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Slive Doesn’t Sound Too Terribly Thrilled To Have Pearl Back In The SEC

PEARL-SLIVESoon after landing at Auburn, basketball coach Bruce Pearl put in a phone call to SEC commissioner Mike Slive.  Not a bad move since Pearl has already left one SEC school on probation (Tennessee).  He also was handed an eight-game suspension by Slive and the league office during his final year in Knoxville for his transgressions.

The commissioner’s take?

 

“He called, and I thought he might…

I think Bruce has faced up to some mistakes he made publicly.  We cleared the air.  Assuming he does what he says he’s going to do, we’re ready to move ahead…

Bruce is an energetic guy who brings a lot of enthusiasm.  He and I have had our moments.  I think you are all aware.  I think there is a lot of excitement that he is back in the league by the folks at Auburn.”

 

Not exactly a ringing endorsement, eh?

Ironically, the same Auburn fans who once wanted Slive and the SEC to slap Pearl around while he was at Tennessee are now likely wanting Slive to butt out when it comes to flamboyant coach.  According to Slive, he does butt out when it comes to the hires made by league schools.

“I really try to stay out of personnel issues,” the commish said.  ”If I was involved every time a coach came or left the SEC, I wouldn’t have time to do anything else.  I really try to stay out of those things the best I can.”

Clearly the onus is on Pearl at this point.  He’s been hired right back into the league he left.  If he plays by the rules, Auburn couldn’t have made a better hire.  But with his tenures at Iowa (as an assistant) and at Tennessee ending in controversy, there’s no guarantee of good behavior.  Tiger AD Jay Jacobs has swung big on this one.  Expect a home run or a strikeout with little room in between.

 

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SEC Headlines 4/23/2014

headlines-wedSEC Football

1. Tennessee running back Alden Hill will transfer. Had 10 carries for 58 yards last year as a redshirt freshman. Vols will likely have five scholarship running backs on the 2014 roster.

2. Former Alabama lineman Chad Lindsay transferring to Ohio State.

3. Arkansas running back Alex Collins: “I love it here.”

4. Georgia lost four skill-position players to seasson-ending ACL injuries last year.  Coach Mark Richt was asked Tuesday night if strength and conditioning played a role.

5. Goal for Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall this fall - complete 65 to 70 percent of his passes.  Hit on 59 percent last season.

6. Despite losses, both Missouri’s offensive and defensive lines appear to be in good shape heading into the fall.

7. ESPN takes a stab at ranking the 10 best “three-star” or lower players in the SEC.

SEC Media

8. Conspiracy theorists wonder why Alabama’s SEC Network commercial is one second shorter than the rest of the league.

9. South Carolina’s ad showcased the “Sandstorm” music.

10. Here’s a ranking of all the ads – from No. 14 Kentucky to No. 1 Alabama.

11. Is commissioner Mike Slive disappointed that the league has only two secured distribution deals for the new network? ”Instead of being disappointed we’re absolutely ecstatic.”

12. Former Alabama long snapper Carson Tinker has written a book about the day a tornado landed him in the hospital and took the life of his girlfriend.

SEC/NFL

13. The thirty players invited to New York for the first round of the NFL draft include three from Alabama. Total of 11 from the SEC also includes three from Texas A&M. Complete list here.

SEC Basketball

14. If new Tennessee coach Donnie Tyndall is fired before March 15, 2017 – he’s owed a $3 million buyout.

15. Tennessee A.D. Dave Hart “saw a lot of similarities” between Tyndall and Vols football coach Butch Jones.

16. Tyndall was involved in NCAA investigation while at Morehead State.

17. Message to Missouri A.D. Mike Alden: ”Go get Gregg Marshall.”

18. Should Mizzou hire Tim Floyd, his current contract at UTEP does not include a penalty should he leave before it expires in 2015.

19. Auburn’s Bruce Pearl has officially hired his final bench assistant – La Salle University’s  Harris Adler

20. Kentucky’s Julius Randle projected as a top 5 pick in the NBA draft.

21. Randle becomes the 12th one-and-done player under John Calipari at Kentucky. Alex Poythress staying at Kentucky.

22. LSU freshman forward Jordan Mickey will announce this afternoon whether he’ll leave school for the NBA draft.

Extra

23. The Mizzou basketball arena was once named for her.  Now Paige Laurie is getting a divorce.

24. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney: “Players of any faith or no faith at all are welcome in our program.”

