Report: ‘highly unlikely’ alcohol will be served at Florida-Georgia game

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For those in the general public looking to add spirits to the in-game World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party experience, it appears that you’ll have to continue the time-honored tradition of sneaking the stuff in.  Or drowning in it beforehand.

Citing a source with knowledge of the situation, the Florida Times-Union reported Friday that it’s “highly unlikely” alcohol will be sold to the general public during the annual Florida-Georgia rivalry game.  As per SEC policy, alcohol is already permitted to be served to individuals in suites or premium seating areas of the Gator Bowl during the WLOCP.

This report comes on the heels of one from earlier this month which stated that the SEC is prepared to review the alcohol policy for any neutral site game or home game played off-campus.

The impetus for allowing in-game alcohol sales for all seating areas is, of course, money.  Minnesota, which began selling alcohol at home games in 2012, realized a profit of nearly $200,000 last season off the sale of beer and wine throughout TCF Stadium.  West Virginia made a profit of over $500,000 in the first year (2011) it sold alcohol at football and basketball games.

The concern, though, is an increase in alcohol-related incidents inside the stadium.

“We’re going to wait for the SEC to work through its review, and if they do allow it, we could consult with the athletic directors and administrations at both schools [Florida and Georgia] and have discussions about safety concerns,” a spokesperson Jacksonville mayor Alvin Brown said earlier this month.

The experiences at both Minnesota and West Virginia should somewhat allay those particular concerns, however, as the former saw alcohol-related incidents decrease by more than 20 percent after it started selling alcohol while the latter dropped 35 percent.  As the theory goes, binge drinking prior to the game decreases as fans know there will be alcohol available once they get inside the stadium and results in fewer alcohol-related incidents.

The SEC’s alcohol policy will be on the agenda during spring meetings in the coming months.

“Up to now, we like our rule,” SEC commissioner Mike Slive told al.com. “I haven’t heard any concerted interest in changing our rule, but our people would like to talk about it. We’re institutions of higher education and alcohol on campuses has been an issue for a long while. I think this is an area where we want to walk slowly and carefully.”

Alabama QB Jalen Hurts uses photo of Clemson celebrating title win as motivational phone background

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Nick Saban said last week that the loss to Clemson in the the national championship game earlier this year is one that he’ll never get over, although he didn’t go so far as to compare it to a death in the family. One playing member of Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide team is taking to steps to ensure that he never forgets, either.

Jalen Hurts was the Tide’s talented true freshman starting quarterback who helped lead ‘Bama into the title game and, with a 30-yard touchdown run with just over two minutes left, gave his team a 31-28 lead. That lead was short-lived, however, as Deshaun Watson led his Tigers on an epic 88-yard drive that was capped by his two-yard touchdown pass with just one tick left on the clock for the 35-31 win.

The stunning last-second loss is something that Hurts makes a conscious effort to remind himself of daily as the rising sophomore, as the background on his smartphone, has a picture of Clemson players celebrating their win.

“We’re obviously all on our phones all the time,” Hurts said according to al.com after this past weekend’s spring game. “Every time I unlock it, it’s kind of a reminder. It kind of humbles me and keeps me motivated. …

“It’s not a grudge at all. It’s just something that keeps it on the back of your shoulder like, yeah, it’s still there. Remember why you’re doing it because at the end of the day, the goal for this team is to win the national championship.

Father of former Florida State WR Travis Rudolph killed in accidental shooting

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The father of Florida State wide receiver Travis Rudolph was killed Friday in an accidental shooting, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on Monday.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Darryl Rudolph was working on repairs inside a West Palm Beach, Fla., when a gun accidentally fired in an adjacent room, hitting him in the back/neck area. He was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 55 years old.

The younger Rudolph was Florida State’s leading receiver over the past two seasons before becoming an early-entrant into this week’s NFL Draft. He gained viral notoriety after a photo snapped of him sitting at lunch with an autistic elementary school student hit Facebook.

“When I used to coach and help other kids with football, basketball and sports, Travis was small but he used to pay attention to what I was doing,” the elder Rudolph said in an interview with ESPN last year. “I told them get your education. You can be the best athlete in the world, but without an education, you’re not going very far. That’s what Travis followed through on.”

LSU QB Danny Etling undergoes back surgery

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LSU quarterback Danny Etling has undergone surgery to relieve back pain, the program announced Monday.

“Danny had a minor back procedure this morning and everything went alright,” head coach Ed Orgeron said in a statement (and not in an Arrested Development way).

Etling has played through back pain for months, according to Ross Dellenger from The Advocate, and this procedure should remove that pain.

In a possibly related story, Etling went 4-of-11 for 53 yards in LSU’s spring game.

A transfer from Purdue, Etling appeared in 11 games for the Tigers last season, completing 160-of-269 passes (59.5 percent) for 2,123 yards (7.9 yards per attempt) with 11 touchdowns against five interceptions.

Etling’s recovery from Monday’s procedure is expected to be a short one.

Willie Taggart defends Oregon’s offseason workouts in interview

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Things got off to a rocky start for new Oregon head coach Willie Taggart. Among the issues Taggart was forced to deal with soon after accepting the job of head coach at Oregon was players falling ill during and after offseason workouts.

Three Ducks were hospitalized in January to treat symptoms of rhabdomyolysis, a product of overworking leading to soft tissue and possible kidney damage. Oregon suspended strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde following the hospital treatments to players, and questions about his certification were thrust under a microscope. Despite the unfortunate situation in Eugene, Taggart has defended his program’s workout routine in an interview with Stewart Mandel of FOXSports.com.

“We know we didn’t do anything to try to hurt our kids. We’d done [the same program] everywhere we’ve been and never had a problem,” Taggart explained in the interview. “I think our guys just overworked themselves and didn’t hydrate. … They were trying to impress the new coaches.”

It seems Taggart has been trying to raise the bar at Oregon and find a way to make his new players tougher overall. That is a common strategy for a new coach in a new program, so Taggart’s mission is not unique in that sense.

Maybe it was just a tough physical transition in the approach to workouts after years of Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich running the show. Will this all pay off in the end? Taggart sure hopes so.