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SEC commissioner confirms graduate transfer rule changes will be discussed at spring meetings

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We’re still over a month away from the SEC’s annual spring meetings down in Destin, Fla. but one item we might be able to confirm is on the agenda will be the graduate transfer rules for the conference.

It’s a hot topic around the league and particularly so at Florida, which is in the mix to land Notre Dame graduate transfer Malik Zaire but can’t officially take him due to restrictions from the conference office.

That may change however, as SEC commissioner Greg Sankey confirmed in a radio interview on Friday with ESPN Gainesville.

“It will come up,” Sankey said, according to SECCountry.com. “I do think we need to look where we’ve been restrictive in the past because of the absence of national rules and look at reducing some of those restrictions. I’m one who would position it as interest in freeing things up without just removing every restraint, because I think the restraints have been healthy for us.”

At the heart of the issue is a rule that limits schools from taking additional graduate transfers if previous graduate transfers failed to meet academic requirements after enrolling. The move was designed to prevent a number of situations where players would transfer over just to play and not really go through coursework at their new school.

Other NCAA conferences have failed to follow the SEC’s lead in this area however and now the league is being put at a bit of a disadvantage on the graduate transfer market. This is particularly an issue with the Gators this offseason but it seems as though there will be quite the discussion down in Destin among athletic directors and head coaches about changing the rules to be on more of a level playing field with other conferences on this front.

Louisville the new home for South Carolina transfer Boosie Whitlow

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One of the many South Carolina transfers this offseason has found a new college football home.

According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, Boosie Whitlow stated Monday night that he will be enrolling at Louisville and continuing his playing career with the Cardinals.  The defensive end, whose Twitter timeline features numerous retweets of welcomes to the U of L, also confirmed the move to Scout.com.

North Carolina and Troy were also programs that Whitlow had considered.

Whitlow will have to sit out the 2017 season to satisfy NCAA bylaws. He’ll then have two seasons of eligibility remaining beginning in 2018.

As a three-star 2015 freshman, Whitlow started three of the 12 games in which he played. He was credited with five tackles for loss that initial season, but didn’t see any action in 2016.  A couple of months later, Whitlow opted to transfer from USC.

Duke transfer QB Thomas Sirk tweets decision to play for East Carolina

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He may have left Duke, but Thomas Sirk will remain in the state of North Carolina.

On his personal Twitter account Friday, the erstwhile Duke quarterback revealed that he will spend his final collegiate season at East Carolina.  As a graduate transfer, Sirk will be eligible to play immediately this season for the Pirates.

The move comes a week or so after Sirk had paid a visit to South Carolina.

In February of this year, Sirk announced his decision to transfer from the Blue Devils.

Sirk continues his recovery from what was a third Achilles injury, which he sustained last August, and would have been held out of contact had he remained at Duke for spring practice. The same injury cost the quarterback both the 2013 and 2016 seasons.  Sirk started all 12 games during the 2015 season before rupturing his Achilles in early February of 2016.

Because of those injuries, Sirk was granted a sixth season of eligibility from the NCAA this past November.

College football spring games: Dates, TV times

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As the calendar flips from March to April, the rush of college football spring games commences in earnest.

On the Power Five side alone, there are nearly 60 spring games scheduled to be played in the month of April.  Last year around this time, Urban Meyer was urging Ohio State fans to show up en masse; the Buckeye faithful responded with a record-breaking turnout.  That six-figure record should be safe — maybe.

Channeling his inner Urban, James Franklin earlier this month very passionately challenged fans to attend Penn State’s spring game to showcase to recruits and the rest of the country that “football is a very, very important part of Penn State.” Texas seemingly has momentum, what with Tom Herman replacing Charlie Strong as head coach, and that hire could cause a spike in interest and spring butts in the seats.  Clemson, coming off its first national championship in three decades and with some question marks given key departures, will certainly see a surge in attendance, although the official seating capacity of 81,500 at Memorial Stadium would preclude them from doing anything other than (barely) cracking the Top 10 in all-time spring game attendance.

