Tag:SEC
Posted on: January 17, 2012 4:22 pm
 

SEC official: 'We're not going to nine' games

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Mike Slive and the SEC have stated (on multiple occasions) that the league's 2012 schedule is a stopgap solution before more permanent answers to the questions of cross-divisional rivalries and rotations are established in 2013. But according to conference official Larry Templeton, there's one thing that won't change in the schedule between 2012 and 2013: the number of games in it.

Templeton, chair of the SEC's transition team, confirmed to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at Missouri Monday that the conference will not be considering moving to a nine-game schedule in 2013 ... or ever.

"We're not going to nine," he said. "The competitiveness in our league week-to-week is just too strong. It would be an easier scheduling format, but I don't think it would be fair to our players or our coaches."

In November, South Carolina president Harris Pastides said the league planned to move to a nine-game slate, but that claim was quickly shot down by the league and Slive himself, who said in December he didn't "sense any interest" from member schools in adding an additional league game.

Assuming the SEC sticks with Templeton's assertion that a nine-game schedule is off the table, the league faces a difficult catch-22. With six of the eight games already guaranteed to be divisional games (thanks to the 14-team expansion and seven teams in each division), only two will be devoted to cross-divisional contests. Make one of those a permanent cross-divisional rival and rotate through home-and-home series in the last remaining slot, and non-rival teams in opposite divisions will play each other just twice in a span of 12 years. Give both slots over to rotations, and suddenly some the bedrock rivalries of the league -- Auburn-Georgia and Alabama-Tennessee, to name the two most prominent -- are no longer annual affairs.

"That is a huge question that has not been answered ... It will be an interesting debate," Templeton said. "I think anything else is on the table for discussion. We're going to have to make some tough decisions. Are we going to stay with the permanent opponent, and then how are we going to rotate that one other game?"

One possible solution would be for some teams (like the Tide and Vols, or Tigers and Bulldogs) to keep their permanent cross-division rival while the others have both their East-West games rotate. But that could prove unnecessarily complicated, and would still force those teams with permanent rivals to see opposite-division teams exceedingly rarely. 

Of course, there are some positives to sticking with an eight-game schedule; teams with annual nonconference rivalries like South Carolina (with Clemson) or Florida (with Florida State) will find it much easier to maintain those with four non-league games available, and the capacity to schedule an extra "paycheck game" will greatly aid the league's lower-rung teams in reaching bowl eligibility. 

But already, many SEC fans would say the conference's traditional powers -- say, Alabama and Florida, or LSU and Georgia, or old rivals Auburn and Tennessee -- don't play often enough. The most likely outcome of an eight-game schedule is that games between those teams would become even more scarce. Expansion may boost the league's bottom line if its forthcoming post-14-team TV negotiations prove fruitful, but it will still come at a price, and games like this past two season's showdowns between the Tide and Gators look like they'll going to be that price.

HT: Get the Picture. 

For more from the Eye on CFB on the SEC, click here.

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Posted on: January 17, 2012 3:38 pm
Edited on: January 17, 2012 10:43 pm
 

Tide's Kirkpatrick arrested on marijuana charges

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

In a development that will surely do his draft stock no favors, recently declared Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick was arrested Tuesday morning and charged with possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana.

As originally reported by The Big LeadKirkpatrick's arrest is part of the available public record at the website of Manatee County (Fla.) Sheriff's Department. A search for the arrest yields the following record:

 

According to the Associated Press, the local police report states that Kirkpatrick was a passenger in a truck driven by fellow former Alabama player Chris Rogers, 25. The truck was pulled over in Bradenton, Fla., after being spotted driving on the wrong side of the road. A police dog alerted officers to the presence of drugs, and a small amount of marijuana was found on the floordboard at Kirkpatrick's feet.

According to the report, Rogers said he had bought the marijuana at a local house and was also charged. Kirkpatrick claimed he had been in the car when the purchase had been made, but was unaware what Rogers was buying.

The arrest occured at 12:48 a.m., with Kirkpatrick released shortly after having posted $120 bond.

Though it wasn't immediately clear why Kirkpatrick was in Bradenton, the city is home to the IMG Performance Institute, one function of which is to help athletes as they train for the NFL Combine.

Kirkpatrick declared for April's NFL Draft shortly after the Crimson Tide's resounding victory in the BCS national title game, and is universally expected to become a first-round selection. The former five-star recruit from Gasden (Ala.) and 2011 All-American is ranked the No. 10 overall prospect in the draft, and the current CBSSports.com mock drafts currently have Kirkpatrick as either the 6th or 7th overall pick. 

