7 at 7: Pace of play, attendance talk all the rage in NCAA (w/links)

rblack@ledger-enquirer.comFebruary 18, 2014 

Auburn vs Arkansas

After a contentious year that saw the two disagree on numerous topics, it appears relations are warming between Auburn coach Gus Malzahn and Arkansas coach Bret Bielema.

TODD J. VAN EMST — Auburn University

AUBURN, Ala. — The articles in Monday's "7 at 7" were all over the place. It had college baseball. NASCAR. The NBA. The MLB. Heck, there was even an article about Disney cartoon characters imagined as real-life entities.

That type of miscellaneous assortment won't be the case today. The focus will be on football — specifically, the college variety.

Let's get to this morning's links.

1. The discussion about hurry-up, no-huddle offenses and the danger — or lack thereof — they pose to defensive players just won't die down. When possible rule changes aimed to slow down these offenses was made public last week, it immediately became the biggest story in college football. But does this argument, championed most notably by Alabama's Nick Saban and Arkansas' Bret Bielema, actually have merit? After crunching numbers from the 2013 season, Dave Bartoo of the College Football Matrix lends some insight. (While I won't spoil his findings, I'll admit it's one of the most fascinating articles I've come across in quite some time.)

2. This next article is far from new. In fact, it first appeared on the well-known Auburn fan site WarBlogle.com more than two years ago. The story Mr. WarBlogler tweeted Monday centered around how the Tigers' football uniform has changed over the years, ranging from the whitish-tan look in the early 1900s to the orange jerseys they sported a few times in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Anyone interested in jerseys, Auburn or college football history in general should enjoy this awesome article.

3. For the past five years, Division I football schools have been trying to find an answer to one important question: How do they find a way to reverse the downward trend in attendance? ESPN.com took a look at how major football programs around the country are dealing with the issue.

4. The SEC hasn't been impervious to this problem, either. What separates the league from others around the country, however, is that it bounced back last year. After attendance took a slight dip for four consecutive seasons, the SEC saw its numbers rise in 2013. For good measure, ESPN.com even decided to rank the top five student sections in the league. (Yes, Auburn made it. No, I won't reveal how high or low Auburn was slotted.)

5. It's a rare occasion when Johnny Manziel shows any humility. But he didn't mind doing so Sunday, as he thanked Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson for kicking "the door wide open" for diminutive signal-callers.

6. Manziel isn't the only former Heisman Trophy winner staying in the news. Jameis Winston is now a part of Florida State's baseball team, making his first appearance as a relief pitcher this season over the weekend. He tossed two innings of shutout ball, going six-up and six-down to record a save in Florida State's 4-1 victory over Niagara. But Monday, he was back in football mode, making the trip to Texas to pick up the Davey O'Brien Award. And he's already got next season on his mind, saying that the Seminoles' slogan for the coming campaign is "Dallas to Dallas." Florida State begins the season against Oklahoma State at AT&T Stadium. And of course, next January the stadium will host the first College Football Playoff championship game.

7. For the final item this morning, we'll finally shift away from the gridiron. According to a study from HoopsVibe.com, only three out of every 10,000 high school basketball players will eventually become an NBA draft pick. The odds that two out of those three would also double as best friends from the same town are even longer. But Jared Sullinger and Trey Burke did just that. Check out the great long-form story from Grantland's Jonathan Abrams here.

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