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Recapping National Signing Day

Dorial Green-Beckham AP

We have to ask. Did you get what you wanted on National Signing Day?

Yes? No?

Actually, you’ll probably find out in the next two to four years, and whether your school’s class was ranked first, or 50th, it matters not; most of the National Letters of Intent have been faxed in — a prehistoric method — and now it’s up the recruits and coaches to make a successful marriage.

In the meantime, here’s what we learned — or, remembered — from a busy and hectic signing day.

Just remember that everyone’s recruiting classes are like babies. No one’s going to say they have an ugly one.

Alabama wins recruiting title, too 
This year, Alabama came away with the top-rated recruiting class according to two of the three top recruiting sites. Rivals and 247Sports had the Tide ranked No. 1, with Scout placing ‘Bama just behind leader Texas. We could spew a cliché of something along the lines of “the rich just keep getting richer”, but with recruiting and impermissible benefit violations being the sensitive subjects they are, we’ll just say the Tide keep replacing great athletes with more great athletes.

Put it all together like Nick Saban does so well, and there’s no reason to think Alabama won’t be contending for more BCS championships in the foreseeable future.

Anyway, below is how the top sites rate the Top 5 teams at the end of signing day. You can also see the Top 25 rankings for 247Sports.com  HERERivals.com HERE and Scout.com HERE.

To see the sites’ top players: 247Sports.com HERE, Rivals.com HERE and Scout.com HERE.

Wait… i’m noticing a theme here  
As you all are either very proudly or nauseously aware, the SEC has won the last six BCS championships; it’s no coincidence that in the past six signing periods, no fewer than two SEC teams have finished in the Top 10 nationally in recruiting rankings from Rivals.com (incidentally, the lowest number, two, being this year). But no matter how you rank the classes, there’s no denying that the most highly regarded high school athletes are in the south, and most of them choose to stay nearby.

It’s been great for Clemson, Florida State and Miami, too.

Recruiting well without making a splash 
On signing day, the focus tends to drift to a handful of schools who are having big days. Here are some programs who quietly put together solid classes: Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Rutgers, Virginia Tech, Texas Tech.

Doing more with less
Sure, USC has spent the last two seasons watching bowl season from home thanks to NCAA sanctions, but the real kick to the groin, scholarship reductions, began this signing class. In all, the Trojans signed just 12 players today (USC had three early enrollees that counted toward the 2011 recruiting class), meaning they have three more scholarships available for next year. Give Lane Kiffin credit, though, for putting together a pretty solid class. And, he seems to have a plan in place over the next few years. It’s going to be a tough road ahead for the Trojans, but if they can be competitive at all in the Pac-12, it would undoubtedly be Kiffin’s best coaching — and recruiting — job in his young career.

Mizzou bends it like Beckham 
Much like conference realignment, the thought of Missouri being the choice for top-ranked athletes is, well, unexpected. But Gary Pinkel reeled in the No. 1 recruit in the country in receiver Dorial Green-Beckham. Missouri as a state has produced a few decent athletes in its day, but none in recent memory as big as DGB. Whether it was the “M-I-Z!… D-G-B!” chant at a basketball game, or the school’s move to the SEC, I don’t think anybody at Mizzou cares. They grabbed a recruit who could make an immediate impact.

Stanford sets itself up for life without Luck
Stanford started out quietly having a solid signing day, but by day’s end, had one of the top recruiting classes in the country. Specifically, the Cardinal concentrated on landing three elite offensive lineman and grabbed linebacker Noor Davis out of Florida. Obviously, there will be focus on David Shaw to see how well he does without Andrew Luck, but Stanford’s 2012 class was a resounding reflection of the type of football the Cardinal want to play.

Urban theft 
Perhaps no single team had as dramatic a shift for the better over the past few months in terms of their recruiting class as Ohio State. You can thank Urban Meyer for that. The former Florida coach already plucked some recruits from other Big Ten schools before Wednesday; today, he stole one more from Wisconsin — offensive lineman Kyle Dodson.

