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SEC to enact NCAA practice policies, eliminate two-a-days

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Two-a-days in the Deep South are officially a thing of the past.

Last month, the NCAA Division I Council also voted to eliminate “multiple contact practices a day” — aka two-a-days — in summer camp.  The SEC announced Friday that the conference “will adopt recent practice recommendations set forth by the NCAA Sports Science Institute in the sport of football.”

Moving forward, and after the standard five-day acclimation period that kicks off preseason camp, any given seven-day period will have to include at least three non-contact/minimal contact practice sessions as well as one day where there is no practice, period.  Additionally, the next practice after a scrimmage will have to be one of the non-contact/minimal contact periods.  While two-a-days are no longer permitted, teams can, if they so choose, run “[a] second session of no helmet/pad activity [that] may include walk-throughs or meetings; conditioning in the second session of activity is not allowed.”

To make up for the lost practice time, teams will be allowed to start camps one week earlier than previously allowed.  That extension will “help ensure that players obtain the necessary skill set for competitive play,” the NCAA said in its release.

As for in-season practices, the biggest change is going from allowing two live-contact/tackling sessions per week to one of those plus one described as “live-contact/thud.” The standard for non-contact/minimal contact practices remains the same at three.

As for the postseason, below are the NCAA’s recommendations:

  • If there is a two week or less period of time between the final regular season game or conference championship game (for participating institutions) and the next bowl or postseason game, then in-season practice recommendations should remain in place.
  • If there is greater than two weeks between the final regular season game or conference championship game (for participating institutions) and the next bowl or postseason game, then:
  1. Up to three days may be live-contact (two of which should be live contact/thud).
  2. There must be three non-contact/minimal contact practices in a given week.
  3. The day preceding and following live contact/tackling should be non-contact/minimal contact or no football practice.
  4. One day must be no football practice.

“We believe these measures will enhance the health and safety procedures SEC universities have already established to support their football programs,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement. “Student-athlete well-being will always be a priority for SEC member institutions and, as the NCAA Sports Science Institute has developed and provided guidance on the structure for football practice, everyone associated with this great sport must continue to adapt to keep the game safe while played at the highest competitive level.”

The conference’s presidents and chancellors as well as its athletic director, incidentally, voted unanimously to accept the NCAA practice recommendations.

Kentucky sells stadium naming rights to Kroger

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Commonwealth Stadium no longer exists.

Okay, the 44-year-old stadium in Lexington, Ky., is still standing, but it’s no longer known as Commonwealth Stadium. That’s because Kentucky announced Monday a naming rights deal that will see the 67,000-seat structure become known as Kroger Field for the next dozen years.

An artist’s rendering shows how the new name might look beginning this season:

“The thing they’re excited about and we’re excited about too is it’s not just about naming rights,” UK  spokesman Guy Ramsey said. “It’s a company who asked for this and wants it to be long term and much more.”

In addition to paying $1.85 million annually over the next dozen years according to the Lexington Herald-Leader Kroger will partner with Kentucky in a number of campus-wide initiatives, including becoming the official fuel supplier of UK.

The move hands Commonwealth Stadium’s name to a sponsor for the first time since its 1973 construction.

“As much of a traditionalist as I want to be and am, I also have to be a realist, and you have to think, OK, what is in the best interest of this athletic department and this university, and can it absolutely give us the best chance to keep doing — the end game for us, keep our programs moving in the direction we’ve got them going,” AD Mitch Barnhart said.

Kentucky’s deal means all three Bluegrass State programs have sold stadium sponsorship deals. Kentucky’s is the second recent naming rights deal to sell sponsorship to a grocery giant, following Boise State’s deal with Albertson’s.

Bear Bryant’s great-grandson picks up offer from SEC school not named Alabama

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When you think of legendary head coach Bear Bryant, the Alabama Crimson Tide typically comes to mind. After all, that’s where he solidified his status on the Mount Rushmore of college football and had the most success of any coach not named Nick Saban.

