Tag:SEC
Posted on: February 13, 2012 6:13 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2012 6:35 pm
 

Gators hire Utah's Davis to coach offensive line

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The usual post-Signing Day position-coaching shuffle has continued across the SEC, with Florida the latest to make a move by naming Tim Davis their new offensive line coach.

The Gators announced Monday that Davis would be taking over for former line coach Frank Verducci, a who spent only one season in Gainesville after being hired, in part, due to his familiarity with the now-departed Charlie Weis. Davis arrives from Utah, where he held the same position.

The Gainesville Sun reported Monday that Verducci was fired by Muschamp after interviewing for the Kansas City Chiefs' offensive line position.

Despite the Utes' long-held reputation as one of the FBS's leading spread practitioners, Will Muschamp -- as he has been with all of his offensive staffing hires -- was quick to point out Davis's pro-style bona fides. Davis worked alongside Muschamp with the Miami Dolphins and has spent time with some of the country's most recognizable pro-style programs at Wisconsin, Alabama and USC.

"Tim is a perfect fit for our program - he has a history of coaching in a pro-style offense and shares the same program philosophies," Muschamp said in a statement. "It will be a seamless transition for our players and staff ... He understands the values that we put on the line of scrimmage and he will help us get where we want to be at that position after Coach Verducci made a decision to pursue other interests. We wish Frank the best of luck and appreciate his efforts towards the Gator program."

Like Verducci, Davis likely received his offer to join the Gator staff based not only on his familiarity with Muschamp's preferred style of offense, but the rest of the staff as well. In addition to his time alongside Muschamp in Miami, Davis worked with current Florida running backs coach Brian White at Wisconsin and tight ends coach Derek Lewis with Minnesota.

"I'm excited to work with Coach Muschamp again and join the Florida football program," Davis said. "Like most assistant coaches, I've been on a number of coaching staffs and usually there is a transition period when you join a new staff. I don't look at this as joining a new staff, having worked with Coach Muschamp, Dan Quinn, Brian White and Derek Lewis in the past. I understand the shared philosophies of the staff and look forward to being part of the Gator Nation."

Davis has work cut out for him--despite Muschamp's emphasis on a powerful Crimson Tide-like running game, the Gators finished 73rd in rushing in 2011.

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Posted on: February 10, 2012 5:16 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2012 5:18 pm
 

Report: Saban tried to get WVU SEC invitation

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

As of this moment, there is -- almost without question -- no more powerful coach in all of college football than Alabama's Nick Saban. But as it turns out, even Saban couldn't pull enough strings to get someone other than Missouri the coveted 14th invite to the SEC.

That's according to the account provided to the Charleston Daily Mail by West Virginia senator Joe Manchin, West Virginia University graduate, who said he and Saban had spoken and "were working toward" snagging that invitation for the Mountaineers before the league settled on the Tigers. Both Saban and his wife Terry are West Virginia natives, and Saban spent two seasons in the late '70s as a defensive assistant for the Mountaineers.

"I thought we could have been in the SEC," Manchin said. "I talked to my dear friend Nick Saban about that, and, like me, he said, 'I would like West Virginia in the SEC,' and we were working toward that."

The Charleston Gazette also reported in October that Saban had been lobbying behind the scenes for West Virginia. But to no avail: Missouri was officially added as the SEC's 14th team in early November.

"They chose Missouri instead, and then you never heard a thing else about it," Manchin said.

That decision helped lead to a bitter political struggle between Manchin and Kentucky senator Mitch McConnell. McConnell, a Louisville graduate and Republican, reportedly attempted to block the Mountaineers' bid to join the Big 12 with the hopes of getting the Cardinals the invitation instead; Manchin, a Democrat, responded by publicly calling for Congress to hold hearings on whether McConnell had committed an ethics violation.

In the end, of course, Manchin and the Mountaineers got their happy ending -- they're not even going to have to wait an extra year -- and Manchin says the feud with McConnell is in the past. But with as powerful an ally as Saban on his side, you have to wonder if he doesn't wonder what might have been if the SEC had lent a more friendly ear.

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Posted on: February 10, 2012 2:24 pm
 

Fedora responds to Franklin "men of honor" quote

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

A controversial Signing Day comment from Vanderbilt coach James Franklin on the topic of decommitments made its way back to new North Carolina coach Larry Fedora, who'd had one of his commitments sign instead with Franklin's Commodores. So maybe it's not surprise that Fedora had something pointed to say about Franklin saying the players who had backed out of their Vandy commitments were "not men of honor."

“What does he say about the kids that were committed elsewhere and de-committed from their places to go to his place?" Fedora told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution when asked about Franklin's statement. "That’s my comment. What is his comment on those people? He’s got someone in his recruiting class that did that very thing. He’s saying those guys are not men of honor? Basically, he’s saying he has got kids in his own recruiting class that are not men of honor."

"He said that," Fedora clarified, "and I didn’t.”

