Nick Saban

2013 spring practice dates

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The curtain on the 2012 season fell just a little over a month ago, but teams are already in the process of gearing up for the 2013 season with the annual college football rite of spring.

As was the case last year, Army will be the first to both open its allotted set of 15 spring practice sessions in mid-February and hold its annual spring game in early March.  While a handful of schools will also open the spring in either February or April, most of the rest will do so in March.

This year, just one program — Georgia State — will be conducting its final spring practice at the FCS level before jumping up to the FBS.  The Panthers will move to the Sun Belt Conference in the first year after the retirement of head coach Bill Curry.

There are, however, more than a dozen teams that will be holding one last spring practice as “members” of one conference before officially moving to a new one July 1:

— Pittsburgh and Syracuse (from the Big East to the ACC)
— UCF, Houston, Memphis and SMU (from Conference USA to the Big East)
— Louisiana Tech and UT-San Antonio (from the WAC to Conference USA)
— FAU, FIU, Middle Tennessee State and North Texas (from the Sun Belt to Conference USA)
— Utah State and San Jose State (from the WAC to Mountain West)
— Texas State (from the WAC to the Sun Belt)
— Idaho and New Mexico State (from the WAC to football independents)

Below the jump is a list of the start dates for each individual school plus the date of its spring game, separated by conferences.  Some programs have yet to announce their spring dates, so we will add them to this list as they become available:

ACC

Boston College: first practice — Feb. 28; spring game — April 13
Clemson: first practice — March 6; spring game — April 13
Duke: first practice — March 4; spring game — April 13
Florida State: first practice — March 20; spring game — April 13
Georgia Tech: first practice — March 25; spring game — April 19
Maryland: first practice — March 2; spring game — April 12
Miami: first practice — March 2; spring game — April 13
North Carolina: first practice — March 6; spring game — April 13
North Carolina State: first practice — March 24; spring game — April 20
Virginia: first practice — March 16; spring game — April 2
Virginia Tech: first practice — March 27; spring game — April 20
Wake Forest: first practice — March 19; spring game — April 20

BIG EAST

Cincinnati: first practice — March 5; final practice — April 13 (no spring game)
Louisville: first practice — March 20; spring game — April 13
Pittsburgh: first practice — March 5; spring game — April 12
Rutgers: first practice — March 26; spring game — April 27
Syracuse: first practice — March 19; spring game — April 20
Temple: first practice — March 22; spring game — April 20
UConn: first practice — March 11; spring game — April 20
USF: first practice — March 20; spring game — April 13

BIG TEN

Illinois: first practice — March 5; spring game — April 12
Indiana: first practice — March 2; spring game — April 13
Iowa: first practice — March 27; spring game — April 27
Michigan: first practice — March 16; spring game — April 13
Michigan State: first practice — March 19; spring game — April 20
Minnesota: first practice — March 27; spring practice — April 27
Nebraska: first practice — March 2; spring game — April 6
Northwestern: first practice — Feb. 27; spring game — April 13
Ohio State: first practice — March 5; spring game — April 13
Penn State: first practice — March 18; spring game — April 20
Purdue: first practice — March 19; spring game — April 13
Wisconsin: first practice — March 9; spring game — April 20

BIG 12

Baylor: first practice — March 1; spring game — April 6
Iowa State: first practice — March 26; spring game — April 20
Kansas: first practice — March 5; spring game — April 13
Kansas State: first practice — April 3; spring game — April 27
Oklahoma: first practice — March 5; spring game — April 13
Oklahoma State: first practice — March 11; spring game — April 20
TCU: first practice — March 1; spring game — April 6
Texas: first practice — Feb. 21; spring game — March 31
Texas Tech: first practice – March 24; spring game — April 20
West Virginia: first practice — March 10; spring game — April 20

CONFERENCE USA

East Carolina: first practice — March 18; spring game — April 20
Houston: first practice — March 4; spring game — April 12
Marshall: first practice — March 26; spring game — April 27
Memphis: first practice — Feb. 28; spring game — April 6
Rice: first practice — March 6; spring game — April 5
SMU: first practice — March 25; final practice — April 20 (no spring game)
Southern Miss: first practice — March 19; spring game — April 20
Tulane: first practice — Feb. 13; spring game — March 9
Tulsa: first practice — March 5; spring game — April 6
UAB: first practice — March 27; spring game — April 27
UCF: first practice — March 13; spring game — April 13
UTEP: first practice — March 4; spring game — April 10

INDEPENDENTS

Army: first practice — Feb. 12; spring game — March 8
BYU: first practice — March 4; spring game — April 5
Navy: first practice — March 18; spring game — April 12
Notre Dame: first practice — March 20; spring game — April 20

