game are LSU and Alabama.  Same as last year.

The poll had LSU eek by Alabama by a total of 1,403 points to 1,399 points.  Southern Cal was third with 1,388 points.

The rankings for the SEC’s schools:

 

1.  LSU

2.  Alabama

6.  Georgia

9.  South Carolina

10.  Arkansas

23.  Florida

25.  Auburn

 

Seven of the top 25 teams and five of the top 10 all from one conference?  Toss in the fact that Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Missouri and Tennessee — in that order — also received a few votes and it’s no wonder so many conference commissioners and university presidents want conference championships to play a big role in the soon-to-come college football playoff.  In the current set-up, it’s an SEC world.

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