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Linebacker Wade Commits To Texas A&M

Texas A&M received its 16th commitment for the class of 2013 on Wednesday when linebacker Brett Wade from Kennedale (Texas) High School gave his pledge to the Aggies.

“They just had everything I have been looking for,” Wade told AggieYell.com. “They play a 4-3 defense, they are going to the SEC, I like the coaches there a lot, and I want to study engineering.”

Wade’s offer list included Ole Miss, Clemson, North Carolina, Texas Tech and West Virginia.

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Robison Won’t Visit Tennessee

Defensive end Chase Robison from Christian Brothers High School in Memphis, Tenn., won’t visit Tennessee this weekend.

Robison confirmed to MrSEC via text message that he’s decided to stick with his commitment to Texas Tech and sign with the Red Raiders on Wednesday.

Tennessee might have run into a numbers issue if Robison had attempted to sign with the Vols. Tennessee has 23 commitments for the class of 2012 (including players who have already signed) and has several uncommitted players remaining on its board.

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Denico Autry Chooses Mississippi State

Mississippi State’s 2012 class received a nice boost on Monday night when it received a commitment from Denico Autry.

The defensive end from East Mississippi Community College in Scooba, Miss., told 247Sports.com he had grown tired of the recruiting process. Autry chose Mississippi State over Tennessee and Auburn.

“I called the Mississippi State coaches (Monday) night and I told them what I wanted to do,” Autry told the website. “They said they were all for it and got real excited. It was getting real hectic with all these schools coming in on me late and I got tired of it. I just like my window of opportunity at Mississippi State and I didn’t want to pass that up.”

Autry, who plans to enroll at Mississippi State in January, is considered the nation’s second-best junior college prospect by 247Sports.

Autry’s teammate, defensive tackle Damien Jacobs, is committed to Tennessee but is still considering Mississippi State, Florida, Texas A&M and Texas Tech. Jacobs, who will also enroll at his next school in January, plans to announce his final decision on Dec. 21.

Jacobs told MrSEC via text message he’s “not sure” if his decision will be affected by Autry’s commitment to Mississippi State.

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Leach To Washington State, Off The Market

Anyone dreaming of Mike Leach landing in the SEC this year (Ole Miss fans) or perhaps next (Kentucky, Tennessee fans) can stop dreaming.  The pirate has landed about as far from his South Florida home as imaginable.

Leach has been hired by Washington State, which might just be the best place for him.  If there’s a school as isolated and off-the-beaten path as Texas Tech, it’s Wazzu.  In addition, the Cougars have a long history of producing star college quarterbacks… from Jack Thompson to Drew Bledsoe to Ryan Leaf.  (We said star college quarterbacks.)

In the wide open Pac-12, Leach could prosper as he did in Lubbock.  And if he does — and does so more than Ole Miss — it’s likely the folks in Oxford won’t let their administration forget that they could have had him. 

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Source: Pinkel To Get 2-Game Suspension From Mizzou

Missouri officials have called a press conference for 5pm ET to discuss the school’s handling of Gary Pinkel’s arrest on DWI/DUI charges last night. 

A source has told Dave Matter of The Columbia Tribune that Pinkel will be given the same punishment Missouri athletes usually receive in these situations — a two-game suspension.  If correct, that means Pinkel will not coach against Texas Tech on Saturday or in what will be the most heated Border War game since the actual Border War when Kansas and MU face off on November 26th.

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Leach Says He’s Not Been Contacted By Ole Miss

Among fans, he’s probably the most popular coaching prospect in the country.  But when it comes to administrators, boards and presidents who actually hire football coaches… not so much.

Mike Leach — whose name has been kicked around as a possible replacement for Houston Nutt by everyone including Houston Nutt — sounded a bit disappointed this afternoon when Oxford radio host Erik Ryan Solberg asked him on WUMS-FM if he’d been contacted by Ole Miss officials:


“I wouldn’t tell ya if I had… but I haven’t.”


A hint of frustration could be detected as he uttered those last three words.

Leach once again reiterated that “Ole Miss is a job that I think anyone would have an interest in” and that “all SEC jobs are good and they’re all exciting.”

Looking at Leach’s success at Texas Tech — 10 bowls in 10 years, good graduation rates, etc — there are only two possible reasons the man with the explosive offense hasn’t been snapped up by a program hungry for success:


1.  His mercurial nature

2.  His lawsuit against the most powerful entity in sports, ESPN


Perhaps Archie Manning and crew will pick up a phone and chat with Leach at some point in the coming weeks.  But since he’s already out of work and free to talk, if someone was going to contact him from Oxford, they’d have likely done so by now.

