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'You'll have to do the work, but I'll give you the keys to the car'

Among one of the more notable hires that Derek Mason made after taking over and Vanderbilt was Brett Maxie. Mason didn't have to look far to snatch Maxie up, as he just wrapped up two seasons in Vandy's backyard with the Tennessee Titans under Mike Munchak before the staff was let go.

In Maxie, Mason added a coach with 16 years of NFL experience (and 13 years of playing experience after going undrafted. Coach Maxie quickly found out that one of the perks of being a former NFL coach and player now coaching in the college ranks is that you tend to have the undivided attention of college-aged kids because you have first hand experience on the level that they all aspire to.

"At the college level these kids are probably going to hang on to every word that you say because they feel like, especially in my case, that I have a little bit extra to offer because I have been at the NFL level. In so many ways, they feel like I've got the blueprint to get them there."

"When I talk to every last one of my players, that's what I tell them, 'If you have an aspiration to play at the next level, I'll do everything in my power to make that happen. Obviously I am only going to affect a small part of that, you're going to have to do the bulk of the work...but I'll give you the keys to the car.'"

Add that kind of experience with the rest of the accolades that the remainder of Mason's defensive staff has, plus the academic standing of Vanderbilt, and you've got one hell of a recruiting pitch for some of the most talented players in the country.

The keys that Maxie is flipping to his secondary, plus the keys that a Vanderbilt degree give them work out to be about the equivalent of a brand new Rolls-Royce (at least). What could possibly be better?




Video: Fisher uses the presentation of the championship rings as a teaching moment

Yesterday we got our first real look at the bling that Jimbo Fisher's program hauled in, and this morning cameras take you inside the meeting room as the rings are handed out. Some programs may just hand out their rings and let the players enjoy them, but Fisher used the opportunity to teach his guys something.

Fisher obviously understands that getting to the top is one thing, but staying on top is a whole new hurdle. Before the players received their rings, Fisher took the opportunity to put things in perspective for them as they try to duplicate the feat in 2014.

"The first thing that I want you to do when you put it on...I want you to think about the teamwork that you had and the camaraderie that you had, the family atmosphere that you had, and the sacrifices that you had to make to get it."

"You can't ever lose the desire and drive and habits that got you that ring."

While rings certainly aren't the top motivating factor for players to achieve the pinnacle, having the biggest championship ring that Jostens has ever made certainly doesn't hurt.

"When you put that on, you become a member of a fraternity where there are very few. And you know what? You can't just be given it, you have to earn your way in." Fisher told his guys.




SEC rakes in $314.5 million in 2012-13, loses money

Expanding its borders westward had immediate dividends for the SEC, as USA Today reported Wednesday that the conference raked in $314.5 million in revenue for the 2012-13 fiscal year. That was up $41 million from the previous year. The big change, of course, was the addition of Texas A&M and Missouri, pushing SEC membership to 14.

The conference reported expenses of $317.9 million for the year, resulting in a net "loss" of $3.4 million for the fiscal year. No one likes losing money, but the conference shouldn't be too considered considering: A) It had a reserve of more than $46 million to cover the losses, and B) something called SEC Network arrives in August...oh and by loses money they mean distributed more to the member universities than they took in. No, that really isn't a loss but hey...

The SEC actually finished second among its peers in total revenue, trailing the Big Ten by a measly $1 million. The SEC did, however, far outpace its next closest competitors, as the most recent tax returns indicate for the ACC ($223.3 million) and Pac-12 ($175.9 million). 

For the 2012 calendar year, commissioner Mike Slive earned $1.246 million, behind ACC commissioner John Swofford ($1.6 million), Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott ($1.575 million) and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany ($1.3 million). Executive associate commissioners Greg Sankey (chief operating officer) and Mark Womack (chief financial officer) were the next highest-paid SEC employees at $375,000 apiece. 




The best graphics in college football

Last night the tweet below from Tom VanHaaren, ESPN recruiting analyst, caught my eye. 

