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Posts Tagged ‘SEC’

One for the Road

Posted by Brett Kincaid on September 16, 2011

Another week has flown by here at BlogHawgs.  It’s been a great week, and as always we are grateful that you chose to spend some of your time with us.  This is the calm before the storm.  Bama Week kicks off on Sunday, and we’ll be ready to roll.  We’ve got some excellent stuff in the works, so please be sure to check back next week.  You’ll be glad you did.

Here are a few of our most popular stories from the week:

BlogHawgs Razorback Rewind – Week 2

Spirit, Mullen Both Confused on Saturday

NFL – Evaluating Week 1

The Idiot Box – Emmy Preview

Should Texas Change from Burnt Orange to Yellow?

Arkansas Football Team to be Featured Next Month in ESPN TV Series

BlogHawgs Week 3 College Football Preview – Twitter Style

Free Money – Week 3

For this week’s One for the Road, we return to Grantland.com for an exceptional look at college football — but not the games we watch on Saturdays.  Chuck Klosterman looks at small schools and the games they play.  These teams operate in a completely different reality than the Division I fellas.  From facilities, to players, to schemes, it’s a night-and-day difference.  For example:

Last October, Maine Maritime Academy defeated Westfield State University, 42-21. That score was probably mentioned in a few newspapers, but that doesn’t make it news; this was a Division III game between two members of the New England Football Conference, hosted by a town with a population of 1,300 and a community aesthetic matching Cujo. But there’s one detail about this contest that made it unlike almost every other college football game from 2010: Maritime won by three touchdowns while passing for exactly 0 yards.

They rushed for 435, but they passed for none (they threw the ball just five times, and the only one that didn’t hit the ground was an interception). Even weirder, the Mariners managed to win without controlling the clock — Westfield had a greater time of possession. Yet as unorthodox and lopsided as those numbers seem, they were only slightly crazier than most of Maritime’s 2010 schedule: The Mariners went 6-1 in their conference, scored more than 46 points a contest, and somehow averaged 16 passing yards a game. The week after beating Westfield, Maritime defeated Framingham State 50-26, again throwing for 0 yards. The week after that, they knocked off Massachusetts Maritime by a single point — and here, again, they won without a single passing yard. They went 5-0 in October with 63 total passing yards (not 63 per game, but 63 for October). Half their team stats seem like misprints; last season, the Mariners’ starting quarterback appeared in 11 games and completed a total of 17 passes. But this is how the Mariners want it. This is the design. This is the most reactionary offense in America.

You can check out the rest of Klosterman’s piece here.  I encourage you to do so.  This is the type of story that reminds me why I love the game.

 

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Posted in Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off on One for the Road

Thursday Night Lights

Posted by Brett Kincaid on September 15, 2011

How many times in your life have you heard this statement?  “I sure wish I was in Starkville tonight.”

Believe it or not, that’s a true statement.  Tonight’s game between LSU and Mississippi State is the first critical game of the SEC West slate.  No, critical is not an overstatement.  This is a huge game that will have season-long implications on both teams and the rest of the division.  An LSU win solidifies the Tigers as one of the teams to beat in the conference and the nation.  A Mississippi State victory puts the Bulldogs back in the SEC West race after a humbling setback last week at Auburn.  The oddsmakers list LSU as a 3-point favorite on the road, meaning Vegas thinks LSU is at least a TD better than MSU on a neutral field.  But this game is not on a neutral field.  It’s going to be in an electric atmosphere, under the lights at Davis Wade Stadium.  I sure wish I was in Starkville tonight.

Why LSU should win:  The Tigers have a defense that may be as ferocious as the one in Tuscaloosa.  They have allowed just 91 total yards rushing in two games.  The secondary is under construction, but John Chavis has plenty of talent to rotate.  Mississippi State uses the read-option to set up its play action passing attack.  If the Bulldogs cannot run, it makes Chris Relf a drop back passer – hardly his strength.  Offensively, LSU has been good enough.  Jarret Lee is your classic “game manager” quarterback, controlling the offense largely by handing the ball to LSU’s latest stud running backs, Michael Ford and Spencer Ware.  Lee simply needs to hit enough passes to keep the Bulldogs safeties honest, creating space at the second level for Ford and Ware.  A steady rushing attack coupled with the Tigers front seven should keep the cowbells quiet and the Tigers unbeaten.

Why MSU should win:  The Bulldogs fell behind early last week before correcting some mistakes and making a late push.  But for atrocious play-calling in the last 20 seconds of the game, Mississippi State may have pulled out a victory at Auburn.  The MSU defense is not as bad as it showed Saturday, and they certainly have enough talent to contain a vanilla LSU offense.  By eliminating the big plays (Auburn scored on 2 plays over 30 yards) Mississippi State will force Jarrett Lee to engineer sustained drives for LSU to score.  Offensively, Chris Relf has the ability to take over a football game.  He’s got the potential to put up 400 yards of total offense each week, especially with the emergence of Vic Ballard.  Reducing chunk plays for LSU while putting the game in Relf’s hands will have the cowbell nation clanging loudly well into Friday morning.

And the Winner Is…

My love for Dan Mullen is well known.  I want to take the Bulldogs.  All the intangibles are on their side tonight.  Road games in the SEC are brutally tough, and night games are even more difficult.  So … I’m going to take LSU.

