Tennessee news: What do we make of it?

Saddening news came out of Knoxville last night that former Tennesssee wide receiver Drae Bowles was assaulted by fellow players after he helped “the woman who accused linebacker A.J. Johnson and defensive back Mike Williams of rape in November 2014,” the Knoxville News-Sentinel has reported.

In November 14 2014 former UT linebacker AJ Johnson and defensive back Mike Williams raped a woman during a party at a football players’ house, in which alcohol and marijuana were used. And then comes the Bowles incident.

According to the lawsuit the victim “received a message from Plaintiff Doe V who was witnessing (at that moment) several football players “jumping” Drae Bowles, a member of the football team that had actually taken Plaintiff Doe IV to the hospital the night of her assault and who had supported her decision to report the incident to the authorities.

The lawsuit added that the victim – a varsity UT sportswoman – had informed head coach Butch Jones and Jon Gilbert (the executive senior associate AD) and Mike Ward – the senior associate AD for administration and sports programs – and even provided the identities of the players, but was told only “we’ll look into it.” The victim added that she “became aware of a second assault on Drae Bowles in the team facility by the same football players“.

Williams said in a police interview that he was told by Geraldo Orta, a former safety (more about him later) “had told Williams that the football team had “a hit” out on Drae Bowles“. “In his interviews with police, UT football player Geraldo Orta stated that he felt Bowles had betrayed the team and that where he (Orta) came from, people got shot for doing what Bowles did. These facts are set forth in the Knoxville Police Department Incident Report,” the suit continues, adding: “During the interview Orta also admitted having approached Drae Bowles in Smokey’s Cafe (the athletic dining facility), getting “in his face” and saying “some threatening things.

UT DE Curt Maggittconfronted Drae Bowles in the team locker room before the team was instructed by Head Coach Butch Jones not to talk to him and before Bowles was “given time away from the team.

The school went ahead and told everybody that they loved AJ Johnson – probably not a wise move in hindsight, bearing in mind both Johnson and Williams now stand trial for rape.

In the lawsuit was filed by FIVE UT female students – who were not named – who said that the university was indifferent to charges by them of sexual assault from football players and other athletes – included four rapes.

These are the rapes in date order, according to the lawsuit:

— Another player in a lawsuit was former UT basketball Yemi Makanjuola, who in 2013, allegedly forced himself onto student nurse on Valentine’s Day in 2013 after the victim said that she rejected his “sexual advances”. And despite a disciplinary hearing and court order, Makanjuola continued to play for the basketball team. “Upon information and belief, the purpose of requesting a disciplinary hearing was to allow Makanjuola to continue to play basketball throughout the remainder of the season and to allow UT to effectuate his transfer to another school, the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, where UT’s Head of Basketball Operations, Houston Fancher, had accepted a coaching job,” the lawsuit said. And despite there being a protective order, Makanjuola tried to contact the victim five months later, causing her PTSD and to fail her nurses’ exams.

— In April 2013 accuses former UT running back Marlin Lane and safety Geraldo Orta, as well as Izauea Lanier of a rape that happened in Vol Hall, that houses the student athletes. Apparently UT let the players know that they were going to be interviewed: “During the investigation, UT football players were interviewed but only after they had already been made aware of the allegations by UT and had conversations with their teammates.” It adds: “Upon information and belief, these conversations and prior actions by UT allowed the players to “get their stories straight.” In this case, there was consensual sex with Orta, but was raped by Lane, who joined in without consent. “No disciplinary action was taken at all against the football players except a nominal “suspension” on April 13, 2013, when UT football player Marlin Lane was suspended from the football team for what was stated by Head Coach Butch Jones as “disciplinary reasons,” the lawsuit says. “The purely facial “suspension” only consisted of Lane missing four practices and a scrimmage before he was fully reinstated to the team less than two months later at which time Head Coach Butch Jones described him as a “success story,” and Lane has since been promoted to a member of the Vols’ 13-man player staff of team leaders,” it adds.

