SEC: SEC general

Lunchtime links

July, 24, 2013
Grab a sandwich and your tablet, phone or laptop and settle in for some lunchtime reading ...
  • The state attorney in Gainesville has dismissed charges against Florida linebacker Antonio Morrison, who was arrested for allegedly harassing a police dog and resisting arrest. William Cervone said Morrison should not have been arrested.
  • Several SEC coaches weren't happy when told of the comment by the ACC's coordinator of officials that he would have penalized Jadeveon Clowney for his famous hit in the Outback Bowl.
  • Also, South Carolina officials are investigating whether Clowney has been in contact with agent JAY Z.
  • Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson said the Tigers' defense has good depth, but he needs playmakers to emerge.
  • Former Alabama quarterback Phillip Sims lasted one season at Virginia and wants to move on again, but isn't sure whether he wants to transfer to a Division I or II school.
  • Georgia's Mark Richt, LSU's Les Miles and Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin discuss the unbalanced schedule and the SEC's image during a roundtable segment.
  • Also, Miles is doing his darnedest to keep the topic of SEC scheduling alive.
  • Mike Strange of the Knoxville (Tenn.) News-Sentinel writes that a stronger Tennessee will level the playing field in the SEC.
  • Believe it or not, there is a different side to Georgia coach Mark Richt.
  • Contracts have been signed and a timeline has been set for the renovation of Kentucky's Commonwealth Stadium.
  • Arkansas freshman running back Alex Collins -- known as Budda -- hopes to spread his message of peace and happiness to the Arkansas football program.
  • Ole Miss quarterback Barry Brunetti will not be suspended for any games after being charged with misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia in May. Coach Hugh Freeze said he has been disciplined internally.
  • Former Missouri receiver T.J. Moe has voiced his support for Tigers coach Gary Pinkel, who has perhaps the hottest seat in the SEC.

Season recap: South Carolina

December, 7, 2011

Record: 10-2, 6-2 SEC

It’s not often that you start the year with South Carolina being the overwhelming favorite to win the SEC Eastern Division. Well, that’s exactly what happened after the Gamecocks won the East for the first time in 2010. With game-changers on offense and defense returning, South Carolina also fit into the category of being a dark horse for the national championship.

Things didn’t go as planned. Troubled quarterback Stephen Garcia didn’t last long and was dismissed after six games. When he was in, he wasn’t great. The mistakes that plagued him during his career returned and he was benched in favor of Connor Shaw after a 16-13 loss to Auburn. Garcia’s dismissal came a week later.

Shaw won six games, but South Carolina suffered a major loss when early Heisman Trophy candidate Marcus Lattimore went down with an ACL tear in the middle of October. Before his injury, he was the SEC’s top rusher. Former redshirt candidate Brandon Wilds filled in and was a pleasant surprise.

South Carolina’s offense struggled for most of the sason, but the defense stayed pretty consistent after a rough start. Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson called his defense out before the Vanderbilt game, and from then on, the Gamecocks defense turned stout, finishing the year fourth in the SEC in total defense.

Steve Spurrier did one of his finest coaching jobs, as the Gamecocks won 10 games for only the second time in school history and beat rival Clemson for the third consecutive year.

Offensive MVP: Shaw. The Gamecocks won six of their last seven games with Shaw starting. With top receiver Alshon Jeffery blanketed most of the time, Shaw usually turned to his feet, finishing the year with 483 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. He threw for 1,218 yards and 12 scores.

Defensive MVP: Defensive end Melvin Ingram. He was a scoring machine to start the year, recording three touchdowns, including a 68-yard run on a fake punt. He also had 44 tackles, including 13.5 for loss, 8.5 sacks, and three takeaways.

Turning point: The Gamecocks’ loss to Auburn on Oct. 1 might have cost South Carolina the SEC East. That was a game the Gamecocks should have won, but the offensive held them back. That was also the last time we saw Garcia, ushering in the Shaw era.

What’s next: The ninth-ranked Gamecocks are headed to the Capital One Bowl to play No. 20 Nebraska. South Carolina’s offense ended the season with momentum and the Gamecocks hope to keep it going against the Cornhuskers’ 36th-ranked defense.

Fast starts for Dawgs and Tigers

November, 12, 2011
ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia overcame early jitters and Auburn overcame an early deficit.

Things have been pretty fun so far "Between the Hedges" as we are tied at seven after Georgia and Auburn's opening drives.

Word of South Carolina's win against Florida must have crept into Georgia's huddle because the Bulldogs came out sloppy, with a false start and delay of game penalty, along with some happy feet and some over throws by Aaron Murray.

He and his line adjusted as he found some rhythm with a 44-yard strike to Malcolm Mitchell, who is back after suffering a hamstring injury. After an 8-yard touchdown pass to Tavarres King, this crowd exploded.

However, Auburn just marched down the field. And it did so throwing the ball. Most expected Michael Dyer to be Auburn's top option today, but the Tigers came out throwing. Clint Moseley threw the ball five times before a trick play that ended with C.J. Uzomah throwing to Philip Lutzenkirchen tied the game.

