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SEC Headlines – 2/28/12

1.  Tony Barbee wants his Auburn basketball team to toughen up.

2.  The Tigers could be without two suspended guards tomorrow in Tuscaloosa.

3.  Will the injured ankle of Alabama’s Trevor Lacey allow him to play against the Tigers?

4.  A tougher Tide team has emerged after multiple suspensions to key players.

5.  Arkansas hopes to send its seniors off in style when Ole Miss visits tonight.

6.  LSU will try to bounce back from a Rebel beatdown when Tennessee arrives for senior night tomorrow.

7.  The first hurdle has been cleared in LSU’s push to expand Tiger Stadium’s south end zone.

8.  Mississippi is aiming for a season sweep of Arkansas tonight.

9.  UM is also looking for some consistency.

10.  Florida starts the final week of the regular season with a tough road trip to Vanderbilt.

11.  A win locks up the #2 seed in the SEC tourney for the Gators.

12.  Here’s a breakdown of Georgia’s tournament outlook.

13.  Kentucky has made the hire of receivers coach Pat Washington official.

14.  South Carolina fans haven’t exactly been filling up Colonial Life Arena.

15.  Cuonzo Martin’s steady leadership is paying dividends for Tennessee.

16.  Vandy’s veterans will try to keep their emotions in check when Florida visits on senior night tonight.

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SEC Headlines 12/12/11

1.  After dropping back-to-back games, Alabama got back in the win column with a 63-54 victory over Detroit yesterday.

2.  With Mike Dyer suspended, Auburn has but only two scholarship backs with carries this season.

3.  Bobby Petrino has restocked the coaching cupboard at Arkansas.

4.  LSU is exploring an expansion of Tiger Stadium (and the plans look mighty slick).

5.  It’s looking more and more like Duke O-line coach Matt Luke will join the staff at Ole Miss.

6.  MSU is using the early part of bowl practice to work with the Bulldogs’ younger players.

7.  Florida, meanwhile, its using bowl practices to get tougher… by holding another training camp in December.

8.  The Georgia football has handed out its awards for 2011.

9.  Kentucky is 8-1 and the one loss came on a buzzer-beating shot by undefeated Indiana on Saturday… but the Cats “problems” are fixable.  (Oh, what team wouldn’t trade for UK’s problems?)

10.  South Carolina assistants Steve Spurrier Jr. and Shawn Elliott are rumored to be head coaching candidates at Coastal Carolina.

11.  Cuonzo Martin is planning to use Tennessee’s loss to Austin Peay as a painful lesson to his team.

12.  Bob Shoop turned down overtures regarding Richmond’s head coaching job to remain in Nashville as Vanderbilt’s defensive coordinator.

13.  The SEC has named its Players of the Week in basketball.

14.  Kentucky falls to #3 in the latest polls, which include four other SEC teams in the Top 25… six if you count soon-to-be-members Missouri and Texas A&M.

15.  The Sports Business Journal has listed Mike Slive as the 35th most influential person in sports.


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SEC Headlines – 10/7/11

It’s going to be a quickie kind of Friday for us.  We’ve already posted our thumbnail projections for this weekend’s games and the finale of our 10-part series: “Expansion By The Numbers” will be going up a little later.

In between, some headlines from around the league:


1.  So far, Alabama has been able to avoid mistakes this season.

2.  The Crimson Tide’s O-line continues to bond, continues to improve.

3.  Auburn’s run game has revived the Tigers…

4.  But after five games, the squad is still a bit of a mystery.

5.  Auburn will come at Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson “with a lot of respect” tomorrow.

6.  The Razorbacks are “not a very good tackling team.”  (Good think Jake Bequette will be back.)

7.  Florida’s Will Muschamp will be returning to the scene of his early success when he takes the field at LSU tomorrow.

8.  Les Miles says the Louisianans on his roster seem to “care more” about wearing the purple and gold.

9.  MSU coaches sold James Carmon on a move from left tackle to right guard by talking about his NFL draft value.

10.  When it comes to the Bulldogs’ offense, there’s plenty of blame to go around.

11.  Ole Miss tailback Jeff Scott — all 5-7, 175 pounds of him — is putting up some big numbers.

12.  Houston Nutt says his teams needs this weekend’s open date.

13.  Florida’s goal at LSU — win the line of scrimmage.

14.  Freshman quarterback Jeff Driskel has had a lot of success in life (but making the first start of his career in Tiger Stadium is a tall order).