— In April 2014 there was another rape by an unnamed UT football player, after the victim came back from a frat party. “Plaintiff  informed UTK investigators that when she woke up the morning after the assault, she found a strap had been ripped off her top and the button ripped off her shorts and photographs were taken of the torn clothes,” the lawsuit says. At the time, the player tried to attack the victim by filing two complaints about her accusation, including the “theft” of a sweater. “The completely baseless and retaliatory reports filed by Mr. Doe I were premised inpart on Plaintiff’s actions in leaving the dorm the following morning wearing a sweatshirt, actions she were forced to take because her clothes had been torn off during the sexual assault“. There was a UT investigation, but it found that “as with other UT investigations, Plaintiff’s account was completely discounted and, based on the “collective” (and virtually identical) accounts of Mr. Doe I’s teammates and a time-lapsed video from an unspecified time after the assault (that arguably shows Ms. Doe II tripping while trying to walk, UT determined that, by a preponderance of the evidence, she could not have been incapacitated and, further, that the sexual encounter was consensual“.

— In September 2014 running back Treyvon Paulk was accused of punching a woman in the mouth. He was later suspended and then summarily dismissed from the team. What’s interesting about the Paulk story is that despite being suspended from team activities, Paulk still practiced with the team and participating in team events.

— In February 2015 cornerback Riyadh Jones – now at Georgia Southern – was accused of rape by “Plaintiff VI”. And although the case is now closed after she decided not to prosecute Jones, it seems that the victim was threatened – via her roommate. The lawsuit says: “Plaintiff’s roommate was repeatedly called by Riyahd Jones’s roommates (also football players) who were threatening/pleading (through roommate) for Plaintiff to drop the allegations.” She notes that one of the players trying to “mitigate” the damage was running back Deanthonie Summerhill (a UT running back who was living with Riyahd Jones), who has since left the school.

“Given the preceding events at UT, these players should have been educated extensively (and on multiple occasions) regarding the impropriety of attempts to contact a victim of an alleged sexual assault,” the lawsuit adds.

The lawsuit accuses the school of violating Title IX and being indifferent to all of the charges, and also adds that the school provided alcohol to recruits and underage students in an effort to show them a “good time”, and acted “with deliberate indifference to known sexual assaults so as to create a hostile sexual environment“.

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There is so much frightening when reading through the actual lawsuit. Firstly, the assaults themselves. Anyone who’s not sickened reading about the assaults probably needs to go and see somebody. Secondly, the University of Tennessee itself: It basically covered up every single one of the assaults. Unlike other programs like Georgia, UT let Jones and Paulk stay on campus, as well as AJ Johnson and Mike Williams. Mark Richt would have thrown them out. And the bit about the players getting their stories together before being interviewed? Are you ****ing kidding me? If this is true, we hope that this makes not only institutional change within the SEC, but in college football. And we hope that UT pays the victims a huge amount of money and bans itself from a bowl or two. Or three. Or four. Or five.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Face it, the SEC won the Super Bowl

Face the fact: The SEC won the Super Bowl.

Yeah, we know the SEC lost the Super Bowl, bearing in mind that Auburn QB Cam Newton did his best Jeremy Johnson impression during Super Bowl 50.

But the SEC won it. Tennessee’s Peyton Manning took home his second ring, watched on by Ole Miss’ Eli Manning, who looked like the pouting younger brother from a decent-looking SkyBox. Thanksgiving’s gonna be fun in the Manning household, when Peyton gets to go and watch Eli play football.

Anyway, there was more SEC winning, too.

Texas A&M DE Von Miller showed himself to be the best in the business, picking up the Super Bowl MVP award and a pretty decent check in the off-season, we think. Miller’s going to make more money than that Big Ten guy, Ndamukong Suh. Kentucky’s Danny Trevathan had four tackles and recovered a fumble.

Missouri’s Shane Ray also got a ring. So has Florida’s Andre Caldwell and Max Garcia, Alabama’s Evan Mathis, South Carolina’s Darian Stewart, Tennessee’s Britton Colquitt and Malik Jackson.

But in total – the SEC won. By a landslide. 31 players on the Super Bowl 50 rosters of Carolina and Denver played in OUR conference. Every team was represented, from Alabama to Mississippi State from Florida to Vanderbilt in some way or other, be it the coaching staffs (Denver assistant WR coach is Marc Lubick, who played at Vandy, and two Arkansas players played on both Carolina and Denver practice squads. One of the Arkansas guys is Cobi Hamilton, who we can’t believe isn’t on the playing field right now).

