College Weekly Report
by Brent Beaird
ESPN Thursday night and some Saturday schedules:
The NCAA rules committee is considering the excessive celebration penalty as a live-ball foul rather than dead-ball foul. In essence, if a player taunts another as he is going into the end zone then the officials would be able to bring back the touchdown. The penalty would be enforced at the spot of the foul. At this point it is just an idea. The committee will survey coaches to see if there is any interest. Nothing would happen until 2011, when the next rules cycle begins. Furthermore, the committee also is reminding coaches that they are responsible for the behavior of their players and repeated occurrences of unsportsmanlike behavior by a team could result in discipline by the conference. The committee also recommended that more players be ejected for helmet-to-helmet hits. Rules for roughing the punter have been redefined. If the punter runs with the ball outside the tackle box then he loses protection as a kicker. Teams could also be allowed to wear colored jerseys if there is enough contrast as approved by the teams and the conference. For the first time since 2005, the clock rules will remain in place. There were around nine fewer plays per game and the games were shortened by about 10 minutes.
- Thursday, Sept. 3: South Carolina at N C State
- Monday, Sept. 5: Miami at FSU
- Thursday, Sept. 10: Clemson at Georgia Tech
- Saturday, Sept. 12: USC at Ohio State
- Thursday, Sept. 17: Georgia Tech at Miami
- Saturday, Sept. 19: Texas Tech at Texas
- Thursday, Sept. 24: Ole Miss at South Carolina
- Thursday, Oct. 1: Colorado at West Virginia
- Thursday, Oct. 8: Nebraska at Missouri
- Thursday, Oct. 22: FSU at North Carolina
- Thursday, Oct 29: North Carolina at Virginia Tech
- Thursday, Nov. 5: Virginia Tech at East Carolina
- Thursday, Nov. 19: Colorado at Oklahoma State
- Thursday, Nov. 26: Texas at Texas A & M
- Thursday, Dec. 3: Oregon State at Oregon
Alabama won its second straight recruiting title with LSU right behind in second place. Georgia finished No. 9 and Florida at No. 10. South Carolina ended up at No. 12, Arkansas No. 14, Ole Miss No. 17 and Auburn No 18. Mississippi State was an amazing No. 22 and Tennessee finished No. 23. That’s 10 schools from one conference in the top 25.
FLORIDA: (the Gators were No. 10 in the Rivals.com rankings with 16 signees with three five-stars, nine four-stars and four three-stars.) Andre Debose (6-0, 173), a five-star receiver from Sanford Seminole, could be competing with Chris Rainey and Jeffrey Demps for carries. Gary Brown (6-3, 275), a five-star defensive tackle from Quincy, Fla., is more of a pass rusher than a run stuffer. Jelani Jenkins (6-2, 220), a five-star linebacker from Olney, Md., will start on special teams due to too much depth. Xavier Nixon (6-6, 275), a four-star offensive lineman from Fayetteville, N.C., could see some time due to a lack of depth at tackle. Jon Bostic (6-1, 218), a four-star linebacker from Wellington, Fla., will also start off on special teams. Various reports say Florida officials are trying to dump Charleston Southern for a BSC team—perhaps either Utah or TCU. However, Florida officials have told the Orlando Sentinel that there will be no major schedule changes. Non-conference: Sept. 5 Charleston Southern, Sept. 12 Troy, Nov. 21 FIU, Nov. 28 FSU. Former Gator assistant Bob Pruett, who was an assistant at Virginia, has retired.
ALABAMA: (27 signees with four five-stars, 14 four-stars and nine three-stars). Alabama coach Nick Saban addressed a need for offensive linemen in a big way with the addition of six signees including James Carpenter (6-5, 305), a four-star junior college tackle from Coffeyville, Kansas, D. J. Fluker (6-7, 350), a five-star tackle from Foley, Ala., and Brandon Moore (6-5, 315), a four-star tackle from Montgomery, Ala. Fluker is the No. 3 rated player on the Rivals100. Saban also filled a need for receivers to compliment Julio Jones with Michael Bowman (6-4, 206), a four-star receiver from Rossville, Ga., Kevin Norwood (6-3, 180), a four-star receiver from D’Iberville, Miss., and Kenny Bell (6-1, 160), a four-star receiver from Rayville, La. Dre Kirkpatrick (6-2, 180), a five-star cornerback from Gadsden City, Ala., and Trent Richardson (5-11, 210), a five-star running back from Pensacola, Fla., were late signees that pushed the Tide to the top in the rankings.
