Ole Miss in the Monday opener. Breeland Speaks, who many believe will replace Robert Nkemdiche in the starting lineup at defensive tackle, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in March, and coach Hugh Freeze has been mum on whether he’ll take the field in Orlando. The same goes for Rod Taylor, a key cog in the offensive line who appeared in 10 games last year, and was arrested on suspicion of shoplifting in April.
Auburn, meanwhile, has the opportunity of a lifetime with defending Orange Bowl champs Clemson at home for their season-opener, yet they could very well be without two of their best young players in cornerback Carlton Davis and pass-rusher Byron Cowart. They, along with wideout Ryan Davis and defensive back, Jeremiah Dinson, were arrested in May on misdemeanor marijuana charges. Assistant coach Kodi Burns told Al.com that “we’ve already addressed everything,” but what exactly that means is open to interpretation. Gus Malzahn certainly hasn’t been definitive.
Great writeup by ESPN's Aschoff breaking down all of the potential suspensions and players on every team known to be in trouble before the season even starts. I actually think it will be minimal: Cam and Hootie aren't going to ride the pine for possessing less than one joint's worth of weed between four dudes. And, well, we know how Auburn and Ole Miss handle business already.
The defensive front seven seems to be where talent is concentrated in Alabama. The state ranked third among SEC states in defensive linemen produced (78) and is second with 57 linebackers, its best showing at any position. That has mostly benefited Alabama and Nick Saban, with players such as C.J. Mosley, Rolando McClain, Reggie Ragland and Reuben Foster staying home to play for the Crimson Tide.
The state that puts out the most top flight talent? No, it's not Florida or Texas -- it's Georgia. Also, among the interesting tidbits here: Alabama actually produces more defensive line recruits than the vaunted hunting grounds of Louisiana. You should check out part one also, which covers which state produces the best offensive recruits.
"This is a great year," said John Garcia Jr., a recruiting analyst for Scout and Bama Magazine. "Mobile is loaded with good players. The state is loaded with good players. The race for who is the No. 1 recruit in the state is kind of the top storyline, but the depth of the top tier talent in the state also is a great story. It's easily the deepest class we've seen in a long time."
As always, Saban must win the state to win the nation. This year, however, winning the state recruiting war practically guarantees a top-5 class for anyone. It's ridiculously loaded, particularly in the Gulf.
3. Who's the No. 1 running back in the country? Five-star Alabama commit Najee Harris is the No. 1 overall recruit in the country, according to 247Sports, but fellow five-star Cam Akers (5-11, 212 pounds) isn't far behind and has posted some eye-popping numbers this summer: 4.09-second shuttle and a 40.6-inch vertical. Akers (6-3, 226 pounds) is much bigger, but didn't run the 40 at one regional Nike camp, went 4.16 in the shuttle and 32.2 inches in the vertical.
Cam Akers has made some serious moves up the unofficial charts to challenge Alabama commit Najee Harris for best entering RB. A few months ago, we were all stunned as to why Akers would have Ole Miss the leader going into the clubhouse. As you're about to read, that decision isn't such a mystery any longer.
Naughty, naughty redux
For nearly four years, NCAA Case No. 189693 trudged on without much notice outside of the state of Mississippi and college football circles. The NCAA's investigation into the University of Mississippi's athletic department includes allegations of academic fraud, illicit booster involvement and significant extra benefits in its football program. As the school shielded NCAA documents from public record and consistently downplayed the severity of the investigation, a veil of mystery hung over the case.
Pete Thamel has a longform over at SI that details the case against Ole Miss, the actual facts behind the allegations, and answers every question of lingering doubt over how terribly screwed Ole Miss may be. This is thorough, excellent, well-sourced reporting, and if the COI acts accordingly, as many experts suspect they will, then Cam Akers may be shopping a new school in 2017 is all I'm saying.
It's about time
After all bowl-eligible teams are selected, the 5-7 teams -- which will be considered alternates -- will be deemed eligible in descending order from the highest multiyear Academic Progress Rate in the Football Bowl Subdivision for the most recent reporting year. Those teams will then select the bowl in which they will participate. If two or more teams have a tie in the multiyear APR, then the highest APR for the most recent single year will break the tie. This process will continue until all the bowl slots are filled.
I'm not sure I like APR as the tiebreaker for 5-7 teams on the cusp of making a bowl, but I greatly like the fact that teams with at least something resembling a decent season (.500 or better) must be given first crack at a bowl invite.
Alabama's trophies are an NCAA violation
Alabama sports teams self-reported 19 secondary NCAA violations during the 2015-16 calendar year, according to information posted on Alabama's athletics website July 1. The football team self-reported five secondary violations. The most interesting violation stemmed from a trophy being "temporarily placed in an area where prospects taking an official visit would be." That "resulted in an impermissible recruiting decoration of an area." The other self-reported violations were a former player providing free training to a current player, a coach calling a prospect for a second time during a week and coaches sending text messages to prospects.
Which trophy though? The Mal Moore complex has had to be expanded to handle all the hardware the Tide have accumulated, and it's a violation I would commit every day and twice on Sundays. Seriously, though, these five secondary violations are piddling as hell. Don't let opposing fan bases tell you otherwise.
ARP ARP ARP
Georgia tailback Sony Michel broke his left forearm Sunday evening, reportedly in an accident involving an all-terrain vehicle. UGA officials confirmed the injury Monday night but did not provide details. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, citing sources, reported Michel was injured while riding an ATV.
What is it with UGA and injuries? What is it with UGA and scooters or ATVs? The head man may have changed, but Dawgs are gonna' Dawg. There is no word on Michel's timetable for recovery -- he had to undergo emergency surgery for whatever he broke.
Bored? Need something to watch? This may be decent.
If you know anything about East Mississippi Community College, it’s probably one of the following three things: That’s where Ole Miss starting quarterbacks Bo Wallace and Chad Kelly came from. That’s the school that’s won three of the last five JUCO national titles. That’s one of the teams that got in that big brawl recently. One thing you might not’ve known is that during last season — the year that led to that brawl, which ended a shot at a fourth championship — a crew was filming Netflix’s first sports documentary series on the sidelines and in the dorms, coach’s offices, and locker rooms. It's called Last Chance U.
This looks very interesting, actually. And, as a cultural exercise, I'm actually looking forward to what Netflix's original documentary production looks like. They've killed it with serialized programming.