In a conference full of great rivalries, which one is the SEC’s best?

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The SEC’s new scheduling policy was designed in part with a goal of keeping traditional rivalries thriving for years to come. The cross-division rivalries in the SEC more important to some than others of course, but Tennessee head coach Butch Jones is happy to see the rivalry with Alabama will continue. Alabama and Tennessee were locked together, keeping the series dating back to 1901 a part of the SEC tradition. Say what you will about the Iron Bowl, because Jones says it is Alabama-Tennessee that is the best rivalry in the SEC.

“I think the Alabama-Tennessee rivalry is one of the best rivalries in the country, and I think it’s the best rivalry in the Southeastern Conference,” Jones said in an interview on 105.1 The Zone in Chattanooga on Monday. “To be able to maintain that rivalry is something that we are very excited about.”

The other cross-division match-ups set by the SEC are Arkansas-Missouri, Auburn-Georgia, LSU-Florida, Ole Miss-Vanderbilt, Mississippi State-Kentucky, and Texas A&M-South Carolina. Of the cross-division match-ups protected by the SEC, the Alabama vs. Tennessee and Auburn vs. Georgia match-ups are certainly ahead of some of the other pairings, specifically Texas A&M vs. South Carolina. But is the Third Saturday in October that far ahead of the rivalry games between Alabama and Auburn or Florida and Georgia? As with most college football issues, this probably depends on your rooting interests.

So, what is the best rivalry in the SEC? Here is my top five to get you started…

1. Iron Bowl: Alabama vs. Auburn

Last year was great, but this rivalry has offered plenty of great moments in college football history and is fueled by some of the strongest rooting interests in the country all within one state’s borders. This really is the biggest game of the year in the state for a reason.

2. Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry: Auburn vs. Georgia

There is something to be said for the deep history in this one. After 117 meetings, Auburn leads the series 55-54-8 dating back to 1892.

3. Florida-Georgia Football Rivalry

The rivalry may have moved away from the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, but no worries here. This game is played on a neutral field and has its own Hall of Fame. The two schools cannot even agree on when the series started. A stake in the SEC East also tends to be on the line more often than not.

4. Third Saturday in October: Alabama vs. Tennessee

The series tends to swing back and forth in chunks but it started with a tie in 1901. Here’s hoping Tennessee can get closer to making this series mean something again soon, and perhaps serve as a preview of a future SEC Championship Game.

5. Egg Bowl: Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State

The two teams may not be SEC powers, but they play for one of the coolest trophies in college football. The game has become a Thanksgiving tradition over time, and there is just something about it that feels right.

Helmet sticker to Times Free Press for the transcribed quotes. Another helmet sticker to Saturday Down South.

WR Devaughn Cooper no longer part of Arizona football team

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Devaughn Cooper had been expected to be one of Arizona’s breakout players this coming season after an impressive spring. Unfortunately for both the player and the program, that won’t be the case.

The Wildcats released their updated roster Friday and, somewhat surprisingly, Cooper’s name wasn’t on it. It’s unclear what exactly the circumstances were surrounding the wide receiver’s departure, although one report had it taking place earlier this month.

Cooper was a three-star 2016 recruit, and only three players in the Wildcats’ class were rated higher than the California high school product.

After sitting out the 2016 opener, Cooper played the next two weeks in wins over Grambling and Hawaii. His first career catch, for 15 yards, came in the latter game; unfortunately, an injury in the same game sidelined him for the remainder of the season.

Cooper received a medical redshirt for 2016.

Three of the Wildcats’ top receivers from a year ago are no longer with the football program because of expired eligibility. Given the dearth of experienced returning talent, players such as Cooper were expected to play major roles in making up for the lost production.

Shun Brown, who led the team in receiving yards (521) and yards per catch (18.0) last season, is Rich Rodriguez‘s top returning receiver. He was also tied for the team lead in receiving touchdowns with three and second in receptions with 29.

Ed Orgeron boots media out of LSU’s preseason camp

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From the swamp to the bayou, the war on the media apparently knows no bounds.

