Tim Tebow may not be throwing at the NFL Combine ("Let them eat Sam Bradford"). But Lord Lizard did do some talking.
Find out what he had to say, ratcheer.
Friday, February 26, 2010
Tim Tebow may not be throwing at the NFL Combine ("Let them eat Sam Bradford"). But Lord Lizard did do some talking.
The Tigers were to have started today, but delayed it to let just-hired tight ends coach (and former LSU QB) Steve Ensminger get his feet on the ground. Here's a team preview. And here's the schedule; tell us how many games you'll think they'll win.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
... and it's not even the SEC, but it is about time for two schools not even 5 miles apart: Grambling and Louisiana Tech will play this season for the first time ever. Story here.
And we're not sure what it is about this particular game that prompted USA Today to call it a "match," as in "La. Tech, Grambling schedule first football match," but they did.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Ole Miss students voted Tuesday to start looking for another mascot to fill the void (some might not call it that) left by Colonel Reb, who was decommissioned in 2003.
The NCAA has put the whip to the Wolverines, citing the football program for five major violations -- stemming from allegations that Coach Rich Rodriguez and his staff broke NCAA rules concerning summer workouts, then lied about it.
If it weren't embarrassing enough for players of one of the country's most storied programs complaining that they had been worked too hard by their new coach, the NCAA has now plowed in and sided against the coaches. Off-season workouts are supposedly voluntary, but UM players complained to the Detroit Free Press that Rodriguez and his staff turned them into de facto practices. Read more here.
Rich-Rod, a former Clemson assistant, turned a successful stint at West Virginia into a job offer from Alabama (he accepted and them changed his mind after talking to his wife) and then the top spot at the country's winningest program. He now finds himself on a seat better suited for making grilled cheese than turning around his team. Michigan has had two straight losing records since Rodriguez took over. School officials say the embattled coach still has a job, but most believe the Wolverines need to show dramatic improvement for Michigan's unemployment rate not to grow by one.
Meanwhile, Alabama alums would like to thank Mrs. Rodriguez for her refusal to move to Tuscaloosa. We had to settle for Nick Saban and another national championship. Wonder how the state of Alabama looks to the Rodriguez family now.
He tells ESPN he's working on his footwork and throwing motion and will show it off at his pro day on March 17 in Gainesville.
Figures for last season are in. Some conference-centric highlights:
Monday, February 22, 2010
Interesting details of the Trojans' recent three-day visit with the NCAA over infractions in its athletic department and two biggest sports. Suffice to say, the tea leaves don't point toward leniency.
Read more from the New York Times.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Like the rest of us, College Football News has got an SEC Jones to feed. So its bloggers who write about the league have gotten together to post on the upcoming season -- everything from best offensive and defensive player, to the top newcomer, to the biggest games and on and on and on.
Pure conjecture, of course. But in February, conjecture ain't bad.
Here's Part I.
And here's Part 2.
Friday, February 19, 2010
The nation's glamour-puss athletic program came off the mountaintop for a quick and private trip to Arizona this week.
There, the University of Southern California went on trial before the NCAA Infractions Committee to answer allegations of major infractions by its men's football and basketball programs.
What makes this so sexy is that 1. It's USC, Hollywood's Insider's pick as perhaps the most charismatic athletic program in the country. 2. The allegations are tied to two of the school's most celebrated athletes of the past 25 years: Reggie Bush in football; O.J. Mayo in hoops. 3. The NCAA, at least from the perspective of schools from other parts of the country (read the SEC) appears to have been treating the case with a little less than its typically bloodless efficiency.
That said, USC's day in court has finally come. The charges were read. The school mounted its defense. The two coaches who were at the helm when the violations allegedly occurred, Pete Carroll (who left for the NFL) and Skip Floyd (who was booted in connection with the improprieties) were believed to be on hand. So was Athletic Director Mike Garrett, who this LA Times columnist says dropped the ball and should have the hammer dropped on him.
The hearing was secret, but these events are never pleasant for the accused, particularly a school not accustomed to answering to anyone. Expect to hear something about the penalties in a couple of months.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Number of fans of "I bet Auburn can find 100,000 fans before Alabama can!" (as of 11:16 a.m.): 25,724
That's the word from the mom of Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett, who broke his left foot Wednesday and will be out 3-4 months. Story here.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
The SEC Expats are outraged: Lane Kiffin says he got death threats when he announced his move from Tennessee to USC. Read and watch here.
What kind of country are we living in?
Given the graceful way Kiffin handled his exit . . .
