Posted on: July 20, 2011 11:52 am

Five things about the SEC heading into media days

1. South Carolina is this year's Auburn. Last year no one was talking about Auburn winning the SEC West, much less the national championship. Who is this year's Auburn? South Carolina isn't a bad place to start as this year's under-the-radar team. Sure, sure, the Gamecocks are favorites to win the SEC East but with (perhaps) three future pros on offense and the debut of Jadeveon Clowney on defense, they could go further. The coach sure has national championship experience.

2. Houston Nutt's seat is warm. Ole Miss' coach won nine games and the Cotton Bowl in each of his first two seasons. Last season things imploded as Mississippi fell to 4-8. The Jeremiah Masoli experiment failed, the defense was shredded and the Rebels lost again to Mississippi State. Will that be a blip on the radar or a trend? Nutt's teams always seem to play best when expectations are low. And they are low. It's hard to see the Rebs finishing higher than fifth in the SEC West.

3. Alabama can win a national championship with either quarterback. A.J. McCarron or Phillip Sims? Sims or McCarron? It doesn't matter. Play them both, which Nick Saban has hinted at. It doesn't matter. This Bama team is so solid otherwise that it can win with a game manager at quarterback. Trent Richardson is a Heisman Trophy candidate. The defense is nearing 2009 levels. Bama gets LSU at home in the game to settle it all. What's not to like? As long as McCarron and/or Sims don't start channeling Jordan Jefferson the Tide will roll.

4. It's all on Isaiah Crowell. Caleb King and Washaun Ealey are gone at Georgia. That means that Crowell, a true freshman sensation, is going to have to be this year's Marcus Lattimore. Or do we dare suggest another Herschel Walker when talking about SEC freshman breakout tailbacks? Crowell is the kid who pulled out a real, live bullpup when he committed to Georgia.  Now the question is, can he carry the program on his back?

5. When can Auburn really celebrate its national championship? Gene Chizik was slapped down last month by the NCAA enforcement director when he asked about the Cam Newton investigation. There is still the ongoing probe into the four former players who spoke out on HBO's Real Sports. News broke Wednesday that the NCAA was in Montgomery, Ala. in the last week of June conducting interviews. Tigers fans would like to finally celebrate this national championship without survivor's guilt.
Posted on: February 5, 2011 1:20 pm
Edited on: February 5, 2011 1:23 pm

Dodd mail 2/5

Observations after being trapped in Dallas this week by an ice storm on one end and a blizzard in the Midwest on the other. After three flight cancellations, two rental cars and a 154-minute delay at DFW, I made it home.

Please tell me you share my joy.

--With the Super Bowl in Big D this week (actually, Big A, Arlington), the NFL needs to take action. Isn't it about time Roger Goodell fines the National Weather Service $25,000 for excessive blows to the region?

--If there is anyone who should be aware of the dangers of frostbite it is a college hockey player, right? 

--The latest UGA -- bulldog mascot -- has died at Georgia. New signee Isaiah Crowell should be getting a call soon. Crowell brought a bull pup to his signing press conference to emphasize his love of the Dawgs. I'm thinking the puppy has plenty of eligibility left to become the new UGA.

--In response to one of his columns about college training techniques, the Orlando Sentinel's Mike Bianchi got this from a reader: "Since 2000 — 21 college football players dead. I am an ex-Marine, and I have to believe that in the same time frame we had more young people go through boot camp with less fatalities. And I would guess our boots [soldiers] started at a lower level of conditioning. So what is wrong?"

The three biggest stories of the week -- at least in this corner of the world  -- were National Signing Day, the firings and suspensions of medical personnel at Iowa and Rich Rodriguez.

Your reactions ...

From: Greg

Dennis, what coach (Rodriguez) does not understand is that he thought he was hired to FIX something. He kept saying it would take time to FIX. Michigan was not broke! They competed for Big Ten titles every year. They were in the national title hunt a few times. They went to bowl games 30 straight years!! He never built on that success. He ruined it.

Man of Michigan:

Rich Rod didn't use the word "fix" until he got on campus and saw the dearth of talent. Maybe he should have done a better job of evaluating talent. I'll give you that.

But "Rodriguez supporters" -- you'll see the math here-- paint a different picture of the state of Michigan football when Rich Rod arrived.

