Tag:SEC
Posted on: March 1, 2012 1:51 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: LSU

Posted by Jerry Hinnen


Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at LSU.

Spring Practice Starts: March 2, or a day after it had been scheduledthat date two days after the start had originally been scheduled. Les Miles has said the delay is due to getting new defensive backs coach Corey Raymond up to speed.

Spring Game: March 31

Returning starters: Seven on offense, five on defense, both specialists.

Three Things To Look For:

1.  Is Zach Mettenberger ready to take over at quarterback? Miles has made no secret of his expectations for the former Georgia and JUCO quarterback, saying he expects the Tigers to immediately take a step forward in the passing game thanks to the big-armed senior--not that with Jordan Jefferson (fresh off his rock-bottom performance at the NFL Draft combine) finally relinquishing the reins, there's really anywhere for that passing game to go but up. But for the Tigers to live up to their preseason No. 1 ranking, Mettenberger will have to live up to his advance hype and then some. Unlike during the days of his Jefferson-Jarrett Lee platoon, Miles won't have many options if he doesn't; none of the other three quarterbacks on the roster (including brother-of-Phillip Stephen Rivers, a redshirt freshman) have taken a college snap or come with much in the way of advance hype. (In retrospect, maybe it's no surprise Miles lost his cool over Gunner Kiel's decision to go to Notre Dame instead.) 

2. Can anyone fill the shoes of Rueben Randle? The Tigers aren't exactly hurting at wide receiver, not with Odell Beckham Jr. looking to build on a highly promising freshman season and the brutally underused Russell Shepard bound to get the attention of his coaching staff one of these years. But both players are more the shifty, undersized type that thrived on Randle opening up coverage underneath than a replacement for Randle's 6'4" downfield presence; Beckham's 11.6 yards per-reception average in 2011 was nearly 6 yards shy of Randle's (outstanding) mark, for instance. And outside of Beckham and Shepard, no other wideout on the team finished in double-digits for receptions in 2011. Mettenberger's deep touch is nice, but it won't do a whole lot for the Tigers if someone -- sophomore Landry Fields, maybe, or junior Kadron Boone -- can't put it to use down the field. 

3. How will the Tigers react to their BCS debacle? Even without the likes of Jefferson, Randle, or Morris Claiborne, there's still no roster in the FBS more fully stocked with talent than this one. (It won't surprise anyone if the Tigers' entire starting defensive line -- Barkevious Mingo, Anthony Johnson, Bennie Logan, and Sam Montgomery -- ends up starting in the NFL as well.) Miles has been a master motivator in the past, and if he turns his team's faceplant in the Superdome into a rallying point and driving force, there's no reason they can't run the regular season table again. But if it instead becomes a black cloud that hangs over their spring drills and results in half-hearted efforts from player and coach alike, the Tigers don't have to look any further than the previous team to lose a national title game to Alabama -- Mack Brown's Texas, still struggling to recover from their loss in Pasadena -- to see how damaging the consequences can be.

To check in on the rest of the SEC and other BCS conferences, check out the Spring Practice Schedule

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Posted on: February 29, 2012 1:08 pm
 

Texas A&M is moving on from the Big 12

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Officially Texas A&M won't be a member of the SEC until July 1st. It appears the Aggies don't want to wait that long, however, especially now that the Big 12 buyouts have been agreed to. For evidence of this you need not look past the Twitter account of Texas A&M's equipment staff, who tweeted out this photo on Wednesday morning.



Not pictured are Texas A&M fans throwing out their cases of Shiner Bock in exchange for jars of moonshine, but change, unlike the effect of moonshine on the brain, is gradual. Give them time.

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Posted on: February 29, 2012 12:45 pm
 

Saban says Tide will offer four-year scholarships

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Alabama was one of 30 BCS conference schools to recently vote against NCAA legislation that would allow -- though not mandate -- schools to offer multiple-year scholarships over the previous system of annual scholarship renewals. And the Tide football program had declined to offer them this past February, with Nick Saban citing lawsuits issued during the previous era of multiple-year scholarships as reason for the program's opposition.

Despite that stance, Saban told the Tuscaloosa News in a Tuesday story that the Tide would join Auburn and Florida (and, with the legislation's survival of the override vote, likely the rest of the SEC) in offering four-year scholarships starting with the 2013 class.

