South Carolina Gamecocks

Auburn v Mississippi State

In statement, SEC reaffirms league to rescind its satellite camp ban

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The SEC had fought hard in pushing the NCAA’s Div. 1 Council to ban the practice of satellite camps, and then continued to push for The Association’s Board of Directors to reaffirm the ban.  In the end, though, that conference has taken the “if you can’t beat ’em join ’em” tack.

Shortly after the NCAA confirmed that its Board of Directors had, at least for the foreseeable future, rescinded the ban on coaches taking part in football camps outside of their regions, the SEC confirmed that it will be rescinding its own ban on the practice.  That rescinding follows through on the “threat” made last year by the conference that it would, essentially, unleash its football programs on the rest of the country if a ban wasn’t enacted.

The SEC’s lifting of the ban on such camps is not effective immediately; rather, it will take effect May 29.  After that date, as outgoing commissioner Mike Slive said in late May last year, “our folks will be free to fan out all over the country and have at it.”

In a statement, Slive’s replacement, Greg Sankey, lamented the lifting of the ban while at the same time reaffirmed that “SEC coaches will be allowed to engage in summer camps as a result of Conference legislation approved during the 2015 SEC Spring Meetings.”

Below is the entirety of Sankey’s statement.

While we are disappointed with the NCAA governance process result, we respect the Board of Directors’ decision and are confident SEC football programs will continue to be highly effective in their recruiting efforts.

“We continue to believe football recruiting is primarily an activity best-focused in high schools during the established recruiting calendar, which has provided opportunities for football prospective student-athletes from all across the country to obtain broad national access and exposure but with appropriate guidance from high school coaches, teachers and advisors that focuses on both their academic and athletic opportunities as they decide where they will play college football.

SEC spring attendance by the numbers

KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 15: A view of the inside of Neyland Stadium during a game between the Florida Gators and Tennessee Volunteers on September 15, 2012 in Knoxville, Tennessee.    (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)
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The SEC led the nation in spring game attendance this year, and the competition was not even close when you look at the data. The SEC had a cumulative total of 508,994 at spring games this season, easily pushing past the Big Ten after seeing their rivals from the north clip them a year ago. Good weather, new coaches and traditionally strong turnouts made the SEC’s spring attendance tough to beat.

SEC Spring Attendance By School

Here is how the SEC schools stacked up against each other in the attendance game.

  1. Georgia – 93,000
  2. Alabama – 76,212
  3. Tennessee – 67,027
  4. Florida – 46,000
  5. Auburn – 45,723
  6. South Carolina – 32,916
  7. Arkansas – 30,546
  8. Kentucky – 28,441
  9. Texas A&M – 27,412
  10. Missouri – 25,000
  11. LSU – 21,000
  12. Mississippi State – 15,717

Note: Ole Miss did not hold a spring game due to stadium renovations. Vanderbilt did not report an attendance figure for its spring game, so is not included in this year’s database.

It’s a New School Record

Georgia set the bar higher than it ever has before and knocked off Alabama from its usual perch atop the spring game attendance standings in the SEC. Georgia recorded a total crowd of 93,000 for its spring game, a new school record that essentially doubled the recorded crowd from the previous spring. Speaking of which…

Biggest Increase, Biggest Drop

Georgia’s school record of 93,000 was up 46,185 fans from the 2015 spring game. There are a couple of reasons for that, and shelling out some money for a performance from Ludacris certainly did not hurt the Bulldogs here. The difference in total fans for Georgia was easily the most sizable among SEC schools, but another SEC East team actually had a larger percentage increase.

The Florida Gators more than doubled their 2015 spring attendance of 21,000 with a reported total of 46,000 fans attending the Gators spring game. It is also worth noting South Carolina saw its spring attendance boosted by roughly 10,000 fans for the first spring under new head coach Will Muschamp. Because Kentucky and Texas A&M did not hold spring game sin 2015, they do not qualify for this category.

On the flip side, Auburn had the biggest drop in spring attendance. The Tigers dipped 16,420 fans this spring. Auburn saw spring game attendance drop for the third straight season under Gus Malzahn, which some will suggest is a drop in interest or support for Malzahn. Still, the number of fans coming to Jordan-Hare Stadium was easily a top 15 crowd. It all depends on your perspective.

Arkansas also saw a noticeable drop by going down 10,674 fans from a year ago.

The LSU Mystery

LSU continues to amaze me. Few question how raucous a crowd can be at an LSU home game, but the spring game just simply isn’t the kind of draw you would think it might be. Considering the numbers other schools around the SEC tend to rack up, and the passion in the state for LSU football, continues to float in the 15,000-20,000 mark for its spring games. In the three years I have been keeping track, LSU has had 15,000 (2014), 18,565 (2015) and 21,000 (2015) for its spring game. Louisiana may love its college football and LSU, and the spring game crowd is still something a number of power conference programs would love to see, but there is just something about spring football that doesn’t quite create the buzz at LSU the way it does at Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and so on.