From: Jim

Dennis, nice article about Rich Rodriguez. I am a Michigan fan, and really appreciate hearing Rich's side of the story. I met Coach Rod at his UM football camp and when he posed for pictures with my special needs son, he really impressed me. I would love to write or e-mail him at CBS and express my thanks for his service to UM -- if you would pass along any contact info for Rich, I'd appreciate it. Please keep up the good work in your columns, Go Blue! - Jim C.


You can contact my here in the fan feedback section. I'll e-mail you Rich Rod's contact information.

From: Chioke

Dear Dennis, When could you see Howard Schnellenberger retiring?

FAU have a heck of a question:
Haven't thought about that in a while but it is a worthwhile inquiry. Schnellie will be 77 on March 16. In four of his five years at FAU, the Owls have finished in the top three in the Sun Belt Conference. (They tied for the league title in 2007 and won the New Orleans Bowl.)

As long as Howard continues to be energized and remains healthy, I see no reason why he can't keep going. The strategy now seems to be one year a time. Schnellenberger was extended in 2007 through 2010 but a clause in the deal (per this blog) says an additional year was added to the deal because the Owls' new stadium was not finished. 

Schnellenberger wants to keep going. He's fine with basically a year-to-year contract. The Sun Belt remains winnable in any given year. Why not?

From: Kevin

Not so fast Dennis. Looks like Clemson has caught Jadeveon Clowney's attention. Clemson has put defensive players in the NFL with handsome paychecks as well. SEC is not a lock for this talent.

Climpson's For Clowney:

Agreed. When I wrote this Clowney piece Clemson wasn't as much in the picture as it is now. Dabo Swinney has done a great job of rallying late in recruiting. This is going to buy him some time. If Clowney does come to Clemson it's going to be a monster recruiting class. 

You know what happens after monster recruiting classes -- monster expectations.

From: Lee

Being an Auburn fan, at first I thought this Clowney column was going to be downing the SEC. But after I read it, I really enjoyed it and appreciate you Dodd doing us all a favor and actually talking about football. Thanks!

Friend of Aubie:

I'm glad to write something new(ton) about Auburn. For a large part of the season the words, "NCAA", "Cecil", "payoff", "Mississippi State", "sleaze" and "cheating" were required in any mention of the Tigers. Even up to the point when they won in Arizona. Even up to the point when we wonder how long that national championship will last.

From: Dennis

If the kid's dad knew sickle cell ran in the family why didn't he have the young man tested for it? 

Seems a responsible parent would do just that and not blame a college for giving his or her child a chance at a better life via a free education. But that would have meant they took responsibility for their son's well being, huh? May also have meant no football with a chance at the NFL and a big payday for the entire family. 

The bottom line is no matter how hard society and a bunch of lawyers try, there's no child proofing the world. Life is filled with adventure, danger and mixed results. This was one of those adventures that didn't have a storybook ending.

Legal Expert:

I wouldn't call the death of a player and "adventure." 

The fact is, Bennie Abram's dad only had an idea that sickle cell ran in the family. I'm betting he was no medical expert and had no idea what it meant to his son. Besides. Ole Miss HAD tested Bennie Abram for sickle cell. The family is suing for wrongful death because of the way Abram's treatment was handled.

That's where there is sometimes a disconnect. It's one thing testing a player. It's another telling him and his family. It's another, then, dealing with that player in the proper way during playing and practice seasons. 

I believe Alaska was the last state to test for sickle cell at birth (or the remaining state that doesn't). Point is, the hospital may test for it, the test may be positive, the doctors may notify the parents, but what does that mean 18 years later when the kid is in college? The parents may have forgotten. There may not even be symptoms up to that point.

By the way, the Abrams are not suing a school that gave their child a "free education". Bennie Abram was a loyal Rebel who wanted to play so bad for Ole Miss that he walked on. 
Posted on: November 30, 2010 5:51 pm

Either Cam is available or Auburn will be fined

One or the other is going to happen Saturday at the SEC championship game.

Cam Newton has not been available to the media for the past two games against Georgia and Alabama. That will be an issue this week in the SEC championship game. As you can see from the language below, all players and coaches must be made available to the media in an open lockerroom after the game or a school risks being fined.

