WITH THE POOL OF CANDIDATES DWINDLING AND NEEDING TWO TEAMS TO MAKE TO 16, WHO WOULD THE BIG10 WANT

Nice write up on possible Big 10 expansion possibilities. Good weekend reading.

College Football Fix

b10Much like on the field the big ten is not the fastest moving conference of the big boys but they do know what they want. I have a short list of three teams.
Fist is Notre Dame, the BIG 10 has been courting them for years. Much like the guy chasing the pretty girl they keep being passed up for the less attractive guy in the corner. The question becomes does Notre Dame see the writing on the wall and join the BIG 10 or end up relegated to one of the less prestigious conferences.
One thing the BIG 10 values greatly and is very proud of is The Association of American Universities. All current BIG 10 universities are members and with the exception of Notre Dame deviation from this model is doubtful. So there are two schools that are members and not in the three conferences that have moved…

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Top 10 Teams Ready to End the SEC’s Title Streak

Interesting takes by Steve Lassan of Athlon

1. Ohio State
With the postseason ban over, Ohio State is positioned to be Alabama’s biggest threat to another national title in 2013. The Buckeyes return 13 starters, including one of the front-runners to win the Heisman Trophy in quarterback Braxton Miller. Under coach Urban Meyer last season, Miller threw for 2,039 yards and 15 scores and rushed for 1,271 yards and 13 touchdowns. With the supporting cast improving, Miller won’t have as much pressure on his shoulders and should be a more polished passer in 2013. And the junior will be protected by a line that returns four starters and should rank among the best nationally. The biggest question mark for Ohio State is a defense that struggled at times last year. The Buckeyes ranked 76th nationally against the pass and sixth in the Big Ten in scoring and total defense. Only four starters are back on defense, and the defensive line is essentially starting over with the departure of four key players. Despite those concerns, linebacker Ryan Shazier is back, and the secondary should be much improved. Even though the line was decimated by departures, Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington are future stars in the Big Ten. Ohio State’s schedule isn’t too difficult, so another 12-0 season isn’t out of the question. If Miller stays healthy, the Buckeyes will be playing for a national title in January.

2. Oregon
Chip Kelly left for the NFL, but the cupboard in Eugene is far from bare. Quarterback Marcus Mariota and running back De’Anthony Thomas lead an offense that should once again rank among the best in the nation. The receiving corps is deep with options, which should allow Mariota to throw more in 2013. While losing end/linebacker Dion Jordan and linebackers Kiko Alonso and Michael Clay is a huge setback for the defense, seven starters are back, including cornerbacks Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and Terrance Mitchell. The Ducks have to play at Stanford on Nov. 7 but catch UCLA at home and won’t play Arizona State or USC in crossover play. New coach Mark Helfrich is unproven, but his familiarity with the returning talent should keep Oregon among the top five teams in the nation next season.

3. Georgia and 4. South Carolina
It may seem strange to have an SEC team on this list, but there are scenarios in which a team from college football’s top conference misses the title game or a team from the East pulls an upset in the conference title game. Assuming Alabama finishes 12-0, Georgia (or South Carolina) could be its biggest threat. If the Bulldogs or Gamecocks have one loss and beat the Crimson Tide in the SEC Championship Game, it’s unlikely Alabama could get back into the national title picture. Although Georgia and South Carolina are solid teams, neither appear to be as strong as Alabama. The Bulldogs will have one of the SEC’s best offenses, but the defense has to be rebuilt. The Gamecocks return a Heisman candidate in defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, along with two potential starting quarterbacks in Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson. Georgia and South Carolina both miss Alabama during the regular season, so the only chance both teams will have to try and knock out the Crimson Tide will be in Atlanta in early December.

