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Tag:South Carolina
Posted on: February 2, 2012 12:29 am
Edited on: February 2, 2012 3:45 pm
 

National Signing Day Winners and Losers: SEC

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Breaking down who won and who lost in the SEC on National Signing Day:

 

WINNERS

Mike Slive. Anyone who doubted Missouri's conference cred had to fall silent for at least a day as the Tigers introduced the nation's No. 1 recruit into the SEC East. The rest of the Tigers' class may not be as deep as many of their new league rivals', but when said class also includes a star as overpoweringly bright as Dorial Green-Beckham, it's hard to see any flaws.

Players to watch: WR Dorial Green-Beckham, G Evan Boehm, QB Maty Mauk.  

Alabama. Yawn--just another No. 1-ranked class of 25-plus blue-chips for Nick Saban's perpetual recruiting motion machine, with the surprise signing of highly regarded Virginia defensive tackle Korren Kirven the icing on a cake the Crimson Tide had baked long before Wednesday. By his own admission, Saban said they "didn't have any surprises," for worse or -- this being Alabama -- better. Once Kirven had declared and top safety Landon Collins had finally gotten his mother on board, the drama in Tuscaloosa was over.

In fact, after a big Junior Day haul, Saban and Co. are already off and sprinting for 2013. Come next February, it's likely there won't be any surprises then either. It may not be exciting for anyone hoping for stunning announcements, big rankings swings, and overheated speculation -- the Tide may have used it all up in last year's Cyrus Kouandjio saga -- but it's the same lethally efficient formula that's netted Saban two national championships in three seasons. Nothing much changed for Alabama on Signing Day, but unfortunately for the rest of college football, that means nothing much has changed when it comes to the difficulty of knocking the Tide off their perch, either.

Players to watch: S Landon CollinsRB T.J. YeldonCB Geno SmithVideo: Saban on being No. 1 on the recruiting trail. 



James Franklin. When Franklin's blazingly hot start last summer netted him a commitment from All-American running back Brian Kimbrow, the nation's no. 52 player, the response from many observers around the SEC was "That's impressive. It'll be even more impressive if he actually signs."

Not every one of those early Vanderbilt commitments made it across the finish line. But Kimbrow did, along with 20 other quality players that had the 'Dores in the CBS Sports National Signing Day  Top 25 a week beforehand. Vandy couldn't quite hang on to that lofty ranking, but even having the SEC's eternal doormat in a "top 25" conversation is an achievement for Franklin arguably on par with Saban's in Tuscaloosa. 

Players to watch: RB Brian Kimbrow, DE Caleb AzubikeQB Pat Robinette.

Steve Spurrier's nerves. South Carolina isn't traditionally the first team you'd think of when looking for a comparison to Alabama when it comes to recruiting success. But the Gamecocks might be this year, thanks in part to joining the Tide in the team rankings top 10 (believe it or not, Carolina quietly finished third in the SEC). But like Alabama, the Gamecocks also enjoyed a pleasantly uneventful Signing Day, with 19 of the 25 Gamecocks who signed today having already committed before the 2011 season started. 

“It’s been a peaceful Signing Day today, which was kind of nice,” recruiting coordinator Steve Spurrier Jr. said. And when you peacefully land players like Shaq Roland and Jordan Diggs, doubly so.

Players to watch: WR Shaq Roland, RB Mike DavisDB Jordan Diggs. Video: Spurrier talks recruiting impact. 


LOSERS

Mark Richt's nerves. On the other side of the spectrum from Alabama and South Carolina, there was Georgia's National Signing Day. The day started with the disappointment of missing out on receivers Cordarelle Patterson (Tennessee) and JaQuay Williams (Auburn) (leaving the Bulldogs with just one wideout in the class), then picked up with a commitment from Maxpreps top 100 linebacker/safety Josh Harvey-ClemonsBut that a.m. joy dissolved into p.m. worry as Harvey-Clemons grandfather and legal guardian reportedly refused to sign Harvey-Clemons' letter of intent. Adding insult to injury, Richt's premature public comments on Harvey-Clemons may have even constituted a minor NCAA violation.

