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SEC Headlines 3/27/2014

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1. Alabama linebacker Denzel Devall likes what he’s seeing from the Crimson Tide’s defense.

2. Tony Stevens and Dominic Walker are making strides at wide receiver for Auburn.

3. The kicking game is another priority for Auburn as the Tigers search for a new kicker and punter.

4. Georgia should be really good at linebacker. Does UGA have the best group in the SEC?

5. LSU’s defensive tackles have their work cut out to live up to the position’s previous success.

6. UPDATE — Tiger coach Les Miles is having to defend his decision to recruit middle schoolers.

7. Here’s a look at Florida’s defensive front as the Gators’ spring practice continues.

8. Georgia cornerback Brendan Langley is taking advantage of Jeremy Pruitt’s clean slate after a difficult freshman season.

9. Missouri athletics operated with a surplus of $4 million during the 2012-13 fiscal year.

SEC Basketball

10. UCLA guard Kyle Anderson will present a difficult challenge for Florida in tonight’s Sweet 16 matchup.

11. The Donovans and Alfords share a special bond, writes Pat Dooley.

12. Kentucky forward Julius Randle’s mother has greatly influenced his life. “I had to be both mother and father,” she said.

13. Here’s a preview of Tennessee’s upcoming matchup with Michigan. They’ll play Friday night in Indianapolis.

14. The SEC should spend more time promoting its tough, physical style on defense, Bruce Pearl says.

15. Mike Anderson is positive he has Arkansas’ program moving in the right direction.

16. Georgia’s men’s basketball players are told to “treat women with respect.” That comes with a specific explanation.

17. What is the future of Georgia hoops? Seth Emerson takes a look.

18. Kevin Stallings has no plans to leave Vanderbilt anytime soon.

NCAA/Union News

19. The National Relations Labor Board ruled Wednesday that Northwestern football players qualify as employees and can unionize.

20.  Sports Illustrated legal analyst Michael McCann gave his take on Wednesday’s decision.

21. Here’s another look at what this decision means moving forward.

22. Dennis Dodd looks at what is a very complex situation.

SEC/NFL Draft

23. Today is Johnny Manziel’s Pro Day. Here’s a primer to get you ready.

24. Report: offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio won’t need another medical test on his knee.

Extra

25. Which Sweet 16 coaches are feeling the most pressure? Pat Forde takes a look.

26. Jeff Borzello ranks the eight Sweet 16 games. His top matchup: Kentucky vs. Louisville.

27. This isn’t a story UCLA wanted to see. Court documents show Shabazz Muhammad might have been ineligible at UCLA.

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SEC Recruiting Notebook: A Roundup of Commitments

sec-recruiting-notebook-gfxStephen Griffin couldn’t wait any longer to choose a school.

The defensive back from South Mecklenburg High School in Charlotte, N.C., committed to Tennessee on Thursday. He made the decision more quickly than he anticipated.

“I had talked about it earlier and I knew I was going to commit there,” Griffin told Volquest.com. “I planned on waiting until after the spring game but I guess I just couldn’t wait.”

Griffin, who once lived in Knoxville, is already looking forward to joining 2014 defensive back signees Todd Kelly Jr. and Emmanuel Moseley, who enrolled at Tennessee in January.

The Vols coaching staff convinced Griffin he will be able to fit in with Tennessee’s young secondary.

“They treated me like a priority and that they really wanted me there and I could see myself playing there because my friend Todd Kelly and I used to go to preschool together and I used to live in Knoxville,” Griffin said. “Then, I made a connection with Emmanuel Moseley, too. It just felt like home there and that it was the place for me. They seemed the most interested, too.”

Clemson’s another school that has shown interest in Griffin, whose father, Steve Griffin, played running back for the Tigers from 1982-86. But Griffin said he had limited contact with Clemson until word traveled that he had committed to Tennessee.

“I got a message from one of (Clemson’s) coaches (Thursday) and they said to call them,” Griffin told Volquest. “But, over the last several months I haven’t really been receiving much interest from them.

“I feel like I’m pretty solid as of now because if they heat up it would feel weird because I don’t understand why they weren’t doing it earlier.”

Griffin is the ninth prospect and first defensive back to commit to Tennessee’s class of 2015.