15.  Mark Richt revealed this morning that his offensive line will feature a new starting lineup tomorrow.

16.  UGA receiver and Tennessee native Marlon Brown wants more boos from the Knoxville crowd.

17.  Kentucky offensive coordinator Randy Sanders isn’t as popular as he used to be.  (Amazing what losing Mike Hartline, Randall Cobb and Derrick Locke will do to a man’s reputation.)

18.  UK isn’t getting the production the recruiting rankings suggested.

19.  John Calipari had to pay off some Memphis attorneys who were threatening — of behalf of “certain ticket holders — to sue him for leaving the Tiger basketball program on probation.  (What a bad precedent this sets.)

20.  A look at the numbers shows that whether it’s Stephen Garcia under center or not, the South Carolina passing game has struggled under Steve Spurrier.

21.  Bruce Ellington’s role may expand in Carolina’s offense.

22.  Tennessee has played four games… and has but one interception on the season.

23.  Quarterbacks Tyler Bray and Aaron Murray will be fighting for a “quality win” on Saturday.

24.  Unlike Tennessee, Vanderbilt has used pressure to help tally a nation’s best 14 interceptions.

25.  Vandy might shuffle its offensive line against Alabama tomorrow.

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Miles Wouldn’t Mind Playing In Front Of Beer-Fueled Tiger Fans

Saturday night, Les Miles will take his unbeaten LSU Tigers into Morgantown, West Virginia for a battle with the Mountaineers.  WVU fans have a reputation for being as loud and rowdy as Tiger fans down on The Bayou.  This week — since their application for SEC membership was placed on the bottom of the Mike Slive’s pile — they might provide even more volume than usual. 

And speaking of volume, for the first time, WVU is selling beer at home games this season.  So by volume, a lot of suds will likely be consumed by the time kickoff rolls around.  Verdict: It could be a very hostile night for LSU at the end of West Virginia’s country roads.

Miles was asked what might happen if LSU were to follow WVU’s lead and start selling beer at Tiger Stadium:


“If they serve beer in Tiger Stadium, I fear that the upper decks might not hold it.  I certainly want to be politically correct and not be against serving beer in Tiger Stadium.  Certainly the athletic director and the chancellor would have to make that decision.  But I promis you, we would enjoy playing in front of a Tiger Stadium that occasionally had a beer.”


And that might not be outside the realm of possibility.  In July it was announced that LSU would be partnering with a Baton Rouge brewery to produce an LSU-branded blonde ale.

Our thoughts?  The V-Roys and Bluto sum ‘em up…



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LSU Exploring Expansion Of Tiger Stadium

Across the country, falling attendance numbers are putting a scare into many, many professional teams.  Watching games at home in HD a lot less stressful than driving to, parking at, and buying a seat at the local stadium.  Staying at home also has the added benefit of being a heckuva lot cheaper.

Some sports analysts are even talking about what was once unthinkable — building smaller stadiums that provide more amenities than the current behemoths.  Fewer seats, more luxury boxes, better sight lines, etc. 

And now consider what’s going on in Baton Rouge.  LSU is surveying its season-ticket holders to see if there is need to expand Tiger Stadium.  Yeah, that’s right.  Opposing teams might soon be facing a bigger, louder Death Valley.

While many sports officials are scratching their heads and wondering if they need to contract and spruce up their stadiums, LSU is looking at expanding.  That certainly speaks to the passion of the Tiger fanbase.

“This is something that may or may not happen, but you have to start somewhere in terms of gauging interest of fans,” LSU associate AD Herb Vincent told The Associated Press.  “There might be interest, but we have to know how much people are willing to pay and how does that balance out with how much the cost would be.”

According to The AP, one thought is to add a club lounge to the 92,400-seat stadium.  Also, new suite leases could run anywhere from $20,000 to $100,000 per year.

Keep in mind that schools — in this economy — are trying to squeeze every dime they can from fans and boosters.  So if spending X million on stadium expansion would bring in X million + 1 in revenue, expansion will be considered.

