Tag:Arkansas
Posted on: July 22, 2010 6:26 pm
 

Five things about the SEC

As my annual swing through preseason media days continues I’ll be updating you on the current state of the conferences I’m covering …

1. Alabama and Florida are pulling away from the pack. One or the other has won three out of the last four national championships. The schools have combined to win two of the last three Heismans.  Bama has a 14-game winning streak. The dirty little secret is that aside from the Gators and Tide, the SEC is down this year. “Obviously Florida and Alabama have done a great job the last couple of years,” Georgia’s Mark Richt said. “But historically no one stays on top forever.”

2. OK, so who’s third? The next legitimate question after the Alabama-Florida discussion. Try to pick the No. 3 team in the SEC. There are few candidates: Auburn, with a veteran quarterback (Cam Newton) to run Gus Malzahn’s offense? Georgia on the rebound with Richt’s job on the line? Arkansas? South Carolina? Finishing second in one of the divisions is going to be like winning another conference.

3. Three new coaches. It would be hard to pick any of the conference’s new leaders out of a lineup. A sweaty guy in a Vanderbilt polo got off the elevator Thursday at the SEC media days. Who knew this was Robbie Caldwell, the new Vanderbilt coach. To be fair, Caldwell had just been working out. He cleaned up pretty good before entertaining the media during his time on the podium. Caldwell took over last week when Bobby Johnson abruptly retired. Joker Phillips was the offensive coordinator at Kentucky before Rich Brooks retired. Derek Dooley was the – what was it? – fourth or fifth choice at Tennessee after Lane Kiffin took off in Tennessee. Don’t expect much out of any of the three newbies this season. Best chance for long-term success? Probably Phillips who has a good offensive mind and will be knighted in Lexington if he puts together back-to-back 7-5 seasons.

4. The sad, long decline of Steve Spurrier. It’s come to this for the once brash, bold Spur Dog. He was bragging about his team’s graduation rate Thursday at the SEC media days. Coming off his second consecutive seven-win season at South Carolina, Spurrier looked and sounded like a beaten man. He hasn’t been able to recruit a quarterback of substance while his defenses have carried the team. Maybe it’s just a South Carolina thing. The program has won little of anything in its history despite having two of the most successful coaches of this generation (Spurrier and Lou Holtz). For now, Spurrier is looking like Willie Mays when he went out with the Mets. That’s sad. “We haven’t proven much of anything,” Spurrier said Thursday, “pretty much in the five years I’ve been here.”

5. Repeats. There are two significant ones pending in the SEC – Alabama and Mark Ingram. The team is much more likely to repeat as national championship as the tailback is to win another Heisman. Bama is loaded despite having to replace nine defensive starters. Ingram is actually going to run the ball less with the emergence of sophomore Trent Richardson. Book it. The SEC wins its fifth consecutive national championship and Bama repeats. Ingram doesn’t but I don’t think he would care.

 

 

Posted on: July 22, 2010 6:26 pm
 

Five things about the SEC

As my annual swing through preseason media days continues I’ll be updating you on the current state of the conferences I’m covering …

1. Alabama and Florida are pulling away from the pack. One or the other has won three out of the last four national championships. The schools have combined to win two of the last three Heismans.  Bama has a 14-game winning streak. The dirty little secret is that aside from the Gators and Tide, the SEC is down this year. “Obviously Florida and Alabama have done a great job the last couple of years,” Georgia’s Mark Richt said. “But historically no one stays on top forever.”

2. OK, so who’s third? The next legitimate question after the Alabama-Florida discussion. Try to pick the No. 3 team in the SEC. There are few candidates: Auburn, with a veteran quarterback (Cam Newton) to run Gus Malzahn’s offense? Georgia on the rebound with Richt’s job on the line? Arkansas? South Carolina? Finishing second in one of the divisions is going to be like winning another conference.