The SEC should bring out a joint advert that says: “You want to play in a Super Bowl? Come play in the SEC”. Heck – we can afford it.

It’s National Signing Day, which means that Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss, Ohio State, Michigan and Clemson will be topping the charts, and everyone will be talking about their beautiful collection of players. Other than Jim Harbaugh, who’s sleeping with the parents of a potential 2017 recruit in an effort to get the top-rated from Wisconsin to play in Ann Arbor.

Anyway, we know that a ton of players decide to go and play in Tuscaloosa, Baton Rouge and Columbus. But we’ve been thinking: If you’re a four or five-star player, why would you want to go to a big school like an Alabama, LSU or Ohio State?

Here’s the reasons why going to the likes of a big-time program is stupid, recruits:

  1. The depth chart: The depth that these schools has is insane, which means that you’ll probably be starting in  your junior year. You’ll probably want to go to the NFL immediately, come out as a sixth round pick, and then not even make it through OTAs. If you’re sensible and make it through to your senior year, everyone’s asking: “Was he not good enough to get out as a junior?” If you go to a smaller school (let’s say a Mississippi State, Penn State or even (laughs) Texas) you’ll get more playing time, which means more exposure, which means more money in the long run.
  2. You’re not going to be The Big Man On Campus: As much as Nick or Les persuade you, it ain’t gonna happen. Unless your name is Jacob Eason or another QB who’s going to start immediately. If you go to a big-time school, the girls aren’t going to give a crap about a guy who’s got no playing time. You’re a nothing.
  3. The next year’s going to suck: This is along the lines of No.1, but it’s likely that Coach Saban’s going to get another 6-5, 300lb DE who’s probably going to overtake you. Why? Because he does that every single year. What does that mean? If you put a foot wrong, you’re not going to start. Why not go to a smaller school where you can make a mistake or two and still play all three or four years?
  4. They offer tons, and deliver little: The big schools are big because they have the facilities to tell recruits how ‘wonderful’ and ‘valued’ they’ll be as part of the team. I call B.S. on that. It’s simply not true. They aren’t valued because everyone’s a 4 or 5 star recruit.
  5. If you play in a big-time conference and succeed, the school won’t matter when it comes to the NFL Draft: If you play for a lower-tier SEC, Big Ten or ACC school and you stand out, you’re going to a high draft and make money in the NFL. NFL scouts are getting better and better at not looking down at kids for where they played. See Jay Cutler at Vanderbilt, for example….
  6. Top NFL players have played at small schools: Kahlil Mack played at Buffalo. Tony Romo at Eastern Illinois. This year Carson Wentz from North Dakota State is getting love. Remember Malcolm Butler, the cornerback who made that incredible play against Seattle in Super Bowl 49? He played for Alcorn State. If you go to a smaller school, you’re going to be hungrier….and that’s better for your career long-term, right?

With Cam Newton and Peyton Manning playing in Super Bowl 50, SEC schools can claim that this year is THEIR Super Bowl. And they’d be damned right too.

However, we all know that blood and hatred runs deeper than conference loyalty, and the names “Newton” and “Manning” will lead some SEC schools to spit bullets at the notion of people rooting for him.

So here’s what fans of 14 SEC school fans said to us about who they are rooting for on Sunday:

