Friday, February 26, 2010

Tim Tebow: On his new release and other stuff

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.


LSU moves start of spring practice to Monday

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.

Sept. 4 -- North Carolina (in Atlanta)
Sept. 11 -- @ Vanderbilt
Sept. 18 -- Miss. State
Sept. 25 -- West Virginia
Oct. 2 -- Tennessee
Oct. 9 -- @ Florida
Oct. 16 -- McNeese State
Oct. 23 -- @ Auburn
Nov. 6 -- Alabama
Nov. 13 -- UL-Monroe
Nov. 20 -- Ole Miss
Nov. 27 -- @ Arkansas

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It's not UNC-Duke ...

... 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.

The Admiral Ackbar groundswell

Now that Ole Miss students have decided to cast about for a new mascot (see post below), one candidate has already reared his sizable Mon Calamari head: the Rebel Alliance's Admiral Ackbar.

The movement has already generated a Web site and a Facebook page. For more on the Admiral's place in the "Star Wars" galaxy, click here.

Besides, it's well-documented that Nick Saban IS Darth Vader.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New mascot for Ole Miss ... eventually

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.

Story here.

Hell to the Victors: Michigan cited for 5 major violations

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.


Tebow 2.0

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.

Attendance by the numbers

Figures for last season are in. Some conference-centric highlights:

* The SEC was the top conference draw for the 12th straight year, averaging 76,288 per game.

* Mississippi State led the nation in attendance increase with a plus-10,339 over the year before.

* Home-game averages for each school:
-- Tennessee: 99,220 (5th nationally, but down 2,228 from 2008)
-- Georgia: 92,746 (6th)
-- LSU: 92,489 (7th)
-- Alabama: 92,012 (8th)
-- Florida: 90,635 (9th)
-- Auburn: 84,614 (13th)
-- South Carolina: 75,369 (18th)
-- Kentucky: 69,594 (22nd - never would have guessed that they outdraw Virginia Tech, UCLA, Washington and Missouri, to name a few)
-- Arkansas: 65,112 (24th)

and the rest ...
-- Ole Miss: 55,767
-- Mississippi State: 53,792
-- Vanderbilt: 35,015

* And the lowest number for any school anywhere: 150 die-hards a game at MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Illinois.

All the numbers for all the schools are here.

Monday, February 22, 2010

More on USC: Signs point toward a big hammer

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

Pre-season predictions and potshots . . .

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

Day of Reckoning for Reggie Bush U.

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

Auburn leads Alabama in Facebook Bowl

Number of fans of "I bet Auburn can find 100,000 fans before Alabama can!" (as of 11:16 a.m.): 25,724

Vandy recruit killed

Rajaan Bennett, a running back considered Vanderbilt's top signee, was shot and killed this morning at his home in Powder Springs, Ga. The AJC has the details here and here.

'It's a big deal, but not a big deal'

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

Kiffin gets death threats . . . burns bridges sted of couches

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.


For your expansion edification: History and money

* Florida State's efforts through the years to join the SEC.

* Why Georgia Tech left the conference in the first place, according to Bobby Dodd's book. (There had already been bad blood between Dodd and Bear Bryant from the Chick Graning incident in 1961. The next year, Sports Illustrated used the 'Bama-Tech game as a way to take a larger look at "brutal football.")

* A look at some of the bucks -- the big bucks -- that go with being in the SEC:
TV contracts -- $17 million per year per team. (ACC: $5.6 million.)
BCS bowl payouts -- $22 million to the conference. (And more on top of that from other bowls: the SEC's formula for bowl revenue distribution is outlined here.)

* And, finally, here's what Clemson itself has to say about one of its "priority goals": "In Division 1-A athletics, there is generally a strong correlation between the competitive success of an athletics program and the sufficiency of its resources. To achieve its Mission as well as its 2010 goals, Clemson athletics must maximize all existing and potential revenue sources to fund the Department's annual operations and capital initiatives."

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The ACC-SEC kickoff to the 2010 season

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.


Can the SEC handle two Death Valleys?

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.

Here's how the divisions might shake out if Clemson were in:

South Carolina

Miss. State
Ole Miss

Monday, February 15, 2010

That's enough cowbell

Dateline Starkville: A Mississippi State student was charged last week with felonious assault after putting a cowbell to the head of another student during last year's Egg Bowl. Story here.

This was not the weapon in question.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Recruiting: Limits, loopholes and long memories

* Texas rule: The NCAA's now saying that coaches-in-waiting can only do as much personal recruiting as a head coach, which is to say less often than assistants. The Longhorns say they're being singled out. Read more here and here.

* Houston Nutt rule: Why did Ole Miss sign 39 players last year and only 22 this year? Answer here.

* Even academic types find the whole process worthy of study. Click here to read a paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association a couple of years back. It's about how Mississippi's racial history affects Ole Miss' recruiting (and how other schools play up that history). But it uses bigger words.

ESPN Early Rankings . . . Teams line up to take best shots against SEC

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.

Arkansas and Georgia seem a little high to me; the Gators and LSU, assuming they get better quarterback play, a little low.

In short, not a smashing endorsement of the world's best football conference for the 2010 season. Let's just see what happens when the games start.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Colonel Reb he ain't comin' back

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

My God, a freshman

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.

SEC vs. Big Ten: Super Bowl edition

No contest this year.

