No. 24 South Carolina inches by No. 6 Georgia 38-35


The rain came and went and came back again at Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, S.C. The precipitation helped wash away the stink of the No. 24 South Carolina Gamecocks’ play through their first two games. The Gamecocks played at another level and established an identity during their 38-35 victory against the No. 6 Georgia Bulldogs.

It’s often said football is a game of inches, and the cliche was literal in its interpretation Saturday in Columbia.

When the game was on the line late in the fourth quarter, South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier relied on the team’s most talented unit to take over. The Gamecocks’ offense line dominated the latter portions of the game. In the fourth quarter, South Carolina ran the ball 11 times out of 13 plays. The other two plays resulted in an interception and a kneel down to seal the victory.

From left to right, the Gamecocks’ offensive line played at a very high level. Left tackle Corey Robinson and left guard A.J. Cann were creating massive holes. Center Cody Waldrop set the tone in the middle. Right guard Mike Matulis and right tackle Brandon Shell were consistent on the strong side. Their combined effort resulted in 176 rushing yards and 447 yards of total offense.

The contest was eventually settled on a fourth down at the 50-yard line. The wide bodies up front were able to get just enough push for one yard and a first down to seal the game.

While the play of the offensive line was special, the Gamecocks’ defense needs to be acknowledged. The unit improved from its previous efforts against the Texas A&M Aggies and East Carolina Pirates. Prior to Saturday’s contest, South Carolina gave up 566.5 yards on average and ranked 120th in the nation in total defense. The Bulldogs were able to move the football, but the Gamecocks saw marked improvement from their defense.

South Carolina surrendered a much more respectable 408 yards to Georgia. It’s clearly an improvement over South Carolina’s previous performances, but it’s also 51 yards less than Georgia gained against the Clemson Tigers.

The Gamecocks also had luck on their side. Georgia kicker Marshall Morgan wrapped a late field goal attempt around the outside of the goal post for South Carolina to maintain its tenuous lead.

Despite the loss, Georgia played well in stretches. Quarterback Hutson Mason didn’t make any major mistakes, and the team was able to get running back Todd Gurley rolling in the second half. Gurley finished with 131 rushing yards after a slow start.

A loss to South Carolina simply means the SEC East will be a dogfight again this season. South Carolina, though, now has the edge with the head-to-head victory. Plus, the Gamecocks will have an advantage each with their ability to dominate up front along the offensive line.

Georgia extends contract for AD Josh Brooks, plans two new football practice fields

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ATHENS, Ga. – On the heels of a second straight national football championship, Georgia has rewarded athletic director Josh Brooks a contract extension that ties him to the Bulldogs through at least 2029.

The athletic association board, wrapping up its annual spring meeting Friday at a resort on Lake Oconee, also announced plans for a new track and field facility that will free up space for two more football practice fields.

Brooks’ new contract will increase his salary to $1.025 million a year, with annual raises of $100,000.

The 42-year-old Brooks, who took over the athletic department in 2021 after Greg McGarity retired, called the Georgia job “a dream for me” and said he hopes to spend the rest of his career in Athens.

“I am extremely grateful,” Brooks said. “I got into this business 20-plus years ago as a student equipment manager. My first job at Louisiana-Monroe was making $20,000 a year in football operations.”

The Georgia board approved a fiscal 2024 budget of $175.2 million, a nearly 8% increase from the most recent budget of $162.2 million and the sign of a prosperous program that is flush with money after its success on the gridiron.

The school received approval to move forward with its preliminary plans for a new track and field facility, which will be built across the street from the complex hosting the soccer and and softball teams.

The current track stadium is located adjacent to the Butts-Mehre athletic facility, which hosts the practice fields and training facilities for the football program.

Georgia lost a chunk of its outdoor fields when it built a new indoor practice facility. After the new track and field stadium is completed, the current space will be converted to two full-length, grass football practice fields at the request of coach Kirby Smart.

“He wants to find efficient ways to practice, and there is a lot of truth to the issues we’ve had with our current practice fields,” Brooks said. “There is a lot of strain on our turf facilities staff to keep that field in great shape when half the day it is getting shade, so that has been a challenge as well. For our football program, it is better to practice on grass fields than (artificial) turf, so to be able to have two side-by-side grass fields is huge. It makes for a much more efficient practice.”

The new track and field complex, which will continue to be named Spec Towns Track, will also include an indoor facility, the first of its kind in the state of Georgia.

Iowa AD Gary Barta announces retirement after 17 years at Big Ten school

Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa athletic director Gary Barta will retire on August 1 after 17 years at the university, the school announced Friday.

Barta, 59, is one of the longest-tenured athletic directors in a Power Five conference. He was hired by Iowa in 2006 after being the AD at Wyoming.

An interim director will be announced next week, Iowa said.

In September, Iowa hired former Ball State athletic director Beth Goetz to be deputy director of athletics and chief operating officer, putting her in position to possibly succeed Barta.

“It has been an absolute privilege and honor to serve in this role the past 17 years,” Barta said in a statement. “This decision didn’t come suddenly, nor did it come without significant thought, discussion, and prayer.”

“That said, I’m confident this is the right time for me and for my family.”

Iowa won four NCAA national team titles and 27 Big Ten team titles during Barta’s tenure. The women’s basketball team is coming off an appearance in the national championship game and the wrestling team is coming off a second-place finish at the NCAA championships.

Barta served as the chairman of the College Football Playoff committee in 2020 and 2021.

He faced heavy criticism over more than $11 million in settlements for lawsuits in recent years alleging racial and sexual discrimination within the athletic department.

Lawsuits filed by former field hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum and associate athletics director Jane Meyer led to a $6.5 million payout.

Iowa had to pay $400,000 as part of a Title IX lawsuit brought by athletes after it cut four sports in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the agreement, Iowa reinstated the women’s swimming and diving program and add another women’s sport.

Iowa added women’s wrestling, the first among Power Five schools to compete this year.

A lawsuit brought by former football players alleging racial discrimination within the program was settled for $4.2 million last March, which prompted state auditor Rob Sand to call for Barta’s ouster.

“Gary Barta’s departure is a long time coming given the four different lawsuits for discrimination that cost Iowa more than $11 million,” Sand posted on Twitter.

The university did not allow taxpayer money to be used for the settlement with the former players.

Barta led Iowa through $380 million of facility upgrades, including renovation of Kinnick Stadium, the construction of a new football facility, a basketball practice facility and a training center for the wrestling teams.

Under Barta, Iowa has had just one head football coach (Kirk Ferentz), women’s basketball coach (Lisa Bluder) and wrestling coach (Tom Brands). All were in place when he arrived.

Barta has also come under scrutiny for allowing Ferentz to employee his son, Brian Ferentz, as offensive coordinator. To comply with the university’s nepotism policy, Brian Ferentz reports to Barta.