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The Awesomeness of the ESPN-SEC Deal

Posted by Kyle Weidie on August 26, 2008

Living on the East Coast, my thirst for SEC sports has been left unquenched for years. Unfortunately, I’ve been surrounded by the ACC, Big East, and other coverage of the Big 10 (11), and even Pac-10. Sure there have been options such as the ESPN Game Plan. However, jumping through hoops and having to pay money for easy access to the best conference in college sports seems a tad unjust.

In steps in the worldwide leader in sports, ESPN. Sure, the WWL has a monopolization on sports media coverage and uses that to push their own biased agenda. But there’s no getting around it, they are the best. ESPN gets the top talent, is a leader in media technology, and provides viewers with the essentials of sports analysis.

You can read the full press release from secsports.com, but here are some highlights:

Basketball

  • ESPN and ESPN2 will TRIPLE their coverage. So, not just Super Tuesday, but also Thursday and Saturday games.
  • More prominence for the SEC/Big East Challenge. (Remember how lame it was last year with only four games?)
  • More coverage on ESPNU, ESPN360.com, ESPN Classic (vintage SEC games and instant classics!), and ABC, among the other ESPN outlets.
  • SEC Tournament semifinals and finals nationally televised on ESPN/ABC.

Football

  • ESPN will have the rights to every SEC home game.
  • ESPN and ESPN2 will televise a minimum of 20 games during the season.
  • Supplemental coverage on ESPNU, ESPN Classic, etc.

Other

  • All SEC championship games except football will be aired on either ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN on ABC, ESPNU or ESPN Classic.
  • ESPN and the SEC will work together to offer multi-sport packages (including football, men’s and women’s basketball, Olympic sports and conference championships).

Overall, I could not be more excited. The 15-year, $2.25 billion deal will be quite the economic boon for each member organization. Facilities will improve and recruiting against other conferences will get better, which will lead to trickle-down upgrades for academics.

The Sports Business Journal reports that the current $5.3 million doled out to each of the 12 SEC member schools from television rights could increase over 283% to $15 million per year. Just imagine what this would mean for a school such as Mississippi State, which currently operates with a $32 million athletic budget, the lowest in the conference.

So pop the cork on the champagne, it’s time for a celebration….the Southeastern Conference is coming to ESPN.

Posted in arkansas razorbacks, auburn tigers, espn, florida gators, georgia bulldogs, kentucky wildcats, lsu tigers, mississippi state bulldogs, ncaa basketball, ncaa football, sec basketball, sec football, SEC Sports, south carolina gamecocks, southeastern conference, tennessee volunteers, vanderbilt commodores | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

MSU Bulldog Football On CBS?

Posted by Kyle Weidie on August 18, 2008

Somehow CBS has accidentally leaked their SEC football broadcast schedule for this upcoming season….not sure why it must be a “leak” or an “accident” – CBS typically doesn’t announce the games they will televise until around 10 days before the match-up.

Nonetheless, Saturdays in the South seems to have stumbled onto something, and Deadspin is trying to confirm.

The Mississippi State Bulldogs only appear once on this supposedly tentative schedule….it’s the November 22nd date with Arkansas in Starkville. The caveat is that Ole Miss @ LSU and Tennessee @ Vanderbilt also appear as televised possibilities on the same date.

Right now, the Bulldogs only have three televised games on the schedule: the August 30 opener at Louisiana Tech (ESPN2) , the September 13 matchup versus Auburn in Starkville (ESPN2), and the November 28 finale against Ole Miss in Oxford (Raycom).

Let’s hope that Miss. State remains relevant up until that second to last game versus Arkansas. It’d be nice for Coach Croom and his Bulldogs to be broadcast into the living rooms of fans and potential recruits alike.

Posted in arkansas razorbacks, auburn tigers, louisiana tech, lsu tigers, mississippi state bulldogs, ncaa football, ole miss rebels, sec football, starkville, sylvester croom, tennessee volunteers, vanderbilt commodores | Leave a Comment »

Get Your Tape Recorders: Scotty Hopson Jumps Into Bruce Pearl’s Pocket

Posted by Kyle Weidie on April 7, 2008

You’re probably wondering what the hell that headline means. Let me explain.

Scotty Hopson, a top-10 ranked high school basketball player by Rivals.com (#1 SF overall) from the University Heights Academy in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, made a non-binding oral commitment to the Mississippi State Bulldogs on October 23, 2006 before the onset of his junior year. Seemingly great news for Rick Stansbury and the Mississippi State men’s basketball program. Along with Romero Osby and Dee Bost (who both subsequently signed with Mississippi State during the early signing period on November 16, 2007), Scotty Hopson would give the Bulldogs a potential top-10 recruiting class for 2008.

