By Brent Beaird
BIG SPENDERS: Ohio State has only lost 10 games since 2005, but some will argue that they should have won every single one of them. That's right, instead of a 54-10 record since 2005 the Buckeyes should be 64-0 -- at least based on what the Buckeyes spend on their football program.
No university in America pours more money into its football program than Ohio State. The Buckeyes spent $32.3 million for the 2008-09 school year, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Education's Equity in Athletics. The 2008-09 school year is the most recent data that is available. Ohio State's $32.3 million spending spree was $3.5 million more than the next closest school: Auburn at $28.8 million. Not surprisingly the nation's top eight spenders – and yes, they all bring in nearly two to three times that much in revenue – are from the Big Ten and SEC.
After Ohio State and Auburn is Iowa ($26.9 million) of the Big Ten, followed by four SEC schools – Alabama ($26.44 million), Tennessee ($22.96 million), Florida ($22.86 million) and LSU ($22.74 million). The Big Ten's Wisconsin ($22.71 million) ranks eighth.
The other BCS conference big spenders and how they rank nationally are: the Big 12's Texas (ninth nationally, $22.56 million), the Pac-10's USC (10th, $21.31 million), the ACC's Miami (11th, $20.97 million) and the Big East's Rutgers (16th, $19.73 million). Independent Notre Dame ranks 20th overall, spending $18.74 million.
While having college football's deepest pockets couldn't buy Ohio State a perfect record, the Buckeyes still posted an impressive 83.6 winning percentage (excluding games against the military academies and Football Championship Subdivision schools) in the past five seasons. That was substantially better than two other schools that clearly didn't take advantage of their financial advantages.
Besides Ohio State, Auburn and Rutgers also had the luxury of playing every game in the past five seasons – the time frame used in FanHouse's study – against opponents that spent less money than the Tigers and Scarlet Knights.
Despite that financial advantage, Auburn has gone only 38-21 (.644) and Rutgers 35-17 (.673) since 2005 with the schools combining for exactly zero conference titles and zero BCS bowls.
They say money can't buy happiness, but spending more money than your opponent does nearly guarantee a winning record on the gridiron.
Of the 66 schools in the automatic qualifying BCS conferences – the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 and SEC plus Notre Dame – only six teams had a losing record over the past five seasons when playing schools that spent less money on their football programs.
The Not-So-Super Six are: Duke (4-16 record against schools that spent less money, .200 winning percentage); Syracuse (10-35, .222); Washington (13-33, .282); North Carolina (7-12, .386); Iowa State (13-19, .426) and N.C. State (4-5, .444). Meanwhile, West Virginia has been the nation's most successful school when playing against teams with bigger budgets. The Mountaineers' success rate against schools with a greater financial commitment is unprecedented.
In the past five seasons, the Mountaineers played 17 games against schools that they were outspent by and West Virginia was an impressive 14-3 in those contests.
In fact, West Virginia actually fared better in games against schools that spent more than money (.823 percent) than against schools that spent less money (33-10, .767) than the Mountaineers.
Following West Virginia as the most successful when playing against schools that spent more money were Florida (9-4, .692 percent), LSU (13-6, .684), Oregon (19-9, .678), Texas Tech (18-10, .642) and Oregon State (27-16, .627).
So based on how much their respective universities spent on their football programs, college football's biggest BCS underachievers were Duke, Syracuse, Washington, North Carolina, Iowa State and N.C. State and the biggest BCS overachievers were West Virginia, Florida, LSU, Oregon, Texas Tech and Oregon State. (Fanhouse)
RECRUITING PROPOSAL: An NCAA committee announced Thursday that it will back a proposal to prohibit making scholarships offers to recruits before July 1 in the summer between their junior and senior years in high school. If passed, it would apply to all sports.
Coaches also would have to receive high school transcripts documenting at least five semesters or seven quarters worth of academic work for a young recruit before they can offer a scholarship. It is the first recommendation to come out of the Recruiting and Athletics Personnel Issues Cabinet, which is reviewing recruiting conduct. Committee chair Petrina Long acknowledged it would be a difficult rule for school compliance officers to monitor.
