Skip to content

CFT Predicts: the SEC

Nick Saban AP

As the 2013 season draws near, we peek into our crystal ball and guess project how each of the five major conferences will play out. Today, we examine the SEC. 

And while we’re at it, check out our other conference previews: Big Ten, Pac-12

SEC East

1.  South Carolina (Last year: 11-2; beat Michigan in Outback Bowl)
What happened last season?
The Gamecocks put together an 11-2 season for the second straight year — the first time in school history the program has accomplished such a feat. Yet, Steve Spurrier‘s team still didn’t make it to the SEC championship game despite handing it to SEC champ Georgia 35-7 in Columbia. Also, this happened. You may have seen it before on SportsCenter. 

So why are they ranked here?
South Carolina and Georgia have taken their respective turns representing the East division in the SEC title for the past three years, and it looks like 2013 will be two-team race between these two once again. The Gamecocks get the edge this time because of their defense, which features preseason Heisman candidate Jadeveon Clowney. But it’s not just the projected No. 1 NFL draft pick that makes this defense so good. Cornerback Victor Hampton and defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles also return.

Anything else?
That’s a Clowney question, bro. But for real, the offense loses wide receiver Ace Sanders. However, the Gamecocks have a solid wide receiver group led by Bruce Ellington and Damiere Byrd. 

2. Georgia (Last year: 12-2; beat Nebraska in Capital One Bowl) 
What happened last season?
If only Chris Conley had been a few yards further, Georgia would have been playing in the BCS championship game. Still, 12-2 and a January bowl win aren’t too shabby. Despite getting blasted by South Carolina midway through the season, UGA still won the East division for the second year in a row.

So why are they ranked here?
The Bulldogs’ offense returns so many key players, including seventh-year senior quarterback Aaron Murray and running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. But conversely, it’s the defense that loses just about everyone. There’s plenty of talent on that side of the ball and Todd Grantham is considered one of the best in the business at defense coordinator, but there’s enough turnover to cost the Bulldogs the top spot in the East.

Anything else?
Georgia is the media’s favorite to win the SEC East this year, but the month of September could get the Bulldogs off to a slow start. Georgia faces four tough opponents to start the season: Clemson, South Carolina, North Texas* and LSU.

(*Kidding, obviously. But seriously #GoMeanGreen.) 

3. Florida (Last year: 11-2; lost to Louisville in Sugar Bowl)
What happened last season?
It wasn’t always pretty, but Florida won 11 regular season games with arguably one of the tougher schedules in college football. However, the Gators’ season ended in a Sugar Bowl loss to Louisville, something only our favorite Cardinals fan Mark Ennis could have foreseen.

So why are they ranked here?
This is where the Gators fit. The East will continue to be dominated by Georgia and South Carolina at least for another season, and there are some injury concerns on offense for Florida with wide receiver Andre Debose out for the year and running back Matt Jones out indefinitely with a viral infection. Quarterback Jeff Driskel is now a junior and should be a bigger part of this offense. On defense, this team needs to replace stars Matt Elam, Jelani Jenkins and Sharrif Floyd.

Anything else?
It doesn’t affect SEC records, but the Gators have two meaty non-conference games: the annual rivalry with Florida State and an early season game against Miami, a team some feel are flying under the radar.

4. Vanderbilt (Last year: 9-4; beat NC State in the Music City Bowl)
What happened last season?
Seven straight wins to end 2012 gave Vanderbilt its first nine-win season since 1915. James Franklin continues to do an outstanding job building the Commodores’ brand and is now quickly becoming one of the most intriguing coaches in the game.

So why are they ranked here?
That nine-win season? Yeah, Vandy returns 17 starters from that team a year ago. Leading receiver Jordan Matthews is back, but Chris Boydthe team’s second-leading receiver, is currently dealing with a legal issue related to a horrific rape allegation involving four former VU players. Still there should be plenty of firepower on offense and the defensive front seven should be a strength.

Anything else?
Vanderbilt’s next step is to knock off a SEC favorite. This team will have four opportunities to do so against South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Texas A&M. A season-opener against Ole Miss could also build some early momentum for the ‘Dores.

