Category Archives: SEC Football

Workin’ the refs is work.

Danielson, as Auburn’s win over Alabama neared an end, told viewers that Smart had told him he had turned in six plays to the SEC in which Smart felt Auburn defenders had been holding in its 40-17 win over Georgia on Nov. 11. The comments came during a production meeting six days after the game, as Georgia was preparing to play Kentucky. When Smart was asked about that this past Monday at his press conference, he offered a three-word response: “Yeah, no comment.”

Danielson, speaking during a CBS teleconference on Wednesday, did not back down from the accuracy of the comments or going public with them.

“I can only say that I’m comfortable with the information that I presented during the game. And I think Kirby will be too. And if he isn’t it’s really not my problem,” Danielson said. “I work very heard at developing a trust with the coaches that what they tell me is fair game, and the fine line of off-the-record and on-the-record sometimes gets uncomfortable, but I don’t think I crossed any lines, and I don’t think Kirby thinks I crossed any lines.”

Somehow I doubt Kirby’s too upset about the publicity.  In fact, Nessler thinks Danielson did him a favor.

Brad Nessler jumped in to offer his take: That it was fairly routine and Smart wasn’t very animated when he mentioned it during that pre-Kentucky production meeting.

“He didn’t make that big deal about it, and neither did we, because I thought it’s something routine. I hear it all the time,” Nessler said. “If I was Kirby I’d send Gary a thank-you note. Because I’ve watched John Calipari do this for his whole lifetime in coaching. He works refs in the first half so he can get a call in the second half. So if a broadcaster brings something up I would look at it as a positive and not a negative.”

As organized and buttoned-down as he’s been all season, I lean here more towards Smart, the eleven-dimensional chess player than I do Mr. Loose Lips.  So, thanks, Gary.  Hope Steve Shaw was tuned in and listening.

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Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football

The most interesting SEC coaching story of the offseason

… may be unfolding at Mississippi State, which has reportedly offered its head coaching job to Jeremy Pruitt.

I have no idea if he’s ready to become a head coach, but it’ll sure be fascinating to watch and find out.

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Filed under SEC Football

Today, in nice work if you can get it

One little side note on the Matt Luke retention:

Two straight calls to keep the guy you’ve already got on the payroll?  That has to be the easiest money since McGarity paid $40,000 to a search firm to ratify a hiring decision he’d already made.

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Filed under It's Just Bidness, SEC Football

At the intersection of “it just means more” and “life comes at you fast”

So, I step away from the computer for a few hours yesterday to run errands, do a few chores around the house, get dinner and come back last night to find all hell has broken loose on the SEC coaching front.  To recap (and I hope this is still accurate):

  • Texas A&M shows Kevin Sumlin the door.
  • Ole Miss takes the interim label off Matt Luke, naming him its permanent head coach.
  • Florida hires Dan Mullen.
  • Tennessee manages another coaching hire shit storm.

The Sumlin firing was in the works for a few weeks and comes as no surprise.  He leaves with a handsome golden parachute and rumor has it will be named the new head coach at Arizona State shortly.  Meanwhile, TAMU, is supposedly trying to chase Jimbo Fisher, which is certainly good news for Jimmy Sexton.  Nothing like lots of money and grandiose perceptions of your football program.  Although let’s not lose sight of that part of the fan base that doesn’t care so much about who the next coach is, as long as he’s a white person.

I saw a little Internet criticism about the Ole Miss decision, claiming that it was an emotional overreaction to the Egg Bowl win.  I actually think it may have been the sanest call of the hiring/firing season.  Ole Miss is going to be in a dark place for the next few years, because of NCAA sanctions.  To sign a decent coach in that setting means overpaying at a time when a number of peer programs are chasing coaches.  Why not let Luke hold things together — something he showed this season to be eminently capable of doing — until things settle down and you pass through the sanctions period?  Given that the school didn’t have to pay Freeze a buyout and that Luke is likely to be the conference’s lowest paid head coach during his tenure, Ole Miss will have a stocked war chest when it comes time to move on to the next coach.

That Florida got a solid hire as its third choice says a lot about the program, like it or not.  Mullen comes in knowing the AD, knowing the expectations of the fan base and bringing one thing that the Gators haven’t had since he left, a coach who can develop quarterbacks.  In return, he gets a better recruiting base to work from and gets away from the insanity in Mississippi.  From where I sit it looks like a good match.  Unfortunately from Mississippi State’s vantage, this is your classic one door closes, another one opens situation.