With or without Harvey-Clemons, the Bulldogs are still going to boast a star-studded class with nearly as many top 100 recruits (five, or six) as any team in the country. But the potential of losing Harvey-Clemons to hated Florida with the Gators already sitting some 15 spots ahead in the team rankings is likely to cause a restless evening (or evenings) in Athens all the same.

Players to watch: OL John TheusRB Keith MarshallDE Jordan Jenkins. Video: Will Muschamp on Florida's Signing Day.

LSU's in-state clout. There's about 105 FBS teams or so that would gladly trade classes with LSU's, especially after the addition of out-of-state gems like Oxford (Ala.) linebacker Kwon AlexanderBut in a somewhat down year for talent in the Pelican State, the Tigers had to lock down the borders to put together a truly elite class, and that didn't happen--not only did Collins and highly-regarded linebacker Denzel Devall stick with their Alabama commitments, Texas shocked Les Miles by snatching away the Tigers' blue-chip linebacker Torshiro Davis. (Davis rubbed salt in Miles's wound by saying LSU's players "don't seem that happy.")

Those were the top three players in the state by many accounts, and LSU didn't land any of them. It's not the end of the world, but for a program built on an annual harvest of blue-chippers from the bayou, it's a worrying sign all the same.

Players to watch: OL Vadal Alexander, WR Avery Johnson, LB Trey Granier.  

Arkansas. As usual under Bobby Petrino, the Razorbacks signed a respectable-but-not-spectacular class that Petrino will no doubt turn into something far more than the sum of its parts once it comes together in Fayetteville. But to come as close as they reportedly did to signing the player that would have helped cement their status as a national power and come up short has to sting.

Players to watch: LB Otha Peters, OG Jeremy Ward, RB Jonathan Williams.

SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN

Auburn. On the good side: wide receivers JaQuay Williams and Ricardo Louis each stuck with their original commitments to the Tigers, offensive lineman Will Adams flipped from Georgia Tech, and top tackle Avery Young gave Auburn a top-100 cornerstone at Georgia and Florida's expense. On the not so good side: Eddie Goldman, Ronald Darby, Leonard Williams, Alexander and Jordan Moore all had Auburn as one of their finalists and all went in a different direction. Gene Chizik's boom-or-bust Signing Day somehow managed to neither quite boom nor bust.

Players to watch: QB Zeke Pike, RB Jovon Robinson, DB T.J. Davis. And to wrap things up, here's some video of Derek Dooley:


Posted on: January 27, 2012 3:48 pm
 

South Carolina's Jeep Hunter fired

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The staff turnover at South Carolina continues.

Safeties coach Jeep Hunter was fired on Friday morning. Hunter learned of the news while in an airport waiting to return from a recruiting trip. According to Hunter, he received a phone call from Steve Spurrier to inform him of the news.

"I just got a phone call from (Spurrier) saying he wanted to go in a different direction," Hunter told The State.

Hunter spent three seasons as an assistant at South Carolina. The 2011 season was his first year on the defensive side of the ball, as he spent the previous two seasons coaching tight ends and was an assistant special teams coordinator.

Hunter is the fifth assistant to leave the South Carolina program this year. Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson, running backs coach Jay Graham, special teams coach John Butler, and strength coach Craig Fitzgerald have all left the program in recent weeks. All but Fitzgerald have been replaced.

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Posted on: January 24, 2012 6:45 pm
 

DODDCAST: Preseason Top 25, Paterno, More

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Dennis Dodd is back to talk about Joe Paterno's legacy, Chip Kelly's NFL flirtations, Navy in the Big East and much more. The CBSSports.com College Football Podcast gang looks at Brett McMurphy's Preseason Top 25 and gives their thoughts on the four SEC teams in Brett's Top Six. Are you buying South Carolina and Georgia? Do you like USC or Oregon in the Pac-12? Does Michigan regress in 2012?

Remember, all of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcasts can be downloaded for FREE from the iTunes Store.


You can listen to the podcast in the player below, pop out a player to keep browsing, or download the MP3 right to your computer.


