The recruiting season is over, at least for now and coaches can turn their attention to next month’s spring practice. The fifteen practice exercise means different things for different programs. They always culminate in the spring game which is set up for fans and media. The things I find most consistent in any program when going into to spring is the importance of practice time for three key areas.
1. New quarterback. If you are looking to decide on a new quarterback, spring ball is important. There will be a new guy at Tennessee, Arkansas and likely Auburn. Spring practice is vitally important to the competition and learning process for any school who graduated their quarterback.
2. Redshirts. Guys who were redshirted last fall saw limited full contact practice in their respective systems. Most guys were running scout team plays of the opponents. The guys who catch the most attention are offensive lineman who redshirted and had time to put on size and strength in the weight room.
3. Early enrollees. This is a new trend with so many young guys coming in from high school with the chance to contribute this fall. Usually skilled guys and potentially linebackers are best suited to impact a team their first season.
It's also important for new coaches, guys like Mark Stoops, Butch Jones, Gus Malzhan and Bret Bielema. They have to get guys up to speed on systems and how to practice under their leadership and assistants.
The idea of Jadeveon Clowney sitting a season to go pro was certainly good discussion. I don’t think if he were to do it, that he could stand up to the media scrutiny he would receive and still become the number one pick. The bottom line is the kid will play and dominate in 2013. We all hope that he stays injury free and becomes and NFL first pick, but this discussion just further extends the conversation of whether or not college football is truly in place for amateur “student-athletes”.
Hugh Freeze has gotten the SEC’s attention with his top flight recruiting class. The cynics will question the ethics of this signing class considering the history of the Rebel program. But we do know this regardless of where you sit on “how” the Rebels did so well. First we knew Hugh Freeze was a great recruiter and just like Nick Saban and Urban Meyer he thinks outside the box a bit when attacking his signing class. Number two, he really cut his teeth as a recruiting coordinator and his relationships are paying off. Finally they do play in the SEC and they do play exciting aggressive offense and defensive schemes. I have no problem with kids wanting to be a part of something special. I know this; players are your best recruiters and Laquon Treadwell the five star receiver and first commitment apparently helped get this class together. Now with this class in place, we find out if Freeze can “coach ‘em up”.
With the Big Ten likely going to a nine or ten game schedule many will ask if the SEC should follow suit. The league has been adamant about the difficulty of an eight game schedule at this point and the fact that schools generally schedule a big non conference game like a Florida State or a Georgia Tech annually. The key ingredient will be money in my opinion. The SEC has a business plan that works and while some year’s the teams that play in the title game may avoid the tougher teams from the other division; no one will argue with seven straight BCS titles. The coaches I talk to in the league are not in favor of a nine game schedule, however the big dog Nick Saban did intimate this past summer that he would support it. The idea of playing one more game would be great for fans and television especially the week before thanksgiving when it is slim docket. I don’t think the SEC will ever be left out of the four team playoff but having nine conference games could hinder getting two teams in the mix. Right now it’s ok for the SEC to sit tight and evaluate all its options because they have the strength and the business plan to do so. However, put me down as a guy who would like to see a nine game schedule with the idea that the conference champion every year will be in the playoff for a national title.