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Tag:Mississippi State
Posted on: July 26, 2011 5:31 pm
Edited on: July 26, 2011 5:34 pm
 

NCAA moves towards closing Newton loophole

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Aside from Auburn's fans and coaches, there didn't seem to be many people happy with the NCAA's decision last fall to rule Cam Newton eligible after his father Cecil Newton admitted he'd asked Mississippi State boosters for $180,000. That even goes for people who agreed with the NCAA's ruling, like president Mark Emmert, who stated plainly (as Gene Chizik will tell you) that the NCAA had no evidence to rule that Cam knew of his father's request or that the family had received benefits from anyone ... but also affirmed that "I think it's absolutely a fundamentally wrong for a father to try to sell the services of his son or daughter to the highest bidder."

And in the interests of protecting that stance, Emmerts's organization has moved towards making requests like Cecil's an eligibility-breaker in the future. An official release from the NCAA Tuesday details a proposal for an "expanded definition of agents," one that would "include third-party influences, including family members, who market student-athletes’ athletics ability or reputation for personal financial gain."

The statement reads:

The cabinet at its recent meeting in Indianapolis agreed to sponsor legislation for the 2011-12 cycle that would define agents as individuals who either directly or indirectly:

  • Represent or attempt to represent a prospective or current student-athlete in the marketing of his or her athletics ability or reputation for financial gain; or
  • Seek to obtain any type of financial gain or benefit from securing a prospect’s enrollment at an institution or a student-athlete’s potential earnings as a professional athlete.

The new definition would include certified contract advisors, financial advisors, marketing representatives, brand managers or anyone who is employed by or associated with such individuals.

The new definition also would apply to third parties, including family members, who shop prospects to various institutions for personal financial gain. In the past, the agent definition applied generally to third parties marketing an athlete’s skills to a professional sports team. The cabinet’s proposal expands the definition to include people marketing athletics skills to a collegiate institution for personal gain.

Under the new definition, Cecil would have been acting as Cam's "agent" and -- one would assume -- having an agent operating on his behalf (even without his consent) would have resulted in Cam's having been declared ineligible. The definition might also be broad enough to include the likes of "advisors" like Bryce Brown mentor Brian Butler (or, if certain allegations involving Oregon stick, Will Lyles.)

The proposal will be reviewed at the NCAA's 2011-2012 legislative session and could be put into effect as soon as April of next year.

If we play devil's advocate for a moment, we have to wonder if it's entirely fair to prospective athletes to pay the price in elgibility for others' actions they may have no control over. (Consider a scenario similar to the famous Albert Means case: if a high school coach goes behind a recruit's back and asks a school for money in order to push the recruit towards that school, how is that the player's fault? Would their college football career be ruined all the same?)

But all the same, Emmert is right that the attempted sales of athletes' services (whether that sale is completed or not) is "fundamentally wrong." If the NCAA believes the proposed legislation might help stamp out some of those sales pitches, it's legislation they must consider.

Posted on: July 25, 2011 3:08 pm
 

Vegas Hilton releases odds on win totals

Posted by Tom Fornelli

We here at CBSSports.com and the Eye On College Football blog don't really encourage or condone betting on college football as we're of the belief that the games themselves are all the entertainment we need, but we also know that our feelings aren't the same as all college football fans. Many of you enjoy betting on the sport, and we're here to cater to every college football fan.

So, with that in mind, we felt we should let you know that the Las Vegas Hilton sportsbook has released their number on the win totals of a number of different teams that you can wager on. The truth is that Vegas is actually pretty good at predicting what's going to happen on any given Saturday or during the entire season, as casinos aren't exactly in the business of losing money. So these numbers actually have some value even if you aren't planning on wagering.

