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Clemson, Auburn, LSU, and Missouri team up to help protect wild tigers

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Clemson, Auburn, LSU, and Missouri are coming together for quite the worthy cause. The four power conference universities will collaborate on an effort to help protect the wild tiger population around the world, putting their resources to good use to help save the animal that serves as the inspiration and symbol of their respective sports teams, including the college football programs.

The universities have become the leading forces for the brand new U.S. Tiger University Consortium, which will work to help protect the tiger popultion and work to issue land-grant institutions with the cause. The consortium was initiated by Clemson president James P. Clements, a member of the Global Tiger Initiative Council. The combined efforts will fall in line with attempting to strive for the Global Tiger Forum’s global goal of doubling the tiger population by 2022. It is estimated there are roughly 3,900 wild tigers living around the world. A reduction in livable space for wild tigers and poaching have helped contribute to the downward trend of the wild tiger population over the years.

“Students, faculty and alumni chant ‘Go Tigers’ on a daily basis, but not many know the truth about the animal we hold so dear,” Brett Wright, dean of Clemson University College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences said in a released statement. “These universities share the tiger mascot and benefit from that majestic symbol of strength, dignity, and beauty, so they share a moral responsibility to apply all of our resources to save the animal that inspires that symbol.”

“Each of our institutions possess various academic disciplines important to the future of tiger conservation and protection,” dean of Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences Janaki Alavalapati said. “This is an obvious example of the need for multi-disciplinary contribution not just across colleges and departments but across universities.”

This is a nice effort for these schools with tremendous resources to come together to work on. Save those tigers!

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Alabama voted by media as favorite to win SEC

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I didn’t see this one coming.  Talk about being blindsided.

One day after putting the wraps on its annual media days shindig, the SEC released the media’s picks for conference champion and predicted order of finish.  And, to the surprise of absolutely no one, the Alabama Crimson Tide, playoff participants in each of the first three years of the new system to determine a national champion, is the overwhelming favorite to claim yet another league championship.

‘Bama earned 217 points from the media when polled as to this year’s conference champ.  Next closest?  Auburn with 11, followed by Georgia’s six points and three each for Florida and LSU.  Showing that the media has a sense of humor and doesn’t take these preseason honors too seriously, even Vanderbilt was the recipient of a point.

Six times since 1992, the media has correctly picked the eventual champion in the preseason vote.  Two of those, though, came the last three years.

While ‘Bama was an overwhelming title choice, they weren’t a unanimous selection to win the West.  They did, however, reel in 225 first-place votes; Auburn (13), LSU (four) and Arkansas (one) were the only others to do so.

In the East Division, Georgia’s 138 first-place votes topped Florida’s 96.  South Carolina with five and Tennessee with three were the others to garner first-place votes in that division.

In addition to the predicted order of finish, the conference also released its Preseason Media Days All-SEC Teams. Alabama had the most first-team All-SEC selections with 10, which is a new record for this particular preseason squad.

Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama), Calvin Ridley (Alabama) and Derrius Guice (LSU) received the most votes amongst individual players.

ACC tops as Bronko Nagurski watch list hits triple digits

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It may not be the biggest award in college football, but it’s certainly the most voluminous.

Watch List Season continued unabated Thursday morning, with the Bronko Nagurski Trophy revealing a group which consists of a whopping 103 FBA players.  Within that triple-digit preseason club, there are 30 defensive backs, 29 linebackers, 25 defensive ends and 19 defensive tackles.

Two 2016 first-team Football Writers Association of America All-Americans appear on the list — Clemson’s Christian Wilkins (pictured) and Florida State’s Tarvarus McFadden.

Conference-wise, the ACC leads with 20 players selected for the initial watch list.  The Big Ten is next with 16, followed by the SEC’s 14, the Pac-12’s 13 and the Big 12’s 11.  The AAC paced Group of Five leagues with 10, with the Sun Belt (6), Mountain West (5), Mid-American (3) and Conference USA (2) rounding out the conferences, while football independents chipped in the remaining three.

The Nagurski Trophy has been handed out annually since 1993 to college football’s best defensive player.  Last year’s winner was Alabama defensive end Jonathan Allen.


On the move? SEC reportedly considering Atlanta, Dallas and Nashville for media days

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SEC Media Days is the unofficial official start to the college football season every July and it’s been a tradition for hordes of national and local media to descend  upon Birmingham, Ala. every year to hear coaches share tidbits about their team and see what players have been up to during the offseason. While the event has expanded in terms of days — to almost a full week — and the number of people attending, one thing you could always count on was it being at the Hyatt Regency Wynfrey Hotel in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover.

That run however, could be coming to an end.

Conference officials told the Baton Rouge Advocate that they are considering relocation the annual kickoff event, with commissioner Greg Sankey telling the paper that Nashville, Dallas and Atlanta are all “pretty good” potential new spots.

“We’ve got a great tradition here in Hoover. As our footprint has expanded, it’s appropriate to look at options,” Sankey said. “I said back in April that’s on my mind. I don’t have a prediction of when or where, but I think at some point mobility can be a healthy thing for this particular endeavor.”

Though the league office is located in Birmingham, a move elsewhere for media days has been something rumored for several years and has picked up steam with the not-so-new additions of Texas A&M and Missouri. Based on those comments from the commish, it appears the SEC is finally starting to explore those options beyond just the customary check-in.

Atlanta probably makes the most sense in many ways given that it’s the spiritual home of the league as the host of the conference title game and offers plenty of easy travel connections to just about anywhere in the region. The fairly new College Football Hall of Fame would certainly be a potential site to host the gathering and the brand new Mercedes-Benz Stadium could also be an option. Nashville is a fun area that has plenty of expertise from when it hosts the SEC basketball media days later in the fall.

But if you’re looking for the most intriguing option, that would be Dallas. The headline for this piece probably already perked up the ears of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, an Arkansas grad who has done his best to bring plenty of college football events to the metroplex in recent years. He is hosting the Big 12’s media days at his massive new ‘The Star’ complex in nearby Frisco, Texas already this month and would almost assuredly make room next year for his favorite league if asked. Things might be a little awkward with the Big 12 and a few fans in burnt orange but that would probably be left to Sankey and fellow commissioner Bob Bowlsby to sort out.

The Advocate notes that the 2018 site has not been determined and a return to Hoover and the Wynfrey remains on the table with the SEC’s deal with the hotel renewed on a yearly basis. Still, the fact that league officials are discussing the possibility of hitting the road for media days is quite the bat signal to the three cities mentioned and numerous others.

SEC commish puts kibosh on divisional realignment talk

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At least for now, there’s seemingly nothing to see when it comes to changing the current makeup of the SEC.

Earlier this offseason, Auburn’s athletic director, Jay Jacobs, continued to bang the drum for a divisional shift in the conference — his football program to the East, Missouri to the West.  Not long after, Jacobs’ Mizzou counterpart, Jim Sterk, let it be known publicly that he’s fine with the Tigers being right where they’re at.

During his annual State of the Conference address as the SEC kicked off its media days Monday, Greg Sankey succinctly nipped any league divisional realignment square in the bud.  Again, for now.

“Has not been an agenda item in the meeting,” the commissioner said. “It is a conversation in most large press conferences in which I appear, and that’s the extent of the conversation.”

In other words, when it comes to the SEC tweaking its East-West divisions…