5. Missouri (Last year: 5-7) 
What happened last season?
Missouri’s first year in the SEC was, shall we say, eye-opening. The Tigers suffered their first losing season under Gary Pinkel in eight years thanks, at least in part, to the fact that quarterback James Franklin couldn’t stay healthy. Missouri’s only two conference wins came against Kentucky and Tennessee.

So why are they ranked here?
It’s not a stretch to think Mizzou can have, say, a two-game swing in the win column this season. The Tigers don’t have to play Alabama or LSU out of the West and there are about four winnable conference games on the schedule. Franklin has to stay healthy, which could again be an issue if the offensive line doesn’t come through. Running back Henry Josey returns after missing last season with a significant knee injury and one-time five-star wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham is a sophomore who needs to have a big year. A lot of previously unknown names are going to have to emerge as playmakers.

Anything else?
Pinkel has been the head coach of Mizzou for 13 years if you can believe it. And, if nothing else, the Tigers have been fairly consistent with winning records. But a new conference and a disappointing 2012 campaign has made the seat beneath Pinkel’s keister a little warm. If there’s not at least a little bit of a turnaround, or some reason to be excited about the future, Mizzou could be looking for another direction by year’s end.

6. Tennessee (Last year: 5-7)
What happened last season?
The Vols suffered their third straight losing season and Derek Dooley was punished by being demoted to the wide receivers coach for the Dallas Cowboys.

So why are they ranked here?
Butch Jones is a good coach and he should be the guy to finally get things turned around for Tennessee. He’s a natural with young people and players love him. That said, Neyland Stadium wasn’t built in a day — neither were UT’s shiny new facilities — and the Vols took a solid gut punch in the passing game with the departures of wide receivers Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson. Defense has been bad too. There’s a lot to fix and not a lot to work with right away.

Anything else?
The stretch between Sept. 21 (at Florida) and Oct. 26 (at Alabama) is ruthless and unkind. But winning one game against either the Gators, Georgia or South Carolina would go a long way for Jones no matter the final record.

7. Kentucky (Last year: 2-10)
What happened last season?
The Wildcats beat Samford and Kent State, the latter of which almost had a chance to make a BCS bowl appearance. Strange, indeed. Either way, Joker Phillips got canned.

So why are they ranked here?
If Tennessee is building things “brick by brick”, then Kentucky’s going to need some heavier materials. UK made an interesting hire with former Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, who is recruiting extremely well early. Signing Day 2014 is still a ways off and it’s yet to be seen if those efforts will pay dividends down the road. For now, the Wildcats have too much to improve upon to make a real dent.

Anything else?
The schedule the Wildcats go through doesn’t help. Road games against South Carolina and Georgia aren’t even the worst games — that distinction would belong to hosting Alabama on Oct. 12.

SEC West

1. Alabama (Last year: 13-1; beat Notre Dame in BCS championship)
What happened last season?
Oh, not much. The Tide won the SEC and then mercilessly beat Notre Dame in the BCS championship, giving Nick Saban his third national title in four years with Alabama. Of course, it wasn’t all perfect. Texas A&M came into Tuscaloosa in November and stunned the top-ranked team in the country 29-24. Saban has since been playing that game on loop around the football facilities because money isn’t the root of all evil — satisfaction is.

So why are they ranked here?
Unless the wheels inexplicably fall off or Saban takes his coaching talents to the pros, Alabama is in rolling along (see what we did–ah forget it) and there’s nothing anybody can do to stop it. We could talk about returning starters like A.J. McCarron or C.J. Moseley, or how the Tide’s schedule doesn’t feature any of the SEC East teams expected to finish at or near the top of that respective division. Those are all fine and well, but as long as Saban is wearing crimson, this program is going to be a perennial favorite.

Anything else?
Because college football black magic is very, very real, it should be pointed out again that Alabama has never have won a BCS title when ranked atop the preseason coaches poll. Guess where they’re ranked this year.

