Let’s talk about The Week of Clowney (Volume Whatever This Is At This Point).
After expressing frustration about the junior defensive end’s absence against Kentucky on Saturday night, South Carolina Steve Spurrier said Sunday that “It’s not a big story.”
We will see if that’s true this week. Clowney’s last-minute removal of himself from the Gamecocks plans this weekend raises questions that have lingered since the offseason about whether Clowney could remain completely focused on the Gamecocks’ 2013 season when he has a gigantic NFL payday looming just months down the road.
Spurrier declined to answer when asked Sunday if Clowney is fully committed, saying he would let Clowney answer that question himself this week. That was a telling statement from Spurrier, who has declined interview requests for Clowney during the week since the season began.
The fact that Spurrier is allowing Clowney to talk now, or at least considering it, means he wants to know the answer to the question as well. South Carolina defensive players are available for interviews following Tuesday’s practice so I would imagine that we will hear from Clowney about 6 p.m. Tuesday.
What he will say, I have no idea. You would think he’ll go with the party line, something like, “Of course I’ll be ready for Arkansas, and I’m 100 percent a Gamecock.” However, the 20-year-old may surprise us. He’s not in the easiest spot in the world. He’s less than a year from potentially putting his family up on Easy Street for the rest of his life and he has some legitimate questions hanging out there that only he can answer.
Will the bone spurs in his foot need surgery? And when?
What happens if he gets hurt?
What happens if his production continues to stagnate?
What happens if he is perceived to quit on his team?
Nobody knows with certainty the answer to any of those questions, but Clowney will have answer them. Starting Tuesday, it seems.
(One side note to the Clowney story. I was very surprised this morning that the update on him was only the second-most read story on our site, behind this story on the defenders who did play. Made me wonder if even you guys are growing weary of the drama. Let me know here or on Twitter @JoshatTheState.)
Around the SEC:
If Georgia is going to win the SEC East, it’s going to have to do it by limping across the finish the line. The Bulldogs lost tailback Keith Marshall, their second-best back, and wide receiver Justin Scott-Wesley, who caught the decisive scoring passes against South Carolina and LSU, for the season due to torn ACLs suffered this season.
Tailback Todd Gurley remains shelved by an ankle sprain, and safety Tray Matthews could miss several weeks due to a hamstring injury.
“Heartbreaking,” UGA coach Mark Richt called the season-ending injuries.
“It's sad for our players," Richt said. "You see them work so hard and get into position to play for Georgia and realize their dreams of wanting to play in big games like that and try to win championships and all that. There is so much work put in and they play so hard for you and work and practice and all that. When you want to play like that and it's taken away from you, it's just very heartbreaking. I don't know what hurts more, the pain of the injury or knowing you're not going to get to play anymore for a while. I just feel bad for them."
Speaking of injury, Arkansas, Saturday’s opponent, lost starting cornerback Will Hines for the season this weekend
And, finally, what in the world is going on at Alabama? Now there’s a report that Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix was suspended after receiving an improper loan from a member of the strength and conditioning staff this summer. Dan Wetzel, the best sports columnist in the country at the moment, wonders if the NCAA has the heart or the resources to make this a big deal for the Crimson Tide. Fair question, but I think we all know the answer, and nobody is expecting any of those crystal footballs to be toted out of Tuscaloosa any time soon.