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Posted on: January 24, 2012 4:26 pm
 

SEC East coordinator hires: thumbs up or down?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

With all 28 positions now filled, here's one team-by-team assessment of where the SEC stands at the two most important assistant coaching positions. Yesterday, the West. Today, the East:

FLORIDA

2011: Charlie Weis as the offensive coordinator, Dan Quinn defensive.

Departures: Weis famously left for the Kansas head coaching position.

2012: Weis has been replaced by Boise State coordinator Brent Pease.

Thumbs up/down? TBD. Weis had his moments (offensively speaking, anyway) at Notre Dame, but they nearly all came via the arms of Brady Quinn or Jimmy Clausen and the Irish's cadre of top-notch receivers--making him a terrible fit for both Will Muschamp's visions of an Alabama-like ground game and the Gators' pass-poor personnel. On paper, replicating the Broncos' balanced mix-and-match approach should be a much snugger fit. But Pease arrives with just one season of play-calling experience under his belt, and at that a season in which Boise ran the ball much more poorly than they had in recent years (34th in average yards per-carry, down from 10th in both 2009 and 2010). And thanks in large part to iffy quarterback play, Texas's 2011 attempt to import the Boise offense (via Pease predecessor Bryan Harsin) hardly set the world on fire--an ill omen for a team whose current QBs, sophomores Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett, looked out of their depth as freshmen. Pease has promise, but the jury is very much out.

GEORGIA

2011: Mike Bobo offensive, Todd Grantham defensive.

Departures: Status quo.

Thumbs up/down? Up, obviously. Bobo managed the offense as well as could be expected given the injury-struck units at running back and receiver, and Grantham came into his own as one of the SEC's hottest coordinating commodities after piloting his young Dawgs to a top-five finish in total D. Richt has no reason to consider change at either slot.

KENTUCKY

2011: Randy Sanders offensive, Rick Minter and Steve Brown defensive.

Departures: Brown was fired after the 'Cats finished 10th in the SEC and 58th nationally.

2012: Minter has been promoted to full defensive coordinator.

Thumbs up/down? Down. Despite Brown's dismissal, Minter's role as play-caller and lead defensive game-planner means that Joker Phillips is keeping things almost entirely status quo--the entire 2011 offensive coaching staff will return, for instance, even after the hapless 'Cats finished a miserable 118th nationally in total offense and 117th in scoring. Phillips' loyalty to Sanders and the rest of his staff is admirable (and the upset of Tennessee was undoubtedly sweet), but if those kinds of numbers aren't enough to cause a shakeup, what would be?

MISSOURI

2011: David Yost offensive, David Steckel defensive.

Departures: None.

Thumbs up/down? Up. These are the Daves Gary Pinkel knows, and after several productive seasons in Columbia (if not spectacular where 2011 was concerned), there's no reason to make a change before testing their mettle in the SEC.

SOUTH CAROLINA

2011: Steve Spurrier is his own OC; Ellis Johnson ran the defense.

Departures: Johnson took the head coaching position at Southern Miss. 

2012: Spurrier promoted defensive backs coach (and "defensive coordinator" in title only) Lorenzo Ward to replace Johnson.

Thumbs up/down? Tentatively up. Ward spent three years leaning Johnson's schemes and already assisted with a similar 4-2-5 approach during his time at Virginia Tech; his promotion means the already successful Gamecock defense (fourth in FBS total D in 2011) won't change much -- if any -- from a schematic standpoint. The only question is if Ward can reproduce Johnson's adept in-game adjustments (see the Gamecocks' second-half shutdown of Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl) and excellent situational play-calling. If he can even come close, the Gamecock D shouldn't miss too many beats.

TENNESSEE

2011: Jim Chaney offensive, Justin Wilcox defensive.

Departures: Wilcox took the same position at Washington.

2012: Wilcox has been replaced by Alabama linebackers coach Sal Sunseri.

