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Saban Gets With The Multi-Year Scholarship Program

Alabama’s Nick Saban — an opponent of the multi-year scholarship decision made official by a vote of NCAA presidents this month — is getting with the program.  This week he told Cecil Hurt of that he’s suddenly gung-ho to hand out the longer pacts:

“We’re going to offer four-year scholarships.  Our whole conference is going to do it, all the schools, I think.

And we’re happy to do it…

Most of the conditions are still the same.  The player will still have to be academically eligible.  He will still have to obey team rules and regulations.  And he player is still going to have the same rights and the same appeals process that he has now…

We don’t cut players.  I don’t know anyone who does.  So I don’t think that’s an issue.”

Saban and other coaches might not cut players, but they do occasionally let them know that they’ll be receiving zero playing time if they remain on the team.  In most cases, players want to play.  So while that’s not “cutting,” it is “driving off.”  And it’s still fully legal for coaches to drive off players in that manner.

Other coaches have been outspoken against the multi-year scholarship idea.  Tennessee’s Derek Dooley voiced concerns last week.  South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier called the idea a bad one last year at SEC Media Days.  Overall, four schools — Alabama, LSU, Tennessee and Texas A&M — voted to override the multi-year scholarship rule but they were ultimately voted down.

Now those coaches and schools will have to offer four-year deals or else fall behind in recruiting to schools that do offer such pacts.  So whether Saban, Dooley, Spurrier and others really like the rule or not… they’ll all soon be buying in and abiding by it.  Saban’s just the first to say so.

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Maryland Tries To Block 3 Players From Transferring To Vandy

Maryland coach Randy Edsall is allowing three players to transfer from his program: quarterback Danny O’Brien, offensive lineman Max Garcia and linebacker Mario Rowson.  Initial speculation focused on Vanderbilt — especially in the case of O’Brien — being a potential landing spot.  But Edsall doesn’t want that to happen.

According to The Washington Post, the three players will not be cleared to transfer to Vandy, where former Maryland offensive coordinator James Franklin is quickly turning things around.  Obviously, Vanderbilt is not in the ACC and the Commodores are not going to be on the Terrapins’ schedule anytime soon.  So why the ban on Vandy?  It’s likely Edsall believes Franklin has done some tampering.

Franklin was close to O’Brien and according to The Post, the coach and his then coach-in-waiting status were major reasons the signal-caller inked with Maryland.  In cases like this, it’s not unusual for coaches to assume that word has gone back and forth between player and potential new coach with regards to opportunities and roster spots.  Unfortunately for Edsall, coaches who drop stipulations on transferring players without providing a reason usually lose the ensuing PR battle.  (He should call Tennessee’s Derek Dooley on that one.)

It’s possible that O’Brien can appeal the no-Vandy clause in his release.  It’s also possible that he could enroll at Vandy as a graduate student  – he’s set to graduate from Maryland this spring — without the benefit of a scholarship, but that would be quite pricey.

O’Brien is a native of North Carolina, but Edsall has ix-nayed ACC schools as options as well.  Ole Miss is one of several other schools that have been mentioned as possible landing zone for O’Brien.

The quarterback threw for 1,648 yards, 7 touchdowns and 10 interceptions last year in College Park.

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SEC Headlines – 2/2/12

Between signing day recaps, a sales call and a doctor’s appointment, this is going to be a short day in terms of headlines.  Here they are, all in one bundle:

1.  There were a few SEC surprises on signing day.

2.  Recruiting season isn’t over for Auburn.

3.  The Tigers say they offered multi-year scholarships, but Alabama won’t say what it handed out.

4.  AU took care of Georgia in basketball action last night.

5.  Regardless of the types of scholarships Bama gave out, the Tide won the mythical recruiting championship.

6.  Arkansas missed out on top Missouri prospect Dorial Green-Beckham who elected to stay home and play for the Tigers.

7.  According to, both the Arkansas staff and Oklahoma’s staff got down in the mud in pursuing DGB.  (Did a Hog booster offer to make a donation to the player’s high school?)