But then it gets typical…..of the recruitment of a high school basketball superstar.

Flashback to the late 80s: Iowa and Illinois were engaged in a heated battle for Deon Thomas, a hardwood blue-chipper from the City of Wind, Chicago my friend. Thomas ultimately chose to play for the Illini and would go on to become the school’s all-time leading scorer. However, Bruce Pearl, then an assistant in charge of recruiting at Iowa, wasn’t “down” with Thomas’ decision.

Pearl, who had already cultivated a recruiter-recruitee relationship with Deon Thomas, began contacting the high school kid in an attempt to extort information, and possibly change his mind. Suspicious of Illinois and intent on retribution, Pearl recorded subsequent conversations with Thomas. And in a moment where there would be a court room objection for leading the witness, Bruce Pearl essentially got Deon Thomas to admit to being offered cash and a whip (whip=vehicle=Chevy Blazer) by Jimmy Collins, an assistant with Illinois at the time. After multiple conversations, Pearl penned his TPS Report, threw it in an envelope along with the tapes, and shipped them off to the NCAA.

The NCAA investigated and found no wrong-doing when it came to Illinois and Deon Thomas. Pearl’s taped conversations with Thomas were questionable at best, omitting the scent of being edited to the detriment of Illinois. Deon Thomas even took, and passed a lie detector test.

However, upon combing through records, NCAA investigators found a rack of other illegal transgressions by the Illinois. “Lack of institutional control,” as they call it, led to a 1-year post-season ban among other penalties. If you have time, go ahead a give yourself a full dose of the Bruce Pearl/Deon Thomas incident run-down.

As a result, Bruce Pearl would go on to serve several years in college basketball coaching purgatory.


B
ruce’s TPS Report (okay, really his memo to the NCAA) is definitely an interesting read if you have the chance to skim it. It’s a cross between Blue Chips and He Got Game. Funny thing is, I believe Pearl’s memo….but that doesn’t make him any less of a rat. Whistle-blowers walk a fine line, don’t they?

Deon Thomas went so far as to call Pearl a “snake” in Chicago papers — if you’re going with the greater of two evils, it’s recording someone when they are unaware. Let’s be honest: big time college D1 athletic programs at times do things to “get by” — We live in a capitalistic society where it’s only natural for someone to get compensated for an added value, whatever value that may be. The value some college athletes bring to the table, in most cases, exceeds the value of a free education. [Wow? Did I just type that?….sad state of affairs. For the record: I’m for increasing academic oversight of college athletic academics and I’m in favor of increasing the NBA age limit by one year] Essentially, it’s no secret that the NCAA and it’s member programs make a lot of money from athletics and the players are left with little.

In my opinion, there might be two major college basketball programs in the whole country which can get by without succumbing to “money ball”: North Carolina and Duke – my apologies to Kentucky, Kansas and UCLA. I believe I’m digressing….another greater of two evils: hypocrisy. Watch out Bruce Pearl, the account of Scotty Hopson’s recruitment reads eerily similar to your late-80s memo….if only we were privy to the words exchanged between college coaches and player entourages (including the player himself, friends, family, shady uncles, AAU coaches, high school coaches, and any other hanger-ons, etc.). Look, I know this is a borderline accusatory blog entry of Bruce Pearl — that isn’t my intention. Being self-aware of his own past, I’m sure Bruce is playing by the book, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t selling something to Hopson. You don’t always have to break the rules to be a shyster, you just have to bend them.

Flash forward to today where Mississippi State’s loss of Scotty Hopson is Tennessee’s gain. Am I bitter that Hopson recently chose to commit to Tennessee instead of honoring his original commitment to the Bulldogs? Perhaps….especially since Rick Stansbury has lost McDonald’s All-American commits such as Jonathan Bender, Travis Outlaw, and Monta Ellis to the NBA.  But what goes around, comes around….and in a world where Alabama faithful feel that Rick Stansbury “stole” Mario Austin (the only McDonald’s All-American who has played for Stansbury during his head coaching tenure at MSU), Timmy Bowers and Derrick Zimmerman from them, I suppose something like this was coming.

On a positive note, no one can question the exuberance and energy conveyed by Bruce Pearl. His passion has a direct influence on making his kids better players, and men. And that type of attitude is more than welcome in the SEC, much less the entire college basketball landscape.

