|July 01, 2009||Wednesday Blog Roundup||no comments|
|July 01, 2009||Bulldogs as (Big) Underdogs||1 comments|
|July 01, 2009||Sidney-NCAA Date Set; Links||3 comments|
|June 30, 2009||Tuesday Blog Roundup||no comments|
|June 30, 2009||MSU and Preseason Mags||no comments|
|June 30, 2009||On the Links: All Eyes on Calipari||2 comments|
|June 29, 2009||Blog Bag: Fill It Up||10 comments|
|June 29, 2009||Calipari's Impact, MSU's Expectations, Etc.||2 comments|
|June 29, 2009||Plotting (Plodding?) on a Monday||no comments|
|June 27, 2009||Blog Bag Answers: A Smorgasbord||3 comments|
Here's the best of the SEC blogs from today. Slim pickings, but it's July 1.
• RollBamaRoll.com takes a closer look at the Crimson Tide's 3-4 defense.
• Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel wonders which football game is more dangerous for Florida: Georgia or LSU?
• Georgia vs. Michigan in 2010 and '11? Not likely, writes Bill King of the AJC.
• Quite a bit of drama just for us to learn that basketball recruit Xavier Henry is sticking with Kansas. Sorry, Kentucky. From A Sea of Blue.
Mississippi State's football team will enter most of its SEC games this fall as the underdog. So there will be ample opportunities for the Bulldogs to pull off an upset. Looking at the schedule, I see four games that would be considered "major upsets" if MSU won. The likelihood of any of them happening? Well, let's take a look, and I've rated, on a scale of 1 to 10, the magnitude of the upset. (Note: All games are at home, which can't hurt.)
• LSU, Sept. 26. Last year: LSU 34, MSU 24. As Phil Steele points out in his preseason mag, the average score of the last eight meetings is LSU 41, MSU 8, with three shutouts. It's been 10 years since State beat the Tigers, and that was the only win in the last 17 meetings. This is the game MSU coach Dan Mullen's buddies from up north are attending – they make one every year – and they might wish they'd picked another one. Upset rating: 8.
• Florida, Oct. 24. Last meeting: Florida 35, MSU 9 (2005). Likely a blowout, but it'll be fun comparing Urban Meyer's offense to Mullen's lite version. It'll probably paint a good picture of just how far State has to go in mastering the spread. The Gators should be well on their way to another BCS title. Upset rating: 10.
• Alabama, Nov. 14. Last year: Alabama 32, MSU 7. I've heard many MSU fans say they'd rather the Bulldogs win this one than the Egg Bowl. Sylvester Croom went 2-3 against the Tide, which is about the only thing from that era Mullen might have trouble living up to. If the new QB pans out, the Tide will be headed for a meeting with Florida in the SEC title game. Upset rating: 9.
• Ole Miss, Nov. 28. Last year: Ole Miss 45, MSU 0. What disparate scenes from 2007 to 2008 – MSU's inspirational fourth-quarter rally one year, then an absolute beatdown by the Rebels the next. The teams seem headed in opposite directions, and assuming the preseason hype for Ole Miss isn't being overdone (never!), the Bulldogs will have a shot at ruining some New Year's plans. That'd be pretty sweet for State. Upset rating: 8.
Renardo Sidney and his family will meet with NCAA investigators Monday, according to Sidney family attorney Donald Jackson. At least, that's when the interviews will begin. The meeting had originally been scheduled for today in Jackson's Montgomery, Ala., office, but the NCAA requested an extension so as to have more time to review the documents sent by Jackson on Friday.
In other news:
• A story from the Birmingham News on MSU pitcher Ricky Bowen, who was drafted by the Reds but is currently trying to find a team. He could still return to MSU.
• I have a story in today's Journal about Jarvis Varnado (MSU) and Terrico White (Ole Miss) playing for Team USA in the World University Games and the FIBA U19 World Championship, respectively. The tournaments begin tomorrow.
• Paul Gattis of the Huntsville Times asks, Is John Calipari worthy of rock star status? And I ask, Are you already tired of hearing about John Calipari?