But Long, senior associate athletic director at UCLA, said the committee was compelled to propose a change after recruits and their families said they had felt pressured to make decisions before knowing enough about the school's academic programs. Coaches also told the cabinet they were under increased pressure to "keep up" by making offers to younger and younger players or lose out on top recruits. The issue has drawn headlines when some men's basketball coaches started making offers to middle school players.
The recruiting cabinet also wants to give coaches more flexibility in calling recruits, their parents or legal guardians. If approved, coaches could contact recruits and their families once a month from June 15 of their sophomore year through July 31 of their junior year in high school.
Starting on Aug. 1 of the senior year, coaches could call a recruit twice a week. Coaches would also be allowed to make one call per week to junior college transfers or transfers from other four-year schools. The rule is already being used in men's basketball and would be expanded to include all sports except football. The Legislative Council will not vote on any of the proposals before January and it could delay a vote until April 2011. (SPORTING NEWS)
SEC INVITATIONS: The president of the University of Oklahoma said Wednesday that his school and Texas A&M both received invitations to join the Southeastern Conference during the last round of conference realignment. Although Oklahoma ended up remaining in the Big 12, university president David Boren said the Sooners had offers from both the SEC and the Pac-10. Boren spoke with reporters after a regents meeting for almost 40 minutes about the conference realignment process.
SEC spokesman Craig Pinkerton said he was "not in a position to comment" on what Boren said. Boren declined to say who in the SEC issued the invitation, only that that person had the authority to do so.
Boren said the Pac-10 offer was for five Big 12 schools -- Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech -- to join as a group. Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott visited the schools earlier this month to extend the invitations.
"The invitation was really to the group," Boren said. "It had to be, because you couldn't have our teams all flying to the Pacific coast every week to play games. There had to be an eastern division of schools."
Boren said the SEC extended offers only to Oklahoma and Texas A&M, both of which opted to stay in a slimmed-down Big 12 after Colorado left for the Pac-10 and Nebraska left for the Big Ten. Because the SEC offer didn't include two of the Sooners' key rivals, Oklahoma State and Texas, Boren said he didn't consider it a good option.
"There was a time when A&M thought they were going to the SEC and they very much wanted us to go with them," Boren said. "Oklahoma, in the whole thing, we were positioned in a way where virtually we could not have lost."
Last Friday, Oklahoma State president Burns Hargis confirmed that his school "never had an offer" from the SEC, "so it was never anything to consider." Both he and Boren expressed a strong interest in sticking together through any future conference realignment.
"Had the Pac-10 thing fallen apart, had the Big 12 minus two not been put back together, we would have probably ended up having much more serious conversations with the SEC, and [asked] would they take OSU and Texas, for example," Boren said. "It never got to that."
Boren characterized the Pac-10 offer as one that obviously had been researched and planned, while the SEC's offer was "more of a reaction to the situation. When they saw that the Big 12 might be no more, that all the schools might go somewhere else, they then started thinking about 'Who would we want?"
Scott said the Pac-10 offer went nowhere because Texas decided against it. Boren said it "basically fell apart because of the difference of opinion in Texas" regarding Texas A&M's interest in the SEC. "One school doesn't like the other one to tell them what to do," Boren said, referring to Texas and Texas A&M.
Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin was out of his office Wednesday. In a June 14 letter posted on the school's website, he said that by remaining a member of the Big 12, "We were able to more than double our financial return to the levels being offered by other conferences."
Loftin added that another consideration in staying in the conference was maintaining Texas A&M's "strong foothold" in the state and preserving longtime rivalries.
Big 12 athletic directors met this week in Irving, Texas, to discuss the conference's future. Commissioner Dan Beebe said the Big 12 has "no interest in expansion" and that it was "not a consideration" at the meeting. (mrsec.com)
Appearing as a guest on Rivals Radio Tuesday, Tuberville told host Bill King in not so many words that you'd better enjoy the Big 12 while you can because it's not long for the college football world. "I don't think this conference will last long because there is too much disparity between all the teams," Tuberville said. "In the SEC, for instance, Vanderbilt makes as much money in the television contract as Florida. Everybody is good with it. Everybody is on the same page. Everyone gets the same votes. "That doesn't happen here in the Big 12. We have some teams that get a little bit more money and have a little it more stroke than some of the other teams. And when that happens, you're gonna have teams looking for better avenues to leave and reasons to leave. We have a 10-team league right now, but I just don't know how long that' gonna last, to be honest with you." (mrsec.com)
ALABAMA: Alabama is expected to hold the top spot in The Associated Press preseason college football poll. But is that an honor or an omen? Of the previous 60 preseason polls, just 10 of the top-ranked teams held the No. 1 spot in the final poll, too -- a success rate of about 17 percent. The Crimson Tide is expected to become the 11th SEC team to open at No. 1 in the AP rankings. Two of the previous 10 teams also finished at No. 1, while five failed to stay No. 1 even in the first regular-season poll.