2. LSU (last year: 10-3; lost to Clemson in Chick-fil-A Bowl)
What happened last season?
The Tigers shocked the college football world by beating up on a much more talented North Texas team* to open the year and came thisclose to beating Alabama at home (tailback screen FTW!) on their way to a 10-win season. LSU lost by one point to Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl as Tajh Boyd pulled off the toughest individual postseason performance of the year.

(*Kidding, obviously. But seriously #GoMeanGreen.) 

So why are they ranked here?
LSU is an interesting team who’s getting overshadowed by two other SEC West teams. Understandably, Alabama is the overwhelming favorite not only to win the West division, but to win the SEC and get back to another national championship. But the Tigers shouldn’t be counted out so quickly. Defense will always be a staple and Zach Mettenberger has all the tools to be an elite quarterback, he just has to put it all together. Ironically, perhaps his best game last season came in that agonizing loss to Alabama.

Anything else?
Les Miles‘ team has some big games this year, including road games against Georgia and Alabama, and a season-opener against TCU. This is a program that’s thrived in those environments over the last few years (sans a BCS title loss to Alabama in 2012). They’ll need to again if they want to knock off the preseason favorite.

3. Texas A&M (last year: 11-2; beat Oklahoma in Cotton Bowl)
What happened last season?
Kevin Sumlin started Johnny Manziel at quarterback and all of us — defenses, media members, all of us — looked like idiots. Also, Manziel won the Heisman as a redshirt freshman. Just as a reminder.

So why are they ranked here?
Manziel is back… maybe. In fact, this is probably one of the few predictions that actually deserves an asterisk next to it. With the NCAA reportedly investigating whether Manziel improperly received money for signing thousands of pieces of memorabilia, it’s possible he could face suspension. If he does, and depending when and for how long, the Aggies’ win total could dip tremendously. There are a lot of questions defensively even with Manziel in the lineup, and while I personally don’t believe the offseason “controversies” will affect Manziel’s play on the field, he still has a lot of growing to do as a quarterback.

Anything else?
Wide receiver Mike Evans burst on to the scene last year with over 1,100 yards as a freshman. All the talk is about Manziel, but Evans provides an athletic, big target to throw to in this offense. He could have an even bigger year as a sophomore.

4. Ole Miss (Last year: 7-6; beat Pitt in the BBVA Compass Bowl) 
What happened last season?
Hugh Freeze made one of the bigger first-season splashes by leading the Rebels to a seven-win season and then pulling in one of the most impressive recruiting classes for 2013.

So why are they ranked here?
The Rebels are considered to be on the upswing, but the first half of their ’13 schedule is bordering on unfair. Ole Miss travels to Vanderbilt, to Texas in non-conference play, to Alabama, and to Auburn before finally catching a break and hosting Texas A&M and LSU. It seems impossible to get through that stretch unscathed, but if quarterback Bo Wallace cuts down on his mistakes (17 interceptions a year ago) and the defense can clamp down even a little (the Rebels gave up an average of 36 points in five losses to the aforementioned six opponents last season thanks in part to 66 points from the Longhorns), then this team should find itself with some quality wins headed into an easier second half of the schedule.

Anything else?
If you think Ole Miss has broken any recruiting rules, Freeze asks that you email compliance@olemiss.edu. Thanks and hotty toddy!

5. Auburn (Last year: 3-9)
What happened last season?
The Tigers failed to win a conference game and Gene Chizik, two years removed from winning a BCS championship, was fired.

So why are they ranked here?
Gus Malzahn, who was the offensive coordinator for Auburn when it won that national title over Oregon in 2011, returns to The Plains as head coach hoping to turn things around. There are plenty of guys returning on both sides of the ball… it’s just that neither side played particularly well. It’s not like there’s a lack of talent at Auburn, so if Malzahn and his coaching staff, which features veteran defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson, can get the production out of their players in a way Chizik couldn’t, then there’s no reason this team can’t go bowling this year.

Anything else?
Nick Marshall, a former Georgia defensive back, will be the starting quarterback for the Tigers. Meanwhile, Kiehl Frazier, Auburn’s former starting quarterback, has moved to defensive back.

