Tag:Mississippi State
Posted on: April 22, 2011 4:26 pm
Edited on: April 22, 2011 4:35 pm
 

Friday Four Links (and a cloud of dust), 4/22

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Every Friday 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.

FOUR LINKS

1.
Want a quarterback? Like Clemson's Tajh Boyd (pictured)? You might want to head to the state of Virginia, which despite its relatively small recruiting profile could produce starters at as many as seven different BCS programs, including potential national title contenders Alabama and Florida State. (The class of 2012 might tend more towards wideouts, though; both the Virginia-based members of Tom Lemming's top 100 are receivers.)

2. Boise State athletic director Gene Bleymaier is a funny guy. On why the Broncos are joining the Mountain West rather than the Pac-12: "We’ve applied for membership into the NFL. … The truth is schools must be invited into a conference. You don’t get to just join a conference like you can go and join Costco.” Of course, it was his less-amusing, more-serious remarks on the lack of a college football playoff that made headlines.

3. We found out this week that both Auburn and Alabama are going to take a trip to the White House this year; the Tigers to see President Obama as national champions, of course, but Penn State announced that the Tide's Week 2 visit to Beaver Stadium will also be to a "White House." It will the first white-out for the Nittany Lions since 2009, but they maybe should have picked a different opponent, at least if the Tide's infamous 2008 throttling of Georgia during a "black-out" is in any way indicative.

4. The lead item in this Tulsa World post-spring notebook on Oklahoma concerns the Sooners trying to fill the Thanksgiving week hole in their schedule, but the most interesting item comes at the notebook's end, when we discover that Bob Stoops once hitchhiked "several hundred miles" to see Bob Seger in concert.

"I put the name of the city on some cardboard around my tennis racket," Stoops said, "and went out to the highway, held up the racket and hitched a ride to the concert." So if he ever chooses to kick against the wind for no apparent reason, you'll know why.

AND A CLOUD ...

Navy's spring game will air tonight on our own CBS Sports Network, with a few twists ... And speaking of the Midshipmen, Ken Niumatalolo has signed a long-term extension , though the non-release of details means we don't know for much or for how long ...The first wave of Ohio State Tatgate smack shirts is hitting store racks and Internet shopping carts ...  Colorado was the first school to go all-HD this spring when it comes to practice film, a move that's made post-practice film study much quicker and easier, the Buff coaches say ... Mike Slive reiterates that he expects the SEC to "do something more than we have done up to now" to curb oversigning ... Yes, Virginia, it is possible for a football program to attend the Humanitarian Bowl and turn a profit; Northern Illinois (somehow) just did it ... The go-to reporter for news on Chad Bumphis's ankle injury scare at Mississippi State was Chad Bumphis ... Every school keeps things simple during their spring games, but "simple" means something different at Boise State ... A look at which SEC schools are getting the biggest financial boost from their boosters ... All-American Big 12 receiver Justin Blackmon interviews All-American Big 12 receiver Ryan Broyles, and finds out Broyles' favorite XBox game is FIFA?!?


Posted on: April 20, 2011 3:06 pm
 

SEC Post-Spring Conference Call Recap

Posted by Bryan Fischer

All twelve SEC head coaches jumped on board a conference call to talk about their Spring Practices. Here's a few notes on what each coach said.

Les Miles, LSU

On senior quarterback Jordan Jefferson:

"He gets it out of his hand so quickly now and goes through his reads much quicker," Miles said. "There's much less hesitation in his decision-making process. I also think going into your senior year, there's a want to have a great senior year, and the leadership position is something your quarterback must embrace.

Miles also said that new offensive coordinator Steve Kragthorpe has been a major help for all of the quarterbacks on the roster. Backups Zach Mettenberger and Jarrett Lee pushed Jefferson this spring and will continue to do so in the fall, which makes the team better.

Will Muschamp, Florida

On quarterback John Brantley this spring:

"I’m really pleased with his poise, leadership and habits off the field studying what we need to do to be successful,” Muschamp said. “He’s got the ability and we’re very pleased.”

