Shabazz shines, Tennessee self-imposes, Bama rules

(AP photo/Dave Martin)

(AP photo/Dave Martin)

SEC and Big Blue Links for Saturday:

John Calipari and Jerry Tarkanian take in a little basketball in Las Vegas.

Shabazz scores 38 with Calipari looking on, writes Matt Norlander of CBS Sports.

Muhammad listed off, in order, Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, Texas, Texas A&M, UCLA, Memphis and UNLV as schools he’ll focus on. The A&M choice, I believe, is a relatively new one. From what I gather, there’s an assistant at the school who’s close with Muhammad’s father.

Muhammad also said his shooting is now the top priority for him. Said he’s taken the criticism of his jump shot seriously and will continue to work to improve it diligently. He really couldn’t have been more impressive. And best of all, he’s a good kid. Everyone says that about him. Grounded, intelligent, tempered and talented.

Shabazz says he is tight with John Wall, reports Ryan Greene of the Las Vegas Sun.

He’s built up a pretty impressive contact list in his iPhone and developed some relationships that most young basketball players could only dream of. Muhammad said he texts with Wall – a one-year Kentucky standout now with the Washington Wizards – almost daily. No matter who the advice comes from, though, it’s consistent and not that complicated.

Kentucky picked fifth in SEC East, reports Jen Smith of H-L.

The annual vote by the media at Southeastern Conference Media Days has a predictable finish for the Cats, who were picked fifth (just ahead of Vanderbilt) as usual. As it did on the coaches’ pre-season team, Kentucky got three players on the All-SEC Teams. Offensive lineman Larry Warford was picked to the First Team as was linebacker Danny Trevathan. Punter Ryan Tydlacka was picked to the Third Team.

Tennessee imposes two-year probation, reports Andrew Gribble of News-Sentinel.

The University of Tennessee self-imposed two years of probation on its athletic department after it submitted its response to the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations on May 20, according to documents obtained Friday by the News Sentinel through a public records request.

Outside of a handful of recruiting restrictions placed on the current football staff and a minor restriction placed on the new men’s basketball staff in 2011, the university believed that “the penalties imposed during the course of its investigation, coupled with its corrective measures, adequately address the violations that occurred.”

Auburn fan happy Tide fan has lung cancer, writes Mike Bianchi of Orlando Sentinel.

Finebaum is talking about Bobby from Homewood, an Auburn fan who is a regular caller. Except not anymore. You see, Bobby has been banned from the show after he called last week and reveled in the fact that another regular caller – Alabama fan Shane from Centerpoint — was recently diagnosed with lung cancer.

Bobby, according to a producer on Finebaum’s station, claimed Shane had contracted lung cancer because of cosmic karma created from his anti-Auburn rants of the past. Bobby also let it be known that he hoped the last thing Shane thought about before he died was that Auburn was the defending national champions.

Tony Woods picks — drumroll please — Oregon, reports Andy Katz.

Parker said Woods decided to sign with Oregon after he learned that he could play immediately with the Ducks following his completion of his associate of arts degree and then admission into summer school next month.

Woods had visited with Louisville, Kentucky and Texas over the last few months but none of the three could admit Woods until December because the schools are on a semester system. Oregon is on a quarterly system and doesn’t begin classes until September, allowing Woods to complete his academic requirements in a community college and then on campus.

Nick Saban (AP photo/Dave Martin)

Nick Saban (AP photo/Dave Martin)

Alabama’s coach can scare you, writes Mark Bradley of the AJC.

The answer, this correspondent of limited intellect would submit, has to do with Alabama’s coach. Nick Saban is considered the best collegiate coach now working by as great a distance as Dwight Howard is regarded as the NBA’s top center. Saban has won BCS titles at different SEC outposts, which proved his black magic was transferable. And it isn’t so much that folks believe Saban is smarter than everyone else but that we know he’ll work his 30-hour days until he figures things out.

Bama has question marks and talent, writes Kevin Scarbinsky of the Birmingham News.

