Tag Archives: Derek Mason

SEC’s First Spring Practices Headlined by Quarterback Questions

For each of the first five SEC football teams to start spring practice, one of the most interesting storylines is at quarterback. Maybe it’s a wide-open battle for the starting position or maybe it’s seeing how one player has progressed since last season.

In an attempt to finally truly embrace spring practice for the drama it can bring, I’m going to discuss the SEC quarterbacks we’ve already got our eyes on in spring practices. SEC quarterbacks haven’t been known to impress much lately (Dak Prescott aside). Hopefully this spring will help get our SEC quarterbacks off to a much better start for the 2017 season.

And let me be clear: These are not the only five SEC schools with intriguing quarterback predicaments. But all of these five schools that started practice before the beginning of March definitely do have this much in common.

South Carolina was the first team to commence its spring practices. To most, the question of who will start at quarterback had already been answered. Brandon McIlwain may have started the first few games last season, but Jake Bentley took over soon after. Bentley finished the season on a high note with his Birmingham Bowl performance.

Bentley’s hard work in the offseason has impressed head coach Will Muschamp. But in true Muschamp fashion, the coach had been saying Brandon McIlwain was still battling with Bentley for that starting position. As of March 1st, though, McIlwain has decided to transfer from South Carolina. That means that, barring injury or suspension, Bentley will be the starting quarterback for the Gamecocks. Bentley’s progression will still be something to watch this spring, though.

Vanderbilt was the next team to begin its spring practices. Vanderbilt, like South Carolina, doesn’t have a true quarterback battle. In fact, one of Vanderbilt’s quarterbacks won’t even be returning this season. Wade Freebeck, who occasionally started for the Commodores, has chosen to pursue the option to transfer to another school.

The starting job is then almost definitely left to Kyle Shurmur. To say the least, Shurmur was inconsistent last season. He’ll have a lot of work to do to cement his starting role with a few other quarterbacks waiting in the wings, especially freshman Deuce Wallace. Head coach Derek Mason seemed very excited about signing Wallace, and that may not bode well in the long run for Shurmur.

Auburn began its spring practice on the last day of February. Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham took reps with the first-team offense, which is an early indication that Auburn coaches have really opened up the quarterback competition. Sean White, the incumbent starter, had to sit out due to injury. Redshirt freshman Woody Barrett led the second-team offense. Last season’s backup, John Franklin III split reps between special teams and quarterback.

The biggest question remaining seems to be where Sean White will fit into this competition when he returns from his injury. Will he bump Jarrett Stidham to the second-team offense and retake his starting job? Or will Jarrett Stidham impress enough in spring practices to keep the starting job for now? And what about Barrett and Franklin? Will all four guys stick around for the season with so much competition for that starting position? This will easily be one of the most interesting quarterback races to watch this offseason.

Florida also began its spring practices on the 28th of February. And once again, the Gators are looking for someone to step up and claim the starting quarterback job. This seems to be a common theme for Florida lately. And heading into spring practice, the theme looks to be holding strong for yet another season.

The starting quarterback from the beginning of last season, Luke Del Rio, is sidelined after a shoulder surgery. That means redshirt freshmen Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask have a great opportunity to take the lead in the quarterback competition this spring. On Tuesday, Franks took snaps as the first-team quarterback. Many of those present commented on how improved his throwing motion was. Kyle Trask also took snaps at quarterback along with early enrollee “athlete” Kadarius Toney. Even after his injury is healed, I definitely don’t see Del Rio beating out all three players to regain his starting position. But Gator fans will undoubtedly be watching the quarterback competition closely this spring.

Ole Miss began its spring practices on Tuesday as well. The Rebels have their starting quarterback all but chosen for next season already. But there are still questions that Ole Miss fans will have about their quarterback this spring. Shea Patterson was originally going to observe Chad Kelly in all his glory last season but got thrown into the mix when Kelly tore his ACL. Patterson debuted well but the offense was inconsistent under his lead and the season went down the drain.

Patterson had taken very limited reps before being thrown into the game so the inconsistency is somewhat understandable. But will he become more consistent as he takes more reps with the team? And better yet, how will he respond to Coach Longo’s fast-paced offense? Patterson already had a lot to learn but will learning a new coach’s system prove to be too much? I don’t have the answers to any of these questions yet, but I suspect Ole Miss fans will be watching Patterson very closely through spring practices. After all, how can he live up to THE “Swag” Kelly?

E-mail Kristen at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @KristenBotica.

Featured photo courtesy of Gainesville Apartments.

A Look Ahead- The Impending Coaching Carousel

We’re not even halfway through the college football season, but it’s never too early to start talking coaching moves. Especially this year, as we’ve already seen one high-profile head coached fired and the proverbial hot seat growing increasingly warmer for many more.

Here is a look at the status of a few big-time coaches that will likely be on the move during the offseason (or sooner):

Les Miles- Formerly LSU

Miles has already been fired by LSU this season after an 18-13 loss to Auburn. Many saw it coming. Some thought he would be let go last season, and it wasn’t until late in 2015 that Miles was told by Athletic Director Joe Alleva that he would keep his job and head back to LSU in 2016.

Miles is 141-55 during his coaching career, and 8-6 in bowl games. He’s won one national title, two SEC championships, and three SEC Western Division championships.

He’s expressed interest in returning to coaching soon, leaving no doubt that he will be leading a program in 2017.

Tom Herman- Houston

Unlike the rest of the coaches that will be mentioned in this article, Herman has no chance of being fired from his role at Houston.  However, his return is not likely.

After an incredibly successful stint as Ohio State’s offensive coordinator, highlighted by a National Championship in 2014, Herman took over the Houston program in 2015. He led the Cougars to a 13-1 record, American Athletic Conference Championship, and Peach Bowl victory in his first season.

The Cougars were upset by Navy Saturday, but that won’t stop big programs from heavily pursuing Herman. He’ll be the hottest commodity on the market when the coaching carousel really gets spinning.

LSU has already inquired.

It’s very likely Herman will take the money and run when this season ends.

Charlie Strong- Texas

Before Strong took over the Texas program in 2014, Longhorns fans had seen just three sub-.500 seasons since 1990.  In his first season, Strong’s Longhorns finished 6-7.

In 2015, 5-7.

After two straight victories to start this season, Texas has lost three straight games while giving up an average of 48 points to the opposition.

Texas is growing impatient.

However, even though Strong is struggling to find success in the Big 12, he did successfully orchestrate the turnaround of a Louisville program that was crumbling under the Steve Kragthorpe era.

Louisville under strong:

2010- 7-6, bowl win

2011- 7-6, Big East Championship

2012- 11-2, Big East Championship, won Sugar Bowl

2013- 12-1, won Russell Athletic Bowl

It has been tough sledding at Texas, but Strong has a very impressive resume and shouldn’t have a problem securing employment if let go by the Longhorns.

Mark Helfrich- Oregon

After two successful years in Eugene to begin his head coaching career, due largely to the foundation Chip Kelly built, Helfrich’s Ducks finished 9-4 in 2015.  That was a tough pill to swallow for a fan base that hadn’t seen a four-loss season since 2007.

