College Weekly Report
by Brent Beaird
The SEC is the only league to have had at least five teams make the NCAA Tournament since 1997. Also, the last time the SEC didn’t have a team seeded at least fourth was 1990, when it had only three teams make the field and none higher than a fifth seed.
SEC RPI and strength of schedule for the contenders: Tennessee (21, 3), LSU (23, 96), South Carolina (41, 85), Florida (53, 89), and Kentucky (78, 68) and Auburn (72, 79).
Since the NCAA tournament was expanded to 64 teams in 1985, all 91 SEC teams that finished at least four games above .500 have been selected.
SEC East: Tennessee 10-5, South Carolina 9-6, Florida 8-7, Kentucky 8-7, Vanderbilt 7-8, Georgia 3-12
SEC West: LSU 13-2, Auburn 9-6, Miss State 8-7, Ole Miss 7-8, Alabama 6-9, Arkansas 2-13
If the season ended today, the four teams receiving first day byes in the SEC tournament would be South Carolina, Tennessee, LSU and Auburn.
KENTUCKY (19-11, 8-7) AT FLORIDA (21-9, 8-7): The Gators are 5-7 in their last 12 games. They have lost six of their last nine games. In the loss to Mississippi State, Walter Hodge had 20 points, Alex Tyus had 16 and Nick Calathes added 11. Florida was only 7 of 25 from the three point line.
Florida’s resume: Washington and South Carolina are arguably the biggest victories. Florida has three sophomores and three freshmen in its eight player rotation.
Kentucky Coach Billy Gillispie is feeling the heat from the fans after his team has lost seven of its last 10 games. Gillispie, who turned programs around at UTEP and Texas A & M, has 10 losses at Rupp in the last two years. Former Wildcat coach Tubby Smith lost 19 home games in a decade. Kentucky missed the NCAA Tournament last in 1991. The Wildcats, 5-7 in their last 12 games, allowed Terrance Woodbury to score 30 points in the loss to Georgia. The Bulldogs won for only the fourth time in 32 years at Rupp.
MISSISSIPPI STATE (18-12, 8-7) AT OLE MISS (16-13, 7-8): Mississippi State, 5-7 in its last 12 games, had lost three straight and five of its last six games before the win over Florida. Ravern Johnson scored 15 points to lead the Bulldogs over Florida. State never trailed in the second half leading by as many as 16 points at one point. Jarvis Varnado had 13 points and eight rebounds.
Ole Miss, 6-6 in its last 12 games, beat Arkansas by seven in overtime last Wednesday. Terrico White scored 29 points in the win.
SOUTH CAROLINA (20-8, 9-6) at GEORGIA (12-18, 3-12): South Carolina, who has lost three of its last five games, is 0-3 against top 25 teams and 0-4 against top 50 teams. The Gamecocks lost their first home conference game against Tennessee. The Vols outrebounded South Carolina 44-22. Devan Downey and Zam Fredrick had 16 points each for South Carolina who was blown out for the second straight game after being defeated by Vandy last Saturday.
ALABAMA (16-13, 6-9) AT TENNESSEE (19-10, 10-5): The Tide, 5-7 in its last 12 games, missed 14 free throws in the four-point loss to Auburn. Alonzo Gee finished with a game high 17 points, JaMychal Green added 16. Anthony Brock was only 1 of 7 from the floor.
Names mentioned for the Alabama coaching job are Anthony Grant, Mike Anderson, Tubby Smith, Oliver Purnell, Brian Gregory of Dayton, Sean Miller of Xavier, Brad Stevens of Butler, Steve Alford of New Mexico, Cliff Warren of Jacksonville, Dana Altman of Creighton.
Tennessee is 1-2 against teams in the top 25 and 5-6 against teams in the top 50. Tyler Smith had 22 points and J. P. Prince added 20 as the Vols clinched the Eastern Division with a 16 point win over South Carolina. Tennessee, 7-5 in its last 12 games, won its third straight game.
