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SEC Gameday – Week 2 Afternoon Affairs

Here’s your non-conference afternoon football rundown for Week 2.

East Carolina at South Carolina

1. A final decision on playing quarterback Connor Shaw won’t come until an hour before kickoff.

2. No matter who’s under center, Steve Spurrier wants an improved passing game.

3. Gamecocks tinker with the offensive line – Spurrier wants to look at more of his tackles.

Western Kentucky at Alabama

4. Week 1 launched Alabama into orbit. “Now will gravity pull the Tide back to Earth?”

5. As you might expect, no matter where you look – Alabama has the advantage.

6. The only thing that may slow down the Tide?  The weather.

Georgia State at Tennessee

7. What can Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson do for an encore? “Oh, he can get a lot better — a lot better,”

8. A focus on the basics – Tennessee wants to see better blocking and fewer missed assignments.

9. Give the edge to Tennessee at every spot as the Vols try to go to 2-0 and prepare for Florida.

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Saban Doubles Down That Media’s Disrespect For WKU Is Hurting His Team


You know what that stands for, right?  “Not my problem.”  And it’s about time someone in the Alabama or national media explain to Nick Saban that whether or not he can get his team to practice well is not their problem, not their concern, and not a part of their job.

A day after taking sportswriters to task for not talking up Western Kentucky of the Sun Belt Conference — top-ranked Alabama’s next foe — he went on his radio show and let fly with the same sillyness all over again:


“I have a lot of respect for this team and the job they do.  I wish everybody else would give them some…

Everybody thinks, ‘Why are we even talking about it?’  I don’t get it.  I really don’t.  What pisses me off about it — excuse my language — is I think it all affects our players.  I’m over there every day trying to get them to focus on what they need to do and all they hear about is they don’t need to be focusing.”


So again, it’s about the media not helping Saban to keep his team focused.  Which leaves us to repeat: It’s not the media’s job to help or hurt Alabama’s football team.  The media reports on the team and its opponents.  Period.  And like anyone with two eyes and a brain, most media members know that #1 Alabama should tear Western Kentucky a new one for all the reasons we mentioned here yesterday.

But what’s really absurd about Saban’s latest riff is this portion: “I don’t get it.  I really don’t.”

Really?  He doesn’t get why people aren’t taking the Hilltoppers seriously?

This from the same coach who went on multiple national radio shows in the last two weeks and said the top 60-70 football schools should play only against each other?  Hmmm.  So we’re supposed to believe that Saban would take the SEC, ACC, Big XII, Big Ten, Pac-12, and Big East schools, throw them all together… and then add Western Kentucky to the mix, too?

WKU’s athletes work just as hard as Alabama’s athletes.  They deserve credit for that.  But WKU is one of the have-nots of the college football world and Saban’s recently been beating the “let’s separate the haves from the have-nots” argument.  So it’s a little disingenuous for the coach to say he doesn’t understand why folks aren’t giving WKU a real shot against his #1 Tide.

And it’s a lot ridiculous that he thinks the media should be helping him to get his players’ attention regarding a foe that — rightly or wrongly — is viewed as a cupcake by both the media and Alabama fans alike.

Saban’s a helluva coach, but it’s time for him to give this one a rest.



UPDATE — In addition, Saban also chastised Alabama fans just a bit for not selling out the game: “A thousand (unsold) tickets?  I’ll buy them and give them away.  We can’t sell out with all the games we’ve won?”

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SEC Week 2 Preview- The Coaches Speak



Saban Says The Media Should Respect Western Kentucky (For The Good Of His Team)

Nick Saban might be the best coach in the country — he is — but his lectures to the media sometimes go a bit too far.  Take yesterday’s, for example.  Alabama’s coach made it known that he isn’t happy with writers and talking heads disrespecting Alabama’s next foe, Western Kentucky.

Saban, of course, doesn’t want his team to get the proverbial big head and stub its big toe as a result.  So in Saban World, it’s the media’s job to talk up even the creamiest of creampuffs.

It’s Alabama versus Western Kentucky and he expects people to talk up the Hilltoppers?  Really?

After commenting about how football is a tough game that must be embraced everyday and how his players must improve everyday, the Tide coach then said this:


“I hate to be negative with anybody, but when you people start writing stuff about people that we’re playing that doesn’t give them the proper respect… I mean, that’s not fair.  It’s not fair to them.  To their players who work hard to earn it.  It’s not fair to our players who need to respect them.

And to make presumptions like you all make, really upsets me.  It really does.  And so unfair.  You don’t need to write about that.  There’s so many more good things you can write about happening around here that people would be interested in.  I’d love to see some of you do a little bit of research and figure it out.  It’d really do my heart good.”


Well, as a guy who likes Saban — I truly think he’s the best coach in any college sport, bar none — I did some research in order to do his heart some good.  Here’s what I found:

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Vanderbilt First SEC School To Offer Rayford

Latevius Rayford could have a decision to make.