Tennessee in 1951 and Alabama in 1978 are the SEC teams that lived up to their preseason ranking by topping the final AP poll as well, but neither of those teams held the top spot for the entire season.
Fourteen other SEC teams have won the AP's national championship by ranking No. 1 in the final poll, including Alabama last season. The other SEC teams that topped the AP preseason poll are 1959 LSU (final poll position: third), 1964 Ole Miss (unranked), 1966 Alabama (third), 1984 Auburn (14th), 1994 Florida (seventh), 2001 Florida (third), 2008 Georgia (13th) and 2009 Florida (third). (Al.com)
RUSHING DEFENSE: For the second straight year, Alabama finished second in the nation in rushing defense in 2009, extending an SEC streak that reaches back 22 seasons: The SEC has had at least one team finish in the top 10 nationally in rushing defense every season since 1988. For Alabama, 2009 was the 10th season during that span in which it has finished in the top 10 in rushing defense (as measured by rushing yards given up per game). Florida has 11 top-10 showings during the SEC streak.
Other SEC teams that have finished in the top 10 in rushing defense during the streak are Tennessee (six times), Ole Miss (four), LSU (three), Auburn (two), Arkansas (two) and Mississippi State (one).
Mississippi State's appearance came in 1999, when the Bulldogs led the nation in rushing defense. Other national leaders from the SEC during the streak were Auburn in 1988 and Alabama in 1992. According to NCAA records dating to 1937, other SEC teams who have led the nation in rushing defense are Alabama in 1945, Georgia Tech in 1948, Auburn in 1957 and 1958, Ole Miss in 1963 and LSU in 1969 and 1970. (Al.com)
TENNESSEE: Despite recent academic shortcomings, Marcques Dixon said he still plans to enroll at Tennessee this fall. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound athlete from Southwest Dekalb High School in Decatur, Ga., told the News Sentinel he fell just short of qualifying academically on the college entrance exam he recently took. Dixon said he will take a summer school class in hopes of qualifying academically to be eligible for this season. Dixon was trying to qualify for UT’s second session of summer school, which starts July 8. Fall classes begin Aug. 18. Dixon selected UT over Miami and a handful of other schools.
CAMPBELL LEAVES: According to a Vols spokesperson, former Franklin High School standout Todd Campbell has parted ways with the team and been removed from the media guide for this season — joining a relatively small list of defectors since Dooley took over in January. But the loss of the once highly-recruited wide receiver likely won't be much of a factor given his small role over the last couple years and the influx of talent at the position heading into the fall.
Dooley declined to comment on the decision Monday, though he has previously acknowledged the threat attrition could be for a roster already low on scholarship players. "We're going to be limping into next season probably around 75 scholarships, but that's what we are right now," Dooley said last month. "So we're going to do the best with what we've got, and we'll build the roster in the next two years."
For the most part the Vols have seemingly avoided any setbacks that might alter the time frame, so far keeping the losses to a minimum. Offensive lineman William Brimfield left UT before spring practice started, and three more players followed once it opened. Starting left tackle Aaron Douglas and quarterback Nick Stephens both transferred, and running back Bryce Brown has been expected to do the same for months.
But based purely on departures, the transition between coaching staffs appears to be going more smoothly than at this time a year ago when 11 players had been either dismissed, transferred or withdrew from the program. (Knoxville News Sentinel)
BROWN UPDATE: Even after walking away from the Volunteers and new head coach Derek Dooley before spring practice, some Tennessee players would be open to bringing running back Bryce Brown back into the fold. At least that's what senior linebacker Nick Reveiz says. When asked about Brown, Reveiz, who Lane Kiffin called one of the Vols team leaders last year, said that the team would welcome Brown back.