LSU (25-5, 13-2) AT AUBURN (20-10, 9-6): LSU has five seniors and a junior in its eight man rotation. In the loss to Vandy, LSU allowed A. J. Ogilvy to score a career high 33 points. Jermaine Beal added 17 points. Marcus Thornton scored 18 points for the Tigers. The LSU defense allowed Vandy to shoot 51% from the field. LSU shot only 36% from the field.
Auburn, 9-3 in its last 12 games, has won seven of eight games and is being considered as a possible bubble team. Korvotney Barber led the Tigers with 13 points and 16 rebounds in the win over Alabama. In the win over Mississippi State, Frankie Sullivan scored 14 points. Lucas Hargrove and Rasheem Barrett each scored 12. It is hard to defend Auburn and key on any one player
Top Non-Conference games according to Collegefootballnews.com
1. Southern Cal at Ohio State
2. Georgia at Oklahoma State
3. Alabama vs. Virginia Tech in Atlanta
4. USC at Notre Dame
5. FSU at Florida
6. Oklahoma at Miami
7. Oregon at Boise State
8. Nebraska at Virginia Tech
9. Georgia at Georgia Tech
10. BYU vs. Oklahoma in Arlington, Texas
11. West Virginia at Auburn
12. Utah at Oregon
13. Miami at South Florida
14. Illinois at Missouri (St. Louis)
15. South Florida at FSU
16. Notre Dame at Michigan
17. Illinois at Cincinnati
18. TCU at Clemson
19. Michigan State at Notre Dame
20. FSU at BYU
SEC SPRING DATES:
Alabama begins March 13, game: April 18;
Arkansas begins March 24, game: April 18,
Auburn begins March 24, game: April 18,
LSU begins March 12, game: April 18,
Ole Miss begins March 26, game: April 18,
Mississippi State begins March 24, game: April 18,
Florida March 25, game April 18,
Georgia begins March 16, game April 11,
Kentucky April 1, game: April 25,
South Carolina begins March 5, game: April 11,
Tennessee begins March 10, game: April 18,
Vanderbilt begins March 10, game: March 28.
RANKING THE SEC COACHES: Tom Deinhart of Rivls.com ranks the SEC coaches:
1. Urban Meyer
2. Nick Saban
3. Mark Richt
4. Houston Nutt
5. Steve Spurrier
6. Les Miles
7. Rich Brooks
8. Bobby Petrino
9. Bobby Johnson
10. Gene Chizik
11. Lane Kiffin
12. Dan Mullen
ASSISTANTS MAKING BIG MONEY: Monte Kiffin defensive coordinator Tennessee $1.2 million, Will Muschamp Texas defensive coordinator $900,000, Ed Orgeron Tennessee defensive line coach $650,000, Jimbo Fisher FSU offensive coordinator $625,000, Nick Holt Washington defensive coordinator $600,000 and John Chavis LSU defensive coordinator $500,000.
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive has received an extension through July 31, 2012. Slive has done much to clean up the SEC and to bring in unprecedented revenue to the conference in a new TV contract with ESPN.
ALABAMA: University officials revealed Thursday that Alabama had met with the NCAA Committee on Infractions on Feb. 20 in San Diego to discuss charges that it did not properly monitor a system that allowed students to obtain free textbooks for friends. Alabama officials argued that self-imposed penalties are sufficient and that the students didn’t sell the textbooks or receive non-academic merchandise. During 2007 season, five football players were held out of games for their punishment in the scandal. Athletes in other sports including track are thought to be involved. The system abuse occurred from 2005 through the fall of 2007. This means Alabama can be, but does not have to be considered under the repeat offender clause in a five-year window that began with probation in 2002. The NCAA could impose addition penalties such as probation or scholarship losses.
Ball State was recently docked three scholarships in a textbook –related situation that appears to be much larger. Documents show that after University officials found the problem stemming from the University of Alabama supply store that an investigation was done into the students and store workers.
