The SEC is well represented in the debut of the 2015 ESPN Juco 50. An incredible 18 JC 50 members are committed to SEC schools including nine of the top 15 players. The top two players in the JC 50, both running backs, Jovon Robinson and Alvin Kamara, are committed to Auburn and Tennessee, respectively.
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Here is a recap of how some of the league’s first-year players fared in their final games of the regular season:
DE Derek Barnett, Tennessee
What he did: Barnett added to his impressive season totals against Vanderbilt by recording five tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack in the Volunteers’ 24-17 win.
What it means: Barnett is tied for 13th nationally with 10 sacks and is tied for third with 20.5 TFLs. Not a bad rookie season -- one in which he deserves to become the rare true freshman to earn All-SEC honors as a defensive lineman.
RB Nick Chubb, Georgia
What he did: Chubb had yet another 100-yard game, this time rushing 25 times for 129 yards and a touchdown. He also caught three passes for 36 yards. On the negative side, he lost a fumble at the goal line, which came back to bite Georgia when rival Georgia Tech rallied to win in overtime.
What it means: Considering how he didn’t become Georgia’s feature back until midseason, Chubb’s 1,281 rushing yards (good for second in the SEC) and 12 touchdowns are all the more impressive. He and fellow freshman Sony Michel both lost costly fumbles inside the Tech 5-yard line, but both backs have been impressive overall.
RB Leonard Fournette, LSU
What he did: Fournette earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors for his efforts against Texas A&M. The star freshman ran 19 times for 146 yards and scored a highlight-reel touchdown when he ran over A&M safety Howard Matthews. Fournette also returned three kickoffs for 34 yards.
What it means: The touchdown run -- highly reminiscent of a memorable run Georgia legend Herschel Walker made against Tennessee as a freshman -- was one of the plays of the year in the SEC. Fournette has had an up-and-down first season, but he has still posted four 100-yard games and has a respectable 891 rushing yards and eight touchdowns entering bowl season.
WR Speedy Noil, Texas A&M
What he did: Not to be outdone by his fellow New Orleans native Fournette, Noil also made highlight reels with his leaping 27-yard touchdown catch over LSU cornerback Tre'Davious White. Noil finished with four catches for 46 yards, returned four kickoffs for 50 yards and returned one punt for 1 yard.
What it means: Noil also lost a fumble on a kickoff return, which LSU recovered and turned into a field goal (and a 17-7 lead) just before halftime. The freshman proved once again he is one of the Aggies’ most explosive players, but that was a costly turnover in A&M's 23-17 loss.
RB Stanley Williams, Kentucky
What he did: Williams concluded an impressive freshman season with 126 rushing yards and touchdowns of 11 and 14 yards on 18 carries against Louisville. He also caught three passes for 13 yards in the Wildcats’ 44-40 loss.
What it means: One of Kentucky’s highlights came midway through the fourth quarter when Williams bulled his way through three Louisville defenders to score the go-ahead touchdown. The defense couldn’t preserve the lead, meaning the Wildcats fell short of bowl eligibility, but Williams still finished the season with 488 rushing yards, 162 receiving yards and an average of 116.1 all-purpose yards per game.
DB Jamal Adams, LSU: Recorded a team-high eight tackles, one tackle for loss and broke up a pass in LSU’s win over Texas A&M.
OLB Lorenzo Carter, Georgia: Made eight tackles and one tackle for loss against Georgia Tech.
WR Malachi Dupre, LSU: Caught one pass for 41 yards against Texas A&M.
QB Treon Harris, Florida: Completed 13 of 32 passes for 169 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions and also ran nine times for 41 yards against Florida State.
DE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M: Recorded four tackles against LSU.
DE Marquis Haynes, Ole Miss: Made five tackles and a sack against Mississippi State.
DB Todd Kelly Jr., Tennessee: Intercepted a pass and made one tackle against Vanderbilt.
PK Aaron Medley, Tennessee: Made a 36-yard field goal and all three of his PATs in a win against Vanderbilt.
RB Sony Michel, Georgia: Ran nine times for 49 yards but also lost a key fumble at the goal line in the loss to Georgia Tech.
P J.K. Scott, Alabama: Punted twice against Auburn and averaged 55.5 yards per attempt, including a long of 70.
DB Devin Voorhies, LSU: Forced Noil’s fumbled kickoff return that led to an LSU field goal before halftime against Texas A&M.
DB Quincy Wilson, Florida: Recorded one tackle for a two-yard loss and also intercepted a Jameis Winston pass in the Gators’ loss to Florida State.
PK Gary Wunderlich, Ole Miss: Made a 39-yard field goal, all four of his PATs and punted once for 46 yards in a win against Mississippi State.
