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South Carolina: No Wrongdoing Between Clowney, Jay Z

South Carolina’s compliance office has finished its review and found nothing wrong with the relationship between defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and Jay Z.

 

South Carolina began to look into the relationship between Clowney and Jay Z, who represents Roc Nation Sports, after reports surfaced that Clowney was being pursued by the famous rapper. Clowney posted a photo of the story (which has since been deleted) on his Instagram account on Monday.

clowney insta 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s nothing wrong with Clowney having contact with Jay Z or any other agent. There would only be an issue if Clowney were to accept any benefits or agree to sign with anyone once his playing eligibility has ended.

South Carolina was smart to check on the situation as soon as it became public. The school would be wise to continually check on Clowney because of the celebrity status he will continue with him during the rest of his college career.

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SEC Headlines 7/7/2013

headlines-sun3-150x150SEC Football

1. Could Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin be the next college coach to jump to the NFL?  ”No one should expect the Sumlin rumors to go away.”

2. Any doubt who’s the most important player at South Carolina? “Clowney is far and away USC’s most talented and disruptive player.”

3. On the field and off, Georgia running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall have distinguished themselves from their predecessors.

4. What kind of team has Mark Stoops inherited at Kentucky? “Simply put: a bad one.”

5. To be successful at Kentucky, Stoops needs to consistently beat four teams.  Three of them are in the SEC.

6. Pat Dooley has Alabama No. 1, Georgia No. 5 in his preseason rankings.

7. Yet another offensive line ranking places Tennessee at the top of the conference.

8. Nick Saban sells an investment property in Georgia.

SEC Basketball

9. Gold medal game today for Billy Donovan’s Junior National Team.

10. Will a renovated Rupp Arena become a wedge issue for Kentucky fans? The “skyboxification of American life.”

11. Vanderbilt rising junior Kedron Johnson is recovering from surgery on his shoulder.

Extras

12. Nearly 1,200 fans exchange their Aaron Hernandez jerseys yesterday.

13. NFL weighs not inviting  ineligible players from attending the Combine.

14. Arkansas released a video trailer for the 2013 season this past week.  ”We’re talking some serious scope here people. The universe is at stake.”

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Switching To A 9-Game Schedule Tricky, Not Impossible

confused-by-mathSooner or later, the Southeastern Conference will go to a nine-game conference schedule.  It’s easy to see why.  Creating better content for the SEC Network and the league’s broadcast partners (ESPN and CBS) will result in more cash for the league.  And if cash is a strong enough motivator to drive schools to new conferences and away from old rivals, it’s certainly a powerful enough motivator to push through an extra league game per season for each football program.

But getting from A to B could be tricky.  Or so it’s been said.

Before we look at the SEC’s schedule rotation, let’s tackle some fears that are being drummed up at the moment.

 

“If the SEC goes to a nine-game league schedule, schools will stop playing good non-conference opponents.”

The four SEC schools with annual games against in-state rivals (Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina) have made it clear that they would probably nix a quality non-conference game if the league goes to a nine-game schedule.  The reality is that two factors will still play a role in scheduling: the new College Football Playoff and money.

If it becomes clear that teams in other leagues are scheduling 11 big-conference teams per year (nine in conference, two out of conference), then the SEC teams hoping to reach the playoff will have to follow suit.  Strength of schedule is expected to be a key element in picking teams for the four-team playoff.  SEC squads will either do what everyone does or cross their fingers and hope that selection committee members see a nine-game SEC slate as being tougher than other leagues’ nine-game conference schedules.  That’s possible, but with SEC fatigue having already helped push America to a playoff, would the league’s teams want to risk it?

As for money, if the folks at Cowboys Stadium or the new downtown Atlanta stadium guarantee an SEC team a hefty payout to come in and play a good non-conference foe, it’s doubtful that that SEC squad would pass up the opportunity.

The idea that you’ll never see another good non-conference game on your team’s schedule has been overblown.  Most league schools play one good non-conference opponent and three cupcakes now.  If anything — and UGA president Michael Adams recently said this — fans have shown they’re tired of paying to see creampuff games.  It’s likely then that the extra SEC game created by a nine-game schedule would replace a game against an FCS-type foe rather than a game against a decent draw.

 

“Florida and Georgia could face a year where they have only five home games.”

If you’re going to make an omelette, you’re going to have to break some eggs.  Either a) Florida and Georgia exercise the outs they had to have worked into their contracts with the city of Jacksonville or b) they play at EverBank Field every other year.  That one neutral site game is the most complicating issue of moving to a nine-game schedule.  But we’ll have more on that below.  Suffice it to say, neither Florida nor Georgia would be forced into a five-game home schedule just by shifting to a nine-game conference schedule.