The arrest certainly won't keep Kirkpatrick from becoming a first-round millionaire come draft day. But depending on how seriously NFL teams take what might now viewed as "character concerns," his top-10 status could be in jeopardy.

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Posted on: January 16, 2012 6:56 pm
Edited on: January 16, 2012 11:51 pm
 

Auburn QB Barrett Trotter forgoing senior year

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Whoever takes charge of Auburn's offense in 2012 -- Gene Chizik has yet to announce a replacement for Gus Malzahn as the former assistant takes the reins at Arkansas State -- will have one fewer option at quarterback after Barrett Trotter's decision to leave the Tiger program one season early.

The redshirt junior announced Monday that he would be forgoing his senior year to further concentrate on his academics. Trotter has received his undergraduate degree from Auburn in communications and is currently working on a Master's.

"My four years at Auburn have been a great experience and I'm thankful for the opportunities that I've had. However, I have decided to forgo my senior season," Trotter said in a statement. "I'm truly blessed to have been a part of winning seasons and championships during my time at Auburn."

Trotter's decision leaves the Tigers with three scholarship quarterbacks on their projected roster for 2012: junior Clint Moseley, sophomore Kiehl Frazier and Maxpreps No. 30 overall recruit Zeke PikeMoseley appeared in 10 games and attempted 108 passes (completing 61 percent for 7.4 yards a try) after wresting the job away from Trotter at midseason, but Frazier's running ability (327 yards, 3 touchdowns) will have him in the mix.

Despite those options, Auburn likely would have still preferred Trotter to remain in the program for another year. Cam Newton's former backup began the year brightly, leading the Tiger offense to 42 and 41 points in wins over Utah State and Mississippi State, respectively, while throwing five touchdowns to one interception. A deep mid-year slump cost him the starting spot, only for him to come off the bench in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl and lead Auburn to the win with an 11-for-18, 9.7 yards-per-attempt, one TD performance. With Chizik rumored to be looking for more of a pro-style look in his next coordinator, Trotter's combination of experience and accuracy might have made him a contender for the starting job.

"Barrett is a great young man who ended his career in a fitting way by helping lead our team to victory in the Chick-fil-A Bowl," Chizik said. "We are very appreciative to Barrett for his contributions to Auburn both on and off the field, and wish him nothing but the best as he takes the next step in his life."

We don't doubt that. But we also don't doubt that Chizik also wishes he had that one extra card in hand at quarterback as his offense takes the next step in its life under Chizik's watch.

Though Trotter is not expected to be drafted and doesn't appear to be considering a career in pro football, expert Rob Rang broke down Trotter's draft chances at his CBSSports.com Draft Blog. 

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Posted on: January 16, 2012 2:06 pm
Edited on: January 16, 2012 2:18 pm
 

Sumlin hire a sign of King's quest for equality


Posted by Bryan Fischer

When milestones are being broken and they lack notoriety, does that make them less of a milestone?

It's an intriguing question to ask on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with regards to the hiring of African-American head coaches in college football.

In the case of new Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, perhaps it is best to see the arrival of yet another black coach - to the SEC no less - not as a milestone in itself but rather as a significant sign of progress with how far the sport has come. King's famous "I have a dream" speech 49 years ago called for racial equality along with an end to discrimination and, when looking at this hire, that seems to be truer now than it was just three or four years ago.

"I think it's significant progress," Sumlin said last week at the AFCA Coaches Convention about the lack of race being brought up with regards to his hire. "I can remember four or five years ago when I was hired at Houston, 'The first... the first... the first...' I said at the press conference that my hope five, six, seven years from now that it wouldn't even be a topic of discussion."

As Birmingham News columnist Jon Solomon notes, The Associated Press didn't mention Sumlin becoming the first black head football coach at Texas A&M until the 11th paragraph. While it's certainly possible Sumlin's hire might have brought up the discussion behind closed doors in College Station, there was no dwelling on his skin color when making the hire in public. Race was mentioned in passing because it wasn't a positive or negative in filling the job because Sumlin was judged on his merits as a head coach.

"They only talk about coaches two ways, moving on and getting hired or moving out and getting fired," he said with a chuckle. "When it gets to those deals now, race isn't part of the discussion."