Tide officials have given permission to add 9,000 seats and 36 skyboxes to Bryant Denny Stadium which will increase capacity to over 101,000 making it the fifth largest stadium (Penn State, Michigan, Ohio State and Tennessee) in the nation. The addition will be completed for the start of the 2010 season. Dave Hart has taken over day-to-day operations in the athletic directors office while Mal Moore deals with fund-raising. Non-conference schedule: Sept. 5 Virginia Tech, Sept. 12 FIU, Sept. 19 North Texas and Nov. 21 UTC. Former Gamecock quarterback Chris Smelley will not be playing baseball for Alabama. His eligibility waiver has been denied.
OLE MISS: (37 signees including one five-stars and eight four stars and 22 three stars) The Rebels jumped 20 spots in the Rivals.com final rankings on signing day. Patrick Patterson (6-3, 215), a four-star receiver from Macon, Miss., and Bobbie Massie (6-8, 335), a five-star offensive lineman from Chatham, Va., were two of the more heralded signees. Raymond Cotton (6-4, 215), a four-star quarterback from Fort Meade, Md., chose the Rebels over Southern Miss and Kansas State. He originally committed to Auburn. Non-conference schedule: Sept. 5 at Memphis, Sept. 12 TBA, Sept. 19 Southeastern La, Oct. 17 UAB
SOUTH CAROLINA: (29 signees including 0 five-stars and 14 four-stars and 11 three-stars) This might be Coach Steve Spurrier’s best recruiting class. Stephon Gilmore (6-1, 180), a four-star defensive back from Rock Hill, S.C., can play on either side of the ball. Gilmore is No. 84 on the Rivals100 list. Spurrier signed an impressive group of wide outs beginning with Lamar Scruggs (6-3, 205), a four-star receiver from Jacksonville, Fla., and DeAngelo Smith (6-0, 174), a three-star receiver from Kingsland, Ga., and Alshon Jeffery (6-3, 214), a four-star receiver from St. Matthews, S.C. Spurrier was able to turn Jeffery, who was a Southern Cal verbal.
Jeffery will wear No. 1 at South Carolina instead of his high school No. 2. Sterling Sharpe’s No. 2 jersey was retired years ago. Mike Lemon, a former Georgia Bulldog defensive end, will have a chance to walk-on at South Carolina. He was dismissed last season after being charged with felony battery. His junior college coach, Bert Williams of Georgia Military College, said he also has a scholarship offer from a BCS-conference school. One of the goals of spring practice is to restart the running game under new offensive line coach Eric Wolford and running backs coach Jay Graham. In the past two seasons, South Carolina has averaged only 103 yards rushing per game and only 23 touchdowns. Florida had 42 rushing touchdowns last season alone. Non-conference schedule: Sept. 3 at N C. State, Sept. 19 Florida Atlantic, Oct. 3 South Carolina State and Nov. 28 Clemson. The Gamecocks will play two Thursday night games—Sept. 3 at N. C. State and Sept. 24 Ole Miss.
GEORGIA: The Bulldogs are still waiting on Orson Charles (6-3, 220), a four-star tight end from Tampa. Charles has narrowed his list down to Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Southern Cal. He has eliminated FSU. He will visit USC on Feb. 20. Kwame Geathers (6-6, 310), a defensive tackle from Carver’s Bay, S.C., is another possibility. He will either sign with Georgia, Tennessee or UCF. He could be visiting Tennessee this weekend.
GEORGIA: (18 signees including one five-star and 13 four-stars and four three-stars) The Bulldogs landed two of the better quarterback signees in the nation. Aaron Murray (6-0, 198), a four-star quarterback from Tampa, Fla., is the No. 46 ranked Rivals100 player. He led Tampa (Fla.) Plant to the state title game after recovering from a broken leg. Zach Mettenberger (6-4, 229), a four-star quarterback from Watkinsville, Ga., and Murray are already enrolled. Braden Smith (5-11, 171), a five-star cornerback from Atlanta, Ga., is a nice addition to the secondary. He is the No. 28 player in the Rivals100. The Bulldogs got a gift on signing day when Marlon Brown (6-5, 205), a four-star receiver from Memphis, Tenn., spurned Tennessee after a disagreement with Ed Orgeron to sign with Georgia. Brown is the No. 53 play in the Rivals100.
