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SEC Headlines – 9/15/11 Part One

With some business to attend to this afternoon, this is going to be a particularly headline-heavy day.  Let’s get started…

1.  Not all SEC schools and coaches are A-OK with Thursday night games.  UPDATE — Here’s a lengthier piece, same topic.

2.  Receiver Duron Carter remains on Alabama’s scout team and there’s “no new information to report” regarding his eligibility.

3.  Bama’s running backs provide a balanced attack.

4..  Don’t expect Nick Saban to get too funky with the Crimson Tide’s uniforms.  (Even last year’s Nike Pro Combat unis were tame by Nike standards.)

5.  Even after a 2-0 start, Auburn’s schedule presents a big challenge.

6.  The Tiger D will continue to feature a deep rotation of players.

7.  Arkansas wants to force more turnovers.

8.  Brandon Mitchell has proven himself to be a capable backup to quarterback Tyler Wilson.

9.  Drop-back passer Zach Stoudt and dual-threat Randall Mackey will both play for Ole Miss against Vandy on Saturday.  (No surprise, seeing as how UM has used five different QB in the last two years.)

10.  Mackey has pled not guilty to charges of disorderly conduct stemming from an August 23rd bar fight.

11.  The Rebel secondary is taking a simpler approach this year.

12.  Mississippi State is breaking ground on its new football complex today.

13.  Tony Barnhart poses five questions heading into this week’s SEC action.

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A Few Afternoon Leftovers

1.’s Stewart Mandel is already trying to predict bowl matchups.

2.’s Pat Forde has posted his first Forde-Yard-Dash column of the season.

In it he includes a great quote from former SEC commish Roy Kramer regarding officiating and how fans view it.  “It’s amazing how much better the officiating is when you don’t care who wins.”  Amen.

3.  Rana L. Cash of names Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore a Heisman hopeful.

4.  Tony Barnhart of looks at 10 big questions on the college football horizon.

5.  And The Jackson Clarion-Ledger has polled 12 SEC beatwriters for their predictions, picks and prognostications for the fall.

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Cutting Down On Cheating Requires A Get-Tough Approach

Appearing on a televised sports show this past Sunday morning, I put forth my plan for curtailing cheating in the NCAA ranks.  And it’s not a plan you’ll hear many other people espousing.

Sure, hiring more investigators wouldn’t hurt the cause.  And using ex-judges on the enforcement committee would be wiser than using people currently associated with NCAA schools.  Thinning the rulebook would also be a positive step.

But if the NCAA really wants to cut down on cheating, it needs to get tough on crime.  Here’s how:

1.  Redefine major violations as anything involving a) extra benefits (money, cars, prostitutes in Miami’s case, etc) and b) cover-ups.

2.  Any school found guilty of committing a major violation loses 10% of its scholarships the following season.  In football, that would be 8.5 bodies which rounds up easily to nine.  One major violation and a football team goes from 85 to 76 scholarships for a season.  Two violations and the program loses 17 bodies.  Imagine if a school were found guilty of four or five major violations.  Here’s the beauty of that plan — the more a school cheats, the closer it comes to applying the death penalty to itself.

3.  Any coach found guilty of a major violation is banned from NCAA coaching for life.  Provide an extra benefit or lie to NCAA investigators and they’re done.  End of story.

4.  Any player found guilty of a major violation loses his eligibility.  Period.  Not for a game or a season, but forever.  Don’t take payouts or else.

Sound tough?  We thought so, too.  In fact, we figured many would scoff at such a get-tough approach.

But then we came across Tony Barnhart’s latest column for  His Monday headline?  “New cause: Give cheating coaches the death penalty.”  He writes:

“If you want to cut back on the cheating, make it clear to coaches that if they are intentionally involved in a major rules violation, a la Jim Tressel, and if they lie about or obstruct the investigation — again like Tressel — they will be banned from coaching at any level of the NCAA for life.”

As noted, I would take things even further by bringing serious punishments to the schools and players as well as to the coaches.  But we share a basic idea: If the consequences of cheating are beyond horrible, more coaches (and players and programs) will think twice before committing major violations.

With every new scandal, there’s talk of the NCAA system being broken and the amateur athlete model being outdated.  I disagree.  If the right deterrents were to be put in place, the system would work just fine.

Steps 1 through 4 above are exactly the right deterrents.