Fedora wasn't the only coach to speak on the record to the AJC about Franklin's comments -- Florida State's Jimbo Fisher and USC's Lane Kiffin each expressed disagreement in milder terms -- but the cutting edge to Fedora's complaint likely stems from the defection of Maryville (Tenn.) quarterback Patton Robinette, who was already attending orientation events at UNC before ultimately joining the Commodores instead.

To his credit, Franklin didn't shy away from the apparent hypocrisy of his comments, not disagreeing when asked if they amounted to a "double standard":

“I think you get frustrated, and you get upset because kids commit to you. But you’re exactly right. It was like the year before, when we got in here at the last minute and only had a month left for recruiting, we got kids to de-commit to us. I think that’s a very, very valid point.”

Franklin declined to address Fedora's comments specifically, saying he would only discuss "what we do here [at Vandy]." But he did also backtrack from his original "not men of honor" statement:

“I think I probably would’ve worded some things differently ... I have great respect for all the young men that committed to us. I have great respect for some of the men that changed their minds and went in another direction. They thought it was in the best interest for them and their family. But it hurts when you lose a guy when you’ve been recruiting him for a year.”

As "frustrated" as Franklin may have been, and as badly as losing a recruit may "hurt," it's still poor form for a head coach to criticize the decisions of a 17- or 18-year-old. (It also won't do anything for Franklin's already growing reputation as a coach whose emotions can sometimes get the better of him.) Kudos to Franklin for admitting the critics may have a "valid point"--but equal kudos to Fedora for being willing to point out why those comments shouldn't have been said in the first place. 

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Posted on: February 10, 2012 1:12 pm
 

Jefferson pleads not guilty to battery charge

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

In what's been a busy couple of days for Jordan Jefferson, the former LSU quarterback has pled not guilty to the misdemeanor simple battery charge stemming from last August's infamous fight outside a Baton Rouge bar.

If convicted, Jefferson faces a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. His case is set to be heard May 10 in the East Baton Rouge Parish court.

Jefferson had originally been charged with felony battery, but the lack of DNA evidence and other factors led to the grand jury reducing the charge to a misdemeanor, resulting in the lifting of Jefferson's suspension midway through the 2011 season.

Jefferson and his attorneys have maintained his innocence throughout the process, with attorney Lewis Unglesby saying in September that Jefferson "will never be convicted" in a trial setting. 

Though the impending court date and reports from the bar fight won't do Jefferson any favors in the eyes of NFL scouts, one draft expert told CBSSports.com LSU RapidReporter Glenn Guilbeau it doesn't make any real difference--Jefferson won't be drafted regardless.

"I was surprised he was invited (to the NFL Draft combine)," said expert Mike Detillier. "I don't think Jordan can throw accurately enough to play in the NFL. He has a strong arm. He's a good athlete. But in the NFL you have to throw accurately from the pocket. He struggled with that his whole career." 

Jefferson will try and disprove those doubts at the combine, set for Feb. 22.

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Posted on: February 10, 2012 12:46 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2012 2:34 pm
 

Report: Big 12 schedule 'getting close,' not done

Posted by Chip Patterson

UPDATE: CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy confirms the Big 12 schedule will not be released on Friday (Feb. 10).

The idea that the 2012 Big 12 conference schedule would be released on Friday (today) reportedly was just "the wishful thinking" of Texas Tech athletic directory Kirby Hocutt.

The Oklahoman's Travis Haney, citing a source within the league, says that Big 12 officials are "getting close" to completing the 2012 football schedule. Unfortunately for Big 12 fans - especially West Virginia fans - the slate will likely not be set by the end of this week.

CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy reported that the Big East and West Virginia have reached a $20 million settlement that would allow the Mountaineers to compete in the Big 12 for the upcoming season. The close timing of the buyout negotiations and the Big 12's intentions of putting out a 2012 conference schedule led to the concerns of West Virginia appearing on two different conference schedules. However, with legal issues behind them, the Mountaineers should be clear to complete a 10-team conference for competition in 2012.

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Posted on: February 9, 2012 5:31 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2012 1:36 pm
 

LSU's Jefferson 'would've changed' play-calls



Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's open season on the LSU offensive coaching staff, and the team's former players just keep firing away.

The latest ex-Tiger to do so is the player at the center of much of the post-BCS championship second-guessing, quarterback Jordan Jefferson. Speaking on WCNN radio in Atlanta, Jefferson said he "probably would've changed" some of his coaches' play-calls during his team's 21-0 embarrassment if he'd had the authority. A portion of the interview:

Do you second guess yourself on doing things differently?:

“I think we should’ve spread them out a little bit more, put the ball in different passing areas, use our talent on the receiving side. We had that in as far as play-calling, we just didn’t get to it ...

Is that something you realize during the game but you can’t really do anything because you’re not calling the plays?:

“Yeah it definitely always comes to mind and it comes to mind to our receivers and tight ends. We have great guys in those areas and sometimes we just wonder why we don’t use those guys. But we’re not the one calling the plays. We still have to go out and execute what the coaches and coordinators are calling. We can’t complain as players, but sometimes we do question that."

Could you change those plays and audible on the field?:

“Only in certain plays and certain formations, not all the time. … If it was any way where I can change it, I probably would’ve changed some of them.”