6. Mississippi State (Last year: 8-5; lost to Northwestern in the Gator Bowl) 
What happened last season?
Things were looking good for Dan Mullen‘s team, which was 7-0 headed into a late October game against Alabama. That’s when it fell apart and the schedule got significantly harder. The Bulldogs lost 38-7 in Tuscaloosa and went on to drop five of their last six games, including a bowl loss to Northwestern.

So why are they ranked here?
Because the SEC West is arguably the deepest division in college football. It’s quite possible that six teams could be bowl eligible here. Quarterback Tyler Russell is back, but there will be plenty of new faces at wide receiver. Six starters return on defense, but in all, this is a relatively young team that will be tested when it faces South Carolina, Texas A&M and Alabama in consecutive weeks.

Anything else?
If Bulldogs center Dillon Day plays as well as he bowls, then MSU should have a spectacular season.

7. Arkansas (Last year: 4-8)
What happened last season?
Bobby Petrino drove his motorcycle off a road. John L. Smith then drove the BCS-ready Razorbacks into the ground. Hog fans didn’t take either particularly well.

So why are they ranked here?
Arkansas brings in a new coach in Bret Bielema, but loses quarterback Tyler Wilson, its top two leading rushers and receivers from a year ago. Defense was a major liability last season and will have to improve significantly if the offense doesn’t get going. And that schedule? Brutal. The Hogs may not win a game past September.

Anything else?
Freshman running back Alex Collins had some drama trying to Fayetteville, but in Bielema’s run-heavy offense, he could make a huge impact right away.

—————————————-

John Taylor‘s prediction:

East
1. Georgia
2. South Carolina
3. Florida
4. Tennessee
5. Vanderbilt
6. Kentucky
7. Missouri

West
1. Alabama
2. LSU
3. Texas A&M
4. Ole Miss
5. Mississippi State
6. Arkansas
7. Auburn
Ben’s SEC champ: Alabama
John’s SEC champ: Alabama
Permalink 29 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Alabama Crimson Tide, Arkansas Razorbacks, Articles, Auburn Tigers, Florida Gators, Georgia Bulldogs, Kentucky Wildcats, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, Ole Miss Rebels, Rumor Mill, South Carolina Gamecocks, Southeastern Conference, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Top Posts, Vanderbilt Commodores

Fresno State locks up Tim DeRuyter through 2018

Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl - Fresno State v USC

Fresno State has locked up head coach Tim DeRuyter to a contract extension running through the 2018 season. The contract includes incentives for academic and competition goals as well as a bump in base salary. The contract includes a buyout clause as well.

“We are elated and encouraged with the tremendous success that Bulldog football has achieved under Tim’s leadership these past two years,” Fresno State athletics director Thomas Boeh said in a released statement. “The execution of these agreements illustrate Fresno State’s clear commitment to establishing stability within the program on behalf of our student-athletes and the Red Wave.”

According to the contract terms shared by Fresno State, DeRuyter will receive a base salary of $1.4 million in 2014 and a $500,000 increase each year through the 2018 season, resulting in a base salary of $1.6 million in 2018. The buyout clause would cost DeRuyter $2.8 million prior to the conclusion of the 2014 season and is cut in half next year. The buyout reduces to $1 million before the end of the 2016 season and $700,000 before the end of the 2017 season.

DeRuyter led Fresno State to a record of 20-6 in his first two seasons as head coach of the program. Last season Fresno State won its first outright Mountain West Conference championship and second straight conference championship after splitting the previous season with Boise State and San Diego State.

Permalink 0 Comments Back to top

QB Brandon Connette tweets he is a Fresno State Bulldog

Brandon Connette

As expected, quarterback Brandon Connette will join Fresno State after transferring from Duke. Connette was looking to transfer to be closer to his family at home in California. Fresno State was thought to be a likely destination and a visit there this week was expected to result in the decision becoming final.

Connette took to his Twitter account to announce the news himself.

Connette has one final year of eligibility to play and will be eligible to play right away for Fresno State. Because he will be a graduate of Duke, he will be allowed to play right away according to NCAA transfer rules.

