Archive for June, 2010

Burning questions until MrCFB returns

If we needed any further proof that college football is now a year-round sport, we just got it.

The Braves are in first place and are the hottest team in baseball.

Chipper Jones, a lock-solid Hall of Famer on the first ballot, is thinking about retirement.

The NBA Playoffs between the two most storied franchies in the history of the league are headed to seventh and deciding game.

The Atlanta Hawks just hired a new coach.

But what has been the hottest story in sports for the past three months? College football and the possible changing of the landscape.

Fortunately for the college football fan, cooler heads prevailed and the change will be minimal. And there will be no change for 2010.

What it all means is that this is going to be a very short summer for all of us who care about the sport. SEC Media Days in Birmingham begin on July 21. I have a feeling that is going to get here in a hurry.

So, in order to keep some promises to Mrs. Barnhart, I’m going to take another shot …

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There is peace in the valley–for now

They got it right.

It’s not often you can say that in college athletics because usually when there is a winner  in the sports world there is a loser or multiple losers. But in the case of conference expansion, the powers that be in college football put their heads together and got this one right.

As a result, there were a lot of conference commissioners who spent last night breathing a sigh of relief and smoking a victory cigar. That’s what happens when you dodge a bullet that could have ripped a huge hole into the body and heart of college football as we know it.

When Texas announced last night that it would stay and thus hold the 10-team Big 12 together, it allowed the sport to step back from the brink of what could have been a fundamental change in college football as we know it. Some of it would have been good but most of it would have taken on the feel of a shotgun marriage for financial expediency and survival. There would have been some winners but some proud schools …

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What we know, don’t know, about expansion

After a weekend filled with travel, some fact, and whole bunch of speculation, here is where I think we are this Monday morning on the subject of conference expansion:

WHAT WE KNOW

1. Colorado (Pac-10) and Nebraska (Big Ten) have already left the Big 12. There is an offer on the table for Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State to move West and form the Pac-16. That would leave the Big 12 with five schools (Kansas, Kansas State, Missouori, Iowa State, Baylor) looking for new homes or trying to rebuild its league.

2. Texas A&M, showing a streak of independence, may not want to follow Big Brother Texas to the Pac-16. The Aggies want the Longhorns to know that they have options too: That’s why there is this flirtation with the SEC.  Texas A&M has played LSU and Arkansas over the years and culturally, some people in College Station feel it would be a better fit than playing on the Left Coast.

3. Various media reports had SEC commissioner Mike Slive in College …

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Why Texas has to listen to the SEC

When the history of college football is written, June 10-11, 2010 will be remembered as two very important days. Today, in fact, could end up being one of the most significant days in the history of the sport. Here is where I think we are this morning:

1. The Pac-16 deal is not done yet. Colorado has left for the Pac-10 (a good move). Nebraska should announce today that it is leaving for the Big Ten (another good move for Nebraska but not for the Big 12). There have been various reports that if those two things happened, five other current members of the Big 12 (Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State) would leave to go to the Pac-10. That deal is not done yet because….

2. Texas must listen to what the SEC has to say: Texas and Texas A&M officials met on Thursday in a attempt to salvage the Big 12. They didn’t find a way. That could certainly still be done by bringing on TCU and another worthy school. But I talked to several people last night who said there …

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The SEC sure is being quiet on expansion

Okay, I tried to stay away. I tried to be a good boy and take time off and ignore the computer. But the expansion story is just too good. Some quick observations today. You already know most this stuff but I just want a chance to weigh in and get your thoughts.

1. The SEC is being awfully quiet in all this. Various media reports say Nebraska to the Big Ten is done and will be announced on Friday. There are also reports out there that very quietly, Mike Slive and his folks at the SEC could still invite Texas and Texas A&M if the Big 12 breaks up. Would Oklahoma and Oklahoma State come along? Yes, I know about the Pac-10 offer to the six Big 12 teams (Texas, A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Colorado). But as one official put it to me yesterday: Do you think DeLoss Dodds (the Texas athletics director) would rather send his women’s softball team to Pullman, Washington (home of  Pac-10 member Washington State) or Tuscaloosa, Ala? I know all about the academic arguments …

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Mr. CFB will be back on July 5

 The SEC Spring Meetings draw to a conclusion today in Destin and with it we come to the end of our college football year. And what a year it has been. It just doesn’t seem that long ago that we were complaining about officiating on an hourly basis and wondering if Florida could possibly get through a stressed filled season unscathed. We watched Alabama celebrate its first-ever Heisman Trophy winner (Mark Ingram) and later watched the Crimson Tide win the SEC’s fourth straight national championship.

We watched Georgia Tech win an ACC championship as coach Paul Johnson proved a lot of people wrong—again. When are people going to figure out that this guy just knows how to win?

We’re going to take our annual June break in order to get our batteries recharged and to do all the chores that Mrs. College Football has on her list. We’ll resume our daily efforts on Monday, July 5 when we’ll start getting ready for what is already shaping up to be another wild season.

Now, …

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Saying goodbye to my friend, Haywood Harris

 Cleaning out the notebook from the SEC Meetings from Destin:

 1. We lost Haywood Harris yesterday: First of all, Haywood was my friend and he died yesterday in Knoxville at the age of 80. Secondly, he had been a constant and steadying  voice in the sports information department at Tennessee since he was hired in 1961. In fact, Haywood was the last UT employee hired by General Robert Neyland before Neyland passed away in 1962.

Whenever Haywood found out that I was coming to Knoxville, he would always call and ask me to come by his office. He retired in 2000 but kept an office to work part time as the resident historian for Tennessee athletics. We would catch up on what was going on around the SEC and he would ask me to tape a segment for radio show “The Locker Room” which ran on Tennessee game days for 49 consecutive seasons.

Haywood was funny. He was smart. But he never told you how smart he was. He didn’t have to.

Haywood was one of those people didn’t just work …

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Meyer’s ultimate test will come Oct. 2 at Alabama

 Destin—Before Tuesday, the last time I spoke to Urban Meyer in person was on the Friday before the SEC championship game in December. Tim Brando and I had a chance to visit with the Florida head coach on the floor of the Georgia Dome prior to No. 1 Florida meeting No. 2 Alabama for a spot in the BCS title game. I remember that he looked tired and way too thin.

As we walked away I remember saying to Brando: “He does not look good.”

A lot has happened to Urban Meyer since that Friday in Atlanta and yesterday, when he stood before a podium and actually laughed while he addressed the media at the SEC Spring Meetings began. Some of us who cover Florida wondered if we would ever see him laugh again. He took some good-natured ribbing from the press and was able to give it back with a smile. We sure didn’t think we’d see that again.

Here is the short version of Meyer’s unusual journey: In 2009 the strain of trying to repeat as national champions and stay No. 1 took their …

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SEC Meetings begin: Think expansion will come up?

 Five Burning questions as we begin the annual SEC Spring Meetings this morning in Destin:

 1. Do you think expansion will come up? It’s not on the agenda but it will be the 800-pound gorilla in the room. This will be Commissioner Mike Slive’s first opportunity to meet with his athletics directors, presidents, and coaches face to face and bring them up to date on what the conference is thinking. I met with the Commissioner last night and he said he would have no specifics coming out of these meetings. “What I will say is that if the paradigm in college athletics shifts (i.e., massive Big Ten expansion), we will be prepared to maintain our place in college athletics,” he said. So you can expect the press corps to ask it a bunch of different ways but the answer will not change this week.

Still, there is no question that the SEC has been doing its homework and will have a plan in place should the Big Ten expand to 16 teams later on this year. There was a report that …

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