Tennessee Volunteers

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Shortly after the NCAA confirmed that its Board of Directors had, at least for the foreseeable future, rescinded the ban on coaches taking part in football camps outside of their regions, the SEC confirmed that it will be rescinding its own ban on the practice.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

DUI charge against Vols’ Charles Mosley dropped

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Sometimes, most times, a college football player will see the charges he was initially facing drastically reduces.  Very rarely are the charges dropped entirely, yet that’s where the situation involving a Tennessee Volunteer currently stands.

In late July, Charles Mosley was arrested following a traffic stop and charged with first-offense driving under the influence and speeding.  Fast-forward nine months and, the Knoxville News Sentinel is reporting, both of those charges have been dismissed.  The dismissal came after a preliminary hearing earlier today.

The initial traffic stop was initiated because Mosley was clocked doing 79 in a 55 mph zone.  The arresting officer smelled the odor of marijuana as he approached the vehicle; Mosley claimed he had been at a hotel with friends a short time earlier and they were smoking weed (the second-hand smell defense).  That said, marijuana residue was found in the passenger seat next to Mosley as well as his backseat, and the offensive lineman performed poorly on a field sobriety test.

Mosley had submitted to a drug test, but, the News Sentinel writes, “Mosley’s attorney Steve Oberman said the case was dismissed because the state failed to establish probable cause to arrest” his client.

“The arresting officer believed he had sufficient grounds to arrest Mr. Mosley,” Oberman told the paper. “The proof presented today in court was insufficient to send the case to the grand jury. … Mr. Mosley and I are thrilled to have the case concluded in such a favorable fashion.”

The proof presented in court wasn’t detailed.

After “internal discipline” from head coach Butch Jones, Mosley appeared in 12 games for the Vols in 2015.  He exited spring practice this year as a second-team offensive lineman.

In July of 2014, Mosley was involved in a car wreck the Tennessee Highway Patrol deemed serious enough that the 2014 UT signee was said to be “lucky to be alive.” The lineman sustained a broken leg in the accident, one in which he was a passenger in a vehicle that was being driven by a family member.

Because of the injury, he missed the entire 2014 season and was limited during spring practice earlier that year.

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.

Tennessee parts ways with strength coach over “philosophical differences”

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 1:  Members of the Tennessee Volunteers gather to sing with the band to celebrate a victory over Northwestern Wildcats in the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium on January 1, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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Tennessee revealed Friday head strength and conditioning coach Dave Lawson is no longer with the program. Team spokesman Ryan Robinson classified the departure to the Knoxville News Sentinel as neither a firing or a resigning, instead saying Lawson and his superiors had “philosophical differences.”

Lawson oversaw the entire Tennessee athletics department’s strength efforts with Mike Szerszen handling the football team on a day-to-day basis. But Lawson was a longtime lieutenant for Jones, first working with him at Central Michigan in 2007, then following the head coach to Cincinnati and Tennessee.

For a “philosophical difference” to pop up now, after nearly 10 years together, strikes one as pretty odd.

Lawson’s departure figures to be a boon for Szerszen in more ways than one. Lawson will continue to receive his $200,000 salary through February, with mitigation involved should he get another job between now and then, but the Vols do not plan to hire someone to replace Lawson’s position as overall strength director. Szerszen, meanwhile, made $66,000 last year, so it seems he’s due for a substantial raise in the not too distant future.

 

Butch Jones to no longer receive “courtesy calls” from Knoxville PD

TUSCALOOSA, AL - OCTOBER 26:  Head coach Butch Jones of the Tennessee Volunteers against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 26, 2013 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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It would be naive to think Butch Jones was the only FBS head coach to receive “courtesy calls” from his local police department any time his players and the boys in blue crossed paths. However, so many Tennessee players have gotten in trouble lately that Jones’ courtesy call privilege came to light to the general public.

Knox County prosecutors have been against the move, for obvious reasons, and on Friday Knoxville police chief David Rausch revealed he has ended the practice.

“After reviewing our longstanding practice of courtesy notifications to the University of Tennessee administration of incidents involving UT students, it is clear that no investigations were compromised or improper information provided,” Rausch said in a statement. “But in the interest of transparency and to alleviate any appearance of conflict of interest, we have changed the previous practice, to ensure that investigators focus without hindrance on finding the facts and bringing justice to victims of crime.

“Going forward, in any incident involving a student at the university, (the Knoxville Police Department) will make formal notification only to UT law enforcement, as required by state law and as part of our ongoing interdepartmental cooperation.”

The practice came to light after the Knoxville News-Sentinel revealed four calls between Rausch and Jones on Nov. 16, 2014, the day Volunteers defenders A.J. Johnson and Michael Williams came under investigation for rape.

Knoxville mayor Madeline Rogero and Rausch agreed to review the practice after the paper brought it to light. Rausch said the courtesy calls were simply professional courtesy and never interfered with ongoing investigations, but suspended the practice anyway. He also declined to answer questions about the practice.

“When we investigate an alleged crime involving an athlete at UT, as a professional courtesy, our longstanding practice has been that we alert the head coach and staff,” Rausch said. “At no time is any information shared with the university that would hinder or jeopardize any investigation. The purpose of the notification is due to the scrutiny these events bring to allow appropriate time to prepare responses to the various interests.”

Assistant District Attorney General Sean McDermott disagreed with Rausch’s assessment of harmless professional courtesy. “A pre-arrest disclosure of sensitive information that is not made for the purpose of advancing the criminal investigation potentially could violate state law regarding the misuse of official information,” he said earlier this month.

For what it’s worth, both the Knox County Sheriff’s Office and the University of Tennessee Police Department declined to answer questions on courtesy calls to Volunteer coaches.

This could all become a moot point, after all, if Tennessee players simply cease getting arrested. We’ll see if that happens.