South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier Gets Big Raise

Steve Spurrier, the head coach of South Carolina, has been given a contract extension to the 2018 season, as well as a raise that will see him earn $4m a season.

The quotable coach, who guided the Gamecocks to a victory over Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl and a final season ranking of No.4 in the nation last year, made $3.3m in 2013. But now, he’s making 21% more.

“We appreciate the attitude of the board of trustees in keeping our salaries competitive with the rest of the SEC,” the Ol’ Ball Coach in a statement. “We all hope to coach here many more years, and we still have some goals that have not been accomplished yet.”

South Carolina AD Ray Tanner said in a release: “With three straight top-10 finishes, South Carolina is as good as any program in the country. The contract raises and extensions for Coach Spurrier and his staff are a reflection of that success and are well-deserved.”

Spurrier made sure that his coaches were well-rewarded, too. All his assistants were given two-year contract extensions, apart from DC Lorenzo Ward, who received a three-year extension…..even quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus, who saw his salary frozen for a year after he was arrested for public urination in 2011. He was suspended but returned for practice in August of the same year. His salary was bumped $100,000.

Interestingly, it wasn’t the blockbuster year for Spurrier or South Carolina. He publically said he was frustrated with star DE Jadeveon Clowney, who actually regressed in the 2013 season after an incredible 2012. He appeared to be drunk in a TV round-up of Carolina’s close win at UCF (a win that now looks a hell of a lot better bearing in mind UCF’s destruction of Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl). The Gamecocks lost at Tennessee and Georgia – something that probably didn’t go down so well with the fanbase. On the other side, the Gamecocks beat Clemson and stopped an unbeaten Missouri on the road….and beat Wisconsin to finish the season. It can’t have been all bad.

BOTTOM LINE: A lot of people hate Steve Spurrier, but we love him. He’s quotable, he sticks the needle into opponents, and he’s a breath of fresh air, especially in a world where college football coaches (apart from Les Miles) are a little more stayed. Having said that, South Carolina could quite easily have been an 8-4 season – especially if Clemson hadn’t turned the ball over so much and Missouri’s kicker been able to take a field goal. But as Gamecocks fans say: “We’ll take it”. Never grow up, Steve.

SEC Presason preview: Can Hugh Freeze turn around Ole Miss?

In the days of Eli Manning it might have been a truism to talk about the Rebels and say: “Ole Miss by damn!”, but last season, there was only one ‘damn’ to describe this team: Damn awful.

But can they improve and at least break their SEC losing streak – and give hope to Rebels fans who haven’t had a decent team since 2009?

LAST SEASON

Ole Miss went 2-10 last year under Houston Nutt, who was summarily given his marching orders a month before the season ended – a move that sparked some outrage. And it was no bad thing. The Rebels didn’t lose many close heartbreakers – they were generally laughers (bar BYU (loss by 1) and Arkansas, by five). In fact, the biggest highlight of Ole Miss’ season was being part of an opposition running back’s Heisman reel (Trent Richardson). That, and losing by 20 to Louisiana Tech.

And in the losing streak, they took their losing streak in the SEC to 15. But they can still throw a party, as friends of this blog who hit up the Georgia game happily maintain.

NFL-wise, offensive lineman Bobby Massie was drafted.

So who’s going to be the new quarterback?

As fans of the University of Texas will tell you, quarterbacks sharing position doesn’t really work, but Coach Freeze seriously wants to give playing time to both his QBs – Barry Brunnetti (who went 19-35 for 144 yards last season) or Bo Wallace, who played for Freeze at Arkansas State, where St Hugh ruled the roost before he was asked to coach in Oxford, where had success as a high school coach.

Coach Freeze better start choosing quickly, or it’ll be a long hard season.

And what weapons will the new QB have to rely on?

Now that four starters have left, Wallace/Brunnetti is not going to get a whole of lot of support at offensive line, so he’d better be quick on his heels. Brunnetti ran for 100 yards last year, which was quite tidy for a QB.

Anyway, running backs Jeff Scott, Nicholas Parker, and Devin Thomas are going to provide some threat from the backfield, while the Rebs are really deep at wide receiver/tight end, bringing back almost anyone who had a receiving yard last year – including Donte Moncrief (454 yds),and Ja-Mes Logan (274). Randall Mackey also comes over from QB to play RB AND WR (so he’ll be busy then!!) which should be more fun. But the loss of  Nickolas Brassell (336) to academic ineligibility is going to be a huge loss to Freeze’s men. Brassell will transfer.

Whoever is at quarterback, there’s a big question: Can the offensive line deal with the speed of their SEC counterparts? Sadly, we think not.

And on the other side of the ball?

Defensively, linebacker Mike Marry and free safety Charles Sawyer return, which is good bearing in mind they had over 150 tackles between them. Cornerback Wesley Pendleton has been getting some rave reviews this Spring, too.

But they’ll need to be helped by Des Channing Ward and C.J. Johnson, who –as remarked by Lindy’s – should benefit from the new blitz-happy schemes of new co-defensive co-ordinator Dave Wommack.

But this was a defense that gave up nearly 420 yards per game this year. Will it be able to improve so much that Ole Miss can actually win a SEC game?

