Sprints Has Complete Confidence in the Weekend // 6.19.09

Play Ball! An SEC team will be in the championship series of the College World Series -- we just have to figure out which one. LSU and Arkansas square off on ESPN 2 and ESPN360 at 2 p.m. ET today. If Arkansas wins, there will be another game tomorrow. A single LSU win ends it. Anthony Ranaudo will start for LSU, while Stephen Richards takes the mound for Arkansas.

Alabama appeal fallout. University of Alabama President Robert Witt has now given Athletics Director Mal Moore the dreaded "vote of confidence."

University of Alabama President Robert Witt backed Mal Moore following today's Board of Trustees meeting on campus, saying "I have 100 percent confidence" in the Crimson Tide's athletics director.

"I believe we have the finest athletic director anywhere in the country," Witt said.

Expect the Ozzie Newsome sightings to begin any day now -- though, really, they would have anyway -- and Witt to eventually say, "You're doing a heckuva job, Mal-ly."

This all comes in the wake of Textbookgate, as the university prepares its appeal of the penalties handed down by the NCAA. But there are still more questions than answers about what happens next. If you're looking for an outline, take a look at Rap's primer.

Rule violations, real and imagined. Now Florida joins the secondary violation parade. Of course, they're not nearly as proficient at breaking the NCAA standards as they are at violating the law. They could come up with a paltry two violations -- two! And they were actually, you know, punished for them.

Some might consider the process as a cleansing, a way to avoid major violations by a couple of slaps on the wrist. Florida's punishment for the violations consisted of a letter of admonishment from the SEC, the inability to recruit the specific prospect for two days and an "institutional action," which I assume is an in-house punishment.

An SEC alum is in the news for the wrong reasons. Fromer UGA running back Verron Haynes is in trouble for allegedly taking part in creative management of his checking account.

Haynes, 5-9, 222 pounds, played two seasons at Georgia, and might be best known for catching a game-winning touchdown pass at Tennessee in 2001, a play made famous by radio voice Larry Munson "hobnailed boot" call. That season Haynes led Georgia in rushing with 691 yards.

And here's a quote for you from an item on whether Ron Zook should be blamed for Florida's current arrest woes.

As Coach [Steve] Spurrier used to tell me, 'I'm cheap and available.'

Georgia fans -- if you can't do something with that, just give up.

Expectations are a dangerous thing. Red Cup Rebellions takes on those who say that Ole Miss being led by Houston Nutt will meet expectations about as well as General Motors.

And what of this anti-meme described as "Houston Nutt Underperforms Under Pressure." Really? Really. Nutt's teams ended the regular season ranked below their preseason spot once. That year was 2007, when they started out ranked 21st by the AP poll and they went to the Cotton Bowl. That was their highest preseason ranking under Nutt.

There is a bit of evidence on both sides here. RCR is right to point out that Nutt's teams don't necessarily do poorly compared to what is expected of them before the season -- it's once the season gets underway that they tends to struggle against teams that previous performances suggest they should beat. This isn't an issue, of course, for a team that's not expected to win the SEC West. But winning a division with Alabama, LSU and a few dangerous underdogs requires winning the games you're supposed to. Otherwise, "Unsatisfied" will be more than just a motto.

The problems with preseason expectations is also that they can warp our perceptions, particlarly in the early going, as Jerry at The Joe Cribbs Car Wash highlights with the latest installment in his "Review of DEATH." As you might recall, the closely fought game told us that both LSU and Auburn were good. Oops.

In retrospect, this was probably Auburn's best performance of the season. Yes, it was a five-point home loss in which Auburn was outgained by 78 yards and had the benefit of a pick-six ... so no, we're not talking about an especially fine best performance of the season. Still, there was also 320 total yards (Wow!), 16 first downs (Sweet!), and most of all, not one but two long touchdown drives, the second of which came late in the fourth quarter to retake the lead. It would never get this good again for the Auburn offense.

This year's match-up should be a more measured affair.

Lane Kiffin and Mark Smith. It appears that Tennessee has bid farewell to strength and conditioning coach Mark Smith, who appears to have been hired for no other reason than to upstage Steve Spurrier and for little or no regard for his strength and conditioning philosophies or the fact that this was not exactly the strong point at South Carolina in recent years. The replacement is Aaron Ausmus of North Texas. (HT: 3SIB)

Good SEC basketball? SEC Chatter points out that the recent decisions to drop out of the NBA Draft, sans Jodie Meeks, might be good for this strange sport played in a gym with a roundball.

We typed a few weeks ago about the high number of underclassmen who declared for the NBA draft. All except two, however, have opted to return to school.

Not that the conference could be much worse next year regardless.

Change we can believe in. The new regime at Mississippi State has discovered the problem with the Bulldogs' Croom Era.

In Dan Mullen's first year as the MSU coach, the second week of practice will be moved from the practice fields behind the Carl Maddox Track to the intramural fields near the Wise Center. This came at Mullen's initiative, who wanted to give his players a change of perspective and scenery and create a feeling of something different, spokesman Joe Galbraith said. All the while, the team will help preserve its practice fields that it'll use the rest of the season.

If only they had done this earlier, they might have scored four points against Auburn.

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