Pac 12 Championship - Stanford v Arizona State

Stanford off to great start, but Arizona State hanging around

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The first half of Saturday’s Pac-12 title game between No. 7 Stanford and No. 11 Arizona State looked at lot like the last time these two teams played.

Way back on Sept. 27, the Cardinal jumped out to a 29-0 first-half lead on their way to a 42-28 victory over the Sun Devils.

This time around, Stanford took a 28-7 lead but couldn’t quite deliver the knockout blow, as ASU kept close and went into the break down, 28-14.

The often-sputtering Cardinal offense looked sharp, totaling 301 yards and 13 touchdowns. Tyler Gaffney already has his ninth 100-yard game of the year with 107 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries. His 69-yard touchdown run on the game’s second play opened the scoring. Kevin Hogan was 7 of 12 for 106 yards and also added 33 yards on seven carries.

Outside of a couple big plays by D.J. Foster, ASU’s offense looked like it was not ready for prime time. Foster’s 51-yard touchdown run evened the score early in the first quarter and his 65-yard catch and run of a Taylor Kelly pass gave the Sun Devils hope (those were the two longest plays against Stanford this year, by the way), but ASU will need to step it up a notch in the second half. The last time the two teams played, the Sun Devils scored 28 second-half points, so there’s a chance they could make a game of it yet.

But if ASU can’t stop Gaffney, it’s in for a long night. If nothing changes, Stanford will be heading to its second-straight Rose Bowl.

Steve Spurrier discusses retirement; Gamecocks name Shawn Elliott interim coach

Steve Spurrier
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Odds are pretty good Steve Spurrier has coached his final game as the Head Ball Coach, but Spurrier let it be known he is not going to go away quite as easily as you might think. Spurrier addressed the media today as South Carolina made its transition between coaches official. Spurrier noted he is resigning as head coach, but he is not necessarily retiring. As previously reported, Shawn Elliott will take on the role as interim head coach of the Gamecocks effective immediately.

The first thing Spurrier wants to remind everybody is he is not retiring. This is simply a resignation from his current position. Spurrier left the door open to possible options down the road for him in his post-coaching career. The idea of Spurrier walking away from the football world never to be heard from again is a startling one, so it is good to know he is not going to let that happen.

“College football is a game of recruiting, as well know,” Spurrier said when assessing why it was right for him to leave his job now. “That’s another reason I need to move on. I don’t know if coaching is completely over or not. It is fun being on a team. I might be a consultant for someone. I doubt if I’ll be a head coach again, but who knows?”

Spurrier said he realized Sunday the time to walk away was now and explained he always knew he would need to step aside the moment he saw himself holding the program back. That echoes the sentiment he has shared over the years, especially when asked about coaches like Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden as they each got up in the years. This season South Carolina is off to a 2-4 start, so the writing was on the wall for Spurrier, who also said it was in the best interests for all if an inevitable change was handled immediately.

“We’ve slipped. It’s my fault. I’m the head coach,” Spurrier said of South Carolina’s recent struggles.”We haven’t lost it. We’ve got a dang good team.”

“Our team is not in shambles despite what some might say,” Elliott said when he was given a chance to speak to the media. “We’re going to do everything we can to make the University of South Carolina proud of this football program.”

Elliott will now have the rest of the season to show what he can do as a head coach, and he knows this will be a bit of an open audition for the job as South Carolina starts searching for its next head coach.

Mark Dantonio quickly tosses aside South Carolina discussion

Mark Dantonio

Michigan State has become a national power under the coaching of Mark Dantonio. The grizzled and confident coach has put together a master plan in East Lansing and has taken the Spartans to the top of the Big Ten along the way, capturing a Big Ten title and victories in the Cotton Bowl and Rose Bowl as well as in-state dominance over the Michigan Wolverines. Danotnio is preparing his Spartans to take on the Wolverines this week, but with the new vacancy opening up at South Carolina following the sudden retirement of Steve Spurrier, Dantonio has already been presented with the question about his thoughts on coaching at South Carolina.

He did not seem all that interested in discussing the vacancy when meeting with Michigan State media this morning.

“Coach Spurrier’s had an outstanding career there, it’s alma mater, and we’re here to talk about Michigan,” Dantonio said when asked about it today. Video below from the Big Ten Network

Dantonio played defensive back for the Gamecocks in the mid 1970s, which helps make Dantonio an interesting name to mention in any coaching future discussion out of Columbia. While Dantonio may have played at South Carolina for Jim Carlen, Dantonio grew up in Ohio and has coached the bulk of his career within Ohio and the Big Ten. He is also one win away from picking up his 100th career coaching victory, 81 of which have come at Michigan State.