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Tag:Jerry Hinnen
Posted on: August 31, 2011 4:48 pm
Edited on: August 31, 2011 4:48 pm
 

Hokie spokesman: SEC interest 'total poppycock'

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

With Texas A&M now all-but-officially the SEC's lucky 13th team, it hasn't taken long for speculation regarding the league's all-but-inevitable 14th team to heat up. And according to some, that speculation should be focused on Virginia Tech.

It's easy to see why: the Hokies are an established program with a strong following on the East Coast that aren't too far-flung from the SEC's current geographical footprint. But don't tell that to the Hokies themselves, who have already repeatedly tried to squash that speculation and affirm their commitment to the ACC.

Since those previous efforts haven't been enough, though, Hokie presidential spokesman Larry Hincker gave it the ol' college try again Wednesday in an e-mail to the Daily Press's David Teel, one in which he calls the reports of a potential SEC move "total poppycock."

He continues:
How many times do we have to say it? If one of these rumor mongers, would be willing to cite their ‘multiple sources,’ it might lend some credence. Frankly, we’re tired of other people telling us what our future is.

"We are not interested. Nothing has changed. My president will not dignify wild speculation. Our last statement [from Aug. 12] still stands. Bottom line: this is not on our radar screen."
Part of that August 12 statement is that Tech " has no interest in any discussion concerning affiliation with any conference other than the ACC." Hincker told a second reporter that "our athletic director and our president are on record as saying we have absolutely no interest in this whatsoever. And yet the speculation still continues. And it’s a little frustrating, to be honest with you."

Unfortunately for the Hokies, the traditional song-and-dance of conference reshuffling always begins with breathless assurances that everybody in Conference X is committed to Conference X forever-and-ever and would never dream of entertaining the preposterous notion that they might consider stooping to leaving their precious Conference X ... right up until the moment Conference Y actually has an opening.

In short: we believe the Hokies when they say they are fully committed today. But until the SEC has filled that No. 14 slot, we simply can't take it as a solemn guarantee they'll be so committed tomorrow.


Posted on: August 31, 2011 3:00 pm
Edited on: August 31, 2011 3:44 pm
 

Even post-A&M, 16-team conferences are no lock

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



Texas A&M
announced Wednesday it would apply to join "another conference," a conference that even the tubeworms living without sunlight at the bottom of the Pacific could tell you* is the SEC. The Aggies will certainly-as-certainly-gets make 13 for Mike Slive's league, and since a 13-team conference with one 6-team division and one 7-team division is the college football equivalent of a table with one leg an inch too short, expect the SEC to find a 14th team sooner rather than later.

The question begged by A&M's arrival is this: why now? During Expansionpalooza 2010, Slive and the SEC seemed more than happy to stand pat with the same 12 teams and two divisions that have made them the sport's proverbial 500-pound gorilla, the elephant no one has proven capable of shoving out of the room. But come 2011, when the Aggies called griping about the changes in their neighborhood, Slive was happy to ask them to move into his.

Ask many fans and pundits, and they'll tell you the A&M invite is Slive's preemptive strike against Larry Scott and the Pac-12 and Jim Delany and the Big Ten, the two commissioners and conferences that -- the argument goes -- are poised to usher in the era of 16-team "superconferences," wresting away control of the sport ... if Slive doesn't beat them to the punch.

But adding Texas A&M isn't about what Scott and Delany might have in the future. It's about what they have right now.

Namely, it's about the television networks that those conference have or will have, and that the SEC version that Slive shortsightedly passed on when he signed the league's current deals with CBS and (more to the point where the league network is concerned) ESPN. While the Big Ten Network's revenues skyrocket and the Pac-12's TV revenues are set outdo the SEC's even before the league's network starts airing, the SEC is scheduled to earn the exact same amount in TV money in 2023 they are today ... when the league's contract is already below market value.

