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Spurrier On Feud With Former Players: ” A Bad Thing That Happened”

steve_spurrier6About a dozen former South Carolina players didn’t show up at a reception recently and coach Steve Spurrier wasn’t happy about it.

Spurrier banned the players from the weight room as punishment for a failure to show up at a cookout and reception at the home of school president Dr. Harris Pastides.

The coach told the ex-players the ban was in place until they wrote a letter of apology to Pastides.

Following South Carolina’s Saturday scrimmage, Spurrier addressed the incident in public for the first time.


“We had a reception at the President’s house and we thought everybody was going. About 12 of our senior guys decided they didn’t want to go. It was a little embarrassing for me. As soon as they write a letter of apology to the president, they can come back to the weight room. If they don’t think it’s important, they don’t need to come to the weight room. Pretty simple.”


According to the coach, several of the players have already followed directions.


“A lot of them are still out of town. Hopefully, they’ll all do it and we’ll all be happy again. But it was a bad thing that happened a week or so ago.”


One of the former players involved was safety D.J. Swearinger.  He was a spectator at Saturday’s scrimmage. Swearinger and tight end Justice Cunningham had taken to Twitter earlier to voice their displeasure about the weight room ban.

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Report: Carolina Not Likely To Name An Interim AD; Don’t Expect A Quick Decision

South Carolina president Harris Pastides is heading out of town for a week of business in Europe.  Eric Hyman is still the acting athletic director in Columbia through the end of July.  And Pastides has said that because of his travels and Hyman’s lengthy notice, he won’t have to rush to find and name the school’s next AD.

According to (behind a paywall) — the Rivals’ site covering South Carolina — the school’s board of trustees “would prefer not to name an interim AD.”

What that means is that the process of scouring the earth for the next guy has begun and that there are certain to be some informal connections made in the time while Pastides is out of the country.  If all goes to plan upon his return, you should expect the Gamecocks to have a new boss in place by the end of the month or the first of August without ever having named someone to the role of temporary fill-in.

That also means that while you’re sure to hear scuttlebutt and rumors and leaks regarding people who’re thisclose to being hired, it’s not likely that anyone will actually be hired for at least a few weeks.

(Famous last words.)

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Pinkel Says Arkansas-Missouri Will Be Cross-Division Foes

Earlier this year, R. Bowen Loftin and Harris Pastides — the top brass at Texas A&M and South Carolina — openly spoke of their soon-to-be permanent cross-divisional rivalry.  Now Missouri’s Gary Pinkel has confirmed that talk.

According to Matt Hayes of The Sporting News, Pinkel said today that Missouri will indeed land Arkansas as its permanent cross-divisional rival.  Mizzou’s coach can’t be happy about the fact that he’s losing Texas A&M and an every-other-year trip to recruiting-rich Texas.  At the same time, the fact that Pinkel has been comparing the talent in Atlanta to the talent in Dallas — as well as the fact that his school has put up billboards across Atlanta and the Peach State — makes this is a rather small surprise.

It’s been clear for a couple of months that MU officials believed they’d need to shift their recruiting focus from Texas to Georgia and Florida.




With Arkansas and Missouri pairing up, it will now be Steve Spurrier and Carolina who’ll get the benefit of playing in the Lone Star State every other season.  Ironically, when A&M was added to the league, Spurrier was the first coach to publicly come out and say that his school didn’t do much Texas scouting and recruiting.

That’s likely going to change.

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Martin Takes Over At Carolina; Ellington Back To Football & Hoops

Frank Martin to South Carolina.

Admit it.  You still can’t get used to South Carolina having a “name” basketball coach.  No up-and-comer.  No one on the downside of his career.  Nope.  A hot property who starred on CBS’ NCAA Tournament coverage just a week ago (where co-analyst Charles Barkley told him to take the Gamecock job).

Whether this one works out or doesn’t — and most Carolina basketball hires haven’t — you have to give AD Eric Hyman and the USC administration credit.  Gamecock fans should know — with the hires of Steve Spurrier and Dawn Staley and now Martin — that their school’s leaders want to have an upper-echelon SEC program and they’re willing to spend to get it.  Sure, that means fans will be paying more for tickets and parking and the like, but the effort of folks from president Harris Pastides on down should be appreciated. 

You can bet not all SEC fans feel their school is doing everything possible to bring in top-notch coaches and build first-class facilities.

As for Martin, his contract is a 6-year pact — the deals for new coaches are getting longer and longer these days — worth $1.9 million the first year, $2.0 million the second, and $2.1 million annually from the third year forward.