MAC

Akron: first practice — April 2; spring game — April 27
Ball State: first practice — March 26; spring game — April 20
Bowling Green: first practice — March 13; spring game — April 12
Buffalo: first practice — March 26; spring game — April 20
Central Michigan: first practice — March 12; spring game — April 13
Eastern Michigan: first practice — March 12; spring game — April 14
Kent State: first practice — April 2; spring game — April 27
Miami: first practice — March 25; final practice — April 26 (no spring game)
Northern Illinois: spring practice — March 20; spring game — April 13
Ohio: first practice — March 12; spring game — April 13
Toledo: first practice — March 14; spring game — April 12
UMass: first practice — March 26; spring game — April 20
Western Michigan: first practice — March 19; spring game — April 20

MOUNTAIN WEST

Air Force: first practice — Feb. 26; final practice — March 20 (no spring game)
Boise State: first practice — March 11; spring game — April 13
Colorado State: first practice — March 26; spring game — April 20
Fresno State: first practice — Feb. 25; spring game — March 23
Hawaii: first practice — March 20; spring game — April 27
Nevada: first practice — March 28; spring game — April 20
New Mexico: first practice — March 26; final practice — April 27 (no spring game)
San Diego State: first practice — Feb. 25; spring game — March 23
UNLV: first practice — March 4; spring game — April 12
Wyoming: first practice — March 26; spring game — April 27

PAC-12

Arizona: first practice — March 2; spring game — April 13
Arizona State: first practice — March 19; spring game — April 13
Cal: first practice — Feb. 25; spring game — March 23
Colorado: first practice — March 7; spring game — April 13
Oregon: first practice — April 7; spring game — April 27
Oregon State: first practice — April 1; spring game — April 26
Stanford: first practice — Feb. 25; spring game — April 13
UCLA: first practice — April 2; spring game — April 27
USC: first practice — March 5; spring game — April 13
Utah: first practice — March 19; spring game — April 20
Washington: first practice — March 5; spring game — April 20
Washington State: first practice — March 21; spring game — April 20

SEC

Alabama: first practice — March 16; spring game — April 20
Arkansas: first practice — March 10; spring game — April 20
Auburn: first practice — March 27; spring game — April 20
Florida: first practice — March 13; spring game — April 6
Georgia: first practice — March 2; spring game — April 6
Kentucky: first practice — March 18; spring game — April 13
LSU: first practice — March 14; spring game — April 20
Mississippi State: first practice — March 21; spring game — April 20
Missouri: first practice — March 12; spring game — April 20
Ole Miss: first practice — March 6; spring game — April 13
South Carolina: first practice — March 5; spring game — April 13
Tennessee: first practice — March 8; spring game — April 20
Texas A&M: first practice — March 2; spring game — April 13
Vanderbilt: first practice — March 15; spring game — April 13

SUN BELT

Arkansas State: first practice — March 11; spring game — April 13
FAU: first practice — March 18; spring game — April 20
FIU: first practice — March 19; spring game — April 20
Louisiana-Lafayette: first practice — March 11; spring game — April 20
Louisiana-Monroe: first practice — Feb. 25; spring game — March 23
Middle Tennessee State: first practice — March 23; spring practice — April 20
North Texas: first practice — March 20; spring game – April 13
South Alabama: first practice — Feb. 28; spring game — April 6
Troy: first practice — March 21; spring game — April 20
Western Kentucky: first practice — March 22; spring game — April 20

WAC

Idaho: first practice — March 22; spring game — April 9
Louisiana Tech: first practice — March 15; spring game — April 13
New Mexico State: first practice: April 1; spring game — May 4
San Jose State: first practice — Feb. 19; spring game — March 23
Texas State: first practice — March 1; spring game — April 6
UT-San Antonio: first practice — March 19; spring game — April 14
Utah State: first practice — March 19; spring game — April 20

Amidst medical mystery, Georgia’s Trenton Thompson withdraws from spring semester classes

ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 19: Anthony Jennings #11 of the Lousiana-Lafayette Rajin' Cajuns is pursued by Trenton Thompson #78 of the Georgia Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium on November 19, 2016 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
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While the details are very hazy at the moment, a member of the Georgia football team has apparently suffered a health scare recently that calls into question his short-term future with the football program.

First reported by WSB-TV, defensive end Trent Thompson suffered an unspecified medical emergency very early Thursday morning and was rushed to an Athens hospital. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution subsequently confirmed the initial report.

Thompson was released from the hospital Thursday morning, his mother confirmed to the television station. No specifics have been released publicly, although the Journal-Constitution, citing sources with knowledge of the situation, is reporting that no drugs or alcohol were involved. It’s also believed that the issue isn’t related to football.

