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SEC rolls out four-day media day schedule

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The SEC may be packing up their media day extravaganza and moving from Alabama to Atlanta, but this year’s media day schedule shows the SEC will still carefully roll out plenty of storylines over the course of a four-day love fest for the conference.

The SEC is setting up shop at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, which feels like a great landing spot for the new media day fun for the SEC. The conference has established Atlanta as a destination point for the end of the regular season and the city just played host to the first College Football Playoff national championship game between two teams from the same conference, the SEC (Alabama and Georgia). So why not kickstart a new football season with the media in Atlanta too?

New Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher will be the headline act for the first of the four media days for the SEC. Fisher will make his SEC Media Days debut as head coach of the Aggies on Monday, July 16. Other coaches speaking that day will be LSU’s Ed Orgeron and Kentucky’s Mark Stoops. Day 2 will be an interesting one with Georgia’s Kirby Smart in the spotlight coming off the SEC championship last fall and new Florida head coach Dan Mullen addresses the media for the first time as the Gators coach, although the former Mississippi State head coach is no stranger to the SEC media day circuit by now. Day 2 will also be the first SEC Media Day introduction for new Arkansas head coach Chad Morris and second-year Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke (Luke took over as head coach in Oxford after SEC Media Days last summer following the removal of Hugh Freeze not long after media days).

But when is Alabama head coach Nick Saban speaking, you ask? Day 3 (Wed., July 18 for those keeping track). Saban headlines the third day of the media day event for the SEC. Two other coaches speaking that day will be new head coaches in the SEC with former Saban assistant Jeremy Pruitt representing Tennessee and Joe Moorhead of Mississippi State stepping to the SEC podium for the first time. Missouri’s Barry Odom is also scheduled on day three. Day 4 will feature Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, South Carolina’s Will Muschamp, and Vanderbilt’s Derek Mason.

Player representatives for each school in addition to any other speakers will be announced at a later time.

South Carolina RB Rico Dowdle heading to surgery

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South Carolina running back Rico Dowdle will undergo surgery for a fractured bone in his left leg later this week. As a result, Dowdle will miss some playing time for an undetermined amount of time.

Dowdle was injured on Saturday in a win against Tennessee. Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp announced Dowdle will undergo surgery later this week.With just five games left in the regular season, the injury could potentially be a season-ending one, although Muschamp has not officially ruled Dowdle out for the year at this time. This is likely because Dowdle could potentially return for a bowl game. South Carolina is one win away from clinching bowl eligibility with a 5-2 record and some potential wins down the stretch. After a bye week this week, South Carolina hosts Vanderbilt and the Gamecocks host Wofford on Nov. 18 while the rest of the schedule includes a road game at Georgia, a home game against Florida and a regular season finale against Clemson.

Dowdle has rushed for 206 yards and a touchdown as South Carolina’s second-leading rusher this season. He carried the ball 11 times for a season-high 61 yards in a 48-22 victory over Tennessee two weeks ago before having just 19 yards on four carries against Tennessee before leaving the game with the injury.

Ty’Son Williams currently leads the Gamecocks with 328 rushing yards and a touchdown. He will remain the main focal point of the running game moving forward.

Muschamp: Deebo Samuel will be out for extended period of time

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South Carolina running back Deebo Samuel may have played his last game for the Gamecocks this season, but the door is not completely shut on the possibility fo a return later this season.

South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp said it is unknown exactly when Samuel could be able to return to the team but said his surgery for a fractured left fibula went well on Sunday.

“We are not certain when he’s coming back. I don’t want to comment much on the status part of it,” Muschamp said, according to The State. “You never know. The surgery went extremely well. [Team orthopedic surgeon Jeff Guy] was extremely pleased with how everything went. We will see what happens. He will be out for an extended period of time.”

That seems mildly more optimistic than Muschamp’s prognosis following Saturday’s loss to Kentucky. Muschamp suggested Samuel’s season was over immediately after the game at the time on Saturday. Regardless of the timeline and outlook, Muschamp expressed disappointment for Samuel.

Who was to blame for South Carolina-Kentucky handshake incident? Depends who you ask

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Prior to Saturday’s game between South Carolina and Kentucky, Gamecock team captains chose not to shake hands with their Kentucky counterparts at the pregame coin flip. A day after Kentucky topped the Gamecocks in Columbia, South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp issued an apology to Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops.

“That just fired us up even more,” Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson said, according to The State. “Gave us even more motivation, which was pretty stupid on their part, but they just didn’t want to shake our hands.”

In addition to extending the apology to Stoops, Muschamp told reporters his team captains will shake hands with their counterparts moving forward. It is unknown if the SEC will weigh in with any discipline for the lack of sportsmanship. But was South Carolina solely responsible for the handshake incident? Not according to South Carolina radio reporter Langston Moore, who seemed to pit some of the blame on Johnson.

Stoops had commented after the game about South Carolina’s captains not shaking hands with his captains, but at least one voice says there was blame to spread around. Two sides to every story, of course.

The bottom line is this is a good teaching moment if you believe in good sportsmanship. Shake hands. It’s not that hard.

Back for Moore: South Carolina LB Skai Moore to return in 2017

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After missing the entire 2016 season due to a herniated disk in his neck, South Carolina linebacker Skai Moore will return to the field in 2017 to play for the Gamecocks. It was previously expected Moore would be back for the 2017 season, but The State has confirmed and reported that is still the plan ahead of spring football in Columbia.

Moore’s 2016 season was over well before the first kickoff of the season when Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp announce din late May updated his status. Moore had aggravated a previous herniated disk from the 2015 season during a weight room session in the spring. Muschamp said the injury was not career-threatening and said at the time was for Moore to be back in 2017. Despite being eligible to take his game to the next level, Moore deciding to return for one more season is probably the best bet all around as he will be given a chance to prove he is back and ready to contribute to any scouts who may be paying close attention.

Moore was South Carolina’s leading tackler from 2013 through 2015 and recorded 110 tackles as a junior in 2015, earning him All-SEC honors.

The 2017 season will be Moore’s final year of eligibility.