Juron Criner, Darian Hagan

Ailing mother likely led to Criner speculation

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After a month’s worth of speculation that Juron Criner could miss summer camp — or perhaps even the season — due to what was described in one report as “undisclosed medical reasons“, Arizona head coach Mike Stoops said last week that his all-conference wide receiver is “fine… ready to go” and that the football program “anticipates having Juron” for both camp and the season.

On Tuesday at the Pac-12’s media days, Stoops added a litle clarity to the situation by further expounding on what he said a week ago, that it was a situation involving a close family member which led to the rumors.

His mom has been really sick,” Stoops said according to the Tucson Citizen. “It really bothered him, so we just gave him time to go home and spend time with her.”

Criner recently returned to the school and has been participating in voluntary summer workouts.  Regardless of exactly why he was gone, his teammates are just glad to have him back.  While acknowledging his greatness as a player on the field, starting quarterback Nick Foles espoused the off-field greatness of his teammate as well.

“But what everybody doesn’t see is the off-the-field stuff you do in the weight room and the locker room,” Foles said. “And when we didn’t have him there, it just felt like you were missing your buddy. Just to have him there in workouts, it’s like having a family member back.

“Having him there just feels right. I don’t know how else to put it. I know he’s talented, but I care more about him as a person than a player.”

As good of a person as Criner is off the field, the Wildcats could surely use him on it as the senior was far and away UA’s leading receiver in 2010, posting 82 receptions for 1,233 yards and 11 touchdowns during a season that ended with first-team All-Pac-10 honors.

Ole Miss OT Laremy Tunsil to return for Texas A&M on Oct. 24

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As if this day wasn’t busy enough, Ole Miss announced late Monday evening star-crossed offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil‘s suspension has been capped at seven games, meaning he’ll miss Saturday’s trip to Memphis but return in time for Texas A&M visit to The Grove on Oct. 24.

From the university:

The University initially withheld Tunsil from competition at the start of the season as both the NCAA and the University examined several alleged improper benefits.  During the course of the process, it was determined by the NCAA that Tunsil received impermissible extra benefits that included the use of three separate loaner vehicles over a sixth-month period without payment, a four-month interest-free promissory note on a $3,000 down payment for purchasing a used vehicle, two nights of lodging at a local home, an airline ticket purchased by a friend of a teammate, and one day use of a rental vehicle.  In addition, it was determined that Tunsil was not completely forthcoming when initially questioned by NCAA investigators regarding the loaner vehicles.  He later corrected his account and since apologized. 

As part of his reinstatement conditions, the NCAA imposed a seven-game suspension, ordered Tunsil to pay the value of the extra benefits to a charity, perform community service, and he will also make the vehicle down payment.

Said Tunsil: “I take full responsibility for the mistakes I made and want to thank everyone for their continued support. I want to apologize to my teammates, coaches and the entire Ole Miss family for how my choices affected our program. This was a learning experience, and I’m looking forward to being back on the field with my team and redeeming myself. The last 10 months have been a physical and mental battle for me, but I love playing this game more than anything else. I want to be here for my teammates who are depending on me to finish what we started together.”

The news is, obviously, great for Tunsil and head coach Hugh Freeze personally, as well as the entire Ole Miss football program. It’s also a nice plus for NFL scouts, as it means Tunsil’s first live action of 2015 will come against possible future No. 1 draft pick Myles Garrett.

Hope he’s been practicing.

Report: Steve Spurrier set to retire

Steve Spurrier

Say it ain’t so, Steve.

According to a report from Thayer Evans of Sports Illustrated Monday evening, Steve Spurrier is set to retire.

Spurrier, 70, is a legend the likes college football has never seen before and never will again.

He was a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback at Florida, then returned to his alma mater and turned the program into a juggernaut, leading the Gators to 122-27-1 record from 1990-01 and a national championship in 1996. After a stint with the NFL’s Washington Redskins, Spurrier landed at South Carolina, where since 2005 he’s racked up a school record 86 wins.

But those wins slowed down of late. After an SEC East championship in 2010 and three straight 11-2 seasons from 2011-13, the Gamecocks fell to 7-6 in 2014, and are off to a 2-4 mark this fall. With the possibility of losses to nemeses old and new like Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Florida and Clemson ahead, Spurrier, it appears, would rather fade away quietly to the putting green.

Perhaps no two sentences summarize Spurrier, then and now, more precisely than this:

Combined with his three years at Duke, Spurrier closes up shop with a 228-89-2 mark, and a bust in the coaches’ wing of the Hall of Fame waiting for him.