Given the joy he brought to all of us by skirting away at the end of recruiting season like a Willy Wonka dance away with him . . .
Given the high character he displayed upon his entrance into Knoxville, and the respect he showed not only to the traditions of Tennessee but to his SEC peers . . .
Given his almost obsessive adherence to the NCAA rule book . . .
Given how he crossed gender lines to mentor Tennessee coeds, helping them develop their full potential by utilizing their inherent marketing gifts . . .
Given the classy way he dealt with defeat and the sanctity of competition, the high-minded way he kept his wits while all around him were losing theirs . . .
Given all that . . . well, we're just shocked, shocked! that Kiffin's departure drew extreme reactions of any kind.
Good thing he continues to stick to a diplomatic note, pointing out to ESPN's Shelley Smith that USC fans didn't burn couches when Pete Carroll left, which proves that the Family Trojan has a tighter grip of how football fits into the larger world. A couch, after all, is a terrible thing to waste. That's why USC fans buy furniture for all those neat houses USC players receive. And think about this: Those benefits -- the cars, the condos, the cash -- and all the hours and manpower needed by the NCAA to track them down puts Americans to work. USC is its own stimulus plan.
By comparison, Rocky Top is more backward. How else do you explain that in all the years of UT football, the coaches never stripped to their waists and jumped around bumping bare chests with kids while screaming profanities! That's archetypal!. Kiffin made that happen.
Without him, Tennessee would have never gone 21st century with its use of coeds on the recruiting trail. And who can criticize the way Kiffin manned up and faced his players to explain his departure (even with the major distraction as his assistant feverishly in the back of the room called recruits to regale them on the advantages of a USC education.)
This, as Tom Wolfe might put it, is "A Man in Full."
Full of it, indeed.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
For the third year in a row, the college football season will kick off with an ACC-SEC matchup in the Georgia Dome.
Maybe this one will be competitive. Even if it isn't, with the season behind us and the vapor trail of recruiting fading in the winter sky, we had to find something to write. So here goes:
Alabama launched 12-2 and 14-0 seasons with nationally-televised poundings of Clemson and Va. Tech -- both considered at the time to be the cream of the ACC.
At this point, nobody is putting LSU and North Carolina in the upper echelons of their leagues. They have the talent to end up there, but both teams provoke as much head-scratching as bad dandruff.
Last year, LSU may have been the most physically gifted finesse team in recent college football memory. With the SEC's best list of receivers, they didn't throw it very well. With a big line and a talented backfield, they didn't run it any better. LSU's defense couldn't control the line of scrimmage worth a lick -- witness the pounding the Tigers took on both lines by Penn State in the Capital One Bowl.
Carolina, on the other hand, played -- at times -- some of the best defense in the South last year. But they were also blown off the ball by a bad Florida State team and an even worse N.C. State squad. Then they capped off their season by allowing Pittsburgh to go the length of the field in the fourth quarter for the winning score in its bowl game in Charlotte. What looked like a breakthrough season quickly curdled into mediocrity at the end.
So what's ahead for 2010? While Butch Davis' recruiting fell off a couple of notches this year, both teams will bring ample talent to Atlanta. They'll also have question marks around their quarterbacks that could make or break their seasons.
Overall, the Heels have the muscle to walk into the middle of the ring with LSU. That means coaching, preparation and sideline adjustments will likely determine who gets out of Atlanta alive.
So who would you rather have walking the sidelines in this one: Davis or Les Miles? And which of the two shoulders the most pressure to win?
The answer to both questions is Miles. As goofy as he can appear, Miles is far more accustomed than Davis is with coaching in big games. He takes risks. And many of them pay off. Those often decide a football game.
That said, The Hat has far more riding on the outcome of the season opener. Think about it: Les Miles is only two years removed from a national championship. But he can't shake the growing perceptions that he won the title with Nick Saban's players and, left to his own devices, he's not coach enough keep up with the Floridas and Alabamas. Thus, last year's 9-4 record is seen in most purple-and-gold circles as a big step back.
If the Tigers' 'struggles' continue, Miles will be held accountable. Whether his job slides into jeopardy is another question. His contract includes an enormous buyout. And to quote former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards, Miles likely will have to be caught with a "dead girl or a live boy" to be cut loose.
Yet a loss to an ACC school coming out of the gate, or a third straight beating by Saban, or another defeat to a Tebow-less Florida team, would make life considerably hotter in the bayous for an increasingly embattled coach.
