NEINAS BACKS PLUS-ONE: During the commissioners' BCS meetings last month, Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas took a backseat on public comments regarding a playoff. His thoughts on possible change to college football's postseason weren't as sought after as peers like Larry Scott in the Pac-12, Jim Delany in the Big Ten or Mike Slive in the SEC.
That was, in part, because Neinas plans to leave his post by July 1 and hand his brief title of commissioner over to a successor. Neinas, though, opened up about his thoughts in a recent interview with The Oklahoman's Berry Tramel.
Eight and 16-team models seem to be losing steam, while the four-team model with three additional games is picking up traction. Neinas joined that chorus. "I like the idea, if you're going to take four, take four champions," Neinas told the paper. "They're not hard to identify.
"The selection process is one that would concern me. The easiest is taking four conference champions." It's still very, very early in the process, but I'd bet we see a four-team playoff eventually. What that looks like, how teams are selected and where games are played could get messy, though.
Neinas said he doesn't see a downside to a four-team playoff, but the payoff? "Looking at it very broadly, we've agreed, we've got to do something to maintain public interest," Neinas said. "We want a vibrant postseason. We have to explore ideas that will make it better. There's obviously strong support of a four-team arrangement." (espn.com)
SEC SPRING PRACTICE DATES
2012 SEC Football Media Days
- Alabama - March 9 - April 14
- Arkansas - March 14 - April 21
- Auburn -March 23 - April 14
- Florida - March 14 - April 7
- Georgia - March 20 - April 14
- Kentucky - March 21 - April 21
- LSU - March 1 - March 31
- Ole Miss - March 23 - April 21
- Mississippi State - March 22 - April 21
- Missouri - March 6 - April 14
- South Carolina - March 13 - April 14
- Tennessee - March 26 - April 21
- Texas A&M - March 31 - April 28
- Vanderbilt - March 16 - April 14
Tuesday-Thursday, July 17-19
Wynfrey Hotel, Hoover, Ala.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
1st session (approx. 1 - 3:30 p.m.) - South Carolina, Texas A&M
2nd session (approx. 3:20 - 6 p.m.) -- Missouri, Vanderbilt
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
1st session (approx. 8:30 - 11:20 a.m.) - Florida, Mississippi State
2nd session (approx. 10:50 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.) - Arkansas, Kentucky
3rd session (approx. 2:30 - 5 p.m.) - Auburn, LSU
Thursday, July 19, 2012
1st session (approx. 8:30 - 11:20 a.m.) - Alabama, Tennessee
2nd session (approx. 10:50 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.) - Ole Miss, Georgia
Media Days were Wednesday-Friday last year and are Tuesday-Thursday this year. Media Days were Wednesday-Friday the last five years.
SEC FOOTBALL TEAM REPORTS
ALABAMA: Running back Eddie Lacy and wide receiver Duron Carter will be among the players who were missing Friday when Alabama opened spring football practice. Lacy (turf toe) and offensive tackle Arie Kouandjio (knee) are coming off of surgeries and won't participate in any spring practices. Carter and fellow wide receivers Ronald Carswell and Michael Bowman remain suspended according to coach Nick Saban. When postseason practice began last December, Saban divulged that Carswell and Bowman had been suspended "for a long time." Carter did not practice during the postseason, but a suspension never was announced. Saban said redshirt freshman Brent Calloway will be moved from running back to inside linebacker this spring.
Punter Jay Williams has left the team to play baseball, and two seniors - offensive lineman Tyler Love and defensive linemen Undra Billingsley - have graduated and decided not to use their fifth season of eligibility.
