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

Tide Rising

July 19th, 2010
3:35 pm

Beast,

Actually I believe that Jeff Demps had something crazy like a 6.5 or close to 7 ypc average. Going by les’s logic you should be touting Demps as the greatest rb in the country. Makes sense doesn’t it?

Les

July 19th, 2010
3:37 pm

I agree, let’s see how Ingram does before putting him in Ealey’s league. So far, Ealey’s crushed hiis freshman stats. 5.7 ypc vs. 5.1. I expect more of the same, but yes, we’ll give Ingram another chance to try and catch Ealey.

Will Ealey win the Heisman? If Ealey gets 20 carries a game, yes, if less than 20 a game, no. Richt’s record is 40-3 when he gets a 100 yard rusher, so if Ealey’s getting 5.7 ypc, and he gets 20 touches a game, that’s over 100 yards rushing per game, and Richt’s 40-3 when he gets a 100 yard rusher.

Phil Steele has Ealey on his Heisman watch list, but not his favorite to win, because Steele thinks Bobo will rotate Ealey with King, weakening Ealey’s stats.

Beast from the East

July 19th, 2010
3:40 pm

Tide,
The only thing that would make sense to me would be if you told me that Les is actually related to Richt and Ealey. That would solve the mystery. Short of that, I’m lost.

Tide Rising

July 19th, 2010
3:41 pm

Les

July 19th, 2010
3:23 pm

“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,

You’re a lotta fun. Hard to see anyone ever winning every game by 20 points or more. Don’t know if I’ve ever seen that. Every unbeaten team I can ever think of had at least one or 2 close calls so winning every single game by 20 or more is quite a task. Hope you’re up to it.

As for crushing both Bama and Florida in the same season that would be quite a feat considering they are a combined 50-4 over the last 2 years with 2 of those losses coming to each other. I suppose its possible that you could in fact win both games. But “crushing” both Alabama and Florida in the same season. Something tells me that aint gonna happen.

Tide Rising

July 19th, 2010
3:44 pm

Beast,

I’m enjoying the banter with ole Les. This guy is a lot of fun. Delusional maybe or perhaps even downright loony. But still fun. Ya gotta wonder where fans like this come from. You looking forward to getting “crushed” by the dawgs this year?

Les

July 19th, 2010
3:44 pm

Richt’s best year’s he averages a 14-19 point scoring margin (2002 &2007). I expect with the new defensive staff, and the most loaded offense to ever play in the last 2 decades in the SEC, Richt will average 40 points a game, and only give up around 20. Yeah, he’ll average a +20 scoring margin.

I think Phil Steele has Georgia averaging 38 a game, and giving up 22, I disagree. But even if they do that, they’ll win the National Championship in 2010.

AltamahaDawg

July 19th, 2010
3:48 pm

thanks Tide. I have always maintained that its foolish to compare any coaches. Different schools, different points in their career. All that really matters is who beat who on any particular saturday anyway.

Tide Rising

July 19th, 2010
3:50 pm

Les,

The most loaded offense in the sec in 2 decades. I wish Danny Weurffel could be reading this. Or Peyton Manning. Or Tim Tebow. So the dawgs are going to average 40 pts a game under a freshman qb. Wow! That is amazing. Who do you think you guys will play in the national title game?

JB

July 19th, 2010
3:51 pm

Les, Tide Rising…..get a room…..Geez……

Slim

July 19th, 2010
3:52 pm

The Bama homers here are hilarious.

Yes, Washaun’s 5.7 is better than Ingram’s 5.1, duh, even a dumb old guy like me knows that.

Yes, of course Richt’s .769 win % is much better than Saban’s. No disputing that. and

yes, you’d think if you point out to somebody that their coach doesn’t even win 8 games 1/2 of his years as a coach, where Georgia’s coach has never won less than 8 games in 2 dozen years, they’d see your point,.

Yes, Richt’s sent more guys to the NFL than Saban or Meyer. Obviously he’s a better coach.

But, they’re just Bama homers.

Tank

July 19th, 2010
3:54 pm

That’s correect guys, I checked in my magazine, Phil Steele has the Dogs putting up 38 a game with a freshman QB. Going with Steele’s opionion over some pro-Bama blogger who knows zip about football.

Tide Rising

July 19th, 2010
3:55 pm

JB,

We all have our share of over excited fans and I’m just having some fun with Les. I expect that the dawgs will be good. I just don’t know if they’ll beat every single team by 20 or more. And if they do in fact beat both Bama and Florida I just can’t see the dawgs “crushing” both those teams.

Les

July 19th, 2010
3:56 pm

The offense is LOADED. Yes, they’ll set some records this year. AJ, Ealey, Olson, the O-Line, not a defense on the schedule they won’t steamroll. 40 points is being coservative, probably going to average more like 45.

