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Tag:Pete Boone
Posted on: March 1, 2012 5:30 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 7:51 pm
 

LSU AD says Tigers, Gators may end series

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

SEC athletic directors met this week to try and squeeze the league's expansion toothpaste back into the tube of a scheduling rotation that all 14 schools could live with ... and unsurprisingly, they didn't make much headway. But the athletic director at LSU says he and his counterpart at Florida are willing to remove at least one minor hurdle from the deadlock.

Speaking to the Baton Rouge Advocate Thursday, LSU A.D. Joe Alleva said that both his program and Jeremy Foley's in Gainesville are "interested in ending" (to use the Advocate's paraphrase) the Tigers' and Gators' annual cross-division rivalry game. LSU and Florida have met each year since 1971 and were designated as permanent cross-divisional rivals in the SEC's 1992 expansion.

Sources told CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy Thursday, however, that Florida is not currently interested in canceling the series. 

The league is considering doing away with permanent cross-divisional rivalries in an effort to ease scheduling concerns, even though that decision would imperil two of the conference's most storied rivalries in Auburn-Georgia and Alabama-Tennessee. Alleva, however, said that despite his school's willingness to abandon its annual cross-division game, there was "momentum" among the A.D.'s to preserve those two particular series.

“The only way around that is to try to maintain the old rivalries and come up with a solution for those who don’t have them,” Alleva said. “There’s a fine line to doing that.”

Both Ole Miss's Pete Boone and Vanderbilt's David Williams told the Birmingham News this week that they oppose maintaining permanent cross-divisional games, with Williams labeling as unfair a potential compromise that would see only some teams (namely, Auburn, Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee) keep such games.

The leeway of a nine-game league schedule would ease many of those concerns dramatically (while raising others), but Alleva echoed the current prevailing sentiment of SEC A.D.'s and officials in saying he and his fellow A.D.'s prefer sticking with an eight-game schedule--even at the apparent cost of a LSU-Florida series highly valued by many fans on both sides.

Which is why the further A.D. meetings alluded to by SEC spokesman Charles Bloom at the conclusion of this set will no doubt be entirely necessary to iron out the league's scheduling dilemma. The conference continues to face a fundamental scheduling paradox: it wants a six-game divisional round-robin, a permanent cross-division game, and two rotated cross-divisional games (to avoid going a full decade without seeing some opposite-division opponents) ... and still stay at eight games.

Somewhere, push is going to have to come to shove, and it's not a shock a group of 14 men with as many differing agendas as the SEC's A.D.'s would seem to have haven't found where that shove is going to come just yet.

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Posted on: November 7, 2011 11:53 am
Edited on: November 7, 2011 1:04 pm
 

Houston Nutt is out at Ole Miss: now what?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The SEC has its first (and possibly only) coaching casualty of the 2011 season as Houston Nutt has gotten the ax at Ole Miss. Here's the essential questions that need answering in the wake of the Rebels' decision, and our best attempt at answering them:

Two seasons ago Nutt won his second straight Cotton Bowl, the best back-to-back seasons for the Rebels since their 1960s heyday. Now he's staring an 0-8 SEC season in the face and unemployed. What happened?

Several things, but none more damaging than that Nutt's last couple of recruiting classes weren't nearly as good as advertised. Ed Orgeron left the cupboard well-stocked for his successor, and to Nutt's credit he made far more use of Dexter McCluster, Jevan Snead, Peria Jerry and other stars than Orgeron ever did. But his seeming emphasis on quantity over quality -- unfortunately, the 2009 38-member signing class that spawned the SEC's 28-signee "Houston Nutt Rule" may be as much his Oxford legacy as those two bowl victories -- left the 2010 and 2011 Rebels entirely devoid of difference-making SEC stars. (It didn't help that several of his highest-profile signees, like now-exiled receiver Patrick Patterson, wound up being total busts.)

Nutt hasn't done a good job of day-to-day coaching (by any stretch of the imagination) these last two seasons, and his utter failure to develop a reliable quarterback for this 2011 campaign may have been his single biggest mistake of all. But on a broader level, his losses and misssteps on the recruiting trail meant that once Oregeron's players graduated, he was starting down the barrel of a sizable talent disadvantage against nearly every SEC team he faced in 2010 and '11.

