Texas A&M aren’t gonna be that bad, are they?

The preseason predictions for Texas A&M are dire. Already, Kevin Sumlin’s on the hotseat, and people are calling for a 6-6, 7-5 season.

But actually, things might not be that bad – and the Aggies could be the surprise team in the SEC West.

The SEC Blog previews the Aggies….

LAST SEASON 

The Aggies started the season 5-0 – including a crazy OT win over Arkansas in JerryWorld, but then lost 41-23 at home to Alabama….and it wasn’t that close. They followed that crippling loss by getting spanked by 20 at Ole Miss, just beating South Carolina and losing by 16 at home to world-beaters Auburn. Two wins over Western Carolina and Vanderbilt hardly kept the haters at bay, and then a season-ending loss to LSU on Les Miles Farewell Game and then a 27-21 loss to Louisville in the Music City Bowl finished the season with a 8-5 record….with the only wins of any note were the Arizona State game to start the season (ASU was ranked No.18 at the time – although by the end, the Sun Devils were pretty terrible) and the Arkansas win.

OFFSEASON

The offseason wasn’t helped by two of its star quarterbacks – Kyle Allen and Khyler Murray – taking the decision to leave College Station, alongside linesman Germain Ifeldi, who was drafted in the first round by the Seattle Seahawks. Elsewhere CB Brandon Williams was taken third round by the Cardinals, and Drew Kaser’s going to be the next best punter in the NFL (taken sixth round by the Chargers). Oh, and as undrafted free agents go, Tra Carson is a Cincinnati Bengal, OG Joseph Cheek and CB De’Vante Harris are Saints, and C Mike Matthews is a Cleveland Brown.

Recruiting-wise, Texas A&M was ranked 18th nationally but 8th in the SEC, which is already meaning the fires are burning in College Station, since winning the recruiting war – especially against Texas – is more important than life itself. Still, signing EIGHT four-star players ain’t bad, including DE Justin Madubuike, who’s going to be awesome for The Chief either this year or next.

The Aggies also brought in Trevor Knight from Oklahoma to play QB in January, which could be a steadying influence if he finds the excellence of his Sugar Bowl-winning performance against Alabama. He’s certainly going to have a very big cheerleader in the stands. Things aren’t highly expected of him, so he could well deliver. There’s also the arrival of RB Keith Ford from the same school- although everybody will be watching out for his off-the-field antics probably more than what they are like on the grass.

WHY IS EVERYONE SAYING TEXAS A&M’S GONNA BE TERRIBLE?

OK, so ‘terrible’ is a strong word, but people have already warmed up Kevin Sumlin’s seat going into 2016. The departure of the quarterbacks was definitely a big hit to Sumlin’s ego as well as his personnel, but the big issue for us isn’t even that – it’s the offensive line. Three starters are gone from a unit which sucked last year, and I’m sorry, but Brit right guard Jermaine Eluemunor doesn’t convince us either. This could be a horror show. A lot will be expected of the incredibly-named Kalvin Cline – who played in 23 games for Virginia Tech but none as a starter since 2016 – at tight end.

BUT CAN’T YOU LISTEN TO THE REASONS WHY THEY ARE GOING TO BE GOOD?

Listen haters, if Trevor Knight can get the ball out to his receiving corps, there’s gonna be hell to pay for defenses. Josh Reynolds, Christian Kirk and Ricky Seals-Jones are all ultra-talented gamebreakers. Speaking of gamebreakers, Kirk’s one of the best return men in the land, so he should set the Aggies up in good field position. Oh, and I’ve got more confidence in Trevor Knight than I did in either Allen or Murray. You should do.

Oh, and defensively, they might struggle at linebacker, but they’ve got a future first-rounder in Myles Garrett at defensive end, and nickel back Donovan Wilson’s pretty useful, too. And the defensive co-ordinator is exceptional in John Chavis.

THE SCHEDULE

This team could be 6-6, if you think they’ll lose to UCLA, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, Ole Miss and LSU and beat Auburn, South Carolina, Mississippi State and Prairie View, UTSA and New Mexico State. We think that they’ll beat UCLA and Arkansas and be a tidy 8-4. That’s pretty good.

Brantley out: Huge blow for Missouri?

With a lot of notable Missouri luminaries gone to play NFL ball, we all thought it was going to be DT Harold Brantley‘s year after the car accident in 2015 cost him the season – and nearly his life. In his first two years he had 84 tackles, 12 for a loss, a forced fumble and five sacks.

