Florida suspends 7, but will it make a huge difference?

The Florida Gators suspended seven players for the season-opening clash with Michigan at JerryWorld – including troubled wide receiver Anotnio Callaway.

They were charged for buying stuff at the school bookstore on their school IDs using money they didn’t have, then reselling them for cash.

And while they weren’t arrested and charged for fraud, coach Jim McElwain wasn’t happy. “We have a small group of players that have made some choices that are extremely disappointing” he said in a statement. “Action has been taken — they have missed some practice and will miss the Michigan game. We will use this as a learning opportunity and we will have some players step up as we move forward.”

Callaway was suspended alongside OL Kadeem Telfort, LBs James Houston and Ventrell Miller and DLs Jordan Smith, Richerd Desir-Jones and Keivonnis Davis.

And although the news that the team had lost seven players might be big for the headlines, the actual fact is that it probably won’t hurt the Gators as much as its anticipated. The reason why? Depth. Florida is already anticipated to have one of the deepest wide receiving corps in the country, so losing Callaway – and then only for one game – probably isn’t going to kill them. Secondly, no-one apart from Callaway was expected to start, according to Gators Breakdown, the Florida podcast. Thirdly, Michigan has problems of their own, having lost a ton of talent on both sides of the ball to the NFL.

 

Why the NCAA should forgive Ole Miss

The NCAA should forgive Ole Miss and get on with life.

By way of Houston Nutt, they’ve already got their prized cow in Hugh Freeze, and now they are going to do just about everything to burn Ole Miss AD Ross Bjork and friends at the stake. That’s because the NCAA is greedy, and the NCAA wants to look like the father that never gives up.

Listen, I’m not saying that Ole Miss didn’t do anything wrong. Anyone who knows anything about football in the SEC knows that players are paid to come to schools, to play at schools, and are rewarded for playing well at schools. The people that do it are either do-gooders or cult members. We’re still trying to work out which one they are.

And we’ve read about the stories of the Bagmen, and we know that thousands upon thousands more of them exist. For some reason, they love the idea of giving money to an establishment so the players can have a better life. It’s probably their own ego, or a story to tell around their other church – you know, the one where they worship Jesus Christ. But before anyone starts having massive sympathy for FBS Football player, it’s not like they have the world’s hardest time when they are school away from the football field.

Football players are known (generally) to have the tendency of taking the easiest classes, possibly/maybe getting people to do tests for them because they are so ****ing lazy (or stupid) to do it themselves/, getting three big meals per day, and getting adored by just about everybody. Oh, and there’s also the maximum female attention, too. And if you’re at a school like Clemson, you get a fun-slide, and if you’re at Alabama, you get your own taxi service to ensure that you don’t get into trouble on a Saturday night (or at least they didn’t during Julio Jones’ time there).

But with all this, we still can’t understand why the NCAA can’t work towards the idea of players getting a much bigger increase in playing stipend – or even getting paid to play. With the money the Group of 5 schools are making from their players in everything from endorsements: “The Tennessee Volunteers: The Official SEC team of Happiness” to TV deals (The SEC Network), yet the players seem to pocket nothing. I’m sure that the geniuses at the NCAA and the member schools think this is an incredible idea, but let’s be honest: The idea that players can go for 4 years, not even start for a first team, get the crap beaten out of them at every practice, and then not get paid….it’s an absolute joke.

As this carries on, you’ll get more Ole Miss stories. And more accusations by other schools about what schools do. Stories of watches going to major football players at [Name your school here], or weed to players at [Name a lot of schools here], or money going to [Name a lot of schools here]. The worst thing for the NCAA is that everything that seems to go through their mighty infractions office seems to be done at a sloth-like pace anyway, so why not get rid of it all and put in some sort of salary cap?

So why not drop the whole case and put in something that makes everyone’s lives easier? The players are pretty good at getting benefits anyway….

Can Florida win three SEC East titles in a row?

MAs much as everyone keeps on talking about Georgia, the brutal fact is this: Georgia hasn’t won a SEC title since 2005. Since Georgia’s last SEC title, Florida has won two of them. Georgia hasn’t been to Atlanta since 2012, while Florida have been to the last two.

Florida’s also won the last three Cocktail Parties against Georgia.

So who’s going to win the SEC East?