What’s more, it’s been a rough start to 2016.  The Ducks are on a four-game losing streak, capped by Saturday’s 70-21 loss to Washington at home.  Oregon hasn’t given up 70 points in a game since 1941.

Thanks to Nike, Oregon is one of the most recognizable brands in college sports, and that brand is in danger of seeing its first losing season in 11 years. Helfrich won’t last if that happens. With the lack of success on his resume, Helfrich likely won’t be in charge of a major program in 2017.

Notable Coaches on a Cooler Hot Seat

Clay Helton, USC– Helton’s Trojans came away with a tough win against 21st ranked Colorado Saturday night, which threw some water on the fire under Helton.  USC’s athletic department hasn’t been sure what direction they’ve been headed the last few seasons, but they need consistency before they will begin to see success.  You never know what will happen in Southern California, though.

Brian Kelly, Notre Dame– Kelly has had success almost everywhere he’s gone.  Kelly boasts a 228-84-2 overall record as a head coach, and despite a 2-4 start to this season, he’s 57-27 during his tenure with the Irish.  However, Notre Dame is a proud program with a history of success and if Kelly doesn’t get them back on track, he may be shown the door.

Gus Malzahn, Auburn– Malzahn’s Tigers went 12-2 in 2012 in his first season at the helm.  Since then, Auburn has been in decline, winning eight games in 2013 and seven in 2014. This season the Tigers are off to a 4-2 start, including two big wins against LSU and Mississippi State.  Malzahn may be on the coolest hot seat of them all, but if the Tigers don’t finish this season with seven or eight wins he could be in trouble.

Jim Mora, UCLA– Mora hasn’t had a losing season at UCLA, but he hasn’t been particularly impressive either.  UCLA is another program with a rich history, and after a 3-3 start to this season and the meat of the Pac-12 schedule in front of him, Mora could be in trouble.

Less Notable

Mark Stoops, Kentucky

Steve Addazio, Boston College

Derek Mason, Vanderbilt

James Franklin, Penn State

Darrell Hazell, Purdue

Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern

Also, don’t forget, Jim Tressel’s show cause is up this year. He may not want to get back into coaching, but it’s certainly a fun prospect to entertain.

With just over half of the season yet to be played, some of these coaches may fall off this list and some may hop on before the end of the year.  One thing is for certain, though; we are in for a bumpy, wild ride.

Buckle up.

E-mail Evan at or follow him on Twitter @skilliter.

Photo: Neon Tommy, Flickr

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The Sunday Morning Notebook- First Edition

What an impressive week of college football. We saw a new Pac-12 favorite emerge from the far northwest, fans rushing the field at Clemson, another top-notch kicker celebration, a not-so-strong performance from Charlie Strong’s Longhorns, and much, much more.

Enjoy a few highlights on the very first edition of The Sunday Morning Notebook.

Heisman Voters will be Watchin’ Watson Again

He may have thrown three interceptions, but Deshaun Watson’s five touchdown passes were enough top Louisville in a 42-36 shootout in Clemson.

This game featured two Heisman Trophy candidates and it didn’t disappoint. The front-runner on most lists is Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, who came into the game averaging over six touchdowns per game (combined rushing and passing).  SIX.  He finished the night with a touchdown through the air and two on the ground on 162 rushing yards.

Despite the loss, Jackson is still the Heisman front-runner.

Watson, who had fallen off most Heisman short lists after multiple lackluster performances, played his way back into the picture last night.  Watson threw for 306 yards and rushed for 91 to compliment his five passing touchdowns.

Notes:

  • Clemson’s Deon Cain stepped up in a huge way, catching four big passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns.  One thing that Clemson has lacked is a big play receiver, and if they found one tonight in Cain, they’ll be even more dangerous going forward.
  • Louisville had eight different players catch passes tonight. Four of those players caught four or more each.  If any aspect of Lamar Jackson’s game is underrated, it’s his vision and pass distribution.
  • Louisville should have won the game. On fourth and 12 with 33 seconds left, Jackson hit James Quick with a pass. With about six yards to run for a first down, Quick took the ball outside and met a defender a yard short of the yard-to-gain. All he needed was a quick cut to the inside or a forward dive and he would have had the first down. Instead, he put up zero fight and let a small defensive back push him out of bounds. The lack of effort was nearly sickening.
  • Louisville is not out of the playoff picture. If they win their remaining games, which includes a road matchup with undefeated Houston, they’ll deserve consideration from the College Football Playoff Committee.

Kirby’s players weren’t so smart

The second most exciting game of the weekend took place between the hedges in Athens, Georgia. A last second heave from Josh Dobbs lodged itself snuggly in Jauan Jennings’ gracious hands to give Tennessee a 34-31 win over SEC rival Georgia.  The win puts Tennessee in the drivers’ seat for an SEC East championship.

It was a marvelous play that should have never happened, at least not in the way it did.

Georgia scored a touchdown with 10 seconds left on the clock to go ahead 31-28. After a unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty on the celebration pushed the ensuing kick-off back to the Georgia 20-yard-line, the Bulldogs made the decision to “sky” kick the ball to prevent a big return.

A sky kick from the 20-yard-line. What could go wrong? Well, a number of things could go wrong, but here are two:

  1. Tennessee’s athletic kick returner Evan Berry could still run up and catch the ball, resulting in a quick return into Georgia territory.
  2. Your kick-off squad could go offside before the kick and add five yards from the spot of the ball.

… Or both.

Berry caught the ball and returned it 20 yards to the Georgia 48. Georgia was offside and the ball was moved to the 43. You already know what happened next.

In his post-game press conference, Georgia Head Coach Kirby Smart had incredibly harsh words about his team’s lack of discipline. You can’t blame him, really.  Those were two bad penalties and terrible spots to commit them.

“When undisciplined players make undisciplined decisions, that’s what happens,” Smart said.

Nonetheless, Tennessee stayed perfect. Other than back-to-back games against Texas A&M and Alabama, the Vols’ schedule is weak and Kristen Botica’s prediction should come true.

Notes:

  • Georgia runs the ball very well. Even without leading rusher Nick Chubb the Bulldogs were able to rush for 181 yards. Leading rusher Sony Michel averaged 5.7 yards per rush, which played a big part in opening up the passing game for quarterback Jacob Eason, who completed some huge passes.
  • Tennessee’s offensive line has struggled mightily this year. Georgia only capitalized twice with two sacks, but Tennessee is really going to struggle against Texas A&M and Alabama if they don’t get things straightened out.
  • Jalen Hurd gave us his own rendition of “dropping the ball before the goal line”. As long as you aren’t a Tennessee fan, it was pretty humorous.

Kickin’ it with Kenny

Michigan and Wisconsin gave us a show in the Big Ten’s game of the week. The Wolverines came away with the 14-7 victory in Ann Arbor, but the story of the game was Michigan’s inability to get the ball through the uprights.

Kenny Allen missed both of his field goal attempts, one from 31 yards and the other from 43.  Jim Harbaugh decided to give sophomore Ryan Tice a chance from 40 yards, but he found the same result.

