Category Archives: SEC Football

The Big 12, exceeding expectations?

I don’t know if you caught this chain of events yesterday, but they’re of interest.

It is possible that the new Big 12 commissioner is a shrewder cat than I expected.  Of course this is the perfect time for his conference to haggle with Mickey.  They’ll never have more leverage trying to squeeze financial concessions out of ESPN than they do right now playing the Okie/Texas card.  That he’s willing to suck in his ego and do what’s best for his conference… well, there’s more than one conference commissioner we can’t say that about.

6 Comments

Filed under Big 12 Football, ESPN Is The Devil, SEC Football

Forget about it

Even as coachspeak goes, this is pretty remarkable.

I can’t figure out if he’s got memory loss problems, or if he’s simply that shameless.

13 Comments

Filed under It's All Just Made Up And Flagellant, SEC Football

Ain’t slowin’ down

Something to consider as we (sometimes) smugly look down on gap closing takes is that when it comes to recruiting, the SEC is one tough neighborhood ($$).

Yes, Alabama and Georgia are two of the most dominant recruiting outfits in the country, but the conference is very deep from top to (almost) bottom. Consider the following: 11 of the league’s 14 teams were in the top 30 of the 247Sports Team Talent Composite in 2021.

That’s why it’s so difficult to make a significant move in the league. Consider Tennessee’s recruiting class in the 2020 cycle — the Vols ranked No. 11 nationally but No. 7 in the SEC. The bar is so much higher because every school is recruiting well. And let’s use Tennessee as an example to add more context to the league’s recruiting prowess. The Vols are seventh in the SEC in average class rank over the last five years; they would rank fourth in the Big Ten, third in the ACC and the Big 12 and second in the Pac-12 over the same span.

Need more data? Probably not, but here it is: In the last 10 years, the average SEC class ranked No. 19.6 nationally. The next-best conference is the Big Ten at No. 37.3.

And that’s with Vanderbilt in the mix.  Sure, Mullen wasn’t a great recruiter, but he wasn’t awful, either.  He was just badly outclassed.

9 Comments

Filed under Recruiting, SEC Football

The NIL is coming from inside the house.

This seems like a totally expected move.

South Carolina is becoming the first major college athletic department to partner with a sports marketing agency to establish an in-house name, image and likeness firm, where Gamecocks athletes will have free access to deal facilitation, content generation and branding services.

The school has hired Everett Sports Management (ESM) to launch Park Ave, an exclusive initiative that will provide NIL services for Gamecocks athletes. South Carolina’s board of trustees on Tuesday afternoon approved the two-year, $2.2 million contract. Everett Sports Management, based in Greenville, S.C., represents NFL players such as Jalen Hurts, Mac Jones and Jonathan Taylor, and handles NIL marketing for several college athletes, including Miami basketball players and social media stars Haley and Hanna Cavinder, Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett and Coastal Carolina quarterback Grayson McCall.

“There have been a lot of different approaches (toward NIL), and nobody has gone this way,” South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner told ESPN. “We’re confident that this will be an impactful situation for our young men and women to play sports and get branded at the maximum level.”

It’s all about control.  I expect a lot more schools — at least those in states that don’t restrict school involvement in NIL — to follow down this path.

Also, don’t be surprised if schools also don’t look for ways to either control or kneecap booster collectives.

“A lot of donors give to collectives, but a lot are reluctant,” Tanner said. “I haven’t had one donor that has not embraced the idea of a national marketing firm that has excelled in this space. To us, this is very unique. We still have two collectives that are supporting us. But this has an opportunity to take it to a different level.”

What about Georgia?  Well, they’ve got some amending to do with HB 617, for starters.  But I expect that if Kirby Smart sees this as potential exposure in recruiting, he’ll be on that particular mother shortly.

11 Comments

Filed under 'Cock Envy, Recruiting, SEC Football

Funky, funky but chic

Leadership, Big Blue style.

Maybe Stoops should go with a “do as we say, not as they do” motto this season.

6 Comments

Filed under Crime and Punishment, SEC Football

MIA

Good news for Billy Napier?

Kentucky will be without All-SEC senior running back Chris Rodriguez for its season opener vs. Miami (Ohio) on Saturday.

Rodriguez was not on Kentucky’s Week 1 depth chart released Monday…

During his weekly press conference Monday, head coach Mark Stoops says Rodriguez is one of multiple players he suspects will serve a multiple-game suspension. Stoops confirmed senior outside linebacker Jordan Wright is also among the suspended players.

“A few of them will have multiple-game suspensions but I don’t know how long. I suspect one will be back next week,” Stoops said before announcing he will provide more information next week.

If only for the name alone, I love Kavosiey Smoke, but nobody’s going to confuse him with Rodriguez.  If he’s not available when the ‘Cats travel to Florida, you can’t help but begin to wonder if Gus Malzahn’s rabbit’s foot has made its way to Gainesville.