Defying the odds, Les Miles appears to have his team focused on a run at SEC and BCS championships.  Jarrett Lee has shown maturity in the past 2 games, bolstered by the confidence that his defense can win the game.  Lee needs to not lose the game.  He will throw at least one interception tonight, but he will also make a critical third-down conversion in each half.  Ford and Ware will wear down the Bulldogs defense in the second half, and the LSU defensive line will eventually win the war of wills.  This has the markings of a slobber-knocker SEC showdown.  I think this will be a game that reminds us all why we love SEC football.  In the end, it’ll be a big road win for the Tigers.  LSU 23, Mississippi State 17

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Should Texas Change from Burnt Orange to Yellow?

Posted by Brett Kincaid on September 14, 2011

Great column today from Clay Travis at OutKicktheCoverage.com (a ridiculous name because outkicking the coverage is a bad thing) regarding the timid, scared Texas Longhorns.  Travis writes about Texas and their new flirtation with the ACC, noting that the most sensible location for UT long-term is the SEC.  Yet, the Shortwhorns apparently have no interest in competing with the big boys.

The reason is simple, the Texas Longhorn administration, would-be bullies, are scared to play in the nation’s best football conference. As the Longhorns latest soap opera destination appears to be the ACC — Chip Brown at Orangebloods.com had this story first — this means that the Longhorns have four potential destinations right now: remain in the Big 12 with new teams added, leave with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State for the Pac 12, join the ACC, or go independent.

Adding Texas would be a coup for the SEC, but as Travis notes the arrogant, elite Texas boosters could not stomach being treated equally.  Sure, Bama still has a lot of sway at the SEC office.  But financially the Tide gets the same cut as Vanderbilt.  Texas could never stand for that.

Posted in Sports | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Spirit, Mullen Both Confused on Saturday

Posted by Adam Butler on September 12, 2011

Spirit the Eagle, Auburn’s flying mascot (despite the fact they’re the Tigers), looks like he had a little fun at the tailgate according to this video.

Perhaps he and Dan Mullen tossed back a few toddies.  Given Spirit’s flight pattern and Mullen’s two-minute drill coaching, it certainly looks like they were drinking from the same cup.

Posted in Sports | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Baylor Kicking and Screaming

Posted by Brett Kincaid on September 7, 2011

SI.com

News outlets from coast-to-coast report this morning that Texas A&M plans to announce its move to the SEC later today.  We had that last night, but we are now retracting that report.  Word leaked late last night but we could not confirm until this morning:  Baylor has threatened legal action if Texas A&M leaves the Big XII.

The SEC met last night with plans to accept the Aggies into the league, but that vote was postponed when the league received word that one of the Big XII member institutions rescinded its vote to allow Texas A&M to leave.  We have learned today that Baylor is that school.

From CBSSports.com:

“After receiving unanimous written assurance from the Big 12 on September 2 that the Southeastern Conference was free to accept Texas A&M to join as a new member, the presidents and chancellors of the SEC met last night with the intention of accepting the application of Texas A&M to be the newest member of the SEC,” Machen said. “We were notified yesterday afternoon that at least one Big 12 institution had withdrawn its previous consent and was considering legal action.

“The SEC has stated that to consider an institution for membership, there must be no contractual hindrances to its departure.  The SEC voted unanimously to accept Texas A&M University as a member upon receiving acceptable reconfirmation that the Big 12 and its members have reaffirmed the letter dated September 2, 2011.”

Yet again, we face more delays in this ridiculous drama.  One of these days it will be done, but right now Baylor needs to throw its temper tantrum.  I feel the need to point out that Baylor’s university president is Kenneth Starr.  Yep…THAT Kenneth Starr.  So much for free markets…

UPDATE I (8:57am) – Our best source in Aggieland confirms what we thought: This is a money grab from Baylor.  If Baylor keeps this up, Shiloh Christian may change its colors to green and gold.  The schools already have a lot in common.

UPDATE II (9:22am) – Very good source that just told me Texas A&M has received a letter (ransom note?) in the last 20 minutes that says Baylor will not prevent the move.  Evidently Baylor administrators (notably Ken Starr) and business leaders in Waco have been told in no certain terms that they need to get in line.

This is solid.  It has happened.  Texas A&M will make an official announcement today assuming the lawyers sign off on everything.  A press conference had been planned already, so it seems likely that the school will continue with its previous press event.

UPDATE III (2:14pm) – The fur is flying in Texas today.  Apparently our source earlier was correct to a degree, but the ransom note sent by Baylor to Texas A&M has a ton of conditions.  The Aggies apparently cannot drop off a bag full of money in a parking lot at the Waco Walmart.  A conference call today among Big XII leaders did little to assure the Aggies that all will be well.  I’m growing more and more confident that this ends up in front of a judge somewhere.

Posted in Sports | Tagged: , , , , | 13 Comments »

SEC – The Great Fraternity

Posted by Brett Kincaid on September 6, 2011

When was the last time you saw a football team from California, Illinois, or Virginia win a game and start chanting the name of their conference?  Probably never.  This question led Bryan Curtis to explore the phenomenon of the S-E-C chant.  Curtis, writing for Grantland.com, is a Texan that scratches his head regarding our conference’s tendency to chest-thump when any one of our brethren win a bowl game, NCAA Tournament game, or gymnastic meet.

These guys cheer for the whole conference? Yup, they do. As the Tide and their pals won five straight national championships, something happened to modern SEC fandom. The SEC fan roots for his school, of course. But he also roots for his conference, and, in an interesting, New South kind of way, his whole region. The thing historians used to call southern exceptionalism — and its first cousin on its mother’s side, southern solidarity — has been channeled into a football fight song.

