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SEC Headlines 2/17/2014

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1. Nick Saban signed four junior college players in the 2014 class. How did the previous 11 he signed turn out?

2. Early enrollees will help bolster Alabama’s roster when they the Tide hits the field this spring.

3. Florida could be looking at a bounce-back season in 2014, writes Barrett Sallee.

SEC Basketball

4. Different players continue to show Florida has the important “want-to,” writes Pat Dooley.

5. Billy Donovan on Casey Prather, who continues to play while recovering: “He’s getting better. He’s still not there.

6. Georgia has clearly improved during SEC play, but an NCAA tournament spot is still a long way away.

7. Looking back, Kentucky didn’t let the game slip away against Florida. The Gators took it away.

8. John Clay writes “this has turned into the year where old guys rule.”

9. Brad Evans’ Big Board has four SEC teams in the NCAA tournament as of now.

10. Florida is up to No. 2 in the CBS Sports top 25 (and one).


11. Former Alabama running back Alvin Kamara is headed to junior college.

12. Former coach Gene Stallings: If you stop a team on its first three plays, “you don’t need to worry about tempo.”

13. Nebraska upset Michigan State in East Lansing on Sunday.

14. Doug McDermott had another big game as Creighton picked up another big win over Villanova.

15. The Pac-12 admitted officials should have called a technical foul on Arizona State late during its win over Arizona.

16. Mike DeCourcy looks at the bubble with 27 days to go until Selection Sunday.

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Bama Can’t Swing DE Thomas

PLAYER UPDATEIn the end, Al Golden and Miami were able to hold onto a big-time defender.  Chad Thomas, a 5-star defensive end, recently took a visit to Alabama, but in the end the Crimson Tide couldn’t swing him.

Thomas signed with the Hurricanes today.  He’d been a Miami commitment since July so it’s not a shock that Bama couldn’t bag him.  Still, plenty of Tide fans had hoped Nick Saban could pull this particular 6-5, 240-pound rabbit out of his hat at the last minute.  No go.

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Coker Released From FSU, Likely To Land At Bama… But Are Expectations Too High Already?

jacob-cokerIt seems that Kevin Norwood did indeed know what he was talking about.  The former Alabama receiver leaked word last week that Alabama would soon be landing a 6-5 quarterback transfer from Florida State.  Today, Jacob Coker’s transfer from Tallahassee to Tuscaloosa is looking very, very likely.

According to, Coker has been released from his scholarship at FSU and is free to transfer.  If he graduates this spring as expected, he’ll then enroll at Alabama.  With a degree in hand, Coker could step in and compete for the Tide’s quarterback job this fall.

Coker is being built up as an elite quarterback and a potential savior for a Crimson Tide program that lacks a proven, pro-style quarterback as it heads into 2014.  Maybe he is.

But he was a three-star prospect coming out of high school.  He chose Florida State over offers from Arkansas State, Duke, Mississippi State and South Alabama.  That’s hardly Ohio State, Texas and Southern Cal.

In two seasons with the Seminoles, Coker saw action in 10 games completing 21-of-41 passes for 295 yards, one touchdown and one interception.  None of that is to say a transfer to Alabama won’t result in many more wins for the Tide.  But it also doesn’t appear — at least not on paper — that Coker should be getting quite the hype that’s currently being tossed his way.

If/when Coker does slip on a crimson jersey, the expectation level will be exceedingly high for a kid who’s thrown 41 passes at the college level.

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Kiffin’s “Sweet Home Alabama” A Hit With At Least One Recruit’s Mom

gfx - they said itLane Kiffin is already a hit on the recruiting trail for Alabama.  As in the singer of one of the biggest hit songs of the 1970s.

Over the weekend, Nick Saban and hosted a get-together of Tide recruits’ parents at his domicile.  Kiffin, the Tide’s new offensive coordinator, was on-hand to shake and howdy along with the other members of Bama’s staff.  He also did a little singing that won over Donetris Scarbrough, the mother of 5-star Alabama commit Bo Scarbrough.  Kiffin’s selection?  “Sweet Home Alabama,” of course.  Scarbrough was impressed:


“This weekend was my first chance to get to meet Coach Kiffin.  They had the parents over at Coach Saban’s house.  It was too much fun.  We had a really good time.  We sang, ‘Sweet Home Alabama.’…

I think if you’re new there, you have to do karaoke.  It’s kind of the theme with the new coaches.  Everyone has to do a karaoke night.  It was his turn and he kept on hiding.  He told me, ‘I think I’ll go ahead and do it, if you sing with me.’  He told me it would make it easier and be fun.  We tried to figure out what song we would do first.  He said, ‘Come on up here and do it with me, I don’t want to do it by myself…

It made the night.  It was the talk of the night.”


