SEC, Big Ten pace NFL draft selections

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After the first three rounds of the NFL draft was tucked neatly into bed late last week, the SEC held a narrow lead over the Big Ten and Pac-12 in the number of players selected the first two days.

While one of those conferences hung in there through the last four rounds, it was still the six-time defending national champs standing atop the draft mountaintop at the end of business Saturday.

Of the 253 players selected in the seven-round event, 42 were players from an SEC school.  This marks the 13th time in the last 15 seasons — including the last six in a row — that the SEC has led or tied for the most players taken in a single draft.

Nipping on the SEC’s heels, however, was the Big Ten, which saw 41 players from its conference selected.  The only other conference with more than 30 players was the ACC (31).  The Big Ten and ACC were second and third last April as well.

Since 1990, a total of 862 SEC players have been selected, far outdistancing the Big Ten and its 747 players.

Below is the conference-by-conference breakdown of players taken in the 2010 NFL draft:

SEC — 42
Big Ten — 41
ACC — 31
Pac-12 — 28
Big 12 — 25
Non-FBS — 24
MWC — 12
Big East — 12
WAC — 11
C-USA — 10
MAC — 8
Sun Belt — 6
Ind. — 4

Here are a couple of conference notes from the draft as well:

— The SEC had the most players selected in the first (nine), fourth (10) and fifth rounds (tied with six), while the Big Ten led in the second (seven), fifth (tied with six), sixth (seven) and seventh rounds (nine).  The only other conference to “lead” a round was the ACC with six selections in the third round.

— The only players from independent schools to be drafted came from Notre Dame, with four Irish players hearing their names called in the seven rounds of the draft.

— Of the 11 players from the WAC who were taken, six came from schools that are joining the Mountain West in 2012 — Nevada (four), Fresno State (one) and Hawaii (one).

As far as individual schools go, Alabama had four players taken in Thursday’s first round and finished with eight overall, the most for any one team.  Another member of the SEC, Georgia, had seven players drafted, as did Oklahoma.  Boise State, Cal, Iowa, Miami (Fla.), Michigan State South Carolina and Wisconsin all had six each, while five players each came from Baylor, LSU and North Carolina State.

Arkansas, Cincinnati, Clemson, Florida State, Illinois, Nebraska, Nevada, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon, Penn State, San Diego State, SMU, Stanford, Texas A&M and Wake Forest all had four players apiece selected.

At least one player from Wisconsin was taken in each of the first six rounds, while just one non-FBS school — Montana, two — had more than one player taken in the draft.

The SEC was the only conference in which each member of its league had at least one player selected, but just barely; Auburn, Ole Miss and Tennessee had just one player each selected, none before the fourth round.  And, for those Vols fans keeping score at home, in-state rival Vanderbilt doubled up UT with two players taken.

On the flip side, a total of 40 FBS schools did not have a single player drafted in any of the seven rounds, including 10 from the “Big Six” conferences.

Two teams each from the ACC (Duke, Maryland), Big East (Pittsburgh, USF), Big Ten (Indiana, Minnesota), Big 12 (Kansas, Texas Tech) and Pac-12 (UCLA, Washington State) were all shutout over the course of the draft.  The combined record for those teams in 2011?  Two bowl bids and a 37-86 mark, which could very well explain the lack of interest on the part of the NFL.

Illinois boots three players charged with home invasion and robbery

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Illinois head coach Lovie Smith has dismissed three players charged with home invasion and robbery. Offensive linemen Darta Lee and Howard Watkins and tight end Zarrian Holcombe have all been dismissed from the program, according to a statement.

Lee and Holcombe were previously suspended by Smith for violations of team rules. Watkins had also been indefinitely suspended following the initial allegations. All three players claimed the incident that led to the charges was nothing more than an innocent prank, but the authorities and Smith didn’t seem willing to buy that claim.

Each player faces a mandatory prison sentence of 4-15 years on each count against them if found guilty.

Report: Conference USA to air at least 15 football games on Twitter in 2017

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Conference USA is in a position where it needs to think outside the box and look to stay ahead of the curve in a changing TV landscape. It appears to be ready to air games on Twitter in 2017.

A report from The Virginian-Pilot says broadcast company STADIUM will air at least 15 football games involving Conference USA teams this fall. STADIUM is the result of a recent merger between the American Sports Network, 120 Sports and Silver Chalice (which also owns Campus Insiders and the online ACC Digital Network). The ASN had owned the broadcast rights to Conference USA games through the end of the 2017-2018 sports season that will carry over to the STADIUM deal (allowing for Conference USA basketball games to be aired on Twitter as well). It was announced earlier this month STADIUM intended to broadcast Conference USA games on Twitter, but it was unknown how many games might make it to the networking service. STADIUM reportedly has an interest in continuing to air Conference USA contests beyond the next athletic season.

Conference USA still has broadcast deals with ESPN and CBS Sports in effect as well, so don’t expect the premiere matchups in the conference to be aired on Twitter. However, by sharing the games online, Conference USA is hoping to reach a wide-spread audience and have the opportunity to be a trending topic. It could work, as Twitter would make sure the game is given a steady feed to allow for a pleasant viewing experience and fan interaction in real time.

Conference USA saw TV revenue take a big hit over the last year. Last summer, Conference USA’s television revenue reportedly dropped to just $2.8 million for the entire conference following realignment changes. Finding a home on a streaming platform now would be key for the conference’s future stability.

Alabama DC Jeremy Pruitt named son after former Tide linebackers Reuben Foster and Ryan Anderson

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It is not at all uncommon for children born in the state of Alabama to be named after Alabama football legends, but it is not every day you see a child of an Alabama coach receives a name inspired by former Alabama football players.

Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt announced the birth of his new son, Flynt Anderson-Foster Pruitt, on Twitter. Alabama fans will likely already know the connection to the new child’s name, as used the last names of two former Alabama football players to create the middle name of Anderson-Foster; Ryan Anderson and Reuben Foster.

Maybe this is more common than I’m aware of, but regardless of how often a coach names a child after former players, this is a testament to the relationship the Pruitt family established with both former Alabama linebackers. And now there will be a bond for years to come between the coach and his family and Anderson and Foster.

Helmet sticker to Al.com.

Wisconsin’s season tickets for 100th anniversary of Camp Randall are a thing of beauty

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The Wisconsin Badgers are gearing up for their 100th season playing home football game sin Camp Randall Stadium. As part of the season-long celebration, Wisconsin put some brilliant artistic detail into their season tickets for the 2017 season.

Each ticket to a home Wisconsin game is designed like a retro-style program. These are beautifully done and mimic the style of a program cover from decades past. I’m particularly fond of the program cover for the Purdue game, which features Wisconsin’s Bucky floating in space with a ship with the Purdue logo nearby. Is that a space train? The Band Day program for the game against Florida Atlantic also looks fantastic.

These tickets will surely be must-have collectibles for Wisconsin fans. If Wisconsin wants to make a few extra bucks, then blowing up these images and selling them as posters may be a good decision as well. And I wouldn’t put it past Wisconsin to suit up in a retro-style uniform for at least home game this season in Madison.