Connette would have been a productive player in Duke’s offense if decided to stay, but Connette’s decision to transfer is strictly influenced by the health of his mother. Connette’s mother was diagnosed with brain cancer in December.

Duke head coach David Cutcliffe had nothing but positive things to say about Connete this week during a conference call of ACC football coaches with the media, nor should he. Connette would have been a productive player in Duke’s offense had he stayed for another run at a division title in the fall in Durham, but this decision to transfer had everything to do with family. Connette’s mother was diagnosed with brain cancer in December, and rather than spend his final year of eligibility on the other side of the country, family clearly comes first in this situation.

As far as football is concerned though, Connette will have a chance to compete for a starting job at Fresno State. The Bulldogs look to replace record-setting Derek Carr under center. Connette will not put up the same kind of numbers Carr leaves behind, but the Bulldogs will have an option with experience capable of contributing to the offense right away.

Permalink 0 Comments Back to top

Coaches can now make summer workouts officially mandatory

Anthony Zettel

College football players may have more demands placed n them over the summer months, depending on the head coach’s demands. According to The Oklahoman, summer workouts are now allowed to be mandatory if a coach desires it.

Updated NCAA bylaws now allow members of a coaching staff to supervise mandatory summer workouts, up to eight hours per week. These workouts were previously voluntary for all, but pressure to participate in those sessions always existed according to at least one former football player.

“As plain Jane as I can put it, we all knew that in the summer time, you’re gonna take six college hours (of classes), and you’re gonna go through eight weeks of summer (training),” J.D. Runnels, a former Oklahoma fullback, said to The Oklahoman. “There’s not even talk of what’s voluntary and what’s mandatory.”

There is obviously a benefit to allowing coaches extra access to players during the offseason. That extra time supervising workouts and training allows for more interaction and time to focus on key areas of development and improvement. Programs that take advantage of the extra eight hours — and there are programs that will take advantage of the extra time available — could stand to have a more physical and well-conditioned team.

The question is, because players are not paid and we are in the midst of a potential union movement, is it a good idea to allow coaches to take this sort of formal power? What does this say for the entire concept of amateurism, or does it say nothing at all one way or the other?

Permalink 1 Comment Back to top

Report: Big 12 and Pac-12 heading south of the border?

Todd Graham

College football could be taking a trip south of the border if the powers that be at ESPN, the Pac-12 and Big 12 have anything to say about it. ESPN president John Skipper alluded to the concept being discussed during the Football Bowl Association meeting, as reported by Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com.

“Keep your eye on it,” Skipper said, according to Dodd. Oh, we will keep an eye out for it of course.

The idea of playing college football in Mexico is not a new one. Earlier this year Texas Athletics Director Steve Patterson detailed plans and ideas to grow the Texas brand beyond the border by potentially moving a game to Mexico City. That would likely require finding a partner willing to move a home game because the odds Texas would move a home game are likely slim at best. But that could potentially change if a television partner with deep pockets is willing to make it financially incentive even for a school like Texas. Money has a way of talking, and if the price is right almost any school would seriously consider the possibility, even a school like Texas.

But Texas is only one option of course. No teams have specifically been mentioned or rumored at this time, and it is important to remember no game in Mexico has been announced yet either. But the pieces and partners willing to put heads together could be in place in the Big 12 and Pac-12. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott is a bit of a visionary as well and has previously discussed the idea of reaching the Pac-12 brand across the Pacific Ocean into Asia. A trip south may be a good start for extending relationships on an international level.

Arizona State vs. Texas, with a side of salsa? Yes, please.

Permalink 6 Comments Back to top

Northwestern will get to appeal to NLRB over union ruling

Northwestern acted quickly in stating its intention to challenge the ruling made by a regional office of the National Labor Relations Board. The university will get a chance to present its case to the NLRB, which decided Thursday it will listen to what the university has to say. The NLRB previously ruled in favor of Northwestern football players, stating they should be recognized by Northwestern as university employees.

