Clemson vs Alabama Aftermath: Deals with the Devil We Don’t Mind Doing

si680_tk1_05277By Will Stevenson

*Cue 80s slow-motion montage music*

College Football is an enigma for many that follow the sport. It is entangled in unfairness, unethical business practices, and narratives that could make your head spin. Like many of the things we deal with in our life, the process and the actual product differ in emotional response. I like driving a new car and I’m sure you do as well. It’s awesome to ride out with that new car smell, showing off pictures on social media on how you’ve made the “come up” from that crappy vehicle you once had. Likewise, the process of getting a new car is a headache. We should deal with finding the right car, a dealer, insurance, taxes, model, car payment, a loan, the bank and is this car good enough to make it under the warranty. You see, process versus product.

The process of College Football is something we debate daily: Should college players be paid more than their given stipend, transfer requests, coaches being paid ridiculous amounts of money, rape culture, suspensions, institutional control, AD’s moving at the drop of a dime, coaches taking jobs during bowl season and earing bonuses while your redshirt sophomore must sign in blood to move to another program. You see, process.

Somehow, someway, none of that matters once the championship game is being played. It’s like sex with your ex. You know deep down this is the wrong thing to do. You don’t want to text them, talk, see them or even randomly bump into them. But, we like sex, and if it’s good, then why not. So, when Clemson and Alabama kicked off on Monday Night, we were in for a rematch of College Football’s alleged two best teams. I was interested to see if there would be any hand-puppetry by the Clemson defense and which coach would get the reddest in the face while disputing a call by the referees. I was excited for the both quarterbacks: Both were black, both were skilled, but I knew only one was seasoned. Hurts was in the same category as Sims, but Hurts is a freshman, which he has shown that he is a freshman quarterback of a team that specializes in defense and their run game. Watson, has it all: running backs, NFL ready wide receivers, and a vaunting defense.

I watched most of the game with the sound off. I have nothing against the commentators, they just have so many narratives to blabber about that I can’t stand to hear them over and over. Alabama’s 28-year-old running back scored two touchdowns and then broke his leg, which allowed Clemson to mount a comeback. Now, it wasn’t fully on the Alabama defense since they were on the field for almost 100 plays. That’s right, 100 plays. I don’t care how good your defense is, if you’re on the field for almost 100 plays you will suffer in the second half. I’m not particularly high on either coach, so I wasn’t cheering for either to hold up a trophy. It sucks that the loser of this game will be vilified by the fan base as “not being able to win in crunch time” as if it matters. Clemson ran a pick play on the final play to win the game. The receiver ran straight into the defender, and the defender held the receiver. So, if they throw a flag for offensive pass interference, does that change the narrative of the game? Of course, it does, for the media. For me, not so much. The game was filled with mishaps as Clemson punt returners continued to fair catch inside their 5-yard line. Hurts couldn’t complete passes to save his life until the final stages of the fourth quarter. I’m always amazing at the passing offenses in championship games. Watson struggled with his accuracy against the blitz early on, and Hurts was efficient late in the game, but struggled on third down.

All in all, it was an ok game with a good finish. Greatest game? Who cares. Saban will get another raise while Sark will be entrusted with another offense after his offensive nature at USC. What’s with Saban hiring these coaches who are a-holes in life? Beats me. Dabo is king, which makes me sad. He’ll be in front of the microphone more than ever which will consist of God, faith, hope and belief which overshadows the fact that the team is talented. Narratives will be passed along as the Clemson team won because, “They love each other.” These are the sort of narrative driven nonsense that makes me watch these football games more seldom each year, but I’m not the target audience they are trying to reach.

Saban and Dabo will once again going into homes and explain the prospects why they should attend their respective schools, knowing this business doesn’t allow for their coaching power to ever be limited. None of that matters though, so I guess they should trust the process.

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Should College Student Athletes Get Paid?

 

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Just let that question sink in for a minute. I also want you to imagine you grew up as a poor to middle class kid, and you knew that college wasn’t affordable at a young age. Then during high school because you’re a great athlete you were offered a full ride scholarship. Now your happy and can pursue your dreams. Now, imagine you’re at school hungry because you don’t have enough money to get food.

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Remember in 2014 NCAA Basketball championship game that UCONN men’s team won. Shabazz Napier was talking to the world about how excited he was to be on a winning team, then he dropped the ball on how he was hungry all the time because he didn’t have enough money to cover food. Well shortly after that speech the NCAA agreed on that any athlete scholarship or walk on will have unlimited meals. It took one speech in front of millions of people watching to make that change. Yes, this is great for division one athletes all over the United States, but what if Napier never told the world he was going to bed hungry on live television?