Today's Random Link: Chris Bosh to the Houston Rockets? Maybe he'll finally get the pub he deserves.
I can't promise I'll do this every day, but I'll try to do it often. I've scoured the SEC blogs today and bring you the best of what I've found. Enjoy.
• Ian Rapaport (Birmingham News) has a good interview with new Alabama hoops coach Anthony Grant.
• Jeremy Fowler (Orlando Sentinel) tells us about an ex-Florida hoopster who's authored a book about law school.
• Jeremy Hillman (SouthernPigskin.com) ranks the SEC's 12 football venues. Unfortunately, Davis Wade Stadium comes in last. But hey, it's also the oldest.
• Scott Ferrell (LSUBeat.com) writes that the LSU Tigers' basketball team is pinning most of its hopes on the play of senior Tasmin Mitchell.
• In possibly the longest blog post I've ever seen not written by Bill Simmons, Gray Hardison (Belly of the Beast) sets out to determine the SEC's most mediocre football coach. OK, I admit it, I didn't read the whole entry. It was loooong.
I feel kind of bad. Not once this past weekend did I take out my Phil Steele or Athlon preseason football mags and study them. So I did a little of that this afternoon. Last week, I tried to find any mentions of Mississippi State – beyond predictions and team previews – in those mags, and I continued that effort today. Not much to be found, I'm afraid.
We'll start with Steele, who picks MSU to finish last in the West. His preseason all-SEC team has no Bulldogs on first or second team. RB Anthony Dixon, WR Brandon McRae and LB Jamar Chaney are third-teamers, while LB K.J. Wright is a fourth-teamer. Of his top 500 freshmen, some Bulldogs showed up: Tyler Russell (No. 7 QB), Montrell Conner (No. 31 RB), Chad Bumphis (No. 21 WR), Ricco Sanders (No. 44 WR), Chris Smith (No. 53 WR), Fletcher Cox (No. 27 DL), Josh Boyd (No. 38 DL), and Dennis Thames (No. 43 DB).
All six of MSU's junior college signees are among Steele's the top 75 incoming jucos.
There is also scant mention in Athlon, which likewise picks State to finish last in the West. On its preseason all-SEC squad are Dixon (second team), and OL Derek Sherrod (third team). LB Jamar Chaney is mentioned as a top 10 player returning from injury. In its team recruiting rankings for 2009, MSU checks in at No. 29. One of Athlon's dozen "key games" is the Oct. 24 meeting between Florida and MSU – Dan Mullen vs. his mentor, Urban Meyer.
That's all I've found. Perhaps the postseason write-ups will be more kind.
Plenty of stories were written off yesterday's SEC basketball coaches teleconference, including my column on Kentucky's John Calipari. Also, my colleague Parrish Alford wrote about the SEC regaining its status as one of the nation's best.
Plenty of other stories out there today:
• Kentucky's highly touted freshmen are already bonding, according to Calipari.
• According to his fellow coaches, Calipari has raised the bar in the SEC just by showing up.
• More Calipari! And his 90-day plan.
• Echoing Parrish's story, this one talks about the league's image and expectations for the coming season.
Oh, but there are more (non-Calipari) links.
• From the You've Got to Be Kidding Me Department, Tennessee has received a commitment from Evan Berry … who's 13 years old. He's the younger brother of current Vol Eric Berry.
• Speaking of recruiting, MSU made an offer to a wide receiver named Ricky Smith – son of State assistant coach Melvin Smith. (Subscription required to access whole story.)
Today's Random Link: Gregg Doyel says, players cheat, deal with it.
Y'all impressed me last week. It's the middle of summer, hotter than Megan Fox outside, and the questions I got were superb. So let's fill up the Blog Bag again.
Some quick links for you:
• Jeff Goodman of FoxSports.com already has a 2010 NBA mock draft out. No. 1: Kentucky point guard John Wall. No. 5: MSU forward Renardo Sidney. He's only done the first round, and Jarvis Varnado isn't in it.
• Arkansas LB Khiry Battle has been booted off the team after a DUI arrest.
• The University of Kentucky Athletics Association says former coach Billy Gillispie has filed his lawsuit against the wrong folks and in the wrong place.
