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?

 

A report from The Tennessean seems to show that police informed Tennessee coach Butch Jones that two of his players – AJ Johnson and Michael Williams – were being investigated for the rape of a female student.

Both Johnson and Williams were later charged.

The paper said: “The players first heard the news from their Tennessee football coaches — in Johnson’s case, four hours before police showed up at the scene of the alleged crime to question him“, quoting sources.

According to the report, Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch and another detective called Jones out of professional courtesy. Rausch has said that such a call in commonplace at Tennessee when there has been a potential crime involving an athlete, but has denied that such a call would tarnish an investigation — even though there are several ways in which it could do.

In this case, it gave the accused players the time to make a series of calls to each other, to potential witnesses, and to obtain lawyers, according to sources,” the paper said, adding that a representative of Knoxville Police Department called Jones at 8.40 am to alert him of the Johnson investigation. Two minutes later  – and five hours before the police arrived – Jones called Johnson.

The Tennessean added: “Rausch called Jones at 8:38 a.m. — the first of four calls between the Knoxville police chief and the head UT football coach that day. Law enforcement experts not associated with the investigation called the calls “unusual” and said they were cause for concern.”

 

The round-up from the first two Spring Games in the SEC are this: Florida and South Carolina seem to have their starting quarterbacks in place, and Auburn doesn’t.

GATORS CHOMPING WITH DEL RIO

Florida fans are suddenly excited that in the post-Grier and (thankfully) post-Harris world, they suddenly looked as they have a starter for 2017: Luke Del Rio. And while Del Rio is hardly a new face in college football – he walked on at Alabama, transferred to Oregon State, then transferred to Florida in 2014, where he sat out a year. He’s now a graduate, and suddenly the face of Gators football. Del Rio went 10-11 for 176 yards and 2 TDs. Sure, the defense wasn’t exactly vintage Florida, but it still made the fans in The Swamp smile.

Also making fans smile is that the Gators seem to have a good ‘un in Kyle Trask, too. The three-star freshman threw for 74 yards and looked comfortable.

NOT making fans smile was Feliepe Franks, who was much-heralded after his decision to spurn LSU to come to Gainseville. Now, it’s a bit early to start discussing transfer papers with the kid, but the fanbase was hardly in adoration of his three interception effort. That puts him at the back of the line.

AUBURN NEEDS AN OFFENSE

Listen, we know that Auburn’s got talent….on the defensive side of the ball. Bruce Feldman on the Fox Sports College Football Podcast (which is awesome, by the way), said that Auburn’s defensive front three –  led by Carl Lawson – is among the best in the nation.

But offensively, they are a struggle.

At Auburn’s A-Day it was pointed out that neither Jeremy Johnson, Sean White or new arrival Jonathan Franklin separated themselves in the scrimmage. “I’m not concerned about nobody separating themselves on a day like this,” Malzahn said in a press conference. Which might be good for Gus, but not good for Tigers fans, who – the Montgomery Advertiser noted – saw the offense have NINE three-and-outs.

Some of that was blamed at the fact that quarterbacks couldn’t be tackled, meaning that Franklin couldn’t show his considerable speed outside of the pocket. The non-tackle rule on quarterbacks also annoyed many at Oklahoma, who watched former Texas A&M QB Kyler Murray drop jaws during the Spring Game. We also think that they were disgruntled because Murray’s not going to be eligible to play until 2017, either.

SOUTH CAROLINA’S EXCITED ABOUT THEIR FRESHMEN

South Carolina fans are pretty excited about their freshmen offensive players. Quarterback Brandon McIlwain lit up the Garnet and Black Game in Columbia, throwing for 169 yards and 2 TDs. What’s also got to excite new coach Will Muschamp and Carolina fans about McIlwain – who recruited as the second-best dual-threat quarterback, according to 24-7Sports, is the fact that there were no interceptions. Devin Dingle had over 70 yards receiving on just two receptions. Bryan Edwards had two touchdowns. Suddenly, Carolina’s looking good on that side of the ball, right?

Defensively, we don’t know much about this team. We know that they were awful in 2015 at stopping people – and was the offensive contribution due to that? The writers think not. David at Garnet & Black Attack said the Defensive Line actually gives him hope for the first time in years.

The one thing we missed was Steve Spurrier, who was probably watching golf at Augusta.

 

Two freshmen Georgia players have been arrested and jailed for firing a BB gun on school property, according to a report by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Defensive tackle Julian Rochester and Chad Clay were arrested and jailed for having the gun on school property, and second degree damage. They were still in jail at the time of writing, the AJC said, as there is no bond for possessing a weapon – albeit a BB gun.

Kirby Smart, Georgia’s new head coach, said in a statement: “I’m disappointed with the poor judgment of Julian and Chad. We expect full compliance with the policies of the University and of our football program from all our student-athletes. Information is still being gathered but they will be disciplined in an appropriate manner.

The charges came after there was an incident in a dorm room – which is where there was second degree damage, the Washington Post reported, noting that Atlanta TV station Fox 5 came with the news first. The TV station also tweeted that the charges could be reduced to misdemeanours.

He also told a radio show that Clay and Rochester’s idiotic moves were “poor decisions”, although did not expand as to whether they would be booted from the team.

Rochester was a four-star recruit (according to 24-7Sports) from Powder Springs, GA, and was considered the 10th-best DT in the country. He was expected to start. Cornerback Clay was a three-star recruit and considered the 31st-best player in Georgia.

The arrests come just days before Georgia’s Spring Game, which the school hopes attract over 90,000 people. By the looks of it, it won’t attract Rochester and Clay, who may well be learning the old Mark Richt saying about consequences and actions.

 

 

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