In the wake of those reports as well as others that indicated he had a run-in with Athens police immediately prior to the hospitalization, UGA released the following statement, which reveals that Thompson will be withdrawing from classes this semester because of the unspecified medical issues:

Based upon recent events, Trenton Thompson’s family has authorized UGAAA to release the following information. Trenton has been dealing with a significant medical issue which required emergency hospitalization and extended hospital stay. Trenton was recently discharged from the hospital and remains under close medical care. With respect to last night’s incident, the physical appearance and behavior described in the UGA PD report is solely related to an adverse reaction to medications prescribed specifically for his medical condition. The adverse reaction required emergency transport to Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center where he was treated and released. Toxicology tests performed at the hospital were negative for OxyContin. We cannot release any further information at this time due to federal privacy laws. Due to the medical issues, Trenton is withdrawing from classes this semester, and his family requests privacy during this time.

As a sophomore last season, Thompson started seven of the 13 games in which he played. His 9.5 tackles for loss led the Bulldogs, while his five sacks were tied for the team lead and the 56 tackles with which he was credited were tops among linemen.

Capping off that breakout season, he was named MVP of UGA’s Liberty Bowl win over TCU.

Iowa State DB Mike Johnson suspended amid domestic violence arrest

AMES, IA - NOVEMBER 19: Wide receiver Keke Coutee #20 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders blocks defensive back Mike Johnson #3 of the Iowa State Cyclones as he rushed for yards in the first half of play at Jack Trice Stadium on November 19, 2016 in Ames, Iowa. (Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images)
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Iowa State has suspended defensive back Mike Johnson after he was arrested Thursday on the accusation that he choked his girlfriend.

As reported by the Des Moines Register, Johnson and his girlfriend were fighting over social media posts and music playing over each other’s phones when each tried to reach for the other’s device. That escalated to the point where Johnson allegedly had both hands around the woman’s throat, to the point where told police she “saw stars” and had trouble breathing.

She also had, according to police, bite marks on her right cheek, on her neck and behind her left ear, a swollen upper lip and had what appeared to be dried blood on her. Johnson also said he was bitten during the altercation.

“We are aware of Mike Johnson’s arrest and allegations associated with his arrest,” head coach Matt Campbell told the paper in a statement. “Our program has zero tolerance for domestic violence. Mike has been suspended from all team activities, including practice, under the student-athlete code of conduct policy as we gather more information. His long-term status with the team will be determined once we gain more facts.”

Johnson posted 44 tackles, three pass breakups and 1.5 tackles for loss in 12 games last season.

Report: Former Pitt RB James Conner given clean bill of health

James Conner
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James Conner will head to next week’s Combine with a clean bill of health, according to a report Thursday from ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

“Pitt RB James Conner, who missed most of 2015 with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, received a clean scan today, a week prior to combine, per source,” Schefter tweeted.

Conner led the ACC in rushing in 2014, rushing for 1,765 yards and 5.92 yards per carry with 26 touchdowns in 2014, before a Hodgkin’s Lymphoma diagnosis caused him to miss all but one game of the 2015 campaign. (And in that one game, Conner still rushed for nearly 10 yards per carry and two touchdowns.)

He battled back to return to the field in 2016, again leading the Panthers with 216 carries for 1,092 yards and 16 touchdowns while finishing third on the club with 21 grabs for 302 yards and four touchdowns.

Conner will compete at the Combine for draft positioning with fellow running backs Leonard FournetteDalvin Cook and D'Onta Foreman, among others.

Willie Taggart no longer speaking with Oregon beat reporter

TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 28:  Head Coach Willie Taggart walks the sidelines during the fourth quarter against the Miami Hurricanes on September 28, 2013 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Oregon strength coach Irele Oderinde is now back at work after serving a 1-month, unpaid suspension resulting from three players being hospitalized after Oderinde’s first supervised workout with the Ducks, but the story is not over in Eugene.

According to Oregon’s student paper The Daily Emerald, Taggart is no longer speaking with the reporter who broke the story, The Oregonian‘s Andrew Greif.

“When you’re not fair and honest, then to me that’s personal,” Taggart told the paper. “When you do something that’s negative and it’s going to be personal, then I won’t have shit to do with you.”

Greif, for his part, stands by the story and says the paper will not issue a retraction, as Taggart requested:

“Though the description of the workouts is understandably subjective, ultimately what has never been in doubt is that three UO players were hospitalized after the first week of offseason workouts and received treatment for several days,” Greif said in an email to the Emerald.

Complicating matters for Taggart is that the university commissioned faculty athletics rep Tim Gleason, a journalism professor, to review the report. In speaking with players, coaches, trainers and AD Rob Mullens, Gleason found the report not to be inaccurate.

“It’s not an unfair characterization; it’s just that the way it gets interpreted is regrettable,” Gleason said. “In the shorthand of journalism, it resulted in an impression that may not have been completely accurate.”

Also contradicting Taggart are members of his own staff, who said off-the-record that the workouts were “military-style.” Greif quoted them anonymously when inserting that phrase into the piece:

Players this week were required to finish the same workouts, which were described by multiple sources as akin to military basic training, with one said to include up to an hour of continuous push-ups and up-downs.

It’s not clear where the story goes from here, except that Taggart made clear twice in his interview with the Emerald he has no plans to answer questions from Greif in the future.