Describing himself as “the most positive human being that you’ll ever come across,” Martin met the media yesterday for the first time during his introductory presser.  He won that dog and pony show easily with comments like this:

“I don’t promise things.  The only think I promise is that our guys will be held accountable every day.  Our guys will be known as the hardest-working team in America.  There is no out on that on…

If you told me right now that I have to run a marathon and you told me where the finish line is at, it’s going to be hard for me to finish.  But if you show me where the next step is at, I’m willing to take that step.  This is not something that’s going to happen because I’m standing in front of you today, but it’s a process that’s going to happen.”

Part of that process could be made easier with the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC.  Those programs are quality.  And the league will increase its in-conference slate of games from 16 to 18 per season.  But depending on the scheduling format chosen by the league’s athletic directors and approved by the SEC’s presidents this spring, Carolina might — emphasis might — avoid having to face Kentucky, Florida and Vanderbilt twice each season as is currently the case.  That would be a plus for USC.

One possible minus, however, is the loss of Bruce Ellington… at least for a while.  After announcing he would play basketball only prior to Darrin Horn’s ouster, the two-sport star began to have second thoughts about hanging up his football cleats.  Last night, Spurrier said the point guard will indeed play football in the fall. 

“He thought it over and thought he made a little too quick (of a) decision,” Spurrier told The Charleston Post & Courier.  “He was quick out here (at practice on Tuesday).  He was one of the fastest guys on the field today.” 

While Spurrier gains a return man and receiver, Martin loses a veteran point guard who can score for the early part of his first season.  That’s just the first hurdle of many that the new hoops coach will have to clear to build Carolina’s program.

But if Day One was any indication, he’s already off to a good start.

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UGA’s McGarity Says “Everything Is Still On The Table” For Scheduling

Georgia’s Greg McGarity was one of four SEC ADs to enter last week’s scheduling talks in Nashville hoping to save “permanent cross-divisional rivals” when the league adopts its new scheduling format.

He told The Chattanooga Times Free Press that he feels better about the odds of Georgia-Auburn and Alabama-Tennessee being preserved:

“I do feel better.  The tone of the conversations that everyone had sort of gave the impression that everyone had a sense, at least the majority had a sense, of liking the rivalry game with an opponent from the opposite division.  The tone led us to believe that this has a good opportunity moving forward…

I think everything is still on the table.  We spent one full day on it, and I’m sure we’ll spend one full day on it in New Orleans once everybody’s had a week to think about it.”

From what South Carolina president Harris Pastides says, it sounds like things are further along than McGarity wants to say.

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SEC: Not A 9-Game Schedule Now

When South Carolina president Harris Pastides said over the weekend that the SEC would go to a nine-game conference schedule, we said, “told ya so.”

When SEC PR man Charles Bloom — and a host of SEC athletic directors — quickly said the league was staying at eight games per year, we said, “not for long.”

So now comes word from SEC Executive Associate Commissioner Mark Womack that the league will not go to a nine-game schedule “at this point.”  So would the league ever go to a nine-game format?  “I don’t know.  That would be up to our ADs and presidents to look at it.  The past has indicated there’s been little support for that.”

He also told The Birmingham News, “I think (Pastides) believes it’s something we’re certainly going to look at or thought it might be an idea.  But it’s a topic that really hasn’t had a lot of discussion at this point.”

“At this point” being a key phrase in all of that.

As we told you yesterday, the president of an SEC school doesn’t make up theories and pass them off as fact to his own student-newspaper.  Pastides said a nine-game conference schedule is coming.  He said schools would have to buy out one of their upcoming non-conference games.  He even guaranteed that Arkansas and South Carolina would continue playing as cross-divisional rivals.  That’s a lot of details for something he “thought” the league “might” consider.

Our take on this matter remains unchanged.

The SEC’s presidents discussed scheduling on some level when they decided to vote in Missouri.  To suggest they never considered scheduling or the impact it would have on their universities’ bottom lines is ridiculous.

Pastides opened his mouth on what most see as the obvious long-term fix.  (We broke it down way back in October and explained why a nine-game schedule would be the best option.)

But coaches and ADs are against the move.  They believe a nine-game schedule will be too difficult and could cost their schools home dates each year.

For that reason, Mike Slive is likely doing what he always does before a key vote… he’s politicking.  When Slive brought up the oversigning issue heading into this past spring’s SEC meetings, most assumed the league’s presidents would defer to their coaches and vote to do nothing.  We suggested that Slive wouldn’t bring the issue to a vote if he didn’t know beforehand that he had the votes needed to make changes.  And he did.  And the coaches were ignored.  And a soft 25-man signing cap was put in place.

Slive is a sharp man.  He knows that the SEC would suffer if schools like Florida and Alabama, Georgia and LSU, Arkansas and Missouri see each other just once every 12 years.  He’s no doubt formulated his plan.  The presidents have an idea of what that plan is. 