Over the years, I have discussed with people should student athletes get paid? Everyone I had spoken to said Yes. I have to agree with who I spoke to. Universities, especially big ones, make millions of dollars off players. What do players get? Food and shelter. (Some will say that is all they need). That is where you are wrong. People need more than food and shelter, they need grooming supplies, toilet paper, clothes, shoes and other things for everyday life. How are athletes supposed to get any of this if they are at school full-time and always at practice? This is why they need to get paid. I am not talking about making them rich but give them enough to get by.

The Universities should be able to give athletes a weekly or bi-weekly allowance to these kids. Put the money on some type of bank or debit card. Give them a set amount and if the student spends it all in that day that is on them. They should talk to a local store, Wal-Mart or gas station that is near the school to allow the students to shop there using this card. This way students and their parents know their child can provide for themselves. This would help stop some of the shady stuff that Universities do to recruit a kid to their school.

Just think about this, would you be able to send money to your kid every time they need something? Or would you feel better knowing that they are taken care for everything? The NCAA needs to change something for these athletes or they will keep going through this never-ending cycle for a long time.

SpursUp! Q&A with Perry Orth

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Last year was a trying season for our beloved Gamecocks. We had not had a season like that in a long time. I think in the back of our minds we all saw the HBC stepping down within the next couple of seasons, but nothing could have prepared us for the way he left. It had been a QB by committee, but once Shawn Elliott took over, the team just had a different feel. There was a fight to them. Sure there were a bunch of tough losses, but the team fought every step of the way. QB Perry Orth was a perfect embodiment of coach Elliott and his mentality. Perry was able to throw for almost 2000 yards despite only logging considerable game time in 8 games. I was fortunate enough to ask Perry a couple of questions regarding his time at Carolina. #ForeverToThee

See the highlight of his big run at Texas A&M here

1.) Growing up in Rural South Carolina, we had talent, but I never realized just how different the talent levels were in other areas. I realized that when I first moved to Jacksonville and caught a Fletcher game watching your teammate Jamari Smith. How did that prepare you for the level of competition you face at the collegiate level?

Perry: Playing against top level high school football talent in Jacksonville helped prepare me for the next level because each and every week we were playing against at least two or three Division I players and possibly more. 

2.) What was it that attracted you to the University of South Carolina?

Perry: South Carolina gave me an opportunity to walk on and potentially earn a scholarship. And when Coach Spurrier calls you and asks you to play quarterback for him, the answer is usually yes. Then everything that comes with South Carolina football: the atmosphere, 2001, Sandstorm, and the tradition that Coach Spurrier built.

3.) What are some must-go places for students and athletes alike at USC?

Perry: Places I really enjoyed to eat besides the stereo typical chain restaurants. For lunch you can’t beat Andy’s Deli in Five Points, and for dinner, Pawley’s Front Porch has incredible burgers. 

4.) We lost a truly iconic figure in the Old Ball Coach, what is one of the memories that really stands out to you with Coach Spurrier?

Perry: With Coach Spurrier there are so many moments that I could talk about but overall it was his personality which separated him from your normal football coach. His sarcasm and jokes were as funny as they come. What you see in his interviews, is the exact same as how he is in person.

5.) Coach Boom…I’ll admit I was a little hesitant at first but his energy is contagious from a distance, just how influential has that been having that renewed energy in the locker room?

Perry: Coach Muschamp has got us believing. That’s what has made him so great so far. He is tough on the field, but as soon as we are off the field, he is one of our friends. He laughs and jokes with all the players and that goes for our entire coaching staff as well. We have a great relationship with them.

6.) The defense has taken its share of lumps, but there are plenty of talented athletes donning the garnet and black on Saturdays on the defensive side of the ball. Who is a player that you fear or respect the most on that side of the ball in practice?

Perry: I’m expecting Marquavius Lewis to have a big year. He has put in the work in the weight room and in the film room. He has got all the talent he needs to be a big-time player for us this season.

7.) Coming into Carolina with two of the greatest QBs statistically in the history of the program, you paid your dues and waited for your time to shine. How good did it feel to finally lead the team out as the guy?

Perry: Being able to start at quarterback for a school like South Carolina is a dream come true. It was incredible to play in the places that I did and in front of our fans, but losing all those games left a sour taste in my mouth. Fortunately, it has kept me hungry through the off-season to get ready to turn this season around.