But Harold Brantley couldn’t meet the academic standards of Missouri, and he was booted.

Now, if you’re a Missouri fan – or any fan in the SEC – you’d be really pissed about news that a player couldn’t pass exams or didn’t do the right work to get him through school. Here’s why: With their tutoring systems and the huge amounts of efforts that schools put in to make players pass, a player – however much of a dumbass he might be – should be able to pass what most 8th-grade high schoolers would put down as ‘remedial education’. New coach Barry Odom gave him the time to focus on the projects he would need to get through….and he still failed.

Still, it’s a huge loss to the Missouri defensive line – although with DE Charles Harris, DE Marcell Frazier and other talents ready to take up the slack, they should be fine.

And now back to the offense….Urgh.

There was a Robinson in the State of Alabama who raised some eyebrows this week – and it wasn’t Cam ‘Guns ‘N’ Weed But I Sweat College Football’ Robinson, it was Jovon Robinson of Auburn.

The running back – who could have been atop the starting roster at the position – was dismissed yesterday. Although ESPN tweeted that it he was thrown out for missing team meetings and classes, Robinson has insisted that it was because Gus Malzahn “stereotyped and disrespected” him (he didn’t expand on details).

But whatever happened, Auburn’s already not-that-rich offense loses a guy who ran for 639 yards and 3 TDs, and that’ll be missed, particularly if the passing game – and Auburn’s still trying to work out who that will be between John Franklin and Jeremy Johnson – isn’t up to scratch. The passing game certainly wasn’t helped when D’haquille Williams, the extremely talented wide receiver, was booted last season (he’s now signed a contract at the Rams, where no doubt he’ll get fans on The Plains swearing because he’ll perform really well).

Auburn will depend on Kerryon Johnson, freshman Malik Miller, and summer arrival Kameron Martin. Johnson has the ‘most’ experience with 52 carries, 208 yards and 3 TDs (the three TDs came against Kentucky, UGA and Memphis in 2015), and the others have none.

And as we said – and we’ll repeat – if the passing offense doesn’t perform, Auburn fans are going to have another frustrating offensive time…

 

So the SEC season is close to arriving around Labor Day weekend, and we can’t wait. No – we can’t, can’t wait. Instead of giving you the team by team analysis  – as we’ve done for the last few years – we’re going to give you a 1-14 on who’s on the SEC hot seat. If you don’t agree, tweet me on @SECblog. Please. All comments helpful and (maybe) retweeted!

