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CHAMPAIGN, IL - NOVEMBER 16: Carlos Hyde #34 of the Ohio State Buckeyes drags tacklers Houston Bates #55 and Teko Powell #93 of the Illinois Fighting Illini at Memorial Stadium on November 16, 2013 in Champaign, Illinois. Ohio State defeated Illinois 60-35.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Looking for ‘more stable program,’ Teko Powell to transfer from Illinois

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Citing significant coaching turnover during his time in Champaign, Teko Powell has decided to start over on another campus elsewhere.

In a conversation with the Champaign News-Gazette, the defensive lineman (pictured, No. 93) confirmed that he has decided to transfer from Lovie Smith‘s Illinois football program. According to Powell, upheaval on the coaching front triggered his decision to move on from the Illini.

“I had four different head coaches that either recruited me or coached me,” Powell told the News-Gazette. “I’m looking for a more stable program with the last two years of eligibility that I’ll have.”

Powell, as a grad transfer, will be permitted to begin using that remaining eligibility immediately if another FBS program is his landing spot. Per Powell, he’s already received interest from, among others, Kentucky and Miami (Fla.).

After appearing in seven games as a true freshman, Powell played in 10 games as a sophomore in 2013, starting six of those contests. He started the first three games of the following season before he was sidelined with a season-ending foot injury. Thanks to another foot injury sustained during summer camp, he also missed the entire 2015 season.

Those injuries led to Powell being granted fifth and sixth seasons from the NCAA.

SEC expands conduct policy for transfers, not incoming freshmen

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 13:  Greg Sankey the new commissioner of the SEC talks to the media before the quaterfinals of the SEC Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena on March 13, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Jeffery Simmons caught what many considered an undeserved — and wholly unacceptable — break from Mississippi State Thursday.  A day later, the five-star 2016 signee caught a break from his conference for good measure.

In April of last year, the SEC voted to ban member institutions from accepting transfers who had been disciplined for serious misconduct at his previous school, with that defined as sexual assault, sexual violence and domestic violence.  As the SEC wrapped up its annual spring meetings Friday, and as had previously been expected, the conference announced that it will be expanding that policy to include “dating violence, stalking or conduct of a nature that creates serious concern about the safety of others.”

Additionally, the expanded policy will require schools to perform background checks on any transfer before they are permitted to practice or play with the team.  Those checks are expected to satisfy what’s described as the SEC’s “minimum due diligence expectations.”

However, the new policy still only applies to transfers; incoming freshmen are not subject to the policy.  That, though, could change, especially in light of the Simmons situation in Starkville.

“I can envision a continuing dialogue that looks at what we’ve done on serious misconduct relative to transfers, and the question will be asked is that sufficient?” commissioner Greg Sankey said. “Should we remain there? That doesn’t predict outcomes, but I envision that will be a conversation topic going forward. But I never anticipated that we were done.

“This conference has been wrestling with the issue, and it’s not easy. I hope people can appreciate that. It’s not as if this is done in a sterile environment, and I think that’s an important conversation. I said that last year, and I’ve said that this year. There’s a point at which the legislation concluded for this week, and we’ll see what the future might hold without prediction.”

Brad Nessler to replace Verne Lundquist as voice of SEC on CBS after 2016

WASHINGTON - JANUARY 30:  President of the United States Barack Obama (C) talks to CBS annoucers Clark Kellogg and Verne Lundquist during a college basketball game between Georgetown Hoyas and the Duke Blue Devils on January 30, 2010 at the Verizon Center in Washington DC.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
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Rumors have been swirling throughout the off-season, but CBS made the news official on Tuesday by announcing Verne Lundquist will step down as the lead voice of the network’s college football coverage — primarily the SEC, but also Army-Navy and the Sun Bowl — to be replaced by Brad Nessler after the upcoming season.

“Verne has set the standard for college football broadcasting,” CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said in a statement. “Together with Gary Danielson he has played a key role in making the SEC on CBS the highest-rated college football package in America. After an incredible 17 years, he will be handing the reigns off to Brad, who in his own right is highly acclaimed and respected as one of the premier play-by-play broadcasters in the business. I am very pleased that Verne will still have a prominent role in our college basketball and major championship golf coverage.  We are fortunate to have one more football season to appreciate Verne’s one-of-a-kind storytelling as we pave the way for a seamless and smooth transition to Brad.”

Lunquist will continue with the network covering college basketball and golf, but will cede the college football chair in what was certainly a contract bullet point to lure Nessler away from ESPN.

“Being a part of the SEC on CBS since 2000 has been the most significant assignment I’ve been given in my more than five decades in this business,” said Lundquist. “Now, it’s time to step back and take in the aroma of those tulips, those roses, and those daffodils that friends have been telling me about for years. In 2017, I’ll happily step aside from college football and welcome Brad to the booth. I’ve known Brad for more than 30 years and have always admired his work ethic and his on-air presence. He shares the same passion for college football that I do. The SEC on CBS is in great hands. Brad and Gary will form a great partnership in the years ahead.”

Nessler leaves a plum gig at ESPN, where he, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe called the ESPN Saturday primetime game and one of the two College Football Playoff semifinals each of the past two seasons.

