SEC Week 3 Rankings: Bama rules, Mizzou doesn’t

The SEC Football Blog went to wonderful California for the witness two things: 1) Hippies and 2) Tons of Ole Miss fans going to a Pac-12 team. There were indeed tons of hippies, and there were a ton of Ole Miss fans who went to see the Ole Miss vs Cal game. Regardless of how some people felt it was a snoozefest, no-one can argue about how close it was…..until Shea Patterson’s Pick-6.

Oh, and we’ll take SEC sundresses and bowties over bro-tastic T-Shirts, vests and girls looking like, ahem, ladies of the San Francisco night.

Anyway, here are the rankings after a quarter of the season (yes, we’re there already!). It’s pretty easy to do No.1 and No.14, but it’s really difficult to work out 2-13. That’s because – and I hate to say it – there’s an awful lot of mediocrity at the moment. 

  1. Alabama: The Crimson Tide are the best team in the country, and despite starting slowly, it’s showing it. You can’t outthink Nick Saban and his team of thousands for 60 minutes.
  2. Mississippi State: Smashing LSU at home proved that the Bulldogs ARE for real. We like Nick Fitzgerald and Aenis Williams, and last week, we couldn’t believe what a wrecking the D put on LSU. Oh, and the Bulldogs are winning the SEC West at the moment, bearing in mind its got a 1-0 conference record to Alabama’s 0-0. Nick Saban will use that to fire up his team.
  3. Georgia: The way Jake Fromm is playing, Jacob Eason might not have a job. The match-up between MSU and the Dawgs in Athens on Saturday night could well change the No.2 and No.3 ranking, but Georgia’s got momentum, and it’s looking scary.
  4. Auburn: A lot of people criticized me when I said that Auburn would give Alabama a run in the SEC West this season because of the Tigers’ poor offensive line. I didn’t believe them. I was wrong. Jarrett Stidham will come alive this year, but the question is is: Can he be kept alive long enough to do so? We love Auburn’s ‘D’ though. It’s for real.
  5. LSU: A beat-down by Mississippi State was an embarrassment. Plain and simple. The Tigers shot themselves in the foot by committing needless penalties (including two which would have cost them TDs). Danny Etling is an ordinary QB when he plays ordinary teams, which leaves defenses time to dial in on Derrius Guice. If the offense doesn’t pick up, LSU could be one very ordinary team, and people will start asking the “Is Ed Orgeron a better replacement coach than an actual head coach?” question.
  6. Florida: Again, we’ll see when Florida plays LSU, but an incredible Hail Mary/long pass from Feleipe Franks doesn’t particularly cover up just how bad Florida’s offense has looked over the last two games. The D’s excellent, though.
  7. Tennessee: Beaten by a Hail Mary/long pass by Franks, but really they should have won in The Swamp. This team’s not going to be bad, but with injuries suddenly mounting up (LB Cortez McDowell, WR Juan Jennings (rest of season) and S Todd Kelly (indefinitely)), UT’s depth could be hurt long-term.
  8. Vanderbilt: The good news? Vanderbilt’s 3-0 and scoring points. The bad news? The celebration from beating No.18 Kansas State will be slightly dulled down after they play Alabama on Saturday as the 3.30 game on CBS.
  9. Kentucky: A huge win at South Carolina was helped by the Gamecocks’ inadequacies in the red zone, as well as an injury to their incredible WR Deebo Samuel. We will see if Kentucky’s any good when they play Florida, who they’ve lost to for 30 games straight. Kentucky’s Commonwealth Stadium is going to be sold out and LOUD for the visit of the Gators.
  10. Ole Miss: Ole Miss was disappointing against Cal, but we still love Shea Patterson. Even on that Saturday night, we could see a lot that makes him one of the most fun prospects in college football – let alone the SEC.
  11. Texas A&M: The Aggies have been bad all season long, on both sides of the ball. They will really struggle in interdivisional play – to a point that the Arkansas game becomes important for bowl implications.
  12. South Carolina: The loss of Deebo Samuel could kill the bright start that was the Gamecocks’ season.
  13. Arkansas: We don’t have a lot of positive things to say about Arkansas, bearing in mind they were crushed in the only big game they played. We will see what happens against A&M – who they’ve lost the last five straight to.
  14. Missouri: Can’t play offense, can’t play defense, can’t play special teams. This Missouri team might end up with one win all season, and fire Barry Odom come-season end. And be right to.