Why now? Why not wait until the end of the season?

If the Rebels have the funds necessary to buy Nutt out of his ginormous contract, it really doesn't make any sense to wait--with LSU still on the schedule, Ole Miss's best-case scenario at the end of the season is a 4-8 overall, 1-7 record in the SEC. Coming off of last season's disappointment and with no reason to think next year will be dramatically better, that sort of record should result in Nutt's canning as long as the athletic department has the cash to get rid of him. Since they apparently do, now the coaching search can start in earnest ... and the sooner the new coach is hired, the sooner he can try and salvage something out of the Rebels' 2012 recruiting class.

Speaking of: who will the Rebels target?

Until he actually moves on from the Plains, the first name on any list of candidates for a mid- to lower-tier SEC job is going to be Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, even with his Tigers taking a step back offensively this season after Cam Newton's departure. The former Arkansas high school coach may not be able to resist the chance to prove he could outperform his old boss (and now bitter coaching rival, according to many) at the same position.

But the job is attractive enough that the Rebels may be able to pick-and-choose if they decide Malzahn's not the right fit (or vice versa). According to one report boosters have already contacted Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin, and Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables. It would make sense for current Southern Miss head coach Larry Fedora to be in the mix, too, after taking his Eagles to 8-1 on the year. And of course there's always Mike Leach, who'll be along any minute to mention how much he'd love a shot at coaching in the SEC.


Posted on: October 5, 2011 2:08 pm
 

SEC RapidReport Roundup: Easley hires attorney

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Running down everything you need to know from the current news in the SEC, courtesy of our CBSSports.com RapidReporters (and others).

FLORIDA. It's been a busy few days down in Gainesville since the Tide swept the Gators away, even moreso for starting defensive lineman Dominique Easley, who was accused by a former Alabama player of assaulting him on a stadium walkway post-game. Though Easley has not been charged with any crime (nor even named as a suspect), he has hired notable criminal defense attorney Huntley Johnson. Johnson on why Easley retained his services: "Probably because he read the Constitution. It's his right.

A Gator spokesman had no comment on the situation.

As for the Gators' quarterback situation in the wake of John Brantley's right leg injury -- reportedly confirmed as a high ankle sprain -- freshman Jacoby Brissett is firmly in the mix, with Charlie Weis saying he could have won the backup's job if he had been enrolled for spring practice. Fellow true freshman Jeff Driskel has served as Brantley's backup to-date and is the other option to start with Tyler Murphy likely third string.

LSU. Jordan Jefferson had quite the interview with the media late Monday evening, and while most of it's covered in this wire report, it's also worth noting this gem of a quote: "I didn't have to apologize because we all were there (at the bar fight)," he said. "So I didn't have to apologize for anything." We're not sure that really applies when you're a senior leader breaking curfew and inadvertently setting off a media circus that still hasn't subsided, but we'll take his word for it.

Les Miles addressed the CBSSports.com report that NFL teams would be interested in hiring him, saying he was flattered but "I am happy where I am." He also confirmed that the hamstring injury which removed tailback Spencer Ware from last Saturday's win over Kentucky would not keep him out of this week's matchup vs. the Gators.

AUBURN. An already-shaky injury situation for the Tigers at wide receiver has only gotten worse. Trovon Reed is still out with a shoulder injury, but the bigger blow is that junior Emory Blake is in a protective boot and doubtful for Auburn's trip to Arkansas. Between them, Blake and Reed have accounted for 32 of the Tiger wideouts' 48 receptions on the season.

The good news for Auburn is that Michael Dyer's ankle injury won't prevent him from taking the field vs. the Razorbacks. Dyer blamed South Carolina for intentionally causing the injury, saying a Gamecock player had twisted his ankle after the whistle. (A replay of the play is available here.)

SOUTH CAROLINA. Speaking of the Gamecocks and injuries, Carolina likely won't need Melvin Ingram to beat Kentucky. But they're likely to find out all the same, as the SEC's leading pass rusher and tackler-for-loss has been on crutches and is a question mark for Saturday.

Also potentially out: left tackle Kyle Nunn, which won't help an offensive line Steve Spurrier said has backslid the last few games. "Our blocking has been a little on the bad side lately," he said.