25. Troy offensive lineman squats 810 pounds.

26. New Joe Paterno statue coming to Penn State?

27. If college athletes become employees, does that mean foreign student athletes would be ineligible?

28. Happy birthday, Wrigley Field.  100 years old today.

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Bama’s Saban: Little Support For A 9-Game SEC Schedule

gfx-they-said-it4Nick Saban has been the only vocal proponent among SEC coaches when it comes to switching to an nine-game league schedule.  According to the coach, that’s because there’s not much support whatsoever for adopting a nine-game slate… vocal or otherwise:

 

“I don’t think there’s any support for that, it doesn’t seem like.  I think there’s a little bit more support for staying with an eight-games schedule and everybody playing a ninth opponent that’s in the five major conferences.

My thing is I’m for playing nine conference games and still playing another team in the major conferences, so you play 10 games because of fan interest, people coming to games looking forward to seeing more good games.

So that’s the starting point for me.  I think it’s important for the players to be able to play more teams in the SEC East, on the other side, which we only get to play one now.  I don’t know if we stay with the 6-1-1 or 6-0-2.  I don’t know.”

 

Saban might be the only smart coach in the conference when it comes to scheduling.  In terms of strength of schedule for the new playoff, it appears now that the SEC would be the only league not playing nine conference games and a 10th game against a power league.  That means each SEC team would play three cupcakes instead of two and that will give the playoff selection committee reason enough to exclude a second SEC team from the playoff in coming years.

Also, with schools battling attendance issues, one would think adding a league game would make for a better box office draw.  If you’re an Auburn fan, for example, would you rather see your team play Oregon or Charleston Southern.  Exactly.

The league’s coaches met yesterday.  SEC commissioner Mike Slive said last week that a decision on future schedules could come in the next couple of weeks.  One small group — likely led by Alabama, Tennessee, Auburn and Georgia — is probably going to vote in favor of a nine-game slate or an eight-game slate that protects crossover rivalries like Alabama/Tennessee and Auburn/Georgia.  Another small group — led by LSU and South Carolina — is expected to push for an eight-game schedule with no permanent rivals.  The SEC presidents will ultimately make the decision.  Best bet?  The compromise would seem to be the status quo — eight games with permanent rivals.

If/when the SEC gets bumped from the College Football Playoff over a strength of schedule issue, you can bet this topic will be revisited.

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2014 Schedule Breakout – October

crystal-ball2With football season fast approaching — the first leagues games are 18 weeks from tomorrow — it’s time to start the summer schedule talk.  On Monday, we took a look at each football weekend in August and September.  Today, we grade the games on the SEC schedule for the month of October.  Which are can’t miss and which are mere flip-bys… if that?

We break things down below.  And, yes, we’re trying to be discriminating when it comes to picking “can’t miss” games.

 

October 4th Weekend

Can’t Miss:

LSU at Auburn

Ones To Watch:

Alabama at Ole Miss (If the Rebels take another step forward, this could become “can’t miss.”)

Florida at Tennessee

Vanderbilt at Georgia

South Carolina at Kentucky

Texas A&M at Mississippi State

What Else Is On:

None!  (Gotta love those few weekends when all of the SEC’s teams are playing one another.)

 

October 11th Weekend

Can’t Miss:  

LSU at Florida (One of the league’s best games, especially if Florida rebounds this season.)

Georgia at Missouri (This could be an East Division elimination game.)

Ones To Watch:

Alabama at Arkansas

Auburn at Mississippi State

Ole Miss at Texas A&M (Depending on whether Ole Miss rises and/or A&M falls this, too, could become “can’t miss.”)

What Else Is On:

LA-Monroe at Kentucky

UT-Chattanooga at Tennessee

Charleston Southern at Vanderbilt

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Gregg Marshall’s Agent “Staying Away From Any Talk”; Tim Floyd’s Name Emerges In Mizzou Search

Tim FloydAnother day, another name emerges as a serious candidate for the job of Missouri basketball coach.  ESPN says UTEP coach Tim Floyd is “a strong candidate” for the opening.  That’s news to UTEP A.D. Bob Stull, a former football coach at Mizzou, who says neither Floyd nor Missouri A.D. Mike Alden has asked him about the job.  

Floyd has spent 20 years in the college coaching ranks, leading both Iowa State and USC to Sweet 16 appearances. He resigned from USC in 2009 after an NCAA investigation into the recruitment of O.J. Mayo but was later exonerated.

Missouri’s top target, though, still appears to be Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall.  Earlier in the week, Marshall’s agent said there had been no contact with Mizzou.  But he changed his tune Tuesday.  In a phone interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Myles Solomon declined to comment. “I’m going to stay away from any talk about searches.”

But he did say that Marshall is quite happy at Wichita State.  “He’s at the program that’s considered at the pinnacle of the league he’s in. It’s very attractive all around.”