Georgia wins in South Bend, and Week 2 in the SEC

It was a hell of a week in the SEC, where Georgia actually didn’t give their fans heartbreak in a close game (finally), Auburn lost a defensive brawl to Clemson, and Texas A&M showed why they still have problems.

But here are our quick takes on every team in the SEC after Week 2.

  1. Georgia: UGA fans turned out in their tens of thousands to South Bend to witness the Bulldogs beat the Fighting Irish 17-16. It wasn’t so much a barnburner of a game as a really ugly one, with UGA’s ‘D’ playing lights out. Jake Fromm was pretty good as a QB, which means that Jacob Eason will be worrying about his place. One worry though: The Bulldogs offensive line will face better teams’ defense than Notre Dame. We’re not sure how they’ll cope. Vegas is also kicking its heels after making Notre Dame the favorite, and so are ESPN, with 4 out of 5 of the experts picking the Leprechaun boys.
  2. Auburn: The Tigers were stifled in Death Valley by Clemson. Jarrett Stidham seemed to spend most of the game running for his life. Gamblers who had Clemson winning by more 6.5 were also happy. Auburn will be fine, but they didn’t look great.
  3. Texas A&M: In a week sadly highlighted by a racist letter to his wife and people questioning his job security, Kevin Sumlin could have done with a massive win over Nicholls State. Winning by 10 didn’t quite cut it for us. We’re writing this from Texas after seeing Texas beat San Jose State, and we can truly say this: If Texas vs Texas A&M had played their year-end game this year, then God would have to help us all. Both teams are awful.
  4. Arkansas: Is Bret Bielema really that good a coach? Are Hogs fans beginning to get impatient. A 28-7 beating at home by TCU certainly won’t make them happy. And they’ll play better Ds than that one. Suddenly the Texas A&M game in Jerryworld becomes all-important for bowl reasons….
  5. South Carolina: The Gamecocks are a sneaky pick for the SEC East. Will Muschamp’s got the offense moving in the right way….
  6. Mississippi State: Many thought that MSU would struggle at Louisiana Tech, but they didn’t, putting up 57 points by the fourth quarter. Talk about some optimism coming into the match-up against LSU…
  7. Missouri: On the other hand, we’d like to apologize to anyone who actually bet on Missouri winning 8 games after my SEC East preview earlier this year. They are awful. They lost with bad defense, bad offense, and comedy special teams moments.
  8. Alabama: Coasted to a win over Fresno State, and they are still No.1. No great revelations there. Again, if you took Fresno State to lose by less than 44 in Tuscaloosa, you would have been ecstatic by what happened. Alabama called off the Dogs at halftime effectively, and ‘only’ won by 31.
  9. LSU: Won 45-10 against Chattanooga and sacked their QB five times. Danny Etling again looked serviceable and Derrius Guice looked like Derrius Guice. They’ve got playmakers on both sides of the ball, but we’ll see how it all pans out in SEC play, particularly with a potential barnburner next week against Mississippi State and QB Nick Fitzgerald.
  10. Kentucky: We said that the Wildcats would “have it pretty easy” against Eastern Kentucky. Down 13-10 at halftime, they recovered to a 27-16 victory. But still, it was hardly a revelation for Mark Stoops.
  11.  Vanderbilt: Not a lot to say about the Commodores after the 42-0 win over Alabama A&M. Apart from the fact that it was Alabama A&M and they face Alabama on September 23rd.
  12. Ole Miss: After seeing Ole Miss look like they have lots of offense but no defense against UT-Martin, and watching Cal have a lot of offense but no defense against Weber State, we can truly say this: The Ole Miss-Cal game scheduled for next week? Could be first to 70!

