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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Should Hugh Freeze lose his job?

The biggest question coming out of Oxford, MS at the moment is this: Will Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze be out of a job by the time the NCAA has finished with its investigations.

According to the NCAA’s filings, the school lacked insitutional control – which basically means that it turned a blind eye as boosters paid players, gave recruits thousands of dollars worth of money off from stores, paid electric bills, and let them hunt on property (which isn’t a big one). And even if Freeze himself didn’t know directly about what was going on under his nose, he darned well should have done.

Freeze has protected himself, saying: “Contrary to the allegations, I have demonstrated throughout this entire process that I have a strong record of promoting compliance and monitoring my staff, and I look forward to presenting that evidence to the Committee on Infractions.

In other words, the first thing Freeze is doing? Deny all charges and say: “Boss, it wasn’t my fault”. Why? It means that if the school DOES decide to fire him, he will still walk out with a great part of the $4.3 million he’s paid by the school – especially if this includes a severance package if he decides to appeal.

For pure butt-covering, Ole Miss may well fire Freeze because it makes them look good. Ole Miss’ AD Ross Bjork may throw him under the bus so it saves the school even worse punishment than is already given.

But although there are rumors that Freeze actually set up meetings between recruits and boosters, no-one really knows if this is true. What we do know is that any meeting between Freeze and his recruits really didn’t go that well: They were 30th in the 24-7 rankings, and 12th in the SEC.

And if they fire Freeze on something that they don’t know whether it’s true or not, then Ole Miss doesn’t look very bright in the least.

 

Ole Miss gives itself 1-year postseason ban

Ole Miss has given itself a postseason ban for the 2017 season after the NCAA found that it had violated 21 different rules.

The NCAA has charged the SEC school with a lack of institutional control, which includes various payments to players – including paying recruits between $13,000 and $16,000 in cash payments.

Ross Bjork, the school’s AD said: “The additional allegations announced today are serious,” Bjork said in a video statement released by the university. “But we will vigorously defend the university against the allegations that we believe are not appropriately supported, including that we lacked institutional control and that our head coach did not promote an atmosphere of compliance or monitor staff in the football program.”

Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss’ head coach said in a statement: “I am extremely disappointed to learn that any member of my staff violated any SEC or NCAA rules, and as the head coach, I regret those actions. Any behavior by my staff that is inconsistent with that commitment to do things the right way simply does not reflect the emphasis I personally place on NCAA compliance. As the record will show, I am constantly communicating to our compliance office, the SEC office, and industry leaders to make sure we are using best practices when it comes to doing things the right way.”

However, what was interesting was how quickly Freeze went to cover his own behind, after allegations that he had helepd to cover up the whole process. “Contrary to the allegations, I have demonstrated throughout this entire process that I have a strong record of promoting compliance and monitoring my staff, and I look forward to presenting that evidence to the Committee on Infractions.

Ole Miss had previously reduced their own scholarships, which includes 1 in 2015, 2 from 2016, and four from the 2017 and 2018 classes.

Worries to the possible future of the Rebels’ program hit Ole Miss hard in 2017: They were 30th in the 24-7 sports rankings.

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!”

 

 

Was Ole Miss 2013 recruiting class worth the money?

If Ole Miss is found out more guilty than imposing losses of double-digit football scholarships between 2015-18 (inclusive), then let’s be honest: This team has certainly been worth the money.

Under Hugh Freeze’s tutelage, which started in 2012 (although 2013 was the first class), Ole Miss brought in one of the greatest recruiting classes ever assembled in Rebs’ history in 2013, including DT Robert Nkemdiche, O-Lineman Laremy Tunsil, WR Laquon Treadwell, and S Tony Conner. 3 out of 4 of those assembled players went in the NFL first round, and Conner’s still in school after suffering injuries.

Saw three players not only go to the NFL, but go in the first. Treadwell grabbed the headlines for the right reasons (coming back from injury etc etc etc), while Tunsil’s gasmask and the thoughts that Nkemdiche might be out of mind were also slightly “unusual”. OK, they weren’t great.

On the field, the recruiting class that Freeze put together:

  • Owns a two-game winning stream over Alabama (the longest current winning streak over Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide).
  • Has beaten Mississippi State in back-to-back Egg Bowls.
  • Has beaten LSU 2 out of the last three games.
  • The only team they never solved in the SEC was Auburn, who has beaten them 2 out of the last 3 years (but not in 2015).
  • Finished with an continually-improving 27-12, The record improved incrementally year-on-year. And in the SEC over the course of that time, they went 14-12. The last Ole Miss coach finished with a winnning SEC record was David Cutcliffe.

And it’s not over yet. But Tunsil, Treadwell and Nkemdiche leaving are going to be massive, massive losses.

But we can say this for certain: Ole Miss definitely got what it paid for.

Who will win the SEC West QB battles?

Here are the QB battles from each of the SEC teams – even when they’re unwarranted (we see you, Ole Miss) before spring practices begins on March 1st.

