Tag:Jerry Hinnen
Posted on: August 15, 2011 12:18 pm
Edited on: August 15, 2011 12:22 pm

Ex-NCAA president Dempsey: FBS split on its way

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Reactions to this weekend's seismic snub of Texas A&M by the SEC -- or it just a postponement until the legal wrangling is settled? -- have come from far and wide. But the one from former NCAA president Cedric Dempsey suggests that the proper reation is to assume nothing has changed where the BCS conferences' eventual destination is concerned.

The NCAA's head honcho from 1993 to 2002, Dempsey told the Birmingham News that "the handwriting is on the wall" when it comes to college athletics superconferences and the eventual split of those conferences from the rank-and-file of Division I.

The make-or-break issue, as you might expect, is the full cost of attendance scholarships that only the superconferences will be able to afford. "There's no doubt we're looking in the next three, four or five years -- at most -- of seeing conferences from 14 to 18 members," Dempsey said.

Those conferences would then either have a new set of NCAA rules rewritten for them, or -- in a move Dempsey characterizes as "less likely" -- simply withdraw from the NCAA entirely.

Keep in mind that this isn't some anonymous NCAA-hater who's been waiting with baited breath for the organization to finally lose its grip on the way college athletics is run. Quite the opposite: Dempsey has a vested interest in seeing the NCAA maintain something resembling the status quo. But even that isn't enough to make him optimistic major college football will be able to keep everyone on the same playing field.

Of course, with the advent of full cost scholarships, there's some positives to this development from Dempsey's perspective. (Dempsey noted the irony that when asked to provide a share of NCAA Tournament money to athletes during his tenure, the conference commissioners balked; now that that money could be used to provide an athletic advantage, those same commisioners are gung-ho.) But the bottom line remains the same: when even the NCAA's former biggest cheerleaders believe the current FBS model is doomed, the A&M-SEC flirtation looks more and more like an early fissure in an eventual college football earthquake.

Posted on: August 12, 2011 6:42 pm
Edited on: August 12, 2011 6:44 pm

With Knile Davis out, now what for Arkansas RBs?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

While the future of the SEC hangs in the balance in College Station and Birmingham, the present of the SEC took an unfortunate turn Thursday when Arkansas running back Knile Davis suffered a season-ending ankle injury.

The SEC's leading returning rusher and a pick by many to make first-eam All-SEC despite the presence of potential All-Americans like Marcus Lattimore and Trent Richardson, Davis was set to be arguably the foundation for Bobby Petrino's entire 2011 offense. His loss is a savage blow to a program that had yet to uncover a true workhorse back since Darren McFadden, at least until Davis roared onto the scene in the second half of 2010. Making things worse, second-leading rusher Broderick Green was lost for the year in the spring with an ACL tear.

But obviously, the show in Fayetteville will go on all the same--and given the weapons Petrino has at his disposal at wide receiver and quarterback Tyler Wilson's abundant potential, it could still be quite a show. (Wilson went 16-of-20 in the same scrimmage in which Davis was injured.) Here's the Hogs' top options to replace Davis:

Ronnie Wingo: The Hogs' next leading rusher in 2010 -- though with only 253 yards -- the 6'3", 227-pound junior from St. Louis will likely have first crack as the offense's everydown back. Wingo provides both a brusiing straight-ahead running style and a receiving threat out of the backfield; he caught 27 passes a year ago for more yardage (274) than he gained on the ground. But Petrino would likely want a starter who'll do more than grind out three- and four-yard gains. Would Wingo be explosive enough?

Dennis Johnson:  Perhaps the back with the highest upside among the remaining candidates, Johnson's combnation of speed, power and elusiveness has made him a fearful weapon when focused and healthy--witness his 107-yard, 7.6 yards-per-carry outburst in the Hogs' 2009 near-upset at Florida, or his pair of career kick returns for touchdowns. But that hasn't been often, as Johnson played in just two games a year ago thanks to a freak bowel injury. Reportedly healthy again, don't be surprised of Johnson winds up getting the majority of the Hog carries this season. 