Bulldog offensive lineman Trinton Sturdivant said his knee is getting healthy after he tore the ACL, MCL and PCL in a preseason scrimmage and missed the entire season. He mentioned getting inspiration from Albert Hollis, a heralded former Bulldog back who did the same to his knee. Redshirt offensive lineman A. J. Harmon has lost from 345 pounds to 318. He also moved from the defensive line to the offensive line. Non-conference schedule: Sept. 5 at Oklahoma State, Sept. 26 Arizona State, Nov. 7 Tennessee Tech and at Nov. 28 Georgia Tech.
LSU: (24 signees including four five-stars and 11 four-stars and nine three-stars) This class is on par with Alabama. Russell Shepard (6-1, 175), a five-star quarterback from Houston, Texas is already on campus. Shepard is the No. 7 player on the Rivals100. He rushed for 835 yards in three playoff games. Craig Loston (6-2, 193), a five- star defensive back from Aldine, Texas, is the No. 20 ranked player in the Rivals100. The crown jewel of the class might be Rueben Randle (6-3, 195), a five-star receiver from Bastrop, La. Randle is the No. 2 overall player in the Rivals100. LSU assistant coach Larry Porter is the Rivals.com recruiter of the year. He was instrumental in signing eight of the Tigers No. 2 recruiting class. Charles Alexander has been granted a sixth year of eligibility. He is the only returning starter on the defensive front.
The Tigers have lost tight ends/recruiting coordinator Josh Henson, who went to Missouri. Former BC assistant Dan Yanowski has replaced him. Non-conference schedule: Sept. 5 at Washington, Sept. 19 Louisiana-Lafayette, Oct. 31 Tulane and Nov. 14 La Tech.
AUBURN: (28 signees including 0 five-stars and nine four-stars and 16 three-stars) Tiger Coach Gene Chizik was able to salvage his first class with the signing of players like Tyrik Rollinson (6-2, 185), a four-star quarterback from Sulphur Springs, Texas. Rollinson is the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback according to Rivals. Christmas came early for the Tigers when DeAngelo Benton (6-3, 210), a four-star receiver from Hampton, Va., said no to LSU, the team he originally signed with, to ink with the Tigers. David Oku (5-10, 180), a four-star running back from Midwest City, Okla., is still a possibility to sign with the Tigers. He is looking at Tennessee (his original verbal), Auburn and Syracuse. Former offensive coordinator Tony Franklin has been hired for the same position at Middle Tennessee State replacing G. A. Mangus who went to South Carolina. Non-conference: Sept. 5 Louisiana Tech, Sept. 19 West Virginia, Sept. 26 Ball State, Nov. 7 Furman
MISSISSIPPI STATE: (25 signees including 0 five-stars, seven four-stars and 17 three-stars) Coach Dan Mullen deserves much praise for signing one of State’s best classes in years. Mullen signed some much needed playmakers such as Chad Bumphis (5-11, 185), a four-star receiver from Tupelo, Miss., Dennis Thames (5-11, 183), a four-star receiver from Louisville, Miss., and Chris Smith (6-1, 191), a four-star receiver from Meridian, Miss. Tyler Russell (6-4, 200), a four-star quarterback from Meridian, Miss., could be the signal-caller of the future. Fletcher Cox (6-4, 240), a four-star defensive end from Yazoo City, Miss., is ranked No. 94 on the Rivals100 list. Cox competes in the 4 x 100 and 4 x 200 in track.
State officials have asked the NCAA to reinstate Bumphis who is ineligible because of a secondary violation. Back in October, Bumphis came up behind Sly Croom and touched his shoulder then the two spoke to each other which is a secondary violation. The NCAA will likely reinstate him. Non-conference schedule: Sept. 5 Jackson State, Sept. 19 Georgia Tech, Oct. 10 Houston and Oct. 17 at Middle Tennessee.