Landon Collins signs his LOI without drama
The mother of safety Landon Collins didn’t get her wish today, as Collins officially sent in his signature to Alabama over LSU with, as far as we’re aware, few to zero dishes thrown at any walls. April Justin has publicly voiced her opposition of Collins going to the Tide since his announcement at the All-American Bowl last month and later accused Alabama coach Nick Saban of “stereotyping” her and making decisions for Collins that weren’t in the teenager’s best interest.

In the end, it all went down according to Collins’ plan.

Meanwhile, Josh Harvey-Clemons makes Georgia wait 
Valdosta (Ga.) linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons was one of the first big announcements on signing day, telling ESPNU he would sign with Georgia over Florida and Florida State. By evening, Harvey-Clemons’ signature still hadn’t come through the fax machine. The hold up? Something about an unhappy grandfather and going AWOL. Also, there was a tweet from JHC, but it appeared to be written in Pig Latin … or Egyptian hieroglyphics … or Wingdings. In any case, I think it meant he was still committed to Georgia.

Miles finally makes his move
One of the top dual-threat quarterback prospects in the country, Cyler Miles, had a case of what appeared to be cold feet when he didn’t appear for his signing day ceremony at Mullen (Colo.) High School. Reports were that the No. 35 overall recruit (Rivals) was wavering on his commitment to Washington and considering USC. A few hours later, though, Miles reaffirmed his commitment to the Huskies.

Other unsigned heroes 
We’ve covered a lot of recruits who turned in their letters of intent today, but a few high-profile athletes chose to wait a little longer before making their choice. Among those big names still available to sign are receiver Stefon Diggs, quarterback Jameis Winston and athlete Davonte Neal.

Strangely, signing day was relatively normal
You’d think that when you’re talking about the futures of 17 and 18-year-old kids, there’s bound to be some strange happenings on signing day. Last year, there was the story about the mother forging her son’s signature on a letter of intent, not to mention the kid who made his college decision from a license plate. This year? Nothing so far, not even over-the-top commitment announcements. While personally I’m more thankful for a low-key signing day, it’s obviously far more interesting when a recruit decides to dress three greased pigs in school colors and make the respective head coaches tackle their pig first for that coveted signature.

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Tennessee loses running back to transfer

Alden Hill

Redshirt sophomore running back Alden Hill has left the Tennessee football program and will seek a transfer to another suitable football program. Hill announced his decision on his Instagram account and Butch Jones confirmed the roster change.

The three-star running back product out of Ohio rushed for 58 yards and a touchdown on 10 rushing attempts in 2013. He appeared in just the first three games of the season for Tennessee and was one of six running backs returning to the Vols this season. Hill saw limited production in the spring game to end spring practices and with the depth at the position may have seen now as a good time to find a better footing in a backfield somewhere else. Hill was buried on the depth chart at Tennessee and with the amount of talent the Vols have been bringing in, there are some crowded positions on the roster.

Per NCAA transfer rules, Hill will have to sit out the fall if he transfers to another FBS program. He would be eligible to play immediately if he transfers to an FCS or lower division school.

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Report: New Joe Paterno statue coming to State College

Penn State University To Decide On Fate Of Football Program And Joe Paterno Statue

In the fallout of the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State, the university decided to remove the statue of Joe Paterno outside of Beaver Stadium and lock it up in storage for an undetermined amount of time. While there has been no word on when that statue may see the light of day again, a bronze likeness of the former Penn State head coach is planned to be unveiled in November 2015.

According to a report by Onward State, the statue will depict Paterno sitting on a bench outside of the Tavern Restaurant in State College and will be designed by sculptor Zenos Frudakis. Donations for the project will be raised through a Kickstarter campaign later this summer with a total cost of $300,000 needed to pay for the statue. The project has already been approved by the State College Borough, but the statue must be installed on private property.

The motivation to install a new Paterno statue is a direct response to the school’s decision to remove the original statue from outside the football stadium once the NCAA sanctions were released against the university and football program.

“There’s been some level of frustration among Penn Staters with what happened with the statue at the stadium,” Ted Sebastianelli said to Onward State. Sebastianelli is a candidate for the Penn State Board of Trustees and a former president of the Penn State Football Lettermen’s Club. “We wanted to come up with a way to honor Joe for all that he did for the State College community. It wasn’t just the university he impacted — it was the whole town.”