 

South Carolina gets one Bowman brother, loses another

Wide receiver Michael Bowman from Havelock (N.C.) High School gave South Carolina good news when he committed to the Gamecocks’ 2015 class on Thursday.

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How Not To Start A New Job: Vandy’s Tata Suspended For DUI Arrest

vavae tataOn the job for less than a month, Vanderbilt defensive line coach Vavae Tata has already been suspended by his new employer.  This after multiple DUI-related charges were made against the Commodore assistant Sunday.

According to a release by the school:

 

“Based upon information received Tuesday, Vanderbilt assistant coach Vavae Tata has been suspended indefinitely by Head Football Coach Derek Mason stemming from an incident that occurred Feb. 16 in Nashville.  Vanderbilt University will continue its investigation into the matter.”

 

The Tennessean newspaper reports that Tata’s car struck two parked vehicles prior to his arrest.  He then fled on foot to try and avoid police.  He was discovered several blocks away and admitted to crashing his vehicle.  He then did poorly on a field sobriety test, and was charged with DUI, leaving the scene of an accident, and property damage.

He is scheduled to appear in court on March 5th.

Tata came to Vanderbilt from Stanford along with Mason, the Dores’ new head coach.  The Tennessean has learned that Tata was convicted of a DUI in 2000 which was tied back to a serious incident in 1997.  Then a football player at UCLA, Tata was charged with felony DUI when he “caused a wreck in Torrance, injuring himself and UCLA teammates Billy Pieper and Brendon Ayanbadejo after his vehicle overturned several times.”

Tata joined the Vanderbilt staff on January 24th.  If he retains his job, this week’s arrest will most definitely be used against him and the Commodores on the recruiting trail.

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Oregon Land S McGraw… That’s 3 Louisiana Kids From One School Heading To The Pac-12

PLAYER UPDATEThe Pac-12 has grabbed yet another star football player from River Ridge, Louisiana.  Safety Mattrell McGraw — a 3-star prospect — selected Oregon over Texas A&M, UCLA and Arizona.

Two of his teammates had previously picked Oregon and Stanford as their college homes.

The Pac-12 had a good year on the football field last season.  The league might have some more good years to come if they continue to put down a pipeline into states like Louisiana.

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Arkansas Misses Out On Thomas

PLAYER UPDATETop 100 defensive end Solomon Thomas has elected to play his college football at Stanford rather than Arkansas or UCLA, who were believed to be his runners-up.  Thomas would have been a nice Texas grab for Bret Bielema, but no go on this one.

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SEC Hoops Roundup 12/29/2013

gfx-hoops-round-up1. Kentucky 73 – Louisville 66. Video Highlights.  Kentucky gets 17 points from Julius Randle in first half but cramps sideline him in second half. John Calipari: “We grew up today.”

2. South Carolina 78 – Akron 45.  Gamecocks beat the Zips for the second time in four days.  South Carolina gets a season-high 24 points from senior Brenton Williams.

3. LSU 79 – McNeese State 52. Tigers overcome sluggish start.  Get 14 points and 10 rebounds from freshman forward Jarell Martin.

4. Arkansas 89 – High Point 48. Video HighlightsRazorback defense generates 25 turnovers and 17 steals. Arkansas completes undefeated calendar year at Bud Walton Arena for just the third time.

5. Missouri 68 – North Carolina State 64. Video Highlights. Tigers rally from double-digit deficits twice.  Jabari Brown hits go-ahead three pointer with less than a minute to go.  Jordan Clarkson had a team-high 21 points.

6. Colorado 84 – Georgia 70. Colorado makes all 26 of their free throws, Bulldogs make just 9-of-18. 

7. UCLA 75 – Alabama 67. Crimson Tide falls on the road despite a season-high 34 points from Trevor Releford.  Game was tied at 67 with less than two minutes to go but Bruins score last eight points of the contest.

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Report: Ole Miss To Land O-Lineman Transferring From UCLA

NOSTALGIA © 1998 PhotoSpin www.powerphotos.comUCLA true freshman offensive lineman Christian Morris appears to be heading to the SEC.  The Memphis native told Bruin Sports Report — the Rivals.com site that covers UCLA — that a “homesick and unhappy feeling” will likely lead him to Ole Miss.

“I’ve been talking to the compliance (department) of Ole Miss; that’s probably where I’m going to go.  They were very close to home so I can get to my grandmother and family more.”

