When it was announced that Greg McElroy would be taking on the role of analyst on the fledgling SEC Network, there were some — including Auburn fans — wondering how unbiased (or biased) the former Alabama quarterback could and would be.
At first blush, it doesn’t appear bias will be an issue for McElroy.
During a radio interview Tuesday, McElroy was asked about the SEC West race in 2014. Not so surprisingly, McElroy went with one of the teams that played for the final BCS title — and is the most bitter of his alma mater’s rivals — as his favorite to come out of the West.
“Once quarterback situations are established at LSU, at Alabama — and Ole Miss is also kind of a scary team out in the West as well,” McElroy said. “Bo Wallace comes back and some of the things they were able to do. The West is wide open and it’s difficult, but I definitely think the Auburn Tigers are the favorite.”
McElroy makes solid points when it comes to the quarterback situations at the two schools that should serve as the Tigers’ chief competition in 2014 and, yes, I’m dismissing Ole Miss. Both Alabama and LSU are replacing veteran starters, three-year starter AJ McCarron for the former and two-year starter Zach Mettenberger for the latter. On the flip side, Auburn returns its starter, Nick Marshall — the first time, incidentally, Gus Malzahn has returned the same starter from the season before during his nine years as a coordinator or head coach at the FBS level.
In fact, Malzahn being on The Plains factors significantly in McElroy’s pick for SEC West frontrunner.
“I think he’s the most innovative play-caller in college football,” McElroy said of Malzahn. “I think he’s a tremendous football coach and he’s had a lot of success over the course of his career and what they did last year was really special, so I think they are the frontrunners without question at this point.”
(Tip O’ the Cap: al.com)
The cloud habitually hovering over the Baylor football program continues to get darker. And more ominous.
According to the Waco Tribune-Herald, “[f]ormer Baylor football player Tre'Von Armstead was arrested Wednesday… on three second-degree felony sexual assault charges stemming from an alleged 2013 sexual assault while he was a member of the Baylor football team.” While the alleged rape occurred in mid-April of 2013, the case was suspended by the Waco Police Department, ESPN.com writes, “after the alleged victim chose not to pursue charges against Armstead and former Bears running back Myke Chatman, who she accused of sexually assaulting her at her apartment.”
The victim in that alleged assault, a former “Baylor Bruin” recruiting hostess for the football program, filed a lawsuit in late January of this year in which it’s alleged that 31 Baylor football players committed 52 acts of rape over a four-year period starting in 2011. It was further alleged in the lawsuit that BU assistant football coaches, including current Florida Atlantic assistant Kendal Briles, contributed to what was described as a “culture of sexual violence” around the football program.
“Do you like white women? Because we have a lot of them at Baylor and they love football players,” Briles, the son of disgraced former BU head coach Art Briles, told one recruit according to that lawsuit, one of many the university is currently facing as a result of the sexual-assault scandal.
Despite the 2013 allegations of Armstead being involved in a sexual assault, he remained with the football program until his dismissal in September of 2015. A little over a week ago, Armstead was arrested on multiple charges in Las Vegas after he allegedly physically assaulted a woman.
The offseason shuffling of Bobby Petrino‘s defensive coaching staff appears to be complete.
Thanks to Todd Grantham‘s move to Mississippi State earlier this offseason, Petrino was forced to overhaul his staff on that side of the ball. Peter Sirmon, who Grantham replaced at MSU, was hired by the U of L as defensive coordinator in mid-January.
As the Cardinals kicked off spring practice this week, the football program detailed the responsibilities for the defensive side of the staff.
New defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon announced on Wednesday that he has finalized position changes on his defensive staff. Sirmon will mentor the defense, but will also coach the outside linebackers. Lorenzo Ward will coach the secondary, while Cort Dennison will now mentor the inside linebackers. L.D. Scott will stick with coaching the defensive line.
Last season under Grantham, the Cardinals were 31st nationally and sixth in the ACC in scoring defense (23.8 points per game). They were 14th and third, respectively, in total defense (319.6 yards per game).
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn was optimistic about wide receiver Kyle Davis returning to the team at some point this spring, but the tune has changed regarding his future. Malzahn is now saying Davis may be out for the remainder of Auburn’s spring practices due to personal reasons.
“Kyle Davis is still taking care of some personal business,” Malzahn said, according to SEC Country. “I’m not for sure if he’s going to be back before the end of the spring. He will be back for the fall, just taking a little bit longer than we initially thought.”
It was just a few weeks ago Malzahn said Davis was going to be out for the start of spring practices, which are now close to half over. For now, the plan is simply to have him return over the summer in preparation for the fall.
In the meantime, Malzahn confirmed John Franklin III is working primarily as a wide receiver, which had previously been suspected to be the case.
With Penn State just about to get started with spring football practices, head coach James Franklin wasted no time in naming his captains for the 2017 season. Quarterback Trace McSorley, linebacker Jason Cabinda, and safety Nick Scott have been voted captains by their peers on the team.
“These three young men have been leaders in our program, on and off the field,” Franklin said in a released statement. “They live our four core values and act with the program’s best interest in mind. Our team is in good hands with these guys!”
McSorley took over the offense as Penn State’s starting quarterback in 2016. A bit of a mystery to most entering the season after being the backup to Christian Hackenberg, McSorley ended his 2016 season with a Big Ten-leading 3,614 passing yards and 29 touchdown passes with eight interceptions and played a key role in guiding Penn State to a late run to a Big Ten championship and an appearance in the Rose Bowl. He enters the 2017 season as one of the top quarterbacks returning to the Big Ten, along with Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett.
Cabinda, an All-Big Ten third team player in 2016, was Penn State’s third-leading tackler last season with 81 tackles. He accumulated that many tackles despite missing five games due to injury. He is slated to be the leader in the middle of the Penn State defense with a starting role already locked down and will look to help guide some younger linebackers stepping into key roles in the defense this upcoming season, such as Manny Bowen and Koa Farmer.
Scott has been a special teams leader for Penn State and is expected to continue to lead the special teams effort once again this season.