According a story published by the New York Times, reporter Pete Thamel spoke "to a high-ranking SEC official with first-hand knowledge" of the expansion talks who informed him that 11 of the 12 Southeastern Conference presidents will meet on Sunday at a secret location (Atlanta) to discuss the admission of Texas A&M to the league.
The official said there was a 30 to 40 percent chance that the presidents could vote against Texas A&M’s membership. (The president who will not be there in person will be on speakerphone.) He also said there was the issue of which university would become the 14th team, something many in college sports will monitor.
"We realize if we do this, we have to have the 14th," the SEC official said. "No name has been thrown out. This thing is much slower out of the chute than the media and blogs have made it."
The SEC official said he wondered if the presidents would vote for A&M only if they were assured that a team from one of their states — Florida State, Clemson or Georgia Tech, for example — would not be added. "I’m going to try and say, don’t bring it up now," the SEC official said. "That shouldn’t be a condition or part of the negotiation for this next issue. But it could."
If TAMU is invited, SB Nation's SEC blog Team Speed Kills, makes an interesting observation on how, depending on who the 14th team is, might affect Texas A&M's status and whether or not the SEC will even expand.
Also, if I'm reading between the lines correctly, it sounds like fighting over the 14th team could cause the 13th team not to even get an invitation. The conference official who talked to Thamel hoped that wouldn't be the case but couldn't rule it out. Four schools have in-state rivals that they would prefer not to be in the league, and if they don't get promises that their counterparts won't get invitations, they could vote against admitting A&M. Four no votes is enough to kill an invitation to another school.
This story does lend some credence to all of the denials from ACC schools like FSU, VT, and Clemson who have said they aren't talking to the SEC. I would be surprised if some back channel feelers haven't gone out to them, but I don't think any serious talks have been going on anymore. If there is a chance, even if it's less than a coin flip, that fighting over No. 14 could prevent No. 13 from even coming aboard, then I doubt anything has gotten hot and heavy. The ACC schools have to deny anything anyway to prevent there from being hard feelings should they remain in the conference.
So, is it possible that UF, UGA and USCe could form an alliance to prevent FSU, GT and Clemson from being the 14th, 15th, or even 16th team considered for SEC inclusion? All they would need is one more SEC school to join their conspiracy and they would have the 4 votes needed to block any of those ACC teams mentioned from joining. On the other hand, if the SEC wants FSU, or any of those other teams who reside in the same state as their SEC rival, then those 4 teams could squash Texas A&M's admission and put an end to any SEC expansion, for now at least.
Despite all the rumors swirling, the only comments continuing to come from FSU officials, from the top on down, are denials of any contact, discussions, or offers (as one would reasonably expect) about defecting to the SEC, according to published quotes in the Tallahassee Democrat.
"There has been no contact on this topic," [FSU President Eric] Barron said. "None."
"We have not been invited to the SEC," [Randy] Spetman said. "That is a fact. I can't say the SEC won't come to us because I don't know what the future holds. I can't say things like 'forever' or 'never' because I simply don't know what will happen in the future.
"But I know this: We are extremely happy in the ACC. Our football coach is happy in the ACC. We are doing well in the ACC. And I think things are going pretty well for all of us in the ACC."
"No one has talked to me and there has been no proposal that I'm aware of at all," Fisher said following Saturday's morning practice session. "We're in the ACC and we're happy to be in the ACC."
What we do know however, is that after a Sunday morning session with the media, the entire Florida State football team will head off to the Donald L. Tucker Center for the annual FSU Fan Day. Following the two-hour session the Seminoles will return to Doak Campbell Stadium, where Fisher will open up the 4 p.m. practice to the public for a second consecutive year. If you live in Tallahassee, I can't think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and I know we are all looking forward to onebarrelrum's photos. Anyone else interested in having their photos published here on TN, please submit them.
Hit the jump to read the latest practice reports and about some interesting position battles going on.
Day 6 Observations
Saturday was supposed to be the Florida State football team's first day in pads. But after changing the schedule and starting the work in pads a day early, FSU instead had another first for the fall on Saturday: the first two-a-day practice.
The Seminoles began the double practice day at 9 a.m. The second of the two sessions was slated for Saturday evening.
Day 6 Observations:
One of the story lines that continues to play out this fall has been the shuffling of the offensive line. I wrote the past two days about the personnel being evaluated at the two guard positions.
As was the case on Friday, redshirt sophomore Garrett Faircloth continues to run with the first team at right guard while Brtan Stork is working on the left. The question is, where is David Spurlock? FSU's senior guard is at practice; but because of his past concussions, he is being held out of team drills and is instead working on individual drills.
Head coach Jimbo Fisher said Saturday that this was the plan all along as the doctors wanted Spurlock to be brought back gradually. You never want a player to miss any action but the byproduct of his absence has been the emergence of Faircloth. He has been performing well at right guard and Stork has done well in his switch to the left side.
