Sprints Will Not Declare for the NFL Draft, But Mark Ingram and Co. Probably Will // 01.07.11

THE SEC IN THE NFL

Earlier on Team Speed Kills: Ryan Mallett Declares for Draft; Now Almost Certain First-Round Pick
Ryan Mallett shocked no one by deciding to go to the NFL this year. Here's our post looking at what that means for him and the program he leaves behind. But Mallett is just one of several SEC West players announcing today or in the next few days that their leaving -- a list that could cost the division some of the talent that made it by far the better half of the conference this year.

D(fection)-Day for Alabama
A press conference today is supposed to tell us what will happen with Mark Ingram, Marcell Dareus and maybe Julio Jones, Mark Barron and Dont'a Hightower with regards to the NFL Draft. There are indications that some of the five juniors have already made their decisions.

This one boggles my mind
Not because I'm really all that surprised that Mark Ingram is going to the NFL, but because I'm not really sure this is the best time. If he had just had a down season, or if it was just that the collective bargaining agreement hadn't been signed yet, then go. But with both of those elements in play, I'm not sure that I would go.

Consider this: Ingram played in 11 games this year after missing the first two following surgery. He carried the ball more than 15 times in three of them. If I'm an NFL general manager, then that gives me pause as to whether he's fully recovered. Not because it indicates that he isn't -- I'm sure that Alabama backed off using him as much because of the injury. But because it doesn't tell me if he has recovered, or if his durability is the same as it was before.

Part of this might be because I genuinely like Mark Ingram as a player and don't want to see him leave the SEC this soon. And it's certainly not to say that he won't be successful as a pro. It's just that I'm not sure that this is the best year for him to go to the NFL.

This time, it's completely within the rules
Marcell Dareus is gone. He's already chosen an agent, which basically makes him ineligible under NCAA rules to play next year.

And then there are the gray areas
That includes Julio Jones meeting with a financial advisor -- who is technically an agent under NCAA rules. But the Association also makes one nod to common sense in this area by allowing players to meet with agents as long as they don't reach an agreement. I don't see why Jones would stay at Alabama another year, but the fact that he hasn't reached an agreement means anything could happen Friday.

WHO?!?
The most puzzling of all the possible departures from the Tide has been found.

Another pro possibility is junior wide receiver Marquis Maze, according to sources close to the team.

Wha? Okay, Marquis -- can I call you Marquis? -- let me give you a little free advice here. Receivers who are 5-foot-10 and whose best season consists of 38 catches for 557 yards and three touchdowns don't go in the first few rounds of the draft, if they go at all, unless they have a great day at the combine. And by that, I mean "shatter four or five combine and / or land speed records." Go back to Alabama and benefit from the fact that at least one and maybe two of the team's marquee players are going to the draft, setting yourself up to make at least a little more money next year.

Also leaving: An East player
There is apparently at least some NFL talent in the SEC East. Janoris Jenkins will leave and probably be a high draft pick.

2011 BCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

Nick Fairley? A dirty player?!? How dare you say such a thing!
And yet, Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas went there in the build-up to the BCS National Championship Can We Get a Few More Words In There Game.

"Oh, yeah, we’ve seen it. They’ve got a lot of dirty plays, throwing people around after the play and things like that," said Thomas, whose option runs are a big part of Oregon’s offense.

I know that Georgia fans, in particular, are shocked to hear those comments. They believe that Nick Fairley plays completely within the rules of the game -- right, guys? Okay, stop laughing.

He can probably get Glenn Beck to help him
Auburn fan Robert Gibbs plans to uphold one of the Tigers' greatest traditions if they win the game Tuesday. Which is fine -- except that it's the toilet paper thing with the White House serving as Toomer's Corner.

I’ll make this commitment on the air. If Auburn wins, I will come back, I will get a little agreement with the Secret Service. We’ll put a couple of rolls [of toilet paper] up there, and then I can help take it down so it doesn’t look like we trashed the place.

Absolutely no danger of that.

This is absurd
If you want to know why political hacks getting involved in the playoff debate is bad for all involved, here it is. Instead of arguing about the relative merits of a playoff for non-AQ teams, or talking about the competitive and fan benefits that it supposedly would bring, Playoff PAC is reaching into the bag of distraction and frivolity that we see in political campaigns.

While your humble correspondent is no supporter of the idea of a playoff, I have respect for people like Dr. Saturday who argue for it on its football merits. Whether it's the BCS, the supporters of the old bowl system or Playoff PAC, I have no patience for juvenile publicity stunts like this.

COACHING CAROUSEL 2010 (NOW USING BIG TEN COUNTING METHODS)

Mississippi State replaces Manny Diaz
Sort of. Co-coordinator Chris Wilson will be the new defensive coordinator, but a hire to replace Diaz on the staff is expected.

Going from UT to UT
Bennie Wylie will leave Tennessee for Texas.

Brady Hoke might not have signed his extension with San Diego State
That would make him a bit easier for Michigan to recruit. Pat Fitzgerald at Northwestern is reportedly not going to go to the school's Big Ten(+1, almost +2) rival.

Jim Harbaugh might not be 'wishful thinking' for Wolverines
The interesting thing about this article is that it was written before the NFL rumors about Harbaugh started crumbling. That puts Stanford back in the mix for its coach, but it's amusing that all the NFL writers have now decided that if Harbaugh is not headed to San Francisco or Miami, he must be going back to Stanford. How could another college possibly be a better idea than the great reality TV show that is the NFL?

OTHER NEWS

The end of a rivalry
An interesting recounting of why Texas A&M and LSU haven't played in 15 years. There's, of course, an easy solution to this: Invite A&M to the SEC. But with the conference expansion talks winding down and ESPN willing to overpay to keep the 10-team Big XII alive, that seems unlikely.

Great news
Eric LeGrand is recovering better than we could have hoped.

Pac-12 Championship Game to Fox
This is part of the network's obvious strategy to remain in the college football game despite losing the BCS. The Big Ten(+1, almost +2) has also inked a deal with Fox and the network also has a new deal with Conference USA.

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