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Sprints Recaps South Carolina vs. Southern Miss and Suspends Marcell Dareus // 09.03.10

A note on this weekend
Because we are a little bit more than 24 hours ahead of our Weekend Thread for this weekend's games going up, I'm going to temporarily lift the new member waiting period and see if it works. If we are besieged by spam, I'll put it back in place and tell you. But we'll try to keep it open (I'm not going to say how long). So sign up.


South Carolina 41, Southern Miss 13
Our game wrap.

So Steve Spurrier's happy, right? Of course not
There's one thing everyone should know by now about Steve Spurrier: His offense is never good enough.

"We had 41 points with 11 minutes left," Spurrier said. "They sort of milked the clock on us. I was thinking, maybe, for the first time, we might score 50.

"We need to score 50 sometime. I think it's good to score 50 if you can. We couldn't do it tonight."

Of all the many nits that could be picked with the win, this has to be one of the smallest out there. But I can guarantee you that this will be one of the things Garcia and Co. will hear over and over in the coming week. And until they score 50.

At which point, Spurrier will want to score 70.

A fascinating look behind-the-scenes at the eligibility puzzle
Travis Haney recaps what went on in the final hours leading up to the game, as South Carolina coaches tried to figure out who was eligible and who was not. He also sheds some light on the last-minute surprises: Marcus Lattimore nearly not playing at all, and Chris Culliver's status.

Several sources said, at some point, Lattimore accepted a meal from a booster. Once Lattimore offered restitution, that matter was resolved. ...

Then there's Culliver. Here's what I know. It's something to do with paperwork, which is what I reported in the story. It's something to do with insurance, I've heard. ...

It's also unclear what his status is, moving forward.

Which would not be good for the Gamecocks. Culliver might not be central to South Carolina's hopes this year, but he's pretty important nonetheless. Losing him for the season would be a major blow, and losing him for a few games could still change the year's trajectory.


A suspension for Alabama's Dareus
It will be two games -- for now -- meaning Marcell Dareus will miss San Jose State and Penn State.

Roll Bama Roll: It could have been worse
They seem to be taking the whole thing in stride. Of course, when you've got a two-deep with more talent than the Detroit Lions, it's easy to take things like this in stride.

The good news, though, is that Dareus will return for conference schedule. Given what happened here, this could have easily turned into something much, much worse, and while the two-game suspension is disheartening, we will have Dareus back for the Arkansas game, which in all honesty carries far more importance in the grand scheme of things than the Penn State game.

Also: Penn State's starting quarterback is a true freshman you've never heard of. Arkansas' starting quarterback is Ryan Mallett.

Alabama will appeal
Which is to be expected. Still, how do you square this ...

According to an NCAA news release, Alabama declared Dareus ineligible for violations of NCAA preferential treatment and agent benefits rules. According to Alabama, the benefits included airfare, lodging, meals and transportation during two trips to Miami. A second trip had not previously been disclosed.

With this ...

"He did the right thing in every way," Saban said. "It's important that the NCAA make examples out of players who don't do the right thing. At the same time, he was very cooperative." ...

"It is important to note that Marcell never intentionally violated any NCAA rules and did not knowingly receive any benefits from an agent," Ward said in a written statement. "Marcell lived up to the letter and spirit of the NCAA cooperative principle and the NCAA described him as 'one of the most truthful student-athletes we have ever interviewed.'"

If he said that he never knowingly received anything from an agent and if the NCAA said he's one of the most truthful student-athletes they've ever worked with -- how naive can he be? I mean, at some point, doesn't it become apparent that your friend Marvin Austin is spending an awful lot of money on you? Do you not ask him where that money is coming from? Or would you just rather not know?

It's hard to blame the NCAA for suspending Dareus for at least one game. Even if he didn't do anything wrong, he was far too reckless and there are still far too many unanswered questions.

This is what's also odd
Granted, flight prices change -- though you could argue that a ticket near Labor Day would be more expensive, maybe Dareus or Austin has never heard of Expedia -- but there had to be more than flights involved here. At least, that's what you almost have to believe based on the Tuscaloosa News report.

A check of flight prices from Birmingham to Miami found weekend round-trip airfare as low as $229 available on short notice.

So what was the other $1,300 spent on?

Why not?
This is bizarre. Georgia still hasn't heard back from the NCAA about A.J. Green's eligibility -- despite the fact that he seems confident he didn't do anything wrong, the coaches seem confident he didn't do anything wrong and no one has independently uncovered any evidence that he did anything wrong. And yet Georgia waits.

Sure, coaches can be surprised -- or at least pretend to be surprised. (see: Carroll, Pete.) On one hand, you would think that it would be easy for the NCAA to get back to Georgia if Green's story checked out. On the other hand, you have to wonder why we haven't been reading reports about the investigation if Green's story didn't check out. And if the story has checked out and the NCAA hasn't told Georgia -- again, this is why people hate you.

Key UNC wide receiver out for LSU game
Greg Little, he of the 62 receptions for 724 yards, is apparently one of the 87 1/2 players who will not play for UNC on Saturday.


Masoli-ippi: BREAKING NEWS: The NCAA's PR strategy leaves something to be desired
The NCAA has answered a question about the alleged inconsistencies between its approach to the Jeremiah Masoli waiver and some of the other cases.

In an e-mailed response to a question from The Clarion-Ledger asking how Masoli's case differed from Cooper's, Stacy Osburn of the NCAA wrote: "Each case is unique and considered on its own merits. We feel comfortable that we can distinguish between the two cases."

Really? Oh, okay. We'll take your word for it. Or you could, you know, TELL US why you "feel comfortable that we can distinguish between the two cases." Regardless of what the NCAA might think, secrecy is not its friend here. Transparency is the only way to allow fans to understand rulings against there team and stop the spread of conspiracy theories. Otherwise, the Association deserves all the criticism it gets and then some.

Or maybe they just don't want to actually say what Ole Miss Athletics Director Pete Boone did.

"We have about three or four similar instances where players were dismissed from the team or suspended from the team, and they were approved," Boone said. "The NCAA's approach is that they didn't know about the (disciplinary action) in the ones we brought up. Our point is that if it's that important, it should be part of the decision-making process. That's very inconsistent."

Well, yeah. Now, I would argue that the answer to the inconsistency is that the NCAA should check on each of these requested waivers and see if the student-athlete in question had been dismissed from their original team, not keep in place a Mack Truck-sized loophole by granting Masoli a waiver for consistency's sake.

But I can also understand why Ole Miss fans aren't pleased to be the first ones to face that standard.

You can't take DUI too seriously
Which is why Frankie Hammond Jr. has been suspended from the game this weekend against Miami (OH). That, and because the game this weekend is against Miami (OH).

Mississippi State's starting quarterback is ...
Chris Relf. What, you're surprised?

The twists and turns that history takes
Consider this quote about the LSU coaching search in 1999 from then-LSU board of supervisors member Stanley Jacobs:

"Butch Davis was very impressive," Jacobs recently told the Times Picayune. "But he did say his goal was to coach in the NFL. My guess is, if Butch Davis did not express a genuine interest in coaching in the NFL, he would have been offered the LSU job."

The man LSU hired instead, of course, was Nick Saban. Does Saban go to the same NFL team at the same time if he had never taken the job with the Bayou Bengals? Is he then available to coach at Alabama? Does he even show up on Alabama's radar screen? And they say history's boring.

Alternate uniforms everywhere!
Florida will wear its Pro Combat uniform in the Georgia game. Are you think what I'm thinking?