  1. Auburn – Newton. After all, we paid him enough to go here, and he won us a SEC Championship, a National Championship and a win over Alabama.
  2. Tennessee – Manning. Because He is God.
  3. Alabama – Manning. Because Newton went to THAT school on The Plains. Even though Manning went to Tennessee and Dad and brother went to Ole Miss…we hate $cam Newton. Right, Harvey Updyke?
  4. LSU – Newton. Because anyone who pisses off Alabama fans is good for a few rums with us.
  5. Arkansas – Neutral. Hey guys! We’ve only been in the SEC since 1998! This ain’t our fight!
  6. Florida – Newton. Hell, he was recruited by us before he was booted for stealing a $1,700 laptop. Plus, if Cam wins it’s another chance to laugh at Peyton Manning, who could never beat Florida. And only 1 of the 4 games were close, too. You can’t spell Citrus with UT… And here’s a fun fact: In 2005 Peyton Manning had his number retired at Tennessee at the South Carolina game. South Carolina beat Tennessee that night. Who was the coach for South Carolina? Spurrier. That’s 5-0 to Spurrier, folks.
  7. GeorgiaManning. Newton played for Auburn, and Bulldogs fans hate Auburn. Don’t get the people in Athens wrong – they ain’t too fond of Manning either, but Auburn? Rooting for War Tiger’s like rootin’ for The Devil.
  8. VanderbiltNewton. Any player who’s had anything to do with Those Inbred Hill Dwellers should be ignored at every Vanderbilt alumni event on Wall Street. We at Vanderbilt, for the record, love the Super Bowl because it doesn’t interfere with the stock market.
  9. Texas A&MManning. Because Von Miller got him to the Super Bowl last Sunday, and he went to Texas A&M. Screw you, Texas!
  10. Kentucky – Manning. Because we ride with Danny Trevathan, our first team all-SEC player from 2012.
  11. Ole MissManning. Because Peyton cheered on our Eli in his Super Bowls, and we’re being loyal to our Mannings and flying their flag. And their flag is a big ‘M’. And that ‘M’ is for Mississippi. The University of Mississippi. Some will be
  12. Mississippi StateNewton. Sure, we saved $180k by NOT signing him, but Ole Miss probably woulda complained and we would still be sufferin’. And there’s the fact that Manning’s family all went to Ole Miss. And every time those snobby assholes on The Grove are miserable, we’re happy. Hey, it’s not bitterness. It’s a fact.
  13. Missouri — Neutral. Hey man, we were a Big 12 team when Newton and Manning tore up the SEC, but with Shane Ray playing for the Broncos and Kony Ealy playing for the Panthers, we’re just cheering for Mizzou. Which is more cheering than we had during the 2015 season.
  14. South CarolinaNewton. Doesn’t the name CAROLINA say it all for you, stupid?

For years, it seemed as though the SEC would go 1-14 in recruiting. Like, every year. OK, so there were years when Florida State challenged the might of Alabama (failed), and other schools like Clemson and Notre Dame were pretty exciting, but really, high school football has seen recruits WANT to come and play SEC football, with everyone else picking up the scraps.

And then Florida State won a National Championship in 2014. And then Ohio State won one in 2015. And the SEC looked a little weaker during the 2014 season. Everyone got a little worried.

This year, the recruiting leaderboards are still chock-full of SEC teams, although Ohio State is the No.1 team in the nation so far, thanks to picking up the commitments to three four-star athletes on Monday.

LSU is second on the list, Michigan is third, followed by Florida State and Ole Miss. Florida, Georgia, Notre Dame, Clemson and Alabama round out the Top 10. That’s 50% of the Top 10 in the SEC, people.

Auburn is in 11th place, Texas A&M is in 19th, Tennessee is 22nd, Arkansas is 25th, South Carolina and Kentucky are 29th and 30th respectively, and Mississippi State and Vanderbilt are 41st and 48th.

You can expect Alabama to make a big run in the last few weeks of the signing process, simply because there isn’t a better person at meeting the family and chatting to recruits than Nick Saban. He’ll do just about anything to get a recruit to play for Alabama, including arcade basketball with vaunted recruit AJ Brown. He’s trying to beat Mississippi State to the signature of Brown – who hails from Starkville.

You’d actually make Saban the favorite because Dan Mullen simply can’t be trusted to try and stay in Starkville – however much he’ll say the opposite to recruits.

Where’s he interviewing next? The Wall St Journal?

4-star WR commits to Texas A&M

Texas A&M picked up a huge commit when four-star Clyde Chriss decided to take his talents to College Station, TX.

6ft, 170lb Chriss, from Warren Easton HS in Louisiana, was rated the 10th-best overall recruit in the state, and the top wide receiver, according to 24-7Sports.com.

