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South Carolina Trickeration Touchdown Against Wisconsin

South Carolina pulls a trick play on Wisconsin as wide receiver  Bruce Ellington completes a pass to quarterback Connor Shaw for a touchdown in the Gamecocks 34-24 over the Badgers victory on New Year’s Day. (P.S. - yes, trickeration is a real word)

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USC’s Clowney Will Play In Opener, But Ellington Still Injured

gfx - they said itEarlier this week, Steve Spurrier called out three of his top players for not bouncing back from injury quickly enough.  Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and receiver Damiere Byrd returned to practice the next day.  Fellow wideout Bruce Ellington has not.

According the Gamecock coach, Clowney is now fully cleared for Carolina’s opener against the other Carolina two weeks from today:

 

“Clowney’s back full-go, he looks good.  Get the word out to those national media boys.  Clowney’s back in good shape, back in the fold.  He’s going to play against North Carolina.  All communication problems have been solved.  He’s back on the team in good standing.”

 

Spurrier’s quip about “those national media boys” feels a bit off since he himself told reporters that Clowney and the others might not play.  He also knows how to play the media like a harp.

As for Ellington, the coach said: “Bruce is still hurt.  He’s got a lingering injury that prevents him from practicing.  I don’t know when he’s coming back.  You’ll have to ask Bruce and the trainers about that, but he hasn’t done anything for a good week.”

Ellington — USC’s leading receiver last year — is dealing with a hamstring injury.

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Spurrier’s Veiled Message Received By Carolina’s Clowney, Byrd

gfx - they said itYesterday we told you that Steve Spurrier had on Monday gigged three South Carolina starters for not working through their injuries.  The Ol’ Ball Coach suggested that receivers Bruce Ellington and Damiere Byrd and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney might not play in the opener if they don’t get back on the practice field.  “We got a bunch of hurt guys that act like they’re really hurt right now; they may not play,” Spurrier said.

Just for emphasis, he added: “All I’m trying to say, if they can’t play, we got plenty of guys who can play.  So we’re not depending on them.”

Two of the three players Spurrier called out — Clowney and Byrd — were back on the practice field yesterday.  Spurrier then reported that all’s well again in Columbia (which suggests Spurrier views Ellington’s hamstring issues are legit):

 

“Jadeveon is doing fine.  Bruce is doing fine.  Damiere is doing fine.  We had a communication problem.  They didn’t know they’re going to be out here watching practices.  We had a communication problem and now we’re ready to go.”

 

Ah, so it was failure to communicate.

 

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Spurrier Sends A Message To Carolina’s Banged-Up Stars

gfx - they said itDefensive end Jadeveon Clowney and receivers Bruce Ellington and Damiere Byrd have been put on notice.  Their head coach wants them back on the practice field ASAP.

According to GoGamecocks.com, Steve Spurrier announced after last night’s practice in Columbia that his banged-up stars might be held out of the Cocks’ opener against North Carolina in 16 days:

 

“We got a bunch of hurt guys that act like they’re really hurt.  Right now, they may not play…

Damiere and Bruce tried to run this morning and it wouldn’t surprise me if they’re out the first game, the way their hamstrings are coming around.  So we’re planning on playing, maybe without them.  And right now, Clowney’s got a bruised shoulder.  If it doesn’t come around real soon, we may play without him in the first game.”

 

Asked if he might be trying to light a fire beneath the three players, Spurrier added: “All I’m trying to say, if they can’t play, we got plenty of guys who can play.  So we’re not depending on them.”

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USC’s Martin Says He’s Still Got His Team’s Back

gfx - they said itFrank Martin is a quote machine.  In fact, we should probably create a new icon that simply says “Frank Said It.”  Couple his loquaciousness with a miserable year on the hardwood — South Carolina is 12-13 overall, but 2-10 in SEC play — and you’re sure to get quotation gold.  Like these dandies Martin tossed out after his Gamecocks’ home loss to LSU last Thursday:

 

1.  “If you take (point guard) Bruce Ellington off our team, you’d probably have the 12 leading candidates for the starring roles in ‘The Return of the Living Dead,’ the zombie movie.”

2.  “I’ve been doing this for 28 years, nine of which as a junior varsity high school coach. That means I’ve dealt with 14-year-olds. I’ve never been more embarrassed to call myself a basketball coach than I am today.”

3.  “We lead the country in air-ball layups. If guys can’t make layups, it’s hard to win. You’ve got to invest yourself to be good. In life, you get what you deserve. If you don’t put in the time, that ball ain’t going to go in the basket. We’ve got guys that don’t comprehend that. They put in the time when I make them put in the time. They don’t put in the time for the love of the game. Until that doesn’t change, it ain’t going to get any better.”