Spurlock is expected to make his full return at some point in the near future. In the event that he cannot, FSU has a good contingency plan in place.
Another senior that was not in action on Saturday was running back Jermaine Thomas, who has been dealing with migraines. Fisher said he was not sure when Thomas will be cleared to return. Luckily for the Seminoles, depth is not a concern at tailback.
Following practice, Fisher commented on the play of the wide receivers and backup quarterback Clint Trickett. He said that he has been pleased with the consistency of the pass catchers and that Trickett has been showing real signs of improvement as the backup to starter EJ Manuel.
Defensively, the battle is still going on at one of the safety spots between veterans Terrance Parks and Nick Moody. Saturday they were still splitting repetitions with the first team. At the other safety spot, sophomore Lamarcus Joyner continues to impress; as does junior Greg Reid at cornerback.
Courtesy of Brandon Mellor, Seminoles.com
With temperatures climbing throughout the morning, the Florida State football team took to the Al Dunlap Practice Fields Saturday for the first of five scheduled two-a-day sessions this preseason.
The Seminoles were back in full pads for the morning session - they are scheduled to wear shorts in the evening practice - and worked for nearly 2 ½ hours. The second consecutive workout in full pads failed to produce the same consistent results that FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher had praised following Friday's workout.
"I wasn't as pleased," Fisher said. "We did some good things, but not as much consistency as yesterday. Focus wasn't there as much. ... Drifting, that scared me, and by some veterans on both sides of the ball. That can't happen. We've got to fix it; we can't allow that to happen."
Fisher won't accept the two-a-day schedule as a crutch for a lack of focus and execution.
"There are so few of them (and) I think they are inconsequential," Fisher said, acknowledging that FSU's five is more than usual; the result of a compressed schedule between the start of practice and the Sept. 3 opener against Louisiana Monroe. "If we can't handle that adversity, lord o' mighty when the schedules comes."
`Noles get some red zone work against secondary For the first time this preseason, FSU's offense went to work against the secondary in the red zone, which put quarterback EJ Manuel and the receiving corps to the test. The tight quarters - from the 15 yard line and then the 8 - puts a premium on precision.
Fisher said Manuel was "solid" throughout Saturday's morning session, but has room to grow and improve in his red zone precision.
"We've got to play better around him (Manuel) and he's got to pull the trigger," Fisher said. "Things happen a little faster and quicker on his first day down there. We've got to polish a few things up route-wise and him (Manuel) timing-wise. Not that he was bad today; it's just hard down there. When you first get into the red zone - the tight zone - it's a different animal. ... It takes a day or two to get acclimated to that."
Fisher added that he has been pleased with quarterback Clint Trickett's progression. Trickett is currently get most, if not all, of the repetitions with the second-team offense.
Receivers appear to be making significant strides Throughout much of the 2010 preseason, FSU's wide receivers drew the brunt of Fisher's ire when it came to executing with proficiency, especially in practice. That appears to be changing in 2011 as the more veteran receivers, pushed by a small but talented group of newcomers, have been a pleasant surprise.
Senior Bert Reed and seasoned juniors Willie Haulstead and Rodney Smith are leading the way by example, with sophomores Scooter Haggins, Greg Dent and Kenny Shaw are following suit. So is redshirt freshman Christian Green, who has the same amount of collegiate playing time as impressive incoming fresh Rashad Greene.
"We've had some things we've got to work out, but I think they are progressing nicely," Fisher said of the segment coached by Lawrence Dawsey. "I am not disappointed in them one bit. I mean you always push for great plays and great catches. Those guys out there are [who] can change football games; those guys in space that make the phenomenal one. They're starting to do some of those. I'm always going to push it because those guys out there, when you get those special ones, they change the whole dynamic of the game."
Don't go to sleep on Jeff Luc While many preseason queries center around the newest players and how they may impact the Seminoles in 2011, there are a handful of sophomores and redshirt freshmen who often get overlooked. That may have been the case with sophomore weakside linebacker Jeff Luc, who came to FSU last season as one of the most celebrated recruits but was relegated to specials teams play and spot duty on defense.
Luc played in eight games and registered eight tackles, but five of those came early on against Oklahoma. Now he's running second team behind senior and two-time tackle leader Nigel Bradham. That's quite a climb for a player who missed all of the spring following surgery.
"I've been pleased with Jeff right now," said Fisher, adding that Luc is, "playing probably as good as he's been since he's been here at FSU. [He] has a sense of urgency about getting out there and playing."Courtesy of Bob Thomas, Seminoles.com
Safety earns high praise
If you want to get Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher smiling, even when he's obviously angry about what he just saw on the practice field, ask him about starting safety Lamarcus Joyner.
Instantly, a smile appears ear to ear.
"Oh, he's playing great," Fisher said. "Lamarcus Joyner is playing fabulous. He loves to play. If we practiced out here for 12 hours he'd stay here for 12 hours and play."