“Verne has been a friend for over 30 years and someone I’ve always looked up to in this business,” said Nessler. “I’m not replacing him as it would be impossible to replace Verne. I am truly honored to carry on where he leaves off and work to maintain the standard of excellence he has set calling the SEC on CBS. I am excited to rejoin the CBS Sports team this season and look forward to working alongside Gary again in 2017.”

57 centers named to Rimington Award spring watch list

AJ McCarron, Ryan Kelly
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You know how I know we’re getting closer to the start of a new season?  The first watch list of the offseason has arrived.

The first for that honor this year is the Rimington Award, which on Tuesday released its spring watch list that is 57 players strong.  The Rimington Award, named in honor of former Nebraska standout Dave Rimington, is presented annually to the top center in the nation and is determined by the consensus All-American center pick from three existing All-America teams — Walter Camp. Sporting News and FWAA.

None of the finalists for the 2015 award, won by Alabama’s Ryan Kelly, are included on this year’s initial watch list as all three have since moved on with expired eligibility.

The ACC and SEC pace all conferences with eight watch listers apiece, followed by the AAC and Big 12 with seven each.  The Big Ten placed six, while the Pac-12’s three was the least of all of the Power Five programs.

All 10 of the FBS leagues, plus one independent (Notre Dame), are represented on the spring watch list, the full roster of which appears below.

AAC
Deyshawn Bond, Cincinnati, senior
Ryan Crozier, UConn, redshirt sophomore
Will Noble, Houston, sophomore
Drew Kyser, Memphis, sophomore
Evan Brown, SMU, junior
Brendan McGowan, Temple, redshirt senior
Chandler Miller, Tulsa, sophomore

ACC
Jay Guillermo, Clemson, senior
Alec Eberle, Florida State, redshirt sophomore
Freddie Burden, Georgia Tech, redshirt senior
Nicholas Linder, Miami, junior
Lucas Crowley, North Carolina, senior
Alex Officer, Pittsburgh, redshirt junior
Jason Emerich, Syracuse, redshirt senior
Jackson Matteo, Virginia, senior

BIG TEN
Joe Spencer, Illinois, senior
Sean Welsh, Iowa, junior
Brendan Moore, Maryland, sophomore
Mason Cole, Michigan, junior
Dylan Utter, Nebraska, senior
Michael Dieter, Wisconsin, sophomore

BIG 12
Kyle Fuller, Baylor, senior
Dalton Risner, Kansas State, sophomore
Jonathan Alvarez, Oklahoma, junior
Brad Lundblade, Oklahoma State, junior
Austin Schlottman, TCU, junior
Tony Morales, Texas Tech, senior
Tyler Orlosky, West Virginia, redshirt senior

CONFERENCE USA
Michael Montero, FIU, senior
Dillon DeBoer, FAU, redshirt senior
Daniel Stephens, Middle Tennessee State, senior
Nick Clarke, Old Dominion, sophomore
Cameron Tom, Southern Miss, senior
Max Halpin, Western Kentucky, redshirt senior

MAC
Tim McAuliffe, Bowling Green redshirt junior
James O’Hagan, Buffalo, sophomore

MOUNTAIN WEST
Jake Bennett, Colorado State, junior
Asotui Eli, Hawaii, redshirt sophomore
Nathan Goltry, Nevada, senior
Arthur Flores, San Diego State, senior
Austin Stephens, Utah State, senior

PAC-12
Toa, Lobendahn, USC, junior
Coleman Shelton, Washington, junior
Riley Sorenson, Washington State, senior

SEC
Frank Ragnow, Arkansas, junior
Brandon Kublanow, Georgia, senior
Jon Toth, Kentucky, senior
Ethan Pocic, LSU, senior
Jamaal Clayborn, Mississippi State, senior
Robert Conyers, Ole Miss, senior
Alan Knott, South Carolina, redshirt junior
Coleman Thomas, Tennessee, junior

SUN BELT
Devin Mondie, Arkansas State, senior
Andy Kwon, Georgia Southern, senior
Gabe Mobley, Georgia State, sophomore
Steve Matlock, Idaho, senior

INDEPENDENTS
Sam Mustipher, Notre Dame, junior

SEC joins ACC in utilizing ‘collaborative process’ for instant replay

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Earlier this month, the ACC became the first conference to adopt what was described as “collaborative instant replay.”  Less than a week later, the SEC has followed the ACC’s centralized lead.

The SEC announced in a Tuesday press release that it “will implement a collaborative process for instant replay in the sport of football beginning with the 2016 season, following a unanimous vote of the league’s athletics directors and approval by the SEC Executive Committee.”  The conference’s decision to utilize a command center for instant replay comes a month after it was tested during an unnamed member school’s spring game.

“Under this experiment, personnel operating from SEC Headquarters will assist the in-stadium Instant Replay Officials when replay decisions are made,” the release further added.  Additional details, including detailed plans and complete logistics for the new replay process, will be presented to coaches and administrators during the SEC Media Days in July.

Those details will then be released to the public at a media briefing during those meetings.

“Our goal is to continue to use the best-available resources to support correct outcomes when instant replay is used,” said SEC commissioner Greg Sankey in a statement. “We believe the collaborative effort, which will involve additional officiating experts during replay reviews, will enhance the Conference’s football officiating program. I believe this update to the instant replay review process will better support football officiating in the SEC through the use of technology.”