And Davis? Expectations, though nowhere near what Miles faces, are growing in Chapel Hill. Last year for the first time, Heels fans started questioning whether their football coach has done enough to earn his generous (by ACC standards) paycheck. The loss to State, Davis' third in a row, left the Carolina faithful equal parts dumbfounded and vexed. Given Davis' reputation, they expected far more at this point of his tenure.
The best thing Davis has going for him in 2010 is that his team will be an underdog in Atlanta --nobody expects an ACC school to beat one of the SEC heavyweights. But if they get better quarterback play, the Heels have a real shot.
A win on such an early and big stage could catapult them on to bigger things, just as it did for Alabama. A loss, and Davis' rebuilding job quite possibly gets its first deadline.
Miles can tell him all he needs to know about that.
Thanks for reading.
It's all just silly talk right now, but let's say this conference shuffling really heats up and Arkansas leaves for the Big 12. Who would you want to bring in? Drop us a line and/or vote in our poll.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Thursday, February 11, 2010
For the heckuva it, we'll post this early Top 25 from Mark Schlabach of ESPN. Bama is at the top, despite the need of virtually an entire new defense. The next SEC school, Florida, only rounds out the Top 10.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Ole Miss students will vote Feb. 23 on whether to have a new on-field mascot or no mascot at all. The school has been without one since 2003, when Colonel Reb was retired. Go here for the latest story and here for the lost cause that is the Colonel Reb Foundation.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Spencer Hall, our hero (even if he does root for Florida), does a masterful memoir/appreciation/deconstruction of the famous case, Walker v. Bates. Enjoy.
No contest this year.
Monday, February 8, 2010
Over the weekend, the absolute pathology of the Auburn-Alabama rivalry was played out in the little north Alabama town of Cullman. There, Spencer Region, a lifelong Alabama fan who had already committed to the Tide and whose parents showed up at their son's obligatory press conference draped in crimson, announced he will attend Auburn instead.
Friday, February 5, 2010
If you think you know recruiting . . . Check out a really fun thread that just broke out on Tidefans.com.
Here's the deal: Pretend you're the coach of the newly selected 13th team in the SEC, and the league is holding an expansion draft to help you get some players. You choose one name from the recent recruiting class of each SEC school. You select the position, but remember you only get 12 picks total.
Who are they going to be?
No one will be surprised that big states like Texas, Florida and California produced the most top-flight football players. But how do supposed gridiron hotbeds like Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania stack up with their Sunbelt brethren?
Now you can find out. If we had the time, we'd figure out a comparative rating that computes the number of players that signed with Division I schools vs. each state's population. Alas, that will have to wait.
But for now, this is more than a little fun. Be sure to check out the Carolinas. The one with twice the population sure doesn't have twice the recruits.
A second ad featuring the QB and his mom will air before the game. It, too, is from Focus on the Family. USA Today has the story here.
Remember all the hoo-hah about those Florida and Mississippi State recruits whose Facebook photos (gang sign, gun) and posts (strip club) were making the rounds? Didn't affect where they ended up. Leon Orr and Lynden Trail still signed with Florida. Jameon Lewis, Robert Johnson and Jay Hughes still signed with MSU.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
So say you're one of the dozen or more blue-chip defensive players that helped Florida land perhaps the best recruiting class in the country on Wednesday.
So one day into the latest round of Gator Euphoria, here's what's going on: Urban Meyer, your future head coach, begins an indefinite leave of absence to deal with serious health issues. Oh, and the defensive coordinator you signed to play for has dumped you for Buffalo.
Funny, none of the stories we've read on the suspect address the central question: Did the recruits know that George Edwards was taking a job with the Bills?
Edwards has only been on the job a month. And call us cynical if you like, but it's hard to imagine he got out of bed Thursday with a sudden yearning for snow squalls, parkas and pale skin.
In other words, he and Meyer had to know what was up for at least a couple of days.
So the question remains: Did the kids know? Or did Meyer make an executive decision that it was in the best interest of their development as student-athletes to be kept in the dark? Not that the EXPATS would infer that Meyer's sympathies lay with salvaging his top-rated recruiting class?
Maybe the papers who cover the Gators might ask the question and we can clear all this up. We'll let you know what answer comes back. In the meantime, chomp-chomp.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Though it might have lacked the surprises of yesteryear, National Signing Day across the SEC was not without its notable performances.
Here's our AWARD-WINNAHS?
