Archive for April, 2010

Saban: Bama will not use scheduling issue as “an excuse”

It’s Friday which means that the floor is totally open to you. We can discuss spring football, the NFL Draft, conference expansion, politics, television (I’m still waiting impatiently for Mad Men to start its next season). Just keep it clean. Here are a few topics to get the party started:

The SEC had its end of spring practice conference call yesterday. Here are but a few tidbits that caught my attention:

**–It is well known by now that due to a scheduling quirk, Alabama’s last six SEC opponents in 2010 all have a bye week before they play the Crimson Tide. The SEC is trying to give Alabama some relief but its options are limited if other SEC schools don’t want to move games. And by now most of them don’t.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban said he was most concerned about the game with Auburn on Friday, Nov. 26, the day after Thanksgiving. Auburn has an open date on Nov. 20 while Alabama plays Georgia State in Tuscaloosa.

“The thing I’m concerned about is playing …

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This time Bill Curry is “enjoying the process”

 Bill Curry is often asked why, at a time of life when most men can’t wait to ease into the mental couch of retirement, he STILL wants to be a football coach. And not just a coach of any team, but to start a college football program from scratch—to build at a place like Georgia State where nothing stood before he arrived.

Curry answered that question in the most personal and compelling way when he spoke to the Northside Athletes Foundation  Wednesday night at the Marist School. The NAF (www.northsideathletes.com) was founded in 1990 with a core mission of using sports as an important tool to develop the character of young people.

It is a subject about which Curry is most familiar. He’s lived it. He’s coached it. He still feels very passionate about it. That is why, when other men are playing checkers or going fishing with their grandchildren, Curry is running around a hot practice field frantically trying to get Georgia State ready to play its first-ever football …

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Fisher, Buckley win Chick-fil-A Bowl Challenge

 Greensboro—We’re going to take a break today from arguing about the quarterback position at Georgia and wondering why Jonathan Dwyer dropped to the 188 spot in the draft. We’re not going to worry about Big Ten expansion and how it could change the college football landscape as we know it. We’re not going to talk about the BCS and how many of you feel it undermines all that is pure and good in the world. We’ll get back to those things soon enough.

I’m going take a few minutes today to tell you about a neat event I attended which was fun and raised a lot of money for a good cause. Why do we care? Because we recognize that college football has become a pretty tough business and the people in it have to be pretty tough just to survive, much less prosper. So when these people drop their guard and do something that is fun and helps other people, it is worth noting.

In 2007 the Chick-fil-A Bowl organization wanted to put together a golf outing that gave coaches and …

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Will 5-7 teams play in bowl games?

Nobody asked me, but:

**–I decided a long time ago that I wasn’t going to rail about the number of bowl games that are played. Former SEC commissioner Roy Kramer once told me that if two conferences and one community decide they want to have a bowl game, then more power to them. Nobody compels us to watch.

 But with 35 bowls approved for the 2010 season, the math does not look good. It means that 70 of 120 teams in Division I-A will participate in a bowl game. Last year 71 teams finished 6-6 or better. That’s cutting it pretty close. The rules say you have to be 6-6 or better in order to qualify for a bowl. There have been reports that the NCAA is working on contingency plans if there are not enough qualified teams for the bowls. I will have a problem if 5-7 teams are going to bowls. That is not good for the game.

 **–Here is a guy who got some bad advice. After he threw 26 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2008, Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead came to the SEC Media Days in …

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Reflections on the NFL “character” draft

As a college guy, I’ve never taken more than a passing interest in the NFL Draft. But last week I got a chance to work the draft in New York for CBS College Sports and really immersed myself in the process. It is fascinating and now I know why people are so locked into it.

And strictly from a college guy’s perspective I really believe that in this draft NFL teams, thanks to the shenanigans of guys like Ben Roethlisberger, Michael Vick and Pac Man Jones, were looking at character more than ever. Four examples:

Dez Bryant, WR: The Oklahoma State star has Top 10 talent. There was simply no debate on that. But he fell all the way to No. 24 (Dallas) because other teams questioned his character (he lied to NCAA investigators about his involvement with Deion Sanders) and work ethic. He played only three games as a senior before being suspended by the NCAA. We can debate whether or not that was the proper punishment. The fact is Bryant’s reputation cost him millions of …

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Would the SEC look to the ACC in expansion?

