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Lineman Johnson Commits To Florida

Florida received a commitment from offensive lineman Roderick Johnson from American Heritage High School in Delray Beach, Fla., during the weekend.

Johnson, who had offers from such schools as Louisville, South Florida and West Virginia, gave his pledge to the Gators after watching a spring practice session on Saturday.

“I loved it,” Johnson told the Gainesville Sun. “It was high tempo and high intensity, which is how we practice at my school. So I was very comfortable. I felt like strapping up.”

Johnson will have a chance to do that early in his career at Florida. The Gators are looking for help on the offensive line.

“The coaches discussed the depth chart with me and I was quite astonished by it because I will have the opportunity to see the field as a young player,” Johnson said. “That means a lot to me. I’m fired up about it.”

Florida’s coaches should be fired up to have their first commitment on the offensive line for the class of 2013. Johnson is Florida’s 11th commitment for 2013.

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SEC Headlines 2/11/2012

1. Did Nick Saban lobby to get West Virginia into the SEC?   Alabama coach is friends with West Virginia senator.

2. Raises all around for Steve Spurrier and his South Carolina staff.

3. Touring Tennessee’s new $45 million football facilities.

4. Former Tennessee wide receivers coach Charlie Baggett will receive a $425,000 buyout.

5. Ranking the new coaching hires: Urban Meyer No.1, Gus Malzahn No. 4., Hugh Freeze No. 10.

6. Former Alabama safety Mark Barron is recovering from a double hernia surgery - will miss NFL Scouting Combine.

7. Georgia at Mississippi State. A win today by Mississippi State will mean nine of 14 Rick Stansbury team’s in Starkville have won 20 games. The return of Marcus Thornton has given the Bulldogs hope.

8. South Carolina at Arkansas. The end of a brutal stretch for the Gamecocks.

9. Tennessee at Florida. Gators haven’t forgotten their second-half performance in Knoxville. Vols 0-7 on the road this year.

10, NCAA athletes should be careful who picks up the tab for their plane tickets.

11, Alabama at LSU.  Crimson Tide go for fourth straight win  Tony Mitchell remains suspended. Tigers expect full-court pressure.

12. Auburn at Ole Miss.  No more Mr. Nice Guy in practice for Auburn’s Tony Barbee. Struggling Rebels have lost three of four.

13. Kentucky at Vanderbilt. Wildcats to rely on defense. Kevin Stallings on Anthony Davis: “I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anybody like him.”

14. John Calipari on UK fans and ESPN’s GameDay at Vandy.  “Don’t ruin it.”

15. Jay Bilas: “It’s sort of like an all-day infomercial for the home team.”

16. Gary Parrish: “John Calipari’s team is going to lose Saturday night at Vanderbilt just like I watched Billy Donovan’s second national championship team at Florida once lose at Vanderbilt.”

Extras

17. “40 Minutes of Hell” documentary debuts tonight.

18. Selection Sunday is a month away.  Here are eight questions for the committee.

19. Former Arkansas quarterback Mitch Mustain considers a career in professional baseball.

20. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz: “In the last 13 years, nothing has changed as much as the pace of recruiting.”

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Cornerback Quinn Chooses Kentucky

Cornerback Cody Quinn from Middleton (Ohio) High School committed to Kentucky during the weekend.

Quinn didn’t plan to commit to Kentucky before he arrived in Lexington this weekend.

“I was leaning toward Kentucky anyway,” Quinn told ESPN.com. “I really liked them. Once I came here I was sure that it’s what I was looking for. My mom loved it and I loved it and it was everything I’m looking for.”

Quinn has also visited West Virginia and is still scheduled to visit Illinois this weekend. He maintains his commitment to Kentucky is solid.

“I’m done with recruiting,” Quinn said. “I’m solidly committed to (Kentucky).”

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BCS Title Game Observation 1: Bama’s Defense

Over the next couple of hours we’ll be posting a series of observations on Alabama’s 21-0 win over LSU in the BCS Championship Game last night.

We’ll start this morning where we left off last night on Twitter — are you following us there? — and that’s Alabama’s defense.  Right on cue, many non-SEC fans are seizing the opportunity today to complain about last night’s game being yet another defense-first, SEC snoozer.  On one national radio show this morning, the Crimson Tide’s strong defensive performance was being downplayed because “LSU doesn’t have an offense.”

Just a quick reminder for all the SEC-bashers who love their football to be high-flying and high-scoring:


* LSU hung 40 points on Pac-12 champion Oregon when the two teams met in Arlington, Texas to start the season.  (A Tiger win, 40-27.)

* LSU dropped 47 points on Big East champion West Virginia on the Mountaineers’ home field.  (Another Tiger win, 47-21.)


So much for LSU not having an offense.  The Tigers’ offense was pretty darn good when not facing Alabama.  In fact, Les Miles’ team ranked 17th nationally in scoring (35.7 points per game) just behind West Virginia, Southern Miss, Arkansas and Southern Cal.  And that 35.7 average includes both Bama games in which the Tigers mustered just nine points total.