But LSU officials also must consider what would happen if the Tigers’ football fortunes turned south for some reason.  Remember, there was a lengthy decline in Bayou gridiron fortunes before Nick Saban arrived and tapped into Louisiana’s deep talent pipeline.  If something were to change — and every program goes through highs and lows — would an expanded yet less-filled Tiger Stadium be a negative?  That will definitely be discussed… just maybe not with the local newspaper.

LSU sold out all seven home games last season. 

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LSU Wants To Silence MSU’s Cowbells

Some quick back story:


1.  Mississippi State fans didn’t do a great job of adhering to the league’s anti-noisemaker policy early last season.

2.  Threatened further with the loss of their beloved bells, things improved in Starkville.  “Mississippi State’s enforcement of the artificial noisemaker policy improved greatly during the season,” SEC associate commissioner Charles Bloom said.

3.  This week in Destin the SEC’s ADs voted to outlaw State’s cowbells… but then a majority of the league’s coaches voted to give MSU fans another chance to prove they can “ring responsibly.”

4.  The ADs changed their vote and recommended to the presidents — who will vote on the matter today — to allow the bells to stay.


But you can count LSU chancellor Michael Martin as one who’ll be voting against the cowbells today:

“When does a tradition become an annoyance?  From what we’ve been told, they had some problems with the new rule in the games last season.  It’s an artificial noisemaker, and people were ringing them during play, which is against the rules. …

It may be time for State to adjust.  I think it’s similar to a lot of schools who have had to change their nicknames for various reasons.  Sometimes you have to move on.”


As we’ve said before, MSU fans should be made to ring the bells only during stoppages of play.  If they don’t show more respect for the rules than that, then they themselves will have forfeited the right to ring their bells.

However, in answer to Martin’s “when does a tradition become an annoyance” question: When it’s someone else’s tradition.

Perhaps Martin should spend a bit more time and energy trying to prevent his own school’s fans from terrorizing opposing teams’ buses as they attempt to enter the grounds of Tiger Stadium.  That’s a “tradition” that’s well past annoying.

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Baton Rouge Preparing For Flooded Mississippi River

This spring has not been kind to the SEC region.  Just two weeks ago tornadoes ripped through the majority of SEC states.  Tuscaloosa, Alabama was left devastated, looking very much like the proverbial war zone.  Now another SEC hometown could be in the path of a natural disaster.

Residents in Baton Rouge are preparing for the swollen waters of the Mississippi River to push past its banks.  The river is expected to crest at 47.5 feet on May 22nd, but opening a spillway this weekend could reduce the high water by 1.5 feet.  Unfortunately, the water would have to go somewhere… and more than 20,000 people and 11,000 structures could be affected.

From a purely athletic perspective, SportsByBrooks.com picked up on an LSU Facebook post that shows Tiger Stadium and the Pete Maravich Assembly Center to be just .75 miles from the rising waters of the river. 

The photo at left — click here for a larger view — was taken from atop a levee along Skip Bertman Drive.  At the end of the road, Tiger Stadium can be seen beyond the copse of trees.

If things get worse in Baton Rouge, it won’t be the first time the campus was touched by natural disaster in recent years.  In March of 2009, a tornado outbreak did damage to the LSU campus including several athletic facilities.

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Piecing Together a Season

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2010 LSU football may well be remembered as the year Miles earned the fan's respect.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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Kevin C. Cox – Getty Images

2010 LSU football may well be remembered as the year Miles earned the fan’s respect. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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As a card carrying member of the Delusional Optimism club, I’m proud to say that we here at ATVS have proudly kept our heads down, kept on plugging and delightfully enjoyed a season with successes that are no surprise of us. I genuinely feel this way, and it’s not just some retrospective “I told ya so” rubbish I can spew now that the Tigers are 10-1 and on the verge of locking down a BCS bid.

To be honest, what came as a shock to me this season is when our players played poorly. I’ve seen many express surprise at Jefferson’s recent play. I’m not surprised. I was surprised he played so poorly throughout the first 3/4ths of the season. I’m not surprised LSU broke free from average seasons, because when I reviewed the attrition that ravaged our roster at key positions the previous two seasons, it was no shocker why we struggled. I’m not surprised Miles has succeeded either. Far too much credit is given to Saban for Miles’ coached teams in ’05, ’06 and ’07. Not that Saban’s impact on LSU should be minimized in any way, but neither should Miles’ successes be casually swept under the rug and labeled “Saban’s players.”

