Arkansas Razorbacks

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In statement, SEC reaffirms league to rescind its satellite camp ban

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The SEC had fought hard in pushing the NCAA’s Div. 1 Council to ban the practice of satellite camps, and then continued to push for The Association’s Board of Directors to reaffirm the ban.  In the end, though, that conference has taken the “if you can’t beat ’em join ’em” tack.

Shortly after the NCAA confirmed that its Board of Directors had, at least for the foreseeable future, rescinded the ban on coaches taking part in football camps outside of their regions, the SEC confirmed that it will be rescinding its own ban on the practice.  That rescinding follows through on the “threat” made last year by the conference that it would, essentially, unleash its football programs on the rest of the country if a ban wasn’t enacted.

The SEC’s lifting of the ban on such camps is not effective immediately; rather, it will take effect May 29.  After that date, as outgoing commissioner Mike Slive said in late May last year, “our folks will be free to fan out all over the country and have at it.”

In a statement, Slive’s replacement, Greg Sankey, lamented the lifting of the ban while at the same time reaffirmed that “SEC coaches will be allowed to engage in summer camps as a result of Conference legislation approved during the 2015 SEC Spring Meetings.”

Below is the entirety of Sankey’s statement.

While we are disappointed with the NCAA governance process result, we respect the Board of Directors’ decision and are confident SEC football programs will continue to be highly effective in their recruiting efforts.

“We continue to believe football recruiting is primarily an activity best-focused in high schools during the established recruiting calendar, which has provided opportunities for football prospective student-athletes from all across the country to obtain broad national access and exposure but with appropriate guidance from high school coaches, teachers and advisors that focuses on both their academic and athletic opportunities as they decide where they will play college football.

SEC spring attendance by the numbers

KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 15: A view of the inside of Neyland Stadium during a game between the Florida Gators and Tennessee Volunteers on September 15, 2012 in Knoxville, Tennessee.    (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)
Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images
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The SEC led the nation in spring game attendance this year, and the competition was not even close when you look at the data. The SEC had a cumulative total of 508,994 at spring games this season, easily pushing past the Big Ten after seeing their rivals from the north clip them a year ago. Good weather, new coaches and traditionally strong turnouts made the SEC’s spring attendance tough to beat.

SEC Spring Attendance By School

Here is how the SEC schools stacked up against each other in the attendance game.

  1. Georgia – 93,000
  2. Alabama – 76,212
  3. Tennessee – 67,027
  4. Florida – 46,000
  5. Auburn – 45,723
  6. South Carolina – 32,916
  7. Arkansas – 30,546
  8. Kentucky – 28,441
  9. Texas A&M – 27,412
  10. Missouri – 25,000
  11. LSU – 21,000
  12. Mississippi State – 15,717

Note: Ole Miss did not hold a spring game due to stadium renovations. Vanderbilt did not report an attendance figure for its spring game, so is not included in this year’s database.

It’s a New School Record

Georgia set the bar higher than it ever has before and knocked off Alabama from its usual perch atop the spring game attendance standings in the SEC. Georgia recorded a total crowd of 93,000 for its spring game, a new school record that essentially doubled the recorded crowd from the previous spring. Speaking of which…

Biggest Increase, Biggest Drop

Georgia’s school record of 93,000 was up 46,185 fans from the 2015 spring game. There are a couple of reasons for that, and shelling out some money for a performance from Ludacris certainly did not hurt the Bulldogs here. The difference in total fans for Georgia was easily the most sizable among SEC schools, but another SEC East team actually had a larger percentage increase.

The Florida Gators more than doubled their 2015 spring attendance of 21,000 with a reported total of 46,000 fans attending the Gators spring game. It is also worth noting South Carolina saw its spring attendance boosted by roughly 10,000 fans for the first spring under new head coach Will Muschamp. Because Kentucky and Texas A&M did not hold spring game sin 2015, they do not qualify for this category.

On the flip side, Auburn had the biggest drop in spring attendance. The Tigers dipped 16,420 fans this spring. Auburn saw spring game attendance drop for the third straight season under Gus Malzahn, which some will suggest is a drop in interest or support for Malzahn. Still, the number of fans coming to Jordan-Hare Stadium was easily a top 15 crowd. It all depends on your perspective.

Arkansas also saw a noticeable drop by going down 10,674 fans from a year ago.

The LSU Mystery

LSU continues to amaze me. Few question how raucous a crowd can be at an LSU home game, but the spring game just simply isn’t the kind of draw you would think it might be. Considering the numbers other schools around the SEC tend to rack up, and the passion in the state for LSU football, continues to float in the 15,000-20,000 mark for its spring games. In the three years I have been keeping track, LSU has had 15,000 (2014), 18,565 (2015) and 21,000 (2015) for its spring game. Louisiana may love its college football and LSU, and the spring game crowd is still something a number of power conference programs would love to see, but there is just something about spring football that doesn’t quite create the buzz at LSU the way it does at Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and so on.

Quick Hits

  • Four schools ranked in the top 10 in spring attendance at the time the SEC wrapped up spring football games. Georgia (No. 2), Alabama (No. 3), Tennessee (No. 5) and Florida (No. 10) ranked in the top 10. Auburn was No. 11.
  • Coming off a national championship, Alabama saw an increase in spring game attendance.
  • Two schools with new coaches (Georgia, South Carolina) saw an increase in spring attendance while another (Missouri) dropped by roughly 5,000.

You can view my database of spring game attendance in this Google doc. It is updated periodically as information becomes available or confirmed.