The Pravda Award for Controlling the Message: After stiffing Alabama and announcing he would sign with a school that hardly recruited him, Keenan Allen's mother and handler went the extra yard to stick to their script. They had a Tuscaloosa News reporter thrown out of Allen's Greensboro press conference after he dared to ask about reports that Allen's family will follow him to Berkeley. Read more.
Fresh Recruits for an Endless Civil War. Auburn and Alabama appear headed for Top 5 finishes. But the Tigers' Gene Chizik gets this vote for Recruiter of the Year. After getting thumped by Alabama for three straight recruiting classes, Auburn finally fought back. Though Alabama landed most of the best in-state kids, Chizik and his band of merry men held their own. They also roamed far across the Southland to get such studs as Michael Dyer (Arkansas), Trovon Reed (Louisiana) and Shon Coleman (Mississippi).
The next test: The 2011 class in Alabama is killer, and Saban and Chizik will go head to head on far more high-profile kids. Alabama already has two top in-state commitments for 2011 and is expected to announce more in a matter of days. How will Chizik and Auburn respond?
I'm Not Dead, I Was Only Sleeping, and I Wasn't Out Long: When we last saw Urban Meyer, he was barely holding it together on the sideline as his team was being blown apart by Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. In quick succession, he served as the honored guest of his wife's a 9-1-1 call, then announced his retirement because of health concerns. Sleeping in late with the Mrs. didn't last long, of course. But how Meyer was able to literally get off the floor and sign one of the greatest classes in modern recruiting history is a testament to his manic energy, the program he has built and his utter hatred of losing. Many expect this class to win a national championship. Will Meyer still be healthy enough to coach them?
The Bill Clinton "It Depends on How You Define the Word 'Commitment'" Medal of Excellence
In most years, the magical mystery tour that led Keenan Allen, his brother and two former Greensboro teammates to the cliffs of the Pacific might take top Switcheroo honors. But Da'Rick Rogers' jump from Georgia, which had recruited him for two years, to Tennessee, which only has had its coach for two weeks, was equally bizarre.
Most teams add players down the stretch. The Dawgs shed them like fleas, turning a potentially great class into a good one. Suffice to say, the talent gap between Georgia and the SEC's top-tier teams didn't get smaller today. Coach Mark Richt will have some 'splainin' to do if UGA doesn't physically rebound in 2010 and put up more of a fight. For now, who can argue that something essential isn't suddenly missing in Athens?
And On the Eighth Day, He Rested . . .
When Lane Kiffin fled Tennessee, only the headline writers mourned. But Romper Room's late-night elopement to USC left the Volunteers on the cusp of a recruiting nightmare, particularly when no one seemed particularly interested in taking the job. Enter Derek Dooley, best known for his parentage. Yet, the Saban disciple soon showed he intended to do far more than simply salvage a class. He flipped in-state offensive lineman James Stone, long considered a Bama lock (Turns out, Stone just disliked Kiffin). He stole Rogers, perhaps the gem of the Georgia class. And even though Kiffin shamelessly kept wooing his former recruits, Dooley did a respectable job keeping them in Knoxville. One late loss to USC, receiver Markeith Ambles, could be a big gain. Given the kid's mouth, he seems a perfect fit for Kiffin.
When OK is Not Really OK
Bobby Petrino and Houston Nutt have never shown much knack for recruiting, and this year's classes indicate they are building more question marks than momentum at Arkansas and Ole Miss, respectively. Why Petrino put up so little fight for Michael Dyer still doesn't make much sense. And Nutt's class, following the mammoth one he brought in last year that led the SEC to adopt size limits, is distinguished only for its lack of distinguishing talent. Meanwhile MSU's Dan Mullen continues to shake the magnolias in the Magnolia State, beating Nutt head to head on several key recruits. An common omission: None of the three appears to have found a future SEC quarterback.
It's hard to say LSU had a down year with its expected Top 10 finish. But the Tigers started fast and ended so-so. Still, Weep Not for Les, Louisiana. No school in the SEC holds a statewide recruiting monopoly like the Tigahs, and they capitalized again with an impressive array of talent. Next year, the bayous are teeming with even more first-rate players. Unless LSU struggles on the field, and every year more Cajuns seem to question The Hat's coaching chops, Miles should boat plenty. If he doesn't, well . . . how do you say "tick-tock" in French?
Long Live The King.
While Texas did its annual great job of shooting fish in a barrel, and Kiffin built on what Pete Carroll started at USC, the SEC again mostly led the national recruiting ranks -- with Florida as the near unanimous No. 1 class, and Auburn, Alabama and LSU all near the top. That gives the conference three straight mythical recruiting titles to go with its four straight national championships. Alabama is favored to make it five in a row -- but first The Tide has to get out of the SEC alive.