Alabama historically fares well in spring attendance — four of the Top 10 — although the last huge crowd was six years ago.  Coming off the first title-game loss under Nick Saban, don’t expect a big jump this year either.

With those storylines in mind, below is the complete slate of spring games for the next four-plus weeks.

FRIDAY, MARCH 31
Arizona, 9 p.m. ET

SATURDAY, APRIL 1
Northwestern, 11 a.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
South Carolina, noon ET (SEC Network)
North Carolina State, 1 p.m. ET
Michigan State, 3 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
Texas Tech, 4 p.m. ET

FRIDAY, APRIL 7
Florida, 7 p.m. ET (SEC Network)

SATURDAY, APRIL 8
Ole Miss, noon ET (SEC Network)
Purdue, 1 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
Auburn, 2 p.m. ET (SEC Network)
Iowa State, 2 p.m. ET
Oklahoma, 2 p.m. ET
Texas A&M, 2 pm. ET (ESPNU)
Clemson, 2:30 p.m. ET
Florida State, 3 p.m. ET (ESPN)
North Carolina, 3 p.m. ET
Wake Forest, 3 p.m. ET
Mississippi State, 4 p.m. ET (SEC Network)
TCU (time still to be determined)

THURSDAY, APRIL 13
Indiana, 7 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)

FRIDAY, APRIL 14
Kentucky, 7:30 p.m. ET (SEC Network)

SATURDAY, APRIL 15
Ohio State, 12:30 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
Louisville, 1 p.m. ET
Minnesota, 1 p.m. ET
Pittsburgh, 1 p.m. ET
Utah, 1 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)
West Virginia, 1 p.m. ET
Kansas, 2 p.m. ET
Missouri, 2 p.m. ET (SEC Network)
Nebraska, 2 p.m. ET
Oklahoma State, 2 p.m. ET
Texas, 2 p.m. ET (Longhorn Network)
USC, 3 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)
Stanford, 4 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)
Arizona State, 5 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)

FRIDAY, APRIL 21
Georgia Tech, 7 p.m. ET
Wisconsin, 7:30 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
Iowa (time still to be determined)

SATURDAY, APRIL 22
Syracuse, 10 a.m. ET
Boston College, noon ET
Maryland, 12:30 ET (Big Ten Network)
Notre Dame, 12:30 p.m. ET
Baylor, 1 p.m. ET
Cal, 2 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)
Georgia, 2 p.m. ET (SEC Network)
Kansas State, 2 p.m. ET
Virginia Tech, 2:30 p.m. ET
Alabama, 3 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Penn State, 3 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
Washington, 3 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)
Tennessee, 4 p.m. ET (SEC Network)
Rutgers, 5 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
Washington State, 5 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)
LSU, 8 p.m. ET (SEC Network)

SATURDAY, APRIL 29
Arkansas, 1 p.m. ET (SEC Network)
Oregon, 2 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)
Virginia, 3 p.m. ET
UCLA, 4 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)

*Neither Miami nor Michigan will conduct traditional spring games.
*Arizona, Duke, Illinois, Oregon State and Vanderbilt played their spring games in March.

Duke transfer QB Thomas Sirk to visit South Carolina

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A month after opting to leave Duke, Thomas Sirk is getting down to the business of finding a new college football home.

According to 247Sports.com, Sirk will take an official visit to South Carolina this weekend.  Kurt Roper was Sirk’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach his first two seasons with the Blue Devils in 2012 and 2013, and now serves as the Gamecocks’ co-coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

It’s believed that East Carolina is another potential landing spot for the former Duke quarterback.

Regardless of which FBS program Sirk ultimately lands at, he’ll be eligible immediately as a graduate transfer.  Provided he can get and remain healthy, of course.

Sirk continues his recovery from what was his third Achilles injury, which he sustained last August, and would have been held out of contact had he remained at Duke for spring practice. The same injury cost the quarterback both the 2013 and 2016 seasons.  Sirk started all 12 games during the 2015 season before rupturing his Achilles in early February of 2016.

Because of those injuries, Sirk was granted a sixth season of eligibility from the NCAA this past November.