Here are the totals currently on the board:

Alabama 10

Oklahoma 10

Boise St. 10.5

LSU 9.5

Stanford 9  

S. Carolina 9 

Arkansas 8.5

Texas A&M 8.5 

Georgia 8.5 

Oklahoma State 8.5

Nebraska 9.5 

Florida State 9.5 

Virginia Tech 10

Wisconsin 9.5

Arizona St. 8 

West Virginia 9.5 

Florida 7.5 

USC 7.5

Notre Dame 8.5

Texas 8

Miss State 7.5 

Miami 8 

Oregon St. 6.5 

TCU 9 

BYU 8.5 

Missouri 7.5

Michigan State 7.5 

Auburn 6 

Tennessee 6.5 

Penn St 7.5 

North Carolina 8 

Michigan 7 

Utah 7.5 

Nevada 8 

UNLV 2.5 

Nothing too crazy on there, even if it is weird to see schools like Florida and Texas only expected to get 7 or 8 wins. You probably also noticed that Auburn's total is set at 6 wins, which seems low considering Auburn is the defending national champion, but it's also reasonable considering what that team has lost.

Now while I'm not going to wage any of my money on these, I will say that I have some doubts about BYU being able to win 9 games this season, and considering that UNLV is playing both Southern Utah and New Mexico this season, surely it can find a third win, can't it?

*Looks at rest of UNLV schedule*

Oh, okay. Maybe not. 
Posted on: July 22, 2011 1:41 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2011 2:10 pm
 

Houston Nutt at SEC Media Days

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Houston Nutt opened his SEC Media Days comments by admitting last year's 4-8 campaign was "disappointing." That disappointment might explain why Nutt wasn't quite as animated at the podium as the "Right Reverend" has been in the past.

But that doesn't mean he didn't still have plenty to say. Here's the highlights, by topic:

Mississippi State. Nutt's Starkville counterpart Dan Mullen has done his best to claim ownership of Mississippi following two straight Egg Bowl victories, with "Our State" billboards and calling State the "people's university." Nutt never once mentioned State or Mullen by name, but was clearly rankled by his rivals' Rebel-baiting.

On recruiting, he mentioned in his opening statement the Rebels had landed "the best players out of Mississippi." Asked about the Egg Bowl's recruiting effect again later, he responded with "You checked recruiting this past season, right? It didn't affect us. We had the best recruiting in the state of Mississippi."

On the billboards, Nutt said "Ole Miss has never been to Atlanta ... I feel like I know the road map to get there. And to waste your time and energy on something like that, it's a waste of time. You better be concentrating on recruiting, and concentrating on winning."

Asked about the SEC West, Nutt said "You better buckle up. Both chin straps," and proceeded to praise every team in the division (his own included) ... with the single exception of Mississippi State. We doubt that was coincidental.

And finally, asked directly about the Bulldogs for what must have been the fourth or fifth time, Nutt said this: "The reason they're loud right now is they've won the last two years ... I do understand the Egg Bowl. It's a real rival. And our players and coaches understand that. And there's only one thing to do about it."

Quarterback. Nutt claimed the Rebels' offensive woes are being overblown, saying "We averaged 30 points a game last year now. We were in just about every game. We had one or two bad games on offense. Too many times when we didn't take care of the ball."

Which is why he doesn't seem worried about his quarterback situation in the wake of Jeremiah Masoli's departure. "I think we have a good situation," he said. "We just have to figure out who's going to stay away from the problems, the disasters."

West Virginia transfer Barry Brunetti will be the No. 1 quarterback entering fall camp, but Nutt was far from declaring him a starter. "If we were playing tonight ... he would probably go out there first," Nutt said. "But that's why you have two-a-days."

SEC Media Days
Defense. The key to the Rebels' defensive improvement after a terrible 2010 effort? "We want to be better tacklers," Nutt said. "Our first two years I thought we really played with that passion, that energy to get to the ball," he said, "and I just didn't feel like we did that last year."

To that end, five-star linebacker recruit C.J. Johnson will have "every opportunity" to get early playing time, epsecially after the injury to starting MLB D.T. Shackelford. "He doesn't look like a guy just coming out of high school," Nutt said. "By default, he'll line up second team on Day 1."

2010. So what happened last year? Nutt said the Rebels' 2008 and 2009 campaigns might have led to some complacency. "After two seasons of success, we got in that mood of assuming," Nutt said. "'I just assume I can roll my helmet out there and go through the motions.'"

