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Hogs: SEC unveils bowl plans

<p>photo by MARC F. HENNING</p><p>Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen talks to members of the media Aug. 11 during the Razorbacks’ Media Day in Fayetteville.</p>

photo by MARC F. HENNING

Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen talks to members of the media Aug. 11 during the Razorbacks’ Media Day in Fayetteville.

The Southeastern Conference has unveiled its nine-bowl lineup for 2014 and new plan to assign teams to six of those games.

The new agreement coincides with the start of the College Football Playoff and extends for six years.

The order of importance for SEC teams will begin with the four-team playoff and is followed by the Sugar Bowl and the Orange Bowl, in selected years. The Capital One Bowl would have its pick of the remaining teams. Then, the SEC will assign teams to a six-bowl lineup that includes the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla., (vs. Big Ten), Music City Bowl in Nashville (vs. ACC/Big Ten), Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla., (vs. ACC/Big Ten), Liberty Bowl in Memphis (vs. Big 12), the Texas Bowl in Houston (vs. Big 12) and Belk Bowl in Charlotte, N.C. (vs. ACC).

The Texas and Belk bowls are new to the SEC’s bowl lineup.

The Cotton Bowl - which has had a long history with Arkansas - will longer be part of the SEC’s bowl tie-ins. It will be part of the College Football Playoff instead.

“We are pleased to have established a lineup of premier bowl games that will give our student-athletes a wonderful post-season experience and our fans the opportunity to travel to venues in the geographical footprint of the conference,” SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said in a news release.

Assigning SEC teams to those six games is a change from previous years.

Previously, bowls were in charge of selections and chose teams based on an established pecking order.

“This bowl process gives us the best opportunity to address several issues that impact SEC fans, including the creation of intriguing matchups, the accommodation of travel for fans, reduced ticket obligations for our schools and a variety of assignments to help prevent repetitive postseason destinations,” Slive said.

The SEC also announced it has renewed its relationship with the Birmingham Bowl and Advocare V100 Bowl in Shreveport, La., (vs. ACC).

Those bowls will make their SEC selection – if there are available bowl eligible teams — after assignments are handed out by the conference.

Impressive pass pro

Freshman Denver Kirkland hasn’t worked his way into the starting lineup after one week of preseason camp. But Kirkland has made an impression on his head coach.

“Denver Kirkland is probably the most efficient pass pro freshman I’ve ever seen,” Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said. “He may be one of the best on our team. His feet are incredibly gifted. He weighs 350, about 348 he told me he was down to (Friday).

“I’m just blown away by his athleticism and what he can do.”

The 6-foot-5 Kirkland is lining up with the second-team offense. Bielema already has said the Miami native and offensive tackle Dan Skipper are among the 10 freshmen he expects to play right away this season.

“Dan’s probably a little more advanced in the run game,” Bielema said.

Backup QB derby

Even though Brandon Allen has secured the No. 1 spot at quarterback, Arkansas is still working to sort out the rest of its depth chart at the position.

Junior AJ Derby worked with the second-team offense throughout the team’s first scrimmage, while Brian Buehner earned third-team work. Austin Allen and Damon Mitchell didn’t step on the field until late in the scrimmage.

Bielema said Derby “performed well” in completing 9 of 19 passes for 106 yards, showing improvement from the spring. So he said Derby remains the backup to Allen as the Razorbacks enter the second week of preseason camp.

“We didn’t give the two freshmen a lot of reps in front of you guys, but they’ve gotten a lot of reps during the course of the week,” Bielema said. “I’m very excited about it. AJ’s got (No. 2), but there’s not a distant third. I think they’re a close third.”

Arkansas No. 10 in apparel sales

The Razorbacks may not be ranked in preseason polls, but the Arkansas athletic department cracked the top 10 in one area for 2012-13

Arkansas is ranked 10th in Collegiate Licensing Company’s (CLC) list of top-selling institutions. It was the program’s highest ranking since becoming a CLC-represented institution in 1988. The rankings reflect royalties reported between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013 on all merchandise sold on behalf of CLC-represented institutions.

Texas was ranked No. 1 on the CLC list for the eighth straight year and was followed by Alabama, Notre Dame, Michigan, Kentucky, LSU, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Arkansas. Six SEC schools were among the top 10 in apparel sales and there were 11 ranked in the top 20 (Texas A&M –No. 12, Tennessee – No. 15, South Carolina – No. 16, Auburn – No. 18, and Missouri – No. 20).

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