  1. Florida — Georgia might have the tailbacks, but Florida brings back a hell of a lot of experience on the receiving front, with Antonio Callaway leading the way. If Callaway can keep his nose (and lungs) clean, then the Gators have an excellent WR who had 721 yards and 3 TDs last year. If Dre Massey can also be 100%, then Florida’s really dangerous. And despite all the talk about Malik Zaire starting as quarterback, it seems as though Feleipe Franks has started in Jim McElwain’s good graces, kicking off the season’s practices with the first-team offense. And if the offensive line can play beyond expectations and keep Franks/Zaire alive, the Gators could be exciting. Oh, and while we’re mentioning exciting, things are going to be interesting with the Gators defense. New DC Randy Shannon is a fantastic hire by McElwain, and he should have some solid returnees in DE Cece Jefferson, safeties Nick Washington and  Marcell Harris. But will they be OK after losing 8 starters? Florida’s schedule sees the Gators play Tennessee, LSU, Texas A&M and Florida State at home, and Michigan and Georgia in neutral site venues. These Gators could shine. PREDICTION: 10-2 (losses to FSU and LSU)
  2. Georgia — It must be because Athens is pretty close to the SEC Network’s base in Atlanta, but everyone’s – again – drooling about the Bulldogs. OK, I GET that Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are one of the best running back combinations in the SEC. Although please name in a season where both players have managed to get through the whole season unimpeded by injury. Eljah Holyfield has been named as an exciting prospect if when one gets injured. Quarterbacks-wise, everyone with a red shirt will talk your ear off about Jacob Eason, and we know he has the skills. But get this: He’s still got a young offensive line, and his biggest piece of receiving talent has gone in Isaiah McKenzie, who at times lived up to his nickname as the ‘Human Joystick’. Terry Godwin and Riley Ridley will have a lot of slack to pick up. Defensively, Trenton Thompson (58 tackles, 5 sacks) and LB Davin Ballamy can be stars alongside a defensive line which is will be one the best in the nation. The biggest problem for UGA is a nasty schedule which sees them go to Notre Dame, Tennessee, Auburn and play a tricky Mississippi State team who has the kind of quarterback in Nick Fitzgerald to exploit their secondary. PREDICTION: 10-2 (losses to Auburn and Florida, meaning Florida goes to SEC Championship Game.
  3. Missouri — This could be a very good team, but then again, this also could be a very bad one. The returners are potential stars, with QB Drew Lock, RBs Damarea Crockett and Ish Witter and there’s a star in there in J’Mon Moore, who led all SEC receivers by averaging 84.4 per game. However, Moore dropped EIGHTEEN catches (that’s 22.5% of all balls thrown his way). He’s claimed a new focus, but we’ll have to see. Defensively, Missouri’s going to have to stop the rot. With Charles Harris now gone, the pressure’s going to be on former five-star prospect Terry Beckner Jr, who has struggled with injuries ever since he’s arrived in Columbia. He could be a frightening prospect for opposing offensive lines – especially if Marcell Frazier can get back to his best. Mizzou brings back an experienced linebacking corps who SHOULD improve from 2016. Schedule-wise, things aren’t easy with trips to Georgia, Kentucky and Arkansas, and the home games to Auburn, Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee are hardly gimmes either. PREDICTION: 8-4
  4. Tennessee —- If he doesn’t succeed, 2017 might be Butch Jones’ last at Rocky Top. Unfortunately for Jones, he’ll have to replace some studs to save his job. QB Joshua Dobbs, top RB Alvin Kamara, top WR Josh Malone, top CB Cam Sutton, top DEs Derek Barnett and Corey Vereen have all left Knoxville. That’s a lot of talent. And to make matters worse, QB Quinten Dormady – who’s seen as the potential starter – isn’t highly thought-of in the least, although WRs Jauan Jennings and Josh Smith and TE Ethan Wolf could cause problems. They’ll also be helped by an O-Line which is one of the most solid in the conference. However, the defensive losses are massive. Barnett and Vereen’s losses take 75% of last year’s sack production. The schedule is evil, with trips to Florida and Alabama as well as home games against Georgia and  LSU. They could well go 0-4 in those games. The trips to Kentucky and Missouri won’t be easy either.  PREDICTION: 6-6 (And Butch Jones gets fired after the season ends)
  5. South Carolina — People are actually pretty excited about Gamecocks football this season. After finishing 6-7, Carolina returns with a quarterback who came in under-the-radar for the second half of the year, starting seven games, going 4-3, and throwing for 1,420 yards and 9 TDs and 4 INTs. That’s Jake Bentley. Deebo Samuel (WR) and Hayden Hurst (TE) are both receivers who cause trouble for anyone’s secondary. Speaking of secondaries, the Gamecocks return five out of their top six DBs, led by the CB trio of Jamarcus King, Chris Lammons and Rashad Fenton. The big issue for them is a nasty schedule, in which they go to Georgia, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Missouri. They’ve also got a local rival who may have won the National Championship at home. They’ll be happy to go 3-2 in that space. Which we don’t think they will. PREDICTION: 5-7.
  6. Kentucky — Everyone seems to be tipping Kentucky for magnificent things this season, but I’m not convinced. The defense – which was horrible against the rush last season (110th in the FBS, giving up 228.2 yards/game at 5.15 per rush) doesn’t really improve, and they are in a conference where rushing is a big component. Their schedule – they face Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Florida, Louisville, Ole Miss, Missouri and Arkansas (amongst others) will feature teams who will try and test them. If they can improve, good things will help. Stephen Johnson is an excellent QB and WRs Garrett Johnson and Dorian Baker could cause defenses problems. But I’m sorry, I’m not sold. PREDICTION: 5-7 (Win over Ole Miss makes life better pulls people back on Mark Stoops bandwagon)
  7. Vanderbilt — I want to point this out: I really like Derek Mason, Vanderbilt’s head coach. He seems like the sort of head coach who would actually suspend a starter if they were arrested black-out drunk at the driver’s seat of his car, whatever the game they had to start the new season. You know, unlike another guys we could mention. But that doesn’t mean I think they are going to be great. Here’s why: They’ve lost a ton of talent on the offensive line and they aren’t bringing it back. The poor offensive line – against formidable defensive competition – is going to hurt Davis Webb, Vandy’s QB. If that doesn’t work, then it’s going to be a long old season. Defensively, saying goodbye to the excellent Zach Cunningham is going to be a big blow. The schedule is nasty with games against Alabama and Ole Miss, and they’ll have to go to The Swamp and to Tennessee. Otherwise, the Dores play UGA, Missouri and Kentucky at home. PREDICTION: 4-8 (Although they’ll score a stunning win over Kansas State).