But he also said that those two years of Cotton Bowl victories were key to maintaining the Rebels' success on the recruiting trail. "I know we're on the right track. I believe it," Nutt said. 'Back-to-back January 1's, no doubt in my mind, that's what caused these young men to say "Coach Nutt, I know you didn't have a good year this past year, but we're coming with you' ... they see it."
Posted on: July 20, 2011 10:00 pm
Edited on: July 20, 2011 11:54 pm
 

Mississippi State's Dan Mullen at SEC Media Days

Posted by Adam Jacobi

The last coach to speak on Day 1 of the 2011 SEC Media Days was Dan Mullen, head coach of the upstart Mississippi State Bulldogs. The Bulldogs finished 9-4 (4-4) last season, good enough for a No. 15 ranking to end the year (even while only managing a fifth-place finish in the six-team SEC West).

If those numbers seem merely good but not outstanding, objectively speaking, yes, that's true. This is Mississippi State we're talking about, however, a football program with just two nine-win seasons in the last 30 years (1998 and 1999) and a historical reputation alongside Vanderbilt and Kentucky at the bottom of the SEC. So clearly, nine wins is a big deal, and considering the amount of offense returning (nine positional starters and the kicker), it's hardly out of the question for a second straight year.

At Wednesday's Media Days appearance, Mullen credited his fans early and often for that turnaround, citing the 10 straight sellouts thus far, and he seemed to indicate that their continued support is what'll keep Mississippi State performing at such a high level consistently going forward.

For our fans, when I got hired, they were saying, "Boy, if we start winning games, you'll sell out the stadium and things will be great." It actually works in the reverse. You sell out the stadium, you create this game day environment, you're going to start winning football games. Our fans really bought into it. They bought into their role and their responsibility in making our team successful.

Questions about the Bulldogs' personnel were a little light, focusing only on bruising tailback Vick Ballard (968 yards, 19 TDs in 2010) and returning quarterback Chris Relf, a senior in 2011. Ballard was a first-year starter in 2010, coming out of junior college, and Mullen cited the praise from Ballard's coaches as a main indicator of future success. "When the coaches come out, and his junior college coaches say, 'He's the one that makes us go,' that's something that really draws your attention as a coach," Mullen said.

Mullen did not have such high praise for Relf as a prospect, however; Mullen said that in his first year coaching the Bulldogs, he "had a lot of doubts whether [Relf] could play quarterback in the SEC. Chris played his first year, relied on some of his natural ability, ran the ball well, made some good throws, but was very inconsistent." Mullen is now impressed with Relf's development and decision-making, and the coach praised Relf's maturity several times during the interview.

Of note, also, is Mullen's near-unconditional support of Mike Slive's academic proposals, noting correctly that currently, high school academic eligibility and college acceptance standards don't have much in common with each other, and that a high school student-athlete's grades usually climb considerably during his senior year once the importance of academics becomes tangible. "I'm all for increasing the standards," Mullen said. "We just want to make sure there's a plan in place, that we don't just increase the standards but don't have a plan to raise the standards of these young people while they're in high school as well."

One thing Mullen didn't bother mentioning, however, was his team's in-state rival: Ole Miss. Not once was that football program, its school, its fan base, its coach, its players, or any other aspect of its existence acknowledged during the course of Mullen's 40-minute appearance -- not even when Mullen was asked about the "Welcome To Our State" billboard on Mississippi's border that bears his face and his school's logo. Oh, Mullen mentioned Southern Miss and its head coach, Larry Fedora, as two parties that might not appreciate the billboard, but the billboard's real aim -- riling up Rebels fans -- went unmentioned. 

Indeed, Mullen preferred to discuss Starkville and Mississippi State, implicitly thumbing his nose at Ole Miss' famed campus and tailgating at the Grove as follows (emphasis ours):  

"I give our athletic department a lot of credit. They've made our game day not just a game. They've made it an event. If you come to Starkville on a Saturday, it is an event. It's the place to be in Mississippi. There is so much going on for everybody in the family, whether it be out in the parking lot, in the tailgating, in the kids' area outside the stadium, to actually all the excitement of the game itself. They have all bought in, and our fans have done that."