TENNESSEE: (19 signees including one five star, eight four stars and 10 three-stars). Regardless of immature shenanigans from new Coach Lane Kiffin this class is nowhere near the caliber that the highly-paid Vol staff is expected to sign in the future. Janzen Jackson (6-0, 174), a five-star defensive back from Lake Charles, La., is the most heralded member of the class. Jackson, originally a LSU verbal, signed the Thursday after NSD. Darren Myles (6-1, 175), a four-star safety from Atlanta, Ga., will help after Eric Berry likely goes pro in 2011. Bryce Brown, a five-star running back and Rivals.com No. 1 athlete, is visiting Tennessee this weekend.
The school has reprimanded both Kiffin and assistant Ed Orgeron for two secondary violations involving use of a fog machine and a mock press conference. Mobile columnist Paul Finebaum wrote this week that Kiffin should be fired now. Contrary to a story in Sports Illustrated, no one on the staff including secretaries (one was reassigned and another retired) has been fired by Kiffin according to athletic director Mike Hamilton. In the SI story, Kiffin was upset that no one had picked him up for 25 minutes after returning to Knoxville following the birth of his baby. Non-conference schedule: Sept. 5 Western Kentucky, Sept. 12, UCLA, Sept. 26 Ohio and Memphis (Nov. 7).
ARKANSAS: (29 signees including one five- star and eight- four stars and 20 three- stars) Ronnie Wingo (6-3, 212), a four-star athlete/running back from St. Louis, Mo., signed with Arkansas over Missouri. The prize of the class is Darius Winston (6-0, 180), a five-star cornerback from Helena, Ark. Winston, the No. 24 player in the Rivals100, intercepted eight passes and broke up nine others even though quarterbacks rarely threw his way. Non-conference schedule: Sept. 5 Missouri State, Oct. 3 Texas A & M in Arlington, Texas, Oct. 31 Eastern Michigan and Nov. 14 Troy.
KENTUCKY: (29 signees including 0 five stars, three four-stars and 16 three stars) Morgan Newton (6-4, 220), a three-star quarterback from Carmel, Ind., and Ryan Mossakowski (6-4, 201), a four-star quarterback from Frisco, Texas should provide depth. Chris Matthews ((6-5, 210), a four-star receiver from Los Angeles Harbor Community College, is a much needed bigger wide out. Matthews is the No. 9 junior college player by Rivals. Non-conference schedule: Sept. 5 TBA, Sept. 19 Louisville, Oct. 24 ULM and Nov. 7 Eastern Kentucky
FLORIDA STATE: FSU officials have begun negotiating with offensive line coach Rick Trickett for an extension. His contract ends after the 2009 season. His base salary is $200,000 per year and he receives an additional $100,000 as a speaker, fund raiser, and public relations contacts. Quarterback Christian Ponder is hoping to increase his weight from 216 to 225 pounds.
FSU’s schedule is out: Sept. 7 (Monday) Miami at home; Sept. 12 Jacksonville State at home Sept. 19 at BYU; Sept. 26 USF at home, Oct. 3 at BC, Oct. 10 GT at home, Oct. 17 Open, Oct. 22 at UNC, Oct. 31 N. C. State, Nov. 7 at Clemson, Nov. 14 at Wake, Nov. 21 Maryland, Nov. 28 at Florida
MIAMI: John Lovett, a defensive assistant at North Carolina, has replaced Bill Young as defensive coordinator. Lovett has been special teams coordinator at North Carolina. He will be the fourth coordinator in four seasons. Bryce Brown, a five-star running back from Wichita, Kansas will make his announcement on March 12. He will visit Tennessee this weekend and take another visit to either LSU, Miami or USC. LSU has entered the picture and might get his last visit. There is also talk that he really likes Oregon. He will not entertain thoughts of going to the CFL. Miami athletic director Kirby Hocutt said tickets will be reduced in 24 sections that affect around 15,000 seats. Spring practice begins on Feb. 24. The Canes will bus to games with South Florida and UCF.