The Paterno family is not involved with the organization of this statue. Penn State has said in the past the university will find a way to honor Paterno, although there has been no public movement on that front by the school since the original statue was torn down.

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‘Personal reasons’ cost Wyoming another player

Nico Brown

With spring practices across the country ending, so too are the careers of some players at those particular schools as transfer season is once again in full swing.

One of the latest to suffer a bit of a personnel hit is Wyoming, which announced Tuesday that Nico Brown – not to be confused with New Jack City‘s Nino Brown — has decided to leave the Cowboys football program.  The ubiquitous “personal reasons” was given for the departure.

The 6-3, 212-pound Brown was listed No. 3 on a mid-April depth chart released by new head coach Craig Bohl, which could be a significant part of the “personal reasons” given by the school.

After redshirting as a two-star true freshman in 2012, Brown played in eight games in 2013.  He did not catch any passes last season, although he appeared in line for additional playing time in 2014 before his abrupt decision to leave.

Brown becomes the fourth Cowboy to leave the program the past month, joining a pair of offensive tackles — senior Walker Madden and redshirt freshman Connor Riese — and junior linebacker Devin McKenna. The departures of Madden and McKenna were announced earlier this month.

(Photo credit: Wyoming athletics)

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Wake losing likely D-line starter to transfer

Jacob Coker, James Looney AP

Yep, another transfer.

While this one’s not yet officially official, West Virginia radio personality Dave Weekley tweeted Tuesday afternoon that defensive lineman James Looney has decided to leave Wake Forest.  ACCSports.com is reporting the same, although it’s behind the dreaded paywall HERE.

Even as Wake has yet to publicly address Looney’s status, his name is no longer listed on the team’s official online roster.

Last season as a true freshman, Looney, the younger brother of former Wake and current San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman Joe Looney, played in seven games.  Because of the departures of three starters, Looney was viewed as a likely starter along the Demon Deacons’ defensive line.

However, SBNation.com wrote that Looney “had not been at practices or scrimmages as of late.”

Coming out of high school in Lake Worth, Fla., Looney was a three-star member of Wake’s 2013 recruiting class.  According to Weekley, Looney had offers from, among others, Marshall, Minnesota, USF and West Virginia before signing with the Demon Deacons.

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LaTech QB Scotty Young puts an end to playing career

Louisiana Tech v North Carolina State

On Louisiana Tech’s post-spring depth chart, Scotty Young was listed as the No. 2 quarterback behind starter Ryan Higgins.  Less than two weeks later, the Bulldogs will officially have a new backup quarterback when summer camp commences in August.

In a surprising press release sent out Tuesday evening, Young announced in a statement that he has decided to bring his playing career to an end.  Young, who would’ve been a redshirt senior in 2014 will graduate in the coming months and has decided it’s time to begin the next phase his life.

In mid-March, quarterback Cody Sokol transferred from Iowa to Tech and has immediate eligibility; it’s unclear if Sokol’s addition to the roster hastened Young’s life decision.

“I am graduating this summer and am ready to move on to the next chapter of my life,” Young said of his decision. “Football has been a really good journey but sometimes you have to know when to end it. I have loved the experience and will cherish these memories forever. I want to thank the old staff for allowing me the opportunity to come to Louisiana Tech and I want to thank Coach Holtz and his staff for giving me the opportunity to stay here and earn my degree. It has been a great experience for me, one in which I have enjoyed every moment of.”

Last season, Young started six games for the Bulldogs. He completed 87-of-165 passes for 733 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions.

Young transferred to Tech in June of 2012 after spending the previous two seasons at Texas Tech but not playing. He was forced to sit out the 2012 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules.

A four-star member of the Red Raiders’ 2010 recruiting class, Young was the No. 10 pro-style QB coming out of high school in Denton, Tex.

“I want to thank Scotty for his time here,” Bulldogs head coach Skip Holtz said in a statement. “He was a selfless player during his tenure and I am happy he will be able to obtain his degree from Louisiana Tech in only four years in college. He was a model student-athlete and representative of our program and I wish him the best of luck. Scotty will be another one of our great alumni, adding to the thousands of great alumni this University has produced.”

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Louisville to pay Todd Grantham nearly $1 million in 2014

Todd Grantham

Prying a defensive coordinator away from an SEC football program didn’t come cheap for Louisville.

