Steak potatoes

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.

Starting LB C.J. Johnson reveals surgery on social media, Ole Miss confirms

Associated Press
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Ole Miss will be without a starting piece of its defensive puzzle for an extended period of time, both the player and the school revealed Tuesday.

With rumors swirling about his condition, C.J. Johnson confirmed on his personal Twitter account late this morning that he will be undergoing surgery at some point in the not-too-distant future.  The linebacker sustained an injury to his left knee in last Saturday’s loss to Florida and did not return to the contest.

Subsequent to that posting, Ole Miss confirmed that Johnson underwent surgery earlier in the day to repair a torn meniscus in his knee.  The procedure and rehab will sideline Johnson for a period of 4-6 weeks.

At the low-end of the prognosis, Johnson would miss the next four games — New Mexico State, Memphis, Texas A&M, Auburn — and return for the Nov. 7 game against Arkansas.  The high-end would have him sidelined until the regular-season finale against Mississippi State.

Johnson had started all five games at middle linebacker for the Rebels.  He started 26 games at defensive end the past three years before moving to linebacker.

Butch Jones labels rumor of ‘physical altercation’ with Vols player ‘absolutely ridiculous’

ATHENS, GA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Head coach Butch Jones of the Tennessee Volunteers yells at Marquez North #8 during the game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium on September 27, 2014 in Athens, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Already in the crosshairs for his 2-3 team’s late-game failures, Butch Jones now finds himself under increasing scrutiny for something that allegedly happened a couple of months ago.

The website, which features such respected journalists Tony Barnhart and Mike Huguenin among others, reported earlier today that the Tennessee head coach was involved in what was described as a “physical altercation” with senior offensive lineman Mack Crowder during summer camp this past August.  The source close to the program added that practice film that day captured the alleged incident, although it’s unclear if that tapes still exists.

From the site’s report:

The incident occurred during fall camp, about the time that news started to come out about a few offensive linemen who were considering stepping away from the program. Crowder walked off the practice field one day and missed a day or two of practice, and Brett Kendrick and Dylan Wiesman were said to be contemplating their futures. Sources say the players’ actions stemmed from an incident between Jones and Crowder.

The website also made a Freedom of Information request seeking any correspondence between the university and the Crowder family be turned over, but writes that UT “administrators said any sort of letter or correspondence that may or may not have happened was covered under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.”

Monday, Jones labeled what began as message-board speculation that he had struck one of his Vols players as “absolutely ridiculous.” The Knoxville News Sentinel contacted Crowder’s father, with the paper writing that “he had no comment and did not want to give validation to message boards.”

At least publicly, the university has yet to address the allegations.  Jones will get yet another chance to address the speculation with the media in the very near future.