Nick Saban’s not going to suspend Da’Shawn Hand

Alabama DE Da’Shawn Hand won’t be suspended by Nick Saban after his DUI arrest last weekend.

The fact that the junior was found asleep in the driver’s seat of his car by Tuscaloosa police – something that is counted as a DUI in the State of Alabama – but he was not driving may have saved his bacon on the suspension front.

Da’Shawn put himself in a bad situation, obviously made a mistake being where he was at the time,” Saban said. “But the fact that he didn’t drive the car, which is what we tell the players not to do — and it’s not OK that he was drinking, with me, and that’s a behavioral issue that needs to be addressed, and we will address it — but the fact that he didn’t drive the car and wasn’t driving the car and didn’t put other people at risk, which to me is the most significant thing when you drive under the influence — but he didn’t drive.

Hand still will face charges from the Tuscaloosa system on September 18th, but such is Saban’s influence in the town that you can expect them to be dropped fairly quickly.

Of course there is a massive argument for the fact that Da’Shawn had every intention of driving, bearing in mind that he was passed out (sorry – ‘asleep’) in the driver’s seat of his car. It’s not like he was in the passenger or backseat of his car. But fortunately for him, he’d had so much booze (and other stuff, which would surprise anyone who knows the lives of football players in Tuscaloosa) that he passed out before driving. He was probably going to take a little rest before driving intoxicated.

So in fact, Nick Saban is basically saying that drinking and driving is OK.

Just remember, this has NOTHING to do with the fact that Da’Shawn Hand is Nick Saban’s starting DEs, and a preseason all-SEC player, will you? Oh, and the fact this definitely has nothing to do with the fact that Alabama plays Florida State in the season opener in Atlanta.

Nope, nothing to see here.

 

 

Alabama tops USA Today Coaches Poll

Alabama is the No.1 pick of the USA Today Coaches Poll, it has been revealed.

Ohio State, Florida State, Southern California and National Champions Clemson round out the top five.

Surprisingly, there are no more SEC teams until No.12, when LSU is selected, followed swiftly by Auburn (13th) and Georgia (15th). Florida is 16th and Tennessee is 24th.

