HYAMS: Bama makes another PR blunder

If this comes across as petty, it should. Because it is. <br><br> Alabama has given the Sylvester Croom Commitment to Excellence Award each spring since 1987, in honor of the former Alabama All-America center. But this spring, the award was quietly changed to the Bart Starr Commitment to Excellence Award when given to linebacker DeMeco Ryans.

Coach Mike Shula, who was on a cruise, couldn't be reached for immediate comment. Larry White, the school's associate athletic director for media relations, explains: ``The coaches didn't feel it was appropriate to have an award named after a coach in our league. The staff talked about it. Ultimately, it's Mike's decision.''

Croom is the head coach at Mississippi State. He would have been the head coach at his alma mater, had Alabama not declined to hire him. You wonder if an award had been named after Jackie Sherrill if it would have been vacated when Sherrill went to Mississippi State more than a dozen years ago?

Croom learned his name no longer bore the award by a sportswriter and was visibly shaken.

``I'm thoroughly disappointed that they chose to remove my name from an award that meant a lot to me because of the career I had at Alabama as a player,'' Croom said. ``To remove my name from that award because I achieved success in my coaching career is disappointing to me.

``I find it hard to believe that coach (Bear) Bryant would have ever done something like that.''

To the contrary, if Bryant had been around last year, Croom might be Alabama's head coach.

Maybe that's why an insecure Shula didn't want Croom's named attached to an Alabama award.

By the way, Logan Young, an Alabama booster who has been disassociated from the program because of allegations he bought players, has a room named after him in the Bryant Conference Center?

Why hasn't his name been removed from the room?


Boyd bitten by bad bad karma

Perhaps the football gods were getting back at South Carolina running back Cory Boyd.

During a South Carolina practice, Boyd ran into Lou Holtz and broke the leg of the 67-year-old coach. A few days later, Boyd, a sophomore, sprained his right ankle.


``Somebody landed on my ankle, then somebody stepped on my ankle,'' Boyd said. ``I don't think Lou had anything to do with it. He didn't pray on that one.''

Boyd said teammates and coaches have been joking with him about injuring Holtz. Boyd hasn't found it humorous.

``I feel terrible about it,'' he said. ``Everybody keeps showing it (on video). I don't like looking at it. I don't want to know nothing about it. Everybody has jokes about it like, `Can you do it again so we won't have to practice?' I didn't mean to do it. I hope the man gets better and he still stays himself and goes out there and coaches up.''


SEC projects seven in NFL first round 

Pro Football Weekly projects that seven SEC players will be taken in the first round of the NFL draft -- which is just one more than Miami.

The magazine has Ole Miss quarterback Eli Manning going first to San Diego with South Carolina cornerback Dunta Robinson the 11th pick to Pittsburgh, LSU receiver Michael Clayton the 21st pick to New England, Arkansas offensive lineman Shawn Andrews the No. 23 pick to Seattle, Florida tight end Ben Troupe the No. 24 pick to Denver, Alabama offensive tackle Justin Smiley the No. 27 pick to Tennessee and Auburn linebacker Dontarrious Thomas the 29th pick to Indianapolis.

Miami could have six first-rounders: tight end Kellen Winslow Jr., safety Sean Taylor, linebackers Jon Vilma and D.J. Williams, defensive tackle Vince Wilfork and offensive tackle Vernon Carey.


Hoops hardest to officiate

Basketball is by far the toughest sport to officiate, said former SEC Commissioner Roy Kramer.

``Basketball rules were written at a time when the players weren't as big or strong or fast,'' Kramer said. ``We've looked at the rule book to see what could be changed.''

The answer: Nothing.

``We want the game to be civilized,'' he said.

To be hired by the SEC, an official must have worked at least five years at a lower college level. They also work summer camps.

Kramer said there are three keys to officiating: Being in position, being deaf and being decisive.

``I'll never argue with an official if he's in position,'' Kramer said. ``And he's got to be really deaf because fans are so close. You can't let it affect you and you can't worry about a blown call.

``And if you make a call, make it decisive. Even if you're wrong, make it decisive because you can sell a lot of calls.''


Kentucky's Hawkins makes moronic move

Kentucky point guard Cliff Hawkins should have known better.

Hawkins put his SEC Championship ring up for sale on e-bay. After two days, the bid reached $3,000. The criticism was far reaching as well.

Hawkins decided to pull the ring off e-bay. Hadn't he learned anything from the Georgia football ring-gate last year? Didn't he know what the reaction would be from disgruntled Big Blue fans?

Hawkins apologized for embarrassing the Kentucky program and its fans.