5. Clemson
2013 isn’t shaping up to be a banner year for the ACC, but Clemson is comfortably one of the top 10 teams in the nation. The Tigers lost only two games last year – Florida State and South Carolina – and return 13 starters from 2012. Tajh Boyd is one of college football’s top five quarterbacks and directs an offense that averaged 41 points a game last season. Boyd will have to find a new go-to target with DeAndre Hopkins leaving for the NFL, but Sammy Watkins is poised to regain his freshman form (82 catches) in 2013. The biggest question mark on offense is finding a new go-to running back, along with finding a dependable tight end after Sam Cooper was lost for the season with a torn ACL in the spring. The defense made strides late last year, and more should be expected in the second go-round under coordinator Brent Venables. The front seven is deep on experience, but the secondary needs to tighten up after ranking 71st nationally against the pass last year. Outside of Florida State, Clemson doesn’t have much to worry about in the ACC. With the Seminoles coming to Death Valley, the Tigers are an overwhelming favorite to win the conference. Of course, beating two SEC opponents – Georgia in the season opener and South Carolina on Nov. 30 – is the key to Clemson’s national title hopes.

6. Stanford
The defending Pac-12 champs are loaded for another run at the national title. But the Cardinal will have to fill a few key areas, after the departures of running back Stepfan Taylor (4,300 yards), two of the nation’s top tight ends (Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo) and standout linebacker Chase Thomas. While the personnel losses are significant, Stanford does return quarterback Kevin Hogan, along with one of the nation’s top offensive lines. Center Sam Schwartzstein must be replaced up front, but the Cardinal aren’t hurting for talent in the trenches. Stanford’s defense should remain strong despite the departure of Thomas, especially with Shayne Skov and Trent Murphy returning to anchor the linebacker unit. The secondary is also in great shape, especially with rising star Alex Carter at cornerback. The schedule is manageable, as Stanford hosts Oregon on Nov. 7 and catches two of the top three teams in the Pac-12 South at home (Arizona State and UCLA). If there’s a question mark on this team, it’s a passing attack that lost two key weapons at tight end and has no proven playmakers at receiver.

7. Notre Dame
The Fighting Irish finished the regular season 12-0 last year but were thoroughly dominated by Alabama in the national championship game. Notre Dame caught a few lucky bounces last season, winning five games by a touchdown or less – including two overtime thrillers against Stanford and Pittsburgh. Despite losing linebacker Manti Te’o, the Fighting Irish could be a better team in 2013. The offense played better in the second half of the season, and quarterback Everett Golson is back for his second year as the starter. Running back is a concern with the departures of Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood, but USC transfer Amir Carlisle, George Atkinson III and incoming freshman Greg Bryant should be a capable trio. The defense is loaded in the trenches, as end Stephon Tuitt and tackle Louis Nix III are two of the best linemen in the nation. The schedule is challenging once again, but with a better offense, Notre Dame could make another run at the national championship.

8. Texas A&M
The Aggies could fire the first strike in knocking off the SEC from the top spot in 2013. Texas A&M hosts Alabama on Sept. 14 and hopes to repeat last year’s 29-24 upset win in Tuscaloosa. If the Aggies knock off the Crimson Tide, they would jump into the early driver’s seat for a spot in the national title game. And while Texas A&M could run the table and finish unbeaten, there’s also a good chance it loses at LSU. But are the Aggies a better team than last year? Probably not. Texas A&M must fill some voids on defense, as end Damontre Moore and linebackers Sean Porter and Jonathan Stewart are gone. And now that the rest of the SEC has a full year of game tape and time to plan for quarterback Johnny Manziel, it may be tough to repeat last year’s success. However, the Aggies are still one of college football’s top 10 teams. If Texas A&M knocks off Alabama in early September, it could be the first chance for the rest of college football to keep the SEC out of the national championship, provided Ohio State and Oregon run the table and finish unbeaten.