8.  There’s talk that Gus Malzahn flipped a UA commitment to Arkansas State.

9.  LSU filled needs with its 2012 class…

10.  But it was an up-and-down day for the Tigers overall.

11.  Dan Mullen says MSU signee Nick Schuessler reminds him of 49er quarterback Alex Smith.  (Mullen coached Smith at Utah).

12.  State’s D-line signees look impressive on paper.

13.  Trae Elston gave Ole Miss a nice boost on signing day.

14.  Hugh Freeze was pleased with UM’s “very good class.”

15.  Will Muschamp says Florida’s class has got fewer “featherweights.”

16.  The Gators landed a Top 5 class.

17.  UF is prepping to host South Carolina in hoops tonight.

18.  Josh Harvey-Clemons never wavered on Georgia, but he did have to convince his grandfather it was the right place for him.

19.  Joker Phillips hopes he found some diamonds in the rough.

20.  Kentucky out-toughed Tennessee this week, but one former college coach thinks the physical approach is still best against the Cats.

21.  Here’s the full report on the current state and future status of Rupp Arena.

22.  Steve Spurrier likes the talent and attitude of his latest Carolina signing class.

23.  Tennessee’s Derek Dooley says he feels good about his signing class…

24.  Apparently he hasn’t read this columnist’s take.

25.  Vanderbilt might have just inked its best class ever.

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SEC Headlines – 10/14/11 Part Two

1.  Note to Ole Miss: Alabama’s third-down defense is pretty salty.

2.  Note to Alabama: Houston Nutt has five wins all-time against Top 5 teams.

3.  Gene Chizik and Will Mushcamp traveled the same path to land their current jobs… and that path will have them facing each other tomorrow.

4.  Auburn’s NCAA clearance has created a wave of emotion in the state of Alabama.

5.  Here’s a midseason report card for Arkansas’ football team.

6.  Mike Anderson will hold his first practice with the basketball Hogs tonight.

7.  Tennessee’s Derek Dooley — a former LSU assistant — says this year’s Tigers aren’t that much different from the 2003 national championship team.

8.  Tiger hoops coach Trent Johnson hopes experience will aid his team this season.

9.  Tomorrow, Ole Miss will face a quarterback in AJ McCarron who’s taking care of the football.

10.  Rebel left tackle Bradley Sowell says his team will come out fighting tomorrow.

11.  Dan Mullen has two good choices at quarterback, but only one can start.

12.  Neither of MSU’s signal-callers will have much success tomorrow without a lot of help from his friends.

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Muschamp At The Podium

Here’s a rundown of Florida coach Will Muschamp’s comments:

* Muschamp seems comfortable and at ease.  Some new coaches seem a little spooked by the massive throng of media they face in Hoover.  Not Muschamp.

* “It’s an exciting time to be a football coach.  We’re all undefeated.  We haven’t made any poor decisions on third down and that sort of thing,” Muschamp joked.

* Muschamp said Urban Meyer has been “first class” and that the new coach has listened to the old coach’s advice “more than anyone else.”

* UF’s coach said the “most important hire” for any coach is his strength coach.  “He’s the one that’s gonna convey that message every day, the toughness, all the things you want done.”  Muschamp said Mickey Marotti — a holdover from Meyer’s staff — “does it at a high level.”

* Muschamp said he is concerned about his team’s depth.

* Muschamp is speaking faster and faster.  Maybe he’s not as comfortable as he initially appeared to be. 

* “We’ve got close to 40 years of NFL experience (on our staff).  I thought that was important.”  Muschamp said he didn’t want NFL scouts having to “project” how players would play in the NFL coming out of his system… he wanted them to see his players in an pro-style system. 

* Jeff Demps is currently running track with the US national team in Italy.

* Asked if it’s tough to make changes at a program that has had a great amount of success, the coach said: “I think more than anything that if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.  And Urban did a phenomenal job.  He and the staff did some great things that we’re gonna continue to do.  There’s things that were very good at Florida.  Why change them if they’re working?  But obviously from a scheme standpoint we feel differently defensively, do a little different offensively, special teams there’ll be a lot of continuity. … But if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.  Don’t just change it for the sake of change.”

