SEC Championship - Alabama v Georgia

Media picks Alabama to win SEC

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We’ll finally get to see Jadeveon Clowney and Johnny Manziel on the same field if South Carolina and Texas A&M make it to the SEC Championship Game in December.

Based on the preseason predictions from the media, at least, that’s not going to happen.

Alabama has been picked with 182 out of 243 voters to win the SEC this season. Georgia finished second with 38 votes to win the SEC, followed by 18 for South Carolina, Texas A&M with four, and LSU with one. Not coincidentally, the Tide and the Bulldogs are projected by the media to win the West and East divisions, respectively, putting the two in a rematch from the 2012 SEC championship game.

For what it’s worth, the media has picked the SEC champion incorrectly 17 out of the last 21 times.

Here’s how the preseason standings shook out (first-place votes in parentheses):

SEC Champion 
Alabama – 182
Georgia – 38
South Carolina – 18
Texas A&M – 4
LSU – 1

EAST
Georgia (149) – 1570
South Carolina (75) – 1474
Florida (19) – 1300
Vanderbilt – 858
Tennessee – 694
Missouri – 577
Kentucky – 331

WEST
Alabama (225) – 1681
Texas A&M (11) – 1333
LSU (7) – 1324
Ole Miss – 883
Auburn – 579
Mississippi State – 516
Arkansas – 488

The media also named their first, second and third All-SEC teams. Manziel is the SEC’s first-team quarterback, with Clowney highlighting the media’s pick for first-team defense. The Tide have seven first-team All-SEC selections followed by Florida and LSU with three. You can see the second and third teams, as well as the voting breakdown, on the SEC’s website HERE.

First-Team Offense
QB – Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M (119)
RB – T.J. Yeldon, Alabama (221)
RB – Todd Gurley, Georgia (206)
WR – Amari Cooper, Alabama (194)
WR – Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt (106)
TE – Arthur Lynch, Georgia (148)
OL – Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama (193)
OL – Jake Matthews, Texas A&M (176)
OL – Anthony Steen, Alabama (109)
OL – Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State (88)
C – Travis Swanson, Arkansas (92)

First-Team Defense
DL – Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina (223)
DL – Dominique Easley, Florida (162)
DL – Anthony Johnson, LSU (127)
DL – Chris Smith, Arkansas (56)
LB – C.J. Mosley, Alabama (231)
LB – A.J. Johnson, Tennessee (107)
LB – Denzel Nkemdiche, Ole Miss (94)
DB – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama (203)
DB – Craig Loston, LSU (135)
DB – Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida (117)
DB – Deion Belue, Alabama (77)

First-Team Specialists
P – Kyle Christy, Florida (108)
PK – Carey Spear, Vanderbilt (100)
RS – Odell Beckham Jr., LSU (74)
AP – Bruce Ellington, South Carolina (69)

Record-breaking QB one of two coaches hired by New Mexico State

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Doug Martin‘s 2017 on-field coaching staff will have a decidedly familiar feel to it, even as it’s in some ways brand-new.

New Mexico State announced that two coaches have been hired by Martin, Chase Holbrook and Kai Brown.  The former will serve as tight ends coach, the latter as defensive ends coach.

Holbrook spent the 2016 season as a quality control coach for Mike Leach at Washington State.  A former NMSU quarterback, he still owns the school’s single-season and career records for passing, passing attempts, completions, touchdowns, total offense and total touchdowns.

Brown was a graduate assistant the past three seasons for the football program.

“We are really excited about Chase coming back to New Mexico State,” Martin said. “Having a former great quarterback that has his name written all over the Aggie record book will have a huge impact on us taking that next step. Chase really believes and cares deeply about the football program here. To have a coach of his talent join our staff makes us a better program immediately. …

“Kai has been a very loyal hard working coach for us as a GA and it gives me great pride to add him to our staff in a full time role. He brings a lot of enthusiasm to our program and has a great relationship with our players.”

This will be both coaches’ first foray into full-time coaching responsibilities at the FBS level.