* Game MVP Drew Brees (Purdue).
* Pierre Thomas (Illinois) scores for Saints.
* Tracy Porter (Indiana) picks off Peyton Manning (UT).
* Dallas Clark (Iowa) had the most receiving yards of anybody.

The best the SEC could do was LSU's Joseph Addai and Devery Henderson.

Meanwhile, the Tebow ads brought a ton of attention to Focus on the Family. USA Today has the numbers here.

Monday, February 8, 2010

In the War Room, Recuiting 2011 . . .

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.

A little background. On Signing Day, after having lost two prized commitments, Tide coach Nick Saban called himself old-fashioned, and said a commitment should mean the end of the recruiting for a particular player. If you want to visit schools, he said, don't commit until you finish.

Region, a big offensive lineman, wanted to commit to Alabama. But he also wanted his trips. Apparently over the weekend, Saban told him to visit the other schools, but he wouldn't be guaranteed a spot at Alabama's recruiting class, which is expected to be the smallest of the Saban era. Auburn coach Gene Chizik saw an opening. He reportedly had two phone conversations with Region, and told him Alabama and Saban didn't respect the lineman because they would allow a truly prized recruit to visit as many campuses as he wanted.

The kid at some point agreed. He shocked just about everyone in attendance, and maybe even himself, by putting on the orange and blue hat. His mother was in tears afterward. Watch here.

Saban, courtesy of some footage ferreted out of Tuscaloosa by an Auburn double agent, didn't take the news well.

Just to think, NSD 2011 is a long way off.


Friday, February 5, 2010

A pickup team from this year's SEC recruits

If you think you know recruiting . . . Check out a really fun thread that just broke out on

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?


The State(s) of Division 1 Recruiting

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.


Kiffin has head start on the class of 2015

No, really: He's managed a verbal commitment from a middle-school quarterback in Delaware. Read about it here and here.

More Tebow during Super Bowl

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.

Recruiting update: The Facebook Five

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.

On that same subject, click here for a look at how schools are trying to monitor social networking. (The name of the company profiled in the story is pretty catchy, too -- UDiligence.)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

An Urban Oasis of Stability in Gainesville

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.


Signing day aftermath

Various and sundries, whether you're basking in the afterglow or nursing a hangover ...

* Here's the final AP Top 25, and in parentheses, where those teams finished in's recruiting rankings. (Interestingly, Rivals has Southern Cal nosing out Florida for the top spot, probably based on Seantrel Henderson going Trojan, though the New York Times is reporting that he won't sign until after USC learns about any possible NCAA sanctions. The Times also writes about the circus surrounding the pursuit of Henderson.)

1. Alabama (5)
2. Texas (3)
3. Florida (2)
4. Boise State (82)
5. Ohio State (26)
6. TCU (46)
7. Iowa (42)
8. Cincinnati (58)
9. Penn State (12)
10. Virginia Tech (22)
11. Oregon (13)
12. BYU (40)
13. Georgia Tech (43)
14. Nebraska (23)
15. Pitt (33)
16. Wisconsin (86)
17. LSU (6)
18. Utah (32)
19. Miami (24)
20. Ole Miss (17)
21. Texas Tech (41)
22. Southern Cal (1)
23. Central Michigan (111)
24. Clemson (18)
25. West Virginia (19)

* Also from Rivals: five of the day's biggest surprises. (For the purposes of this column only, we'll call 'em Faxarooskis.)

* And a little more on Calvin Smith, who picked one of the few college spots (Albuquerque) that's harder to spell than his hometown (Hialeah). His defensive line coach, by the way, will be Orange Crusher Rubin Carter. (Would YOU want to recruit against this guy?)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

EXPATS critique - Recruiting Day 2010

Though it might have lacked the surprises of yesteryear, National Signing Day across the SEC was not without its notable performances.


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.

While Bama leaves NSD reloaded and heavily armed, next season includes two potential games against Florida, plus the typical murderer's row. And as we all know by now, in the SEC, everybody's packing.


Signing day: Let the hysteria begin

We'll update through the day as the news transpires and the mood strikes ...

* N.C. updates coming in from Ken Tysiac at

* Threads all over are up and running. Here's ESPN's, and here's's.

* 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

* And here's how the Lattimore announcement played out, with a cameo by Auburn's Stephen Davis. (Story here.) High drama in a church setting. (Go here or here if the video below isn't showing on your screen.)

* SI's Andy Staples lists the 15 best recruiting classes ever. ('Bama 2008 is already on the list.) And here's Staples on how Pete Carroll leaving Southern Cal changed the recruiting landscape.

* 20 -- count 'em, 20 -- signing day guarantees from MaxPreps. Make of it what you will, and save for future reference.

* Off-topic, but looking forward to Boise State-Virginia Tech on Labor Day. Between that and 'Bama-Penn State and Tennessee-Oregon and LSU-North Carolina, there'll be a lot of September shakeout this year.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

It's not Super Bowl week without ... Saban?

That's right. He was coaching the Dolphins when they passed on Drew Brees. The Saints grab Brees, Saban goes to 'Bama a year later, and well, you know the rest.

Lattimore likes chicken; Allen goes AWOL from Tide

"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!"


Dawgs lose a big one; Bama grabs two . . .

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.


It's almost National Signing Day. Do you know where your recruits are?

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.

Monday, Auburn landed DT Jeff Whitaker from Warner Robins, Ga. (Click here for that story, which also talks about Auburn rising and Georgia fading.)

And ESPN has a list of the main uncommitteds here.