Archive for January, 2015

14 Damned good SEC head coach pitches before National Signing Day

Dear SEC head coaches,

We know here at the SEC Football Blog that it’s a busy time for you, so we’ve put together some easy pitches that you should make when the recruits visit on the last weekend before National Signing Day.

ALABAMA (Nick Saban)

On Sunday you’ll be watching the Super Bowl, and you’ll be watching Dont’a Hightower, playing for the Patriots. I recruited him. He played for me. He’s now playing in front of millions. I’m recruiting you because I believe you’re good enough to come play for me at the University of Alabama, and go on to play on 32 teams in the NFL. If you believe you are good enough, come join me in Tuscaloosa, and be part of something special.

ARKANSAS (BRET BIELEMA)

We got through 2014 because we believed. We could easily have folded after losing that heartbreaker to Texas A&M, but we didn’t. We know we should have beaten Alabama, and we beat the hell out of Ole Miss, LSU and Texas. Come be part of something sensational in Fayetteville.

AUBURN (GUS MALZAHN)

You’re fast, you’re fit, and you’re ready to play for Auburn. That’s why I’m sitting in front of you now. You can be a part of a team that moves at a pace that makes the rest of the SEC pause and say: “Why can’t we go that quickly?”. We are fast. We are good. And the thousands who love us in Jordan-Hare will tell you that.

FLORIDA (JIM MCELWAIN)

I’m not going to lie to you: Last year was a tough year. I’m also not going to lie to you: Florida is going to be a challenge. The Florida Gators have been beaten up and laughed at by the SEC and the rest of the country. But the Gators will rise. We will rise because the coaching staff won’t let it happen again. We will rise because The Swamp won’t let it happen again. We believe in Florida. Do you?

GEORGIA (MARK RICHT)

I want you to come to play for me in Athens because I believe in you. I believe that you can get us over the hump of being potential SEC Champions to actual SEC Champions. I believe in the team. If I didn’t believe in the team, I would have resigned with all the crap that I get from the fanbase. But I haven’t, because I believe in what’s happening here between the hedges. We are the talent, and in you, we have a difference-maker.

KENTUCKY (MARK STOOPS)

It’s strange, because many people think Kentucky’s “just a basketball school”. Let me show you a DVD of our fans before the South Carolina game, and please tell me if you think we’re just a basketball school now.

LSU (LES MILES)

See those one-handed catches that Odell Beckham’s makes? That’s a LSU grad. See Jarvis Landry standing out for Miami? That’s a LSU grad. Patrick Peterson? LSU. Kyle Williams? LSU. You can be the next LSU grad tearing it up in the NFL. That’s why we want you to come play for us, because we believe you can.

MISSISSIPPI STATE (DAN MULLEN)

This team went from ignored to something in the space of a season because it believes in itself. I believe that you can come and bring that ‘something’ to Starkville. Dak Prescott’s back because he believes in us. I believe in you, too.

MISSOURI (GARY PINKEL)

Two years in the SEC, and we’ve gotten to two SEC Championship Games. This isn’t a Big 12 or Big Ten team, it’s a SEC player, and people recognise it now. People recognise how much we scare people, and we want you because you’ll scare them even more. You’re a hell of an athlete. You know that. That’s why we’re coming to see you. But you in yellow and black. Even scarier.

OLE MISS (HUGH FREEZE)

This team beat Alabama, and you’ve never seen an atmosphere like it. We believed. But then, when the Rebels were having bad years, the fans still came and still believed. That’s because in Oxford, people live and breathe their Rebels. We have a side that is going to be a difference-maker in the SEC this year, and we want you to be part of it. Because when you beat Alabama and Auburn and all the rest of the competition in your years at Ole Miss, the fans will live and breathe you, too!

SOUTH CAROLINA (STEVE SPURRIER)

I’m not retiring. I’ve coached Heisman winners, and I’ve coached teams to National Championships. I love to beat Georgia. I love the noise in Williams-Brice. Those fans are believers. There’s nothing worse than seeing the fans suffer when we lose. It’s like worse than when I told my son that Santa Claus didn’t exist. But the fans have faith. I have faith. Come play for them. Come be a hero.

TENNESSEE (BUTCH JONES)

Checkerboard end-zone with over 100,000 people screaming your name in Neyland Stadium. The place is so noisy on third downs I swear to God that it shakes. We want you to come make your name like Peyton Manning did in our stadium. A lot of players are coming to us this year because they believe in what we’re doing here, and what we will do here. Come be part of that group.

TEXAS A&M (KEVIN SUMLIN)

Over the last two years, we’ve won a Heisman Trophy and put a lot of players in the NFL. There’s one group we should be putting in the NFL, because they play the hardest for us, win or lose: And that’s our fans. Don’t believe the Seattle crap about the “12th Man”, because that’s not a Seattle tradition. It’s a Texas A&M tradition. Aggies fans fight for their team and remain faithful. They’ve done it in the good teams, and by God they’ve done it in the bad ones. Come play in front of them. I know they’d love to have you.