Notes:

  • Wisconsin is way too one dimensional, relying too heavily on the run for success. Michigan loaded the box with seven, eight, or nine defenders on nearly every play and Wisconsin didn’t have an answer.  Badgers’ quarterback Alex Hornibrook completed just 9-of-25 passes for 88 yards and three interceptions.  That hard-nosed style may work against most Big Ten defenses, but they’ll struggle to score against Ohio State and probably any team they’ll face in a bowl game.
  • If it wasn’t for the Hail Mary in Athens, the play of the week would have been Jourdan Lewis’ one-handed interception to seal the deal for Michigan.

Washington is for real

Most of the nation hasn’t seen much from Washington this year due to its late, west coast start times.  I finally got my first look at them on Friday night and I loved what I saw as the Huskies smashed Christian McCaffery and the Stanford Cardinal 44-6. 

Washington quarterback Jake Browning and running back Myles Gaskins are for real and may lead Washington to a Pac-12 Championship and playoff birth.

Notes:

  • Washington was impressive on both sides of the ball, but it’s the defense that the rest of the country should fear.  The Huskies’ defense held the Cardinal to just 213 total yards of offense and limited Heisman hopeful McCaffery to 49 rushing yards (he averaged 145 yards per game going into Friday night’s match up).
  • The Huskies have some real playmakers at receiver.  Nine different players have caught touchdown passes this year.  John Ross caught his sixth touchdown of the season and Dante Pettis caught his fourth.
  • Washington will win the Pac-12

Quick Notes

-Charlie Strong won’t be the head coach at Texas next season.

-Even though he won this week, Brian Kelly will also be out of a job before the 2017 season begins.

-North Carolina’s kicker lived every young man’s dream and chopped his way around Doak Campbell Stadium.

-Derek Mason shouldn’t have punted and Vanderbilt is still Vanderbilt.

E-mail Evan at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter@skilliter.

Photo: Lauren Nelson, Flickr

SEC Links: And This Is Only May

How do you think college football’s Power 5 conferences’ coaches rank, from best to worst? CBS Sports analysts took a stab at this and created a poll in which coaches were rated, one through sixty-five.

In a recent column, I ranked the SEC coaching jobs, bottom to top. But the CBS poll just considers the the head coach and not the entire array of factors that go into making that job what it is.

Let’s take a look at how some of the SEC head coaches fared in the eyes of the people at CBS.

Guess who’s number one? Bingo! Nick Saban. Now that we have the obvious out of the way we’ll take a gander at the more difficult task of slotting the men who rank behind Saban in the Southeastern Conference.

Les Miles is number seven, Gus Malzahn thirteen, Hugh Freeze twenty-one, Bret Bielema twenty-two, Jim McElwain twenty-seven, Dan Mullen thirty-one, Kevin Sumlin thirty-two, Butch Jones thirty-three, Will Muschamp forty-four, and Kirby Smart forty-six. Derek Mason, of Vanderbilt did not poll in the top sixty-five and neither did Mark Stoops, of Kentucky, or newcomer Barry Odom, of Missouri.

Here’s my take on this. I love Gus, but I don’t know if I would rate him as the third best coach in the SEC. I would have after the 2013 season when Auburn came within thirteen seconds of winning the BCS National Championship and he won coach-of-the-year honors on almost every front. Gus has a lot to prove in 2016. We can revisit this after the season has completed.

Dan Mullen has done more with less, at State, than Kevin Sumlin has at Texas A&M. And why would Kirby Smart be ranked at all? The Georgia Bulldogs have yet to take the field with him as their leader.

That brings us back to Kevin Sumlin down in Aggieland. Wednesday was, yet another, tough day in College Station. Their top quarterback recruit de-committed and Aggie assistant coach, Aaron Moorehead, threw a tantrum on Twitter. Moorhead said the de-committment and the Twitter outburst were not related.

If that were not enough, two Aggie wide receiver commits also decided that they would not spend the next few years at Texas A&M.

I, for one, am quite curious as to how all of this will shake down. Stay tuned.

But hold on! We’re not completely done with the Aggies, just yet! Also on Wednesday, Johnny Manziel turned himself in to the proper authorities on the misdemeanor assault offense that he had, previously, been charged with. He was to appear in court on Thursday. As I stated in my Wednesday blog, I truly hope that Manziel’s story ends up being one of redemption.

The land of sin and salvation. Nobody does it better than the Bible Belt and Texas could be considered the buckle of said belt.

Back to Saban and Alabama, it might not be as crazy in Tuscaloosa as it is in College Station, but all is not well on The Capstone. As you probably know, assistant coach, Bo Davis “resigned” recently and that situation has yet to be resolved. Most experts speculate that this will not turn out to be huge and that Alabama will have it contained well. But, NCAA recruiting violations have been committed and penalties, however severe, will be levied.

Let’s move on to the coaches ranked numbers twenty-seven and thirty-three. That would be Jim McElwain and Butch Jones, respectively.

McElwain thinks Jones, and Tennessee, should beat the hell (Okay! “heck”) out of the Florida this fall. Interesting.

Players from the Gators and Vols are also weighing in on the matter. Butch thinks his guys should do this talking on the field. I couldn’t agree with him more.

I will conclude with this. This is all fun and games for us SEC fans, but I’m ready for the real games to begin.

117 days remain until Vanderbilt and South Carolina kick it off on Thursday, September 1.

Ranking the 2015 SEC Coaches

Putting coaches on a pedestal to dissect their each move is what us media love to do. Grading them on what they did right and of course what they did wrong by giving our own opinion as we are the Paul Bear Bryant of all our armchair quarterback strategies serving as the cream of the crop compared to these college football coaches.

Personally, I always try to stay away from critiquing coaching and playing styles because I have my job as a writer and scout and they have theirs both coming with reason (though Nick Saban may think differently on how deserving media analysts are with his own criteria of the position – but that can be addressed at a different time). The times when I throw my benefit of the doubt reasons for the coach out the window is when coaches stray so far away from the K.I.S.S. method and getting themselves into trouble.

Coaches sometimes become too cute (Gus Malzahn) while others are almost too conservative (Les Miles) not getting enough bang for their buck with the players they have on the field. Though you have to factor what those coaches have on the field in terms of what to run but that’s what practice is for.

Coaches, especially at the SEC level, are seen as gods and kings receiving luxuries and royalties when their well-coached team performs well, but once the market slips below equilibrium all hell breaks loose. Here are the top coaches in the SEC based strictly off this season’s performances and how they compare with last season’s results and preseason expectations:

1. Jim McElwain, Florida (9-1 Overall, 7-1 SEC)

Comparing the Gators’ 2014 season to this season, it’s a night and day difference in the execution on the offensive side of the ball as McElwain has increased the production of this once anemic offense. McElwain got gut punched by the NCAA when the news came out about Will Grier’s 2015 playing status, but backup quarterback Treon Harris has filled in nicely leading the Gators to a 3-1 record since taking over. McElwain had the luxury to rekindle a strong Gator defense put together by former head coach Will Muschamp, but even with an offense that looks better on the field they average less points than last season but have decreased the amount of turnovers giving them a chance to win in every outing. Well done, Coach McElwain.