3. Three new coaches. It would be hard to pick any of the conference’s new leaders out of a lineup. A sweaty guy in a Vanderbilt polo got off the elevator Thursday at the SEC media days. Who knew this was Robbie Caldwell, the new Vanderbilt coach. To be fair, Caldwell had just been working out. He cleaned up pretty good before entertaining the media during his time on the podium. Caldwell took over last week when Bobby Johnson abruptly retired. Joker Phillips was the offensive coordinator at Kentucky before Rich Brooks retired. Derek Dooley was the – what was it? – fourth or fifth choice at Tennessee after Lane Kiffin took off in Tennessee. Don’t expect much out of any of the three newbies this season. Best chance for long-term success? Probably Phillips who has a good offensive mind and will be knighted in Lexington if he puts together back-to-back 7-5 seasons.

4. The sad, long decline of Steve Spurrier. It’s come to this for the once brash, bold Spur Dog. He was bragging about his team’s graduation rate Thursday at the SEC media days. Coming off his second consecutive seven-win season at South Carolina, Spurrier looked and sounded like a beaten man. He hasn’t been able to recruit a quarterback of substance while his defenses have carried the team. Maybe it’s just a South Carolina thing. The program has won little of anything in its history despite having two of the most successful coaches of this generation (Spurrier and Lou Holtz). For now, Spurrier is looking like Willie Mays when he went out with the Mets. That’s sad. “We haven’t proven much of anything,” Spurrier said Thursday, “pretty much in the five years I’ve been here.”

5. Repeats. There are two significant ones pending in the SEC – Alabama and Mark Ingram. The team is much more likely to repeat as national championship as the tailback is to win another Heisman. Bama is loaded despite having to replace nine defensive starters. Ingram is actually going to run the ball less with the emergence of sophomore Trent Richardson. Book it. The SEC wins its fifth consecutive national championship and Bama repeats. Ingram doesn’t but I don’t think he would care.

 

 

Posted on: July 7, 2010 4:50 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2010 5:51 pm
 

Preseason mags' top 25

We love the polls. College football polls to be specific. Preseason college football polls to be exact.

There is the annual cry to get rid of them. Hogwash. First, the Associated Press isn't going to disappoint its subscribers by scrapping one of its most popular offerings of the year. Second, there would be no preseason magazines without preseason top 25s.

And last time I checked, the magazines aren't going away either. We need them. We want them. The likes of Athlon and Lindy's are selling better than ever. There are regional editions. Sure, some of them outdated by the time they hit the stands. (USC No. 3, Athlon? Really?) That's OK. The sport is year-round now. It's not going to stop for a printing press.

The mags' arrival officially stirs the juices. Suddenly, it's OK to break down the Sun Belt, predict the WAC. Argue about the SEC East. That's why this blog is devoted to one of my annual obsessions -- a combined poll from all the preseason magazines.

I combined five polls, from The Sporting News, Phil Steele, Lindy's, Athlon. Yahoo Sports and CBSSports.com. Our official preseason poll won't come out until late August. For this purpose, then, I'm using my post-spring top 25.

A few notes, rules and notifications:

*Each school was assigned a number in descending order. Twenty-five points for a No. 1 ranking, 24 for No. 2, etc.

*Schools are then ranked from highest-point total to lowest.

*I also included an average poll rank, mostly because not all the schools were named in all five polls. Example: Oregon State finished No. 25 because it got 11 points from being ranked No. 15 in The Sporting News.  The likes of Cincinnati (eight points) and Utah (five) were ranked in two polls but finished with fewer total points than Oregon State.

*Thirty seven schools received votes.

*Alabama was not a consensus No. 1. Phil Steele made some waves by picking Oklahoma No. 1.

