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LSU decides to allow fans at Tiger Stadium

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LSU decided to allow fans to occupy up to 25% of 102,000-seat Tiger Stadium for its home football opener against Mississippi State on Sept. 26.

LSU also said in its announcement on Wednesday that it would ban tailgate parties on its Baton Rouge campus and that all available tickets would go to either season ticket holders or students.

Tailgate parties across campus are a central part of the game-day experience at LSU. Now such gatherings will be forbidden unless they occur within the footprint of a limited number of permitted motor homes and are restricted to members of the traveling party in each recreational vehicle.

Other changes include expanding the perimeter around Tiger Stadium to allow for social distancing among fans entering the venue and a requirement that fans wear masks. Motorist access to campus on game day also will be restricted to those with parking passes.

Southern Miss’ Hopson out as coach; Walden takes over

Cam Bonelli/Hattiesburg American
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. — Southern Mississippi coach Jay Hopson said Monday that he has stepped down and co-offensive coordinator Scotty Walden will take over as interim coach.

The school announced the coaching change Monday afternoon in a news release, ending Hopson’s tenure one game into his fifth season. The Golden Eagles lost at home to South Alabama in Thursday’s season opener.

In statements, Hopson described the decision as the result of a “mutual agreement” with athletics director Jeremy McClain, while McClain said Hopson approached him after last week’s loss.

“I am in total agreement with this change in leadership and truly believe it is in the best interest of the players, coaches and this entire program,” Hopson said.

Hopson went 28-23 and reached three bowl games since taking over before the 2016 season. He was also an assistant for Southern Miss from 2001-03 and 2005-07.

Hopson created headlines in 2019 when he interviewed former Baylor head coach Art Briles for a position on his football staff. Briles had been fired after an external investigation revealed in May 2016 that Baylor had for years mishandled numerous sexual assault allegations by students, including some against football players.

That led to a statement from the school saying university president Rodney D. Bennett and interim athletics director Jeff Mitchell had decided Briles was “not a candidate,” while Hopson disagreed and said at the time that Briles “deserves a second chance.”

Walden has spent the past four seasons with the Golden Eagles, with this being his second year as co-offensive coordinator. He was also working as receivers coach. Previously he had been head coach at Division III East Texas Baptist.

Southern Miss hosts Louisiana Tech in Conference USA play on Sept. 19.

Kirby Smart finds no QB clarity in No. 4 Georgia’s 2nd scrimmage

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
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ATHENS, Ga. — The second preseason scrimmage for No. 4 Georgia on Saturday provided no clarity to the quarterback competition that continues without a top contender.

After Wake Forest transfer Jamie Newman announced his decision to opt out on Wednesday, the competition took on a different look. Newman was cast by many observers, but not coach Kirby Smart, as the favorite to win the starting job for the Bulldogs’ opening game at Arkansas on Sept. 26.

Following Saturday’s practice, Smart said he’s no closer to finding a starter.

Smart said another transfer, former Southern Cal starter, JT Daniels and D'Wan Mathis worked with the first-team offense in the scrimmage. Freshman Carson Beck shared time with Daniels and Mathis with the second team. Stetson Bennett was with the third team.

Smart is eager to find clarity at the position.

“It’s a work in progress,” Smart said of the quarterbacks. “We had guys today that went out and practiced well. … We really want a guy to assume the lead and take the lead. That hasn’t happened yet.”

Smart said he hasn’t seen consistency at the position.

“You’ll have a guy that has a great play and a great series, then comes back with a bonehead mistake and a turnover,” Smart said. “Nobody has really taken charge and taken over. I wish I could say that.”

Newman said his decision to opt out was influenced by “the uncertainties of this year amid a global pandemic.”

Smart said he respected the decision by Newman, who will focus on the 2021 NFL draft.

Daniels has not been cleared for contact as he returns from a knee injury which ended his 2019 season at USC.

“I am under the assumption that that is going to happen, but that is not my decision,” Smart said. “Obviously, that’s the medical decision.”