"We're going to offer four-year scholarships," Saban said. "Our whole conference is going to do it, all the schools, I think. And we're happy to do it."

Though we're skeptical a program truly "happy" to offer four-year scholarships would instead vote to prevent anyone from offering those scholarships, themselves included, Saban again referred to the legal ramifications when explaining the opposition of "some of the schools."

"We had the (four-year) rule years ago, and there were legal challenges to it," Saban said. "So we changed to the one-year scholarship then. I think that was why some of the schools had concerns." 

A four-year scholarship would conceivably make it more difficult for Saban to oversign in February and then "cut" players afterwards -- the Tide have seen widespread departures between spring practice and the start of fall camp each of the last several years under Saban -- but he forcefully denied either cutting players or that the new scholarships would have any impact on that issue at any school.

"We don't cut players," Saban said. "I don't know anyone who does. So I don't think that's an issue ... The player will still have to be academically eligible. He will still have to obey team rules and regulations. And the player is still going to have the same rights and the same appeals process that he has now."

Saban is entirely correct that just because School X has committed its four-year promise in writing doesn't mean Player Y is going to be able to skate through four years of school without worrying about the consequences. (He's also right that this could conceivably lead to some legal appeals here and there.) But given the ease with which schools have dismissed players on one-year scholarships in the past -- it's surprising to hear Saban say he "doesn't know anyone" who cuts players, given that SEC West rival Bobby Petrino declined to renew the scholarships of five different players just last year -- we disagree that nothing has changed.

Even if having a promise of four years' worth of education in writing is still just a promise, that's more commitment from their new schools than those players have gotten before.

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Posted on: February 29, 2012 11:01 am
 

The biggest shoes to fill in college football



Posted by Tom Fornelli


With teams having already started or starting spring practice over the next few weeks. there are a lot of players across the country who will be charged with replacing someone who has come and gone before them. It's an annual rite of spring in college football, when the senior quarterback from last season is putting the finishing touches on his final semester as a college student, and the sophomore who isn't even sure what he's majoring in yet realizes he's going to be majoring in Playbook 101 for the next few weeks.

Of course, while roster turnover is a common occurence in college football, there are bigger shoes to fill than others, and in this post we take a look at the ten biggest pairs looking for a new owner this spring.

10. Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma

Ryan Broyles began re-writing the Oklahoma record books the moment he stepped on the field in his first game as a Sooner. He caught 7 passes for 141 yards against Cincinnati, both of which were freshman records. Four years later he finished his career having caught more passes than any other receiver in FBS history, pulling in 349 passes for 4,586 yards and 45 touchdowns.

In other words, he's not the type of player that Oklahoma can just replace with anybody. This spring receivers like Kenny Stills, Jaz Reynolds and Trey Metoyer will try to replicate Broyles' production in Norman. Whether it will be one of them doing it, or a group effort, Oklahoma will need it to happen if the Sooners want to win the Big 12 and contend for a national title.

9. Matt Kalil, OT, USC

Understandably, USC fans were extremely excited by the news that Matt Barkley would be returning for his senior season, and many have pegged the Trojans as a title favorite because of it. What you don't want to do, however, is overlook the fact that the man who was in charge of protecting Barkley's blindside these last few years won't be back.

Though that's how life generally works for offensive lineman like Matt Kalil. As large as they are, they're often overlooked. Kevin Graf, Jeremy Galten, David Garness and Nathan Guertler will all be competing for the unenviable task of being the man in charge of making sure nothing happens to the most valuable piece of the USC offense.

8. Mark Barron, S, Alabama

One of the problems with having a defense as strong as the one we saw in Tuscaloosa last season is that you're bound to lose players to the next level, and the Crimson Tide have no shortage of beasts making their way to greener pastures. Still, the Tide have a knack for churning out defensive lineman and linebackers, but safeties like Mark Barron don't come along all that often.

Barron made 231 tackles for Nick Saban in his four seasons, including 13 for a loss, while picking off 12 passes. Barron was the type of player that could defend the pass and the run, and he won't be easily replaced. Can Robert Lester or freshman Vinnie Sunseri step up and be the next stud in the Alabama secondary?

7. Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

Based purely on production, there may be no larger shoes to fill in the country than Luke Kuechly's. There may not have been more than 3 plays run by opposing offenses in which Kuechly wasn't in on the tackle. Kuechly finished 2011 with 191 tackles. The next highest total on the Boston College defense belonged to Kevin Pierre-Louis, who had 74.

