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D-Coordinator Shoop Heading To Penn State With Franklin, But We Know Who VU Should Pursue

greg-schianoAccording to Bruce Feldman of, Vanderbilt defensive coordinator Bob Shoop will not be the man to take over for James Franklin in Nashville.  That’s because he’s going to join Franklin at State College as Penn State’s new defensive coordinator.  

Shoop was expected to be on David Williams’ list of possible replacements for Franklin, but with the ex-Vandy coach taking as many Commodore commitments as possible with him, it might be best for a clean break from the previous regime.  And there’s certainly no shortage of potential candidates (at least in terms of who the media has been throwing out):


* Paul Chryst, Pittsburgh head coach who just finished his first year

* David Cutcliffe, Duke head coach with an SEC background at Tennessee and Ole Miss

* Herb Hand, Vanderbilt offensive line coach who was a holdover from before Franklin’s era

* Mark Hudspeth, UL-Lafayette head coach and former Dan Mullen aide at Mississippi State

* Pete Lembo, Ball State head coach

* Jim McElwain, Colorado State head coach and former Nick Saban offensive coordinator at Alabama

* Mike MacIntyre, Colorado head coach for one year whose father once served as Vandy’s head coach

* Derek Mason, Stanford’s defensive coordinator appears to be an early favorite for the job

* Chad Morris, Clemson’s offensive coordinator who some view as a potential Gus Malzahn clone

* Pat Narduzzi, Michigan State defensive coordinator

* Greg Roman, San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator

* Kirby Smart, Alabama defensive coordinator


There is one name that’s popped up on very few lists and gotten little attention.  But it’s the one name we believe Vanderbilt’s athletic director should have at the tip top of his list — Greg Schiano.

Schiano’s no-nonsense approach didn’t work with the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  In going 11-21 he never gave the grown men on his roster a reason to buy into his dictatorial system.  No surprise.  Nick Saban and Bill Belichick can shhh and criticize their players because they win.  Guys who take that approach and lose are typically run out of town on a rail (Derek Dooley, being a recent SEC example).

Forget Schiano’s brief NFL tenure.  The man built Rutgers — traditionally the very worst football program in Division I — into a program that’s now respected.  Before Schiano the Scarlet Knights had been to one bowl game in school history.  Since Schiano took over they’ve been to eight (six under the man who built them and two under his replacement, Kyle Flood).

Schiano — a former Miami assistant — recruited South Florida heavily and likely still has plenty of connections in that talent-rich area.  After a four-year building phase, Rutgers posted winning records in six of the coach’s last seven years at the New Jersey school.

Could a coach who just bombed out of the NFL afford to try and kickstart his career at a school with a sad tradition?  Good question.  Schiano might believe there are better gigs than the one at that toughest academic school in the toughest conference in America which also boasts some of the smallest and oldest facilities.  VU has made plenty of recent improvements, yes, but enough to lure in someone like Schiano?

Also, how would he handle the academic restrictions he would face on the recruiting trail as Vandy’s coach?  On that front, we suspect pretty well.  Hey, if you can sell South Florida kids on going to the worst D-I program in the country — in New Jersey — you can sell kids on getting a world-class education in a world-class city while playing football in a world-class conference.

Williams has shown that he can spot talent.  He offered Malzahn the Vandy gig three years ago and when Malzahn balked, Williams found Franklin.  Franklin came from way off the radar.  Vanderbilt’s next hire might come from off the radar, too.

But if we were manning the controls in Nashville, we’d make sure Schiano was on the radar and then we’d contact him.  Immediately.

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SEC Recruiting Notebook: LSU Lands In-State Lineman

sec-recruiting-notebook-gfxLSU’s 2014 class received a boost this week when defensive end Davon Godchaux from Plaquemine (La.) High School committed to the Tigers.

Godchaux gave his commitment to LSU head coach Les Miles and defensive line coach Brick Haley.

“I called Coach Miles, Coach Haley and Corey Raymond and told them I was ready to get this done,” Godchaux told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “I just feel at home, my mom can make it to my games. It was all the little things. Now I’m ready to work hard from this injury and get back on the field.

That injury is a torn ACL, which he suffered during his team’s first game of the season last month.

“I’ll bounce back… Adrian Peterson is my idol,” Godchaux said last month, referring to the quick recovery of the same injury by the star Minnesota Vikings running back.