Northwestern argues that scholarship players on the football team are not to be considered employees under the National Labor Relations act. If the university can sell its case, the NLRB could overrule the previous decision by the regional office in Chicago, which would then block the football players from establishing a formal union. The university had plans to challenge the ruling from the start of this whole process, so it is certainly no surprise.

Given the right to form a union, Northwestern football players are scheduled to vote on forming an official union on Friday. That vote will still be held, but the votes will be held and the results of the voting will be revealed after the NLRB hears the appeal from the university. The NLRB denies the appeal of the university, the union movement will continue at Northwestern if it receives enough votes.

Permalink 1 Comment Back to top

NCAA Board of Directors endorse restructuring for autonomy

The NCAA took one important step toward moving to a new power structure allowing for autonomy to yield more power to the most powerful conferences. The Division I Board of Directors endorsed a restructuring process that would be more equipped to handle the changing landscape of collegiate athletics and provide for a larger voice representing the student-athletes to be heard.

“The model we sent to the membership today is not a final product,” said Wake Forest President Nathan Hatch, chair of the board and the steering committee. “Some aspects of the model remain under discussion, and we hope the membership will provide us further input.”

The Board of Directors, comprised of university presidents, will now await feedback from all member schools before planning to adopt the new governance structure in August. There has been widespread support for a new system that would grant the power conferences — the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC — more power to operate under a slightly different set of rules the other divisions and conferences would be governed. This would, in theory, allow those conferences to hold separate votes regarding cost of attendance for scholarships, insurance, travel restrictions and more.

Per the NCAA;

Areas in which the membership generally agrees on autonomy for the five conferences include:

  • financial aid, including full cost of attendance and scholarship guarantees;

  • insurance, including policies that protect future earnings;

  • academic support, particularly for at-risk student-athletes; and

  • other support, such as travel for families, free tickets to athletics events, and expenses associated with practice and competition (such as parking).

The timing of this news should not go unnoticed. On Friday football players at Northwestern are scheduled to cast their votes on unionizing, a right previously granted by a ruling by a regional office of the National Labor Relations Committee. Will this latest development in the changing of the power structure at the NCAA have any last-second impact on the Northwestern vote? Probably not, but it should not be considered a coincidence the new structure at the NCAA looks to leave a seat open at the table for the student-athletes.

Permalink 0 Comments Back to top

Report: Cal’s Ted Agu died of heart failure

Cal defensive lineman Ted Agu collapsed during an offseason workout earlier this spring and died as a result of a heart condition known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The condition, according to a report by San Francisco Chronicle, is a relatively common cause of death among athletes.

Victims of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy have excessive thickening of heart muscle, which makes it more difficult for blood to pump through the heart. In most cases the problem is undiagnosed because there are few symptoms that can be picked up on even during a careful medical exam. The condition can lead to normal lives for most people, but athletes tend to see the most sever problems due to the increased physical activity requiring a more efficient blood flow.

Agu collapsed in February while working through a training run. The Cal medical team attempted CPR on Agu but he died while being transported to a nearby medical center. The school has since started up a memorial scholarship fund in Agu’s name and honor.

Agu’s death was the subject of arguments by Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema when discussing up-tempo offenses. Bielema’s comments were scolded by Cal AD Sandy Barbour and Bielema later apologized for his comments.

Helmet sticker to Dr. Saturday.

Permalink 6 Comments Back to top

Mississippi State player suspended following arrest for suspected burglary

Auburn v Mississippi State

Mississippi State defensive lineman Jordan Washington was arrested Wednesday afternoon for suspicion of residential burglary and robbery by threats. Mississippi State has already responded by placing an indefinite suspension on the sophomore. Former Mississippi State player Charles Siddoway was arrested and jailed on the same charge. The news was first reported by Starkville Daily News.

Washington did not play for Washington State in 2013 mostly due to injury concerns, and sat out his freshman year in 2012 with a redshirt season. Washington was a three-star recruit out of the powerful North Gwinnet High School program according to his Rivals profile.

