Sprints Is Getting Ready for SEC Media Days // 07.20.10

SEC MEDIA DAYS

SB Nation coverage
This will be going on all week long. There will be coverage at the mothership and across the network, including our annual festivities: Live-blogging the remarks of each coach; a live edition of Team Speed Kills Now from Hoover every evening; and of course we'll have posts on what happens throughout the days. At this point, nothing short of a pack of hyenas storming the hall and eating Bobby Petrino would surprise me. Strike that: Even a pack of hyenas storming the hall and eating Bobby Petrino wouldn't surprise me. (Now, Bobby Petrino categorically ruling out the possibility of taking the Vanderbilt job -- that would probably still surprise me.)

Team Speed Kills Now live tonight at 9 p.m. ET / 8 p.m. CT
We'll look at some of the things we actually expect to happen -- questions that will be asked, subpoenas that will be served, etc. -- and regale you with the latest tales of espionage and treason from within our conference ranks. (Meaning, who's going to be investigated for what this time?) We're still working on the guest list and will have a more complete post on the show a couple hours beforehand.

Here we go again
Please, Tony -- say it ain't so! Barnhart, after talking about last year's SEC Media Days-HOW DARE YOU NOT VOTE FOR THE GOLDEN TEBOW??? fiasco:

The closest thing we have to do that this year is Alabama running back Mark Ingram, the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner. Ingram led the SEC in yards rushing with 1,658 yards last season. The next highest returning rusher is Kentucky’s Derrick Locke at 907 yards. Ingram will be an unanimous pick by the coaches. If not, we’ve got another story.

And I will be banging my head repeatedly on the table.

SECRET AGENT MEN

They're gone
The National Football Post reports that Marvin Austin is expected to be suspended for his senior season, and based on their story it's hard to see the same thing not happening to Weslye Saunders.

We’ve been told that Austin and Saunders have been told by their respective coaches to no longer associate with each other.

A source said that Austin and Saunders have been regularly comparing notes on agents and marketing representatives throughout the recruiting process, including what inducements the various businesses are offering to try to win them over.

The players have been talking to try to obtain the best "deal" possible from agents, according to a source.

Let me rephrase: If even a portion of what is in this story is true, I'll have a hard time cheering for my alma mater if Saunders is let back onto the field. Steve -- you said we're not Southern Cal. Prove it. (HT: Backing The Pack)

Schad: Pouncey letter was postmarked in small town of Knoxville, Canada
Oh, I'm sorry. That's not exactly what the ESPN story says.

Two sources briefed on the anonymous letter sent to Florida told ESPN's Joe Schad that it was postmarked in Canada. Two sources also told Schad that the letter was accompanied by photographic evidence of an alleged runner for an agent in social situations with Pouncey and his brother Mike, including at two awards shows.

Sources tell C&F that Lane Kiffin was seen in Ontario days before the letter was received in Gainesville.

In truth, it's not really even original to pull the "let's send the letter from somewhere else" stunt. Send it from your hometown and then laugh when they ask you the question.

This is the first reference to Mike Pouncey, and that could be a problem for Florida. Because IF any of these allegations are true and IF any of the largess found its way to Mike Pouncey ... well, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out where he'll be on the depth chart this season. But that's speculation at this point.

The sources told Schad that the Pounceys have provided phone, bank and credit card statements that do not show any large payments. Two sources added that Maurkice Pouncey said he paid for a Cadillac Escalade and jewelry after the NFL draft with a deferred line of credit and did at times lend the Escalade to Mike in Gainesville, Fla. ...

The Pouncey family plans to release a statement Tuesday stating that no extra benefits were received and that the family complied with all requests, a source told Schad.

Again, Mike's name. Not good if that Escalade turns out to have come from somewhere else. (And Mike Pouncey knew where it came from, which seems like a fair bet since it would be his brother's vehicle.) And of course, neither Schad nor we have seen any of the statements ourselves, so it's hard to know exactly what they say.

There's some very faint wisps of smoke here, but we're still a long way from any fire.

The other part of this story comes from the NCAA, with Rachel Newman-Baker -- who has the thankless task of directing the Association's agent, gambling and amateurism department -- basically admitting that the NCAA is getting better information on agent complaints. No kidding.