Morris has nothing but praise for UCLA and the coaching staff at Westwood.  But his grandmother’s ill health is the lineman’s top priority right now.  “I almost gave here a stroke when I told here when all this started happening,” he said.  “That took a huge toll on me.  I hate that I made the decision (to transfer) so late in the game.”

Morris signed with Jim Mora’s program in February as a four-star tackle.  He was the third best prospect in the state of Tennessee last year, according to Rivals.  Morris chose UCLA over Ole Miss, Tennessee, Nebraska, Washington and others last winter.

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The SEC’s BCS Championship Game Hopes Are Already Dimming

crystal-ball-soothsayerOne quarter of the way through the 2013 football season, the hopes for another SEC win in the BCS championship game seemed to have dimmed.  Yes, there are currently four league squads in the top 10 with one more sitting just outside that pack, but a quick check of the loss column should cause some concern.

Here is the current AP Poll (with USA Today Coaches’ Poll rankings in parentheses when different):

 

1.  Alabama 3-0

2.  Oregon 3-0

3.  Clemson 3-0 (#4)

4.  Ohio State 4-0 (#3)

5.  Stanford 3-0

6.  LSU 4-0

7.  Louisville 4-0

8.  Florida State 3-0

9.  Georgia 2-1 (#10)

10.  Texas A&M 3-1 (#9)

11.  Oklahoma State 3-0

12.  South Carolina 2-1 (#13)

13.  UCLA 3-0 (#14)

14.  Oklahoma 3-0 (#12)

15.  Miami, FL 3-0

16.  Washington 3-0 (#20)

17.  Northwestern 4-0 (#16)

18.  Michigan 4-0 (#17)

19.  Baylor 3-0 (#18)

20.  Florida 2-1 (#19)

 

Now let’s look see who in that list plays one another:

 

* In the SEC, undefeated Alabama will face undefeated LSU later in the season, so that means one of those squads will have a loss.  Missouri and Ole Miss are also undefeated at this point and they, too will play this season.  Ole Miss, of course, will play both Alabama and LSU, too.  So the odds are stacked against the Rebels finishing unscathed.  Mizzou isn’t expected to come close to an undefeated season, either.  Which means the SEC needs for the winner of the Alabama/LSU game to finish undefeated and win the SEC Championship Game in order to “guarantee” the league a spot in the BCS title game.  Could a one-loss SEC team make it?  Certainly.  But the more undefeated squads there are across the country, the tougher it will be for a one-loss SEC team to make that jump.

* In the Pac-12, Oregon and Stanford will meet.  So basically one of those squads already has a loss.  UCLA and Washington — who are also clean at this point — will have to meet the Ducks and Cardinal, too.  UCLA will play Stanford and Oregon back-to-back and then Washington.  The Huskies also draw Stanford and Oregon back-to-back before their date with UCLA.  Oregon and Stanford appear to be the best hopes for the Pac-12.  One of those teams will need to survive the other, UCLA, Washington and the Pac-12 championship game to finish unbeaten.

*  In the ACC, we’ll slash Miami from the list as they’re not expected to keep winning.  Clemson and Florida State will play one another which means one of them already has a loss.  Should the winner of that game run the table and win the ACC title game, it could be bad news for the SEC (especially if the undefeated champ is a Clemson squad that’s already knocked off Georgia).

*  In the Big Ten, Ohio State appears to be on cruise control.  They’ll face Wisconsin this weekend and Michigan to close the season.  They will also face Northwestern.  The Big Ten Championship Game is also on the horizon.  But it appears as though the Buckeyes are the best bet from north of the Mason-Dixon line.  While their weak schedule might hurt them when the BCS system spits out its final championship game matchup, an unbeaten Ohio State squad will be hard to keep out of the national title game.

*  In the Big 12, Baylor would have to be a shock team to climb all the way into the BCS championship picture.  That leaves Oklahoma and Oklahoma State who will play one another.  The Big 12 will need one of those two squads to finish unscathed to nab a slot in the BCS finals.

*  Finally, Louisville of the American Athletic Conference faces these eight foes the rest of the way: Temple, Rutgers, UCF, South Florida, UConn, Houston, Memphis, and Cincinnati.  Uh, yeah.  You’d have to say that the Cardinals will be favored in all of their remaining contests.

