SEC Spring Meetings: James Franklin interview

While Nick : and Les Miles were expected to battle it out for a National Championship in 2011, Mark Richt and Steve Spurrier were expected to battle it out for the SEC East, James Franklin and his Vanderbilt team were expected to be their inspiring, yet toothless selves.

But the Commodores had a sensational season by their standards, finishing 6-6 and getting bowl eligible (they lost 31-24 in a heartbreaker in the Liberty Bowl).

Franklin, looking resplendent in white shirt and chinos (he looked like one of the cast of the OC), took the interview with the SEC’s Buzz Baker:

The 2011 season: The UConn win at the start of the season was critical to us – UConn were a team who had just gone to a BCS Bowl, and we needed to start building success from the start.

Selling Vanderbilt to recruits: We sell Vanderbilt on education, the SEC, playing time and finally Nashville, because the culture of a town is as important as the college education.

Upgrades to the Sports Facilities: We are having a brand new field turf put in that might allow us to try and host the State high school Championship game, brand new lights and a $31m indoor facility.

The schedule: Having 8 games on our schedule in a conference as tough as the SEC allows the flexibility with the other games. You can schedule an out-of-conference schedule in the way that you need to be successful, and that’s really helpful.

I’m very supportive of a 6-1-1 schedule. Having Ole Miss as our season’s competitor makes sense, and I’m excited about these discussions.

 

 

SEC Spring Meetings: Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze talks!

Hugh Freeze isn’t new to the SEC but he’s new to the head coaching business. But he’s come to familiar waters – Oxford, Mississippi – to take over the new head coaching job.

Anyway, he talked to SEC TV’s Buzz Baker.

Here are some good excerpts of his conversation:

On coming back to Ole Miss: It’s been an exciting ride for my family. I feel honored and blessed to be a part of Rebel Nation.

The Blind Side (Freeze was the high school coach of one Michael Oher, Baltimore Ravens offensive linesman and big-time recruit who eventually came to Ole Miss): Our recruiting team has really used the film to recruit. It’s a great thing to have behind us. Michael Oher has also helped us with recruiting to the university, too.

Scholarships: I don’t know how many scholarships we’ve given out at the moment. Under Ed Orgeron we did a great job of recruiting – we had 20 players drafted to the NFL in the three years he was in charge. The campus sells itself through its beauty. If we can just get the kids to the campus, we should have a chance of competing for them. But we’ve also got to improve the talent pool.

On coaching: We need to install a competitive spirit, but also reasonable expectations for Rebel fans. But what I’ll be expecting from my first game at Ole Miss is that we keep playing for 60 minutes. The fans won’t mind losing so much as the team’s making an effort.

Style: A lot of people have labelled me as a spread offensive coach. I do believe in running the football, but I don’t mind throwing it, either.

The SEC: I’ve said that the two best teams in the SEC West were going to move to the NFC East – and they could’ve done – they were that good!

SEC Spring Meetings:Nick Saban on entitlement, titles and schedules

Nick Saban sat down with Buzz Baker to talk about things at the University of Alabama, and he made sure that he delivered more than just an interview…

Here are some of his best quotes:

On Entitlement: There was a lot of entitlement in 2010 after we won in 2009 and we played badly. In 2012, the team we have now the entitlement is less but the schedule is tougher.

But entitlement is a human condition. With it, you focus on what you’ve done and the holiday that you’re entitled to rather than focus on what makes you successful.

The LSU game: I’m proud of the way they managed losing the first LSU game. We knew that we didn’t execute properly, and we felt that if we did, we could give ourselves the chance to play again.

The 2012 team: I met the team two days after the National Championship and said: “You haven’t done anything. That team’s gone. You are going to be the target for the other teams out there. They are going to count down to when they play you. You’d better get ready”. People will want us to play like the 2011 team. But this team’s lost 23 seniors, 8 of those to the NFL. We lost some really good players on offense and defense. The role of these guys on the teams change. The guy standing next to Dont’a Hightower is suddenly going to have to take his role. That’s what people don’t understand. People don’t understand is that the team isn’t going to look a lot like the 2011-2 team.

Play-off: People want to see the best teams play. And when the leagues get bigger the better the teams will become. I think that people want to see the best four teams play in the play-offs. There is no equal parity in the leagues. There will be a time when other leagues are stronger than the SEC. You will get a lot of complaining if the No.1, 3, 7 and 11 sides get into a play-off just because they happen to be conference champions. There will be a mutiny.

Wanting something other than a play-off is about self-absorbed people who care only about their own team and not about college football or its fans.

