JACKSONVILLE – Rich Rodriguez is on board with a spring football game that involves either Alabama or Auburn against one of the other college football teams. But, he jokingly - or perhaps half-jokingly - put a price tag on his team's involvement.
"Hell yeah, give me a million dollars, we'll be down there (in) Tuscaloosa or Auburn, Alabama," Rodriguez said to a group of reporters following the Jacksonville State spring football game on Thursday night. "I think it's good for charity, too. You can control it a little bit. It will be kind of fun. But I'd like to get a little cash for that. We got a lot of bills to pay, that new weight room and that new facility. Maybe even $500,000, we'll go down there for a spring game."
Rodriguez said he might lobby for it personally and also asked for a little help from the media.
"I'm speaking at Alabama's coaching clinic tomorrow. Maybe I'll bring that up with my buddy, the AD, Greg Byrne," Rodriguez said. "He's a great guy. Maybe they'll give us a million dollars to go down there next spring. Can you guys lobby that in the media? One million dollars. Keep the money in state. You know what I'm saying? Help a brother out kind of deal."
It would be a step up for a Gamecock program that is moving into the FBS and Conference USA this season.
"We might get our brains beaten out, but it doesn't count, right," Rodriguez said. "It doesn't go on your record. If you want to get better as a football team, you play against the best. You go down to Tuscaloosa. You're going to play against the best. I don't know what's going to happen. I think that's an issue to be talked about, but I think transfer portal, NIL, all that stuff is probably first and foremost on everybody's rules to get changed or whatever."
For now, Rodriguez's focus was on a Jacksonville State spring game that was competitive on both sides of the ball. Jacksonville State's offense moved the ball well, scoring at least five touchdowns, including an impressive 48-yard burst by Ron Wiggins and two field goals. But they also threw four interceptions. No score was kept in the game.
"It's not a really a game. It's hardly a scrimmage because of all the quick whistles," Rodriguez said. "But we wanted to make sure our guys are focused on what we're doing and make sure we take care of ourselves. It was good. I think, overall, from this spring to last spring, we've made huge steps. But we're still a long way away from being a solid Group of Five Division I-A team. We got to get that fixed."
Jacksonville State played six quarterbacks – Zion Webb, Te'Sean Smoot, Ashton Frye, Earl Woods III, Palo Solomon and Carter Lambert – in the game. Webb, who is practicing while waiting to see if he gets a NCAA waiver for another season, and Smoot are the only two who played in a game at Jacksonville State last season. They were also the only two wearing a non-contact jersey during the spring game.
Jabari Mack, Walker O'Steen, Marco Baker and Jeremiah Harris each had an interception in the game. Rodriguez said Baker, Mack, Jamari Jemison and Kekoura Tarnue established themselves as the top four corners during the spring. However, competition for that spot will continue throughout the summer and fall camp.
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