By way of a public records request, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported Monday that new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham will earn $975,000 in 2014.  As Georgia’s coordinator in 2013, Grantham pulled in$850,000.

In mid-January, it was officially announced that Grantham would be a part of Bobby Petrino’s second first staff with the Cardinals.

Last season, Grantham was fifth among all FBS assistant coaches in total pay; his UofL salary would’ve put him fourth.  This year, however, he will be the sixth-highest paid, at best.  After earning $600,000 in 2013, LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron‘s pay jumps to $1.3 million in 2014 and then $1.5 million in 2015.  Additionally, new Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin is expected to exceed $1 million in annual pay when the details of his three-year contract are released later this offseason.

Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris, for those interested, was the highest-paid assistant last season at $1.3 million.  Alabama’s Kirby Smart at just a shade over $1.15 million was the highest-paid defensive coordinator.

One final note from the Courier-Journal: Petrino’s two coordinators — Grantham and offensive coordinator Garrick McGee  – will make $1.625 million; Charlie Strong‘s coordinators made just over $1 million in his last season with the Cardinals before leaving for the Texas job.

(Tip O the Cap: the Athens Banner-Herald’s Marc Weiszer)

(Photo credit: Louisville athletics)

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2014 Tulane early enrollee Teddy Veal charged with rape

Niguel Veal

For the second time today, a player at an FBS program has been charged with sexually assaulting a female.

Multiple media outlets are reporting that Tulane wide receiver Teddy Veal was arrested early this morning and charged with one count of simple rape.  The 17-year-old Veal — he will be 18 next month — is being held in the Orleans Parish Prison in lieu of a $20,000 bond.

The alleged sexual assault occurred April 14, with the police account below of what led to the arrest and charge:

According to New Orleans police, the alleged victim was introduced by a female she knew to Veal and another man. The alleged victim began drinking and then went back to the men’s dorm room in the 6800 block of St. Charles Avenue to watch a movie.

The victim told police that while at the dorm, she had consensual sex with one of the men and then went to sleep. When she woke up she was sexually assaulted by Veal, police said.

Veal was a member of Tulane’s most recent signing class and was an early enrollee who participated in spring practice.  Not so unexpectedly, the school announced this evening that Neal has been indefinitely suspended from the football program.

“Federal law prohibits the university from disclosing any disciplinary action taken against a student regarding his or her enrollment in the university,” a portion of a statement from the school read.

Veal was the highest-rated player in the Green Wave’s 2014 recruiting class, and was expected to see significant playing time immediately. He is the younger brother of Alabama wide receiver Raheem Falkins, and his Tulane bio lists his legal guardian as “former LSU football standout Shrone Carey.”

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Greg McElroy taps Auburn as SEC favorite

Greg McElroy Nick Saban AP

When it was announced that Greg McElroy would be taking on the role of analyst on the fledgling SEC Network, there were some — including Auburn fans — wondering how unbiased (or biased) the former Alabama quarterback could and would be.

At first blush, it doesn’t appear bias will be an issue for McElroy.

During a radio interview Tuesday, McElroy was asked about the SEC West race in 2014.  Not so surprisingly, McElroy went with one of the teams that played for the final BCS title — and is the most bitter of his alma mater’s rivals — as his favorite to come out of the West.

“Once quarterback situations are established at LSU, at Alabama — and Ole Miss is also kind of a scary team out in the West as well,” McElroy said. “Bo Wallace comes back and some of the things they were able to do. The West is wide open and it’s difficult, but I definitely think the Auburn Tigers are the favorite.”

McElroy makes solid points when it comes to the quarterback situations at the two schools that should serve as the Tigers’ chief competition in 2014 and, yes, I’m dismissing Ole Miss. Both Alabama and LSU are replacing veteran starters, three-year starter AJ McCarron for the former and two-year starter Zach Mettenberger for the latter. On the flip side, Auburn returns its starter, Nick Marshall — the first time, incidentally, Gus Malzahn has returned the same starter from the season before during his nine years as a coordinator or head coach at the FBS level.

In fact, Malzahn being on The Plains factors significantly in McElroy’s pick for SEC West frontrunner.

