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The End Is Nigh (For College Sports As We Knew Them); What The NLRB’s Ruling Means For The SEC

repent-the-end-is-nigh-ye-must-be-cleansedA representative of the National Labor Relations Board ruled yesterday that Northwestern football players are employees of that university, not student-athletes.  And they are employees who help the school bring in a large amount of money.

From NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis to athletic directors’ offices across the nation, a long series of gulps and forehead slaps likely followed that announcement.

What does this mean to you, the fan?  It means that college football as you’ve always known it is one step closer to becoming a pay-for-play enterprise.  If that sounds good to you, just mull the possibilities (likelihoods?) over for a few minutes.

While yesterday’s ruling by the regional director of the NLRB’s Chicago office only opens the door for players at private schools to unionize, it won’t take long for attorneys to figure out some way to create something akin to a union at public schools.  (The National Labor Relations Board does not have jurisdiction when it comes to state-run institutions.)  And while the NLRB’s Northwestern ruling will be appealed, we’ve already seen that in at least one case — the first test case — at least one decision-maker has sided with the players and their attorney.  It’s likely then that there would be others at the NLRB who would agree with that decision.  Translation: Attorneys now have a battle plan.  And if one person views players as employees, it’s certainly possible that their will be likeminded individuals in the appellate courts or even the Supreme Court when this case winds its way through the justice system.

Attorneys are already feeling emboldened these days.  The Ed O’Bannon case has been cleared to go to trial this summer.  Another gauntlet was thrown down earlier this month when sports labor attorney Jeffrey Kessler announced he would sue the NCAA and the major conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC) on antitrust grounds on behalf of another group of athletes.

That’s one case that’s already been given the initial okey-dokey, another that’s going to trial this summer and another that’s coming down the pike if Kessler is to be believed (and he is).

Eventually, college football players will be paid.  The goal of the initial Northwestern move to unionize was to create full-cost-of-tuition scholarships/stipends for players.  And while there are other issues at play — research into concussion- and health-related issues, medical insurance, licensing of players’ likenesses, etc — the bottom line is simple: Players want a piece of the pie.

So let’s say we do end up in a world where college football players are allowed to unionize.  How long will those athletes be satisfied with full-cost-of-tuition scholarships?  Here’s guessing they’ll be just as greedy as the presidents, ADs and conference commissioners have been when it comes to pocketing cash.

How long before college basketball players push for a cut of profits?  The smaller the revenue brought in by a sport the less likely something akin to a union will be OK’d.  Still, if an attorney believes he can help college basketball players grab some loose change here or there, you can bet he’ll have little trouble finding players to represent.

If players are paid and they are unionized, get ready for strikes and threats of strikes when athletes — or attorneys representing athletes — decide they have some new desire that isn’t being met by the NCAA’s system.  Get ready for agent involvement as well.  If players are paid, they will need someone to help them with their cash and their taxes.  That or get ready to lose a star tailback to IRS issues.

Worst-case scenario?  Your favorite college football team could start facing the same problems as your favorite pro football team: stars asking for more money, free agency, hold-outs, etc.

Sound promising?

For now, at least, we’re talking about one private school and one ruling that could be appealed for years, all the way up to the Supreme Court.  But yesterday’s ruling was a helluva start for college athletes and the lawyers and attorneys hoping to represent them.

So what does this mean for your SEC in the short-term?  Commissioner Mike Slive put out a statement yesterday saying, “Notwithstanding today’s decision, the SEC does not believe that full time students participating in intercollegiate athletics are employees of the universities they attend.”  No surprise there.  Representatives of the NCAA and other major conferences have all responded in kind.  Yesterday’s ruling was not a welcomed one as it’s literally the opening of Pandora’s box.

As a private institution, Vanderbilt will likely be the first SEC school to face a union challenge, a la Northwestern.  Will Commodore football players vote to follow in their Northwestern counterparts’ footsteps?  Hard to imagine why they wouldn’t.

Elsewhere, state labor laws will apply.  State schools are not covered by the NLRB.  Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas are all right-to-work states.  A college football players union would be a no-go in those states.  That does not mean, however, that some attorney won’t be able to coax some players into striking (or threatening to strike) if they see that athletes in other states are making money while they are not.