We knew Auburn would come in pumped and ready and the Tigers haven't disappointed. Let's see how the Dawgs respond now that they know what they're up against and what is no at stake.

Midseason review: Vanderbilt

October, 11, 2011

Record: 3-2 (1-2 SEC)

Vanderbilt was a great early-season story in the SEC. The Commodores were unbeaten, had blasted an Ole Miss team by 23 points, had a ferocious secondary and were taking the ball away with ease on defense. Was new coach James Franklin really a genius? Were things really going to change for the Commodores under the new regime? Well, the energy and passion certainly are different and that defense is much improved, but the offense just can’t get things together. The Commodores rank 11th in the SEC in total offense (244.4 yards per game) and are scoring just 20.4 points a game. Embattled senior quarterback Larry Smith isn’t doing much to quiet the naysayers, who have been at him for most of his career, and Vanderbilt’s offense is suffering because of it. Vanderbilt’s defense can make plays, but it’s not ready to carry the entire team. The good thing is that this team is halfway from reaching six wins, which should get the Commodores back to postseason for the first time since 2008. The key to the second half is jump starting this offense. Turning to backup quarterback Jordan Rodgers might be a start, but the Commodores need more help from all components of the offense.

Offensive MVP: RB Zac Stacy. He might be Vanderbilt’s most exciting player left with Warren Norman possibly headed for a redshirt year. Stacy leads the team with 284 yards rushing and is averaging 7.1 yards per carry. His only touchdown came on a 77-yard run against Ole Miss.

Defensive MVP: CB Casey Hayward. We knew coming into the season that Hayward would be a key part of Vanderbilt’s secondary and he hasn’t disappointed us. The senior, who will no doubt hear his name called early in next year’s NFL draft, is tied for the league lead with four interceptions and has defended six passes through the first part of the season. He’s a cornerback, but he has the ability to find the ball all over the field.

Video: SEC's most thrilling players

September, 7, 2011

Players from the SEC talk about who else in their league they get a thrill watching.

SEC sets its sights on sixth straight title

August, 15, 2011
One of SEC commissioner Mike Slive's reading selections this summer was "56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports."

The book chronicles DiMaggio's fabled 56-game hitting streak, which captivated baseball fans during the 1941 season and has stood the test of time.

What the SEC has done in football the past five seasons may also stand the test of time.

"DiMaggio's hitting streak is a record that may never be broken," Slive said. "I think [the SEC's five straight national championships] is in that same category."

And to take it a step further, four different SEC teams have won the past four national titles, making the streak all the more remarkable.

It's a reign of dominance that has solidified the SEC as college football's pre-eminent conference, all the while creating a dizzying standard that has become the envy of the sport.
HOOVER, Ala. -- SEC commissioner Mike Slive says college sports have problems "from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from the Gulf to the Great Lakes."

But it's hard to see Slive even getting much support from within his own conference for the radical changes he proposed on Wednesday for college sports.

Among Slive's suggested changes (which he presented as an "agenda to stimulate a national discussion, an agenda for change"):

  • [+] EnlargeSEC commissioner Mike Slive
    AP Photo/Dave MartinSEC commissioner Mike Slive proposed raising academic requirements at SEC media days.
    Raising the academic entrance requirements for incoming freshmen, from a minimum 2.0 GPA to 2.5. Slive also suggested prospective student-athletes would be required to complete a minimum number of core courses during each year of high school. Slive proposed that recruits who didn't meet minimum academic requirements would be admitted as partial qualifiers and would be able to practice, but couldn't play in games during their freshman seasons.

  • Slive also proposed offering cost-of-education scholarships, which would pay more than just standard room and board, tuition, books and other fees. Under that plan, NCAA schools also would pay for things like health insurance, clothing, travel and other education-related costs. Slive also offered up making scholarships four-year contracts, instead of one-year deals that currently exist. Slive said student-athletes would still have to perform academically and stay out of trouble to keep their scholarships. "It's not a free pass to act how you want to and it's not a free pass to not go to class," Slive said.

  • Slive also wants to modernize NCAA recruiting rules and allow coaches to text players and contact them via social media like Facebook and Twitter. Under current rules, coaches have only limited contact with prospective student-athletes and can only talk to them in person, via e-mail or over the phone. "It's time to push the reset button," Slive said.

  • Slive said schools across the country must also be ready to support and cooperate with the NCAA's enforcement efforts. Slive hopes schools will produce a streamlined NCAA manual that "governs only enforceable issues, of core importance that goes to the heart of what we do."

Not every SEC coaches agrees with Slive's recommendations. In fact, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, who earlier this spring suggested paying his football players a $300 stipend for each game played, said he disagreed with most of Slive's proposals.

"I think most coaches feel like a one-year [scholarship] is more fair," Spurrier said. "That's a terrible idea, Commissioner. If you go bad, don't show up to work, your butt will be out on the street. Everybody has to earn your way in life. Go from there, that's the way I believe."

Spurrier also said the NCAA's minimum academic requirements for incoming freshmen were already difficult enough.