Grantland.com has stepped up its game on college football.  Bill Simmons, the man behind the curtain at the website, has routinely talked about how he doesn’t “get it” regarding college sports.  Writers like Curtis and most notably Michael Weinreb continue to produce insightful, interesting college football stories.  If you want to care about a team and coach that you have no reason to ever consider, read Weinreb’s piece on Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson.  It’s awesome.

 

Posted in Sports | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Farmers Flight

Posted by Brett Kincaid on September 6, 2011

Hey SEC, can we play?

There goes the neighborhood…

It looks like the Aggies to the SEC saga is entering its final week.  Exactly four weeks ago we told you that Texas A&M would head to the SEC, abandoning a failing Big XII and its long standing traditions with Texas.  (Sub in “Arkansas” for Texas A&M and “SWC” for Big XII, and this story could have been written more than 20 years ago.)  According to Andy Staples at Sports Illustrated, one of college football’s messiest divorces of all time could be finalized in the next 24 hours.

Reports today tell us that the SEC presidents are scheduled to meet tonight to vote on adding a new member.  Nine of the 12 SEC university presidents must vote to approve a new member, and it is widely believed that will happen.  Of course, Texas A&M appears to be that new member.

Staples takes time to explore the looming changes this move will almost certainly set in motion.  Are 16-team conferences on the horizon?

Let’s hop in the time machine and travel back to July 2010. In an interview with SI.com, the Pac-12’s Scott explained that he believed superconferences would eventually form. “Something like that is bound to happen at some stage,” Scott said 14 months ago. Why? Because when he floated the idea in 2010, Scott found that television executives loved it. “What you couldn’t predict is what fan reaction would be, what media reaction would be and how the TV executives who would ultimately have to stroke some big checks would react,” Scott said. “That was the part that was very pleasing. I got contacted by every major TV network in the country.”

Lots of eyeballs on Atlanta today, where the meeting of the SEC presidents has been scheduled.  We’ll let you know what we hear.

UPDATE I (3:51pm) – One source in Aggieland tells us that a press conference has already been scheduled for tomorrow in College Station, presumably to announce that Texas A&M will join the SEC as the league’s 13th member.

UPDATE II (9:35pm) – Word is filtering out tonight that the Aggies have received the requisite votes needed to become the SEC’s 13th member.  David Sandhop over at Aggie Websider has some details.

 

Posted in Sports | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Select 17 – Week 2

Posted by Brett Kincaid on September 6, 2011

Like everyone else in America today, we’re running a bit behind.  The holiday weekend was fantastic, but the pile of work waiting at the office was not ideal.  Speaking of not ideal…how about those Georgia Bulldogs?  And the weather, too.  You think there are any climate change believers now in the upper midwest?

Boise State and LSU made it look easy on Saturday night, while most of the other Top 10 teams did the same.  Every team that was expected to roll did so, although South Carolina stumbled out of the gates.  Stephen Garcia came off the bench and directed a dangerous Gamecock offense in the second half to great success.  Perhaps the biggest surprise is that there were no surprises on Saturday.  I guess Baylor “shocked” everyone on Friday night, but they were only a six-point underdog at home to a team breaking in a new quarterback.

It’s a big week coming up with two critical SEC matchups.  South Carolina travels to Athens for their annual early season matchup with Georgia, and Mississippi State takes on Auburn in a “must win” game for both teams.  I’m not even kidding.  The loser of that game cannot win the SEC West.

The Select 17…

Rank Team Votes LW
1 Oklahoma (6) 148 1
2 Alabama (2) 141 2
3 LSU (1) 135 5
4 Stanford 114 4
5 Boise St. 107 8
6 Wisconsin 101 6
7 Florida St. 99 7
8 Arkansas 86 9
t9 Nebraska 77 10
t9 Texas A&M 77 11
11 Oklahoma St. 59 13
12 Virginia Tech 58 12
13 Oregon 47 3
14 South Carolina 44 14
15 Mississippi St 39 17
16 Michigan St. 16 16
17 Ohio St. 14 NR

Others Receiving Votes:  Florida (8), West Virginia (3), Baylor (1), BYU (1), Penn St. (1), Missouri (1)

Posted in Sports | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Razorback Rewarded

Posted by Brett Kincaid on September 5, 2011

To no one’s surprise, Arkansas’s Joe Adams was named SEC Special Teams Player of the Week.  Adams racked up more punt return yardage (174) than Missouri State did total yardage (163) while returning 2 punts for touchdowns.  Adams was the first SEC player to score twice on punt returns since Derek Abney did it for Kentucky in 2002.  After one week Adams leads the SEC and ranks 4th nationally in punt return average at 29 yards/return.

I cannot imagine many teams kicking to Adams the rest of this year.  He is quickly developing a Devin Hester reputation.

Posted in Sports | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

One for the Road

Posted by Brett Kincaid on September 2, 2011

It’s been another big week here at BlogHawgs.com, and we thank you for making us part of your routine.  Football season is upon us, and judging by the work productivity I’ve noticed today everyone has mentally checked out for the holiday weekend.  Arkansas kicks off against Missouri State tomorrow night at 6:05 in Fayetteville at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.  If you’re not heading to The Hill you can watch the game via PPV for $34.95.  Follow us on Twitter for updates from around college football tomorrow and of course during the Hogs game tomorrow night.

Here are a few of our more popular stories from this week.

