Five burning questions as we near SEC Media Days

SEC Media Days start Wednesday in Birmingham so we’re going spend our next three visits looking at some of the questions that are bound to come up during three days at the Wynfrey Hotel. We’ll do five questions today, Tuesday and Wednesday. Feel free to chime in with your own. If you could ask any question to any player or coach at SEC Media Days, what would it be?

Here are my five today:

1. Is South Carolina’s Weslye Saunders in trouble? Word broke last Thursday night that the NCAA is looking into whether or not North Carolina football players Marvin Austin and Greg Little had had improper contact with agents. On Sunday we learned that NCAA investigators had also visited Columbia, S.C. Joe Person of The State newspaper reported that NCAA investigators had interviewed tight end Weslye Saunders last week. Saunders is from Durham, N.C. and Person reports that he has several friends on the North Carolina team, including Austin. Coach Steve Spurrier made it clear to Joe that he doesn’t know if Saunders broke any rules or not. But he also said that South Carolina’s players are well educated on what those rules are when it comes to agents. If they took something that breaks the rules, they will not be playing for the Gamecocks this Fall. It’s as simple as that.

http://www.thestate.com/2010/07/18/1382292/ncaa-investigates-te-saunders.html

 

How serious this is remains to be seen but this much is clear: The NCAA, to the extent where it is possible, is clearly cracking down on improper contact with agents. And here is some advice to Weslye and any college athlete who will be interviewed by the NCAA on this subject: Don’t lie. The NCAA made an example of Dez Bryant at Oklahoma State, who simply lied about coming into contact with Deion Sanders. Bryant was bounced for the entire season. They will do the same for you.

2. Do you think Mal Moore deserves a raise? Well, let’s see. Moore took over as athletics director at Alabama in 1999. He steered the athletic department through one of the toughest periods in its history when the football program got hammered by the NCAA in 2002. He convinced the powers that be that Alabama needed to spend money–a lot of money–so that the school’s so-so athletic facilities could become world-class. He would lead a $125 million campaign and now Alabama’s facilities are among the best in the country.

 When the football program stumbled under Mike Shula in 2006 Moore came under intense criticism when Rich Rodriguez took the job and then changed his mind. There were a lot of people who wanted Moore out of his job. But Moore eventually got the coach he had to have in Nick Saban. Now the football program has posted two consecutive 12-0 regular seasons and is coming off a national championship.

Oh yeah, I forgot. Alabama just completed a $65 million stadium expansion pushing Bryant-Denny to over 101,000. All of the new seats were sold long ago. Mal is 70 but why should he retire now? This is the fun part.

By the way, Moore got a bump to $425,000 in salary after he landed Saban in 2008. Florida’s Jeremy Foley is in the $1 million range. Do the math. Moore deserves a new contract and a pretty hefty raise.

3. Will the Vanderbilt coaches have to wear the “interim” tag all season? No question Vanderbilt is in a tough spot. Bobby Johnson’s sudden retirement last week all but guaranteed that his staff would be in place for the 2010 season and that Robbie Caldwell would be elevated to head coach.

But do you let this staff carry around the “interim” title for an entire year? How difficult would that be and what kind of impact does it have on recruiting, which is year-round? This staff has been virtually intact for eight years. They have shown loyalty. Should that loyalty be rewarded or does Vanderbilt football go through a state of limbo for a season? I’ve looked at the schedule. There are 10 teams on it that went to bowls last season. The non-conference schedule, where Vandy should get its wins, includes Northwestern, Connecticut, and Wake Forest. It is going to be another tough year at Vanderbilt.

Just thinking: Because the Vanderbilt staff had been so stable, it was something of a surprise when linebackers coach Warren Belin left Nashville to join Mark Richt at Georgia. I wonder what Coach Belin was thinking last week when Johnson made his announcement?

4. Will we have any ballot issues? Last year in Birmingham South Carolina’s Steve Spurrer had to fess up that he was the lone coach who had not voted Tim Tebow as the All-SEC quarterback. Spurrier’s ballot, which he said was filled out by football ops guy Jamie Speronis, had Jevan Snead listed as the All-SEC quarterback.

