Marc Tyler suspended for USC’s season opener — at least

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It was thought that, given his already-shaky standing with the USC football program, Marc Tyler could be facing some type of sanctions from the program for his alcohol-fueled (allegedly) monologue over the weekend.

And, as it turns out, that was exactly the case.

In a statement, head coach Lane Kiffin announced that, after a conversation with athletic director Pat Haden, the senior running back has been suspended for at least the season opener.  Additionally, he has been suspended from all team activities, meaning he will not be permitted to take part in voluntary summer workouts and his availability for the start of summer camp next month appears to be up in the air as well.

“I was very disappointed when I learned of Marc Tyler’s inappropriate comments that were captured by the media last week,” Kiffin said in a statement. “That is not the way that we expect our players to represent USC and our team.  I have consulted with athletic director Pat Haden and I am suspending Marc for our upcoming season opener and potentially further, and in the meantime I am also suspending him from all team activities.

“Although Marc may find this punishment severe, it is imperative we continue to have a high standard for player behavior.  Marc needs to work hard to show us that he can meet the standards of being a USC football player.”

Suffice to say, Kiffin’s boss has his employee’s back on the decision.

“We have very high expectations for all of our student-athletes at USC.  While the vast majority of our student-athletes act appropriately, Marc did not and stepped way out of line.  He did not represent himself, his university or his team the way we expect.   Marc has a lot to do to prove he belongs on our team.  We hope Marc learns from this and comes back a changed and better person.”

Tyler, who prior to his string of one-liners in front of the TMZ cameras was already awaiting a decision on disciplinary action following two previous offseason incidents, led the Trojans with 913 rushing yards and nine touchdowns in 2010.  Whether he will be permitted to repeat that feat in 2011 remains very much uncertain.

“I want to apologize for embarrassing USC, my teammates and coaches.  I am disappointed that I let down all the people who have supported me as I have been working through some personal issues.  After meeting today with Mr. Haden and Coach Kiffin, I realize how my behavior and my statements, even though I was joking, can reflect poorly on so many people.  As a veteran player, I should know that my job is to be an example for the younger guys.  I accept my punishment and I regret that I will miss the opening game of my senior year.   I am committed to doing everything the right way so that I can be reinstated to the team.”

Alabama QB Jalen Hurts uses photo of Clemson celebrating title win as motivational phone background

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Nick Saban said last week that the loss to Clemson in the the national championship game earlier this year is one that he’ll never get over, although he didn’t go so far as to compare it to a death in the family. One playing member of Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide team is taking to steps to ensure that he never forgets, either.

Jalen Hurts was the Tide’s talented true freshman starting quarterback who helped lead ‘Bama into the title game and, with a 30-yard touchdown run with just over two minutes left, gave his team a 31-28 lead. That lead was short-lived, however, as Deshaun Watson led his Tigers on an epic 88-yard drive that was capped by his two-yard touchdown pass with just one tick left on the clock for the 35-31 win.

The stunning last-second loss is something that Hurts makes a conscious effort to remind himself of daily as the rising sophomore, as the background on his smartphone, has a picture of Clemson players celebrating their win.

“We’re obviously all on our phones all the time,” Hurts said according to al.com after this past weekend’s spring game. “Every time I unlock it, it’s kind of a reminder. It kind of humbles me and keeps me motivated. …

“It’s not a grudge at all. It’s just something that keeps it on the back of your shoulder like, yeah, it’s still there. Remember why you’re doing it because at the end of the day, the goal for this team is to win the national championship.

Father of former Florida State WR Travis Rudolph killed in accidental shooting

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The father of Florida State wide receiver Travis Rudolph was killed Friday in an accidental shooting, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on Monday.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Darryl Rudolph was working on repairs inside a West Palm Beach, Fla., when a gun accidentally fired in an adjacent room, hitting him in the back/neck area. He was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 55 years old.

The younger Rudolph was Florida State’s leading receiver over the past two seasons before becoming an early-entrant into this week’s NFL Draft. He gained viral notoriety after a photo snapped of him sitting at lunch with an autistic elementary school student hit Facebook.

“When I used to coach and help other kids with football, basketball and sports, Travis was small but he used to pay attention to what I was doing,” the elder Rudolph said in an interview with ESPN last year. “I told them get your education. You can be the best athlete in the world, but without an education, you’re not going very far. That’s what Travis followed through on.”

LSU QB Danny Etling undergoes back surgery

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LSU quarterback Danny Etling has undergone surgery to relieve back pain, the program announced Monday.

“Danny had a minor back procedure this morning and everything went alright,” head coach Ed Orgeron said in a statement (and not in an Arrested Development way).

Etling has played through back pain for months, according to Ross Dellenger from The Advocate, and this procedure should remove that pain.

In a possibly related story, Etling went 4-of-11 for 53 yards in LSU’s spring game.

A transfer from Purdue, Etling appeared in 11 games for the Tigers last season, completing 160-of-269 passes (59.5 percent) for 2,123 yards (7.9 yards per attempt) with 11 touchdowns against five interceptions.

Etling’s recovery from Monday’s procedure is expected to be a short one.

Willie Taggart defends Oregon’s offseason workouts in interview

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Things got off to a rocky start for new Oregon head coach Willie Taggart. Among the issues Taggart was forced to deal with soon after accepting the job of head coach at Oregon was players falling ill during and after offseason workouts.

Three Ducks were hospitalized in January to treat symptoms of rhabdomyolysis, a product of overworking leading to soft tissue and possible kidney damage. Oregon suspended strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde following the hospital treatments to players, and questions about his certification were thrust under a microscope. Despite the unfortunate situation in Eugene, Taggart has defended his program’s workout routine in an interview with Stewart Mandel of FOXSports.com.

“We know we didn’t do anything to try to hurt our kids. We’d done [the same program] everywhere we’ve been and never had a problem,” Taggart explained in the interview. “I think our guys just overworked themselves and didn’t hydrate. … They were trying to impress the new coaches.”

It seems Taggart has been trying to raise the bar at Oregon and find a way to make his new players tougher overall. That is a common strategy for a new coach in a new program, so Taggart’s mission is not unique in that sense.

Maybe it was just a tough physical transition in the approach to workouts after years of Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich running the show. Will this all pay off in the end? Taggart sure hopes so.