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Nutt, Leach Campaigning For Leach To Land Ole Miss Job

Houston Nutt seems to want what’s best for Ole Miss despite his dismissal.  And he seems to want to help an old acquaintance to get back in the business.

Mike Leach seems to want a crack at the Rebel job.  And it seems likely that he and Nutt have spoken about him campaigning for it.

Here’s why…

A few weeks ago while listening to Leach’s daily Sirius radio talkshow, I heard someone call in and ask the ex-Texas Tech coach about the Ole Miss job and whether he would be interested.  He sidestepped the question saying that Nutt was a friend of his.

Yesterday it was his friend who went on the radio and pitched Leach for the job.  Nutt appearing on Tim Brando’s radio show said:


“You’ve got to bring maybe a little something different offensively.  You’re not always going to have the best 11 on the field when you go against Alabama and LSU.  You need something a little bit creative.  I always think about what Mike Leach did at Texas Tech.  He didn’t hae the best players compared to OU, Nebraska and those guys.  But in playing him in the Cotton Bowl and studying him, he did something a little bit different.  Probably along those lines is what maybe Ole Miss will be.”


So would Leach be interested?  From this quote in The Memphis Commercial-Appeal it sure sounds like it:


“I haven’t heard from anybody, but I’m not too hard to find.  It’s a great job.  I’m sure the administration has a certain individual it is looking for, and I’m sure they’ll find the right guy…

There’s a lot of great athletes in the state of Mississippi and you need to get them to stay in-state.  I know the atmosphere is incredible (at Ole Miss).  It’s a great place with great people.”


It’s not the first time the 50-year-old Leach has talked up a coaching vacancy.  Arizona’s job has been open for a few weeks already.  While in Tuscon promoting his book, “Swing Your Sword,” last Wednesday.  At the time he said of the Wildcats’ position:


“I think it’s a great job.  Anybody would be interested in this job.  The thing is, they have an idea of what they’re looking for.  They have an idea of what direction they’re going.  If I somehow fit in there, then maybe there will be some dialogue.  And if I don’t, I’m sure they will select a good individual for the position.  It’s an exciting position.”


Sound familiar?

In reality, Leach would probably be a better fit at Arizona than at Ole Miss.  Football isn’t as serious in Tuscon as it is in the Deep South.  There would be less media scrutiny in the Pac-12 than the SEC.

But it doesn’t appear that Arizona AD Greg Byrne — formerly of Mississippi State — is interested in Leach.  If he were, he would’ve called him already.

Which leaves us to wonder what Archie Manning’s search committee — expected to be put together by Friday — will think of the often odd Leach.

The ex-Tech coach believes his lawsuit against ESPN has hurt his chances of getting back on a sideline.  “I think it’s had a chilling effect, there’s no question.  In 2008, I was National Coach of the Year,” he told The Lexington Herald-Leader.

“I want to get back to coaching.  These should be my best coaching years and I want to get back.”

Ole Miss should want the best on-field coach for the job and that appears to be Leach.  But in terms of the off-field duties of that job, the UM administration might not want to take a risk on a loose cannon that’s currently at war with one of the SEC’s (and Ole Miss’) most-important business partners.

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Vols Land Florida Defensive Back

Defensive back Daniel Gray from Boyd Anderson High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has committed to Tennessee.

Gray, who last week decommitted from Kansas, also had offers from Ole Miss, Nebraska and Texas Tech.

Gray told Volquest.com he started to hear from UT in recent months.

“I knew they would come hard after me some day,” Gray said. “Eric Berry was my favorite defensive back there.”

Gray is the 19th prospect to commit to UT for the class of 2012.

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Nutt Suggests Leach Would Fit At Ole Miss

If there’s a fan favorite when it comes to Ole Miss’ coaching candidates, that man is most surely Mike Leach.

The former Texas Tech head coach — who has also had offensive success as an assistant at Kentucky — would bring instant credibility to Oxford.  His offense would excite recruits.  His fascination with pirates would give students something better than a black bear to dress up as on gameday.

But would he be a good fit at a school like Mississippi?  Houston Nutt seems to think so.  Speaking on Tim Brando’s radio show today, Nutt said that Ole Miss needs hire a coach who’ll do something different on offense. He then threw props to Leach.

But there’s a downside to making a run at Leach, too.  First, the coach’s ugly departure at Texas Tech will be mentioned again and again.  Would Chancellor Dan Jones want to fool with that?