On the BCS: I’m a BCS supporter. If we have a four-team play-off we’ll debate who the fifth team should be. They have two-hour shows for that in basketball in March for the 65th team. That’s OK. That’s just interest for our game. The media creates it.

The league schedule: There are so  many natural rivalries in the SEC and some people want rotating scheduling. It’s important to fix rivalry games and important for our team and our fans to play the other division games, too. They look forward to it. What I don’t want is another game in the SEC schedule. That would just create another headache.

Spring Meetings: Les Miles’ interview with SEC TV

In his chat with the SEC’s Buzz Baker, Les Miles – wearing a rather loud yellow shirt – and not with all his children (they are on camp, apparently!) – had some soundbytes.

Sorry if the quotes aren’t exact:

The season: We played three 2nd ranked teams and beat them all. We played 13 great teams, and the one we didn’t so well in was the National Championship game, unfortunately. Our team understands they were in the SEC West and now they have a Championship banner that no-one else hangs.

Motivation for the future?: They are excited with playing and they are looking forward to it.

The team for 2012: Good on defense, and the offense will be much better. I like the way that Zach Mettenberger has approached the Spring. I like our running game and offensive line, too. And our special teams are all back. Our return games’s back.

Play-Off: Everyone wants some style of play-off. The college football fans want four more games, but we have to include the bowl system. I don’t believe that you can reasonably have a system without those factors. And I think that including the best-ranked and highest-ranked teams is more important than a conference championship winner. The Conference Champion denotes a geographic bias. But teams are NOT equal and you have to get a team into that play-off even if it has one loss. If a conference non-champions which has one loss is on the outside looking in that would be miserable.

Scheduling [Upon being asked that it would be 6-1-1 system]: I want to understand the format more. There should be more emphasis put on the divisional rivals. You can’t decide the fate of one division based on one match between the West and East. You have to decide it by match-ups within the division [ie. West vs West// East vs East].

Missouri: Plays great defence, and has a quality coach in Pinkel and had a quality spread offence.

Texas A&M: Another Texas team, which is quality and great competition.

 

SEC Meetings: Miles, Saban headline Tuesday Schedule

Here are the SEC Spring Meetings schedule for the SEC Digital Network.

The ones highlighted are the football head coaches.

 

10:40-10.50                     Gary Pinkel, Mizzou

11:00 – 11:10                      Les Miles, LSU         

11:20 – 11:30                      Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss 
12:00 – 12:10                      James Franklin, Vanderbilt
12:30 – 12:40                      Nick Saban, Alabama
12:50 – 1:00                        Commissioner Slive

Don’t worry, we’ll be writing each of the press conferences up on SECFootballBlog.net!

Expect:

  • Gary Pinkel to talk about new, big wide receivers, and the challenge of SEC Football after the joke that was the Big XII North.
  • Les Miles to talk about quarterbacks
  • Hugh Freeze to talk about life after Houston Nutt
  • James Franklin on Vanderbilt’s continuing improvement and change in reputation.
  • Nick Saban on recruiting, oversigning, world dominance, and his defensive line
  • Commissioner Silve on just about everything else.

SEC Spring Meetings Preview: What to Watch Out For

We love the SEC Spring Meetings. Whether it’s coaches ranting on about whether student-athletes should be paid to others talking about oversigning, they are generally the first smell of powder, and the first sound of war. The only thing it is missing is fans tailgating before, during and after it in the car park, and a live animal in parking lot.

Anyway, from Tuesday to Thursday it’s the Spring Meeting from Florida, which is going to mean potential RSI for this blog and a lot of information from you guys. Seriously – if you want to find out how Wil Muschamp plans to exorcise last year’s demon in the State of Florida, you’ve come to the right place. Heck, we’ll even have James Franklin’s pep talk  ‘State of The Nation’ about Vanderbilt’s improvement, and Mike Silve’s speech that gets more attention around college football land than Roger Goodell’s in NFL land come Super Bowl time.

Here are some things to watch out for/ bet on:

1) The over/under for the amount of times oversigning is mentioned. We’re going 5, but we might be a little high.

2) Whether anyone mentions Gary Pinkel’s drink driving episode at Missouri. Sorry Gary – did you think we’d forgotten?

3) Mentions that Mike Silve makes about the SEC beating everyone ass-handed at sports this year….extra points for a mention of Georgia’s Phillips Phillips winning American Idol.

4) Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin mentioning the words: “12th Man”. Extra points for the words “national recognition”. Extra extra points if he looks aghast when someone mentions the goddawful Aggies defense last year, that managed to blow more positions than…..[add your own comparison here].

5) Derek Dooley getting asked if he’s nervous about his job.