And then… there’s Tennessee, which, after a few days of seeing Greg Schiano’s name floating out there as a potential head coaching candidate, got serious enough with him to negotiate a memorandum of understanding, only to see the whole thing blow up in its face.  Screaming on social media, including Clay Travis’ patented douchebaggery (he posted the AD’s cell phone number on Twitter), politicians lining up to condemn the hire, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders weighing in (apparently she’s more offended by the Penn State sex scandal than Roy Moore), all wound up leading to the school and Schiano agreeing to terminate what once looked like the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

I’m not going to get into who’s right and who’s wrong here.  Schiano does come with some baggage, no doubt, and has the reputation of being something of a prick, but he did an excellent job at Rutgers, something that’s a lot harder than it sounds.  He’s also a solid defensive coach.  None of that matters at this point nearly as much as the way events proceeded to get out of hand.  In any event, Currie, the athletic director, has managed to live up to a long tradition at Tennessee of creating dumpster fires out of the hiring process.  Why this wasn’t more thoroughly vetted I’ll never know.  How he goes forward from here — indeed, assuming he’s even allowed to go forward from here — I have no clue.  You’d think Cutcliffe becomes the obvious choice to heal the breach, but that means falling back on a guy who’s in his sixties and, while a terrific coach, is lacking in recruiting prowess, which is kind of a big deal in Knoxville.  What a mess.

You know what the really crazy thing is now?  Boom and Kirby rank as the SEC’s fifth-most senior head coaches at the same school.  This is fine.

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Filed under SEC Football

SEC Power Poll, Week 13

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Alabama’s loss highlights an observation I’m making for the third consecutive season.

And so, another regular season comes to an end.  This last week made one thing painfully apparent:  this is the most mediocre the SEC has been in years.

The East is remarkably bad.  Sagarin’s gap between his top team in the division, Georgia, and his second-best team, South Carolina, is an astounding 17.16 points.  That’s bigger than the gap between the Gamecocks and Tennessee, his lowest ranked East team.

The West is better, but not enough to overcome the awfulness of its divisional partner.  I’m sure replacing five (at least for the moment) head coaches will have that turned around overnight.

Anyway, here’s my last regular season power poll of 2017.  (I’ll do one more after the playoffs.)  As is my practice with the last shot, I include each team’s net yardage per game number in a weak attempt to offer some context on the conference’s over- and under- achievers.

  1. Auburn (+167.0).  Give ’em credit.  The Tigers are the SEC’s hottest team and they’ve done it without having to rely on Gus’ rabbit’s foot.
  2. Alabama (+207.6).  The loss didn’t surprise me nearly as much as how poorly the Tide played did.
  3. Georgia (+162.8).  The class of the East, and, no, I’m not damning with faint praise there.
  4. LSU (+100.4).  The conference’s fourth-best team lost to Troy, at home.  If that doesn’t sum up the state of the SEC, I don’t know what does.
  5. Mississippi State (+117.8).  It’s a good thing the Bulldogs get some time off.  They look like they’ve been slowly running out of gas for the past three weeks.
  6. Missouri. (+86.2).  Bombed the Hogs into submission, capping off a remarkable recovery after getting spanked by Georgia.  And while it came against a run of teams that won’t make a bowl game, so what?  Mizzou wasn’t going to make one either, until it took off.
  7. South Carolina (-34.4).  Boom got eight wins, five in the conference, with a team that finished in the hole in net yardage.  That’s good coaching in my book.
  8. Texas A&M (+.09).  Everything about this team shouts average.  Paying $5 million a year for average is how a coach gets canned.
  9. Ole Miss. (+2.8).  I thought this team was on the verge of collapse twice this season and both times they pulled back from the abyss.  Given the circumstances, Matt Luke did a helluva job holding the fort at 6-6.
  10. Kentucky (-74.9).  This is the team that benefited the most from a weak SEC East.
  11. Florida (-13.4).  The Gators were the SEC’s biggest underachiever this season.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
  12. Vanderbilt (-42.3).  Not as big a flop as Florida, but, man, did their season turn south after beating Kansas State.
  13. Arkansas (-64.9).  The only team in the division underwater in net yardage, and the head coach is getting paid $4+ million a year… what did you expect, Bert?
  14. Tennessee (-121.8).  Did Booch’s platitudes make a bad season worse, or did a bad season make Booch’s platitudes seem even dumber?  Either way, the end result is glorious.

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Filed under SEC Football

Storming your way through the SEC

What a difference a year makes.

It’s almost like Kirby sat down after last season ended, made a to-do list and then checked off all the boxes on it.

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Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football, Stats Geek!

Quick — no peeking!

With Alabama’s loss, which SEC team currently sports the conference’s longest winning streak?

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Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football