According to the Post-Dispatch, interest in two other names linked to the search – former UCLA coach Ben Howland and Purdue’s Matt Painter – appears to have cooled.

The paper also mentions that the only assistant left on Missouri’s staff – Tim Fuller – is a candidate to take the head coaching job at Florida A&M.

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Missouri Might Go Back In Time With Anderson (Not That One)

kim-anderson-cutting-netsIt sounds as though Anderson is a serious candidate for the Missouri coaching job.  No, not Mike Anderson.  Kim Anderson.  The Missouri alum and former assistant under Tiger legend Norm Stewart looks to be a potential “back to the future” hire in Columbia.

First things first, the Tigers reportedly have Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall high upon their list.  No surprise there as every school with an opening has considered Marshall.  It’s just that it’s unlikely that Marshall will leave a safe gig for anything smaller than $3 million per season.

Next come the names of Chris Mack (Xavier), Matt Painter (who turned down Mizzou and stayed at Purdue three years ago), Michael White (Louisiana Tech) and Ben Howland (who everyone else has passed on).

But Anderson might make the most sense.  At 58, he just led Central Missouri to the NCAA Division II national title.  He’s been to three D-II Final Fours in 12 years.  He was named the D-II Coach of the Year after his work last season and he’s got an overal winning percentage of .745.  For those wondering if he can recruit at the D-I level, he’s been a Mizzou assistant twice as well as a Baylor aide.

More importantly, Anderson might buy Missouri AD Mike Alden some good will.  Yes, Alden’s the man who hired and stuck by Gary Pinkel, but ADs aren’t judged by their successes so much as by their failures.  And Alden’s had some failures in his hardwood searches.  He replaced Stewart with Quin Snyder, who blew up the program and his career with off-court issues.  Then came Mike Anderson who split for Arkansas after five years.  Then Alden handed the reins of the program to Frank Haith.  Behind-the-scenes issues reportedly played a role in Haith skedaddling for a job with Tulsa — Tulsa! — after going 76-28 in three seasons in Columbia.  It is believed that Alden asked Haith for his resignation when the NCAA started snooping into Haith’s Miami days a few years back.  Haith had the guts to say no, but his relationship with Alden never fully healed.

So with fans now starting to train their sites on the Tiger athletic director, Alden might feel that a good backup plan — in case a “name” like Marshall can’t be hired — would involve the hiring of someone tied to Mizzou’s hoops heydey.  That would be Anderson, who’s clearly earned consideration with his deeds, as well.  Already, some ex-Tigers are hailing a potential Anderson hire as “a no-brainer.”

Barring a surprise “off the radar” hire, we suspect Anderson will go from coaching the Mules of Central Missouri to the Tigers of Mizzou before next season.  Especially if Alden is wanting to win back a little fan love.

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Vols Finally Land Their Man In Tyndall, But What Does The Future Hold For Him?

donnie-tyndall-coachingBy most accounts Donnie Tyndall looks to be a pretty good hire for Tennessee’s basketball program.  The Vols’ new coach built up Morehead State over the span of six years.  At Southern Miss he slightly improved upon Larry Eustachy’s rebuilding job the last two years.  He knows the South, has recruited in the SEC before (as an LSU assistant) and — perhaps most importantly for some UT fans — he’s said to have a “big personality.”

There was also an NCAA run-in while at Morehead State, but apparently Tennessee brass heard a good explanation from Tyndall during their rushed Monday romance.

The Volunteers’ latest coach will officially begin his tenure today at 2:00pm ET in Knoxville.  You can bet he’ll say all the right things at that introductory presser.  He’ll know why a vocal part of the Big Orange fanbase turned on Cuonzo Martin — a slow style of play and an unwillingness to “sell his program.”  Expect Tyndall to talk about “embracing the fans,” playing “an exciting style” of basketball as well as stating that he’ll be happy to wear a bright orange jacket that Bruce Pearl and Martin wore for special rivalries.

It was only four years ago that a fella named Derek Dooley won Vol fans over by saying such un-Kiffiny things as “embrace the traditions” and “britches” at his press conference.  He never said “britches” again, never embraced Tennessee’s traditions and flopped on the field, proving that introductory comments really don’t mean much once the actual games begin.

For Tyndall’s sake, he certainly needs everyone in the UT fanbase to come together behind him.  That never happened for Martin.  From Day One he was simply “Not Pearl.”  He won 19, 20 and 24 games and went to a Sweet Sixteen.  Only John Calipari and Billy Donovan won more SEC games the last three years.  His thanks was an extension that would have put him at eighth on the league’s pay chart and a decreased buyout.  It’s a safe bet that no other SEC school outside of Kentucky would have run off someone with Martin’s record.  And Tennessee is no Kentucky when it comes to history.