The the truth is, the 2010 LSU Tigers may be the most shining example of Miles’ brilliant coaching. We knocked out 8 wins with subpar quarterback play. We beat Alabama soundly while losing three starters in the first half. We’ve lost key starters at every level of our defense for some period of time. We lost an OL starter on the first play of the game. Started the season without our dynamic TE. Lost our best defensive end. Our best safety. And for a time, our best linebacker (I’m speaking of Ryan Baker). Yet, we kept trucking along. The media didn’t give us the injuries excuse (I guarantee had Alabama lost three key starters and beaten us, all they would have talked about was “Saban’s masterful coaching job.”). Many of our own fans scarcely acknowledged the success of the season, loudly proclaiming it would be just like ’08 and ’09 where we’d lose to Bama, Ole Miss and Arkansas to finish the year with a modest record. Yet here we are, heading into the Battle for the Golden Boot with a chance to beat all three.

The truth is, everything about this team has the stamp of Miles. Their toughness, their charisma… their ability to never say die. There is never a head hung, never a play given up on, never a moment when you can count this team out of it. After the Florida game, I compared Les to Mickey O’Neill. Just ask his opponents, right when you least expect it, Les is liable to knock your ass out.  Is it aggravating that we can never seem to just blow the doors off an SEC opponent? Sure. But I can tell you this, from a national perspective, the LSU game is one NO ONE wants to miss… Les’ team is fun to watch.

And maybe, just maybe, the 2010 team is the sweet reminder of that very principle that our fanbase needed. Football is a game and a fun one at that. Why shouldn’t it be enjoyed? Through the weeping and gnashing of teeth of the previous two seasons, it seems the joy of LSU football was simply drained from the fan base. Some began to boo our own team (shame on you). But Les has reminded us all this season to enjoy it.

What’s the point of following if you are going to write the team off midway through the season? Why go if you are going to boo your own team? Why did so many simply quit enjoying the beauty and terror that is Tiger Stadium? I know one man who didn’t… Les Miles. He loves it enough to eat the grass. My colleague Richard Pittman wrote a great comment about how Les seems to understand his role in the bigger process of it all. In the era of the domineering, business-like coach (Saban, Meyer), Miles is that rare categorical opposite.

For all the slanderous references to his preference for old school football, he’s probably the most anti-traditional coach in the NCAA. Miles gets that the end game isn’t about him or his legacy. He isn’t obsessed with being perceived as the greatest coach in the history of college football. He doesn’t care if people poke fun at his hat or the way he talks. It’s not about him. It’s about his guys. It’s about coming to work every day making sure he does his level best to make sure his guys have the best experience possible. His players love him for it. And I don’t know about you, but I love when I hear Miles say things like, “It would have been wrong of me NOT to call that play.” 

That’s what makes Miles a fantastic coach. It’s about belief and motivation. It’s about trusting that your underlings will do their job without having to micro-manage every little facet of their lives. And regardless of the ridiculously wrong assumptions, it’s about training guys to become better and better every day, both as football players and as human beings. The 2010 football team may well be remembered as the squad that restored Miles reputation amongst his own fan base.

I’ve seen people remark that Les being a nice guy should have no bearing on the perception of his performance as a coach. After all, “who cares if he’s an asshole if he wins?” I do. I like that Les is a good person. I like that people enjoy his company. I like that he’s gracious to high school coaches and random fans alike. I like that parents trust him. You tell me those things don’t matter on the recruiting trail. Gary Danielson commented that Les is a guy he would trust his son to play for. That’s a major compliment in my eyes. Danielson is a former player, so he knows the ropes. Saying that indicates to me that he believes that Les would both take care of his son as a person and improve him as a player. And at the very heart of the matter, that’s what 2010 has been all about anyways. Care and improvement.

If you’ve been too cynical and too critical to enjoy the ride, I feel sorry for you. There’s a time for analysis, and there’s a time for criticism. And then there’s a time to just sit back and enjoy the ride. Enjoy Turkey Day folks. Relax and enjoy your Tigers. Delight in the fun that is ahead, because I guarantee there is a lot of it, both this year and in the years to come.