He is also ranked as the 39th-best wide receiver in the USA, and 196th-best player overall.

Chriss, who had 821 yards and 9 TDs in 2014, was also offered by Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, LSU, Georgia, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Clemson, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Miami amongst others.

Chriss will visit College Station on January 22nd.

The player – although he hasn’t been interviewed – does not seem to be worried about the lack of a strong quarterback position as well as a new offensive co-ordinator in Noel Mazzone. Chriss had been heavily recruited by Kevin Sumlin and Jack Spavital, although the latter was fired as of January 3rd after yet another poor offensive performance in the bowl loss to Louisville. This year A&M’s offensive output was awful, if you consider how much talent there is on the field.

 

 

The final day of the college football season is always the most miserable one: Because it’s all ending until September. Sure, we at the SEC Football Blog will be writing copy on recruiting, spring games, ranking coach hires, watching as Will Muschamp goes from hero to zero to hero again after one Spring Game, Nick Saban grumbling his way through the summer, and trying to work out new ways of drinking bourbon all day during Saturdays and still writing comprehensive tweets, but it’s not the same. College Football 2015 is over.

The good news for SEC fans is that Alabama’s in the National Championship Game, and they are playing Clemson. Alabama’s favoured by seven points by Vegas.

It’s OK to be excited at the thought of the kids with Bama bangs yelling “Rammer Jammer!” in exultant victory – or even “SEC! SEC!” as they declare who the best conference is – even if the 9-2 bowl record doesn’t show that. We’ve been kicking ass and taking names this bowl season, and we want Clemson’s.

QUARTERBACK

A lot of people are talking up Deshaun Watson, who was one of the most electrifying quarterbacks in 2015 and was definitely good value in the Heisman Trophy race. He’s better than Alabama’s Jacob Coker. I know that Coker had a great game against Michigan State, but Watson can kill you with both arm and legs. Coker’s a better runner than he’s given credit for, but anyone saying that he’s up there with Watson on the front needs his head seeing to. EDGE: Clemson

RUNNING BACK

Alabama has Derrick Henry. Clemson doesn’t. EDGE (A big one): Alabama.

WIDE RECEIVER

We love Calvin Ridley, who posted up two touchdowns in the semi-final shellacking of Michigan State. But Artavis Scott (Clemson) can cause headaches for secondaries, Charone Peake and Jordan Leggett. Deon Cain would have caused even more headaches, but the idiot failed a drug test.

EDGE: SPLIT 

DEFENSE

No-one runs on Alabama. Many have tried this season, and they have all failed. AShawn Robinson, Reggie Ragland & Co are collective badasses. But give Clemson a little bit of credit – they pretty much shut down a nasty Oklahoma offense and early on in the year quietened Dalvin Cook, who’s very special. Clemson’s star DE Shaq Lawson is praying to be healthy on Saturday, and although Clemson’s pretty deep, it’s going to hurt if Lawson’s hurt.

EDGE: ALABAMA

 

OVERALL PREDICTION: Rammer Jammer. Alabama 28, Clemson 17

 

Who will the SEC’s bowl games?

Happy Christmas and Happy New Year! We know that bowl season is in full swing, but we’ll be honest…..none of the bowls matter until SEC teams play in them. Here’s why: When the SEC does well everyone talks about SEC bias, SEC strength, and SEC godliness, and when SEC teams do badly, people are quick to jump down our butts and tell us how bad we are (and we’re honest — we were poor as hell as last year).

LSU’s going to kick off the SEC bowl season against Texas Tech, and Alabama – we hope  – will end it in the National Championship Game. Simple.

So here are our previews….