While administrators, especially UAB president Ray Watts, give vague answers and sip water during the football program's most important meeting, coaches and players are having to reshape their lives and figure out where to go and what to do now.
As UAB players repeated all day, a family has been ripped to shreds by an administration that had apparently been negligent when it came to trying to help/save UAB's football program. There are so many different things being said, but the truth is that the people directly involved -- players and coaches -- are being left out to dry without any real answers from people who just didn't care enough. If you want an in depth look at the day that was, Jon Solomon of CBSSports.com details the day the UAB football program died a painful death. The raw video in the piece has some choice language in it, but it shows true emotion and perfectly captures what these players, who were clearly at the very bottom of the administration's totem pole, are going through.
It really is a sad case for a school that battled financial issues, the lack of a true investment in the program, and what seems like political issues. Here is the full text of the UAB football report, which the university cited the rising costs of running a competitive football program, including cost of attendance stipends to players.
This excerpt from Solomon's piece is especially concerning:
[Consultant] [Bill] Carr calculated the cumulative net deficit at $25.3 million over the next five years. Without football, Carr predicted a five-year net revenue of $2 million and the difference in operating expenses would be $27.3 million over five years with football.
On top of that, UAB determined it needed an incremental capital investment of $22.2 million in football facilities (outdoor practice field, multisport indoor practice facility and a football administration building) to sustain competitiveness. In other words, UAB argued, it needed to invest about $49 million over the next five years to be competitive in Conference USA.
As part of the strategic plan, UAB asked its coaches months ago what it needed to be competitive. Essentially, those responses then got used against the sports that got cut.
Between 2010 and 2013, UAB reported no annual debt service on athletics facilities. That's virtually unheard of in Division I sports. UAB ranks in the middle of its peers for annual financial operating deficits when factoring in subsidies, yet only UAB has so far decided to cut football.
As Kevin Scarbinsky of AL.com wrote, Watts and his balance sheet killed UAB's football program and left a handful of people wondering what's next.
UAB head coach Bill Clark is "heartbroken" about the school's decision to end the football program. UAB running back and Brimingham native D.J. Vinson says shutting down the football program is like a dagger in the heart, while defensive back Jimmy Jeans says it was "nothing but numbers and political stuff."
Here's to hoping these players and coaches land on their feet sooner rather than later.
Jameis Winston's student conduct hearing
- Florida State teammates Chris Casher and Ronald Darby refused to testify during Winston's hearing Tuesday. Casher and Darby were Winston's roommates at an off-campus apartment and were there on the night of the alleged sexual assault of an FSU student that Winston is accused of.
- It was an "emotional" first day for the accuser in Winston's conduct hearing.
- Winston's hearing will continue Wednesday.
Here are some links to snack on while you wait for that peppermint mocha with extra whipped cream:
- TCU might be No. 3 in the College Football Playoff Rankings, but Baylor and Ohio State might actually have a distinct advantage over the Horned Frogs on Saturday.
- Here's an interesting column by David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune on how location, location, location is affecting all this coaching coming and going in college football.
- Despite going undefeated in the Sun Belt Conference and winning the conference championship, Georgia Southern won't be allowed to play in a bowl game this season. Because the school is a first-year member in the Football Bowl Subdivision it isn't eligible to play in the postseason. The school filed an appeal, but was denied by the NCAA.
- The family of Kosta Karageorge, the Ohio State football player and wrestler, made its first statement since his death.
- The SEC could knock itself out of the College Football Playoff if Missouri upsets Alabama in the SEC championship game Saturday, but could still still grow rich.
- The man at the center of the Todd Gurley autograph scandal tells his side of the story and says that he never wanted hurt Gurley. Wellllll ...
- Arizona has the blueprint to beat Oregon -- again.
- A day after Georgia defensive back Brendan Langley chose to transfer, fellow defensive back J.J. Green decided to transfer as well. Green says he wants to play running back again.
So what does that mean for Florida, which is still trying to fill its head coaching vacancy and showed interest in Freeze? Colorado State coach Jim McElwain appears to be the target. Though 22-16 at Colorado State, McElwain led the Rams to a terrific 10-2 campaign this season, earning Mountain West Conference coach of the year honors. He also has SEC experience from his days as Alabama's offensive coordinator (2008-11). One hurdle to overcome is McElwain's massive buyout, with is $7.5 million. It can be reduced, however, based on "extenuating circumstances."
In the aftermath of Mississippi State's Egg Bowl loss to Ole Miss, Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen said he didn't think the Bulldogs "were getting in the playoff anyway." Could Tuesday's latest College Football Playoff rankings be evidence of that? Mississippi State was already behind Florida State, who beat Florida, and TCU jumped the Seminoles in the rankings, suggesting that the committee believes TCU's résumé is better than Florida State's. It could be argued that had the Bulldogs beat Ole Miss in Oxford, that the strength of that win would justify moving them above the Seminoles, given how much Florida State struggled to beat a mediocre Florida team, but that would mean the committee would consider leaving FSU out of the top four completely, which seems a tad unlikely.
