Sports, Thrill of Victory

Chris Lee’s Around the SEC for Jan. 20

Vandy's Zach Cunningham is one of several talented early entrees to the NFL Draft. PHOTO COURTESY VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY

Here’s what’s news in and around the Southeastern Conference in regards to major men’s sports.

Alabama gets a new athletic director

Before anyone even knew Bill Battle was leaving, Alabama announced it had hired hired Arizona State’s Greg Byrne as its new athletic director. Battle, 75, will stay at Alabama until Byrne officially takes over on March 1.

Byrne was a highly-coveted AD who had previously been in the same position at Mississippi State. Here’s a good piece on AL.com with some interesting tidbits about Byrne, who’ll now take one of America’s most high-profile AD jobs. 

SEC hit hard by early NFL departures

Monday was the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL draft, and some SEC teams were hit harder than others.

Ninety-five college football players declared early for the draft. Of those, 25 came from the SEC, with all but three (Arkansas, Mississippi St. and South Carolina) of the league’s 14 programs losing at least one player.

Multiple football assistant coaching changes

It’s the offseason, which means there are (or will be) coaching changes on nearly every SEC football staff. Some interesting moves of late include Tennessee promoting Larry Scott to offensive coordinator and Arkansas hiring former Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads to become its defensive coordinator

Notable current vacancies include Auburn (offensive coordinator) and Kentucky (defensive coordinator).

Kyle Wright and Vanderbilt begin the year as a national title contender. PHOTO COURTESY VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY

SEC near the top of preseason baseball polls

The SEC is arguably the nation’s best baseball conference, and if one of college baseball’s best media outlets is right, it will be again in 2017.

D1Baseball.com released its preseason poll which included a heavy SEC presence near the top with Florida (No. 2), South Carolina (4), LSU (5) and Vanderbilt (7). Texas A&M (20) also made the Top 25.

Most teams launch their seasons starting Friday, Feb. 17.

BASKETBALL POWER RANKINGS

  1. Kentucky (16-2, 6-0)
  2. Florida (14-3, 5-1)
  3. South Carolina (15-3, 5-0)
  4. Arkansas (14-4, 3-3)
  5. Georgia (12-6, 4-2)
  6. Tennessee (9-9, 2-4)
  7. Alabama (11-6, 4-1)
  8. Mississippi St. (12-5, 3-2)
  9. Vanderbilt (8-10, 2-4)
  10. Texas A&M (9-8, 1-5)
  11. Auburn (12-6, 2-4)
  12. Ole Miss (11-7, 2-4)
  13. LSU (9-8, 1-5)
  14. Missouri (5-12, 0-5)

BASKETBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR

  1. Malik Monk, G, Kentucky
  2. De’Aron Fox, PG, Kentucky
  3. Yante Maten, PF, Georgia
  4. Isaiah Briscoe, G, Kentucky
  5. Sebastian Saiz, F, Ole Miss
  6. J.J. Frazier, PG, Georgia
  7. P.J. Dozier, G, South Carolina
  8. Bam Adebayo, F, Kentucky
  9. Moses Kingsley, C, Arkansas
  10. Sindarius Thornwell, G, South Carolina
  11. Daryl Macon, G, Arkansas
  12. Tyler Davis, C, Texas A&M
  13. Ke’Vaughn Allen, G, Florida
  14. Matthew Fisher-Davis, G, Vanderbilt
  15. Dazon Ingram, PG, Alabama