As our own Chip Patterson put it, "for Boston College, replacing Kuechly is like any other team replacing 2 1/2 players." Though it's been proven that it can be done, as Kuechly himself once had to fill the shoes left behind by Mark Herzlich. Pierre-Louis and Steele Divitto -- who has a name that would be hard to replace -- will be the two linebackers looking to repeat the feat.

6. Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU

Many casual college football fans never truly appreciated how amazing a player Morris Claiborne was for LSU in 2011 simply because opposing offenses weren't dumb enough to test him all that often. Throw in some Honey Badger exploits with a bit of Les Miles being Les Miles, and Claiborne gets a bit lost in the gumbo. Still, Claiborne truly was the definition of a shutdown corner for LSU, playing a pivotal role on one of the best defenses in the country.

While Tyrann Mathieu will be back in 2012, he's not the cover corner that Claiborne was, so it will be up to Tharold Simon to fill the role. One he seems capable of considering he led LSU with 10 passes broken up in 2011 playing mostly as a nickel back.

5. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

I won't lie to you. Even when Mark Ingram will still in Tuscaloosa running through SEC defenses, I always felt that Trent Richardson was the best running back on the Alabama roster. Now both are gone, and Richardson will be harder to replace than Ingram was simply because Trent can't replace himself.

Can Eddie Lacy be the next Heisman finalist in the Alabama backfield? He showed some promise in 2011, and in an offense like Alabama's, the opportunities will be there. Still, even if Lacy is extremely talented, there are only so many shoes capable of doing this.

4. Brandon Weeden/Justin Blackmon, QB/WR, Oklahoma State

A bit of a cheat, I know, but the truth is that Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon felt like extensions of one another for the past two seasons in Stillwater. Their success was as a duo. I mean, Blackmon caught 40 touchdowns over the last three seasons, which accounted for 53% of the 75 touchdown passes Weeden threw with the Cowboys.

Now we know that Oklahoma State is going to continue putting points on the board without them, but will the offense ever be as prolific when the combination is Clint Chelf or Wes Lunt to Tracy Moore? We'll get our first clues this spring.

3. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon

Maybe you think that LaMichael James isn't all that hard to replace given the weapons Oregon has in the backfield. I can see your point, but I can also point out that James nearly doubled Kenjon Barner's rushing total (1,805 yards to 939) in 2011. I mean, this is a man who rushed for 1,805 yards and 18 touchdowns while averaging 7.3 yards per carry in 2011, yet we didn't think it was so amazing based simply on the fact we'd already seen him do similar things in the previous two seasons.

We just got used to it.

Yes, Barner and DeAnthony Thomas are extremely talented backs, but the fact is there's no easy way to replace a back who accounted for 5,888 all-purpose yards and 58 touchdowns in three seasons as a Duck, all at the speed of light.

2. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

Will it be harder to fill RG3's shoes, or his socks? Neither will be easy. While we all know how talented Griffin was as a quarterback for Baylor in 2011 and the two seasons before it, it's his impact on the program that will leave the biggest impression. Baylor went from a perennial bottom-feeder in the Big 12 to a team that can call itself the home of a Heisman Trophy winner.

Nick Florence will be the favorite to replace Griffin this spring, but he'll never be able to have the impact on the Baylor program that Griffin did. Instead he'd be much better served to focus on replacing the production on the field. Something that won't be easy, either, but given Art Briles' history with quarterbacks and the way Florence performed in place of Griffin against Texas Tech, it may not be that far-fetched, either.

1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

Andrew Luck didn't win the Heisman Trophy like Robert Griffin did, but that doesn't diminish the impact he had on the Stanford program. In the three seasons before Luck showed up in Palo Alto, Stanford was 10-26, including a 1-11 season in 2006. In Luck's three seasons the Cardinal went 31-8, played in two BCS bowl games and became a national program.

Stanford is essentially the school Notre Dame used to be, and it's all thanks to Luck. Of course, the question now is whether or not Stanford can maintain the success they had under Luck with a new quarterback. Brett Nottingham, Josh Nunes and Robbie Picazo will all enter spring practice looking to replace the most important player in the history of Stanford football, and that's a list that includes John Elway.

