Texas unveils revamped staff, ‘Longhorn Network’ logo

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An offseason rife with upheaval, from the coaching staff to the move to a deep-pocketed television partner, came full circle for Texas Sunday as the school went public with both a new on-field and off-field look.

Based on the early returns, Longhorn Nation — Presented by ESPN — might want to focus on the latter rather than the former.  Especially when it comes to the all-important quarterback position.

In 2010, and in his first year as the heir to the signal-caller throne vacated by current Cleveland Brown and future Super Bowl-winning QB Colt McCoy, Garrett Gilbert tossed 17 interceptions against just 10 touchdowns, playing a significant role in the startling 5-7  record a year removed from a title-game appearance.  Given the opportunity in a nationally-televised spring game to help begin to erase that nightmare first season, Gilbert apparently instead added to future night terrors.

Especially when you factor Gilbert working against the No. 2 defense into the equation.

Quarterback Garrett Gilbert — competing for the starter’s job with three others — struggled for much of his first few series despite being given almost every advantage imaginable. He worked with the first-team offense against backups on defense, and he worked with a wind instead of against it. Despite all of those things, he came up short twice in the red zone and unleashed a terribly underthrown interception.

Gulp.  Another McCoy, anyone?

On the other side of the ball, the Longhorns’ first-team defense allowed a unit quarterbacked by Case McCoy and featuring several walk-ons to mount a long touchdown drive.

Of course, it’s merely spring, a full five months ahead of the start of the 2011 season.  Nothing concrete can be learned from a vanilla-themed game.  Coming off an abysmal 2010 season, however, Gilbert’s performance is alarming to say the least.

On the positive tip, though, UT unveiled both their new network name and its accompanying logo.

Ahead of their spring game, the school announced that their TV network born of a nine-figure financial consummation with ESPN will be called — in a stroke of genius that nobody saw coming — “The Longhorn Network”.  For the $300 million the WWL will shell out over the next 20 years, the network will get…

…at least one exclusive football game, eight men’s basketball games, women’s basketball coverage of games not televised elsewhere, and Olympic sports coverage. There will also be pregame and postgame shows for football and basketball games, coaches’ shows for every sport Texas sponsors and other daily programming. Plans call for 200 events a year.

There’s a possibility that UT’s season opener against Rice will be broadcast on the network, which is expected to launch sometime in late August and before the early September opener.  No word yet on, given the current state of the QB position, whether the theme of that launch will be “Must-Flee TV”.

Former LSU QB Brandon Harris announces commitment to UNC

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Former LSU quarterback Brandon Harris has found himself a new home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Harris announced via Facebook and Twitter he has chosen to commit to North Carolina.

“Obviously, it has been an important time for me, looking for a great situation and another opportunity to grow as a young man and as a student as well as a football player,” Harris said in his statement. “After my [official] visit this weekend to the University of North Carolina, I’m going to get that opportunity. With that being said, I’m fully committed to UNC this upcoming year and I look forward to the opportunity to play for coach [Larry Fedora] and UNC.”

Harris will be eligible to play for UNC immediately this fall after graduating from LSU this summer, and the timing may not be better for Harris. UNC is losing its starting quarterback (Mitch Trubisky) to the NFL and has a wide open spot to fill in the starting lineup as a result. But the job will not automatically go to Harris upon his arrival at UNC after missing out on spring practices at North Carolina.

Harris played in just four games last season, in which he passed for 139 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions. Since the season-opener against Wisconsin, Harris was reduced to backup duty and did not play in any of LSU’s seven final games of the 2016 season, including the bowl game against Louisville. Harris announced his decision to transfer in February, which was pretty much expected given how last season played out amid a coaching change.

Report: Foot injury puts Georgia WR Riley Ridley on sideline for spring

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Georgia wide receiver Riley Ridley has not been practicing this spring, but it has nothing to do with his offseason misdemeanor from a couple of weeks ago. Instead, a foot injury appears to have sidelined Ridley for the spring.

According to a report from Gridiron Now, Ridley has been out due to the foot injury. When the foot injury occurred is not reported. Even if his foot was not injured, it remains unknown if Ridley would be participating int he spring, at least at this point. Georgia head coach Kirby Smart has said Ridley will be internally disciplined for his misdemeanor pot possession from earlier this month.

“He’ll receive discipline,” Smart said. “We are very disappointed in his decision. We do not condone that behavior. I think Riley is going to learn a valuable lesson from this mistake.”

When Ridley may be available again remains unknown, as does what exactly the punishment to him will be from Smart. A one-game suspension is the expected result for Ridley according to the university’s student-athlete handbook.

USF DB Hassan Childs in stable condition after overnight shooting incident

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USF defensive back Hassan Childs was injured in a shooting incident overnight. Fortunately, Childs is currently said to be in stable condition, according to USF.

“We are deeply concerned that an incident occurred overnight in which one of our guys, Hassan Childs, was injured in a shooting,” a statement from USF head coach Charlie Strong said. “Thankfully, Hassan is in stable condition and being well cared for, and no one else was injured. There is an ongoing investigation of the incident and we are in the process of gathering further information.”

The shooting took place off campus, but details about the incident have not been reported.

Childs played in eight games for the Bulls last year. He recorded 16 tackles and returned two punts for three yards in a backup role.

Turner Field on schedule to be ready for Georgia State season opener

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The Atlanta Braves opened the doors to their brand new baseball stadium over the weekend to fans as the baseball team gets ready to open the 2017 season in their new digs. Meanwhile, at the old home of the Braves, Georgia State University is moving along according to schedule in downsizing and renovating Turner Field to serve as the permanent home of the football program. So far, so good, as the university fully anticipates the stadium will be ready to go for the season opener on August 31 against Tennessee State.

The job that’s being done is incredible,” Athletic Director Charlie Cobb told 11Alive. “Each and every time I walk in, I see something new being done.”

Renovation and construction at Turner Field got started in February. The entire project will be done in phases as the university plans to develop around thew football stadium for an expanding university. As far as the stadium goes, the seating capacity will be retrofitted to hold a capacity of 23,000 fans. That will be the first phase of the master plan, with a second phase to complete building the rest of the stadium and add additional seating for fans.

“We plan on doing some unique things capturing the history of the stadium, but also creating a football facility that speaks to Georgia State,” Cobb said. “One of the stories we want to tell is the fact that it went from being an Olympic venue, to the home of the Braves, and now to the home of Georgia State. I think we can write that third chapter.”

Georgia State previously played its home games in the Georgia Dome, the now former home of the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL. The Falcons are also moving into a new football stadium this season. The Falcons’ new home at Mercedes-Benz Stadium will also welcome some college football action to the stadium this season with the annual Chick-fil-A Kickoff will move to the new stadium from the Georgia Dome. This year’s Chick-fil-A Kickoff features Alabama and Florida State on September 2 and Georgia Tech and Tennessee on September 4. The SEC Championship Game and the Peach Bowl will also be hosted in the new stadium and the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship Game will be played there on January 8, 2018.

Georgia State may have their new home, but perhaps one day they will get to play in the new stadium too.