Kody Walker: Despite his Maxpreps ranking as the nation's No. 6 "big back" in the class of 2011, Arkansas was the Jefferson City, Mo. product's only SEC offer, choosing the Hogs over Minnesota and Missouri. But the early returns are that Petrino may have found a gem, as Walker gained 66 yards on 15 carries in a recent scrimmage and earned praise from Hog offensive coordinator Garrick McGee. Though clearly behind Wingo and Johnson in the pecking order, Walker is in line to earn the occasional spot carry--and maybe even more if he proves himself capable.

Kiero Small: A converted linebacker fresh out of JUCO, the 5'10", 255-pound Small has already made a big impression at fullback. Though not a candidate for major carries, Small could be used a goal-line and short-yardage option much as Green was a year ago.

All in all, things could be a whole heck of a lot better for Arkansas at running back. But with two experienced options still in the fold and Johnson in particular (in this writer's opinion) possessing the talent that could still make him a difference-maker in the SEC, things could be a whole lot worse, too.

Posted on: August 12, 2011 3:09 pm

Hokies would 'politely decline' offer to join SEC

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

As the Texas A&M-to-the-SEC expansion rumors reach critical mass, the inevitabe follow-up question becomes: if the Aggies really are No. 13, who's No. 14?

According to Virginia Tech athletic director Jim Weaver, it won't be the Hokies. Speaking to the Louisville Courier-Journal, Weaver said the school would "politely decline" any hypothetical offer to join the SEC. His reasoning:
"Virginia Tech has always wanted to be in the Atlantic Coast Conference and I would think that’s where we’re going to stay, because it’s the right thing and the best thing for our university" ...
"[W]hen you realize the travel involved and so on, we’re virtually in a ‘bus league’ right now. The SEC would cause other travel issues. Certainly there is (increased) revenue involved (with joining the SEC). But I just feel like, and this is me talking – I haven’t talked to the president or any of that – Virginia Tech would politely decline, because we’re very happy to be in the Atlantic Coast Conference.”
Of course, it's very easy to say that now when (as Weaver points out up front) any invite from Mike Slive is entirely hypothetical. With the SEC still not even having reached the point of extending the Aggies an invitation -- per both CBSSports.com's Tony Barnhart as well as other media sources -- it's fair to assume the league's decision on it's next expansion target is still a good ways off. If Slive ever did come calling, would Weaver still be so devoted to the ACC? 

Maybe. As Weaver points out, the ACC has its advantages for the Hokies. (If Florida State did wind up the SEC's 14th school, the Hokies might be poised to dominate the league in football the way, well, they've already dominated it.) So we'll take him at his word for now.

But if the SEC's interest in Tech does heat up, we have a feeling Weaver will have to repeat himself -- probably multiple times -- before we rule the Hokies out entirely.

HT: @Year2.

Posted on: August 10, 2011 12:55 pm

Les Miles on Shepard: 'He won't have to sit out.'

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Perhaps the hottest topic during LSU's fall camp has been the status of wide receiver Russell Shepard, the Tigers' co-leading returner in receptions, who recently found himself at the center of a "compliance issue" related to his off-campus housing.

Having skipped SEC Media Days due to the incident, Shepard spoke to the media yesterday (including CBSSports.com RapidReporter Glenn Guilbeau) for the first time regarding the issue. "I could be suspended for the first game or more games," he said. "I don't know. It's out of my hands."

But in what must be music to the ears of Tigers fans desperate for one of their most explosive playmakers to take the field against Oregon, Shepard's head coach was much, much more confident regarding Shepard's eligiblity. How confident? This confident:
"There have been communications that would make it appear that it's not very, very serious," Miles said. "He's fine. No, he won't have to sit out." 
So -- as far as Miles is concerned -- there you have it. Shepard's good to go.

But it's difficult to take Miles completely at his word when the player himself still seems unsure. "You never really know," Shepard said when asked if the issue could cost him the season. "I don't think it will ever get that big. But the NCAA's job is to protect athletes as well as universities. They're going to do the best possible thing for college football."