Arkansas pushes SEC spring game attendance past 500,000

Arkansas wide-receiver Damon Mitchell (7) leads the Razorbacks out of the tunnel before their spring NCAA college football game Saturday, April 25, 2015, in Fayetteville, Ark. (AP Photo/Gareth Patterson)
AP Photo/Gareth Patterson
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The Arkansas Razorbacks were the last of the SEC teams to wrap up their spring football practice schedule this weekend. That meant the hogs had a chance to push the SEC’s nation-leading spring game attendance number past the 500,000 mark with a solid turnout for the spring game. Arkansas reported a spring attendance of 30,546 on Saturday, which took the SEC’s spring attendance figure to 508,994 to cap the spring.

Georgia led all SEC schools with a packed house of 93,000 for its spring game, which featured a concert by Ludacris for the fans (and recruits, definitely for the recruits). Georgia dethroned Alabama from the top spot, where the Crimson Tide had been the previous two years, but Alabama did record its highest spring attendance in that time frame with 76,212 fans coming out to see the defending national champions in action. Tennessee, a perennial strong spring draw, reported a crowd of 67,027.

Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, and South Carolina all saw an increase in spring game attendance this year (Kentucky and Texas A&M also recorded attendance figures after not holding spring games in 2015). These five schools combined for an increase of 96,569 fans this spring. That helped counter a downward attendance trend at Auburn and some other mild drops around the conference. Ole Miss did not hold a spring game due to stadium renovations.

The SEC’s total attendance number easily outpaced the number pulled in by the Big Ten, which finished in a firm second place in spring game attendance this season after edging the SEC last spring. The Big Ten’s total spring attendance of 376,049 was pushed by Ohio State’s record-setting 100,189 fans for the Buckeyes’ spring game, which was complimented by the usual respectable crowds at Nebraska and Penn State as well as a program record turnout for Michigan State. The Big Ten’s spring attendance eclipsed the 400,000-fan mark last spring but failed to hit that number this season. Part of that is because Michigan saw a drop-off in the second spring game under Jim Harbaugh by moving from a traditional Saturday afternoon to a Friday night (25,000 fewer fans than 2015) and four Big Ten schools (Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota and Northwestern) not reporting a spring attendance compared to three last year.

The SEC saw a reported 482,762 fans attend spring games in 2014, which was impressive enough considering Texas A&M was unable to hold a spring game due to ongoing renovations to Kyle Field. The SEC’s official attendance number dipped to 408, 566, which again was held back by Texas A&M being unable to hold a spring game due to the renovation project but also because Kentucky did not hold a spring game.

The ACC, Big 12 and Pac-12 still have spring attendance numbers to confirm, but there is no chance any of the other three power conferences will come close to rivaling the SEC or the Big Ten. The ACC, Big 12 and Pac-12 are all projected to fall under 200,000 fans this spring, although the ACC may come the closest depending on pending results from this past weekend that have yet to be confirmed.

You can see an updated database of spring game attendance on this Google doc, which is updated periodically.

Another Allen named starting QB at Arkansas

Austin Allen
Arkansas athletics
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Brandon Allen is off to ply his football wares in the NFL, but there will still be an Allen under center in Fayetteville.

In a move that’s none too surprising, Arkansas announced Thursday night that Austin Allen has been named by head coach Bret Bielema as the Razorbacks’ starting quarterback.  Allen is the younger brother of the aforementioned Brandon Allen, who started the last 34 games at quarterback for the Hogs and left the football program as its all-time leader in touchdown passes with 64.

The younger Allen had been part of a competition that included Rafe Peavy, Ty Storey and Ricky Town, who transferred in from USC in August of last year and sat out the 2015 season. The junior entered spring practice as the odds-on favorite to take over the job from his brother, and, obviously, did nothing to change that narrative.

The 6-1, 208-pound Allen completed one of three passes last season, with the lone completion going for a 35-yard touchdown in the blowout win over Tennessee-Martin. For his career Allen’s gone 9-of-19 for 188 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Allen is the only quarterback on the roster who has attempted a pass at the collegiate level.

Arkansas confirms RB Kody Walker broke foot in practice

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - OCTOBER 24:  Kody Walker #24 of the Arkansas Razorbacks runs the ball in for a touchdown in overtime against the Auburn Tigers at Razorback Stadium Stadium on October 24, 2015 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  The Razorbacks defeated the Tigers in 4 OT's 54-46.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
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Unless it’s of the bad variety, Kody Walker simply has no luck at all when it comes to injuries.

Case in point?  Wednesday, Arkansas confirmed in a press release that the running back sustained a broken right foot during a Tuesday practice session.  Walker underwent surgery on the foot earlier in the day today to repair the damage, and the doctors expect him to make a full recovery.

Arguably the best news is that Walker should be 100-percent healthy for the start of summer camp in a few months.

“It’s a pretty standard foot injury that we’ve dealt with in the past and we expect him to be full-go by June,” head coach Bret Bielema said in a statement, adding, “If anyone knows how to battle adversity it’s Kody Walker.”

That might be a bit of an understatement by Bielema.

In 2011, Walker played in the first three games before the combination of an ankle issue and a stress fracture in his shin knocked him out for the balance of that season. He played in the first two games of the following season before a broken leg sidelined him for the remainder of the year.  In July of last year, he was granted a sixth season of eligibility because of those issues, and it was confirmed in January that he would utilize that additional season in 2016.

In 2015, Walker ran for 394 yards, second on the team behind Alex Collins’ 1,577.  His six touchdowns were second to Collins’ 20.

Provided he gets and stays healthy, Walker is viewed as the likely replacement for Collins as the bellcow of the Razorbacks’ running game.