Some outside the South may not realize it though, but Bryant really developed his reputation running a football team at another SEC and only some fans would be able to guess that came during his eight seasons at Kentucky. During his tenure in Lexington, Bryant guided the Wildcats to their first SEC football title (in 1950) and saw unprecedented success (before or since) on the gridiron at the school that included several top 10 finishes. Now it appears that connection to UK could play a role in landing a budding 2019 recruit.

Per AL.comPaul Tyson was the latest player to receive a scholarship offer from Mark Stoops and his staff and, while that name might not ring a bell, it turns out that Tyson is the great-grandson of one Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant.

The 6-foot-4, 210-pound signal-caller from Hewitt-Trussville High is not yet considered a blue-chip recruit but 247Sports is reporting that several power programs (including Alabama) are interested in him. Tyson didn’t even start for the varsity team last season but given his good size and good genes, it’s safe to say he could see his stock explode over the coming years.

The real question is though, if the Crimson Tide come along with an offer, would the quarterback be able to turn down a chance to play in Tuscaloosa? As with everything in recruiting, we’ll have to wait until pen meets paper on National Signing Day.

SEC commissioner hints at review of rules regarding alcohol sales in football stadiums

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The prohibition of alcohol at football stadiums has undergone one interesting about-face in college athletics the past 15 years or so. While various suite levels at stadiums across the country have generally had access to a few adult beverages, there’s been some very large programs that have opened up the taps in the general seating areas the last few years.

From West Virginia to Texas to Ohio State, more and more programs are selling beer and/or liquor across the board and raking in hundreds of thousands (if not millions) in added revenue while doing so. One conference that isn’t jumping in on that trend however has been the SEC, which has numerous restrictions on where those types of beverages can be sold. That may be about to change in the near future however according to SEC commissioner Greg Sankey.

“At some point, I’m relatively certain, there will be further review of the prohibition,” said Sankey on Monday, per The Tuscaloosa News. “That doesn’t predict any outcome.”

While you may think that the league is close to opening the floodgates on alcohol being served at stadiums across the conference, you probably shouldn’t jump to any conclusions on the matter as Sankey seemed to hold his ground and stand firm on keeping things as is right now.

“The conference has a policy that says that we’re not selling alcohol in the general seating area,” he added. “Now, you can agree or disagree with that policy, but that’s the policy. The basis for changing that or maintaining it is one that’s developed in the conversation.

“I think we were at like 98 percent ticket sales in football… So is that one-percent margin a trade that we’re going to make?”

It’s no secret that of-age fans can easily find a few beverages at SEC tailgates prior to games nowadays but it seems momentum is slowing building in the conference to allow fans to buy some during a game. It might not happen anytime in the very near future but the conversation is certainly going to keep popping up each year with many more schools across the country jumping in on this trend.

SEC commissioner confirms graduate transfer rule changes will be discussed at spring meetings

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We’re still over a month away from the SEC’s annual spring meetings down in Destin, Fla. but one item we might be able to confirm is on the agenda will be the graduate transfer rules for the conference.

It’s a hot topic around the league and particularly so at Florida, which is in the mix to land Notre Dame graduate transfer Malik Zaire but can’t officially take him due to restrictions from the conference office.

That may change however, as SEC commissioner Greg Sankey confirmed in a radio interview on Friday with ESPN Gainesville.

“It will come up,” Sankey said, according to SECCountry.com. “I do think we need to look where we’ve been restrictive in the past because of the absence of national rules and look at reducing some of those restrictions. I’m one who would position it as interest in freeing things up without just removing every restraint, because I think the restraints have been healthy for us.”

At the heart of the issue is a rule that limits schools from taking additional graduate transfers if previous graduate transfers failed to meet academic requirements after enrolling. The move was designed to prevent a number of situations where players would transfer over just to play and not really go through coursework at their new school.

Other NCAA conferences have failed to follow the SEC’s lead in this area however and now the league is being put at a bit of a disadvantage on the graduate transfer market. This is particularly an issue with the Gators this offseason but it seems as though there will be quite the discussion down in Destin among athletic directors and head coaches about changing the rules to be on more of a level playing field with other conferences on this front.