Saban doing the electric slide on the dance floor earned some high marks as well.


Nick Saban Does The Electric Slide


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The Transformative Powers Of Juco Ball At Play Once More As Pettway Returns To Alabama

Ah, this is one of the old chestnuts here at  Like turnover studies, commitment comparators, and tourney resume deep dives, we always enjoy a good juco conversion story.  And this time around it’s the Christmas season to boot.  What better time for a Scrooge-like turnaround?

We speak, of course, of the return of defensive lineman DJ Pettway to the Alabama football program.  Pettway was dismissed from Bama’s team back in February after being arrested for second degree robbery.  He was accused of beating and robbing a fellow student along with two other ex-Tide players (Eddie Williams and Tyler Hayes).

Pettway spent this past football season earning juco All-American honors at East Mississippi Community College.  As usual, those months in the juco world have worked their magic.  Junior colleges are to college football programs as money launderers are to the mob.  Goes in dirty, comes out clean.  The only thing different about this particular story is the fact that Pettway is returning to the same team campus from which he was ousted.  That’s a little different twist, but the idea’s the same — a football season on a smaller campus has turned someone’s life around.

The player tweeted about his return yesterday:




Pettway will return to Alabama with two years of eligibility remaining.  Here’s hoping he keeps his nose clean and doesn’t beat or rob anyone else.  We’re all for second chances around here.  Moreso in life than in football, but what the hey?

We just find the juco/redemption process to be a fascinating one.  Players like Cam Newton and Zach Mettenberger made the most of their post-juco second chances.  Others — like Jamar Hornsby who went from Florida to a juco to Ole Miss — couldn’t anymore walk the straight and narrow at school #2 than they could at school #1.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again.  Jucos are the baptismal waters that “warsh” away all troubled college players’ sins.  This time around it’s Pettway playing the role of Delmar in “O Brother Where Art Thou?”

“Come on, boys, the water’s fine!”



So long as Pettway doesn’t knock over a Piggly-Wiggly over in Yazoo, all should be fine.

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Ex-Prez Bush 43 Sends Alabama K Foster A Pick-Me-Up Note

BbPUVhQCEAACdU_George W. Bush is a Texan.  So might he have been doing a little advanced scouting on the Longhorns’ next coach when he tuned in this year’s Iron Bowl?  (Kidding.)

As every SEC fan knows by now, Auburn upset Alabama on a last-second return of a missed field goal.  While Cade Foster wasn’t the man attempting that 57-yarder, he was the guy who missed three field goals during the 34-28 Tide loss.  A number of angry Bama fans verbally abused him on Twitter.  His players then came to his defense and a large group of intelligent Crimson Tide backers did the same.

But Foster got one message of support that trumped all the rest.

As he posted online this week, Foster received a handwritten note from former President Bush that read:


“Dear Cade (#43), life has its setbacks.  I know!  However, you will be a stronger human with time.  I wish you all the best —

Sincerely –

Another 43 George Bush”


The “stronger human” line is a little awkward — did he mean “person?” — but it’s a pretty doggone nice gesture from — as the ex-President wrote — one 43 to another.


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Bama QB McCarron On A Saban Move: “I Don’t Think Miss Terry Would Allow Him”

Nick Saban, AJ McCarronSenior quarterback AJ McCarron continues to say that the next batch of Crimson Tide stars will still have Nick Saban as their coach.  Yesterday, he gave his opinion that Saban would not leave for Texas, though noting that he could not actually speak for his coach.  Today on ESPN, he was once again asked for his take on the Saban-to-Texas talk:


“I don’t think Miss Terry would allow him.  Miss Terry is happy there and I always joke with Coach about ‘Miss Terry runs the house.’  But Coach loves it there and I don’t see coach trying to go to another program and build it all back up.  He did that at Alabama — first at LSU — now at Alabama.  I think Coach is happy where he’s at.”