Anyway, so here we go…

  1. Les Miles (LSU) – After last year when an emotional Les Miles avoided the bullet after his team stopped a three-game losing streak by beating Texas A&M in a thunderous night in Death Valley, a lot is expected for this team. If they finish 9-3 like they did last year and the offense doesn’t show up, then Miles will be shown the door – and they’ll find a pissed-off rich booster to help them do it (the school system has no cash!).
  2. Gus Malzahn (Auburn) – It doesn’t matter that the team’s only a couple of seasons removed from losing one of the best National Championship Games in history, a repeat of last year’s 7-6 season (which included ‘big’ wins over rudderless Memphis, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi State, mighty San Jose State and a squeaker against Jacksonville State) could see the fans wanting change. Of course, I would argue that those in charge made a stupid error hiring DC Kevin Steele, but then again, that’s me.
  3. Kevin Sumlin (Texas A&M) – The arrival of Johnny Manziel on the SEC scene, beating Alabama on the road, and Texas’ downfall made Texas A&M fans arrogant and forgetful that they’d actually suffered through years and years of middling football in the Big XII. If they continue to suck offensively – despite the excellent weapons they have – and therefore continue to lose to Alabama, Ole Miss and LSU, Sumlin’s going to find his seat warm. Very warm.
  4. Mark Stoops (Kentucky) – Seriously – what has Mark Stoops really brought to Kentucky since he came in, apart from a noisy Commonwealth stadium? This team lost to Vanderbilt, for crying out loud. Kentucky will be fed up sooner and later about the lack of a bowl game and John Calipari will take over as football coach, too. Mark our words.
  5. Dan Mullen (Mississippi State) – If Dan Mullen was married to Mississippi State, we’d be stunned why Mississippi State had hung around with Mullen for so long. Why? Mullen’s courted other teams like crazy, and it’s obvious that he’s unhappy. Oh, and his non-answers to the Jeremy Simmons debacle and has people actively WANTING him to leave Starkville, too. Maybe that will feed through to the upper echelons.
  6. Butch Jones (Tennessee) – If Tennessee chokes with the talent they are bringing back – including the SEC’s best quarterback in Josh Dobbs – then Jones is going to have a lot of explaining to do. Then again, if the allegations against him and the teams he ran are true, then Jones’ seat could be warmer than we think – especially after Baylor.
  7. Will Muschamp (South Carolina) – Will Muschamp’s a known quantity in the SEC as a head coach, and it’s not good. If they have a terrible year, Muschamp could follow Spurrier out the door almost immediately.
  8. Hugh Freeze (Ole Miss) – Yes, there’s a two-game winning streak over Alabama. Yes, it’s very exciting. But the prospect of replacing a ton of NFL talent this year plus NCAA sanctions doesn’t make 2016 a particularly exciting future for Ole Miss – despite the current love for Chad Kelly. Apparently he can do everything….which is absurd. Anyway, if Ole Miss has a poor season, the Rebels fans – who again seem to forget what a joke their program was before he arrived – will be crying out for blood.
  9. Bret Bielema (Arkansas) – He was great on SEC Media Days no doubt. But how often can Razorbacks tolerate the ‘slow start/great finish’ before they start looking for ‘great start/great finish’, plus a win over Texas A&M in Jerryworld?
  10. Kirby Smart (Georgia) – Georgia fans showed us all how stupid and restless they are by getting rid of Mark Richt. So let’s say that Georgia’s defense doesn’t show up this year, they have no offense (quite a real prospect with the lingering injuries to Nick Chubb and Sony Michel), and they lose to Tennessee, Florida, Ole Miss, and Georgia Tech. Let’s also say that the Jacob Eason, who’s the new Joe Montana is you talk to one of the bald bikers who paint the Dawg on their heads every day, is as great as the second half of the year of Grayson Lambert’s was. Georgia fans will start talking about blood. And quickly. For a town full of stoners, they sure are critical in Athens.
  11. Jim McElwain (Florida) – If the enragingly awful performance of the Citrus Bowl continues on in the 2016 season, then the Gator chomps may turn to a sea of middle fingers in the general direction of McElwain. The locals in The Swamp are like that.
  12. Greg Odom (Missouri) – If Mizzou’s offense manages to take even more of a step back than it did last year, then Odom could get booted after just a season…..and become defensive co-ordinator again. I still don’t think he really wants to be the head coach – especially following a coach like Gary Pinkel.
  13. Derek Mason (Vanderbilt) – The reason why he’s so low is that Vanderbilt fans are just happy with winning the odd SEC game, remaining competitive, and upholding academic standards. Derek Mason’s taking the team in the right direction, and he’s instantly likeable. And there haven’t been any Franklin-like problems.
  14. Nick Saban (Alabama) – Sometime, Nick Saban will retire, and the God That Replaced The Bear will be mourned in Tuscaloosa. Otherwise, he’s going nowhere so there’s no point in me saying that he’s even on a seat, let alone a hot one.

Alabama: The next RB star will be….?

Derrick Henry’s gone, Kenyan Drake’s gone, and T.J. Yeldon’s but a distant and beautiful memory for Alabama fans. The future for the next hero in Tuscaloosa is almost certain to be one or more of these things (not necessarily in this order):

  1. A Heisman + 2-3,000 yard season
  2. NFL riches
  3. A National Championship
  4. A SEC West title + Championship
  5. Worship from Alabama fans because you beat Auburn and LSU

In a bar last night I was shown a video of would-be replacement sophomore Bo Scarborough weave through multiple Michigan State defenders in the CFB Play-Off semi-final win, and it put a smile on my face to think of yet another exciting running back coming out of Tuscaloosa (via Florida).

Scarbough has been called the rising star of Alabama football, the big future, and the way people are drooling over him as a physical freak and a future Zeus, he may well be. The 6-2, 230lb dreadlocked flurry of speed is going to exhaust SEC West defenses, and I fully expect him to destroy USC’s defensive line when he plays them in JerryWorld on Opening Day. The stats have been strong in opening scrimmages, if you believe what they release in Saban Country (remember, they aren’t going to release anything remotely crappy, are they?)

And if his academics are good enough, could we possibly be talking about a possible trip to New York in 2016? It’s very possible. What’s also possible – and probable – is that Scarborough doesn’t yet have the experience to leave in 2017 for NFL riches. He played 4 games last season and put up 104 yards at an average of just over 5 yards a carry – but most of them was against mighty Charleston Southern (he went for 68).