9. Louisville
With an easy schedule and one of the nation’s top quarterbacks under center, Louisville could have the most favorable path to a 12-0 mark in 2013. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater threw for 3,718 yards and 27 scores last season and had a standout performance in the Sugar Bowl win over Florida (266 yards, two touchdowns). Bridgewater will be throwing to one of the nation’s top receiving corps, but the offensive line must replace two key starters, including center Mario Benavides. The Cardinals ranked 23rd nationally in total defense last season but need to get tougher against the run after allowing 148 yards on the ground per game in 2012. Most of the defense returns intact, but cornerback Adrian Bushell is a big loss. Louisville doesn’t have a strong nonconference schedule, so winning and looking impressive in Big East play is a must.

10. Oklahoma State
Let’s be honest: It’s a longshot the SEC doesn’t win or at least play for the national title. And it could be an even bigger mountain for a team from the Big 12 to play for the championship in 2013. We list Oklahoma State as the very early front-runner to win the conference crown, but it’s really anyone’s guess with Texas, TCU and Oklahoma all having legitimate Big 12 title hopes. The Cowboys return 12 starters and should have one of the conference’s top offenses with the return of receiver Josh Stewart and running back Jeremy Smith. The defense has room to improve against the pass, and there’s very little in the way of proven depth at defensive end. With a favorable schedule, however, Oklahoma State seems to have the most favorable path to a Big 12 title. Make no mistake: It’s certainly a longshot that Oklahoma State can get to the title game this year. However, if Clint Chelf settles into the quarterback spot, a champion of the Big 12 can never be counted out of the national title picture.

Confidence building for Diamond Dawgs in late season

MSU baseball. Nice story heading a big weekend showdown with rival Ole Miss

HailStateBEAT

Over the weekend, Mississippi State’s baseball team saw an eight-run lead nearly evaporate in two innings, fell behind in game two of a doubleheader, then watched Alabama get another big lead in the final game of the series on Sunday.

The result? A 3-0 weekend record for the Bulldogs, sweeping Alabama at Dudy Noble Field.

IXZVAVBTOOMJCUE.20090414153124Two come-from-behind, extra-inning, walk-off wins and a foiled Tide comeback attempt made for both an interesting and revealing weekend for MSU.

 “When you look at games like this,” head coach John Cohen said, “it’s that character, that work ethic and that belief in yourself that gets you through those games. This is what we expect of our kids, especially the older ones who have been through that before.”

After being swept on the road at Vanderbilt last week, Cohen’s club was badly in need of wins to calm the waters and maintain hopes of hosting…

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“The NCAA has said it does not exploit current or former athletes.”

Just more NCAA nonsense. More good stuff from GetThePicture blog. Hard not to lose hope.

Get The Picture

The steady drip, drip, drip in the O’Bannon case continues apace.  I don’t think this is something the NCAA wants to have the public hear as the class certification hearing approaches:

College sports video games were designed to replicate actual players without using their names, a former Electronic Arts Sports executive producer said in his deposition as part of the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit.

Jeremy Strauser, who worked at EA from 1995 until 2011, testified last December that computer-game avatars were linked to specific player identifying numbers and biographical information, such as team depth charts, was used to make the game realistic.

“We generally tried to make the players perform as their real life counterparts, short of their name and likeness,” Strauser testified.

They all knew what they were doing with these games.  Either the NCAA can make itself look sillier by insisting otherwise, or it can start blaming EA for…

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Guilty until proven innocent.

Athletes and the justice system should be a topic if its own. Colleges classes, books, TV shows…. The possibilities are endless

Get The Picture

Gee, maybe now we know why Isaiah Crowell was nervous during that arrest.

The charges that were leveled against former Georgia tailback Isaiah Crowell last summer and ultimately led to his dismissal by the Bulldogs were dismissed by the State of Georgia this week.

According to court documents obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Thursday, the felony charge of possessing a weapon with an altered ID mark and misdemeanor charges of possession and carrying a concealed weapon without a license and carrying a weapon within in a school zone, were dropped by Athens-Clarke County District Attorney Kenneth Mauldin.