That's exactly the right thing for Shepard to say, considering it's the NCAA who's holding his 2011 campaign in the balance. But you have to forgive Miles and the Tiger faithful for hoping that this once, the organization does the best possible thing for LSU football.

Also in LSU RapidReports: Many LSU fans have wanted to see strong-armed JUCO transfer (and former Georgia quarterback)  Zach Mettenberger take over for incumbent Jordan Jefferson, but to this point Mettenberger hasn't even beaten out Jarrett Lee for the backup's role. But Mettenberger, for his part, is fine with that.

"That's reasonable," he said. "I'm behind two guys who've been here four years. I'm just looking to learn as much as I can from two guys who've really put in some time in the SEC. They're both really good. Both won a lot of games, and now I'm trying to learn as much as I can from them."

Posted on: August 10, 2011 11:49 am

SEC RapidReport Roundup, 8/10: Dooley unhappy

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Running down everything you need to know from the day's news in the SEC, courtesy of our CBSSports.com RapidReporters.

TENNESSEE: Derek Dooley was less-than-thrilled with the Volunteers' first scrimmage of fall camp, saying of the offense "they just weren't working together, they looked like 11 individuals out there." And though quarterback Tyler Bray had his moments, Dooley wanted more out of his sophomore signal-caller.

"He made some throws, made a couple of big plays," Dooley said. "But the consistency was nonexistent, it's enough to drive you crazy." For the scrimmage, Bray went 13-of-29 for 165 yards and two touchdowns. Former blue-chip receiver Da'Rick Rogers had a productive scrimmage, catching six balls for 77 yards and a touchdown.

GEORGIA: The Bulldogs have named their three new starters on the offensive line, joining senior holdovers Cordy Glenn at tackle and Ben Jones at center: sophomore guards Kenarious Gates (left) and Chris Burnette (right), and senior left tackle Justin Anderson. Of thre three, only Gates made a start in 2010; Anderson was playing on the defensive line.

Two names impressing in the early going are converted linebacker Richard Samuel at running back -- at 6'2, 243 now a much more imposing physical presence than in his first stint at RB -- and wide receiver Marlon Brown. "“Coach (Mark) Richt asked me the other day if I could name one receiver that’s caught my eye," said quarterback Aaron Murray. "I said Marlon. He’s having a tremendous camp. He’s making plays, looks fluid and is real consistent.”

But the highlight of yesterday's practice? 6'4", 330-pound nose tackle Johnathan Jenkins taking an interception back for a score. Also, starting CB Brandon Boykin and potential starting S Jakar Hamilton continue to be held out of practice with hamstring inuries.

AUBURN: Gene Chizik confirmed yesterday that after offseason shoulder surgery, five-star linebacker signee Kris Frost will miss the entirety of the season. Frost likely would have began his Auburn career on the two-deep at outside linebacker. He becomes the second five-star Tiger recruit in as many seasons to miss his freshman year, following tackle Shon Coleman's leukemia diagnosis in 2010.

It doesn't sound like fan favorite fullback Ladarious Phillips will be a major contributor anytime soon for the Tigers; Chizik said he hasn't "bought any stock in his development yet" and that Phillips "has a long way to go."

ALABAMA: To hear wide receiver Brandon Gibson tell it, the rest of the Tide offense isn't taking sides in the QB battle between A.J. McCarron and Phillip Sims. " “They both come out with a great attitude, they help each other out, and they're both competitive," Gibson said. "So with either one of them, we're going to be fine.”

As for third quarterback Blake Sims, Nick Saban said he could see the field as the Tide's designated Wildcat quarterback, or even at tailback. After missing Monday's practice with a leg injury, backup offensive lineman Arie Kouandjio (brother of five-star Tide tackle signee Cyrus Kouandjio) participated in drills Tuesday.