Thoughts and prayers to the people for Florida in the middle of Hurricane Irma. We hope you are safely. We think particularly to the University of Florida and Gainseville, and all the students who know people in the Tampa area. We hope everyone’s safe. 

Will Alabama beat Florida State? Week 1 Predictions

OK, so it’s the start of the College Football Season proper (despite Stanford and, er, Oregon State starting things off last week) on Thursday, and to say we’re excited would be an understatement. Mostly, it’s to do with the monster battle between Alabama and Florida State, although the Michigan vs Florida game is going to be pretty awesome too.

So here’s how we think SEC teams will get on this weekend. We’ve also including some spread action if you’re into that, even if we’re not.

  1. Alabama (-7) vs Florida State: This is the game of the week and maybe the game of the college football season. Alabama will have to show everybody what they are like with a retooled defense and a new offesnive co-ordinator, while Florida State will show us what life’s like without Dalvin Cook. The key man – in my view – is going to be Alabama RB Bo Scarborough. If FSU don’t get him under control, Alabama will control the game and win this one comfortably. And that’s what we think will happen. PREDICTION: Alabama by 10. 
  2. Michigan (-4.5) vs Florida: Again a massive game to start the season, and again this pisses me off about the fact that it’s in Jerryworld instead of being a home-and-home. It would be cool to see UF going into The Big House as well as the Wolverines walk into The Swamp the year later. Well, this year both teams – with the tragic events of Houston going on down the road – are going in fairly beaten up, with Florida finally working out their quarterback just days before the start (Feleipe Franks over Malik Zaire), while Michigan has so many parts to replace (including a massive one in Jabrill Peppers). What’s also hurt Florida is the news that it’s suspended its starting running back Jordan Scarlett alongside already-sidelined Antonio Callaway. Jim McElwain must be going crazy. This should be a fun, close game. PREDICTION: Florida by 3 in a tight, fun one.
  3. Texas A&M at UCLA (-4): The fact that Texas A&M is starting the season without Myles Garrett and they have an unproven QB in Jake Hubenak adds some eyebrows to the Aggies side. Don’t get us wrong, we still think Christian Kirk is an all-world athlete, but can the Ags defense stop Josh Rosen and his exciting bunch of receivers? We think not. PREDICTION: UCLA by 7 in an go-to-the-wire game
  4. Tennessee (-3) at Georgia Tech: It’s undeniable: Tennessee’s going to be missing a lot of talent. this year. Joshua Dobbs is gone, as is RB Alvin Kamara, top WR Josh Malone, and a lot of their defense. John Kelly will be a very exciting returning RB, but other than that, we’ve got no damned idea what to expect. With Georgia Tech, they’ve just recently booted their leading rusher Dedrick Mills for ‘breaking athletic department rules’. UT won’t find walking into Georgia Tech’s stadium particularly worrying: They’ll have plenty of their own fans comin’ to Atlanta to scream Rocky Top at the top of their voice in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. But Georgia Tech may well cause them problems. This is going to be fantastic. PREDICTION: Tennessee wins by 6
  5. Georgia (-14) vs Appalachian State: Vegas seems to think something exciting’s going to happen in Athens, because the Dawgs opened as a 35-1/2 favorite and they’ve bet it down to just 14. They obviously think another Michigan 2007 game might happen. Oh, and they saw the Nicholls State debacle and they decided that UGA’s offensive line might have the same problems. OK, well here’s our argument: Georgia has an excellent young QB in Jacob Eason, two battering rams in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, and if the offensive line does its work against what will be a smaller defense, Georgia will have fun. PREDICTION: Georgia eases through, winning by 28.