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SEC Headlines – 8/11/11 Part One

We’ll be making a quick day of it today due to a doctor’s appointment — sorry — so we’ll feature a few more headlines than usual… starting with:

1.  Tony Barnhart of says the SEC won’t be going to a nine-game league schedule anytime soon.

2.  Auburn’s freshman class is learning on the fly.

3.  Gus Malzahn says it’s “crunch time” as he tries to find a starting quarterback.

4.  Here’s an AU practice report.

5.  Despite rumors of serious injuries, Alabama running back Eddie Lacy is ready to run in 2011.

6.  Blake Sims brings an extra dimension to the Tide backfield.

7.  Here’s a UA practice report.

8.  Fullback Keiro Small is having a big impact in Arkansas’ preseason camp.

9.  Arkansas basketball game with UConn now has a tip time… opposite the SEC Championship Game in football.  (No doubt Hog fans hope that becomes a worry.)

10.  Arkansas hoops signee Aaron Ross will attend a prep school in Wisconsin.

11.  Could Arkansas be this year’s Auburn?

12.  Due to Steve Kragthorpe’s illness, LSU assistant Steve Ensminger will act as a sort of “utility” coach this fall.

13.  Here’s an LSU practice report.

14.  The summer has not been kind to LSU basketball.

15.  This writer says the NCAA’s “reform” push really isn’t about reform.

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A Trio Of Afternoon Headlines – 7/22/11

1.  Tony Barnhart of says no one should underestimate Mike Slive’s ability to push his agenda for change.

2.  Alabama was the people’s choice at Media Days.

3.  More than a 1,000 people were at this year’s Media Days.  Wonder how many of those were actual working media?

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SEC Headlines – 7/20/11 Part One

Starting after lunch, will go into full SEC Media Days mode.  Knowing that that’s going to be a bear, we’re going to simply catch you up on the bigger stories from around the league via links this morning.

Here’s our kickoff…

1.  Today marks the beginning of football season and the end of “months of conflict and corruption.”

2.  The placement of LSU onto probation will further sully the SEC’s reputation.

3.  By the end of summer, the SEC will have three different schools on NCAA probation.  (That’s a quarter of the league, people.)

4.  Tony Barnhart says on Twitter that Mike Slive might make some news when he addresses the media today.

5.  Matt Hayes of The Sporting News lays out five storylines for SEC Media Days.

6.  With division play in the SEC turning 20 this year — has it really been that long? — the East-West balance in football has been truly remarkable.

7.  Alabama’s game with North Texas on September 17th will kick off at 7:30pm ET.

8.  Gene Chizik and a certain crystal football are on the cover of Auburn’s 2011 media guide.
9.  Expect Will Muschamp to bring plenty of energy to SEC Media Days.

10.  Here are five questions facing Alabama…

11.  And five facing Auburn.

12.  The SEC’s commissioner believes change is coming to the NCAA.

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SEC Headlines – 7/19/11 Part One

1.  Tony Barnhart of writes that the NCAA isn’t playing nice anymore.  Read it, folks.  Excellent and straight to the point as usual.

2.  The media hasn’t always done a whiz-bang job of picking the SEC champion at Media Days.

3.  Reminder: Here’s the schedule for SEC Media Days (which begins tomorrow at 1pm ET).

4.  The LSU basketball team is about to get a big influx of new talent.

5.  But forward Garret Green is transferring out and that’s caught Trent Johnson off guard.

6.  Mississippi’s season-opening opponent — BYU — is aiming for a national title.

7.  Here’s a quick breakdown of Mississippi State’s updated depth chart.

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Slive: Roster Management Push About “Fairness”

The SEC spring meetings kickoff in Destin today — coaches early in the week, presidents and administrators later in the week — and commissioner Mike Slive has granted one last pre-meetings interview.  Tony Barnhart of caught up with the league’s Numero Uno Honcho and pressed him to explain why he wants to tackle the issue of oversigning now.

“People talk about ‘oversigning’ and ‘grayshirting’ the most, but we’re going to look at proposals that deal with everything including early admits, mid-year admits, summer admits and medical hardship cases,” Slive said.  “Philosophically, we want to make sure that our rules are fair to the student-athlete.  That’s the context.  This isn’t about what gives us a competitive advantage with other conferences.  We have to be fair to the kids who want to come to our institutions.  It will be a good conversation.”

When told that most of the league’s football coaches will balk at any major proposed changes, Slive seemed to suggest what Ole Miss AD Pete Boone said this weekend — that the SEC isn’t looking at radical changes.

