Baseball’s starting, basketball’s a month from tournament time, and football comings-and-goings are the subject of today’s Around the SEC blog.

THIS WEEK’S STORYLINES

Baseball starts!

All 14 SEC teams open their baseball seasons on Friday. Nine SEC programs—Florida, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, LSU, Arkansas, South Carolina, Kentucky, Ole Miss and Mississippi State—are ranked in one of the five major college baseball Top 25s. 

Vanderbilt baseball head coach Tim Corbin has yet another College World Series caliber team on West End. PHOTO COURTESY VANDERBILT ATHLETICS

Vanderbilt baseball head coach Tim Corbin has yet another College World Series caliber team on West End. PHOTO COURTESY VANDERBILT ATHLETICS

Interesting series include San Diego coming to Vandy (the Toreros, who gave us Kris Bryant, are considered by some a favorite to win the West Coast Conference, while Vandy has some top-shelf pitchers out to start the weekend) and a Maryland team that should be in an NCAA regional traveling to Alabama to help the Crimson Tide break in the newly-renovated Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

More turmoil at Tennessee

Last week, six anonymous females filed suit against the University of Tennessee in conjunction with rape cases. The plaintiffs allege that the university has created a climate that alleges that the university helped create a hostile sexual environment towards females, an environment under which athletes got preferential treatment that allowed much of it to happen. 

That was a week ago; since then, three separate instances have occurred that probably won’t help UT’s case.

The first—and this was a foundation of the plaintiffs’ accusation that the culture had been well-established—was the well-documented Peyton Manning incident. Unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ve seen that; here’s the response that Manning issued this week.

Mack Crowder, a starting senior on last year’s offensive line, was accused of this.

Alexis Johnson, a JUCO transfer defensive lineman who just started school in Knoxville, was suspended after being arrested for one count of aggravated assault and another of false imprisonment earlier in the week

All these are allegations and nothing’s been proven yet, but it’s safe to say it’s not been a good P.R. week for UT.

Purifoy ineligible

Auburn’s struggling basketball team got a bit of expected bad news when the NCAA ruled true freshman forward Danjel Purifoy ineligible due to questions surrounding his ACT score. Purifoy had not played this year; he’ll redshirt this season and play next season on the Plains.

Tyler Ulis and Kentucky are starting to distance themselves in our SEC basketball power rankings. PHOTO COURTESY COACHCAL.COM

Tyler Ulis and Kentucky are starting to distance themselves in our SEC basketball power rankings. PHOTO COURTESY COACHCAL.COM

Neal transfers to Auburn

Auburn’s football team picked up immediate help when Illinois linebacker T.J. Neal announced he would play his final year at Auburn. Neal had 109 tackles, including 14 stops for loss last season, and started two years. He’ll graduate in May and play next fall at Auburn.

Clark dismissed at Missouri

Missouri’s bleak hoops situation got a little worse when guard Wes Clark, who averaged 9.8 points and was one of the Tigers’ more talented players. He was dismissed for academic reasons; according to Gabe DeArmond of PowerMizzou.com, the decision was made by the school’s athletic department.

POWER RANKINGS (Overall record, SEC record)

  1. Kentucky (20-6, 10-3)
  2. Texas A&M (19-7, 8-5)
  3. Florida (19-7, 8-5)
  4. Alabama (16-9, 7-6)
  5. South Carolina (21-5, 8-5)
  6. LSU (16-10, 9-4)
  7. Vanderbilt (15-11, 7-6)
  8. Georgia (14-10, 7-6)
  9. Ole Miss (16-10, 6-7)
  10. Arkansas (12-14, 5-8)
  11. Tennessee (12-14, 5-8)
  12. Mississippi St. (11-14, 4-9)
  13. Auburn (10-15, 4-9)
  14. Missouri (10-16, 3-10)

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

  1. Ben Simmons, SF, LSU
  2. Tyler Ulis, PG, Kentucky
  3. Dorian Finney-Smith, SF, Florida
  4. Wade Baldwin, PG, Vanderbilt
  5. Retin Obashahan, SG, Alabama
  6. Jamal Murray, SG, Kentucky
  7. Kevin Punter, SG, Tennessee
  8. Moses Kingsley, C, Arkansas
  9. Damian Jones, C, Vanderbilt
  10. J.J. Frazier, PG, Georgia
  11. Alex Caruso, PG, Texas A&M
  12. Michael Carrera, SF, South Carolina
  13. Gavin Ware, PF, Mississippi St.
  14. Stefan Moody, SG, Ole Miss
  15. Danuel House, SF, Texas A&M