The 2012 schedule

September 1 CENTRAL ARKANSAS

September 8 UTEP

September 15 TEXAS

September 22 at Tulane

September 29 at Alabama

October 6 TEXAS A&M

October 13 AUBURN

October 27 at Arkansas

November 3 at Georgia

November 10 VANDERBILT

November 17 at LSU

November 24 MISSISSIPPI STATE

THE BOTTOM LINE: There is no getting past the fact that the Rebels have one of the toughest schedules in the land. They play Texas, Texas A&M, Auburn, Vandy and Mississippi State at home, but by gosh their away schedule is difficult. Anyone else want to go on the road to Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia and LSU? The only saving grace of Freeze’s first season in charge in Oxford is that the team should start the season well and be 3-1 before they play Alabama. Thereafter, it’s hard to see where a win’s going to come from. Sorry, Hugh. We predict a 3-9 season….and still no SEC victory.


SEC Prediction: Will Arkansas ‘Hog’ The SEC West?

Between Bobby Petrino and Houston Nutt, the Arkansas Razorbacks have put together winning seasons for seven years out of the last 10, including a pretty wonderful 11-2 run in 2011.

This year, many people are expecting nothing to change except the fact that Bobby Petrino’s out (penalized for his philandering ways), and beloved John L. Smith’s in with a 10-month contract. If Arkansas is half as a good as Smith is as a soundbite, they might make a run for the title!

In fact, the AP and USA Today like the Hogs so much that they have a Top 10 ranking to start the 2012 season. But can they be better than that, or will the John L. Smith roadshow fall by the wayside?

LAST SEASON

The Razorbacks were great last year. Tyler Wilson took over where Ryan Mallett left off, spraying the ball in all directions on an offense that continually torched the opposition for an average of nearly 37 points per game. Of course, the LSU and Alabama losses – as well as an injury to Knile Davis – hurt a run for a SEC West title – but it didn’t hurt a run to the Cotton Bowl, where they stomped Kansas State 29-16 in a battle of the unequals.

Then, in the off-season, Bobby Petrino had a motorbike crash and afterwards it emerged that he’d been cheating on his wife with Jessica Dorrell, an Arkansas member of staff, and he was kicked out of a job. He has since bowed his head and begged for forgiveness publically – we’ll see if anything comes of that in 2013. The SEC Football Blog has already made a point that Petrino should return in 2012, but right now, it’s the John L. Smith show, although Smith did hire Bobby Petrino’s brother, Paul, as offensive co-ordinator. The Hogs have realised that they might not like their ex-coach, but they sure as hell love his offensive mind.

NFL-wise, Joe Adams, Jarius Wright, Greg Childs, Jake Bequette were all drafted, and don’t be surprised if each of them has an impact this or next season in the big leagues.

SO WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN OFFENSIVELY?

We’ll go as far as saying that Paul Petrino’s offense – and he knows his brother’s system inside-out – will be rich on both pass (QB Wilson, who threw for over 3,600 yards and 24 TDs in an incredible year comes back, as do WRs Cobi Hamilton and Marquel Wade and TE Chris Gragg) and run – Knile Davis is back after injury. Be afraid, defenses. We feel that by December, we’ll be using another two words to talk about Wilson: Heisman Candidate. Yep, he’s that good.

BUT IS KNILE DAVIS GOING TO BE OK?

Knile Davis suffered a broken ankle in August that wiped out his 2011 year, but he’s back and bigger, faster and angrier than ever. This guy could well be the next Darren McFadden or Felix Jones in Fayetteville, and we anticipate he’ll rack up the receiving yards, too, which gives Wilson another pair of hands. And if Davis is slow to start the season, Dennis Johnson and Ronnie Wingo put together over 1,000 yards rushing between them. In short, the Hogs are going to be OK in the backfield.

SPEAKING OF BACK, HOW’S THE DEFENSE LOOKING? 

The loss of defensive end Jake Bequette to the NFL – he had 10 sacks last year – is going to hurt Arkansas. No two ways about it. Also, top tackler Jerry Franklin, who had 101 tackles last year, has gone, too, meaning that there are going to be a few holes in Paul Haynes’ ‘D’. A Spring injury to Alonzo Highsmith – who contributed 12 ½ tackles for loss last year – won’t have helped Haynes’ humour much, although Highsmith will probably be back by the opener against the mighty Jacksonville State.

AND AT DEFENSIVE BACK?

Free safety Tremain Thomas, who had 91 tackles of his own last year, is gone, as is Elton Ford. Haynes will be hoping that Darius Winston and Tevin Mitchel can pick up the slack that’s going to be left – and look out for Ross Rasner, a linebacker who can play at free safety too. This could be interesting…. Or distastrous.

THE 2012 SCHEDULE

September 1 JACKSONVILLE STATE

September 8 LOUISIANA-MONROE

September 15 ALABAMA

September 22 RUTGERS

September 29 at Texas A&M

October 6 at Auburn

October 13 KENTUCKY

October 27 OLE MISS

November 3 TULSA

November 10 at South Carolina

November 17 at Mississippi State

November 24 LSU

BOTTOM LINE: Arkansas has a decent start to the season, with its first four games at home – including a monster one against Alabama, which gives the Razorbacks to a) Get some revenge for 2011 and b) Show the pollsters that they are a viable National Championship Option. Realistically, we think that they will go all the way to November 10th with just one loss (to Alabama), before a monster clash at South Carolina starts off a nasty final three games of the schedule, with a road trip to Mississippi State and a home game against LSU providing all the fun of the fair. Realistically, we think Arkansas ends the season with a 9-3 record, with Alabama, LSU and South Carolina providing the losses on an otherwise strong deal.