The Football Binge Survival Guide

ESPN’s Rick Reilly Picks Arkansas to Win National Title

Evaluating the SEC East

Evaluating the SEC West

Red Swarm – 2011 Arkansas Defensive Preview

Proving Its Points – 2011 Arkansas Offensive Preview

Free Money

2011 SEC Predictions

——-

This week’s One for the Road comes in video form.  With excitement for a new football season at the boiling point, we wanted to take a stroll through the 2010 season one last time.  These are some YouTube videos cataloging some of the Arkansas Razorbacks highlights from a season that ended in New Orleans.  Here’s hoping they head back to The Big Easy this winter.

Have a great weekend and GO HOGS!

HARD KNOCK LIFE

TYLER WILSON AT AUBURN

TOP 10 PLAYS OF 2010 RAZORBACK FOOTBALL SEASON

Posted in Commentary, Sports | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

2011 SEC Predictions

Posted by Brett Kincaid on September 2, 2011

It’s finally here.

College football kicked off last night, proving once again that God does love us and wants us to be happy.  Mississippi State and Wisconsin rolled, Kentucky survived, and Syracuse pulled off a dramatic comeback…that no one could watch on television.  It looks like the major sports broadcasting networks are already in midseason form.

The time has come for the brain trust at BlogHawgs.com to impart some knowledge to you the reader.  We have sifted through the reports, analyzed the data, and come to our predictions.  We have been reasonably successful with these in the past, and I’m pretty confident these predictions will stand the test of time.

EAST

  1. Georgia – Mark Richt will turn it around this year, and it could be a remarkable turnaround at that.  While I see a path to an unbeaten season, I’m not about to go down that road.  All the Bulldogs road games are ones they can win, but the lack of depth at RB and development of new receivers creates too much doubt for me to make the big, bold prediction.  They’ll probably end up dropping one of those roadies and stumble at home against Mississippi State.  Predicted Finish:  9-3, 6-2
  2. South Carolina – When it comes down to it, I just cannot trust this team enough to pick them to win the division.  On paper they have the most talent and experience, which typically makes a team an obvious choice.  But the defense is just young enough in the front seven and the schedule includes tons of tough road games, meaning a traditionally mentally weak team needs to overcome its inner demons if they want to win the division.  I just don’t see it with this group.  Predicted Finish:  9-3, 5-3
  3. Florida – The Gators look like this year’s wild card team in the East.  It’s very difficult to predict how they’ll respond to wholesale coaching changes after six seasons with Urban Meyer.  The offense will look quite different, while the defense replaces most of its starters.  The talent is there and the coaches are excellent.  Overall, the schedule presents a number of potholes that make me think this team in transition needs one year before they compete for the title.  Predicted Finish: 7-5, 4-4
  4. Tennessee – Derek Dooley pulled off a minor miracle getting UT to a bowl game last year.  It’ll take that same type of effort to do it again in 2011.  The Vols have three brutal conference road games and still has to host three Top 25 teams at home on top of that.  With a quarterback that has the keys to the offense for the first time and inexperienced playmakers on the edge, it’s a year too early to expect the Volunteers have a real shot to win the division.  Predicted Finish: 7-5, 3-5
  5. Vanderbilt – I’ve made my affection for James Franklin known.  I think he’ll make Vanderbilt a competitive football program by implementing a dynamic offense and recruiting harder than anyone else in the free world.  This team will show some spark – and win one game they shouldn’t – but ultimately the talent and lack of depth limit the Commodores.  Predicted Finish: 5-7, 2-6
  6. Kentucky – To be fair, I had Kentucky tied with Vanderbilt for the league bottom before they looked like the Magnolia Junior High JV squad last night.  The Wildcats lost their playmakers to the NFL and have to completely retool their offense.  The experienced offensive line will help those guys grow, but this looks like a team that will struggle.  The defense will do their best to keep them in games, but ultimately this is a rebuilding year for Kentucky.  Predicted Finish: 5-7, 1-7

WEST

  1. Alabama – This is a very tough pick, but the Crimson Tide defense is just that good.  The offense will produce enough and hit its rhythm in late October.  The schedule is a big problem, but the tough road games are against teams that have several questions themselves.  They’ll probably drop one of those – and that’s it.  The defense is that good.  Predicted Finish: 11-1, 7-1
  2. Arkansas – As much as we’d like to pick Arkansas to win the division, there are just enough questions about the offense and the schedule to keep us from doing that.  Tyler Wilson should be all-SEC caliber QB, and I expect Ronnie Wingo, Jr. to put up a 1,000 yard season.  Unfortunately for Arkansas, this team has to go to Tuscaloosa early in the season.  While they certainly could win that game, it’s not a game we’re willing to say they will win.  We are willing to say, however, that is the only game they’ll lose.  Predicted Finish:  11-1, 7-1
  3. Mississippi State – The Bulldogs are about to make The Leap.  I think MSU very well may challenge both Alabama and Arkansas for the SEC West title.  In fact, I tend to think they’ll actually beat Alabama in Starkville.  They have talent, experience, and a schedule designed for success not seen at Mississippi State since the last ‘90s.  They have two very difficult road games at Georgia and Arkansas, but everything else looks like a game where MSU will be favored or less than a TD underdog.  Mississippi State is for real.  Someone needs to hire Dan Mullen away from there before he builds a legit contender year in and year out.  Although, it may already be too late.  Predicted Finish:  10-2, 6-2
  4. LSU – No one questions the talent in Baton Rouge.  Everyone questions the coaching and leadership.  Off field distractions, multiple suspensions, and a difficult schedule make LSU the team most likely to be a bust in 2011.  From the outside looking in, it appears Les Miles has a team in chaos.  You simply cannot win a championship like that.  Predicted Finish:  7-5, 5-3
  5. Auburn – The War Eagle Tigers need to rebuild this year.  Both sides of the ball lack key personnel from last year’s BCS championship team.  Gus Malzhan’s offense will score points; they did that before Cam Newton ever saw the field.  Auburn will not be able to produce at the pace from 2010, though.  The schedule is brutal, and they also have to worry about the championship hangover effect.  I don’t see a very fun year on the Plains.  Predicted Finish: 5-7, 2-6
  6. Mississippi – The Rebels have a long, long way to go.  The talent level does not compare to their division rivals, and the coaching staff … well … Arkansas fans know all about the coaching staff.  The Mississippi defense will find it difficult to improve on their ghastly 2010 season, and the offense has only one true playmaker (Brandon Bolden) on which it can rely.  Add to it an SEC schedule filled with difficult road games, and it’s hard to find much reason for optimism in Oxford.  Predicted Finish:  2-10, 0-8