2. Nick Saban, Alabama (9-1, 6-1)

Obviously the best coach in football, but Nick Saban just falls to second place because of McElwain’s immediate success in his first season at Florida. Having the quarterback controversy to deal with for the second season in a row, it seems as this narrative has already been written. This Alabama defense is one of the best Saban has possessed in his tenure at Tuscaloosa and continue to put themselves in manageable situations to win football games not making quarterback Jake Coker have to do too much. It’s another normal Alabama season that has playoff bound characteristics written all over them.

3t. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State (7-3, 3-3)

Having been placed to finish last in the SEC West this preseason, Dan Mullen and the Bulldogs have been quietly effective this season with seven wins. Dak Prescott has been playing better than ever (Alabama game just average performance: 22-43, 300 yards, Int) and the defense has been just fine holding opponents to just 18 points per game. Mullen has this team contending every week and even with a couple of tough games left on the season 9 or 10 win season is not out of the picture. Dating back to the 2014 opener, the Bulldogs have 17 overall wins which is tied for second in the SEC with Georgia (Alabama ranks first with 212 wins).

3t. Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss (7-3, 4-2)

Some coaches can’t even take down Alabama twice in their careers, nonetheless taking down the Tide in back-to-back seasons like Ole Miss has. Hugh Freeze has a unique style to his system scoring big and keeping opponents under 25 points. The philosophy has worked and Freeze has coached up another junior college quarterback to help guide his team. With an ample amount of NFL caliber players you could ask more of the Rebels but with another win over Alabama under their belt and potentially a road win in the Egg Bowl, the season will be a success once again.

5. Bret Bielema, Arkansas (6-4, 4-2)

Seeing how the Razorbacks started it’s strange to see Arkansas riding on a four game winning streak with wins over Auburn, Ole Miss and LSU. Hiring former Central Michigan head coach Dan Enos to run his offense, Bret Bielema has turned his run first offense into an effective balanced attack scoring 34 points per game and an increase of total yards per game of 63 to 469. With the recent win over LSU, Arkansas looks to finish out the season on a six game winning streak getting to eight wins for the first time since 2011.

6. Les Miles, LSU (7-2, 4-2)

It’s a tossup on whether LSU has either overachieved or underachieved with a 4-2 conference record. The quarterback position has been in doubt over the past two seasons with the combination of Brandon Harris and Anthony Jennings and neither one of them being effective enough to control the outcome of a game. With a talented filled roster it’s expected for the Tigers to have a little more eye candy and firepower than they have produced this season with just a mediocre showing with a couple of potential losses left on their schedule.

7. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M (7-3, 3-3)

In his fourth season at the helm, along with Texas A&M’s fourth season in the SEC, Kevin Sumlin and the Aggies were expected to see the Aggies contending for league titles by now with the improved personnel and coaching staff within the past few years. With another underwhelming season, Sumlin’s seat isn’t getting warm but it’s time to get going on the right road because another eight win season isn’t cutting it.

8. Derek Mason, Vanderbilt (4-6, 2-4)

Taking matters into his own hands making changes in the coaching staff, Derek Mason has transformed this 2014 struggling team into a black and white difference in 2015 though the Commodores are still in jeopardy of not producing a bowl eligible season. Mason has this program heading into the right direction and could be a quarterback away from bringing back what James Franklin started in Nashville.

9t. Butch Jones, Tennessee (6-4, 3-3)

This was supposed to be Tennessee’s year. Returning quarterback Joshua Dobbs with key skills players and experienced players in the trenches, this was Butch Jones’ best shot at capturing an SEC East title crown but has fallen short with his team collapsing late in games.

9t. Mark Richt, Georgia (7-3, 5-3)

A 7-3 record isn’t too bad, but it’s just the same ole thing in Athens. Mark Richt has created this program to be on a level to compete for championships every season so this disappointment comes each season when the Dawgs fail to even scratch the surface of at least an SEC East title. Richt’s time could be limited in Athens and with the University of Miami head coaching job vacancy it makes an interesting story…potentially.

11. Mark Stoops, Kentucky (4-6, 2-6)

Sure, the expectations weren’t high for the Wildcats this season but falling apart in the middle of the season was not part of the plan. Mark Stoops’ team has dropped five straight games averaging just 16.8 points per game with poor play on all cylinders. The Wildcats can still reach bowl eligibility with wins over Charlotte and Louisville, but Stoops just has two SEC wins in his three years as head coach in Lexington. It’s time to get it done on the field.

12. Gus Malzahn Auburn (5-5, 2-5)

It’s crazy to see a Gus Malzahn offense struggle so much without having a productive player at quarterback and any big-time playmakers on offense (or we just don’t get to see them get the ball much). Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp seems to finally have his defense playing at a high level, but the Auburn offense has not even been mediocre not being able to capitalize in the red-zone. Who is to blame? I’m not sure, but the finger always gets pointed back at the heacd coach so Malzahn takes the fall with the Tigers extremely underwhelming 5-5 record.

13. Gary Pinkel, Missouri (5-5, 1-5)

Unfortunately, long-time head coach Gary Pinkel has to hang up his coaching career for now and it would have been nice to see his team end on a good note, but that’s not the case. Pinkel’s team ran into more than enough trouble at quarterback decreasing its stock value this season giving reason to its 1-5 conference record. The Tigers are possibly now in rebuilding mode, but moving forward with freshman quarterback Drew Lock can be a good thing.

14. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina (2-4, 0-4)*

Well, if you tap out in the middle of season because of losing you’re not going to find yourself at the top of many lists. Steve Spurrier has been rumored to be a sore loser and we may have witnessed just that this season. The Gamecocks have found themselves in the victory circle just once since Spurrier’s departure, so The Ole Ball Coach may have been foreshadowing when leaving, but still at least finish out the season, right?

 

SEC Football Power Rankings: Week 8

Well, this is a first for me as a writer here. I try to shy away from ranking teams because of the upset fans that will inevitably tell me their team shouldn’t be wherever they are on my list of rankings. Every fan thinks that way about their team. Sometimes I think that way about my teams. When ESPN’s SEC Power Rankings for Week 7 had 1-4 as LSU, Alabama, Texas A&M, then Florida, I felt like they were wrong. Florida deserved to be third, NOT Texas A&M. Luckily for me, Florida is third this week…because even though I’m a biased fan, I was right. So there …HA! Now I’m sure at least one person will read this and have similar sentiments about whatever I rank their team, but at this point in the season I really couldn’t care much less. So here we go, my inaugural SEC Power rankings and the explanations of my choices are all below.

