State of the Union

South Carolina has had over a dozen players arrested since Lou Holtz resigned as coach last November.

Tennessee has had more than a dozen players arrested or cited since February 2004.

Ole Miss has had 10 players and two coaches arrested in the past year-and-a-half. South Carolina has had over a dozen players arrested since Lou Holtz resigned as coach last November.

Concerned about the number of off-field incidents, the National Association of College Athletic Directors has proposed hiring a firm – GlobalOptions Group -- to do background checks on all incoming scholarship student-athletes. The cost would be about $100 per athlete.

Oklahoma and Baylor have adopted checks independently.

``The stakes are high, but I think the responsibility is high,'' Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione told USA Today.

But Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton isn't yet sold on the idea.

``The jury is still out with me,'' Hamilton said. ``I don't think it's a bad idea but I'm concerned about the signal it sends to some of the guys you're recruiting.

``It's no secret that a lot of programs, including ours, have had some off-field issues over the past year and a half. We have to look at the right way to do a better analysis of our kids.''

Tennessee football coach Phillip Fulmer said that ``in some ways, we're overreacting,'' but he said any means of finding out more about prospects is welcomed.

Hamilton said a professor at Baylor is outlining questions to ask recruits, their family and others ``that lead you to some conclusions about the social impact on them and the type person they will be in college.''

But how do you really know? Kids mature at a different rate. Peer pressure and bad influences can alter one's decision making. Hamilton said he's concerned that recent recruiting rules have allowed less contact for coaches trying to recruit prospects.

``Therefore, we don't get to know them as well on the front end,'' Hamilton said. ``We've got to get back to where coaches are able to make good, sound judgment calls of character issues before they (recruits) get to campus.''

Fulmer agreed that NCAA rules make it ``more difficult than ever to know everything'' about recruits.

``Whether you're dealing with a kid in the inner city or a rural kid, particularly in Tennessee's case, it's difficult. I can't say there's been anybody that has had issues at Tennessee that we didn't know on the front end.''

There was one: Jamal Lewis of Atlanta had a shop-lifting charge in the spring of 1997 before his arrival. It came to light after he rushed for over 200 yards against Georgia. Coincidence? Not likely.

Fulmer then added: ``If the athletic directors want to take that on as an extra expense to help us, shoot, I'm all for it.'' But you wonder if it will have the intended affect, which, presumably, is to not admit recruits with a criminal record. It didn't stop Miami from taking Willie Williams, who had been arrested over a dozen times in high school.

It wouldn't have stopped Tennessee from taking Lewis.

In the world of college athletics, the better the athlete, the more chances he gets – even if he has a record in high school.

* Former Tennessee coach Johnny Majors claims Phillip Fulmer's sparkling record against Alabama is tainted.

Fulmer is 9-3 against the Crimson Tide, having won nine of the last 10. But Majors said Fulmer hasn't played against a ``real'' Alabama team.

There is some truth to Majors' claim. Fulmer has faced just four Alabama teams that won 10 games, going 2-1-1. Fulmer has beaten six Tide teams that won no more than seven games in a season.

During the Fulmer Era, Alabama has battled NCAA sanctions. The Tide was first hit over the Antonio Langham incident, then the Albert Means probe. That's caused Alabama to forfeit a considerable number of scholarships.

Over the past 10 years, Alabama is only 17 games over .500. The Tide program hasn't been that futile since before Bear Bryant became the coach in 1958.

Of course, Majors had his struggles against some mediocre Alabama teams. Majors lost to Alabama in 1987 and 1990, when the Tide was 7-5. He was 0-3 against Bill Curry, for goodness sakes.

And when Majors scored his four straight wins over Alabama (1982-85), the Tide was 8-4, 8-4, 5-6 and 9-2-1 – not exactly ``real'' Alabama teams.

* The Coaches All-SEC team has already created hard feelings. LSU, one of the three most talented teams in the SEC, had just three first-team selections: One of offense, one on defense, one on special teams. The Tigers had just two more picks on the three teams than Mississippi State.

Arkansas and Kentucky didn't have a first-team pick while Vanderbilt did.

Which Southeast states produce the most quality SEC players?

The state of Alabama had 13 All-SEC players, while Georgia had 12. Florida and Mississippi had 10 each, LSU nine, and Tennessee seven. South Carolina had just three, Kentucky two and Arkansas one.

Of the 10 Vols on All-SEC team, two each are from Tennessee and Alabama and one each is from Kentucky and Mississippi.

VOL CALL: Linebacker Nick Wilson has done everything required to rejoin the UT football team while defensive tackle Matt McGlothlin is also expected to be reinstated, according to Hamilton. The two seniors missed last season after being suspended for violation of team rules. … Running back Gerald Riggs must pass a certain course during the second semester of summer school to be eligible this fall. After the spring semester, he fell short of the required GPA in his major.

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