Alabama won the ballot box, too, on the last day of SEC Media Days. That wasn’t unusual, either, but the numbers were. The team that lost four first-round NFL draft picks had a league-record 16 players voted to the first, second and third All-SEC teams. The team coming off a fourth-place finish in the SEC West got more first-place votes to win the league than every other team in the league combined.

Favored Tide not backing down, reports Don Kausler of the Birmingham News.

Like last season, Alabama is a strong favorite to win the Southeastern Conference football championship this season. Unlike last season, when the defending national champion lost three games and finished fourth in the SEC Western Division, the Crimson Tide seems to be comfortable with great expectations.

Bama’s quarterback race is far from over, says Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News.

The University of Alabama football season begins exactly six weeks from today. From listening to Nick Saban on Friday, it seems like that, instead of marking the end of a battle for the Crimson Tide’s starting quarterback job, might just be the beginning. Sophomore A.J. McCarron and redshirt freshman Phillip Sims vied for the position as Greg McElroy’s successor through the spring, and figure to do so through August as well.

Vandy quarterback Larry Smith (AP photo/Dave Martin)

Vandy quarterback Larry Smith (AP photo/Dave Martin)

Vanderbilt eyes a turn-around, writes Jen Smith of the Herald-Leader.

Franklin, a 39-year-old former offensive coordinator at Maryland, said Vanderbilt has many recruiting advantages (like its stellar educational opportunities) if it uses them properly. The pitch worked in his first go-around when Franklin signed a class that featured two four-star recruits.

Franklin is positive, but do Vandy fans care? asks John Adams of the News-Sentinel.

James Franklin needed only 30 minutes at the SEC media podium to prove sweeping changes are under way at Vanderbilt. Not once did he mention turkey insemination, as his coaching predecessor, Robbie Caldwell, did last July to the delight of everyone in attendance at SEC Media Days. Nor did anyone mistake him for Steve Martin.

Vandy quarterback welcomes change, says Josh Moon of Montgomery Advertiser.

In his two seasons as a starter at Vandy, Smith has won just four of the Commodores’ 24 games and has just one win against SEC competition. He’s completed less than half of his pass attempts, thrown 10 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

What are UK football fans thinking? asks Alex Scutchfield for Sea of Blue.

Rick Minter may not be a miracle worker, but he is going to do something different on defense. I’m not generally in favor of change for change sake, but in the case of UK’s 2010 D, I’m going to make an exception. The fact is, even with eight starters returning, Kentucky cannot plan to stone cold stop everyone. The Cats need to create some confusion, put our guys in position to make big plays, and take some chances. If the UK’s experiment with a 3-4 as well as deploying multiple schemes fails, so be it.

Ole Miss sees low pick as catalyst, writes Clarion-Ledger’s Rick Cleveland.

So does coach Houston Nutt. His first Arkansas team in 1998 was picked to finish last in the SEC West. The Razorbacks finished first. In 2008, Nutt’s Ole Miss Rebels were picked to finish fifth and finished second. Then again, last year the Rebels were picked to finish last and did. Sometimes, believe it or not, even the media is right.

LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson (AP photo/Dave Martin)

Les Miles says it’s time to prepare, reports Perryn Keys of ┬áThe Advocate.

Toward the end of a long, wild week for LSU’s football program, the coach strolled into a large hotel ballroom Friday afternoon, more than ready to address a field of reporters. Les Miles wore a sharp suit, a purple necktie and an easy grin. He looked dapper and relaxed. Or, at least, as relaxed as a Southeastern Conference coach can ever be. If Miles felt any more troubled than usual, he did a fine job hiding it.

Ole Miss welcomes Lockett’s voice, reports Ross Dellenger of the Clarion-Ledger.

It’s Kentrell Lockett, the joke-telling, morale-boosting, charisma-oozing Ole Miss defensive end who wears No. 40 on game days. Lockett, granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA after a season-ending injury early last season, has returned to his old form – vintage Lockett, some would say. “He’s back,” Bolden said, “and he’s more alive than ever.”

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