On Brantley's tough spring game:

“I don’t think in the spring game John had much of a chance,” Muschamp said. “I was behind him and saw it coming pretty fast, too.”

Muschamp made Florida's policy on grayshirting very clear, in that they don't do it period. He also mentioned that Javares McRoy transferred because he wants to play with his brother and Chris Dunkley left because, "sometimes things don't fit." All the injured Florida players should be healthy and ready to go this summer.

Steve Spurrier, South Carolina

On oversigning:

"Well, we like the way the rule is now because we actually sign four or five guys that are on the bubble of qualifying. This year we've got about five that haven't quite done it and probably three that won't make it," Spurrier said. "We could not sign all of our guys which was embarrassing for us a little bit and for them. Sometimes time heals a lot of wounds. It appears that one guy in particular will be able to sign and come with us when all the freshmen report. Our state education is.. a lot of them are borderline of qualifying or not. It's helpful for the University of South Carolina to be able to oversign."

Spurrier touched on suspended quarterback Steven Garcia, which you can read more about here. It's the Old Ball Coach's 66th birthday today and he said he was teeing off with Boo Weekley at a pro-am this afternoon. Spurrier was upbeat on current quarterback Connor Shaw, even joking he "is from our planet," in contrast to Garcia.

James Franklin, Vanderbilt

On the challenge at Vandy:

"I love the word daunting. To me, it's an opportunity, it's a challenge," Franklin said. "Just like everything else in life, it's how you look at it and perceive the situation. The way myself, this staff and this program looks at it, we have a chance to really do something special."

Franklin said the team stayed healthy for the most part this spring which was key because of depth issues. The spring was mainly about laying a foundation and the head coach felt they did that.

Derek Dooley, Tennessee

On the fan base being more united with some stability in the program:

"I hope fans see a coach who wants to be here and appreciates the tradition and the history of Tennessee football and has a good systematic approach on and off the field," Dooley said.

The head coach also said his honeymoon was over with the fans and that it ended at kickoff of last season. Dooley dismissed some of the struggles of quarterback Tyler Bray in the spring game because of the way he performed throughout the spring. He briefly touched on the 'Dooley Rule' that was implemented requiring a runoff of time in the last minute of a game on a penalty and said that it makes the game better.

Nick Saban, Alabama

On meeting with players to evaluate their progress:

"We go over a player's strengths, weaknesses, things he needs to work on, academic circumstance, personal issues, problems, leadership things he can contribute," Saban said. "It's pretty comprehensive to sit down and talk, sort of develop a plan for what that person needs to do to be successful personally, academically and athletically." 

Saban discussed the quarterback battle between Phillip Sims and A.J. McCarron, including the possibility of playing both. Saban mentioned walk-on defensive back Ranzell Watkins as one player who is in the competition for a starting job because of his hard work this spring.

Bobby Petrino, Arkansas

On the QB battle between Tyler Wilson and Brandon Mitchell:

"I think they still have a long way to go," Petrino said. "They both have great leadership qualities but they have a ways to go to do their job well so they can lead by example first."

Petrino said the Spring Game was one of the most attended in history and was a big deal because it was televised. He was pleased with figuring some of his offensive line out this spring and thought his defense showed off the veteran unit's maturity. Petrino mentioned having four good receivers will help the offense tremendously no matter the quarterback.

Houston Nutt, Ole Miss

On QB Randall Mackey's spring:

"I thought Randall Mackey had an outstanding spring," Nutt said. "You can see why he was a junior college All-American quarterback. He can really spin the play and buy some time, he has some escapablity and is very accurate. We knew he could be in the shotgun but he got up under center much better."

Nutt said Mackey was ahead in the quarterback derby but nothing is finalized until this fall. He thought the few seniors on the team really stepped up and showed great leadership. Nutt also liked the way the defensive tackles got better as the spring went on and felt they also became more physical. He labeled Wesley Pendleton as the surprise of the spring.

Mark Richt, Georgia

On spring practice overall:

"I think we got better, we practiced with the right amount of intensity," Richt said. "We competed well, guys were competing for jobs, competing in offense versus defense."

