Archive for May, 2009

SEC headed to a big payday in 2010



Destin—Some final thoughts on the annual SEC Spring Meetings, which officially end this afternoon:

Like it not, the SEC is headed into a new, and better, era: Competitively it was another great year for the SEC with national championships in football (Florida), women’s track and field (Tennessee), women’s gymnastics (Georgia) and men’s swimming and diving (Auburn). The league may pick up a few more championships before the spring sports are done.

The SEC has won three straight national championships in football and four of the last six. Florida, the defending champ, will be a consensus No. 1 when the 2009 season begins and gives the league a real chance to make it four straight titles.

But last night when the SEC held its annual awards banquet, Commissioner Mike Slive said that the conference, which a year ago celebrated its 75th anniversary, is headed “into a new and exciting era.”

A big reason for that optimism about the future is the two new television …

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Bad move: Coaches vote to make ballots secret


Destin–At a time when Congress is hauling the BCS into hearings in an attempt to get more transparency into the process, the American Football Coaches Association, a group I really respect, has made bad, bad step.

That group’s board of directors voted to make the final ballots in the coach’s poll—the one which helps determine who will play in the BCS championship game—secret once more starting after the 2010 regular season.

For the past three years coaches have made their final ballots public. That was done in order to have some kind of accountability in the system. The voters in the Harris Interactive poll, the other poll used in the BCS formula, are subject to have their ballots released at any time. With so much at stake in terms of money and prestige, and with BCS championship berths being decided by mere percentage points (ask Texas), every vote in both polls is critical.

“If every ballot was public then I would be out of it,” said Georgia coach Mark Richt, …

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Kiffin: No more apologies



Destin, Fla.—Lane Kiffin did apologize for using the word “cheat” and Urban Meyer in the same sentence back in February. He was wrong and the SEC commissioner let him know it with an official reprimand.

But the new Tennessee coach ain’t apologizing for anything else and here’s why: Given the realities of the football program he inherited, Kiffin believes he was just doing what he had to do to jump-start the process of making the Volunteers a contender again.

“Do I love everything I had to do to get us to this point? No I don’t but my job is not to love everything that I do,” Kiffin said as he met with the collective SEC media for the first time on Tuesday. “My job is to do the best thing for our university and the best thing for our people.”

Kiffin, 34, has ruffled more than a few feathers since joining the SEC coaching fraternity last December. The episodes have been well documented so we won’t review them here. But here at the annual SEC spring …

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SEC Commish to coaches: Knock it off



Destin, Fla.—Mike Slive is, by his own admission, “a recovering attorney.” He is also a former district court judge. So he’s no stranger to being in a room full of powerful people who don’t necessarily love each other.

The SEC Commissioner will draw upon that experience today as the league’s 2009 Spring Meetings begin here on the Florida panhandle. Slive will meet with the SEC’s football coaches as he always does. His language will be measured. He will be calm, but firm. He will remind them of the SEC’s basic rules of sportsmanship to which every coach in the league in every sport is expected to adhere.

But the message, while dressed up befitting a man of Slive’s stature, will be very simple and very blunt:

Knock it off.

Knock off public pronouncements that other coaches are breaking the rules. Tennessee’s Lane Kiffin said that about Florida’s Urban Meyer in February. Kiffin was wrong and was reprimanded by the SEC.

Knock off shots about somebody …

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Happy Memorial Day! See you in Destin

Folks, this is going to be short and sweet. Like you, I’m taking today off to be with my family and friends to celebrate–and to remember.

Do me  a favor as you’re having fun at the lake, the beach, the golf course, or in your back yard. If you know a veteran and you run into him or her today, thank them for their service. If you know someone whose loved one has made the ultimate sacrifice, give them a hug and let them know how you feel.

I don’t want to get all sentimental here on a football blog but the fact remains, that with all our problems and with all the fighting among ourselves, this is still the best damned place on Earth to live. And a lot of people–people we have never met–have died to keep it that way. Right now there are families in your neighborhood who have a son or daughter in harm’s way. Those families are desperately hoping for their children to be home come Memorial Day 2010. If you meet one of those parents, tell them how much you appreciate them.

I’m …

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Does the Prez even UNDERSTAND the BCS?