Tide Rising

July 19th, 2010
3:57 pm

Slim and Tank,

I think you guys are sitting around drinking from the same kool aid dispenser as Les. What are you guys spiking that stuff with? Pure grain alcohol?

Quincy Carter to Michael Greer

July 19th, 2010
3:57 pm

My post at 12:45pm didn’t make it!
USC is the team to beat in the SEC East.
That’s if this dumbass Wesley Saunders
doesn’t turn out to be a cancer in the locker
room. We have a QB who’s actually SEC
seasoned. Jawja is praying that He will
deliver them from evil come September.

If Saunders is guilty of accepting a trip to
South Beach with Marvin Austin(friend) that
happened to be financed by an agent,then he
should be run off.This wouldn’t happen at UGA.

Understand that losing isn’t good, but winning at
all costs is even worse. Once you make it to the
mountain top, you’re cursed to pull out all the stops
on your way to glory again. This is the year of the chicken,
w/ BIG GAMES against ALA/AUB/UGA/FLA.

I believe Columbia will be Waterloo for Ala/Uga.

Watch Auburn,they may be dangerous with Malzahn. I
hate we have to play them.

Tide Rising

July 19th, 2010
3:59 pm

Les,

okay. So they’ll average 45. Do you also think they’ll put up 45 on both Bama and Florida or average 55 in other games and only put up like 35 on both Bama and Florida? And how many you think you might run up against someone like Texas or Ohio State in national title game?

Gus

July 19th, 2010
3:59 pm

For the college football newbies, Phil Steele is the most accurate college football guy in the game. His website predicts Florida will tumble now, and Georgia will start to dominate.

Check out the June 29 article on the Georgia page:
http://www.philsteele.com/Blogs/Individual_Team_blogs/Georgia_Blog.html

JB

July 19th, 2010
4:00 pm

Tide, I love my Dawgs, But we have as many questions as answers………We could be pretty good, or Average……..Seriously, I think we’ll have better intensity on Defense. I think it will be harder to pass on us. New coaching and pretty good athletes back there, but young. If our OL comes out of the blocks hot like they finished last season, we could be unbeaten going into Jacksonville. 10 starters back on offense, a 2 deep OL and two better than average running backs, and the best kicker and punter in the Country.

JB

July 19th, 2010
4:02 pm

And the best WR in the country,,,,,,,and 3 deep at TE, who any three could start for anybody.

Paul in RDU

July 19th, 2010
4:04 pm

Yep – the Heisman is given to the key player on the best team. That’s how Tim Tebow did it in 2007 – everyone knows that UF was the best team that year, even if they did only go 9-4

Les

July 19th, 2010
4:04 pm

Georgia will put up 42 on Florida and Alabama. Both have pathetic defenses this year and will get steamrolled.

Gus

July 19th, 2010
4:08 pm

Bama will be fine without 9 of their defensive players. Florida will be better without Strong & Tebow. Ok, sure they will. Too funny.

Paul in RDU

July 19th, 2010
4:08 pm

Here they come again talking about how Phil Steele is predicting UGA to dethrone UF. This would be the same Phil Steele who in his 2010 magazine picked UF as the #7 team in CFB and UGA as #19. Where I come from #7 is a higher ranking than #19.
Also, Phil Steele picked UGA at #5 pre-2008 and at #13 pre-2009.

JB

July 19th, 2010
4:08 pm

Les………………Come on now………..

Paul in RDU

July 19th, 2010
4:10 pm

42 on UF and ALA = 21/game. That sounds about right.

Tide Rising

July 19th, 2010
4:15 pm

Les,

I gotta head out now. Good shooting the breeze with you and good luck on the season.

Weezer

July 19th, 2010
4:16 pm

42 a game on Florida looks right, just like 2007. Although I don’t see Georgia playing Alabama in the SEC Championship, Saban’s just not good enough to get them back there this year. gonna be Auburn or Arkansas, Richt’s 8-0 last 4 years against those 2 teams, 3-1 last 4 games against Bama. 11-1 last 4 years against Alabama, Arkansas & Auburn.

JJ-Noles

July 19th, 2010
4:21 pm

Alphare: Florida has never made a Shula-esque choice? Remember the Fightin’ Zookers?
AtlantaGator: And Bianchi IS a hack. Read the AJC and followed Barnhart on several outlets for years.
The OrlandoSentinel has the worst sports coverage of any city paper.
Bianchi/OrlandoSentinel/SunshineNetworkSaturdayMorningFootballPreview?
-or-
Barnhart/AJC/EveryOtherRespectableSatMornFootballPreviewShow?
I know which one should be proud of its coverage!