The power is with the players on this one.  If they don’t play, schools lose money.  Would a university stand it’s ground and lose revenue or would it rush to reach some sort of agreement with its football players?  We’d bet the latter.  (The major conferences have already been pushing the NCAA for the right to provide full-cost-of-tuition scholarships in the hopes of fending off such a battle.  It’s likely they’ll be granted that power by the end of the year.)

There were two states from the SEC footprint that were not mentioned in the list above; Kentucky and Missouri are not right-to-work states.  They could be the first SEC schools — aside from private Vanderbilt — face a union or union-like challenge.

But this is actually a moot point.  If one SEC school provides X for its football players — due to a court ruling, a union, or just an internal decision — the rest of the league’s schools will have to follow suit.  No SEC school will want to be a non-paying school recruiting against one or more paying schools.  So if the Northwestern decision holds up in the long run, you can expect every school — right-to-work states or not, unions or not — to match what the Northwestern administration is eventually forced to pay.

Again, this could all play out over years.  It will be appealed repeatedly.  But the die has been cast.  And the end is nigh for college sports as we know them.

UPDATE — Former Missouri receiver TJ Moe seems to view the prospect of college football unions much as we do.

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Where The Talent Came From: SEC Signing Day 2014 (Part 2)

where the talent came fromEarlier today we showed you a full breakdown in table form of where each school went to land its talent this year.  Below, we’ll break things down a bit more simply, school by school and state by state.

Let’s start with the states producing the most SEC talent in 2014.  The league added — as of this moment — 344 new athletes.  Sixty-five of those were from outside the SEC footprint.  That means 279 of the league’s 345 newcomers are from the SEC region.  That’s 81.1% of all the new talent entering the conference.  Wonder why the SEC is so strong every year?  Because its 14 schools averaged fewer than five outsiders a piece this season.  Homegrown talent, folks.

So which states in the SEC zone produced the most newcomers?  Here the list…

 

  SEC State   SEC Newcomers   Thoughts
  Georgia   52   A lack of FBS schools allows SEC rivals to mine the state for talent
  Florida   50   More talent overall, but FSU, Miami, USF, UCF, etc to compete with
  Mississippi   38   Totals boosted by the number of junior colleges in the state
  Texas   36   16 to A&M so other 13 SEC schools just pulled 20 from the state
  Alabama   27   The state’s best are typically gobbled up by Alabama, Auburn
  Louisiana   25   LSU, for the most part, keeps the cream of the crop at home
  Tennessee   17   The state’s numbers have been on the rise as HS football improves
  S. Carolina   13   Clemson grabs a good number of players from this state
  Missouri   11   One would think the St. Louis metro area would produce more talent
  Arkansas   6   Traditionally a talent-poor state
  Kentucky   4   The SEC’s poorest state for talent each year

 

Alright, so what about the schools?  Where did the programs go to bring in the biggest chunk of their new 2014 talent?  Here’s the answer…

 

  School   Leading Talent State   % of Total Class   In-State Talent   % of Total Class
  Alabama   AL (7 of 27)   25.9%   7 of 27   25.9%
  Arkansas   AR & FL (5 each of 24)   20.8%   5 of 24   20.8%
  Auburn   GA (10 of 23)   43.4%   7 of 23   30.4%
  Florida   FL (14 of 24)   58.3%   14 of 24   58.3%
  Georgia   GA (11 of 21)   52.3%   11 of 21   52.3%
  Kentucky   OH (11 of 28)   39.2%   4 of 28   14.2%
  LSU   LA (12 of 23)   52.1%   12 of 23   52.1%
  Miss. State   MS (15 of 23)   65.2%   15 of 23   65.2%
  Missouri   MO (8 of 28)   28.5%   8 of 28   28.5%
  Ole Miss   MS (14 of 26)   53.8%   14 of 26   53.8%
  S. Carolina   SC (9 of 21)   42.8%   9 of 21   42.8%
  Tennessee   TN (10 of 32)   31.2%   10 of 32   31.2%
  Texas A&M   TX (16 of 22)   72.7%   16 of 22   72.7%
  Vanderbilt   GA (5 of 22)   22.7%   3 of 22   13.6%

 

Not a lot of surprises on that there list, huh?  Texas A&M (72.7%), Mississippi State (65.2%), Florida (58.3%), Georgia (52.3%), LSU (52.1%) and Ole Miss (53.8%) all brought in the majority of their new additions from inside their own home states.  Massive advantage if you’ve got it.

