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Tag:Bobby Petrino
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 20, 2012 2:08 pm
 

Arkansas, A&M to meet on campus next two years



Posted by Jerry Hinnen

In something of a surprise, the Arkansas-Texas A&M series will continue to be played as a neutral-site contest at Arlington's Cowboys Stadium--but only after a two-year on-campus hiatus.

The Razorbacks and Aggies had previously agreed to a 10-year nonconference series to be played at Jerry Jones' space palace, and after three meetings still had seven contests left on the contract. But with A&M joining the SEC and turning the series into an annual conference rivalry game, the Aggies were reportedly less excited about keeping the game off campus. But A&M athletic director Bill Byrne nonetheless announced Saturday that the 2012 meeting would be played at the Aggies' Kyle Field, with the 2013 matchup moving to Arkansas and the game returning to Cowboys Stadium in 2014.

The arrangement would appear to represent a compromise, with one Aggie official having said in December that A&M would "never" want to play the Razorbacks in Arlington again, thanks to an SEC regulation that prevents teams from hosting recruits at off-campus sites. But with Arkansas preferring to maintain an annual recruiting foothold in the Lone Star State, Bobby Petrino made no secret of his desire to keep the game at the neutral site.  

With a full three years still between Saturday's announcement and the two teams' return to Arlington -- and the issues that led to the move on campus for 2012 and 2013 not going way -- it's possible that some other hurdle might be thrown in the way of continuing the series at Cowboys Stadium. But for now, it looks like those remaining seven games will be played as originally planned.

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Posted on: February 16, 2012 4:52 pm
 

Will Muschamp has a sweet jacket



Posted by Tom Fornelli


All 14 of the SEC's head coaches stopped by the conference's offices in Birmingham on Thursday, and Chuck Dunlap was kind enough to share a photo commemorating the event on his Twitter account. As I think you can see in the photo above, the true star of this photo is Will Muschamp's leather jacket.

You can't help but notice it. It makes Muschamp look like the cool kid hanging out behind the local convenience store, smoking a Pall Mall unfiltered while carrying another 19 in a pack rolled up in the sleeve of his white t-shirt. Just waiting to hop on his bike and tear off toward the sunset, possibly never to return.

He's the guy all the coaches want to be, and all the ladies want to be with.

Well, except for Nick Saban, but we all know he's not prone to our human emotions. No, Saban is a machine sent back in time from the future. A machine that's sole reason for being is to take the game of college football and beat the hell out of it. He has no time for joy, only soul-sucking, life-smothering defensive domination.

Muschamp can wear the leather jacket, Saban wants only to murder the cow from whence it came. 

You can see the original photo, and other fun stuff, at the Eye On College Football Facebook page.

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Posted on: February 2, 2012 12:29 am
Edited on: February 2, 2012 3:45 pm
 

National Signing Day Winners and Losers: SEC

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Breaking down who won and who lost in the SEC on National Signing Day:

 

WINNERS

Mike Slive. Anyone who doubted Missouri's conference cred had to fall silent for at least a day as the Tigers introduced the nation's No. 1 recruit into the SEC East. The rest of the Tigers' class may not be as deep as many of their new league rivals', but when said class also includes a star as overpoweringly bright as Dorial Green-Beckham, it's hard to see any flaws.

Players to watch: WR Dorial Green-Beckham, G Evan Boehm, QB Maty Mauk.  

Alabama. Yawn--just another No. 1-ranked class of 25-plus blue-chips for Nick Saban's perpetual recruiting motion machine, with the surprise signing of highly regarded Virginia defensive tackle Korren Kirven the icing on a cake the Crimson Tide had baked long before Wednesday. By his own admission, Saban said they "didn't have any surprises," for worse or -- this being Alabama -- better. Once Kirven had declared and top safety Landon Collins had finally gotten his mother on board, the drama in Tuscaloosa was over.

