No. 1 Georgia motivated to end SEC championship game drought

Joshua L. Jones/USA TODAY NETWORK
0 Comments

ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia’s recent frustrations in the Southeastern Conference championship game are providing extra motivation for the Bulldogs to remain focused this week.

The matchup against No. 11 LSU in Atlanta will be No. 1 Georgia’s fifth SEC championship game in the last six seasons under coach Kirby Smart. The Bulldogs’ only SEC title in that span came in 2017, when they beat Auburn 28-7.

Georgia is the defending national champion, but most players are still looking for their first conference championship.

The players say that’s more than enough reason to avoid the temptation to look ahead to the four-team College Football Playoff.

“It definitely means a lot to me,” senior safety Chris Smith said. “It’s definitely one of our team goals to be able to win the SEC. I’ve played in this game three times and haven’t been able to win. Hopefully the fourth time is the charm.”

Georgia (12-0, No. 1 CFP) completed back-to-back undefeated regular seasons for the first time in school history with last week’s 37-14 win over Georgia Tech. The Bulldogs sit atop the AP Top 25 for the eighth straight week.

Georgia strengthened its case to be considered the successor to Alabama as the nation’s most powerful program. Ending the streak of three consecutive SEC championship game losses would boost those bragging rights.

The Bulldogs’ recent record of futility in the SEC championship game includes a 37-10 loss to LSU in 2019.

“They gave us a beatdown and left a bitter taste in our mouth,” Smith said. “I was here for that and that definitely gives me extra motivation for this game as well.”

A win over LSU would leave no doubt about Georgia’s position atop the playoff rankings. The Bulldogs could make the four-team playoff field even with a loss this week, but Smart says the first priority is winning the conference. He says there’s no reason to think his players could be tempted to look ahead to the playoff.

“No, we’re worried about winning the SEC championship,” Smart said. “That’s the most important thing on our agenda, is to have an opportunity to do something that rarely gets done. I mean, it’s tough to win an SEC championship. I’ve been part of this league for a long time. I have almost as many national championships as I do SEC championships. They’re really hard to come by. We’re focused on LSU.”

LSU coach Brian Kelly said he thinks the SEC championship game will remain important even after the playoff expands to 12 teams.

“I think the conference championships still carry such a high regard in college football and how they’re perceived,” Kelly said. “I think in particular the SEC championship game, I think of that as such a big game and celebrated, that I think that’s always going to carry its place in college football.”

Georgia lost to Alabama 41-24 in last year’s SEC championship game before beating the Crimson Tide to end a 41-year national title drought. Alabama also beat Georgia 35-28 in the 2018 SEC title game.

The SEC championship game losses are an obvious void on the Bulldogs’ otherwise impressive seven-year run with Smart.

Smart is 1-1 in national championship games and 1-3 in SEC championship games at Georgia.

“It’s more about checking a box,” Smart said before looking at a wall in the team’s meeting room which lists every year Georgia won a conference title.

“It’s about that next step and having an opportunity to put a number on the wall that stays there forever. It’s an SEC championship. You don’t belittle those. Those are hard to come by. They’re what you do what you do for. … I think our players take a lot of pride in that.”

Clemson gives raises, contract extensions to staff

Ken Ruinard/USA TODAY NETWORK
0 Comments

CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson’s board of trustees approved raises for special teams coordinator and cornerbacks coach Mike Reed and defensive tackles coach Nick Eason.

Reed and Eason also received one-year extensions keeping them tied to the Tigers through Jan. 31, 2026.

Reed, who’s been with the Tigers since 2013, had his yearly salary increased $50,000 to $800,000. Eason, the former Clemson standout defensive lineman, joined the staff this past season. He also had his compensation upped by $50,000 to $800,000.

Seven other assistants were given one-year extensions by the trustees’ compensation committee, but without a raise in salary.

Co-defensive coordinators Wes Goodwin and Mickey Conn had their contracts extended through Jan. 31, 2026.

Defensive ends coach Lemanski Hall, tight ends coach Kyle Richardson, offensive line coach Thomas Austin, running backs coach C.J. Spiller and wide receivers coach Tyler Grisham all got one-year extensions through Jan. 31, 2025.

New offensive coordinator Garrett Riley last month received a three-year contract at $1.75 million per season.

Clemson will pay its 10 on-field assistants $7.475 million this season, an increase of $925,000 from the total for 2022.

The Tigers went 11-3 last season, winning the Atlantic Coast Conference title for the seventh time in the past eight seasons.

South Carolina’s Beamer suspends three freshmen from program

south carolina basketball
Corey Perrine/USA TODAY NETWORK
0 Comments

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina coach Shane Beamer said freshmen Monteque Rhames II, Anthony Rose and Cameron Upshaw were suspended from the football program.

There was no reason given for the suspensions in the school’s statement Friday. Online records showed Rhames, 18, was booked last night and was being held at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center on charges of carrying weapons on school property and obstructing justice.

“Our student-athletes know what is expected of them,” Beamer said. “They know that both the university and the football program will hold them accountable for their actions and decisions.”

None of the three have played for the Gamecocks.

Rose is a 6-foot-1, 190-pound defensive back from Miami who enrolled in January 2022 and redshirted this season. Rhames and Upshaw were part of South Carolina’s latest recruiting class and enrolled last month.

Rhames is a 6-5, 235-pound defensive lineman from Sumter and Upshaw is a 6-2, 193-pound safety from Perry, Florida.