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Wonder Why SEC Basketball Ain’t All That? Blame Football

gfx-honest-opinionThe Southeastern Conference used to be solid basketball league.  From 1997 through 2008 the league consistently earned a large number of NCAA Tournament bids.  Each year of that streak the conference received either five or six bids.  Only the ACC and Big East did better on a regular basis.

But something changed in the late-2000s.  Suddenly the league started dropping in the conference RPI ratings.  This past season computer formulas ranked the SEC as just the seventh-best league in America.  NCAA Tournament bids began to drop as well — three in 2009, four in 2010, five in 2011, four in 2012, three in 2013 and again this year.

Those who don’t want to admit a problem need look only as far as the league office where Mark Whitworth was placed in the freshly created role of associate commissioner for basketball last July.  (That move came just two weeks after we suggested the SEC hire a “hoops czar,” by the way.)  Athletic directors and presidents across the conference recognized that they needed a person to aid in basketball scheduling and marketing.  At the time, Mike Slive said Whitworth would “effectively manage our efforts to promote and enhance SEC basketball.”

So what was it that happened in the late-2000s that led to a downturn in SEC hoops and the need for a new basketball “fixer?”

We believe five things are at play.  And all five can in some way be tied back to the sport that SEC schools do best — football.

The SEC has always been a dominant football conference.  But not until an unprecedented run of national championships in the mid- to late-2000s did the crown of “King Football” go unchallenged to the SEC each year.  Florida won the BCS title game in January of 2007.  LSU followed in 2008, then it was Florida again in January 2009.  Three titles in a row.  An enormous wave of media attention on SEC football.

At the very same time that the SEC was kicking off its seven-year run of championships, there was an explosion in television coverage for the sport.  Which conference cut the best deals in terms of exposure?  Take a guess.  Mike Slive’s twin contracts with CBS and ESPN ensured that darn near every SEC football game would be seen by a national audience.  The Big Ten was making money with its own network, but the Southeastern Conference was passing right by Jim Delany’s league in terms of national exposure.  And when did those new contracts pushing SEC football into every American living room kick in to place?  In 2009.

That’s the background.  Since those two things (championship run, increased television exposure) took place, five other changes have come to pass as a result…

 

1.  Salaries for SEC football coaches have boomed.  Alabama’s 2007 hire of Nick Saban for eight years and $32 million raised the bar inside the league and across the nation.  Other SEC schools have since followed suit — Florida, LSU, etc.  Seven years after Saban’s hire there isn’t a single football coach in the SEC making less than $2.2 million per season.  Eleven of the 14 coaches in the league make $2.9 million or more.  South Carolina — long a doormat in the college football world — now boasts a national championship-winning coach who makes $3.5 million per season.  No league pays more money for football coaches than the SEC.  In contrast, the SEC most certainly does not lead the nation when it comes to basketball salaries.  The by-product, of course, is that SEC football jobs are “destination” jobs.  The same can’t be said for basketball.  How many top name basketball coaches have been hired into the SEC as proven stars?  John Calipari.  Mike Anderson.  Anthony Grant if you consider “hot” up-and-comers.  Now turn it around.  How many SEC football coaches are coveted by other leagues?  Saban, Miles, Mark Richt, Steve Spurrier, Kevin Sumlin, etc, etc.  How many hoops coaches are coveted?  Calipari, Billy Donovan, and who?  The bottom line is this: The SEC has a better group of expensive, proven football coaches than it does expensive, proven basketball coaches.  Better coaches make for a better product.

