Spurrier lobs a coupla barbs Saban’s, UGA’s way

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If you’re looking for a solid indicator of how Steve Spurrier feels about his ball team’s prospects for the upcoming season, just listen to the Ol’ Ball Coach talk.  Specifically, listen to how the South Carolina head coach talks about — or take jabs at — the opposition.

Using that theory, and based on one interview, Spurrier is feeling pretty damn frisky about the 2012 edition of his Gamecocks.

In a wide-ranging talk with ESPN.com SEC blogger Chris Low, the OBC was asked about his counterpart at defending national champion Alabama and a change in schedule involving Georgia.  Like a middle schooler with a pair of pigtails dangling in front of him, Spurrier simply couldn’t resist giving a little tug to both.

First, when asked about his thoughts on Nick Saban and the job he’s done at Alabama:

““He’s got a nice little gig going, a little bit like Calipari. He tells guys, ‘Hey, three years from now, you’re going to be a first-round pick and go.’ If he wants to be the greatest coach or one of the greatest coaches in college football, to me, he has to go somewhere besides Alabama and win, because they’ve always won there at Alabama.” 

That’s right, Spurrier tweaked Saban by comparing him to Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari, who’s roundly criticized on most fronts for bringing in five-star recruits as one-and-done’s before they shuffle off to the NBA.  Three Tide players — Trent RichardsonDont’a Hightower and Dre Kirkpatrickleft school early for April’s NFL draft.  The Gamecocks?  Spurrier had two make the early leap — Alshon Jeffery and Stephon Gilmore.

Of course, picking that particular nit wouldn’t much faze Spurrier — who may or may not have been shirtless for the interview — or impact his decision to mildly tweak Saban with a Calipari comparison.

As if that weren’t enough, Spurrier in that three-sentence quote said, in essence, that just about anybody could win in Tuscaloosa, conveniently forgetting the likes of the two Mikes — Shula and DuBose — as the prime recent arguments against his thesis.

And, believe it or not, that wasn’t even the biggest tweak of the conversation.  Rather, Spurrier saved that for long-time rival Georgia when asked about the UGA-USC game being moved to later on in the season from its normal slot the second weekend:

“I don’t know. I sort of always liked playing them that second game because you could always count on them having two or three key players suspended.”

Somewhere, Stephen Garcia is having himself a good chuckle.  And a lukewarm PBR.

Someone else having a good chuckle?  The man in charge of the program the barb was directed at.

“How bout that. I think that’s funny. That sounds like Steve,” said an apparently amused UGA head coach Mark Richt, who sports a 4-3 mark against the Bulldogs’ SEC East rival since Spurrier became head coach.

Love him, hate him or utterly despise him, the game of college football’s a better one when the OBC is involved — and yanking chains.  Somewhat related to that topic, Spurrier also addressed how long he intends to stay on the sidelines with visor in the fully-cocked position.  As usual, the 66-year-old coach (he’ll turn 67 April 20th) wouldn’t pin himself down to a precise timeline for stepping away, although he did hint to a high school recruit that he’ll be around for a few more years.

““I used to think 60 [when he would retire]. When I was 55, I’d say four or five more years. When I got to 60, I’d say four or five more. And when I got to 65, I started saying three or four more. I’ll tell you what. We had a good-looking quarterback come through on Junior Day, and I wrote him a letter and said, ‘If you come here, you might extend my coaching career two or three years.’ ”

Here’s to hoping that career extension comes with or without landing the unnamed QB prospect.

Ex-Texas All-Big 12 defensive tackle takes DL coaching job at Baylor

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Baylor’s latest coaching addition is a very familiar name in the state of Texas.

BU confirmed Wednesday evening that Frank Okam has been added to Matt Rhule‘s coaching staff.  Okam, who was a Freshman All-American and two-time All-Big 12 defensive tackle at Texas from 2004-07, will coach the Bears’ defensive line.

“Frank is a living embodiment of everything the young men in our program should want to accomplish,” the head coach said in a statement. “He’s a college graduate, an All-American, a Big 12 champion, a national champion, a NFL draft pick and then he continued life after football earning his master’s degree from Rice and is now one of the top young football coaches in the country.

“We are excited to have Coach Okam on staff and for him to mentor our defensive line group and help take them to the next level.”

The 32-year-old Okam, who went to high school in Dallas, spent the past four seasons at Rice, the last two as the Owls’ line coach.  This will mark Okam’s first coaching job at a Power Five program.

Longtime ESPN play-by-play man Mike Patrick announces retirement

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ESPN’s roster of college football play-by-play announcers suffered a high number of attrition of late. Brent Musburger retired. Brad Nessler replaced Verne Lundquist at CBS. Sean McDonough moved to Monday Night Football. Now the dean of ESPN’s Saturday voices is going away, too.

