Tag Archives: Southeastern Conference

Notebook: Western at Tennessee

Elson endorsing “Kiffin Mania”

Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin’s off-season antics have created a buzz around Saturday’s game between the Toppers and Volunteers, and Western head coach David Elson is embracing the attention.

“There are people who may not know what Western Kentucky’s program is all about, or what level we play on,” Elson said. “So every time he brought attention to Tennessee, he brought attention to Tennessee’s first game, and it happens to be against Western Kentucky.”

Kiffin reportedly broke NCAA rules on multiple occasions, traded barbs with Florida head coach Urban Meyer through the media and raised the profile of his team’s season opener in the process.

Elson said at Monday’s media luncheon that every time the Tennessee coach’s actions drew national attention, all he could think was, “Thank you, Lane Kiffin.”

Tennessee receiving corps limited but dangerous

Tennessee has lost a number of wide receivers for the season opener (and beyond) this year due to injuries. Senior Austin Rogers, junior Denarius Moore and  junior Gerald Jones (the Vols’ leading receiver in 2008) will all be unavailable for anywhere from four weeks to the entire season, leaving senior Quintin Hancock, junior Brandon Warren and a trio of freshman at wideout.

Of those three newcomers, Western sophomore free safety Mark Santoro said the Topper defense will concentrate the most on freshman Nu’Keese Richardson, who Santoro said Tennessee will take advantage of with a variety of looks.

“They’re going to do a lot of different things with him,” Santoro said. “They’re going to put him at receiver, he’s going to be their punt returner probably, and they might line him up in the Wildcat (formation).”

Offense won’t key on Berry alone

Tennessee strong safety Eric Berry is considered one of the team’s marquee players, but junior receiver Quinterrance Cooper said the offense won’t do much to adjust to the heralded defensive back.

“We don’t have no Eric Berry package or nothing like that,” he said.

Cooper also said that the Toppers’ offense is preparing for their match-up with Tennessee in normal fashion.

“We just treat it like any other game,” Cooper said. “They’ve got Eric Berry, but he’s just one player.”

Toppers to profit off meeting at Tennessee

Regardless of the outcome at Neyland Stadium, Western will receive $700,000 for playing, according to a USA Today article by Jack Carey.

Some smaller programs agree to away contests dubbed “money games” against traditional powers, gaining increased exposure and leaving with a sizeable check. As part of its transition into the Football Bowl Subdivision, Western has traveled to play seven Southeastern Conference opponents in the past seven years, including Tennessee, and been outscored 264-42 in the first six.

-Jonathan Lintner

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SEC adopts new media policy

Along with many things the Southeastern Conference likes to control, add the media to that list.

The SEC has adopted a new media policy that will give them total control over any content that is produced with SEC ties. This includes photos, radio and video highlights, and, to some extent, print.

So for example, if either Tennessee or WKU is to win on a last-second Hail Mary, the video or photo highlights of that play are property of the SEC, which in turn means media outlets may be denied usage of that by rule.

This new policy comes on the heels of the SEC’s new fan policy that puts a great amount of restriction on fans who live blog, take pictures and send information from SEC events from the stands.

With WKU going to Knoxville to play the Volunteers for both teams’ season openers, this is a big issue. For a small market like Bowling Green, the Toppers are a huge source of entertainment and revenue for the community, especially the media. Restrictions like this can hinder the coverage of WKU in some aspects, who have played an SEC team in football six of the past seven seasons and play SEC members Kentucky, Tennessee and Vanderbilt in other sports on a consistent basis.

This is just another way the SEC is trying to make themselves an entity of their own, playing bigger than the NCAA. This is all a new tactic in trying to steer the fanbases to the SEC Network and their coverage, while other media markets (some big, some small) suffer in their coverage.

Gannett Newspapers and the Associated Press have announced they will not sign the media credential agreement in protest.

My own thought is, where is the NCAA in all this? We all know that the NCAA has its own agenda in who they police and who they let slide, and if any conference gets a free pass for more major indiscretions, it’s the SEC. But media coverage makes their world go around on the athletic field, and in terms of that coverage, the national, regional and local media is a bigger entity than the SEC Network or SECSports.com.

SEC Associate Athletic Commissioner Charles Bloom announced that they are making revisions to the policy, which better come in major ways if they expect to keep any amount of the dwindling respect the media has for that conference.

-David Harten

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Ken McDonald on Felton’s firing

One of the first topics addressed with head coach Ken McDonald today was the subject of former Western head coach Dennis Felton being fired after five years at the helm at Georgia. Felton was 9-11 this season with an 0-5 record in the Southeastern Conference. He was 84-91 overall in his time there.

McDonald and Felton have shared many courtside benches, working together at Clemson, Western and Georgia, so the relationship between the two is extensive.

McDonald said he has exchanged text messages with Felton today and told him that his thoughts are with him. Felton responded with words of thanks.

“I’m kinda sad,” McDonald said. “It’s a business. I’ve got no doubt that Dennis is going to land on his feet, succeed and be a head coach again, very successfully.”

It is unfortunate that a great coach like Dennis Felton is now out of a job. But in these days in this ‘microwave society’ of win-or-else practices, it was a foregone conclusion. As the head coach that pulled Western back from the Sun Belt basement and turned them into a contender in his time here, the hearts of all Topper fans should go out to Dennis. Felton saved himself from this fate last season thanks to Georgia’s miracle run to the Southeastern Conference tournament championship. A talent like Felton will almost certainly land a head coaching job in Division I in the near future if he so chooses.

– David Harten

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