"I think one of the biggest challenges we had was people coming to Starkville.... You just don't pass it by. It's a hidden gem. Everybody that comes to visit us, that's the challenge we've had. Once they come on campus, whether it be recruits, parents, even fans, they say, 'Wow, I didn't know what a beautiful place this is, what a great place to live, what a great community Starkville, Mississippi is.' That's within our challenge."


Posted on: July 20, 2011 6:58 pm
Edited on: July 20, 2011 7:21 pm
 

Steve Spurrier at SEC Media Days

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

After a few ho-hum seasons at South Carolina, Steve Spurrier had been turning in a few ho-hum performances at SEC Media Days the past few years -- ones nearly all observers agreed were a far cry from his charismatic, entertaining turns during his Florida salad days. Spurrier admitted as much in his appearance Wednesday. "I haven't won enough to be very talkative lately," he said.

But Gamecock fans have to be encouraged that, for the most part, Spurrier today was at his charming, engaging best. Here are the highlights from his comments, organized by topic:

Expectations. In his opening statement, Spurrier said "we feel like we've probably assembled maybe the best group of players we've had in the seven years now that I've been there."

But asked later about being the presumptive SEC favorite, Spurrier responded with a question of his own: "You know we lost our last two games last year? We're not sitting around patting each other on the back too much." He mentioned twice that the Gamecocks finished seventh in the conference in both total offense and total defense, so they were "not a great team by any means." In short: He doesn't believe egos or motivation will be a problem as the team looks to "win the game in Atlanta" for the first time.

"We've accomplished a few firsts," he said, referring to last year's SEC East title (among other accomplishments), "but there's still plenty more out there for us to go after."

Garcia. Spurrier said wayward quarterback Stephen Garcia had "done everything we've asked" and was still "set to return" come fall camp. Noting that Garcia's recent issues haven't been of a legal nature -- "no arrests, no DUIs" -- Spurrier explained his willingness to keep his troubled star on the roster by saying, "I guess we just don't want to kick him out for stupidity."

But Spurrier also defiantly refused to name Garcia the starter, saying he would "have a little competition" between the senior and 2010 backup Connor Shaw. "Whoever our quarterback is, he needs to go out and earn it in preseason practice," Spurrier said. (The number of people convinced that quarterback might be Shaw likely remains in the single digits, however.)

Scholarship proposals. Spurrier made it clear he is no fan of Mike Slive's reform proposals, even addressing his reponse to Slive when it came to offering multiple-year scholarships. "That's a terrible idea, Commissioner," he said.

He also slammed the proposed new standards for freshman eligiblity, saying he felt they were "pretty good the way they are right now." "For some reason," he added "we seem to want to try to make it more and more difficult for these young men who come from difficult backgrounds and difficult academic settings."

Clowney. When will No. 1 overall recruit Jadeveon Clowney see the field at defensive end? "Early and often," Spurrier said. "We think he's really going to be a super player and a real good guy for us."

From the sound of it, he might even start. Addressing his defense, Spurrier said, "We're hoping with Devin [Taylor] coming on one end and Jadeveon coming from the other end or up the middle or somewhere, we're gonna have a good pass rush this year."

Spurrier credited his team's improvement in large part to better in-state recruiting, of which Clowney is a part -- between him, Marcus Lattimore and All-SEC corner Stephon Gilmore, Carolina has landed the last three South Carolina Mr. Football winners. According to Spurrier, Clowney's decision "sends a message" as the first No. 1 overall recruit to choose a program that has never won a national title.

Honesty. As usual, Spurrier (to his everlasting credit) answered questions with nothing less than his honest opinion. Lobbed a softball question about star receiver Alshon Jeffery being "underappreciated," Spurrier cited Jeffery's many accolades (including a first team All-American nod) in saying he didn't feel like Jeffery was underappreciated at all.