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SEC Headlines 5/19/2013

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1. Former Tennessee defensive end and coach Chuck Smith has been working with Auburn linemen in order to help revive the Tigers pass rush.

2. The biggest surprise on Auburn’s post-spring depth chart? Slot receiver.

3. Biggest question at Arkansas this fall?  Backup quarterback.

4. Nick Saban on being inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame: “In the future, I’m going to be more committed in order to justify the honor you’ve given to me tonight.”

5. Clemson AD Dan Radakovich on what he learned from Saban at LSU.  ”With all the distractions around him, Nick stays focused on the things that are important for him and his program.”

6. Young LSU fans get to camp out at Tiger Stadium.

7. The SEC and the NFL draft – uptick can be explained by Alabama and LSU. “They have been pipelining athletes to the NFL far beyond what they’ve ever been able to do previously.”

8. South Carolina an 8.5 point favorite in the opener against North Carolina, Mississippi State a 6.5 point underdog vs Oklahoma State. Spreads for Week 1 are out.

SEC/College News

9. In Michael Adams’  16 years as president of the university, athletic department revenues at Georgia have climbed from $25.7 million to $92.1 milion. Barbara Dooley still upset how her husband was treated: “In my opinion, he has never said anything positive about Vince Dooley’s ability as the athletic director…I take personal offense to that.”

10. Mike Bianchi on linebacker Matthew Thomas who wants out of his commitment to Florida State and reportedly transfer to Georgia or Southern Cal.   “What sort of life lesson is Thomas learning if his first exposure to the adult world is the message that it’s OK to break promises and walk out on commitments?”

SEC Basketball

11. Alabama reportedly agreeing to a series with UCLA.

12. When Andrew Wiggins announced he was going to Kansas, fans started melting down on Twitter.  ”In 140 characters or less, they hoped he’d tear ACLs, be consumed by fire or die in a plane crash.”

Extras

13. O.J. Simpson planning a college speaking tour after he gets out of prison.

14. Questions surrounding Seton Hall’s softball coach -”Is this a coach out of control or overly sensitive players and parents?”

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Paths To Glory: The SEC’s Tourney Draws

crystal-ball-fortune-teller2Just gotta pencil an SEC team into the Elite Eight of your office bracket?  Take a chance on Florida’s defense.

Looking for a potential Sweet Sixteen surprise?  Write in Ole Miss and hope that Marshall Henderson gets hot… or unnerves UM’s foes.

Think an SEC team will go out early?  Missouri’s been pretty shaky away from home.

Below is our thumbnail, by-the-numbers look at the SEC’s teams’ hopes for advancement in the NCAA Tournament.  Now, all it takes is one cold-shooting night or a well-timed foul call to make or break a bracket’s worth of predictions.  Knowing that, we won’t be placing any bets in Vegas based on the opinions you’ll find below.  But this is how we at MrSEC.com see things as of today.

And we’re just not wowed by the SEC’s chances.

 

Florida

Seed: 3

Region: South

First Games: Austin, TX

 

  Game   School   Record   RPI   SOS   Vs Top 50   Away/Neutral
  FLORIDA   26-7   7   21   5-4   11-7
  1st   14 Northwestern St.   19-8   78   194   0-1   10-7
  Potential 2nd   6 UCLA   25-9   26   20   5-4   10-6
  Potential 2nd   11 Minnesota   20-12   34   4   5-8   5-10
  Highest Potential 3rd   2 Georgetown   25-6   11   16   9-4   9-5

 

Projection:  Florida’s defense (#2 nationally in efficiency) should smother Northwestern State in the Gators’ opener.  But then will come a test.  UCLA and Minnesota both have SOS numbers that suggest they’ve been battle-tested.  But the Bruins are the more dangerous club, not Tubby Smith’s Gophers.  A UF/UCLA tilt would be fun to see.  The Gators ousted UCLA from the NCAAs in 2011 (2nd round), 2007 (Final Four), and 2006 (Finals).  In January, we’d have picked UF to reach this Final Four as well.  But the SEC looks weak in hindsight and Florida’s struggles late in the season have made them appear vulnerable.  With the potential of games against UCLA and Georgetown back-to-back, we now think the Gators will likely bow out before Atlanta.

We’d love to be wrong about that one, because we see no other SEC team capable of making a Final Four run.

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