Gator Country has combed the Internet for the most intriguing headlines and highlights from across the Southeastern Conference in an effort to help our members stay informed about what’s happening around the league.
The past week was filled with plenty of story lines beginning with All-SEC receiver Da’Rick Rogers’ return to the Tennessee sidelines and ending with Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino being placed on administrative leave for trying to cover up an inappropriate relationship with a female employee he had hired just last week.
GatorCountry.com’s Around the SEC: Notes & Quotes are published each Friday. In case you missed last week’s SEC notebook featuring why Da”Rick Rogers was in trouble in the first place as well as what eating marijuana brownies on spring break does to an All-American safety at Georgia, check it out now by clicking here.
ALABAMA: Running Game Problems
The Crimson Tide had a “statistically uneventful performance” by the running game after its first scrimmage of the spring last week, wrote Andrew Gribble of AL.com. Alabama is looking to replace running back Trent Richardson, who figures to be one of the top picks in this year’s NFL Draft after helping lead the Tide to a pair of BCS National Championships. Running backs Eddie Lacy (turf toe) and Blake Sims (hip) are out for the spring, leaving the backfield depleted for practices. Quarterback A.J. McCarron is quoted in the article as saying “it’s been kind of hard” to get into a rhythm with the healthy running backs, which managed just 117 yards on 38 carries in the scrimmage led by Dee Hart with 13 carries for 32 yards. Jalston Fowler, a 242-pound bruiser who had 385 yards and four touchdowns last fall, should get a chance to prove himself as more than just a third option — even when Lacy and Sims return — during the Tide’s second spring scrimmage today.
ARKANSAS: Bobby Petrino Problems
Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino was placed on administrative leave Thursday night while athletic director Jeff Long conducts a review of Petrino’s failed cover up of an inappropriate relationship with subordinate employee. Petrino did not disclose to Long — nor the public during a Tuesday press conference — that he had a female rider half his age on the back of his motorcycle when it crashed on Sunday. Petrino, who is 51 and married with four children, admitted he tried to hide that 25-year-old Jessica Dorrell was involved in an attempt to protect his family from a “previous inappropriate relationship from becoming public.” Even more damning is that Petrino hired Dorrell on March 28, just four days before the accident, as student-athlete development coordinator, overseeing recruiting and initial eligibility for incoming players. There is a clause in Petrino’s contract, which averages $3.53 million annually, that states he can be fired with cause if he is discovered to be “engaging in conduct, as solely determined by the university, which is clearly contrary to the character and responsibilities of a person occupying the position of head football coach or which negatively or adversely affects the reputation of the (university’s) athletics programs in any way.” Long did not set a timetable for his review of the situation and declined to say if Petrino’s job was in jeopardy.
AUBURN: Linebacker Suffers Career-Ending Injury
Tigers linebacker Jawara White suffered a career-ending injury in a practice earlier this week. Two years ago, White had to sit out his freshman season with a neck injury. Auburn coach Gene Chizik released this statement on the situation, although White’s latest injury was not disclosed. “Jawara White has sustained an injury that will no longer allow him to play football. Although this is disappointing for Jawara, our medical staff, his family and our coaching staff all agree that it is in his best interest. At Auburn, our top priority is and will always be the health and welfare of our student-athletes. Jawara will continue to work toward receiving his degree from Auburn and will always be a part of our Auburn family.” White played in 11 games and had 23 tackles, including 2.5 for loss, as a reserve linebacker last season.
GEORGIA: Bulldogs Shuffle Defensive Deck
A rash of injuries Bulldogs defenders suffered last season has resulted in several players “cross-training” at different positions this spring, according to an article on redandblack.com. Linebackers Cornelius Washington and Ray Drew have worked along the defensive line while Christian Robinson has played both the middle inside and middle outside linebacker spots. “When you move guys around it lets them understand where their help is, understand where guys fit,” UGA defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said in the article. “I think by moving guys around it forces them to learn and I think anytime they’re learning it’s going to help them be better players down the road — I think moving guys around has helped us.” The Bulldogs won’t be playing with a full deck on defense with four starters — Sanders Commings, Alec Ogletree, Bacarri Rambo and Branden Smith — facing suspensions to begin the season.
KENTUCKY: ‘Cats Crowned National Champs
With five players projected to be first round draft picks, including three likely “one-and-dones” and two “two-and-dones,” Kentucky held off a late rally attempt to beat Kansas 67-59 on Monday night, giving the program its eighth national title. Freshman Anthony Davis was named the game’s most outstanding player with six points, 16 rebounds, six blocks, five assists and three steals. He made his only field goal with a little more than five minutes remaining in regulation, but he was able to impose his will and his 6-foot-10 frame throughout the game. “I love the fact Anthony Davis goes 1-for-10, and you all say he was biggest factor of game,” UK coach John Calipari said in a postgame press conference. “He was 1-for-10. I asked these guys what they would do without scoring. You have an idea what he does.” Davis will decide if he will enter the NBA Draft, where he likely will be the No. 1 overall selection. Teammate and classmate Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is the possible second pick. Freshman Marcus Teague also is may declare for the draft and is projected as a late first round selection along with UK sophomores Doron Lamb and Terrance Jones.