  6. LSU (-16 1/2) vs BYU: We all know that this game was meant to be placed in Houston, and our thoughts are with the UH and the fans there. Sensibly, both schools didn’t argue and moved the game to New Orleans, where it’ll be essentially a home game for the Tigers. We don’t expect BYU to be able to stop any of LSU’s running posse – least of all Derrius Guice, and LSU’s defense will be far too good to let BYU have any sort of unstoppable other hand. You know, unless LSU shoot themselves in the foot – like they did against Wisconsin last year. PREDICTION: LSU wins by 21, and the Play-Off chat begins.
  7. South Carolina vs NC State (-5): Vegas has set the over/under at 52.5, which means that they think this’ll be an entertaining one. A lot of people love South Carolina’s QB Jake Bentley, and there’s a lot of hope going on with the program. The problem for NC State will be in the trenches: NC State’s got some fantastic soon-to-be NFL talent in the defensive line, featuring Bradley Chubb, Kentavius Street, B.J. Hill and Justin Jones, who had excellent seasons last year. But Carolina’s secondary better keep their eye out, because TE Jaylen Samuels is plain nasty. NC State will also have home field advantage bearing in mind this game’s being played in Dullsville (sorry Bank of America Stadium), Charlotte. PREDICTION: NC State wins by 10.
  8. Vanderbilt (-3) at Middle Tennessee: Vanderbilt finished the season pretty well with a victory over Tennessee, but we’re expected a brawl of a game in Murfreesboro, just 35 miles away. Vandy don’t bring much travelling support, so we’re expecting a full house of MTSU ready to make things difficult. If Vandy’s defense can continue to improve (head coach Derek Mason is a defensive guru), then things will be difficult for MTSU. This one will go to the wire. PREDICTION: Vandy by 3 in a classic.
  9. Kentucky (-1o) vs Southern Miss: Southern Miss is a dangerous team, and so scheduling them suddenly doesn’t look like a cupcake from the Wildcats’ point-of-view…particularly in Hattiesburg. A lot of things point to Kentucky having its hands full. PREDICTION: Kentucky wins by 4, but Southern Miss upsets Vegas. We also like the over of 57, people, as both teams don’t seem to enjoy playing much defense. 
  10. South Alabama vs Ole Miss (-23 1/2): Hugh Freeze blah blah blah…..We expect Ole Miss to blow the doors off South Alabama. If nothing else to make the point that they don’t care about no NCAA, homes. PREDICTION: Ole Miss by 42.
  11. (And onto boring game No.1:) Auburn’s a 34-1/2 point favorite against Georgia Southern. They’ll win by over 40, because Gus Malzahn will want to prove a point to the haters (blah blah blah).
  12. (Boring Game No.2): Missouri State’s visit to Missouri should see Missouri win comfortably. So much so that Vegas isn’t offering odds on the game. We think Mizzou wins by 50, and pleases our friends at the Mizzodcast, the excellent Tigers podcast.
  13. (Boring Game No.3): Mississippi State‘s 2016 opener was an embarrassment when they lost at home to South Alabama, but we don’t think it’s going to repeat itself against Charleston Southern, who is a useful FCS school (it has won the Big South twice in the last two years), but won’t keep up with the Cowbellers. Mississippi State by 38.
  14. (Boring Game No.4): We’d like to ask one massive question. Why in the Lord of Hogs’ name is Arkansas’ game against Florida A&M being played in Little Rock instead of Arkansas’ true home in Fayetteville? Arkansas will roast the Ratters by 40, and no-one’s going to care after the first quarter…

