Alabama’s Nick Saban among coaches on conference call again discussing rule-breaking agents
ATHENS, Ga. — Loran Smith has been removed from his longtime role as sideline reporter but will remain part of the game coverage on Georgia radio broadcasts.
Meanwhile, former Georgia player and Columbus native D.J. Jones will join the pregame show as a contributor.
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Smith, 72, will continue as one of the hosts on the pre-game show for the Georgia radio network, which covers 52 stations.
Chuck Dowdle, the former longtime sports anchor for WSB-TV, was named on Thursday as the new sideline reporter for the network.
“I’m happy to still be involved with the pregame show and I’m happy that I’ve had 36 years,” Smith told the Athens Banner-Herald. “I’ve had great fun. I have a lot of great memories in the past and look for more in the future. I think Mark Richt is going to provide that.”
Smith told the paper he has no plan to retire.
Smith and former play-by-play legend Larry Munson were the familiar voices on the broadcasts since the 1960s. Georgia fans knew it was time for an update from Smith when Munson would call out “Whaddyagot, Loran?”
Uga VI, one of the line of English bulldog mascots, was named “Whatchagot Loran.”
Play-by-play announcer Scott Howard and analyst Eric Zeier were named the permanent broadcast team after Munson’s retirement early in the 2008 season.
OFF THE FIELD
Coaches again discuss rule-breaking agents
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Florida’s Urban Meyer and other high-profile college football coaches had another conference call Thursday with the NFL and others in their efforts to protect schools and players from rule-breaking agents.
Meyer said the next step will likely be a face-to-face meeting involving the non-coaches and possibly something “put on paper.” The latest call involved Meyer, Alabama’s Nick Saban, Ohio State’s Jim Tressel, Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops and Mack Brown of Texas, along with officials from the NFL Players Association and the NCAA.
“Obviously, we’re not going to go to it because we’re coaching. But I think the representatives of all involved are going to get together,” Meyer said. “I’m really anxious — we all are — to see what they put on paper.”
Saban organized the first call — which included NFL commissioner Roger Goodell — in the wake up investigations involving alleged improper dealings with agents at Alabama, North Carolina, Florida, South Carolina and Georgia. He said the American Football Coaches Association is also involved.
Saban has sharply criticized agents who are breaking the rules and supported sanctions against them, including suspensions handed down by the NFLPA.
Saban said there have been “several conference calls.”
“There have been and there will be more at some time in the future meetings with all these groups in the same room, which may have never happened before,” he said. “I’m very pleased with how people are approaching this, the attitude they have toward approaching it and how aggressively everybody has moved to try to solve this problem.”
NCAA expands probe to include coach’s son
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The investigation of North Carolina’s football program has expanded into possible academic misconduct involving players and a woman who has also worked as a tutor for coach Butch Davis’ son.
Athletic director Dick Baddour, speaking at a news conference Thursday night, declined to identify the players or say how many may be involved. He said there is no timetable for resolution, but “it is likely that the review would extend beyond the start of the season.”
If that happens, he said the school will decide if those players will play. No. 18 North Carolina opens Sept. 4 against No. 21 LSU in Atlanta. Baddour declined to specify what the possible violations were, only that they involved “a student tutor and student-athletes on the football team.”
Gators’ top two left tackles to miss opener
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — No. 4 Florida will be without starting left tackle Xavier Nixon and backup Matt Patchan for its opener.
Coach Urban Meyer said he is unsure when they will return. Nixon had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Tuesday. Patchan is recovering from a broken right wrist.
He had a pin inserted in his wrist, which has been in a cast since early this month.
It’s unclear how Florida will shuffle its line to fill the void against Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 4. Right tackle Marcus Gilbert moved to the left side earlier this week, and center Mike Pouncey switched to right tackle. But Meyer said he expects Pouncey to remain at center.
“First game, I want the ball to hit the quarterback in the hands and not look like the Bad News Bears out there,” Meyer said. “I’m not sure what it is right now, but I don’t think we’re going to move Mike. I hope not.”
Tight end Jordan Reed, linebacker Brandon Hicks and receiver Carl Moore also missed practice Thursday. Reed has a bruised right knee, Hicks has a sprained thumb and Moore had an emergency root canal.
Meyer said Reed probably will miss the opener.
Nixon and Patchan had been battling for the starting spot. Nixon started the final five games last season at left tackle before spraining an ankle and then hurting his knee. Patchan hasn’t been able to stay healthy in three seasons, missing time because of a gunshot wound, a torn pectoral muscle and a knee injury that resulted from an on-campus scooter accident.
BATON ROUGE, La. — LSU coach Les Miles has stressed since last season ended that he would have higher expectations for junior quarterback Jordan Jefferson.
So far, apparently, so good.
“If Jordan continues to improve at the rate he is now, he’ll be ready to play quality football,” Miles said after watching Jefferson in the Tigers’ third preseason scrimmage.
While Miles hasn’t officially named Jefferson as his starting quarterback over Jarrett Lee, he is obviously pleased with what has seen.
Miles hopes Jefferson can be more than a caretaker of No. 21 LSU’s offense this season after a having somewhat of a rocky past two years. The Tigers open the season against North Carolina in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta on Sept. 4.
Injuries forced Jefferson into the lineup for the final 2 1/2 games of his true freshman year. He passed for 419 yards and four touchdowns with one interception.
Jefferson capped his first year by being named the Offensive MVP of the Tigers’ 38-3 victory against Georgia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Jefferson was expected to show more progress in his first full year of being the starting quarterback last season.
Although Jefferson’s statistics were productive as a sophomore, the LSU offense was subpar. He threw 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions, completing 61 percent of his passes in 12 starts.
But Jefferson was sacked 34 times, often because he held the football too long. The LSU offense was ranked No. 112 in the country, averaging 304.5 yards per game.
Jefferson says last year’s struggles made him wiser.
“I feel I’m more mature now,” Jefferson said. “It starts off with experience. I know what to look for. I know how to communicate with my coaches and teammates.”
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Gov. Mike Beebe and Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long were on hand for a celebration Thursday of War Memorial Stadium’s renovation.
The stadium has added a new, $7.3 million press box and club facility on its west side. The structure contains two floors of suites and club seating for 582, an increase from 220 in the past. The expanded press box includes a covered deck on its roof for still and video photographers.
The Razorbacks will play at the stadium twice this season, including Sept. 11 against Louisiana-Monroe. Arkansas agreed a couple years ago to keep playing games at the stadium through 2016. Long says he hasn’t really started looking beyond that, but that any improvements to the facility benefit the Arkansas program.
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas and Southern California, who last met in the Rose Bowl in 2006, have scheduled games in 2017 and 2018.
The Longhorns will travel to Los Angeles in 2017 with the Trojans going to Austin the next year.
Texas beat the Trojans 41-38 in the 2005 season BCS championship game to claim the Longhorns’ first undisputed national championship since 1969. USC holds a 4-1 edge over the Longhorns, with the last regular-season meeting in 1967.
USC completed its 2013 schedule with the addition of a home game against Utah State on Sept. 21. The Trojans are 4-0 all-time in the series.