Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen is a big soccer fan, as evidenced by the question to him at SEC media day about Liverpool’s chances this season without Luis Suarez. And he’s apparently as big a fan of the Premier League (and NBC’s coverage of it, which is outstanding):
“I don’t mind waking up early and turning on the Premiership early on Sunday mornings and Saturday mornings if you happen to have a little bit of a break before the day gets going,” Mullen said.
Mullen, though, made a great point: The closest thing to the Premier League in America is the SEC. The fierce, localized fan loyalties, the fans traveling with the teams, the century-old rivalries/derbys, the competitiveness for recruits/transfers, the sniping between coaches and teams all make Mullen’s argument a sound one.
“I do think that SEC football could be compared to European soccer,” Mullen said. “The passion our fans have is equal. Now I’m sure I’ll have a lot of European nations very upset with me saying that and teams throughout the world upset, but that is one of the things that makes this league so fun is the passion that our fanbases have for football is similar to watching the passion these European soccer teams and followings have, which is a pretty neat deal.”
If you’re an SEC fan and caught soccer fever during the World Cup, do yourself a favor and pick a Premier League team to follow. It’s similar in the sense that there’s quite a bit of parity and some darkhorses can make runs, but only a handful of teams have actually won the league.
Plus, it’ll help soften the blow when there’s no more college football on Saturdays.
Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.
Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.
And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.
“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”
Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.
You know how I know we’re gradually creeping up on the end of another regular season? Watch lists are being whittled.
The first major honor to do so is the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, which is given out annually to the best quarterback who is a college senior or fourth-year junior. The preseason watch list was 30 quarterbacks strong; the newest list has been cut in half to 15.
The most recent list includes one of the top Heisman contenders (TCU’s Trevone Boykin) and the top two nationally in passing yards (Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson, Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty), as well as a quarterback who’s closing in on the all-time FBS record for rushing touchdowns (Navy’s Keenan Reynolds).
The Pac-12 leads all conferences with three watch listers, followed by two each from the AAC, ACC and Big Ten. The SEC has as many players (one, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott) as the FCS (North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz).
Last year’s winner was Marcus Mariota of Oregon.
Trevone Boykin, TCU
Jacoby Brissett, NC State
Connor Cook, Michigan State
Brandon Doughty, WKU
Everett Golson, Florida State
Kevin Hogan, Stanford
Matt Johnson, Bowling Green
Cody Kessler, USC
Paxton Lynch, Memphis
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Keenan Reynolds, Navy
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana
Carson Wentz, N. Dakota State
Marquise Williams, North Carolina
Travis Wilson, Utah