Slive lays out SEC’s ‘national agenda for change’

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In an interview with the Associated Press earlier this week, SEC commissioner Mike Slive strongly intimated that there is change in the air as it pertains to how big-time college football conducts its business.

“I have a sense that there are several of us that feel like change is important and addressing these issues from a national perspective is important,” Slive told the AP. “And I fully expect that we will do that, and I fully expect that the SEC will make every effort to contribute to that discussion and hopefully the appropriate action following those discussions.”

Wednesday afternoon, Slive laid out his plans for change.

Kicking off the SEC’s annual media days, Slive spent in excess of 22 minutes addressing the 900-plus media members in attendance on what he labeled a “national agenda for change”.  Slive stated that the SEC developed the agenda with the intention off stimulating national discussion on changing a game he says “has lost the benefit of the doubt” when it comes to public perception.

There’s little doubt that Slive’s four-pronged agenda will stimulate both national discussion as well as internal debate/rage amongs the coaches in his own conference.

The first area Slive addressed was a hot-button issue that’s been at the forefront of discussion of late: redefining the benefits given to student-athletes.  While Slive did not come out in favor of stipends, he did promote the “full cost of scholarship” idea championed by his Big Ten counterpart, Jim Delany.  Such a move, which would likely cost a university an additional $3,000 per year per student-athlete per sport, would add to the current benefits of tuition, housing, books, etc.  Slive dismissed the notion that some schools could not financially support such an initiative, saying that economics should prevent an institution from doing what’s right by a student-athlete.

Additionally, and perhaps more importantly when it comes to the football side of the equation, Slive proposed doing away with the renewable one-year scholarships and instead offering student-athletes binding multi-year scholarships.  If this slice of Slive’s proposal were to be adopted nationally, it would in theory make it much more difficult for coaches, particularly in Slive’s own conference, to perform their annual roster manipulation.

The second prong of Slive’s “national agenda for change” concerned academics, specifically strengthening the academic guidelines for incoming freshman and JUCO transfers.  Arguably the most explosive — and thus controversial — change Slive proposed was for the minimum grade point average for incoming student-athletes to be raised from its current 2.0 to 2.5 for 16 core high school courses.  Once again, this proposal will likely raise the ire of some/most of the coach’s in his conference, especially the one that has to deal with the South Carolina educational system.

In addition to the raising of the GPA for incoming recruits for all sports, Slive would also like to see the return of partial qualifiers.  Under Slive’s proposal, and as it was in the past, a partial qualifier would be admitted to school, attend classes and practice with his/her respective teams, but would not be permitted to play in any games until their academic house was in order.

As for the third prong, Slive, as he has stated previously, would like to see the NCAA modernize recruiting rules, or, as he put it, push the reset button on the recruiting process.  Among the changes in the recruiting game Slive proposes includes permitting a more expansive use of electronic communication (texting, emails, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) between recruits and coaches; simplify the recruiting calendar, and simply get down to days coaches can or can’t contact potential recruits; and encourage the adoption of rules that would return recruiting to the scholastic setting “rather than through third parties and so-called handlers”.  The latter is obviously an attempt to rid the game of so-called street agents and limit the growing power of 7-on-7 organizations.

Slive would also like to see the so-called “bump rule” banished from the rulebook, which would make a certain Tuscaloosa a happy man, although it likely wouldn’t make him break out in anything remotely resembling a smile.

The final point on Slive’s agenda is to continue to support the NCAA’s efforts to improve enforcement of its bylaws.  As part of that help, Slive would like to see the NCAA rulebook “greatly streamlined” — the third prong of his initiative would certainly help in this area — as well as see investigations expedited and completed in a more timely fashion.

Suffice to say, Slive has put his conference at the forefront of what some consider to be some much-needed change in the game, and it will be interesting to see how his counterparts, Delany in particular, respond to Slive’s “national agenda for change” at their conference’s respective media days over the next week or so.

Telly Lockette takes job at Florida State as TEs coach

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As Willie Taggart constructs his first coaching staff at Florida State, he’s added yet another familiar face.

Taggart, FSU announced earlier Thursday, has hired Telly Lockette as the Seminoles’ tight ends coach.  Lockette had spent the past three seasons as the running backs coach at Oregon State.

Prior to that, Lockette was a member of Taggart’s coaching staff at USF as running backs coach for two seasons and maintains deep ties to the fertile recruiting soil of South Florida.