THE BIG ONE (College Football Play-Off Semi-Final @ Cotton Bowl, Dec 31): ALABAMA vs MICHIGAN STATE 

It’s interesting. The 2015 incarnation of the college football play-off has three teams who lost against teams they shouldn’t have done. Alabama lost to Ole Miss at home (special teams killed ’em), Michigan State lost to Nebraska (who won because the refs screwed ’em), and Oklahoma lost to Texas (they were awful). Ohio State will argue that they deserved a spot ahead of any of three teams, but Urban Meyer proved to be utterly indecisive both as a coach trying to work out who the best quarterback was (Nick Saban would have encouraged one of the three quarterbacks to transfer), and as a motivator (Ohio State thought they walked on water all season long, and suffered the consequence against Michigan State, only to rebound by actually playing like everyone thought they might by savaging Michigan at The Big House). So anyway, Michigan State and Alabama are in the game, and it looks like a defensive brawl. Both defenses have been rough to run on all season long. Both offenses have good-if-n0t-great quarterbacks in Jake Coker and Connor Cook, and we don’t know about Cook’s shoulder. It’s in rehab. It could ripped off by A*Shawn Robinson & Co if the MSU offensive line doesn’t do its job….and it didn’t exactly look like Mark Dantonio intended against Iowa. Offensively, Alabama’s got the upper hand because they’ve got a running back in Derrick Henry who could start in the NFL tomorrow (Cleveland could do with a good RB, by the way). He’s averaging a gadzillion yards a game and the only way you can put him down in the latter stages of a game is with an elephant gun. If Michigan State bottles up Henry (or downs him with an elephant gun early), then everything’s going to be on Coker to succeed. Which we would consider a better bet than an injured Cook against that Alabama defense. Alabama’s playing in its second home of the AT&T Stadium in Dallas, by the way.

PREDICTION: Alabama 28, Michigan State 14

And the other games (by game order):

TEXAS BOWL (Dec 29) – LSU vs TEXAS TECH

It’s pretty simple: Expect LSU to use Leonard Fournette a lot against Texas Tech’s almost historically-awful run defense, which was third-worst in the whole of college football. If he doesn’t get 400 yards, Les Miles should be fired on the spot and Cam Cameron won’t get back to Baton Rouge. If LSU’s defense plays well against Kliff Kingsbury’s high-powered offense, the seven-point line – LSU is favored – will be one of the best bets of bowl season.

PREDICTION: LSU 41, Texas Tech 30

BIRMINGHAM BOWL (Dec 30) – AUBURN vs MEMPHIS

One of our favorite songs of all time is Marc Cohn’s “Walking in Memphis”. Auburn fans would love to see their team walk over Paxton Lynch and the Memphis Tigers – and it’s easy to see why they might now that Memphis’ coach Justin Fuente has taken his blue suede shoes up to Blacksburg to be Virginia Tech’s coach. However much Fuente will talk about being focussed on this game, his mind will be on Hokieland. But can Auburn stop him? We think it’s still unlikely – although Auburn’s a three-point favorite – unless Gus Malzahn has suddenly found a defense in the close season.

PREDICTION: Memphis 28, Auburn 23

BELK BOWL (Dec 30) – MISSISSIPPI STATE vs NC STATE

NC State really isn’t that good, and we love Dak Prescott. We anticipate Prescott giving a hell of a swansong to the Mississippi State faithful – after the not-so-good swansong against Ole Miss.

PREDICTION: MSU 31, NC State 14

MUSIC CITY BOWL (Dec 30) – TEXAS A&M vs LOUISVILLE

Bobby Petrino’s team had one vaguely good win this season, and that was the comeback-from-the-dead win against Kentucky. Otherwise, it was like watching a drunk frat boy try and convince everybody at the party he was sober, and then falling on his face. Repeatedly. Texas A&M could be accused of being the drunk frat boy too – especially as both their starting quarterbacks have decided to leave the frat house for “other options”, which Aggies fans must be pretty pissed about. The Aggies are going to have changes on their offensive line and at starting quarterback. They’ve also got Christian Kirk, who’s a livewire. On the other end, Louisville’s going to struggle to stop Myles Garrett. Louisville’s favored by 4.5 because of A&M’s QB problem, but we think that’s tough on the Aggies, who we still believe has a very good defense.

PREDICTION: Texas A&M 38, Louisville 20

OUTBACK BOWL (Jan 1) – TENNESSEE vs NORTHWESTERN

Northwestern may have had a great 10-2 year, but the highlight was really made at the start when they stopped Christian McCaffery and Stanford on Game 1. They were considered lucky to have beaten Penn State’s crapshow of an offense, and were beaten soundly by Michigan in what most considered their biggest match-up. Now, they come against a Tennessee side who’s got a ton of momentum after shooting itself in the foot against Florida, Oklahoma and Arkansas. Tennessee’s an eight-point favorite against a stout defense, but can Northwestern really score to keep up with the Vols? We think not.

