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Former Mizzou QB reportedly staying in the SEC and transferring to Vanderbilt, not Virginia

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Former Missouri quarterback Marvin Zanders is evidently not leaving the SEC and transferring to Virginia after all. Make no mistake though, while he is changing his eventual destination, the transfer is still on.

The former Tigers signal-caller had previously announced plans in late January to pursue a graduate transfer to the Cavaliers but a recent report from Gridiron Now says that he will instead be transferring to Vanderbilt this offseason. A source told the site that family in the area and living in Nashville played a role in the change in commitment.

Zanders has reportedly already graduated from Mizzou and is expected to be eligible right away in 2017 after obtaining the necessary waivers to play at another SEC school.

The Commodores do return starter Kyle Shurmur at the position so it does not seem that Zanders is headed to Vandy in order to become the full-time starter. He is a lot more athletic option behind center — throwing for 114 yards and rushing for 198 yards and two touchdowns last year — so it seems like a backup job with spells of being the change of pace guy are in store if Zanders can pick up the offense quickly in fall camp.

While it’s a little surprising in this day and age that Missouri would consent to an unrestricted transfer of a quarterback to another team in the conference, we’ll at least be able to add an interesting storyline for when Vandy hosts the Tigers on November 18th this season.

Auburn AD banging the drum for a Tigers move to SEC East, Mizzou shift to West

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Tuesday, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey laid talk of a potential Auburn move from the SEC West to the East at the feet of the media. A day later, that university’s athletic director picked up the talk and ran with it. Hard.

After months of chatter on the subject, Jay Jacobs met the issue head-on at the conference’s spring meetings Wednesday, with the AU AD banging the drum very loudly for his football team to move from the West to the East and Missouri taking their place in the division.

While it makes sense football-wise for most involved, Jacobs cited the demographics of the student population at large as one of the reasons he will push for a divisional adjustment.

“It makes more sense for Auburn from the standpoint of the demographics of our students, not our student-athletes,” the athletics boss said according to 247Sports.com‘s Brandon Marcello. “Six or eight years ago, I looked at all the demographics. Most of all our students come from Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, Kentucky, a few from Mississippi, very few from Louisiana.

“Since we went to the national championship twice we’ve got more geographical students from all over the place but still the majority of our students come from the southeast.”

The Opelika-Auburn News lays out the geographical argument, as it in reality relates to athletics budgets that are impacted by more than football specifically, very succinctly:

If you look at SEC universities laid out on a map, Auburn is closer to SEC East schools Georgia, Florida South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt than it is to SEC West schools such as Arkansas, LSU and Texas A&M.

Missouri is closer to all three of those schools than it is to the ones located in the Eastern Time Zone.

Jacobs is expected to broach the West-to-East subject with Sankey this week as the conference’s ADs talk shop with the commissioner, although it won’t be on the official agenda.

As for the the Iron Bowl as well as the annual matchup with the team Between The Hedges as part of any potential move? “[T]he bottom line is … we’re going to keep playing Georgia and we’re going to keep playing Alabama,” Jacobs said.

Moving to a nine-game conference schedule — and this is without even discussing eliminating divisions entirely as well — would easily facilitate an Auburn move to the East as well as limit, if not completely erase, the concerns over losing long-time rivalries across the league. Of course, we all know adding another league game will likely gain very little if any traction, at least not for the foreseeable future.

After all, you gotta continue to have those cupcakes as part of your Deep South college football diet.

Vandy’s Derek Mason gets extension, bigger recruiting budget; staff gets raises

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It’s a win-win-win all around for Derek Mason and his Vanderbilt football program.

In January, it was reported that Vanderbilt was working on a new contract for its head football coach.  Tuesday, that work publicly came to fruition as athletic director David Williams confirmed to The Tennessean that Mason has signed a three-year contract extension with the school.

Mason is now signed through the 2021 season, with a university option for 2022. The newspaper writes that “Williams did not provide Mason’s specific pay, but he said it was a raise above his previous compensation, which included a base salary of about $2.5 million in 2015, according to the most recently available tax records.”

Additionally, and per Mason’s request, the head coach’s assistants will receive unspecified raises as well.  Finally, part of Mason’s new contract calls for an increase in the recruiting budget.