We'll update through the day as the news transpires and the mood strikes ...
* I don't usually go in for bashing other blogs -- I'm proud to be as ill-informed as the next person -- but I had to laugh a little when I came across this posting: "Marcus Lattimore announcement: Why his signing propels Gamecocks into SEC elite." (Never mind that most top-10 lists include 5 SEC schools not located in Columbia.) -- rtr
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
"It felt like the right place for me, plus Spurrier did the cha-cha slide for my mom."
So said Marcus Lattimore, who picked the Gamecocks on Tuesday. Go here for the story and here for the quote.
Earlier: National Signing Day arrives Wednesday with more clarity surrounding the decision of South Carolina's top-ranked recruit and considerable more questions about North Carolina's.
After touring the country, Marcus Lattimore of Byrnes High has all but clicked the ruby slippers and announced "there's no place like home." He is expected to sign Wednesday with South Carolina, taking a bit of the whip cream off Gene Chizik's excellent first recruiting class at Auburn.
Chizik, though, already has 5-star back Michael Dyer out of Arkansas, and Lattimore's decision to roost with the Chickens might swing D.J. Howard of Lincoln, Ala., back to the Plains. Howard is considering Clemson, among others.
The Gamecocks' class doesn't include another running back, with Steve Spurrier making it clear early on that he was all in for Lattimore. Carolina's class is heavy with offensive lineman. Now Spurrier has someone to carry the ball. It may be several years before we know if any of this helps the SEC's worst running offense.
Meanwhile, the recruitment of Greensboro's Keenan Allen has taken a hard left turn into the weird.
Allen, who will be a star on whichever side of the ball he decides to play, had been a longtime fan of coach Nick Saban and Alabama, and he committed to the Tide in November.
But two weeks ago his half-brother, Zach Maynard, last season's starting quarterback at Buffalo, announced he was leaving the program. A family spokesman, Otis Yelverton, said Maynard felt disrespected by the staff hired to replace Turner Gill, who left for Kansas.
The Allen/Maynard family, with the help of Yelverton, the boys' former high school coach, apparently began looking for a package deal so their sons could play together. Clemson offered it. It's unclear if Alabama matched it. Penn State also got involved. Late last week, the family stopped taking calls from either Alabama or Clemson.
Now it appears Allen and Maynard are headed to Cal, which had never appeared to be a serious contender for Allen but coincidentally is now the likely destination of Gabe King, the brothers' former teammate in Greensboro.
Yelverton, by the way, lost his coaching job last year in Guilford County in the wake of a high school residency/recruiting scandal at one of the high schools. He's now athletics director at Oak Hill Military Academy. As part of Guilford investigation, King, the state's top recruit going into his senior season, was declared ineligible.
At Yelverton's suggestion, according to newspaper reports, King moved to Eugene, Ore., and was expected to sign with the Oregon Ducks. But for unknown reasons, Oregon pulled its offer, and King's gaze magically wafted south along the Pacific Coast to Berkeley, where Allen and Maynard are now expected to join him. Home, after all, is where your homies are.
"Strange days, indeed," John Lennon, who could have been talking about recruiting, once wrote.
To which the fans of Alabama and Clemson might add: "Most peculiar, mama!"
Yikes, the Georgia class has been hit by its biggest defection yet: 5-star receiver Da'Rick Rogers has notified the Dawg coaches that he's signing tomorrow with Tennessee. Read here for more
This is a major setback for UGA coach Mark Richt, even before you consider that Rogers is setting aside a 2-year recruiting relationship to opt with a Tennessee coach who's been on the job only two weeks.
Kudos to Derek Dooley, son of the Georgia scion. And while UGA will get its share of good players, it's clearly spewing oil as the hours toward signing day tick down.
Meanwhile, Alabama has reacted to the apparent loss of its highest-ranked commitment, Greensboro's Keenan Allen, by landing two players: Dequan Menzie, a highly rated junior college defensive back, and offensive lineman Arie Kouandjio of venerable DeMatha High in Maryland.
The big man comes with a possible windfall: Little brother Cyrus is even bigger than he, and is a heavy lean for the Tide's 2011 class.
Around 6 p.m. Tuesday, all eyes will turn to Silver Hill Memorial United Methodist Church in Spartanburg, where RB Marcus Lattimore will decide between South Carolina and Auburn.