Daily Archives: June 3, 2012

The Birmingham News’ 66th annual Spring SEC Football Preview

It’s out.  Some of it’s not very surprising – the conference’s SIDs love them some Alabama and LSU…

and think Georgia and South Carolina are going to duke it out in the East.

But some of the names on the first and second preseason All-SEC teams are a little more interesting.  Alabama has three first team picks – all on offense.  Abry Jones makes the list; John Jenkins doesn’t.  Zac Stacy makes first team ahead of Knile Davis and Da’Rick Rogers does the same ahead of his teammate Justin Hunter.  Dismukes got plenty of accolades from his freshman year, but there are plenty of good centers in the conference this year.

And Clowney not only makes first team, but is named the best defensive lineman in the SEC.  Couple that with Lattimore as the leading Heisman candidate and you have to say that the OBC has benefited greatly from demographics, although you have to give him credit for stepping up the Gamecocks’ recruiting success.  A decade ago, I doubt either kid is wearing garnet and black.

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One big happy

This has to be a little strange.

Bob Bowlsby has 14 days left as Stanford athletic director, and despite that, there didn’t seem to be a tinge of awkwardness at the Pac-12′s annual summer meetings as conference leaders shuffled past the next Big 12 commissioner in a low-key hotel ballroom on Saturday.

“I’ve got a lot of investment in the Pac-12, so it wasn’t awkward at all. They didn’t even make me go out in the hallway for some of the discussions,” Bowlsby said with a chuckle. “I don’t really know that we were going to talk about anything that I didn’t already know. I don’t know if I spoke up much except when I was called upon.”

Yeah, sure.  In about two weeks you go from being a member of a conference on record wanting a conference champs-only playoff format and a special place in the postseason structure for the Rose Bowl to running a rival conference which is diametrically opposed to the first and unconcerned about the second.  Other than that, it’s no big deal, right?

Of course, that doesn’t mean you’re in complete lockstep with the SEC, either.  That conference’s decision to stick with an eight-game schedule made this inevitable:

“The [Pac-12's] preference is to have conference championships, or at least divisional championships, built into it,” Bowlsby said. “I think all of us agree that some component on strength of schedule is really important. The regular season is so special, but having said that, the early regular season is not as good as it needs to be. We need to encourage people to play games like LSU and Oregon played last year without the risk of taking themselves out of the national championship hunt.

“I think there will be a component of strength of schedule that will be a part of the playoff. I’m quite comfortable in saying that. How we land beyond that will be a topic of debate and discussion.”

That ought to be fun.  Especially if long-time Pac-12 observer Jon Wilner’s depiction of the kind of people calling the shots is correct.

But I believe the SEC/Big 12 announcement created — or, perhaps more accurately, exacerbated — the differences in opinion between the longtime partners (Pac-12 and B1G) and the new couple on the block (SEC and Big 12).

The Pac-12 and B1G are more than Rose Bowl partners. The Pac-12 presidents and chancellors have always viewed the B1G as their peer group and vice-versa, not only on the field but in the halls of academia, with the multi-sport scheduling partnership is further evidence of their connection.

They have always, to put it bluntly, considered themselves to possess more high-minded interests than the Big 12 and SEC latter. (Whether that’s actually the case is not for this discussion.)

There’s no way Scott would mention reprising the Plus-One model if he thought it was off the table for his presidents/chancellors and those in the B1G.

Instead … and this is just my reading, based on Scott’s comment and conversations with league officials over time … I believe the Pac-12 CEOs favor of incremental change to the postseason — change that has minimal impact on the Rose Bowl. In their view, that’s best delivered by the Plus-One.

All of which makes you wonder if Bowlsby had any input at all into the new bowl alliance between the SEC and Big 12.  And who’s gaming who here.

Also, getting back to an earlier point, what about this?

Pac-12 officials have to be think that the playoff model — especially one with the best four teams qualifying (the SEC plan) — further tilts the national championship scales to the southeast, and away from the west coast.

How reasonable a path to the playoff would USC have when it’s playing nine league games and Notre Dame and a quality B1G opponent as part of the scheduling partnership?

Meanwhile, the best SEC teams are playing eight league games and three non-conference cupcakes, if not four?

Gee, can’t we all get along here?

Now Bowlsby, wearing his Big 12 hat, says that the plus-one isn’t a compromise for the two sides to consider.  But if they’re all serious about coming to a resolution before the end of this month, it may be all they have left after three meetings’ worth of sneering and posturing at each other.  One thing’s for sure.  They’re not going to walk away from that extra paycheck a new title game will bring.  Other than that, who knows?  I doubt these guys do.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Big 12 Football, Big Ten Football, Pac-12 Football, SEC Football

Hey, kid, want us to show you a good time in Jax?

At Arkansas’ urging, the SEC has done away with one of its stupider rules and will now allow its schools to host recruits at neutral site games.   That should be a real boon for Mark Richt and his staff, as it gives them a much easier way to entertain kids from south Georgia and north Florida at one of the best venues of the season.

The article notes that it took a super majority of league schools to pass the change, which makes me wonder if there was some earlier resistance to the move, because it’s hard to believe that Georgia and Florida wouldn’t have pushed for this before (and you can spare me the jokes about Georgia not wanting to host recruits at the Cocktail Party over the last 20 years, thanks).  You think Alabama’s success at the Chick-fil-A College Kickoff had anything to do with the change in attitude?

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Filed under Recruiting, SEC Football

This is your conference on drugs.

Les, in your sacred quest for SEC fairness, you could be a real mensch and advocate that the conference schools immediately drop their individual drug policies.  What was that?  Sorry, I couldn’t hear you over the crickets.

Of course, that’s not gonna happen for one simple reason:  if SEC schools don’t test for marijuana, then that responsibility falls to the NCAA, and the NCAA penalty for drug use is an automatic one-year suspension.  The SEC, like nature, abhors a vacuum.

So what you’re left with is a hodge-podge of procedures and punishments determined by each school.  And that’s how they like it.

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said a conference-wide standard has been discussed at least twice during his 10-year tenure but that league members have opted against one to this point.

It’s sort of like letting local governments decide things important to their constituents.  Who wants some SEC bureaucrat deciding whether a star linebacker has to sit for toking a little weed when “Alabama allows the athletic director, head coach and its Sports Medicine Committee to determine what, if any, penalty is warranted after a first positive test”?  It’s always easier when the decision makers are the constituents.

By the way, this has to be my favorite drug penalty evah:

Currently, a second positive test at Mississippi might simply mean the loss of free tickets for family and/or community service.

They actually need a “might” and an “and/or” for that.  Tough stuff, indeed.

Ladies and gentlemen (and Les), this is your SEC.  Cherish it.  After you stop chuckling, that is.

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