Here is a rundown of the Top 25:

  1. Alabama
  2. OSU
  3. FSU
  4. USC
  5. Clemson
  6. Penn State
  7. Washington
  8. Oklahoma
  9. Michigan
  10. Wisconsin
  11. Oklahoma State
  12. LSU
  13. Auburn
  14. Stanford
  15. UGA
  16. Florida
  17. Louisville
  18. Miami
  19. Kansas State
  20. West Virginia
  21. South Florida
  22. Virginia Tech
  23. Texas
  24. Tennessee
  25. Utah

It has been noted that this sets up Alabama vs Florida State pretty nicely, as well as Michigan vs Florida, which would be a monster game in itself if it wasn’t for Nick Saban!

 

Shock News: College Gameday is going to Bama vs FSU

In the most stunning news of the NCAA 2017 off-season, beating out Hugh Freeze’s magical misdials or the fact that Mitch Tribusky was selected as the top quarterback in this year’s draft, ESPN’s College Gameday has announced that it’s going to Atlanta for the College Football Kick-Off between Alabama and Florida State.

Apparently, it’s a pretty big game, so Rece, Herbie and the crew will be there to make its predictions.

We predict that they’ll all call for an Alabama victory.

 

Will Alabama’s Da’Shawn Hand play against Florida State?

Alabama pre-All SEC first team DE Da’Shawn Hand was arrested on Saturday for a DUI. Details of how much was in his system have not been released as yet.

Details of how much was in his system have not been released as yet.

To say the least, Alabama’s head coach Nick Saban was not pleased. “This type of behaviour is not acceptable and we are disappointed in Da’Shawn’s actions“, he said.

However, the next thing worried The SEC Football Blog: “We are still gathering information and will evaluate what we need to do in terms of appropriate discipline as we move forward, so better choices and decisions can be made in the future.”

Having said that, I couldn’t help but worry that Nick Saban won’t take this DUI as seriously as the rest of the country’s coaches would.

The reason why? Saban – under the guise of how he loves to give players who run into the law ‘second chances’ – has a reputation of giving players (especially those that are important to him) reduced sentences so they can play in big games.

Alabama’s first game of the season – if you haven’t heard – is against Florida State in Atlanta in one of the biggest games of the season. And in one of the biggest games of the season, the Crimson Tide is going to need their All-SEC defensive end – who had 21 tackles, 1 sack and 1 forced fumble last year but really hasn’t matched up to his five-star billing since his arrival in Tuscaloosa.

We know one thing for certain: Hand will use all the promises in the world and excuses in the world to attempt to avoid Saban’s full ire – and a reduced suspension and start some of the Florida State game.

 

 

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze resigns

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze has finally resigned from his post after months of speculation about his future.

Freeze, who batted with a .609 average in Oxford (39-25), which included back-to-back wins over Alabama and some of the best recruiting years in the school’s history, found himself embroiled in questions over the school’s recruiting practices. There are thoughts that there will be NCAA sanctions coming against the school.

However, this may not have proven to be the case. Apparently, it has come to light that a phone call had been made by Freeze’s university-issued phone…..to a number tied to a female escort service.

For a coach that has preached ethics and doing nothing wrong, this doesn’t look very good. Freeze argued to Yahoo that the call was a ‘misdial’, but do misdials take a minute? Probably not.

The Ole Miss Chancellor told the press that Freeze had been fired for a ‘pattern of personal misconduct’, but insisted that this was unrelated to the NCAA investigations, while Ole Miss AD Ross Bjork – formerly his biggest defender – said: “We proactively looked into the rest of Hugh Freeze’s phone records and found a concerning pattern.”

The school has named Ole Miss co-offensive coordinator Matt Luke as interim head coach. According to SB Nation, Luke had been offered the OC job at South Carolina but he stayed in Oxford after he was given “an aggressive offer specifically as a fallback interim coach if Freeze didn’t survive”, according to SB Nation.

 

SEC teams getting upset: The most stunning since 2012

We were thinking about doing an article in the shower about the best records in the SEC over the last five years, but they’ve already been nicely covered by everyone from Gridiron Now to Saturday Down South.

You’ll be astonished to hear that Alabama’s got the best home record in the last five years, and the crappiest home record is Kentucky’s.

It shouldn’t be much of a surprise to you to find out that after the 2016 season happened, every single SEC team in the last 5 years has winning records in the comfort of their own homes (Kentucky was the last to get to black but did so after going 5-2 last year). Last year’s two worst home records were Georgia’s and Mississippi State’s at 3-3, and Georgia’s could easily have been 2-4 if you count how badly they played against Nicholls State (mind you, UGA fans would deride Tennessee’s Hail Mary victory as a fluke, but there we go).