“I think he’s the most innovative play-caller in college football,” McElroy said of Malzahn. “I think he’s a tremendous football coach and he’s had a lot of success over the course of his career and what they did last year was really special, so I think they are the frontrunners without question at this point.”

(Tip O’ the Cap: al.com)

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Report: ex-Tide lineman expected to join Buckeyes

Alabama v Auburn Getty Images

It appears that, the way it have on the field the past decade, Ohio State is going to get over on bitter rival Michigan on the transfer front as well.

Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports.com tweeted Tuesday afternoon that offensive lineman Chad Lindsay has decided to transfer to Ohio State and continue his playing career with the Buckeyes.  OSU, obviously, has yet to officially confirm Lindsay’s addition to the roster, although that could happen by week’s end.

In mid-March, it was announced that Lindsay would be leaving the Tide and playing his final season of college ball elsewhere.  As Lindsay will be a graduate transfer, he will be eligible to play immediately in 2014.

Michigan was reportedly the favorite to land Lindsay from the get-go — UA’s offensive coordinator a year ago, Doug Nussmeier, left for the same job with the Wolverines — although both Louisville and Oklahoma were a part of the transfer discussion as well.

Lindsay’s addition would give the Buckeyes an experienced option in the middle of a revamped offensive line that will see four new starters in 2014. In place of injured starter Ryan Kelly, Lindsay started four games at center in 2013 for Nick Saban‘s Tide. A three-star member of the Tide’s 2010 recruiting class coming out of high school in The Woodlands, Tex., Lindsay was rated as the No. 30 guard in the country that year.

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Charlie Strong: Texas ‘will not be in the national championship game’ this season

Charlie Strong AP

Memo to Longhorn Nation: do not book flights to Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex or reserve hotel rooms in that area for the time around Jan. 12, 2015; you’re head coach says your team won’t be there.

While not exactly a statement that goes against conventional wisdom when it comes to the 2014 college football season, Charlie Strong surprised some observers Monday when he talked about expectations for his first season at Texas.  Or, more to the point, he significantly lowered the first-year expectations of the media and fans alike.

We have everything available, and I don’t know why we can’t be successful,” Strong said while speaking to fans on his tour of Fort Worth. “There’s no reason for us not to be. Now, I can’t tell you how soon it’s going to be. Don’t hold me to that. Don’t say, ‘Ooh, coach said next year we’ll be in the national…’ We will not be in the national championship game.”

While some will criticize Strong for a defeatist attitude, others — myself included — will applaud the first-year UT coach for injecting some reality into a fan base that ofttimes suffers delusions of grandeur.

The Longhorns haven’t been a factor nationally since the 2009 season.  The past four years, they’ve sported a 30-21 record and earned three postseason berths — two to the Alamo Bowl, one to the Holiday Bowl.  While they played for a Big 12 title the final day of the regular season, that had more to do with other conference teams stumbling.

In other words, UT has a tough row to hoe to get back to where they belong nationally — especially with an unsettled quarterback position heading into his inaugural season in Austin.  Good on Strong — not an overwhelmingly popular hire to begin with — for shooting straight with his new fan base and not blowing the kind of rectal sunshine for which most coaches are infamous.

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Lobo RB Crusoe Gongbay facing rape, kidnapping charges

Crusoe Gongbay AP

As you can tell from the headline, a prominent member of the New mexico football program is facing some very serious charges, the Albuquerque Journal is reporting.

According to the paper, running back Crusoe Gongbay and another 21-year-old suspect — a non-UNM student —  have been charged with two counts each of second-degree criminal sexual penetration and one count each of kidnapping.  The 20-year-old Gongbay turned himself in to campus police on the charges.

A third suspect is being sought in connection to the incident.  Gongbay is currently jailed in lieu a $50, 000, while the second suspect is being held on a $100,000 bond.

The incident that led to the charges allegedly occurred the weekend before last.  From KOB-TV:

According to investigators, during the early hours of Sunday April 13, a female student reported to a Community Assistant at her dorm that she was the victim of a criminal sexual penetration. UNM Police transported the student to the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Unit, where evidence was collected.

Because of the serious nature of the charges Gongbay is facing, the junior has been indefinitely suspended from the football program.