2011 SEC BOWL GAME PREDICTIONS

BCS National Championship Game – Alabama

It’s rare to pick a team to play for it all when that team has an inexperienced pair of QBs like Bama.  It’s an easier decision, though, when the defense is as good as Nick Saban’s group this year.

Sugar Bowl – Arkansas

The Hogs return to New Orleans, upset that they won’t be playing there a week later.  They’ll also be there to prove that they are good enough to be in that game the following week.

Capital One Bowl – Georgia

The Bulldogs may sneak into the BCS, but a loss in the SEC Championship Game will force them to the best of the second-tier games.  It will be a nice reward for Mark Richt and the athletics administration that stood by their man.

Cotton Bowl – Mississippi State

The streets of Dallas will be filled with overalls and cowbells in early January.  Mississippi State will have earned some national respect and a trip to one of the best non-BCS bowl games out there.

Chick-fil-A Bowl – LSU

If South Carolina hadn’t gone to this game last year, they’d probably get the nod.  But Atlanta will welcome a loyal fanbase that will buy lots and lots of tickets.

Outback Bowl – South Carolina

This will be a disappointing ending to a season that started with such high hopes.  Perhaps it will also mark the last game for Steve Spurrier at Carolina.

Gator Bowl – Florida

Seems appropriate, no?  The Gators should enjoy this trip, because it’s the last one they’ll make to the Gator Bowl for quite a while.  This is a team headed in the right direction.

Music City Bowl – Tennessee

Back-to-back trips to Nashville for Tennessee fans may not be a great reward, but simply playing in a bowl game is a huge accomplishment.  Dooley is laying the foundation for a program that will go bowling out of state next season.

Liberty Bowl & BBVA Compass Bowl – Not enough SEC teams will qualify for bowls this year.  Both Vanderbilt and Auburn could make it happen, but right now we just can’t endorse those picks.

Posted in SEC Preview, Sports | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Texas A&M Officially Announces Its Intention to Leave Big 12

Posted by Adam Butler on August 31, 2011

Buh-Bye.

We have been all over this, (no, REALLY) and now, after the requisite behind-the-scenes mechanations, the Aggies are leaving for the greener pastures of the SEC, effective June 30, 2012.

The last part hasn’t been announced, yet, because Texas A&M and the SEC want to retain some (not so) plausible deniability. But,as we have maintained throughout, there is no way TAMU makes this move without a wink and a nod from the SEC.

Posted in Commentary, Sports | Tagged: , , | Comments Off on Texas A&M Officially Announces Its Intention to Leave Big 12

Damn You, Aggies!

Posted by Brett Kincaid on August 27, 2011

We are supposed to be taking a break from BlogHawgs this weekend, spending time with our families before football occupies our Saturdays from here to January.  I managed to do that until an hour ago when I started getting messages about those damn Texas Aggies.  We have two sources that told us an announcement of the Aggies to the SEC would come next week.  David Sandhop with the Aggie Websider now Tweets that the Ags could be members-elect of the SEC on Thursday.

@HopWebsiderDavid Sandhop
Admin at A&M told me the university is shooting for presser next Thursday to announce move to SEC if all goes as planned. #gigem

No word if there is an SEC conference call or meeting set up already for member university presidents, but our understanding is that must occur before any application for membership can be approved.  I have reached out to some of our SEC folks to see if there are any meetings scheduled.

 

Sandhop has been very reliable on this, so I’m inclined to trust him – especially since we have other sources that have indicated this is possible.  I am curious, though, about scheduling a presser when no SEC presidents’ meeting has been announced.  Perhaps Commissioner Slive has stopped the leaks in Birmingham.

 

Back to our previously scheduled family weekend…

 

Posted in Sports | Tagged: , | Comments Off on Damn You, Aggies!

The War of Aggie SECession

Posted by Brett Kincaid on August 25, 2011

The first official shot has been fired.  We have word breaking at this hour that Texas A&M has officially filed paperwork with the Big XII that the school intends to leave the conference.  This is a necessary first step for the Aggies to be considered for membership into the Southeastern Conference.

I will have more later, but it appears that the process has indeed started.

UPDATE I (1:51 PM):  From Chuck Carlton at the Dallas Morning News via his Twitter feed:

A&M president Loftin: “… we are working very deliberately to act in the best long-term interests of both Texas A&M and the State of Texas”

Loftin calls it a “100-year decision” repeating a phrase he used a week ago following a board of regents meeting.

UPDATE II (2:44 PM):  From ESPN.com

Texas A&M has officially notified the Big 12 that it will explore its options pertaining to conference affiliation, the university announced on Thursday.