In the Notice of Allegations sent on May 19, 2008, the NCAA made two major charges. The first was the University textbook system allowed student athletes, whose books are covered by scholarship, to obtain textbooks and supplies at an undisclosed sum. Secondly, the NCAA said Alabama officials failed to monitory the system and provide education for it. Some athletes got an extra benefit of a non-required textbooks or supplies for themselves, family members or friends. Alabama did not dispute the fact that it did not properly monitor the system. However, it sought to show that the intent was not malicious and that the school’s immediate response was sufficient.
The school broke down the guilty athletes into two categories: the first were those who intentionally violated the system, but did not intend to break NCAA rules because they believed the textbooks would be returned and also those who received extra benefits due to mistakes made by bookstore employees.
The assistant athletics director for student services Joe Dever and director of the supply store Teresa Shreve received letters of reprimand and had their salaries frozen for a year. After meeting with the NCAA infractions committee, a response is usually given in two- to- three months. (Birmingham News)
During Tuesday night’s basketball game against Auburn, Coach Nick Saban received the Iron Bowl Trophy symbolic of the winner of the annual Alabama-Auburn football game. Saban said, “This is an honor to have the trophy in our possession this year and for many years to come.” ESPN will televise the A-Day game on April 18. The last two spring game crowds have been 78,000 and 92,000. Signee Ed Stinson (6-4, 240), a four-star defensive end from Homestead, Fla., has qualified after making the necessary SAT score.
FLORIDA: The Gators have another 2010 commitment from Victor Hampton (5-10, 170), a cornerback from Charlotte (N.C.) Independence. Georgia, North Carolina, Clemson and South Carolina have offered him. Jonathan Dowling (6-3, 178), a safety from Bradenton, Fla., has also committed to Florida over Florida State, Georgia, Alabama, South Florida and South Carolina. Florida is looking to experiment with Matt Patchan at tight end and offensive line. Regardless of Internet rumors, defensive lineman Torrey Davis, a five-star signee out of Seffner (Fla.) Arwood, is still with the team. He has battled academic and discipline problems throughout his career. Davis played well in the national title game. John Brown, a defensive tackle from Lakeland, is probably transferring according to Coach Urban Meyer. Brown redshirted his first year due to academics and broke his wrist before the start of last season and did not play. In an Orlando Sentinel blog, Meyer said the comments from Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin were not humorous. Meyer remained rather tip-lipped about the situation.
MISSISSIPPI STATE: The spring game will be televised by CSS at 6:30 p.m. on April 18. This will be the first glimpse of State’s new spread offense. The team’s new slogan is “Spread the Fun.”
OLE MISS: The strength and conditioning staff have asked Dexter McCluster to gain 10 more pounds in order to weigh 180. He weighed 165 in the bowl game. He ran 42 times for 655 yards and caught 44 passes for 625 yards. Coach Houston Nutt has dismissed defensive lineman Justin Sanders and defensive back James Scott for a violation of team rules. Nutt signed 37 players on National Signing Day. Scott is an Ohio State transfer from Daytona Beach, Fla.
SOUTH CAROLINA: The Gamecocks were scheduled to begin spring practice Tuesday, but cold temperatures postponed the start until Thursday. The Gamecocks are on spring break next week. Coach Steve Spurrier has five new assistant coaches and a new strength and conditioning coach. Some of the important position battles are at cornerback with the loss of Captain Munnerlyn, Carlos Thomas and Stoney Woodson. Competing for the positions are Akeem Auguste, Addison Williams, Stephon Gilmore, DeVonte Holloman and C. C. Whitlock. New running backs coach Jay Graham is looking for a No. 1 running back in a group consisting of Eric Baker, Brian Maddox, Kenny Miles and signee Jarvis Giles, who is struggling with a foot injury. Several positions are open on the offensive line. Spencer Lanning and Adam Yates are trying to replace Ryan Succop. Ellis Johnson’s new title is Assistant head coach in charge of the defense. Aramis Hillary and Reid McCollum could push Stephen Garcia at quarterback. The team also needs to become mentally tougher. They spent most of December complaining about the coaches yelling at them too much. Eric Norwood, who had a chance to go to the NFL, is the unquestioned leader of the defense. Even in the midst of the mediocrity, Spurrier has won four more games in his first four seasons than any other coach in Gamecock history.