Last week my buddy Pat Dooley of the Gainesville Sun called Spurrier to let him know about Bobby Johnson. Out of the blue Spurrier said to Dooley: “Gonna try to get Jevan Snead back on the ballot.”

That’s why you still have to like The Head Ball Coach. Who else in this league is going to say that?

Snead, by the way, left Ole Miss with a year of eligibility remaining after a bad 2009 season.

The closest thing we have to do that this year is Alabama running back Mark Ingram, the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner. Ingram led the SEC in yards rushing with 1,658 yards last season. The next highest returning rusher is Kentucky’s Derrick Locke at 907 yards. Ingram will be an unanimous pick by the coaches. If not, we’ve got another story.

5. Is Arkansas this year’s Ole Miss? Last season a lot of people had Ole Miss in the Top Ten based on the return of quarterback Jevan Snead and all-purpose star Dexter McCluster. Ole Miss finished the regular season 8-4 (4-4 SEC) and needed some clock management issues by LSU to pull out a 25-23 win in Oxford. The Rebels then got pounded pretty good by Mississippi State, 41-27. It was a good season that was tinged with disappointment because many Ole Miss fans thought it was going to be special.

This year the trendy pick in the SEC is Arkansas because of the return of quarterback Ryan Mallett. Will we in the media be guilty of building expectations for Arkansas only to see the Hogs fall short?

Perhaps, but Mallett (30 touchdowns, 7 picks last season) is a significantly better quarterback than Jevan Snead. Arkansas doesn’t have a Dexter McCluster but the Razorbacks have a lot of guys who can catch the ball and a stable of really good running backs.

Ask me again on the night of Sept. 25. The Hogs open with a pair of winnable games against Tennessee Tech and Louisiana-Monroe. Then it’s a road game at Georgia on Sept. 18 and a home game with Alabama on Sept. 25. Lose them both and 8-4 is a real possibility, especially with road games remaining at Auburn, South Carolina, and Mississippi State.

Please follow me on Twitter:

www.twitter.com/MrCFB

Programming note: Our “Talkin’ Football” crew on CSS will be doing shows daily from the SEC Media Days starting Wednesday at 6 p.m.  Check it out.

158 comments Add your comment

JB

July 19th, 2010
12:55 pm

I still like our delay handoff out of the shotgun. You know, the one where half the defense is in the backfield, our QB hands the ball to the tailback, and he dances a half second, lunges forward for only a 4 yard loss. That is a Richt classic.

Urban Meyer

July 19th, 2010
12:57 pm

Enough talk about Saban! I’m the greatest coach in the SEC! I just hope my Gator players are as tough as me!

Beast from the East

July 19th, 2010
12:58 pm

Buldawg38,
Since when is Tony’s blog a bulldog blog? Did UGA purchase it and the AJC over the weekend?

JB

July 19th, 2010
12:59 pm

I ‘m just going by WHO turned it down before Dooley answered the phone. You are correct, Tennessee won’t stay down long. Big name,rep and campus and history. Dooley might turn out OK……..Kiffin brought “nothing” to the table. Derek’s dad was real smart, and so is Derek…wouldn’t surprise me if he’s successful…….But Mark Richt is successful, and in the SEC, that ain’t good enough for most.

Tide Rising

July 19th, 2010
1:05 pm

Les

July 19th, 2010
12:51 pm
Saban’s gone 7-6 or worse 50% of his coaching years, Richt has NEVER had a 7-6 season. Saban’s the most inconsistent coach in the country, that’s why he’s called the “Human Yo Yo”. Richt’s the most consistent coach in the nation, finishing in the top 10, 19 out of the last 24 seasons

Les,

Richt has never had a 7-6 season? Richt has also never coached at Toledo where 7-6 would be a blessing. Coaching at Mich state aint exactly easy either. They live in Michigan’s shadow and for that matter in the shadow of Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, and even Iowa and Wisconsin.

