Steve Spurrier: There’s more to life than winning SEC championship

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Many football fans live by the thought that there is nothing more important than winning. That may have once been the case for South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier, but in his older, wiser age it seems the ol’ ball coach has toned down his outlook on the coaching game these days. In an interview with Go Gamecocks, Spurrier said there is more to life than winning the SEC championship. It is a quote that may turn some heads and raise a few eyebrows, but at the same time it is a bit refreshing to hear a coach share that sentiment.

“To go 6-2 in the conference, which is the best record ever for South Carolina – and we did it three years in a row – how can you be upset? We are disappointed that we beat the division winner and they never lost again, but give them credit,” Spurrier said, referring to Missouri’s 2013 SEC East division crown. “Jack Nicklaus finished runner-up 19 times in the majors. Of course, he won 18, but every time he finished runner-up, he shook the hand of the other guy and said, ‘Well done, you beat me.’ Missouri ran the table after we beat them. People kept asking me, I said, ‘If they win it all, I’ll call coach (Gary) Pinkel and congratulate him,’ and that’s exactly what I did.”

Spurrier has turned South Carolina into a respectable force in the college football landscape since taking over the program from Lou Holtz. Spurrier coached South Carolina tot he SEC Championship Game in 2010, where the Gamecocks fell short against eventual BCS champion Auburn.

“But the other side of that is something I have learned from being here – there’s more to life than the SEC championship,” Spurrier continued. “I would still say that’s the biggest goal we could reach right there, but total wins, where you are ranked, the state championship (referring to the rivalry with Clemson), bowl victories. Winning that bowl game just makes life so much more pleasant until you play again.”

Of course, this may be easy for Spurrier to say because he has won a national championship and has been on top of the SEC and college football mountain. Perhaps knowing how it feels to win it all is something that Spurrier can reflect on while also aiming to once again reach that summit. Spurrier also says the expectations will always be different from school to school. To illustrate that belief, Spurrier commented on the recruiting classes put together by Nick Saban at Alabama, something he has done a couple of times before.

“Your expectations and what you achieve are different at every school,” Spurrier said. “For example, at Alabama, if I had had five No. 1 recruiting classes in the last six years like Alabama, I would say, ‘Fellas we are going to mess up if we lose a game, because we’ve got the best players in college football.’ But we’re not in that situation. Our history is not all that super before we got here, so everything is sort of relative to each school.”

Spurrier says he has thought about coaching four or five more years, but admitted he has been thinking that since he was about 55 years old. Now approaching 70, Spurrier seems to be going as strong as he has always been.

Pitt FB/TD machine George Aston set to return vs. Georgia Tech

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One of the most efficient touchdown producers in college football in 2016 that you were probably completely unaware of appears ready to make his 2017 debut.

A vague lower-extremity injury knocked George Aston out of most of not only summer camp but also Pittsburgh’s first three regular-season games as well. With Georgia Tech on the horizon in Week 4, the fullback is listed as probable on the team’s official injury report released Thursday.

For a team that has scored just four offensive touchdowns in two games against FBS competition, Aston’s potential return could serve as somewhat of a boon for that side of the ball.

Last season, Aston totaled 75 yards on 22 carries as well as 169 yards on 22 receptions. In those 44 touches, Aston totaled 10 touchdowns — five on the ground, five through the air.

Saturday’s game will serve as the ACC opener for both Pitt and Tech.

NCAA approves waiver to allow UCF to schedule Austin Peay as hurricane replacement game

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Hurricane Irma forced a lot of shuffling and cancellations on the college football schedule but perhaps no team was more uniquely affected than Central Florida.

The Knights had two home games cancelled as a result of the storm, last weekend against Georgia Tech and a contest against Maine that was bought out as a way for the team to play their full AAC conference slate. Dropping the games left UCF with only 10 games for the 2017 season and a not ideal five home games as a result.

That has been cleared up somewhat however, as the school announced on Thursday that the NCAA has approved a waiver and that Austin Peay is now scheduled to go to Orlando for a Oct. 28th contest.

“I can’t thank Oliver Luck and the staff at the NCAA enough for their help and understanding of our situation,” UCF athletic director Danny White said in a statement. “We greatly appreciate Austin Peay being willing to visit Spectrum Stadium. We’re thrilled for our student-athletes, who deserve every opportunity they can get to go out and compete. I know our fans will be excited about the opportunity to have another Saturday at Spectrum Stadium.”

The Knights are currently 1-0 heading into their trip to play Maryland on Saturday. With the addition of an 11th game to their 2017 slate, UCF needs to go at least 6-5 in order to become bowl eligible as a result.

Clemson kicker Greg Huegel injured during practice, out for the season after ACL tear

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If Clemson is to defend their national title this season, they will do so without the services of their reliable kicker.

The school confirmed various reports on Thursday evening that redshirt junior Greg Huegel was injured during the Tigers’ practice on Wednesday night — on the final kick, no less — and tore his ACL. He will have surgery and will not play again in 2017.

While he didn’t get the press of Deshuan Watson or others, Huegel was a key part of the Clemson run the past few seasons after taking over as the starter in 2015. The former walk-on was a Lou Groza Award semifinalist last year and had hit two of his four field goals to start off this season, one of which was a career-long 49 yard kick just last week.

Backup kicker Alex Spence is likely to take over for the Tigers in Huegel’s absence. The redshirt junior has never attempted a field goal in a game but has kicked off and made an extra point for Clemson this season.

Reserve tight end Cole Renfrow, the younger brother of title game star Hunter Renfrow, also tore his ACL in practice and is out the rest of the season as well.

Given the thin margins that College Football Playoff teams have nowadays, the loss of Huegel figures to be a big one for Dabo Swinney and company going forward. Clemson hosts Boston College this week but will face a stiff test on the road at Virginia Tech in an ACC title game rematch to end the month.

Notre Dame, Western Michigan agree to 2020 game in South Bend

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More #MACtion is heading to South Bend.

Western Michigan and Notre Dame announced on Thursday that the two schools have agreed to a single game series that will take place on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020. It will mark the fourth time the two teams have met in their long histories, but a decade since they last faced off in a 44-20 Irish win back in 2010.

The Broncos will receive a $1.175 million payout from Notre Dame for the game according to a release.

While playing a MAC team is a bit of a regular occurrence for Notre Dame now, their meeting with WMU back in 2010 was actually the first time they ever played a team from the conference. The Irish play at least one opponent from the MAC from now until at least 2021 with Western Michigan added to their slate of future games.

The Irish have been busy filling out the 2020 schedule and have just one opening remaining with this contract being signed. The Broncos join home games against Arkansas and Stanford, a trip to Charlotte to play Wake Forest, Wisconsin at Lambeau Field, the annual USC game in Los Angeles and the opener at MetLife Stadium outside New York City against Navy. Additional games against Clemson, Duke, Louisville (at home) and a road trip to Pittsburgh are also on tap as part of the ACC scheduling agreement.