In fact, after a big Junior Day haul, Saban and Co. are already off and sprinting for 2013. Come next February, it's likely there won't be any surprises then either. It may not be exciting for anyone hoping for stunning announcements, big rankings swings, and overheated speculation -- the Tide may have used it all up in last year's Cyrus Kouandjio saga -- but it's the same lethally efficient formula that's netted Saban two national championships in three seasons. Nothing much changed for Alabama on Signing Day, but unfortunately for the rest of college football, that means nothing much has changed when it comes to the difficulty of knocking the Tide off their perch, either.

Players to watch: S Landon CollinsRB T.J. YeldonCB Geno SmithVideo: Saban on being No. 1 on the recruiting trail. 



James Franklin. When Franklin's blazingly hot start last summer netted him a commitment from All-American running back Brian Kimbrow, the nation's no. 52 player, the response from many observers around the SEC was "That's impressive. It'll be even more impressive if he actually signs."

Not every one of those early Vanderbilt commitments made it across the finish line. But Kimbrow did, along with 20 other quality players that had the 'Dores in the CBS Sports National Signing Day  Top 25 a week beforehand. Vandy couldn't quite hang on to that lofty ranking, but even having the SEC's eternal doormat in a "top 25" conversation is an achievement for Franklin arguably on par with Saban's in Tuscaloosa. 

Players to watch: RB Brian Kimbrow, DE Caleb AzubikeQB Pat Robinette.

Steve Spurrier's nerves. South Carolina isn't traditionally the first team you'd think of when looking for a comparison to Alabama when it comes to recruiting success. But the Gamecocks might be this year, thanks in part to joining the Tide in the team rankings top 10 (believe it or not, Carolina quietly finished third in the SEC). But like Alabama, the Gamecocks also enjoyed a pleasantly uneventful Signing Day, with 19 of the 25 Gamecocks who signed today having already committed before the 2011 season started. 

“It’s been a peaceful Signing Day today, which was kind of nice,” recruiting coordinator Steve Spurrier Jr. said. And when you peacefully land players like Shaq Roland and Jordan Diggs, doubly so.

Players to watch: WR Shaq Roland, RB Mike DavisDB Jordan Diggs. Video: Spurrier talks recruiting impact. 


LOSERS

Mark Richt's nerves. On the other side of the spectrum from Alabama and South Carolina, there was Georgia's National Signing Day. The day started with the disappointment of missing out on receivers Cordarelle Patterson (Tennessee) and JaQuay Williams (Auburn) (leaving the Bulldogs with just one wideout in the class), then picked up with a commitment from Maxpreps top 100 linebacker/safety Josh Harvey-ClemonsBut that a.m. joy dissolved into p.m. worry as Harvey-Clemons grandfather and legal guardian reportedly refused to sign Harvey-Clemons' letter of intent. Adding insult to injury, Richt's premature public comments on Harvey-Clemons may have even constituted a minor NCAA violation.

With or without Harvey-Clemons, the Bulldogs are still going to boast a star-studded class with nearly as many top 100 recruits (five, or six) as any team in the country. But the potential of losing Harvey-Clemons to hated Florida with the Gators already sitting some 15 spots ahead in the team rankings is likely to cause a restless evening (or evenings) in Athens all the same.

Players to watch: OL John TheusRB Keith MarshallDE Jordan Jenkins. Video: Will Muschamp on Florida's Signing Day.

LSU's in-state clout. There's about 105 FBS teams or so that would gladly trade classes with LSU's, especially after the addition of out-of-state gems like Oxford (Ala.) linebacker Kwon AlexanderBut in a somewhat down year for talent in the Pelican State, the Tigers had to lock down the borders to put together a truly elite class, and that didn't happen--not only did Collins and highly-regarded linebacker Denzel Devall stick with their Alabama commitments, Texas shocked Les Miles by snatching away the Tigers' blue-chip linebacker Torshiro Davis. (Davis rubbed salt in Miles's wound by saying LSU's players "don't seem that happy.")

Those were the top three players in the state by many accounts, and LSU didn't land any of them. It's not the end of the world, but for a program built on an annual harvest of blue-chippers from the bayou, it's a worrying sign all the same.