Richt inherited a stable UGA program which had talent and had gone 8-3 for 3 or 4 straight years. Saban inherited an LSU program that had 8 losing seasons in the previous 11 years. At Bama he inherited a downtrodden program that had scholarship reduced jr and sr classes of only 10 or so players due to the probation of the previous years.

Saban did not inherit a stable program at any of his coaching stops as Richt did. Every job he took was a rebuilding job and if you can’t understand the difference then there just aint no helping you.

Last as far as consistency goes Saban has 3 sec titles in 8 years at 2 different schools. And 2 bcs titles also. Richt has 2 sec titles in 9 years and no bcs titles. And of course Saban has 2 straight unbeaten 12-0 regular seasons. I think that is pretty consistent. As for Richt finishing top 10 19 of the last 24 years Richt was not the head coach at FSU. Sorry but that is irrelevant.

Tide Rising

July 19th, 2010
1:08 pm

JB,

“Kiffin brought “nothing” to the table.”

I disagree. He brought quite a big mouth to the table.

Beast from the East

July 19th, 2010
1:11 pm

Les,
Wasn’t aware that Richt has been a HC for 24 years. Can you enlighten the rest of us as to where he was the HC before going to Athens? I can’t seem to find it anywhere.

UGA_2001

July 19th, 2010
1:12 pm

Moore doesn’t deserve no damn raise. It was time for Alabama to win again, and everyone in the state knew it. He didn’t have to do much to get them to donate more. Getting beat by Aub every year is enough to make people in that state insane. After Shula, they knew they needed a bigtime coach and that they would have to spend to get one. Moore got lucky that Saban was willing to listen. If you’ll recall, Alabama had struck out on several possible coaches before Saban left the Phins.

JB

July 19th, 2010
1:22 pm

Richt inherited a stable program at Georgia? Really? By ACC standards maybe…….By his( Donnan) last year, the players were running the team. he had lost control….The team was split on the Quincey Carter mess………Richt walked into a mess…..a few decent players, but a mess.

HedgeWrecker

July 19th, 2010
1:23 pm

Bulldog38 – it’s also advisable not to put your IQ after your screen name. Pay attention to your own advice.

HedgeWrecker

July 19th, 2010
1:28 pm

Les – named himself after the amount of brainpower he has compared to a vegetable.

Bama Ramma

July 19th, 2010
1:30 pm

Saban’s the best coach in the SEC—no comparison. Meyer had a run when bama was down, but now that Saban has stocked the roster with 5 star studs, Florida will not be beating Bama anytime soon. Look for 2 easy wins by bama over florida this year in october and december. Bama wins title #14—book it!

Typical Dawg Speak

July 19th, 2010
1:34 pm

No pay raise for Mal Moore but we recommend a nice stipend to cover attorny’s fees for a name change.

JB

July 19th, 2010
1:44 pm

Lot’s of Bama fans on here telling us to book it…..gotta love that Moxie….not a single game played. Bama fought off a young, pretty lousy Auburn team last year to make it to the Game.
Lot’s of eggs ain’t hatched yet. Tough to repeat…ask Gators…..

AltamahaDawg

July 19th, 2010
2:00 pm

Was that really meant to be an honest question about what blog readers think Alabama aught to do about the compensation of one of thier employees? That’s not even a question Alabama fans are qualified to answer, much less the rest of us.

Chris

July 19th, 2010
2:00 pm

How could Alabama post two consecutive 12-0 seasons, when UGA beat AL at Tuscaloosa in the ‘08-’09 season?

SecGuy

July 19th, 2010
2:00 pm

I’m a Bama guy who isn’t counting on anything until I see the Arkansas game. The Arkansas, Florida, and SC series will tell the tale of Alabama this year. If they can beat Arkansas and split the other two, I like their chances about getting to the SECCG from that point. But there are too many questions on defense, especially the secondary for me to believe they will go unbeaten. If they do make it back to the SECCG, they will probably face Florida or Georgia.

