Tag:Tennessee
Posted on: December 13, 2010 6:45 pm
 

Secondary violations can earn coaches suspensions

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Just go ahead and call it the Lane Kiffin Rule: coaches who commit NCAA secondary violations in the name of recruiting can now face suspensions of up to two games . The days of head coaches willingly pushing the proverbial envelope and collecting slaps on the wrist like so many Pokemon sound like they may be over:

"This is our request: Anything that has to do with recruiting, if there's a proven violation, we want the ability for the NCAA to say this will cost you a week or a maximum of two weeks," [American Football Coaches Association executive director Grant] Teaff said."We as an association asked for that, and they granted that.

"We think that's a major step forward."

The NCAA does make clear that being found guilty of a secondary violation doesn't trigger an automatic suspension, and that "punishment could depend on the circumstances"; the coach or program who slips up somewhere once probably won't get anything more than the usual reprimand.

But some coaches -- like Kiffin during his abbreviated stay at Tennessee -- have seemed to treat the secondary violation as more bureaucratic annoyance than legitimate deterrent. This change is likely aimed at curbing those kinds of serial offenders, or the more obvious, flagrant violations, like recruits-running-out-of-the-tunnel gameday simulations.

NCAA punishments have often sounded imposing on paper and been toothless in practice; waivers for BCS schools running afoul of the annual APR requirements have been so rampant they may as well be automatic. But more than one coach complained anonymously in the media after incidents like Auburn's 2009 impromptu recruiting pep rally , and Teaff at least sounds serious. (The NCAA might even have an immediate test case at Arkansas after this photograph surfaced this week. Does dressing recruits up in Hog jerseys and letting them visit personalized lockers in the Hog locker room count as a gameday situation?) The rank-and-file in the AFCA may be tired of seeing the Kiffins of the world benefit while those that toe the line lose out.

So whether this will actually be a brave new world for recruiting violations and punishments remains to be seen. But there's little doubt it will be a development worth watching as Signing Day approaches.

Posted on: November 28, 2010 1:06 am
 

What I learned from the SEC (Nov 27)

Posted by Tom Fornelli

1. Cam Newton is your Heisman Trophy winner.  Seriously, just give him the trophy now.  Don't even invite anybody else to New York because there isn't a point. After leading Auburn to that comeback win against Alabama, after falling behind 24-0 on the road, LaMichael James -- or any other contender -- would literally have to score 80 touchdowns in a game while saving a group of children from a burning building to take the Heisman away from him.  I'm not even sure I care if he did take money at this point. 

2. Hogs can smell sugar.  And they really seem to like it.  Arkansas took care of LSU on Saturday in Little Rock, and because of it, the Hogs still have a chance to go to the Sugar Bowl.  All they need is for Auburn to beat South Carolina next week and move on to the title game.  That would free the Sugar Bowl up to select an SEC team, and you have to think Arkansas would get a look.

3. Florida's nightmare season can get worse.  Go ahead, ask any Gators fan if they feel any better about 2010 after seeing the Gators get knocked around by Florida State on Saturday.  Honestly, I don't see how Urban Meyer can consider bringing Steve Addazio back next season unless his ultimate plan is to have Gainesville burn to the ground.

4. Georgia is going bowling after all.  It took longer than any Georgia fan was probably hoping for, but after beating Georgia Tech on Saturday night, the Bulldogs now have six wins and can get an extra two weeks of practice.  Considering how the season started, it's a small miracle.

5. Kentucky may never beat Tennessee.  Seriously, if there was ever going to be a season in which the Wildcats would finally knock off the Vols, this would have been the one, right?  Sorry, not the case.  Tennessee took care of the 'Cats and like Georgia, is now bowl eligible.  Which is an even bigger miracle than the one Georgia pulled off.
Posted on: November 24, 2010 3:47 pm
 

Barrett Jones likely to miss Iron Bowl

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It's obvious that this year's Alabama team is not the same as the squad that won the national title last year.  All you have to do is look at the Tide's record, and see those two blemishes in the loss column to figure that out.  While there are a few reasons for this, one of the bigger factors has been the offensive line's inability to block for Greg McElroy.

Only Tennessee and Vanderbilt have allowed their quarterback to be sacked more often in the SEC this year than Alabama, who have given up 27 sacks. In the Iron Bowl on Friday, while Auburn's defense as a whole hasn't been all that impressive, the Alabama offensive line is going to have its hands full with Nick Fairley and company.  A task that may be even tougher now that it looks like guard Barrett Jones isn't going to be able to play.