8.) I think we can all admit that we love Coach Shawn Elliott. His passion is evident on the sideline each game. How did that assist in the transition during the second half of the season?

Perry: Coach Elliott’s style of coaching is very similar to how Coach Muschamp handles things. Working hard, attention to the small details. And playing with a fire and passion that the game of football is supposed to be played with. It was unfortunate we couldn’t finish some of those games that we were in because Coach Elliott is a phenomenal coach and will be a head coach again one day.

9.) If you had to pick one memory that really stands out in your playing career at South Carolina what would it be? A certain game, play or series?

Perry: Right now I would say the Kentucky game. Because it was my first opportunity to play consistently throughout a game. Storming back in the second half and coming just short of which would have been a 17 point comeback victory was very exciting to be a part of.

10.) Is there anything you want to say to Gamecock nation?

Perry: Expect our team to be more disciplined and play with a lot of energy! We are all ready to get back out there and get our program back on the map. 

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Spurs Up!

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I will never forget my first game at Williams-Brice. It was a hot day in Columbia back in 2000. The Georgia Bulldogs were in town and were bringing Heisman hopeful Quincy Carter with him. Carolina had just ended the nation’s longest losing streak (21 games) to end Brad Scott’s tenure and start Lou Holtz’s. Us fans were hopeful, but were not expecting the upset that day. My step-mom had gotten us tickets and I still remember the excitement I had until this very day. We were tucked away in one of the corners of the lower bowl with all of the Carolina faithful.

Now I had witnessed 2001 on TV many times before, but let me tell you that nothing prepares you for the real thing. I felt like a kid on Christmas morning who had gotten exactly what they had wanted. The drums, the smoke, the roar of the crowd, many heart breaks would be created from this moment. I had been a fan since birth, but now I was hooked. I wanted to eat, sleep and breathe garnet and black. I wanted to know everything there was to know about the program and the players, past and present.

The game could not have been written any better. Derek Watson would finish the game a little shy of 100 yards rushing, and Phil Petty did not exactly light up the scoreboard. But let’s talk about that defense. They would harass Quincy Carter all game long, forcing him into bad decision after bad decision. They would pick him off 5 times throughout the game. There were not very high expectations for the squad in garnet that year. But it was filled with future NFL talent. Corners Sheldon Brown and Andre Goodman would each pick him off. Dennis Quinn, a defensive lineman, would add two more himself. Nothing that Georgia could do, could have helped them that day.

Carolina, despite a relatively quiet day offensively, would go onto win the game 21-10 behind Derek Watson’s 3 rushing scores. As the final second ran off the clock, the fans rushed onto the field. The goal posts were coming down! The fans were celebrating, and cheering leaving the game. Something that had been absent for the past several years. The team would go on to finish the season at 8-4 capping the season off with a smack down of the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Outback Bowl. It was part of the turnaround of a losing franchise that was so desperate for success. That game was the moment that would cause my closet and drawers to be filled with garnet and black. The reason for late nights and what ifs. If we’d only beat Navy, if Jared Cook had not dropped that wide open pass against Auburn. So from now until my dying day, I am Forever to Thee.

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“Let’s Ride”

It’s been a rough string of years for the Texas Longhorns football program. The past few years of Mack Brown’s coaching stint in Austin was the equivalent of watching a sinking oil tanker in slow, miserable motion. 

You have to respect the coaching legacy of the former Longhorns head coach. Accredited with turning around the football programs of both the North Carolina Tar Heels and Texas Longhorns, no one can deny that “Coach February” is a surefire Hall of Famer. But you’re being naive if you think Brown didn’t leave Texas in shambles before his forced departure from the program he coached since the late 90’s. The biggest shamble being the broken recruiting pipelines he left, which would later impact the future of the program. While his 244-122 record still stands as one of the best in school history, and that’s at a school who’s football program existed since 1893, it’s what he did in his last few years in Austin that would define the future of the program. 
“Let’s Ride”. 

Its been a rough start for 3rd year Texas head coach, Charlie Strong. Currently sitting at a 11-14 (.440) record, he’s finally able to put his stamp on the team by ushering in his class of recruits for the future. Texas’ recent recruiting class was ranked in the top 10 by ESPN.

After years of instability at the quarterback position, the ‘Horns reeled in 4-star recruit QB Shane Buechele, who has turned a number of heads during the spring with his football IQ, grit, arm and accuracy, and ESPN top 300 recruit QB, Kai Locksley, an early Florida State commit who flipped. 