Richt said the offensive tackle situation is fluid and still up in the air and the third guy could end up playing both left and right tackle. Richt said he wouldn't ban social media for his players because he knows it's such a big part of their lives. "They sacrifice enough with the amount of time they put in," he said. Richt did mention that it would be an issue if a guy is irresponsible with it. Richt wouldn't comment on the locker room thefts that occurred a few weeks ago.

Dan Mullen, Mississippi State

On the quarterback position:

“The competition, to me, is wide open right now,” Mullen said. “Chris Relf, obviously, did a great job this spring. I don’t know if he separated himself from all the other guys but he also has the experience and has played in the game and has done nothing to not be our top quarterback at this point going into the summer.”

Mullen didn't comment on any of the injuries on the team. He mentioned that since there were so many young players, it was good to get some practice time with them and they did a great job. He said the defense won't really change with the departure of Manny Diaz but that they would try a few new things. Mullen said he doesn't have a top-flight wide out but the group overall is very solid.

Gene Chizik, Auburn

On the all the distractions around the program:

"We only focus on one thing and that's what we can control,' Chizik said. "We know we're doing everything the right way and feel good about the direction of the program. We don't pay attention to any outside distractions."

Chizik thought there was an eagerness to learn from the younger players on the team but they have a long ways to go. He wanted the quarterbacks to be more consistency and will be a battle into the fall. Incoming quarterback Kiehl Fraizer will be in the mix as well.

Joker Phillips, Kentucky

On what he's gotten out of spring football:

"I've really been pleased with the progress of our team defensively," Phillips said. "I'm really pleased after 14 practices that we're getting the best personnel on the field and we're unitizing some of our better people."

Phillips liked the development of the quarterbacks and feels they can be a better passing team in the fall. He said they're in "desperate need" of somebody stepping up on the perimeter at wide receiver and being a playmaker.

Posted on: April 19, 2011 4:42 pm
Edited on: April 19, 2011 4:55 pm
 

What I Learned This Spring: SEC West

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

With all six spring games completed, we wrap up spring practice in the SEC West, team by team. In alphabetical order:

ALABAMA: The two big headlines for Tide fans this spring were the quarterback battle between A.J. McCarron and Phillip Sims (pictured), and the unveiling of the new Nick Saban statue added to those of the school's first three national title-winning head coaches. As our own Dennis Dodd reported (and as you can hear for yourself in the reverent tone of this student news broadcast), the statue left the Tide faithful plenty satisfied; the quarterback battle, not so much, as neither McCarron nor Sims was able to create any real separation from the other. (How close were they? At A-Day, McCarron went 21-of-38 for 222 yards and one interception, Sims 19-of-38 for 229 yards and an interception.)

But as we pointed out in our Tide spring primer, who's at the reins of the offense isn't nearly as important as whether the offense can remain productive without Mark Ingram, Julio Jones, et al. With Courtney Upshaw and Dont'a Hightower each looking like terrors this spring in the linebacking unit and All-American safety Mark Barron showing few ill effects of his postseason pectoral muscle surgery (he returned a fumble 96 yards for a score at A-Day), the defense looks poised to live up the "best in the nation, or damn close" expectations. All the offense has to do is not screw things up, and the running game -- behind Trent Richardson, a dynamo on A-Day with 167 all-purpose yards, and a loaded line with former five-star right tackle D.J. Fluker beginning to fulfill his vast potential -- appeared ready to do the job nearly by itself.

The Tide still haven't found what looks like a go-to receiver in the wake of Jones' departure (Richardson led both sides in receptions and yards at A-Day), and the McCarron/Sims derby could be a distraction lasting well into the fall. But given the help either one will receive from the running game (and line) on display Saturday, none of that might matter.