 

Can Auburn take Alabama’s SEC crown?

f his produiThis year, a lot of hope arrived on The Plains in the former of Baylor graduate transfer QB Jarrett Stidham, who has a bullet arm and an ability to play the Gus Malzahn offense. But will it be enough to beat Alabama, who arrive – yet again – stacked despite losing some real heroes in their defense?

Here’s the SEC Football Blog’s SEC West Preview. Enjoy….

  1. Alabama (12-0): Alabama’s going to have to replace Reuben Foster, Jonathan Allen, Ryan Anderson, Dalvin Tomlinson and Tim Williams. That’s a hell of a lot of talent. But they’ll re-load. There’s also the fact that offensely, Jaylen Hurts might have to do less than last year because he’s got an absolutely filthy RB trio in Bo Scarborough, Damien Harris and Joshua Jacobs. Oh, and after the Florida State game, we can’t see any worries in the schedule until they play LSU. At home. The biggest game for them will be the Iron Bowl with a much-improved Auburn team. Both teams might be undefeated going into that game, which will make it fun… WINS SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
  2. Auburn (11-1): As mentioned in our introduction, the arrival of Jarrett Stidham from Baylor has left a lot of Auburn fans drooling at the mouth (stop your farmer jokes here, people!). Not only that, but his bullet arm will be helped by a trio of top running backs in Kamryn Pettway, Kerryon Johnson and Kam Martin, and the fact that Auburn’s also got an experienced line that adds two more transfers. Defensively, the loss of Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams will hurt the Tigers. There’s still experience in the secondary, and LB DeShaun Davis in a stud.
  3. LSU (10-2 (losses to Alabama and Auburn)): Derrius Guice is an awesome, fun-to-watch running back who can destroy a defense with his speed. He’ll definitely put up the yards – although against whom will be the biggest test. While it’s all well and good putting up big numbers on Chattanooga, if he and the offensive line don’t perform against Florida, Auburn and Alabama in an evil month of October-to-November, LSU will have problems. That won’t be helped by the fact that Danny Etling isn’t great (his 2,000 yards and 11 TDs passing were undone by the fact that he had a QB passing average of 59.6), and he’s returning as the starting QB, showing the lack of depth LSU has at QB. Defensively, LSU is a shining light, with so much talent all over the board, highlighted by LB Arden Key, who was unworldly last year. The problem for us is the schedule: Will they be able to stand the triple-battering in October to November? We think they lose the Auburn and Alabama games.
  4. Texas A&M (8-4 (losses to LSU, Alabama, Auburn, and UCLA): Texas A&M’s going to adapt and adapt fast to a couple of things: The loss of one of the best DEs College Station has ever seen in Myles Garrett, as well as having a very fresh QB in Jake Hubenak taking over the offense (oh, as well as most of the WRs targets leaving, too). We love Christian Kirk’s offensive threat from special teams, and if his production picks up as a WR, he’ll be one of the most dangerous players in college football. Trayveon Williams is also a star running back, and if the offensive line does the job, it’ll take the pressure on Hubenak. If.
  5. Mississippi State (7-5): We’d just love to mention that we love QB Nick Fitzgerald. He’s unpredictable, fun to watch, and last year was weirdly hard-to-stop when he ran with the ball instead of using his, ahem, mediocre arm. Fitzgerald may have to run a lot more if MSU’s offensive line – which isn’t that great – doesn’t do its work. On the other side of the ball, Dan Mullen’s decision to swap DCs with Louisville means that Todd Grantham makes a return to the SEC after leaving Georgia. His very aggressive defenses were a lot of fun to watch, but if you’re a Mississippi State fan, but you’ll be praying that his defenses don’t maintain the trajectory that they had when he left Athens, when they were getting worse and worse. There were just too many people missing tackles. Still, the biggest game of the season’s The Egg Bowl with Ole Miss, and it could be the one that sees them go to a bowl – or not.
  6. Ole Miss (6-6 (loses Mississippi State)): A lot has been said about this Ole Miss team coming into this season with a huge chip on their shoulder. Sure, they might start hot (we expect them to start 3-0 against football giants South Alabama, UT Martin and Cal), but how will the team’s mentality change if they get the floor wiped with them by Alabama on September 30th? Offensively, they shouldn’t miss a lot of tricks if Shea Patterson’s the QB that everyone thinks he is and his wide receivers don’t fall away, but defense could be an issue because of its lack of depth. The biggest game of Ole Miss’ year will be The Egg Bowl against Mississippi State. If they win that, they ruin Dan Mullen’s chances of being bowl-eligible. That could be a lot of fun.
  7. Arkansas (5-7): There’s a lot to like about Austin Allen, but this year, we’re really not that excited about the Hogs. As much at Bret Bielema rates himself as a coach, his SEC record in horrible (10-22). We get that they have to play in an evil SEC West, but 10-22 is 10-22. And as much as that there is insistence that Arkansas’ highest-paid state employee ($4.1m per year, since you ask) is not on the hot seat, we’ve got a question: Why in the heck not? 2017 won’t be easy, with a lot of the defensive corps departed, and on the other side of ball, a lot of Allen’s receivers have got too – as well as one of the best TEs in the country in Jeremy Sprinkle, who we think will have a big NFL future. A lot will depend on Devwah Whaley, Allen’s top RB, as well as Bielema’s offensive line, which is projected to be better than their coach’s SEC record.