Siddoway is hoping to be drafted in the upcoming NFL Draft, but an arrest so close to the big day could hurt whatever draft stock he had going in if the charges are upheld. Siddoway is regarded as one of the top 20 offensive tackles in the draft, depending on which draft scout or service you prefer. That would likely project to a late-round draft pick. If a charge of this magnitude holds up, Siddoway may have to hope he can sign on as an undrafted free agent once this legal issue is behind him.

Permalink 3 Comments Back to top

ACC Network would hypothetically clone SEC Network set-up

John Swofford

An ACC Network would likely mimic the set-up of the SEC Network according to ACC documents shared by the University of Maryland.

The ACC and Maryland are still in an ongoing legal dispute as the institution prepares to leave for the Big Ten later this season. As part of the legal battle Maryland has turned over documentation from the ACC to support its case. Part of that evidence submitted by Maryland included a market analysis report focusing on the ACC and comparing the conference to other top conferences around the country. The various categories in the analysis included academic standings, geographic footprints and population and football and basketball recruiting. The report also takes a look at television potential for the ACC.

The market analysis report notes there are more potential television households within the expanded ACC footprint with the additions of Louisville and Notre Dame than any other conference, including the Big Ten and SEC and the ACC owns more of the top 30 TV markets in the country than any other conference as well. Each of the major conferences has a similar national television deal, but the ACC is lacking in regional coverage compared to some of the other conferences, but the report suggests if there is interest and incentive to add an ACC Network, then ESPN would be prepared to work with the conference to make it a reality. Furthermore, any deal with ESPN to launch an ACC Network would follow a similar model currently used by the SEC for the SEC Network.

We know the benefits of a successful cable sports network that could be obtained. The Big Ten has seen a great financial benefit from the addition of the Big Ten Network and the future prospects of the SEC Network are expected to be rich. Could an ACC Network see similar results? The structure and support would be there if ESPN was a part of the foundation, but the ACC may be a bit top-heavy when it comes to football and the overall fanbases in the Big Ten and SEC are something the ACC may not be able to compete with from top to bottom.

Helmet sticker to The Washington Post.

Permalink 4 Comments Back to top

UCF QB ruled eligible for 2014 season following transfer

Nick Patti, Mark Nzeocha

The competition to replace Blake Bortles at UCF just got one more candidate for the job this fall. The NCAA has ruled Nick Patti will be eligible for the 2014 season after transferring from Boise State.

The Orlando Sentinel reported Patti was given a hardship waiver by the NCAA, which allows him to begin playing immediately instead of sitting out a season under typical NCAA transfer rules. He will jump right in the fray of the competition to replace Bortles, a projected first round draft pick in the upcoming NFL Draft who led the Golden Knights to a conference championship and Fiesta Bowl victory last season.

UCF head coach George O’Leary has not settle don a starting quarterback at this point and expects to let the competition play out over the summer leading up to the season opener against Penn State in Ireland.

Patti appeared in six games for Boise State last season and he completed eight of 11 pass attempts for 63 yards. Patti is originally from Orlando, so perhaps a return home could be just what he needs to take the leading role. He has two years of eligibility remaining.

Permalink 4 Comments Back to top

Utah fight song might get new lyrics

Stanford v Utah

Students at most universities likely know the words to the fight song more than they do the alma mater. Now the students at Utah may have to re-learn some of the words to the fight song.

Earlier this week student government organizations at Utah voted in favor of changing lyrics to the school fight song that some deemed offensive. The changes are not official yet, but now are likely to be approved. This should come as little surprise, as the lyrics were written in 1904 and declare those singing to be a Utah Man. The changes are minor and will not require a brand new composition and sheet music, but the proposed changes will help bring the fight song into a more politically correct state in the 21st century.

The line that sings “Our coeds are the finest” has been considered sexist and racist by some and the university is now prepared to modify that specific line to avoid any problems. One of the possible changes to the line could read “our students are the brightest,” according to The Desert News. Any reference to “Utah man” could easily be switched to “Utah fan” without disrupting the fight song’s theme or rhymes.

“I don’t want to get rid of tradition, I love tradition, I just want a more inclusive tradition,” said student body president Sam Ortiz, who sponsored the measure, as quoted by The Salt Lake Tribune. “I’m incredibly happy that our student leaders stepped up and made a difficult decision.”