  1. LSU (7-0): LSU is the lone undefeated team left in the SEC and as such, there was no question in my mind when it came to their #1 ranking. Star RB (and probable Heisman trophy winner) Leonard Fournette has been unstoppable on his feet this season. And on top of that, LSU QB Brandon Harris has now had over 200 passing yards in each of their last three games. With the rest of their offense finally becoming a real threat, LSU is going to be a tough team to slow down as they head toward the end of the season. Next game: @ Alabama, Nov. 7, 8 p.m.
  2. Alabama (7-1): Alabama, as always, is a force to be reckoned with. Last week they played a dangerously close game against the visiting Volunteers in Tuscaloosa. But, the Alabama defense still asserted their dominance when it came down to crunch time. Not to mention that Alabama was coming off a brutal schedule throughout the past few weeks and Tennessee was coming off a refreshing bye weekend. What we do know about Alabama is that they’re beatable. But just how beatable can a team with such an imposing defense be even if their offense is pretty average? Next game: vs. LSU, Nov. 7, 8 p.m.
  3. Florida (6-1): We learned nothing new about the Gators last week while they had a bye. But we still know a few things from their previous games. The Gators have a dominant defense, led by one of the best secondary units in the country. They also have more playmakers on offense this year than they ever did under former coach Will Muschamp. But, their kicking game is still a huge problem. And in close games, that may just come back to bite them. Thankfully they still have a stellar 4th down conversion percentage in case they’d rather not risk kicking the ball. Go ahead and ask FSU about those risks, Gator fans. Next game: vs. UGA, Oct. 31, 3:30 p.m.
  4. Ole Miss (6-2): Ole Miss is still a very confusing team in my mind. They beat Alabama early in the season but got dominated by Florida just a couple games later. They killed New Mexico State, but then got handled by Memphis. Last week they bounced back with a big win (20-point margin) over Texas A&M. Who is this Ole Miss team? I really don’t know. I guess it depends on the week. But they’ve proven to be a tough team to beat on their good weeks and I’m predicting at least a couple more good weeks for them this season. Next game: @ Auburn, Oct. 31, 12 p.m.
  5. Mississippi State (6-2): Mississippi State is an interesting team. They actually have a solid defense when you look at their statistics. What they don’t have is a solid offense involving any player(s) besides their QB Dak Prescott. Dak Prescott is dominant. He obviously leads their team in passing yards with over 2,000 so far this season. But he also leads the team in rushing yards. Overall, he’s been responsible for 20 TDs this season and has only thrown one interception. The Bulldogs live and die by Prescott, but lately they’ve just been living. Next game: @ Missouri, Nov. 5, 9 p.m.
  6. Tennessee (3-4): I know that a lot of you think it’s crazy to rank a team with a losing record so high. And I’m okay with that because I know I can support this ranking. Their losses this season have only been by a combined 17 points. And three of those losses were to teams currently ranked in the Top 15 of the AP poll. The Vols really are on the verge of being a good team again. They finally managed to beat Georgia this season and maybe that will be the boost they need to be able to close other games for the rest of the season. Their biggest weakness right now is in their kicking game, but leave it to Butch Jones to find a way to straighten that one out. Next game: @ Kentucky, Oct. 31, 7:30 p.m.
  7. Texas A&M (5-2): The Aggies started out the season 5-0, but have since lost their last two games. Their first five opponents may have factored into how they made it so far into the season without losing a game. But after facing Alabama and Ole Miss, they Aggies have now lost by a collective 38 points…over double what the point differentials from Tennessee’s four losses add up to. And that’s why Texas A&M is barely in the top half of my SEC power rankings. But maybe if they switch things up at QB this week, they’ll shut me up. Next game: vs. South Carolina, Oct. 31, 12 p.m.
  8. Georgia (5-2): Georgia suffered more than just an L in their win-loss column when they traveled to Tennessee a few weeks ago. They lost their star RB Nick Chubb on the first snap of the game. That loss likely helped the Vols get a win over Georgia that day. But there’s still no excuse for how they fared against Alabama at home with a healthy Chubb. They also barely beat Missouri in a really ugly game a couple weeks ago. After their bye week, we know nothing new about the Bulldogs. But this weekend we should find out just about all we need to know about Mark Richt’s squad. And I don’t expect that to be a particularly positive result. Next game: vs. Florida, Oct. 31, 3:30 p.m.
  9. Arkansas (3-4): Arkansas has had four pretty bad losses…their two non-conference losses being the worst of those. They lost to Toledo and Texas Tech in non-conference play and have lost to Alabama and Texas A&M in conference play. But even two of their three wins haven’t been so pretty. They barely beat Tennessee and they also won a ridiculously high-scoring game against Auburn by only eight points. Arkansas is just an unimpressive team this season, even though they have all the potential in the world to be a solid squad. Potential doesn’t mater if you don’t play up to it, though. Next game: vs. Tennessee-Martin, Oct. 31, 4 p.m.
  10. Auburn (4-3): If Florida was the good surprise of the season in SEC football, then Auburn was the bad surprise. Although their record is still a winning one, that’s only because they’ve already played three of their non-conference games. Three of those four wins were against the likes of Louisville, Jacksonville State (in OT), and San José State. Their only conference win was over Kentucky and just by three points. They’ve already lost to LSU, Mississippi State, and Arkansas. With Muschamp’s underperforming defense and weak offense, I expect them to lose to at least three of their four remaining SEC opponents. Next game: vs. Ole Miss, Oct. 31, 12 p.m.
  11. Kentucky (4-3): For a team that’s used to being the perennial laughing stock of SEC football, Kentucky has had a decent season so far. They lost to Florida, Auburn, and Mississippi State. But, they beat South Carolina and Missouri. I wouldn’t call this a good team, but I would say it’s an improvement for their program. And sometimes turning a program like Kentucky’s around takes baby steps. Winning at least one of their three remaining conference games would go a long way in instilling confidence in this team that they can be relevant in the coming years. Next game: @ Tennessee, Oct. 31, 7:30 pm
  12. South Carolina (3-4): There’s not really much I can say about South Carolina this season. Now that Head Ball Coach (Steve Spurrier) is gone, South Carolina is really in a tough spot. Their only conference win so far was at home against Vanderbilt. Other than that they beat UNC (by 4 points) and UCF (by 17 points). They have racked up a whole bunch of losses in the SEC so far. And their three remaining SEC games won’t be easy unless South Carolina can find a way to finally get something going on offense. And even their defense could use some work. Overall, this season has been and will continue to be a struggle for the Gamecocks. Next game: @ Texas A&M, Oct. 31, 12 p.m.
  13. Vanderbilt (3-4): With their first SEC win under coach Derek Mason, the Commodores are no longer currently the worst team in the conference. Though that isn’t saying much, because of the way their schedule works out, Vanderbilt could technically still win the SEC East. Even though they don’t have many wins going for them, the majority of their losses weren’t by huge margins. And like many other SEC teams, they have a really tough defense. They may not even win another conference game for the rest of the season, but one is better than none, right? Next game: @ Houston, Oct. 31, 7 p.m.
  14. Missouri (4-4): Missouri wouldn’t have been considered the worst team in the SEC a week ago. But after an ugly loss to Vanderbilt, they get spot #14 on my rankings. Their defense has been suffocating for the entire season, averaging holding their opponents to only 12.5 points against them. But their offense has been miserable, averaging only 14 points for the team. Not to mention they’re in the 100s as far as rankings for both passing and rushing yards go. If they don’t miraculously start creating some offense, this team is going to go down in flames even though they have one of the best defensive units in the country. Maybe having QB Maty Mauk back from his suspension can give their offense the spark it needs. Next game: vs. Mississippi State, Nov. 5, 9 p.m.