Around the SEC
- Alabama, once known for stifling defense, could be characterized as "bend but don't break."
- In case you missed it, Bryan Allen -- the man who paidTodd Gurley $400 for autographs -- claims he never meant to hurt Gurley or Georgia.
- Kentucky must replace seven key defensive players, led by Za'Darius Smith and Bud Dupree, next year.
- If it's a bidding war for Will Muschamp, Auburn has a history of opening its checkbook for assistants.
The Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 all owe a debt of gratitude to Ole Miss for knocking off Mississippi State this past Saturday, dropping the previously No. 4-ranked Bulldogs to 10-2 and out of the playoff picture.
But it's not all doom and gloom for the SEC. Realistically, the chances of getting two teams in the playoff were slim anyway.
Commissioner Mike Slive can hold his head high knowing that an astounding 12 teams (out of 14) from his conference qualified for bowl games during the regular season.
College Football Playoff semifinal (Allstate Sugar Bowl): Alabama
Capital One Orange Bowl: Mississippi State
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: Ole Miss
Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl: Missouri
Outback Bowl: Auburn
TaxSlayer Bowl: LSU
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: Georgia
Advocare V100 Texas Bowl: Texas A&M
Belk Bowl: South Carolina
AutoZone Liberty Bowl: Arkansas
Birmingham Bowl: Tennessee
Duck Commander Independence Bowl: Florida
The Horned Frogs were ranked third, one spot ahead of the Seminoles, in the rankings released Tuesday night, the final set of rankings before the 12-member committee selects the four teams for the inaugural playoff tournament on Sunday.
"I don't worry about it," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher told reporters Tuesday. "We go play Georgia Tech. We take care of business, we'll be fine. I'm not surprised by anything anymore."
TCU routed Texas, 48-10, this past Thursday to win its sixth straight. Florida State held off Florida, 24-19, in Will Muschamp's final game as the Gators' coach, but still slipped a spot in the CFP rankings despite winning its 12th straight this season (and 28th overall).
Each of the top six teams are in action this weekend. Oregon faces Arizona
ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia coach Mark Richt says sophomore safety J.J. Green plans to transfer to another school.
Green played at tailback in 2013 before moving to defense. Richt said Tuesday that Green wants to find a school where he can play running back.
Green played in eight games, including one start, and had nine tackles this season for No. 15 Georgia. He played in 13 games at tailback last season and had 384 yards rushing with three touchdowns. He also had 12 catches for 104 yards.
On Monday, Georgia announced sophomore cornerback Brendan Langley will transfer. Richt says Langley is seeking an opportunity for increased playing time.
Langley had four tackles in three games, including one start, this season.
The top five freshmen in the SEC
11:00 AM ET Nevada Louisiana-Lafayette 2:20 PM ET Utah State UTEP 3:30 PM ET 22 Utah Colorado State 5:45 PM ET Western Michigan Air Force 9:15 PM ET South Alabama Bowling Green
6:00 PM ET Marshall Northern Illinois 9:30 PM ET Navy San Diego State
12:00 PM ET Central Michigan Western Kentucky 8:00 PM ET Fresno State Rice
1:00 PM ET Illinois Louisiana Tech 4:30 PM ET Rutgers North Carolina 8:00 PM ET North Carolina State UCF
1:00 PM ET Cincinnati Virginia Tech 2:00 PM ET 15 Arizona State Duke 3:30 PM ET Miami (FL) South Carolina 4:30 PM ET Boston College Penn State 8:00 PM ET Nebraska 24 USC
2:00 PM ET Texas A&M West Virginia 5:30 PM ET Oklahoma 17 Clemson 9:00 PM ET Arkansas Texas
3:00 PM ET Notre Dame 23 LSU 6:30 PM ET 13 Georgia 21 Louisville 10:00 PM ET Maryland Stanford
12:30 PM ET 9 Ole Miss 6 TCU 4:00 PM ET 20 Boise State 10 Arizona 8:00 PM ET 7 Mississippi State 12 Georgia Tech
12:00 PM ET 19 Auburn 18 Wisconsin 12:30 PM ET 8 Michigan State 5 Baylor 1:00 PM ET 16 Missouri 25 Minnesota 5:00 PM ET 2 Oregon 3 Florida State 8:30 PM ET 1 Alabama 4 Ohio State
12:00 PM ET Houston Pittsburgh 3:20 PM ET Iowa Tennessee 6:45 PM ET 11 Kansas State 14 UCLA 10:15 PM ET Washington Oklahoma State