Once again it is Fearless Friday, Memorial Day Edition. This is where you are free to sound off on any topic, even if it’s non football related.

On a programming note: We’re going to take a break for the holiday weekend and will rejoin you on Tuesday for the annual SEC Meetings in Destin. Given some of the stuff that has happened among the league’s football coaches since national signing day, that first coaches meeting should be a lot of fun.


Until then, here are five burning questions to ponder. Feel free to talk among yourselves:

Does President Obama even UNDERSTAND the BCS? The new president is a pretty smart man but Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany recently told USA Today: “He’s a scholar and a lawyer and a great politician. But I don’t think he understands the complexity of the issue.”






Oh, it gets better.

“It’s very hard to be …

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The lessons to be learned from Pahokee-Gate


Apparently things have finally been patched up between the Tennessee football program and Pahokee High School in South Florida. Due to a series of circumstances that can only be described as juvenile, for a while Tennessee assistant coach Eddie Gran was banned from coming back onto the campus to recruit in May.

The issue was Tennessee’s signing of Pahokee wide receiver Nu’Keese Richardson, who had previously given a verbal commitment to Florida. In a fan function on Feb. 4, Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin first got in a dig at Florida coach Urban Meyer, suggesting that Meyer violated NCAA rules in the recruiting of Richardson. That turned out not to be the case and Kiffin had to apologize. He was reprimanded by the SEC.

Later Kiffin was quoted in media reports as saying this to that same group of fans: “For those who haven’t been to Pahokee, there ain’t much going on. You take that hour drive up from South Florida, there ain’t a gas station that works. …

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Are coaches going to become even MORE boring?

You guys (and ladies) need to help me here because there is something that I don’t quite understand.

When did coach’s comments at booster clubs and radio interviews in MAY become MAJOR, MAJOR stories?

Two examples:

Florida coach Urban Meyer was recently speaking to a Gator Club in Orlando and said the following words: “If you want to be critical of a player on our team or a coach on our team, you can buy a ticket in seat 37F. You’re not welcome back in the football office. You’re either a Gator or you’re not a Gator.”

It was assumed in the media that Meyer was talking about former quarterback Shane Matthews, who co-hosts a radio show in Gainesville. As a radio host he has been analytical, and sometimes critical, of Florida’s offense, particularly the passing end of it. That’s his job. Besides, it is fair to say that Matthews know a little bit about the passing game.

Meyer’s job is to win games and protect his program from all enemies, foreign and domestic. …

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Why the Georgia-Florida game will stay in JAX


I’m going to give you two very good reasons why the Georgia-Florida football game will remain in Jacksonville after the current contract expires in 2010.

Carl Brantley and Tom McMillen.

Carl and Tom are my best two friends in the world. We were fraternity brothers in college and have stayed very close for more years than I will admit in this space. College brought us together but college football—specifically the Georgia-Florida game—has helped to keep us together.

Carl lives in Colorado Springs. Tom is in Ringgold near Chattanooga. All three of us have pretty busy lives. But since 1981, with only one exception, we have gathered together in Jacksonville on the Georgia-Florida weekend to play golf, enjoy an adult beverage or two, and tell lies about our youth. We have friends in Ponte Vedra like Briz Dodd, who is our host, and Ben English, who for many years prepared the barbeque lunch for the Bulldog Club pep rally at Metropolitan Park. It is a tradition that never …

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Why Erk should be in the Hall of Fame



Statesboro, Ga.—Every time I come here, which is not nearly often enough, you not only see his presence, but you FEEL it as well.

The spirit of Erk Russell is everywhere.

When you’re having breakfast at Snooky’s, where he used to meet with his buddies for coffee every morning, Erk is there.

When you look across the street from Snooky’s at the modern practice facility that runs across Beautiful Eagle Creek, Erk is there.

When you look at a Georgia Southern campus, which had about 6,000 students before he rebuilt the football program in 1981, and now is bursting with almost 18,000, Erk is there.

Every bank, every restaurant, every dry cleaner, every gas station, and every beauty parlor in Bulloch County has some kind of memorial to the man who built a football program that won three Division I-AA national championships and set the table for other coaches, including Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson, to win several more.

Trust me when I tell you that with the possible …

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