Saban said other players who had offseason surgery - including inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, who dislocated his hip in the BCS Championship Game - will participate in spring practice. Barrett Jones, the 2011 Outland Trophy winner who played left tackle for most of last season, opened spring practice at center. Jesse Williams, who played defensive end last season, will open spring practice at nose guard, Saban. (al.com)
AUBURN: Auburn has changed its "tentative" starting date for spring practice from March 21 to March 23, a move that gives its two new coordinators a little extra time to prepare for their first season together. The annual A-Day spring game is still set for April 14. Auburn will work through A-Day, then practice again April 16 in a final review. New offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler and new defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder are putting together their playbooks for the spring run. Separately, Auburn will hold its Pro Day on Tuesday. Auburn will unveil statues honoring its three Heisman Trophy winners in a ceremony before its spring A-Day Game on April 14. The Tigers will honor Pat Sullivan, Bo Jackson and Cam Newton at 10 a.m. The game is at 2 p.m. All three are expected to be on hand. (al.com)
FLORIDA: Florida released the contracts for its three newest football coaches last Tuesday, with offensive coordinator Brent Pease signing a three-year deal. The former Boise State offensive coordinator was hired in January to replace Charlie Weis, who left the program in December after one season. Pease's contract is for $490,000 annually. Florida released Pease's contract along with those for offensive line coach Tim Davis and director of strength and conditioning Jeff Dillman in response to a Freedom of Information request from the Orlando Sentinel. Davis signed a one-year contract for $275,000 in February. It also includes the same Nike supplement and dealer car as Pease's contract. Davis replaced Frank Verducci, who left the program after one season but did not immediately take another job. Dillman was hired as the program's director of strength and conditioning in January and oversees Florida's weight training program for all sports, with a focus on football. He has a two-year contract for $215,000.
After missing all of the 2011 season with a health issues, Florida's Neiron Ball appears ready to get back to the playing field. The linebacker was hospitalized in February of last year with a burst blood vessel in his brain and, after spending a couple of days in intensive care, was released. It was initially feared that, because of what is technically called arteriovenous malformation, Ball's playing career might be over. Fortunately, that doesn't appear to be the case. In a posting to his Facebook page Friday night, Ball stated that he has been medically cleared to resume his playing career less than two weeks before the gators are set to begin spring practice. The school has yet to confirm Ball's availability for spring practice and beyond. This year's spring sessions will commence March 14. (orlandosentinel.com)
GEORGIA: South Carolina's No. 1 overall prospect has committed to UGA for a second time, and this time receiver Tramel Terry said he's sticking to it. The 6-foot, 180-pound wide receiver from Goose Creek (S.C.) High School picked the Bulldogs over South Carolina and Clemson, among his 20 scholarship offers. Terry is UGA's best import from South Carolina since AJ Green. Terry originally committed to Georgia last July, but back off the pledge a couple of months later.
LSU: Mo Isom, a fifth-year senior at LSU who has starred as a goalkeeper for the Tigers' soccer team, began working with the football team in practice last fall, practicing kickoffs and field goals. The six-foot senior hopes to compete for playing time with returning LSU placekicker Drew Alleman. Isom wrapped up a highly decorated soccer career at LSU in 2011 in which she displayed considerable leg strength, particularly during one play that earned her national attention, a 90-yard goal that landed Isom on ESPN's SportsCenter. (al.com)
Tiger quarterback Zach Mettenberger said he is getting used to throwing 250 passes a day," Mettenberger said, matter-of-factly. "My arm is fine, it's just precautionary." Yes, Mettenberger is the honest-to-goodness starter, and it means more than simply more reps. He's going to be carrying more pressure and responsibility as the Tigers transition into the 2012 season. Mettenberger, 35 pounds lighter at 6-3 and 225, said he's ready for it all.
Guard Josh Dworaczyk, who will return after being awarded a sixth season of eligibility by the NCAA, is watching from the sideline early in spring, with sophomore La'El Collins getting the reps at left guard. LSU is still working out in helmets and shorts. Dworaczyk is going through special teams and individual drills like normal, but sitting out team drills. He said he expects that to change when the Tigers don pads. (tigerbait.com)
OLE MISS: Coach Hugh Freeze added to his first Ole Miss class recently when three-star cornerback Anthony Standifer (Crete, Ill./Crete-Monee) committed Sunday. He is the 18th commitment in the Rebels' 2012 class. It took longer than expected for Standifer to sign with the Rebels, but he finally put his pretty interesting recruitment to bed. Standifer originally found another home during the recruiting process when he committed to Michigan last June, but decommitted in December. He reopened his recruitment and stretched it out well beyond national signing day. He took official visits to Boise State, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Pitt and Vanderbilt, before finally settling on the Rebels. Standifer stands 6 feet, 180 pounds and was ranked the No. 38 cornerback in the 2012 class. (espn.com)
MISSOURI: The Tigers have been one of the most consistent programs in the country of late. In fact, they're one of just six schools from BCS automatic qualifier conferences who've won a minimum of eight games in each of the past six seasons (2006-11). The other five programs who are in that exclusive club are LSU, Oklahoma, USC, Virginia Tech and West Virginia. LSU is the only SEC team in that group, so maintaining that kind of consistency in the SEC will be a daunting task for Missouri.