Now, if you’re a avid Longhorns burnt orange diehard, it’s not secret (no secret at all) that Texas’s offense has been beyong inept. Think, 2015 Brandon Weeden-led Dallas Cowboys offense, but for years straight. That bad, yes. But Strong’s new class features several nightmare playmakers. Running back Chris Warren, one half of the “Texas Smash Brothers”, naming themselves after the popular Nintendo game. Who can forget Warren’s monster game against Texas Tech where he ran for 276 yards and 4 TDs. And the coaching staff is excited for the two backs beind him, Kirk Johnson and Kyle Porter. The passing game has depth now, with recent Baylor recruit flip, Devin Duvernay, the 5’11 Texas native with blazing speed who’s drawn comparisons to Washington Redskins receiver, DeSean Jackson. And finally some size in the passing game, with the feared freshman wideout, Collin Johnson…6’6 redzone body with excellent hands. Along with 3-star Ryan Newsome behind them both. And with a boost to the future of their defense with two top 20 ranked freshman defensive tackles, Jordan Elliott and and Chris Daniels. And to fire a few shots at the rivals north of I-35 in Waco, the turmoil at Baylor University added more icing to the cake with former decommits: the Duvernay brothers, J.P. Urquidez, Patrick Hudson and Erick Fowler, all committing to Texas. 

Add all of that with Coach Strong’s philosophy of hard work, academics first and professionalism and a new athletic director, Mike Perrin. It’s safe to say that the Longhorn slump will be over soon, very soon. 
“Let’s Ride”… 

American Athletic Conference

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By Antwaun Sumpter

The American Athletic Conference Aka the American is a Conference that was a surprise last season by having three teams in the Top 25. The addition of the Naval Academy has been a big boost for The American. In 2016 this Conference will continue to grow and become one of those non-power conferences that has the potential to have a team sneak into the College Football Playoff picture.

The Cincinnati Bearcats are a team that is in the middle-of-the-road type offense. You don’t know what you are going to get from QB Gunner Keil, who was injured last season. An earlier season matchup with the Houston Cougars in Nippert Stadium will show us what type of team the Bearcats will be.

The Connecticut Huskies may have another 6-6 season ahead of them. All five of their road games are going to be tough, at Navy, at Houston, at South Florida, at East Carolina, at Boston College. Sure, they can win those games BUT it will be tough. If the Huskies can establish their running attack they can probably save the Huskies and steal a few games.

For new Head Coach Scottie Montgomery and the East Carolina Pirates he will try to implicate what he did as offensive coordinator at Duke. Scottie Montgomery has really changed that Duke offensive around and if he can do it in Greenville, he will have the Pirates going bowling.

The Houston Cougars now have a target on their backs now after having a Cinderella season 2015 which resulted in a victory over the Florida State Seminoles in the Peach Bowl. A lot is expected for Head Coach Tom Herman and the Cougars in 2016 and its starts in Week One when they take on the Oklahoma Sooners. If the Cougars can duplicate what they did in 2015, Cougar nation WILL be in the College Football Playoff.

The post Justin Fuente Paxton Lynch era begins in Memphis. The Tigers lost their QB and Head Coach. But new head coach Mike Norvell he can bring back Tigers, who finished with a record of 9-3 in 2015. The Tigers have somewhat of an easy schedule to say the least that they can have a decent record and make it to a bowl game.

The Navy Midshipman made their debut in the American Conference a HUGE success. The Midshipman were one game away from making it to the Conference Championship Game. Head Coach Ken Niumatalolo has the right scheme for the Midshipman and it seems to be working. Now the question is how steps up in place of Kenan Reynolds at QB. If the Navy can find their QB the Midshipman might win the American Conference in 2016.

For the Southern Methodist University Mustangs, it was a 2015 they would like to forget. They had a record of 2-10 and they had struggled all over the field. The only way is up for SMU, but it starts when their QB. Can he provide the spark on offense for the Mustangs to make some noise and become spoilers?

The South Florida Bulls under head coach Willie Taggert are heading in the right direction. He has changed the culture in Tampa and its showing on the field. Willie Taggert coaching will be put to the test on September 24th when Florida State comes to Tampa. The Bulls sure enough can pull off the upset, but it comes down to the play calling of the Head Coach.

The Temple Owls started off the season at 7-0, by far the best start for the Owls in a long time. Then they hit a speed bump and limped to the finish line. The schedule for the Owls is in their favor and should be in the conversation again.

Let’s just say that it wasn’t a good year for the Tulane Green Wave last year. They finished with a record of 3-9 with resulted in the firing of the Head Coach. Willie Fritz brings that mentality that they are going to be tough. They also can become spoilers in the AAC with Navy and Temple both coming to New Orleans. Tulane may be a young team, but they are a dangerous team they can break a team’s heart in the AAC.