The Baton Rouge Advocate reports that Ed Orgeron has significantly reversed the openness of the program and completely shut out media access to LSU’s preseason camp this year, blocking an outside look into the Tigers’ practice for the first time.

“The complete closure of camp practices could be a first ever for the school, and LSU appears to be the only program in the Southeastern Conference to have done so,” the paper said. “All other schools plan or have allowed reporters into practice for at least one day of drills, according to camp schedules obtained by The Advocate.”

Players are set to report to camp on Sunday, with the team’s first practice the following day. LSU provided a statement that said the school will provide video and photos of practice each day but each will obviously be vary controlled in terms of content.

The restrictive new policies with the media are quite the reversal for Orgeron, who once coached in front of hundreds of fans and media members while an assistant under Pete Carroll at USC and later opened up practices to reporters in Los Angeles as interim head coach of the Trojans. Even during his first head coaching stop at fellow SEC school Ole Miss, the raspy-voiced cajun held open practices early during his tenure in Oxford.

Sadly closed practices are becoming all the norm in college football and after previously being much more open than Les Miles was the past few years, Orgeron appears to be joining the trend and giving the boot to the media at LSU’s practices.

Ole Miss releases names of boosters in NCAA case… and also hires new OL coach

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Ole Miss can take solace that in the fact that their news dump was blown off most front pages in the state by far more important news dumps from elsewhere in the country but the Rebels still made plenty of noise on Friday.

First, the school released the names of the vast majority of the boosters involved in the school’s on-going NCAA infractions case. Ole Miss has previously redacted most of the names in the two Notices of Allegations sent to the school by the enforcement staff. Following a court case related to the matter and numerous squabbles with various parties, the state ethics commission eventually told the university to release the names.

Per the Jackson Clarion-Ledger:

“Those names were revealed Friday when the university released its two Notice of Allegations and published all but two of the booster names. There were 14 boosters involved included in the Notice of Allegations and they were tied to more than half of Ole Miss’ 15 Level I violations. The football program itself faces 21 alleged violations.”

While the release of such information alone would have made for a busy Friday, there was still plenty more to check off in Oxford.

The school also announced the hiring of a new offensive line coach in Jack Bicknell Jr. to fill the vacancy left when Matt Luke was promoted to head coach in the wake of Hugh Freeze’s resignation. Bicknell has been coaching offensive line in the NFL since 2009 with four different franchises but is no stranger to the college game having been the former head coach at Louisiana Tech. He also had two stints as a coach at Boston College in addition to a stop at New Hampshire.

Perhaps most notably, Bicknell played for the Eagles back in the mid-80’s under his father of the same name and is best known for being the center for Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie.

Coastal Carolina head coach Joe Moglia will miss 2017 season to recover from health issues

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Coastal Carolina will transition to the FBS level this season but will unfortunately have to do so without their head coach.

Yahoo! Sports first reported the news on Friday that Chanticleers coach Joe Moglia will miss the upcoming 2017 season, as recent health issues will force him to take a five-month medical sabbatical.

“For three years now, I have had a bronchial asthmatic reaction to allergies, which causes inflammation around my lungs. The inflammation restricts the lungs, which could create a serious breathing problem,” Moglia said in a statement released by the school. “I want to be clear: I do not have a disease and I am in no danger, but I do need to get this addressed. Dr. David DeCenzo, the president of CCU, has offered me a medical sabbatical for the next five months, which I’m going to take.

“The doctors and I are confident that this will take care of the problem, and I will be 100% ready to go by the end of the season.”

Mogila had precautionary surgery on his trachea last week that caused him to miss Sun Belt Media Day but it appears he will still need some added time to recover.

The 68-year-old former financial CEO turned head coach has led Coastal Carolina since 2012 and gone 51-15 at the school, all at the FCS level. Associate head coach and offensive coordinator Jamey Chadwell took Mogila’s place at media day last week and was named the interim head coach for the rest of the 2017 season.

The Chanticleers open the season on September 2nd against UMass.