But just in case, does anyone have Scotty Hopson’s phone number and a tape recorder?

The Recruitment of Scotty Hopson: A Timeline

Link Info:

BTW…if you’re a Bulldog fan and want the lack of Scotty to really hurt, then watch this YouTube of his highlights.

Are you interested in high school photos of Bruce Pearl? What about seeing Bruce in a dress? I didn’t think so….but just in case, you can go to TheDirty.com.

In his initial season in Knoxville, only two players on the Tennessee men’s basketball team could out-lift Bruce Pearl in the weight room. Perhaps Adam Sandler will give Pearl a shot-out in his next Hanukkah Song. [Pearl Has Converted The Faithful in Tennessee – Sally Jenkins, Washington Post]

Posted in basketball recruiting, bruce pearl, mississippi state bulldogs, rick stansbury, scotty hopson, sec basketball, tennessee volunteers | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Recruitment of Scotty Hopson: A Timeline

Posted by Kyle Weidie on April 4, 2008

On October 23, 2006, Scotty Hopson, a 6’5″, 185 pound SG/SF from the University Heights Academy in Hopkinsville, Kentucky committed to play basketball for the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Of course, the commitment was “oral” and “non-binding” but great news nonetheless! Scotty would join 4-star PF Romero Osby and 3-star PG Dee Bost to form a great 2008 MSU Bulldog basketball recruiting class. However, earlier this week, on April Fools Day, Scotty Hopson opted to commit to Bruce Pearl and the University of Tennessee Volunteers instead. Bruce Pearl makes it his job to dole out hi-fives.

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I present the most comprehensive time-line of the Scotty Hopson recruitment process:

August 2006 – Before beginning his junior season, Scotty Hopson has offers from Ole Miss, Clemson and Mississippi State on the table. Several other schools have shown interest including: Arkansas, Memphis, Ohio State, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia Tech, Xavier, Michigan State, Indiana, Minnesota, and Cincinnati.

9.9.06 – After a visit to UT, Scotty says the Volunteers are recruiting him pretty hard, rounding out the top 5 (in no order) is Ohio State, Memphis, Louisville and Mississippi State.

10.13.06 – Scotty Hopson visits Kentucky for Midnight Madness, UK makes an offer.

10.23.06 – Scotty Hopson commits to the Mississippi State. The Bulldogs have been with him the longest, and that evidently means something.

Months pass……

7.5.07 – Sports Illustrated’s Seth Davis lists Hopson as “One to Know” saying that he really improved his status at the USA Basketball Festival.

7.6.07 – Mississippi State Basketball bloggers start coming up with nicknames for Hopson.

7.9.07 – Scotty refers to his commitment to Mississippi State as “pretty solid” according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. Kentucky has been calling.

7.10.07 – Scotty Hop gets some props in Slam Magazine for impressive play at the LeBron James Skills Academy. Hopson also comes in at #19 on the Slam Fresh 50 – listing the top H.S. players from the class of ’08.

7.14.07 – Hopson tells Dawgbites.com: “Nothing has changed. I am looking forward to playing for Mississippi State.”

7.17.07 – When asked if Hopson would back out of his commitment to Miss. State, Jody Demling of the Louisville Courier Journal said this: “I honestly don’t believe he will. I think Scotty will sign in the fall with Mississippi State. I know several of his quotes have sounded iffy but after spending some time with him last week, I fully expect him to be playing in Starkville.”

7.24.07 – Quote collected by Arliss from UK message board: “He was booed at his own school, his mother has been approached about his poor decision making, and generally he has had to explain himself to everyone.”

8.2.07 – Rob Harrington of USA Today Ranks Hopson #18 in the country.

8.7.07 – Scotty Hopson is bumped up to the #9 H.S. prospect in the country by Rivals.com.

8.12.07 Hopson to Kentucky rumors increase….prep school at Oak Hill Academy is also a possibility.

8.14.07 – Hopson tells the Lexington Herald-Leader that he’s down with Mississippi State because, as he puts it, “I want to make it all the way to the pros. Mississippi State tells me they’re going to prepare me for that.”

8.15.07 – Van Coleman’s of CSTV ranks Hopson #13.

8.31.07Hopson remains #19 on Slam Fresh 50.

9.15.07 – Scotty Hopson wins the “most explosive leaper” contest on Rivals.com.

10.6.07 – Scotty Hopson visits Mississippi State.

10.27.07 – Scotty still intends on going to Mississippi State, but Kentucky is evidently making a strong push.