Chris

July 19th, 2010
2:03 pm

Oops! My BAD! Guess the UGA victory was the ‘07 season.

Pago Pago Dawg

July 19th, 2010
2:03 pm

tide rising…..A 7-6 record at Toledo would never be accepted!!

AltamahaDawg

July 19th, 2010
2:05 pm

Tide Rising, Saban also had a decade head start on Richt. He had several jobs before Richt even graduated college. Relative to where they are at points in their career, Richt is holding serve just fine.

Paul in RDU

July 19th, 2010
2:10 pm

ALA fans have given the AA enough money to spend $190MM USD on football facilities in the last few years? How much has been given to the general endowment fund and how much have they spent on academic facilities?
I know it’s comparing apples with oranges but it tells me where the priorities are in the state of Alabama.

JB

July 19th, 2010
2:11 pm

SecGuy….Thank you……. a level headed Bama guy……A guy who knows they have a good coach and a good team……..and a Tough SEC road to hoe………….

AltamahaDawg

July 19th, 2010
2:21 pm

The priority of a fan giving money to the atheletic department that solicited his money is going to be the athletic programs that they run I believe.

bamafan

July 19th, 2010
2:26 pm

Les – consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds. Richt is a good coach. He has been consistent.
However, most UGA fans would find that they would prefer to win a few more games than be consistently second rate in the SEC East. Think about it. You comments about Ealey being better than Ingram fall into the same category as John Huarte winning the 1964 Heisman Trophy when everyone knew the best college QB in 1964 was Joe Namath.

Anonymous

July 19th, 2010
2:31 pm

Re, JB, it’s “row” to hoe.
Just sayin’

JB

July 19th, 2010
2:41 pm

I’ve been reading to many Damon stories LOL

Atlanta Gator

July 19th, 2010
2:45 pm

I know I’m tuning in a little late, but I was just reading yesterday’s comments about how anyone (i.e The Orlando Sentinel) could rate the 2010 Dawgs 64th of 120 Division football teams. In answer, I have two words: Mike Bianchi.

Bianchi has been a sports columnist for various Florida newspapers for something like 20 years, and he’s no consistent friend of the Gators. In fact, I would surprised if he has any friends at all. Bianchi is from the Jeff Schultz school of sports journalism, except Bianchi is twice the wise-a$$ with half the talent of Schultz. That says a lot. All you have to do to understand the Sentinel’s rankings of several SEC teams is to read several of Bianchi’s old columns about the Gators. Every other one of his columns/blogs is incendiary to the point of being obnoxious. He’s a no-talent hack who drives blog hits with his outlandish opinions. I, for one, refuse to read him. Period.

Les

July 19th, 2010
2:48 pm

Richt’s finished in the final top 10 ranking 19 out of the last 24 seasons. 15 seasons were at FSU, and 9 have been at Georgia.

At FSU, Bowden had 0 top 5 finishes before Richt, 1 after Richt, 13 during Richt’s 15 years there on staff. In other words, before and after Richt got there, not very good, while Richt was there, top 5 program. The decline at FSU started the day Richt resigned and left for Georgia.

Saban’s had 7 win seasons at every school and in the NFL. He’s just a coach who loads it up for 1 good year a decade and throws the other years away. Even at Bama, Saban had ANOTHER 7-6 season.

Richt finished in the final top 10 rankings 4 years in a row at Georgia, something Saban or Meyer has never been able to do.

Beast from the East

July 19th, 2010
2:59 pm

Les,
Saban and Meyer both have 2 NC’s. Something Richt has never been able to do. What’s your point exactly?

Les

July 19th, 2010
3:00 pm

I agree Ingran needs to show some more consistency until he’s put in Ealey’s league, but I was being kind by allowing Ingram in Ealey’s league, although his freshman stats do not compare to Ealey’s. I was ocmparing Ealey’s freshman stats to Ingram’s Sophmore stats, even there, Ealey matches up. But yes, if you compare both of their freshman stats, Ealey simply BLOWS ingram away.