Quick Hits

  • Four schools ranked in the top 10 in spring attendance at the time the SEC wrapped up spring football games. Georgia (No. 2), Alabama (No. 3), Tennessee (No. 5) and Florida (No. 10) ranked in the top 10. Auburn was No. 11.
  • Coming off a national championship, Alabama saw an increase in spring game attendance.
  • Two schools with new coaches (Georgia, South Carolina) saw an increase in spring attendance while another (Missouri) dropped by roughly 5,000.

You can view my database of spring game attendance in this Google doc. It is updated periodically as information becomes available or confirmed.

Will Muschamp fires longtime South Carolina equipment manager

COLUMBIA, SC - SEPTEMBER 06:  The South Carolina Gamecocks prepare to take the field for a game against the East Carolina Pirates at Williams-Brice Stadium on September 6, 2014 in Columbia, South Carolina. South Carolina won 33-23.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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Chris Matlock began working for Lou Holtz at Notre Dame as the Fighting Irish’s equipment manager back in the 1990’s. When Holtz got the South Carolina job, Matlock followed. When Holtz left Columbia, Matlock stayed.

In fact, Matlock stayed on the job through the 11-year Steve Spurrier reign, and then through the beginning stages of the Will Muschamp era. Until Friday. Muschamp announced yesterday he has dismissed Matlock and the entire equipment staff.

“I don’t have any comment,” Muschamp told The State.

Matlock is joined on the unemployment line by another longtime off-the-field staffer in team chaplain Adrian Despres.

A new head coach has, or at least should have, complete autonomy over the staff that works under him. He’s the man that’s got to right the ship, so it’s up to him to get the men he wants working the oars. But usually the ceremonial changing of the guards extends to assistant coaches and the strength coach, not the equipment staff and team chaplain.

But, hey, if it takes a new equipment guy and a new chaplain to catch up to Clemson then that’s what it takes.

After ‘fair’ NCAA ruling, Marcus Lattimore OK with ‘tough decision’

COLUMBIA, SC - SEPTEMBER 15: Marcus Lattamore #21 of the South Carolina Gamecocks rushes up field during the first half against the UAB Blazers in their NCAA college football game on September 15, 2012 at Williams Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo By Mary Ann Chastain/Getty Images)
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Over the weekend, a bit of a brouhaha was stirred over a decision made by the NCAA regarding Marcus Lattimore.

The former South Carolina great was offered a paid position to be on Will Muschamp‘s USC football staff in a non-coaching capacity, one that he was ready to accept after he graduates from the school in May.  Lattimore also wanted to continue working youth football camps across the state.

Unfortunately for Lattimore, the NCAA ruled, absolutely correctly, that continuing to run those camps and being a paid employee of USC football would be an unfair recruiting advantage.  Thus, Lattimore had a choice to make: either the job or the camps; Lattimore chose the latter.

“The NCAA ruling is fair and I will fully comply,” Lattimore said in a statement.

In an interview with The State, Lattimore further expounded on what he called “a tough decision.”

“USC compliance tried to vet it as much as possible and do as much as they could to help me out, but I could either do only USC football camps as a USC employee, or do all of my football camps as a non-USC employee,” Lattimore, who’ll be able to continue his role as an unofficial ambassador of the university and its football program, said. “It was a tough decision but I wanted to be around as many kids as possible.”

More times than not, the NCAA is rightly and correctly criticized.  In this case, at least as far as how the rules are currently written, The Association got it right and correct.

NCAA rules won’t allow Marcus Lattimore to hold official staff position at South Carolina

COLUMBIA, SC - SEPTEMBER 22:  Marcus Lattimore #21 of the South Carolina Gamecocks breaks into the end zone for a touchdown against the Missouri Tigers during play at Williams-Brice Stadium on September 22, 2012 in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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Another day, another story that doesn’t portray the beleaguered NCAA in the most flattering of lights.

A playing career truncated by a significant injury he sustained while in college, Marcus Lattimore was invited by then-head coach Steve Spurrier in February of las year to serve as an ambassador for the South Carolina football program.  Even before he was officially hired to replace Spurrier, Will Muschamp was recruiting Lattimore to be a part of a hypothetical Gamecocks staff even as the former running back had previously stated he had no desire to coach at the collegiate level.

Lattimore remains an unofficial ambassador for the program, but he will not be permitted to hold an official title as part of the program’s support staff.  From David Cloninger of The State:

The NCAA has stated that Lattimore cannot join Will Muschamp’s staff at USC due to Lattimore’s status as a former player and his presence through football camps and foundation. The NCAA considers it an unfair recruiting advantage.

Cloninger adds that “Lattimore can still speak to the team and be on the program’s periphery, but he can’t be named to a staff position.”