GEORGIA: Linebackers coach John Jancek turned down a defensive coordinator position at USF. In a surprise move, he has been named defensive co-coordinator. Willie Martinez will continue to call defensive plays during game. Georgia players have said workouts are more intense and there are more severe penalties for players who act up or don’t perform. The players say the coaches are demanding more of the players in order to prevent a repeat of last year’s problems. Coaches have spent more time overseeing workouts and making players stick to their workout programs.
ORSON CHARLES DECISION: Orson Charles (6-3, 220), a four-star tight end from Tampa, Fla. Charles has signed with Georgia over Tennessee and Southern Cal. Southern Cal coach Pete Carroll told Charles Thursday that he could wear his coveted No. 7 jersey if he signed with the Trojans. Tennessee and Georgia have promised the same. Charles announced Wednesday that he has dropped Florida. He dropped FSU several weeks ago. He visited Southern Cal last weekend.
LSU: The Tigers clinching the SEC basketball title means the school has the first “Triple-Double” in basketball, football and baseball SEC history. LSU has won double digit titles in all three sports. LSU has won 13 baseball titles and 10 each in basketball and football. Football titles: Alabama 21, Tennessee 13, Georgia 12 and LSU 10. Men’s basketball: Kentucky 43 and LSU 10, baseball: LSU 13, Alabama 13, Florida 10 and Miss State 10.
Coach Les Miles said no one has earned the starting quarterback job yet even though Jordan Jefferson played well in the bowl game. Heralded signee Russell Shepard could be used at quarterback or perhaps another position. Tiger officials have announced a home-and-home series with West Virginia starting in 2010. The first of the two meetings will begin on Sept. 25, 2010 in Tiger Stadium. The return trip will be the following September. The 2011 game will mark the first trip to the East Coast for LSU since the Virginia Tech game in 2002. LSU has four practice fields for football. One of the fields’ surfaces is being replaced in the next few weeks with an artificial surface. Safety Chad Jones will be splitting time between football practice and baseball.
AUBURN: Kodi Burns, Chris Todd, redshirt freshman Barrett Trotter and junior Neil Caudle will battle in the spring for the starting quarterback spot. The Tigers may also sign junior college walk-on receiver Jay Wisner (6-2, 195), who is from Saddleback, CC in California.
TENNESSEE: David Oku, a four-star running back from Midwest City, Okla., has signed with Tennessee. Oku is Rivals.com No. 1 all-purpose running back.
The Vols start practice begins Tuesday. In this past weekend’s junior day, some of the prospects reported some members of the football staff tearing there shirts in “Superman” style in order to fire up the recruits. Tight end Brandon Warren has been moved to receiver. Kiffin has sent letters to former Vol players that they are invited to practice and to be a part of the program. Aaron Douglas, one of Tennessee’s top signees two years ago, has been moved from tight end to tackle. Receivers coach Frank Wilson said signee Nu’Keese Richardson reminds him of USC’s Reggie Bush.
Bryce Brown, a five-star running back from Wichita, Kansas, will make his announcement on March 12 at the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame. He visited LSU this past weekend. His father said Brown will visit Miami soon, but his initial visit was delayed due to a death in the family. Brown has visited Oregon, Clemson, Kansas State, Missouri and Tennessee.
ARKANSAS: Quarterback Ryan Mallet was arrested early Sunday morning for public intoxication. Coach Bobby Petrino said he will be disciplined internally.