VANDERBILT (DEREK MASON)

If you’re ready to play in the greatest conference in the country and also get one of the greatest educations in the country, then come to Vanderbilt. We are lucky that you’re thinking of coming to us, because Vanderbilt provides the option to do both. There’s also a third thing about Vanderbilt: The turnaround. Turnarounds require hard work, belief and dedication, and I believe you can come and be part of that turnaround.

South Carolina WR to transfer

South Carolina wide receiver KJ Brent is to transfer.

“After careful consideration, I have asked USC for my release to explore the opportunity of playing my final year at another school”, he tweeted. “It is a personal decision.”

South Carolina’s 24-7 site noted that Brent had played in every game for the Gamecocks bar one, and wasn’t ineffective, hauling in 9 catches for 111 yards, and 1 TD. Before that, he had only played in a handful of games in his freshman and sophomore years, despite being 6-4.

Brent was a 3-star recruit from Marvin Ridge High School in North Carolina.

Former Vanderbilt players found guilty of rape

Two former Vanderbilt games have been found guilty of the rape of a student in 2013.

Brandon Vandenburg and Corey Batey were found to have brought the unconscious, unnamed student up to his dorm room after drinking after taking her to their bedroom, where Vandenburg photographed the assault, according to ESPN.

Two other players – Brandon E. Banks and Jaborian McKenzie, are still waiting to be tried.

The news shocked the campus in September 2013….but what has also haunted the campus was the cover-up by other football players of the action. This included star wide receiver Chris Boyd, who was booted for his role in covering up the gang rape. Boyd was given a yearlong probation in return for testifying against the defendants in the case.

The news service added that they are faced decades in jail.

 

Lane Kiffin nixes NFL gig to stay as Alabama OC

Lane Kiffin has announced that he will stay as Alabama’s offensive co-ordinator, turning his back on the opportunity to move into the NFL and grab the same position at the San Francisco 49ers.

Kiffin, who’s never been known for stability in a job in college football, raised some eyebrows when he first arrived in Alabama in 2014, but had a successful time with his offense last season, helping to take the Crimson Tide to a SEC Championship title and the College Football Play-Off Semi-Final.

Kiffin said: “I made a comment at the [Allstate] Sugar Bowl that I would be back this fall at Alabama and that is definitely the plan,” Kiffin said. “This time of year, there are lots of things out there regarding other coaching opportunities, but I want to reaffirm my commitment to the University of Alabama, coach Saban, and our team. I’m excited about what our offensive staff was able to accomplish last year, but I also think there are a lot of things we can do a better job of in terms of putting our players in the best situation to have success.

Although Kiffin was criticized for his offensive decisions in the semi-final, which included not giving Derrick Henry enough of the ball in the second half, it would be difficult to argue against his first year of success in Tuscaloosa.

And conveniently, it’s going to happen in the last weeks of recruiting before National Signing Day.

What were the best SEC games of 2014?

With the madness of recruiting going on, we decided that it was high time to remember back a little bit to the best games in this 2014 SEC season.

Because there were a hell of a lot of them worth remembering. We also add in our top five WORST games of the SEC season. And yes, that includes you, Florida….

All games are in-conference SEC games, so don’t get upset if the Georgia-Georgia Tech game isn’t on the ‘Worst Games of 2015 list’, Bulldogs fans!

1) Ole Miss 23, Alabama 17

Katy Perry! Gameday! A beautiful day in Mississippi where The Grove seemed to get more publicity than the goddamned game itself! Ole Miss fans went into this game knowing that they had a legit chance of being the Gods of the SEC, Alabama. And in the best game of the season, they did with Senquez Golson picking off Blake Sims with 37 seconds left. After that, Oxford exploded.

2) South Carolina 38, Georgia 35

Rain. Lightning. Mud. A down South Carolina team who had just come from being stuffed by Texas A&M at home facing a Georgia team high on confidence after beating Clemson on the first day of the season. The game had everything, including missed field goals, bad plays from both sides, and more momentum swings that your average Big-12 game. And that’s saying something. Georgia fans are STILL pissed by refs not giving them the 1st-and-10 after they got a measurement to try and convert a 4th-and-1 late into the game. They should probably more pissed about the fact that their ‘D’ seemed unable to make a tackle. But what a game.

3) Auburn 35, Ole Miss 31

Will forever be remembered as the ‘Laquon Treadwell game’, where the Ole Miss wide receiver broke his leg while trying to go in for a game-leading touchdown late in in the fourth quarter. Auburn recovered the ball, and the rest was history. But as games go…what a game. Both sides put up a total of nearly 1,000 yards in offense. No side had bigger than four-point lead. The atmosphere was rocking. We couldn’t have asked for anything more….except the injury to Laquon Treadwell.