"I've heard whispers that maybe he would come back. I don't know where his mind is at. But if he wanted to come back, we would have open arms," Reveiz said, before qualifying his point. "He has missed a lot of practices, a lot of workouts," Reveiz said. "He obviously would have to make that up. He would have to work hard. Nothing would be given to him."
Most of us saw how Brown reacted after the starting running back job at Tennessee wasn't just given to him, but to senior tailback Montario Hardesty last season. It'll be interesting to see whether either of the Brown brothers -- Bryce or one-time five-star recruit Arthur, who also is waiting to announce his transfer location-- responds to having their back up against the wall.
SEASON TICKETS SALES: Be it the economy, team performance or high-def television, ticket sales aren't what they once were for home games in Neyland Stadium. Tennessee has sold about 67,000 season tickets for the 2010 football season, which is about 1,000 fewer than this time last year. The shortcoming is easily traceable: 2,800 fans didn't renew their season tickets from last year. Typically, about 2,000 fans don't renew their season tickets, according to statistics provided by Chris Fuller, UT senior associate athletic director.
The ticket slump prompted UT to survey season-ticket holders to determine why some are dropping out. "The two most cited reasons for non-renewal were the economy and age," Fuller stated in an e-mail to the News Sentinel.
"Technology is really changing how people consume sports and buy tickets - primarily HDTV, the secondary ticket marketplace, new television contracts (changing game times, night games). The landscape for selling tickets, especially season tickets, is really changing in sports in general."
The SEC's television contract with ESPN signed last year meant a $15 million windfall of revenue for each of the 12 member schools. However, it also has made watching at home that much easier since every game is televised, often in high-definition.
The ESPN contract also places more games at night than the SEC's previous television contracts.
"I'll tell you the thing that I've heard from the fans as much as anything else is the night games," UT athletic director Mike Hamilton said. "With a state the size that our state is - from a geographic standpoint - it's hard sometimes for folks from West Tennessee to come up for a night game. They want to get back and go to church or whatever."
The ticket-sales shortage certainly has an affect on UT's budget, but it's not as significant since UT is reaping the benefit of the ESPN contract. However, Hamilton said there are more reasons than just revenue to fill Neyland Stadium.
UT has done plenty to improve its game-day experience. Another phase of renovations to Neyland Stadium is almost complete. The latest phase includes a brick facade to the main entrance and a statue of the stadium's namesake: Gen. Robert Neyland.
Fuller said UT will take at least two years off from renovations after the latest improvements are complete. UT also has lowered donation rates for prospective season-ticket buyers. In some areas of Neyland Stadium, tickets can be purchased with a $100 donation, meaning the price for a full slate of home games is $820. UT has sold 92 percent of its 72,500 season-ticket inventory. Season tickets that go unsold will be offered as single-game tickets this fall.
ARKANSAS: When reached through the Arkansas media relations department, head coach Bobby Petrino had two words for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on the status of quarterback Ryan Mallett's recovery from a broken foot. "Doing good." Mallett suffered the injury during workouts in mid-February, and has subsequently undergone two medical procedures, the latest coming earlier this month to replace a screw inserted into the foot during the first procedure. Mallett was expected to resume making every throw in his arsenal a couple of weeks ago, but the second surgery likely precluded that step from occurring.
Maudrecus Humphrey will not get the chance to follow in his father’s footsteps, but it may prove to be the best move for the son of former Alabama star Bobby Humphrey. Maudrecus Humphrey of the storied Hoover (Ala.) High was spurned by in-state schools Alabama and Auburn, but will still get a shot in the Southeastern Conference at Arkansas. The receiver with a sprinter’s speed reported for classes and voluntary workouts June 1 in Fayetteville, and was recently picked as the Metro Athlete of the Year by the Birmingham News. (wholehogsports.com)
CLOSE GAMES: Since Arkansas entered the SEC in 1993, no other SEC team has played more regular-season conference games decided by 3 points or fewer than Arkansas. Averaging almost two close games per season in SEC play every year, the Hogs’ 32 games fitting that bill are 23.5% of all Razorbacks’ regular-season conference games played. Arkansas has at least one close game against all eleven SEC opponents. LSU and Mississippi State have 6 close games each against the Hogs, and Auburn and Alabama have played 5 each. Through 2003 (11 seasons), Arkansas was 11-5 in close games, but beginning in 2004 the rate of close games went up, and Arkansas’ fortunes went down as the Hogs’ 6-10 close-game record accounted for 27.6% of all close SEC games. In a nutshell, over 17 years Arkansas has played games 4 complete SEC seasons of close games.