14 Comments

Filed under Crime and Punishment, SEC Football

What dominance looks like

Matt Hinton:

Since 2017, UGA is 27-2 against the rest of the SEC East, by scores that reflect an even wider gap than the record implies. Only one of those wins was decided by single digits, and in 2021 Georgia’s average margin of victory in division play was an embarrassing 32.3 points per game.

And this is what gap closing doesn’t look like:

At some point, that state of affairs says as much about the rest of the division as it does about the team at the top. While the Dawgs have thrived, their old rivals for East dominance, Florida and Tennessee, have languished in various stages of rebuilding. With the abrupt end of the Dan Mullen era in Gainesville, the Gators and Vols are both on their fourth head coach in 10 years, a cycle of hope and collapse that has yielded some fleeting success (see Florida’s last division title in 2020) but overall amounts to a lost decade. The division upstart, Kentucky, has stabilized into a reliable winner under Mark Stoops, but has yet to come close to the top of the standings, finishing at least 2 games behind Georgia each of the past 5 years; ditto South Carolina and Missouri, both well removed from their last winning conference records. Meanwhile, Smart keeps stacking blue-chip recruiting classes in Athens, and the talent deficit just keeps getting bigger.

I can live with that.

15 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football

Not your regular SEC preseason predictions, 2022 edition

Once again, you’re gonna get my best shot at what’s coming this season in our favorite football conference.

And once again, I feel the need to say this:

The format for my picks, in case you haven’t tuned into this broadcast before, hasn’t changed.

Rather than give you my predicted records, I’ll list the schools in the order they finished in the conference last year, look at areas of potential improvement and decline and assess in what direction I expect each to go by comparison to (2021).

In other words, pure seat of the pants BS.

Based on that, the teams are listed in the order of [last season’s] conference order of finish.  Remember that, before you start freaking out over where a school shows up in this post.

And once again, I feel compelled to make my evergreen prediction that at least two commenters will fall short with their reading comprehension skills.  Ah, well, tradition, amirite?  Anyway, here we go.

SEC WEST

ALABAMA (13-2, 7-1)

  • Pros:  Along with Georgia, conference’s best depth; Nick Saban and The Process; defense; quarterback; schedule
  • Cons:  Offensive line; replacement of Metchie and Williams (had to go there)
  • Outlook:  Same as it ever was in Tuscaloosa.  There are plenty of people who think the Tide are a lock to lose a regular season game.  Okay, but to whom? (I wrote that last year and I see no reason to change it.)

OLE MISS (10-3, 6-2)

  • Pros:  Offense; schedule
  • Cons:  Defense; overall depth; two new coordinators; turnover at quarterback
  • Outlook:  The schedule is quite generous.  There’s a decent chance Ole Miss gets out to a 7-0 start.  From there, it gets dicey.  Kiffin had to welcome 17 players from the portal, and while there’s some talent there, that kind of changeover doesn’t mesh overnight.  Right now, I’m thinking eight wins.

ARKANSAS (9-4, 4-4)

  • Pros:  Stable coaching staff; quarterback; running backs
  • Cons:  Schedule
  • Outlook:  I am officially done underestimating Sam Pittman’s head coaching ability.  He’s built the team he wants.  My only hesitation with regard to the Hogs’ record this season is another tough schedule.  But I’m taking nine wins for them.

TEXAS A&M (8-4, 4-4)

  • Pros:  Defense; offensive line; rising talent base
  • Cons:  Quarterback; change at defensive coordinator
  • Outlook:  My feeling is that people are getting ahead of themselves with the Aggies, based on that incredible recruiting class.  Jimbo needs a great quarterback to have a great team, and there’s no way of knowing that as of now.  I like TAMU to win nine.

MISSISSIPPI STATE (7-6, 4-4)

  • Pros:  Third year in Leach’s system; quarterback; receiving corps; team experience
  • Cons:  Offensive tackles; defensive depth
  • Outlook:  Historically, Leach’s teams tend to show improvement in Year 3, but improvement is a relative term in the tough SEC West.  I’ve got the feeling MSU is good for one big upset and one embarrassing loss — pretty much a typical year, in other words.  I’ll say they’re good for a shaky, eight-win season.

AUBURN (6-7, 3-5)

  • Pros:  Running back; defensive line
  • Cons:  Coaching staff under pressure; quarterback; defensive back seven
  • Outlook:  Harsin’s got a mess on his hands, and we know why.  His best chance for success is if he can convince his players and coaches to buy into an us against the world mind set.  (Hey, that’s worked for Auburn before.)  The front end of the schedule is accommodating.  That being said, it’s very easy to see the wheels coming off the wagon.  I’ll go with five wins.