But the athletic directors haven’t had their meeting with the commish yet.  When they do, we believe they’ll walk away with the knowledge that the SEC will be going to a nine-game schedule at some point in the not-so-distant future.

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Carolina Prez Expects A Vote On Missouri Soon

South Carolina president Harris Pastides told The State newspaper in Columbia today — behind a paywall — that there is now a “prevailing positive viewpoint” on Missouri.

Pastides said once again that no vote has been taken on Mizzou but according to the paper, “he expects one soon.”

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Carolina President: No SEC Vote On Missouri Yet

While reports from the Show-Me State continue to suggest that Missouri and the Big 12 are finalizing an exit agreement today, South Carolina president Harris Pastides says the SEC has held no vote on MU yet.

“We’ve not even had a phone call scheduled yet.  They may call me, and there may be a vote on Sunday, but I’m not aware of one at this second.”

Seeing as how the SEC mistakenly posted a “Missouri joins the SEC” news item last night… and Mike Slive said yesterday that his league is still looking at 14-team schedules for 2012… and the Big 12 didn’t list Missouri as being one of its members when it put out a press release today… the whole vote thing doesn’t appear to be too big of a hurdle.

And do you believe Pastides in the first place?  Earlier this week Georgia AD Greg McGarity said the league was looking at 13-team schedules only.  Then an ESPN exec and Slive admitted otherwise.  So what’s to keep Pastides from fudging the truth a bit?

In fact, USC’s prez said this morning that he was “not aware of that at all” when asked about the SEC’s late night web gaffe.  Uh, yeah.  I’m sure no one mentioned that to the president of one of the SEC’s 12 current member institutions.

Pastides did tell The Daily Gamecock — hat tip to the student newspaper, by the way — that “there have been discussions” between the league and the school, but that those talks did not involve the presidents.

“There’s no scheduled vote, and they cannot do that (admit Missouri) until we vote.  But again, I might go up to my office and there could be an appointment.  I just don’t know.”

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USC Prez Talks Texas A&M And Delay

South Carolina president Harris Pastides released a statement discussing Texas A&M today.  It reads:

“I am very pleased with the current 12-university configuration of the Southeast Conference.  But, if we are going to expand, a university of Texas A&M’s quality is a great choice.

The conference has been very careful in its deliberations.  As a league, we know that this is not something that will happen until all of the Big 12 universities are in agreement about Texas A&M’s withdrawal.  It is prudent to wait to ensure that everyone is aligned.  At the point that happens, I will join my colleges in welcoming A&M.”

Someone let Pastides know that the official name of the SEC is the Southeastern Conference, not the Southeast Conference.

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Garcia’s Status Still A Question Mark For USC

The forecast for South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia is still cloudy these days.  A decision on the senior’s status — and that’s a decision that will impact the entire SEC East race — isn’t coming anytime soon.

Travis Haney of The Charleston Post & Courier reports today that Steve Spurrier said on a post-spring teleconference the following:

* The decision on Garcia will be made by Spurrier, AD Eric Hyman and Carolina president Harris Pastides.

* The decision will likely come “sometime during the summer.” 

* “We’ll see how he’s reacting to certain issues.”

* Garcia has been given guidelines.  “We’ll see how he follows those.”

* The coach has kept in touch with Garcia during his current suspension.

* The QB is just two classes shy of graduation and — notice this — Spurrier said, “With his degree in hand, obviously he’s eligible to play anywhere in the country.”

* He then said, “Hopefuly it’ll work out that he’ll get back with us with a lot better attitude than he’s ever had.”

Meanwhile, Cocks’ quarterbacks coach GA Mangus says that Garcia has been throwing with receivers Tori Gurley and Alshon Jeffery.  “He’s doing everything,” the coach said.  “Based on what I’ve been told, he’s been throwing with those guys on a daily basis.  He’s doing all the things, just like I’ve asked him.”

Mangus believes Garcia’s efforts are telling.  “If a guy comes over there and throws with his teammates every single day, and is going to class every day, I’m assuming his plans are to come back.”

He also made it clear that many of Garcia’s teammates are still fond of him.  “The kids love Garcia.  Garcia is a Velcro-type guy.  The kids like hanging out with him.  If I was 22, I’d hang out with him.”

If Garcia once again stumbles or if Carolina’s administration decided he’s out of chances, Mangus believes Connor Shaw will be ready for action.  “I think by the end of the summer, Connor’s going to be ready to play.  Connor’s a kid that I think is ready to take the next step.”

In the end, Haney writes that: “Mangus joked that he has no idea what makes Garcia tick, but that Shaw ‘is from our planet.’”

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