The annual compilation:

1. Alabama: Duh. Haven't lost an SEC regular-season game since 2007. Highest rank, No. 1. Lowest, No. 3 (148 points, Avg. rank between No. 1 and No. 2)

2. Ohio State: The Big Ten is back. Ohio State never left. Highest rank, No. 2. Lowest rank, No. 3. (142 points. Avg. rank between No. 2 and No. 3)

3. Boise State: Should be a consensus top five pick with major polls debut next month. Highest rank, No. 2. Lowest rank, No. No. 6. (136 points. Average rank between No. 3 and No. 4)

4. Florida: Fastest team in the country, again. Highest rank, No. 4. Lowest rank, No. 7. (123 points. Avg. rank between No. 5 and No. 6)

5. TCU: Nation's best defense the past two seasons. Highest rank, No. 4. Lowest rank, No. 11. (113 points. Avg. rank between No. 7 and No. 8)

6. Nebraska: Fitting that these two are tied. They hate each other. Highest rank, No. 5. Lowest rank, No. 11 (112 points. Average rank between No. 7 and No. 8)

7. Oregon: Most talent in the Pac-10. Highest rank, No. 6. Lowest rank, No. 15 (111 points. Avg. rank between No. 7 and No. 8)

8. Texas: Adding physicality to offense. Highest rank, No. 4. Lowest rank, No. No. 11 (110 points. Avg. rank between No. 7 and No. 8)

9. Oklahoma: Rebuilding into Big 12 and national power again. Highest rank, No. 1. Lowest rank, No. 12. (106 points. Avg. rank between No. 8 and No. 9)

10. Virginia Tech: Class of the ACC until further notice. Highest rank, No. 8. Lowest rank, No. 13. (94 points. Avg. rank between No. 10 and No. 11)

11. (tie) USC: Two-year bowl ban begins. Does the dynasty continue? Highest rank, No. 3. Lowest rank, No. 16. (90 points. Avg. rank No. 11)

Iowa: Sexy dark horse pick in the Big Ten. Highest rank, No. 8. Lowest rank, No. 14. (90 points. Avg. rank No. 11)

13. Wisconsin: Fresh from pounding Miami. Factor in Big Ten. Highest rank, No. 6. Lowest rank, No. 23. (82 points. Avg. rank between No. 12 and No. 13)

14. Miami: Starting to look like Canes of old. Highest rank, No. 4. Lowest rank, No. 14. (79 points. Avg. rank between No. 12 and No. 13)

15. Florida State: New coach, healthy quarterback. Great prospects. Highest rank, No. 14. Lowest rank, No. 20. (60 points, Avg. rank No. 16)

16. Arkansas: Petrino starting to work his magic with Ryan Mallett. Highest rank, No. 16. Lowest rank, No. 21. (50 points, Avg. rank between No. 17 and No. 18)

17. North Carolina: Nation's best defense? Highest rank, No. 12. Lowest rank, No. 24. (48 points. Avg. rank No. 18)

18. Pittsburgh: Coming first 10 win season since 1981. Highest rank, No. 14. Not ranked by Steele. (45 points. Avg. rank No. 17)

19. LSU: Les Miles on the hot seat? Highest rank, No. 18. Not ranked by Steele. (35 points. Avg. rank No. 19)

20. Georgia Tech:
Defending ACC champs seem to have gotten better. Highest rank, No. 13. Not ranked by Steele, Yahoo and Athlon. (30 points. Avg. rank No. 16)

21. Auburn: Chizik not ready to cede state to Alabama. Highest rank, No. 15. Not ranked by Lindy's and Yahoo. (29 points. Avg. rank between No. 18 and No. 19)

22. Penn State: JoePa going for No. 400. Highest rank, No. 18. Not ranked by Sporting News. (27 points. Avg. rank No.  20 and No. 21)

23. Georgia: New AD could be the least of Dawgs' problems. Highest rank, No. 15. Not ranked by CBSSports.com and Sporting News. (24 points. Avg. rank No. 20)

24. West Virginia: Noel Devine could carry 'Neers to a BCS bowl. Highest rank, No. 19. Not ranked by Athlon and Yahoo. (16 points. Avg. rank No. 22)

25. Oregon State: Mike Riley always has Beavers in contention. Highest rank, No. 15. Not ranked by CBSSports.com, Steele, Lindy's and Athlon. (15 points. Avg. rank between No. 18 and No. 19)

Other teams receiving votes: Notre Dame, Connecticut, Missouri, South Carolina, Cincinnati, Utah, Houston, Clemson, Arizona, Stanford, Washington, Navy.

