Free agency to be part of USF’s ‘high-steaks’ spring game

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(Let the SEC jokes commence in three… two… one…)

For the most part, spring games are rather mundane affairs, glorified scrimmages wrapped up in a pseudo game-day atmosphere to put a wrap on the spring.

While USF’s spring game may very well fall underneath that blanket definition, at least the football program is attempting to add some sizzle to the event — and the days leading up to it.

Ahead of the Bulls’ spring-ending session April 13 — their first under new head coach Willie Taggart — the format for the on-field game and other ancillary events surrounding it were announced.  The game itself will be a relatively standard one: four 15-minute quarters, with normal clock stoppages in the first half and a running clock in the final two quarters.

The construction of the rosters will also, for the most part, be the standard fare, with the respective coaching staffs from the Green and White squads conducting a draft the Saturday before the spring game.  USF’s very unique and kinda cool twist on the makeup of the rosters?  Free agency.

Yes, that’s right.  Free agency.  From the school’s release:

The free agent period offers each staff the opportunity to lure one offensive and defensive player to ‘sign’ with its team. The staffs can use any method allowable by NCAA rules to try and secure a player’s signature, including incentives for the particular player. The free agent period started on Saturday, March 30 and will run until noon on Thursday, April 4. The four free agent signings will be announced via USF Football’s Twitter account @USFFootball.

It’s unclear how soon after the free agency period ends that the NCAA begins a botched investigation into the Bulls’ spring tactics.

That said, the stakes, so to speak, for whatever shapes the collective rosters ultimately take come game-time couldn’t be higher: the winning team will partake in a feast of steak and potatoes at some point before the end of the spring semester.  The losers?  Beans and wieners, likely served on paper plates — and not the good ones either, probably the styrofoam ones that begin to melt after about 30 seconds in a microwave — and eaten with plastic utensils that carry a breaking point of approximately .0042 PSI.

Kudos, though, to the USF football program and its new coach for injecting a little imagination into the mundane that normally typifies a spring game.

Arizona State, Mississippi State ink home-and-home

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Arizona State and Mississippi State on Tuesday announced a home-and-home series to be played in 2024-25. Arizona State will host the first game in Tempe on Sept. 7, 2024, and the clubs will meet in Starkville on Sept. 6, 2025.

The Sun Devils and Bulldogs have never met previously.

The Arizona State trip is not Mississippi State’s only upcoming trek from the Deep South to the Southwest. The Bulldogs also lined up a visit to Arizona in 2020 and Texas Tech in 2029. Mississippi State will open the 2024 season against Eastern Kentucky and visit Southern Miss the week after its Arizona State visit, on Sept. 14. The Bulldogs have no other games lined up in 2025 as of yet, according to FBSchedules.

Likewise, Mississippi State is not the Sun Devils’ lone upcoming SEC opponent. Arizona State has a home-and-home with LSU on the docket for 2026-28, per FBSchedules. The Mississippi State games complete both of the Sun Devils’ non-conference schedules for these respective seasons. Arizona State opens with Wyoming and visits Texas State in 2024, and hosts Northern Arizona and Texas State in 2025.

UCLA lands Texas Tech graduate transfer OL Justin Murphy

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Help is on the way for Chip Kelly‘s offensive line. One graduate transfer offensive lineman has the Bruins on his list, but another has already pulled the trigger for UCLA.

Texas Tech graduate transfer Justin Murphy on Tuesday committed to UCLA in a post on his Twitter account.

A native of Belton, Texas, Murphy signed with Texas Tech in 2014 and made four starts at right guard as a redshirt freshman. He again started four games at right guard in ’15 before moving out to tackle, where he started another four games. But after battling a series of knee injuries, Murphy announced in the middle of the 2016 season he had medically retired from the game.

After sitting out 2017, Murphy announced in March he planned to make a comeback.

UCLA remarkably started the same offensive linemen in all 13 games last season, but tackle Kolton Miller entered the NFL draft, guard Najoee Toran and center Scott Quessenberry graduated.

Toledo posts, then deletes, tweet offering to change mascot to Shrek

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There are plenty of annoying trends on Twitter, but perhaps the worst is the “I’ll do X if this gets retweeted X-thousand amount of times.” I blame Wendy’s.

But blanket policies are never a good way to go through life, and an exception was made on Tuesday when Toledo offered to change its mascot from a rocket to Shrek with 500,000 retweets.

Sadly, some dreams are simply too beautiful to live in this fallen world, and the tweet was outed to be a hoax. “We are definitely not changing the school mascot to Shrek,” Toledo media relations specialist Christine Billau told USA Today. “The tweet was meant to be fun, but it caused too much of a distraction.”

Meanwhile, Bowling Green gleefully hopped on the dog pile with both elbows pointed out.

UMass grad transfer lineman narrows choices to Auburn, UCLA, USC

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It’s not yet known to where Jack Driscoll will transfer, but the field has been significantly narrowed.

Earlier this offseason, Driscoll decided to transfer from UMass.  Tuesday, the offensive tackle confirmed to Rivals.com that he’s down to three schools as a potential landing spot — Auburn, UCLA and USC.

Neither football program will have to wait long for a decision as Driscoll expects to make an announcement Wednesday.  Driscoll had taken an official visit to all three of the campuses prior to whittling down his transfer to-do list.

“It will come down to one of those three schools,” the lineman told AuburnSports.com. “I feel like all three of the schools would be a good fit.”

Driscoll will graduate from UMass early next month, and will be eligible to play immediately in 2018 at whichever program he selects.  The upcoming season will be the first of two years of eligibility the 6-5, 294-pound lineman has remaining.

After starting eight games as a redshirt freshman in 2016, with most of those starts coming at left guard, he started all 12 games in 2017.  All of those starts this past season came at right tackle for the football-independent Minutemen. He was named to Phil Steele’s All-Independent first team while he earned second-team All-Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) honors for good measure.