The SEC's coaches took a break from whatever it is they do during summer to talk to us media folks in a teleconference. I called in just in time to hear Kentucky's John Calipari, who fielded questions for a good 15 minutes, more than twice as long as the scheduled seven-minute session. We also heard with MSU's Rick Stansbury and others, but first let's review some of Calipari's comments, since he's kind of the SEC's rock star coach right now.
• Calipari's approaching the 90-day mark as head coach. "It’s been an absolute whirlwind. I can tell you what I have found out about this program is the fans are raving fans, in a good way. Our Twitter that we started seven weeks ago has over 300,000 followers." Cal – @UKCoachCalipari – said he expects to have 1 million Twitter followers by the time the season starts.
• He's had six workouts with sophomore Darius Miller, a 6-foot-7 forward who's playing for Team USA in the FIBA U19 World Championships. "I was as excited about him as I was anyone on the team," Calipari said.
• A lot of folks have expressed concern about finding adequate playing time for a pair of high-profile signees – Eric Bledsoe and John Wall, both point guards. With Jodie Meeks gone to the NBA, Cal said he expects both to play. No problems here. "I think the best thing right now is they like each other. They’re together 24/7."
OK, now for other thoughts, starting with Stansbury:
• On Renardo Sidney and that process (addressing another reporter more than the question): "I have no understanding and no knowledge of the process. You know more than I do."
• On managing expectations: "Your players have to understand, because they are more experienced now, that with more expectations comes more accountability. ... We don’t adjust what we do based on expectations in the program outside the lines."
• On the benefit of high expectations: "That’s what I like from the expectation standpoint, it creates competition within your program. We’ll have competition again – I think that creates good, healthy practices. A lot of games are won in the afternoon from 3-5:30."
• On Calipari's impact (to Jerry Tipton of the Lexington Herald-Leader): "I think it's obvious already the impact he’s had. He’s got you asking me a question about him in the middle of June."
Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl:
• On a recent discussion by the Knight Commission that football and basketball coaches have salaries capped: "I would say if you’d offer me tenure, I might be interested in a salary cap."
Arkansas coach John Pelphrey:
• On Calipari returning Kentucky to national prominence: "With Cal there, they’re probably going to do it very quickly."
Auburn coach Jeff Lebo:
• On the salary cap question: "Do I think coaches make too much money, absolutely I do. But we also have no stability in our job, either. I don’t know how you could go about implementing it."
Trying to plot out my week after oversleeping a half-hour. Dang summer break messes up my routine (but it beats getting up at 5:15 and getting kids ready for school). So what am I working on this week?
• I'll have a story on MSU's Jarvis Varnado and Ole Miss' Terrico White, both of whom are playing for Team USA in separate international tournaments starting July 2.
• I touched on AD Greg Byrne & Co.'s facilities tour in Saturday's notebook, and I'll explore that topic in more detail.
• I hope to catch up with offensive coordinator Les Koenning for a feature on the veteran coach.
Now, for some links as I try to get cranked up this morning:
• Who's got the easiest, or as The Sporting News calls it, the "worst" non-conference schedule among the BCS schools? Ole Miss, says Matthew Hayes. I'm not surprised by his conclusion. Southeastern Louisiana (which MSU pays). Northern Arizona. Memphis. UAB. Pretty weak.
• Speaking of conferences, the Dallas Morning News tells us tha the Big 12 is positioned to overtake the SEC as the nation's premier football league. There's a cool little chart at the bottom of the story.
• And then there's this guy, an Orlando Sentinel writer who quoted MSU football coach Dan Mullen in a story (via BostonHerald.com) about coaches bridging the generation gap between themselves and players. Mullen was called the Ole Miss coach. I don't like to criticize fellow writers – it's a good story, by the way – but the Mississippian in me gets pretty riled up when people do this. It's called Google. Try it.
Today's Random Link: We've been writing a good bit lately about the NCAA. Here's one more reason to dislike (or just hate) the organization.