The Tulsa Golden Hurricane are in store for a tough AAC in 2016. For the Golden Hurricane to emerge as the front runners and surprise the AAC they are going to need to win against Houston, Memphis, Navy, and Central Florida all on the road. If they can pull off two out of the four victories here the Golden Hurricane will have something to look forward to in 2017.

Let’s face it, the Central Florida Knights had a very TERRIBLE year in 2015, going 0-12. That must change and will change in 2016. It starts in Week Two, September 10th, when they travel to Ann Arbor, MI. Also with road games at Connecticut and at Houston could be tough games BUT winnable games. If the Knights come out with at least a 6-6 record in 2016 the Knights will gladly sign up for that.

The American Athletic Conference is going to be a Conference where you will see some surprises in it. Do not be surprised again that one of these teams here will be playing in the one of the New Year’s Eve or Day Big Six games. This is the conference that everyone needs to keep their eye on.

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State of the Jayhawks, Volume 2: The Long Road Back

Looking at the full spectrum of KU sports everything and everyone is rolling along quite fine these days. The men’s basketball team looks loaded again, we have possible Olympians in track and field and the team is seeking a run at its 2nd national championship in 4 years. The women’s volleyball team is coming off its first Final Four appearance in school history and even the once-dormant golf program is making a little noise. The one blight (if you will) on the athletic programs at Lawrence these days is the football program. Once a national power not that long ago the program has been reduced to less than a shell of its former self. Hope is on the horizon and help is on the way, but there is still a lot of work that’s left to be done before that day comes again in Lawrence.

Since winning the Big XII North (along with a #5 national ranking and winning the Orange Bowl that was a BCS game at that time) in 2007 the ‘Hawks have gone 25-72 since. 72 losses in 8 seasons since, including a 0-12 record in 2015. The current downturn of the program began with the dismissal of former head coach Mark Mangino, who took over in 2002 and led the program from the days of being a conference doormat and transformed them into a national power overnight. He led them to bowl games in 2 of his first 3 years at the helm and helped to end a 36-year losing streak to Nebraska. In 2007, Mangino coached the Jayhawks to a 12-1 record and an Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech. However, Mangino was dismissed following allegations of player abuse in 2009 and that’s where the slide to the bottom truly began.

Following Mangino’s dismissal came along Turner Gill (5-19 record) and alleged offensive genius Charlie Weis (5-21 record), both of whom basically gutted the program of any recognizable talent on both sides of the ball and left the program in tatters, one more than the other. The program was then handed over to former Texas A&M wide receivers/assistant head coach David Beaty, who without the proper resources on the field went 0-12 in 2015 – but not an ordinary 0-12. This was a beat down, no-hope-now-or-in-the-future type of 0-12. Losses like 66-7 at home to Baylor, 62-7 at home to Oklahoma, 49-0 to West Virginia at home and so on. While it may seem like the program may be taking a trip back to the mid 1980’s and seeing blowouts like the ones we took last season on a week to week basis that is not the case at all. Quite the opposite if you take a closer look as Beaty and his staff have done the legwork to take the Jayhawks from being bullied into becoming the bully once again.

The current staff has recruited several 3, 4 and even some lower-level 5 star recruits to come and play in Lawrence but one key thing Beaty and his staff have gone out hit the recruiting trail to get better players, ranking 84th out of the FBS schools in 2016 recruiting wise. They also realized that speed is a key and have gone out to get faster players on both sides of the ball. Kansas was one of the slowest teams in the country in 2015 but they’ve implemented programs in the off-season that will assist them with getting faster off the ball and away from defenders. This is one way better off they’ll be in the long run. They are also getting in some good transfer players like former Arkansas RB Denzel Evans, former Texas A&M WR LaQuvionte Gonzalez and former Colorado State RB and Wichita, KS native Deron Thompson on the team. They’ve lost out on some others and have had transfers, but all, in all things are looking up a little bit in Lawrence. The question at this point is will Beaty be given enough time to mesh all of this together or will he wind up on the wayside like Gill and Weis, forcing the program to hit the restart button again? I think he’ll be given time – but not much – to turn things around. Keep getting in the transfers and recruiting quality football players and continue to implement the right football system. Above all, they need to win games. This year’s schedule doesn’t look to provide that at first glance, but they’ll need to find a way to do it in order to start taking the first steps in restoring respectability to the Jayhawk football program.

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