Cane defensive end Eric Moncur has been granted a sixth year of eligibility. Miami’s football schedule: Sept. 7 (Monday) at FSU, Sept. 17 Georgia Tech, Sept. 26 at Virginia Tech, Oct. 3 Oklahoma, Oct. 10 FAMU, Oct. 17 at UCF, Oct. 24 Clemson, Oct. 31 at Wake Forest, Nov. 7 Virginia, Nov. 14 at UNC, Nov. 21 Duke, Nov. 28 at South Florida
MARYLAND: James Franklin, the Terps offensive coordinator, has been named the coach in waiting to replace Ralph Friedgen (64-36), who has been at the helm for nine years. Kentucky, Oregon, Texas, FSU are the other coaches with a similar plan. Purdue and Wisconsin have already made the transition.
VIRGINIA: Cav officials have set up a home and home with Indiana starting next season. Indiana comes to Virginia next season and in 2010 Virginia returns the favor. Virginia was 5-7 last year and Indiana was 3-9.
CLEMSON: The 2009 schedule is out: Sept. 5 Middle Tennessee, Sept. 10 at GT (ESPN), Sept. 19 BC, Sept. 26 Central Michigan, Oct. 3 at Maryland, Oct. 17 Wake, Oct. 24 at Miami, Oct. 31 Coastal Carolina, Nov. 7 FSU, Nov. 14 at N C State, Nov. 21 Virginia, Nov. 28 at South Carolina
NORTH CAROLINA: The 2009 football schedule is out: Sept. 5 The Citadel, Sept. 12 at UConn, Sept. 19 East Carolina, Oct. 3 Virginia, Oct. 10 Georgia Southern, Oct. 17 Open, Oct. 22 FSU (Thursday), Oct. 29 at Virginia Tech (Thursday), No. 7 Duke, No. 14 Miami, Nov. 21 at BC, Nov. 28 N C State
VIRGINIA TECH: The 2009 schedule is out: Sept. 5 Alabama (Georgia Dome), Sept. 12 Marshall, Sept. 19 Nebraska, Sept. 26 Miami, Oct. 3 at Duke, Oct. 10 BC, Oct. 17 at Georgia Tech, Oct. 29 UNC (Thursday), Nov. 5 East Carolina (ESPN), Nov. 14 at Maryland, Nov. 21 N C State, Nov. 28 at Virginia
Texas Tech and Mike Leach are stalled on contract negotiations. Contrary to popular belief, Leach has interviewed for only one job in nine seasons and turned down three interview requests during the past two seasons. Tennessee wanted to fly him up during Tech’s off week following the Nov. 8 game against Oklahoma State, but he refused choosing to concentrate on the OU game coming up. Leach has until Feb. 17 to agree to a contract. He might reject the deal and coach out the final two years of the contract. The biggest obstacle is a clause that says he must get permission from the school before interviewing with another school or be fired or pay a fine.
MISSOURI: The Tigers Oct. 3 home game against Nebraska has been moved to Thursday night Oct. 8. ESPN promised two more television games for Missouri this season for making the adjustment.
UCF: The 2009 game at Texas originally set for Sept. 19 has been moved to Nov. 7 to allow ESPN to broadcast the Texas vs Texas Tech game to be shown on Sept. 19. UCF plays Samford (Sept. 5), Buffalo (Sept. 26) and Miami (Oct. 17).
Possible NCAA tournament teams: Florida (No. 6 seed), South Carolina (No. 8 seed), Tennessee and LSU (No. 9 seed) and Kentucky (No. 11 seed). SEC is ranked No. 6 in conference rankings. Commissioner Mike Slive who is the chair of the NCAA committee said besides RPI it is important to consider these factors: Who a team played and that team’s quality, where the game was played, with whom did the team play while they had a healthy line-up and how the team played.
GEORGIA (9-15, 0-9) AT FLORIDA (19-5, 6-3): Florida’s Nick Calathes scored 33 points and joined the 1,000 point club for Florida in the loss to Kentucky. Alex Tyus added 14 points. The Kentucky series has been streaky. Kentucky won at Rupp last year snapping a seven-game Gator run and before that Kentucky had won eight straight games. The Gators lead the SEC in assists (17 per SEC game), assist to turnover ratio, and points (79 ppg). Florida is No. 2 in 3-point accuracy (40%). They are No. 4 in the league allowing 70 points per game. Going into the Kentucky game, UF was 11-0 in games making at least eight 3-point shots.