 

“With a nine-game schedule, some schools will host five games while others host just four… giving those schools with more home games an advantage.”

The Big Ten just adopted a nine-game schedule for its 14-school league and nixed this argument in the process.  Under the new Big Ten plan, all of the schools in one division will play the same number of home games in a given year.  If East teams play five home games this year and West teams play four, next year the West’s teams would play five home games and the East’s four.

As we’ll show below, the transition to such a schedule would not be as difficult as you might think.

 

Let’s keep a couple of other points in mind, too.  First, thanks to the SEC Network, the league office will have to somehow get more involved in scheduling.  There is no way the league office wants to see a repeat of last November 17th’s “Pay-Per-View Day!”

On that Saturday, Arkansas played Mississippi State, Ole Miss played LSU, Tennessee played Vanderbilt and Missouri hosted Syracuse.  The rest of the schedule looked like this: Alabama A&M at Auburn, Western Carolina at Alabama, Jacksonville State at Florida, Georgia Southern at Georgia, Samford at Kentucky, Wofford at South Carolina and Sam Houston State at Texas A&M.

How much the league will get involved and in what way is anyone’s guess, but that kind of a lineup won’t help get a new television channel off the ground.  So like it or not, the SEC is about to start providing scheduling “tips.”

Second, the new money coming in from the network, the playoff, the new league-owned Sugar Bowl, and a new bowl lineup will more than make up for the lost revenue from a home game every other season.  Pre-2000s, before the NCAA allowed schools to play a 12-game schedule, schools played six to seven home games per year anyway.  That would be the case once more, only with millions of extra dollars from new revenue streams pouring into each school’s coffers.

Finally, those schools with in-state, non-conference rivals would certainly be more limited in their scheduling options.  But that’s the case with an eight-game conference schedule, too.

Trust us not that much would have to change in a nine-game universe.  If the SEC adopted our plan…

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Linebacker Thomas Wants Release From FSU

Florida State linebacker signee Matthew Thomas from Booker T. Washington High School in Miami is seeking a release from his national letter of intent.

Thomas, ranked the nation’s No. 2 outside linebacker in the 2013 class by Rivals, signed with Florida State on Feb. 6. He had originally planned to sign with Southern California but ultimately chose Florida State after his mother refused to sign off on USC.

“We couldn’t agree, but it’s my mom, I just did what I had to do,” Thomas told Noles247.com at the time.

Thomas has since changed his mind. He told the Miami Herald he recently informed Florida State’s coaching staff that he would like a release so he can sign with Georgia or USC.

Thomas said Florida State’s coaches don’t want to release him and plan to visit Miami soon to try to convince him to stick with the Seminoles. If Thomas chooses to attend another school without a release from Florida State, he would have to sit out one full academic year that would count against his five-year window of eligibility.

Thomas told the Herald he wants out of his letter of intent because he prefers to attend a college outside the state of Florida.

“I’ve been in Miami all my life,” he said. “Georgia needs linebackers. It’s a big program. I have family in Georgia. USC, growing up I never thought I would have an opportunity that big. I just want to go have fun and play football.”

Thomas’ situation is the reason I wrote last week that high-profile players should avoid signing a national letter of intent. The letter does very little to help athletes while providing all the power to schools.

A school isn’t even required to guarantee the athlete a spot on the team when he signs the letter of intent. It just agrees to provide financial aid to the athlete.

Thomas could have signed a financial aid agreement with Florida State while leaving himself the flexibility to attend another school. Instead, his future is in the hands of coaches who have the authority to penalize him if he doesn’t attend Florida State.

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USC’s Martin Says He’s Still Got His Team’s Back

gfx - they said itFrank Martin is a quote machine.  In fact, we should probably create a new icon that simply says “Frank Said It.”  Couple his loquaciousness with a miserable year on the hardwood — South Carolina is 12-13 overall, but 2-10 in SEC play — and you’re sure to get quotation gold.  Like these dandies Martin tossed out after his Gamecocks’ home loss to LSU last Thursday:

 

1.  “If you take (point guard) Bruce Ellington off our team, you’d probably have the 12 leading candidates for the starring roles in ‘The Return of the Living Dead,’ the zombie movie.”

2.  “I’ve been doing this for 28 years, nine of which as a junior varsity high school coach. That means I’ve dealt with 14-year-olds. I’ve never been more embarrassed to call myself a basketball coach than I am today.”

3.  “We lead the country in air-ball layups. If guys can’t make layups, it’s hard to win. You’ve got to invest yourself to be good. In life, you get what you deserve. If you don’t put in the time, that ball ain’t going to go in the basket. We’ve got guys that don’t comprehend that. They put in the time when I make them put in the time. They don’t put in the time for the love of the game. Until that doesn’t change, it ain’t going to get any better.”

