SEC mailbag: Big spring for Gamecocks' Garcia

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Let's empty out the SEC mailbag as we count down the days to the start of spring practice:

Josh in Smyrna, Ga., writes: Do you think new quarterbacks coach G.A. Magnus can inspire confidence and foster development with Gamecocks quarterback Stephen Garcia?

Chris Low: I think some new blood will be good for Garcia, although let's be honest: Steve Spurrier will always be the executive quarterbacks coach. If you're going to play quarterback for him, you've got to do it the way he wants it done. Mangas played quarterback for Spurrier at Florida, worked on the staff under Spurrier in the early 1990s and clearly knows how Spurrier wants it done. This is a big spring practice and offseason for Garcia. Remember, he's yet to go through a spring practice at South Carolina. Most of the burden is on him. He needs to continue to mature. He needs to find the film room and live in it, and most of all, he needs to become a leader both on and off the field. To this point, I don't get the feeling Spurrier thinks Garcia has worked very hard at becoming the kind of quarterback the Head Ball Coach wants him to become.

Matt in Atlanta writes: Didn't Bear Bryant have an outright title in 1961? That would give him two and Alabama three. Let's not even get into 1966 ...
Chris Low: I'm sure you're referring to the piece on Florida's Urban Meyer being the only coach in SEC history with two outright national championships as recognized by the NCAA. You're right about Bryant. He won six national championships at Alabama. But again, according to the NCAA, he shared five of those six. For instance, Alabama was voted the 1961 national champion by the Associated Press (AP) and United Press International (UPI), but Ohio State was voted the national champion that year by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). As for 1966, Alabama certainly deserved the title over Notre Dame and Michigan State. You'll get no argument from me on that one. The SEC and the South weren't winning many popularity contests back in those days.

Steve in Atlanta writes: C'mon Chris, a third secondary is no big deal the last time I checked. Saint Richt had 17 last year, and New Mexico is trying to tally the most in Division I. Three secondary violations are no big deal.

Chris Low: Typically, I would agree. In fact, if a school isn't reporting its share of secondary violations, then it's probably not doing a very good job of policing itself. But in the case of Lane Kiffin, it becomes bigger news because he made it such a story. He's the one who came out and accused Florida's Urban Meyer of cheating (for something that wasn't a violation), then gets reprimanded by SEC commissioner Mike Slive and essentially told that he needs to brush up on his knowledge of the rules. Then a week later, Tennessee officials confirm that they've self-reported three secondary violations involving Kiffin. Chalk it up to learning on the job, although I hear Kiffin isn't real pleased that university officials were so quick to release these violations to the media. In the grand scheme, none of this will matter one bit if he does what he was hired to do -- beat Alabama, Florida and Georgia more than they beat Tennessee, get to BCS bowls and win a few SEC championships.

Ben in Cleveland, Tenn., writes: Just wondering when an SEC football coach is going to turn in Alabama coach Nick Saban on an apparent recruiting violation. Saban obtained a commitment from (Memphis) Mitchell receiver Keiwone Malone, a high school junior. The only problem is that other than a "bump" -- which is an accidental "hello, how are ya?" -- a coach can't have direct contact with a junior at the time that Saban did (before signing day for seniors on Feb 4th). That's a dead period according to the NCAA rules. Judging from the quotes given by Malone to the Commercial Appeal's Jason Smith, there was a face to face meeting and a selling job by Saban. Mitchell High didn't have any seniors that were being recruited by Saban, so his visit wasn't for that purpose. And it had to be more than a bump. When's the last time you heard a kid receive a scholarship offer and commit on a bump? This wasn't a bump by the Sabanator. This was full-contact recruiting. So, is the SEC going to ignore this, yet jump all over Lane's every move?

Chris Low: I can assure you that SEC coaches have already turned Saban in on various matters, and I'm sure Saban has turned SEC coaches in. The SEC's policy on reporting NCAA violations now is that everything is streamlined through the conference office. As for the so-called "bump," I did a whole post on the matter earlier Monday. The "bump" rule isn't always followed by the letter of the law by a lot of coaches. Let's just leave it at that. In this particular case, the prospect had already committed to Saban by phone. It wasn't a dead period for Saban to be on that high school campus, either. The prospect's comments to the Memphis Commercial Appeal sure make it sound like there was more than a quick hello when they "bumped" into each. However, the high school coach told The Mobile Press-Register that Saban did nothing wrong and merely said hello. I also can assure you that the SEC doesn't just ignore things. They're constantly monitoring these matters, although they don't necessarily comment on them. And that's no bump.