KENTUCKY (17-7, 6-3) at ARKANSAS (13-9, 1-8): The Wildcats won the game against Florida with Meeks scored 23 points. Perry Stevenson chipped in 10 points and Josh Harrellson added 11. One of the reasons that Kentucky is struggling this season is the Cats are last in the SEC in turnover margin (-2.87). Yet, Kentucky tries to compensate by being the second team in the league in rebounding margin (+ 7) and blocked shots (7.22) and field goal percentage defense (.373). Kentucky is on a three game losing streak with two straight losses in Rupp to South Carolina and Mississippi State. UK has already lost four games at home. Ole Miss, South Carolina and Mississippi State hit 31 of 73 3-point shots on the Wildcats. A loss Tuesday against Florida would mean the first four game Rupp losing streak since 1988-89 since they lost six straight.
Arkansas point guard Courtney Fortson, who was averaging 14 points and six assists, has been suspended.
SOUTH CAROLINA (17-5, 6-3) AT ALABAMA (13-10, 3-6): The Gamecocks have been one of the pleasant surprises of the season with balanced scoring from Zam Fredrick, Dominique Archie, Mike Holmes and Devan Downey, a candidate for SEC player of the year. The Gamecocks won only their second game in 23 attempts at Rupp Arena recently. South Carolina has a chance to be unbeaten at home in SEC play for the first time since 1996-97. The Gamecocks have Alabama, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt and Georgia on the road.
Alabama forward JaMychal Green might return Saturday after a nasty fall. There are reports that Alabama might spend as much as $2 million per year on a basketball coach.
MISSISSIPPI STATE (16-8, 6-3) at AUBURN (15-9, 4-5): State hit a school- record 16 3-pointers in the win over Arkansas last Saturday. However, they hit only 5 of 24 in the loss to LSU. State hit 14, 3-point shots in a win at Kentucky. The Bulldogs have already hit 190 3-point shots which is tops in the league.
Auburn beat Arkansas at home last Wednesday. Tay Waller and Lucas Hargrove both scored 14 points.
OLE MISS (13-10, 4-5) AT LSU (20-4, 8-1): LSU is the hottest team in the SEC winning five straight games. Jarvis Vernado and Chris Johnson, the two leading shot blockers faced off in the Tigers big win in double-overtime against Mississippi State. LSU has a two-game lead after the win. LSU has beaten State at home in January, 81-57 and now on the road. Tasmin Mitchell scored 41 points and 11 rebounds in the win. Marcus Thornton had 19 points and nine rebounds. Point guard Bo Spencer is out with a sprained ankle against Ole Miss. Before Saturday’s game, Coach Trent Johnson had played the same starting five for the first 24 games. Garrett Temple, last year’s point guard will take his place.
Marcus Thornton and Tasmin Mitchell have been instrumental in LSU’s 8-1 start in the league. Thornton has been averaging 19 points per game and Mitchell 12 ppg in league play. In the first six SEC wins, LSU has scored at least 79 points in every game. This is the first time the Tigers have accomplished that feat since the 1992 team led by Shaquille O’Neal scored at least 83 points in seven league game. LSU has a legitimate gripe to be ranked after winning seven straight games, six by double-digits.
Ole Miss guard Terrico White is a candidate to be named the SEC Freshman o f the Year. White is averaging 11 points per game. He scored 23 in a recent loss to Vandy.
VANDERBILT (15-8, 4-5) at TENNESSEE: (15-8, 6-3): The Vols easily beat Georgia Wednesday night.
Vandy won its third straight game Saturday by beating Ole Miss. The Rebels came into the game with a three-game win streak. Vandy center A.J. Ogilvy scored 17 points. The Commodores have beaten Ole Miss 46 of the past 51 games the two teams have played.
BRENT BEAIRD IS A SPORTS WRITER FOR MYCLAYSUN IN ORANGE PARK, FLA. HE ALSO WRITES FOR RIVALS.COM, SAMSPORTSLINE.COM AND GATOR BAIT MAGAZINE. HE CAN BE HEARD ON SPORTS RADIO 1010 XL.
E-MAIL BRENT AT firstname.lastname@example.org