Thumbs up/down? TBD. The Sunseri hire alone would get a thumbs-up, since it's doubtful the Vols could have done much better than the man who just helped put together one of college football's all-time great defenses--not to mention was widely believed to be being groomed to replace Kirby Smart when the current Tide DC finally takes a head job. While it's hardly guaranteed Sunseri can replicate the Tide defense in Knoxville any more than Pease can replicate the Boise offense in Gainesville, there's no arguing with attempting that replication after what the Crimson Tide D has accomplished of late. 

The question is if Derek Dooley should have also looked for a replacement for Chaney. Following Lane Kiffin's departure, Chaney's two years in sole charge of the Vol offense have produced a slide from 60th (in 2009) to 75th to an awful 104th in total offense. Chaney has without question been dealt a rough hand, having been forced to deal with widespread inexperience as well as catastrophic injuries, and a little bit of continuity on a staff already wracked by upheaval is a major positive. So we don't blame Dooley for standing pat in the OC's chair ... though if Chaney can't engineer a dramatic turnaround in 2012, we suspect there's plenty of Vol supporters who will.

VANDERBILT

2011: John Donovan offensive, Bob Shoop defensive.

Departures: None.

Thumbs up/down? Well up. The Commodore offense only ranked 81st in yards per-play, that was still a far sight better than the 111th they managed in 2010. Meanwhile, Shoop quietly pulled off one of the nation's most impressive coordinating jobs by pulling the 'Dores up from 76th to 14th in the same statistic. Clearly, there's no call for James Franklin to change things up at this stage.

For all of Eye on CFB's SEC coverage, click here.

Thanks to TeamSpeedKills' helpful "Coaching Carousel Scorecard." 
 

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Posted on: January 22, 2012 3:18 pm
Edited on: January 22, 2012 6:46 pm
 

The SEC responds to Joe Paterno's death

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Responses to the death of Joe Paterno have been pouring out from across the country, and the SEC hasn't been any different.

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier issued a statement through the university, which reads:  

"I have the utmost respect and admiration for Joe Paterno. I've coached around 300 college games and only once when I've met the other coach at midfield prior to the game have I asked a photographer to take a picture of me with the other coach. That happened in the Citrus Bowl after the '97 season when we were playing Penn State. I had one of our university photographers take the picture with me and Coach Paterno, and I still have that photo in the den at my house. That's the admiration I have for Joe Paterno. It was sad how it ended, but he was a great person and coach."

Nick Saban spoke to ESPN Sunday morning about the loss of the Nittany Lion legend, and the Birmingham News transcribed his comments:

"Joe Paterno gave his life to college football ... He gave his life to the players and college football.
"Not just at Penn State, but when I was the head coach at Michigan State, we had a player who could get a sixth year because of an injury, and Joe was the head of the committee. He got it done for the player, and that player actually ran a touchdown against them that could have cost them the game later that season.
"But never I never doubted with him that he was going to do what was best for college football, and the players that played it, and I think that should be his legacy ..
"Probably as much as anything what we all try to get as coaches, a well-disciplined team that gives tremendous effort, plays physical, has the ability to execute down-in and down-out and play winning football.
"And when you played Joe's teams, that's exactly what you were playing against. They always had real good athletes, but to me it was the level they performed at that was indicative of the kind of program that he ran, the kind of influence that he had on the players."

Saban's counter at Auburn, Gene Chizik, also released a statement:

“Coach Paterno is one of the greatest coaches in all of sport, and his achievements in college football may never be surpassed. More important is the lasting impact he left with the countless players who played for him. I’m saddened of the news of Coach Paterno’s passing and my thoughts and prayers are with the entire Paterno family.”

Paterno also received a tribute from one of the conference's most respected former coaches, with retired Kentucky head coach Rich Brooks sending out the following tweet:

 

It's not just the SEC's coaches expressing their respects, either. Not every tweet issued by swaggering Heisman finalist Tyrann Mathieu could be called "respectful," but this one ...

 

... certainly can be.

During his 45-year head coaching career, Paterno squared off against the SEC's current 14 squads in 16 different bowl games, including two Sugar Bowl classics (1978 vs. Alabama, a 14-7 loss, and 1982 vs. Georgia, a 27-23 win) that stand as two of the most memorable games of his entire tenure. He finished with an 11-5 record in those 16 bowls.