What other fight songs could be in need of a 21st century jump in political correctness?

Permalink 12 Comments Back to top

Florida two-way player Hawkins will transfer

Will Muschamp AP

Florida is losing a player who can play on both sides of the football to a transfer. According to a report by The Gainesville Sun, redshirt freshman Marqui Hawkins is leaving the Gators and will transfer to another football program. Hawkins could play wide receiver and safety.

“I’m just looking for a better opportunity and somewhere I can play offense. I’d also like to be closer to home,” Hawkins said in a story by The Gainesville Sun. “I had a great time at Florida and learned a lot. Nothing against the school, I just needed a fresh start.”

According to the report, Hawkins says he has been granted a full release from his scholarship and Florida and has been given no restrictions on where he may play next. That would leave any suitable SEC program as an option if there is a program with a spot available for Hawkins.

Florida has plenty of wide receiver son the 204 roster, 15 to be exact, so the depth at the position is not taking too much of a hit based solely on numbers. The Gators list 14 players at defensive back, where Hawkins is officially listed, as well after the loss of Hawkins. The Gators are still on the prowl for players who can make plays on offense though. Florida’s offense has lacked game-breakers on offense the last few years. Hawkins was not going to be that solution in all likelihood though, so Will Muschamp‘s search continues for someone to step up on Florida’s offense in 2014.

Permalink 9 Comments Back to top

Iowa State D-lineman does a 180, rejoins team for final season

Oklahoma State v Iowa State Getty Images

Per ESPN’s Brett McMurphy, Iowa State nose guard Brandon Jensen has rejoined the Cyclones after leaving the team this winter.

Jensen started all 12 games for Iowa State last fall and notched 18 tackles, four TFLs and one sack, but considered leaving Ames soon after the season ended. The 6-foot-5, 301-pound native of Ankeny, Iowa, has played in 36 games over his career and has one year of eligibility remaining.

Jensen’s return should be welcome news for coach Paul Rhoads, who saw defensive lineman Nick Kron leave the program as well after the Cyclones went 3-9 in 2013.

Permalink 0 Comments Back to top

Vince Young has a job waiting for him at Texas

National Championship Rose Bowl: USC v Texas Getty Images

Next year will mark the 10th anniversary of Texas’ last college football title — you know, the one capped by this — and there’s a chance Vince Young could be working for his old school when that celebration begins.

According to the Houston Chronicle, the ex-Longhorns quarterback has a job waiting for him at Texas once he officially ends his playing career — which could be soon, given the former No. 3 overall pick remains a free agent. Young told the Chronicle his role would be an an ambassador for the Texas, but it certainly couldn’t hurt Charlie Strong’s program to have the Longhorns’ last championship-winning quarterback hanging around Austin.

Young said he’s received interest from a few unspecified NFL teams but won’t play in the CFL if that interest doesn’t amount to anything.

Permalink 9 Comments Back to top

Ridiculously early point spreads have ‘Bama by 24, FSU by 11.5 in openers

Nick Saban AP

With just over four months until the 2014 season begins, apparently it’s time for some early betting lines. And while Alabama hasn’t settled on a quarterback yet, no matter: Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide at 24-point favorites over West Virginia for the teams’ Aug. 30 curtain-lifter in Atlanta (via 5dimes.eu).

For the 36th straight game, Florida State is favored — this time by 11.5 over Oklahoma State at AT&T Stadium.

Just scanning this, a few lines jump out, like Tennessee only giving 5.5 points to Utah State at home (Utah State, remember, was actually a pretty good team last year and should get QB Chuckie Keeton back for the 2014 season). Ole Miss is 8.5-point favorites over Boise State, and South Carolina is favored by nine for its Thursday opener against Texas A&M.

Of course, it’s still April and these lines certainly will do some changing between now and Aug. 28/Aug. 30. Case in point: In the hour or so since we published these, the Tennessee line jumped from -5.5 to -6.5, and the Bama line went from -24 to -23.5.

Permalink 5 Comments Back to top