“Barrett Jones is still struggling a little bit,” said Nick Saban after practice on Tuesday. “He hasn’t been able to practice much. He may try to do some things tomorrow and I think that would be the indicator of whether he would be able to participate in the game or not.” 

Jones suffered a sprained left ankle in the Mississippi State game, and sat out of the team's ritual sacrifice of Georgia State last week.  He has been practicing, but he's been wearing the black "no-contact" jersey.  If he can't go on Friday, he'll be replaced up front by Anthony Steen who filled in for him against Georgia State.
Posted on: November 20, 2010 11:42 pm
 

What I Learned from the SEC (Nov. 20)

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

1. South Carolina learned its lesson. The last time Carolina won a game as big as last week's SEC East-clinching victory over Florida , they had downed No. 1 Alabama before going out the following week and laying their biggest egg of the season against Kentucky . Now, sure, the Gamecocks got a lot of help early on from a Troy team that for some reason played like a nervous team with lots to lose rather than the massive underdog with nothing to lose they were. But the previously-hapless Gamecock secondary held a statistically potent Trojan passing attack entirely in check, the Marcus Lattimore -led offense ruthlessly punished every Troy mistake, and by halftime it was already 56-7, 'Cocks . Not only did Carolina avoid the letdown, but they looked ready to give Auburn all they want and more when the SEC championship game rolls around in two weeks.

2. It's time to put the defense-first image of the SEC to bed for good. Maybe the SEC really is home to better athletes, maybe they really do hire better coaches, maybe they take defense more seriously than some other conferences ... but none of that, even if true, is making a lick of difference on the field at the moment. This week gave us only four games between SEC teams and FBS competition, and those four games produced 268 total points (in regulation) and as average score of 42-25. And that 's with Tennessee and Vanderbilt battling to a low-fi 24-10 Volunteer win, and the conference's best offense and ninth-ranked defense at Auburn taking the week off.

You get the point: very few teams in this league are playing defense. When even the consensus best unit in the league -- LSU's entered the weekend No. 1 in total defense at 274 yards per-game -- is getting gashed for 36 points and 420 yards at home against the conference's No. 5 offense, the SEC's image as a collection of grind-it-out attacks and impregnable defenses is officially as current as Bob Dole . If SEC fans want to argue their conference is superior, fine. If they want to argue their conference is superior because of the SEC's brand of defense, they need to acquire a clue.

3. LSU should be an underdog going to Arkansas. Full kudos to Les Miles for exorcising his clock management demons , but it's the Hogs who appear to be playing the better football at the moment after surviving what might have been Mississippi State 's best performance of the season on the road in Starkville while the previously stout LSU defense was busy getting gashed by the up-and-down Rebels. If Masoli and Co. can do that in Baton Rouge, what can Ryan Mallett and the suddenly scorching-hot Knile Davis do in Fayetteville?

(And while we're playing the transitive property game, the latest compelling evidence of how much stronger the West is than the East? The Razorbacks went to the East champion three weeks ago and rolled to an easy win. Then they went to the fifth-place team in the West tonight and were fortunate to escape with a double-overtime win.)

4. This Tyler Bray kid might just be one worth watching. Not that you'd expect it from his taste in tattoos , but the skinny kid from California has taken to SEC football like a duck to some very forgiving water. No, the pass defenses of South Carolina, Ole Miss, and Vanderbilt aren't the most intimidating the conference has to offer. But after another productive outing in Nashville (16-of-27, 232 yards, 8.6 yards-per-attempt, 2 touchdowns), Bray has collected some seriously impressive numbers in his last three league performances: 43-of-76 (57 percent completion rate), 714 yards (9.4 YPA), 7 touchdowns to just 3 interceptions.

And he's a true freshman. If Derek Dooley can keep his head on straight and his brittle-looking body remains intact, Bray should be one of the SEC's best in due time ... and maybe as soon as 2011. (As for 2010,the Vols are one win against Kentucky away from scraping their way to a bowl berth. Not bad considering they stood at 2-6 not so long ago.)