Asked what had made the difference between the 2010 Gamecocks and their previous editions, Spurrier discussed Lattimore and other factors -- but also started his reponse by saying his team benefitted from the East's "three top teams not having the years they usually have."

Spurrier was also questioned about the departure of Bryce Sherman, the former Gamecock walk-on whose 2010 scholarship was not renewed and who left the team in a flurry of angry Tweets. "We gave him a year and a half [of scholarship money], which I thought was pretty nice of us," Spurrier said.

Special teams. Spurrier revealed he was sorely disappointed in his special teams units, noting that they have yet to score a touchdown during his seven-year tenure. "Some day, I want to win a game with a blocked punt," he said.

Practice. Asked about the Ivy League's new policy limiting full-contact practices and whether it would work at the FBS level, Spurrier offered a surprising response for an SEC coach -- he said the Gamecocks would be fine with that policy in place.

"To me, it doesn't make any sense to get your own players hurt in practice," he said. "When the Army guys practice against each other, they don't use live bullets. Why do football teams use live hits?"

Money. Spurrier mentioned that the Gamecocks spend less on recruiting services than any other SEC school (just $12,000 a year), then spun that into a discussion of the massive amounts of money in the league these days ... and a dig at Mississippi State, with Dan Mullen waiting in the podium wings.

"Mississippi State's got a jet airplane," Spurrier said. "They've got all kinds of money at Mississippi State. Everybody's got a lot of money."





Posted on: July 18, 2011 12:40 pm
Edited on: July 18, 2011 1:55 pm
 

Are Vols fans not sold on Dooley?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

If you want a quick and easy gauge of how happy a college football team's fanbase is with its current lot in life, check out their season ticket sales. Auburn fans? Yep, pretty happy: they've sold out their season tickets for this season. Oregon fans? Hope you like standing-room-only. Think Mississippi State supporters are pleased with Dan Mullen's decision to return to Starkville for another season? They've already broken their record for earliest sell-out, set just last year.

Contrast that with the reports out of Tennessee, where the picture isn't nearly so rosy:
As of Friday, the school had sold roughly 61,500 of its 72,500 season tickets, said UT senior associate athletic director for external operations Chris Fuller. That's about 2,000-2,500 tickets fewer than what was sold at this point last year.
"We've got some work left to do for sure," Fuller said. "When you look at the factors in our case, obviously most of our fans lock in on performance.
"If you win, they'll come."
Certainly, last year's 6-7 mark isn't the kind of winning Volunteer fans are used to. But the chaos of the Lane Kiffin era didn't exactly leave the cupboard full, and on paper, Tennessee should be much improved in 2011. There's budding stars at quarterback (Tyler Bray) and wide receiver (Justin Hunter); arguably the SEC's best secondary now that Janzen Jackson has returned; the natural improvement that comes with being in the second year of a coaching transition; and the impressive* four-game winning streak to end the regular season.

In short, this seems like the perfect formula for an atmosphere of optimism and excitement, and with dates against LSU, Georgia and South Carolina, the home schedule shouldn't be that much of a drag. So why aren't Volunteer fans buying in? Is there a way to answer that question that doesn't suggest skepticism regarding Derek Dooley?

Maybe. The economy's still no great shakes, of course. Cavernous Neyland Stadium means that sell-outs are going to be naturally harder to come by. And improved or not, the Vols are almost certainly still another year or two away from being an SEC East contender again.

But we doubt too many Mississippi State fans believe they've got a shot at an SEC West title, and that hasn't stopped them. No team in the country has been more disappointing over the past two seasons than Georgia, but the Dawgs sold out their 2010 season tickets with ease and have already bought their entire allotment of seats for the 2011 opener vs. Boise State. In the SEC, any glimmer of hope is usually enough for demand to outstrip supply.

Not selling out still isn't an issue, necessarily, considering the huge numbers of seats the Vols have available. But that tickets are selling at a reduced pace in year two of the Dooley era suggests all the same that the Volunteer rank-and-file simply weren't impressed by year one, and don't yet see the need to get in on the ground floor for years three and four.

