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Carolina Concern: Spurrier Goes Pinkel On Clowney

jadeveon clowney-chasing-qbLast fall, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel caused his starting quarterbacks some headaches when he let the world in on the fact that James Franklin had refused a painkiller shot before the Tigers’ game with Arizona State.  “It was just too painful for him, and he didn’t want to play,” Pinkel said.

Franklin and Pinkel are now flying high again at 5-0 and their past woes are behind them.  Carolina fans should hope that some apparent friction between Steve Spurrier and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney should play out as well.

Despite bruised ribs, Clowney was expected to play on Saturday against Kentucky.  He didn’t.  Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said he was “totally surprised” that his star didn’t go.  Spurrier said more:

 

“I will just say he told me he couldn’t play, that his ribs hurt.  Couldn’t run.  Said, ‘I can’t play.’  I said, ‘That’s fine, you don’t have to play.’  We’ll move on.  He may not be able to play next week (versus Arkansas), I don’t know.  We’re not going to worry about it, I can assure you if he wants to play, we’ll welcome him to come play for the team if he wants to. 

If he doesn’t want to play, he doesn’t have to play, simple as that.  We were thinking he was going to suit up and play.  He did not practice Thursday.  Couldn’t run.  Said he couldn’t play.  Any time a player says he’s hurt, can’t play, who are we to question?  He doesn’t play.”

 

Here’s the video of Spurrier’s comments.  Draw your own conclusions:

 

Spurrier on why Clowney did not play vs. Kentucky

 

Asked about Clowney’s commitment to the team yesterday, Spurrier said, “You’ll have to ask him that.  I can’t speak for Jadeveon.”

Ouch.

But Spurrier also explained that Clowney didn’t have bruised ribs.  Instead he has a strained muscle near his rib cage.  And the Ol’ Ball Coach’s frustration came from the fact — he said — that he “didn’t know he wasn’t playing until right before the game.”

Fair enough.

But it will be interesting to see how this story develops throughout the week and the season.  Some, after all, are already writing things like this: “It’s pretty clear to me that Clowney is the one tanking for the NFL by giving up on his 2013 season.” 

Tanking the season?  Or truly injured?  On Saturday, Spurrier didn’t seem to be buying the injury bit.  In fact, he sounded a whole lot like Pinkel a year ago.

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MU’s Franklin On 2012 Injuries: “I Let It Affect Me Mentally More Than Physically”

Missouri v KansasMissouri’s 2012 debut season in the SEC was in large part scuttled by a number of visits from the injury bug.  The offensive line suffered a full-on infestation.

Mizzou’s quarterback — James Franklin — was also bitten a time or two.  He admits now that all of the bumps, bruises, sprains and strains go to his head:

 

“There was always something to deal with.  But the biggest think was I let it affect me mentally more than physically.  Yes, it hurt.  I was prevented from doing some things physically.  But for the most part it was more a mental thing for me.  I’d worry if there was going to be pain on this throw, pain on that throw.  I wasn’t as strong mentally as I am now.  I really let it affect my game and how I played.”

 

This admission likely won’t sit well with some Tiger fans who already believed Franklin to be too soft.  Mizzou head coach Gary Pinkel did his quarterback’s reputation no favors last year when he revealed post-Arizona State game that Franklin turned down a painkiller shot.

According to Pinkel at the time: “It was just too painful for him, and he didn’t want to play.  He said, ‘It hurts too much.  I can’t play.’”

Now out from under the bus where Pinkel tossed him, Franklin is healthy again and hoping to regain his 2011 form.  His 296.4 yards-per-game of total offense in ’11 would have placed him fourth on the SEC’s list in 2012.

For Missouri’s sake — and for the sake of seeing another good athlete on SEC fields this fall — here’s hoping Franklin’s body and mind hold up to a new season of wear and tear.

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SEC’s Open Door Policy Turns Media Days Into Slow-Pitch Softball

Softball 0132Here’s a well-known fact about SEC Media Days: If you apply for a media credential, you’ll get one.  The conference seems to greatly enjoy the fact that ESPN descends on its festivities each year and televises image after image of standing room only crowds into the living rooms of American sports fans.  SEC spokespeople have been quick to point out that more 1,200 media credentials were handed out for this year’s event alone.

But there’s a problem with opening the doors to everyone — not everyone is really a media member.  Now, we’ve said many times that “everyone is the media” these days thanks to cell phone cameras, social media and the internet.  But when it comes to this type of information grab, the conference should probably be just a bit more discerning with regards who gets into the building.