Since Paterno's hire in 1966, the current 14 members of the SEC have been coached by 110 different head coaches (not counting interim coaches), an average of 7.9 coaches per team. 

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Posted on: January 20, 2012 12:20 pm
 

Gamecock trustee: count cross-division games less

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

One South Carolina Board of Trustees member has a proposal to solve the "problem" of his Gamecocks missing out on the 2011 SEC championship game to Georgia, despite beating the Bulldogs head-to-head: make East division games like that one count more than the cross-divisional games that cost Carolina the East title.

That board member, Chuck Allen, recently asked Gamecock athletic director Eric Hyman to request the SEC count intra-divisional games as a full game in the standings and cross-divisional games as only a half-game. If put into practice, the change would have given the 2011 Gamecocks -- 5-0 against the East, but just 1-2 against the West, including a road loss to an Arkansas team Georgia missed -- a trip to Atlanta.

“This (proposal) takes the randomness out of the non-divisional schedule,” Allen told the Anderson (S.C.) Independent Mail. “It doesn’t eliminate it, but it does reduce it. It just seems fair that the team that won all its division games would be the division champ.”

Per Allen, Hyman is expected to pass on the proposal when the SEC convenes to develop a schedule for 2013 and its permanent cross-divisional rotations. Allen (and Hyman) are no doubt just as unhappy with the league's cross-divisional matchups for 2012, though, as they were for 2011, since the projected gap in the difficulty of the Gamecocks' and Bulldogs' respective West opponents has only gotten worse; Carolina will take on the Razorbacks and defending SEC champion LSU (both of which feature in Bruce Feldman's early 2012 top 10) while Georgia gets Auburn and Ole Miss.

“When I talked to (Hyman) his response to me was that he never contemplated it and so he said, ‘Yes, it sounds like a good idea,'" Allen said. "'If you’ll put it in writing (Hyman said), I’ll use it as a vehicle and take it to the conference meeting and we’ll introduce the proposal, argue for it and see what we can do.’”

According to the SEC, though, what the Gamecocks "can do" in the way of overhauling a system that's been in place since the league's 1992 divisional split is "not much." League associate commissioner Charles Bloom said point-blank he does not expect the measure to gain much traction. 

“The philosophy of the league has always been that all conference games are weighted the same,” he told The State newspaper.

We're not unsymapthetic towards Allen and Hyman in this situation; it's not entirely fair that the Gamecocks swept the East and still didn't win the division, and it's not entirely fair they've drawn the Bayou Bengals in the SEC's one-off 2012 schedule while Georgia's hosting the downtrodden Rebels. But our estimate of the number of things in college football that aren't entirely fair checks in at a round 8 bajillion, and we doubt Allen and Hyman are going to ask for all 8 bajillion to be corrected. 

Eventually, inevitably, the league's cross-divisional rotation and West opponent strength will cycle around to give the Gamecocks an edge over the rest of the East, Bulldogs included; will Allen and Hyman still want to make cross-divisional games count less at that point? We seriously doubt it. 

Want more on Gamecocks football? Follow our South Carolina CBSSports.com RapidReports by writer Josh Ward. 

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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 1:02 pm
 

Report: Cosh leaving KSU for USF

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Kansas State is coming off of its best season in years, but it looks like the Wildcats will have to find a new defensive coordinator for 2012.

GoPowercat.com is reporting that defensive coordinator Chris Cosh is leaving Kansas State to take the same position at South Florida. Cosh spent the weekend in Tampa interviewing for the job and spent Saturday night at the team's banquet.

Cosh has spent the last three seasons as Kansas State's defensive coordinator and assistant head coach. He would be reuniting with Skip Holtz at South Florida, as both spent five seasons together on Lou Holtz's staff at South Carolina, where Cosh spent his first four years as linebackers coach before becoming defensive coordinator in 2003.

Cosh would be replacing Mark Snyder, who left South Florida to take over as defensive coordinator on Kevin Sumlin's staff at Texas A&M.

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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