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Decision On FSU QB Winston Coming Soon, Heisman Watchers Hold Breath

jameis-winstonWe’re not big fans of the Heisman Trophy here at MrSEC.com.  As we’ve spelled out many times, the criteria for winning the overhyped award change from year to year and from voter to voter.  Peyton Manning loses out to Charles Woodson, then Champ Bailey puts up better numbers than Woodson and doesn’t come close to winning.  It’s a nonsense honor.

That said, many of you care a great deal about the Heisman.  No clue why, but you do.  So those of you who are interested should keep your ears open this afternoon.  The State Attorney of Florida will hold a press conference at 2 o’clock today to announce whether or not Florida State quarterback — and Heisman favorite — Jameis Winston will be charged with sexual assault.

Winston’s troubles began on December 7th of 2012 when he had sexual relations with a female FSU student.  He says the sex as consensual.  The young woman told police that she had been raped.  While the State Attorney’s decision will have a massive impact on the lives of both the accuser and the accused, today’s press conference will also affect the Heisman race.

If Winston is charged with sexual assault, you can be sure he will not win the Heisman Trophy, despite the fact that he’s the heavy favorite.  But just having his name attached to such a crime might have already cost him several votes — innocent or not.

The online betting site Bovada.com lists Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch (5-1), Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller (12-1) and Alabama signal-caller AJ McCarron (15-1) as the three most likely to take home the award should Winston (1-10 odds) not land it.

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel is no longer listed as a candidate by Bovada.

 

(UPDATEWinston will not be charged with sexual assault.)

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Rumors Continue To Tie Vandy’s Franklin To Southern Cal Gig

james-franklin-trojan-helmetSouthern California AD Pat Haden is reportedly nearing the end of his search for a new football coach.  Interim coach (and former Ole Miss coach) Ed Orgeron is no longer in the running for the Trojans’ full-time gig.  Boise State’s Chris Petersen has pulled his name out of the hat, as usual.

That leaves three candidates that we know of: Washington’s Steve Sarkisian (already interviewed), Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio (already interviewed), and Vanderbilt’s James Franklin.

Sarkisian is a former Trojan assistant.  Del Rio is a former USC player.  Franklin is the wild card.

From the coach’s perspective, it would be almost impossible to turn down one of the five best coaching jobs in the country to remain at Vanderbilt.  Yes, the school — like Southern Cal — is private and can toss plenty of cash around.  But Franklin has already worked miracles in Nashville.  He’s led the school to three straight bowl games for the first time ever and he’s won eight games in back-to-back years (with a chance to win nine in back-to-back seasons).  That’s not been done at Vandy since the 1920s.

Plus, Franklin has repeatedly called on fans to turn out for Commodore football games.  They haven’t.  There were thousands of empty seats for both the Kentucky and Wake Forest games as VU made its stretch drive.  Vanderbilt Stadium seats just 40,000, so unfilled seats are sure to chap a coach with Franklin’s aspirations.

Franklin also might be thinking it’s time to jump while the getting’s good.  Vanderbilt has beaten just two FBS squads with winning records over the last two years.  At some point, even at Vandy, fans will want more.  Ask Dan Mullen about feasting on cupcakes for too long.

Vandy AD David Williams needs to pull out all the stops to keep Franklin and you can be sure that he will.  But if USC offers, it’s hard to imagine Franklin not accepting.

However, oother issue at play is the rape trial involving four ex-VU footballers.  Defense attorneys have requested copies of the text messages sent back-and-forth between the players involved and Vandy’s coaches during the attempted cover-up.  Haden will have to discuss that matter with Franklin on the uber-slim chance that Vandy’s head coach in any way aided his players in trying to hide the deed.  That’s extremely doubtful, mind you, but after the Penn State scandal, it wouldn’t be prudent for an AD to hire a coach without asking about such an ugly episode.

USC is expected to name a coach in the next three weeks.

Stay tuned…

 

(UPDATESarkisian has now said he did not interview with Southern Cal.)

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Saban Not Happy With Alabama Fans Leaving Early

empty-bama-stadiumUh-oh.

Is this the kind of thing that could drive a man to leave Alabama for Texas?  (Pause for gasps.)  Probably not.

