Rattler Ready: Ex-Oklahoma QB excited for South Carolina debut

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — Former Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler is anxious and excited, confident and poised – and more than ready to take the field with his new team at South Carolina.

After helping the Sooners win the Big 12 Conference title in 2020, Rattler lost his starting job midway through last season and became one of the top passers seeking a new home last December.

Rattler found it with the Gamecocks and can’t wait for the home opener against Georgia State.

“I’ll be live for the first time in a long time,” said Rattler, who started Oklahoma’s first six games before Caleb Williams took over. “But I’m ready for that, ready to get hit once or twice.”

Rattler, who’s thrown for 4,514 yards, 39 touchdowns and 12 interceptions the past two years, has said he didn’t really understand the switch. He had won 13 straight as a starter when Williams got the call with Oklahoma trailing rival Texas.

He’s worked hard to clear his head and regain the style that had him as one of the leading Heisman Trophy contenders before last season.

“I’m not thinking about last season,” Rattler said.

Rattler entered South Carolina last January and stayed low-key in bonding with teammates and learning to run the attack led by offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Marcus Satterfield.

Rattler took pages of notes, Satterfield said, and showed a willingness to be coached, despite his past success. And when Rattler is in the huddle, there’s a confidence that’s unlike other quarterbacks.

“He brings our entire team confidence,” Satterfield said. “He’s there to compete and give our team a chance to win.”

Rattler believes he’s prepared well in the offseason to be the best he can be. He’s played and excelled in front of crazy, loud crowds before and can’t wait to see how his new SEC team’s fans measure up.

As far as facing Georgia State, Rattler hasn’t mapped out specific individual goals for a successful debut. “We just want to go out there and execute every drive, every play,” he said. “That’s what it comes down to. For us, we just want to focus on us.”

Rattler is part of strong group of experienced transfers for the Gamecocks, who are looking to improve on last year’s 7-6 mark in coach Shane Beamer‘s first season: Running back Christian Beal-Smith, who ran for 1,336 yards and 12 touchdowns at Wake Forest the previous two years; Rattler’s former Oklahoma teammate tight end Austin Stogner also transferred to the Gamecocks; and South Carolina’s new receivers include Antwane “Juice” Wells Jr., who broke James Madison marks with 1,250 receiving yards and 15 TDs.

Wells was impressed by Rattler’s easy demeanor and regular-guy approach to the season. “He’s been consistent from day one,” Wells said of his new QB1. “He’s kept his head down and just kept getting better and better.”

Georgia State coach Shawn Elliott knows his defense will have its hands full trying to slow down Rattler.

South Carolina needed four starting quarterbacks, including grad assistant Zeb Noland, last year due to injuries and transfers. Having consistency behind center with Rattler should bolster the offense.

“Their quarterback game is going to be a little more enhanced,” said Elliott, who spent 2010 through 2015 at South Carolina as offensive line coach and interim head coach midway through that final season after Steve Spurrier‘s abrupt departure.

“I think he’s a quarterback who can make all the throws across the field,” Elliott continued. “So they’ll probably take a little more opportunity to go down the field.”

Rattler’s not saying much about South Carolina’s game plan. He’s just counting the days until he’s back in control of a Power Five offense.

“Running out that tunnel with team, coaches, everyone,” Rattler said. “Hopefully, get that anxiety out of the way, not anxious, just fun, ready-to-go vibes. It’s going to be fun.”

Minnesota football players’ discrimination lawsuit dismissed

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by nine former University of Minnesota football players who were accused of sexual assault in 2016 in a case that roiled the school’s football program.

The lawsuit against the school claimed that the players faced emotional distress and financial damage after being falsely accused of being sex offenders. The players, who were identified in the lawsuit as John Does, sought unspecified damages for willful and malicious discrimination.

A woman alleged up to a dozen football players raped her or watched and cheered at an off-campus party in 2016. None of the players were ever charged.

The university found that 10 football players committed sexual misconduct. Five of them were expelled or suspended for violating student conduct codes, and the others were cleared on appeal.

In their lawsuit, the players alleged that the woman initiated the sexual encounters with players and an underage recruit.

U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank dismissed the lawsuit last week, saying the former players did not prove any of their claims, including allegations of bias by university investigators or pressure from Athletic Director Mark Coyle and former President Eric Kaler, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

David Madgett, an attorney for the players, said Tuesday that they are considering an appeal but have to determine if it makes sense financially and in terms of letting the former players get on with their lives. He said it was disappointing that the outcome was determined by the judge’s version of events and not decided by a jury.

“It’s disappointing to see disputes decided in this way,” Madgett said. “That’s the way things are decided more and more these days. … It’s disappointing you don’t get your day in court.”

When the allegations became public in 2016, players threatened to boycott the team’s trip to the Holiday Bowl. But after a graphic report of the investigation was released, the players agreed to play in the game.

University of Minnesota spokesman Jake Ricker said the school appreciated the judge’s decision affirming the actions taken in the case. He said the university would continue its work focusing on sexual misconduct awareness, prevention and response.

Frank dismissed the lawsuit in 2019, but an appeals court reinstated part of it in 2021 and returned it to Frank.

The players, all of whom are Black, also initially claimed racial discrimination, but that claim was previously dismissed.

The only remaining claim alleged Title IX gender discrimination. The former players noted that they never faced criminal charges, but Frank’s ruling said that “is certainly not evidence of a judicial adjudication or that plaintiffs ‘were proven innocent.'”

The men also claimed that an investigator for the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action used “manipulative tactics” with them in interviews and that their accuser helped draft the report. The players also alleged that “prior failed investigations motivated” the the school to punish them.

Frank said all the claims were unsupported by the evidence and “no reasonable jury could find that the University disciplined plaintiffs on the basis of sex.”

Michigan State player who swung helmet gets probation

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A Michigan State football player who swung his helmet at a Michigan player in a stadium tunnel expressed regret Tuesday and said he’s “just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue” on the field.

Khary Crump, a defensive back, was sentenced to probation. He was one of seven Michigan State players charged in a skirmish that followed a loss at Michigan Stadium on Oct. 29.

Crump was the only Spartan facing a felony, but that charge was dismissed in an agreement to plead guilty to misdemeanors. His record will be scrubbed clean if he stays out of trouble while on probation.

“Unfortunately, an exchange of words (took place), I felt attacked and unfortunately I did what I did,” Crump said of the tunnel altercation involving Michigan’s Gemon Green. “I’m not proud of that. I’m looking forward to moving forward.”

Crump was suspended by coach Mel Tucker. In addition, the Big Ten has suspended him for eight games in 2023.

“I had difficulties trying to stomach my actions … on that fateful day, but it happened. I can’t take it back,” Crump told MLive.com after the court hearing. “Honestly, I’m just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue in the future — on the football field, of course.”

At least four other players charged with misdemeanors Will Likely have their cases dismissed in exchange for community service and other conditions. The cases against two others are pending.