6) Mark Richt getting asked if he’s nervous about his job.

7) Nick Saban being asked what it’s like to be cloned from Darth Vader. Then Saban popping the reporter a look, and the reporter falling over, clutching his throat.

8) Les Miles getting asked if he actually has a quarterbacking plan this year. Because he didn’t seem to have one at the National Championship Game.

9) Every coach getting asked if they’d welcome more teams into the fray should the conference expand with ReAlignmentGeddon II.

10) Steve Spurrier offering to pay players $500 per match out of his own pocket to play for South Carolina. Extra points if he explains now departed Gamecocks quarterbacks Stephen Garcia’s personal problems in graphic detail. 

11) Joker Phillips and James Franklin saying: “Yes. We believe we can contend for a SEC title this year.”

12) Wil Muschamp simply looking angry about something. He usually does. Don’t mention Charlie Weis.

13) The amount of times people mention Bobby Petrino. We’re going for 10.

Tell us what you think’s going to be mentioned!!

 

 

Slive: I Like Play-Offs

When the most powerful commissioner in college football is saying: “I like play-offs”, it’s not going to be a matter whether college football goes to a play-off, it’s a matter when it does, and how many teams are involved.

Speaking at the SEC Baseball tournament in Hoover (won by the Mississippi State Bulldogs, if you’re counting), Mike Slive said that he favours a four-team play-off.

“I think what’s in the best interest of college football is a four-team playoff,” he told ESPN. “I think it’s better for everyone involved in the game. The plus-one narrows the postseason in a way that’s not necessarily in the best interest of all the conferences.”

Of course, now comes the madness and questions:

1) Does the new SEC-Big XII game have to be a de facto semi-final or final?

2) Would Slive be against this if the SEC Champion was the fifth-ranked team in the nation (it’s gotta happen sometime!), and therefore unable to qualify under the new rules?

3) What would be they prefer, play-off games at away games or neutral venues (this blog, btw, likes the nature of ‘away games’, simply because anyone going into the likes of Eugene, Tuscaloosa, Death Valley or Camp Randall (as would have been the case this year) would have seen some great college football atmospheres?)

And last but not least?

Does this mean that we’re automatically going to go for four superconferences, built up of the SEC, Pac-12, Big Ten and Big XII, and that Notre Dame’s automatically going to have to join a conference?

The answer? No. But if it is decided that four-team play-offs are the way to go, then it would be a lot more simple if this was the case. This will mean an almighty tear-up of the Big East and ACC – although this would only be for football (basketball, we’d argue, will say the same). Not that it would be any good for the game, mind.

Why the hate for Steve Spurrier?

Steve Spurrier made some non-needed headlines in the college football world this week when ESPN’s Mark Schlabach said that the South Carolina Gamecocks coach was ‘College Football’s Most Hated Coach (Of All Time)’.

Said Schlabach in his article: “Rival fans hated Spurrier not only because he beat them so often while coaching at Florida, but more so because he loved to tell them about it afterward. From Spurrier’s famous jabs like “Free Shoes U.” and “Can’t Spell Citrus Without UT,” the Old Ball Coach gave rival fans myriad reasons to dislike him.”

Also included in the list from 2-10 are:

Ohio State’s Woody Hayes, Oklahoma’s Barry Switzer, Miami’s Jimmy Johnson, Tennessee and USC’s Lane Kiffin, Bobby Petrino, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer (formerly of Florida), Pittsburgh’s Jackie Sherrill, Ohio State’s Jim Tressel, Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez (formerly of West Virginia and Michigan).

The accusations are generally around recruiting violations, running the score up on oppositions, and his team beat your team. What is so irritating about Schlabach’s list is that there aren’t enough SEC or even Southern coaches on the list. Nick Saban should be on the list, as well as should Les Miles (simply because he seems to be the luckiest coach alive). St Charlie Of The Weis wasn’t been included at Notre Dame or Florida, and where’s Mack Brown or anyone from the University of Texas on the list? And where are the legendary SMU coaches from yesteryear?

But going back to Spurrier, we’d like to make some points about Steve Spurrier, the former Science Hill High School quarterback who had quite a good career as a QB at Florida and in the pros.

1) Spurrier wasn’t just a brilliant coach, he was a brilliant quarterback. Ask the guys who have picked up his Heisman Award. How any former Heisman quarterbacks are coaches of big-time programs? His quarterbacks at Florida were brilliant during their time as Gators – although fairly ordinary as pros.