The Tigers have released their 2012 depth chart entering the spring. One thing of note is that senior Travis Ruth is listed as the starting left guard. He can also play center and started there last season when he was healthy.
Missouri's top tailback, Henry Josey, will miss the entire spring. He suffered a serious knee injury last season and is poised to undergo a second surgical procedure to repair his ACL. Josey expects to play during the 2012 season. But if his recovery hits a snag, he still has three years of eligibility remaining. (espn.com)
Rebuilding up front: The Tigers will be without three starters on the offensive and defensive lines this spring. That isn't exactly what any SEC team would like, considering games are won in the trenches in this league. Fortunately for Missouri, both sides saw multiple guys get playing time last season.
Wide receivers: Quarterback James Franklin had a heck of a 2011 season, but as he gets ready for 2012, he's still looking for a big-play threat in his receiving corps. T.J. Moe returns as the Tigers' leading receiver, while Marcus Lucas was fourth in receiving last year. Both have the potential to be elite in this league, but can one leave spring with the title of playmaker? Lucas showed flashes last year, but flashes only go so far. Missouri needs to find a definitive receiving threat. (espn.com)
RICHARDSON OUT FOR SPRING: After two years at the JUCO level - and one brief verbal flip-flop - defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson signed with Missouri in December of 2010, although he missed spring practice and a portion of summer camp last year as he worked his way through eligibility issues with the NCAA. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Richardson will be a no-go for the Tigers again this spring, although for an entirely different reason.
Head coach Gary Pinkel confirmed Monday that Richardson and defensive end Brad Madison will miss all of spring practice due to injury. Both linemen are listed as out due to offseason shoulder operations. In 13 games - two starts - last season, Richardson finished fifth on the team in tackles for loss with eight and tied for fifth in sacks with two. Madison started 12 games in 2011 and was second on the Tigers with 4.5 sacks and third in TFL with 8.5. (cft.com)
SOUTH CAROLINA: South Carolina will apparently play Texas A&M as its future permanent cross-division SEC opponent in football. South Carolina president Harris Pastides told our Rob Brennan that A&M seems like the only option for a permanent cross-divisional rival in football. The Gamecocks have always played Arkansas as its cross-divisional opponent from the west.
"Arkansas is a long way off. Arkansas and Missouri have kind of buddied up because they are neighboring states and wanted to play each other," Pastides said. "That left the opportunity for us to think about Texas A&M, I'd love to know what the fans think."
Pastides went on to say an official announcement on this issue will be in about one to two weeks. But is very confident, the Aggies and Gamecocks will become future SEC rivals. "If all goes the way I think it will, we'll probably be swapping Arkansas for Texas A&M in the fall," said Pastides. (abccolumbia.com)
TENNESSEE: The Vols lost defensive backs coach Terry Joseph to Nebraska last week and have replaced him with Josh Conklin, who was the defensive coordinator and safeties coach at The Citadel. Conklin and Derrick Ansley will split up the secondary duties next season. Ansley, who was a graduate assistant on Alabama's staff the past two seasons, will coach the cornerbacks.
Conklin, who played linebacker at Dakota State and graduated in 2003, has been on The Citadel staff for the past three seasons. Before that, he coached defensive backs and special teams at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C.
