SEC football
Getty Images

SEC joins Big Ten, Pac-12 in going with a 10-game, conference-only football schedule for 2020

19 Comments

The SEC has decided on the direction its football season will take.  If there is a college football season, that is.

Following a meeting of the league’s presidents and chancellors, the SEC announced Thursday that it will go with a 10-game, conference-only schedule for the 2020 college football season.  Originally scheduled to start the weekend of Sept. 5, the SEC has now pushed back the season’s kick-off back to Sept. 26.  Additionally, the conference championship game will be played Dec. 19.

John Talty of al.com was the first to report the development.  In confirming the report, the SEC added that each team will have two bye weekends during the regular season: one mid-season (different dates for different schools) as well as a league-wide bye the weekend of Dec. 12.  That, of course, is the weekend prior to the league title game.

“This new plan for a football schedule is consistent with the educational goals of our universities to allow for the safe and orderly return to campus of their student populations and to provide a healthy learning environment during these unique circumstances presented by the COVID-19 virus,” commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement. “This new schedule supports the safety measures that are being taken by each of our institutions to ensure the health of our campus communities.”

It had been expected that the SEC would follow the ACC’s lead and add a plus-one to the schedule, a non-conference matchup that was previously on the schedule.  Instead, the move means games such as LSU-Texas, South Carolina-Clemson, Florida-Florida State and Georgia-Georgia Tech are officially off the schedule for the 2020 season.

The 14-member SEC will play its six division rivals as well as the regularly-scheduled pair of crossover games.  The additional crossover games that will fill out the 10-game conference slate will be announced at a later date.

The Big Ten and Pac-12 as previously announced that those leagues would be going to a conference-only schedule.  That leaves the Big 12 as the only Power Five to have not signaled its scheduling intentions.

Below are all of the non-conference games for each SEC school that will be canceled:

  • Alabama — USC, Georgia State, Kent State, UT-Martin
  • Arkansas — Nevada, Notre Dame, Charleston Southern, Louisiana-Monroe
  • Auburn — Alcorn State, North Carolina, Southern Miss, UMass
  • Florida — Eastern Washington, South Alabama, New Mexico State, Florida State
  • Georgia — Virginia, East Tennessee State, Louisiana-Monroe, Georgia Tech
  • Kentucky — Eastern Michigan, Kent State, Eastern Illinois, Louisville
  • LSU — UTSA, Texas, Rice, Nicholls State
  • Mississippi State — New Mexico, NC State, Tulane, Alabama A&M
  • Missouri — Central Arkansas, Eastern Michigan, BYU, Louisiana
  • Ole Miss — Baylor, Southeast Missouri State, UConn, Georgia Southern
  • South Carolina — Coastal Carolina, East Carolina, Wofford, Clemson
  • Tennessee — Charlotte, Oklahoma, Furman, Troy
  • Texas A&M — Abiline Christian, North Texas, Colorado, Fresno State
  • Vanderbilt — Mercer, Kansas State, Colorado State, Louisiana Tech

Kylin Hill honored by hometown his for role in Mississippi changing state flag

Kylin Hill
Getty Images
1 Comment

It’s been quite the past few weeks for Kylin Hill.

In the midst of the tumult across the nation, the calls had been growing louder for the state of Mississippi to replace its stars-and-bars-emblazoned flag.  Last month, one of the top athletes who plays the most popular sport in the state very loudly joined the chorus.

“Either change the flag or I won’t be representing this State anymore 💯  & I meant that,” Mississippi State football player Kylin Hill said in a tweet. “I’m tired.”

In late June, it was confirmed that the state legislature had voted to rid its flag of the Confederate battle emblem.  Hil’s tweet, along with pressure from the NCAA, SEC, Conference USA and coaches in the state, including Mississippi State’s Mike Leach and Ole Miss’ Lane Kiffin, was credited with providing a powerful push toward a change.

Hill was born and raised in Columbus, Miss., which is roughly a half-hour away from his college football home in Starkville.  This past week, Hill was honored in a ceremony during a Columbus City Council meeting that included being given the key to the city.  The honor was for the role he played in the flag change.

“Kylin is a courageous young man who did a bold and brave thing,” MSU athletic director John Cohen said. “He shared an emboldened belief held by many Mississippians that a paradigm-shifting change needed to be made. It was time for a new flag.”

“Getting the key to the city, it’s unreal to me,” Hill said. “Everybody that knows me knows I claim Columbus to the fullest. The good and the bad. Columbus, Mississippi – that’s what I am. I’m born and raised here. When I retire from football, I’m still going to be from Columbus, Mississippi.”