FLORIDA: While eleven freshmen got a head start by enrolling in spring classes, the remaining 16 made plans for Summer B. Hitting campus over the weekend were five-star defensive linemen Ronald Powell, Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley. Florida corralled the country's top 2010 recruiting class and, according to some experts, one of the best defensive classes in decades. The only 2010 signee not expected on campus is WR Travon Van, who didn't qualify academically and is attending summer school at Marshall. (Gainesvillesun.com)
STORY VERBAL: The Gators grabbed their ninth verbal commitment of the 2011 recruiting season. That pledge came from Brooksville Nature Coast athlete Ja'Juan Story, who is likely to either play wide receiver or defensive back in college. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound athlete has made it known that he wants to play receiver in college, but will line up at quarterback for Nature Coast this fall. Story is the fifth player to commit to Florida in June. As a junior, Story caught 13 passes for 425 yards and four touchdowns. He added 22 tackles and three interceptions.
Story began to get more attention after his impressive performance at the Gainesville Nike Camp in April. A day after his participation, Florida offered him. He's collected nearly 30 offers and picked Florida over schools like Florida State, Georgia, Miami, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Tennessee. (Gatorbait.net)
THREE SEC COACHES ON QUARTERBACK JOHN BRANTLEY: John Brantley is replacing Tim Tebow at Florida. How hard will it be for Brantley to follow arguably the greatest player in league history?
Steve Spurrier: Doug Johnson tried to replace Danny Wuerffel (in 1997). Doug was out playing minor league baseball and drinking beer all summer. Doug is a bright young man now, but back then, that was his summer prior to starting. He couldn't even run the 12-minute run when he showed up. He wasn't very well prepared. We did a poor job of giving him a summer plan. Johnny Brantley has been around there for three years. He should be ready to go.
Joker Phillips: You're not going to replace a guy like that. It's impossible. When we lost Andre Woodson, we told our guys there's no way you can duplicate what he did over his career. You're talking about one of the best quarterbacks to ever play here. Fortunately, most quarterbacks have egos. They want to be better than the last guy. If you've got a guy who works at it and stays level headed, success will follow.
Dan Mullen: The first thing you look at is (Brantley's) mental ability. He's a sharp kid, and he loves to compete. That's where he has an edge. Johnny Brantley can do things in his own way that can help Florida win and be successful. (Sporting News)
UF No. 2: The Gators capped a remarkable 2009-10 athletic season with a best-ever second-place finish in the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup, a national all-sports competition. Stanford finished first for the 16th straight year. The UF women’s swimming & diving and men’s indoor track & field national championships were among a program record 14 Gator athletic teams that finished in the nation’s top 10 in 2009-10. UF finished tied for second in 1997-98.
Florida is the only program in the nation to finish among the nation’s top 10 in each of the last 27 national all-sports standings. These are the first back-to-back top three appearances for the Gator athletic program. UF finished third in the 2008-09 standings.
The Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup, presented annually by the nation’s athletics directors, recognizes the schools with the best overall sports performances in an academic year.
Although points for baseball haven’t been included, the top three teams in the final standings are set. Virginia will finish third behind Stanford and UF.
2009-10 Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup Standings, with total points:
1. Stanford 1508.50
2. UF 1237.25
3. Virginia 1189.25
4. UCLA 1034.00
5. Texas A&M 1020.75
6. Ohio State 1015.50
7. Florida State 1009.50
8. California 988.50
9. North Carolina 984.30
10. Duke 982.75
WEST STRUGGLES: Since the SEC split into divisions starting with the 1992 season, Florida has owned its Eastern opponents. The West, though, is another story for the Gators. In 2010, as usual, Florida will play its Western opponents in consecutive games -- starting at Alabama on Oct. 2, with LSU visiting the Swamp on Oct. 9, and the Gators going to Mississippi State on Oct. 16.
