Author: Tony Barnhart

Can South Carolina challenge Georgia in the SEC East? Why not?

COLUMBIA, S.C.—The mood surrounding the South Carolina football program this Spring was overwhelmingly positive. And let’s be clear on this: The upbeat attitude I found wasn’t just a feeling. It was backed up by tangible, brick-and-mortar things that give the Gamecocks and their fans every reason to believe that the trajectory of the football program, in its third season under Will Muschamp, is headed upward. Specifically: **–Late this Fall South Carolina will put the finishing touches on a $50 million football operations center that will be a good as any the Southeastern Conference. For the longest time South Carolina’s football facilities have been scattered over several different areas on the campus. Now they will be under one roof and attached to the Jerri and Steve Spurrier indoor practice facility, which represents another $14.3 million commitment. Here is what the operations center will look like upon completion.    The rest of this article is available to subscribers only – to become a subscriber click here.    ...

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Pruitt, Fulmer bringing calm, confidence back to Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.—Nobody knows how many football games Tennessee is going to win during the 2018 season. The best guess from the boys in Vegas puts the over/under for the Vols at 5.5 victories. Given a schedule that includes West Virginia, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Auburn, and South Carolina that number might not be too far off. But right now it doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t. Because right now Tennessee football has some things it hasn’t had in a while: Calm. Confidence. Optimism. And most importantly, NO drama. The University of Tennessee football program was the international capital of drama for several months in 2017. Here is the Cliffs Notes version of what happened:  The rest of this article is available to subscribers only – to become a subscriber click here.        ...

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Tarver’s love of coaching put his plan for Med school on hold

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Jason Tarver, said his boss, Derek Mason, “is a smart dude.” And, like most smart dudes, Tarver left high school with a plan for his life. That plan did not include leaving the West Coast, the only home he had ever known, and becoming the defensive coordinator at Vanderbilt. But here he was, on a cool, gray afternoon, looking out the window of the McGugin Center at students scurrying to class at one of the South’s great universities which, by the way, plays college football in the nation’s best conference. No. This wasn’t in the plan at all.  The rest of this article is available to subscribers only – to become a subscriber click here....

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Can Auburn build on a good season with a disappointing finish?

AUBURN, Ala.—I asked Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham to explain how he felt on Jan. 8 while watching Georgia and Alabama play for the CFP national championship. “Surreal,” said the transfer from Baylor. “It was kind of surreal.” Here’s why: For 14 days during the 2017 season Auburn was on top of the college football world. The Tigers beat No. 1 Georgia (40-17) on Nov. 11 and on Nov. 25 beat No. 1 Alabama (26-14). The victory over Alabama, which went on to win the national championship, was especially impressive. Both games were in Jordan-Hare Stadium. “We were the best team in the country that day,” said Stidham of the Alabama game. “No doubt.” But with running Kerryon Johnson at way less than 100 percent (shoulder, ribs), Auburn lost the rematch to Georgia (28-7) in the SEC championship game on Dec. 2. Then in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl the Tigers caught an undefeated UCF team with a whole lot to prove and lost 34-27. Then Auburn’s players, coaches, and fans had to sit at home and watch their two biggest rivals play for the national championship, knowing they had beaten them both.  The rest of this article is available to subscribers only – to become a subscriber click here....

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Why Steve Spurrier is going back to coaching

Birds gotta fly. Fish gotta swim. And coaches, God bless them, have gotta coach. And that, gentle readers, best explains why Steve Spurrier, the Head Ball Coach, is going back to coaching at the tender age of 72. It was announced on Saturday that Spurrier will coach the Orlando franchise in the new Alliance of American Football, which will begin play on Feb. 9, 2019. It will be a spring league created to fill the void football fans feel in the months after the Super Bowl. And it was fitting that the first head coach revealed by the new league was Spurrier, who creates automatic buzz and gives the Alliance instant credibility. When the HBC and I spoke late Saturday night he was smiling through the phone. “Everybody has something that they’re good at and I have been fortunate to be blessed with coaching ability,” said the man who is one of only four in the College Football Hall of Fame as both a player and coach. “I’m fired up. So is (my wife) Jerri.” Understand that for Spurrier the venue for his return to coaching matters. Spurrier had told everybody that he had no interest in going back to college coaching and the year-round insanity of the recruiting calendar. He certainly had no interest in going back to the NFL and dealing with its various problems. Spurrier thought...

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