Well hello, college football. Oh how we’ve missed you. And, Saturday’s slate, you have one helluva act to follow.
Twice during Ole Miss’ Big 12-esque 39-35 win over Vanderbilt, the Rebels reached down and came back from 11-point deficits — and that was after Vandy fell down 10-0 in the first quarter.
With just under two minutes left in the fourth quarter of the back-and-forth affair, Ole Miss held a four-point lead before Jordan Matthews turned a fourth-and-18 into a 42-yard gain — one play after vomiting all over the Vanderbilt Stadium turf as Twitter concussion specialists cried foul — and Steven Scheu turned a busted coverage the next play into a 34-yard touchdown catch-and-run.
35-32 Commodores with just 1:30 remaining and, after the ensuing kickoff, the Rebels 75 yards from a game-winning touchdown. Following an incomplete pass on first down, the Vandy defense proceeded to pull its best Matthews, coughing up a 75-yard touchdown run (pictured) to Rebels running back Jeff Scott with just over a minute left.
As deflating as that turn of events was, Vandy still had the opportunity to shock Ole Miss late in back-to-back seasons. A facemask penalty on the kickoff return following Scott’s TD stunner handed the ‘Dores the ball just shy of midfield, at their own 49. On a third-and-four with 30 seconds or so left, a tipped Austyn Carta-Samuels pass was intercepted by the Rebels, sealing the Ole Miss win in the SEC opener for both schools.
The player who tipped the final, catchable pass? Jordan Matthews, which just makes ya sick to your stomach.
While there will be plenty of pundit bloviating over Matthews and whether he should’ve been in the game, there is one certainty coming out of Nashville very early Friday morning: that was college football at its finest between two very solid teams. And, it should be noted, a warning shot across the bow of the rest of the SEC that neither Ole Miss nor Vandy will be easy outs in 2013.
Alabama’s spring game wrapped up on Saturday and with it, the last of the Crimson Tide’s spring practices. While that means the coaching staff is free to fly across the country to visit recruits during the evaluation period, it also results in several players going under the knife to correct injuries in order to be back by fall camp.
Two of those players are starting cornerback Anthony Averett and (likely starting) linebacker Christian Miller, both of whom underwent sports hernia surgery this week according to AL.com.
The report states that Averett played with the hernia most of last season while the Tide marched their way to the national title game. Miller was one of the stars of the show on Saturday during Alabama’s spring game, recording two sacks while dealing with the injury.
Both are expected to be fully healthy for camp in August as Nick Saban and company vie for yet another conference title and berth in the College Football Playoff.
The prohibition of alcohol at football stadiums has undergone one interesting about-face in college athletics the past 15 years or so. While various suite levels at stadiums across the country have generally had access to a few adult beverages, there’s been some very large programs that have opened up the taps in the general seating areas the last few years.
From West Virginia to Texas to Ohio State, more and more programs are selling beer and/or liquor across the board and raking in hundreds of thousands (if not millions) in added revenue while doing so. One conference that isn’t jumping in on that trend however has been the SEC, which has numerous restrictions on where those types of beverages can be sold. That may be about to change in the near future however according to SEC commissioner Greg Sankey.
“At some point, I’m relatively certain, there will be further review of the prohibition,” said Sankey on Monday, per The Tuscaloosa News. “That doesn’t predict any outcome.”
While you may think that the league is close to opening the floodgates on alcohol being served at stadiums across the conference, you probably shouldn’t jump to any conclusions on the matter as Sankey seemed to hold his ground and stand firm on keeping things as is right now.
“The conference has a policy that says that we’re not selling alcohol in the general seating area,” he added. “Now, you can agree or disagree with that policy, but that’s the policy. The basis for changing that or maintaining it is one that’s developed in the conversation.
“I think we were at like 98 percent ticket sales in football… So is that one-percent margin a trade that we’re going to make?”
It’s no secret that of-age fans can easily find a few beverages at SEC tailgates prior to games nowadays but it seems momentum is slowing building in the conference to allow fans to buy some during a game. It might not happen anytime in the very near future but the conversation is certainly going to keep popping up each year with many more schools across the country jumping in on this trend.
While we don’t yet know where former Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire is transferring to, we might have an idea of when he plans on making a move this offseason.
Per Orangebloods.com’s Anwar Richardson, the signal-caller has zeroed in on the end of May for an announcement on his new school in a timetable that coincides with the Irish’s graduation ceremonies. Perhaps just as interesting is the fact that there may also be a new school in the mix and it’s known for being a powerhouse of a different kind away from the gridiron.
“In addition, I was told a new school is in the mix. Zaire is still considering Texas, Wisconsin and Florida, and the grad transfer quarterback has added Harvard to his short list. It remains unclear how serious Zaire is about playing Ivy League football. If he does go that route, Harvard would be his landing spot.”
The Ivy League power is an interesting new destination for Zaire and could be a pretty good backup option given what’s going on at his other finalists.
While Texas and Wisconsin are both on his shortlist, both the Longhorns and Badgers return their starting quarterbacks from last season in Shane Buechele and Alex Hornibrook. Richardson reports that Zaire wants to start in 2017 and not hold a clipboard but he is still keeping his options opens when it comes to the thin depth charts at the position in both Austin and Madison.
Complicating things is Florida, which should be a prime landing spot for Zaire were it not for an SEC rule passed last year that is preventing him from transferring him there this offseason. The league is set to talk about changes to that rule at their spring meetings in Destin, Fla. but it remains unclear if the QB will wait and see before making a decision (and it’s entirely possible the SEC keeps things as they are).
Either way, the former Irish starter does not appear to be lacking options when it comes to the graduate transfer market.
Tennessee might not be a favorite to make the College Football Playoff in 2017 but the school is doing their best to bring a little bit of the sport’s postseason to Knoxville.
Athletic director John Currie announced on Tuesday that the Vols would be hiring the College Football Playoff’s Chief Financial Officer Reid Sigmon as Tennessee’s new Executive Associate Athletics Director and Chief Operating Officer. The hire isn’t too surprising considering the two worked together for several years at Kansas State in very similar roles.
“It is with great enthusiasm that I welcome Reid Sigmon to the Tennessee Athletics family,” Currie said in a statement. “He has earned national credibility as part of a visionary leadership group creating the College Football Playoff organization for the last four years, and his tremendous integrity and understanding of college athletics make him a perfect addition to our Tennessee leadership team.”
Sigmon served in a variety of roles in college athletics as well as the NFL before eventually landing with the College Football Playoff. The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that he starts at Tennessee on May 15 with a salary of $285,000 per year.