Alabama

Blake Barnett vs Cooper Bateman vs David Cornwell 

The biggest conversation in college football will be about the Crimson Tide’s quarterback battle, and Barnett’s the big favorite to win it. He’s got the arm, and according to former QB Greg McElroy, played well on the scout team. Bateman’s speed gives the Tide options, too. Whatever happens, Lane Kiffin’s going to turn this QB into something special. Call him the QB whisperer.

Projected Winner: Barnett

Auburn

Jeremy Johnson vs Sean White vs Woody Barrett vs John Franklin III

After an awful quarterbacking season for Gus Malzahn’s quarterbacks, it’s not surprising when the head coach has said the competition is “wide open.” Frankly, we think that Johnson will get another chance to start, although Franklin’s track speed (he runs a 4.38 40) could be something to watch out for. Certainly he thinks so: “I feel like my speed alone seperates me from a lot of quarterbacks. The fact I have a cannon and can throw the ball a mile because I’ve been playing baseball all my life really helps, so I feel I’m the true definition of a dual-threat quarterback.” So he’s humble, too.

Projected Winner: Johnson

Arkansas 

Austin Allen vs Rafe Peavy vs Ty Storey vs Ricky Town

This is one of the most intriguing battles – especially with the talent on offer. Allen – brother of Razorbacks starting QB Brandon – has some monster assets, including a great arm. According to Saturday Down South, he’s already drawing comparisons to former UA great Ryan Mallett (hopefully this won’t continue to his professional career!). We love the battle that’s going to go on between Allen and Town, who couldn’t get the starting job at USC so promptly came south. Town was a former Alabama commit who decided to play for the Trojans. He was a four-star recruit – the 6th-ranked pro-style QB in the country by 24-7 Sports. If the two player as a dual pair, we hope to be hearing one of our favorite Billy Joel tunes….

Projected Winner: Town

LSU

Brandon Harris vs Danny Etling

It was thought that Harris would battle himself for the LSU starting job. But now Danny Etling’s transferred from Purdue via the graduate transfer, at least the battle’s medium (it’s certainly not hot). If Harris is awful in Spring Training, Etling’s job is his to lose. And if both are awful, they could lose Les Miles his job.

Projected winner: Harris

Ole Miss

Chad Kelly vs Shea Patterson

Kelly, last season’s incumbent, was one of the best quarterbacks in college football last season, so it’ll be difficult to see if this will be so much a battle as Patterson watching to see what Kelly does and learning from him. Oh, and rookie Patterson’s a five-star recruit and will fill in nicely next year. Talk about depth, Hugh Freeze. Last year’s competitors Ryan Buchanan and DeVante Kincade have both left the school, with Buchanan deciding to concentrate on academics and Kincade off to Grambling State.

Projected Winner: Kelly

Mississippi State

Damian Williams vs Nick Fitzgerald vs Elijah Staley vs Nick Tiano

Replacing Dak Prescott is going to be really difficult for the Cowbellers. We all know that. Williams is seen as an early favorite thanks to his 6-1, 228lb build- which according to blog “For Whom The Cowbell Tolls” – compares him more to Dak’s predecessor Chris Relf or any imposing running back out there – while Fitzgerald’s a tiny 6-5, 227lb. Staley also plays for MSU’s basketball team. The blog hints that Fitzgerald should win the job, but God knows.

Projected Winner: Williams 

Texas A&M

Nick Starkel vs Jake Hubenak

Wow. This was very different a few months ago, when we could wait for the Spring battle between Kyler Murray and Kyle Allen. Unfortunately, Jake Spavital managed to enrage both camps, and they both transferred. Sumlin’s move of getting rid of Spavital was too late. Spavital’s now at Cal, so good luck Bears. Anyway, Starkel was a three-star QB while Hubenak has the in-game experience, having played 5 games for the Aggies, including starting the bowl loss to Louisville, where he had an OK game (302 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, QB rating of 58.3). Hubenak might be the favorite in most camps because he’s got the experience, but Kevin Sumlin’s pretty good at throwing in freshmen…

Projected Winner: Hubenak

 

Ole Miss star Tunsil to return against Texas A&M

Ole Miss star offensive linesman Laremy Tunsil will return against Texas A&M, giving the Rebels a monster boost going into the final games of their SEC West run.

Tunsil was given a seven game suspension by the NCAA for receiving improper benefits, which meant the Memphis game will be his last game.

Ole Miss said: “During the course of the process, it was determined by the NCAA that Tunsil received impermissible extra benefits that included the use of three separate loaner vehicles over a sixth-month period without payment, a four-month interest-free promissory note on a $3,000 down payment for purchasing a used vehicle, two nights of lodging at a local home, an airline ticket purchased by a friend of a teammate, and one day use of a rental vehicle.  In addition, it was determined that Tunsil was not completely forthcoming when initially questioned by NCAA investigators regarding the loaner vehicles.  He later corrected his account and since apologized.

Tunsil will also have to make the vehicle payments, pay the value of the extra benefits to charity, and perform community service.

In the release, Tunsil said: “I take full responsibility for the mistakes I made and want to thank everyone for their continued support. I want to apologize to my teammates, coaches and the entire Ole Miss family for how my choices affected our program.  This was a learning experience, and I’m looking forward to being back on the field with my team and redeeming myself.  The last 10 months have been a physical and mental battle for me, but I love playing this game more than anything else.  I want to be here for my teammates who are depending on me to finish what we started together.

Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss’ coach said: “We have been supportive of Laremy throughout this process, and we are thankful he can return to competition starting with the Texas A&M game.  More important than his football ability is his character, and I am confident that Laremy will grow from this experience and continue to be a positive member of the University and our football team.

 

Tunsil is widely thought of being a first round NFL draft pick in the 2016 draft.

 

Ole Miss 2015 Preview: Great D, By Damn

Ole Miss’ 2014 was a weird one. The Rebs went to the heights of No.3 in the nation after winning their first seven games in a row, including an incredible field-invading, Katy Perry-attending, classic against Alabama. They looked solid. Bo Wallace looked ready to play. Everything was going their way. And then they walked into Tiger Stadium, LSU. There nothing went their way. They lost 10-7 that was classically bad, and then lost a home heartbreaker against Auburn 35-31, in which star WR Laquon Treadwell broke his leg and had us all reaching for the sick bucket. A 30-0 loss to Arkansas and a bowl schellacking by a pissed-off TCU – sandwiched with a gratifying 31-17 Egg Bowl victory over No.4 Mississippi State – made sure this was a season to smile about…but also think: “What if the luck had fallen for us?”

THE OFF-SEASON

Laremy Tunsil dominated the off-season, after getting arrested for domestic violence for getting in an altercation with his stepdad. Truly a horrible situation, Tunsil’s been accused of taking bribes by agents, coaches, and anyone but Wall Street bankers (actually, maybe them too!) to play at Ole Miss, but no-one actually knows what the hell is going on. It’s all pretty sad. The case was dismissed in early August, but it put a cloud over Hugh Freeze and the program. Mind you, the accusations of people taking money in the SEC aren’t exactly revelations, are they? The NCAA is still investigating.

Safety Trae Elston and WR Damore’ea Stringfellow were arrested for disorderly in January, with Elston charged with resisting arrest. Idiots. But it’s hardly the domestic violence charges that have haunted Alabama and LSU this season, is it?

Otherwise, Bo Wallace graduated, which is going to take a bit of fun out of Ole Miss’ offense this year, but recruiting went well, with four-star offensive linesman Javon Patterson, receivers DeMarkus Lodge and Van Jefferson and Juco DT DJ. ones providing the main highlights.

Anyway…

WE LOVE YOU, ROBERT NKEMDICHE AND THE DEFENSE

Seriously, we do. DT Robert Nkemdiche is absolutely filthy, and going to the NFL’s first round in 2016. If he chooses to leave. His stats of 27 tackles and 2 sacks would have been a lot more had he not been double-teamed a lot. If Nkemdiche’s tired, D.J. Jones – who also weighs in at 300lb – can provide ample back-up for him. Which isn’t bad going.

DE Fadol Brown is another part of a unit that returns seven starters. A lot of people are hugely excited the secondary.  Huskie Tony Conner is excellent in coverage, and seniors Mike Hilton and Trae Elston are going to roam the backfield. With two All-Americans departed from the unit, we will see.

AND THE OFFENSE?

The return of Tunsil to the offensive line and gamechanger Treadwell to the wide receiving corps is very exciting news for Hugh Freeze & Co, and will help junior QB Chad Kelly, who was great as a Juco after getting booted at Clemson. Freeze wasn’t exactly ecstatic-sounding naming Kelly as the Week 1 starter, but is that because Ryan Buchanan and DeVante Kincade are as great too, or that QB isn’t a great spot for the Rebels? We don’t know at this stage. And we’re unlikely to know when Ole Miss drop 60 on Tennessee-Martin, either.

As well as Treadwell, we’re excited about Cody Core (558 yards, 6 TDs) and Quincy Adeboyejo, who could cause secondaries a lot of problems.

THE SCHEDULE

The schedule’s evil. That’s because Ole Miss plays in the SEC West.

Sep. 5 – UT-Martin
Sep. 12 – Fresno State
Sep. 19 – at Alabama
Sep. 26 – Vanderbilt
Oct. 3 – at Florida
Oct. 10 – New Mexico State
Oct. 17 – at Memphis
Oct. 24 – Texas A&M
Oct. 31 – at Auburn
Nov. 7 – Arkansas
Nov. 21 – Louisiana State
Nov. 28 – at Mississippi State

PREDICTION: Our friends at Saturday Edge think that Ole Miss goes under 8.5 wins this year. We think that Ole Miss goes a respectable 8-4 this year, taking a one-game back-step because of not only the loss of talent, but also the fact that they’ve got two evil road games at Alabama and Auburn, and that there’s always a surprise loss, which we think will be to Texas A&M at home in a shoot-out. 

Ole Miss lands three-star RB

Ole Miss has gained the commitment of three-star running back D’Vaughn Pennamon.

Pennamon, from Manvel High School in Manvel, TX, is 5 ft 11 and 199lbs. He also plays wide receiver.

The player was also heavily recruited by Texas A&M, Arkansas, and Tennessee, but also had offers from Georgia, Missouri, and Florida.

 

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