2.  SEC schools spend more money on football facilities.  Texas A&M is increasing the size of Kyle Field to make it the largest venue in the conference.  Tennessee recently opened a new $45 million football training facility that is state of the art.  Alabama has expanded Bryant-Denny Stadium and boasts a world-class football facility of its own.  Name any other SEC school and you’re likely to find that either its stadium is being upgraded or a new training facility is being built — Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, and so on.  Now compare those football digs to the league’s basketball venues.  Auburn just opened a new arena… that seats all of 9,000 fans.  Ole Miss is finally replacing decrepit Tad Smith Coliseum with a new arena… that will seat 9,500 fans.  There are exceptions to the rule, of course.  Tennessee built its own basketball practice facility and upgraded Thompson-Boling Arena in recent years.  Kentucky has been making plans to renovate Rupp Arena.  Arkansas has made improvements to Bud-Walton Arena.  Mizzou Arena went up in 2004, but that was before the Tigers joined the SEC.  Outside of that handful of schools — schools that traditionally have supported hoops better than any others in the SEC — where do basketball venues outshine football venues in the SEC?  Not at LSU.  Or Florida.  Or Alabama.  Or Auburn, Georgia, and so on.  Better facilities equal better recruiting.

3.  The SEC has a reputation for being a football conference.  Put yourself in the size 18 Nikes of a top basketball prospect.  You can sign to play ball for one of America’s highest-paid coaches in a conference that puts basketball first and earns seven or eight NCAA tournament bids per season or you can sign with an SEC team and probably play for an up-and-coming coach in a so-so arena in front of a fanbase that’s more interested in football recruiting than basketball results.  Perhaps that’s an exaggeration.  Perhaps.  But at most SEC schools we do believe it’s a reality that there are as many eyes on spring football as there are on college hoops.  This issue also feeds itself, unfortunately.  The more people refer to the SEC as a “football conference” the more people believe it to be a football conference.  And don’t think recruits aren’t told that when they’re considering SEC scholarship offers.  ”You don’t want to go there, that’s a football school.”

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ESPN Launching Conference Channels On The Internet

computer-tv-love-childWhile they won’t stack up well against the new SEC Network, ESPN has announced plans to launch a number of conference-dedicated “television” channels over the internet.  According to Variety, the channels will be “stocked with live events and on-demand replays” all streamed over the internet and available through Apple TV and Roku devices.

The leagues receiving the additional online coverage will be the ACC, America East, Atlantic Sun, Big West, Horizon, Mid-American, Metro Atlantic Athletic, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Southern, Sun Belt, Southland, Mid-Eastern Athletic, Southwestern Athletic and Central Intercollegiate Athletic.

Think folks in the ACC are happy to be a part of that group?

John Swofford’s conference sold its media rights to ESPN in May of 2012, limiting the league’s ability to launch an additional ACC Network on television.  While the league’s schools signed a grant-of-rights agreement last year that most consider to be binding, if there is further shifting on the collegiate landscape it will likely start in ACC country.

To watch the new channels you’ll need either Apple TV or Roku plus a subscription to a satellite/cable-provider affiliated with WatchESPN.  That might seem like a lot of steps today, but as television and the internet continue to merge into one pipeline over time, these new online channels could grow in value.

WatchESPN exec Damon Phillips notes that “one of the benefits of a digital network is, because it’s event-based programming, you might have five games per day or one game per day.”  In other words, you can click and watch any one of a number of football or basketball games all airing at the same time.  Whereas with a traditional television network, the SEC will have to schedule its games throughout the day so they can air separately.

While it may be a digital benefit in Phillips’ eyes, here’s guessing most fans would prefer to turn on a TV network and watch one game after another rather than turn to an internet channel, pick one game, and miss all the others airing at the same time.

In case you’re wondering, there will be an SEC digital network as well as the new television channel which launches in August.  That digital network will be run by ESPN as well.

 

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Get Ready For More Canned Music At SEC Football Games

woman-covering-earsOver the past couple of seasons a number of college football stadiums have cut down on in-game band performances in order to crank up rock, rap and country music during timeouts.  Not all fans have been fond of the move to bring in gameday DJs.

Those fans won’t be happy about a change that will lead to more piped in music this fall.

