Charlie Strong

Charlie Strong: Texas is the state’s flagship program

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Texas A&M put together one of the top recruiting classes in the country, but new Texas head coach Charlie Strong is making a bold statement on his first national signing day as the head coach of the Longhorns.

“We’re still the University of Texas,” Strong said according to the Austin American Statesman. “We will always be the flagship university of this state.”

The Texas Class of 2o14 was ranked second in the Big 12 and 20th overall by Rivals. Those rankings are not all that bad, but the standard is set high for the Longhorns program given the luxuries and benefits found within the program. With Oklahoma taking the top Big 12 class and storied rival Texas A&M hauling in a top ten class (A&M is ranked sixth overall by Rivals), the tone is being set by Strong right now that Texas needs to get back to the top. Despite being able to lure away one Louisville target on signing day (defensive tackle Poona Ford), Texas saw nine of the state’s top recruits and 19 of the top 25 go to other programs. That includes defensive end Myles Garrett, the state’s top recruit who committed to Texas A&M.

“It’s hard to try to keep guys in, but you have to go recruit them and not be afraid,” Strong said. “You’ve got to go battle those Southeastern Conference teams, whomever they may be.”

SEC schools claimed 18 of the top 50 players in Texas, including a large number of players heading to Texas A&M. Strong realizes what he is up against at Texas. With fertile recruiting grounds all over the state, the SEC, Pac 12 and Big 12 are thriving on talent found in the state of Texas. Texas A&M helped to open the doors to the SEC when they joined the conference a couple of years ago, but the Aggies have also seen a  spark in recruiting due to a successful transition from the Big 12 to the SEC as well. At the same time Texas has fallen behind Baylor in the Big 12, Texas Tech and TCU have started to benefit from a struggling Longhorns program and Oklahoma continues to take charge in the Big 12 pecking order when it comes to recruiting.

“What’s going to be key is we have to control this state,” Strong said. “If we do decide to go out-of-state, we will go out-of-state for a specific need. You can’t make a living in those other states. You’ve got to take care of this state.”

Fortunate;y for Texas, Strong has experience with getting his program to the top of the state in football. Strong previously took over a deflated Louisville program that was picked to finish last in the Big East in his first year on the job. Under Strong’s leadership Louisville quickly became the top team in the Big East and became the top program in the state of Kentucky. The goal is similar at Texas, but Texas A&M is no Kentucky. The objective is simple for Texas; keep the best talent close to home.

“Everyone’s coming here,” Strong stated. “If you think about it, if everyone’s coming to pluck your state, why are you going to venture out?”

Georgia raises ticket prices following Kirby Smart hire

ATHENS, GA - SEPTEMBER 28: A general view of the Sanford Stadium before the game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the LSU Tigers on September 28, 2013 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
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Running a college athletics department is only getting more expensive, so attending a college football game will only get more expensive. Or, at least attending a Georgia game will.

Bulldogs president Jere Morehead and athletics director Greg McGarity revealed Thursday per-seat donations would rise an average of 17 percent for priority season ticket holders beginning in the 2017 season.

“It’s in anticipation of things that are ahead,” McGarity told the Athens Banner-Herald.

Cost-of-attendance scholarships bumped that line item up $766,000, and other costs across the department added an additional $5.3 million to the budget. All this while Georgia is building a new indoor facility and replacing Mark Richt and his staff while hiring Kirby Smart and his new staff.

“Those projects are going to be expensive,” Morehead said. “The cost of operating our athletic program each year continues to rise particularly as you look at the enhancements that are being provided to our student-athletes and to the support that we’re providing our student-athletes.”

The bump in prices will raise an extra $2.5 million for Georgia, and represents the first time Bulldogs fans have been asked to ante up since 2005.

“We wanted to be respectable in the increase to not price people out of a certain area but we did feel like we needed to make an adjustment,” said McGarity. “We want to continue to encourage people to come to games. We’ve got our work cut out to make sure (that happens).”