“I have read that (about coaches’ misgivings) but it’s not a question of messing with (the current system).  It’s a question of making sure that we are fair to everybody.  We tried to adjust things by limiting the number of signees to 28.  Then it was adopted as a national rule.  I’m just not sure that change served the fundamental basis of what we wanted to accomplish.  Look, roster management is not a science.  It is just an issue of fundamental fairness.  We want to make sure that it is a more equitable relationship for both sides — the institution and the students who we recruit.  So we’ll have this discussion.  We’ll make some changes.  if the changes don’t work we’ll come back in a few years and make some adjustments.”

Sounds like Slive knows he’s already got enough presidents in his hip pocket to make the changes he desires.

Barnhart — the Venerable Bede of the SEC — also got the commish’s take on a few other topics…

Increasing the value of scholarships: “The time for the discussion of this issue has certainly come.  For the longest time our focus on intercollegiate athletics has been to try and maintain a ‘level playing field’ for all the institutions involved.  But now I believe we need to discuss whether or not those of us with the resources should be able to provide the needed help to athletes when the cost of attendance exceeds the actual value of the scholarship.  Academic scholarships have for a long time provided this kind of support based on the need and based on the location of the campus.  At this point we don’t know if it’s workable but you can’t make that decision if you don’t sit down and talk about it.  So it’s time for us to at least talk about it.”

(Re-read those second and third sentences.  When Jim Delany of the Big Ten first ignited this conversation two weeks ago we immediately said that the underlying goal here was to further separate the haves from the have-nots.  Sure sounds like we were right on that one.  Slive did go on to say that he does not view this as a “competitive issue,” but you can bet the non-BCS leagues will see that differently.)

Television contracts: “First of all, our contracts are written in such a way that the rights fees have escalators in them.  So we feel good about that.  Secondly, they have ‘look-ins,’ so that every so often we revisit the contract and ‘look-in’ at our current deal to make sure that we are remaining on top of our game.  We look forward to these ‘look-ins,’ but we also feel very good about the final 12 years of our deal.”

(In other words, the league knew what it was doing when it inked its pacts with CBS and ESPN.  If the SEC falls too far behind any other leagues, expect it to get a raise… just as long as it’s still providing eyeballs to the networks.)

Would the SEC play on Sunday due to NFL strife: “No.  We like Saturday afternoons and Saturday nights.  We do two Thursday night games per season.  We are happy with that.”

(This one was media-generated hooey from the get-go.  We said as much when many others began speculating about moving SEC games to Sunday.  The fact is, the NFL lockout could end at any time and force the SEC to move games back to Saturdays on short notice.  More importantly, fans have their travel plans and accommodations already lined up.  This was not going to happen in the SEC.)

Is Slive ready to retire: “Next year will be my 10th anniversary as commissioner and unless something unforeseen happens I don’t expect it to be my last.  I feel good.  There are some things I want to work on to finish up over the next couple of years.  It is a great time to be a part of the SEC.”

(Okay, so we’re not right all the time.  As we’ve pointed out, Slive will be 72 when his contract expires next summer.  Previous commissioner Roy Kramer retired at 72 after 12 years as the league’s top dog.  Times have changed, people retire later in life these days.  If Slive says he still has work to do, we’ll obviously take him at his word.)

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SEC Headlines – 5/9/11 Part One

1.  This writer believes the real spirit of Alabamians is shining through after recent tornadoes.

2.  In case you missed it, Tony Barnhart of penned a response to the US Justice Department regarding the BCS.  Good stuff.

3.  MSU athletic director Scott Stricklin — now a full year into his job — says Minnesota’s new stadium provided inspiration for drawings of a proposed re-working of Davis-Wade Stadium.

4.  Dan Mullen will be making 12 stops on this year’s Road Dawgs speaking tour.

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SEC Headlines – 4/14/11 Part One

1.  Tony Barnhart says Will Muschamp is a man with a plan.

2.  Florida has become the new cradle of coaches according to this writer.  (Not be confused with Billy Idol’s Cradle of Love.)

3.  Mark Richt says Georgia will “have to be at midseason form to compete” with Boise State in the Dawgs’ opener.

4.  It sounds like Isaiah Crowell will still have a good shot to be UGA’s starting tailback when he arrives on campus.

5.  Linebacker Danny Trevathan surprised a lot of folks when he announced he would return to UK.

6.  Kentucky quarterback Morgan Newton is ready to lead.

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