Texas A&M says if it chooses to withdraw from the Big 12, it will do so in accordance with Big 12 bylaws, and would be supportive of the Big 12’s efforts to secure a new member in the conference.

The SEC openly pursuing Texas A&M as a member of the Big 12 could open the conference up to litigation under tortious interference, or interference with a written contract.

UPDATE III (4:01 PM):  The cat is out of the bag and now climbing the tree.  Widespread accounts of Texas A&M University’s departure from the Big XII and impending relationship with the SEC have surfaced all across main stream media.  Virtually every sports news site has this story now.

I’d like to take this time for a little self congratulation.  BlogHawgs.com first brought you this story more than two weeks ago.  Only David Sandhop at Aggie Websider consistently trumped our timing.  Thanks to trusted sources and a little elbow grease, we consistently stayed ahead of the out-of-state curve on this story.  While we have a policy to never reveal our sources, we’d be remiss if we did not acknowledge them and say Thank You.  You know who you are.

From August 9, 2011:

Multiple sources in Texas tell me today that a deal to allow Texas A&M to join the SEC has been agreed to in principle.  An additional source – unconfirmed at the moment but typically reliable – tells me all 12 conference members have voted unanimously to accept A&M into the league.  Speculation out of Texas has the Aggies playing football in the SEC during the 2012 season, not in 2013 or 2014 as I first heard.

I final note of thanks to David Sandhop, who doesn’t even know how much we relied on his Twitter feed to confirm our sources.  He runs an Aggie fan page and provides a great service to his readers.  There is a premium feature to his site, but David provides a ton of information for free.  Hats off to him.

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Aggies to SECede, Part Deux

Posted by Brett Kincaid on August 22, 2011

Remember us?

The dust appears to have settled enough – and more importantly the lawyers appear to be on the same page – for Texas A&M officially to depart the Big XII and ultimately land in the SEC.  We have independent reports claiming the deal should be done no later than one week from today, possibly before then.

While we do not know the exact way this has broken down, we feel pretty confident that the school and SEC officials believe the deal can be done quickly.  No word yet on when the Aggies would officially start play, but one source says the Aggies plan to inform the Big XII that they will no longer participate in Big XII athletics at the end of the newly started academic calendar.  This means the Aggies would either play as an Independent next football season or – more likely – play in a new conference.

Remember, we learned earlier this month that any school must officially end or state its intention to end conference affiliation prior to being considered for membership in the SEC.  If the calendar matches what we have been told, that process could be over and done within five days.

Look for Texas A&M to officially serve notice this week to the Big XII. Once that has been sent and officially received by conference administrators, Texas A&M can begin to seek a new home.  They are expected to apply for membership into the SEC by Wednesday of this week, putting the burden back on the SEC member presidents to approve or deny that invitation.

We have reason to believe that the conference presidents will approve the Texas A&M application this time, given that the Aggies have officially informed the Big XII that they will leave the conference.  There is a chance – albeit slim – that this all gets done by the end of this week.  So the process could take us into next week, but our sources do not believe the football season will begin before the deal is done.

As for the  SEC, it is our understanding that the league will not require a 14th institution to be added immediately.  The league will operate as a 13-member conference but will also actively discuss potential schools to create an even number.  I do expect the league to come to some sort of agreement with a 14th team prior to next season.

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The Petulant Texans

Posted by Brett Kincaid on August 15, 2011

The Texas House of Representatives Higher Education Committee has thrust itself into the middle of the Aggie Two Step to the SEC.  It is hardly breaking news for a politician to grandstand, so I don’t know how many folks are actually surprised by it.  Given his change of heart Monday afternoon, though, my radar went up concerning Rep. Dan Branch.  He cancelled a public hearing – one that would no doubt generate tons of media attention – once it became obvious that Texas A&M would not be heading to the SEC today.

Have you ever heard of a politician turning down an open press event?

Me either, and I spent the better part of 10 years working in politics.

Rep. Branch’s curious decision led me to consider what could possibly have changed his mind.

I am an optimist, so my first thought was this:  Perhaps Rep. Branch rattled his saber loudly and became satisfied that the point was made.  Regardless of what the Aggies ultimately decide, Rep. Branch can rest assured that he called attention to a matter that could have a negative impact on several Texas institutions of higher learning.  I mean…that is possible.

But it seems quite unlikely.  So I started thinking of other considerations.

I wonder how many times Rep. Branch’s phone rang in the past week.  More importantly I wonder who may have been placing those calls.  Maybe they were large Aggie donors in his district.  Maybe it was a sitting governor that happens to be a former Texas A&M student…with a very good memory and history for punishing his enemies.  Could it be that the fine folks of his Dallas district called and asked Rep. Branch what exactly he was doing?  After all, the Metroplex Republican is a free-market conservative that has little use for government meddling.  And he heaped praise on UT when they launched the Longhorn Network, citing their creativity for finding new revenue.

Any number of those things could have happened.  My guess is that some of them did.  But Rep. Branch has poked a bear.  No one required the legislative committee that he chairs to intercede.  Or…was their an external force at play?

I was tipped today to a blog post over at Midnight Yell, a blog similar to this one but devoted to all things Aggie.  This is the same site that got its hands on The Longhorn Network contract terms between Texas and ESPN.  These folks know how to get it done with research.

Remember the PR firm we referenced last week that had reportedly been engaged by UT in hopes of protecting its image as it became clear the wHorns would be seen as an “evil doer” in the breakup of the Big XII?  That firm is called HillCo Partners.  Its founder is a gentleman named Neal “Buddy” Jones, who is a proud alumnus of Baylor University.  That’s right…BAYLOR.