 New York—Had a fun night covering the first round of the draft. There were a lot of surprises but Tim Tebow going in the first round to Denver certainly had to be at the top of the list. It was a good night for the SEC (with seven picks) and ACC (four picks).

But it’s Friday which means all of us have permission today to go a little off the wall. So here is my contribution to the effort.

If the Big Ten expands to 16 teams, which is certainly a possibility, everyone in the business I’ve spoken to agrees a series of dominoes will fall that will completely alter the landscape of college football and college athletics.

What follows is simply an exercise in speculation. All of it may happen. Some of it may happen. None of it may happen. Judge for yourself. Feel free to add your own expansion scenarios. But I believe the expansion dominoes will fall something like this:

 BIG TEN: The Big Ten never asks formally, but Notre Dame says no, no, a thousand times no to joining the …

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Slive speaks on expansion; where will Tebow go in draft?

 

New York—Good morning friends. Your humble correspondent is in NYC today to work the NFL Draft for the CBS College Sports Network. We’ll have coverage of the entire first round tonight and will do something a little different by looking at the draft from both the pro and the college perspective. It should be fun so please tune us in.

Before I move on to today’s topic I want you to know that I caught up with SEC Commissioner Mike Slive after yesterday’s post on whether or not the conference should be proactive rather than reactive to possible Big Ten expansion. The commissioner was very candid in saying that the SEC is not going be passive if the Big Ten blows up the college football landscape by going to 16 teams.

“We will be proactive,” said Slive. “We will do our due diligence and determine the right course of action for our conference.”

Read into that what you will. I think it means that everything is on the table. Big Ten commish Jim Delany told …

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Should the SEC be proactive on expansion?

You are SEC Commissioner Mike Slive. You run a conference that is known for being proactive and not reactive to a potentially changing landscape of college athletics. For example:

**–It was former SEC Commissioner Roy Kramer who decided that the future would include divisional play and conference championship games. The SEC went to 12 teams in 1992 and created the first championship game. Now the ACC and the Big 12 have followed suit. The Big Ten and Pac-10 are interested in making the same step.

**–In the summer of 2008 the SEC stepped out and put together the biggest contract in college football history when it signed a 15-year, $3 billion deal with CBS and ESPN.

**–The SEC has now won four straight BCS national championships in football and there is a pretty good chance Alabama will be the preseason No. 1 in 2010. This is a conference that got ahead by looking ahead, by blazing its own path and not waiting to see what the crowd was going do.

There are reports that the Big …

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What a difference a year makes at Auburn

 Auburn, Ala.—It is known as an “Ah-ha!” Moment.

In Life it is when get our first job or buy our first house or experience the birth of our first child. That is when realize that our parents, who we were sure for so long didn’t have a clue, were pretty smart people after all.

“Ah-Ha!”

In college football it is the moment when players and fans who are justifiably skeptical, start believing that a new coaching staff ACTUALLY knows what it is doing. For players it is a moment when, after wandering in the dark, the light finally comes on.

“I think we had several of those last season,” said Gene Chizik, who on Monday wrapped up his second spring practice as the head coach at Auburn.

The mood here a year ago was decidedly on edge. Chizik, a former defensive coordinator at Auburn and Texas, came here after two years of building at Iowa State yielded a 5-19 record. Chizik pointed out that the record didn’t reflect the progress that had been made. All some Auburn …

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So much for this summer’s UGA quarterback debate

 It was quite an eventful weekend on the college football front. So what did we learn?

 **–So much for this summer’s UGA quarterback debate: What was going to be a raging quarterback debate throughout the summer—Aaron Murray vs. Zach Mettenberger—ended on Sunday when head coach Mark Richt announced that Mettenberger has been dismissed from the team. Mettenberger was already facing a minimum one-game suspension because of an arrest on alcohol-related charges earlier this Spring. Sports Information Director Claude Felton told the AJC’s Tim Tucker that there was not a new incident involving Mettenberger. It’s very unfortunate and we wish the young man well.

Two things:

I said in this space last week that I thought Murray, the redshirt freshman from Tampa, would be the starter because I thought he was a more complete quarterback. But Mettenberger could have helped provide a change of pace because of his arm strength. Logan Gray is a splendid athlete but not an every …

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