A Few Big Fish Left in the Pond
Another week, another major provider has signed on to carry the SEC Network when it launches on Aug. 14.
ESPN and the SEC announced Thursday afternoon that Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks have agreed to carry the new 24-hour cable network when it flips the switch two weeks before the season starts.
"It is great to have Time Warner Cable as a distribution partner for the SEC Network," said SEC Commissioner Mike Slive in a release. "Time Warner Cable customers, particularly those in South Carolina and Texas, will have the opportunity to enjoy our football season opener exclusively on the SEC Network when Texas A&M visits South Carolina on August 28."
The addition of Time Warner and Bright House to the current roster of providers, which includes Comcast Xfinity, Google Fiber, AT&T U-Verse, Dish Network and several smaller carriers, will make the network available to around 60 million customers.
It was a different era, and the Big Ten Network was blazing a trail, but when it launched in 2007, it was available to 16 million people.
The SEC Network will add more homes before launch.
The biggest fish left in the pond that's yet to sign a carriage deal is DirecTV, which released a statement earlier this month that it is continuing negotiations with ESPN, which wholly owns the SEC Network.
Slive swung for the fences at SEC media days, saying, "The SEC Network right now is available to everyone." You just may have to switch providers.
That won't be necessary. With just under three weeks before launch, that 60 million number, combined with the possibility of Disney/ESPN leveraging its non-sports programming, will be impossible for DirecTV, Charter and every other holdout to ignore.
Slive, ESPN Senior Vice President Justin Connolly and everyone associated with the startup of the new network have played their cards perfectly. It's almost as if it was part of the plan.
Where's the Love for South Carolina?
Steve Spurrier is never one to hold back his feelings, and he let it be known Thursday at South Carolina's golf tournament that he feels his players were getting overlooked in the preseason All-SEC teams:
Spurrier wasn't happy Skai Moore was left off media preseason All-SEC teams: "We've gotta do a better job of promoting these guys."— Ryan Wood (@rwood_SC) July 24, 2014
Spurrier says they have a lot of returning players that have played well. He & Steve Fink have to do better job getting names out there.— William Gunter (@WillGunter560) July 24, 2014
Spurrier surprised more Gamecocks weren't preseason All-SEC "Our guys can play some ball now."— Matt Connolly (@MattConnollySHJ) July 24, 2014
He's right. For a team that's likely going to land in the preseason top 10, there's a remarkable absence of Gamecocks on the three-deep preseason All-SEC teams.
Running back Mike Davis and offensive linemen A.J. Cann and Corey Robinson were on the second-team offense, while cornerback/safety Brison Williams was the third-team defensive back, according to CBSSports.com.
That's great for Davis and the offense, because a solid offensive line and a top-tier running back will win you a lot of football games. But that defense lacks all kinds of star power. Moore and "Spur" Sharrod Golightly were pretty solid last year and could make a push to make the postseason team—especially if Spurrier does a better job of promoting them.
Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall's legal issues are now officially behind him.
According to Joel A. Erickson of AL.com, Marshall's mother, Shalena Cliett, paid fines stemming from his citation earlier this month for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana ($1,000) and illegal window tint ($100), officially closing the case.
So what becomes of Marshall now?
Head coach Gus Malzahn said during SEC media days in Hoover, Alabama, earlier this month that his quarterback would face some consequences but hasn't decided what they will be. Expect there to be a small suspension.
Malzahn holds his quarterbacks to a high standard and expects nothing short of perfection from them. Because of that, I expect there to be a small—likely unannounced—suspension for the senior signal-caller in the Tigers' season opener versus Arkansas.
What will that be? A game? A half? A quarter? A series?
Expect him to dress, and then we'll find out after the opener.
A "Big" Loss?
Georgia's defensive roster attrition continued this week when defensive lineman Jonathan Taylor was arrested for felony aggravated assault/family violence and subsequently dismissed from the program, according to CBSSports.com.
So what does it mean for the Bulldogs defense?
Taylor came to Georgia as a potential force at nose guard, but the 6'4", 330-pound former 4-star prospect was buried on the third team behind Mike Thornton and Chris Mayes, according to the depth chart in Georgia's media guide, via The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
It hurts from a potential standpoint and, to an extent, a depth standpoint, as there's a little less of a margin for error in the center of the Bulldogs defensive line.
Is Taylor's departure something that will devastate the Bulldogs defense? Not really. But it eliminates an option, and defensive lines always need options.
Strong Progress on the Rivalry Front?
One of college football's most storied rivalries is still off the books, but there may be progress on Texas' side to renew the rivalry with Texas A&M.
New head coach Charlie Strong said during the Big 12 coaches "car wash" at ESPN that the game "needs to happen," according to Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com. That flies in the face of his boss, athletics director Steve Patterson, who told ESPN.com's Max Olson in April that renewing the rivalry with the Aggies isn't on "the top of his list."
Thank you, Coach Strong.
A fresh face in Austin, Strong brings a new perspective. One that isn't stuck in the mindset that Texas A&M is Texas' little brother. Ever since moving to the SEC in 2012, the Aggies have been establishing their own identity outside of the shadow of the Longhorns, and that will only continue as the program becomes more synonymous with the SEC around the country and within state lines.
Strong is no dummy. He knows those three letters resonate with recruits, and one way to keep and maintain dominance is to settle it on the field. Otherwise, Texas is just letting Texas A&M continue to define its own identity, which is bad news for Strong and the Longhorns.
Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.