Florida has an 81-9 record against its five Eastern rivals in intradivision games. The Gators are 36-18 against the SEC West in regular-season games -- twice as many losses in 40 percent fewer games against the West than against the East.
Coach Urban Meyer has lost 10 games in his five seasons in Gainesville. Seven have come to SEC West opponents.
Last season, though, Florida managed to do something it hadn't done since 1998 -- win all three of its regular-season games against its SEC West opponents. The Gators still weren't perfect against the West in 2010, though, since they lost to Alabama in the SEC championship game. (Al.com)
VERBALS: Florida’s good fortunes started in the evening with the commitment of Ridgefield, Conn., offensive tackle Tommy Jordan, who worked out at UF’s camp Saturday. Hours later, No. 8 came when Florida added Plantation linebacker Ryan Shazier, who visited UF with his family Monday.
Shazier, who Rivals.com rates as a four-star prospect and the ninth-best linebacker in the country, said head coach Urban Meyer was “excited” by his commitment and thanked him for it. As a junior, Shazier recorded 87 tackles, 19 sacks and two fumble recoveries.
Jordan’s commitment would have come earlier if he didn’t have to return home to consult his high school coach. After the two discussed Florida, Jordan called Meyer and offensive coordinator Steve Addazio to inform them of his decision.
A position of need for the Gators in this class, the 6-foot-5, 280-pounder is the first offensive lineman to commit to UF this year. Originally, Jordan wasn’t concerned with college depth charts, but after realizing he could compete for early playing time at UF, Jordan said that became a major selling point
Rivals rates Jordan as a three-star lineman and the No. 1 prospect in the state of Connecticut. Shazier also looked at UF’s depth chart as a positive. With the transfer of Brendan Beal and the eventual graduation of rising seniors A.J. Jones and Brandon Hicks, Shazier said he felt he’d have a shot at contributing early. (Gatorbait.net)
GEORGIA: Kickoff returns: Brandon Boykin again figures to handle the bulk of this role. He returned 38 kickoffs last season, while Branden Smith returned 16.
Punt returns: The competition will resume in August to replace Prince Miller, who graduated (and signed as an undrafted free agent with the Baltimore Ravens). At least seven players tried out for the punt-return role in spring practice –- Boykin, Smith, A.J. Green, Bacarri Rambo, Rantavious Wooten, Carlton Thomas and Washaun Ealey –- and coaches did not reveal a pecking order or narrow the field. Logan Gray appears likely to continue his role of receiving punts in field-position situations where returns are not set up; his job in this capacity is to decide whether to fair-catch the punt or let the ball go.
Key stats: Boykin set UGA single-season records last year with 988 kickoff- return yards and three kickoff-return touchdowns. He became the first player in SEC history to return two kickoffs 100 yards in the same season. While Boykin averaged 26 yards per KO return, Smith averaged 17.4 yards with a long of 48. As a team, Georgia averaged 22.1 yards on 60 KO returns, ranking 10th in the SEC. . . . Meanwhile, Miller averaged 11.9 yards per punt return, ranking fourth in the SEC.
Key question: The question of whether Green, the star wide receiver, will return punts has drawn a lot of attention since he made it known during spring practice that he would like to have the job. Mark Richt said injury concerns won’t dissuade the Dogs from using Green on punt returns, but added that the larger unanswered question is simply whether Green proves to be “the best at that skill. If he is, then we’ll let him play. Or if there are certain times we feel it’s important to get him in there and do that, we might do that, too.” (AJC.COM)
DAVIS UPDATE: When Josh Davis entered the weight room in January, it had been nearly a year since he had done any serious weight training. Two offseason shoulder surgeries following the 2008 season kept him from lifting weights. When he finally recovered last fall, the season was in full swing and there was little time to catch up.
Despite the setbacks, Davis stepped into the starting lineup on Georgia’s offensive line midway through the season, and the Bulldogs’ running game instantly was transformed. Georgia averaged more than 100 yards more on the ground per game after Davis was inserted at right tackle.
Now firmly established as a cornerstone on the Bulldogs’ line, Davis is bulking up and feeling good for the first time in nearly two years. He added nearly 20 pounds to his frame from his playing weight of about 290 last year, and the shoulder feels as good as new.
