SEC Football: Winners and Losers from the Month of February 2013
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There were no games played in the month of February, but that doesn't mean that the second month of 2013 was a dud in SEC circles.
In fact, it was far from it.
National signing day came and went with several teams making waves, assistant coaches moved on to different/greener pastures and teams started to get prepared for spring practice.
Just as we did at the end of January, let's crown some "winners and losers" for the month of February in the SEC.
Winner: Ole Miss Head Coach Hugh Freeze
Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze
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National signing day came and went on Feb. 6, and Ole Miss was the talk of the town.
Yes, the same Ole Miss that went 7-6 and played in the BBVA Compass Bowl.
Head coach Hugh Freeze was able to land the nation's No. 6 overall recruiting class in the 247Sports.com composite index, headlined by No. 1 overall prospect Robert Nkemdiche, No. 4 overall prospect Laremy Tunsil and the nation's top wide receiver, Laquon Treadwell.
The stellar class will make an immediate impact in Oxford and join a team that is returning 18 starters from a year ago—a team that played both LSU and Texas A&M close.
Ole Miss is a program on the rise in the SEC West, and Freeze was able to further cement that designation with a terrific recruiting class.
Winner: Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban
Alabama head coach Nick Saban
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
While Freeze and Ole Miss dominated headlines on national signing day, Alabama head coach Nick Saban just went about his business...you know, securing not only the top recruiting class in the nation but one of the top classes of all time.
Alabama's class was rated as the consensus top class in the country, and the Crimson Tide accumulated more points in Rivals.com's points system than any team since at least 2002.
This class features 17 players with four or five stars and is headlined by linebacker Reuben Foster, DT/OT A'Shawn Robinson and running back Derrick Henry.
It's a cliche, but in Alabama's case, it's true—the Crimson Tide doesn't rebuild, it reloads. Saban reloaded with a ridiculous amount of talent on Feb. 6.
Loser: Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban
Alabama head coach Nick Saban
USA TODAY Sports
It wasn't all good news in Tuscaloosa in February, as Alabama also made the bad kind of headlines.
Four players—Eddie Williams, D.J. Pettway, Tyler Hayes and Brent Calloway—were arrested on Feb. 11 and dismissed from the program on Feb. 27.
Williams, Pettway and Hayes were charged with two counts of second-degree robbery, while Calloway was charged with one count of fraudulent use of a credit card. The four players were allegedly involved in two separate on-campus robberies, which included a backpack with a laptop and a credit card.
Certainly not the kind of situation Saban—or any college football head coach—wants to deal with.
Winner: Texas A&M Head Coach Kevin Sumlin
Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin
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Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin was rewarded with a contract extension on Feb. 1, and that contract was finalized as the month closed.
According to the Houston Chronicle, Sumlin's new contract will be worth $3.1 million per year and will also include an extra $800,000 per year in the budget for assistant coaches.
After the season Sumlin enjoyed in 2012, it's well deserved.
Sumlin guided the Aggies to an 11-2 record in his first season with Texas A&M, which was also the program's first in the SEC. He successfully changed the perception of the Texas A&M program from "Texas' little brother" to "potential power" in just over a year and was rewarded handsomely for his work.
Loser: High School Football Programs
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New recruiting rules that will go into effect on Aug. 1 will allow staff members other than the designated coaching staff to recruit, essentially creating "front offices" within college football programs.
While the impending deregulation could still be tweaked, Auburn and Alabama have already begun hiring for these postings, raiding some high-profile high school programs in the process.
The Tigers hired Chip Lindsey from Spain Park High School in Hoover, Ala. and former player Dell McGee from Carver High School in Columbus, Ga. to off-the-field roles, while the Crimson Tide lured Kerry Stevenson away from Vigor High School in Prichard, Ala. to be their director of player development.
The moves are clear indications that the two programs want to build strong support staffs with established ties to high school football in talent-rich areas. From the looks of it, those moves will cause quite a few changes in staff at the high school ranks.
Winner: South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney
SI cover courtesy GamecocksOnline.com
South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney said in December that he hopes to be a Heisman finalist next season, and he announced his campaign with authority on Jan. 1 when he destroyed Michigan's Vincent Smith in what will undoubtedly remain the play of the year.
Clowney's campaign kept on going full steam ahead in February, when it was announced that the junior would be on the regional cover of Sports Illustrated's spring football preview issue.
Now I'm not totally sure that Clowney's really "football's next bust-out star," since he did that almost two years ago. But he will benefit from the publicity that goes along with being the SI cover boy.
It's going to take a lot for Clowney—who finished sixth in Heisman voting in 2012—to break through that glass ceiling and win the Heisman in 2013. But his campaign is already off and running at an extremely high level.
Loser: Arkansas RB Alex Collins
Arkansas signee Alex Collins / Photo: 247Sports.com
There are always one or two stories that emerge from national signing day that make you scratch your head, and Arkansas signee Alex Collins found himself right in the center of one of those on Feb. 6.
Collins, a 5'11", 204-pound, 5-star running back from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. was all set to sign with Arkansas, but his mother confiscated his National Letter of Intent and left his high school signing ceremony.
With the blessing of his father, Collins signed his letter the next day and became a member of Arkansas' 2013 recruiting class. But the PR damage was done, as the saga of Collins' signing made national headlines.
One would hope that the saga doesn't stick with Collins long, because if you saw Collins initially to commit to Arkansas on Fox Sports South's "The NEW College Football Show Next Class 2013" on Feb. 4, you saw a kid who has a great head on his shoulders. But at least for a little while, he was/is known as the kid with the runaway mom.
Winner: The Fans
Georgia head coach Mark Richt
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
What's that Mark Richt? It looks like a spring football preview!
That's right, the Georgia head coach met with the media on Feb. 27 to preview spring practice, which will open up for his team on Saturday, March 2. Georgia and Texas A&M will be the first two SEC programs to hit the practice field, signalling the return of SEC football.
Sure, it gets tedious sometimes, and spring superstars don't always repeat the feat in the fall. But talking about how Player X's scrimmage stats signify that he's the clear-cut favorite to win the 2013 Heisman Trophy is much better than nothing.
Welcome back football. It's been nearly two months, which is two too many.