Kentucky head coach Joke Phillips (above) played Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin in 2011 in the first ever meeting of two black coaches in the SEC. (US Presswire)
Sumlin will be the SEC's third black head coach when A&M moves to the league officially, joining Kentucky's Joker Phillips and Vanderbilt's James Franklin. Last season he was one of 19 Division I (excluding historically black institutions) minority coaches, up from just 11 in 1996. Beyond just numbers increasing, more and more assistant coaches are getting looks at top jobs around the country and it's not limited to smaller schools. Stanford's David Shaw took over for Jim Harbaugh and led the Cardinal to a BCS bowl while Franklin improbably took the Commodores to a bowl game in his first year with essentially the same squad that went 2-10 prior to his arrival.

That Sumlin moves from Conference USA to the nation's best league without much fanfare is much different from when Mississippi State hired Sylvester Croom and a positive sign that perceptions have changed just as reality has. Former Arkansas coordinator Garrick McGee took the head job at UAB to become the first black head coach at a major school in the state of Alabama, just as Sumlin became in the state of Texas. The moves are notable in their significance but also significant because they have not been noted with the attention they would have had not too long ago.

Unlike the NFL, where the Rooney Rule (instituted in 2003) has mandated teams interview minorities for openings, college hires have been left up to athletic directors and presidents' discretion. Though they are not forced to, many are giving some of the 479 black assistants in college football (as of the 2010-11 season) an interview without so much as a second thought about their race because of what they've accomplished on the field.

"I think any success I've had or can have helps the process," said Sumlin, proudly pointing out the SEC logo on his Texas A&M polo. "I think it's important that it is something that isn't being talked about. That is real progress."

Though the stark contrast between the number of black players in Division I (46%) and head coaches (less than 20%) remains a wide gulf, it is becoming less noticeable with each passing offseason. According to the NCAA, not only has there been increases in opportunities for coaches, but there has also been a broader distribution of those opportunities in other areas such as athletic administration and at the coordinator level.

In the case of Sumlin and others over the past few years, the best stat about them is that they are not talked about as one. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, that is certainly something to note as a sign of progress and a true milestone in the sport.
 

Posted on: January 16, 2012 2:03 pm
 

Report: Nussmeier to be Alabama's new OC

Posted by Tom Fornelli

According to a report from al.com, Washington offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier is set to become the new offensive coordinator at Alabama. With the holiday on Monday, there is no scheduled announcement for the hire.

Nussmeier has been the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Washington under Steve Sarkisian for the last three years. If he does leave to take the Alabama job, he'll be replacing Jim McElwain who left Tuscaloosa to take the head coaching job at Colorado State. Ironically, this would be the second time that Nussmeier has taken over a position left vacant by McElwain.

Before taking the job at Washington, Nussmeier was an offensive coordinator at Fresno State, taking that job after McElwain left to become Alabama's offensive coordinator.

After averaging 26.1 and 21.8 points per game in Nussmeier's first two seasons at Washington, the Huskies offense averaged 33.4 points per game in 2011, while gaining 409.8 yards per game.

Nussmeier would also be the second new coaching hire at Alabama since the Crimson Tide won the national championship last week. Lance Thompson will be returning to Tuscaloosa from Tennessee to take his old job of linebackers coach.

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Posted on: January 15, 2012 10:58 pm
Edited on: January 15, 2012 10:58 pm
 

Coach swap: Tide hires Vols' Thompson as LB coach

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Three years ago, Alabama hired Sal Sunseri to replace linebackers coach Lance Thompson, hired away by Tennessee. So now that Sunseri has also been hired away by the Vols, as Derek Dooley's new defensive coordinator, who has Nick Saban tabbed to replace him? Why, he's hired Lance Thompson, of course. 

That's according to multiple reports Sunday, which cited sources in claiming Thompson will return to the same Crimson Tide linebackers-coaching position he left in 2008 when Lane Kiffin lured him Tuscaloosa. Thompson coached the Vols' linebackers for two years before moving to defensive line duties this season.

Thompson becomes the sixth Tennessee assistant to depart the Volunteer program this off-season. Receivers coach Charlie Baggett retired; previous defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and linebackers coach Peter Sirmon left to join Steve Sarkisian at Washington; offensive line coach Harry Hiestand left to take the same position at Notre Dame; and special teams coach Eric Russell joined Mike Leach at Washington State.

With the hires of Sunseri at DC, former Vol star Jay Graham at running backs coach, and North Carolina's Sam Pittman as the new offensive line coach, Dooley is doing his best to stop the bleeding. But Thompson's departure will leave a substantial mark nonetheless, especially this close to Signing Day; he's long been recognized as one of the SEC's best recruiters, a major factor in his having been hired by Saban in the first place, by Kiffin in 2008, and -- no doubt -- now by Saban a second time. (That the Crimson Tide head coach is willing to bring Thompson aboard a second time despite his earlier decision to hitch his wagon to Kiffin -- whose antics in Knoxville Saban is widely believed to have loathed -- speaks to how highly Saban thinks of his coaching and recruiting acumen.)

