SEC rebounds, Big Ten drowns in sea of New Year’s losses


OK, who was the dolt chirping last night about the SEC tossing up a big doughnut thus far this bowl season?

Well, whoever it was should’ve remembered that the conference had three very winnable games New Year’s Day. Against the Big Ten, no less.

Less than 24 hours after putting the finishing touches on a less-than-tidy 0-3 start, the SEC roared back to an even .500 with a trio of impressive wins. OK, at least two of them were impressive but, as a whole, the SEC made the Big Ten look like, well, the Little Sisters of the Poor.

By far the most spectacular of the three wins was Alabama’s complete and utter evisceration of Michigan State.  The Tide, which finished fourth in the SEC West, took the Big Ten co-champions to the woodshed, dragged the battered body out and beat it with various heavy objects, then took it back into the woodshed in a resounding 49-7 butt thumpin’ for the ages.  Alabama outgained MSU 546-271, including a staggering 323 yard edge in rushing — 275 to -48.

Additionally, Mississippi State effectively ended Rich Rodriguez‘s longer-than-it-should’ve-been tenure at Michigan with a 52-14 pantsing in the Gator Bowl, while Florida handed Urban Meyer a retirement present in the form of a 37-24 win over Penn State in the Outback Bowl in the coach’s final game at the school.

Speaking of the latter game, what a great, great scene at the end, with Meyer surrounded by his family on the sidelines as time counted down on Meyer’s time at Florida.  Very powerful, very emotional stuff, and a fitting end to a phenomenal six-year run in Gainesville for Meyer.

On the flip side of the joy being felt in the Southeast, of course, was the Big Ten.  Wow.  The woeful, woeful land of Leaders and Legends not only suffered a trio of losses at the hands of the SEC, but Northwestern also fell to Texas Tech 45-38 in the TicketCity Bowl.

Add it all up, and the Big Ten has started the new year with an embarrassing 0-4 mark in bowls — combined scores of the losses to the SEC?  138-45 — and put the 2-0 start to the bowl season in the rear view mirror.

There is a shot at some face-saving later on today, though, as Wisconsin takes on TCU in the Rose Bowl.  Of course, the Badgers could also lose to the non-automatic qualifier and have another chunk of the conference’s manhood lopped off.

No pressure at all, Badgers.  None.

Lane Kiffin slaps FAU QB Chris Robison with ‘day-to-day suspension’

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Chris Robison‘s time in Norman ended in controversy. As he gets set to begin his quest to become Florida Atlantic’s starting quarterback, Robison is again mired in a bit of a kerfuffle.

As FAU kicked off spring practice Tuesday, Lane Kiffin confirmed that Robison has been indefinitely suspended from his football program.  The only reason given was the standard unspecified violation of team rules.

One sliver of light amongst the latest off-field cloud for Robison is that the suspension trigger seems to be relatively minor in nature as the head coach said it could be lifted at any time.

“[He’s] not doing things right off the field and not just that he hurt himself, but he hurt his team,” Kiffin said by way of the Palm Beach Post. “Like we just told our players, you got choices; we can’t make the choices for you. If you don’t want to make the right choices, [there are] punishments for them.

“I think our punishments are a bit more severe than most people would be, but we want to teach our guys they gotta do everything right.”

A four-star member of Oklahoma’s 2017 recruiting class, Robison was arrested in April of that year for public intoxication; four months later, OU announced that Robison had been dismissed from the football program.  In August of last year, Robison announced his decision to transfer to FAU and ended up taking a redshirt for the 2017 season.

Robison and De'Andre Johnson are expected to compete for the starting job vacated by Jason Driskel, who announced earlier this offseason that he was retiring from the sport.  Johnson missed most of the 2017 season after blood clots were discovered in one of his arms.

Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa injures thumb on throwing hand in spring practice opener

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This is not exactly the most optimal way to open the spring for Nick Saban and Alabama.

Shortly before seven p.m. ET this evening, grad transfer quarterback Gardner Minshew, who originally committed to play his last season of college football at Alabama, announced on Twitter that he will instead move on to Washington State.  Not long after that, after the Crimson Tide had completed their first practice of the spring, Saban confirmed that Tua Tagovailoa sustained an injury to the thumb on his right (throwing) hand.  Specifically how he sustained the injury wasn’t clear.

The rising sophomore will be taken to Birmingham for further evaluation; just how long he’ll be sidelined remains to be seen.

Jalen Hurts started every game but one at quarterback the past two seasons, guiding the Crimson Tide to a 26-2 record in that span.  He was under center for the national championship game loss to Clemson, and was in the same spot for this year’s title game against Georgia until a 13-0 halftime deficit compelled Saban to pull the trigger on a change.

And the rest, as they say, is history, as Tagovailoa played a significant role in a second-half comeback that was capped by the true freshman’s game-winning touchdown pass in the first overtime.  Even as it seems obvious to those on the outside that this is Tagovailoa’s team moving forward, given how much more advanced the backup is in the passing game than the erstwhile starter, Saban is not quite ready to pull the trigger on a full-time change at the position.  In fact, the head coach even stated that he’s open to playing both quarterbacks.

Minshew, who started five games at East Carolina last season, was viewed as experienced insurance in case Hurts decided to transfer.  Or, if Tagovailoa suffered an injury.

After committing to Alabama, grad transfer QB Gardner Minshew tweets flip to Washington State

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So much for the implementation of the Jalen Hurts Transfer Protection Plan™.

In late February, Gardner Minshew, a graduate transfer quarterback from East Carolina, confirmed that he had committed to play for Alabama and would enroll at the university in May.  Nearly three weeks later, Minshew shifted his course significantly, announcing on Twitter that he is “[p]roud to say that I’ll be playing my last year of college ball at Washington State.”

At least when it comes to the opportunity for playing time, the Cougars, looking to replace Luke Falk, make much more sense than the Crimson Tide, who has, in addition to a two-year starter in Hurts, national championship game hero Tua Tagovailoa.

As a graduate transfer, Minshew will be eligible to play immediately for Wazzu in 2018 and could be in line to win a starting job at the Power Five school.

Minshew started five games for the Pirates last season, throwing for 2,140 yards, 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions in completing just over 57 percent of his 304 pass attempts. Prior to his departure from ECU, he was penciled in as the Pirates’ 2018 starting quarterback.

The news of Minshew’s initial commitment to UA came a little over a week after Minshew visited the Tuscaloosa campus.  Earlier in February, it was reported that Alabama had an interest in Minshew, the quarterback who announced late last month that he had withdrawn from East Carolina to tend to a personal matter in his home state of Mississippi.

WATCH: Amazon releases trailer for ‘All or Nothing’ season following Michigan

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“All or Nothing” has been Amazon’s answer to HBO’s “Hard Knocks” with one clear distinction — “All or Nothing” actually follows its subject throughout the season. The first two seasons followed the Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams, and has now expanded into the college game. Amazon on Tuesday unveiled the trailer for its upcoming season with Michigan, in which its cameras followed Jim Harbaugh‘s Wolverines through an 8-5 campaign where the maize and blue won no games of consequence.

This is not the first such documentary series to follow a college team. Showtime’s “A Season With” has chronicled seasons of Florida State, Notre Dame and Navy.

The upcoming season will hit all Amazon Prime streaming devices on April 6.