LINEBACKERS: Of Georgia’s new batch of linebackers, only Demetre Baker appears destined for a role in the middle. Recent transfer Jarvis Jones of Carver said he will open practices at outside linebacker but could switch down the road. Justin Houston said that T.J. Stripling, Brandon Burrows and Dexter Morant — all three of whom played defensive end in high school — are also working at outside linebacker this summer.
“I think Baker is at inside right now,” Houston said. Pretty much the rest of them are at outside.”
He's not sure which side of the ball he'll be on at this point. Bulldogs coaches haven't told him whether he'll be a linebacker or a running back. He plans to report to fall practice at 220 pounds, an increase of 20 pounds from a year ago. (FloridaTimesUnion.com)
KENTUCKY: Since the renewal of the Kentucky-Louisville football series in 1994, UK has never beaten its archrival four times in a row. By allowing heavy underdog U of L to hang around deep into last year's game, how much confidence did Kentucky give the Cardinals for this year? Kentucky hasn't beaten Florida since 1986 and hasn't won in Gainesville since 1979.
Unlike the past two games against the mighty Gators, can UK at least get through the contest without having a punt blocked? UK hasn't beaten Mississippi in Oxford since 1978.
Houston Nutt's teams are better as underdogs. With only 10 starters back from last year's overhyped team, the Rebels will definitely be back in Nutt's favored role: the hunt
Since Adam and Eve were sampling apples in the garden, Kentucky has never beaten Auburn twice in a row. UK flat whipped the Tigers in 2009. A team with 15 starters back that some are predicting to start the season 11-0 will come to Lexington looking for payback
Steve Spurrier is 17-0 against Kentucky as a head coach. UK has not beaten South Carolina since 1999. Over the past four seasons, UK has won more games (30) than Spurrier's program (28). When the Head Ball Coach is on the opposing sideline, however, Kentucky seems strung tighter than a tennis racket.
Kentucky has not beaten Georgia two times in a row since doing it in 1949 and '56. Georgia outgained Kentucky 487-260 last season but self-destructed with turnovers and lost. The Bulldogs will come to Lexington looking to prove a point in 2010.
In the granddaddy of negative UK football streaks, Kentucky has not beaten Tennessee since 1984. UK has had the football on its last offensive possession of the fourth quarter with a chance to end its futility against the Orange three times in the past four years and failed each time. Catching UT with its third coach in three years, can the Cats at last drive a stake through The Streak?
Kentucky has not had a winning record in Southeastern Conference games since going 6-0 in 1977. If Kentucky can beat in Commonwealth Stadium three teams — Auburn, Vanderbilt and Georgia — it beat on the road last year, then all the Cats would need to get to five SEC victories would be two wins from among games against South Carolina and at Mississippi, Mississippi State and Tennessee.
On the down side, I don't have a good feeling about Kentucky's defense and fear UK's three-headed quarterback competition is a recipe for continuous controversy. (Al.com)
LSU: Former LSU safety Chad Jones faces a long recovery process if he is to ever play in the NFL after suffering multiple, major injuries to his lower left leg in a car accident Friday morning in New Orleans, but that is not as bad as what could have happened, according to his agent Rocky Arceneaux. Part of the reason the surgery lasted from about 10 a.m. to nearly 6 p.m. Friday at University Hospital was because doctors had trouble returning blood flow to Jones' left ankle and foot, Arceneaux said. Jones' left tibia and lift fibula were shattered and he suffered a large gash in his left thigh along with artery and nerve damage when he lost control of his 2010 Range Rover sports utility vehicle and hit a concrete-centered streetcar pole on North Carrollton Avenue. It took 23 minutes for the New Orleans Fire Department to cut Jones loose of the wreckage. (advocate.com)
OLE MISS: Here are the name possibilities for the new mascot: HOTTY AND TODDY, REBEL THE BLACK BEAR, REBEL BLUES MUSICIAN, REBEL THE CARDINAL, REBEL FANATIC, REBEL THE HORSE, REBEL LAND SHARK, REBEL LION (REBELLION), REBEL MOJO, REBEL RIVERBOAT PILOT, REBEL TITAN (Clarion-Ledger)