“We are aware of the allegations involving Crusoe Gongbay” head coach Bob Davie said in a statement released by the school. “Once this process is complete and all the details have emerged, we will handle the outcome appropriately. As this is an ongoing situation, we will not be able to comment any further at this time.”

Last season, Gongbay was third on the team in rushing yards (592) and rushing touchdowns (six).  Gongbay is — or at least was — expected to be the Lobos’ starting running back.

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Big Ten Network to kick off prime-time slate at Rutgers

Big Ten Logo

The Big Ten Network will televise six prime-time games this season, beginning on Sept. 13 with Penn State at Rutgers — the Scarlet Knights’ Big Ten opener. And that’s not the only prime-time slot Rutgers will have on the Big Ten Network in 2014: They’ll kick off a home game against Michigan at 7 EST on Oct. 4, too.

Fellow newcomer Maryland gets a prime-time Big Ten Network game, too, hosting defending conference champions Michigan State on Nov. 15.

The full Big Ten Network prime-time slate:

Sept. 13, 8 ET: Penn State at Rutgers

Sept. 26, 6 ET: Cincinnati at Ohio State

Sept. 26, 9 ET: Illinois at Nebraska

Oct. 4, 7 ET: Michigan at Rutgers

Oct. 18, 7:30 ET: Nebraska at Northwestern

Nov, 15, 8 ET: Michigan State at Rutgers

 

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Indiana pays $750,000 to swap USF for FIU in 2015, 2016

Minnesota v Indiana Getty Images

Indiana, looking to make its 2015 non-conference schedule easier, paid $750,000 to cancel a home-and-home with USF and replace that series with a home-and-home against Florida International (via the Indianapolis Star).

The main goal for Indiana was to get seven home games in 2015 — the Hoosiers already have a game scheduled at Wake Forest that year, and draw Penn State and Michigan State away as part of their Big Ten schedule. Indiana will travel to Miami to play FIU in 2016.

The move came at a cost — Indiana paid the AAC $500,000 ($250,000 for each game) to cancel the USF series, and will send $1 million to FIU for the 2015 game. Indiana AD Fred Glass told the Star he expects about $550,000 in additional revenue from a seventh home game in 2015, and the Hoosiers will get $200,000 from FIU for the 2016 game, thus calculating out to that $750,000 net price tag.

That’s a lot of money, it would seem to, to trade a bad team for a really bad team on the schedule. USF finished 99 in 2013′s F/+ rankings, while FIU finished dead last at 125.

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ESPN debuts ads for SEC Network that’ll make you miss college football

SEC Network Logo

We’re about to enter the four-month barren wasteland for college football known as summer, so the timing of these 30-second spots by ESPN promoting the SEC Network is a little cruel. But these “Take It All In” ads should help you get through the warm, football-less landscape of the next few months.

(For whatever reason, these aren’t embeddable.)

Alabama

Arkansas

Auburn

Florida

Georgia

Kentucky (Surprise! It’s the only one that involves college basketball. Though Alabama’s had a kid playing basketball in it.)

LSU

Mississippi State (Baseball! I’m partial to this one.)

Mizzou

Ole Miss

South Carolina

Tennessee

Texas A&M

Vanderbilt (Another basketball one.)

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Mike Slive: College players shouldn’t be employees, but…

Mike Slive AP

SEC commissioner Mike Slive continues to push for greater autonomy for the “big five” conferences — the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC — and while he doesn’t agree with the unionization efforts at Northwestern he ultimately does see changes coming in the near future.

Slive spoke at an APSE regional meeting in Alabama on Tuesday and had this to say, among other topics:

“Student-athletes shouldn’t be employees. If you put that aside, what’s being asked for (by union backers) are the same things the five of us put forward last fall. What’s the substance of the issue, not the nature. What we are trying to accomplish are these issues.”

With the five power conference having the autonomy to compensate players in a way that non-power conferences cannot (since the money’s not there), perhaps it would mitigate the most common complaint from current and former players. That complaint: With all the money that’s being thrown around, why aren’t we seeing any of it?

Slive emphasized whatever compensation plan is drawn up would be “in the context of higher education” — so if it passes, “student-athlete” will still be a thing going forward. Slive said expects something to materialize here by August.

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