Notes: To no one's surprise the SEC led all conferences with six teams in the top 25 (Alabama, Florida, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Georgia) ... To everyone's surprise, the ACC was second with five teams (Virginia Tech, Miami, Florida State, North Carolina, Georgia Tech) ... The Big 12 had three of the top 10 (Oklahoma, Texas, Nebraska) ... The ACC, Big Ten and Big 12 each had three teams in the top 15 ... Every national champion since 1999 is represented in the top 25 ... Six states had multiple teams in the poll. Florida led all states with three (Miami, Florida, Florida State).

 

Posted on: February 3, 2010 3:20 pm
 

Signing day notes

Before we begin, the recruiting “get” of the day goes to CBSSports.com’s J. Darin Darst. He was able to find Alabama’s “fax cam.”

If you didn’t believe it before, recruiting is officially out of control.

Winners

Tennessee: Never mind Derek Dooley’s closing job. The recruiting class just became that much better. A Boise television station reported Tuesday night and ESPN said Wednesday that Boise defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox is headed to Tennessee.

Wilcox is one of the young up and comers. He was a short timer at Boise after his unit shut down Oregon and TCU on national television. The 33-year-old has coordinated the Broncos D for the last four seasons. Boise led the WAC in scoring defense and total defense in each of those four seasons.

The Oregon grad also worked at Cal before for three years as linebackers coach before coming to Boise for the second time in 2006.

Urban Meyer: A life-changing health problem. Rival recruiters running him into the ground. A revamped coaching staff. It is amazing that Florida has still been able to assemble the nation’s No. 1 class.

Auburn: Formal apologies to Gene Chizik who was largely derided in this space after his hiring from Iowa State. Chizik won eight in his first season, almost beat Alabama, and then actually beat the Crimson Tide – in recruiting. Auburn was listed above Bama in the top five midway through Wednesday.  Chizik and offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn are fired up about national juco player of the year and former Gator quarterback Cameron Newton.

Texas: Let’s stow any speculation that Mack Brown is retiring anytime soon. This class showed that he still has the hunger to chase championships.  Texas finished with what was largely considered to be the nation’s No. 2 class. Most notable – West Chester, Ohio linebacker Jordan Hicks and Plano, Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat.

Missouri: Finished with what is believed to be its highest ranked class ever (top 20). Gary Pinkel continues to aggressively recruit Texas and lock up the best players in Missouri. The Tigers aren’t going away as an annual bowl team and factor in the Big 12 North. The Big Ten has to be happy.

Notre Dame: A respectable top 15 class that’s a good sign for Brian Kelly in 2011 when he has a whole year to recruit. Kelly completed revamped the coaching staff and didn’t get blown out of the water.

Cal: Jeff Tedford continues to solidify his spot as second-best coach in Bear’s history. (Hard to argue with Pappy Waldorf.) Tedford recruited aggressively landing a top 15 class with prospects from seven states. Typical of the far flung recruiting philosophy was getting five-star defensive back Keenan Allen to drop Alabama and come all the way from Greensboro, NC

Non-winners (Can’t bring myself to say ‘losers’ when no one knows how these kids will turn out):

Miami: The locals are grumbling about the lack of five-star recruits (none) and abundance of two and three-star prospects (19). Howard Schnellenberger might not approve. Nine players came from outside the “State of Miami”, including prospects from Buffalo, NY; New Berlin, NY and Evanston, Ill.

Kansas: Turner Gill got a late start, completely changed the coaching staff and had a hard time luring top recruits. Potosi, Mo. running back Brandon Bourbon should ease the pain.

Indiana: Rivals.com’s lowest ranked BCS conference school (No. 90). Let’s hope rankings mean little. Bill Lynch (7-17 the past two seasons) still deserves a chance to get the Hoosiers turned around.