McCarron said he asked Saban about the Texas rumors “a while back.”  “He told me he wasn’t going anywhere and the man’s never lied to me in the five years I’ve been there.  Like I’ve always said, he’s like a second dad to me.  I don’t see why he would leave and why he’d lie to me.”

Well, if he did lie it would be to avoid a pretty big distraction as Bama ran down the home stretch of its schedule.  But that doesn’t mean Saban did lie to him.

Once more with feeling… we at don’t believe Saban is going anywhere.  We think he’s “bucking for archbishop” to steal a line from “Patton,” angling for a nice big contract to remind everyone that one last-second loss to Auburn hasn’t knocked him from his top o’ the world perch.  And if allowing Bama fans to sweat a bit might make them more appreciative of his successes, well, that’d be a happy by-product (though we think that’s an awfully dangerous road to walk down with the Tide fanbase)

On the other hand…


Lyle Lovett – That's Right (You're Not From Texas)

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Your Thursday Morning Saban Update… And What Alabama Officials Got All Wrong

the-nick-saban-statue-will-see-you-in-hellGood morning.  Wondering about the latest on Nick Saban?  Well, there’s nothing but silence emanating from the coach, his agent, Alabama or Texas officials at the moment.

No surprise there.  As we wrote yesterday, Saban and Jimmy Sexton know that you don’t sign a new contract extension until you’ve let your current employer sweat a little bit.  Oh, it’s a jackass thing to do, sure, but it’s also how 99.9% of coaches operate.  “Hey, I love it here.”  “Great, sign the contract.”  “I don’t want to start somewhere new.”  “Great, sign the contract.”  “Sorry, gotta get off the phone… I’m meeting a recruit right now.”  “Great, sign…”  “Talk soon.”  Dial tone.

Reports yesterday suggested Saban didn’t actually have a contract on his desk.  Instead he had an “offer of commitment” from UA officials (whatever that is) to make him the highest-paid football coach in the college game.  Of course, he already is the highest-paid coach in the game so maybe that’s Alabama’s way of saying they’ll pay more than whatever Texas offers.

Asked about his coach’s contract situation yesterday, Alabama AD Bill Battle said that Saban and Bama are “focused on recruiting and playing Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.”  Not a lot of info there.

So what about Bama quarterback AJ McCarron?  “To me, he’s not leaving.  That’s my personal opinion.”  McCarron then made it clear that he couldn’t speak for Saban.

Meanwhile, others are wondering if it would be the right move for Saban to jump from Alabama to Texas.  Still others are past that point, explaining why Saban should make the move.

Many seem to believe that if Saban leaves it will be because of two things.  One, Crimson Tide fans have gotten spoiled.  Not a stretch.  The coach’s wife recently gave an interview stating that Bama fans aren’t as appreciative as they should be. 

Two, Saban will never be as loved as Paul “Bear” Bryant.  Well, this one’s just silly.  Saban’s has already proven himself to be the best coach of this era.  He’s done so at two schools in the SEC which is a lot tougher top-to-bottom today than it was during Bryant’s day.  There are more teams to play.  More in-league games.  And a conference championship game to boot.  If Saban’s worried about Bryant’s shadow at this point then he’s simply got an inferiority complex.  And if he wants to be bigger than the Bear he should stick around and end his career in Tuscaloosa just as Bryant did.  (Toying with Tide fans’ emotions by refusing to nix these Texas rumors certainly won’t help him gain on the previous Bama legend.)

UA officials have already built a statue of Saban.  What more does he need to know that he’s loved?  Should Tide fans be forced to turn to it and pray daily.  (Some probably already do.)

Which brings us to UA’s big mistake in all of this — Never build a statue to the living.  We’ve written this before.  Anyone remember Joe Paterno’s statue — one finger pointing out from under a canvas — being hauled off by truck amid Penn State’s scandal?

Humans are, well, human.  They let us down.  They lie, cheat, and steal.  They make dumb decisions.  And, yes, they can leave you even after you’ve built a statue to them.

If Saban packs up and leaves town — we still don’t believe he will — just how stupid will that statue look?  We realize that all championship-winning football coaches get a statue at UA, but imagine how much safer it would have been to put it up after Saban had departed for that great gridiron in the sky?  Or at least after he had retired?

Now if the coach takes off, 24-hour security will have to be put around the Saban carving.  Outraged Tide fans will topple it like Saddam Hussein’s statue in Iraq.