Whether the SEC's expansion will give them enough re-negotiation leverage to either get an SEC network off the ground -- or just keep pace with the Pac-12 in base contract value -- remains a matter of conjecture. But if any expansion choice could do it, you'd think Texas A&M would. The Aggies expand the league's "footprint" into Texas, have close ties to the major-major Houston market, have a massive alumni base, and have traditionally been a highly competitive, nationally relevant football program.

But even the Aggies might make not that much of an impact on the SEC's bottom line. Former CBS Sports president Neal Pilson told CNBC this week that "there are smart people at both ESPN and CBS and I would anticipate that they foresaw this type of contingency ... if there's any adjustment to the TV deals, I would anticipate that it would be a very modest adjustment." Pilson wouldn't even guarantee that after A&M's addition, the SEC's per-school revenue distribution would match what it is now.

That may be selling the Aggies short. But it nonetheless speaks to why even after the A&M-SEC marriage, the age of the 16-team superconference is not yet upon us. Conference expansion isn't as simple as adding a team, sitting back, and watching the bottom line swell; that team has to add enough value to offset the significant division of league profits by 13 (and then, inevitably, 14) rather than 12. There's other substantial drawbacks, too: increased travel costs, fewer games for current members against their existing rivals**, stiffer competition for the league's limited number of national broadcasts (and, you know, championships).

Which is why "superconferences" likely remain firmly in the distant -- rather than the near -- future. If it takes adding Syracuse and Rutgers for the Big Ten to get up to 16 teams, why would they bother? If the new-look Pac-16 includes the likes of Fresno State or even Boise State -- still not exactly a major-market media powerhouse -- that's not exactly going to force Slive's hand. And assuming the SEC's "gentleman's agreement" not to expand into current SEC states is still intact, who would Slive pull for teams No. 15 and 16? The current whispers are that if Virginia Tech stands by its ACC man (as they say they will), the SEC could look at N.C. State--a member that would give the SEC the Raleigh TV market but (with all due respect) wouldn't have Scott and Delany crying into their respective beers.

The one scenario that could overturn the whole apple cart is Texas deciding to listen to Scott's overtures this go-round and dragging the likes of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State with them. But given the Longhorns' already-substantial investment in the Longhorn Network, here's a guess that neither they nor ESPN is going to like sharing their rare live content with the partially Fox-owned Pac-12 Network. And if the Longhorns either stay committed to the Big 12 or go independent, the Pac-12 could add some value by snapping up the Sooners and Cowboys ... but again, are there enough schools out there to justify going to 16?

When even adding A&M to go from 12 to 13 isn't a hands-down slam-dunk for the SEC -- and given that it's a backwards-looking desperation move motivated by the need to repair an earlier mistake, not a forward-looking "gotta do it" type of decision, how can it be? -- the guess here is that no, those schools are not.

14 may indeed be the new 12, but 16 remains what 14 was when the SEC first expanded in 1992--a number major college football will probably reach at some point in the future, but one that's not more than an intriguing hypothetical in the present.

*Trust me, I asked them. They added they were sick of hearing about expansion and scandal and just wanted the season to start.

**In the particular case of A&M and the SEC, this doesn't apply to LSU and Arkansas; the Tigers and Razorbacks have more history with A&M than they do many of their current SEC brethren.



Posted on: August 31, 2011 11:20 am
Edited on: August 31, 2011 1:14 pm
 

Texas A&M officially seeking to leave Big 12

Posted by Jerry Hinnen and Tom Fornelli

The opening paragraph of Wednesday's official press release from Texas A&M will tell you pretty much everything you need to know:
Texas A&M University today officially notified the Big 12 Conference that the institution will submit an application to join another athletic conference. Should this application be accepted, Texas A&M will end its membership in the Big 12 Conference effective June 30, 2012.
The odds that the Aggies don't already know the outcome of their "application" to "another athletic conference": 47 billion to one. Texas A&M has officially left the Big 12, and the only thing truly remaining between the Aggies and the SEC is the Aggies' introductory press conference. The deal, as they say, is done.