Godchaux’s commitment to LSU comes at a good time. The Tigers hadn’t received a commitment in more than a month. In that time, highly-touted in-state prospects Cameron Robinson and Cameron Sims both committed to rival Alabama.

But LSU is in fine shape as it continues to recruit other top in-state prospects. Five of Rivals‘ top 11 prospects in Louisiana are committed to LSU. Robinson, the state’s No. 1 prospect, is the only other prospect inside the top 11 to make a decision.

Running back Leonard Fournette and wide receiver Speedy Noil from New Orleans and receiver Malachi Dupri from River Ridge are important targets for LSU. All three are considered heavy leans to the Tigers, according to 247Sports.

It will likely be an Alabama-LSU battle for Fournette. Dupri told 247Sports this week he plans to take his five official visits before making an official decision on signing day.

“Right now all the schools I’m considering seem like great places and are all similar,” Dupre said. “After I take my visits I’m just going to go with my heart and pick the place that fits me best. I just gotta figure it out.”

LSU hopes quarterback commitment Brandon Harris will help the Tigers’ in-state recruiting efforts. The standout from Bossier City, La., cited the opportunity to play for the state school as a reason he chose LSU in July.

“Louisiana, I feel like, produces the best athletes every year,” Harris said at the time. “To get the opportunity to play with the greatest athletes and go into the Louisiana Hall of Fame one day, I knew I didn’t want to go into the Alabama Hall of Fame, I knew I didn’t want to go into the Ohio State Hall of Fame.

“I knew I wanted to go into the Louisiana Hall of Fame. Why not play for a school where you’re from, the biggest in-state school in the state of Louisiana?”

LSU hopes other in-state prospects feel the same.


Tennessee hopes for big weekend

Tennessee will host several highly-touted prospects this weekend as the Vols get ready to play Georgia.

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Texas A&M Chancellor Not Happy With ESPN’s Rovell

Angry-man-steam-earsESPN’s coverage of the NCAA’s look-see into Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and his autograph habits isn’t sitting well most Aggies.  In fact, ESPN reporter Darren Rovell specifically has drawn the ire of Texas A&M chancellor John Sharp.

In an email sent to “Aggie community and business leaders,” Sharp took aim at Rovell and other “members of the media (who) have chosen to declare #2 guilty with no evidence whatsoever.”  He then linked to a correction Rovell once issued while working for CNBC and wrote that “Rovell… has been duped before.”

That wasn’t all.  Sharp also knocked ESPN and one of its sources saying the autograph broker Drew Tieman “was reportedly booked twice for possession of marijuana and placed on four years probation.”  (Oh, well in that case he must be lying about Manziel receiving a five-figure deal to sign autographs.  The guy has smoked marijuana.  Damn hippie.)  “It is surprising that the nation’s largest sports channel would support publication with this lack of corroboration.”

Here’s what we actually know:


1.  The NCAA is investigating whether or not Manziel received or asked for money for his autograph.

2.  ESPN broke the story on the NCAA’s investigation and has followed up with multiple claims from autograph brokers and with evidence of thousands of Manziel signatures.

3.  There is no three.


To our knowledge, Rovell has not “chosen to declare #2 guilty” as A&M’s chancellor suggests.  He’s written about the allegations several autograph brokers have made.  He’s written that if Manziel received money he would be in violation of NCAA Bylay  But that’s just reporting.

Sharp, and many A&M fans, are doing what fans do anytime a media organization publishes an investigative report — they’re allowing their own passions to cloud what it is they are actually reading.

Would someone at A&M feel like the world is out to get Manziel and that ESPN specifically is claiming his guilt?  Of course.  Is that what’s actually happening?  No.  ESPN is reporting on a story and there are a lot of sources — aside from Tieman — who are willing to discuss Manziel’s multiple autograph sessions.

Here’s what Rovell recently said on ESPN radio regarding the most recent allegations:


“We don’t have the dollar figures.  And we don’t have him actually taking money, someone seeing him take money.

In a lot of these rooms (where the signings took place) there were few people.  The first two signings in South Florida, there were much more people in the room, there 15, 20 people in the room.  That was easier to nail down.  But in that case, we were told that he went into a room with his guy, Nate Fitch, and potentially, it’s assumed he was paid there, but not in front of everyone…

The NCAA is not a court of law.  They don’t necessarily have to prove that he got paid beyond a reasonable doubt.  If they think there’s enough circumstantial evidence they can go after him and, as we’ve been talking about, the NCAA is certainly at a crossroads right now.”