Ohio State to host Tulane in 2018

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 6:  The Ohio State Buckeyes kickoff to the Virginia Tech Hokies at Ohio Stadium on September 6, 2014 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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The Fighting Frites are heading to the Horseshoe.

Ohio State and Tulane announced a one-time game to be played in Columbus on Sept. 22, 2018.

“Tulane enhances and completes a non-conference schedule in 2018 that already includes Power 5 conference teams TCU and Oregon State,” Ohio State deputy AD Martin Jarmond said in a statement. “The Green Wave is part of a fine American Athletic Conference, which produced a New Year’s Day 6 bowl winner last year [Houston over Florida State in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl], so its first trip to Ohio Stadium should be exciting for our students and fans.”

The two teams have never met previously. Tulane last faced a Big Ten team on Sept. 27, 2014, a 31-6 loss at Rutgers. Ohio State last faced an American Athletic Conference program in the 2014 opener, a 34-17 Buckeyes win over Navy in Annapolis, Md.

We are excited for the opportunity to play Ohio State, one of the premier programs in the country,” Tulane executive associate athletics director Brandon Macneill said in a statement.  “Our coaching staff and players, along with our fans are eager to play against the very best and this should be a great game.  There will be a significant number of Tulanians from around the country joining us at the Horseshoe.”

Adding Tulane completes Ohio State’s 2018 non-conference schedule; the Buckeyes host Oregon State on Sept. 1 and visit TCU on Sept. 15. Tulane still lacks two games for 2018 but is slated to visit Georgia Tech on Sept. 8.

Georgia AD apologizes for giving Ludacris everything he demanded for spring game concert

Greg McGarity
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The University of Georgia paid Ludacris $65,000 to perform a concert at Georgia’s spring football game, and now the athletics director is apologizing for catering to every demand made by the artist.

In a meeting with the Georgia athletic board of directors, athletics director Greg McGarity offered an apology for giving in to a lengthy list of demands from Ludacris, which included condoms and alcohol.

“I do want to take this opportunity to apologize to our board for mistakes we made with certain aspects of the details of an entertainment agreement,” McGarity said, according to The Athens Banner-Herald. “Few things in my professional life have bothered me more than this situation. There are no reruns in life so we need to turn the page, learn from our mistakes and do everything we can to make sure errors of this nature do not reoccur.”

Georgia set a school attendance record for its spring game with an estimated total of 93,000 fans coming out for the first spring game under new head coach Kirby Smart. Of course, more than a few of those fans were encouraged to come out to see Ludacris perform, so it all worked out well for Georgia even if some people were not happy with the goods supplied to him during his stay.

“Some more than others as far as different age groups,” McGarrity said of the people expressing their displeasure with Georgia’s hospitality. “It was all over the map. I think there were a lot of things that came into play.”

Auburn RB Roc Thomas apparently heading to Jacksonville State

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 6: Running back Roc Thomas #9 of the Auburn Tigers runs the ball in for a touchdown as offensive linesman Jordan Diamond #76 of the Auburn Tigers blocks safety Forrest Hightower #12 of the San Jose State Spartans on September 6, 2014 at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama. Auburn defeated San Jose State 59-13.  (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
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Auburn running back Roc Thomas is possibly looking to join one of the top programs from the FCS ranks. Reports today surfaced suggesting Thomas is looking to transfer to Jacksonville State, although another report says he has yet to ask Auburn for a request to transfer.

During a radio interview, Jay G. Tate of AuburnSports.com said Thomas is likely on his way to Jacksonville State…

As that message was spreading around the college football landscape, largely under the ominous storm cloud from Waco, Texas, SEC Country updated their report by saying Thomas has not yet made a request to transfer from Auburn. That may have been accurate, but may not suggest a transfer to Jacksonville State is off the table. It could just be a matter of semantics, where Thomas is set to join the Jacksonville State program but still must go through the formalities of transferring from Auburn.

Thomas does have two years of eligibility remaining.