Those against Martin were vocal from the start and with an underachieving regular season — not unlike Kentucky this year — their discontent spread quickly.  Several thousand folks put their names on a petition that helped steer several candidates (by all accounts) away from the UT job.  Not only A-listers passed, but so too did a three-year coaching veteran from Louisiana Tech.  Michael White wanted a big buyout for security’s sake.  No wonder.  But that didn’t happen and the La Tech coach passed on the Tennessee job, bringing to mind this:

 

 

So Tyndall became the guy because several other guys said “no thanks.”  That doesn’t mean he’ll flop anymore than saying the right things today will mean he’ll succeed.  If he does play an exciting style — Ken Pomeroy’s tempo ratings suggest his teams play only slightly faster than Martin’s teams — and if he does play the role of showman — one Vol writer says UT hoops fans require an “experience” to support hoops — then he’ll likely do just fine.

That is until he loses to Pearl and Auburn.  At that point, don’t be surprised if someone doesn’t break out a new petition.

Martin’s tenure showed that winning isn’t enough at Tennessee.  A coach has to win big and act as a salesman/promoter/carnival barker if he’s to win over all the Vol backers.  (It’s a good thing UT didn’t make a run at a guy like Ben Howland who’s not exactly known for being PT Barnum — though it sounds like his UCLA program did become a circus away from the court.)

Until Tyndall sinks or swims with his coaching and warmth, we would suggest Volunteer fans actually support the guy.  Buy in from the outset and let Tyndall prove you wrong.  If folks start out as skeptics, it’s much harder to win them over.  Ask Martin.

Tyndall is UT’s fifth basketball coach in 15 years.  If Tennessee’s fans support the man from the get-go and if he proves to coach and sell well, maybe he’ll be around Knoxville longer than the man he’s replacing.

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SEC Headlines 4/22/2014

headlines-tueSEC Football

1. Reggie Ragland believes Alabama’s defense is “more focused” and has more speed heading into 2014.

2. Greg McElroy had a problem with AJ McCarron saying some of his teammates became complacent last year.

3. Wide receiver D’haquille Williams was the top spring standout for Auburn. Here are some others.

4. SEC commissioner Mike Slive expects a decision on future football schedules to be decided sometime in May.

5. Arkansas unveiled new uniforms on Monday. It includes the new secondary Razorback logo.

6. Offensive lineman Austin Golson is considering transferring from Ole Miss. He’s projected to start at right tackle.

7. Who will lead the SEC in rushing in 2014? Several writers gave their opinion.

8. Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III wants to become more of a leader entering his second year on campus.

9. Collin Barber is optimistic he can regain Georgia’s punting job after losing it last season.

10. Injuries have mounted at receiver for Kentucky this spring.

Coaching Searches

11. Central Missouri coach Kim Anderson is a candidate for the Missouri job, according to ESPN.

12. Gregg Marshall’s agent said he hadn’t heard from Missouri officials as of Monday afternoon.

13. Here’s a look at what Donnie Tyndall accomplished before taking the Tennessee job.

14. Louisiana Tech’s Michael White wanted the Tennessee job until he met with UT officials.

SEC Basketball

15. LSU forward Jordan Mickey’s father said his son hasn’t decided whether he will enter the NBA Draft.

16. Kevin Brockway looks at the link between Florida coach Billy Donovan and the NBA.

17. A higher age limit to enter the NBA wouldn’t be fair, writes Tim Sullivan.

SEC/NFL Draft

18. Alabama receiver Kevin Norwood has plenty of confidence as he prepares for the draft.

19. Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews is scheduled to visit the Houston Texans this week.

Extra

20. NCAA president Mark Emmert cited “competitive fairness” when asked why athletes can’t capitalize off their likeness in college.

21. Slive believes autonomy for the big five conference represents a “vision for the 21st century as it relates to our relationship with student-athletes.”

22. Florida State took a financial hit playing in and winning the BCS Championship Game.

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Coaching Carousel: White Turning Down Tennessee, Donovan An NBA Candidate?

rumors-cartoonWhile Missouri’s search for a new coach creeps along stealthily, the same can’t be said for Tennessee’s hunt.  After attempting to woo some “A-list candidates” to Knoxville — only to be met with a lack of interest — the Volunteers turned their attention to Michael White of Louisiana Tech on Saturday.

White is a former point guard at Ole Miss and a former assistant coach there.  He has been at Louisiana Tech for three years and has never reached an NCAA Tournament (which means his resume is quite similar to the one Cuonzo Martin’s owned when he was hired by UT three years ago).

