SEC dominates Top 10 of coaches’ poll; LSU nets No. 1

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Winners of the past six BcS titles, the coaches — or their assistants — are expecting nothing less than a seventh straight crystal hoisting from the conference.

In the preseason USA Today Top 25 coaches’ poll, a total of seven — out of 14 — SEC teams were represented, including a whopping five of the Top 10.  Heading that list is 2011 BcS title game runner-up LSU, which received 18 of the 59 first-place votes.

Oddly enough, there were two other teams that tallied first-place votes and actually garnered more than the Tigers.  Alabama, which defeated LSU for the 2011 title, got 20 first-place votes, while USC, in its first season coming off a two-year bowl ban, received 19.  The Tide and Trojans are ranked No. 2 and No. 3, respectively.

Georgia (No. 6), South Carolina (No. 9) and Arkansas (No. 10) are the other three SEC schools in the Top 10, while No. 23 Florida and No. 25 Auburn were the sixth and seventh SEC schools represented on the list.

Rounding out the Top 10 are Oklahoma (No. 4), Oregon (No. 5), Florida State (No. 7) and Michigan No. 8).    The Sooners and Seminoles each received one first-place vote apiece from the coaches.

Three teams that finished inside the Top 10 in the final coaches’ poll last season will start this year well outside that grouping:  No. 18 Stanford (No. 7 last poll), No. 19 Oklahoma State (No. 3) and No. 22 Boise State (No. 8).  A total of four teams that weren’t ranked at season’s end were included in the initial Top 25, with the highest being No. 15 Texas.  others in that group included Florida, No. 24 Notre Dame and Auburn.  USC was ineligible for the coaches’ poll due to NCAA sanctions, so they weren’t in the final poll as well.

Conference-wise, the Big 12 was right behind the SEC with six schools — including new members West Virginia (No. 11) and TCU (No. 17) — followed by the Big Ten with four and the ACC and Pac-12 with three each.

Below is the complete list of rankings, and you can let your voice be heard in our poll right HERE.

 

Iowa LB Aaron Mends to miss extended time with injury

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Talk about a hard-luck story.

After never starting a game at Iowa, Aaron Mends (pictured, blocking punt) had earned a starting job at outside linebacker during practice this spring.  With football being the cruel mistress that it can be at times, the Hawkeyes announced Friday night that Mends “will miss an extended period of time due to injury.” The program offered no details as to the specific nature of the injury, although it’s believed to involve the knee.

According to the school’s release, the fifth-year senior suffered the injury during the final week of Iowa’s spring drills.

Mends was a three-star member of the Hawkeyes’ 2014 recruiting class.  He was the highest-rated linebacker in Iowa’s class that year.

After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, Mends has played in 38 games the past three seasons.  A baker’s dozen of those appearances came during the 2017 season.

Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, James Franklin and Clay Helton among 15 CFB coaches attending NFL Draft

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We’re less than a week away from former college players officially finding out their new homes with the start of the 2018 NFL Draft and the excitement is palpable no matter if you’re a Cleveland Browns fan or somebody who dons the cardinal and gold of USC.

Naturally this is a big deal for the players’ former programs as well and their recent head coaches will be taking full advantage of the marketing opportunity to future recruits by stopping by the draft itself at AT&T Stadium for the festivities. The NFL released a list of 14 college football coaches and one recent one on Friday as being confirmed to attend the event and there are a few notable names beyond the big ones we’re used to seeing every year:

In addition, Stanford head coach David Shaw will serve as a draft analyst on NFL Network for a seventh year in a row and even ESPN’s College GameDay is getting involved with a pregame show outside the stadium they are quite familiar with from big games over the years.

Georgia DB Mark Webb tears meniscus in practice but expected back before fall camp

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Georgia’s injury luck this spring isn’t getting much better as the defending SEC champions move toward their annual G-Day spring game over the weekend.

Head coach Kirby Smart confirmed with reporters after Thursday’s practice that sophomore defensive back Mark Webb suffered a knee injury earlier in the week and tore his meniscus. He already had the knee scoped and is expected back before fall camp after the rather minor procedure.

Webb originally landed in Athens as a wideout but made the move to the secondary just as the season was getting going. He appeared in 13 games in 2017, mostly on special teams, but was expected to challenge for one of the starting spots at cornerback heading into the upcoming campaign.

The absence of Webb in the lineup for the final week of spring adds to a growing list of injuries for the team during practice as they do a little bit of roster building toward the future. Receiver Michael Chigbu’s career may be over due to lingering injuries and defensive back Divaad Wilson tore his ACL not long after enrolling this semester.

Safe to say that G-Day on Saturday might not be as physical as Smart and the coaching staff would otherwise like as a result of trying to keep the team healthy as they prepare to head into a big offseason.

Old Dominion announces remodel, expansion plans for S.B. Ballard Stadium

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Old Dominion is making sure the first word in the school’s name is not the first thing you think of when you are playing against the Monarchs, joining a long list of their FBS peers with some significant upgrades for their home venue over the coming years. In plans approved this week by the university, ODU released renderings and an updated timeline on a $65 million remodel of S.B. Ballard Stadium that is set to begin as soon as this summer.

“We are excited to begin Phase 1 reconstruction,” said Greg DuBois, the school’s vice president for administration and finance. “Fan comfort and high-quality amenities are the primary focus of this phase. The project will help us create the type of game-day experience fans want and will set us up for future expansions.”

The stadium, some 81-years-old, will undergo a nearly complete teardown over the next two years in order to transform the place most know as Foreman Field. Both the east and west stands will be demolished and rebuilt, complete with new seating and a new press box. There will naturally be more restrooms and concession stands as part of the plan that includes plenty more bells and whistles for the Conference USA program. Seating is expected to grow beyond 21,000 or so capacity the current venue seats.

While construction will get started in the coming months, the bulk of activity will take place after the 2018 campaign is wrapped up at home and before kickoff of the opener in 2019. The Virginian-Pilot reports that funding will not utilize state funds but that the school is requesting that the legislature approve an added $10 million to the cost structure as a result of rising prices beyond the original $55 million forecasted.

2018 will be just the 10th season for the Monarchs (and fifth in FBS) since the football program was reinstated and it goes without saying that the new digs will be some of the nicest in CUSA when all is said and done. Few programs have been able to successfully navigate the transition as well as ODU has and it seems an updated stadium in the near future is the reward for head coach Bobby Wilder and others in Norfolk.