Midnight Yell does some great reporting on this.  If you’re intrigued by the story, you should definitely check out their work.  A few things from their report really jump off the page at me.  The most notable factoid I saw was that Mr. Jones, founding partner at HillCo, has also served time as a member of the Baylor University Board of Regents.  The Dallas Morning News notes that Mr. Jones played a very large role in keeping the Big XII together last year – by forcing Baylor down the throats of anyone that would listen.

Here is part of an email the DMN obtained:

From: Buddy Jones
Date: June 4, 2010 10:49:12 AM CDT
To: ADDRESSES REDACTED
Subject: Baylor Alert
To: Baylor grads in the 81st Legislature:
I have a critical issue that directly affects Baylor and it is very time sensitive. The Big XII and PAC 10 are both meeting separately today. According to a recent newspaper report, the PAC 10 may well issue an invite to all the Big XII South schools to join the PAC 10 – WITH THE EXCEPTION OF BAYLOR. In our stead, the PAC 10 is rumored to substitute Colorado. In this scenario, Baylor gets left out and this would be a major, major setback for our University. Perhaps a setback of immense proportion. The mere rumor of Baylor being left behind is harmful.
We cannot let the other schools in Texas (A&M, U.T., Tech) leave the Big XII WITHOUT BAYLOR BEING INCLUDED IN THE PACKAGE. Long and short – if U.T., A&M and Tech demand that any move to any other conference include ALL TEXAS BASED TEAMS from the Big XII, we are golden. We need to be in a PACKAGE DEAL!

If you’re like me, your first thought is….BAYLOR?!  It seems like the baptist bears have a big fear of being rendered irrelevant.  (You’d think their play on the field had already done that.  HEY-O!)

The “smoking gun” link in this chain is – as always – the money.  It turns out HillCo Partners is quite active with political contributions.  That is far from unusual.  The best political consulting firms also give quite generously.  There is something to note, though, about where significant HillCo contributions have been routed.  I’ll let Midnight Yell deliver the punch line:

It is also interesting and of note to point out that 8 of 9 members on the Texas House of Representatives Committee on Higher Education have received campaign contributions from HillCo Partners in the past:

None of those members attended Texas A&M University.  Four of the nine received at least one degree from either the University of Texas at Austin or Baylor University.

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Hearing Delayed

Posted by Brett Kincaid on August 15, 2011

Tuesday’s scheduled hearing of the Texas House of Representatives Higher Education Committee has been postponed.  Evidently this hearing only needed to happen in the event Texas A&M’s Board of Regents had officially voted to move to the SEC today.  That’s the impression I certainly get, especially in light of Texas Rep. Dan Branch’s comments.

“While events may continue to evolve in the coming weeks, at this time, there is no immediate need to evaluate the merits of an athletic conference reconfiguration involving Texas A&M University and, potentially, other Texas public universities,” Branch said in a statement released Monday afternoon. “If the current situation changes, our committee is prepared to convene.”

I think it’s fair to say that Mr. Branch’s committee hearing has but one purpose:  Shame Texas A&M into staying in the Big 12 by showing how that move may undermine the viability of other state schools.  Interestingly, no hearing of this magnitude was scheduled with the University of Texas created its own television sports network.  In fact, Rep. Branch lauded that move:

“I do not think this Legislature ought to penalize people that are going on and being successful in maximizing their assets and getting a higher return and finding revenues that are not a tax base.”

“I certainly will do everything I can to make sure that people who take care of their institutions and raise them up and bring in more revenues and create value that somehow that wouldn’t be a detriment as they go through the appropriations process.”

More on this tonight

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Aggies at the Altar

Posted by Brett Kincaid on August 15, 2011

Yesterday did not work out like many of us thought it would.  In retrospect, I think many of us ignored some aspects of reality regarding the Aggies-to-the-SEC move.  At BlogHawgs.com, we ignored our own advice from earlier in the week.  Most notably this:

UPDATE VI:  Looks like everyone needs to simmer down and settle in for the long haul.  I’ve been led to believe this is indeed happening.  It’s a major move by both sides, so the terms of the deal will be thoroughly reviewed.  There does appear to be some validity to the notion that both aTm and the SEC are negotiating when the Aggies would start play in football.

While the Aggies may be waiting at the altar, I definitely believe it will be worth the wait.

One thing that is certain:  We had this well before the main stream media picked up on it, and we were far more right than wrong.  All of our sources proved trustworthy – if a bit too optimistic.  I still trust them completely since their information has proven to be very accurate.

Back to the story…

Here is what we know:

  • Texas A&M reached out to SEC officials more than three weeks ago after making an institutional decision that the Longhorn Network and the current state of the Big 12 no longer benefited the Aggies.
  • The SEC and its members understand the benefit of adding the Aggies and the television & recruiting markets opened thanks to including an elite Texas school to the conference’s footprint.
  • Conversations will continue between SEC league members and Texas A&M.  Additionally, a 14th SEC member (at minimum) will likely be identified BEFORE an official invitation is extended to the Aggies.
Here is what we believe:
  • Texas A&M will eventually be added to the Southeastern Conference.
  • This process will take several months before the conference officially expands.
  • The 14th school that will join at the same time as Texas A&M will NOT come from a state where a current SEC school resides.  (I’ve had my eye on Va Tech this whole time, and I still identify them as the #1 target.  More on that in a different column…)
  • Any school that joins the SEC will have already announced its separation from its current conference before receiving an invitation.