According to Georgia AD Greg McGarity, the Southeastern Conference has decided to relax its rules regarding sound and music being played in between plays:

 

“If you need to get people revved up for a big third-down play, you can do that.  You could always do it with your band, but now you can do it any way you want to.  You still have to stop once the quarterback gets over the ball, gets under the center or in the shotgun…

They were able to do things in the ACC that we were not in the SEC.  The rules have changed now for 2014 where we’re able to utilize songs and music up until the point when the quarterback gets over the ball.  That’s a big change in the in-game atmosphere.”

 

So what was behind this move?  Well, McGarity is on an SEC panel charged with improving the gameday atmosphere for fans… in order to fend off the attendance declines experienced nationwide since the advent of HDTV and the explosion in the number of televised games.  ”Those of us who saw what it did at Clemson, it energized their fanbase with certain songs.”

We believe there’s another angle at play here, too — recruiting.  Each year, more schools are tossing out tradition in favor of mix-and-match uniforms that utilize black, gray, all-white and pink color schemes, to name a few.  Teenagers like bizarro uniforms, so coaches and schools trot out bizarro uniforms.  Now what do you think teenaged recruits would prefer on gameday — a fight song played by a live band or a blaring hip-hop beat or a heavy metal riff?  Our money’s on the beat or the riff.

For SEC traditionalists — meaning: older fans — the news that piped-in music will be used in between plays likely won’t be met with much joy.  But if the changes help to lure in recruits and fill the student sections once more — areas that are home to tomorrow’s donors and boosters — the old-timers will just have to hold their ears.

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SEC Headlines 2/8/2014

headlines-saturdaySEC Football

1. Does the ACC want more games with the SEC?  8+1 model would reportedly include matchup for ACC teams against one SEC team every year.

2. Sources: Utah quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson top choice to join staff at Mississippi State.

3. Why did Florida safety Cody Riggs decide to transfer?  He says it was about academics, not football.

4. When Florida meets Michigan to open the 2017 season in Texas, it will be Gators first regular-season non-conference game played outside the state of Florida since 1991. $6 million payday.

5. No indoor practice facility at Georgia.  Prudence or stinginess?

6. Alabama coach Nick Saban no fan of the 5-star rating method for recruits.  “All these expectations get created for a guy when he’s 17 or 18 years old. And then he comes to college with these unrealistic expectations …”

7. Alabama quarterback and early enrollee David Cornwell: “I’m here to compete, get better, help this team however I can.”

SEC Basketball

8. Help Wanted.  SEC asks for ESPN for help with decreasing basketball attendance.  Down 23 percent this year at Missouri.

9. 20-year old age limit for the NBA?  Kentucky coach John Calipari supports the idea.

10. Dick Vitale on Florida: “They are one of the legitimate contenders for the [national] title.”

SEC/College News

11. NCAA wants “peace” as it battles multiple concussion lawsuits.

Extra

12. Letter from Dean Smith to Michael Jordan sells for more than $27,000.

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Fire Up The Realignment Talk: Maryland Claims The ACC – With The Help Of ESPN – Tried To Swipe 2 Big Ten Schools

thiefRemember that monster lawsuit between The University of Maryland and the Atlantic Coast Conference?  Yeah, well it just got taken to another level.

To briefly summarize, Maryland and Rutgers are scheduled to join the Big Ten this summer.  The ACC filed a $52 million suit against Maryland for jumping ship.  The $52 mil would be the Terps’ exit fee.  Already, the ACC has withheld $16 million in revenue from the school.

Maryland countersued.  As in the state of Maryland countersued the ACC.  And today, a new counterclaim was announced.  Specifically, a $157 million counterclaim against John Swofford’s conference.  According to Maryland attorney general Douglas Gansler, “Our lawsuit calls the ACC’s ‘exit fee’ what it really is: an antitrust violation and an illegal activity.”

This is all big news because future exit fees for schools leaving conferences could also be viewed as antitrust violations. If Maryland wins its case, suddenly the grant-of-rights agreements signed by leagues like the ACC and the Big 12 might not mean a thing.  (For the record, the SEC has no exit fees, but almost all of the league’s media rights were handed over to ESPN as part of the new SEC Network deal.)