Tide Rising

July 19th, 2010
3:01 pm

AltamahaDawg

July 19th, 2010
2:05 pm
“Tide Rising, Saban also had a decade head start on Richt. He had several jobs before Richt even graduated college. Relative to where they are at points in their career, Richt is holding serve just fine.”

Alt dawg,

That’s a fair point. My only point is that comparing the 2 is apples and oranges because of the coaching destinations Saban was at. Richt has turned out to be a fine coach but he did step into a good coaching situation with a program that had good if not great seasons and good talent. I’m just making the point that he didn’t step into some huge rebuilding job like what Saban had to do at both Bama, LSU, Toledo, and Mich state. But your point is well taken.

Paul in RDU

July 19th, 2010
3:04 pm

Weslye Saunders’ father is a columnist for the Raleigh N&O (not in sports though). He isn’t speaking about the NCAA investigation.

Tide Rising

July 19th, 2010
3:04 pm

“Saban’s had 7 win seasons at every school and in the NFL. He’s just a coach who loads it up for 1 good year a decade and throws the other years away. Even at Bama, Saban had ANOTHER 7-6 season.”

Les. Going by your own logic Saban has won 12 games twice at Bama and 13 games once at LSU. He has also won 3 sec titles in 8 years and 2 bcs titles in 8 years between LSU and Bama. How does 3 sec titles and 2 bcs titles in 8 years constitute having 1 good season in a decade and throwing away every other year?

Tide Rising

July 19th, 2010
3:07 pm

Les

July 19th, 2010
3:00 pm
“I agree Ingran needs to show some more consistency until he’s put in Ealey’s league, but I was being kind by allowing Ingram in Ealey’s league, although his freshman stats do not compare to Ealey’s. I was ocmparing Ealey’s freshman stats to Ingram’s Sophmore stats, even there, Ealey matches up. But yes, if you compare both of their freshman stats, Ealey simply BLOWS ingram away.”

Les,

I’m not going to insult you by suggesting that you actually believe what you just wrote.

Les

July 19th, 2010
3:07 pm

My point is I get sick of hearing about how ‘great” Saban is, when Richt has a better winning % than Saban, has never had a 7 win season (50% of Saban’s years are 7 wins or less), and Richt has 4 consecutive top 10 final poll finishes at Georgia (Saban’s never done that). He’s more consistent than Saban and a much better coach. Any coach can load it up, throw away the other years to have a good year once a decade, Saban one 1 Natl Champ from 1990-2000, won 1 this decade. He’s the human yo yo. And his AD does not deserve a raise. Read the areticle and you’ll understand a little better the reference to Alabama and Alabama’s recent “greatness”. What a laugh. 7-6 is not great. Richt’s better and more consistent.

What’s your point, you sayin’ winning a National Championship, and going 7-6 the rest of your career makes someone a great coach, seriously? I don’t see the point. Couldn’t care less about what Nick Saban does once a decade, more interested in his consistency, and he’s “the human yo-yo”. I define success by consistency, like almost every intelligent fan, not 1 fluke year per decade.

Beast from the East

July 19th, 2010
3:07 pm

Tide,
Actually, he’s won 13 and 14 in consecutive years at Bama. But then you already knew that didn’t you? LOL!

Tide Rising

July 19th, 2010
3:09 pm

Les,

You’re still not answering the question. How does 3 sec titles and 2 bcs national titles in 8 years constitute one fluke year per decade which is 10 years.

JB

July 19th, 2010
3:11 pm

Richt did not step into a great situation at UGA….Donnan had totally mishandled the Quincey Carter nightmare and the team was split……He had lost his two life long Assit. Coach’s who made that team perform. Jim was lost and let Tech just rape us on our home field. Richt did not walk into a picnic !

Tide Rising

July 19th, 2010
3:11 pm

Beast,

This guy Les is a piece of work isn’t he? I wonder if Mark Ingram knows that he’s not nearly good enough to be in the same class as Washaun Ealey.