LSU (6-7, 3-5)

  • Pros:  Receivers; running backs
  • Cons:  New coaching staff; quarterback; defense
  • Outlook:  I’ve got the coaching staff as a negative, simply because it takes time for a new head coach, even one who’s an improvement over his predecessor (and Kelly is that), to transition to what he wants.  The defense has a way to go.  There is talent on this offense, though, especially if a young and gifted offensive line jells.  LSU is another team that could get off to a good start with a soft early schedule.  They may be good for eight wins, but should be no worse than seven.

SEC EAST

GEORGIA (14-1, 8-0)

  • Pros:  Conference-best roster depth; tight ends; running backs; schedule; offensive cohesion; coaching staff
  • Cons:  Defensive losses
  • Outlook:  They’ve climbed the mountain, so they know the journey.  The stability/cohesion between quarterback and offensive coordinator is huge.  The defensive losses should be of some concern, but that is ameliorated by the way Smart has recruited.  Like Alabama, there shouldn’t be more than one regular season loss; like Alabama, I’m not sure where that will come from.

KENTUCKY (10-3; 5-3)

  • Pros:  Quarterback; Stoops’ game management skills
  • Cons:  Both lines of scrimmage; loss of Robinson on offense; questions about Rodriguez’ availability
  • Outlook:  I thought they’d win eight last season, and they topped that nicely, but they’ve got some rebuilding to do on both sides.  Rodriguez’ status makes them hard to judge, but we should get a good handle on them early against Florida.  For now, I’ll say eight wins again.

TENNESSEE (7-6, 4-4)

  • Pros:  Quarterback; offensive scheme; offensive line experience; second year coaching staff
  • Cons:  Team depth; secondary
  • Outlook:    Everybody’s dark horse darling in the SEC East, the Vols should both score a lot of points and give up a lot of points.  The non-conference schedule has one challenge (@ Pitt) and three snooze fests.  Once they get past Georgia in November, things should be fairly smooth sailing.  Can they get over the Florida hump this year?  If so, eight wins is certainly manageable.

SOUTH CAROLINA (7-6, 3-5)

  • Pros:  Running back; quarterback; tight end; defensive line; second year coaching staff
  • Cons:  Offensive line; defensive back seven; overall depth
  • Outlook:  Shane Beamer did a helluva job last season and topped it by fixing his quarterback problem via the transfer portal.  But South Carolina faces three teams in the preseason top 6 and a division that looks to be improving.  I’ll say the ‘Cocks make it to bowl eligibility, but that’s about it.

MISSOURI (6-7, 3-5)

  • Pros:  Schedule; ’22 recruiting class
  • Cons:  Defense; loss of Badie; quarterback
  • Outlook:  The schedule is the best thing these Tigers have going for them, I’m afraid.  Drinkwitz may be great with the quips, but the jury is still out on his ability to build an SEC program.  He signed his best class this year, and with the departures Mizzou suffered on both sides of the ball, I can see this season turning into a learning experience to build towards next year.  Four, maybe five, wins.

FLORIDA (6-7, 2-6)

  • Pros:  Offensive line; secondary
  • Cons:  Overall depth; coaching staff changeover; wide receiver
  • Outlook:  Let’s get this out of the way first:  Florida’s got talent.  Its starting 22 is as good or better than anyone else’s in the East outside of Athens, Georgia.  But it’s a little scary to think about how a couple of key injuries, starting at quarterback, could derail this team.  That being said, Napier strikes me as an improvement over Mullen from an organizational standpoint, but, again, football teams, like Rome, aren’t built in a day.  The schedule has a rough start to it, but is fairly manageable after that.  The Gators ought to be good for two more wins if the team doesn’t quit on its head coach like it did in 2021.

VANDERBILT (2-10, 0-8)

  • Pros:  Receivers; second year coaching staff
  • Cons:  Schedule; overall lowest talent level in the conference
  • Outlook:  Vandy better get its wins early, because it finishes out with eight consecutive conference games, beginning with Alabama.  Three wins at best.

And there you have it.  Come at me!

51 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

Kentucky is back?

That’s… a lot of history to overcome.

29 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

A fan base, if you can keep it

I like Andy Staples, but this hits me like a giant whiff:

First off, what’s with this “two leagues understand” BS?  Last time I looked, it was Greg Sankey advocating a twelve-team CFP and Kevin Warren joining with his Alliance buds to shut that down.

Thanks for making me defend somebody’s playoff expansion stance, Andy.

Secondly, though, and more seriously, what Andy sees as a potential bug is embraced as a feature by ESPN, Fox and their broadcast partners.  For them, abandoning regional passions in pursuit of a more general national fan is the path to greater profit.  And the writing’s been on the wall for that for a few years now.  I don’t get why this is something the SEC and Big Ten need to be warned about like it’s a new danger.  Or even why it’s their responsibility to do something about it.

53 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Big Ten Football, SEC Football