Taking a step back, it’s easy to understand why this transition must take a long time.  The amount of legal concerns that must be addressed are multitude.  Given the huge amount of money involved, conference affiliation – and change – more closely resembles a Wall Street arbitrage transaction than conference realignment in the Arkansas Activities Association.  Of course, even the AAA faces legal threats now during realignment every two years.

This is a multi-million dollar transaction.  The Big 12 stands to lose significant revenue.  At least one report mentioned that the league’s ESPN deal can be voided if the league dips below 10 members.  And as we noted last week (hard to believe it’s only been one week since this posted) the Longhorn Network prods Texas to violate the Big 12 charter by showing more league games than previously agreed to by the league.

Essentially, this is a big ol’ mess.  And the Texas state legislature hasn’t even gotten involved yet.  That comes tomorrow.  Things fall into a slow trot when lawyers get involved.  That speed will look like Usain Bolt in the 100m compared to the ability politicians have at slowing down a process.

It’s going to be a long slog.  At several times throughout the process we will all doubt whether or not it will actually happen.  I firmly believe, though, that the Texas A&M Aggies will be members of the Southeastern Conference.  They may not be playing football in the SEC in 2012, though, which appears to be the primary motivation had to speed the process along.  I think most agree that waiting one additional year in order to avoid costly and time consuming litigation makes a ton of sense.

Of course…we could all be wrong, too.  Nothing is done until it’s done.  All signs, though, still point to the union of Texas A&M and the SEC.

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End Game

Posted by Brett Kincaid on August 13, 2011

The week-long drama over Texas A&M to the SEC appears to be entering its final stages.  As we first reported on Tuesday, Aggie officials have been negotiating with the SEC office regarding a potential offer to join the league.  It appears the SEC member schools will meet tomorrow (via conference call) to officially vote to expand the 12-member conference with the addition of the Aggies.  TAMU’s Board of Regents moved up a meeting previously scheduled for next Monday, August 22, to this Monday.  The agenda for this meeting includes an item to discuss the school’s athletic conference affiliation.

It appears that the Monday meeting was moved in advance of a Texas state legislative meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, where state politicians would grouse about the Aggies move.  With the state legislature out of session, it appears that there is little to be done by that body.  Tuesday’s meeting appears to be nothing more than a political event, something we detailed yesterday on this site.

What remains to be seen is whether or not Sunday’s SEC call will also include other potential new members to the conference.  An ESPN.com report today indicated that the league could vote to extend invitations to Missouri, Florida State, and Clemson.  Administration officials at all of those schools deny this, but there is reason to believe that other schools have been contacted.  We linked Friday to a story out of Florida that indicated FSU and the SEC had long been in talks about a move.

At minimum, it appears that the SEC will soon be a 13-member league.  No one expects that to be the case for long, though.  With the Pac-12 and Big 10 recently adding members, it was only a matter of time before the esteemed Southeastern Conference would make its power play.  Adding Texas A&M certainly qualifies as a power move.  Poaching 2 ACC members and another from the Big 12 would certainly serve notice that Mike Slive and his team in Birmingham intend to keep the SEC at the top of the collegiate athletic food chain.

ALSO OF NOTE…

The Former Student Association (Aggie alumni organization) posted this to its website.  It appears they are preparing for potential wrangling in the state legislature.  This quote is particularly telling:

The decision on Texas A&M’s conference alignment – or any decision impacting our University’s future – is one that should be made by our University leaders.  If Aggies, too, will engage their elected officials and ask them to consider Texas A&M’s need to do what is right and best for our school and our future, our President and other University leaders can focus solely on the best interests of Texas A&M today and tomorrow.

Also, it turns out that Aggie AD Bill Byrne is on Twitter.  Mr. Byrne sent this message at 2:00PM CDT today:

Bill Byrne
@SEC_Chatter gig ’em’

I think it’s safe to say right now that the bulk of discussion in the coming 72 hours will focus on a potential 14th member to the SEC.  It looks like #13 will come wearing maroon and white.

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Football and Politics

Posted by Brett Kincaid on August 12, 2011

An announcement of Texas A&M to the SEC must be close.  Lots of movement in Austin suggests the “powers that be” in the Lone Star State want to strong-arm the Aggies into staying.  While the state legislature is not in session, an interim committee plans to hold a hearing on Tuesday to discuss the potential move of Texas A&M to the SEC.

NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING

COMMITTEE: Higher Education

TIME & DATE: 2:00 PM, Tuesday, August 16, 2011

PLACE: E2.036
CHAIR: Rep. Dan Branch

The House Committee on Higher Education will meet to discuss matters pertaining to higher education, including collegiate athletics.

Invited testimony only

The University of Texas recently hired a public relations firm, HillCo Partners, in what many believe is an attempt to boost its image at the expense of the Aggies.  While that may sound like conspiracy theory mania, but there is a link.  According to our source in Teas, HillCo PAC (the political action committee of the PR firm) is a large contributor to Rep. Dan Branch.

All of this comes as we hear reports out of Florida that talks between the SEC and Florida State University have been going on for quite some time.

Florida State officials have been flirting with the SEC for several months and the discussion is now getting more serious, according to sources.

Rumors have been spreading that the SEC is poised to expand, first to 14 teams and then to 16, and the Seminoles and Texas A&M of the Big 12 could be the first two to jump.

“This is real,” said a source close to FSU.

Looks like intrigue will continue on this topic for some time to come…

 

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