Hopefully it won’t come to that.  Saban is good for Alabama and he’s great for the SEC.  And, though no one seems to care about it, there’s still not officially an open job for Saban to jump to in Austin.  Mack Brown may resign today at a bowl game presser, but that would be an odd spot for such an announcement.  So while we all try to figure out if Saban will move to Texas or not… we might oughta slow down and see if/when Brown actually walks the plank.

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SEC Headlines 11/13/2013

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1.What do Alabama officials think of the email exchange between Texas regents’ regarding Nick Saban’s agent’s comments?

2. What does South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier think of hazing freshmen?  “I don’t believe in any of that crap. None of it. ”

3. AJ McCarron may be “the best quarterback in Alabama history” but does he deserve the Heisman?

4. Did the LSU game reveal flaws in Alabama’s secondary? Can Crimson Tide avoid a letdown after LSU victory?

5. Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson on Georgia running back Todd Gurley: “He probably may be the most physical back in the league.”

6. Georgia coach Mark Richt on how familiar Auburn coach Rodney Garner is with the Bulldogs defense: “I’m sure he’ll have a lot of information to be able to talk to coach Malzahn about, but most everything you see is on film.”

7. In the decade before James Franklin, Vanderbilt had gone 3-32 in November.  Under Franklin, they’re 7-2.

8. Ole Miss wide receiver Donte Moncrief has at least 100 yards receiving in three of his last five games.

9. Meet senior Texas A&M wide receiver Travis Labhart -  ”the ultimate underdog story.”

10. Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin has some grass – from Kyle Field.

11. If LSU wins remaining regular season games and its bowl game – Tigers will have four straight 10-win seasons.

12. Tennessee’s defense has yet to hold a BCS opponent to less than 200 yards rushing.

13. At 3-7, what’s left for Arkansas?  “It’s about pride.”

14. Florida leads the SEC with 8.1 penalties per game.

Practice/Injury Reports

15. Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy is day-to-day with a sprained right shoulder – could miss the South Carolina game. Linebackers Antonio Morrison and Jeremi Powell having knee surgery today.

16. South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw expected to play without a knee brace against Florida.

17. Georgia receiver Chris Conley likely a game-time decision against Auburn.

18. Georgia running back Keith Marshall underwent ACL surgery Tuesday.

19. LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger has a sprained ankle.  Receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. simulated Johnny Manziel in practice.

20. Alabama freshman quarterback Cooper Batemen is playing the role of Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott in practice this week.

21. Special teams a focus this week at Mississippi State.  Four special teams miscues led to 16 Texas A&M points last week.

22. Ole Miss defensive tackle D.T. Shackleford is considering coming back for a sixth year.

23. Will Auburn linebacker Justin Garrett take a medical redshirt?  “It’s still up in the air.”

24. “Developmental practice” at Arkansas - Razorbacks looking to the future.

SEC Basketball

25. Arkansas will start building a $25 million basketball practice facility next month.

26. Was Kentucky’s loss last night the best thing that ever happened for the team?

27. Approximately 70 NBA scouts and executives were in Chicago last night.

28. Early verdict on Tennessee?  Free-throws and defense need work.

29. In case you missed it, here’s our roundup of Tuesday night SEC basketball.

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Saban: Time For Alabama Players “To Embrace The Next Challenge”

gfx - they said itAlabama coach Nick Saban knows what he doesn’t want his team to feel after its 38-17 win over LSU — relieved.  The man who’s won four BCS titles already — and is making a strong run for #5 — wants no repeat of what happened to the Tide last year.  You might remember that Bama won a tough game in Baton Rouge and then immediately returned home to lose to Texas A&M.


“The biggest thing is the players have to embrace the next challenge of what they need to do to play well.  You cannot take things for granted.  There can’t be any kind of relief syndrome, that, ‘We got by that game.’

The team we want to be is the team we were in the second half — an aggressive team that’s trying to control the line of scrimmage, playing aggressively.  Not a team playing with a lot of anxiety that’s worried about making mistakes and errors.  We made a lot of mental errors in the first half of the game (against LSU).

You’ve got to be aggressive and you’ve got to play to win.  You can’t play to keep from getting beat.”


Soooooo, he wants his players to be aggressive, right?  Well, if Alabama plays as it did in the second half against LSU that won’t be good news for a Mississippi State squad that might be without quarterback Dak Prescott this weekend.

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