South Carolina Gamecocks

COLUMBIA, SC - SEPTEMBER 12: Quarterback Connor Mitch #6 of the South Carolina Gamecocks scores a touchdown in the first quarter to go up 6-0 against the Kentucky Wildcats on September 12, 2015 at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by Mary Ann Chastain/Getty Images)
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Connor Mitch opts to transfer from South Carolina

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Connor Mitch started under center for South Carolina’s opener in 2015. The quarterback won’t get the opportunity for a repeat in 2016.

USC announced in a press release Friday that Mitch has decided to transfer out of the Gamecocks football program. Mitch’s decision came following a conversation with first-year head coach Will Muschamp earlier in the day.

“Connor and I spoke today,” a statement from Muschamp began. “Connor has the opportunity to graduate from South Carolina this summer and will look to continue his playing career at another university in the fall. We wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.”

As a graduate transfer, Mitch would be eligible to play immediately in 2016 if he chooses another FBS program.

Mitch started the first two games of the 2015 season before a hip injury and shoulder injury knocked him out for the remainder of the year.

Part of a five-man competition in the spring, Mitch fell behind the current front-runner, freshman Brandon McIlwain, as well as a pair of quarterbacks injured for portions of the spring, senior Perry Orth and sophomore Lorenzo Nunez.

During his time in Columbia, Mitch completed 15-of-35 passes for 165 yards and a touchdown. He also added 48 yards and another touchdown on 17 caries.

“I have enjoyed my time at South Carolina and will graduate later this summer,” said Mitch. “I believe it’s in my best interest to continue my playing career at another school. I’d like to thank all the Gamecock fans for their support during my time in Columbia.”

57 centers named to Rimington Award spring watch list

AJ McCarron, Ryan Kelly
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You know how I know we’re getting closer to the start of a new season?  The first watch list of the offseason has arrived.

The first for that honor this year is the Rimington Award, which on Tuesday released its spring watch list that is 57 players strong.  The Rimington Award, named in honor of former Nebraska standout Dave Rimington, is presented annually to the top center in the nation and is determined by the consensus All-American center pick from three existing All-America teams — Walter Camp. Sporting News and FWAA.

None of the finalists for the 2015 award, won by Alabama’s Ryan Kelly, are included on this year’s initial watch list as all three have since moved on with expired eligibility.

The ACC and SEC pace all conferences with eight watch listers apiece, followed by the AAC and Big 12 with seven each.  The Big Ten placed six, while the Pac-12’s three was the least of all of the Power Five programs.

All 10 of the FBS leagues, plus one independent (Notre Dame), are represented on the spring watch list, the full roster of which appears below.

AAC
Deyshawn Bond, Cincinnati, senior
Ryan Crozier, UConn, redshirt sophomore
Will Noble, Houston, sophomore
Drew Kyser, Memphis, sophomore
Evan Brown, SMU, junior
Brendan McGowan, Temple, redshirt senior
Chandler Miller, Tulsa, sophomore

ACC
Jay Guillermo, Clemson, senior
Alec Eberle, Florida State, redshirt sophomore
Freddie Burden, Georgia Tech, redshirt senior
Nicholas Linder, Miami, junior
Lucas Crowley, North Carolina, senior
Alex Officer, Pittsburgh, redshirt junior
Jason Emerich, Syracuse, redshirt senior
Jackson Matteo, Virginia, senior

BIG TEN
Joe Spencer, Illinois, senior
Sean Welsh, Iowa, junior
Brendan Moore, Maryland, sophomore
Mason Cole, Michigan, junior
Dylan Utter, Nebraska, senior
Michael Dieter, Wisconsin, sophomore

BIG 12
Kyle Fuller, Baylor, senior
Dalton Risner, Kansas State, sophomore
Jonathan Alvarez, Oklahoma, junior
Brad Lundblade, Oklahoma State, junior
Austin Schlottman, TCU, junior
Tony Morales, Texas Tech, senior
Tyler Orlosky, West Virginia, redshirt senior

CONFERENCE USA
Michael Montero, FIU, senior
Dillon DeBoer, FAU, redshirt senior
Daniel Stephens, Middle Tennessee State, senior
Nick Clarke, Old Dominion, sophomore
Cameron Tom, Southern Miss, senior
Max Halpin, Western Kentucky, redshirt senior

MAC
Tim McAuliffe, Bowling Green redshirt junior
James O’Hagan, Buffalo, sophomore

MOUNTAIN WEST
Jake Bennett, Colorado State, junior
Asotui Eli, Hawaii, redshirt sophomore
Nathan Goltry, Nevada, senior
Arthur Flores, San Diego State, senior
Austin Stephens, Utah State, senior

