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.

NC State board approves new deal for Dave Doeren

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In late November, after rejecting overtures from Tennessee in order to remain at North Carolina State, Dave Doeren agreed to a new contract with the university, pending the board rubber-stamping the agreement. This past week, that rubber met the stamp.

NC State confirmed that, on Thursday, the system’s Board of Trustees formally approved the new five-year deal for Doeren. The head coach’s new contract will now keep him with the Wolfpack through Dec. 31, 2022.

“We are on an exciting upward trajectory in football under the leadership of Coach Doeren,” said NC State athletic director Debbie Yow said in a statement. “He has assembled a terrifically talented coaching staff, as well, and that continuity and stability has been important to our current student-athletes and recruits.

“We are pleased that Dave will continue to lead NC State football, playing in one of the most challenging divisions in college football, the Atlantic Division of the ACC.”

In five seasons with the Wolfpack, the 46-year-old Doeren has compiled a 34-30 record, including a 15-25 mark in ACC play. The 2017 season was his best of the five, with a 9-4 overall mark that saw NC State finish in second place in the Atlantic after divisional finishes of seventh, fifth, fourth and tied-fourth the first four.

Under Doeren, the Wolfpack has played in a bowl game each of the last four seasons, posting a 3-1 mark in the postseason.

Nebraska clinches spring game attendance crown, Georgia pushes past Alabama

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Georgia got its revenge on Alabama on Saturday, I guess. Months after letting a lead slip away in the national championship game, Georgia wiggled past Alabama in the spring game attendance standings on Saturday but the Dawgs still had to settle for second place overall. A record crowd at Nebraska led to the Cornhusker faithful having the highest attendance for a spring game this season.

Nebraska set a school record on Saturday with 86,818 fans attending the spring game in Lincoln, the first under new head coach Scott Frost. It was the first time Nebraska recorded a crowd over 80,000 during the past five years. Nebraska surged to the top of the Big Ten spring attendance standings as well, and stayed comfortably ahead after Penn State recorded an estimated 71,000 fans at its spring game on Saturday. Ohio State had led the Big Ten the previous three years but stadium renovations limited Ohio State to 79,000 available seats this year at Ohio Stadium, and weather and schedule adjustments to the spring game resulted in a crowd of 47,803 for Ohio State’s spring game.

The SEC once again dominated spring game attendance numbers this year. With LSU and Mississippi State numbers still pending, the SEC has five schools in the top 10 in spring game attendance as of today; Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, and Texas A&M. As a conference, the SEC eclipsed the 400,000-fan mark for the fourth time in the last five years. Although the Big Ten is typically the second best conference in cumulative spring game attendance, the conference’s number took a big dip this season thanks to weather issues across the conference. Still, the number pulled in by Nebraska, Penn State, and Ohio State helped keep the Big Ten in second place ahead of the ACC.

Keep in mind spring game attendance is treated differently by every school, and the numbers often include estimates so the accuracy can be questioned. Even though there are still a handful of spring games left, none will rival the numbers put up today.

The updated top 10 is listed below, and a full database of spring game attendance can be found here (complete with conference breakdowns and a five-year record of spring game attendance figures by school).

2018 Spring Game Attendance Top 10

  1. Nebraska – 86,818
  2. Georgia – 82,184
  3. Alabama – 74,732
  4. Penn State – 71,000
  5. Tennessee – 65,098
  6. Florida State – 60,934
  7. Clemson – 55,000
  8. Florida – 53,015
  9. Oklahoma – 52,102
  10. Texas A&M – 48,129

Jeremy Pruitt felt some Tennessee players ‘flat out quit’ in spring game

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New Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruit has a message to his players and Tennessee fans. If you are going to enter Neyland Stadium, you better be prepared to work.

Following Tennessee’s spring game in Knoxville, Pruitt reflected on his first spring game as head coach with the media and he was not about to let anyone off the hook for a mediocre performance in the spring game. One thing you never want to hear from a head coach is that some of his players seemingly quit. That was the case for Pruitt today, without naming any specific players.

Even fans received some gripes from the new head coach.

Tennessee estimated a total of 65,098 fans came out to watch the Tennessee spring game, which is an impressive total and right around the average Tennessee typically draws for the spring game. But the crowd buzz must not have impressed Pruitt, who could be setting the tone for the fans in the fall in hopes they turn things up a bit once the games actually matter.

The same message is now being sent to the entire team. Pruitt has a high standard in mind, which is to be expected after being an assistant at Alabama. Was Pruitt truly this displeased with his team’s effort in the spring game? Or was he simply trying to play things down in order to let his players know there will be no room for poor efforts?

Jalen Hurts speculation about to run wild after shaky spring game at Alabama

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If Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts was looking to build a case for taking the starting job for the Crimson Tide in 2018, he may have to rely on more than his performance in the spring game. Hurts turned in a sub-par performance in Alabama’s spring game on Saturday afternoon, leaving the door wide open for some speculation about his future as Alabama’s spring comes to a close.

Hurts completed 19 of his 37 pass attempts for 195 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. He also was sacked seven times. With Tua Tagovailoa out of action due to injury, Hurts was outperformed by redshirt freshman Mac Jones, who completed 23 of 35 passes for 289 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Jones was also intercepted once and was sacked six times. Of the two quarterbacks, Jones had the more inspiring performance.

Rumors speculating Hurts may end up looking to transfer will only continue to ignore following this spring, especially with Tagovailoa going into the offseason as the new hero in town after guiding Alabama back in the national championship game. It should be worth noting, however, a transfer for Hurts is not guaranteed to happen. That won’t stop fans and media from figuring out what will be next for Hurts.

Hurts’ dad recently suggested his son would be college football’s biggest free agent on the transfer market if he ended up losing the quarterback battle in Tuscaloosa. That may be a slight exaggeration, but there is no question Hurts would have plenty of potential and skill to offer any program he would potentially move to if he decides to leave Alabama. Alabama head coach Nick Saban tried to cool the tension by suggesting there is no reason to be concerned about the whole situation.

But this is Alabama we’re talking about. The Hurts watch is now in full force in Tuscaloosa, whether Saban likes it or not.