“I’ve known Coach Lockette for a long time and am excited he is joining our staff at Florida State,” Taggart said. “He was an important part of my first staff at South Florida and has gained Power 5 experience with his last three seasons in the Pac-12. Coach Lockette is a tremendous recruiter and coach who does a phenomenal job developing student-athletes on and off the field. While we were at South Florida he was the primary recruiter for the Miami area and helped us sign a number of impact players, including Quinton Flowers, Khalid McGee and Deatrick Nichols. His expertise will benefit our current and future Seminoles.”

The job with Taggart at USF was Lockette’s first at any level of college football.  The first 10 years of his coaching career were spent at the high school level, including a five-year stint at Miami Central from 2008-12.

Amidst Arizona State chatter, Texas Tech DC David Gibbs signs contract extension

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Almost without fail, it pays to have your name circulating through the annual churning of the coaching rumor mill.

The latest example is David Gibbs, with the Texas Tech defensive coordinator being rumored as a target for the same job with Herm Edwards at Arizona State over the past few days.  Fast-forward to Thursday night, and Tech announced that it has finalized a new two-year contract extension with Gibbs.  The coordinator is now signed through the 2019 season.

According to the school, Gibbs’ pay will be bumped from $550,000 per year to $650,000.  That number puts Gibbs right in the middle of Big 12 DC pay.

“We are fortunate to have one of the top defensive coordinators in the country in Coach Gibbs,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury said in a release. “Since the conclusion of the regular season, finalizing this new contract to keep Coach Gibbs at Texas Tech has been a priority for myself and [athletic director] Kirby [Hocutt]. We look forward to continuing to build one of the nation’s top defenses in the years to come under Coach Gibbs.”

Long a punchline, the Red Raiders’ defense has steadily improved in the three years under Gibbs.  This season, their 27 takeaways led the Big 12 and are the most in a season for the football program since 2008.  They’re also currently seventh in the country with four defensive touchdowns.

With Gibbs back, he’ll have 10 returning starters with which to work next season.

“There isn’t a better person to work for than Kliff Kingsbury, and I’m looking forward to continue building this program with him,” Gibbs said. “There is still plenty of work that needs to be done, but I’m excited about the future of our team.”

RB Justin Crawford to skip West Virginia’s bowl game, begin preparing for NFL draft

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Sometimes the personnel gods giveth, and sometimes the personnel gods taketh away.

Thursday evening, West Virginia announced that quarterback Will Grier will return to Morgantown for the 2018 season.  Not long after, the same football program confirmed that Justin Crawford has decided to eschew playing in the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl.

Instead of preparing for Utah in the postseason, the senior running back will instead begin preparations for the 2018 NFL draft.

“Justin has logged a lot of miles and been a key contributor for us the past two seasons,” head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “He made a decision to not play in the bowl game based on what is best for him and his family. He came to West Virginia to further his education and be a featured back in the Big 12 and he accomplished his goals. As he starts his preparation for the NFL Draft, we wish him nothing but the best.”

Crawford has led the Mountaineers in rushing each of the past two seasons.  He’s the first WVU player to post back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons since Noel Devine in 2008-09.

After finishing third in the Big 12 this season with 1,061 yards on the ground, he was named second-team all-conference for the second straight season.  Following the 2016 season, he earned the league’s Newcomer of the Year honor.

SMU graduate assistant GJ Kinne to call plays in Frisco Bowl

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New SMU head coach Sonny Dykes has been busy assembling his staff as he prepares to jump right in the saddle to coach the Mustangs in the Frisco Bowl next week, but he will have one holdover from the previous staff to help call the shots on offense. Graduate assistant GJ Kinne will call the offensive plays for the bowl game, according to Adam Grosbard of The Dallas Morning News.

This would seem to be the most logical choice for Dykes to make in this scenario. Kinne has been working in the SMU system all season long under former head coach Chad Morris, who has moved to Arkansas with a handful of assistants. Having the most experience with the current roster and a better comfort level makes sense to have Kinne take on this responsibility so close to the bowl game. This will be a major promotion for Kinne, the former Tulsa quarterback, even if just for one game.

I certainly trust G.J. It’s going to be fun to give him an opportunity to be highly involved and it’ll be one of those things he remembers for the rest of his life,” Dykes said of the decision to have Kinne calling the offense from above. “When you’re a GA and you get to call a bowl game, it’s a pretty awesome opportunity.”

Just how smoothly this all goes is anyone’s guess. Fortunately, if things go awry, Kinne and Dykes can always just resort to going back to a chuck-it-deep mentality and see what happens.

SMU faces Louisiana Tech in the Frisco Bowl on Dec. 20.