A&M president R. Bowen Loftin:
"I have determined it is in the best interest of Texas A&M to make application to join another athletic conference ... We appreciate the Big 12's willingness to engage in a dialogue to end our relationship through a mutually agreeable settlement. We, too, desire that this process be as amicable and prompt as possible and result in a resolution of all outstanding issues, including mutual waivers by Texas A&M and the conference on behalf of all the remaining members."
The main sticking point on that "mutually agreeable settlement" is expected to be the exit fee paid by the Aggies to the Big 12, a fee CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd reported Wednesday should fall somewhere between the $9.2 million paid by Nebraska to leave in 2010 and the $28 million owed according to the Big 12 bylaws.

Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe released a statement following Texas A&M's press release.

“Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin has notified the Conference of his decision to withdraw the university from the Big 12 effective June 30, 2012,” Beebe said. “The presidents and chancellors of the nine remaining member institutions are steadfast in their commitment to the Big 12. As previously stated, the Conference will move forward aggressively exploring its membership options.”

Whatever tiny, insignificant shreds of doubt might have existed about A&M's move to the SEC exist no more; in 2012, Texas A&M will be the 13th member of the Southeastern Conference.
Posted on: August 30, 2011 3:39 pm
Edited on: August 30, 2011 4:11 pm
 

Could CB Auguste's injury hurt Gamecocks vs. ECU?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

During Monday night's South Carolina practice, starting corner Akeem Auguste reaggravated a left foot injury. Per CBSSports.com RapidReporter Josh Kendall, Auguste will now come off the bench in the Gamecocks' Saturday season opener against East Carolina--if he plays at all.

Starting in Auguste's place will be senior and part-time 2010 starter C.C. Whitlock, with the Gamecock's top backups in the event of Auguste's absence projected to be senior (and former walk-on) Marty Markett and redshirt freshman Cadarious Sanders. A former track athlete, Markett has one start in his two seasons on the Gamecock football team, while Sanders was one of the lower-profile additions to Carolina's 2010 class.

If the 'Cocks were opening their season against any random FCS or Sun Belt tomato can, nothing that was going on in the Gamecock secondary would matter. Even if they were opening against most Conference USA teams, or some lower-rung BCS squad, it wouldn't matter. But against the Pirates? It could matter.

It's not likely to, of course; South Carolina is a legitimate top-20 team and ECU -- 6-7 a year ago with a defense ranked dead last in FBS total defense -- is most certainly not.

But thanks to that ailing Carolina secondary, the Pirates could present the Gamecocks with a stiff challenge all the same. ECU's (newly slimmed-down) head coach is Ruffin McNeill, a former defensive coordinator under Mike Leach at Texas Tech, and McNeill's offensive coordinator is Lincoln Riley, a former Tech wide receivers coach and devoted Leach protege. So it wasn't a surprise when their 2010 Pirate offense was as close to Leach's old Air Raid as it was possible to get, throwing more often than any other team in the country, turning quarterback Dominique Davis into the country's fourth-leading passer, and receivers Dwayne Harris and Lance Lewis into a matched pair of 1,100-yard receivers.

Now Riley, Davis, Lewis, and two other players with 40-plus receptions* are all back for another go-round--meaning that they might present matchup problems for South Carolina even if Auguste wasn't injured. The Gamecock secondary was quietly the team's Achilles heel last season, ranking 97th in pass defense and a scarcely-better 87th in opponent's quarterback rating. And even those numbers might have been generous to the Carolina secondary, which had the good fortune of playing alongside the nation's fifth-most potent pass rush. In short: whenever opposing quarterbacks had time to throw against the 2010 'Cocks, they found plenty of success.

And ECU's system -- as with Leach's before it -- is structured in such a way that their quarterback always has time. Despite their nation-leading number of attempts, the Pirates still finished in the FBS top-20 in sacks allowed, giving one up just once every 50 dropbacks. Gamecock defensive line coach Brad Lawing took notice:
"You can’t sack them,” Lawing said. “He just catches it and throws it, catches it and throws it. You can’t get there. It’s just not going to happen. You could have Lawrence Taylor up there five times and you can’t get there.”
So ... if the Gamecock pass rush won't matter ... and the Gamecock secondary can't keep up ... what happens?

