SEC SIDs tap Tide over Tigers as preseason favorites

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Auburn may have beaten Alabama on a miracle last season, but the majority view the Tigers’ bitter in-state rivals as the favorite this upcoming season.

In its annual poll of the 14 sports information departments released over the weekend, al.com revealed that the Crimson Tide were picked by eight of the departments to win the conference championship.  The Tide was also second on the other six ballots.

The defending champion Tigers were tapped first on a total of six ballots.  Three had AU second, three third while one, apparently flashing back to the 2012 season, have them slotted as the ninth-best team in the conference.

The Tide and Tigers were the only teams to receive first-place votes.  It should be noted that the SIDs weren’t permitted to vote for their own football teams.

Not only are Alabama and Auburn 1-2, four of the top six are from the West division: LSU fifth (high of second by three voters, low of seventh by one voter) and Texas A&M (high of third by one voter, low of ninth by one voter).  The highest appearance by a school from the East is South Carolina, which

So, in other words, the SIDs foresee an Alabama-South Carolina SEC championship and, yes, the run-up to a Saban-Spurrier title game would be all kinds of fantastic and awesome.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is Kentucky, which, despite the recruiting inroads Mark Stoops has made, is easily the worst team in the conference according to the SIDs.  The Wildcats are projected no better than 10th, while eight of the 14 placing them at rock bottom.  UK garnered a total of just 21 points; the next worst was Arkansas’ 33.

Courtesy of al.com, here’s a handy graphic showing how all the voting played out:

SEC SID preseason poll

In addition to the preseason poll, the SIDs also released its all-conference teams.

Auburn led all schools with eight selections (three first-team, five second-team) while Alabama’s four first-team performers were tops of any team. All schools but Vanderbilt had at least one player named.

Interestingly, Mississippi State, predicted to finish sixth in the West and 10th overall, tied the six total selections of Alabama and LSU. The voting thus takes on what’s likely an unintended indictment of Dan Mullens‘ coaching ability.

For the entire teams, click HERE for the al.com article.

Transfers from Rutgers, Coastal Carolina land at same FCS school

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The same FCS program has double-dipped in the NCAA transfer portal, FBS division, in bulking up the talent on its football roster.

Monday afternoon, Albany announced via social media that running back Alex James and fullback Max Anthony have officially signed with the program.  James, a redshirt junior, comes to Albany from Coastal Carolina, Anthony, a fifth-year senior, from Rutgers.

As both players come to the Great Danes from the FBS ranks, they will each be eligible to play immediately in 2019.

The past two seasons for the Chanticleers, James has rushed for 475 yards and seven touchdowns on 114 carries.  He also caught 16 passes for 87 yards and a touchdown.

Anthony had started six of the 27 games in which he played for the Scarlet Knights.

Witness in hoops trial claims he paid football players from Alabama, Michigan, Notre Dame, Penn State, others

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A sweeping college hoops scandal that’s engulfed the sport has now touched its gridiron counterpart.

Marty Blazer, a Pittsburgh financial advisor-turned government informant after pleading guilty to securities fraud charges, took the witness stand Tuesday in the college basketball fraud trial and levied some potentially explosive allegations.  As part of his testimony, Blazer alleged that, between 2000-14, he paid football players from, among others, Alabama, Michigan, Notre Dame, Penn State and Pitt.  The payments, some of which were in the thousands of dollars, were aimed at convincing the player to remain in college and not enter the NFL draft in the hopes that they would retain him as their financial adviser when they did turn pro.

The names of specific players were, for the most part, not mentioned by Blazer.

The most damning of the accusations made by Blazer seems to involve Penn State during the Joe Paterno era.  Specifically, Blazer alleges that he paid the father of then-Penn State player Aaron Maybin $10,000, with the payment being made at the behest of an unnamed Paterno assistant coach.

If accurate, the NCAA would consider such an arrangement a major infraction.  It’s unclear what, if any, action The Association will take on the football side of the accusations made under oath.

Requests for comment from each of the football programs mentioned in Blazer’s testimony have not yet been met with a response.

Kentucky’s Gunnar Hoak latest QB to enter transfer database

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You can go ahead and add Kentucky to the burgeoning list of FBS schools that have lost signal-callers to the infamous portal.

On his personal Twitter account Tuesday morning, Kentucky’s Gunnar Hoak wrote that, “[a]fter much thought and consideration, I have decided to put my name in the NCAA transfer portal.” As Hoak is set to graduate from UK very early next month, the quarterback would be eligible to play immediately at another FBS program immediately in 2019.

As an added bonus for whichever school he ultimately chooses, Hoak has two seasons of eligibility available.

After losing out in the quarterback competition that ended in summer camp, Hoak spent the 2018 season as starter Terry Wilson‘s primary backup.  In that role, Hoak completed 13 of his 26 passes for 167 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

Coming out of high school in Dublin, Ohio, Hoak was a three-star 2016 signee.

RB Jonathan Taylor competing with Wisconsin track team

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Jonathan Taylor is on track to be one of the most prolific running backs in college football history, but, this spring, he’ll be giving a whole new meaning to the phrase “on track.”

Wisconsin confirmed Tuesday that the Badgers running back will run in at least three meets with the UW track & field team this spring.  Taylor will make his collegiate track debut this weekend at the Penn Relays.  Additionally, he’ll run in the university’s Alumni Classic May 3 and the Big Ten Championships May 10-12.

Taylor will be running a leg of the 4×100-meter relay team, and would run in the NCAA prelims as well if they qualify.

Taylor, one of a handful of preseason Heisman Trophy favorites, is no stranger to the track as he won a pair of New Jersey state high school titles in the 100-meter dash.

As a true freshman in 2017, his 1,977 yards were third nationally.  This past season, he led the country in rushing with 2,194 yards.  If Taylor were to rush for at least 2,235 yards in 2018 — five players in FBS history have surpassed that total in college football history, most recently San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny in 2017 — he would break Donnel Pumphrey‘s all-time record of 6,405 career rushing yards.