Posted on: November 16, 2010 5:01 pm
 

Biletnikoff, Mackey semifinalists announced

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Linemen, defenders, running backs, and quarterbacks have all had their day in the "award announces smaller list of potential winners from larger list" sun, so now it's time for the guys that catch the ball. First, the 10 semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award , given to the nation's outstanding wide receiver:

Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma

Randall Cobb, Kentucky

Jeff Fuller, Texas A&M

A.J. Green, Georgia

Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina

Julio Jones, Alabama

Aldrick Robinson, SMU

Greg Salas, Hawaii

Jordan White, Western Michigan


And the eight semifinalists for the Mackey Award , due the nation's top tight end:

George Bryan (Jr., North Carolina State)
Michael Egnew (Jr., Missouri)
Ladarius Green (Jr., Louisiana)
Daniel Hardy (Sr., Idaho)
Lance Kendricks (Sr., Wisconsin)
Allen Reisner (Sr., Iowa)
Luke Stocker (Sr., Tennessee)
D.J. Williams (Sr., Arkansas)

What's interesting about contrasting the two lists in how many names pop off the firts list and don't pop off the second one. Of course, of course, the first is wide receivers and the second is tight ends. But whereas Green, Jefferey, and Jones are all universally considered first-round talents and players like Blackmon, Broyles, Salas, and White are all putting together flatly ridiculous statistical seasons (oh, and Cobb is only leading the nation in all-purpose yardage, and incredible talents like Michael Floyd and Jeff Maehl didn't make it), the tight ends are ... well, they're around. The No. 1 TE in receiving yardage is Egnew, followed by Green, and neither is exactly a household name. The early draft projections don't feature any of the tight ends listed above ... or any at all.

It's probably a one-year fluke. But as with the lack of workhorse running backs among the nation's top offensive skill players , it also speaks to how dominant the spread offense has become in college football. There just aren't as many traditional tight ends playing college football ... and it appears to be having an impact on the quality of the position overall.
Posted on: November 16, 2010 12:18 pm
 

Open season on ex-SEC coaches

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The nice thing about being a head football coach in the SEC is that if you succeed, you're a god. The bad thing is that if you don't, the minute you're out the door (or well before, of course), you're everything that is wrong with modern society. Also, an absolutely terrible football coach.

The league gave us not one but two examples of this phenomenon yesterday, the first (not surprisingly) where the success of previously-ignored running back Tauren Poole gave the current Volunteers the chance to shovel some more dirt on the grave of Lane Kiffin 's Tennessee tenure :

 

“Tauren deserved a shot last year,” sophomore cornerback Prentiss Waggner said. “That’s why we stood behind him.”

Senior wide receiver Gerald Jones, as he’s prone to do, went even further.

“I think anybody would have got up and left,” Jones said. “Tauren took as much as he could take.”

Senior kicker Daniel Lincoln said “everybody was in Tauren’s court.”

“I was, 100 percent, and so was just everybody else,” Lincoln continued. “People on the sideline literally yelled at coaches, ‘Yo, put him in,’ during games last year . And it still didn’t happen. Players ... you can’t fool the players. It doesn’t matter what coaches say in the media, you cannot fool the players. The players know what’s going on. They know who’s good and they know who’s not good, and they know who’s paid the price and who hasn’t.

The vocal show of support for Poole from his teammate came after he had point-blank refused to enter a blowout against Memphis in the game's dying minutes, even under Kiffin's orders. Quite the tight ship Kiffin was running in Knoxville, huh?

But at least that ship didn't run aground on the shoals of a winless SEC season, as did the final team under Ed Orgeron at Ole Miss . Houston Nutt was all too happy to remind Rebel fans of that fact in his deliciously entertaining press conference/one-man pep rally/big tent revival sermon yesterday:

Again, I don’t want to, let’s make sure we clear up, I’m not blaming anything on the previous staff, because I appreciate the players that I inherited. Even though they didn’t win a conference game, the players that I inherited, that Ed Orgeron recruited, were very, very good players, now. I want to make it real clear. They did a good job of getting a Peria Jerry, Jerrell Powe, and all these young men in here, man. I mean, Michael Wallace. Shay Hodge. All those guys. Awesome. But the bottom line is, they didn’t know how to win and they were used to losing and they accepted it. I don’t want to get to that point. I don’t ever want to go back. Again, I’m just harping on, don’t ever get used to losing. Don’t ever get to where it’s a little bit easier to let go of the rope.
Let's shorten this a bit: "I’m not blaming anything on the previous staff ... Even though they didn’t win a conference game ... [and] the bottom line is, they didn’t know how to win and they were used to losing and they accepted it." Got it, coach. (The College Football Blog nonetheless heartily recommends reading the entire transcript of the press conference linked above.)

Seeing reactions like these and knowing how much scorn he took after moving on from jobs at Notre Dame and Washington , it's probably for the best that Ty Willingham never got an SEC job. Someone would have taken to a mic yesterday to blame him for, say, Steve Addazio . And botulism.