The Vols will have an entirely new defensive staff in 2012. Sal Sunseri, who was previously the outside linebackers coach at Alabama, takes over as defensive coordinator. John Palermo will coach the defensive line, and Ansley and Conklin will coach the defensive backs. (espn.com)
VANDERBILT: After signing a class considered the best in school history, Vanderbilt gained its 22nd member of the class when kicker/punter Colby Cooke (Goochland, Va.) signed with the Commodores Monday. The 6-3, 200-pound Cooke was named a 2011 Parade All-American after hitting 17-of-21 field goals, the second highest single-season total by a Virginia prep kicker. He also connected on kicks of 48 and 51 yards in the state finals. Forty of Cooke's 54 kickoffs also resulted in touchbacks. He also played on the USA squad at the 2012 International Bowl, held on Feb. 1 in Austin, Texas. (espn.com)
ACC FOOTBALL REPORT
EARLY SEASON SCHEDULE: This year, we have Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech on Labor Day. The matchup is a microcosm of the entire 2012 ACC schedule -- the conference games will draw more attention and interest than the nonconference schedule this year. Of course, the end-of-the-year rivalry games against SEC opponents South Carolina, Georgia and Florida remain of the utmost importance -- not only to the ACC fan bases, but to the league's overall image, and the ACC will play some great nonconference games against programs like Penn State, Stanford, Auburn, Tennessee, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame.
When it comes to the best storylines of 2012, though, ACC fans will get the best bang for their buck within the ACC.
Once again, it should be a wide-open race in both divisions, contrary to the popular picks Virginia Tech, Florida State and Clemson. Florida State and Clemson play each other in September. So do Wake Forest and Florida State, Miami and Georgia Tech, Miami and Boston College, Virginia and Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech has three Coastal Division opponents in the first three weeks. With the Hokies and Jackets kicking things off on Labor Day, and Clemson travelling to Florida State on Sept. 22, two of the ACC's season-defining games will have already been played, and they will be far more compelling and meaningful than most, if not all, of the nonconference matchups that month.
Once again, it will be a September to remember in the ACC -- but not because of what happens between Clemson and Auburn or NC State and Tennessee. It will be because of what happens in the conference race. (espn.com)
CLEMSON: Coach Dabo Swinney said the main point of emphasis this spring will be the offensive and defensive lines, where the Tigers have to replace a total of six starters. The goal is to find a two-deep up front. He said offensive lineman Brandon Thomas has been like an MVP this offseason and has embraced a leadership role. Thomas can play tackle or guard effectively, and gives the Tigers some options up front. Swinney said Tyler Shatley, a former defensive tackle, looks "totally different" on the offensive side of the ball. Shatley will start off at right guard.
The only two injured players out this spring are linebacker Tony Steward and safety Rashard Hall. Steward, who tore his ACL in October, was denied a medical redshirt, Swinney said. Steward will be a true sophomore. Steward, one of the nation's top rated linebacker prospects in 2011, tore his ACL last season after playing 36 defensive snaps in five games. (postandcourier.com)
BELLAMY BACK: Suspended since early December, it appears Mike Bellamy is slowly emerging from Dabo Swinney's doghouse. By way of Travis Sawchik of the Charleston Post & Courier, the Clemson head coach said Tuesday that Bellamy will be on the field with his teammates when the Tigers open spring practice Wednesday. The running back was originally suspended for the ACC championship game win over Virginia Tech due to unspecified violations of team rules
NEW D COORDINATOR: Swinney delayed the practice schedule a week to allow new defensive coordinator Brent Venables time to evaluate his personnel and put together a preparation plan. There's high interest any time the Tigers start over with a new coordinator; but perhaps even more so this year, given the success of Chad Morris' offensive overhaul last spring. Venables says he's going into the spring with a clean sheet - no returning starters, with all jobs up for grabs. Meanwhile on the offensive side of the ball, Morris is determined to install the rest of his package, fully arming the Tigers to take advantage of their playmaking ability. (orangeandwhite.com)
Which are the real Tigers? Schizophrenic Clemson achieved its first ACC title in 20 years last season, but not without two lopsided late-season losses (NC State and South Carolina) and a historic Orange Bowl blowout (70-33 to West Virginia). Swinney will look to rekindle the good vibes of last fall's 8-0 start, and the return of quarterback Tajh Boyd, superstar receiver Sammy Watkins and counterpart DeAndre Hopkins and running back Andre Ellington will certainly go a long way. But Clemson will spend the spring looking to identify three new starters on both the offensive and defensive lines, without which all that skill talent will be for naught. (si.com)
GEORGIA TECH: Tech won 43 games from 2008 to 2011, third most since Dodd's retirement for a four-year span since 1966. Tech won 46 between 2006 and 2009. (ajc.com)
TITLE VACATED: It's officially official: Georgia Tech is no longer the ACC's champion for the 2009 season. Nor is anyone else, for that matter. Eight months after appealing the NCAA's decision to sanction the football program for events that occurred in late 2009, the Yellow Jackets announced Friday that The Association has denied said appeal. The NCAA handed down its ruling to the school earlier this morning.