There's little doubt that hiring an up-and-comer like Sunseri away from his archrivals was something of a coup for Dooley, and a major positive for his under-fire Knoxville tenure. But every step forward for Dooley and the Vols seems like it's matched by one backwards these days, and it's no real surprise that one that came at the expense of Saban and Alabama was so quickly returned in kind.

For more on the Vols and Crimson Tide, follow CBSSports.com's Tennessee RapidReports by Daniel Lewis and Alabama RapidReports by Jim Dunn.

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Posted on: January 14, 2012 7:57 pm
 

LSU leading WR Rueben Randle entering draft

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

LSU may have kept one receiver in the fold. But their best one is off to the NFL.

Junior Rueben Randle -- the Tigers' leading receiver in their undefeated (and ultimately unfulfilled) march to the BCS National Championship game -- announced Friday that he would be forgoing his final season in Baton Rouge to enter this April's NFL draft. Randle's father Emmett Randle confirmed that his son had filed the necessary paperwork to join the draft as a third-year player.

“There was no one particular thing,” Emmett Randle told the Baton Rouge Advocate. “It was a combination of things that told him he needed to move on.”

One of those things is likely that Randle could prove to be a first-day draft pick; Emmett said that the NFL had graded Rueben as a potential second-round pick, and with prototypical pro size at 6'4", 208 pounds, Randle's stock shouldn't be harmed by pre-draft workouts.

It's that same rare combination of size and athleticism that made Randle one of the nation's most elite, highly sought-after recruits in the class of 2009, when he was regularly tabbed as one of the top five prospects at any position. The sky-high expectations meant that his production as a freshman and sophomore -- 44 total receptions, just over 700 yards -- was viewed as something of a disappointment.

Randle made good on his potential and then some in 2011, however, leading the Tigers with 53 receptions, 917 yards, and 8 touchdowns. His 17.3 average yards per-reception led the SEC among receivers with at least 50 catches. (We here at Eye on CFB named him first-team All-SEC for the impact his downfield receiving threat made on the LSU offense.)

So the move makes sense from Randle's perspective. But it won't make it any easier for the Tigers to take, not with Morris Claiborne and Michael Brockers having already elected to enter the draft as well. Fellow receiver Russell Shepard will be staying in Baton Rouge, but the national title game (as well as the Tigers' first meeting with the Tide) showed how badly the LSU offense needs to develop its deep passing game against truly elite defenses--and now the Tigers will lose their only bona fide downfield threat. The hole left by Randle's decision won't be an easy one for Les Miles to fill.

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Posted on: January 13, 2012 12:13 pm
 

Tyler Wilson returning to Arkansas

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The SEC West is going to be rather tough again in 2012. Arkansas, which found out earlier this week that running back Knile Davis would be returning from a knee injury next year, got some more good news on Friday. Quarterback Tyler Wilson will be returning to Arkansas for his senior season.

“I have decided to stay at Arkansas for the 2012 season because I am extremely excited for what this team has the opportunity to accomplish and to finish earning my degree," said Wilson in a release. "After the feedback I received, the decision was difficult to make. Ultimately, the chance to complete my academics and play one more season as a Razorback were  compelling reasons for me to remain in Fayetteville. This past year was great for us with 11 wins and a top-five finish and we want to build on that. The group of players we have returning has high expectations and wants to work hard to compete for championships. Although my goal is to play in the NFL, I believe I can benefit greatly from another year of working with Coach (Bobby) Petrino and Coach Paul Petrino. I am excited to be able to spend one more season at a university where the leadership shows a tremendous amount of support and the passion of the fans is the best in the country.”

Wilson took over as Arkansas' starting quarterback in 2011 after Ryan Mallett left for the NFL, and had great season for the Razorbacks. He finished the year throwing for 3,638 yards and 24 touchdowns for an offense that averaged 36.8 points per game.

Considering that Wilson will have a full year of experience under his belt heading into 2012 and the return of Knile Davis, an Arkansas team that finished the season 11-2 -- with those losses coming to Alabama and LSU -- and ranked fifth in the country will be a darkhorse candidate to be the SEC's newest national champion. 

Get caught up on the early-entry announcements HERE, and all the latest rankings, mock drafts, and breaking news check out the NFL Draft Home 

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com