With so many fans now attending the event, the questions being asked of the league’s millionaire coaches have gone from polite with the occasional fastball… to one softball after another.  Now, not every media session should result in the grilling of a football coach.  There’s certainly room for a few lay-up questions for those media members working on niche columns and sidebar stories.  But there are some obvious real questions that just haven’t been asked today.

Examples:

 

*  Will Muschamp, your offensive line coach Tim Davis made a reference to the fact that you and he worked under “the Devil himself” in Nick Saban.  There have been some apologies going back and forth, but has Davis apologized personally to Saban and what is the nature of your relationship with your old boss?

*  Gary Pinkel, you’ve built Missouri into a winning program, but now, after a 5-7 season, the critics have grown louder.  Do you feel as if you’re on a so-called “hot seat” this season and is it fair for you to face such scrutiny after what you’ve achieved in Columbia?

*  Gary Pinkel, last year your quarterback James Franklin took quite a bit of heat from fans and a few in the media for refusing to take a pain-killing shot before the Arizona State game.  In hindsight, do you wish you’d kept that information private and what is the current status of your relationship with your quarterback?

 

Those aren’t ugly questions.  They’re legitimate questions.  The coaches might have dipped, dodged, and ducked them, but better to attempt to get an answer to a good question than to lob up another eephus pitch.

We expected a few more legit queries today.  But it seems that as the number of media credentials goes up, the number of tough questions goes down.

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Columnist Disses USC’s Clowney While Posting Top 25 Players In College Football

gfx - they said itMatt Hayes of SportingNews.com has probably gotten a lot of ugly emails from the Palmetto State in the last few hours.  That’s because the columnist went out of his way to diss South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney in his yearly ranking of the top 25 players in college football.

Hayes ranks Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel as the top player in the country.  Then he writes the following about Clowney:

 

“If this were based on NFL measureables only, Manziel wouldn’t be in the Top 20 — and we’d have to take a longer, harder look at South Carolina’s Clowney, too.

Don’t believe it?  Watch last year’s Outback Bowl and see what happened when Clowney went head-to-head against an elite left tackle.

Michigans’ Taylor Lewan clearly got the best of Clowney, and at time dominated the best defensive player in the college game.

Not only is Clowney behind Manziel, he also trails the most exciting player in the game and the game’s next big star.  And as far as pure production, Clowney can’t touch what defensive tackle Will Sutton did last year at Arizona State.

Maybe Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops was right after all with that SEC propaganda talk.  Or maybe Clowney simply is the third-best player in a league full of stars (nine of the top 25 are from the SEC).”

 

Just me or does that smack of trolling a bit?  We’ll play along and give you the link to Hayes’ top 25 list right here.

For the record, Manziel is on top followed by Georgia running back Todd Gurley (#3), Clowney (#4), Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron (#9), Alabama running back TJ Yeldon (#10), Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews (#15), Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray (#17), Florida cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy (#19), and Alabama linebacker CJ Mosley (#21).

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MU’s Franklin Tries To Stay Upbeat With Twitter Twirps

james-franklin-mu-new-uniMissouri quarterback James Franklin came into the 2012 football season with high expectations.  In 2011, the dual-threat signal-caller posted 21 touchdown passes (against 11 interceptions) and 15 rushing TDs.  He was expected to be the top new QB in the SEC last year.

But things started badly with Franklin needing offseason surgery on his throwing shoulder.  Coach Gary Pinkle did Franklin no favors when he stated publicly that his quarterback had eschewed a painkiller shot before a September date with Arizona State.  Franklin threw just 10 touchdown passes and rushed for none during his injury-plagued campaign.  In addition, “Johnny Football” happened at Texas A&M, making Franklin’s SEC debut appear even worse.

Unfortunately for Franklin, he now quarterbacks in the age of Twitter and Facebook.  Fans are no longer limited to sharing their frustrations via boo birds.  Now they can reach right out and smack their school’s players around via the internet.  In Franklin’s case, some have.