It's far too early to start speculating about what this might mean for Dooley's job security. But with a new A.D. in charge (eventually), we also don't doubt Dooley is already feeling the pressure to make sure that downward arrow on the sales graph is heading in a different direction this time next summer.

*Yeah, the wins came over Memphis, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Kentucky. Still, the average margin of victory in the streak was 24 points, with none of the four decided by single digits. That's nothing to sneeze at.



Posted on: July 15, 2011 4:52 pm
 

Friday Four Links (and a cloud of dust), 7/15

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

On certain Fridays we catch up on four stories you might have missed during the week ... and add a few extra links to help take you into the weekend.

THE FOUR LINKS ...

1. Sure, we love Twitter for its ability to get big news out quickly and allow fans (and, ahem, bloggers) to interact directly with their favorite athletes and coaches. But we love it even more for allowing college football players the chance to Tweet pictures of their teammates dressed up like Harry Potter:



That's Alabama offensive lineman Tyler Love, as photographed by Tide safety Will Lowery. We'll turn this whole site into a Tyler Love tribute page if, in the event Alabama wins another national title, he pulls a wand out of his sock and screams "Accio crystal football!" on the championship dais. 

2.
One of college football's most well-known annual charity events still isn't well-known enough. It's Penn State's yearly "Lift for Life," which last weekend raised nearly $100,000 for kidney cancer research. Over its nine-year run, the event has raised almost $600,000 and is growing each year. A video report:



Well done, Nittany Lions.

3. It was a busy week of comings-and-goings on the personnel front in the SEC. Ole Miss return man/receiver Jesse Grandy is now officially no longer a part of the Rebel roster. Georgia linebacker Richard Samuel has moved back to running back after moving to linebacker last year (and may have a better shot at playing time after Caleb King's recent departure). Former Auburn backup linebacker Jessel Curry has landed at Delaware. And new Virginia Tech lineman Brent Benedict confirmed that a conflict with Bulldog strength-and-conditioning coach Joe Tereshinski was responsible for his leaving Athens.

4. Fans of Michigan submitted designs for a Wolverine mascot as part of a contest at the Detroit News. Even though there's no way to make this work as an actual flesh-and-cloth presence on the sidelines, we thought we'd pass on our favorite anyway:



More schools should totally be represented by vaguely feminine fang-toothed anime killing machines, right? Am I right? (No, I am probably not right.)

AND THE CLOUD ...

We're not sure who's really talking up Southern Miss for an undefeated season (negotiating road trips to both Virginia and Navy in a three-week span won't be easy), but head coach Larry Fedora is surprisingly fine with that talk anyway ... Desmond Howard says Michigan should start retiring numbers again, numbers like, say, just to pick an example totally at random, Desmond Howard's ... Alshon Jeffery took to Twitter to dispel rumors he'd been arrested for a fight ... Former Tennessee receiver (and one-time Lane Kiffin recruiting coup) Nu'Keese Richardson has had another run-in with the law ... The schedule of players to be made available at the annual carnival of cray-cray that is SEC Media Days has been released ... Cam Newton made an appearance (of sorts) in a Jeopardy! Daily Double answer recently ... Mississippi State and Ole Miss play out their rivalry in a who-has-the-best-promotional-Intern
et-video
battle ... and, finally, though the Syracuse version was the first college-themed "pillow pet" to catch the Internet's eye ...



you should know there's a whole zoo of the things out there for purchase.

Posted on: July 15, 2011 12:39 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2011 12:42 pm
 

LaMichael James headlines Doak Walker watch list

Posted by Chip Patterson

Keeping the watch lists coming here at the Eye on College Football, with the PwC SMU Athletic Forum announcing the initial list for the prestigious Doak Walker Award. The award, which was first given to Washington's Greg Lewis in 1990, celebrates the nation's top running back.

Oregon running back LaMichael James won the award last season, and he is back on the watch list for 2011. In the award's history, only two players have won in back-to-back years: Ricky Williams (1997-1998) and Darren McFadden (2006-2007).

Here is the rest of the watch list, which will continue accepting nominations through October



 
 
 
 
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