4.  “If this was the NBA, we’d fine them, we’d take their money, we’d release them and say, ‘Good luck with ever finding another job.’ I shouldn’t coach basketball ever again if this is how my team plays.”

 

Yowza.  Those are the kinds of comments a coach can make in Year One because fans want to know that that the guy with the clipboard shares their pain.  After the honeymoon ends, however, those kinds of comments typically leave fans asking, “Well, why don’t you fix it?”

As for the comments themselves, don’t try to tell Martin that he was placing blame on his team.  Yesterday, he said that the above quotes dealt with the culture of his program, not his players:

 

“If you know anything about me, for 28 years I have never thrown my players under the bus.  I threw the culture under the bus.  I threw our approach under the bus. Don’t ever say I threw my players under the bus.

If you know anything about me that has never happened in 28 years. It didn’t happen yesterday; it ain’t happened today.  The day they kick me out of here and out of this business I still won’t do it. Now, our culture, our approach is no good.  That has to change.  But I am not throwing players under the bus.  I fight for my guys.  I don’t kick them.”

 

Our take?  He threw both USC’s culture and his players under the bus.  Though there’s nothing wrong with an occasional bus-throwing-undering if an entire team — and not just an individual or two — gets tossed onto the pavement.  Martin isn’t the first coach to rip his team in a moment of frustration.  Heck, John Calipari said on Saturday that some of his players are “uncoachable.”  It happens, even with some of the biggest “players’ coaches” out there.

But, “We’d release them and say, ‘Good luck with ever finding another job,’” is indeed a rip job of Martin’s players.  There’s no way to spin that one.

In his first season, trying to light a fire under his teams, we don’t see anything wrong with Martin’s tongue-lashing.  Again, it was aimed at the whole and not an individual.  But he’d better be careful with these kinds of remarks moving forward.  It doesn’t take long for fans to start blaming coaches for the underperforming athletes on their roster.

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Wow Evening Headlines 11/28/2012

Les Miles staying at LSU – getting a raise and contract extension
Jon Gruden and the Cleveland Browns have denied reports that Gruden has been offered a stake in the NFL franchise if he accepts the Tennessee job
A meeting between UT and Gruden reportedly cancelled
MrSEC.com is reporting that Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher is at the top of the wish list for both Auburn and Tennessee
Kentucky has hired Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops as its new head football coach
Heading into the SEC title game, Alabama CB Dee Milliner On Georgia QB Aaron Murray: “He does all the little things right.”
If Alabama wins the SEC championship and BCS championship, Nick Saban will earn more than $6 million in salary and bonuses
Vegas odds have Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel as the favorite to win Heisman Trophy
South Carolina coach Frank Martin says two-sport standout Bruce Ellington is back with the basketball team until the Gamecocks start bowl practice next month
Follow all of the SEC coaching search news at MrSEC.com and twitter.com/mrsec

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Horn Out At Carolina; Marshall Already Mentioned As A Candidate

So much for the whispers that Darrin Horn would survive at South Carolina.  The school has fired the coach after four seasons.

In the end, not even the decision by Bruce Ellington to become a hoops-only player could save Horn from his overall record in Columbia (60-63), the horrible season that just ended (the Cocks’ 21 losses tied a school record for futility), and dwindling fan support.

Athletic director Eric Hyman has scheduled a news conference for 1:30pm ET today.  By firing the coach now — and not waiting until April 1st as some had suggested — Hyman will have to hand over a $2.4 million buyout to Horn, rather than $1.6 million.  But as we wrote last week, what’s $800,000 bucks to an SEC school that’s raking in more than $20 million per year?

The State in Columbia is already naming potential replacements
as Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall — a Palmetto State native — and current Duke assistant Jeff Capel.  The paper reports that Hyman went after Capel — who was fired last spring from Oklahoma after five seasons — before hiring Horn four years ago.

Consider Marshall to be the fan favorite.  He took Winthrop to the NCAA Tournament in seven of nine seasons at the school.  His Wichita State program has gone from no tourney to the CBI to the NIT and now to the NCAAs in his five seasons in Kansas.  The Shockers — a #5 seed — will face VCU and “hot name” coach Shaka Smart in their opening game on Thursday.

Early last week, most in Columbia believed Horn would be retained.  But as the week wore on — and as Carolina nosedived out of the SEC Tournament — murmurs increased that Hyman might pull the trigger on his coach.  We were told by a source as recently as yesterday evening that they believed Horn would “barely” survive. 