* Muschamp said the recruiting battles in Florida are “much more fierce” due to the proximity “of programs like you.”

* Asked what he learned from Nick Saban, Mushcamp said: “Well I think more than anything, total program management.  Philosophically, what you believe offensively, defensively, special teams being tied together on both sides of the ball for what you want to be.  Not having two separate units for what they are.  You know, some teams do that.”

* Muschamp also said Saban’s system of targeting recruits stuck with him.

* Muschamp got a hair snippy when asked if he’s not 100% sure that Demps will be back in the fall.  “Based on our conversations he’ll be back.  I don’t deal in rumors and I don’t deal in messageboards.  I don’t know any good ball coaches that do that.”  Now, imagine that being said at 100 miles per hour with no punctuation.  That’s how quickly Muschamp speaks.  When asked why the coach said he still needs to meet with Demps, Muschamp said the player is in Italy right now and he likes to deal with people “eyeball to eyeball.”  He then drew some laughs when he said, “And I ain’t never been to Italy.”  (It probably shouldn’t be a surprise since both men coached under Saban, but Muschamp does share some mannerisms with Tennessee’s Derek Dooley.)

* Asked if it’s odd to get along so well with rival coaches like Saban, Dooley and Jimbo Fisher, Muschamp responded: “I wouldn’t say we all get along that well.  (Laughs).  No, I don’t have any problem having great respect for and liking someone that we’re competing against.  I played in the backyard with my brothers and I wanted to beat as bad as anybody.  I still love ‘em.”

* Muschamp was asked how it feels to be “a Georgia guy” coaching Florida.  “I’m a Florida guy.”

* “Our policy at the University of Florida is that we don’t oversign and we don’t greyshirt.  It hasn’t really affected our success.”

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SEC Headlines – 3/21/11 Part Two

1.  From a cash perspective, the SEC is pulling for Florida and Kentucky in the NCAA tourney.

2.  Marquette’s Buzz Williams is still a possibility at Arkansas.

3.  Freshman Spencer Ware might be LSU’s featured tailback.

4.  MSU AD Scott Stricklin says it would take a “compelling reason” to do away with divisional play in basketball.

5.  Florida expects Kenny Boynton to play Thursday against BYU despite an ankle injury.

6.  Ole Miss officials are planning a trip to tour the FedExForum (all one word, which is silly) as they continue to think about a new arena.

7.  Who will the Rebels’ quarterback be this fall?

8.  Kentucky officials are tackling the issue of athletics oversight.

9.  UK’s next opponent — Ohio State — can’t keep playing as well as it has been.  Can it?

10.  South Carolina running back Eric Baker is glad to be back on a football field after back-to-back injuries.

11.  Vanderbilt fans aren’t happy with Kevin Stallings after another first-game loss in the NCAA tourney.

12.  Tennessee’s Derek Dooley says “This is year one and last year was year zero.” 

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Dooley Upset With Vols’ “Poor Me” Attitude

He coaches a team that has little depth and little talent.  His squad came close to upending LSU on the road only for a penalty to cost them the game.  Two blowout losses have followed.  And the press jumped on him for suggesting that his team sometimes looks as confused as the Germans at Normandy.

Add it all up and you might have part of the reason Tennessee’s Derek Dooley was in a foul mood yesterday.  The other part had to do with his players not bringing the proper attitude to practice this week.

“It’s not something that’s unique to these guys.  It’s human nature not to be able to wake up every day and bring your best,” Dooley told The Knoxville News Sentinel.  “There is no other option.  It doesn’t matter if you’re hurtin’, ‘I’m sick, I got the flu, I got the swine flu.’  It doesn’t matter.  You work.  And you got to work and you put it all in every day.

“Hypothetically, on a given team, some guys get the ‘poor me’s.’  ‘Poor me, I’m not playing good.  Poor me, we’re not winning.  Poor me, the coaches are on me.  Poor me, class, study hall…’  Nobody really cares about that.  Some guys just mentally chose not to bring it.  Sometimes that happens.”

And it sounds like Dooley isn’t happy that it’s happening in Knoxville.

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