Mississippi State gives Mullen monster extension

Mississippi State deserves a round of applause: They showed loyalty to a man who has shown absolutely no loyalty to them over the last few years….their head coach, Dan Mullen.

In the new deal, Mullen will receive $4.5 million per season for the next four years, starting this season.

Listen, we GET there are good things about Mullen. He started in 2009 and hasn’t left. During his tenure, his record has been nothing short of phenomenal – especially for a poor team, where he’s been bowl eligible for the last seven straight years and gone 5-2 in bowls. He has a 5-3 record in the Egg Bowl against Ole Miss, and took the Cowbellers to phenomenal heights in the 2014 season.

He’s proved to be a bit of a ‘quarterback whisperer’ at the highest level, with Dak Prescott and now Nick Fitzgerald doing great things. Prescott himself has gone on to drop jaws at NFL level, which can’t have done Mullen’s credibility any damage. And his response to press questions about Fitzgerald in the aftermath of the last Ole Miss win was hilarious.

But I’ve got a problem. Where there seems to be a big job on the loose,  Dan Mullen seems to have no loyalty to the Land of Cowbell in the least. He’s been continually rumored for other jobs since taking over in Starkville, and he actually interviewed for the Miami (FL) job in 2015 before it was given to Mark Richt. Florida (2013) and Oregon (2017) were also thoughts. And although Mullen’s said that he’s happy where he is, the hiring of Jimmy Sexton – who is also the agent of a certain Nick Saban, who hasn’t shown any loyalty of his own in the least to programs – in October – doesn’t seem to indicate that.

I just can’t help thinking that the cowbell will toll for Mississippi State in this relationship. Then again, I might be wrong.

Who’s on the 2016 SEC Hot Seat? Clue: Les Miles is one

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.

Why did Mississippi State enroll a woman abuser?

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!”

 

 

Atmosphere “horrible” in South Carolina coach chase

A South Carolina source close to the SEC Football Blog said that the atmosphere in Columbia has “been horrible” around the school’s coaching search. S

South Carolina’s top target was Houston head coach Tom Herman, but a big pay rise has meant he will stay in place. They also wanted Georgia defensive co-ordinator Jeremy Pruitt, although some boosters are unsure about him thanks to his adventures with the Bulldogs coaching staff, where he apparently caused a lot of disharmony.

The chase for the South Carolina head coach job hotted up on Friday as rumors began to swirl that Auburn defensive co-ordinator Will Muschamp was close to being appointed to the role.

Muschamp is reported to be supported by former head coach Steve Spurrier, who – according to the report from SB Nation – has “recommended Muschamp to South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner and has assisted Muschamp’s efforts to contact coaches affiliated with the Gamecock program, as well as key boosters.

The source did not understand the school’s move.

SI.com has also reported USF head coach Willie Taggart has interviewed for the job. Taggart will be a great offensive selection – his Bulls side winning six out of the last seven games after starting the season 1-3, and have put up 44 and 65 points in the last two games – the former on Temple’s defense, which was meant to be pretty vaunted.

Also interviewed was Cal head coach Sonny Dykes, who led Cal to a bowl game this year. He’s also credited with the excellent quarterbacking of Jared Goff, who is thought by many to be the No.1 QB taken in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen has interviewed for the job – as has interim head coach Shawn Elliott, who took over from Spurrier after the Head Ball Coach resigned mid-season. Fox Sports has said Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez is expected to interview, as is Greg Schiano and Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley.