What happens is that South Carolina wins going away 9 times out of 10, maybe 95 times out of 100. The Pirates have no answer for the likes of Marcus Lattimore or Alshon Jeffery, no way to handle the size Carolina offers up front, no way to avoid wearing down in the face of the Gamecocks' superior depth. We're not suggesting an upset is imminent, not when the Gamecocks have the firepower to match every score the Pirates put on the board and then some. Even the secondary concerns may be overblown--while we don't feel Stephen Gilmore has been an All-SEC caliber player (for the reasons listed above), having him, Whitlock, and fellow returning starter D.J. Swearinger back must lead to some improvement.

That said--if Stephen Garcia has one of his occasional space-case performances? If Connor Shaw isn't ready for his close-up? And Davis and the Pirate wideouts begin abusing Auguste's replacements? And the game remains close into the third or even fourth quarters, and the favored Gamecocks can't find their mojo in Charlotte's neutral-site venue? This being the 1 time out of 10 isn't impossible.

*Though one of those players won't see the field Saturday.



Posted on: August 30, 2011 12:40 pm
Edited on: August 30, 2011 12:42 pm
 

LSU G Dworaczyk injures knee, out for 'some time'

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Just when you'd think things couldn't get any worse for LSU, they get worse.

Les Miles announced Monday night that starting senior guard Josh Dworaczyk has reaggravated a lingering knee injury from the 2010 season and will undergo surgery. Though the injury is not believed to be season-ending, Dworaczyk will miss the majority of the 2011 campaign.

"We'll lose him for some time," Miles said.

If there's any silver lining to Dworaczyk's absence, it's that the Tigers have at least one quality replacement and probably two. Miles said that Dworaczyk's spot would be filled by either senior T-Bob Hebert or true freshman La'el Collins--or, more likely, a combination of both. While Hebert is a veteran performer who's started 18 games the prior two seasons at both center and guard, Collins is a five-star recruit who's impressed throughout camp and whose potential Miles has done little to hide his enthusiasm for.

"I think you look at T-Bob, but I think a guy like La’el Collins has the ability," Miles said. "And we don’t want to slow him up. We want to get him to the field quickly."

Nonetheless, there seems little question that going from Dworaczyk to either replacement will be a step down of some degree. The senior's absence from Saturday's opener against Oregon will snap a streak of 23 consecutive starts at left guard, and though snubbed by the official SEC coaches and media preseason all-conference teams, Dworaczyk was named to guru Phil Steele's All-SEC second-team and various other lists of the league's best linemen.

That loss may be made all the worse by the other issues surrounding the Tiger offense. With both Jordan Jefferson and Russell Shepard suspended, LSU may have to rely even more heavily on their run game than expected--a run game a seasoned, talented guard like Dworaczyk would have helped immensely.

With Hebert and Collins around, it's doubtful Dworaczyk's injury will be a make-or-break issue for the Tigers. But the events of the past month means Miles no doubt would like all hands on deck, and now Dworaczyk represents one very polished, very steady set of hands that won't be.

Posted on: August 29, 2011 7:37 pm
 

Big 12 spells out "withdrawal procedures" for A&M

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

How close is the divorce between Texas A&M and the Big 12 to being finalized? Close enough that we're already two steps closer than we were this morning, and (as a great man once said) the day ain't over yet.

Earlier Monday we found out the two sides are already set to begin their negotiations over the Aggies' exit fee. Now A&M has announced that their soon-to-be former conference has sent them a letter spelling out the "withdrawal prodcedures" for their exit.

Chief among those procedures are the "mutual waivers of legal claims," the agreement of which has long been thought to have been the "speed bump" on A&M's initial fast-track departure to their next conference destination--one that might be, say, speaking purely from a hypothetical standpoint, the SEC. With the Big 12 already having taken a stance on what "waivers" it would agree to, whatever negotiations (if any) on that front can begin sooner rather than later--as well the "financial provisions" of the move, as an A&M spokeman put it.