Pollack: A marked man

Georgia All-American defensive end David Pollack went from a school-record 14 sacks in 2002 to 7.5 sacks in 2003.

The reduction in production can probably be traced to three things: 1. Pollack was a marked man in 2003. 2. Georgia defensive tackle Jonathan Sullivan turned pro after his junior season, allowing offensives to further key on Pollack. 3. Defensive end Will Thompson, who had six sacks in 2002, missed last season because of a broken ankle, taking away a pass-rush threat from the opposite side.

But Pollack apparently felt there was more to his numbers' decline, so he lost 30 pounds, reporting to spring practice at 262.

``He wanted to be leaner and meaner, I guess,'' Georgia coach Mark Richt said. ``He wanted to be quicker. I think he really felt he put on too much weight at the end of last season. I can't imagine him being any lighter than he is right now.''

The return of Thompson should help Pollack, as well.


Egg Bowl gets bumped for Big East showdown

After a six-year run on ESPN, the Egg Bowl between Ole Miss and Mississippi State is being moved from Thanksgiving night to Saturday.

ESPN has decided, instead, to televise the Pittsburgh-West Virginia game.

That will cost the schools money and exposure, although the Egg Bowl could be televised anyway. ESPN pays each SEC school $40,000 per telecast. But when an SEC team plays on Thursday, the home team receives an additional $150,000 and the visiting team an additional $100,000.

``We thought they were always good ball games (four of the six were decided by 10 or fewer points),'' said SEC associate commissioner Mark Womack, who handles TV negotiations for the league. ``The ratings were good for ESPN, although they may have declined in the last year.''

Ole Miss athletic director Pete Boone said he was sorry to see the Thanksgiving date disappear.


Rebel's try and find some sizzle in rather uneventful schedule

Ole Miss has three noteworthy games on this year's schedule.

Not only has the Egg Bowl against Mississippi State been moved from Thanksgiving to Saturday, the Rebels will play at Wyoming on Sept. 25 and David Cutcliffe, a 17-year assistant at Tennessee, will face the Vols for the first time, on Oct. 16 in Oxford.

Neither Ole Miss nor Wyoming's athletic director was at the school when the game was set.

``From one perspective, it probably isn't the best business deal we could have made from a revenue standpoint,'' said Ole Miss AD Pete Boone. ``On the other hand, at least it gives our players a chance to go some place they likely haven't experienced.''

Ole Miss will be the first SEC team to play in Laramie, although Tennessee had a game scheduled there in 2002 but it was moved to Nashville when the Nashville Sports Authority paid Wyoming well over $1 million to play the game at the Tennessee Titans stadium.

Ole Miss will host Wyoming next season. The visiting team gets a $200,000 guarantee, a considerably low figure by today's standards.

Wyoming will play three other SEC teams over the next five years: Florida, Tennessee and LSU.


Jacobs jumps ship at Auburn

Junior college running back Brandon Jacobs made a mistake when he transferred to tailback rich Auburn. He might be making another mistake.

Jacobs, who was second on Auburn's team last year with 446 rushing yards, has signed with Division 1-AA Southern Illinois so he can play right away. That would seem a cinch for the 6-4, 257-pounder. But it's not.

The Salukis have Minnesota transfer Terry Jackson and Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College product Arkee Whitlock. Jacobs considered Nebraska, Georgia Tech and Clemson, but he would have been forced to sit out a year before becoming eligible.

EXTRA POINTS: The SEC went 7-6 in the NCAA Tournament, with Alabama reaching the Elite Eight and Vanderbilt the Sweet 16. Kentucky and Mississippi State lost in the second round and South Carolina and Florida in the first round. … Tennessee has suspended receiver/quarterback James Banks for the remainder of spring practice, effectively ending any chance he had to compete for the quarterback job. Banks, who led UT with 42 catches last year, wanted a chance to earn the quarterback job in the spring. He practiced two weeks before the suspension. … Tennessee backup center Boomer Herndon is transferring because of a lack of playing time. Herndon, who averaged 6.6 minutes per game, picked the Vols over Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Penn State and Alabama. … Georgia backup center Randall Swoopes has left the team and backup fullback Chris Hickman has been dismissed because he ``broke a rule he couldn't break.'' … Florida defensive tackle Marcus Thomas has continued to practice even though he will eventually have surgery to repair a hernia. … After another knee setback, South Carolina center Chad Walker has been forced to quit football. … Georgia is so thin at receiver this spring, two quarterbacks -- Joe Tereshinski III and A.J. Bryant -- have been running routes to give the regulars a break.

Tiger Blitz Top Stories