 

 

Who’s gonna be South Carolina’s head coach?

We all know who USC’s head coach is going to be. But how about the OTHER USC, which sits in Columbia, South Carolina, far away from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles?

There, things have been a bit of a struggle lately. And by ‘bit’, I mean ‘a lot’. To go with an horrific remnant of a hurricane that flooded the city for days, Steve Spurrier decided that head coaching wasn’t his thing anymore and promptly left mid-season. Oh, and at the end of the season, South Carolina had the ignominy of losing to The Citadel and Clemson in back-to-back weeks.

So who are the head coaching favourites for the South Carolina job?

  1. Lincoln Reily — Apparently the Gamecocks are very interested in Oklahoma OC Lincoln Riley – who’s done such as an excellent offensive job with the Sooners this year, taking them to a College Football Play-Off. He will bring with him a hell of an offensive mind – something that the South Carolina could dearly do with.
  2. Larry Fedora – Fedora’s offensive genius is doing wonders at North Carolina, and with the prospect of academic sanctions on the horizon for the North Carolina athletic system, you can see Fedora make the ACC Championship and a 11-2 season his crowning moment before leaving for a bigger challenge down South.
  3. Dan Mullen – Would be a blockbuster hire for South Carolina, particularly as it’s pretty well known that Mullen’s going to leave CowbellLand now that his four-year love affair with Dak Prescott is over and he’ll have to rebuild. Mullen’s an excellent offensive mind and was responsible for MSU’s rise from joke status to status over the last couple of years.
  4. Jeremy Pruitt – The Georgia defensive co-ordinator is apparently ‘highly interested’  in the South Carolina job. He’s been pretty good for Georgia since Todd Grantham left….if you forget the Alabama and Florida games. He’s also an excellent recruiter.
  5. Kirby Smart – Despite the news that Georgia was on the verge of signing with Smart, Carolina is still actively pursuing the Alabama DC. Expect fireworks in Carolina and Georgia if he ponies up more money.
  6. Shawn Elliott – Let’s not forget that the Gamecocks actually played a hell of a lot better with Elliott as head coach. But he still went 1-5. He’s a long shot.
  7. Will Muschamp – Probably wants another chance at head coaching after the debacle at Florida, but would anyone want to take a chance on him?

Dan Mullen’s getting close to leaving Mississippi State

If you believe the news, Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen is talking to Miami about the head coaching job in Coral Gables.

The connection for Mullen and Miami isn’t a particularly difficult one. Mullen was the offensive co-ordinator and quarterbacks coach at Florida between 2005 and 2008, and is know as one of the better quarterback coaches in the game.

Under Mullen’s leadership at Mississippi State, Dak Prescott became one of the best quarterbacks in college football in 2014 and 2015, and Mullen’s team also managed to get to No.1 in the polls in the regular season for the first time in the school’s history last year.

Mississippi State had a 54-35 record with Mullen, who is currently God in The Land Of The Cowbell.

But it’s getting obvious that Mullen’s looking for a better opportunity, and with openings available from Athens to Charlottesville to Miami opening up, the opportunities are there for the former Florida man to be well paid once this off-season is over.

So why would he be leaving? It’s pretty easy. Miami and the State of Florida are two of the most fertile recruiting grounds in the nation, and is one of the biggest names in college football – far bigger than Mississippi State. You can also expect Miami – one of the wealthier private schools in the nation – to be able to stump up around $5m – more than the current $4.2m he’s being paid by MSU.

And will Dan Mullen leave? Well, now with the graduation of Dak Prescott, Mullen’s going to have to rebuild again. MSU’s currently 18th on the 24-7 recruiting ranks – good for 8th in the SEC. Nick Fitzgerald and Elijah Staley would be battling it out for the starting QBs job on the team, which loses six starting seniors and could lose as many as 10 starting juniors (although that’s unlikely).

In Miami, Mullen might have to rebuild again, but he’ll be able to rebuild quicker – especially with the talent at his hands in South Beach.

 

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