PREDICTION: Tennessee 28, Northwestern 17

CITRUS BOWL (Jan 1)  – FLORIDA vs MICHIGAN

A lot of Florida fans still have the vomit in their mouths after watching Treon Harris play in the SEC Championship Game. A lot of Michigan fans are still wondering what in the hell happened to them after their team was eviscerated at home to Ohio State. The guy with the weird expression must still be standing in Ann Arbor, crying over the fumbled punt against Michigan State. Or he’s at home, getting prepped for his trip to Florida for the Citrus Bowl, where his team’s a four-point favorite. The reason why it’s four points rather than 10 points is that Vegas loves Florida’s defense, which was exceptional for most of the Alabama game until tiredness took over. Can they get up for Michigan game? We just don’t know. My firm prediction: This will be ugly.

PREDICTION: Michigan 17, Florida 10

SUGAR BOWL (Jan 1) – OLE MISS vs OKLAHOMA STATE

Ole Miss was just a 4th-and-25 from going to the SEC Championship Game, while Oklahoma State was just two good performances from going to the College Football Play-Off (they got spanked in both games). Oh, and Ole Miss has been pretty distracted this week with the news that heralded defensive tackle decided to go professional in weed smoking and skydiving before he decided to professional as a football player. In other words, this sugar ain’t tasting nice for either side. Ole Miss is a seven-point favorite in what should be a very entertaining game.

PREDICTION: Ole Miss 48, Oklahoma State 45

TAXSLAYER BOWL (Jan 2) – GEORGIA vs PENN STATE

If you speak to Georgia and Penn State fans, both fans would have opted for their teams NOT to play in a bowl game at all, put the season to sleep, and start again with new offensive co-ordinators. And for Georgia, a new head coach. There are rumblings amongst the Penn State faithful that James Franklin has been clueless at the helm this season. Both sides came out of 2015 with no banner wins despite having banner match-ups, with Georgia losing decidedly to Florida and Alabama while Penn State played Michigan close but was then thumped by Ohio State and Michigan State. We expect the stadium in Jacksonville to be 3/4 full for this one, that feels more New Year’s hangover than anything else. Georgia’s a 6.5-point favorite.

PREDICTION: Georgia 17, Penn State 10

LIBERTY BOWL (Jan 2) – ARKANSAS vs KANSAS STATE 

I looked at Vegas’ prediction that Arkansas will win by just 13 points, and laughed. Either they haven’t seen Kansas State at all this season, or they think that Bret Bielema will have too much respect for Bill Snyder to put the kind of beating on him that he did to Charlie Strong the year before. The big question: Who does Bret Bielema HAVE any respect for? That’s a slightly more ethereal question than I want to answer at this time of writing, because my biggest question right now is: “Why in the hell has my game prediction for this one gone on for so long?”

PREDICTION: Arkansas 48, Kansas State 13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Texas A&M seems to have a problem with quarterbacks since Johnny Manziel won the Heisman.

This week we’ve found out that quarterbacks Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray have both transferred from the school, amid rumors that they couldn’t get on with Kevin Sumlin and offensive co-ordinator Jake Spavital. Spavital is already in the 12th Man’s spotlight after an uninspiring 2015 season.

So what’s the story of A&M’s awful quarterbacking story since Manziel left?

First of all the anointed Kenny ‘Trill’ Hill decided to transfer to TCU after he started incredibly in 2014 and fell off a cliff. You can probably blame a bit of player arrogance (after he threw for 511 yards and 4 TDs against South Carolina on the Opening Day of 2014 his parents decided to trademark the name ‘Trill’) and a fall-off of confidence. He may well start in 2015 now that Brandon Boykin’s graduated.

That was fine – A&M had Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray. The Aggies had beaten Texas to Murray’s signature on National Signing Day. The QB from Allen was – you guessed it – the Gatorade Player Of The Year – after throwing for 4,713 yards and 54 TDs in Allen, TX.

