Report: SEC, A&M would nix bowl game vs. Texas

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One of the casualties of conference expansion was Texas-Texas A&M, the long-running and heated in-state rivalry that was first played in 1894 and played every year from 1915-2011. Since A&M officially left for the SEC in 2012, neither side has been inclined to reignite the rivalry with a non-conference series.

Hopes were raised, however, when it became clear as the 2014 season moved along that there was the possibility the Aggies and Longhorns could meet up in the postseason. It appears, though, those hopes were a false one.

Citing a pair of sources close to the situation, Chip Brown of HornsDigest.com is reporting that an A&M-UT bowl game this year will not happen because “apparently the Aggies –- or perhaps the SEC on the Aggies’ behalf –- [will make] sure there will be no postseason matchup of two of college football’s most bitter divorcees.” Per the report, the SEC has made it clear to bowl games with SEC-Big 12 tie-ins that the conference “won’t support a Texas vs Texas A&M postseason matchup” because, Brown writes, “A&M has too much to lose from a potential loss.”

As the theory goes, A&M is the top dog in recruiting in the state of Texas and playing UT in a bowl game, with the possibility of a loss, could potentially cause damage to the Aggies on that front.

The SEC has tie-ins to a handful of bowls, including the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl, the game most connected to the resumption of the rivalry.

“The regional significance of the bowl is already compelling for fans, and then when you consider a matchup like Texas and Texas A&M, if that does happen, that would really be outstanding for fans, our community and the two schools,” Texas Bowl president Jamey Rootes said Sunday after UT reached six wins. “Fortunately Texas has gotten bowl-eligible to be in the conversation. There are some exciting scenarios coming to light, and certainly Texas and Texas A&M is one.”

One Sir Mix-A-Lot-sized but, however, is that the SEC has the ability to place teams in whichever bowl it wants.  If it sees the potential for damage to its brand or one of its members, it can nix the matchup.  That, according to Brown, is precisely what the SEC intends to do if such a matchup is put on the table.

Even columnists in the state see the downside of a postseason clash for both sides, but especially for the College Station bunch. From the Dallas Morning NewsKevin Sherrington:

As for A&M, a lot of the fizz has gone out of the buzz over the SEC move, but it’s still been an unqualified success. Even with TCU and Baylor in the CFP conversation, the Aggies can still claim #WRTS [We Run This State] if they want. But the proposition becomes infinitely more problematic if Texas beats them. The SEC affiliation doesn’t seem quite so cool if a Big 12 team still rules.

That’s too bad, as a TAMU-UT postseason matchup, in the state of Texas, would have turned any otherwise lower-tier bowl into must-see TV. Instead, we will likely, provided the report is accurate, get something along the lines of UT-Florida or UT-LSU — a couple of nice possibilities featuring “name” programs that don’t carry a fraction of the bitterness an in-state squabble featuring the recent divorcees would.

LSU opens as double-digit favorites on Oklahoma; Ohio State slight underdog to Clemson

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While definitely subject to change, the initial wagering odds for the degenerates in the reading audience are out.

Earlier Sunday, and in a surprise to absolutely no one, the four semifinalists for the 2019 College Football Playoff were released.  LSU was given the No. 1 seed by the selection committee and will face No. 4 Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl.  No. 2 Ohio State, which came into Championship Saturday ranked first in the country, will square off with No. 3 Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl.

According to the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook, LSU is a 7/5 favorite to win the 2019 national championship.  Clemson is next at 2/1, while Ohio State sits at 3/1.  Oklahoma, which won its way into the playoffs at the expense of Georgia, is a decided underdog at 16/1.

Speaking of underdogs, the SEC Tigers are currently listed as a 12½-point favorite in their matchup with the Sooners.  Despite being the higher seed, the Buckeyes have opened as a two-point underdog to the ACC Tigers.

The over/under for Ohio State-Clemson opened at 63; for LSU-Oklahoma, it’s at 75.

LSU and Oklahoma have squared off just twice previously, with the most recent matchup coming in 2004.  Clemson and Ohio State have met three times in their collective histories, the most recent meeting coming in the 2016 College Football Playoff — a 31-0 win for the Tigers.

Arkansas confirms hiring of Georgia OL coach Sam Pittman as head coach

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When it came to replacing the fired Chad Morris, Arkansas, as it turned out, didn’t have to look outside of the SEC.

Sunday, with one of its top targets, Lane Kiffin, already having been locked up by SEC West rival Ole Miss, Arkansas reportedly pivoted its attention to Georgia’s Sam Pittman.  A few hours later, the Razorbacks confirmed that Pittman has been hired as the school’s next head football coach.

“Sam Pittman has been an integral part of successful teams that have competed at the highest levels, including for SEC and NCAA Championships,” UA athletic director Hunter Yurachek said in a statement. “As one of the nation’s premier offensive line coaches, he has built a remarkable body of work thanks to his tremendous passion for his student-athletes, including teaching the fundamentals and developing his players on and off the field. Sam instills in his players the motivation, grit and determination required to compete and win. Throughout this process, I heard from many of his former players about the tremendous influence he had on them as a player and as a man.

“Sam knows the Southeastern Conference inside and out and is one of the nation’s best recruiters. His connections throughout football will enable him to build a quality coaching staff. In his previous tenure, Sam and his wife Jamie fell in love with the state of Arkansas and with Razorback fans. They know what a special place this is and are excited for the opportunity to come back to the Home of the Razorbacks.”

The hiring marks a return to Fayetteville for Pittman as he was a member of Bret Bielema‘s first coaching staff in 2013. In 2016, he left for Georgia, where he spent the past four seasons as the Bulldogs’ offensive line coach.  He also served as Kirby Smart‘s associate head coach.

The 58-year-old Pittman will be officially introduced as the Razorbacks’ 34th head coach Monday afternoon.

Mizzou zeroing in on Eli Drinkwitz as next head coach

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Once again, it appears a Power Five program will pilfer a Group of Five school for its next head football coach.

Sunday afternoon, Bruce Feldman of The Athletic reported that Applachian State’s Eli Drinkwitz “has emerged as a strong candidate” for the vacancy at Missouri.  Subsequent to that, ESPN.com reported that “Drinkwitz has reached an agreement to become Missouri’s next head football coach and a deal is being finalized.”

An official announcement of Drinkwitz becoming the permanent replacement for Barry Odom, who was fired late last month after four seasons at his alma mater, is expected no later than Monday.

The 36-year-old Drinkwitz is in his first season as the head coach of the Mountaineers, his first head-coaching job at any level of football.  App State stands at 12-1 on the season after claiming its second-straight Sun Belt Conference championship Saturday with a win over Louisiana.

Dec. 21, App State will face UAB in the New Orleans Bowl.

Georgia WR Dominick Blaylock reportedly suffered ACL tear in SEC title game loss

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A rough weekend for Georgia was underscored on Sunday as reports surfaced saying one of their key young players is done for the rest of this year and likely part of the next one.

As per Rivals’ Radi Nabulsi and a host of other beat writers in Athens, Bulldogs receiver Dominick Blaylock suffered a torn ACL in the loss against LSU in the SEC Championship Game on Saturday.

The freshman from Marietta, Ga. had to be carted off the field in the first quarter after making a short catch and planting his knee awkwardly. The team’s top receiver, Lawrence Cager, was already out after undergoing knee surgery on Nov. 29.

Blaylock had made 18 catches for 310 yards and five touchdowns at UGA this season.