If you have any comments, make sure to tweet them at me. You’ll find me as @OGKristenB on Twitter!

Superlatives: SEC East Coaches

Last year I decided that instead of discussing each coach in a normal way, I was going to choose a superlative that best describes that coach. I would venture to say that all of my superlatives from last year, except one (sorry Gary Pinkel!), were pretty accurate. This year I hope to replicate that accuracy by providing new and/or improved superlatives for the coaches of the SEC East. I will also be sharing my superlatives for the coaches of the SEC West later this week. Bear with my as I try to take this as seriously as I can while still being my sarcastic, and occasionally entertaining, self.

Florida Gators

Last Season: Will Muschamp, “Most Likely to Get the Boot”

This Season: Jim McElwain, “Most Likely to Get More than He Bargained for”

His superlative, explained: After Coach Muschamp did, in fact, get the boot last season, the Gators were left in a very dark place. They managed to rack up a winning record and even a bowl win last season, but they also lost many key ingredients to that success. Superstar Dante Fowler, Jr. left for the NFL leaving a hole in Florida’s dominant defense. That hole should be much easier to fill than the offensive ones that were left for Coach McElwain. When he came to Gainesville, the team only had eight lineman on scholarship. EIGHT. Though McElwain worked hard to try to create depth for the offensive line through recruiting, the strength of Florida’s offensive line is still a huge question mark heading into the season. That strength or lack thereof could also greatly affect the quarterback situation. Treon Harris would be stronger as far as scrambling when the line collapses, but Will Grier is a much more skilled pocket passer. And having a passer like Grier is definitely better suited to Coach McElwain’s style. This leaves yet another question mark for the Gators. The coaching job at Florida was an incredible opportunity for McElwain, but I think with these questions heading into a pretty tough schedule, he will get a little more than he bargained for.

Georgia Bulldogs

Last Season: Mark Richt, “Most Likely to Be a Bridesmaid…Again”

This Season: Mark Richt, “Most Likely to Be a Bridesmaid…Always”

Last season, Mark Richt was definitely just a bridesmaid in the SEC East and even in the Top 25 across the nation. This season, I expect the same results. Honestly, I expect him to be a bridesmaid for the foreseeable future. At the end of the day, Mark Richt is definitely a good coach; he’s far above average. Many athletic directors across the country would be salivating at the idea of having him at the head of their football team. But STILL, one thing has eluded Richt. It’s that big, sparkly championship ring. It’s actually even getting a chance to play for the National Championship title. Will that change this season? No. Will Mark Richt and his team end up in the postseason Top 25? Yep. All I have to say is Richt better try hard to catch that bouquet this year, or he may be doomed to be a bridesmaid…always. And that boquet, in my mind, is a top-notch class of recruits.

Kentucky Wildcats

Last Season: Mark Stoops, “Most Likely to Stay in His Brother’s Shadow”

This Season: Mark Stoops, “Most Likely to Be in the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time”

Though Mark Stoops had some impressive moments as head coach of the Wildcats last season, he definitely remained in his brother’s shadow. Bob Stoops at Oklahoma has a legacy that Mark may never be able to surpass. And even though Mark saw much improvement in his team last season, it just seems he may be in the wrong place at the wrong time (shoutout to Michael for helping me with this one). What do I even mean by that when talking about a football coach? Well, in a lot of the other conferences I think Kentucky could’ve finished in the middle of the pack last year. They also could have recruited better if they happened to be in another conference. Their plan to lure recruits from Big Ten areas backfired when the Big Ten teams started winning and the recruits started decommitting. If the Wildcats were in the Big Ten, maybe they could’ve held on to those recruits. But being in the SEC, they lost out. You may be thinking that being in the SEC is an advantage when it comes to recruiting, but not for a team like Kentucky. The Kentucky football program has very little success in school history to use to impress potential recruits. I would say at least half of the other programs in the SEC do have some kind of impressive football history to showcase. You can be a good coach all you want, but if you don’t recruit the right players then you’ll never compete at an elite level in a powerful conference like the SEC. Unfortunately for Stoops, he just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Missouri Tigers

Last Season: Gary Pinkel, “Most Likely to Take a Tumble”

This Season: Gary Pinkel, “Most Likely to Coach a Game on December 5th”

This is definitely one superlative I incorrectly wrote about last season. Gary Pinkel didn’t take a tumble at all. His team actually remained pretty comparable to how successful they were the season before. Almost any fan base would’ve been satisfied with a performance like Missouri’s. This year, I’m going to try to be right about Coach Pinkel. And by the way, I’m dedicating my positive opinion of the Missouri Tigers and their coach to my dad’s fiancé and my future stepsister. Now, about this season… Pinkel lucked out by virtue of the fact that the Tigers may face two of the “easier” SEC West opponents. I put easier in quotation marks because let’s be honest, no SEC West team will be an easy opponent. Not even Mississippi St. or Arkansas. But on top of that, Pinkel has many key players returning on offense, including experienced QB Maty Mauk and standout RB Russell Hansbrough. There may be some holes to fill on defense, but it looks as though Coach Pinkel has players willing to step up this season. The SEC East does seem wide open this year…if you’re any team besides Vanderbilt and Kentucky. The Tigers will definitely have competition, but in my book Pinkel is most likely to be heading to the SEC Championship Game on December 5th.

South Carolina Gamecocks

Last Season: Steve Spurrier, “Most Likely to Talk More Game than He Can Back up”

This Season: Steve Spurrier, “Most Likely to be Coaching from a Retirement Home”

Last season’s superlative seemed incredibly accurate as the Gamecocks had an underwhelming season after Spurrier had run his mouth before the season even began. This season, I’m not too sure what to expect of South Carolina. Will they bounce back or will they continue the mediocre trend? I have no idea. But the one thing I know…the one thing we all know, is that Coach Spurrier doesn’t plan on going anywhere. He actually called an impromptu press conference over the summer to address “enemies” that speculated about when he might retire or if he would leave USC. Spurrier not only reaffirmed his loyalty to the Gamecocks, but he also said that he plans on coaching for a “long time.” I don’t know exactly what a long time is, but that statement definitely had me imagining Coach Spurrier calling plays from a retirement home years from now. Even if somehow he is no longer coaching for South Carolina, he seems determined enough to coach for a while longer that I’m sure we’ll be hearing plenty of his smack talk for years to come. This passion for coaching the game convinces me that Spurrier is definitely most likely to be coaching from a retirement home one of these years.

