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Tuesday, March 2, 2010
SEC mailbag: Arkansas not going anywhere

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

The content in my mailbag comes in all forms -- questions, comments, complaints, corrections, pearls of wisdom, not-so-nice tirades and even a few compliments.

I want to let you know that I appreciate them all, and moreover, appreciate your keeping me straight.

That said, let’s empty out the mailbag:

Lee in Fort Knox, Ky., writes: Chris, with all the expansion talk across the country, I've heard one or two analysts mention Arkansas as a likely candidate to fill the void left by a departing Big 12 school. How likely is it that the Hogs would give up the cash and prestige of the SEC for an easier path to conference championships in the Big 12? Obviously, Petrino's system would be effective in that league. However, would it really be worth it considering that a nine-win SEC season sounds as good as a 10-win Big 12 season?

Chris Low: I think most of that talk stems from Arkansas’ old Southwest Conference ties. The key in all this expansion chatter is what Texas does -- or if Texas decides to do anything. The Longhorns’ athletic director said last week the Big 12 has been a good fit. But over and above where Texas might land, I can’t see a scenario where Arkansas would even want to leave the SEC, especially when you look at the money flowing in from the television contracts and the way the national spotlight shines down on the SEC. I think being in the SEC also helps the Hogs’ recruiting. Players want to play against the best, and they want to play where they think they have the best chance of getting to the NFL. There’s no better proving ground in college football than the SEC. So, no, I don’t see the Hogs going anywhere.


Bryan in Nashville, Tenn., writes: Lane Kiffin has said he left the Tennessee program in better shape than he found it. Do you agree?

Chris Low: Not particularly, especially with his leaving the way he did during the middle of the recruiting period and then his recruiting coordinator trying to take Tennessee recruits with them to USC. In fairness, I thought Tennessee was a well-coached team last season in most areas between the white lines. But his organization and overall management of the program was lacking, and some of the things he did to supposedly bring attention to the program ended up bringing embarrassment instead. He also inherited a lot more talent than he claimed he did. The Vols will have two players go in the first round of the NFL draft in April and may have as many as six drafted. We’ll also see how his only recruiting class at Tennessee pans out. Two players from that class (Nu’Keese Richardson and Mike Edwards) have already been sent packing because of off-the-field issues and another one (Janzen Jackson) was close. That class was also light on offensive linemen and didn’t include a quarterback. Those were huge need areas for the Vols that weren’t addressed. The bottom line was that Tennessee lost six games last season after losing seven the previous season. There were clearly gains in how competitive the Vols were in losses to Florida and Alabama. But when you look at the total picture, I can’t say the program is in significantly better shape right now than it was when Kiffin strolled into town back in December of 2008.


Duce in Tampa, Fla., writes: Good afternoon, CL. I am venturing over from the ACC to ask you a question. Being that I am a huge FSU fan, how careful should UF be this year playing FSU at home. FSU is a young and growing team and should be tougher this year. Should UF be on early upset alert?

Chris Low: Put it this way: As I survey the Gators’ schedule right now, I think the trip to Tallahassee is probably the second or third toughest game on their schedule. I would also put it in the top three of the toughest nonconference games facing SEC teams in 2010. As I’m sure you’re aware, Urban Meyer has never lost to Florida State. In fact, only one of the five games since he arrived in 2005 has been closer than 27 points. I’m not ready to predict a Florida State win in 2010, but I do believe this will be the Seminoles’ best chance of beating the Gators in the Meyer era.


Isaac in Parts Unknown writes: Come on Chris, (Trindon) Holliday ran a 4.22 and set a combine record, not a 4.34.

Chris Low: You’re referring to my update of SEC players at the NFL combine. I saw the same thing you did. And, yes, the first report was that he ran in the 4.2’s, which was unofficial. But his official time was later listed at 4.34 and can be found on NFL.com. That’s still an extremely fast time, the second fastest official time of any player at the combine this year. For what it’s worth, the official times are typically a little slower than the times that are reeled off when we’re watching them live.


Aaron in Little Rock, Ark., writes: Of the wide receivers that made your top 30 list, I still can't believe Greg Childs wasn't the second overall, if not highest ranked. He led all receivers in SEC conference play in total receiving yards, yards per game, touchdowns and yards per reception. Every touchdown he scored this season was in conference play only, so his numbers weren't inflated at all during nonconference games. Granted, he didn't make first or second team all-SEC, which was a gross oversight by the AP and coaching staffs. How can you lead all SEC wide receivers in every stat category except for receptions in conference play and not get mentioned anywhere?

Chris Low: Now that you put it that way, I’d have to say that it’s hard to argue with your point. What you do against SEC competition should always outweigh everything else, and Childs was outstanding in conference games. In addition to the numbers you point out, I checked with the folks at Arkansas, and Childs also led the SEC in catches of 25 or more yards (13) and catches in the fourth quarter (16). Here’s another one for you: He led the nation in receiving yards against Top 25 teams (402). So he was more than deserving of being on that top 30 list, and I can promise you he will be on the one I do this summer leading into the 2010 season. Unfortunately, there are always oversights when you start ranking players, especially in this league. Thanks for your input.