ELSEWHERE. He wouldn't be Nick Saban if he wasn't disappointed in some aspect of his team's play, and this week it's first quarters. “We really haven’t played worth a damn in the first quarter ... that was certainly the case in this last game [vs. Florida], where we gave up half the yards," Saban said. He also had some choice wordsfor the practice of trash talking. " “You should never talk to the guy you are playing against," he said. "You’ve got nothing to say to that guy" ...

Arkansas has several candidates for their starting tailback slot, and will use them all ... Mark Richt is one victory away from 100, but he'll have to earn it without Da'Rick Rogers, the receiver who eventually signed with (and now stars for) his Saturday opponent, Tennessee. "We thought we had him," Richt said. "Then, it changed. It happens in recruiting" ...

Meanwhile, in Knoxville, true freshman Devrin Young made two long special teams returns in his Vol debut vs. Buffalo, but a fumble has meant spending this week working on his ball security ... Embattled Ole Miss athletic director Pete Boone received a standing ovation at a Jackson (Miss.) speaking engagement ... The remarks of Boone's head coach on Auburn cornerback Jermaine Whitehead's recruitment have been much less well-received ... Morgan Newton is still taking all the first-team quarterback reps at Kentucky practice this week.
Posted on: September 30, 2011 4:20 pm
 

SEC RapidReport Roundup: It's all on Lattimore

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Running down everything you need to know from the current news in the SEC, courtesy of our CBSSports.com RapidReporters (and others).



SOUTH CAROLINA. It doesn't seem possible that Marcus Lattimore could take on even more of a burden for the Gamecock offense, but that's how things look as his team prepares for Saturday's visit from Auburn. Lattimore's top two backups are both doubtful for the game with injuries; Kenny Miles is struggling with a sprained wrist, third-stringer Eric Baker might miss the game as well, and freshman Shon Carson tore his ACL in mid-September. Freshman Brandon Wilds could be the only scholarship running back available for Steve Spurrier other than Lattimore, but even if Baker is healthy, the junior has just five carries combined the previous three seasons.

Lattimore already leads the nation in rushing attempts with a whopping 26.75 per game. But given the problems Carolina must deal with when either anyone other then Lattimore rushes the ball or Stephen Garcia drops back to pass, that workload doesn't seem likely at all to decrease this week.

In other Gamecock news, true freshman receiver Damiere Byrd will make his long-awaited debut this week after all. His four-game NCAA suspension has been served, but in midweek Spurrier said he hadn't been "cleared" just yet. Now he has.

AUBURN. If the Gamecocks start to feel sorry for themselves, though, all they'll have to do is look to the opposite sideline this week. After already losing receiver Trovon Reed to a shoulder injury for this week and possibly longer, the Tigers also confirmed this week that defensive end Dee Ford will miss the remainder of the season with a herniated disk. Though technically a backup, Ford was the only junior in the entire Tiger defensive line's two-deep; his spot in the rotation will be filled by two players with a combined 23 career snaps.

It's those kinds of defensive issues that have forced Gene Chizik and Gus Malzahn to slow down Malzahn's preferred up-tempo style during his Auburn tenure; the Tigers have averaged only one more play per-game under Malzahn than they did in the 12 seasons before his arrival.

OLE MISS. Things in Oxford are ugly off the field, with the Ole Miss chancellor himself writing open letters in response to anonymous "threats" and the Rebel community seemingly divided over the status of athletic director Pete Boone and coach Houston Nutt. But they might be even uglier on it right now, which is why Randall Mackey seems set to become the Rebels' third starter under center in five games as the Rebels travel to take on Fresno State.

And speaking of ugly, more than a few wags on Twitter had something to say about Nutt's decision to wear a flat-brimmed blue baseball cap during his team's loss to Georgia. He explained himself in straightforward fashion this week: he wanted to protect his face from the sun, and he couldn't wear both his preferred straw hat and a headset at the same time. Works for us.



ARKANSAS. Even after losing Tenarius Wright for 4-to-6 weeks, there is some good news for the Hogs on the injury front. Senior corner Isaac Madison is expected to play against Texas A&M after leaving the Alabama game with an injury, and running back Broderick Green has made startling progress from the ACL tear suffered during spring practice--so much progress that Green is already practicing and is now expected before the season's end, possibly as soon as this week.