No, anyone using LSU’s “poor offense” as a means of discrediting Alabama’s defensive performance simply has an agenda.  The fact is, LSU scored 35 or more points in 11 of 14 games this year.  They scored 19 against Mississippi State.  And they scored nine and zero against the Tide.

Bama finished the season ranked #1 nationally in scoring defense (8.2 ppg allowed), rushing defense (72.1 ypg allowed), passing defense (111.5 ypg allowed), and total defense (183.6 ypg allowed).

More impressive?  They were nearly 80 yards per game better than #2 in total defense, 20 yards per game better than #2 in passing defense, 10 yards per game better than #2 in rushing defense, and a full three points per game better than #2 in scoring defense (LSU).

Bama’s defense is one for the ages.  Last night it snuffed out an offense that had rolled through America’s toughest schedule.  And if Oklahoma State or Stanford had been on the field in place of LSU last night, the Crimson Tide would still be raising the crystal football today.

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Mizzou Chancellor, A.D. Talk SEC Move; Football Schedule Coming Next Week

Yesterday, Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton and athletic director Mike Alden opened up with the press about their school’s move to the Southeastern Conference.  In a long Q&A the two discussed everything from exit fees to timelines.  It’s all interesting and you can read it in full here.

We wanted to provide a couple of quick excerpts:


Q:  Can you say with certainty you will be in the Big 12 in 2012?  There is the situation with West Virginia maybe not being able to get out of the Big East and come to the Big 12 for three years, which could have ramifications for you.

Deaton:  Our full plans are to go in 2012, and we think West Virginia will be in the Big 12 in 2012.  There is the technical possibility — we don’t think it’s very possible at all — and as you can tell by our actions we’re reasonably confident and have some assurances of that.

Q:  But if West Virginia can’t come to the Big 12 next year?

Deaton:  We’re going to the SEC regardless.  We’re on our own pathway here.  I’ve had good discussions with the president of West Virginia over time, and I understand where they are and he understands where we are.

Alden:  I was in Birmingham yesterday (Tuesday), and in a week we’ll be rolling out the 2012 football schedule.  So I can assure you that the 14 institutions there working for the last day and a half in Birmingham are all set and everything is set for Mizzou and Texas A&M being part of the SEC in 2012.  The SEC will come out with that schedule in the middle of next week.

Deaton:  We made an application to the SEC after having phone calls of assurance from the Big 12 commissioner and chair of the board that it was okay to do that from their standpoint.  We then, later on, got a call that said, “Oh, well, you know, we’re not sure because of this, that and the other because West Virginia might have difficulty.”  I said to them, “Look, you set things in motion.  We set things in motion.  We’re continuing down this pathway.  We feel certainly within our rights to do that within our bylaws.”


The takeaway?


1.  SEC fans will get an early Christmas present if the 2012 football schedule is released next week as Alden suggests.  We were told by SEC PR man Charles Bloom just a couple of weeks ago that the league usually doesn’t release an “official” schedule until the spring, but clearly that was just a totally unnecessary smokescreen.  Good thing we wrote at the time that the schedule would have to be rolled out sooner for the purposes of — ya know — ticket sales and travel plans.

2.  Regardless of West Virginia’s efforts to exit the Big 12, it certainly seems that MU and SEC officials are confident the two parties will be wed in time for next season’s kickoff.

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Three Quick, Important Points On The BCS Championship Game

Three quick points on the LSU-Alabama rematch that everyone is debating today:


1.  A word on West Virginia

I keep getting emails from non-SEC fans saying that Oklahoma State could beat LSU because the Cowboys run the same offense as West Virginia… and the Mountaineers rolled up 463 passing yards on the Tigers.

My reply to each email: LSU 47, West Virginia 21. 

Yards don’t equal points.


2.  A word on “Boring”

Everyone assumes the BCS title game will be a replay of the “boring” 9-6 game between the schools on November 5th.  (Well, boo-hoo if it is because the game was riveting, but that’s another topic.)

Alabama and LSU both went into that game with conservative gameplans.  The goal was to play field position football and rely on their strong defenses.

But now two of the best coaching staffs in football have seen one another.  They’ve felt each other out.  They’ve got some ideas of what to do the next time around.  And of what the other guy might do in Round Two. 

While it’s unlikely we’ll see a 31-30 game, don’t be surprised if this second game opens up a bit more than the first go-round.


3.  A word on the “national championship game”

Over the next month, you’re going to hear a lot of talk about split national championships.  LSU fans will say a split title is fine.  Alabama fans will tell you that the BCS title game should be a winner-take-all affair.

And both sides would say the exact opposite if Alabama had beaten LSU a month ago.  Well, we don’t have any bias pro or con, Tigers or Tide here.  So we’re going to share one basic fact that cannot be argued.

If you’ve paid attention to this site, you’ve noticed that for years we’ve referred to the BCS Championship Game as just that — the BCS Championship Game.  Some writers and fans get lazy and call it the “national” championship game, but that’s not what it is. 