ARKANSAS: The big question before spring started was simply "can the Hogs handle losing Ryan Mallett?" And though the Red-White game certainly isn't a guarantee, it's definitely an arrow pointed in the direction of "goodness, yes." Likely new quarterback Tyler Wilson averaged 9.7 yards per his 25 attempts, with three touchdowns and no interceptions. His receiving corps -- on paper, the SEC's best, hands-down -- lived up to its billing, with Jarius Wright hauling in five balls for 157 yards and two scores. The White team defense had its moments, too, holding All-SEC candidate Knile Davis to just 44 yards on 16 carries.

The Hogs' spring wasn't perfect -- backup tailback Broderick Green went down for the year with an ACL tear -- and Bobby Petrino hasn't even officially named Wilson the starter yet. But with the quarterback position looking solid and the defense boasting its best spring in years, the loss of Mallett sure hasn't put much of a dent in the Hogs' new position as West challengers just yet.

AUBURN: The Tigers entered the spring looking for playmakers to fill at least part of the colossal void left by Cam Newton's and Nick Fairley's departures. And at defensive end, they may have found some; sophomores Corey Lemonier and Nosa Eguae both drew positive reviews throughout the spring, and previously little-used junior Dee Ford burst into the rotation with a big camp and a pair of sacks at Auburn's A-Day game. New line coach Mike Pelton said he was impressed by -- and would use -- all three this fall.

The rest of the defense didn't have a shabby A-Day, either, as they defeated the offense 63-32 in Gene Chizik's unique scrimmage scoring system. But most of the offense's efforts went towards polishing up the passing attack (tailbacks Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb combined for just seven carries), and those efforts didn't yield much in terms in terms of finding big-play potential. Tight end Phillip Lutzenkirchen (pictured) won MVP honors for his 65 yards receiving and catching the lone touchdown of the scrimmage, and DeAngelo Benton added one 48-yard reception. But otherwise, offensive excitement was hard to come by, and Chizik afterwards called the quarterbacking from Barrett Trotter and Clint Moseley "inconsistent." (The two will compete for the starting job into the fall.)

Under Chizik, Auburn hasn't made much of an effort to put on a show in their spring game -- the reviews on Newton's debut in the 2010 version were universally ho-hum -- but there still seems little doubt Gus Malzahn will look for much more explosiveness out of his attack come fall camp.

LSU: It's the same old story on the bayou. The Tigers entered spring hoping to finally put their quarterbacking issues to rest behind someone, be it incumbent starter Jordan Jefferson or someone else ... and left it with Jefferson still the starter and still on less-than-firm ground after an ugly 4-of-14, no touchdowns, one interception performance.

Well, less-than-firm ground with the LSU fanbase , anyway. Bayou Bengal supporters seem to have universally pinned their hopes on JUCO transfer Zach Mettenberger, despite Mettenberger being mired at third on the depth chart entering the spring game. But you can't blame them when Jefferson struggled the way he did, Jarrett Lee averaged all of 4.5 yards per-attempt (with a pick, of course) and Mettenberger did this:
 


None of that made any difference to Les Miles and the LSU staff, who gave Jefferson the team's "Jim Taylor Award" for his spring effort and leadership. And quarterback or no quarterback, LSU showed how formidable they'd be all the same: Spencer Ware followed up his breakout Cotton Bowl performance with a huge spring, the secondary looks as airtight as ever even without Patrick Peterson, and there's plenty of playmakers on both sides of the ball.

But unless Jefferson lives up to his coaches' faith in him -- and that spring game performance did little to assure anyone he will -- LSU's still going to have some headaches.

MISSISSIPPI STATE, OLE MISS: Despite their wildly divergent 2010 seasons, the question for both Mississippi schools was the same entering the spring: how would their defenses fare after losing several major contributors from last year?

In Oxford, that question was all the more important for last year's defense having been such a disappointment in the first place. And it got even harder to answer mid-spring when potentially the unit's best player, linebacker D.J. Shackelford, was lost for the year with an ACL tear. The Rebel defense had a successful spring game all the same, holding the two offenses to just 27 total points and scoring seven of their own on an Ivan Nicholas interception return. But coming against a Rebel offense in flux after seeing former JUCO Randall Mackey ascend to the likely starter's job (and former favorite Nathan Stanley leave the program), the jury will remain out despite the positive signs.