The NCAA announced last July that the Yellow Jackets football program had been found to have committed three major violations: preferential treatment, stemming from a former Tech player-turned-sports agency employee giving impermissible benefits to a then-current player; failure to cooperate, stemming from the university allegedly "prepping" another player prior to his interview with the NCAA; and failure to meet the conditions and obligations of membership, a charge that was the result of Tech failing to withhold for three games the player who had received impermissible benefits.
As a result, Tech was fined $100,000, placed on probation for four years and vacated any wins for the 2009 season that occurred after Nov. 24. Included in the latter penalty was the stripping of the ACC title, which was the only penalty the university did not agree with and appealed. (cft.com)
MARYLAND: It's been a nightmarish first year-plus for Maryland coach Randy Edsall what with a 2-10 debut season, the premature departure of 24 players since his arrival, his controversial attempt to block quarterback Danny O'Brien's transfer to Vanderbilt and a torrent of negative media coverage. While many have begun counting the days until his inevitable ouster, Edsall presumably now has a more tight-knit, trusting roster to work with. The question is whether there's enough talent to show the necessary improvement. Following O'Brien's exit, C.J. Brown is Edsall's hand-picked quarterback; now the Terps need to find some consistent receivers. (Five-star recruit Stefon Diggs arrives this summer.) Meanwhile, Maryland's defense will spend the spring shifting to a new 3-4 scheme. (si.com)
MIAMI: Redshirt sophomore OL Jermaine Barton is no longer a Miami Hurricane, the University of Miami confirmed for CaneSport. No reason was given for his being removed from the roster. Barton arrived at UM in 2010 and redshirted due to a leg injury. Last season he participated as a member of the scout team and earned Scout Team Player of the Week Honors heading into the team's game against Bethune-Cookman. Coming out of Ft. Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas High School he was rated as a three-star recruit by Rivals.com and allowed only two sacks his senior season. He helped lead St. Thomas Aquinas to a 28-1 record his final two seasons and a Class 5A state title in 2008 and No. 1 national ranking in 2009. (canesport.com)
SUSPENDED PLAYERS RETURN: Offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson, linebacker Kelvin Cain and cornerback Keion Payne returned for the first weekend of spring practice. The three violated team policy. They were back for the next practice on Tuesday. Coach Al Golden used the word "disappointing'' more than once to describe the situation.
Kelvin Cain had been slated to practice at first-team outside linebacker because of the absence of injured Ramon Buchanan (knee), and was still listed as the starter ahead of Eddie Johnson and Josh Witt on the depth chart. Cain will be a junior. Henderson, a 6-8 and 350-pound rising junior, is listed as the second-team right tackle behind Jermaine Johnson. Payne, who will be a redshirt sophomore and graduated from Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas, is listed as a second-team corner behind Thomas Finnie. (miamiherald.com)
The strongest Hurricane pound-for-pound, according to strength and conditioning coach Andreu Swasey? Tailback (and backup fullback) Mike James, who is 5-11, weighs 222 and bench presses 225 pounds for 28 reps with a 400-pound max, back squats 525 pounds and power cleans 308. Some of the players Golden praised: center Shane McDermott, junior-college transfer cornerback Ladarius Gunter, quarterback Ryan Williams, safety Vaughn Telemaque, freshman cornerback Larry Hope. But he especially lauded the talent of Dallas Crawford, who will have a versatile role as a running back, special teams return man and as a slot receiver.