Quincy Carter to Michael Greer

July 19th, 2010
4:26 pm

Has anyone ever heard of this site (pre snap read.com)
http://www.presnapread.com.

Damn goodlooking site,already started their daily
previews,revealing one team at a time.

Bama fan

July 19th, 2010
4:33 pm

Weezer,

Bama has won 4 of last 7 against the dawgs and Saban is 1-1 against UGA while at Bama. You’re bragging about games where Richt was beating Mike Shula back in the early 2000s. Son, this aint Mike Shula you’re going up against anymore.

Delusional dawg fan club

July 19th, 2010
4:36 pm

Les, Weezer, Gus, Tank. A lot of dawg kooks on this board.

Old School

July 19th, 2010
4:37 pm

JJ-Noles:

I agree with you 100% regarding Bianchi. He, Paul Finebaum and Colin Cowherd are the most bitter, cynical pot-stirrers I have ever read or heard.

Quincy Carter to Michael Greer

July 19th, 2010
4:47 pm

JJ-Noles, among others, life/football exists outside
the south. I’m assuming the aforementioned Cowherd and
Finebaum don’t kiss the hindquarters of “traditional” teams
like UGA/FLA/FSU. So what!

Herban Myar showed that it’s too much love thrown around.
No reason to react the way he did with that reporter. He should
have reacted swiftly when he allows guys to beat USC, but that
would be too much like the right thing to do.

Nothing wrong with potstirrers. Keeps you on your complacent toes.

JJ-Noles

July 19th, 2010
5:05 pm

I cannot speak of Finebaum, and I change the channel on ESPNU after CFBLive, so I do not know Cowherd. Bianchi’s opinions are irrelevant to me— he seems to lean Gator— but as someone said, he will stir the pot however needed to get hits on his blog.
My favorite Bianchi-related headline on OrlandoSentinel.com?

http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/sports_bianchi/2010/06/lebron-leaving-cleveland-area-for-new-home-in-central-florida.html

Absolutely, this is Hack journalism. Perhaps this is something you save for your personal blog, but a headline at a major paper?
By the way, Pre-Snap Read is quality stuff.

jumbeauxtiger

July 19th, 2010
5:09 pm

In my opinion Ingram and Richardson are the 2 best backs in college football, not just the best tandum on any team. I saw all 3 play in person last season and Ealey is not even close.

Richt came into a much better situation than Saban did at Death Valley. I don’t care who the coach is he’s not going to win without good players. All you have to do is look at the LSU players drafted by the NFL in the 1990s compared to the 2000s. A huge difference. In fact, LSU and Miami had the most players of any college on NFL rosters at the beginning of the 2009 season. That certainly wasn’t the case before Saban arrived. He brought in players you need to have to win. That’s lineman on both sides of the ball. And as unorthodoxed as Miles can be, he has recruited extremely well too.

Being a LSU season ticket holder since 1982, I was there during those lean years and it was really bad.

Geaux Tigers
Go SEC

Alphare

July 19th, 2010
5:12 pm

JJ-Noles,

I don’t know why you think Zook’s hiring is Shula-esque choice. Zook was once Spurrier’s top assistant, NFL coordinator. He is not a used-to-be or son of a used-to-be. He earned his own way.

My guess is his hiring has Spurrier’s input. Whoever advised FL-president back then saw something in him which did not pan out.

Beast from the East

July 19th, 2010
5:22 pm

Alphare,
Zook was a panic hire. He had done a fine job as a coordinator, but after Stoops turned down the job Foley kind of panicked. Had to make a move quickly due to the upcoming recruiting class and he panicked and hired Zook. I think most of us hoped it worked out, but deep down we really knew it was a bad hire. I still think highly of Zook, but he should have never been hired at such a high-profile place for his first head coaching job. He’s still a heckuva recruiter. If he doesn’t make it at Illinois then anyone would be a fool not to hire him as a DC just for his recruiting ability.

17 of 20

July 19th, 2010
5:35 pm

Coach Zook beat the great Richt 2 out of the three times he was coach at Florida.

Alphare

July 19th, 2010
5:42 pm

Florida fans have a lot to be thankful to Zook, quote:

Zook did have some accomplishments. He is the only coach to have beaten thirteen-win teams in back-to-back seasons and handed those teams their only losses of the season (Georgia in 2002 and LSU in 2003). He beat three top-eleven teams in succession, all on the road (LSU, Arkansas and Georgia) in 2003. In his final game as head coach he defeated the Florida State Seminoles at Tallahassee, something Steve Spurrier never did. This victory occurred on the night FSU dedicated Bobby Bowden Field, leading Gator fans to refer to it as Ron Zook Field. Zook had winning records against SEC foes Georgia (2–1) and Auburn (1–0). Zook was a tireless recruiter who brought a great deal of talent to Florida during his tenure as head coach. Following the Gators’ victory over Ohio State in the 2007 BCS National Championship Game, Urban Meyer praised Zook for recruiting the large class of seniors who played the game. Twenty-two of twenty-four starters were Zook’s recruits.