Well, Kyle Allen started the show at Texas A&M, and everybody had a big smile on their face. The defense was playing well, and people were saying the words: “Texas A&M” and “Possible College Football Player/ SEC Champion”.

Then came A&M’s game with Alabama. Allen threw THREE PICK SIXES, and the bandwagon fell off the rails. Murray – who up to then hadn’t played very much (and still went 1:2 in the TD:INT ratio) started against Western Carolina. He was ordinary (he threw for four TDs and five INTs) during his time starting – which was certainly not what the Aggies fans – who had anointed Murray as the saviour of Kyle Field – had expected.

Anyway, what’s going at Texas A&M?

Here’s what we think has happened:

  1. Over-promising: Kevin Sumlin is a master recruiter. We know this. But for us, we think that Kevin Sumlin is also the master of over-promising quarterbacks that they will be future Johnny Manziels, start every game, and will win National Championships. Top recruit Tate Martell should probably watch out.
  2. Over-reaction from Aggies fans/The Media: Kyler Murray had a horrible start as a A&M quarterback and was immediately crucified by the Aggie faithful. They expect proven high school quarterbacks (Hill was brilliant at Southlake Carroll and Murray was equally awesome at Allen) to automatically become exceptional in the SEC. Or not throw six interceptions to the State of Alabama. The media happily jumps on the poor starts, and before you know it, everybody’s unhappy.
  3. Huge pressure on the players….from themselves: Imagine if you’re a former Gatorade Player Of The Year, who has thrown all the touchdowns you can imagine and slept with all of the high school hotties you can also imagine, and you walk into the SEC. You automatically think: ‘I am going to be incredible’. Then it fails. The fans boo you. You hate yourself. You decide you can’t handle the pressure. You blame Kevin Sumlin, Coach Spavital…..everyone but yourself. Because it was the receivers who weren’t running the right routes. It was the offensive line who didn’t block for you. You’re perfect, right? Maybe some other school and staff should see your perfection.
  4. Bad coaching? If you believe Aggies fans, blame Jake Spavital. It’s all his fault. And if things don’t work out, then blame Kevin Sumlin.

How Jacob Eason’s decision effects QB recruiting

After much tweeting, worry, overtweeting, photos, rumors, tears and gnashing of teeth, the news is out there: Jacob Eason, the high school quarterback with the very good arm, is staying with original commitment to Georgia and going to Athens in a couple of weeks’ time.

If you believe what Georgia fans have to say, Eason is the sort of program-changing quarterback that the Bulldogs need not to lose stupid games to Florida, Auburn and South Carolina and dominate college football from hereon in.

So, no pressure, Jacob…

Anyway, there was some worries that Eason might decide to go Florida (he visited Gainesville recently, as well as the University of Washington), which would have given the Gators not only a returning Will Grier (mid-season), but also Class of 2016 commit Feleipe Franks, who’s immense. According to 24-7Sports.com, Franks is the 3rd-best player at this position, the 7th-best player in Florida, and 37th player in the country. He committed to LSU before deciding to go to Florida on November 29th.

Franks was said to be very uneasy about the possibility of Eason coming to The Swamp, but now he’s going to UGA, the 6ft 6 Franks can now make his commitment. You know, if he doesn’t decide to change to another school. Florida State and LSU are said to still be in the hunt.

OK, so what happens to LSU? LSU has an awful quarterback in Brandon Harris, who’s been wildly inconsistent in 2014. LSU doesn’t know if Cam Cameron’s going to return in 2015 (although that looks increasingly likely bearing in mind that the school hasn’t fired him yet), and the school’s SEC West rivals are collecting good QBs like it’s going out of fashion.

According to The Advocate, Harris is expected to battle with Purdue transfer Danny Etling, who played his last game for Purdue on September 27th, 2014. Up to then in the 2014 season, he was wildly inconsistent.

So where does LSU go from here? First of all, LSU’s commit list is STACKED. But unfortunately, no quarterbacks. And if LSU fans are to remain happy with Les Miles, Cam Cameron or the team again in 2016, they had better find themselves a better QB.

 

 

 

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