The Commodores are 13-24 during Mason’s three-year tenure — they’re 5-19 in SEC play — and have never finished above .500 in any of those seasons.  They did qualify for the postseason last year for the first time since 2013, although a loss in the Independence Bowl left them at 6-7.

“We went to a bowl game in his third year, but it’s not only that. You could see the growth in the program overall,” Williams told the paper. “This year will be the first year that we actually have the type of depth that we would like to have, and I think Derek is a master at developing players.”

SEC to enact NCAA practice policies, eliminate two-a-days

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Two-a-days in the Deep South are officially a thing of the past.

Last month, the NCAA Division I Council also voted to eliminate “multiple contact practices a day” — aka two-a-days — in summer camp.  The SEC announced Friday that the conference “will adopt recent practice recommendations set forth by the NCAA Sports Science Institute in the sport of football.”

Moving forward, and after the standard five-day acclimation period that kicks off preseason camp, any given seven-day period will have to include at least three non-contact/minimal contact practice sessions as well as one day where there is no practice, period.  Additionally, the next practice after a scrimmage will have to be one of the non-contact/minimal contact periods.  While two-a-days are no longer permitted, teams can, if they so choose, run “[a] second session of no helmet/pad activity [that] may include walk-throughs or meetings; conditioning in the second session of activity is not allowed.”

To make up for the lost practice time, teams will be allowed to start camps one week earlier than previously allowed.  That extension will “help ensure that players obtain the necessary skill set for competitive play,” the NCAA said in its release.

As for in-season practices, the biggest change is going from allowing two live-contact/tackling sessions per week to one of those plus one described as “live-contact/thud.” The standard for non-contact/minimal contact practices remains the same at three.

As for the postseason, below are the NCAA’s recommendations:

  • If there is a two week or less period of time between the final regular season game or conference championship game (for participating institutions) and the next bowl or postseason game, then in-season practice recommendations should remain in place.
  • If there is greater than two weeks between the final regular season game or conference championship game (for participating institutions) and the next bowl or postseason game, then:
  1. Up to three days may be live-contact (two of which should be live contact/thud).
  2. There must be three non-contact/minimal contact practices in a given week.
  3. The day preceding and following live contact/tackling should be non-contact/minimal contact or no football practice.
  4. One day must be no football practice.

“We believe these measures will enhance the health and safety procedures SEC universities have already established to support their football programs,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement. “Student-athlete well-being will always be a priority for SEC member institutions and, as the NCAA Sports Science Institute has developed and provided guidance on the structure for football practice, everyone associated with this great sport must continue to adapt to keep the game safe while played at the highest competitive level.”

The conference’s presidents and chancellors as well as its athletic director, incidentally, voted unanimously to accept the NCAA practice recommendations.

SEC commissioner hints at review of rules regarding alcohol sales in football stadiums

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The prohibition of alcohol at football stadiums has undergone one interesting about-face in college athletics the past 15 years or so. While various suite levels at stadiums across the country have generally had access to a few adult beverages, there’s been some very large programs that have opened up the taps in the general seating areas the last few years.

From West Virginia to Texas to Ohio State, more and more programs are selling beer and/or liquor across the board and raking in hundreds of thousands (if not millions) in added revenue while doing so. One conference that isn’t jumping in on that trend however has been the SEC, which has numerous restrictions on where those types of beverages can be sold. That may be about to change in the near future however according to SEC commissioner Greg Sankey.

“At some point, I’m relatively certain, there will be further review of the prohibition,” said Sankey on Monday, per The Tuscaloosa News. “That doesn’t predict any outcome.”

While you may think that the league is close to opening the floodgates on alcohol being served at stadiums across the conference, you probably shouldn’t jump to any conclusions on the matter as Sankey seemed to hold his ground and stand firm on keeping things as is right now.

“The conference has a policy that says that we’re not selling alcohol in the general seating area,” he added. “Now, you can agree or disagree with that policy, but that’s the policy. The basis for changing that or maintaining it is one that’s developed in the conversation.

“I think we were at like 98 percent ticket sales in football… So is that one-percent margin a trade that we’re going to make?”

It’s no secret that of-age fans can easily find a few beverages at SEC tailgates prior to games nowadays but it seems momentum is slowing building in the conference to allow fans to buy some during a game. It might not happen anytime in the very near future but the conversation is certainly going to keep popping up each year with many more schools across the country jumping in on this trend.