Cal turns to Fresno State to complete Justin Wilcox’s staff

EAST LANSING, MI - SEPTEMBER 14:  A member of the California Golden Bears spirit squad waves a team flag while standing next to the Bears' mascot in front of the Michigan State Spartans crowd on September 14, 2002 at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan.  California defeated Michigan State 46-22.  (Photo by Danny Moloshok/Getty Images)
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In late December, Fresno State hired Tony Tuioti as part of Jeff Tedford‘s first coaching staff with the Mountain West program.  Two months later, Tedford’s former Pac-12 employer has poached said staff.

By way of a press release, Cal announced that Tuioti has been hired as Justin Wilcox‘s outside linebackers coach.  Tedford served as Cal’s head coach from 2002-12; Tim DeRuyter, Fresno’s head coach for five seasons before being fired and replaced by Tedford, is now Wilcox’s defensive coordinator with the Golden Bears.

“Tony has a tremendous resume that showcases his diverse skill set and abilities both on and off the field,” Wilcox said in a statement. “Not only is he an excellent coach, but the experience he has as a director of player personnel will be a tremendous benefit to us in the structuring and organization of our recruiting operation. Finding someone with a skill set as unique and diverse as Tony’s is challenging. We are fortunate that we have found that in Tony and are looking forward to his contributions to our program.”

“Working at Cal for a coach like Justin Wilcox was an opportunity I could not pass up,” a statement from Tuioti began. “I have a tremendous feeling about the positive direction Cal is headed, and I really wanted to be a part of that and contribute all I could to a football program with tremendous potential.”

In 2016, Tuioti worked as a football staffer at Michigan.  His last on-field job at the collegiate level came at Hawaii (2012-13, linebackers coach; 2010-11, defensive line).

Georgia raising money to build Devon Gales a home

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It’s been close to a year and a half since Southern football player Devon Gales fractured his C6 vertebrae when covering a kick at Georgia. While the two sides will forever be linked, Georgia has gone above and beyond its duties to help improve his life.

In addition to regularly visiting him in the hospital and paying for his parents’ travel to Georgia, the Bulldogs will now raise funds to build him a house.

Gales received an NCAA Sportsmanship Award at the Bulldogs’ basketball game on Saturday, and it was announced that the UGAAA will launch a “Drive to Build a Dawg House” for Gales and his family.

“Anybody can just their prayer for you and send you on your way, but they didn’t. They took me as one of their kids, not just as another player, but as one of their children,” Gales said.

To contibute, text (707) 204-1707 to donate $5 toward the fund.

Mike Gundy says Sugar Bowl loss to Ole Miss wasn’t on a “level playing field”

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 01:  Laquon Treadwell #1 of the Mississippi Rebels celebrates scoring a 14-yard touchdown against the Oklahoma State Cowboys during the fourth quarter of the Allstate Sugar Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 1, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
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Mike Gundy originally blamed himself for Oklahoma State’s 48-20 loss to Ole Miss at the Sugar Bowl that closed the 2015 season.

Speaking at the AFCA Convention in Nashville last month, I heard Gundy explain to thousands of fellow coaches he felt he overtrained his Cowboys in preparation to play the physically imposing Rebels. The end result backfired. As I wrote for FootballScoop:

As Oklahoma State prepared to face No. 12 Ole Miss in the Sugar Bowl, Gundy pushed his players harder than usual in December practices. “They’re going to knock us off the ball and it’s not going to look pretty,” he remembers thinking. That strategy backfired on him, though, as the Rebels pounded Gundy’s team 48-20. Oklahoma State was out-rushed 207-63 and averaged only 6.7 yards per pass attempt to Ole Miss’s 9.9. “We weren’t physical and we were slow,” Gundy said.

But now Gundy thinks something else may have contributed to that 28-point spanking.

As he explained to the Tulsa World‘s Bill Haisten, Gundy said he couldn’t help but think of the Sugar Bowl when he learned of the NCAA’s charges against Ole Miss.

“The first thing I thought about was (OSU’s recent experience with the NCAA),” Gundy said, “and the second thing was the Sugar Bowl and my players and what they went through.”

He continued: “We’ll never know what we could have done in the Sugar Bowl if it was a level playing field. That is the truth. I’m not sure we would have won the Sugar Bowl, but we’ll never know.”