Why Michigan and Florida get a pass for the Class of 2015

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With National Signing Day coming up on Wednesday, Florida finally added its first four-star recruit to the Class of 2015 Monday evening. Fort Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas running back Jordan Scarlett gave Florida head coach Jim McElwain a nice recruiting victory over in-state rivals Florida State and Miami.

Florida State is already well ahead of the Gators so there is no sleep lost by Jimbo Fisher in Tallahassee over missing on one more four-star player when 13 are already lined up. Being a year removed from a national championship and coming off another ACC title and berth in the first College Football Playoff helps, and Florida’s downward trend under Will Muschamp made for a rough situation McElwain walked into when named the new head coach in Gainesville. It is for this reason McElwain gets a pass on whatever happens with Florida’s Class of 2015 when the faxes start coming in on Wednesday morning.

McElwain took over a sinking ship at Florida, and with only a short period of time to work with it is very difficult to turn things around enough to make up for the damage that has been done. Coaches need a full recruiting cycle to really do what they can on the recruiting trail. By the time McElwain took over at Florida, SEC rivals and ACC recruiting pitches have been spoon-fed to recruits more than enough times to make anything McElwain could have possibly done to have any real lasting impact.

Recruiting in Florida is extremely competitive, and McElwain stepped to the plate with a whiffle bat in the bottom of the ninth inning and two outs in Game Seven of the World Series.

Florida will finish near the bottom of the SEC when the final recruiting rankings are assembled, but the real work for McElwain will be done in the Class of 2016, with a full recruiting calendar at his disposal.

McElwain’s situation is not a unique one. This happens every season around college football when the coaching carousel spins. If any coach can get the same kind of free pass in 2015, it is new Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh’s hiring was received favorably by just about everybody around college football, but it is far from a quick fix some might have had you thinking it was in the heat of the moment.

Like McElwain at Florida, Harbaugh inherited a rough situation in Ann Arbor. Michigan’s recruiting success had been trending downward in the final years under Brady Hoke and the Wolverines were likely expected to bring in a relatively smaller class in 2015 regardless of the coaching situation. Most of this is beyond Harbaugh’s control, and it will take a plan to restructure the recruiting plans for Michigan moving forward.

Michigan is also lagging in the Big Ten recruiting rankings, and they may not move up much in the coming days. But this should not be a sign that Michigan is done as a football program. Both Michigan and Florida should have big bounceback recruiting seasons in 2016, and this will be when we can see just what kind of impact coaches like Harbaugh and McElwain can have on their respective programs. So cut them some slack when you look at the rankings for the Class of 2015.

Marshall football player arrested for domestic battery

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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.

Mississippi State players say Joe Moorhead isn’t leaving SEC for another job

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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.

Georgia may be next in line for ‘Fair Pay to Play’ legislation

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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.

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey addresses concerns over officiating

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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.