According to The Columbia Tribune, last month Mizzou’s quarterback tweeted some words of encouragement to Tiger hoopster Phil Pressey.  A few MU fans — can they really be called fans? — had tweeted insults in the direction of the point guard.  Franklin responded with this: “So much for One-Mizzou: if a family member messes up you should positively support them, not make them feel awful! Keep your head up Phil”

At that point, fans began showering Franklin with insults, too.  He tried to respond with humor:

 

Fan:  “You’re right.  Keep strong and be positive.  And maybe you’ll be 3rd string next season”

Franklin:  “3rd string?  Thanks!  I was only giving myself a chance at 4th”

Fan:  “from one failure to another lol”

Franklin:  “yes, we are huge failures!  At least we get a free education right?  I forgot that not everyone fails, my bad”

Fan:  “you gotta be kidding me!!  Pressey is in the same category as you.  Suckass when the games on the line.  #georgia”

Franklin:  “haha no, no one is in as bad of a category as me”

Fan:  “coming from the king of clutch himself… At least he doesn’t always seem to be hurt when the games get tough”

Franklin:  “I’ve always wanted to be a king yeah, but I just love faking injuries to get out of tough games”

Fan:  “have fun sitting on the bench next year.”

Franklin:  “thanks, I will try!  But I may get hurt…benches are rough”

 

Now, as this writer has learned via our own MrSEC.com comment boxes, responding to anonymous posters in any way, shape, or form usually leads to trouble.  Regular readers of this site know, too, that I’m in agreement with the growing number of college coaches who ban their players from Twitter.  No good can come from college athletes using social media to engage and interact directly with upset fans.  So some of the blame for this episode does lie with Franklin.

But the truly sorry part of this story is the fact that people who claim to root for Missouri have tried to insult and damage the confidence of a player who needs their support.  What exactly is their goal?  Just to hurt another human being?

I’ve personally never understood the concept of booing, so tweeting nasty comments directly to an athlete seems even more classless.  And if the player is on your favorite team it seems even more pointless.

Franklin had a disappointing 2012.  Many he expect he’ll lose the starting quarterback job to Maty Mauk before 2013 opens.  But while in Columbia, Franklin has already had to deal with knee and shoulder injuries.  You would think that he would have earned himself a little compassion, if not respect, from Tiger fans.

But in the age of Twitter and the internet, you’d be wrong.

As for the “fans” doing that all that negative tweeting, they’d better hope recruits don’t read their cowardly, trashy comments and decide those folks are representative of the entire MU fanbase.

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QB Dobbs Flips From Sun Devils To Vols

mrsec-breaking-newsThree-star quarterback Joshua Dobbs of Alpharetta, Georgia has officially flipped from Arizona State to Tennessee.  While a three-star commit isn’t likely to wow Vol fans, Dobbs appears to fit the spread system of new coach Butch Jones.

Also, considering the mess Jones inherited on the recruiting trail, flipping anyone should be viewed as a positive for UT.

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Williams Ready To Announce Decision

Running back David Williams from Philadelphia will announce his decision on Jan. 4 during the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl in Los Angeles.

Williams is considering South Carolina, Arizona State, Miami and Penn State.

South Carolina has continued to lead for the services of Williams thanks in large part to the recruiting of head coach Steve Spurrier and quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus.

“When I went down there I was impressed with the facilities and the area down there,” Williams told ESPN RecruitingNation. “Also, I got a great relationship with Coach Mangus and also talk to Coach Spurrier every two weeks.”

Williams told ESPN he will only visit South Carolina (Jan. 18) if he chooses the Gamecocks.

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Vols Commit Miles ‘Really Considering’ Texas A&M

Texas A&M is making a strong push for Tennessee safety commitment Kameron Miles.

The Mesquite, Texas, standout recently received a scholarship offer from Texas A&M. The new interest from the Aggies has Miles rethinking his recruitment.

“I have a lot of interest in them,” he told Gigem247.com. “I like how they’re playing right now. I’ve been watching a lot of their games and they’re competing. I’m very interested in them right now.”

Miles is trying to decide when he’ll take an official visit to Texas A&M. He said co-defensive coordinator Marcel Yates is hoping Miles will visit sometime this month.

“He wants me to come down there for a game but I told him I’ll most likely come down after the season is over for a regular official visit,” Miles said. “I’ve never been to Kyle Field for a game so that’s something I’m trying to do.”

Miles is also waiting to learn what will happen with Tennessee’s coaching staff. The status of head coach Derek Dooley is in question with three games remaining in the Vols’ season.

“If something goes down with the coaching staff then I’ll have to open up my recruitment and explore all my options,” Miles said. “It all depends on who stays and who leaves if something goes down over there.”

Miles, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 13 safety by 247Sports, has already taken official visits to Tennessee and Arizona State.

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USC’s Spurrier Says “Time Will Tell” With Mizzou

Missouri has played two SEC football games to date and lost both by 21 points.  One game was closer than it looked, the other not so much.

