The SEC continued to own the upper hand this postseason, while the Big 12 suffered a loss in its bowl debut this season. Texas A&M (8-5) quarterback Kyle Allen threw four touchdowns and rushed for one to help the Aggies pulled away and held off West Virginia (7-6) in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee on Monday afternoon. Texas A&M celebrated a 45-37 victory.
The Liberty Bowl had just about everything but defense. It even included one Texas A&M student assistant being left in the locker room for the second half after throwing an elbow and a punch at two different West Virginia players in the first half. The game was a back-and-forth affair in the first half, but it was Texas A&M that came out and took control in the second half. The Aggies outscored West Virginia 17-3 in the third quarter to turn what was a one-point lead into a 15-point advantage entering the fourth quarter. Trey Williams had an 18-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter to pad the lead for the Aggies and Allen tossed his fourth touchdown of the game into the hands of Malcome Kennedy 22 seconds before the end of the third quarter for a 45-30 lead.
By this point in the game the West Virginia offense had become frustrated and unable to keep the pressure on. The difference in the game may have been the production inside the red zone. West Virginia was forced to settle for a pair of field goals on its two red zone trips in the game. Meanwhile, Texas A&M scored four touchdowns inside the West Virginia 20-yard line.
West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard showed some good promise in the first half, but he was off the mark in the second half on his way to completing 19 of 42 passes for 342 yards and two touchdowns. Kevin White was the big target for the Mountaineers, leading the way with 129 receiving yards and a touchdown in the losing effort.
The SEC is now 2-0 this bowl season, which got started with South Carolina’s victory over Miami in the Independence Bowl on Saturday. The SEC owns wins against the ACC and Big 12 right out of the gate. Arkansas will take on Texas Monday night in the Texas Bowl.
Texas will hope to pick up the first win for the Big 12 this bowl season, which would even the record after West Virginia took the loss in the first bowl game involving the Big 12.
Marshall safety Braydon Drayton was arrested Wednesday and charged for his alleged actions in a domestic assault incident.
According to a report from WSAZ, Drayton was place din custody at a regional jail with a bond set at $55,000. Drayton was charged for suspected strangulation and domestic battery of a woman. A formal complaint submitted earlier in the day claimed the alleged victim had red marks around her neck and chest following the alleged assault by Drayton. The victim claims to have been grabbed by Drayton around her neck as tempers flared.
Drayton has been suspended by the Marshall football program on an indefinite basis, allowing the legal process to play out before any further decisions on his status with the program may be made.
With Rutgers searching for a new head coach and Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead reportedly being among the top candidates to fill the vacancy, the rumor-denial season is in full swing in Starkville. Days after Moorhead deflected the idea of him leaving Mississippi State to take the Rutgers job, some of Moorhead’s players are coming to his aide to shut down the idea the coach would return to his home state.
“It’s funnier to him than anything,” Mississippi State quarterback Garrett Shrader said, according to a Mississippi Clarion Ledger report on Tuesday. “He’s not leaving an SEC West program. He’s told me that multiple times.”
“He’s our coach. He’s been the same guy,” Shrader said. “He’s passionate about this team. He’s very vocal about that. He’s not going anywhere.”
Joining Shrader in attempting to shut down the Moorhead-to-Rutgers rumor mill was running back Kylin Hill, who summed up the discussion as nothing more than the typical banter that seemingly happens during the silly season that is the coaching carousel.
“There’s always going to be outside noise,” Hill said. “That’s the world we live in today. I’m not too focused on it. Nobody’s focused on it. Everybody loves the man.”
Moorhead and Mississippi State will have their attention set on this week’s game. The Bulldogs hit the road for a game at Texas A&M on Saturday. Mississippi State is looking to even its record at 4-4.
The trend sweeping the nation in collegiate athletics appears to be heading to Georgia next. The “Fair Pay to Play” movement will be coming to Georgia, following the lead of California and following similar pushes by other states around the country.
Georgia state representative Billy Mitchell will reportedly be submitting formal legislation that would seek to allow college athletes to be eligible to receive compensation for the use of their image, likeness, and name. This is the same basic principle behind the new law in the state of California which was recently signed and will go into effect beginning in 2023.
If the legislation were to pass within the state of Georgia, it would impact every college football team in the state including FBS programs at Georgia, Georgia Tech, Georgia Southern, and Georgia State. Other states in the southeast to begin getting the wheels in motion for a Fair Pay to Play movement include Kentucky, South Carolina, and Florida. Other states have gotten in on the fun too, including Pennsylvania, Minnesota, New York, Illinois and Nevada.
New York’s proposal went a step farther than the most common proposed legislation in the Fair Pay to Play movement by proposing universities directly share a percentage of an athletic program’s overall revenue with every student-athlete on campus.
In this day and age, officials are being scrutinized to degrees once never dreamed of. With multiple angles for instant replays on television and on the big stadium scoreboards, every little mistake by an official in a football game will come under fire from fans, coaches and players. Following a tough loss to Florida, South Carolina fans and their head coach, Will Muschamp, were not particularly pleased with some officiating decisions or lack of decisions made in the setback at home against the Gators. South Carolina’s issues were just the latest in a string of concerns folks around the SEC have had about the integrity of the officials calling their games, a story every fanbase in every conference can relate to in some way.
On Wednesday, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey addressed the general concerns fans about the officials working game sin his conference. In short, Sankey says nobody is perfect.
“The Southeastern Conference is entrusted with supporting an officiating program that is responsible for calling the games of our member schools. We take this duty most seriously,” Sankey wrote on the SEC’s official website. “We view perfection as our desired goal while also understanding it will always be an elusive standard in a game that is filled with surprises. And we are disappointed when we don’t get it right. Because our goal is to get it right, every time.”
Sankey continued to enforce the idea the SEC is constantly monitoring the performance of their officials and explained the assignments for officials may also be adjusted according to their ongoing in-season performance reviews. While the SEC does not make these assignment changes transparent once changes are made, the idea is to have the best officials working the best games without any potential issues becoming growing concerns in key moments.
Sankey also issued a reminder that coaches and administrators throughout the conference are not allowed to publicly rip the officials, a standard operating procedure in every conference (just ask Lane Kiffin about that).
The SEC has taken some strides in an effort to be more transparent about the officiating process with the launch of a new Twitter account (just don’t check the mentions on game days) and programming on the SEC Network to detail how the rules are governed and upheld during games.