SEC could turn into 'Billy D Land'


Published: Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 30, 2009 at 12:24 a.m.

If Billy Donovan thinks itís uncomfortable to have to coach against John Pelphrey every year, it may be worse next year.

Iím guessing that one reason Georgia went ahead and pulled the rug out from under Dennis Felton with more than a month left in his sixth season was because Alabama already rid itself of Mark Gottfried. And one of the most coveted mid-major coach out there is Anthony Grant.

(Of course, Damon Evans also fired Felton because the Bulldogs stink again and he didnít want a repeat of last year when Georgiaís SEC Tournament run forced him to keep a coach who needed to go).

So if Alabama and Georgia both come calling as expected, what does Grant do?

One thing he might want to do is look around. I have a feeling there may be some other jobs opening up, like Maryland where Gary Williams is in a verbal battle with his bosses, before this season is through.

There is also this possibility ó Miamiís Frank Haith is hired at Alabama or Georgia and Grant goes to his hometown to coach the Hurricanes.

If itís an either/or with the Bulldogs and Tide, I think Grant would go with Georgia, where there is a new practice facility and a great state for recruiting. That would mean Donovan and Grant would be going head-to-head twice a year at least.

Maybe Donnie Jones will get the other SEC job Grant turns down. And then Auburn dumps Jeff Lebo and hires Larry Shyatt. And we just start calling SEC basketball ďBilly D Land.Ē

Hey, stranger things have happened.

Everyone in this league is looking for a Billy Donovan. Remember that.

SECOND FIDDLE: Itís a shame that Don LaFontaine passed away last September because we could have used him to do the voice-over for what might well happen in the future.

ĒIn a world where Tim Tebow has moved on to the NFL, two young men will take the field with something to prove to their coaches and to themselves. Coming in October, 2010 ... The Battle of the Tebow Back-ups.Ē

OK, Dr. Football, getting a little squirrely on us. How about taking a step back from the laptop?

No, seriously, you could very well see it happen. Cam Newton is going to play junior college ball in the fall and then transfer. Well, you know Dan Mullen is going to be very interested and sources close to me say the feeling is mutual.

So you could very well see Newton leading Mississippi State onto Florida Field to face the John Brantley-quarterbacked Gators. Heck, Tebow might have to take the day off to come see that one.

WATCH PARTY: When Florida and Alabama hooked up in the SEC Championship Game, CBS drew a rating of 9.3 which made it the highest-rated game on CBS since Notre Dame-Miami in 1990. The BCS National Championship Game was watched by 50 million people.

And the BCS Selection Show, an hour of your time you wish you could get back, received a 6.9 rating which was 53 percent higher than the NCAA menís basketball selection show which is far more intriguing.

All of this is simply more evidence why the powers that be are happy with the way college football selects a champion.

MAKING STRIDES: Dan Mullen was never known as being a great recruiter at Florida and thatís why some of us wondered if Mississippi State knew what it was getting.

But so far, Mullen has done a great job and has out-recruited Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt, who is known as a great recruiter.

According the Rivals.com, MSUís class is ranked 24th in the nation. Ole Miss is ranked 47th.

Of course, we all know those rankings are flawed and guesses as much as anything. And we certainly know that signing a good class doesnít translate into success.

But it certainly did with Floridaís 2006 class. Urban Meyerís second class was the foundation for the second national title in three seasons and a heavy contributor to the first. It included some guy named Tebow, Percy Harvin, Brandon Spikes, Lawrence Marsh, Jermaine Cunningham and Brandon James.

But even a class like that shows you how risky the world of recruiting can be. Of the 27 players signed that year, nine of them had no impact on the 2008 season including seven of them who are no longer with the program.

WHAT WEíVE LEARNED: I donít know about you but I really am enjoying this college basketball season so far. Four No. 1s have gone down to defeat in January and itís shaping up to be an amazing February followed by the beauty that is March.

So what have we learned?

1. That Duke has no inside game and loses when it doesnít make threes. But Duke is tough enough to not make threes and get nothing from its bigs and take Wake Forest down to the last second on the road. So weíve learned that Duke is going to be the most interesting team to watch come tournament time.

2. That North Carolina is not as good as advertised because it has defensive issues.

3. That the problem with having the best conference in basketball is that you can lose almost any night. Ask Notre Dame, Georgetown and Syracuse, Decembers darlings now with 14 combined Big East losses.

4. That itís still not about the building but about the personnel. Tennessee won 37 straight home games, most of them with Chris Lofton. The Vols have lost four of their last five home games without him.

PAT-POURRI: Quick prediction -- Lane Kiffin will either be very successful at Tennessee or an absolute flop. When you start tweaking the other coaches in the league and put together a staff thatís way overpaid, there is no middle ground ... Just once on Signing Day Iíd like to see a kid brush all of the hats off the table in front of him and say, ďIím going to Yale.Ē ... Or even Duke. I mean, have you ever seen a kid who signs to play football at Duke doing one of those inane press conferences? ... If Iím ever elected czar of college football, those announcements will be outlawed ... David Lee is about to become very rich. The former Gator star is lighting it up for the Knicks (nine straight double-doubles and 34 for the season) and could get a contract worth $10 million a year as a free agent ... I knew heíd make it, but not to this extent ... Thatís one thing about all of the former UF players in the NBA -- they are all really good guys and you enjoy their success ... Be safe.

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