Beast from the East

July 19th, 2010
3:13 pm

Tide,
Ealey is by far the better player. That Heisman thing is just a joke!

Tide Rising

July 19th, 2010
3:15 pm

JB,

Richt stepped into a much better situation at UGA than Saban did at Bama or LSU. The talent was good if not great and UGA had something like 4 straight 8-3 seasons so at least they were winning. When Saban took over at Bama in 07 we still had jr and sr classes that were depleted from the probation years. I’m not putting down Richt who I think is a fine coach. I’m just saying that this guy Les is nuts if he doesn’t think Saban is at least a good coach just like Richt is. ALt dawg did make a good point that it was Richt’s first head job while Saban had been a head coach for awhile so I’ll definitely give Richt credit for doing a good job early on as a first time head coach.

JB

July 19th, 2010
3:16 pm

Some years it is a joke……….Not last, but some years, yes.

Tide Rising

July 19th, 2010
3:17 pm

Beast,

Just so you know Ealey blows away Tim Tebow too.

Les

July 19th, 2010
3:18 pm

The Hesiman is given to the player on the best team and is a POLITICAL process, much like the process of determing a National Champion. Richt’s gone 13-1 and won the SEC, just like Meyer, yet not been invited to the play for the National Championship.

For Ealey to win, Georgia must win. And Richt will need to get Ealey the ball 20-25 times a game, like Saban does Ingram.

But Ingram’s 5.1 ypc, and 7.7 ypc reception average, doesn’t live up to Ealey’s 5.7 ypc, and 7.7 ypc reception averages during both Freshman seasons. Ealey is clearly a better back than ingram.

As every intelligent fan knows. 5.7 is better than 5.1 it’s pretty simple.

Tide Rising

July 19th, 2010
3:20 pm

Some years the Heisman is a joke like when Peyton Manning lost to Charles Woodson. Last year it could have gone to any of 3 players- Ingram, Gerhardt, or Suh and I think most people wouldn’t have objected. I wouldn’t have been mad if Gerhardt or Suh would have won it and I’ve no problem acknowledging that if Bama hadn’t been no. 1 and about to play in the title game that Ingram proably wouldn’t have won it.

Les

July 19th, 2010
3:23 pm

The reason I referenced Ealey is because he SHOULD be on the ballot (read Tony’s point #4), since he crushed Ingram (5.7 vs. 5.1 is a crush), but he’ll likely not be as Bama is the media darling this season. It doesn’t matter.

When Richt wins every game by 20 points, no one’s bias will matter anymore. They’ll all have to annoint Richt the new media darling, especially after he crushes Florida & Bama in the same season.

Les

July 19th, 2010
3:26 pm

The last time Saban won a National Championship, he went 9-3 the next season. He just can’t sustain greatness for a 4 year string, he’s not in Richt’s league.

Tide Rising

July 19th, 2010
3:27 pm

Les,

Since Ealey has clearly been proven to be the better back than clearly he will win the Heisman this year right? Also, I don’t know if you know this but stats can be misleading. An average ypc stat doesn’t mean a whole lot unless you’ve had a large number of carries. The more carries you get the lower the ypc will be. I suspect ealey probably didn’t have that many carries and that a lot of them were against lesser competition and hence a little better stats- in other words his stats are skewed by fewer carries and lesser competition. Lets see how he does as a sophomore before annointing him as that once in a 2 or 3 decade special player as you stated.

Beast from the East

July 19th, 2010
3:30 pm

Tide,
Ealey isn’t better than Tebow, but Murray is!

Tide Rising

July 19th, 2010
3:33 pm

Les,

When Saban won 12 games in 08 you guys said the same thing. That he would drop back to 9-3. Instead he went 14-0. Richt has not had 4 years of sustained greatness either. Show me where Richt has won 12 games or more 2 years in a row. I see where he won 13 games and then slipped back to 10 wns but I don’t see where he’s won 12 or more 2 years in a row. Please show me where that is from a consistency standpoint.