Alton Howard

Tennessee WR Howard takes leave of absence for spring

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Tennessee will be without one of their top players this spring. Wide receiver Alton “Pig” Howard will be taking a leave of absence this spring, although the length of time away from the team is not determined.

Tennessee head coach Butch Jones confirmed the news Tuesday through multiple reports, including Go Vols Xtra, saying Howard is dealing with personal circumstances, but the extent of those circumstances is being held in private.

Howard was Tennessee’s second-leading receiver on the Vols with 388 receiving yards and he led the Vols with three touchdown catches last season as a sophomore. Howard will be expected to be a key player in the offense again in 2014, although a crop of young receivers should benefit from a few extra reps this spring in Howard’s absence.

Tennessee will open spring practices on Friday.

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.

Dan Patrick: Spurrier brought personality to the SEC

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South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier is stepping down as head coach of the Gamecocks, and that has the college football world reflecting on the impact he has had on the game of college football. Spurrier’s quips at rivals and revolutionary thoughts on where the sport has been heading were always on the mark, even when his team’s performance on the field was not.

Dan Patrick shared his reaction to the news of Spurrier retiring today on The Dan Patrick Show (simulcast on NBC Sports Network). As many have already suggested, Spurrier’s wit and charm brought a refreshing personality to the SEC.