Tennessee Volunteers

Last Season: Butch Jones, “Most Likely to Recruit Better than His Team Plays”

This Season: Butch Jones, “Most Likely to Have a Breakout Season”

Though a bit comical, last year’s superlative proved to be true. Tennessee did improve but also definitely did not outdo Coach Jones on the recruiting front. Jones ended up with a top five class of recruits after last season. Tennessee’s team ended up nowhere near a top five performance. The good news about his recruiting prowess is that it helps the Vols for seasons to come. Two years in a row now, Tennessee has played a close game against the Georgia Bulldogs. Two years in a row, the Volunteers have beaten Spurrier’s Gamecocks. Last year Tennessee also barely lost to the Florida Gators at home, dominated an improved Kentucky Wildcats team, and blew out the Iowa Hawkeyes in their bowl game appearance. Those facts plus the addition of a talented recruiting class, the number of starters that are returning for the Vols, and the full support of the Tennessee fan base mean only one thing: Butch Jones is poised to have his breakout season this year. Watch out for Rocky Top!

Vanderbilt Commodores

Last Season: Derek Mason, “Most Likely to Get Hazed”

This Season: Derek Mason, “Most Likely to Get the Boot”

To say that Derek Mason was “hazed” during his first season among the brotherhood of the SEC coaches would be an understatement. The Commodores went a laughable 0-8 in SEC play. Not only that, but in seven of those eight losses, Vanderbilt was outscored by double digits. In one of those losses, Vanderbilt actually never managed to get ANY points on the board. I would say it’s too soon for Mason to be worried about his job security since this is only his second season coaching in Nashville, but after a season like last year’s that may not be true. No athletic director will sit by and watch as their football program is embarrassed week after week. If Mason continues the abysmal record he started creating for himself as head coach last season, there’s no way Vanderbilt’s fans and school officials will continue to pay him to coach their team. The thing is, I’m not sure how Coach Mason can manage to break this losing streak either. The SEC East has plenty of contenders for the division title and even a once-embarrassing Kentucky program is now on the rise. With no relief in sight, I see Derek Mason clearly being the most likely to lose his job by the end of the season.

Coaching With A Hotseat

Big_Game_Bob

Every year it happens as soon as the season ends. Fans, writers, and anybody else with a rooting interest in college football starts to speculate about which coaches may be coaching with a hot seat underneath them. It can be a difficult thing to coach under this type of condition, but it comes with the territory of being a big time college football coach. Which coaches in 2015 will need to improve their situation and avoid the “ex-coach” moniker?

Here’s my list of current Power 5 Conference coaches that will have a hot seat underneath them in 2015.

Bob Stoops is first up on my list of coaches on the short leash. The Sooners ended 2013 with a dominating performance in the Sugar Bowl against Alabama. That game was not even close in the score and in how each team played. Alabama played like they didn’t care and very flat. Oklahoma, on the other hand, dominated from the opening kick-off to final gun at the end of the game. Most thought that the Sooners would be coming into 2014 with the mindset of getting into the playoff and winning not only the Big 12, but a National Championship. As we all know, things didn’t go as planned in Norman, Oklahoma. Bob Stoops and his Sooners finished the 2014 season with an 8-5 record which was the worst record for Stoops since his first year at the helm. Plus, his team got annihilated 40-6 in the Russell Athletic Bowl and that did not go over well in Norman. The Sooners haven’t won a National Championship since 2000 and let’s just say that Sooner fans are not accustomed to waiting 15 years for their next title.

Next on this list is Mike Leach, Head Coach of Washington State University.  Getting a hire such as Leach for a school like Washington State was certainly a coup. It even raised some eyebrows in terms why would Leach go out to the Palouse to coach? Well, it may have been a great hire back then, but it hasn’t turned out the way people at Wazzu had thought. Leach fell victim to some very unfortunate injuries last season which ruined any chance at finishing with a decent record. He has been trying to lay a foundation Washington State, but the foundation keeps getting chopped down by injuries or players not performing to their potential. Washington State has a lot of players that are coming back for 2015, so the outlook may be up in Pullman, but another year like they have had recently in the rough and tumble Pac-12 and that could make things for Mike Leach extremely interesting.

Moving onto the Big-10 I would have to say that Illinois Head Coach, Tim Beckman would be at the top of Big-10 list. He did make a bowl game last year, but even in reaching that bowl game he and his Illini team lost the bowl game by three scores. Any safety that he may have found in reaching that bowl game was summarily wasted in getting torched in their bowl game. His predecessor Ron Zook was fired because being average was not acceptable, well, if you take a look at what Beckman has done, it’s not even close to what Zook did. His conference record is a paltry 4-20 after this past season.  Only one of those wins came by more than four points, so his teams are not blowing teams apart even when they win. Beckman’s overall record at Illinois is 12-25 in three seasons.  Some of his wins are over teams that you would expect a Power 5 school to beat, but they barely escaped with victories over a Texas State team (42-35) and Western Kentucky (42-34). They also did lose to Purdue and that didn’t sit well with fans because they have a mindset of being a better program than Purdue, but to many, including a very knowledgeable writer on the Big-10 that I know, Illinois is the toughest job in the conference. It almost seems like his departure is inevitable regardless of how he does in 2015.

The ACC is really a one horse team to me with Florida State reigning supreme over everybody. The coach that I look at as probably having the term hot seat attached to him is Virginia Head Coach Mike London. This is a tough job as it is with all the academic requirements it takes to get into UVA. London’s recruiting classes have been ranked in the top half of the ACC, but those successes off the field have turned into successes on the field for London and his teams. London lone winning season was in 2011, going 8-5, and since then he has had nothing but losing records. Since that first season, he has gone 15-33 overall and 6-26 in conference play. If the bottom line is winning, then Mike London has not done that. His recruiting issues with turning talent into wins is the perfect example of how much of a gamble recruiting really is for coaches in college football. You just never know how these players will turn out and if enough players don’t turn out well then the coach is looking for another job. Whether London makes it through 2015 remains to be seen, but another losing record and he’s done for good at Virginia.

Last, but certainly not least, the SEC. The conference where fans are little more rabid than other fans and even a winning record can get you in hot water. I would say that in the tough SEC where coaches can be chewed up and spit out, Derek Mason would be on the hot seat. I know he’s only been at Vanderbilt for a one season, but when you lose all your conference games and fire your coordinators at the end of the season then you put yourself on this list. Mason has to prove to administration, alumni, and fans that he deserves to be an SEC coach. His predecessor Coach Franklin, got the program to adequacy, but Mason hasn’t reached that level in the least.  Vandy is a tough place to recruit because of academics. They can’t really “smooth” over academics to bring a kid in. Bottom line with Mason and Vandy, he has to provide a glimmer of hope to the school that he is just going to be a cautionary tale in the mighty SEC.

In the end, coaches are graded on the records and these five coaches have yet to prove that they can win on a consistent basis. I never root for people to get fired and never like seeing good people get fired, but coaching is a cutthroat business where winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.

 

Changes? That was quick.

Vanderbilt Nation, are you glad that dreadful season is over with? I’m sure you are and I am as well. What a mess the 2014 season was.

Vanderbilt finished 3-9, well below their predicted outcome at the beginning of the year, and they also finished winless in the SEC with blowout losses to Ole Miss (41-3) and Mississippi State (51-0).