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Posted on: February 28, 2012 4:13 pm
 

LSU proceeding with Tiger Stadium expansion

Posted by Chip Patterson

LSU has received a unanimous approval from the Tiger Athletic Foundation to expand Tiger Stadium, according to athletic director Joe Alleva.

Alleva told the The Advocate the plans to enclose the South end zone upper deck still need the approval from the Board of Supervisors and Board of Regents, but the school's Vice Chancellor explained that "the ball is rolling."

The project, which would add 6,940 seats to Tiger Stadium's current capacity of 99,500, calls for the building of a free standing structure to connect the East and West upper decks. The structure would include a 1,500 seat upper deck on top of a club level and two levels of suites.

Sounds expensive, right? Not too hefty for the Tiger Athletic Foundation. The TAF currently plans to pay for the construction and use proceeds from the suite and ticket sales to "retire the debt." The two levels of luxury will include 60 different suites, each with room for 24 guests to enjoy LSU football.

The increased capacity would make Tiger Stadium the third largest in the SEC behind Tennessee's Neyland Stadium (102,455) and Alabama's Bryant Denny Stadium (101,821). Closing in the stadium will also give LSU an opportunity to remove the existing scoreboard and replace it with two video boards in either corner and above the South end zone stands.

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Posted on: February 28, 2012 2:43 pm
 

VIDEO: Dennis Dodd on BCS TV consultants

Posted by Chip Patterson

On Monday, CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd reported on the BCS' decision to bring in high-profile television consultants for the purposes of restructuring college football's postseason.

Television dollars have been driving conference realignment, and now college football decision makers will take a close look at the potential financial gain from a plus-one playoff model. On Tuesday, Dennis Dodd joined Tim Brando on the Tim Brando Show to discuss the high-profile consulting hires and what they mean for the BCS moving forward.



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Posted on: February 27, 2012 12:18 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2012 12:18 pm
 

Kentucky LB Ridge Wilson arrested and suspended

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Kentucky linebacker Ridge Wilson was arrested over the weekend in Louisville and charged with trafficking in a controlled substance. A charge that is considered a felony.

Wilson was parked in his car with the lights off when a policeman approached his vehicle to see what Wilson was doing. Inside the car he found a pair of jeans in the back seat with a bag of Xanax in the pocket. Police also found $1,947 in the pants Wilson was wearing.

Police also said that Wilson kept mentioning to them that he was a football player at Kentucky, and seemed nervous the entire time.

Wilson has been suspended by Kentucky following the arrest, though when asked about the suspension, spokesperson Tom Neely would only say that Wilson "broke team rules."

Wilson, who will be a senior in the 2012 season, had 47 tackles in 9 games for Kentucky last season, including 3 for a loss and 2 sacks.

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Posted on: February 25, 2012 3:56 pm
 

Larry Scott talks postseason changes

Posted by Tom Fornelli

With every passing day it seems that the idea of college football adopting a playoff system comes closer and closer to reality. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and former SEC commissioner -- and founder of the BCS -- Roy Kramer have both spoken publicly about the idea in recent weeks, and now the Pac-12's Larry Scott sounds as though he's in favor of a change as well.

Larry Scott talked of his preferences for college football's postseason with the New York Times.

Scott told the paper that while he isn't focusing solely on devising a system to determine a champion, he is thinking about changes to the entire bowl system, conference championships and even rankings.

"The more I think about it, the more opportunity for improvement I see," Scott told the paper.

Scott also said that he agreed with the Big Ten's proposed model of playing semi-final games on the campuses of the schools involved while playing the championship game itself at a neutral location. Scott also supports the idea that only conference champions should be eligible for playing in any sort of playoff format.

“So much of the passion of a move to a playoff is to see it earned on the field,” Scott said. “What more clear way to have intellectual consistency with the idea of a playoff than to earn it as a conference champion? It would de-emphasize the highly subjective polls that are based on a coach and media voting and a few computers.”

Thoughts that echoed the ones Roy Kramer told CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd last week.

"It makes the conference championship games bigger," Kramer told CBSSports.com. "It makes the regular season bigger."

An idea that likely must be heeded in order to satisfy both those that prefer a more concrete method of determining a champion, such as a playoff, and those who want to make sure college football's regular season doesn't lose its significance.

Now, while nobody can be sure exactly when or if a playoff will be instituted -- no matter the model chosen for one -- it is readily apparent that it will be coming at some point in the near future. An actuality that seemed impossible not too long ago.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com