Today’s suit also contained a surprise.  Maryland alleges that the ACC — with Wake Forest and Pittsburgh leading the way — attempted to recruit two unnamed Big Ten schools into the ACC.  Call it a “Terp-for-tat” move.  It’s also claimed that none other than ESPN provided “counsel and direction” to the ACC in its attempts to fend off losses and instead grow.  With Pittsburgh involved, Penn State is believed to have been one of the two schools the ACC chased, but neither Big Ten school will be officially identified until court proceedings ramp up.

ESPN’s involvement should surprise no one.  The network has deals with just about every conference in the country.  ESPN is partnered with the Big 12 (including an individual deal with Texas), the SEC (in a big way and growing), the Pac-12, and both the ACC and Big Ten.

ESPN owns the first-, second-, and third-tier media rights for the ACC through 2026-27.  They own first-tier rights to the Big Ten through 2016-17.

That’s where things get messy.  When the Big Ten chose to add Maryland and Rutgers — moves clearly made for television purposes — it stands to reason they consulted with both FOX (who co-owns the Big Ten Network) and ESPN.  ESPN was likely aware of — if not pushing for — a raid of the ACC for Maryland.

But if the claims made today are to be believed, ESPN then turned around and told the ACC who to go after in the Big Ten in order to stabilize itself after Maryland’s departure.  So ESPN was more than involved.  It appears the network was playing puppeteer for both leagues.  Surprising?  No.  Folks have been calling ESPN the man behind the curtain for years.  But that doesn’t make these latest claims any less slimy.  We’re talking about two leagues trying to lure schools from one another within a few months time all directed — allegedly — by the same adviser, ESPN.

Our question: How do any conference commissioners or university presidents trust their business partner, ESPN, to provide them with honest, sound advice when the network has its own interests in every contract, deal and move?

Stay tuned on this one…

 

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Conference Bowl Records During The BCS Era

gfx - by the numbersConferences have expanded, contracted, and fluctuated.  Schools have moved, threatened to move, and bluffed moves.  Spread offenses have taken over football.  Up-tempo, hurry-up systems have become the rage.  Instant replay has grown in importance.

Over the 16-year life of the Bowl Championship Series, the college football landscape has changed dramatically.  But through all the flux and turbulence, there has been one constant — the Southeastern Conference.  Last night the league saw its seven-year stranglehold on the national championship broken.  It’s no a coincidence that the team snapping the league’s streak — in the final 13 seconds of the game — was Florida State.  FSU is coached by an ex-SEC coordinator.  FSU is a defense-first team, much like the SEC teams of the past decade-and-a-half.  And FSU recruits from the same talent pool as the SEC.  Hell, Florida State should be an SEC school, as we’ve argued on many occasions.

But even though a school from the ACC ended the SEC’s unprecedented run, Mike Slive’s league has dominated the bowl scene since the BCS dawned in 1998.  The league has received more bids, rolled up more wins, and beaten more high-end competition in bowls than any other league.  (Sorry, old Big East, but playing MWC and C-USA teams at every turn doesn’t equate to playing bowl foes hailing mainly from BCS leagues, as the SEC has done.)

SEC teams won nine of the 16 BCS crystal footballs handed out.  Five different schools claimed them — Tennessee in 1998, LSU in 2003 and 2007, Florida in 2006 and 2008, Alabama in 2009, 2011 and 2012, and Auburn in 2010.  The SEC’s only BCS title game losses came at the hands of another SEC team (LSU losing to Alabama in 2011) and to a team built in the SEC mold (FSU last night).

Knowing that track record, doesn’t it seem even more ridiculous that Auburn’s unbeaten 2004 squad was left out of the title game in favor of eventual winner Southern Cal, a team since nixed from the winners list due to NCAA sanctions?

And the SEC isn’t like the Big Ten (Ohio State) or the Pac-12 (Oregon, Southern Cal) or Big 12 (Oklahoma, Texas) where one or two teams have dominated season after season.  The SEC’s power shifts from year to year.  Not since Tennessee’s ’98 national champs has an SEC squad even won back-to-back league titles.  No other conference comes close to matching that history of parity.