Arkansas: The Razorbacks are one of the “it” teams in the SEC for 2010. Maybe. A class ranked in the 50s might have impressed in Fayetteville but not elsewhere.
 
Ed Orgeron: Coach O’s reported poaching of Tennessee recruits on his way out the door to USC didn’t get the proper attention. “It’s been done before,” Tom Lemming said. “It’s not illegal, it’s unethical.” Maybe it should be illegal.

 
Best names:

MarKeith Ambles, USC.  Scoured from Twitter: Keith Ambles didn’t want to name his son after himself, so naturally he added a “Mar”

Emmanuel Beavers, San Diego State. How did he get away from Oregon State?

Furious Bradley, Southern Miss. Let’s hope he’s fast too.

Shaban Dika, Iowa State

Steele Divitto, Boston College

Pep Konokalafi, Hawaii

Munchie Legaux, Cincinnati. Please, God, make this be a nickname. Can’t imagine a parent who would name their child “Munchie.”

Shaquille Richardson, UCLA. And you thought there was only one.

 Another cautionary recruiting tale: It was announced this week that Miami linebacker Arthur Brown is leaving the program. The one-time five-star prospect made 17 tackles in two seasons. Speculation is that Brown and his brother Bryce, a tailback at Tennessee, could transfer to Kansas State.

 Good to know that top defensive end J.R. Ferguson has his head screwed on straight. His nickname is “Ego” (dad is actually Ego Sr.). Friends and family wear clothing labeled “Team Ego.” Let’s hope that LSU, his college choice, feeds his ego.
Posted on: January 15, 2010 6:53 pm
Edited on: January 17, 2010 12:33 pm
 

Breaking down the Tennessee search

Tennessee fancies itself a top 10 program in the best of times. In the worst of times, it just landed the coach of the team that tied for fifth in the WAC.

That’s one way to look at the hiring of Derek Dooley on Friday at Tennessee.

Rocky Flop? 

Here’s another, a formal list of names that I’m told were on the Tennessee list:

Will Muschamp, Texas defensive coordinator – Apparently turned down a $3 million-a-year offer.

Jon Gruden, Monday Night Football – What job doesn’t he apply for?

Troy Calhoun, Air Force – Happy at Air Force. Can do better if he aspires to return to the NFL.

Randy Edsall, UConn – A great coach who would be out of his element in Knoxville.

Lovie Smith, Chicago Bears – May be fired by the Bears. Apparently was a Tennessee assistant way back.

Kyle Whittingham, Utah – Turned down an offer Thursday night.

Doug Marrone, Syracuse – One year for the still-rebuilding Orange.

Gary Patterson, TCU – No way.

Kippy Brown, Tennessee assistant -- Interviewed on Friday. Apparently didn't do well.

Al Temple, Temple – A late well-respected addition.

Phil Fulmer, former Tennessee coach – Might have been AD and coach by Monday if the search dragged on.


A list of names that should have been considered

Mike Stoops, Arizona – Tennessee is into famous surnames lately. There is no more respected name in the sport right now than Stoops. Arizona is beginning to turn around.

Bobby Petrino, Arkansas – Hey, he lasted as many games with the Falcons as Kiffin did with the Vols, 13.

Tommy Bowden, former Clemson coach – Duh. Why wouldn’t you call this guy?

Rich Rodriguez, Michigan – Please tell me he wouldn’t take Mike Hamilton’s call. Then please tell me he wouldn’t take the job, if offered.

Chip Kelly, Oregon  – If you’re a top 10 program don’t you have to at least see if he’s interested?

Posted on: November 13, 2009 6:44 pm
 

Willy Robinson taken to hospital

Arkansas defensive coordinator Willy Robinson was taken by ambulance to a Fayetteville hospital Friday morning after feeling ill following a staff meeting.