4.  “If this was the NBA, we’d fine them, we’d take their money, we’d release them and say, ‘Good luck with ever finding another job.’ I shouldn’t coach basketball ever again if this is how my team plays.”

 

Yowza.  Those are the kinds of comments a coach can make in Year One because fans want to know that that the guy with the clipboard shares their pain.  After the honeymoon ends, however, those kinds of comments typically leave fans asking, “Well, why don’t you fix it?”

As for the comments themselves, don’t try to tell Martin that he was placing blame on his team.  Yesterday, he said that the above quotes dealt with the culture of his program, not his players:

 

“If you know anything about me, for 28 years I have never thrown my players under the bus.  I threw the culture under the bus.  I threw our approach under the bus. Don’t ever say I threw my players under the bus.

If you know anything about me that has never happened in 28 years. It didn’t happen yesterday; it ain’t happened today.  The day they kick me out of here and out of this business I still won’t do it. Now, our culture, our approach is no good.  That has to change.  But I am not throwing players under the bus.  I fight for my guys.  I don’t kick them.”

 

Our take?  He threw both USC’s culture and his players under the bus.  Though there’s nothing wrong with an occasional bus-throwing-undering if an entire team — and not just an individual or two — gets tossed onto the pavement.  Martin isn’t the first coach to rip his team in a moment of frustration.  Heck, John Calipari said on Saturday that some of his players are “uncoachable.”  It happens, even with some of the biggest “players’ coaches” out there.

But, “We’d release them and say, ‘Good luck with ever finding another job,’” is indeed a rip job of Martin’s players.  There’s no way to spin that one.

In his first season, trying to light a fire under his teams, we don’t see anything wrong with Martin’s tongue-lashing.  Again, it was aimed at the whole and not an individual.  But he’d better be careful with these kinds of remarks moving forward.  It doesn’t take long for fans to start blaming coaches for the underperforming athletes on their roster.

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SEC Bowl Observations: VU, LSU, MSU, USC, And UGA

observation-pointJust a few thoughts that ran through this writer’s head while watching the SEC’s first five bowl games this week:

 

*  Vanderbilt won its ninth game of the season on Monday.  As you know by now, the Commodores’ win in the Music City Bowl secured the program its best season since way back in 1915.  But the win over NC State did something else, too — it produced James Franklin’s first win over a solid FBS opponent.

Going into Monday’s game, Vandy under Franklin had gone 0-10 against FBS teams with winning records, 11-1 against FBS teams with losing records, and 2-0 against FCS foes.  (If 6-6 Ole Miss wins its bowl game against Pittsburgh, VU will have won two contests against FBS teams with winning records.)

Now, heading into Monday’s game, North Carolina State was a 7-5 team that had just gotten its coach fired.  So this was not akin to Vandy knocking off Alabama or Florida.  But just as Dan Mullen had to finally beat a West Division team not named Ole Miss to keep people from repeatedly bringing that criticism up, Franklin has now silenced one of the barbs lobbed at him by rival fans.

 

*  Not only did Vanderbilt finish 9-4 this season, but the Dores won seven games in a row to end the year.  That’s currently the longest winning streak in the SEC.  Just let that one roll around in your head for a bit.

Matter of fact, after an 0-2 start to the season, Vandy finished 9-2 the rest of the way.  The Commodores also scored 38 or more points in five of their last six games.

Regardless of schedule strength, those are some solid accomplishments.  Fantastic accomplishments for a traditional cellar-dweller like Vanderbilt.

 

*  With every step forward, there’s always a new challenge.  After a 6-7 first year, many wondered if Franklin could build on his surprising start.  He did.  Now he’ll have to start winning with the guys he’s been recruiting.

Bobby Johnson — as we’ve noted several times before — deserves credit for leaving Franklin a roster stacked with redshirt juniors and seniors.  Now those players have had their run and the recruits Franklin and his staff have brought in will have to take their place.  Franklin has been able to get more out of Johnson’s leftovers than expected, so he should do well with some of the higher-profile recruits he’s wooed to Nashville.  But his team will be a bit younger moving forward.  Winning with a less experienced roster will be his next challenge.

 

*  Say, did you see our prediction for the Chick-fil-A Bowl?  We had Clemson edging past LSU 24-23.  Turns out they edged past them 25-24.  Currently we’re 5-0 picking SEC bowl games and 3-2 against the spread.  Hey, we’ll take 60% against the spread.  The rest of our SEC bowl picks (minus the BCS title game) can be found right here.  

And in case you’re wondering, we’ve got Florida to cover even though we think tonight’s Sugar Bowl will look a lot like last night’s Orange Bowl… with the deeper team pulling away late.

