Here’s what’s news in and around the Southeastern Conference for this week.

BIGGEST STORIES

Steve Sarkisian leaves Alabama for the Falcons

When Alabama coach Nick Saban hired Steve Sarkisian as his offensive coordinator a few weeks ago, he probably didn’t expect it to last just one game.

But with the 49ers hiring Falcons’ offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan following the Super Bowl, Atlanta targeted Sarkisian and hired the former Washington and Southern Cal head coach in the blink of an eye. 

That’s a bit of a risk for the Falcons, since Sarkisian is being treated for alcoholism (for which he sued USC for firing him for that reason). But, like Jim McElwain and Lane Kiffin before him, Saban’s offensive coordinators have always been hot commodities. 

What might Saban be seeking in his next offensive coordinator? TideSports.com‘s Cecil Hurt has some good thoughts here.

Multiple staff changes at LSU and Tennessee

We expected staff shake-ups at both LSU and Tennessee, and we recently got them.

Tennessee has hired Walt Wells (left) and Brady Hoke (right) to fill vacancies on its football staff. PHOTO COURTESY UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE

LSU coach Ed Orgeron, looking to improve his staff’s recruiting progress and its wide receiver play, and got both with the addition of Southern Cal’s Tommie Robinson and Louisiana Tech assistant Mickey Joseph. Robinson was the 2016 Pac-12 Recruiter of the Year, while Joseph will be over a talented wide receiver corps that underachieved last year, though some of that could be blamed on quarterback play.

The Vols made a popular hire, tabbing Walt Wells to replace Steve Stripling as its offensive line coach. Wells is a Nashville native, which should help UT in recruiting locally

But the bigger-name hire for Tennessee was Brady Hoke. The Vols tabbed the former Michigan head coach, who’ll oversee the defensive line in Knoxville.

Arkansas hoops collapsing?

A week ago, Arkansas was 17-5 overall, and a good bet to get an NCAA Tournament bid so long as it took care of business. The second part was a real problem this week, however.

First, Arkansas handed lowly Missouri its first SEC win of the season last Saturday. Then, the Razorbacks, who’d beaten Vandy on the road two weeks ago, were lethargic against the Commodores in Fayetteville, and were blown out from start to finish by a 72-59 score.

College basketball’s bracketologists collectively have Arkansas in the NCAA Tournament as of Friday, but the problems for the Razorbacks are two-fold: Arkansas lacks top-end RPI wins that will impress the committee, and its only two opportunities for such between now and the end of the season are at South Carolina and Florida, which Ken Pomeroy believes the Razorbacks have a 21 and nine percent chance to win, respectively.

If this doesn’t end well, coach Mike Anderson could be out of a job, and understandably so. Granted, it’s not fair to expect Arkansas to achieve the heights it achieved for a quarter-century starting in the mid-‘70s, but it also should do better than the one NCAA Tournament in five years under Anderson. 

Florida and Kasey Hill toppled Kentucky on Saturday. PHOTO COURTESY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

A three-way tie at the top

A month ago, experts expected Kentucky to run away with the SEC. A blowout at Florida later, the ‘Cats dropped into a three-way tie with the Gators and South Carolina as we enter the last third of league play. 

Handicapping it from here is too big a task, but the two games that should have the most say in deciding the outcome will be South Carolina’s visit to Florida on Feb. 21, and the Gators’ return trip to Kentucky four days later. 

HOOPS POWER RANKINGS

  1. Florida (19-5, 9-2 SEC)
  2. Kentucky (19-5, 9-2)
  3. South Carolina (19-5, 9-2)
  4. Tennessee (14-10, 6-5)
  5. Vanderbilt (12-12, 5-6)
  6. Arkansas (17-7, 6-5)
  7. Alabama (14-9, 7-4)
  8. Auburn (16-8, 5-6)
  9. Georgia (13-11, 4-7)
  10. Ole Miss (14-10, 5-6)
  11. Texas A&M (13-10, 5-6)
  12. Mississippi St. (15-9, 5-6)
  13. LSU (9-14, 1-10)
  14. Missouri (6-17, 1-10)

HOOPS PLAYER OF THE YEAR

  1. Malik Monk, G, Kentucky
  2. Yante Maten, F, Georgia
  3. Sindarius Thornwell, G, South Carolina
  4. De’Aron Fox, PG, Kentucky
  5. Sebastian Saiz, F, Ole Miss
  6. Isaiah Briscoe, G, Kentucky
  7. J.J. Frazier, PG, Georgia
  8. Bam Adebayo, C, Kentucky
  9. P.J. Dozier, G, South Carolina
  10. Moses Kingsley, C, Arkansas
  11. Luke Kornet, C, Vanderbilt
  12. Devin Robinson, F, Florida
  13. Grant Williams, F, Tennessee
  14. Dazon Ingram, PG, Alabama
  15. Quinndary Weatherspoon, SG, Mississippi St.