The other guy will be Damien Harris, who is also in his second year but had a great Spring Game for the Tide. Harris is 3 inches shorter than Scarborough at 5-11 and less muscly at 215lb, and he had a great Spring Game where he had 114 yards rushing on 20 carries. Harris played second fiddle to Henry last year and still played in 12 games, had 46 carries and 157 yards. Harris’ biggest games were against mighty MTSU and THAT Charleston Southern defense, while he was basically ignored in the other games.

And there’s always B.J. Emmons, who’s a four-star freshman listed as the second best running back in the country.

Whatever happens, Alabama fans shouldn’t fear too much is going to fade away despite the departure of Henry and Drake. Plus, it looks like the country’s best offensive linesman is not going to jail after all in Cam Robinson. And knowing the forgiving nature of Tuscaloosa, Robinson won’t miss the first game of the season….

I’m sorry if you don’t like harsh headlines, but this is a fact: Mississippi State today enrolled a person who abused a woman on its team.

Today, the school allowed defensive end Jeffrey Simmons onto campus despite Simmons’ arrest in March for striking a woman while she was on the ground during a fight.

Simmons made no effort to break up the woman-on-woman fight, but instead launched himself into it with both fists flying. He was arrested and booked for simple assault. Apparently in the land of Mississippi, that’s OK, because it was only a misdemeanour – despite Simmons’ obvious size advantage AND the woman was lying on the ground. He then ran away, which is neither here nor there. The damage was done. After he had finished, the woman was lying there, wondering what in the hell happened to her, and no-one was helping her up. Yes, we know that the woman was in a brawl with another woman, but Simmons could have split up the fight – easily. Instead, he took sides and went UFC on her.

WHY DID MULLEN ALLOWS SIMMONS TO COME TO CAMPUS?

The reason why Dan Mullen let Jeffrey Simmons come to Starkville was simple: Simmons is a five-star defensive end – the top player in the state – and Mississippi State wasn’t certain that other SEC schools (and he’d been recruited hard by Ole Miss and Alabama, and offered by Tennessee, Auburn, LSU and Vanderbilt) wouldn’t have snapped him up in a heartbeat. That’s because SEC head coaches – and it’s shown to be them particularly – really believe in second chances, especially for those guys who might really, really, help their program.

There’s a ‘serious misconduct’ rule that stops one player within the SEC transferring to another, but when the kid hasn’t stepped foot on campus, that rule becomes open to interpretation. And you KNOW SEC schools – and a bunch of other schools away the conference – would have found a way to try and get round it (although we can safely say not Miami, Penn State or Baylor).

The amusing thing was Mullen telling Simmons that he would be suspended for Mississippi State’s MASSIVE SET YOUR ESPN NOW BECAUSE THIS ONE’S BIGGER THAN ANY GAME YOU’LL SEE ON TV THAT WEEKEND game against mighty, mighty FCS South Alabama, who finished 5-7 last year. What then amused us was the school admitting Simmons “under conditions”, which include counselling, anger management classes, and a “No second chances” rule. With the final one, we expect that’ll happen unless he turns out to be really, really good.

WHAT WE THINK HAPPENED?

What we think happened is that there was some serious lobbying from Simmons’ family, church and high school all saying the same thing: “That was sooooo out of character. I can’t believe he did that.” We know nothing about Simmons, or his past history, so we’re inclined to believe that unless facts come out about his high school days that are different. Mississippi State then realized that Simmons really was a special kid and offered him the chance to play for the team.

WHAT SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED?

Apart from Mississippi Police charging him with serious assault and slinging him in jail (which really should have happened), Mullen should have taken the higher ground and decided not to take Simmons. And then the SEC should have stepped in and stopped Simmons coming to any other SEC school’s campus. And maybe he would have had to play in a community college for a year or two, or maybe he would have had to play for a much-lower rung team, but at least he would have learned that beating the crap out of women IS NOT THE WAY TO GO.

Because as it stands now, Mississippi State’s just sending the message: “We don’t give two craps whether you beat the crap out of  a woman. If you’re a five-star recruit, we got a cowbell waitin’ for ya!”

 

 

If Ole Miss is found out more guilty than imposing losses of double-digit football scholarships between 2015-18 (inclusive), then let’s be honest: This team has certainly been worth the money.

Under Hugh Freeze’s tutelage, which started in 2012 (although 2013 was the first class), Ole Miss brought in one of the greatest recruiting classes ever assembled in Rebs’ history in 2013, including DT Robert Nkemdiche, O-Lineman Laremy Tunsil, WR Laquon Treadwell, and S Tony Conner. 3 out of 4 of those assembled players went in the NFL first round, and Conner’s still in school after suffering injuries.