Still, Nick Saban is a little PO’d at the large number of Crimson Tide fans who vamoosed from Bryant-Denny Stadium before the end of Bama’s 52-0 rout of Arkansas last weekend.  The coach voiced his PO’edness yesterday:

 

“I’ve talked about players playing for 60 minutes in the game and competing for 60 minutes in the game.  And, in some kind of way, everybody that chooses to go to the game should stay there and support the team for the game…

Maybe if you’re not interested in doing that, you should let someone else go who would really like to go because I have a lot of people who want to go.”

 

Zing.  And that is the kind of statement only a coach with multiple BCS titles can make.  Let’s see Dan Mullen or Will Muschamp float a comment like that and see what the response is.

Saban sees the early exits as a hindrance to UA recruiting.  “We have lots of recruits there, we like to see an enthusiastic, full stadium,” he said.  “We have a beautiful stadium and one of the nicest venues in all of college football and I think we all should show our appreciation for it by staying and supporting our team for the whole game.”

 

UPDATE — The second link from the above story takes you to Michael Casagrande’s story on this subject at Al.com.  The photo is from Mr. Casagrande’s report as well.

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Saban’s Wife House-Hunting In Austin? Bama’s Coach To Texas? Yeah, Just Like Gruden To (Insert Team Name Here)

rumors-cartoonSorry, folks, but we’ve been down this road before.  A few dozen times.  Everytime a major job in America opens — especially the one at Tennessee — Jon Gruden’s name quickly becomes attached to it.

Mainly because his agent wants his name out there, because Gruden likes the attention, and because fans from Knoxville to Athens to Columbus to Madison to Austin to Los Angeles want to believe that Chucky would kill to land at their own supa-dupa school.

There’s a pattern to the Grudenmania.  A pebble of information turns into an rockslide.  Now it’s happening with Nick Saban.

All those fresh rumors about Saban’s wife house-hunting in Texas?  Yeah, we’re not buying.

We don’t mean to pick on anyone reporting this stuff, but we’ve come to know the drill.  We know that some people push this kind of stuff in order to drive up ratings/pageviews while others push it because they really want to believe it.  Either way, there’s an agenda.

BurntOrangeNation.com — the SB Nation site covering Texas — posted this story yesterday afternoon: “Was Nick Saban’s Wife House Shopping In Austin?  Reports Say: Yes.”  In the story, it’s written that the story of Terry Saban and her daughter-in-law house-hunting in Austin two weeks ago have been “confirmed by ESPN radio.”  The site goes on:

 

“With the backing of major players like ESPN allowing it over the airwaves and the historically accurate Jesus Shuttlesworth detailing her trip, it would be ignorant to treat as hearsay.”

 

Yes, who would ever label the reporting of a pseudonym-using man on a pay website (InsideTexas.com) as “hearsay?”

Also, there’s just one tiny problem with the whole “ESPN allowing it over the airwaves” thing.  The report was backed up by the afternoon radio host on Austin’s ESPN radio station.  An ESPN affiliate.  There are dozens of ESPN radio affiliates in dozens of towns big and small featuring hundreds of talkshow hosts credible and not.  No offense to Alex Loeb — said host on KTXX-FM 104.9 in Austin — but you can bet the brass in Bristol, Connecticut had zero idea what he was saying on his show.

Also, “Shuttlesworth” claimed that Terry Saban was interested in buying a “vacation home” in the Austin area.  (Conspiracy theorist: “Right, a vacation home.  Dude, he’s coming!”)

Now, the story blew up further when another KTXX-FM employee — on-air personality Erin Hogan – confirmed Loeb’s report and stated that “he has a source inside Travis County’s sheriff’s office who claims to have helped with Mrs. Saban’s security.”

(Conspiracy theorist: “Boom!  Gotcha now, Sabans!  Dude, he’s coming!”)

Apparently that report led numerous people to call the Travis County sheriff’s office to see if someone really did provide security.  But the stick-in-the-mud folks in that office told KXAN-TV in Austin that “they didn’t offer any kind of official security.”  The sheriff’s office also tweeted: “Regarding the Saban escort story it is hearsay.  There was no deputy escort”

(Conspiracy theorist: “No official escort by a deputy, but that doesn’t mean the sheriff his own self couldn’t have driven with them while off duty!  Dude, he’s coming!”)