Second, Leach’s lawsuit against ESPN for it’s coverage/involvement in his ouster — he also claims the network nixed his chances of landing the Maryland job last year — would make for some interesting times.  The SEC and ESPN are business partners.  How would ESPN cover Leach?  How would Leach handle media requests from ESPN?

Finally, would UM’s chancellor want a known loose cannon heading up his football program?  Most bosses like to make safe hires.  Leach ran a clean program and graduated playes (and won games) at Texas Tech, but his off-the-wall persona certainly doesn’t jive with the words “safe hire.”

Should Ole Miss kick the tires on Leach?  In our view… absolutely.  He’d be the first call we’d make.

But we’d want to get to know the guy before we handed him the keys to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

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Expansion By The Numbers 7: Football Stadium Size

When it comes to the Southeastern Conference, football is king.  Oh, sure, when the league is looking at potential expansion partners basketball and Olympic sports matter on some (much smaller) level.  But football is where the money is.  And money — specifically the money from football-related network television packages — is driving expansion.

This Category:  Football Stadium Size

Why:  The easiest way to judge a school’s commitment to football is by judging how big and how nice its stadium is.  Since “nice” is a relative term, we’ll look at size only.

The easiest way to judge a fanbase’s passion for football — and it better be high if a school wants to be a cultural fit with the SEC — is to see how many seats a school has built for its backers.  Again, size matters.

Now, do we believe a school will rise or fall on an SEC wish list because of stadium size?  No.  League presidents won’t be passing around comparisons of seating charts the next time they get together for a chat.

However, league administrators have often spoken of finding a cultural fit for their league.  ”Cultural fit” is a rather amorphous topic.  It’s immeasurable.  Stadium size is one way for us to measure something that at least relates to the football-crazy nature of a school and its fans.  It allows us to measure the immeasurable.

Below are the stadium capacity numbers for each of the 35 schools we’ve been comparing in this series.  While I’m sure a few folks will claim that their school’s stadium can fit even more with standing-room-only tickets, we’re sticking with the following official numbers.

 

Rank School Football Stadium Capacity
1 Penn State 106,572
2 Texas 101,624
3 Texas A&M 82,600
4 Florida State 82,300
5 Oklahoma 82,112
6 Clemson 81,500
7 Notre Dame 80,795
8 Miami 74,916*
9 Missouri 71,004
10 Virginia Tech 66,233
11 S. Florida 65,647*
12 Pittsburgh 65,050*
13 N. Carolina 62,980
14 Virginia 61,500
15 W. Virginia 60,540
16 Texas Tech 60,454
17 Oklahoma State 60,218
18 NC State 57,583
19 Louisville 56,000
20t Georgia Tech 55,000
20t Iowa State 55,000
22 Maryland 54,000
23 Rutgers 52,454
24 Kansas State 52,200
25 Kansas 50,071
26t Baylor 50,000
26t E. Carolina 50,000
28 Syracuse 49,262
29 Boston College 44,500
30 TCU 44,008
31 Connecticut 40,000
32 Cincinnati 35,000
33 Navy 34,000
34 Duke 33,941
35 Wake Forest 31,500

 

* Schools marked with an asterisk play in an off-campus facility that is also home to a professional team.  That just doesn’t fit the SEC profile.

* Those schools with capacities over 80,000 — Penn State, Texas, A&M, FSU, Oklahoma, Notre Dame and Clemson — they are SEC-caliber in terms of fan passion.

* Are you surprised t0 find that Missouri has a bigger football stadium than Virginia Tech?

* Schools with stadiums seating less than 50,000 had better have some serious basketball clout, because serious football schools have larger facilities.

For the sake of comparison, the numbers for current SEC stadiums are as follows:

 

Rank School Football Stadium Capacity
1 Tennessee 102,455
2 Alabama 101,821
3 Georgia 92,746
4 LSU 92,542
5 Florida 88,548
6 Auburn 87,541
7 S. Carolina 80,250
8 Arkansas 76,000
9 Kentucky 67,606
10 Ole Miss 60,580
11 Miss. State 55,082
12 Vanderbilt 39,790

 

* All told, the 12 SEC stadiums feature a combined seating capacity of 944,871.

* The average stadium size in the SEC is 78,739.  Take out Vanderbilt and the average jumps to 82,280.

* Kentucky may be thought of as a basketball school, but the Wildcats’ Commonwealth Stadium is bigger than the facilities at Virginia Tech, North Carolina, West Virginia, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.

In Part 8 of our series on SEC expansion, we’ll look at athletic success.

 

UPDATE — Clemson’s 2011 media guide lists its official stadium capacity as 81,500 after a recent expansion project.  The chart above has been updated.

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