The 53-year-old Robinson was taken from the Broyles Athletic Center in Fayetteville at 11:40 a.m. Arkansasonline.com reported that Robinson began "feeling hot and suffering headaches" after a staff meeting. Arkansas hosts Troy on Saturday night. An Arkansas spokesman said Robinson was in stable condition. 

No determination has been made on Robinson's status for the game.

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Arkansas, Troy
 
Posted on: November 6, 2009 9:43 am
 

Son of Weekend Watch List

If I’m Jimbo Fisher I’m raising holy hell.

Bobby Bowden picking the new defensive coordinator has to be a deal breaker for Jimbo. The job is going to be his in 13 months or so. No way he wants to be saddled with a d-coordinator who is hand-picked by Bobby.

Just to refresh: Bobby will be retired in January 2011. Jimbo Fisher has to live with his choice as d-coordinator.

Bobby’s legacy doesn’t include sticking his nose into Jimbo’s staff. This move could not only bring down the defense, it could bring down the program.

Dollar Bill: Kansas State’s Bill Snyder might re-retire sooner than we think. Speaking on Kansas City station WHB this week, Snyder hinted that he is a mere caretaker until the program is in good enough shape to turn over to someone else.

“This isn’t something to do for the rest of my life,” Snyder said prior to Saturday’s game with Kansas. “I want to get it back, calm the waters and [rally] the constituency. Get it in good position for a smooth transition …

“I’ve got to spend time with my children and grandchildren. There’s going to come a time when I went to do [that] again. Hopefully that is in the not-too-distant future.”

Snyder, 70, is in the first year of his second coaching career at K-State.  Originally, he was the author of the “Miracle in Manhattan” from 1989-2005. The Wildcats are currently 5-4 and in first place in the Big 12 North heading into the Sunflower Showdown against Kansas.

SEC bowls: The SEC has only five bowl-eligible teams. The league is trying to fill what looks like a potential 10 bowls spots (eight regular bowls plus a likely two BCS bowls). Nervous? There are five other teams at 4-4 or 4-5 that have some work to do.

Three of the five teams are playing winnable non-conference games this week. Mississippi State, that 4-5 team, is off. Mississippi, 5-3, still has to win two because it played two I-AAs. Arkansas, 4-4, might face a do-or-die game at home against South Carolina. Tennessee Tech is at Georgia, 4-4. Memphis is at Tennessee, 4-4. Kentucky, also 4-4, has Eastern Kentucky at home.

Boise blitz: Boise State has hired a p.r. firm to keep the Broncos in the “forefront” of the “minds” of “pollsters”.  That smells a lot like buying voters. First, let The List express its regret that it is not a Harris or coaches’ poll voter.

No, this isn’t Daley-era Chicago. Boise isn’t going to buy votes. In fact, it is fighting an uphill battle going into Friday’s game at Louisiana Tech. All TCU (at San Diego State on Saturday) has to do is keep winning. The voters <i>and</i> computers have spoken. They like Horned Frogs better than Needy Broncos.


Beaver milestone: As the 300th game at Beaver Stadium looms, let’s review the previous 299 games …

Penn State has a 241-58 record (80.6).

There have been 15 unbeaten seasons.

The Nittany Lions are 216-40 at Beaver with Joe as head coach. Fourteen of those undefeated seasons have come under Paterno.

Penn State is 32-3 in its last 35 at home. The only setbacks have come to No. 4 Michigan in 2006, No. 1 Ohio State in 2007 and Iowa on Sept. 26.


Paterno has been around for all of them.


  The North is 3-9 against the South Division. Two of those wins are against Baylor, in last place in the South.

  Kind of tells you something when Oklahoma-Nebraska gets relegated to the WWL blog. The teams now only meet twice in any four-year period.  A Husker win in Lincoln would give Nebraska a huge boost in the North.

  Does Colorado AD Mike Bohn have the $3.2 million he’ll need to buy out Dan Hawkins? Some more contributions might be added to the pot if the Buffs, 2-6, lose Texas A&M, 5-3

  Something has to give. Navy (34 minutes, 18 seconds) and Notre Dame (33:19) are 1-2 in time of possession.
 