The wide receiver from Memphis (Tenn.) Central High School received a scholarship offer from Vanderbilt on Monday.

Rayford, whose offer list includes Arizona State, Purdue, Memphis and Western Kentucky, received the offer during a phone conversation with Commodores head coach James Franklin.

“I was very excited because a lot of schools have offered but Vanderbilt has been one of my top choices for a long time because of the academics,” Rayford told MrSEC. “My main focus is on academics.”

And Rayford’s attention is now focused on his latest offer from Vanderbilt. He said he plans to spend Monday night discussing the offer with his parents and Franklin before he decides if he’s ready to commit to the Commodores.

Along with academics – Rayford said he plans to study business in college – Vanderbilt offers a chance to play in the SEC.

“That’s big time right there because that’s the best football conference in the NCAA,” Rayford said. “That’s where the big-time players go to pursue a chance to go to the NFL. The SEC gets your name out there. I just really want to play in the SEC to play against the best competition.”

Rayford would be the first wide receiver to commit to Vanderbilt, which has seven commitments for the class of 2013.

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SEC Headlines – 3/16/12

Due to outside influences — and a very long post wrapping up all things Stansbury — we’re gonna have to pile the headlines on you today.  Here goes…

1.  It’ll be all about balance when Florida meets Virginia in the NCAA tourney today.

2.  Mike Rosario is back to 100% for the Gators.

3.  Georgia will be spending more on its new and improved strength staff.

4.  Darius Miller says Kentucky will have “to do a better job of finishing off games.”

5.  Meanwhile, vanquished Western Kentucky coach Ray Harper said: “If they want to advance and win a national championship, they’re going to have to shoot the ball better from the perimeter.”

6.  South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney was back at practice yesterday after missing a Tuesday workout for academic reasons.

7.  In Wichita, this writer believes it would take at least $2 million to lure Gregg Marshall to Columbia.

8.  Tennessee is hoping for a home crowd advantage when MTSU visits Monday for a second-round NIT game.

9.  The Vols also hope Jeronne Maymon will be ready to return to action.

10.  Festus Ezeli’s rebounding prowess helped Vanderbilt pull away from Harvard.

11.  Jeffery Taylor had a big night for the Dores playing before friends and family in Albuquerque.

12.  Alabama’s defense is gonna bring the heat today against Creighton.
(So will the Blue Jays feel, feel, feel their heat?)

13.  The Crimson Tide is 0-3 this season when it gives up 70 points in a game… Creighton averages 80.

14.  Folks who know Auburn’s Varez Ward — the central figure in a point-shaving investigation — are staying mum for now.

15.  Tailback Knile Davis is happy to be back on Arkansas’ practice field.

16.  With linebacker depth a question, defensive end Tenarius Wright is getting a look at that position.

17.  LSU’s O-lineman Josh Dworaczyk is glad to be back for a sixth year in Baton Rouge.

18.  Once again there was no NCAA tourney for Ole Miss, but Andy Kennedy held things together in spite of injuries and off-court issues.

19.  Texas A&M AD Billy Byrne says hoops coach Billy Kennedy — diagnosed with Parkinson’s just before his first season in College Station – is in “good shape to be our coach for a long, long time.”  (Here’s hoping so.)

20.  Frank Haith is doing great work at Missouri, but some folks haven’t forgotten the mess he left behind at Miami.  (And they rip the heck out of him for it.)

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UK, VU Advance; Remaining SEC Teams Start Tourney Runs Today

Day One of the NCAA Tournament — sorry, we don’t count those ridiculous play-in games — was a dud if you’re a fan of upsets and true March Madness.  But if you’re a fan of higher seeds like Kentucky and Vanderbilt, it was just fine.

The Commodores toppled Harvard 79-70 and wrapped up their first tourney win since 2007.  The victory snapped a streak of three first-game losses for Kevin Stallings.

John Jenkins poured in 27 points as Vandy built a double-digit lead.  When the Crimson — who were no doubt jinxed by wearing black instead of their actual school color — cut the lead to 70-65, VU got tough on the defensive end and pulled away at the charity stripe.

The #5 seed Dores will next face #4 Wisconsin tomorrow in Albuquerque at 6:10pm ET on TNT.

Kentucky — the tournament’s overall #1 seed — dispatched cross-state rival Western Kentucky with ease, 81-66 in Louisville.  UK shot 61.5% in the first half and coasted — almost literally — to the finish line. 

The Cats allowed the Hilltoppers to close the game on a 16-1 run.  Whether that’s a bad sign or meaningless garbage time sloppiness depends on the beholder.

On Saturday, the Wildcats will face #8 seed Iowa State who knocked off defending champ UConn and blocked another John Calipari-Jim Calhoun bout.  The Cats and Cyclones will tip at 7:45pm ET on CBS.

Today’s SEC action tips off at 1:40pm ET on TBS as #9 seed Alabama tangles with #8 seed Creighton in Greensboro.  Anthony Grant’s athletic, defense-first squad should be tested mightily by the Blue Jay’s high-scoring, up-tempo style.