"Within the last several years we've been able to work on networking and building relations, and getting people to trust us," Newman-Baker said. "And if people believe that their information will be acted upon, they're more willing to communicate. We've tried to reach out to as many people in sports communities as we can to help us. Professional leagues, player associations, agents and advisers have all been willing to cooperate with us."

In other words: We've started to knock down some rotting boards, and the termites are coming out. Now it's time to exterminate them.

Sigh. You had to go there, didn't you?
Conquest Chronicles raises some very good points about the reason that agents should be a target in the ongoing NCAA investigations. But then they're so eager to try to make Southern Cal out to be just another one of those schools that they go overboard.

It's no small secret that the Reggie Bush fiasco was not a problem simply unique to [Southern Cal].

Woah. Stop right there. What allegedly happened at South Carolina and Florida and, for all we know, North Carolina is not what allegedly happened at Southern Cal. In the former cases, we have evidence that a player or players took money from agents with no evidence right now to suggest coaches knew about it. (Though with the numbers of students involved at UNC, it might strain credibility, but this is based on what we know now.)

What we had at Southern Cal was the highest-profile player in the country getting expenses paid for by agents, allegedly with the knowledge of coaches, while the university criminally understaffed its compliance department and treated agents like they were assistant coaches. Anyone with any sense at all would have been careful to watch Reggie Bush; if you had asked me which South Carolina player should be the one most carefully watched by the compliance office, Weslye Saunders might have made the top five. (Nothing against Weslye; he's a good player and likely has a future in the NFL regardless of what happens here -- but he ain't Reggie Bush.)

They should be ruling players ineligible, not taking out their frustration on his teammates. ...

If the NCAA was smart (big if), it would be aiming to punish the real perpetrators in all of this, the agents and the player(s), not the schools.

Okay, let's deal with the vacating wins issue first, because I'm not sure if that's part of what this is addressing or not and I want to get it out of the way: The vacating of games in which an ineligible player participated -- particularly if he or she has already left the university -- is a no-brainer. It might be a bit stupid to go back and wipe out "what we all know happened," but ineligible athletes can't compete in games and therefore games in which ineligible athletes competed can't count.

As far as the scholarship, bowl bans, etc. For the last time, the NCAA hammered Southern Cal not because Reggie Bush allegedly took money and other gifts from an agent, but because the university and university officials knew or should have known that Bush was taking the money and gifts. So far, no one has proven this about South Carolina, Florida or UNC -- though, at least in the case of the latter, I'd be worried; again, only because the number of players involved might cast doubt on any "Shocked! Shocked!" statements.

More 'wah-wah'
This from Michael Lev of the Orange County Register.

Having already surrendered postseason play, scholarships and past victories, USC shouldn’t have to deal with the additional distraction of schools contacting players while they’re studying for their next exam or opponent.

There's a really simple answer to all of that: DON'T BREAK THE RULES. (HT: Conquest Chronicles)

OTHER NEWS

Because uncertainty is so much better for everyone
Hearings for Da'Rick Rogers and now former Vol Darren Myles Jr. were delayed. Pure speculation: This might have something to do with the investigation itself.

Roll Bama Roll crunches the 2009 Pythagorean wins
If you've followed Team Speed Kills for a while, you know that we love the Pythagorean wins stat. outsidethesidelines at RBR has the numbers for the SEC in 2009. You should go read it, but a few thoughts:

  • The only teams that even came close to really overachieving are Alabama and Florida, which is sometimes going to happen when you're undefeated;
  • The underachiever of last year is Arkansas, which means if you include some improvement from last season to this one, some of that dark horse talk might be justified;
  • Most of the non-Bama, non-Florida teams that were on the plus side of things allowed more points than they scored, which I suppose means that South Carolina, Georgia and Mississippi State had more narrow wins than narrow losses.

But again, go read the whole post.

LSU will not be a candidate for the next round of Big Ten expansion
The SEC has announced it's 547 members of its Freshmen Academic Honor Roll. Overall numbers: South Carolina is first with 67, which might help ever so slightly diminish that "taking money from agents" aura. (Yeah, I know; no such luck.) Florida is next with 58, then Auburn with 56 and Mississippi State -- yes, that Mississippi State -- with 50.