So as we say goodbye to the BCS — which has been awfully good to the SEC — we wanted to take one final look back at what each conference has accomplished over the past 16 years at bowl time.  Here are the overall bowl records for those leagues still alive (though altered) and those now deceased.  We’ll have some additional points and tables below:

 

  Conference   Total Bowl Bids   All Bowls ’98-’13   Winning %   BCS Bowls ’98-’13   All Bowls 2013   BCS Bowls 2013
  Big West   2   2-0   100.0%   0-0   0-0   0-0
  Big East   75   46-29   61.3%   8-7   0-0   0-0
  SEC   133   80-53   60.1%   17-10   7-3   0-2
  MWC   62   35-27   56.4%   3-1   3-3   0-0
  Pac-12   95   47-48   49.4%   13-8   6-3   0-1
  Sun Belt   25   12-13   48.0%   0-0   2-0   0-0
  Big 12   126   60-66   47.6%   10-12   3-3   1-1
  ACC   115   54-61   46.9%   5-13   5-6   2-0
  C-USA   80   36-44   45.0%   0-0   3-3   0-0
  WAC   51   23-28   45.0%   0-0   0-0   0-0
  Big Ten   113   49-64   43.3%   13-15   2-5   1-1
  AAC   5   2-3   40.0%   1-0   2-3   1-0
  MAC   54   21-33   38.8%   0-1   0-5   0-0

 

Just looking at that list, a few things stand out:

 

*  The SEC had seven more bowl invitations than any other conference, but it had 20 more wins than any other league.

*  Two defunct leagues bested the SEC’s overall bowl winning percentage, but a quick check of the bowl tie-ins over the years shows that while SEC teams were often playing teams from other BCS leagues (or champions from non-BCS conferences), the Big West and the Big East feasted on opponents from non-BCS leagues.

*  Nine of the 13 conferences sending teams to bowl during the BCS era had overall winning percentages between 38.8% and 49.4%.  Again, the Big West, Big East and MWC don’t face the same level of bowl competition as the SEC… which won a remarkable 60.1% of its games during the BCS era.

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Suck It Up, Vandy Fans, Bowl Bids Have Everything To Do With Tourism

poutingThe bowl system isn’t fair.  It never has been fair and it never will be fair.

Cities initially staged college football games during the holiday season in order to bring fans to their hotels, restaurants and stores.  In a century of bowl games, things still have not changed on that front.  In fact, television has made tourism an even bigger part of the equation.  Now cities not only want two fanbases coming to town during for a game, they also want to draw in additional visitors by airing advertisements for their beaches and golf courses in well-watched bowl matchups.

And all that is where Vanderbilt runs into trouble.

The Commodores got the short end of the stick this year when it came to SEC bowl travel.  After two years in the Volunteer State (in the Music City and Liberty Bowls), Vandy finally landed a postseason game across the Tennessee border.  Unfortunately, that game is the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, the very last bowl game on the SEC’s lengthy list.  So a team that went 8-4 is going to a bowl farther down the food chain than games playing host to Mississippi State (6-6, Liberty Bowl) and Ole Miss (7-5, Music City).  Two other 8-4 SEC teams (Georgia to the Gator and Texas A&M to the Chick-fil-A) also landed better travel itineraries.

Naturally, Vandy fans aren’t the least bit happy about what they view as a slight to their program.  Our mature, well-reasoned reply?  Tough noogies.

Decades of losing have made Vanderbilt less than must-watch viewing for most national sports fans.  And though the Dores have sold a healthy number of tickets to those two bowl games within their state, they still couldn’t sell out a 40,000-seat stadium — by far the smallest in the SEC — during the stretch run of what’s become the school’s best three-year period since the 1920s.  Drawing less than 40,000 for November games against Kentucky and Wake Forest is no way to wow bowl committees.  Especially when the coach himself has been challenging Vandy fans to show up and turn out since the day he arrived in Nashville.