Hey, I actually spelled "smorgasbord" right without having to look it up first. Anyway, sorry this is tardy, but Friday got a little busy. As usual, great questions, although the first one kind of threw me.
Q: BL, are you a State fan?
A: No. And even if I were, it wouldn’t show through in my reporting and writing.
Q: If MSU gets Renardo Sidney ready to play with all the returning players, how far would you expect them to go? SEC champions? Final Four?
A: A few experts have projected MSU as a Final Four contender, and I think the SEC West – and the overall title – will be the Bulldogs’ to lose.
Q: When must Sidney and John Riek be cleared by?
A: Whenever the NCAA decides.
Q: I've heard Jarvis Varnado is having some success getting bigger and stronger. What about the rest of the basketball team?
A: MSU coach Rick Stansbury: “They’ve been here these three weeks in June, we basically can’t be in the weightroom with them, we can’t be around them (per NCAA rules). I know the kids here are working hard.”
Q: I read where Charles Rhodes recently discovered his foot was broken by some doctors out in California and was going to have surgery. How’s he doing? Was his foot broken during his last year at State?
A: I did a blog entry on Rhodes a few weeks ago that addressed that. Right here.
Q: How’s Elgin Bailey doing?
A: As I report in today’s MSU notebook, Bailey is back to rehabbing the dislocated ankle he suffered late in the season. The 6-foot-8 junior reserve has been suffering from an ear infection for the past month – at one point losing about 75 percent of his hearing, according to Stansbury – and was told by his doctor not to do much physical activity. He was cleared yesterday to return to full-time rehab. Team trainer Scott Johnson said Bailey has made a lot of progress with his range of motion and strength.
Q: Do you expect senior Tyson Lee to be the starting QB in the fall?
A: I do, but not without reservations. The fact that he is not listed on the post-spring depth chart as the clear-cut No. 1 guy stunned me a bit. True, Chris Relf had a solid spring game and has good potential, but Lee has the experience and the brain to be the guy for this year. However, he’s short and sometimes doesn’t always make quick decisions. And then there’s freshman Tyler Russell, but I just don’t know if he’ll be able to pick up the offense quickly enough.
Q: What can the early reporting football players do “legally” while in Starkvegas this summer? And do all colleges take an “if you don’t tell, we won’t tell” attitude about exceeding those limitations?
A: NCAA bylaw 188.8.131.52: “During the remaining eight weeks of the summer conditioning period, student-athletes may be involved in voluntary weight training and conditioning activities pursuant to Bylaw 184.108.40.206.1 and prospective student-athletes may be involved in voluntary weight training and conditioning activities pursuant to Bylaw 220.127.116.11. Such activities are limited to eight hours per week.” As for the second question, I'm sure it happens, but I would not assume MSU does.
Q: When will we know who is going to be academically eligible to play football this fall? Is there a certain date when we will find out X players are eligible and X players are not?
A: There is no particular date. We already know, for instance, that WR Arceto Clark is academically ineligible this fall because of a poor spring semester (tied to his legal troubles). I imagine any other players who did poorly in the spring would have been declared ineligible by now. As for newcomers, a handful are already on campus taking classes, while others are still waiting to be cleared. All freshman who will be eligible should be declared so by Aug. 3, the first day of practice.
Q: How long does Connor Powers have to decide whether he’s coming back to State?
A: The MLB-imposed deadline to sign is Aug. 17. Powers was drafted by the Dodgers in the 11th round.
Q: Out of all of MSU baseball recruits that were drafted who will be going pro and who will be coming to Mississippi State?
A: OF Runey Davis signed with the Cubs on Monday. Two other signees were drafted: OF Jaron Shepherd (29th round, Rangers) and LHP C.C. Watson (44th round, Reds). Both recently told Scout.com that they’re leaning toward coming to MSU. Also, OF/SS Billy Hamilton, who signed with MSU’s football team but was planning to play baseball, too, signed with the Reds, who took him in the second round.
Q: Would you consider it reasonable to expect baseball coach John Cohen to turn MSU into a championship team?
A: Quite reasonable, but the question is, How long? Well, it only took him three years to lead Kentucky to an SEC title, and that was in a baseball wasteland.