A few thoughts:

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Much Ado About Something That Goes On Every Week

man-with-binocularsSignal-stealing.  The grand no-no of sports.  The type of skullduggery that only a genuine nogoodnik would engage in.

Well, yeah.  That or everybody frickin’ does it.

In case you missed it over the weekend, current Alabama assistant director of player personnel Tyler Siskey was caught on camera using binoculars — apparently — to try and swipe Ole Miss’ signals as they were being relayed onto the field.  Siskey, you see, is a former assistant coach under Mississippi’s Hugh Freeze.

 

Ole Miss / Alabama 2013: Siskey sells out Freeze

 

A number of Rebel fans are now crying “Cheater!” and demanding an SEC inquiry.  Those folks are way, way off base.  (And I would say the same regardless of the teams involved… for all you who’ll claim I must be a big ol’ Bama fan.)

First, signals are stolen all the time.  There’s a reason so many coaches bury their faces in playsheets when speaking.  They’re not only worried about sign-stealing, they’re worried about lip-reading.  Schools also have multiple people sending in signals with some doing so for dummy purposes.

Second, knowing that Siskey had switched sides, you can be sure that Freeze and crew changed their signals for Saturday’s game.  And if they didn’t, that’s on them.

Third, I would bet you that Freeze and Ole Miss have at some point tried to steal a sign or two from some other team at some point.  Again, if no one’s doing it, why do coaches hide their mouths behind those giant laminated call sheets?

And fourth, if the SEC were to investigate, it would become a much, much bigger issue.  Think Spygate.  Conspiracy theorists claim that the New England Patriots cheated their way to three Super Bowl victories.  That’s because the NFL wanted to make sure Bill Belichick followed the edict they sent to every team: “No taping signals with video cameras.”  But in sending that message, the NFL caused itself a much bigger headache.  (Interestingly, the Belichick’s winning percentage post-Spygate is better than it was pre-Spygate.)  No one ever stopped to think that while it’s illegal to steal signs with a camera, it’s legal — because technically it’s unstoppable — to have a guy with binoculars and a note pad gather the exact same information.  The NFL made it a major issue.  Then it became a game-tarnishing issue because no one knew what was being discussed and everyone wants to believe they’ve been cheated (see: Ole Miss fans today).

If the folks in the SEC league office are wise, they won’t go anywhere near this one.  Any investigation would become an overblown issue in the age of social media and wall-to-wall ESPN coverage.  Also, there’s no way for the SEC to keep an eye on everyone in a stadium who is using binoculars.  (It’s a certainty that schools would start sending “plain clothes” sleuths into the stands to stare down the opposing sideline.)

The correct play here is to let the schools of the SEC handle sign-stealing by changing signals and covering mouths.  It’s part of the game.

If you don’t grasp that, tell Santa and Ms. Clause I said hello.

 

UPDATE — If you don’t like my take, here’s another from an ex-college assistant.  Warning: He sees things the way I do.

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SEC Headlines 9/30/2013

headlines-monSEC Football

1. Many of Alabama’s statistics are on the rise after the Crimson Tide’s blowout win over Ole Miss.

2. The return of Alabama cornerback Deion Belue played a big role in the secondary’s improved play.

3. Auburn will host Ole Miss this Saturday. Here are three reasons it’s a big game.

4. Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace expects fireworks when it travels to take on Auburn.

5. How did Arkansas do in its loss to Texas A&M? Here’s a postgame review.

6. LSU coach Les Miles expects his defense to improve, although he knows the unit struggled badly against Georgia.

7. Good for Mark Richt in seeing Georgia get a big win, writes Gary Laney.

8. Georgia is up to No. 6 in both polls. LSU fell out of the top 10 in the USA Today poll.

9. Texas A&M’s offense looks unstoppable at times, but its defense still has a lot of improving to do.

10. Florida coach Will Muschamp was “proud” of his team after it handled Kentucky on the road.

11. Georgia knows it can’t afford to let up after going 3-1 during its most difficult part of the schedule.

12. Why didn’t Kentucky use freshman running back Jojo Kemp more against Florida. “I’m not sure, to be honest with you,” Mark Stoops said.