Up the road in Starkville, the news seemed more unambiguously positive: Dan Mullen said his defensive line "dominated" the Marron-White Game, producing 11 tackles-for-loss. The Bulldogs already seemed happy with their new linebackers, and that was before redshirt freshman Ferlando Bohanna blew up for eight tackles and a pair of sacks in the spring game. The secondary may remain a work-in-progress (State quarterbacks, including backup Dylan "Yes, That" Favre, combined to average a healthy 7.8 yards per-attempt), but the front seven looks like it shouldn't take too big a step back.

We'll cover the SEC East next week once the slowpokes at Kentucky hold their spring game this weekend.


Posted on: April 8, 2011 3:45 pm
Edited on: April 8, 2011 3:45 pm
 

Friday Four Links (and a cloud of dust), 4/8

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Every Friday 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.

FOUR LINKS ...

1. It's not easy for a school like Mississippi State to keep up with the Joneses of the SEC when it comes to the facilities arms race ... but $12 million worth of private donation sure helps. The artist's rendition of the future "Leo Seal Jr. Football Complex" (which will house practice fields a weight room, coaches' offices, etc.) looks like so:



2. It sounds like new Colorado coach Jon Embree isn't wasting any time reshaping the Buffaloes roster. Though a round of cuts (unfortunately) isn't exactly unprecedented for a new coaching administration, it will be interesting to see if there's any pushback from the Boulder media or academic types over his cancellation of scholarships for "effort"-related reasons that seem to straddle the "violation of team rules" line.

One player who won't mind Embree's arrival regardless: Buff kicker Justin Castor, who watched Dan Hawkins burn his redshirt last season to attempt just one field goal.

3. Unlike most sports teams, when choosing a design for their Rose Bowl championship rings, TCU went reserved, classy, tasteful :



Or, perhaps, the opposite of that. (Not that they don't deserve rings that would fit around this blogger's wrist, of course.)

4. After the success of last year's Illinois-Northwestern game at Wrigley Field (and that in the face of the "offense only faces one way" debacle), it's no surprise that the Boston Red Sox would consider hosting a college football game of their own at Fenway Park. Though such a game is still just a twinkle in the Sox executive's eye at this stage, it's no surprise that Boston College fans would like to volunteer their team's services.

AND THE CLOUD ...

Cal receiver Tevin Carter has left the Bears program citing a lack of interest in football; Carter did not catch a pass last season ... "Top-level donors" at Arizona State are getting a sneak peek at the team's new uniforms ... Minnesota signee Peter Westerhaus suffered a skull fracture and received 50 stitches after being hit in the face by a boulder on a family hiking trip in the Grand Canyon. He'll be fine for fall practice, though ... Staying with the Gophers, a bill to allow alcohol sales in TCF Bank Stadium's "premium seating" has made it through committee ... The intensity of the Iron Bowl rivalry extends itself to a gymnastics meet, not that you should be surprised by that ... And speaking of Auburn, reserve linebacker Jessel Curry and reserve safety Ryan Smith are not currently with the Tigers during spring practice, though the door to their return doesn't sound closed yet ... And speaking of Alabama, here's 50 photos (!) illustrating the process (pun intended ) of bringing the Tide's new Nick Saban statue to, uh, life ...  A useful look at the SEC's overall athletic program program margins, of which football is obviously the largest part ... Things got feisty at Texas A&M's practice this week ... The most in-depth 2011 preview of UL-Monroe you're going to find, courtesy of new stats-loving blog Football Study Hall .


Posted on: April 5, 2011 12:48 pm
 

Cowbell assault suit seeks to include Miss. St.

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

This much we knew already: Mississippi State is going to pay out some level of fine to the SEC this offseason for its cowbell addiction, for its shocking, shocking inability (or, more accurately, "completely expected" inability) to prevent its fans from ringing their bells at inappropriate moments during league games in Starkville.