So with that in mind, it’s quite difficult to work out what the worst losses teams experienced at home, so we’re going for ANY in the last five years….

Alabama: We’re trying to work out what was more stunning: The Texas A&M game where Johnny Manziel ran Nick Saban’s team ragged in 2012, or Ole Miss‘s win in Tuscaloosa for the first time in 25 years. We’ll take (deep breath), the Texas A&M game….

Arkansas: When No.8 in 2012, the Razorbacks lost at home to Louisiana-Monroe. The fans are still blaming Bobby Petrino’s extra-vehicular activities for the mess that was 2012.

Auburn:  The 28-10 loss to unranked Mississippi State helped to signal the start of the end for one Gene Chizik. It was about then that Auburn fans realised that their team really wasn’t going to be very good. Chizik was fired in November, and brought in a guy called Gus Malzahn. That worked out OK…

Florida: Losing 26-20 at home to mighty Georgia Southern in 2013 saw Gators chomped.

Georgia: In 2013, Georgia went to Vanderbilt ranked as the No.15 in the country. They lost 31-27.

Kentucky: Kentucky has been amazing at struggling against non-big conference teams, with back-t0-back losses to Western Kentucky at the end of the Joker Phillips era and the start of the Mark Stoops won, but our favourite might well be 2016’s 44-35 home loss to Southern Miss….who ended 4-4 in the Conference USA.

LSU: The No.9 Tigers had won three straight against Arkansas and were probably looking forward to their 2015 encounter with the Razorbacks, particularly as they’d been thrashed 17-0 in the game previous in 2014. However, the Tigers bombed out, losing 34-17. This only heaped the pressure on Les Miles, who wouldn’t survive the 2016 season.

Missouri: The 31-27 home loss to Indiana as a No.18-ranked team in 2014 seems like a huge result at first, but then getting 51 dropped on you by Middle Tennessee State in 2016 was even worse.  Right? RIGHT?

Ole Miss: The Mid-South rivalry game between Memphis and Ole Miss wasn’t much of a rivalry between the two teams, with Memphis losing the six games in a row. It seemed obvious that No.13 Ole Miss would deal with the Tigers in 2015. They didn’t, losing 37-24.

Mississippi State: The score of South Alabama 21, Mississippi State 20 opened up the 2016 season. Not great for the SEC, and certainly not great for the Bulldogs, either.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks’ 23-22 home loss to The Citadel in 2015 won’t be a game that Gamecocks fans will want to be reminded of.

Tennessee: There were a lot of poor losses in the 2012 season, but standing out is the Vols’ 41-18 shellacking by Vanderbilt.

Texas A&M: Auburn had two SEC wins in 2015. One of them was a 26-10 win at Kyle Field against the Aggies. This made Kevin Sumlin’s seat a little hotter. It’s very hot going into the 2017 season, we can tell you.

Vanderbilt: The 37-7 crushing home loss at home to Temple in 2014 was the worst home opening defeat for the program in its entire history. It was hardly an ideal start for new coach Derek Mason, either.

If you feel that there are some games we’ve forgotten about, let us know via Twitter on @secblog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who holds the least in the SEC? (Hint: It’s not Bama!)

Every time people think “Alabama offensive line”, there’s an automatic assumption that because their running backs succeed (and over the years, the success has been nothing short of stunning at college football level), it’s because they are holding the whole time and don’t get called for it.

Hell, we even remember being in LSU’s student section for the 2012 loss to the Crimson Tide, and every time Alabama made an offensive move, someone would scream: “Holding! Holding! Holding!”. Apparently, everyone but the Crimson Tide gets called for grabbing, and it’s all Nick Saban’s fault.

But after talking to our friends at Sport Source Analytics, we realised that this wasn’t exactly true.

Over the last two years, the teams that have gotten off the lightest for holding are in fact SEC East teams, with Florida leading the way, followed by their arch-rival Tennessee. South Carolina, Missouri, Ole Miss, Texas A&M are behind them. THEN, it’s the SEC’s mighty trio of LSU, Alabama and Auburn, with Georgia, Vanderbilt, Arkansas and Mississippi State after them.

The most sinful team on the list is Kentucky, according to the stats.

Check out the table from least to most:

  1. Florida
  2. Tennessee
  3. South Carolina
  4. Missouri
  5. Ole Miss
  6. Texas A&M
  7. LSU
  8. Alabama
  9. Auburn
  10. Georgia
  11. Vanderbilt
  12. Arkansas
  13. Mississippi State
  14. Kentucky

 

 

 

 

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