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Ramsey ’99 Percent’ Committed To Trojans

Cornerback Jalen Ramsey from Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy has continued to weigh his options since he committed to Southern California in July.

The nation’s No. 1 cornerback in the nation according to Rivals told the website on Tuesday he’s “99 percent” committed to USC. Other schools he’s still considering include Florida, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Florida State, Oregon and Washington.

Ramsey, who’s taken official visits to Florida, Mississippi State and Washington, will visit USC on Jan. 18.

“They’re all recruiting me hard,” Ramsey said. “I’ve taken visits to them. I’ve liked the visits that I’ve taken. Honestly I could see myself at other those other schools also but nothing that I’d say is a big fear for USC right now.

“I’m just kind of waiting. I’m going to finish these visits and have those few weeks after my last USC visit to think back on everything.”

Ramsey had given thought to visiting Tennessee, which struggled to keep up with the other schools while Derek Dooley was the head coach. Ramsey recently told WNML Radio that newly-hired coach Butch Jones has tried to convince the state’s top player to give the Vols another look.

“You just have to see stuff change for Tennessee for me to really have faith in them,” Ramsey said at the time. “Because unlike other recruits and athletes who were raised in Tennessee, I didn’t grow up a Vol fan so it was kind of like for me they were just like every other school. I was going to look at them and if it was best for me then that’s where I was going to go.”

Ramsey had considered Alabama but confirmed to Rivals he’s no longer considering the Crimson Tide.

“I just really don’t feel comfortable at Alabama,” he said. “I can’t really see myself playing there. Nothing bad about their program at all.”

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Spurrier To Get 2-Year Extension At Carolina

According to reports out of the Palmetto State, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier will be given a two-year contract extension.  The new deal will not provide a raise for the coach, but it will carry him through the 2017 season.

Spurrier has gone 21-4 the last two seasons, a remarkable achievement considering Carolina’s football history before his arrival.  Since becoming Gamecock coach in 2005, Spurrier has already become the all-time winningest coach in USC history.

No extension has ever been more deserved.

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USC’s Quarles To Miss Game With UT

To get itself back in the win column, South Carolina needs to kickstart its offense.  Luckily for the Cocks, Tennessee will be bringing one of the worst defenses in the SEC to Columbia this weekend.

But the Vols also bring a solid offensive line.  And that line won’t have to face Carolina defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles.  USC confirmed yesterday that Quarles will miss his second game in a row due to a shoulder injury (though last week’s absence was chalked up as a “suspension” for Quarles’ punch of LSU O-lineman PJ Lonergan a week earlier).

For the season, Quarles has 2.5 sacks, six tackles for loss, and 30 tackles on the year.  But even though Carolina was smoked 44-11 by Florida last weekend, the USC defense didn’t exactly fold with Quarles on the sideline.  UF — a run-first team — managed only 183 yards in total offense and failed to hit the century mark running or passing.  Four Carolina turnovers made the difference in the game, not the absence of Quarles.

To be sure, Steve Spurrier would rather have his starter on the field.  But it’s hard to imagine the D-tackle’s injury will result in a loss to Tennessee, now 0-4 in the SEC.

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Vegas And The SEC: Just How Accurate Are Those Opening Lines?

Here at MrSEC.com we’ve been known to travel out to Las Vegas on occasion in order to chat with various bookmakers about the lines that they set.  If you’ve read this site for any length of time, you know that we’re told just about every summer by just about every oddsmaker who’ll talk that:

 

1.  The line is set purely to bring in equal amounts of cash on both sides.

2.  The line is set with Las Vegas gamblers in mind.  The casino companies don’t care what deal you get from Vinny the Nose in Valdosta.  They make money off what people spend in their sportsbooks.

3.  For that reason, West Coast schools often get a little more love when it comes to setting the opening lines.  Ditto Big Ten schools with their enormous alumni bases.  Simple math and geography suggest casinos are more likely to be visited by Ohio State and UCLA alums on a fall Saturday than they are by Western Kentucky grads.

4.  Big names get a little bump, too, because they’re big names.  “Softcore” gamblers are more likely to throw money at some school they’ve heard of so big-time, traditional programs like Alabama, Notre Dame, and Oklahoma often see their lines fudged a point or two.

 

All that said, many fans still believe that the opening line set by Las Vegas Sports Consultants — and many Vegas’ books start with that company’s number — is truly a prediction of who will win a game and by what margin.  Whenever we write a piece trying to explain that that’s not what the books are doing and that they’re simply trying to make money based in large part off local gamblers’ perceptions of teams (re-read points 1-4 above), we always get a number of responses asking us something akin to this: “Then why are those numbers so often right?”

Honest answer?  They’re not so often right.

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