At 2:10pm ET on TNT, #7 Florida will try to kickstart its frontcourt game when it faces #10 Virginia in Omaha.  Experience could play a role as the Gators make their third-straight NCAA tourney appearance while the Cavaliers are going dancing for the first time since 2007.

Earlier this week we took a stats-based look at each SEC squad’s path to the Sweet Sixteen.  We had Vandy and Kentucky advancing, Florida and Bama coming up short.  So far, so good.

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SEC Headlines – 3/15/12

1.  Alabama’s going to have to find some offense to hang with Creighton.

2.  The trial of Harvey Updyke — the alleged Toomer’s Corner terrorist — has been pushed back to late June.

3.  This spring practice notebook reveals that even after a severe ankle injury, Knile Davis is still Arkansas’ fastest player.

4.  Barring injuries, Trent Johnson says he’s “very confident” LSU will make the NCAA Tournament next year.  (Daring talk.)

5.  LaDarius White could become a bigger factor for Ole Miss’ hoops team next season.

6.  If Rick Stansbury survives at MSU, expect him to get a one-year extension for recruiting purposes.  (For now, that’s a big if.)

7.  This writer says those who are worried about Texas A&M making a bowl this season are being realistic, not negative.

8.  Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel are settling in for their spring quarterback battle at Florida.

9.  Erik Murphy’s 3-point shooting is a new worry for Gator foes in the NCAA tourney.

10.  Georgia’s Mark Richt is now the sixth-longest tenured head coach in college football.  (Betcha you’d never guess the guy who’s #2 on the list.)

11.  Kentucky’s enters today’s game with Western Kentucky with confidence, not arrogance.

12.  But this writer says all UK has to do is show up and WKU will go down.  (Hard to argue.)

13.  Carolina coaches are happy with DeVonte Holloman’s versatility as he tries to replace the Cocks’ leading tackler from a year ago.

14.  Could MTSU knock off Tennessee with a series of high ball screens on Monday?

15.  A tweet from a freshman tight end could result in a secondary violation for the Vols.  (Said it before… coaches, get your kids off Twitter.)

16.  The legacy of Vanderbilt’s deep senior class is riding on this NCAA Tournament.

17.  Ex-Maryland quarterback Danny O’Brien is interested in Penn State, not just Vandy.

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Dores And Cats Start Their NCAA Runs Today

Two of the SEC’s four NCAA Tournament teams start their NCAA Tournament runs today.  Here’s who’s playing and where you can watch them:

West Region: #5 Vanderbilt vs #12 Harvard, 4:30pm ET on TNT

South Region: #1 Kentucky vs #16 Western Kentucky, 6:50pm ET on TBS

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SEC Headlines – 3/14/12

We’re gonna have one major dose of headlines today and here they come…

1.  Alabama had better be ready for the nation’s third-leading scorer, Creighton All-American Greg McDermott.

2.  It’s time for Anthony Grant to start building his NCAA Tournament resume.

3.  Good news: The oaks at Toomer’s Corner are showing some encouraging signs.

4.  Arkansas needs to rebuild its receiving corps this spring… and it’s gonna be “weird.”

5.  Have a spring preview for the Razorbacks.

6.  Here’s more on LSU’s “flat” performance at Oregon last night.

7.  Ole Miss will start their run toward a third NIT semifinals appearance when they host Illinois State tonight at 7:30pm ET on ESPNU.

8.  The Redbirds are “hungry” as they roll into Oxford.

9.  Mississippi State is inching closer to expanding Scott Field.

10.  Let the offseason questions begin in Starkville.

11.  Kevin Sumlin says Texas A&M’s gotten good response from recruits on its move to the SEC.

12.  To stay alive in the NCAAs, Florida will need to improve its rebounding.

13.  New coordinator Brent Pease is bringing some change to the Gators’ offense this spring… where the tailback spot is being revamped.

14.  Georgia AD Greg McGarity says Mark Richt isn’t getting an extension, he’s getting a whole new contract.  Which means salary and the size of his buyout will be big issues.

15.  Next up for Kentucky is a date with Western Kentucky, losing record and all.  (Cat fans hope an SEC Tournament finals loss will spur UK to greatness as it did back in 1996.)

16.  ESPN’s Jay Bilas says Anthony Davis has lived up to his potential.

17.  Steve Spurrier liked his team’s conditioning on Day One of spring practice (where Kenny Miles returned and other players changed positions).

18.  This writer will remember the Darrin Horn era for a series of “what might have beens.”

19.  Against MTSU — either tomorrow night or more likely on Sunday morning (Sunday morning?) — Tennessee will need to play like the February Vols, not the December Vols.

20.  Three UT freshman led UT to victory last night.

21.  Vanderbilt wants to avoid another early exit from the NCAA Tournament.

22.  Kevin Stallings says some of his guys have struggled at “managing their emotions.”

23.  Missouri’s young defensive line — such a key area in the SEC — is making strides this spring.

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