Mike Slive

SEC prefers status quo on signing day, but open to earlier date

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The quagmire that is the effort by some to have an early signing period for recruits instituted is still as muddled and muddied as ever.

Case in point?  The SEC.  At its annual spring meetings Wednesday, the football coaches in that conference voted unanimously for an early signing period the Monday after Thanksgiving.

Such an early signing period would be for one day only and solely for recruits who had not taken any official visits; in other words, for example, a kid from Tuscaloosa who’s had his heart set on going to Alabama his whole life could end his recruitment and not put up with an additional two months or so of recruiting pitches from rival programs.

While the vote was unanimous, it’s far from cut and dry.

“Not everybody agreed there should be an early signing date,” Georgia head coach Mark Richt, the dean of SEC football coaches, said. “But everybody agreed on a date if there is going to be an early signing day.

“Our biggest fear was making our season crazy with recruiting. We want to coach our teams. We didn’t want the recruiting calendar to move up, but if you have a guy that wants to sign early, let him sign.”

Additionally, SEC commissioner Mike Slive, one of the most powerful men in the sport, stated this evening that he hopes there’s no early signing period added, that he wishes early February would continue to be the only National Signing Day.

As you can imagine with not even everyone in the same conference agreeing on whether there should be an early signing day, it will be damn-near impossible to get a consensus nationally.  The ACC, for example, is pushing for an early signing day of Aug. 1.

Recruiting savant Nick Saban addressed that very subject in Destin Tuesday.

“Well, I don’t know that we’re ever going to come to a common ground or anyone’s gonna agree on something,” he said. “Some of the Northern schools, they don’t want an early signing date, because they want to be able to visit guys during the season. A lot of coaches, including myself, don’t want an inordinate amount of visits during the season because it takes away from your football team and your preparation and preparation for the next week. So I really think we’re gonna have a hard time agreeing on something that’s good for everybody, just because the regions of the country. A lot of the Northern schools don’t want kids visiting in January because it’s freezing cold and they lie to them and tell them it’s warm year-round.

“That’s something that you’ve gotta deal with. I don’t know if we’re ever going to come to common ground, in my opinion.”

Or, as Florida’s Will Muschamp said, “I don’t know if we’re ever going to come to a common ground where we’re all going to agree on something.”

The SEC’s resolution will be sent to the Conference Commissioners Association — this is a CCA issue, not an NCAA one — for evaluation and, potentially, discussion at its next scheduled meeting in June.

It’s Slive’s hope, however, that the CCA doesn’t even tackle the issue and the status quo remains in place for the foreseeable future.

“There are varying opinions as to what an early signing date should be… and for us we will continue to encourage our colleagues in the CCA to retain the current model,” Slive said. “I think our coaches have demonstrated that.”

A recruiting quagmire indeed.

Checking in on the nation’s longest winning & losing streaks

Alabama's head coach Saban instructs his players as they take on the LSU Tigers during their NCAA football game in Baton Rouge
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Unbelievably, at the end of today, we’ll be more than one-third of the way through the 2016 regular season as the calendar flips from September to October. And, not surprisingly, some teams are faring better than others — and some, suffice to say, are not.

In “water’s wet, sky’s blue” news, defending national champions and undefeated top-ranked Alabama holds the nation’s longest winning streak at 16 in a row. ‘Bama’s last loss came Sept. 19 a year ago against Ole Miss. In fact, the Tide hasn’t really come close to seeing that streak end since as just two of their last 16 games have been decided by 10-plus points, with the lone exceptions being a 19-14 win over Tennessee in October of last year and 43-37 over Ole Miss just two weeks ago.

What might surprise you, though, is the second-longest streak behind ‘Bama. The holder of that honor? San Diego State, which has peeled off 13 wins in a row entering Week 5. Tennessee is the only other team in double digits, with 10 wins in a row dating back to last season.  The Vols’ last loss?  To the Tide, of course, a defeat that UT will get to avenge two weeks from today in the friendly confines of Neyland Stadium.