White is also on the verge of saying “thanks, but no thanks” to Tennessee’s offer.  According to CBSSports.com’s Gary Parrish:

 

parrish tweet

 

We at MrSEC.com were told last night that White would likely stay in Ruston.  We believe White is asking for a large buyout from the school and after paying buyouts for numerous coaches over the years, Tennessee does not want to go down the big buyout road.  The school’s reserve fund is currently less than $5 million.  Most SEC schools have reserves greater than $50 million.

Sadly for athletic director Dave Hart’s sake, those fans who signed a petition to bring back Bruce Pearl have made the UT job a tough sell.  Everyone — from the national media to most in the Knoxville media to the majority of the Volunteer fanbase — admits that fact.  (Those who did the petitioning say the job is peachy and Hart must be a bad salesman.)

White’s desire for security is quite natural.  If you were looking at a roster that’s losing four of its top five players — which doesn’t help matters — and you knew that the last guy was petition’d right out of town despite win totals of 19, 20 and 24 games in his three years, wouldn’t you be asking for petition insurance, er, I’m sorry, a big buyout?

If the White negotiations are indeed finished, look for Tennessee to turn to Donnie Tyndall of Southern Miss and Will Wade of Chattanooga as their search stumbles along.  As was the case when Mississippi State fans were driving away Rick Stansbury, we warned, “Careful what you wish for.”  And like MSU (which has lost 29 of its last 36 SEC games), UT  is having to come to grips with the fact that their job looks better through their orange-colored glasses than it does to outsiders.

Meanwhile, ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reports that the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves are considering Florida’s Billy Donovan as their next coach.  Yes, Billy Donovan.

 

donovan tweet 1

 

donovan tweet 2

 

 

That would seem like a very long shot from our perspective.  In June of 2007, Donovan left the Florida Gators to become the head coach just down the road with the Orlando Magic.  But he changed his mind soon after and returned to Gainesville within the week.

If he couldn’t leave Gainesville for Orlando, would he really uproot his family for Minneapolis?

Still, it’s an interesting story to keep an eye on.

As for Missouri, the Tigers’ search seems to be focused in on the same list of candidates that were on Tennessee’s initial list: Gregg Marshall of Wichita State, Mick Cronin of Cincinnati, Archie Miller of Dayton, Tim Miles of Nebraska and Chris Mack of Xavier.  Marshall will want about $3 million to move and it’s doubtful AD Mike Alden will go that far.

If Mizzou finds it’s hunt to be as tough as Tennessee’s search, one wonders if ex-UCLA coach Ben Howland — a man whose name hasn’t gained traction in any search this offseason — might creep into the Tiger mix.  He certainly has a good track record on the court.  Not so much off it.

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2014 Schedule Breakout – August/September

crystal-ball-fortune-teller2Over the next three days we’ll be breaking down the SEC’s schedule month by month.  Fans at Missouri and Tennessee still have an eye towards basketball, but elsewhere the beginning of summer means the beginning of serious football discussion.  And that means figuring out which games are the ones to watch each week.

Today, we start with the last weekend of August and roll right on through the final Saturday in September.

 

August 30th Weekend

Can’t Miss:

Alabama vs West Virginia in Atlanta

Clemson at Georgia

LSU vs Wisconsin in Houston (like a BCS bowl game in August)

Ole Miss vs Boise State in Atlanta (Thursday the 28th)

Texas A&M at South Carolina (Thursday the 28th and a biggie for the SEC Network)

Ones To Watch:  

Arkansas at Auburn

Idaho at Florida (to see the Gators’ new offense)

Southern Miss at Mississippi State (kudos to MSU for playing their in-state rival)

Utah State at Tennessee (Sunday the 31st and the Aggies will be a preseason Top 25 team)

Temple at Vanderbilt (to see Derek Mason’s debut)

What Else Is On:

TN-Martin at Kentucky

South Dakota at Missouri

 

September 6th Weekend

Can’t Miss:

None!

Ones To Watch:  

Ole Miss at Vanderbilt

Missouri at Toledo (the Rockets aren’t bad and an SEC team is visiting their pad)

East Carolina at South Carolina (the Pirates were 10-3 last season)

Arkansas State at Tennessee (another solid team visits a young UT squad)

What Else Is On:

Florida Atlantic at Alabama

Nicholls State at Arkansas

San Jose State at Auburn

Eastern Michigan at Florida

Ohio at Kentucky

Sam Houston State at LSU

UAB at Mississippi State

Lamar at Texas A&M

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