South Carolina pulls out of Gasparilla Bowl, game canceled

Mike Weaver/Special to Courier Journal

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Gasparilla Bowl was canceled Tuesday after South Carolina withdrew because of COVID-19 issues within the program.

Gasparilla Bowl executive director Scott Glaser said organizers tried to find an opponent for UAB for Saturday’s game at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, but came up empty.

“The current environment has presented many challenges,” Glaser said.

The Gamecocks, who finished 2-8, opted out due to positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing within the program.

“Until next year, Blazer Nation!” UAB football tweeted shortly after ESPN Events’ called off the game.

The decision also closes the books on one of the more forgettable South Carolina seasons in recent years.

The school fired coach Will Muschamp in November and ended its all-Southeastern Conference schedule with six straight losses. Former Oklahoma assistant Shane Beamer, the son of ex-Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, was hired earlier this month to take over the program.

The younger Beamer had hoped a final game might give the team something to build on heading into the offseason.

Athletic director Ray Tanner said the team was excited about playing UAB in a bowl game. However, the positive tests among staffers and players and subsequent contact tracing “had taken a toll too high for us to overcome,” he said.

UAB (6-3) won its second consecutive Conference USA championship over the weekend.

The Gasparilla Bowl becomes the 17th bowl to be canceled amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Liberty Bowl lost Tennessee earlier this week, and Army stepped in for the matchup with West Virginia.

Bowl season began Monday when Appalachian State’s Camerun Peoples ran for an FBS bowl record 317 yards and matched another mark with five touchdowns in a 56-28 win over North Texas in the Myrtle Beach Bowl.

South Carolina gives AD Tanner raise, two-year extension

Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner received a two-year contract extension that ties him to the school through June 2026.

Tanner, 64, is a two-time College World Series champion as the Gamecocks’ baseball coach who moved to leading the athletic department in July 2012.

The new deal was approved by the school’s board of trustees Friday and replaces Tanner’s old agreement that was set to expire in June 2024. Tanner will receive a raise of more than $153,000 per season, increasing his total compensation to $1.175 million.

Tanner has had his ups and downs leading the department. He took over when football coach Steve Spurrier was in the middle of three straight 11-2 seasons with players like defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney and receiver Alshon Jeffrey.

Tanner’s hire to replace Spurrier, Will Muschamp, lasted less than five seasons before he was let go in the middle of 2020. Muschamp’s replacement, current coach Shane Beamer, has had back-to-back winning seasons and been to a bowl game his first two yeas.

Tanner has also overseen the rise of women’s basketball under coach Dawn Staley, who signed a seven-year contract before the 2021-22 season worth $22.4 million. Staley and the Gamecocks won the national title last April and are favorites to repeat this season.

Michigan RB Blake Corum says he’ll be back by fall camp

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan All-America running back Blake Corum said his surgically repaired left knee has gotten strong enough that he’s been cleared to run on an anti-gravity treadmill next week.

Corum said that he is “100%” sure he will play in the season-opening game on Sept. 2 against East Carolina

Corum tore a meniscus and sprained a ligament in his left knee against Illinois on Nov. 19. After playing sparingly against Ohio State, he sat out when the Wolverines won the Big Ten title and advanced to the College Football Playoff semifinals.

Instead of entering the NFL draft, Corum decided to stay in school for his senior year.

“Feeling great all-around mentally, physically spiritually,” Corum told The Associated Press.

The 5-foot-8, 210-pound Corum ran for 1,463 yards and 18 touchdowns last season and had 952 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2021.

“I’ll be back definitely by fall camp,” he said. “I plan on doing everything in the summer workouts, depending on on what doctor says. He told me I shouldn’t be cutting until maybe June. I’m taking my time, but I will be ready by the season.”

Corum will be watching when his teammates face each each other in the Maize and Blue spring game on April 1 at Michigan Stadium.