PAC-12
Toa, Lobendahn, USC, junior
Coleman Shelton, Washington, junior
Riley Sorenson, Washington State, senior

SEC
Frank Ragnow, Arkansas, junior
Brandon Kublanow, Georgia, senior
Jon Toth, Kentucky, senior
Ethan Pocic, LSU, senior
Jamaal Clayborn, Mississippi State, senior
Robert Conyers, Ole Miss, senior
Alan Knott, South Carolina, redshirt junior
Coleman Thomas, Tennessee, junior

SUN BELT
Devin Mondie, Arkansas State, senior
Andy Kwon, Georgia Southern, senior
Gabe Mobley, Georgia State, sophomore
Steve Matlock, Idaho, senior

INDEPENDENTS
Sam Mustipher, Notre Dame, junior

SEC joins ACC in utilizing ‘collaborative process’ for instant replay

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Earlier this month, the ACC became the first conference to adopt what was described as “collaborative instant replay.”  Less than a week later, the SEC has followed the ACC’s centralized lead.

The SEC announced in a Tuesday press release that it “will implement a collaborative process for instant replay in the sport of football beginning with the 2016 season, following a unanimous vote of the league’s athletics directors and approval by the SEC Executive Committee.”  The conference’s decision to utilize a command center for instant replay comes a month after it was tested during an unnamed member school’s spring game.

“Under this experiment, personnel operating from SEC Headquarters will assist the in-stadium Instant Replay Officials when replay decisions are made,” the release further added.  Additional details, including detailed plans and complete logistics for the new replay process, will be presented to coaches and administrators during the SEC Media Days in July.

Those details will then be released to the public at a media briefing during those meetings.

“Our goal is to continue to use the best-available resources to support correct outcomes when instant replay is used,” said SEC commissioner Greg Sankey in a statement. “We believe the collaborative effort, which will involve additional officiating experts during replay reviews, will enhance the Conference’s football officiating program. I believe this update to the instant replay review process will better support football officiating in the SEC through the use of technology.”

ESPN selections set for epic opening weekend

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 11:  Clemson Tigers fans cheer in the first quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 11, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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We already knew that the opening weekend of the 2016 was going to be epic.  Now we know on which channels (most of the) said epic-ness will take place.

Tuesday, ESPN announced its channel selections for the Week 1 slate of games, with the World Wide Leader kicking off its coverage with South Carolina-Vanderbilt on ESPN Sept. 1 — hold on, it gets better — and being bookended by Ole Miss-Florida State on Labor Day.

In between, it’s highly-anticipated opening Saturday matchups such as Oklahoma-Houston (noon ET, ABC), LSU-Wisconsin (3:30 ET, ABC, Lambeau Field), Georgia-North Carolina (5:30 ET, ESPN), USC-Alabama (8 ET, ABC) and Clemson-Auburn (9 ET, ESPN).  For those with an international lean, and are early risers, the Georgia Tech-Boston College will be broadcast live from Dublin, Ireland, beginning at 7:30 a.m. ET on ESPN2.

Oh, and lest we forget the clash of iconic programs: Notre Dame-Texas, kicking off at 7:30 ET Sunday night as the NFL season will be a week away from kicking off.

And all of that is without even mentioning games that have yet to have their broadcast destination announced, including UCLA-Texas A&M, Kansas State-Stanford, Missouri-West Virginia and Arizona-BYU, among others.

So, yes, it’ going to be one hell of an opening weekend.  Go ahead and prepare your goodbyes to family and friends now, informing them you’ll see them on the other side of Labor Day.

Denied South Carolina job, former ‘Cocks RB Marcus Lattimore begins coaching career elsewhere

COLUMBIA, SC - OCTOBER 08:  Marcus Lattimore #21 of the South Carolina Gamecocks runs with the ball against the Kentucky Wildcats during their game at Williams-Brice Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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Another one of those biweekly NCAA grass fires started a few weeks back when it was revealed former South Carolina running back and object of national sympathy Marcus Lattimore would not be allowed to work on his alma mater’s coaching staff.

Lattimore was quoted as saying he was fine with the NCAA’s decision after it was later revealed he also holds a job working youth football camps across the Palmetto State. So now Lattimore will begin his coaching career the way most do: on Friday nights.

According to FootballScoop (full disclosure: I also work for the site), Lattimore will serve as an offensive assistant at Heathwood Hall Episcopal School in Columbia.

Landing his first job provided the cherry on top for an all around swell Friday for Lattimore after earning his diploma earlier in the day.