But an altercation between two State students at the 2009 Egg Bowl could make those cowbells an even more expensive habit for the university, thanks to a lawsuit already pending against Mike Slive and the SEC that could now expand to include MSU:
Doug Foster , attorney for William Matthew Brasher , has filed a motion in Oktibbeha County Circuit Court requesting that MSU and president Mark Keenum be added to the suit.

Brasher alleges he was assaulted by Brent Vowell during MSU's football game against the University of Mississippi on Nov. 28, 2009. He already was seeking unspecified damages from the SEC and commissioner Mike Slive because the league had a "knowing refusal," the suit says, to enforce its own rule on artificial noisemakers.

MSU was sent a claim by Brasher's attorneys on Nov. 16. It said Brasher is "willing to resolve his claim for damages" of $10 million.

Stunningly, there has no been indication on State's part that it is willing to offer Brasher $10 million -- once again, the sum of 10 million American dollars in a case in which one man allegedly knocked another man unconscious with a cowbell -- in order to close the suit.

Whether or not the court could wind up ordering State, or the SEC, or Slive to pay some smaller sum to Brasher is not something we're lawyer enough to take a guess at. But this much we know: if they do, State may have wished they'd gone for, say, tambourines instead.

Posted on: April 1, 2011 5:48 pm
 

Friday Four Links (and a cloud of dust), 4/1

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Every Friday 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.


FOUR LINKS ...

1. National champions Auburn might not have enjoyed the HBO expose that aired this week, but they got plenty of love from more official channels, with the Alabama state House honoring Gene Chizik with a resolution and Cam Newton getting similar treatment from the legislature in his home state of Georgia. But for Auburn fans, the biggest honor of the week was the news that NASCAR driver Michael Waltrip will be driving this car at Talladega April 17 to commemorate the Tigers' achievement:



2. Sounds like Florida's going to have a friend in the broadcast booth this year as Jon Gruden attended Will Muschamp's first Gainesville coaching clinic and called the Muschamp-Charlie Weis coaching tandem "the best in college football." Also in attendance despite the rumors that he and Muschamp had not always seen eye-to-eye in Austin: former Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis.

3. You may have seen this already:



Even if you haven't, you know that there is only one coach who would put up a motivational chart with a "World of the Uninvested" and a "Circle of the Untrustables." Houston Nutt explains the chart and its genesis to the Clarion-Ledger here.

4. Colorado quarterback Tyler Hansen doesn't sound like he's bearing any real grudge towards former head coach Dan Hawkins and his son, fellow (ex-)quarterback Cody Hawkins, but he does say Hawkins the Elder's handling of his son did include "a little nepotism." Which is why the whole situation sounds more than a little awkward.

... AND THE CLOUD

Jimbo Fisher is asking fans for their prayers and thoughts as his son Ethan battles an undisclosed health issue ... Former Texas Tech running back and Lubbock Avalanche-Journal guest columnist Baron Batch has a pretty amazing story to tell ... After $100,000 raises for each, Alabama coordinators Kirby Smart (defensive) and Jim McElwain (offensive) are earning a combined $1.36 milllion ... Speaking of contracts, Mike Locksley has renegotiated his New Mexico deal in a fashion that makes it easier for both parties to part ways ... Two reserve linemen for Michigan State have been knocked out of spring practice (and maybe longer) with injuries ... Marcus Davis, a backup safety at Oregon who'd transferred from Texas, has left the Duck program ... Colorado reported one secondary violation to the NCAA from their recent recruiting cycle, but since it's for feeding the 10-year-old brother of a visiting recruit, we doubt they're too ashamed about it ... Mississippi State has a new announcer for their radio broadcasts, always a big deal anywhere college football's a big deal ... Joe Bauserman is taking the first-team snaps at Ohio State quarterback while Terrelle Pryor recovers ... And here's video of Notre Dame's quarterbacks donning a helmet-cam for practice. Thus the indomitable sprit of the World League of American Football lives on.