Saw three players not only go to the NFL, but go in the first. Treadwell grabbed the headlines for the right reasons (coming back from injury etc etc etc), while Tunsil’s gasmask and the thoughts that Nkemdiche might be out of mind were also slightly “unusual”. OK, they weren’t great.

On the field, the recruiting class that Freeze put together:

  • Owns a two-game winning stream over Alabama (the longest current winning streak over Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide).
  • Has beaten Mississippi State in back-to-back Egg Bowls.
  • Has beaten LSU 2 out of the last three games.
  • The only team they never solved in the SEC was Auburn, who has beaten them 2 out of the last 3 years (but not in 2015).
  • Finished with an continually-improving 27-12, The record improved incrementally year-on-year. And in the SEC over the course of that time, they went 14-12. The last Ole Miss coach finished with a winnning SEC record was David Cutcliffe.

And it’s not over yet. But Tunsil, Treadwell and Nkemdiche leaving are going to be massive, massive losses.

But we can say this for certain: Ole Miss definitely got what it paid for.

Roll Tide Out? Top Alabama Player Arrested

Top Alabama left tackle Cam Robinson was arrested on felony weapons charges alongside teammate Laurence “Hootie” Jones” – a safety in the early hours of Tuesday morning, adding another name to what has been a horrible offseason for Nick Saban and his Alabama program.

6-6, 325lb junior Robinson and Jones were charged with possession of a stolen firearm, as well as misdemeanour drug possession and carrying a weapon in the presence of narcotics.

The incident happened after an officer approached a car containing Robinson and Jones. There was a smell of marijuana in the car and a handgun was spotted, and after a search of the car and other gun was found, ESPN reported.

“We are aware of the situation involving Hootie Jones and Cam Robinson and are in the process of gathering facts to determine what internal action needs to be taken,” said Saban in a statement.

Shockingly for an arrest involving handguns and ‘narcotics’, the bail bond was only set at $750.

SO WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN NOW?

First of all: We don’t know what the handgun was. If it was a BB Gun, then it’s better than a Magnum .44. Was that the reason why the bond was so low at $750?

Secondly: How stupid do you want to be? You’re one year for playing for many, many millions in the NFL because you’re probably the best at your position. All you had to do one off-season was sit there and play FIFA or Madden. And do nothing else. No gasmasks, no visits from girls that you no idea what age they are, nothing. Hey, maybe you could get ahead on your studies and learn to, you know, read.

Thirdly: It will be an indictment of Saban – who only recently kicked off O-Lineman Charles Baldwin – if he keeps Robinson on the program. Guns and drugs are the sort of thing that would get ANY player booted off a team, right? Listen, he’s probably NOT going to get booted, but Alabama may well be without a starting tackle for 6 games. We’re sure Saban’s language wasn’t pretty when he heard about the incident. This will affect Alabama at the start of the season. Thank God they don’t start with an evil schedule.

Fourthly (And whisper this): Better weed than a crack pipe.

 

This isn’t the most surprising news in the world, but Nick Saban’s just topped the CBS Sports Top 25 College Football Coaches Poll.

The Alabama coach beat Ohio State’s Urban Meyer to the No.1 spot, with TCU’s Gary Patterson, Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops and Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio rounding out the Top 5.

Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher, LSU’s Les Miles, Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, Stanford’s David Shaw and Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh rounded out the Top 10.

 

Other SEC coaches include Auburn’s Gus Malzahn (13), Hugh Freeze (Ole Miss) (21), and Bret Bielema (Arkansas) (22).

The whole poll is here.

Alabama defensive line coach Bo Davis is expected to leave or resign due to possible recruiting violations, the Tuscaloosa News has reported. 

Apparently Davis was being looked into not only internally but also by the NCAA into the possible transgressions. It is not known which players he was recruiting at the time that the possible transgressions took place.

If Davis left, it wouldn’t be his first departure from Alabama. Davis was hired in 2007 then left after the 2010 season for Texas, stayed 3 years in Austin and then came back in 2014, where he has been ever since.

Both Nick Saban and players have been nothing but complimentary about their coach.

When Davis departs, it could set off a college football-wide domino effect – especially as Alabama is the biggest name in college football and would be a top spot for any top recruiter or defensive line coach.

Ed Orgeron, anybody?

 

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