College football doesn’t have a national championship game.  Check the NCAA record book and you’ll find that college football doesn’t recognize an official national champion.  It’s mythical.

Enter Roy Kramer and the heads of the biggest, richest conferences in the land.  They cooked up the BCS as a means to create a cash cow that would crown someone as the champ of the big boy leagues.  Over time, government threats forced the BCS to let in more of the little guys — if they hit certain qualifications — but the story’s still the same.

The winner of the BCS Championship Game wins the BCS trophy and claims the BCS title.  Nothing more.  Any other poll can recognize anyone else it desires.  The AP Poll — no longer used in the BCS process — gave Southern Cal its national championship in 2003, ironically enough splitting the title between BCS champion LSU and the Trojans. 

So if you hear someone say or write that the winner of the “national championship game” should win all the titles out there, sorry, there is no national championship game.  Just a BCS Championship Game.

If you want a unification bout, then it’s time to push, prod and pray for a plus-one system to be worked into the mix.  Until then, the national crown can still be split. 

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CBS’ Dodd Heaps Praise On The SEC

With the SEC West owning all three slots in the BCS standings today — a truly freakish feat — there’s bound to be some anti-SEC grumbling going on in North, Midwest and West.  Five titles in a row and now Mike Slive’s league is sitting pretty to land the first-ever in-conference rematch in the BCS title game?  It’s enough to make Jim Delany’s veins pop.

Well Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com does a nice job of putting on the kibosh on gripers and grumblers outside the South in his latest online column:


“If you’re sick of SEC fandom being to football what infomercials are to cable television — loud and ubiquitous — try to make a case against the league’s new division — the SEC Best.  The Tigers, Tide and Hogs have separated themselves.  Their only losses are to each other.  No. 2 Alabama lost to No. 1 LSU.  No. 3 Arkansas lost to No. 2.  The three won their games Saturday by a combined 100 points.”


LSU has beaten Oregon on a neutral site and West Virginia on the road.  Alabama has won at Penn State.  Arkansas won a neutral field against then-ranked Texas A&M.  Inside the conference and out, these three have taken care of their business and have earned the right to duke-it-out for SEC and BCS title game berths.

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Mario Pender: ‘I am going to FSU’

Mario Pender‘s commitment to Florida State appears to be solid following his weekend visit to Tallahassee.

“I am going to FSU,” Pender told Rivals.com. “I don’t plan to visit anywhere else.”

The running back from Island Coast High School in Cape Coral, Fla., has already visited Tennessee and West Virginia.

Florida State will likely be happy to hold onto the commitment of Pender, who’s considered the nation’s third-best running back in the nation by Rivals.

Pender’s character off the field has been questioned in the last few days after word surfaced that he was arrested last week.

Pender was charged with misdemeanor battery and grand theft following an alleged incident with his “on-again, off-again girlfriend” on Tuesday, according to police. A police report states the incident took place inside her car, where Pender hit her with a right backhand before asking her to give him the keys and get out.

Pender, who will turn 18 next month, took the girl’s car and returned it to her home around 8 p.m. on Tuesday, according to police.

Pender has refused comment on the alleged incident but told Rivals he doesn’t expect the issue to affect his scholarship offer to Florida State.

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SEC Recruiting Headlines – 11/18/11

1. Georgia coach Mark Richt believes the Bulldogs are gaining momentum in recruiting thanks to their on-field success.

2. That appears true with the top prospect in the 2013 class, defensive end Robert Ndkemiche.

3. Tennessee and others have shown interest in defensive back Demar Dorsey, who has a troubled past.

4. John Calipari gave his thoughts on Kentucky’s three basketball signees.

5. Highly-touted defensive back Landon Collins maintains he doesn’t have a leader on his list of schools.

6. Bryan Fischer of CBSSports.com takes a look at the recruiting challenge at Penn State right now.

7. Cape Coral, Fla., defensive back Jordan Diggs will visit Michigan State this weekend.

8. West Virginia picked up a commitment from wide receiver Devonte Mathis.

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WVU Intends To Sue Its Way Out Of Big East

And now we know how West Virginia intends to escape the Big East for the Big 12 by next July — they’re going to sue their way out.

Big East commissioner John Marinatto wrote in an email to Big East presidents today that “we have been advised by West Virginia league council that the University is filing suit against the Big East Conference today — presumably to get relief from the withdrawal provision contained in our bylaws.”

The Big East is trying to keep WVU in the league through June of 2014.

The school claims in its suit that:


“The denigration of the Big East football conference is a direct and proximate result of the ineffective leadership and breach of fiduciary duties to the football schools by the Big East Conference and its Commissioner.

The Big East and its Commissioner failed to take proactive measures to maintain let alone enhance, the level of competition for the Big East football schools.”


For those who haven’t been keeping up with all this, the sooner WVU can join the Big 12, the quicker it’s believed Missouri can leave that league and join the SEC.

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