But before kicking dirt on the Tigers’ 2012 campaign, it should be noted that those losses came to two undefeated teams currently ranked in the Top 10.  In their only other game against an FBS opponent, they beat Arizona State with their backup quarterback behind center.

South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier saw the SEC’s newest bunch of Tigers up close on Saturday during his team’s 31-10 victory at Williams-Brice Stadium.  He’s not quite ready to bury Mizzou just yet:

 

“I think time will tell.  I don’t want to make any predictions, and they’ve got a tough game this week.  Are they underdogs going down to Central Florida.  UCF is a good team down there, but I think we’ve all got to play the season out.  Some teams get better as the season goes along, and some teams get worse.”

 

For the record, the game opened as a “pick ‘em” but the line now has UCF as a three-point favorite on its home field.

As for Missouri coach Gary Pinkel, he says the Tigers “are disappointed we didn’t play any better” against Carolina and Georgia.  But like Spurrier, he says things aren’t over yet.  “There is a lot of season left, and the SEC is obviously a great league, and we’re excited being in it and want to do a better job.”

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Mizzou’s Pinkel Talks Up QB Franklin’s Toughness; Time To Switch The Focus From Franklin To Painkillers

On Saturday, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel put his foot in his mouth.  By revealing that starting quarterback James Franklin had refused a painkilling shot in his bum shoulder, the coach laid the groundwork for plenty of people to take potshots at his QB.

Saturday’s comment from the coach came after Corbin Berkstresser had led the Tigers to a 24-20 win over Arizona State.  He was speaking of Franklin and explaining why he didn’t play:

 

“It was too painful for him and he didn’t want to play.”

 

That one sentence — even more than the painkiller bit — caused a stir in the Show-Me State.  Some said Mizzou’s QB must not be tough enough.  Others — and I’m one of them — said Pinkel stepped in it by making that kind of remark in the first place.

Apparently the coach now realizes how his comment was interpreted so he tried to walk it back yesterday:

 

“Anybody that questions James Franklin’s toughnesss, they have to have been in a coma that last two years.  He’s one of the toughest athletes I’ve ever been around.”

 

Better late than never.

Pinkel’s comments would not have been necessary if the SEC or NCAA decided to start putting out NFL-like injury reports on a weekly basis.  If that had been the case, the media would’ve known before Friday afternoon that Franklin was questionable or even doubtful due to a shoulder injury.  Any questions could have been answered by Pinkel with a simple, “his shoulder wasn’t up to it.”

Instead, the coach opened up more than most about his player’s injury and he paid the price for it.  Sadly, so did Franklin’s reputation with some fringe Tiger fanatics.  But the signal-caller told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he didn’t have a problem with his coach.  “I know he didn’t meant anything by it,” Franklin said.  Asked what the pain was like, he said: “like a 10-inch size bumble bee stabbing in there.”

A big bee with a knife?  Sounds pretty painful to me.

Franklin’s father spoke out yesterday and revealed that his family doesn’t believe in painkillers and that that’s how Mizzou’s starting quarterback was raised.  Turns out, Franklin ixnayed a shot to the knee last season, too.

While some have bickered over the desire and toughness of Franklin, the bigger issue that’s going unmentioned is the danger in giving college-age kids painkillers in the first place.  Yes, we know it happens all the time.  Yes, we know it’s gone on for years.  No, we don’t believe it’s a good thing.

Painkillers — shots or pills — can be very addictive and habit-forming in adults.  But with a person in his teens or early twenties, there’s even less history to use as a guide for who should and who shouldn’t be given painkillers.  Some players never have a problem them.  Unfortunately, some do.

We believe it’s time for the NCAA — with its desire to protect student-athletes — to start cracking down on the “take two of these” culture of college football.  That doesn’t mean painkillers should be outlawed altogether, but the meds shouldn’t be handed out like candy, either.  Talk to ex-jocks or their parents and you’ll quickly find out that often times that’s exactly how they’re doled out.

So perhaps some of those billions of dollars that schools will make from a new FBS football playoff can be spent creating a system that better monitors what players are given for pain, how much they’re given, and when they’re given it.

Until then, any fan questioning the toughness of a college athlete should probably zip it.  It’s the player’s body, not yours… not mine.  It’s his.  And Franklin took care of his body as is his right.

Good for him.  And good for Pinkel in finally coming out and trying to stop a debate that he inadvertently started.

We’ll say good for the NCAA if we see them take any steps at all towards studying or further regulating the use of painkillers on college campuses.

Update: Franklin spells out his thinking via Instagram.

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