This is not to say, “Well, it’s Vandy, who cares?” as some VU fans will most assuredly cry.  We’d say the same for any SEC school that couldn’t put 40,000 fannies in seats in an effort to hang onto the best coach they’ve had in the modern era.  Want a better bowl trip?  Show the bowls that you’ll support your team.

Next season the SEC will begin to play a larger role in determining who goes bowling where.  Whether that will make a difference in VU’s future fortunes is yet to be determined.  And while some Vandy fans compare their squad to Duke — headed to the Chick-fil-A Bowl — the fact of the matter is that the Blue Devils won 10 games, finished with a #24 ranking, and won an ACC division championship.  In other words, it’s an apples to carrots comparison to say the SEC should have fought for VU as the ACC did for Duke.  Duke accomplished more.  It was an easier fight.

With all the talk of bowl destination disappointment, James Franklin had better make sure his players don’t spend too much time listening to their fans’ groans.  The Commodores have beaten just two teams with winning records the last two years and Houston — also 8-4 — should present a pretty good challenge down at Legion Field.

If Vanderbilt fans turn up in Birmingham in large numbers and if Franklin’s team can win its ninth game over a pretty good foe, then Commodore Nation will have something to complain about if the Dores are shafted in the bowl selection process next season.  Until then, Vandy’s just the latest school to whine, wail and weep about unjust bowl treatment.

Oh, and just to be on the safe side, ya better start snapping up a few more tickets to Dudley Field next season, too.

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Was UNC Looking At The SEC When Maryland Broke Ranks? It Doesn’t Seem So

001uncfansLast week — sorry that we’re only now getting wind of this — The Raleigh News & Observer reported the following: “Emails show UNC doubts about ACC after Maryland’s departure.”  You know the drill from there — the paper did an open records request and then scanned all of the email communications of North Carolina’s top brass, looking for any talk of the ACC and conference realignment.

The gist of their findings is simple: Yes, Carolina officials were worried about the ACC’s television revenue when long-time rival Maryland jumped to the Big Ten.  UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham emailed one Tar Heel fan last November to say: “We are looking at all options.  But keeping the ACC strong is our number one choice.”

Nearly 12 months later, the Atlantic Coast Conference has added Louisville and re-worked its own television deal with ESPN.  Pittsburgh and Syracuse have become official members.  And perhaps most importantly, a grant-of-rights agreement has been inked between the league and its 14 members.

So for the moment things look pretty stable, if not particularly lucrative, along the Eastern Seaboard.  But We know what you’re interested in learning.  After Maryland’s move, did UNC peek longingly toward the SEC or any other conference while “looking at all options?”

Not according to Cunningham’s emails.  The News & Observer’s report only mentions the SEC a couple of times:

 

1.  A financial adviser in Athens, Georgia emailed Cunningham about a meeting he had had with an SEC athletic director.  (We’ll guess that he met with UGA’s Greg McGarity.)  The financial adviser, Joe Frierson, wrote:  “He said the SEC pays out around $20 (million per) team right now.  Thinks it will approach $35 (million per team) when TV contract is renegotiated in a couple of years.  He said the SEC just signed a contract for the Sugar Bowl (between teams from the SEC and Big 12) for 2015 that will pay $40 (million) to each conference… That is ridiculous money.”

Cunningham’s response:  “It really concerns me.  If these trends continue I’m not sure how the ACC (can) compete financially.”

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No Surprises In SEC Bowl Lineup. Boring!

BowlsThe Southeastern Conference has announced its bowl tie-ins for 2014 through 2019.  And the league has partnered with all of the bowls whose names had been kicked around since spring.

If you were holding out hope for a surprise matchup against with the Pac-12 or a new bowl outside the SEC’s footprint, you’re plain outta luck.

Here’s how the SEC’s new bowl selection process will work:

 

*  The College Football Playoff selection committee will get the first opportunity to grab one (or more) SEC squads for its four-team playoff.

*  The next best team in the SEC will be slotted into the Allstate Sugar Bowl (in years when that game is not a playoff semifinal).

