Kentucky Wildcats

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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Shortly after the NCAA confirmed that its Board of Directors had, at least for the foreseeable future, rescinded the ban on coaches taking part in football camps outside of their regions, the SEC confirmed that it will be rescinding its own ban on the practice.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.

‘Screaming and tears’ from Les Miles after getting verbal from 2017 QB

BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 29:  Head coach Les Miles of the LSU Tigers reacts during pre game before playing the Arkansas Razorbacks at Tiger Stadium on November 29, 2013 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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They say there’s no crying in baseball.  As for football recruiting?  If you’re Les Miles, there apparently is.  And some yelping for good measure.

Myles Brennan is a three-star 2017 prospect in 247Sports.com‘s composite rankings, rated as the No. 27 pro-style quarterback in the country.  The Mississippi high schooler had held offers from 15 or so schools, including Cal, Indiana, Kentucky, Memphis, West Virginia and Wisconsin; a visit to LSU this past weekend ended with, to him, a surprise offer from Miles and the Tigers to make it an even 16.

Instead of mulling it over with his parents and others close to him, the non-committed Brennan gave Miles his verbal pledge shortly before the trip ended.  Apparently appreciative of the chesticles shown by the young man, Miles “just started screaming and tears started coming out of his eyes” over the pledge.

” I just said, ‘Coach, I want to go ahead and shake your hand and tell you I’m going to go ahead and commit,'” Brennan said in an exceptional piece by the Sun Herald‘s Patrick Ochs. “At that time, he just started screaming and tears started coming out of his eyes. He gave me a big ol’ hug. My parents started tearing up and crying because they didn’t know it was coming.”

Given the sorry state of the position for most of his tenure in Baton Rouge, I guess you can excuse Miles getting emotional when someone of talent commits to his program.

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)
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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.

Maxwell Smith has appeal for sixth season denied

BERKELEY, CA - SEPTEMBER 12:  Quarterback Maxwell Smith #17 of the San Diego State Aztecs passes against the California Golden Bears during the first quarter at California Memorial Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Berkeley, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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After much uncertainty, the sun has officially set on Maxwell Smith’s playing days, at least at the collegiate level.

Tuesday, San Diego State head coach confirmed that the NCAA has denied Smith’s appeal for a medical waiver that would’ve given the quarterback a sixth season of eligibility.  Smith had been wavering as to whether wanted to play in 2016 irrespective of the NCAA’s decision, which is why head coach Rocky Long had previously indicated that the player would have a job in some capacity with the Aztecs football program if he wanted it.

It’s uncertain whether Smith, who has previously indicated he wants to pursue a career in coaching, will accept a position at SDSU.  What is certain is that he has suited up for the last time collegiately.  Professionally, however…

“I don’t want to regret not taking a shot at the NFL,” Smith said according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. “It’s something I might look back on and regret. I talked to a lot of people … The (pro) level can suit some people better than the college level. Everybody sees with quarterbacks that it’s hard to predict what happens. You work hard enough and persevere long enough, maybe something good will come.”

Smith’s appeal for a sixth season was based on on the fact that he missed the equivalent of two seasons at Kentucky with ankle and shoulder injuries. Smith won the starting job after transferring from UK in January of last year, but sustained a torn ACL at the end of the year that would’ve made his availability for the 2016 uncertain to begin with.

After coming to the Aztecs as a grad transfer, Smith started the first 11 games of last season before the injury.  He completed 55 percent of his passes for 13 touchdowns and just two interceptions in 200 attempts.

Kentucky to go with Drew Barker as starting QB

of the Louisville Cardinals during the game against the Kentucky Wildcats at Commonwealth Stadium on November 28, 2015 in Lexington, Kentucky.
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What battle there was for the starting quarterback job at Kentucky has come to a not-so-surprising conclusion –at least for the spring portion of the program.

Following Saturday’s spring game, head coach Mark Stoops revealed that, yes, Drew Barker is the Wildcats’ starting signal-caller.  Technically, Barker had been involved in a two-man competition with Stephen Johnson, even as most assumed Barker was far and a way the favorite.

That said, it doesn’t appear that the competition has come to a final, FINAL conclusion and that the door remains at least slightly ajar for Johnson to bust through in summer camp.

“I think each week he got better. I really do. In those four or five weeks he just kept continuing to get better,” offensive coordinator Eddie Gran said of Barker. “And Stephen Johnson is pushing him. I think that helped more than anything else. And Stephen’s still competing for that job, but going out of the spring Drew is our starting quarterback. He earned it, but it’s wonderful to have another guy like that behind him that’s competing. …

“I think what you see from Drew is a guy that has accepted this role. He wants to be great and he’s really locked into what we’re asking him to do.”

For his part, Barker understands he must keep improving in order to keep hold of the job.

“No, it’s good to hear that, there’s still a lot of work to be done,” said Barker of being named the starter. “It definitely is good to hear that coming from the head coach. I’m excited to hear that, but I mean there’s still a lot of work to be done for sure.”

Barker started the final two games of the 2015 season, setting the table for both Patrick Towlestransfer to Boston College and his own ascension to the starting job.