As for the coaches' halftime attempts pt get things back on track, Jefferson added that "the adjustment we made wasn't the adjustment we needed to make."

Not surprisingly, Jefferson passed on suggesting he should have been replaced by backup quarterback Jarrett Lee, as guard Will Blackwell and Lee himself have. But his complaint that "sometimes we wonder why we don't use those guys" echoes strongly the gripes of tight end DeAngelo Peterson that the LSU braintrust ignored a game-plan that would have more heavily involved Jefferson's primary targets. (When not opining on the quarterbacking issue, Lee said as much as well.)

As we've stated before, the torrent of criticism in Steve Kragthorpe's, Greg Studrawa's and (to a lesser extent) Les Miles' collective direction would be much more troubling if there were any current players willing to publicly join in.

But that not one former Tiger is willing to stand up for his ex-coaches' performance that night in New Orleans strongly suggests that things were not run well behind the scenes -- not that what was in front of the scenes would argue with those complaints in the slightest -- and that if LSU's offensive coaching staff wants to maintain their players' faith in them, a    strong spring and quick start to 2012 would be highly advisable.

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Posted on: February 9, 2012 5:31 pm
Edited on: February 9, 2012 6:47 pm
 

NCAA rules committee proposes new changes

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Following a regular meeting this week, the NCAA Football Rules Committee has recommended several rules proposals aimed at enhancing player safety for the upcoming season.
Changes are normally on a two-year cycle but the emphasis on safety was strong enough that the changes are proposed for immediate implementation in 2012.

“In all of our proposals, we are continuing the annual effort to find ways to make our game safer where we can,” said committee chair Scot Dapp. “Without question, these changes will enhance student-athlete safety and we feel very comfortable based on the data we collected that the impact will be significant.”

Proposed changes include:

  • The committee voted to move the kickoff back five yards to the 35-yard line and require that kicking team must be no further than five yards back to limit running starts. Another change was to move the touchback on kicks and safety punts to the 25-yard line to encourage more touchbacks.
  • Another recommendation is if a player loses his helmet other than as the result of a facemask, it will be treated like an injury and the player must leave the game and is not allowed to participate for the next play. Also, the player must not continue to participate in play to protect him from injury.
  • To clarify blocking below the waist rules, the committee approved wording that allows offensive players in the tackle box at the snap to block below the waist legally without restriction. All other players are restricted from blocking below the waist with a few exceptions. 
  • The committee proposed a rule similar to the leaping rule on place kicks that does not allow the receiving team on punts to jump over blockers, unless the player jumps straight up or between two players.
According to the NCAA website, the recommendations must be approved by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which has a teleconference scheduled for later this month.

Posted on: February 9, 2012 12:37 pm
 

Georgia AD: Auburn rivalry not guaranteed

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Everyone expected difficulties in scheduling an expanded SEC. But we're not sure many expected the kind of difficulties outlined by Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Wednesday--the sort that could bring an end to one of the conference's oldest and greatest rivalries.

According to McGarity, the "Deep South's Oldest Rivalry" between his Bulldogs and the Auburn Tigers could be near the end if its 114-year run* as an annual series. When the SEC convenes at the end of February to map out its future schedules, it will have to decide whether or not to maintain the permanent cross-division game that has preserved the Auburn-Georgia meeting since the league's 1992 expansion. 

With only two of the potential seven cross-divisional games constituting traditional rivalries (the "Third Saturday in October" between Alabama and Tennessee is also in jeopardy), McGarity says the leaguewide support for continuing those games may not be there.

“I think if you ask Alabama and Tennessee, like us and Auburn, we’d like to retain the games,” McGarity said. “But does that work? What do the other 10 schools think? Those four schools like having those games but there’s no other East-West match-up that has that piece of history to it. So I don’t where that fits in ...

“With 14 teams, not everybody will be happy. Some will have a problem with everything. But we’ll make decisions based on the best situation of the league.”

Further complicating the issue is that with six intra-divisional games and a permanent cross-division rival, an eight-game SEC schedule would see just one slot devoted to rotating cross-divisional opponents--meaning teams in the East would play their rotating opponents in the West just twice every 12 years. A nine-game schedule would alleviate many of these problems, but both McGarity and SEC officials say there is little interest within the league to add the extra conference game. 

League officials could find a compromise--say, letting Auburn, Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama continue with their cross-divisional partnerships while other schools rotate, or allowing those four schools to play their rivalry games as a nonconference matchup in years when they aren't scheduled to play within the SEC.

But those suggestions are entirely speculative. The bottom line is that in a 14-team league, there's simply no way to 1. play an eight-game schedule 2. maintain those cross-divisional rivalries 3. have other cross-divisional opponents play more often than a couple of times a decade. It doesn't work.

Which is why -- unless the league changes course on the nine-game scheduling issue -- it's going to continue to find itself wedged between the proverbial rock and a hard place. And unfortunately for Auburn and Georgia fans, the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry may well prove to be the cost of getting itself out.

*The game has been played every year since 1898 with the exception of three seasons during World Wars I and II.

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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