Last April I visited Ohio State and when I walked into director of player personnel Mark Pantoni's office I immediately noticed all of the graphics he had on the wall. I told Pantoni at the time that their graphics were some of the best I've seen anywhere and he promptly introduced me to Sammy Silverman, a former Ohio State student, who does all of the graphics for Ohio State football..and by the looks of his twitter feed, might also be helping Ohio State basketball out now as well. Since then I've frequently seen Silverman's work featured by the Ohio State staff and it's clearly some of the best graphic work in all of college football. 

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 8.27.28 AM

 Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 8.25.50 AM

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 Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 8.26.34 AM

 Ok, pick your chin up. Yeah, those graphics are sick. 

Step 1, call your head coach into your office (or perhaps walk down to his).

Step 2, you guys think about how much having access to a graphics stud like this would help you guys market the program to recruits and energize your current players...and donors.

Step 3, go find your own Sammy. He's out there...probably on campus somewhere or just off campus trying to find someone who can help him put his creative energy and passion to work.

Ok, now back to Tom's original tweet...I said that Sammy's work is easily in the top 5 in FBS. Over the past few years I've seen some really impressive graphics at LSU, Alabama, USC and Miami is pushing out some cool new graphics of late as well. But I'm wondering, am I missing anyone? 

Help me out, if your graphics person routinely pumps out great stuff send me a link or some pictures. I'd love to share with everyone. Email us at [email protected] or even easier, tweet it at us @FootballScoop

 Send us your input and I'll circle back to this later this week. Thank you




Video: One of the most intense spring game hype videos you'll see

If new Boise State head coach Bryan Harsin wasn't satisfied with the intensity of his team's spring practices, he had a two-step process to fix it. First, he opened up Bronco Stadium and let a new set of orange and blue-clad eyeballs watch. Then, he and his fellow coaches got out of the way.

"There's definitely a lot more energy, I think that's the big thing. You've got people watching and cheering," said Broncos quarterback Grant Hedrick. "And another big difference is you don't have the coaches coaching you every play. You've got to go out and play like it's a real game."

Boise State will host the first spring game of the Harsin era on Saturday, and the Broncos want 20,000 in attendance. 




Photos: Florida State's championship rings are in, and they're pretty sweet

To the victor goes the spoils - and lots and lots of tiny little diamonds.

Florida State quarterback Sean Maguire posted a photo of the Seminoles' championship rings on Tuesday, and they're pretty darn impressive. The Seattle Seahawks' rings will surely appraise for more money, but only in college football do the winners of the whole shebang get three rings - one for winning the ACC, one (the dull one) from the BCS itself, and the center ring designed by the Florida State staff. 




Video: Les Miles kisses a pig

The title really says it all, but here it is. Les Miles kisses a pig.

As he explains here, Miles was asked to kiss a pig for a fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of LSU. "Kissing a pig is not the worst thing I've ever done," says Miles.




Mic'd up with new North Carolina assistant Seth Littrell

Before he was one of the hottest coaching acquisitions in the ACC, Seth Littrell was a reserve running back for an Oklahoma program that had lost its way. Then, following Littrell's sophomore season, the Sooners hired Florida defensive coordinator Bob Stoops as head coach, and he hired a staff that included Mike Leach as offensive coordinator, Mike Stoops as defensive coordinator and Mark Mangino as offensive line coach.

Oklahoma won the national championship in 2000, and Littrell graduated that same year. His coaching career began as a graduate assistant at Kansas working for Mangino in 2002. By 2005, he was the running backs coach at Texas Tech under Leach. In 2009, he moved to Arizona, this time coaching under Mike Stoops, where he coached running backs, tight ends, h-backs and coordinated the offense. After a coaching change in Tucson, another Bob Stoops connection found Littrell at Indiana under former Oklahoma offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, working as offensive coordinator, tight ends and fullbacks coach.

Coaching players like Rob Gronkowski and Nick Foles, and coordinating an offensive uprising in Bloomington, Indiana, of all places, pulled Littrell out of the Bob Stoops coaching tree for the first time, as North Carolina hired him away to replace new Arkansas State head coach Blake Anderson as assistant head coach for offense and tight ends coach. 

North Carolina caught Littrell in action for a recent Tar Heels practice, where he spread his wisdom beyond just the tight ends, and ended with him calling plays during a live session.