  South Carolina is 7-10 after Nov. 1 under Steve Spurrier. USC is 27-0 in the month under Pete Carroll. 


Personal rant: The decision on player suspensions needs to be taken away from the school, the athletic director, maybe even the school president. SEC commissioner Mike Slive stepped in a week ago to issue his edict about critical coaches. Then Urban Meyer criticized officials and wasn’t punished. Yet. It seems like commissioners basically exist these days to pursue the best television contracts and shake hands with bowl reps.

The call here is for leagues to put in their constitutions (or whatever they’re called) language that gives the commissioner (or some league panel) the sole power to hand out discipline. Then the commissioners need to have the you know what to follow through.
.

 

Posted on: October 30, 2009 5:15 pm
 

SEC brings the wood

What if an airliner went down in your backyard? Noah’s flood came roaring down the street? How about snow in July?

The SEC would ask you to ignore the obvious tragedy, moisture and cold.

There have been plenty of all three lately in the Southeastern Conference which is more famous this season for what its officials haven’t done than what its teams have accomplished.

This being the world’s best amateur football league, officiating gaffes aren’t met with simple disdain by coaches and fans. They are viewed as tragedy – wrecking a team’s season; moisture – tears of gut-wrenching anger and cold – as in the temperature of the shoulder given the league office which oversees the zebras.

The ongoing story took another turn on Friday when the SEC said it would begin fining and suspending coaches who criticize officials. Forget the reprimands that have done as much good as a rubber knife in a gun fight. Commissioner Mike Slive made a point of saying after the next outburst -- anywhere by anyone -- things would escalate “right to suspensions and fines.” He was empowered by the conferences CEOs and ADs who basically gave him carte blanche to step up the penalties.

Arkansas’ Bobby Petrino was incensed after perceived missed calls against Florida. Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen vigorously ripped officials who didn’t rule that Florida linebacker Dustin Doe fumbled before scoring a touchdown on an interception. (To be fair, I still can’t tell after watching multiple replays. Without overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the call was correct.)

Tennessee’s Lane Kiffin is working on the hat trick having been reprimanded twice this year. After critiquing officials’ failings in last week’s Alabama game, he practically begged for more from the conference saying he wasn’t concerned with “one of those letters”.

The outbursts had the effect of putting out fire with gasoline. Fans have reacted predictably. They screamed everything from conspiracy – critics have suggested that the league is helping Bama and Florida keep the team’s BCS and national championship hopes alive – to incompetency.

Nothing new there. All fans think their conference’s officials are the worst.

Throughout it all, the SEC has shown unprecedented transparency. For the first time it publicly admitted officiating errors and suspending the crew that worked the Gators-Hogs game. The cut was two ways, though, as the coaches were called out too.  

While the transparency has been refreshing and appreciated (at least by the media), the SEC just made a U turn. It is asking coaches to ignore that smoldering jet in the backyard, the rush of water coming down the street and snowflakes in summer.

What’s obvious to everyone else, will now be a conference secret. What bugs me is that there is no wriggle room. What is this, Havana? A conference spokesman told me that the commissioner can act with “discretion.”  What I want to know is a simple, “I didn’t agree with the call,” going to be met with a suspension or a fine? It’s clear the public vetting of officiating errors is about to end. There’s nothing like a suspension or going into a coach’s wallet to shut him up.

Still, it seems heavy handed and a bit reactionary. What disturbs me is that there will continue to be officiating goof-ups. It's human nature. The current point of emphasis on flagrant fouls and excessive celebration is asking for controversy. Ask a thousand people to define an excessive celebration or a flagrant personal foul and you might get 500 different answers.

As it is, officials are asked to make snap judgments. They don’t have the benefit of instant replay. They’re not professionals. These guys are contract workers who love what they do. There are no conspiracies.

Now they’re protected by the coaches’ lack of free speech because the SEC presidents and ADs have spoken.

 

 

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