Clearly rookie mistake were made by head coach Derek Mason and his staff throughout the entire season, mainly on the offensive side of the ball. The offense saw four starting quarterbacks, they lacked having playmakers at the wide receiver position and the offensive line struggled all season long. Pretty much there was no identity on offense what so ever. They only thing worth bragging about on offense is running back Ralph Webb who finished the season with 212 carries, 912 rushing yards (4.3 ypc) 4 touchdowns and averaging 76 ypg.

The Commodores finished the season ranked 106th in passing, 112th in rushing and 122nd in total yards among 125 FBS programs.

Vanderbilt finished the regular season ranked in the bottom of the SEC in nearly every major category on both sides of the ball.

Clearly changes needed to be made as far as personnel is concerned and Mason did just that. Mason wasn’t stubborn like most coaches and didn’t wait too long to make those changes once the season was over. Mason fired offensive coordinator Karl Dorrell and wide receivers coach Marc Lubick as well as strength/conditioning coach Bill Hughan. Dorell and Lubick definitely needed to go, the two main parts that Vanderbilt struggled with the most.

Dorell brought in a West Coast offense style of play that proved to be very effective when he was leading the UCLA Bruins from 2003 to 2007 and was named the 2005 Pac-10 co-Coach of the year with a 10-2 record that season. While at UCLA, Dorell had a record of 35-27 which led the Bruins to five bowl games.

“I have great respect for Karl, Marc and Bill and appreciate their contributions to the program. They are men of character and excellent coaches. I wish each of them nothing but success in the future.” Mason said in a statement.

Do you believe Mason is taking the proper steps in the right direction to avoid another disastrous season? I personally believe that he is. Yes, we lost a lot of talent last season with key players graduating and also players leaving with Franklin to go to Penn State with him. In most situations like the one that Vanderbilt has been through this year, you can’t help but point the fingers at the coaches, especially when it came to Vanderbilt’s offense. Ugh, I couldn’t watch the majority of their games because of them.

Clearly when Mason said changes were going to be made just after the Tennessee game, he wasted no time in making those changes. I believe he made the right choices by releasing Dorell, Lubick and Hughan.I believe Mason is going to take his time and evaluate his next hires to make sure they are the right ones.

I believe that Mason will make he correct hires when they are presented to him in the future and won’t jump to make a decision immediately. I believe he will take his time and I believe we should be excited for next season. There is potential in our offense. We just have to have the right coaches to get the offense and identity and develop playmakers at wide receiver. Anchor Down!

Vanderbilt: A school with morals.

On Wednesday, Vanderbilt released running back Jerron Seymour for violating team rules. As from the information I have gathered, he was on the depth chart to play in the Mississippi State game Saturday evening. But when Wednesday rolled around, he simply didn’t show up for practice and was released for that reason.

We all know Vanderbilt is having a rough season with a record of 3-7 with 0 wins in the SEC. That was certainly not expected by many. Seymour has not really been a key player for the Commodores with having just 25 carries for 123 yards this year. However he did dominate last year with 14 touchdowns. With so much controversy going on this year not only for just Vanderbilt, but throughout college football, I have asked myself this question for the past several days; Would you much rather have a crappy football team with morals or would you rather have a team that will do anything to win at all costs without discipline?

Lets look at what the year in review as far as negativity surrounding college football is concerned. I΅will start ff with Vanderbilt. Well, I will go back to last year.

As most people know, four Vanderbilt football players are currently on trial for the alleged rape of a Vanderbilt student stemming back to last summer. At the time, coach James Franklin was Vanderbilt’s head football coach. As soon as news broke out that a rape may have happened last summer involving these four former players, James Franklin immediately dismissed them from the team without questioning their guilt or innocence. I believe a lot of that decision to release them was so quickly was because their was a video of all four former players going into the dorm room with the woman and exiting shortly after while one player covered up the video camera. Clearly something went on that night. Was it rape? Let’s let the grand jury decide that. No school or program really wants that kind of attention, especially if it involves such thing as rape.

Texas really seemed to be another popular school this year that wasn’t going to let anything slide no matter how small the predicament was. Head Coach Charlie Strong has dismissed nine players (yes, nine players) this year, all before October which seemed to be mainly for ¨violating team rules¨. Not really knowing what all the players done. Maybe they were small infractions. But Charlie Strong certainly sent out a message with all of those dismissals. He pretty much said that no nonsense will be tolerated no matter how small the situation is. Good for you, Mr. Strong. Let them young guys know that they aren’t going to just go out and do whatever and get away with it.

Obviously Georgia made a big splash with their Heisman hopeful Todd Gurley being suspended four games for receiving over $3,000 in memorabilia over a 2 year span. The NCAA laid down the hammer on Gurley for this, not Georgia. I know its against NCAA rules to accept money in some capacity but four games? That’s a bit harsh in my opinion.

Just recently, the Tennessee Volunteers made news when two of their players were accused of sexually assaulting a woman. Both players were immediately suspended from the program, including one of their star players in AJ Johnson. Butch Jones said he wanted to be ¨right rather than fast¨ with his decision on what the proper course of action should be after all the information from the Knoxville police have gathered as they are investigating the incident. Good call, coach. You handled the situation appropriately.

Maybe the next school I am about to talk about should take a lesson from Vanderbilt and Tennessee.

I’m sure you all already know as to what school I am about to talk about next. Yes, Florida State. Man, are they showing that if you play football their, you can just just do about anything and get away with it or just get a slap on the wrist no matter how big or small the situation is. Rape allegations, crab leg stealing, saying inappropriate things in public (which Jameis was punished for) and now allegations of two players doing a hit and run and only getting a traffic ticket out of it. Has the school investigated this incident? Nope. Those two players seemed to be getting away with it.

Here’s another thing about Florida State that seems to be so sketchy. Why was Jameis’ disciplinary hearing moved after the football season is over with? What gives? If hes innocent, why delay it? Get it over with!

As you can see, no matter how big the star is on your squad, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Texas and Georgia (well, NCAA in Georgia’s case) have shown that nobody is above the rules. They have shown that no matter what, they have morals and take every incident that happens with their program will be taken very seriously no matter how big or small the situation is and are willing to take a big blow to their possible good season. Obviously Vanderbilt’s season is shot and has been pretty much all season but is willing to make a statement that nobody is above the rules and regulations. Tennessee just recently proved that with suspending AJ Johnson isn’t really a favorable move for the program and certainly not well liked by the Volunteer nation but he is willing to take the flack from fans no mater what the cost. Charlie Strong sure is showing that building character among a young group of men should be a priority by showing such discipline that maybe a bit harsh by some or many but I believe it’s for all the right reasons.

Discipline builds character. Letting star players on your squad run free, basically letting them do whatever they want to do and making them believe they will get away with it won’t be a good thing for them later down the road. As far as not punishing Jameis or the players that allegedly did a hit and run last month, you’re only giving them the feeling that they are invincible and that could be damaging to them later on in their lives. Kudos to you coach Mason, Strong, Franklin and Jones, you’re doing these kids a favor in my opinion. Jimbo and Florida State, not impressed with you. You’re not doing these kids a favor when they leave the school and go out into the real world. Take a few pointers from Strong, Mason, Franklin and Jones.