Sorry, but that’s a simple regurgitation of the facts as presented to ESPN, a network — like all news-gathering bodies — that practices investigative journalism.  ESPN didn’t lead the NCAA to investigate Manziel.  The NCAA’s investigation into Manziel led ESPN to track down some of the autograph brokers who’ve since claimed to them — but not to the NCAA, as far as we know — that Manziel was paid for signing his name.  They’ve also found evidence of more than 4,000 Manziel autographs on the market.

Asked on ESPN’s “Mike & Mike” radio show about the common sense approach — that Manziel had to have been paid for those thousands of autographs — Rovell gave his own opinion:

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steven-benchFormer Penn State quarterback Steven Bench has picked a new school as his transfer destination, but that school’s not in the Southeastern Conference.  Today, Bench announced via Twitter that will attend South Florida, where he’ll be eligible to play immediately (due to Penn State’s NCAA penalties).

Bench had also considered Mississippi State and North Carolina State (before the Wolfpack landed ex-Arkansas quarterback Brandon Mitchell via transfer earlier this week).  The Bulldogs’ starting quarterback, Tyler Russell, will be a senior this season.  Bench will be a sophomore this fall and would have been looking at a year on the bench and then a competition for the MSU starting spot in 2014.

South Florida has a new coach in Willie Taggart and an immediate opening quarterback in 2013.

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Alex Collins Expected To Sign With Arkansas Today

collins-arkansas-helmetRunning Back Alex Collins was a no-show at his signing ceremony yesterday, but today he’s expected to sign with Arkansas.  A source tells that Collins will sign his letter of intent this afternoon.

Reports surfaced yesterday that Collins’ mother took off with his signed letter of intent. But last night, Collins appeared on a South Florida television station to say he was “sticking with Arkansas.”

“That’s where I feel most comfortable,” he said in the interview.

Update: The South Florida Sun Sentinel expects Collins to sign the letter of intent at 1:30 this afternoon.  Meanwhile, Collins’ mother has hired the Cochran firm (yes, as in Johnnie) to represent the family ”while she contemplates on signing the NCAA’s Letter of Intent.”

Update II: Collins has signed on the dotted line. His dad is expected to sign to the paperwork to make it official, reports the Sun Sentinel.

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WR Coley Picks Miami Over Ole Miss

mrsec-breaking-newsAnd emotional Stacy Coley has announced he’ll play college football at Miami.  The four-star receiver from Oakland Park, Florida also considered Ole Miss, Florida State and South Florida.  So there’s at least one guy Hugh Freeze couldn’t reel in.

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On The Road Again: RB Blakely Leaving Auburn

You might remember Auburn running back Mike Blakely.  Not because he mustered 153 yards on 33 carries last season as a redshirt freshman.  But probably because in 2011 he signed with first-year Florida coach Will Muschamp and then immediately asked for a release to transfer.  Blakely landed on the Plains soon after.

Now he’s leaving Auburn.

AU officials confirmed last night that Blakely is no longer enrolled at the school and internet speculation is tying him to South Florida’s program.  Blakely didn’t manage a carry during the Tigers’ final five games last season and he must not believe things will get much better with Gus Malzahn now running the show.

Good luck to the kid.  Next stop: Winnemucca, Mack.


Johnny Cash – I've been everywhere

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Big Bang Theories: The Countdown To Super-Conferences (Part 2)

Last month, what looked to be a quiet holiday season went boom when the Big Ten surprisingly swiped Maryland from the ACC and Rutgers from the Big East.  The Big East responded by inviting Tulane into the family.  At that point most of the Big East’s biggest basketball schools said, “That’s enough,” and announced just days ago that they would be breaking away from their football-playin’ brothers to create a new hoops-first conference of their own.

Instead of a season of peace, presidents, commissioners, coaches and fans are back to nervously holding their breath as they wait for the next big move.  Silent nights will be replaced with anxious nights for many.

With expansion and realignment in the air once more, we’re taking a numbers-based look at how things might shake out.  Yesterday, we showed you the total revenue numbers — gross not net — for each school currently scheduled to be playing FBS football by 2015.  Follow the money and it becomes clear that about 76 FBS schools — those not in the Big Ten, Big XII, Pac-12 and SEC — might be willing to flip-flop conferences if it meant more cash in their coffers.