2) Spurrier might be hated because of his time at Duke/Kentucky (he beat almost everybody en route to a 122-27 record), but let’s not take out the sins of the Old Ball Coach over the Senile One now taking over in Columbia. In fact, his record is a fairly ordinary 55-35 – although SEC East fans be warned: South Carolina’s is 8-0 over the past two seasons against Florida, Georgia, Georgia, Tennessee and hated rivals Clemson. And Spurrier’s brilliant recruiting will mean that the Gamecocks will be discussed as SEC East favourites and dark horses for a National Championship run year in, year.

3) Spurrier must absolutely hate Tigers. He’s 0-7 against Auburn (0-5) and LSU (0-2) in his time as the Gamecocks’ head coach.

4) Spurrier hates players that don’t do the right thing. How do we know that? The Steve Spurrier tantrum on the sideline if his players don’t do things to perfection – complete with throwing his visor on the turf- is something to watch.

5) He doesn’t much like bad decisions from the officials, either.

But should he really be so hated? There are far worse ballcoaches out there – for example the types that wouldn’t have kicked Stephen Garcia off the team despite his stupid antics. The types that consistently cover up recruiting. The types that leave their schools at the dead of night with just a post-it note and a “I couldn’t give a crap”. Steve Spurrier booted out Garcia, he doesn’t seem to get into recruiting trouble, and he made sure he didn’t behave like a horses’s behind on his way out of any of his jobs.

And as for those people that we think should be on the list. The SECFootballBlog believe should be on the list, so we will be supplying two of their own: One for all of college football (current list) and the second is a 1-10 on all SEC coaches. Those not on the list should count themselves lucky!

 

What will recent arrests mean to both Arkansas and Tennessee?

Another week, another bunch of arrests in the world of college football.

TENNESSEE: This week, the Tennessee Vols  tight end Cameron Clear was arrested on a felony theft charge involving a laptop, according to the Atlanta Journal-Consititution, and the Tennessee Vols has dismissed him from the team.

The sophomore tight end has one reception and four receiving yards in his Volunteers career.

WHAT THIS MEANS: The biggest pain in the neck with Clear’s arrest is that it hits embattled Vols coach badly on the depth chart. Clear was meant to be No.2 on the chart, and now he’s not there anymore. Now, it’s going to be up to Brendan Downs to do the job alongside senior Mychal Rivera to do blocking for Tyler Bray, who’s looking like the Vols’ starting QB for 2012. For the 2013 season – if he plays well, doesn’t get injured and decides not to go pro – Downs is a shoo-in for the starting job. 

ARKANSAS: Back in April, backup linebacker Tyler Gilbert was arrested following a residential burglary charge (not a great move when your program’s already under a huge amount of scrutiny following the Bobby Petrino affair). He’s been charged, suspended by his team, and we suspect he’ll be booted off if everything goes wrong.

WHAT THIS MEANS: After seeing Arkansas’ defense last year – and knowing who the Razorbacks play in the SEC West – they need as many linebackers and defensive ends as they can must – particularly when the likes of Alabama’s Eddie Lacy is going to run deep in their heart. Although we don’t think this could be a particularly damaging loss for the program, the worry for Arkansas will be if there is a string of injuries to the team. Then they’ll be seething. 

 

Could the SEC bolt for UNC and Duke?

As we know, the SEC is no stranger to expanding its reach.

South Carolina and Arkansas came aboard in 1991.

Missouri and Texas A&M came aboard in 2012.

But could Duke and UNC come along and be part of SEC country, giving them not only dominance in football, but also – dear God – basketball?

Why do we ask this question? Tonight, we were at a charity function and got talking to someone still involved with Duke who told us: “It wasn’t so long ago that we and UNC were talking to the SEC about moving there”. He also remarked that Florida State would go to the Big XII, but wasn’t so sure about Clemson’s ambitions.

With the way the ACC is imploding, this would work for everybody.

Duke and UNC would have a natural home in SEC country (after all, they are more ‘Southeastern’ than either of the SEC’s new-found members), they have strong financial backing for all their sports, and – of course, the SEC would suddenly be a massive, massive deal in basketball terms. And UNC (we’ll forget about should-be-Division-I-AA Duke football because it’s been irrelevant since Spurrier, and we strongly believe that head coach David Cutcliffe should be in a better job somewhere else)

Can you imagine what that would bring to an already powerhouse conference? Mike Silve and the rest of the SEC guys would welcome them both with open arms.

There – of course – would be some change in the SEC conferences (as both of these guys would go into the East), forcing Mizzou to play in the SEC West. This might not go down too well with Tigers fans, but it would work out nicely from not only a football level, but also a basketball one too.

And the TV revenues – especially for the SEC Network – would be absolutely gigantic.

Your thoughts please!

 

 

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