Justin Fields, Chuba Hubbard headline Maxwell Award preseason watch list

Maxwell Award
Getty Images
2 Comments

#WatchListSZN continues unabated, with the Maxwell Award next up on the preseason junket.

Friday morning, the Maxwell Award announced its preseason watch list consisting of 90 college football players from across the country.  Presently annually to the Collegiate Player of the Year, the Maxwell Award is one of the oldest and most prestigious in the sport.

None of the three finalists from a year ago, LSU quarterback and 2019 winner Joe Burrow, Ohio State defensive end Chase Young and Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts, are on this year’s watch list.  Burrow and Young, incidentally, went 1-2 in the 2020 NFL Draft.  There are, however, six semifinalists from a year ago.

The Big Ten leads all conferences with 15 watch listers, followed by the ACC (14) and SEC (13).  The AAC and Mountain West, with nine apiece, have the most for Group of Five leagues.  And the other Power Fives?  The Pac-12 posted eight, the Big 12 seven.

Four individual schools, Alabama, Indiana, Louisville and Memphis, had three players apiece on the preseason watch list.  Another 11 have two each: Auburn, Boise State, Clemson, Florida State, LSU, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Ohio State, Oregon, Penn State and SMU.

Below is the complete preseason watch list for the 2020 Maxwell Award.

Two transfers from Mississippi State granted immediate eligibility at Florida State

Florida State football
Getty Images
1 Comment

It was a pretty good day personnel-wise for the Florida State football program.

In early June, FSU confirmed the additions of defensive lineman Fabien Lovett and defensive back Jarrian Jones.  It was expected that both players, transfers from Mississippi State, would seek immediate-eligibility waivers.

Thursday afternoon, FSU confirmed that Jones (pictured) and Lovett have each been granted a transfer waiver allowing for immediate eligibility in the 2020 season.  That will leave both players with three years of eligibility remaining.  Jones also has a redshirt season to use as well.

“We are fired up for Jarrian and Fabien to have this opportunity to compete this season,” first-year Florida State head football coach Mike Norvell said in a statement. “The entire Florida State family is grateful to the NCAA committee for their time considering these appeals for two great young men. Jarrian and Fabien are tremendous football players who have already had a positive impact on our program, and I’m looking forward to seeing that impact continue to grow.”

Lovett was a three-star 2018 signee. He was rated as the No. 7 player regardless of position in the state of Mississippi.

The past two seasons, Lovett played in 15 games. 13 of those appearances came in 2019. A year ago, the defensive end was credited with 19 tackles, 2½ tackles for loss and a sack.

Because he appeared in four or fewer games in 2018, Lovett was able to take a redshirt for that season.

Jones was a four-star member of the Mississippi State football Class of 2019.  The Mississippi native was the No. 18 safety in the country on the 247Sports.com composite.  He was also the No. 13 prospect regardless of position in his home state.  Only three signees in the class that year for MSU were rated higher than Jones.

As a true freshman, Jones started one of the dozen games in which he played.  In those appearances, he was credited with 12 tackles, two passes defensed and one fumble recovery.

Ex-Oklahoma coach John Blake, 59, dies of a heart attack

Oklahoma football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The extended Oklahoma football family is mourning the death of one of its own.

Barry Switzer confirmed to KWTV sports director Dean Blevins that John Blake has died at the age of 59.  According to the former Oklahoma head football coach, Blake suffered a heart attack while he was out walking. “[H]e’d lost a lot of weight and was doing well,” Switzer told Blevins.

Blake was a defensive lineman for Oklahoma football from 1979-82.  The Illinois native was also an assistant coach for the Sooners from 1989-92 before joining Switzer’s Dallas Cowboys coaching staff as defensive line coach.  After his stint in the NFL ended in controversy, he was named as the OU head coach in 1996.

“I recruited him out of Sand Springs,” Switzer told Tulsa World. “He played for me and captained for me. He coached for me.

“I was close to John.”

As the head coach in Norman, Blake posted a 12-22 record overall.  The Sooners were 7-17 in Big 12 play during Blake’s tenure.  Several of his recruits, though, claimed the 2000 national championship under Bob Stoops, who replaced Blake as the Oklahoma head football coach.

After his first and only head job, Blake served as the defensive line coach at Mississippi State (2003) and Nebraska (2004-06).  His last job at the collegiate level, as the line coach at North Carolina from 2007-10, ended in controversy as well.

Blake’s first coaching position was as the tight ends and wide receivers coach at Tulsa from 1987-88.