AND ELSEWHERE: Starting senior guard Grant Cook was held out of Tuesday's Arkansas practice with a leg injury, but Bobby Petrino doesn't believe the injury is serious. True freshman Brey Cook (no relation, we think) is filling in with aplomb ... At South Carolina, No. 1 overall recruit Jadeveon Clowney returned to practice after a one-day absence due to a "personal matter." Clowney ran with the Gamecocks' first-team line in practice ... The Florida offensive line wants under-fire quarterback John Brantley to know they've got his back. And though we're not sure about the thoughts of speed-backs Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey on the switch, Gator powerback Mike Gillislee likes the move to a pro-style scheme ... Sixth-year defensive end Kentrell Lockett sat out Tuesday's practice as Rebel coaches exercised caution with their oft-injured star. Houston Nutt also praised JUCO quarterback transfer Zack Stoudt, saying that after his spring game suspension he had done what he needed to do over the summer.

Posted on: August 9, 2011 6:24 pm

PHOTO: Ruffin McNeill's impressive weight loss

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It wasn't exactly a state secret that East Carolina head coach Ruffin McNeill spent last season dealing with a weight problem. During his first campaign at the Pirate helm last fall, McNeill spent most of practice on a golf cart, saying at last week's Conference USA Media Days that the pain of simply walking through drills was "excruciating."

But after two offseason surgeries and more than 120 pounds dropped from his peak of 388, McNeill is back on his feet--moving "like a ninja" at the Pirates' first practice, he jokingly told the local Daily Reflector. But what does a 120-pound weight loss look like on a college head football coach? Here's McNeill coaching from the sidelines last fall:

And courtesy of the ECU athletic department, here's McNeill at Tuesday's Pirate practice:

McNeill would be the first to tell you he's not all the way there yet. "My brother said 'You've lost a fourth-grader,'" McNeil said at Media Days. "I said 'Well, I'm trying to get to where I lost a sixth-grader.'"

From here, it looks like he's off to a heck of a start.

Posted on: August 9, 2011 5:45 pm
Edited on: September 2, 2011 1:51 pm

PODCAST: Previewing the 2011 SEC

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

For Tuesday's Eye on CFB podcast, CBSSports.com's Adam Aizer and J. Darin Darst spoke to the blog's resident SEC follower -- the guy with the name at the top of this post, natch -- about the 2011 SEC season.  We predict the winners of each division, discuss the league's players of the season, talk sleepers, and more.

Listen here:

Want to subscribe to the CBSSports.com College Football Podcast on iTunes? Of course you do. Click here.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: August 9, 2011 2:06 pm
Edited on: August 9, 2011 2:08 pm

Kill's punishment for Gophers: horse stall duty

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It sounds like a scene out of a sports movie: an old-school coach forcing his undisciplined players to spend part of their summers cleaning out horse stalls in order to build the character that will make them winners.

But while winning big in Minnesota is going to remain a Hollywood fantasy for at least another season, the rest of that description is exactly what's happening for the Gophers under first-year head coach Jerry Kill. Our Dennis Dodd wrote recently that Kill's straightforward approach was exactly what the Gophers needed, and that's been echoed by this Tuesday Minneapolis Star-Tribune column examining Kill's creatively strict approach to team discipline.

According to columnist Chip Scoggins, Kill joined with local sheriff Rich Stanek to create a summer community service program "for players who fell short of their responsibilities, either academically or off campus." Part of that service? Saturdays spent cleaning out the stalls -- manure and all -- belonging to the police horses that patrol the area's Three Rivers Park District.

Players are also required to weed a community garden and perform other services--"some old-fashioned hard labor," Stanek called it.

No doubt the Gophers on manure duty are convinced Kill's idea stinks, if you'll pardon the pun. But is it working? Quarterback MarQuies Gray told Scoggins that "right now players are definitely scared of getting in trouble."

We don't blame them, which might not help Kill much on the recruiting trails. But if Kill can create a tighter, more disciplined team through whatever methods he might choose, Minnesota might end up getting that Hollywood ending after all.

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