A total of nine teams will also take the field Saturday with a winning streak of at least five in a row:

7 — Houston, Washington
6 — Louisville, Utah, Western Michigan, Wisconsin
5 — Boise State, Navy, Ohio State

Clemson could join some combination of the above at that five-game winning-streak plateau Saturday, but to get there they’ll have to beat… Louisville.

On the other side of the won-loss ledger, the “proud” owner of the nation’s longest losing streak entering the 2016 season was Kansas* at 15 straight, followed by UCF (13), Charlotte (10), Eastern Michigan (10), Oregon State (nine) and Boston College (eight).

All six of those teams have seen those losing streaks come to a merciful end, with EMU actually off to a 3-1 start to the year. The team that was just behind BC, Wake Forest, carried a six-game losing streak into 2016 before surprisingly (stunningly?) winning their first four games of the season.

So, with all of that winning from last year’s biggest losers, who’s the current “top” loser? That title now belongs to the Northern Illinois Huskies, the winners of the last six MAC West championships — and three of the last six conference titles — who have started this season with four straight losses to stretch their ignominious streak to a nation’s best/worst seven in a row. Just three other teams have a streak that began during the 2015 season: Florida International, which has lost six in a row and already fired their head coach; Arkansas State, which lost its first four of this season to push its streak to five in a row; and Georgia State, 0-3 on the season to add to a loss in the 2015 Cure Bowl for a four-game losing streak.

Two additional teams are winless on the season after winning their last game of 2015: Miami of Ohio and Rice, which are each 0-4 in 2016.

(*While Kansas’ overall losing streak came to an end, they’ve still lost 17 in a row against FBS opponents, with the last one of those coming in early November of 2015 against Iowa State.)

Miami to wear helmet stickers honoring late Marlins P Jose Fernandez

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 29: Scenes from the funeral for Jose Fernandez at St. Brendanâs Catholic Church on September 29, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy-Pool/Getty Images)
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The tragic death of Miami Marlins star pitcher Jose Fernandez has touched those in and around the South Beach community, including the flagship college football program in the area.

Fernandez, along with two friends, was killed in a boating accident off of South Beach last Sunday.  For Saturday’s ACC opener against Georgia Tech, The U will wear helmet stickers with Fernandez’s No. 16 on the back to honor the late All-Star pitcher.

The football program unveiled the sticker as displayed on the helmet of starting quarterback Brad Kaaya.

LOOK: TCU to wear debut new chrome helmets for game vs. Oklahoma

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As someone loathe to post on the myriad uniform combinations that college football teams toss out there on an almost weekly basis, I have to admit that these are… not bad. At all.

Quite fresh looking, actually.

Ahead of their black-out game against Oklahoma Saturday, TCU unveiled a new chrome helmet that the Horned Frogs will wear against the Sooners.  The helmets feature purple facemasks and a rather large purple horned frog on each side of it.

While all of that stuff, the helmets and uniforms and cleats and gloves and the like, are mainly for the benefit of recruits and current players, I and my particular demographic would have to give it a hearty thumbs up.  Which I’m certain means the world to the football program.

Longtime starting WKU safety likely out for remainder of 2016

TUSCALOOSA, AL - SEPTEMBER 10:  Calvin Ridley #3 of the Alabama Crimson Tide rushes away from Marcus Ward #8 of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Like they have the last couple of weeks, Western Kentucky will have to get used to Marcus Ward not patrolling its defensive secondary on game days.

Ward (pictured, left) injured his knee in Week 2 and has not returned to the playing field.  Unfortunately for the player and the football program, that absence will continue as the safety underwent surgery on the knee, which is expected to sideline him for the remainder of the 2016 season.

This may not be the last of the fourth-year senior in a Hilltopper uniform, though, as Ward has yet to use his redshirt season and would have a medical waiver at his disposal even if he had.  It’s unclear, however, if Ward will return for another season or rather make himself available for the 2017 NFL draft.

Ward has started a total of 31 games since his true freshman season in 2013, including 26 the previous two seasons.  He was named preseason second-team All-Conference USA prior to the start of the 2016 season.

Perhaps more importantly, he was named a semifinalist earlier this month as a semifinalist for the Campbell Trophy, also known as the Academic Heisman.