Razorblade

July 19th, 2010
6:23 pm

Wow, Ealey is a better back than the Heisman winner? Man, someone is really looking through “rose colored glasses”! Not only was Ingram the best, his back-up looked to be the 2nd best. Not to take anything away from Ealey, but he has to kick it up a notch to be better than those two at Bama! Not to sound too pessimistic, but if UGA stumbles out of the gate against USC(East) and Ark, could be a long season for the Dogs.

Steve Spurrier

July 19th, 2010
8:04 pm

I’ve got me some players now. What happens to all those great athletes that go to Georgia? See you on the 11th, Dawgs.

NEXT#14

July 19th, 2010
9:25 pm

LAST I CHECKED,SABAN IS STILL THE COACH!! WE ARE( INSERT THE VOICE OF COMEDIAN RON WHITE)LOOOOOAADDDDEEEDDDD!!! “THE” D1 COLLEGE FOOTBALL CHAMPIONS!!! NO MATTER WHAT OTHER’S SAY OR THINK………THESE “ARE” THE FACT’S!!!

Air-Chicken

July 19th, 2010
9:50 pm

Les

Les posted 2010
8:44 am
“Saunders, really, it’s South Carolina, they’re a perennial 7-5 team, they’re not relevant. Tribute to Richt that that sort of thing hasn’t touched his program. Spurrier can’t win big anymore at South Carolina, he doesn’t have the staff, players, or passion.”
————————————————————-
You will get all the passion you want Dawg Boy on Sept 11th. I forsee your fan base will be running Richt out of town by the end of the season. And that will be the highlight of your passion this year.. Classless

crabapplejoe

July 19th, 2010
10:14 pm

Ingram wasn’t the best RB in the country last year…and I think his back-up is better. UGA’s backs are average at best. Caleb King is way over-hyped.

thunderbull56

July 19th, 2010
10:17 pm

Guess I just fell off the watermelon truck headed to the farmers market.Just can’t see where any of those are burning questions as I thumb a ride back for a load of ?

Its a gator world

July 19th, 2010
10:21 pm

This guy Les says Heisman winner Mark Ingram isn’t in the same league as Ealey. The more they lose the more delusional and nutty these dawg fans get. Not only should Ealey not be mentioned in the same breath as Ingram but he isn’t close to the talent that Ealey’s backup Trent Richardson is. I’ve seen Ingram and Richardson up close. Both are incredible. Not just the best 1-2 punch in America but the best 2 running backs period. Ealey? What a joke. We kicked his arse all over the Jax turf. What did they score against us. 10? 10 to 49?

jack bull

July 19th, 2010
10:37 pm

A few things that will happen this season….

1) Auburn will be the surprise team in the SEC, look for them to be 10-0 heading into the final 2 games against UGA and UA.
2) Les Miles ‘resigns’ at LSU after going 8-4(maybe 7-5) and takes the job at Michigan
3) Steve Spurrier retires at the end of the year after finally realizing that he’ll never ‘get over the hump’ at S Carolina. Then Rich Rodriguez gets the head coaching job there, allowing Carolina to say they hired a minority.
4) Urban Crier takes a ‘leave of absence’ after losing to UGA. UF finishes a disappointing 8-4 and loses to Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl. But, it won’t be Urban’s fault, because he wasn’t there for half the season.
5) UGA surprises a lot of people going 11-1, losing to S Carolina early in the season. Then goes on to lose to Alabama in the SEC Championship game, but blows out an undefeated TCU team in another boring Sugar Bowl.
and last..
6) Oklahoma beats Alabama in a very poorly played BCS championship game, due to the confusion in players getting mixed up with the helments..

there you have it in a nutshell..

jack bull

July 19th, 2010
10:38 pm

helmets [sic], sorry spelling police..

thurmond

July 19th, 2010
10:59 pm

I figure Ealey has two more years left,followed by Crowell. Watch Ealey this year,if you want to see the point Les is making! It is going to be a breakout year for Ealey. Especially with Murray needing the experience, it will mean more hand-offs,and don’t forget about Caleb King! Don’t worry,Georgia will take care of Bama in 2012 and 2013!

AltamahaDawg

July 19th, 2010
11:04 pm

17 points to be exact. Ealey had 70 yards and a 4.1 yd average. That’s “Kicked him all over the field”? really? I think you meant to say “we gauged him all over his face”