On the downside, defensive coordinator Willy Robinson is less-than-thrilled with the performance of senior safety Tramain Thomas at the moment. "I'm not going to sit down there and allow what was going on during the course of the game to continue, so I made a switch there," Robinson said of pulling Thomas against Alabama. "This week he knows he's under fire, and he'd better give us better effort."

ELSEWHERE: Nick Saban said five-star running back recruit Dee Hart has made substantial progress since preseason ACL surgery, but remains highly likely to redshirt ... Vanderbilt starting linebacker Tristan Strong will miss the rest of the 2011 season after tearing an ACL against South Carolina. He was third on the team in tackles ...

Georgia
linebacker Christian Robinson is expecting to play "15-20 plays" in his return from injury. His partner in rehab? None other than Barbara Dooley, who Robinson promised he'd wear Derek Dooley-style orange pants if his Dawgs beat Derek's Vols later this season ... After initially asking to leave the team, Bulldog backup running back Ken Malcome changed his mind and rejoined the squad on Thursday ...

Tennessee freshman running back and returner Devrin Young is set to make his season debut after missing the Volunteers' first three games with a broken collarbone ... Fans at the Vols' game against Buffalo will be able to wave pink shakers in exhcnage for a donation to breast cancer research ... Mississippi State isn't unhappy with defensive tackles Fletcher Cox and Josh Boyd, but would like to see more production from them all the same ... Why, yes, Kentucky offensive coordinator Randy Sanders is "frustrated" with his team's offensive struggles. We doubt you're surprised.

Posted on: September 20, 2011 1:49 pm
Edited on: September 20, 2011 4:00 pm
 

Ole Miss AD calls loss to Vandy 'unacceptable'

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

We wrote Saturday that after Ole Miss's inexplicable 30-7 loss to Vanderbilt, Houston Nutt had eclipsed Mark Richt as the SEC coach on the hottest seat in the league. Unfortunately for Nutt, the actions of Rebel athletic director Pete Boone since that defeat have done nothing to disprove that assumption.

Monday, Boone took the highly unusual step of speaking at Nutt's Monday press conference, preceding his coach's remarks with some 13 minutes of commentary on the Rebels' predicament. "[Nutt is] committed to correcting some of the issues that he sees are correctable and fixable within the program," Boone said. "And that's what his job is, and that's what he'll be doing."

"I appreciate Pete Boone meeting with the staff and myself, appreciate what he did the last 24 hours," Nutt said (not all that convincingly, in our opinion). "But now bottom line is that it's up to us as coaches, as players to do our jobs."

Boone's appearance at the press conference might be viewed as the dreaded "vote of confidence" that so often signals the beginning of the end for an embattled coach, but Nutt would no doubt take that over Boone's other action in those "24 hours": sending an open letter to Ole Miss fans that asked for support but also called the loss to Vanderbilt "unacceptable." Courtesy of the Clarion-Ledger, an excerpt:

The fullness of the Ole Miss football experience that you deserve and have generously invested in, has not lived up to expectations recently. Coach Nutt and I met today and discussed the current state of Ole Miss football. Both of us are extremely disappointed in our performance this year. We agreed that to be successful, this disappointment must be met head on with solutions for improvement. We discussed several areas that needed improvement and I support Coach Nutt in his effort to correct those areas.

As I have said, Saturday’s performance and our running two-season SEC record are unacceptable. Our commitment to compete at a championship level is as strong as ever and we will succeed!
Is there any doubt that "we discussed several areas that needed improvement" is administrator-speak for "I told him to quit embarrassing himself, or else"?

There's two things that might save Nutt's job even in the event the season continues to turn sour: that his back-to-back Cotton Bowl championships remain a nearly-unprecedented feat for the Rebels since the Archie Manning days, and that he has a substantial buyout (thanks to the ever-ingenious machinations of agent Jimmy Sexton) that the Rebels -- already in the midst of a sizable fund-raising campaign to upgrade both the basketball and football facilities -- may not be able to afford.