"We think they're tough enough," Spurrier said. "So I'm going to disagree with him on that one, too. I'm 0-for-2 with him."

Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said he wasn't opposed to making academic requirements more difficult, but felt like each school had to ensure their students were staying eligible.

"Let's make these guys all take the same classes their freshman year," Petrino said. "Let's take care of our business in college."
Fellow SEC blogger Chris Low started things off by discussing the players in the SEC East with the most to prove, so it’s time to put some pressure on some guys out in the West.

Here are my five players who have to show us more this fall:

[+] EnlargeJordan Jefferson
Tyler Kaufman/Icon SMISolid play from Jordan Jefferson could be all LSU needs to make a national title run.
1. LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson: Sure, Jefferson led the Tigers to an 11-win season, but did you see the numbers he (didn't) put up? Jefferson passed for 1,411 yards and seven touchdowns in 2010 and ended the year with a passing efficiency of 114.7. This spring, new offensive coordinator Steve Kragthorpe made it his goal to transform the senior's passing technique and presence in the pocket. Things worked out well, with coach Less Miles calling this the best spring Jefferson has had. The next step is for him to show what he learned this spring when it counts this fall. This is Jefferson's last go-round with the Tigers and this team has the talent to compete for a national title. The Tigers go the way Jefferson goes and if he should falter, Miles might not hesitate to put in junior college transfer Zach Mettenberger in, who probably has the most skill of any of LSU's quarterbacks.

2. Alabama running back Trent Richardson: Yes, one of the country's most complete backs still has to show us something. He has the power and speed to be a stud now that this is his backfield, but is he truly ready to be the guy in Tuscaloosa? On paper, it would appear so, but things change when the lights go on and the pressure mounts. Not to mention, he's replacing a Heisman Trophy winner. Alabama will be breaking in a new, young quarterback this fall -- whether it's AJ McCarron or Phillip Sims -- so the Tide's offense will be leaning heavily on Richardson. Alabama has one of the top teams in the nation and Richardson will be a key component in the Tide's run to multiple championships.

3. LSU wide receiver Russell Shepard: Shepard has all the ability to be quite the playmaker for the Tigers. He was second on the team with 33 receptions a year ago, but only managed 254 yards and a touchdown. He's better than that. With Terrance Toliver gone, the junior-to-be will be called upon to really step up alongside Rueben Randle. We've been waiting to see Russell’s true athleticism and he’s confident people will this fall. It’s time for him to take his game to another level.

4. Ole Miss defensive end Kentrell Lockett: Lockett missed most of last season after suffering an ACL injury in the third game. Fortunately for he and the Rebels, he was granted a sixth year of eligibility and should be back to full health this fall. But with linebacker and team leader D.T. Shackelford suffering a season-ending ACL injury this spring, Lockett enters the fall with new responsibilities. Not only does Lockett have to provide a much-needed presence on an unproven defensive line but he has to become the emotional leader this team desperately needs. This defense has a ton of questions and having a guy like Lockett step up on the field and in the locker room will provide some juice for the unit.

5. Mississippi State wide receiver Chad Bumphis: Bumphis has led the Bulldogs in receiving the past two seasons and is arguably the team's best playmaker at receiver. However, Bumphis has the ability to play all over the field, kind of like Percy Harvin did at Florida, but hasn’t reached his potential. As the go-to guy, he has just 1,009 yards receiving and nine touchdowns in two seasons and has rushed for 204 yards and one score. Bumphis is a player that should be getting the ball as much as possible and in as many different situations as possible. He's got the speed and athleticism to really frustrate defenses, but we've yet to see him really turn the corner. He can be an elite weapon in this offense and could be the difference in making this one of the more potent offenses in the SEC.

Weekly chat reminder

May, 19, 2011
I'll be stopping by the chat room today at 1 p.m. ET, so load up the questions.

We can discuss some of the fan polls we conducted on SportsNation over the past week, or we can play out the 2011 SEC football season before it ever begins. That's always fun as we sit here in May craving a little football.

Anyway, please join me.

Chat wrap for Thursday

April, 21, 2011
Here's my chat wrap from earlier Thursday. One of the best questions of the chat was who I thought would be the SEC's most-improved player next season, and I kept coming up with new candidates as we got deeper into the chat.

We'll do something on the SEC blog down the road on who some of those guys will be.

Video: Breaking down the SEC East

January, 3, 2011

Chris Low looks at the SEC’s Eastern Division.

Video: Defense and SEC contenders

October, 20, 2010

Chris Low looks at the importance of defense in determining the SEC champion, and what that means for this year’s contenders.

Video: A look at instant replay

October, 19, 2010

The definition of what is indisputable video evidence may differ from one replay official to the next, which can lead to controversy and confusion.

Video: One Good Thing -- SEC

October, 11, 2010

Chris Low has one good thing about the SEC through six weeks of the season.

Video: Looking at the weekend

October, 8, 2010

Chris Low takes a look at this week in the SEC, including No. 1 Alabama playing the third leg of a difficult three-game stretch.