In the dismissal document filed by assistant D.A. James Chafin, it was explained to the court while the gun was found under the driver’s seat of Crowell’s car, which belonged to his mother, “the state would be unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that this defendant actually possessed the weapon…

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2013 MSU football schedule posters released

You gotta like the posters for the 2013 season. Who is ready for football? More good work from Hail State Beat

HailStateBEAT

2013 Poster - Final

If you’re a glass-half-full kind of person, the picture above is your sign that football season is slowly but steadily creeping closer, waiting for us on the other side of a hot Mississippi summer.

Spring practice, of course, wraps up this weekend with the Maroon-White Game in Davis Wade Stadium, our last chance to watch Dan Mullen’s football team until the calendar hits August.

However, it’s not Mullen you see on this year’s football schedule poster, but the players and leaders of the team. Senior quarterback Tyler Russell and his center Dillon Day, senior running back LaDarius Perkins and his offensive guard Gabe Jackson and a pair of defensive linemen in senior Denico Autry and junior Kaleb Eulls.

2013 Schedule Card - Final (Perkins)The significance of the players is obvious; a group of stars, veterans and leaders.

The understated but quite-important part of the poster is the short, declarative sentence in the bottom-left corner. “Fight…

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MSU Spring Game: Things to Watch

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On Saturday at 1:00 pm MSU will have their annual spring game in Davis Wade Stadium. It is a free event this year where fans can get a glimpse at how the 2013 squad is shaping up after spring training. It’s one thing for fans to watch the game as fans and primarily follow the ball. We watch the QB either hand off or throw it and we watch the running backs or receivers afterwards. On defense we watch the players run to the ball and make the tackle or perhaps get an interception. I’m going to give the hardcore football junkie some things to keep an eye on that the average fan will miss. A lot of these things I’ll suggest are crucial to our season.

OG Justin Malone- He will be the full time starter at G next year. He has a big time ceiling but is only a sophomore. He does very well in pass blocking because he has really good feet. The crucial thing to watch with him is his run blocking. Keep a close eye on if he handles our DT’s well.

WR Fred Brown- Jameon Lewis and Rojo have asserted themselves as our top WR options but there has been a dogfight for the rest of the reps. Fred has done a great job this spring putting himself in the conversation at WR. When he came to MSU he was small and has worked to put on size and strength. He runs great routes but keep a close eye on how well he gets off the line in press coverages. He’s still a bit on the small side so if he can do this well, expect to see him play a lot.

WR/RB Brandon Holloway- The guy is lightning fast and all spring we have seen the staff work hard to get him touches. Keep an eye on how surprisingly well he runs between the tackles and watch all the positions the staff puts him in to get touches.

DE Preston Smith- Denico Autry gets much of the fanfare at DE but Smith has quietly had a great spring. Many forget he led us in sacks with limited snaps last year. Take the time and watch him on a few plays. The guy is a great pass rusher. Even if he can’t hit the QB watch the bull rush and count how many sacks he could have had.

DT PJ Jones- We needed someone to step up and be a leader at DT and PJ has done a great job. He looks like he’s gotten bigger. Watch him battle in there a few plays. He moves really well and gets good push. Especially watch if it’s an outside run and how well he pursues the ball. You’ll be pleased.

DT Nick James- First off, he is a mountain of a man. He gets push on almost every play, even when double teamed. The main thing I can tell you is watch how much fun he is having on the field. You will have fun just watching him.

CB- Not really 1 in particular but watch how close the competition is between Justin Cox, Cedric Jiles, Will Redmond, and Jamerson Love. There is not much that separates any of these guys and the competition is fierce. If I had to pick 1 thing, watch how big and physical Cox is.

FS Nickoe Whitley- It should immediately jump out at you that he has lost weight. Watch him by himself a few plays and look how much better he is moving out there. He looks like he has regained his step and just looks smooth out there. I think you’ll see Nickoe of 2011.