LOUISIANA STATE: Seven-Footer Leaves LSU ‘Short’
Justin Hamilton, the Tigers’ seven-foot center, announced Thursday his plans to pursue a professional career, which will leave the “basketball team short-handed both in numbers and stature,” writes Rowan Kavner of the Times Picayune. “I will graduate next month, and I am getting married this summer,” Hamilton said in a release. “I am ready to take the next step in my life. Again, I would like to thank everyone that has helped me along the way, and especially the fans here at LSU.” LSU figured to have all five of its starters returning next season, but Hamilton will leave a huge void. He led the team in scoring (12.9 point per game), rebounds (7.2) and blocks (1.3). Other than Johnny O’Bryant, who’s 6-9, all of LSU returners who averaged more than 10 minutes per game are 6-6 or shorter.
MISSISSIPPI STATE: New Hoops Coach Hired
Rick Ray was introduced as the Bulldogs’ new men’s basketball coach on Monday, ending a three-week long coaching search. He’s the first black men’s basketball coach in school history. Ray spent the past two seasons as the top assistant at Clemson after serving as an assistant at Purdue, Northern Illinois and Indiana State. He promises to restore a “hard-nosed approach to a program that has struggled with discipline,” according to a report by the Associated Press. “The system we will run is based on integrity,” Ray said during the press conference. “I believe you win by doing things the right way. I want to make sure we put a team on this court that you guys are proud of.” Ray’s contract is a four-year deal worth about $1 million annually. He replaces Rick Stansbury, who was making about $1.5 million per year before announcing his retirement.
OLE MISS: Baseball Teams Do Rain Dance
When Tuesday’s baseball game between Ole Miss and Southern Miss was delayed, the “teams didn’t let weather get in the way of providing some entertainment,” wrote Kyle Smith of The Student Printz. It began with Ole Miss bowling a player into pins in the form of 10 players and Southern Miss responded by creating a roller coaster with two rows of 10 players each. Ole Miss answered with a “Shake Weight” skit. There also were moonwalks, the Doughie, The Bernie, The Cat Daddy, but “The most innovative move of the night came when the Eagles’ Kameron Brunty and Breck Kline appeared to be wounded around second base. Chase Fowler and Dillon Day came to their rescue like paramedics and brought them back to the dugout to perform CPR. The players also carried Brunty off in a makeshift stretcher,” Smith wrote. “We just felt like having fun,” Brunty said in the article. The dance off was made into a Youtube video that continues to grow in popularity (more than 130,000 hits when this was written) and can be viewed below.
SOUTH CAROLINA: Clowney Around On The Inside
CBSSports.com’s Bruce Feldman writes that Gamecocks star defensive end Jadaveon Clowney will be moving inside on third down passing situations. The 6-foot-6, 265-pounder had 12 tackles for loss, eight sacks and five forced fumbles as a defensive end for the third-best defense in the nation, according to Feldman’s article. He writes “guess who is going to be moving into the middle on third-and-longs this year? Mr. Clowney, the freakishly long and explosive defensive end, who it turns out has proven to be quite the headache for the interior of the Gamecocks’ O-line this spring.” Feldman followed that sentence up with a quote by USC’s defensive line coach Brad Lawing saying the offensive line has yet to block Clowney, who’s only a sophomore, when he has lined up on the inside during spring practices.
TENNESSEE: Rogers Returns, Addresses Tweet
“Making one-handed catches, gliding effortlessly through his routes and giving the illusion that football is an easy game, Da’Rick Rogers was his usual on-field self Monday morning,” wrote Patrick Brown of The Chattanooga Times Free Press. The junior missed practice last Thursday and had to complete some unspecified requirements in order to return to the field on Saturday. Rumors surfaced after the missed practice that Rogers was planning to transfer to Georgia State, He referenced the Panthers on his Twitter account and a Rivals website covering the school even reported Rogers was in the process of transferring to GSU. He told reporters there was “no consideration” about leaving Tennessee and was quoted in the article as saying, “Maybe I need to do a little better job with tweets, letting everybody know what’s really actually going on so next time it won’t be misinterpreted.” He also said he had to handle a few things personally and plans on “moving forward.”
VANDERBILT: Hillside Seating For Football
Vice Chancellor David Williams confirmed to Jeff Lockridge of The Tennessean that a large berm will be constructed on the open end of Vanderbilt Stadium and 500 seats will be added, so fans can watch football games from there beginning this fall. Clemson and Virginia have similar hills for seating, but the idea was spawned when the ‘Dores visited Wake Forest last season and saw “Deacon Hill” in one of the end zones. “I don’t think there’s any place that has it like this because ours is not going to be that huge,” Williams said in the article. Tickets for hillside seating began being sold this week for $110 for the six-game, 2012 home schedule.