4) Texas A&M 35, Arkansas 28 (OT)

Arkansas had a huge lead before blowing it, although you’ve got to give the Aggies some credit for keeping going and their receivers making so huge play. Wonderful fun in JerryWorld in late September.

5) Texas A&M 41, Auburn 38

If you hated defense, then watching this game is all-important. Both defenses seemed to be more eager in not stopping the other won in the driving rain. This game was also about three huge momentum swings. A&M had the first half and went in 35-17 up. Auburn came back to make it 38-31, before Josh Lambo’s field goal gave the Aggies a 10-point lead. Nick Marshall brought Auburn back to within 3…. and was driving for the go-ahead touchdown before he and Cameron Artis-Payne contrived to butt-fumble it on the two. He then fumbled it with Auburn driving again on the 30, which ended the game.

6) Alabama 20, LSU 13 (OT)

LSU had a lead and perhaps the game until horrible coaching decisions and gameplay (tell me if  you’ve heard this before) from the Tigers put this game into overtime. This included some poor defensive work, and one of the worst kick-offs you’ll see in a while that gave the Crimson Tide the room to tie it up. As atmospheres go, the place was rocking though.

7) Mississippi State 34, LSU 29

This game wasn’t as close as the scoreline suggests, but we’ll put this as one of the best games of the year because it announced the arrival of Dan Mullen, Dak Prescott and the Mississippi State Bulldogs, who had spent so much time in the footballing backwaters they were beginning to stagnate. Well, stagnate no longer. The Tigers couldn’t stop Prescott or The Bowling Ball known as Josh Robinson, and the ‘automatic LSU home win’ that usually happens with Tigers play the Bulldogs of Starkville was no more.

8) Missouri 21, South Carolina 20

On a feisty night at Williams-Brice, Missouri comes back from the dead to defeat the Gamecocks, much to the joy of their travelling support, who’s reaction to the game-winning TD was more English soccer than it was genteel college football. Not that we care. That’s why we love the SEC.

9) Alabama 14, Arkansas 13

This might be the game where we knew that Arkansas was going to get its win….and they would have had it if their kickers had managed to actually kick between the uprights. Arkansas couldn’t convert numerous chances, but what a game.

10) Georgia 35, Tennessee 32

Although it wasn’t a surprise who came out of this game winners, it was a surprise about the fight that Tennessee put in, particularly because of the lack of it over the years of the Volunteers not really doing that. Todd Gurley had a monster 200-yard, 2 TD game and won the game ball, and also exorcised a lot of tension by converting a 4th-and-3 to confirm the Bulldogs’ victory. As for Gurley, the rest of the season was, er, history…..

TOP FIVE WORST GAMES

1) Florida 10, Tennessee 9 — Dear God.

2) Kentucky 17, Vanderbilt 7 — Eesh. Less ‘defensive war’ and more ‘offensive misery’

3) LSU 10, Ole Miss 7 – Unreal atmosphere….and then Bo blew.

4) Missouri 42, Florida 13 – We actually watched this game. The offense was terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible for the Gators. Never gave the Gators ‘D’ a chance. UF fans weren’t happy after this one, and apparently a few ‘F’ bombs were thrown out there. Unsurprisingly.

5) Alabama 42, Missouri 13 – As one-sided a SEC championship game as you’ll never like to see again. It felt like Bama was playing a FCS school out there, and that’s not right. Mind you, Vanderbilt played like a FCS school all season long.

Tennessee loses OC to the NFL; Arkansas gains one

Tennessee has lost its offensive co-ordinator to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to SI.com, while Arkansas has gained an offensive co-ordinator.

Mike Bajakian, according to the report, has verbally agreed the move with Tampa Bay’s head coach Lovie Smith, although there has been no financial agreement signed.

Arkansas, however, has signed Central Michigan head coach Dan Enos as its OC, after Jim Chaney left to take the same role at Pittsburgh.

SI noted that Enos had a losing record at Central Michigan (26-36), but he DID reach bowls in two of the last three seasons.

But the bad news for Tennessee’s head coach Butch Jones is that Bajakian’s eyeing a new role regardless of whether a deal with Tampa Bay’s signed. Now that Enos is out at Central Michigan, there’s a new head coaching vacancy that an ambitious young coaching assistant would almost certainly be interviewed for.

SI.com noted that Bajakian had coached in the NFL before as a quality control and wide receivers coach in 2004.

 

 

Alabama LB arrested on domestic violence charges

Alabama linebacker Ryan Anderson has been arrested on third-degree domestic violence charges, according to a report by AL.com.