Posted on: March 23, 2011 12:36 pm
 

SEC releases 2011 schedule

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

SEC fans, it's time to get out your calendars, open your datebooks, fire up your scheduling apps ... whatever you need to do to make sure your fall Saturdays are clear. Because the final SEC 2011 football schedule has been released -- you can view it in PDF grid form here -- and as expected, it's got more than its fair share of mouth-watering dates. Our choices for the highlights:

Sept. 3: South Carolina has sadly abdicated their semi-traditional opening Thursday night throne, so Western Kentucky's expected throttling at Kentucky is the only SEC action on the season's first night. But that's more than made up for by the matchups waiting on Saturday: Boise State traveling to Georgia, Oregon and LSU meeting at Jerry Jones's Dallas space palace, newly independent BYU visiting Oxford to take on Ole Miss ... even East Carolina's matchup against the Gamecocks in Charlotte could prove interesting. In this cupcake-sodden day and age, you can't ask for anything more from an opening weekend.

Sept. 17: LSU starts the weekend with a sneakily-difficult Thursday night trip to Starkville to take on Mississippi State , the same situation in which the Bulldogs nearly upset the eventual national champions last season. From there we get the first real test of the Will Muschamp era as Tennessee visits Florida for the week's headliner. But there's still plenty of quality nonconference goodness after that: Auburn visiting Clemson, Kentucky hosting Louisville, Carolina taking on Navy's triple option.

Oct. 8: Though this doesn't apply to Alabama -- which will have already battled both Arkansas and Florida by this point -- this is the week the divisional races really get going, with three critical rivalry showdowns: Auburn at Arkansas, Florida at LSU, and Georgia at Tennessee. We'll know which teams are the true league favorites by this point.

Nov. 5: The rest of the slate's not particularly eye-catching -- though South Carolina's visit to Arkansas could be intriguing -- but it doesn't much matter when the presumptive SEC Game of the Year, co-league favorite LSU at co-league favorite Alabama, falls on this afternoon.

Nov. 26: Rivalry week in the SEC, and it promises to be as good as it's ever been: Muschamp's Gators trying to reassert themselves as the dominant Sunshine State program against Jimbo Fisher's resurgent Florida State; the always-competitive Battle for the Golden Boot between LSU and Arkansas, with a division title potentially on the line; the Gamecocks trying to build on last year's throttling of Clemson with another win in the Palmetto State bloodfeud; the usual hatefest between Georgia and Georgia Tech, with both teams trying to prove once and for all 2010 was a fluke; Kentucky tries once again to break the longest one-team-to-another losing streak in the country against Tennessee; the Egg Bowl , still underrated in terms of the animosity generated; and, oh yeah, an Iron Bowl meeting between the past two national champions that could very well carry national title implications again.

Inbetween these peaks, even the valleys will feature games like Auburn-Florida, Alabama-Penn State, Florida-South Carolina, Arkansas-Texas A&M, the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party ... it's going to be the same brutally intense SEC season it always is. If there's any problem with finally getting our grubby paws on the conference's schedule, it's that it also reminds us of how long we have to wait to have the goodies it promises are delivered.
Posted on: March 9, 2011 12:57 pm
 

Mississippi St LB loses love of game, leaves team

Posted by Tom Fornelli

My football playing experiences ended in high school, as I never went on to play the game in college. Still, even though I only played in high school, it was readily apparent to me that in order to play the sport, you have to love the sport. It's not the type of sport in which somebody can fake their way through, unless they're so talented that it just doesn't matter.

If you aren't devoting yourself to football, then it's time to stop playing football. Which is exactly what Mississippi State linebacker Michael Hunt did. Following practice on Wednesday, Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen explained to the media that Hunt had left the team.

"He didn't like to play football anymore," Mullen said. "He lost his love of the game."

Mullen also said he doesn't expect Hunt to change his mind.

Hunt only played in 16 games during his first two seasons in Starkville, making 21 tackles in that time as a reserve linebacker. He was expected to become a starter in 2011, as he entered spring on top of the depth chart.

This news may bother some Mississippi State fans, but the fact is that Hunt is doing everybody a favor by leaving the team. If he no longer enjoys playing football, and doesn't want to be there, then he wouldn't be helping anybody to stick around.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com