I believe Auburn will take the hit. Why change now when the punishment is, say, $10,000? Joe Paterno absorbed a $15,000 fine a couple of years ago in the Rose Bowl when he didn't open his lockerroom.

I was at the Georgia game. I don't believe this is Auburn's decision. I think the school has been told by the NCAA and/or the FBI to clam up. They don't want the media to have the opportunity to ask Cam pointed questions.

If Auburn wins, the next issue will be with the Fiesta Bowl and BCS. There are similar rules for the BCS title game that require coaches and players to show up for scheduled interviews. This time it won't be just game night, it will be 10 or so days leading up to the game. That's a long time to keep a guy silent, and only adds to the doubt over Cam's innocence.

Anyway, here's the postgame language from the SEC:

 “All coaches and student athletes from each team shall be available for interviews after a 10 minute cooling off period. The timetable for the cooling off period begins when the head coach enters the dressing room immediately after the game. Following the cooling off period, each locker room will be open to the media for approximately 30 minutes. The head coach must proceed directly to the dressing room after the game unless requested to remain for a short interview (not to exceed four minutes) by CBS TV. The players must be available to the media for at least 30 minutes after the 10 minute cooling off period has expired. No more than four players will be brought outside of their respective locker rooms for easier media access. Equal access for all reporters, regardless of gender, must be provided.

                The post game media conference format shall specify that the losing coach shall be scheduled in the interview room first, followed by the winning coach. The interview with the losing coach should not exceed 10 minutes. The game’s MVP will also be on the podium with his coach during the post-game media conference time.  Regardless of any personal regular season radio or television contracts, the coach is first obligated to the entire media staffing the championship game and must report to the interview room immediately after the 10 minute cooling off period. The coach cannot delay a post game interview with the covering media to conduct a program for a single radio, newspaper, or television reporter unless requested to grant a short interview (not to exceed four minutes) by the television network that has purchased the rights to the championship game. After fulfilling the commitment to the entire media covering the game, the coach and players may participate in special interviews.

                Failure to comply with these rules and regulations may subject the coach and/or the institution to a fine by the Commissioner.”
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: November 16, 2010 4:52 pm

Nick Fairley will not miss the Iron Bowl

As of right now, Auburn's best defensive and offensive players will be on the field against Alabama a week from now.

The SEC refused to suspend defensive tackle Nick Fairley after an apparent spear of Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray. (He was penalized for roughing the passer.)

Cam Newton you know about, and if you don't, well, keep enjoying your nap.
Category: NCAAF
Tags: Auburn, Georgia, SEC
Posted on: November 13, 2010 10:27 am

Bellotti, Richt emerge as candidates at CU

Mike Bellotti has spoken to Colorado about its opening and Mark Richt is high on the list of candidates according to the Denver Post.

Bellotti, the former Oregon coach and current ESPN analyst, said he is interested in getting back into coaching. Richt, the Georgia coach, could want to get out of the "SEC pressure cooker" and go to Colorado according to the story.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: November 10, 2010 12:47 pm

Newton playing Saturday

Auburn coach Gene Chizik just announced that Cameron Newton will be playing Saturday against Georgia. He would not take any more Newton-related questions on the weekly SEC coaches conference call.

The school will not have a further statement today. ESPN.com reported Tuesday night that Newton and his father Cecil "admitted to a pay-for-play plan."
Category: NCAAF
Tags: Auburn, Georgia
Posted on: October 17, 2010 10:58 am
Edited on: October 17, 2010 11:19 am

Brewster out at Minnesota

Tim Brewster's coaching never backed up his mouth. Minnesota's fourth-year coach was fired Sunday seven games into the season.

Neither the firing, nor its timing were surprising. Brewster clearly had worn out his welcome with his personality and losing record (15-30 in 3 1/2 seasons). The last straw was Saturday's 28-17 loss to Purdue.

When Brewster arrived in January 2007, the former Denver Broncos' tight ends coach promised an end to Minnesota's Rose Bowl drought that has reached almost 50 years. He was sensitive to negative stories and sometimes surly with reporters who wrote them. Not a good combination at a place that is used to frustration and in a market that loves its Vikings and Twins. Although he took the Gophers to two Insight Bowls, the team finished above .500 only once under Brewster.

