Vanderbilt Commodores

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Shortly after the NCAA confirmed that its Board of Directors had, at least for the foreseeable future, rescinded the ban on coaches taking part in football camps outside of their regions, the SEC confirmed that it will be rescinding its own ban on the practice.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

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.

NC State announces future series with Texas Tech, Vandy, UConn

RALEIGH, NC - OCTOBER 31:  The North Carolina State Wolfpack run onto the field before their game against the Clemson Tigers at Carter-Finley Stadium on October 31, 2015 in Raleigh, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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Tuesday afternoon, North Carolina State decided to do a rather hefty scheduling dump.

That football program announced earlier in the day today that it has reached an agreement on three future home-and-home series, including one each against Texas Tech and Vanderbilt.  The Tech series will take place in the years 2022 (Raleigh, N.C.) and 2027 (Lubbock), while the Vandy series will be played in 2026 (Nashville) and 2028 (Raleigh).

The Wolfpack owns a 4-1 advantage in the all-time series against the Red Raiders, with the last meeting coming in 2003.  The Commodores have beaten the Wolfpack in both previous meetings, including a 38-24 win in the 2012 Music City Bowl.  The only other previous meeting came back in 1946.

In addition to those two series, NCSU will also take on UConn in a third home-and-home.  The Wolfpack will host the first game of that series in 2022, while the Huskies will return the favor the following season.

NCSU has won both games between the two football programs, the first one coming in 2003 and the most recent in 2012.

Commish: SEC has no plans to follow B1G lead, ban scheduling of FCS cupcakes

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 06:  A selection of cupcakes is seen at Crumbs Bake Shop & David Burke NYC event to launch lunch menu at David Burke Treehouse Bar on June 6, 2013 in New York City.  (Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images  for Crumbs Bake Shop)
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If you’re looking for the SEC to follow the path blazed by its Midwest Power Five counterparts, you’re likely in for quite a bit of a wait.

Back in July of last year, the Big Ten announced that, moving forward, the conference has banned its member institutions from scheduling opponents who play at the FCS level.The SEC, of course, regularly schedules such creampuffs, and it appears it has no plans of changing that aspect of their scheduling for the foreseeable future.

“It’s a conversation piece, but we have not eliminated those,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said earlier this week according to the Opelika-Auburn News. “Our schedule is set up across the season, rather than toward the end, so each conference is allowed to have its scheduling philosophy. …

“There’s relatively speaking a limited number of those FCS games. Some of those are quite challenging opponents, relatively speaking. But we have not had a hard and fast discussion about eliminating those opportunities.”

The last five seasons (2011-15), 12 of the 14 current members of the SEC scheduled games against FCS foes each of those years, with the lone exceptions being Florida and Texas A&M. The Gators didn’t play an FCS team in 2015, but did the other four seasons, while the Aggies played one in four of the last five seasons. The lone season A&M didn’t in that span? 2011, the Aggies’ last season in the Big 12 before moving to the SEC for the 2012 season.

This season, all 14 SEC members will play a team from the FCS.

Arguably the only way the SEC will be moved to join the Big Ten in eliminating cupcakes from future schedules? When strength of schedule plays a role in the conference getting shut out of the College Football Playoff. Until then, the league looks like it will continue its annual feast of pastry lightweights.

Ex-Vanderbilt player Cory Batey found guilty of aggravated rape

Former Vanderbilt football player Cory Batey sits during a break on day two of his trial in Judge Monte Watkins' courtroom in the A.A. Birch building in Nashville, Tenn., Tuesday, April 5, 2016. (Samuel M. Simpkins/The Tennessean via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Samuel M. Simpkins/The Tennessean via AP
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Former Vanderbilt football player Cory Batey was found guilty of aggravated assault by a jury in a retrial Friday night. Batey will be sentenced for 15-25 years for the aggravated rape charge. He is scheduled to be sentenced on May 20.

Batey was found guilty on the three of the most severe counts against him, including one for aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery. He was taken into custody immediately following the verdict as required by Tennessee law. He was also found guilty on four additional counts; aggravated sexual battery, facilitation of aggravated rape and two counts of attempted aggravated rape.

Batey and the victim in the case each took the witness stand on Friday before the jury was asked to come to a verdict. The jury deliberated for roughly two and a half hours before coming back with the guilty verdict.

Batey was originally found guilty of aggravated rape a year ago, along with Brandon Vandenburg, but the two temporarily escaped legal action due to a mistrial. The mistrial was a result of a juror was ruled to be unable to be impartial due to being a victim of statutory rape.

Vandenburg will go through a similar retrial later this year in June. Two other Vanderbilt players, Jaborian McKenzie and Brandon Banks, are currently pending. All four players had been suspended by the Vanderbilt program in June of 2013 after being connected to the sexual crimes, which was swiftly followed by the dismissal of all four players.

“Our first thoughts are with the victim and the incredible strength she has shown, and continues to show, both throughout the investigation and the legal proceedings,” Vanderbilt vice chancellor for public affairs Beth Fortune said in a statement. “Our heart continues to go out to her as she has endured this retrial. This case has had a lasting impact on us all.”