Mike Patrick announced his retirement on Wednesday, ending a 32-year run that began in 1982, three years after the network launched.

“It’s wonderful to reflect on how I’ve done exactly what I wanted to do with my life,” Patrick said. “At the same time, I’ve had the great pleasure of working with some of the very best people I’ve ever known, both on the air and behind the scenes. While I’m not sure exactly what’s next for me, I’m looking forward to continuing my journey with new life experiences.”

His biggest assignment came as the voice of ESPN’s Sunday Night Football from 1987 until the package moved to NBC after the 2005 season, but outside of that he was one of the Worldwide Leader’s leading college sports voices. He was the lead voice on the network’s ACC basketball package, he called the Women’s Final Four for a decade and a half, and he was a leading voice on the College World Series and served as the play-by-play man for ESPN’s Thursday night and Saturday night packages, before ESPN turned its Saturday primetime window into the top package owned by the network.

You may remember this moment.

ESPN will say goodbye to Patrick through a pre-recorded tribute voiced by Rece Davis airing throughout the day on SportsCenter and a tribute during the network’s coverage of the Louisville vs. Duke basketball game tonight (9 p.m. ET).

Heisman winner Chris Weinke hired as Tennessee’s running backs coach

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It can be argued that the only reason Tennessee has a national championship is because of Chris Weinke. As we know, the Vols claimed the 1998 national championship by defeating Florida State in the 1999 Fiesta Bowl, the first national championship game of the BCS era. Tennessee won that game, 23-16, thanks in large part to a pick-six thrown by Marcus Outzen, a third-string quarterback forced into action due to an injury by the two signal callers ahead of him on the depth chart.

Here’s how a Sports Illustrated article described Weinke and that FSU team in its 1999 preview issue:

Don’t think of 1999 as a new season for Florida State, think of it as the resumption of an old one. Before quarterback Chris Weinke was dumped on his head and suffered a season-ending ruptured disk in his neck in a 45-14 win over Virginia last Nov. 7, no team in the country was playing better than the Seminoles, who had bounced back from an early-season defeat at North Carolina State. So how cruel was this? Upset losses suffered by Ohio State, UCLA and Kansas State sent 11-1 Florida State to the national title game in the Fiesta Bowl, but without its best quarterback. The Seminoles and backup signal-caller Marcus Outzen struggled on offense and lost to Tennessee.

Nevertheless, Tennessee won that season’s title, Weinke would lead Florida State to the 1999 national title and take the Heisman Trophy a year after that. The past is the past.

But now the past is the present, as the former Florida State quarterback on Wednesday was announced as Tennessee’s running backs coach.

“I’m excited to have Chris Weinke on our staff to coach running backs,” Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt said in a statement. “He has played the game at the highest level and what he has accomplished on the field speaks for itself. He is also an outstanding coach and teacher of the game, coaching in the NFL, in college this past season and at the high school level. He has a great eye for talent and knows the game on the offensive side of the ball as well as anybody I’ve been around. He will be a great fit for our Tennessee program.”

Weinke entered the NFL as a 26-year-old and lasted seven seasons with the Panthers and 49ers before moving into coaching. He first worked as a trainer at IMG Academy, then moved onto coaching the high school program, where he went 19-2 as head coach and offensive coordinator. From there he deposited a stint as the Los Angeles Rams’ quarterbacks coach before spending the 2017 season as an offensive analyst at Alabama, where he hooked up with Pruitt.

Weinke will be charged with re-building the Vols’ backfield after losing John Kelly to an early entry into the NFL draft. Rising sophomore Ty Chandler is Tennessee’s leading returning rusher, carrying 71 times for 305 yards and two touchdowns in 2017.

Report: starting West Virginia defensive lineman Adam Shuler leaving to pursue career in track

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You don’t see this happen too often.

Citing multiple sources, Mike Casazza of EerSports.com is reporting that West Virginia defensive lineman Adam Shuler is no longer a member of the Mountaineers football team.  A team official stated the redshirt sophomore “is reportedly pursuing a career in track and field,” Casazza wrote.

It’s unclear whether the track & field pursuit would take place at WVU or at another university.

According to Shuler’s bio on the team’s official website, he finished runner-up as a high school senior in the discus at the Florida state track & field championships.  He finished third in the same event as a sophomore.

Shuler, a three-star member of the Mountaineers’ 2015 recruiting class, started 10 games this past season.  However, on the most recent depth chart, he’s listed as the backup to Ezekiel Rose at one of the defensive end spots.

In 12 games, Shuler’s three sacks were tied for third on the team while his eight tackles for loss were good for solo third.