As we get ready to flip the calendar to May, let’s empty out the SEC mailbag:
Mike from New Orleans writes: I’ve heard Les Miles mention a couple of times now that Jarrett Lee won’t go away in the quarterback battle with Jordan Jefferson and had a good spring. Is Miles serious about playing Lee, or is he just trying to keep Jefferson on point this summer?
Chris Low: No, I think he’s serious. When I was at LSU’s camp this spring, several in and around the program felt like Lee had outplayed Jefferson for much of the spring. I still think it’s Jefferson’s job to lose and he’d have to play poorly in the preseason not to be the starter. But if the offense stalls in those first couple of games, I think you could see Lee. Yes, he threw 16 interceptions (seven returned for touchdowns) two years ago, but Miles has been impressed with his resiliency and the way he threw the football this spring. Here’s the other thing: Jefferson simply didn’t separate himself this spring like the LSU coaches thought he would. He still has to assert himself and become the leader of this offense.
Connor in Mobile, Ala., writes: Why is there such a conspiracy against Alabama? Nobody else would want to have six SEC games where teams were coming off byes.
Chris Low: I wouldn’t call it a conspiracy, rather more of a quirk in the schedule that the league office is trying to get fixed. The problem is that Alabama’s conference brethren aren’t exactly lining up to help a team that hasn’t lost an SEC regular-season game in two years and is coming off a national championship. It wouldn’t be any different if Florida or LSU were in the same predicament. Why help the team on top? If the SEC can’t get any SEC schools to move games, there’s always the chance that a nonconference game could be moved. Either way, it hasn’t been easy. The rest of the schools look at this whole deal differently. Privately, they wonder if it were anybody other than Alabama or Florida, would the league be going to such lengths to change the schedule? I guess it all depends on which side of the fence you sit.
Adam in Van Wert, Ohio writes: Would Kentucky consider joining the Big Ten?
Chris Low: With the blockbuster television contract the SEC signed last year with CBS and ESPN and the way the national spotlight has shone on the conference for the past several years, I can’t fathom any team wanting to leave the SEC. I understand that basketball reigns supreme at Kentucky. But, no, I don’t see it. I’ve gotten the same question about Arkansas possibly wanting to realign with some of its old Southwest Conference foes if there’s some movement in the Big 12. I can tell you after spending some time with the Arkansas folks last week that there’s a better chance of Houston Nutt and Gus Malzahn reuniting and coming back to coach the Hogs. In short, it ain’t going to happen.
Steve in Nashville, Tenn., writes: Your SEC expansion thoughts are all wrong. You are coming at it from the wrong angle. The SEC doesn't need more football horsepower. It needs other sports. How about Louisville, Duke, North Carolina and Georgia Tech? This adds basketball depth and academic power at the same time.
Chris Low: Fair points, and I could definitely see Georgia Tech as a possibility. After all, the Yellow Jackets were once a member of the SEC. But good luck in getting Duke and North Carolina to quit dribbling basketballs long enough to leave the ACC.
Paul in Jackson, Tenn., writes: Chris, why do you mention that Florida would be adamantly opposed to Miami joining the SEC (and ultimately exclude them from the potential list), but not mention that South Carolina would be adamantly opposed to Clemson joining the SEC (and ultimately include them in the potential list)? Do you not think that South Carolina would have a bigger beef with Clemson joining (as they are huge rivals) than Florida would with Miami (as they are not nearly the rivals Clemson/USC are)? Also, the Clemson move would do absolutely nothing to expand the TV footprint, which is what this is all about. Whereas, Miami would clearly bring in a very large TV market. I am genuinely curious about this, and look forward to your thoughts and explanations as I read your blog daily.
Chris Low: First of all, thanks for reading. I think the main difference is that Clemson and South Carolina already play each other every year and always will no matter what conferences they’re in. Florida plays Miami only sparingly and wouldn’t want to see the Hurricanes gain any added recruiting pop in South Florida from the mere fact that they were playing in the SEC. But, yes, the TV market in South Florida would be enticing. Whatever happens, it’s going to be fascinating to see how all this shakes out.
Courtland in Lafayette, La., writes: You keep saying Jevan Snead left early, and I have told you once before that his eligibility was up. How can everyone else miss that? I would love to hear why you think he had another year left. You can ignore me and fail to correct yourself or fail to prove to me that his four years of eligibility were not up. You do know that he played for Texas right, then transferred and started two years at Ole Miss? By my count, that’s four years. He did not redshirt at Texas and then transfer. He played. He has stats. Please correct yourself, or somehow prove me wrong.
Chris Low: First of all, thanks for the note. I will attempt to do the latter (prove you wrong), although I take no particular delight in doing so. I’ve been wrong a few times in my life and will surely be again. But in terms of Snead, he did play one season at Texas in 2006 as a true freshman and then sat out the next season in 2007 per the NCAA transfer rules after enrolling at Ole Miss. That in effect was his redshirt year. He then played the 2008 and 2009 seasons at Ole Miss. So that’s three seasons that he actually played. The NCAA allows a player five years to play four. Therefore, he had one more season remaining at Ole Miss had he chosen to stay. The phrase to remember here is “five to play four.” The NCAA allows a player a five-year window to play four seasons. In other words, a player wouldn’t be allowed to redshirt his first year, play his second year, then transfer and sit out a year and still have three more years remaining. The only way to get a sixth year is through an appeal to the NCAA.