*  As part of a rotation, the next best SEC team will occasionally be chosen to take part in the Discover Orange Bowl.

*  The Capital One Bowl will then choose an SEC squad for its game.  That’s quite a fall for a game that for much of the ’90s g0t the SEC’s second-best team.

*  After those bowls, a pool of six more games will exist.  According to the league office: “In consultation with SEC member institutions, as well as these six bowls, the conference will make the assignments for the bowl games in this newly created pool system.”  Mike Slive is quoted in the league’s PR release: “This bowl process gives us the best opportunity to address several issues that impact SEC fans, including the creation of intriguing matchups, the accommodation of travel for fans, reduced ticket obligations for our schools and a variety of assignments to help prevent repetitive postseason destinations.”

*  The six bowls in the pool will be the Outback Bowl, the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl, and the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, as well as new partners the Texas Bowl (Houston) and the Belk Bowl (Charlotte).

*  If there are still more bowl-eligible SEC teams, the Birmingham Bowl (currently looking for a new title sponsor) will get the first selection.

*  The Advocare V100 Bowl will then get the last selection, again, if there are enough bowl-eligible teams to fill all of those slots.

 

While we believe that SEC fans might like an occasional travel opportunity outside the league’s footprint, the Slive makes it clear that he and the league’s presidents feel differently.  “We are pleased to have established a lineup of premier bowl games that will give our student-athletes a wonderful postseason experience and our fans the opportunity to travel to venues in the geographical footprint of the conference.”

 

Homer Simpson: Quit boring everyone!

 

Sorry, but a trip to either San Diego, Las Vegas or New York City would make a nice December trip for one SEC fanbase each season.  Instead, two cities not exactly known as vacation hotspots — Houston and Charlotte — have been added to the league’s menu of games.  We’ll grant ya that hose are nice, big cities with nice, big stadiums and nice, big payouts for the league and its members.  But unless someone’s got family there, no one is saying, “Honey, how ’bout we Christmas in Houston this year!?!”

Below is a listing of the conferences that will be providing opponents for each of the SEC’s future bowl partners: Read the rest of this entry »

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WSU’s Leach Points Out The Major Flaw In New Penalty For Targeting

gfx - they said itA week ago today, I wrote that the new ejection portion of the college football’s targeting rule “will be the most controversial rule change in ages.”  This came on the heels of the ACC’s head of officials stating that South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney would have likely been tossed from the Outback Bowl if the current rule had been in play when he made his highlight reel tackle.  You know the play.  The one we’ve all seen 1,000,000 times.

Now, in a must-read piece from USA Today, Washington State head coach Mike Leach provides a very quick, simple explanation of exactly what’s wrong with the current rule:

 

“Rules, in order to be effective, have to be enforceable and you’ve got to be able to see (the infraction).  If I get these guys across the room and I have them run full-speed at each other, and I ask you in a split-second to tell me which one lowered their head first, I’ll be you can’t do it.  So I think that is a huge problem.”

 

Yes.  Yes it is.

The Clowney hit — oh, alright, let’s go ahead and show it again — has been viewed and reviewed by officials from darn near every major conference and there doesn’t seem to be a consensus yet on whether such a tackle will be viewed as legal or illegal moving forward.

 

Jadeveon Clowney's Top Play: Hit vs. Michigan

 

For those who hope the replay booth will help to prevent controversial targeting calls and ejections during games, keep in mind that ACC top cop Doug Rhoads and SEC director of officials Steve Shaw were both looking at replays of the same tackle above, yet those two experienced officials came to completely different conclusions regarding its legality.

By the end of the upcoming season, the new targeting rule — due to the ejection penalty — will be the most talked about football rule change in a generation or more.  So be prepared to hear talkshow caller after talkshow caller complain that their guy was booted from a game while umpteen similar hits — which will be listed — delivered by an opponent went uncalled.

And judging by the cloudy nature of the rule, it’s entirely possible that those talkshow callers will be right, too.

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