MIAMI: Linebacker Sean Spence is up to 211 pounds after gaining six pounds. Coach Randy Shannon said Sam Shields is transitioning well to cornerback. Defensive end Marcus Robinson weighs 240 pounds after gaining 15. Quinton Dunbar (6-3, 175), a receiver from Booker T. (Fla.) Washington High, committed to Miami over Michigan, FIU and Oregon. Redshirt freshman Tommy Streeter has recovered from tearing a tendon in his wrist. Randy Phillips is back from LCL surgery and is prepared to make a move in the secondary. The spring game is March 28. Shannon and the players report that he has lighten up and is not as gruff as before. He jokes more with the players and allows the media more access. Former Cane coach Larry Coker will be named the new coach at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
FLORIDA STATE: The NCAA Committee on Infractions has penalized the FSU football team along with several other sports in terms of four years of probation, scholarship reductions, and vacation of records. The football team will be limited to 83 grants in 2008-09, 82 in 2009-2010 and 84 in 2010-2011. FSU wants clarification on the loss of win during the 2006-07 seasons. The school is considering an appeal.
The Noles start spring practice March 16 not March 2 and the spring game is April 4. The reason for the move is to prevent practice from being interrupted by spring break. Defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews met the media Thursday. Andrews said to expect another young defense that has only eight returning players in the two-deep that had 2008 starting experience. As many as a dozen players on the two-deep will be either sophomores or redshirt freshmen.
There is concern at the receiver position. Corey Surrency has appealed for another year of eligibility according to Jimbo Fisher. He has been participating in offseason conditioning. Sophomore Bert Reed needs to step up along with freshman Jarmon Fortson and Avis Commack and veterans Rod Owens and Richard Goodman. There are many holes on defense at the end position, linebackers and secondary.
NORTH CAROLINA: The Tar Heels started spring practice March 2. The spring game is March 28. Spring practice ends April 2. Three players-junior long snapper Mark House, freshman linebacker Kenneth Harris and third year sophomore Anthony Parker-Boyd—have been dismissed for violation of team rules. The Tar Heels return nine on defense and four on offense. UNC’s front seven on defense will be strong. Help is needed at receiver after the loss of the top three wide outs-Hakeem Nicks, Brandon Tate and Brooks Foster. Dwight Jones, Todd Harrelson, Joshua Adams and Rashad Mason will need to step up. T. J. Yates returns at quarterback.
CLEMSON: The Tigers begin spring practice on March 7 and the spring game is April 11. Clemson returns four key seniors on offense: C. J. Spiller, offensive lineman Thomas Austin, receiver Jacoby Ford and tight end Michael Palmer. After the departure of Cullen Harper, third year sophomore Willy Korn will battle redshirt freshman Kyle Parker for the starting quarterback job. Korn had shoulder surgery right after the end of the season. The offensive line returns four starters. Clemson’s line allowed 33 sacks last season. The loss of Tyler Grisham and Aaron Kelly leave big holes to fill. Tailback Jamie Harper must watch his weight. He struggled with a sprained ankle last season and weighed 240 pounds in the bowl game. He has since dropped 10 pounds. Senior defensive tackle Antwon Murchison is looking to transfer to a lower division for more playing time. He was a role player for most of his career. Xavier Brewer, a redshirt freshman cornerback from Bartram Trail High in Jacksonville, Fla., is expected to contribute this season. Brewer, who has gained seven pounds of muscle (177 pounds) in the offseason, has increased his bench press from 230 to 310. Clemson is solid at the two-deep with juniors and seniors, but Brewer will see some action due to his skills.
VIRGINIA TECH: The Hokies have finished in the top seven nationally in total defense each of the past five seasons. Tech is also only one of three teams to win 10 games each of the past five years along with Texas and USC.
GEORGIA TECH: Three Tech players are leaving the program: A-back Greg Smith, defensive back Jake Blackwood and walk-on quarterback Bryce Dykes. Blackwood was an important special teams player who will forego his final season. The Yellow Jackets return 19 starters, the most in the Coastal division. Miami is next with 18. Virginia Tech and North Carolina return 16. Virginia will have 13 and Duke 12. In the Atlantic division, Boston College has the most returning starters with 16. Clemson and N C State return 15. Wake Forest returns 14, FSU 13 and Maryland 11.
ILLINOIS: Former Ed White High Coach Dan Disch turned down an opportunity to go to South Florida as defensive coordinator.
SOUTH FLORIDA: Former Cincinnati defensive coordinator Joe Tresey has accepted the same position at USF. The Bulls start spring practice Monday.
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.
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