13. The value of Jadeveon Clowney is more than $2 million for South Carolina.

14. Tennessee confirmed it will wear its “Smokey gray” uniforms against Georgia on Saturday.

15. Tennessee has to limit its mistakes as it returns to SEC play.

16. Vanderbilt’s win over UAB was nice, but the Commodores are still looking for their first SEC win.

17. Dave Matter has some thoughts on Missouri’s 4-0 start as the Tigers prepare for SEC play.

18. Georgia-LSU and Alabama-Texas A&M both featured a ton of points. “This is your new SEC in big games that matter,” writes Matt Hayes.

19. What did we learn about the SEC in Week 5? Barrett Sallee takes a look.

Practice/Injury Reports

20. Georgia running back Todd Gurley is “day-to-day” with a sprained ankle.

SEC Basketball

21. There’s more excitement surrounding LSU basketball entering coach Johnny Jones’ third year in Baton Rouge.

Extra

22. What’s next at Southern California now that Lane Kiffin has been fired? Bruce Feldman takes a look.

23. Ex-Longhorn Earl Campbell says it’s time for Texas to move on from coach Mack Brown.

24. Athlon Sports has 10 possible replacements for Kiffin. Two of them are currently in the SEC.

25. Oregon running back De’Anthony Thomas injured his right ankle on the opening kickoff against California.

UPDATEMeet the SEC’s Players of the Week.

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New Tennessee Uniforms To Be Unveiled Today?

Got 22 seconds?  If so, the University of Tennessee has posted a quick teaser for what appears to be a new uniform reveal.  The video’s “08. 15. 13.” date tag suggests the Vols will whip out their new duds today.

 

 

From the looks of it, the Volunteers will be sporting orange socks and shoes.  There also appears to be some silver on the socks.  There have been rumors in Knoxville that Tennessee will break out an alternate uniform featuring silver, gray or chrome this season.  Some say the new duds will be a dark, dark gray color called “Smokey,” which is part of the school’s main color palette.

Looks like another school is about to join the long list of programs who sport multiple uniforms.

Traditionalists, bow your heads.

 

UPDATE — Yup.  Tennessee will break out an all-dark gray uni at some point in 2013.

 

new-tennessee-uniform

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Georgia’s Murray Says Game-Planning The Key To Slowing Carolina’s Clowney

gfx - they said itAt SEC Media Days, South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney said that Georgia’s Aaron Murray was one of three quarterbacks he believed to be scared of him.  Asked about that comment a day later, Murray’s coach, Mark Richt, said that he knew he would be scared of him if he saw him across the line of scrimmage.  And earlier this week, Richt went even further to say that Clowney “might be the very best player who exists today, at any level.”

So Clowney says Murray’s scared and Richt thinks he’d have a reason to be.  So what does Murray have to say about college football’s most athletic D-lineman?  That you have to out scheme him to slow him down:

 

“He’s a stud.  He’s good.  You’ve got to chip him; you’ve got to slide-protect to his side; you’ve got to hit him every time you can.  You’ve got to get two bodies on him, knock him around a little bit, run at him.  We know when that time comes we’ll game plan for him.  I know Coach (Mike) Bobo will have us set and ready to go.

But that’s the problem.  You’ve got to put so much focus on (Clowney), but you’ve got to also prepare for 10 other players on the field.  So it’s kind of tough when you have an athleete like that out there on one side of the defense.  Everybody wants to focus on him but, as a whole, they’re a solid defense.  It’s tough because you don’t want to put too much attention on him because those other guys are good, too.”

 

South Carolina is 2-0 against Georgia and Murray with Clowney on the field.  Against the Dawgs, Clowney has recorded six tackles and one sack.  Those aren’t Hall of Fame numbers, but how much his mere presence on the field has opened things up for his teammates can’t be quantified.

Murray and crew will get another shot at Clowney’s Gamecocks on September 7th in Athens.

 

UPDATE — Steve Spurrier responded to Richt’s praise of his player by saying he was surprised by it.  “That was a little strong right there,” he said on The Jim Rome Show.  “Obviously, Jadeveon is probably the best defensive lineman in college football.  I think everyone agrees with that.  But when you start putting lineman in there with quarterbacks, receivers and running backs, I don’t know what he’s trying to say.  If he’s trying to fatten up Jadeveon’s thinking, I hope it doesn’t work.”

Or maybe Richt was just being his usual nice guy self and saying glowing things about one of Spurrier’s players.  It’s interesting that Spurrier would look for a hidden message in Richt’s comment.  Perhaps he’s read — and practiced — “The Art of War” one too many times himself.

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