The official departure date appears to be advancing quickly enough that even A&M president R. Bowen Loftin -- who has previously stressed that the move was a "100-year decision" that would be handled "methodically" -- released a statement that sounds as if he expects the changeover to be wrapped up quickly (emphasis added):
“I certainly appreciate the discussion among the Big 12 presidents/chancellors and the expression of their desire for Texas A&M to remain in the conference. We all agree that Texas A&M is an extremely valuable institution; thus, it is incumbent upon me, as the president of the university, to ensure that we are in a position to enhance our national visibility and future financial opportunity.

While this is a complex and long-term decision, it is not our intent to prolong our conference exploration for an extended period of time."
Maybe the divorce isn't final just yet. But if Loftin and Mike Slive are spotted at an Ikea this week picking out a coffee table they can both agree on, don't be surprised.

Posted on: August 29, 2011 5:40 pm
Edited on: September 2, 2011 1:42 pm
 

PODCAST: Previewing the 2011 Heisman race

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

We all know that Andrew Luck is the presumptive Heisman Trophy frontrunner ... but according to our Adam Aizer and Chip Patterson, just because Luck's the frontrunner doesn't mean he's actually in line for the prize.

Who is? A Big 12 wideout? An SEC running back? A "sleeper" candidate? Or is there a quarterback who might be able to outshine even Luck's supernova?

Listen below, download the mp3, or open our popout player to continue browsing. You can also subscribe to the College Football Podcast on iTunes. Enjoy:






Posted on: August 29, 2011 4:47 pm
Edited on: August 29, 2011 5:12 pm
 

Duron Carter cleared to play for Alabama

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Better late than never, right?

That's no doubt what Alabama supporters are believing this afternoon as multiple outlets are reporting that JUCO transfer receiver Duron Carter has finally been cleared to join the No. 2 Crimson Tide. Carter tweeted earlier Monday that he had gotten the final go-ahead, and though Nick Saban declined to confirm that at his midday press conference, Carter is expected to be at practice Monday. UPDATE: And he is. It's officially official.

As we've written before: though the addition of one JUCO transfer might not usually be so key a development on a roster as stacked as Alabama's, Carter happens to play the position -- outside, deep-threat wide receiver -- where the Tide appear to be most lacking. That he arrives with a year of seasoning at Ohio State (the alma mater of his NFL-legend father Cris Carter) and another at Coffeyville (Kan.) C.C. has only helped fuel the fire of expectations surrounding his arrival; no less an authority than Phil Steele proclaimed him a second-team All-SEC player as soon as this season.

After missing nearly all of fall camp with academic issues, Carter's splash likely won't be as immediate as first expected, and it's possible there's too much ground for him to make up to make any major headway in 2011. But considering that the Tide might be one more contributor at receiver away from regaining their place at the top of college football, his clearance is a major positive for Saban and Co. all the same.

More from Alabama: The Tide have rolled out their first depth chart of the season, and CBSSports.com RapidReporter Jim Dunaway has the details here, here, and here. There's two notable surprises, too, one of them being that five-star true freshman Cyrus Kouandjio is already listed as a co-starter at left tackle, along with CBSSports.com All-American Barrett Jones. Jones is also listed as a co-starter at left guard with Chance Warmack--meaning that ultimately, the Tide coaches haven't decided if their best unit is one with Jones at tackle and Warmack at guard, or Kouandjio at tackle and Jones at guard. As with the quarterback position -- as expected, A.J. McCarron and Phillip Sims are listed as co-starters -- expect the Tide to look at both groupings against Kent State and make a decision before the Penn State visit in Week 2.

The other mild surprise is that new JUCO arrival Jesse Williams has beaten out holdover Ed Stinson and fellow JUCO Quinton Dial for one starting end position. A native of Australia, Williams was one of the class of 2011's highest-rated junior college prospects.



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