11.13.07 (early) – Hopson confirms with two different reporters that he will sign with the Bulldogs on the early period signing day, Friday November 16th.

11.13.07 (late) – Scotty changes his mind like a pregnant woman and tells two sources that he won’t sign early with anyone.

11.14.07 – Scotty is bumped up to #17 in the Slam rankings.

11.14.07 – Hopson blames family issues for being wishy-washy on the subject, but doesn’t rule out signing early.

11.15.07 – Louisville’s Rick Pitino says this: “There’s a young man that alledgedly decommited to a school yesterday and until I hear it from his mouth I won’t do anything. But when someone decommits and they are open for recruiting and he makes it public, then he is like any other recruit. But if someone is committed, we stay away from them.”

11.15.07 – Momma Hopson informs the media that Scotty will indeed sign on Friday despite what her son says. Evidently, the family decision was made unbeknownst to Lil’ Scotty.

11.16.07 – Momma Hopson turns a 180 and decides herself that her son will not sign early. Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia Tech and Louisville start licking their chops.

11.17.07 – Bewildered Mississippi State fans keep hope alive for the spring signing period.

11.18.07 – Hopson plays a “passive” game at the Fast Lane Tip-Off Classic (17 points, seven rebounds, 4 blocks, an assist and 5 turnovers) and refuses to talk about college afterwards.

11.19.07 – Scotty Hopson is still “focused” on Mississippi State despite ever increasing pushing from Kentucky.

11.27.07 – Hopson drops 33 points, 10 boards, and 5 blocks in his regular season opener. Bruce Pearl was supposed to be at the game, but had to cancel because of the weather. Hopson had this to say about his recruitment: “I let my mom take care a lot of it because it does take a toll on me. I am just going to lay back and focus on basketball.” Uh.Oh.

11.30.07 – After dropping 32 points in a win, the Lexington Herald-Ledger reports from Hopson: “I’m still committed to Mississippi State,” Hopson said. “It’s firm. It’s firm enough.” Hopson’s Coach, Randy McCoy: “I still think there’s a chance he’ll go to Mississippi State, I think there’s a big chance he’ll go to Mississippi State.” Hopson’s mother, Jeannette Hopson: “We like Mississippi State. There’s nothing wrong with Mississippi State. We just want to make sure.” Billy Gillispie and assistants from Cincinnati and Louisville were in attendance.

12.26.07 – “After the game, Hopson tried to sneak away from a horde of media in the smaller gymnasium at Fairdale but was questioned by about 10 members of the media.”

1.11.08 – A video of Scotty Hopson’s skills – Louisville Courier-Journal. Kansas has also evidently entered into the Scotty Hopson sweepstakes, slightly.

1.16.08 – Scotty Hopson is bumped to #11 in the Slam Fresh 50.

1.18.08 – “Tennessee, Louisville and Cincinnati are still actively recruiting Hopson and Texas has also gotten involved. Rick Barnes coached former University Heights star Greg Buckner and is trying to use that connection to get into the Hopson sweepstakes. Mississippi State still can’t be totally discounted, but it’s unlikely he’ll end up in Starkville.” [Jody Demling]

1.31.08 – Jody Demling, Louisville Courier-Journal: “As best as I can tell, Tennessee, Louisville and Cincinnati are three schools that appear to be near the front of the pack. According to multiple sources around the situation, Hopson still hasn’t heard from the University of Kentucky in a while.”

2.1.08 – Mississippi State, Tennessee, Louisville and Cincinnati are at the top of Scotty’s list. Kentucky is suspiciously absent. Cincinnati Inquirer.

2.1.08 – “Scotty Hop” as he has dubbed himself tells the Clarion-Ledger’s Kyle Veazey that Mississippi State is #1 while getting down to some music on the way to a game. Later that night, Scotty Hop scores 28 points and snags 8 rebounds in another win. After the game, he informs the world that he’s on the “market.”

2.2.08 – Mississippi State plays Tennessee in Starkville. UT led by 17 with just under 8 minutes left in the game. The Bulldogs made a furious comeback, but fell short in the end 76-71. Dig yourself a hole, and……

2.4.08 – Billy Gillispie, the head coach of Kentucky, watches Scotty Hop score 20.

2.11.08 – Jody Demling of the Louisville Courier-Journal: “All I’m saying is that Scotty Hopson has been open for some time. In fact, I haven’t heard a beep about or even heard about any Mississippi State sightings at any of his games.”