Kleph has your football-only numbers, with South Carolina coming in at No. 6; the No. 1 in that category is Alabama -- NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP!!!!! THAT'S NUMBER 83!!!!! -- followed by Mississippi State and Ole Miss. LSU has none. Vanderbilt has one, which might be because you actually have to, you know, "learn stuff" to get a 3.0 there.

Vegas lines on your team's win totals
Tennessee is among the teams not playable right now, probably because of the whole "half the team could be suspended by the opener" thing. (Ya think?)

Interesting notes: If I'm reading this chart right, Vegas thinks Alabama will go 10-2 and is more likely to go 9-3 then 11-1. Arkansas' over-under is at 8.5, which is about what I'd expect for a dark horse, but again you get more credit for betting the over. And while Florida's over-under is at 10, like Alabama's, it's a negative on both sides. Vegas looks bullish on Georgia (over-under at 8.5, but more upside than down) and bearish on South Carolina (over-under at 7, with no advantage to either side).

'The SEC West: Where computer thieves look for second chances'
Red Cup Rebellion drops that golden line into a post considering whether Jeremiah Masoli should play for Ole Miss. [Mild language warning]

And Tennessee loses the lead in the 'Most Embarrassing Way to Sell Season Tickets' race
South Carolina, tell us about your entry: GamecocksOnline.com/Football2010, a website to mark the 2010 because -- let me guess, this is the year? (And season ticket sales are down?)

The promotional site also allows the South Carolina counties to get into the competition by providing a "Most Garnet Hometown" contest where one South Carolina county will be included in the opening video played at Williams-Brice Stadium prior to the kickoff of the Southern Miss football game September 2nd. The county with the most points earned by interacting on the site will be the winner. Points are earned by registering on the site and bonus points are awarded for uploading photos showing Gamecock pride. A running scoreboard, which is weighted based on county population, is located at the bottom of the page showing the leading counties.

To the college football world: I apologize.

D.J. Shockley headed to UFL
He's going to play for the Nighthawks of -- there's a UFL franchise in Omaha?!? And it's coached by Jeff Jagodzinski? No, no reason I'm laughing hysterically right now.

In any case, this will likely become a more routine option for ex-NFL players who never seemed to get a chance with the League. Shockley, you might recall, was released by the Falcons, who also have John Parker Wilson on the roster.

A bit more on the near-death of the Big XII
I know, this is getting a little bit old, but the Columbia Daily Tribune outlines some e-mails between Mizzou and the Big XII. A lot of it seems to back up my theory about one aspect of this story: Once the universities in the Big XII started talking publicly about leaving, the league began to spin apart.

There are also a couple of interesting e-mails in the report, including this one from Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton:

"We really never discussed the principal basis for the ostensible instability. That basis in no way can be that our Presidents are open to listening to alternatives that are in their university’s best interest. We have to go beyond that. An informative meeting for sure!"

Might "the principal basis for the ostensible instability" be a certain institution? And why would there be any hesitance to discuss "the principal basis" on the part of league officials?

Then there's this:

The Tribune’s open-records request asked for any e-mails between Missouri officials and representatives of the Big Ten or any of its members, but none was released.

That might mean there was no e-mail contact between Missouri and the Big Ten, although not necessarily. Kathleen Miller, the university system’s interim chief of staff and custodian of records, said some e-mails regarding conference realignment were deemed to be closed records because they were "related to a negotiated contract until a contract is executed."

Wait wait wait -- a negotiated contract? Between Missouri and the Big Ten? That seems highly unlikely -- and certainly some of those records are related to some of the Big XII deals -- but I'd still like to know if any Missouri-Big Ten documents are being hidden under the public-records exemption. (And they are likely being hidden, because most states' open-records laws are written to allow the release of certain documents as long as they don't have trade secrets or personal information even if those documents are exempt. In other words, MU is choosing not to release the documents because of the exemption, they're not required not to release the documents because of the exemption.) And I'd love to know what's in those files. Too bad we probably never will. (HT: Dr. Saturday)

Playoff battle gets ugly in Arizona
The Attorney General's office has been called in to investigate complaints that Fiesta Bowl organizers illegally steered contributions to certain candidates and then reimbursed employees who gave. The complaint was filed by Playoff PAC, so keep that in mind the next time a playoff supporter says they want to keep the bowls in place.

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