Players to watch: OL Vadal Alexander, WR Avery Johnson, LB Trey Granier.  

Arkansas. As usual under Bobby Petrino, the Razorbacks signed a respectable-but-not-spectacular class that Petrino will no doubt turn into something far more than the sum of its parts once it comes together in Fayetteville. But to come as close as they reportedly did to signing the player that would have helped cement their status as a national power and come up short has to sting.

Players to watch: LB Otha Peters, OG Jeremy Ward, RB Jonathan Williams.

SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN

Auburn. On the good side: wide receivers JaQuay Williams and Ricardo Louis each stuck with their original commitments to the Tigers, offensive lineman Will Adams flipped from Georgia Tech, and top tackle Avery Young gave Auburn a top-100 cornerstone at Georgia and Florida's expense. On the not so good side: Eddie Goldman, Ronald Darby, Leonard Williams, Alexander and Jordan Moore all had Auburn as one of their finalists and all went in a different direction. Gene Chizik's boom-or-bust Signing Day somehow managed to neither quite boom nor bust.

Players to watch: QB Zeke Pike, RB Jovon Robinson, DB T.J. Davis. And to wrap things up, here's some video of Derek Dooley:


Posted on: January 13, 2012 12:13 pm
 

Tyler Wilson returning to Arkansas

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The SEC West is going to be rather tough again in 2012. Arkansas, which found out earlier this week that running back Knile Davis would be returning from a knee injury next year, got some more good news on Friday. Quarterback Tyler Wilson will be returning to Arkansas for his senior season.

“I have decided to stay at Arkansas for the 2012 season because I am extremely excited for what this team has the opportunity to accomplish and to finish earning my degree," said Wilson in a release. "After the feedback I received, the decision was difficult to make. Ultimately, the chance to complete my academics and play one more season as a Razorback were  compelling reasons for me to remain in Fayetteville. This past year was great for us with 11 wins and a top-five finish and we want to build on that. The group of players we have returning has high expectations and wants to work hard to compete for championships. Although my goal is to play in the NFL, I believe I can benefit greatly from another year of working with Coach (Bobby) Petrino and Coach Paul Petrino. I am excited to be able to spend one more season at a university where the leadership shows a tremendous amount of support and the passion of the fans is the best in the country.”

Wilson took over as Arkansas' starting quarterback in 2011 after Ryan Mallett left for the NFL, and had great season for the Razorbacks. He finished the year throwing for 3,638 yards and 24 touchdowns for an offense that averaged 36.8 points per game.

Considering that Wilson will have a full year of experience under his belt heading into 2012 and the return of Knile Davis, an Arkansas team that finished the season 11-2 -- with those losses coming to Alabama and LSU -- and ranked fifth in the country will be a darkhorse candidate to be the SEC's newest national champion. 

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Posted on: January 10, 2012 3:28 pm
Edited on: January 10, 2012 3:29 pm
 

Injured RB Knile Davis returning for Arkansas

Posted by Chip Patterson

Arkansas running back Knile Davis was eligible to declare for the 2012 NFL Draft, but after suffering a season-ending ankle injury on Aug. 11 has decided to return to school and plans on finishing his Razorback career on the field.

“I have made the decision to return to the University of Arkansas for the 2012 season as I am determined to help this program accomplish the goals we have set in place," Davis said in a prepared statement released by the school. "My injury was unfortunate, but I feel I have worked extremely hard for the opportunity to lead the Razorbacks on the field. Through my setback last season, I remained positive and was committed to persevering and I plan to apply those principles to this year’s team."

Razorback fans found themselves saying "what if" throughout the 2011 season as Arkansas climbed as high as No. 3 in the BCS standings without the All-SEC running back. Davis led the SEC in rushing in 2010 with 1,322 yards, the fourth-highest single-season total in Arkansas history. His return to Fayetteville, along with a Cotton Bowl victory over Kansas State, have Arkansas fans already hoping to dethrone their SEC West rivals.