2.14.08 – Rumors are flying — Hopson’s mother denies that Billy Gillispie has come calling, but she has spoken with a UK assistant. From her comments to the Louisville Courier-Journal, it doesn’t seem like Gillispie is too interested in Hopson: “The bottom line is on Monday night an assistant called me and said Gillispie was going to call me on Tuesday, but there was no call,” the mother said. “Another coach called (Tuesday) afternoon and said he would call before the game and there was no call. Then they called and said he was going to show up at school on Wednesday on way back from the game. But I guess after they got beat so bad, (by Vanderbilt) he wanted to get back home. I have seen him three times (this season) and not one time has he come up and said anything. We haven’t had any contact with him.”

2.19.08 – Hopson is named to the McDonald’s All-American team.

2.21.08 – Scotty Hopson is named to the Jordan Brand Classic All-Star game, to be played at Madison Square Garden in NYC on April 19th.

2.22.08 – Hopson tears up the court in his final home game, scoring 37 points in front of the entire Mississippi State coaching staff, UK’s Billy Gillispie and assistants from Tennessee and Cincinnati.

2.26.08 – Scotty Hopson opens post-season play with 35 points in a win, 31 coming in the 2nd half.

3.4.08 – Hopson is one of 10 players named to the USA Basketball Junior National team.

3.6.08 – Scotty Hop sinks 22 points, 8 boards and 5 blocks in front of a Billy Gillispie and Bruce Pearl, an assistant from Texas is also in attendance.

3.11.08 – Rick Stansbury and Bruce Pearl watch Hopson score 31 points and nab 10 rebounds in a University Heights win over Henderson County. Hopson’s team, University Heights, moves into the Kentucky Second Region final.

3.12.08 – Mississippi State coaches travel to Madisonville, Kentucky to watch Scotty play live.

3.14.08 – Rumors say that Kentucky and Cincinnati are not in Scotty Hopson’s picture. [Courier-Journal]

3.17.08 – “The Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches released the Player of the Year winners for the 16 regions across the state on Monday. The state’s first McDonald’s All-American to finish his career in Kentucky since 1993 (when Male’s Jason Osborne won) is not on the list. Yes, University Heights All-American Scotty Hopson wasn’t picked as the Second Region’s top senior.” [Jody Demling – Louisville Courier-Journal]

3.19.08 – Scotty Hopson’s team loses in the Sweet 16 at Rupp Arena in Lexington, the last high school game of his career.

3.24.08 – Scotty Hop finishes 3rd in the Powerade JamFest Slam Dunk contest at the McDonald’s All-American Game in Milwaukee.

3.26.08 – Scotty Hopson tells Kyle Veazey that he will take more visits, but is still high on Mississippi State.

3.26.08 – Hopson scores 10 points in the McDonald’s All-American game, impressing with 8 in the first half. The leaders for Hopson seem to be Miss. State and Tennessee with Kentucky and Texas trailing closely and Louisville, possibly Georgia in the mix. (Courier-Journal)

3.28.08 – Slam’s Report on Hopson in the McDonald’s Game: “Another monster athlete, who happens to be the best player in the nation who hasn’t chosen what school he’ll attend next year, Hopson excels in these types of environments. He didn’t disappoint Wednesday, using his smooth moves to get to the rack with ease.”

4.1.08 – April Fools? Shortly after a visit to Knoxville, Scotty makes that “non-binding oral” commitment to the University of Tennessee before UK’s Billy Gillispie can visit him. “My momma gave me her consent (to commit),” said Hopson. “I really wasn’t sure before I went on the visit,” Hopson said. “But I had always had a good feeling about Tennessee.”

“I felt there were two (frontrunners) in Mississippi State and Tennessee,” said Hopson’s high school coach, Randy McCoy. “But it came down to distance and it came down to him wanting to play right now.” [Louisville Courier Journal]

4.1.08 – Kyle Veazey speaks with Scotty Hop: “Why not Tennessee? There’s a big tradition here, plus I know coming in here at the program I’ve got a good chance of coming in at the starting two-guard because Chris Lofton’s leaving.”“It just seemed like I could have more success here,” said Hopson, who wants to be a one-and-done. “We’re going to have the top RPI next year in schedule play so I know we’re going to have a lot of ESPN games, CBS games, things like that.”“I don’t just commit to a school without signing,” he said. “I’m going to sign.”

4.2.08 – Scotty Hopson was named to the Parade All-American 2nd team.

4.4.08 – To be continued…..

Sources:

Posted in basketball recruiting, bruce pearl, mississippi state bulldogs, rick stansbury, scotty hopson, sec basketball, tennessee volunteers | 1 Comment »