Not so.

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Carolina’s Ellington Gives Up Football For Hoops

South Carolina two-sport star Bruce Ellington has decided to focus on just one sport moving forward and that sport will be basketball.  That move could help save coach Darrin Horn’s job.

Ellington played basketball exclusively as a freshman in Columbia.  He started 30 games for the Cocks in 2010-11 and led them in scoring with 12.8 points per game.  But last fall, Ellington gave football a go.

Running, receiving and returning kicks he put up 780 all-purpose yards and scored a pair of touchdowns for Steve Spurrier’s squad.  But he also missed out on preseason basketball practices and the early part of the hoops season as Horn tried to break in several new players.  Having a veteran like Ellington around would have surely helped on that front.  (Sidenote — Ron Morris of The State was publicly called out by Spurrier last fall in part because he wrote that USC’s football coach had poached Ellington from USC’s basketball coach… a charge denied by Spurrier and Horn.)

Ellington returned in time to play in 24 games with Carolina this past season as a sophomore.  He started just 15 games.  His minutes played, scoring and rebounding were all down slightly from his freshman year.

“Basketball’s always been my first love,” he said in a statement.  “After giving it a lot of thought, this is the decision I’ve made.  If you want to be great at something, you have to commit to it full-time… I appreciate Coach Spurrier for giving me an opportunity to play football at South Carolina.  It was a great experience, but right now I want to focus on basketball.”

This can only be viewed as a positive for Horn.  Whether it’s enough to save his job — and from what we’re told he will likely hang onto his job — remains to be seen.

Ellington was good enough to earn SEC Freshman of the Week honors in basketball and in football.

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Dogs, Hogs And Cocks Win On Wednesday

Three SEC basketball games on Wednesday night… three home teams victorious.  Such is life on the road in the SEC.  Or should we say death, because most SEC teams not named Kentucky are curling up and dying when they have to travel.


South Carolina 56, Alabama 54

No wonder the Gamecocks wanted Bruce Ellington back.  The two-sport star hit a driving bucket with 1.4 seconds left to lead Carolina to its first SEC win of the season.

Alabama, on the other hand, suffered its fourth straight defeat to fall to 2-4 in the SEC.  The loss to RPI #194 Carolina won’t help the Tide come tournament selection time… assuming they get things turned around and start living up to their preseason hype.


Arkansas 56, Auburn 53

It’s obvious now why Mike Anderson left Missouri for Arkansas.  He never loses at Bud Walton Arena.  Th Razorbacks’ 15-0 mark to start the season at home is their best since the 1997-98 season under Anderson’s old boss, Nolan Richardson.

Auburn — which fell to 2-4 in the league — actually shot better than Arkansas from the floor (40% to 35%) and outrebounded them 42-29. 


Mississippi State 76, LSU 71

The Tigers put up a nice fight on the road in Starkville, but in the end, Trent Johnson’s team had no answer for Arnett Moultrie.  The UTEP transfer scored 28 points and pulled down 12 rebounds for his league-leading 12th double-double of the season.

Jalen Steele continued his hot-shooting ways with a 15 effort on 3-of-4 shooting from beyond the arc.  LSU was led by Andre Stringer who tallied 17 points off the bench.


With Florida traveling to Ole Miss tonight, here’s a look at the current SEC standings:


School
Overall Record
SEC Record
Games Back
Kentucky
20-1
6-0

Vanderbilt
15-5
5-1
1
Florida
15-4
3-1
2
Miss. State
17-4
4-2
2
Arkansas
15-5
3-2
2.5
Ole Miss
13-6
3-2
2.5
Alabama
13-7
2-4
4
Auburn
12-8
2-4
4
LSU
12-8
2-4
4
S. Carolina
9-10
1-4
4.5
Tennessee
9-11
1-4
4.5
Georgia
10-10
1-5
5


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SEC Headlines – 1/6/12 Part One

1.  Florida’s Erik Murphy should be able to play in the Gators’ SEC opener tomorrow despite needing stitches over his eye after a collision in practice yesterday.

2.  Orson Charles and several other Georgia players are still deciding whether to stay in Athens or head to the NFL early.

3.  Kentucky will try to stop two-sport star Bruce Ellington when South Carolina visits tomorrow.

4.  Carolina’s football team will lose four starters on offense (including three on the line) and seven on defense.

5.  Kevin Steele has denied any connection to Tennessee, but he reportedly remains a viable candidate for the Vols’ defensive coordinator slot.

6.  A healthy Festus Ezeli makes Vanderbilt a much more complete team.

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