"I believe Coach (Bobby) Petrino is the best coach in America, and he has put this program back on the national stage," said Davis. "He has instilled in everyone the expectation to be great and that we will win championships.

"You can tell the leadership at Arkansas truly cares about us as people and has put the resources in place for us to reach our goals, and that is very special. Also, our fans make playing for the Razorbacks a great experience. I can’t wait for another season with them and my teammates in 2012.”

The competition in the division is only getting tougher with Kevin Sumlin and Texas A&M joining the West in 2012, but Petrino certainly has the pieces moving in the right direction. The Razorbacks have won 21 games over the last two seasons, including back-to-back 6-2 conference records and a No. 5 ranking in the final AP Poll of the 2011 season.

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Posted on: December 27, 2011 4:29 pm
 

Report: Arkansas, A&M to end neutral-site series

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Despite expectations to the contrary, as of Tuesday afternoon the SEC still has yet to release its official 14-team schedule for 2012. But one key detail potentially outside the jurisdiction of the league office is all but official: Arkansas and Texas A&M will no longer play their annual series as a neutral-site game in Dallas.

For the past three seasons, the Razorback and Aggies have met at Cowboys Stadium as part of each team's nonconference schedule. But with A&M becoming one of Arkansas's divisional rivals in the new SEC West, the Aggies' willingness to continue the series at a neutral venue -- even one as glamorous as Jerry Jones' football space palace -- has waned. The Houston Chronicle's Brent Zwenerman reported Tuesday that one A&M official had told him the school "never" wants to play the game in Dallas again. 

Though not yet 100 percent finalized, according to Zwenerman all "indications" are that the neutral game is finished and that the series will continue as a usual conference home-and-home. Since the SEC forbids schools from hosting recruits at neutral-site conference games (like the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party between Georgia and Florida), the A&M official quoted in the report said the current game's appeal as a recruiting tool would "lose its edge" as an intra-conference matchup.

Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino had previously stated that while he and the Hogs would be happy to continue playing in Cowboys Stadium (no doubt for the continued novelty of rewarding Texas recruits with a game in their home state, an advantage A&M already has), the Aggies "really don't want to play" the neutral-site game in the future. 

The Aggies and Razorbacks had agreed to a 10-year nonconference series before A&M's decision to join the SEC last September.

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Posted on: December 6, 2011 5:49 pm
 

Arkansas defensive coordinator Robinson resigns

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The 2011 Arkansas defense was supposed to be the Razorbacks' best yet under Bobby Petrino, with star seniors like defensive end Jake Bequette and linebacker Jerry Franklin. That didn't happen, and so it's probably not a coincidence that defensive coordinator Willy Robinson resigned his position Tuesday.

"I want to thank Willy Robinson for his role in helping our defense, which he leaves in better shape than when he arrived," Petrino said in a statement. "I have the utmost respect for Willy Robinson as an individual who wants the best for the young men he coaches. I give Willy credit for his part in the building process the last four years and wish him future success."

Robinson's departure continues a substantial shakeup on the Razorback coaching staff. Offensive coordinator Garrick McGee recently accepted the UAB head coaching position and special teams coach John L. Smith has done the same at FCS Weber State, making Robinson the third Hog assistant to leave in three days.

Robinson had been in Fayetteville for all four years of Petrino's Razorback tenure but had come under fire for his first two defenses, both of which finished in the bottom half of the FBS in total defense; his 2009 unit ranked dead last in the SEC in total defense, yards per-play, and pass defense. Petrino stuck by Robinson and was rewarded with substantial improvement in 2010, as the Hogs cut their yards given up per-play by more than a half yard, finished 36th in the FBS in total defense, and placed fifth in the SEC in total D.

But even with the most experienced defense of his tenure and an SEC as offensively deficient as it's been in years, the Razorbacks still backslid in 2011, finishing 51st in the FBS in total defense and ninth in the SEC. Rush defense was a particular problem; the Hogs gave up an average of 203 yards on the ground to their nine BCS-level opponents and finished 79th in the FBS.
 
 
 
 
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