It didn’t take long after Will Muschamp was hired as Florida’s new head coach for the speculation connecting Kirby Smart to Gainesville to begin in earnest.
A day after Muschamp was tabbed as Urban Meyer‘s successor, reports began to surface that Smart had been offered the coordinator job on Muschamp’s UF coaching staff. That connecting of the dots made perfect sense; Muschamp and the Alabama defensive coordinator have worked together at a couple of coaching stops the past two decades, are long-time friends and remain very close.
Ultimately it was reported that Smart was leaning toward staying with the Tide. As Nick Saban does not normally allow access to his assistants, Smart has been mum, at least publicly, on joining his friend with the Gators. That changed Thursday as Smart addressed the media for the first time since the rumors surfaced and attempted to snuff out the speculation.
Asked if he and Muschamp had discussed working together again, Smart gave the ever popular “not really” denial.
“That’s kind of a gray statement there, informal conversation,” Smart said. “Will and I talk all the time. He’s one of my best friends. I’ve known him for more than 20 years now. And he and I talk a lot, but not really about me coaching with him, no.”
Smart did intimate that, when he does move on from the Tide, it will likely be for heading his own football program as opposed to making a lateral move that his current boss so frowns upon.
“Yeah, obviously that’s the next step I’d like to take is to be a head coach,” Smart said. “I’m at a great place now. My wife and my family, we’re all happy at the University of Alabama. Coach (Nick) Saban’s been very good to me, and the University of Alabama’s been very good.”
All of the speculation surrounding Smart and Florida should come to an end, one way or the other, next week; UF athletic director Jeremy Foley said Wednesday that most or all of Muschamp’s coaching staff should be in place by Tuesday.
For the third consecutive year, Ohio State is your national champion in the all-important category that is spring game attendance. The Buckeyes once again had the largest attendance for its spring game this month despite stadium renovations cutting out 20,000 seats from Ohio Stadium. After a weekend that saw Alabama and Penn State prove to be the final hurdles necessary to clear, the Buckeyes can once again boast about having the highest attendance this spring, for whatever that is worth.
Alabama (73,426), Penn State (71,000) and Georgia (66,133) made their final push to round-out the top five spring crowds this year over the weekend. The only power conference programs remaining on the spring game schedule are Arkansas, Oregon, Virginia, and UCLA this coming weekend. If you took the combined spring attendance of each of those schools, they would collectively fall shy of Ohio State’s spring crowd total for this season.
Spring Game Attendance Top 10 for 2017 (as of 4/24/2017)
- Ohio State – 80,134
- Nebraska – 78,312
- Alabama – 74,326
- Penn State – 71,000
- Georgia – 66,133
- Clemson – 60,000
- Michigan – 57,418
- Florida – 48,000
- Auburn – 46,331
- Oklahoma – 43,723
How valuable the attendance figures for the spring game varies from fanbase to fanbase, and even within each fanbase there is a wide range of opinion on what the significance of the spring game attendance really is. It does help inject some reason to be enthusiastic about the program on the recruiting trail, but it ultimately is open to interpretation just like so many other recruiting tools. Remember, the majority of schools out there hardly make an effort to promote their spring game and make it an event fans look forward to. There may be no conference that demonstrates the wide range of affection for the spring game than the Big Ten.
The Big Ten is led by Ohio State, Nebraska, Penn State and, recently, Michigan when it comes to spring game crowds, but then there is the curious case of Wisconsin. The Badgers have a loyal following, but have not cracked the 10,000-fan mark since 2014, when I began tracking spring game attendance figures. Northwestern has never even kept track of its spring scrimmage numbers, and neither has Indiana for the past three years.
You can check the updated spring game attendance numbers and sort them by conference HERE.
Last season, Jeff James was one of seven players suspended for Miami’s Russell Athletic Bowl game against West Virginia. Nearly four months later, he’s gone.
In a press release, Miami announced that the defensive back “is no longer a member of the football program.” No reason was given for the nephew of former Hurricane great Edgerrin James deciding to leave The U.
“I talked to Jeff and we both felt it was in his best interests to get a fresh start somewhere else,” head coach Mark Richt said in a statement released by the school. “We wish him all the best in his future plans.”
James was a three-star member of UM’s 2016 recruiting class. 247Sports.com had the Orlando high school product rated as the No. 112 safety in the country and the No. 1,678 player in its composite rankings.
The defensive back played in one game as a true freshman, the season-opening win over FCS Florida A&M.
Not surprisingly, D’Antne Demery‘s time Between the Hedges was a brief one.
Earlier Sunday, reports surfaced that the 2017 Georgia signee had been arrested Saturday night in downtown Athens on misdemeanor charges of criminal trespass and simple battery. The alleged victim, the mother of Demery’s one-year-old child, accused the recruit of assaulting her twice, the first time, after a verbal argument, by “grabbing her on the back of her neck… pushing her against the wall, and also grabbing her by the hair” and the second after allegedly throwing her.
Not surprisingly, UGA subsequently announced in a press release that Demery has been released from his signed National Letter of Intent. In other words, he has been summarily dismissed from Kirby Smart‘s football program.
Demery was a four-star 2017 recruit, rated as the No. 20 offensive tackle in the country; the No. 22 player at any position in the state of Georgia; and the No. 204 on 247Sports.com‘s composite board. Th 6-5, 319-pound lineman was one of 18 four-star players in Smart’s second recruiting class at the school.
After signing in February, Demery had been scheduled to report with the rest of the incoming freshmen in June.
Tom Herman has made his share of news since his late November arrival in Austin, but Saturday evening was probably the first time his Big 12 and national rivals perked up and took notice of the new Texas head coach for something that will happen on the field of play.
The Longhorns landed a commitment from Newbury Park, Calif., quarterback Cameron Rising, which would be news in and of itself. The 6-foot-3 signal caller is rated the No. 3 pro-style quarterback and No. 52 player nationally by Rivals for the class of 2018, making him the highest-rated player in Texas’s 4-man class.
But Rising’s pledge is especially notable for where he was already committed: Oklahoma. Rising had been committed to Oklahoma since August and publicly firmed up his pledge as recently as January. “I’m extremely happy (with the decision),” Rising said at the time. “The program is so good, they’re moving in the right direction. They had a slow start but then they picked it up and it was like a warm nice through butter.”
Herman’s tweet brings up an interesting point: the quarterback Oklahoma is most likely to target to replace Rising is the other Texas quarterback pledge.
Casey Thompson, hailing from Moore, Okla., became the first Texas quarterback commitment just nine days before Rising. Beyond just living in the Sooner State, Thompson is also the son of a former Sooner and the brother of another.
In fact, Oklahoma waisted no time in reaching out to Thompson. “OU hit me up already,” Thompson told Burnt Orange Nation, but Thompson indicated Herman and company told him ahead of time Texas would sign two quarterbacks.
And in a note the Texas coaches have likely reminded Thompson of in the past 24 hours, they offered Thompson before Rising. “Me and the [Texas] coaches have a very good relationship. I knew they planned to take 2 from the jump. Their current QB room is thin!”
Oklahoma may very well retaliate to Herman’s plunder with a steal of their own. But the point is Herman has arrived in the Red River Recruiting Wars, and he’s playing to win.