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Post Game Chatter: The Ole Miss Game

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Hats off to Jefferswag; he deserved this one. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

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Gerald Herbert – AP

Hats off to Jefferswag; he deserved this one. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

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If I told you Monday that of last week that against Ole Miss we would have 470 yards and 43 offensive points; I think you would have laughed at me all the way up till kickoff. Hello offense, glad we found you. Unfortunately, it’s too bad it couldn’t have been a sound whipping (though, whoever expects that against Ole Miss at this point is out of their basket). For literally the first time all year I can say this and it not be a joke: We moved the ball at will for an entire game. I’ve stated my feelings on the matter in recent weeks, but this game more than ever cemented that there’s no reason to play Jarrett Lee any longer, Jordan Jefferson has taken ahold of the starting job. It appears the light has finally come on. For the previous 2 1/2 years we’ve seen Jefferson survive on athleticism (he’s a talented guy, after all). Recently, we’ve seen him become a quarterback. I’m not sure if he did, but I hope he got game ball. Jefferson played his ass off yesterday.

And that was the good news from Saturday… the bad after the jump…

Early in the 2nd half, my buddy, who is in law school, shot me a text and asked me to text him if the game was interesting with six minutes to go. My response? “It’s two of the craziest/dumbest coaches in college football… it’s going to be interesting.” Now, I don’t think Les is stupid, but in all likelihood Houston Nutt is. Both have a reputation for being gamblers. Both are pretty routinely mocked by talking heads. I think Miles is a superior coach, but the point is, count on this game to be close, particularly with the two coaches involved. 

I tip my hat to Jeremiah Masoli and the Ole Miss offense, not just for playing a great game, but for getting up off the mat after an early turnover that seemed damning. In most games this year our defense has ranged from anywhere to very good to downright dominant. But against both of the spread rushing offenses we faced, we’ve greatly struggled. Issues with tackling persisted in both games. What throws me for a loop is that the defense we throw out is undersized and fast, yet we’ve contained downhill, traditional power running attacks really well. But the two offenses which used more “speed” approaches (don’t read this to say “finesse” as both are very physical), have scorched us on the ground. We’ve struggled to bottle up speed sweeps and QB option plays whether they be zone read, or midline veer. It’s a defensive weakness and one I shutter to think about in a matchup against Oregon next season.

Yet, one thing sticks with me from an episode of Hard Knocks this season. Speaking to his team, Rex Ryan commented during film review that this is how we do things, “when the defense doesn’t show up the offense will pick them up.” I’m paraphrasing but you get the idea… it’s a team effort. It’s disappointing that the offense didn’t play well, but damn promising that the offense was able to rise up and win a game for us. It’s something we’ve been waiting for all year.

A Few Other Notes:

-Kudos to the Seniors and probably Patrick Peterson, who are playing their final games in Tiger Stadium.

-Our backfield is something else. Zero seniors, the the most talented guys are arguably the youngest (Ford, Ware, not to mentioned Hilliard and Hill coming in next year).

-This may well have been Michael Ford’s breakout game. Everyone’s preseason fantasies are finally coming true.

-Good to see Mr. Randle rise up and make a huge play yesterday.

-Chris Tolliver sighting, everyone. Good to see him finally emerging.

-The pass play to Clement, despite being ridiculously called “cute” was a beautiful play. Good Gary is fun to watch.

-Offense was still wretched on third down last night.

-We averaged 12.3 yards per pass. Big plays were to be had in the passing game and we took them.

-Maybe the presence of Zach Mettenberger was all the motivation Jefferson needed to prove his worth this week.

-10 wins. Some said it would never be repeated. Some said we wouldn’t beat Alabama or Florida again, much less in the same season. Hats off to Coach Miles and this damn strong team.


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This was my last game in Tiger Stadium as a student.

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I just wanted to thank LSU Athletics, Coach Les Miles and the LSU Tigers for the wonderful 4 years of football I’ve gotten to enjoy in Tiger Stadium.  I’m proud to say that I attended every home game since 2007.

At Tiger Stadium, I saw 24 wins and 5 losses.  There’s been joy and there’s been heartbreak, and thank God there’s been much more joy than heartbreak.  Tonight was a bittersweet moment.  The win was sweet.  The fact that I probably won’t be returning to Tiger Stadium for awhile is bitter, but I’ll sign up for the season ticket waiting list as soon as I can.

Once again, thanks to everybody involved for making this a special time for me.  Geaux Tigers!


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