The firing of Glen Mason prior to Brewster's arrival looks almost foolish now. Mason delivered seven bowls in 10 seasons but Minnesota got greedy and thought it could be better. Maybe it can, but the stakes are higher now. Minnesota AD Joel Maturi must hit a home run with his next hire. He must hire an experienced head coach. (Mike Leach is available.) He must make people forget the words he said when Brewster was hired.

"I realize my neck's on the line," Maturi said in 2007. 

Maturi hired a coach who came highly recommended as a recruiter, but had never been a coordinator. It quickly became clear that the job was too big for him. 

His firing opens a coaching-change season that promises to be interesting with questions at Colorado and Georgia, among others.    

Posted on: October 1, 2010 12:18 am

Son of Weekend Watch List

The Pistol formation is sweeping the country, if you consider sweeping a list of about 10 schools. The variation on the shotgun was invented by veteran Nevada coach Chris Ault in 2005. It features a quarterback four yards behind center and a running back three yards behind him.

The advantage for the offense is more downhill running than in a zone read where the running back frequently is running parallel to the line. Because the backfield is essentially in an I-formation it's harder for defenses to target their blitzes. Alabama, Arkansas, Boise State, Duke, Indiana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and UCLA are using it in varying degrees this season.

Nevada (at UNLV) is 4-0 for the first time since 1992 and ranked in the AP poll for the first time since 1948.

Boise State (at New Mexico State) is chasing a national championship.

UCLA (vs. Washington State) switched to it to jump start its offense this season. The Pistol produced 264 rushing yards last week against Texas.

Alabama, Boise, Indiana (vs. Michigan) and Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are undefeated.

"Most great ideas are born out of necessity," UCLA's Rick Neuheisel said. "We needed to run the football better. Looking at the equipment we had, it just wasn't working. We had to accept that. We were very fortunate to have been given some great advice from the University of Nevada coaching staff. We kind of poured ourselves into it. It was a little bit of a leap of faith." ...

NC State (hosting Virginia Tech)  is ranked for the first time in seven years ... In a game that might go a long way toward deciding the ACC's best quarterback (non-Russell Wilson division), Miami's Jacory Harris plays at Clemson against Kyle Parker. Each of the last three games between the teams have gone into overtime ... Former Tennessee defensive coordinator John Chavis goes against the Vols for the first time when Tennessee visits LSU ... The problem at LSU is offense, specifically Jordan Jefferson's passing. Jefferson has yet to throw a touchdown pass and has completed less than half his passes to go with three interceptions ... A.J. Green returns for Georgia in its game at Colorado. The losing coach should check the temperature of his chair. Mark Richt and Dan Hawkins, are all but on notice about their job security ...  Florida Wildcat sensation Trey Burton is the grandson of Lawrence Burton who finished fourth in the 100 meters at the '72 Olympics, was a first-round pick of the Saints and played receiver at Purdue ...

Not surprisingly, the Big Ten and the SEC combined have almost half the teams in the top 25 (six each). You can see what this is coming down to: The Big Ten and/or SEC champion vs. Boise State in the polls/BCS/public discussion ... Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh on playing at Oregon:  "Just thinking about it, we're going to be ready to walk out of that tunnel, 80,000 screaming Duck fans. We'll have our team huddled around us beneath that stadium. It doesn’t get any better than that. I'm getting excited thinking about it." Sounds lyrical except that Autzen Stadium seats only 54,000 ... Iowa defensive coordinator Norm Parker will miss his fourth consecutive game because of what are reportedly complications from diabetes ...  The Sun Belt player of the year so far is Troy's Jernell Jernigan. The sophomore receiver is second nationally in all-purpose yards (208 per game). In addition to averaging almost 100 yards in receptions per game, Jernigan returns kicks and punts and lines up in the Wildcat. Troy is No. 14 in total offense and plays perhaps the Sun Belt game of the year Tuesday at Middle Tennessee ... Central Florida's George O'Leary (Wednesday vs. Alabama-Birmingham) is 1-19 against BCS teams. That's the same record as the man he replaced in 2004, Mike Kruczek. That's according to research done by CBSSports.com's Matt Brodsky.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com