 


Posted on: November 13, 2010 11:06 pm
 

What I learned from the SEC (Nov. 13)

Posted by Tom Fornelli

1. South Carolina and Auburn will battle for the SEC title in Atlanta. It's official, even though the game is three weeks away, we know that no matter what happens from here on out, South Carolina and Auburn are headed to Atlanta to square off for the SEC Championship.  It'll be the first time since 2004 that the game didn't feature Florida, Alabama or LSU.   Coincidentally, that's also the last time Auburn played in the game, beating Tennessee 38-28.

2. Sources tell me Cam Newton is still awesome.   Distractions?  What the hell is a distraction?  Cam Newton sure didn't play like a kid who spent the last week dealing with the media circus surrounding his NCAA investigation.  Newton finished the day with 299 total yards and four touchdowns during Auburn's 49-31 win over Georgia.

3. I worry about Marcus Lattimore's future. Listen, I totally understand why Steve Spurrier and South Carolina choose to ride Lattimore's back.  The kid is a beast, and he completely changes the Gamecocks offense.  Still, when I see him get 41 carries on Saturday night -- along with 38 against Georgia earlier this season -- I do worry that he'll be worn out by the end of his college career.  We've all seen in the past at places like Wisconsin what happens to running backs who carry the ball hundreds of times in their college career when they get to the NFL.  I just hope Lattimore doesn't suffer the same fate.

4. The Cam Newton Saga seemed to have a bigger effect on Mississippi State.
  Newton played like Cam Newton against Georgia, but Mississippi State played like a team that should have coughed up the dough on Saturday night.  Sure, Alabama -- a ticked off Alabama team at that -- had a lot to do with it, but the Bulldogs didn't look very good in their 30-10 loss.

5. Tennessee has its quarterback. Who would have thought back in September or early October that Tennessee would have a chance to go bowling this season?  I certainly didn't, but thanks to the continued rise of Tyler Bray and his back tattoo, the Vols have played incredibly well the last few weeks.  Bray threw for 323 yards and 3 touchdowns as Tennessee destroyed Ole Miss 52-14.  Now, if the Vols can manage to win their last two games against Vanderbilt and Kentucky -- which isn't all that crazy -- they'll finish the season 6-6 and be bowl eligible.

6. Florida's offense is still terrible.
  Listen, you may have been fooled by seeing Florida score 41 points against Vanderbilt last week, and some pollsters might have been as well, but I wasn't.  An offense that has struggled all season did so again on Saturday night, managing a paltry 226 yards and 14 points against a Gamecocks defense that gave up 24 points to Tennessee, and 31 to Kentucky.  If Steve Addazzio survives this season, then somebody is going to burn Gainesville to the ground.
Posted on: November 13, 2010 2:14 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2010 2:32 pm
 

Masoli passes injury test, Nutt wishes he hadn't

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Jeremiah Masoli was listed as an injury question mark all week after a head injury suffered in last week's win over UL-Lafayette , with the consensus wisdom being that the Rebels wouldn't have much of a chance on the road at Tennessee . So it appeared to be good news for the Rebels when Masoli was cleared to play and took the field in Knoxville.

In practice, though, the Rebels might have been better off simply going with backup Nathan Stanley . Masoli has suffered through a miserable first half, going 6-of-15 for just 72 yards (4.8 yards-per-attempt), rushing for just 15 yards on 6 attempts, and throwing one interception without a touchdown. That interception wasn't your garden-variety pick, either -- it was a horrific duck into the flat that Tennessee's Eric Gordon gratefully plucked with ease and returned 46 yards for a Vol score. Several other makeable quick throws have sailed on him in ugly fashion. A big first half for Rebel running back Branden Bolden (81 yards on 8 carries, two touchdowns) has kept Ole Miss from being run out of Neyland Stadium, but at this point he's the only thing the Ole Miss offense has going for it.

To be fair, Masoli hasn't been the Rebels' only problem; the eminently flammable Rebel secondary has been torched by Tyler Bray (yes, that Tyler Bray, the fencepost-thin true freshman) for 265 yards and three touchdowns. Giving up 24 offensive points in a half to the usually-low-fi Volunteer offense has to be a performance every bit as disappointing for Houston Nutt as his quarterbacks'.

But whether the greater share of blame falls on the defense or Masoli doesn't much matter: either way Tennessee has a 31-14 lead at halftime and barring a total collapse by the thin Volunteer defense, it's going to be the home team taking another critical step towards bowl eligibility.

UPDATE, 1:31 EST: And Masoli begins the second half by throwing another abomination of a pick-six, an easy lob well above his receiver's head and returned 10 yards for the Vol score. 38-14, and the Rebels now appear done.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com