Bobby Bowden’s message to FSU? ‘Stay in the ACC’

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One very powerful Florida State official — and the board he chairs — has publicly stated that his school should listen to overtures from the Big 12 if they come.  One former trustee has publicly stated that those overtures have already come, and they came from the Big 12.

On two occasions since all ‘Nole broke loose over the weekend, FSU president Eric Barron has attempted to tap the breaks on the rampant speculation, and has even made a very strong case to boosters and alumni for the athletic programs to remain in the ACC.  While it may not matter as much now as it would’ve even a few years ago, Barron’s pro-ACC stance has one big supporter in the form of the man responsible for turning the Seminoles football program into a national powerhouse.

In an interview that will air Sunday morning at 9 a.m. ET on the SiriusXM show College Sports from All Angles with Jack Arute, Arute asks ex-FSU head coach Bobby Bowden what his message would be to his former school in regards to future conference affiliation.  His response?  In essence, get your football program in better shape and get back to ruling the ACC before even thinking about moving to a higher-quality football conference.

“My message would be stay in the ACC,” Bowden told Arute in a transcript provided by SiriusXM. “Do you want to win a National Championship at Florida State?  You’ve got a better chance in the ACC than you have in the Big 12, or even the SEC.

“You say, ‘Well, gosh, they’re much stronger in those conferences.’  Yeah!  They beat up on each other and you can’t hardly get there.  You know what?  Florida State, wait ‘til you get good enough to rule the ACC then you start looking for someplace to jump.  But my opinion?  They should stay right where they are.”

Those comments will likely not sit well with FSU supporters, some (most?) of whom blame the current state of the football program on Bowden and his decision to “cling” to the job until being forced out after the 2009 season.

Like Barron, Bowden cited increased travel costs in other, non-revenue sports as a reason for FSU to stay right where it is.  He also disputed claims made by Derrick Brooks, the former FSU All-American linebacker and former school trustee who stated during a radio interview Wednesday that “[a]s far as I know, the Big 12 reached out to us.”

“All this talk about Florida State, it kinda tickles me because, in the first place, I don’t think the Big 12 has even talked to Florida State,” Bowden said. “I could be wrong.  I hear different opinions.

“I think the president of Florida State is correct.  Florida State, you’re in the ACC, it’s a nice solid conference.  Stay with them.  You know, I can’t see Florida State joining the Big 12 to gain three million dollars.  How much is it going to cost to fly the girls’ soccer team, the girls’ basketball team, the boys’ baseball team out to Norman, Oklahoma, or out to Kansas to play?  They’ll gobble that three million up so quick they won’t know what it’s like.  I think we need to stay right where our base is, that’s right here on the east coast.”

It remains to be seen whether the people who are actually still in power at the school and will ultimately make the decision on conference affiliation, up to and including the board of trustees, concur with the line of thinking put out there for public consumption by Bowden and Barron.

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.

Ohio State claims 2017 national championship… for spring game attendance

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For the third consecutive year, Ohio State is your national champion in the all-important category that is spring game attendance. The Buckeyes once again had the largest attendance for its spring game this month despite stadium renovations cutting out 20,000 seats from Ohio Stadium. After a weekend that saw Alabama and Penn State prove to be the final hurdles necessary to clear, the Buckeyes can once again boast about having the highest attendance this spring, for whatever that is worth.

Alabama (73,426), Penn State (71,000) and Georgia (66,133) made their final push to round-out the top five spring crowds this year over the weekend. The only power conference programs remaining on the spring game schedule are Arkansas, Oregon, Virginia, and UCLA this coming weekend. If you took the combined spring attendance of each of those schools, they would collectively fall shy of Ohio State’s spring crowd total for this season.

Spring Game Attendance Top 10 for 2017 (as of 4/24/2017)

  1. Ohio State – 80,134
  2. Nebraska – 78,312
  3. Alabama – 74,326
  4. Penn State – 71,000
  5. Georgia – 66,133
  6. Clemson – 60,000
  7. Michigan – 57,418
  8. Florida – 48,000
  9. Auburn – 46,331
  10. Oklahoma – 43,723

How valuable the attendance figures for the spring game varies from fanbase to fanbase, and even within each fanbase there is a wide range of opinion on what the significance of the spring game attendance really is. It does help inject some reason to be enthusiastic about the program on the recruiting trail, but it ultimately is open to interpretation just like so many other recruiting tools. Remember, the majority of schools out there hardly make an effort to promote their spring game and make it an event fans look forward to. There may be no conference that demonstrates the wide range of affection for the spring game than the Big Ten.

The Big Ten is led by Ohio State, Nebraska, Penn State and, recently, Michigan when it comes to spring game crowds, but then there is the curious case of Wisconsin. The Badgers have a loyal following, but have not cracked the 10,000-fan mark since 2014, when I began tracking spring game attendance figures. Northwestern has never even kept track of its spring scrimmage numbers, and neither has Indiana for the past three years.

You can check the updated spring game attendance numbers and sort them by conference HERE.