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USC To Face UNC In Charlotte As Neutral Site Games Continue To Boom (Something Our Futurists Predicted Years Ago)

bank-of-america-stadiumThis fall, South Carolina will open the 2013 football season against North Carolina in Columbia.  The two teams will also meet to open up the 2015 season, but that game will take on a more special feel.

The Charlotte Observer reports that the Gamecocks and Tar Heels will butt heads in Charlotte at the NFL Panthers’ Bank of America Stadium.  An official announcement is expected to come tomorrow.

The explosion in the number of neutral site games across the college football landscape is something we discussed way back in July of 2009.  In a piece focusing on the future of the SEC, we sat down with a sports marketing expert and tried to imagine what might come next in the world of college sports.  “Keeping The SEC On Top: What’s The Next Big Thing” provides a snapshot into a world when the SEC’s twin TV deals were still wowing folks and the overall US economy was still frightening them.

Now four years on, it’s a pretty interesting read.

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UK Ready To “Shock The World”

The folks in Lexington are optimistic.  About football.

Well, at least the football team is optimistic.  Take these comments from sophomore linebacker Alvin “Bud” Dupree:

“We’re going to be a surprise team.  People don’t really expect Kentucky to have a good football team, but we’re going to work hard this spring and in the offseason.  We’re going to get bigger, faster, stronger. … We’re going to be a good team and shock the world, shock the fans.”

My first thought after reading that quote was of the movie “Patton.”  When an underling tells Field Marshall Erwin Rommel that he’s “optimistic” about the Germans’ chances against combined US and UK forces, Rommel replies coolly: “You can afford to be an optimist.  I can’t.”

But in UK’s case, head coach Joker Phillips — while not quite so exuberant as his young linebacker — also promised improvement. 

“Don’t give up on this football team,” he said when asked what he would tell Wildcat fans.  “We’ll battle; we’ll fight; we’ll scratch; we’ll claw.  Just don’t give up on this football team.”

Got that, Cat fans?

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Dooley’s Orange Pants Cost Nearly 1500 Bucks

Just an interesting little blurb between headline pieces today — Derek Dooley’s bright orange pants were custom made for the coach at a price of $1,423.32.

Yeah.  Fifteen-hundred bucks for orange slacks.

Who knew the folks who make $100 hammers for the US military had a clothing division?

No word on whether Dooley will wear his tangerine trousers to The Swamp tomorrow.

UPDATE – The Knoxville paper that reported the cost of Dooley’s pants as being $1,423.32 has now posted a correction.  Someone at the paper misread the paperwork on the slacks.  The maker of the pants won’t say how much they cost, but they did say they cost less than $1,400. 

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Herbstreit Intrigued By UF/UT Matchup

ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit will be in Tallahassee on Saturday night for the major showdown between #1 Oklahoma and #5 Florida State… but earlier in the day he’ll be keeping track of what’s going on down US-19. 

Like most folks around the SEC, Herbstreit views Saturday’s Florida-Tennessee game as a chance for both programs to prove where they stand on their road back to national prominence.

“Man alive, Tyler Bray is lights out.  This guy doesn’t throw many incompletions, he doesn’t make many mistakes.  Right now he has seven touchdowns and hasn’t thrown a pick.  He has (Da’Rick) Rogers on the outside to go with (Justin) Hunter.  They look like old school Tennessee wide receivers where they are long and lean and athletic and get downfield in a hurry…

I still think (Tennessee) is a year or two away with Derek Dooley, at least at the beginning of the year I felt that way, I thought maybe some of their inexperience would come into play against Cincinnati, where they might be peeking ahead to Florida.  This is where we’re going to find out, is Tennessee really this improved, or is it because of who they’ve played?  Same with Florida…

(Florida) lost so many guys in the secondary from a year ago… this will be their first real test.  In a game like this where Tyler Bray has had a lot of success getting the ball downfield, how will those corners hold up?  Will Florida be able to get pressure, to disrupt the rhythm, which not many people have been able to do against Bray?

I want to see if Will Muschamp, who’s probably about as creative as any coach you’re going to find because of his days with Nick Saban, is he able to rely on the defensive front where he doesn’t have to leave those corners out there by themselves, or is he going to have to get pretty creative with his blitz package to try to disrupt Tyler Bray and what they are doing?”

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that Bray and ex-Gator coach will be featured in a film breakdown segment during ESPN’s “College GameDay” on Saturday morning.

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UT Cancels Basketball Trip To Italy

Tennessee has cancelled a summer trip to Italy for its basketball team.  Two reasons were given for the switch: travel and Cuonzo Martin’s duties at the World University Games.

According to athletic director Mike Hamilton, the trip would have been difficult from a travel perspective with the Vols also now heading to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational in November.

In addition, Martin is scheduled to serve on the staff of Purdue’s Matt Painter when he coaches the US team in the World University Games in China in August.  Training will be held for that event in Colorado from July 30th through August 8th.

“It will be better to wait a year for the trip because then we can get a feel for our players,” Martin said.  “When you take those trips, you’re also building team camaraderie.  It’s always a beneficial trip, playing five or six games and getting extra practice.”

For those reasons, it would seem to actually make more sense to take the trip this year, as Martin is laying the foundation for his program.  But let’s face facts — you don’t back out after you accept a position coaching a US national team.

Also, with Scotty Hopson and Tobias Harris possibly NBA-bound, the Vols might have had a hard time even filling out a roster this summer.

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