Meanwhile, the biggest conferences are keeping their eyes on the ACC, the Big East, Notre Dame, and a select number of schools that might actually be worth nabbing.  That’s what we’ll examine today:


1.  Which schools would be appealing to the biggest leagues thanks to the number of cable households they can influence/provide?  With several leagues launching their own networks, the more cable households gained, the higher the subscriber fees those conferences can try to charge.

2.  Which schools have “big brand” appeal?  Location isn’t everything.  East Carolina — for example — might be located in the Tarheel State, but ECU doesn’t draw North Carolina-type ratings on television.  Just grabbing San Diego State in California wouldn’t allow a league to claim it has drawing power across the entire Golden State.  Stealing a Southern Cal or a California, on the other hand…

3.  Which schools have the best academic reputations?  As we noted yesterday, academics are playing a smaller and smaller role in expansion and realignment (see: Louisville to the ACC) as dollars and survival instinct become the real drivers behind many leagues’ decisions.  The Big Ten and SEC, however, are in the most powerful positions moving forward.  Their schools currently bring in the most revenue.  If push came to shove, there would be few schools willing to turn down an invite from either conference.  The Big Ten has always been very picky about trying to add AAU member institutions with big research budgets.  The SEC can be choosy, too, at this point.  The league’s presidents are tired of having the pointy-heads from Up North making inferences about the “dumb jocks” in the league Down South.  In addition to growing it’s geographic and media footprint, the SEC’s last round of expansion allowed it to add two AAU schools to its roster.  If forced to expand further, expect Mike Slive to try and land more big name brands with reputations for being solid research-based universities.


So let’s start by looking at the 25 schools we identified yesterday as having at least some hope of landing in a bigger conference:  Boise State, Boston College, BYU, Cincinnati, Clemson, Connecticut, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Houston, Louisville, Memphis, Miami (FL), North Carolina, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, San Diego State, SMU, South Florida, Syracuse, UCF, UNLV, Virginia and Virginia Tech.

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Bama’s Saban Doesn’t Believe It’s Fair To Leave Tuscaloosa

Commence with the eye-rolling.  Feel free to point out that Nick Saban once said he would not be the next head coach at Alabama only to become the next head coach at Alabama.

But the Crimson Tide’s leader has finally thrown a bit of water on the rumors that he’s unhappy and might be ready to leave the SEC and leap back into the NFL (with the Cleveland Browns).  Yesterday on WAXY-FM in South Florida, Saban opened up about why it would be difficult for him to leave college football again:


“This has been a good thing for my family to be here.  College football has been very good for us.  The positive impact that you can have on these young me as players and as people, that’s just something that we really enjoy and something that I learned about myself.

I really enjoy what I’m doing here right now.  I’m getting old now.  I don’t think we’ve got too many moves left in us.  You develop a lot of relationships and loyalties to the players you recruit and the players you have on the team and the people you have in the organization.  I don’t think it’s really fair to leave.  I regretted when I left LSU because I left a lot of relationships there.  Hopefully I’ll be able to stay here for a long, long time…

Maybe I don’t always show it (happiness) and maybe I’m always worried about the next game.  I’m happy.  I’m very, very happy.  I’m very pleased and happy with what we’ve been able to accomplish here.”


Saban also admitted that he didn’t necessarily handle “the way I left (Miami) very well,” saying: “That’s always been a thing with me that I’ve never felt good about.”

Plenty of folks will point out that Saban didn’t completely slam the door on a departure from Alabama, but we tend to believe he’ll remain in Tuscaloosa so long as the school and his bosses continue to give him the support and leeway that he currently enjoys.

That said, we’ll keep some crow in the freezer just in case.

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Vandy, Rutgers Battling For Florida Linebacker

Rutgers is the main competition for Vanderbilt in the battle for linebacker Skai Moore from Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) University School.

“At this point, it is Rutgers right now just because I have had the opportunity to spend more time there,” Moore told 247Sports. “I just haven’t been able to give a fair chance to Vanderbilt by spending enough time there. I will get back up there and make my decision after that trip.”

That trip to Vanderbilt will be sometime during the fall.

“I want to try to make it to Vanderbilt for an official visit because I spent a good bit of time at Rutgers and was able to see everything, but I want to go to Vanderbilt to spend more time with the players and see how everything is there,” Moore said. “I want to spend more time at Vanderbilt so I can have an equal experience and make a decision based off of that.”

Moore is the nation’s 37th-best outside linebacker, according to 247Sports’ Composite Rankings. His offer list includes Kentucky, Ole Miss and South Florida.

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