The former 5-star recruit was arrested on Monday night with another charge – misdemeanor criminal mischief – also on the list.

Anderson made 25 tackles last season, and it was hoped he might play more games for the Crimson Tide in 2015.

You know, if he stays out of jail.

BOTTOM LINE: The arrest of Anderson isn’t great PR for Nick Saban, who gave a second chance to DT Jonathan Taylor, who was arrested while he was at Georgia for domestic violence against his girlfriend. Taylor signed for the school in the off-season and has started classes in Tuscaloosa.

LSU, Auburn rob top co-ordinators and recruiters from Alabama

LSU and Auburn have both taken defensive co-ordinators from their biggest rival, Alabama.

In a stunning Tuesday, Kevin Steele, the Crimson Tide’s inside linebackers coach, defected to LSU to become the Tigers’ new defensive co-ordinator, after John Chavis left for Texas A&M after the firing of Mark Snyder before the bowl season after an awful season for the Aggies. Steele had previously been a defensive co-ordinator at Clemson, where his team saw 70 dropped on them by West Virginia in the 2012 Orange Bowl.

LSU fans and bloggers weren’t too happy about Steele’s signing. “The Valley Shook”, the LSU website, said that he suspects the hire “will go over like a fart in church“.

Also, LSU announced that they’d sign Ed Orgeron to be their defensive line coach, which was much more celebrated over Twitter. Orgeron is renowned to be one of the best recruiters in the game – and did a pretty great motivational job at USC after Lane Kiffin was booted from the head coaching job mid-way through the season in 2013.

Now, Auburn. The Tigers said that they had hired Alabama’s outside linebackers coach Lance Thompson.

It was pointed out by AL.com that Thompson is “one of the top recruiters in the country“, and also that this weekend is a huge one for the Plains, which host a recruiting weekend which brings in six 5-star recruits, including one committed to Tennessee and another to Georgia.

AL.com pointed out that Thompson also helped to bring in Trent Richardson, Julio Jones, Mark Barron, Robert Lester and AJ McCarron, as well as Rashaan Evans. Evans started last season for the Crimson Tide.

It is not known who Alabama head coach Nick Saban will replace Thompson and Steele with yet.

 

 

Georgia hires new offensive co-ordinator

Georgia has hired Brian Schottenheimer from the St Louis Rams as its new offensive co-ordinator.

I’m excited to have Brian join our coaching staff,” Richt said in a statement. “His NFL experience will be a perfect fit for how we like to play offensive football here at Georgia. He’ll be excellent in developing our players in both the running and passing games, which will benefit them while they are at Georgia and for their future.

Schottenheimer’s hiring comes after long-time offensive co-ordinator Mike Bobo decided to go and take on the head coaching position at Colorado State, after CSU’s head coach Jim McElwain decided to go and be the head coach at Florida.

This year St Louis’ offense – not helped by a season-ending injury to starting QB Sam Bradford – was terrible, ranking 28th in the NFL.

Schottenheimer, who will also coach UGA’s QBs, said: “This is a great opportunity to become a Georgia Bulldog for both my career and my family,” Schottenheimer said in a statement. “I’m thrilled to be part of an elite program with such national tradition and a great staff already in place. I look forward to working with young men and being a positive and significant influence on their lives as we develop them athletically, academically and socially.

 

Former UGA DT Jonathan Taylor enrolling at Alabama

Former Georgia defensive linesman Jonathan Taylor, who was thrown out of Athens for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, has enrolled in Alabama, the Crimson Tide has announced.

Taylor still faces charges in Athens. ESPN’s report said that he was arrested on July 22nd : “After police say he struck his girlfriend with a closed fist and choked her during an argument at his dormitory room at McWhorter Hall. A UGA police report said Taylor is 6-foot-4 and 340 pounds; police said his girlfriend is 5-foot-11, 170 pounds.

Taylor, and a number of other players, were also arrested in the theft-by-deception fiasco in which they cashed cheques for food from the Georgia Athletic Department twice.

ESPN noted that Nick Saban has talked in the past about giving players a second chance: “There’s always a lot of criticism out there when somebody does something wrong, everybody wants to know how you’re going to punish the guy…There’s not enough for 19- and 20-year-old kids, people out there saying, ‘Why don’t you give them another chance? Where do you want them to be? Guy makes a mistake. Where do you want them to be? You want him to be in the street, or do you want them to be here graduating?

Taylor was part of eight early enrolees to Tuscaloosa. Also included were:

  • QB Blake Barnett of Corona, Calif.
  • RB DeSherrius Flowers of Prichard
  • OL Dallas Warmack of Atlanta
  • OL Brandon Kennedy of Wetumpka
  • DB Deionte Thompson of Orange, Texas
  • DB Ronnie Harrison of Tallahassee, Fla.

However, Taylor’s signing should stir the biggest voices in the National Media.