But it won't help Nutt that Boone may be under a little bit of pressure, too. Though likely only a vocal minority of Ole Miss fans, a group calling itself "Forward Rebels" took out ads in multiple newspapers (including, again, the Clarion-Ledger) after the Vandy debacle claiming that "the Ole Miss administration is the problem":


For a full-size version, click here, but know it's not Nutt the ad is referring to when it says "our leadership has failed us."

Again, that's not to say Boone is under that much heat at this time. But if his coach continues to struggle to the point that either Nutt goes or they both do, we suspect Boone will do his best to find the money for the buyout ... and that the pain of that search likely explains why he's making no secret of his desire to see Nutt turn things around as quickly as possible.

Ad image HT: Friends of the Program.


Posted on: March 30, 2011 12:02 pm
 

Ole Miss to unretire Chucky Mullins' No. 38

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Jersey No. 38 hasn't been worn at Ole Miss since 2006, and with good reason: it's the retired number worn by the late Chucky Mullins, the Rebel defender who was paralyzed in a 1989 Homecoming game. It's one of only two numbers to be retired at Ole Miss, the other belonging to Rebel uber-legend Archie Manning.

But Ole Miss announced yesterday that as part of an effort to honor Mullins' memory, the No. 38 will be making an emotional return to the field:

Bestowed on a rising senior defensive player each spring, the Chucky Mullins Courage Award winner had worn the late Mullins' No. 38 jersey from 1990 until 2006, when the M-Club Alumni Chapter passed a resolution for the retirement of the number ...

The M-Club's new resolution supports the decision for the No. 38 to remain retired and be worn only by the Chucky Mullins Courage Award recipient each year.

"It's important that the standard of courage and spirit that Chucky represents remains at the forefront of Ole Miss Football, for our players and our fans," said Ole Miss Director of Athletics Pete Boone. "Retiring Chucky's number was the ultimate way to honor his memory. However, we miss that constant reminder of his legacy that we had with the No. 38 on the field every Saturday. It should be a living number that is with us everyday, and I'm grateful for the former award winners who led the charge to bring it back."

"The Chucky Mullins Courage Award is one of the great honors in college football and is a special part of Ole Miss," said Rebel head coach Houston Nutt. "I'm excited to see 38 back on the field and know that others will be reminded of what Chucky stood for every time the Rebels play."

As for who'll wear it in 2011, the Mullins Courage Award winner will be announced at a team banquet April 14--an award that thanks to the jersey number that goes with it will carry even more honor this season (and for many seasons to come) than it already does.

Posted on: November 22, 2010 11:24 am
Edited on: November 22, 2010 11:33 am
 

Georgia-Boise St. game alters 8 other schedules

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Lost somewhat in the excitement over Georgia agreeing to play Boise State in the annual Chick-Fil-A-Kickoff game next season was the fact that both the Bulldogs and Broncos already had opponents scheduled to open the 2011 season: Louisville in Georgia's case, and Ole Miss in Boise's.

That's where the ripples from the Georgia-Boise rock thrown into the puddle of college football scheduling start, but they radiate out much, much further from there, as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution describes by listing the incredible eight teams whose 2011 slates have already been altered to accomodate the matchup:
Georgia, Boise State, Louisville (dropped from Georgia’s schedule), North Carolina (added to Louisville’s schedule to replace Georgia), James Madison (switching dates on North Carolina’s schedule to accommodate the UNC-Louisville game), Ole Miss (moved a scheduled 2011 season opener against Boise State to 2014), BYU (replaced Boise on Ole Miss’ 2011 schedule) and Oregon State (changed dates on BYU’s schedule to accommodate the BYU-Ole Miss game).
This isn't to say that several of these teams aren't happy with the changes; Ole Miss athletic director Pete Boone called delaying his school's meeting with the Broncos until 2014 so it could be that year's Chick-Fil-A Kickoff "a dream come true."

But still: maneuvering this many moving pieces into place just for one high-profile made-for-TV game should tell you how much weight ESPN currently has to throw around in college football's sphere of influence. And with the WWL somewhat fortunate the Beavers could switch dates so easily and keep the daisy-chain at only eight teams, it begs the question: at what point do teams start putting their foot down and telling television that some things aren't worth the money being thrown at them? Is there such a point?

Judging by the number of dominoes knocked over to bring together Georgia and Boise, ESPN's going to find out if there is sometime soon.



 
 
 
 
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