Sprints Gets Ready for the End of SEC Baseball and the Beginning of SEC Football Previews // 05.25.12

Offered without comment.

Earlier on TSK: SEC Baseball Tournament 2012: LSU, South Carolina Bounce Back to Face Mississippi State, Florida
The last four-game day set up a final round of games before the single-elimination weekend matchups.

Official SEC Baseball Tournament page
This is the last time that we'll remind you -- largely because it's the last time Sprints is running before the tournament is over.

Housekeeping: The New SEC begins Monday
That's our preview series for 2012, beginning with two teams each week, one from the SEC East and one from the SEC West. (Otherwise, we'd have all the SEC East teams done in rather quick order, this being a countdown.) Your clue is that one of the teams did not join the Confederacy during the Civil War and another keeps facing controversies about the Confederacy.

THE NEWS

The people in South Carolina just have better manners than Floridians
it's more subtle than the statements that came out of Tallahassee a few weeks ago, but the message from Clemson board of trustees Chairman David Wilkins to the Big 12 is basically the same: Call us.

We are very interested in a football program that is excelling at a high level, and we would consider, as we should, any viable option from any conference if we received any. We have not received any.

Yet. Wilkins might not have said "yet," but it's pretty clear that it's an operative word in that sentence. The odds of Clemson and FSU bolting for the Big 12 are still probably less than 50 percent, but they seem to keep edging a bit higher every day.

Let's try not to read between the lines here
Mark Richt is still getting paid an awful lot of money -- $2.8 million -- to coach college football at Georgia. And his contract is getting extended after an ugly 2010 and a rough opening to the 2011 season before the Dawgs ended up winning the SEC East. But this still feels like a kind of half-hearted reward.

Athletic director Greg McGarity told the Georgia Athletic Association board of directors Thursday that Richt’s deal "basically stays where it is right now" at about $2.8 million a year. ...

McGarity said all of Richt’s performance bonuses will double. He said Georgia will be "rewarding excellence" for winning championships.

If you're wondering, Steve Spurrier and Will Muschamp are among the five SEC coaches who make more than Richt. At their current jobs, they have one division title, no conference championships and two 10-win season between them -- all figures Richt has surpassed.

Georgia baseball: Striving to better than everyone but the best since 2012
Over on the diamond, Georgia baseball finishes another mediocre year in disappointing fashion and is the longest of long shots for a bid to the NCAA tournament. So Greg McGarity faces a difficult decision as athletics director about whether to keep baseball head coach David Perno, right?

"Dave will be back next year," McGarity said during a break at the Georgia Athletic Association board meeting at the Ritz-Carlton Lodge on Lake Oconee. "It's not even an issue. You take SEC records over the last two years and you give credit to South Carolina, Florida and Vandy and just do some research and see where the rest of us are -- about .500."

Well, yeah, but here's the thing: South Carolina, Florida and Vanderbilt aren't just in the same conference as Georgia -- they're in the same division. Making any significant progress in the standings is going to involve competing with those teams every season. And with Texas A&M coming on board with the SEC as a Top 10 program and a Missouri baseball team that's no slouch joining the SEC East, things are only going to get more difficult from here.

So why is Georgia, a team that supposedly aspires to be a national powerhouse in college baseball, keeping a coach that's having trouble moving them forward in the conference as it is?

Groo raises the right question
McGarity has made it clear that he's going to use a different barometer for what counts as competitive at each sport in which Georgia participates. So does that mean that Perno's meeting that definition in baseball?

Pointing out that most everyone, save for a few top teams, is roughly .500 is fine – unless your goal is to be one of those top teams. Imagine a discussion of Georgia football’s competitiveness that began by excluding Florida or Alabama. Yes, the Diamond Dawgs are competitive relative to the middle of the pack in the SEC, if that’s how the definition of ‘competitive’ works for baseball.

And if it is, I think that South Carolina, Florida and Vanderbilt would be just fine with that. One less team to worry about in what is already a stacked division in a stacked conference.

Houston Nutt can't even touch this
I'm not sure how I missed this when it first came out several days ago -- but Hugh Freeze has offered 246 scholarships this year. That's right; Ole Miss would have to use 10 years worth of scholarships if all of those players say yes -- which, of course, they won't. Cue insightful analysis from Rivals.com.

"That is a very high number," said Rivals.com recruiting analyst Keith Niebuhr. "Forget what conference you're in, that's a high number."

I'm trying to think of whether you can grayshirt 221 players. I would assume that's against the rules. But there should be some very happy Mississippi JUCOs at the end of the summer.

This is already getting ugly
Tennessee athletics director Dave Hart slammed a pending discrimination lawsuit from former PR person Debby Jennings in a statement saying "she was insubordinate, disrespectful and fostered an atmosphere of negativity and division." And kept some incendiary emails.

A phone book-thick stack of emails and letters from Jennings' personnel file released Thursday to the News Sentinel included a March 16 email from Jennings to Hart that began: "I learned yesterday that you just told Pat Summitt that she will not be back next year as our head women's basketball coach and I respectfully ask you to please reconsider this decision as it is not in the best interests of the university and also, in view of Pat's condition, it is discriminatory and wrong."

Obviously, if true, this would send the Vols fan base thermonuclear. There's not an official in the state of Tennessee with the authority to tell Pat Summitt what to do. So Hart no doubt quickly responded with an email emphatically and unequivocally denying that he had told Summitt she would not return. Well, sort of.

Hart's response to Jennings' March 16 email focused on her assertion concerning Summitt: "The email you sent me at 12:52 a.m. regarding coach Summitt is so inaccurate, on so many levels, that it does not warrant a meaningful response. I would think that a person holding a position such as yours would understand, far better than most, the negative impact of your rumor speculation."

The question here is twofold -- first, will Tennessee fans believe Hart's nondenial denial, and second, has Jennings already fired all the bullets in her gun? Because when you get into a public-relations battle with a public-relations professional, you might quickly find that you're punching out of your weight class.

Meanwhile ...
Summitt's getting ready to accept the President Medal of Freedom.

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