When football fans start to file into Ladd-Peebles Stadium on Friday night for the University of South Alabama’s home opener, some crucial changes will be found at the turnstiles. Beginning this season, the Jaguars are implementing a clear-bag policy for all gridiron games.
Anyone who has attended a New Orleans Saints contest lately knows the same clear-bag policy is standard at all National Football League stadiums. Numerous NCAA institutions are now introducing the rules.
“Implementing a clear-bag policy for football games at Ladd-Peebles Stadium will enhance the safety of all fans at our games and make their entry into our football contests more efficient and effective,” said Greg Keel, USA assistant athletic director of ticket operations. “This policy mirrors what fellow Sun Belt institutions Appalachian State, Georgia Southern and Louisiana currently have in place, and also aligns with numerous NCAA FBS institutions and all 32 National Football League franchises.”
According to USA officials, this policy will limit the size and type of bags permitted inside the stadium. However, it is not a restriction on many of the items fans have brought into the stadium in the past.
Only clear tote bags smaller than 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches, one-gallon plastic freezer bags and small, handheld clutch purses no larger than 4 inches by 6 inches will be allowed in Ladd-Peebles this fall. USA officials said this policy would not extend to other Jaguar sports during the 2017-18 academic year.
Prohibited bags include — but are not limited to — purses, backpacks, diaper bags, binocular cases, camera cases, fanny packs, luggage, any bag larger than the permissible size and any bag that is not clear. Guests with necessary medical items or equipment will be allowed to enter the stadium with proper inspection.
For more details on the policy, visit jaguarathleticfund.com.
In preparation for this season, all current Jaguar Athletic Fund donors and football season ticket holders received one complimentary Jaguar-branded clear tote bag. These same bags can be purchased online through jaguarlockerroom.com or in person on campus at the USA Bookstore.
• For the home opener, the Jags will face one of the best squads in the nation. Oklahoma State entered the 2017 campaign ranked among the Top 10 in most polls.
The Cowboys lived up to the billing as they blasted Tulsa 59-24 last weekend. Quarterback Mason Rudolph was nearly perfect, completing 20 of 24 passes for 303 yards and three touchdowns. Rudolph, who was pulled early in the second half, also ran for a score.
James Washington, a preseason All-American at wide receiver, caught six passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns. Tyron Johnson, a transfer from LSU, added a 44-yard scoring pass.
Oklahoma State’s offense is far from one-dimensional. Tailback Justice Hill (132 yards, one touchdown) was one of three Cowboys who ran for at least 90 yards. OSU had 640 yards of total offense.
• USA safety Jeremy Reaves has been named to the Reese’s Senior Bowl Watch List. The senior was previously selected first-team all-Sun Belt for the second consecutive preseason. The 5-foot-11, 205-pound defender is also on the Paycom Jim Thorpe Award and Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch lists.
Reaves would be just the fourth Jaguar to play in the Senior Bowl. The 2018 edition of the contest will be played at Ladd-Peebles Stadium at 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 27. Georgia has the most players (12) on the watch list, followed by Alabama (10), Ohio State (9), Penn State (9) and LSU (8).
• USA defensive lineman Tre Alford is among 146 nominees for the 2017 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. The senior is a three-time member of the Sun Belt’s Academic Honor Roll, and received a degree in exercise science in May.
Off the field, he has volunteered at the Special Olympics and Wilmer Hall Children’s Home events while also participating in the reading program at UMS-Wright. Alford has taken part in proceedings on campus sponsored by the school’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and helped USA freshmen move into their dorm rooms the last two years.
Full slate in Foley
As mentioned in a previous column, the Foley Sports Tourism Complex’s Event Center will have its debut this weekend with the “Bounders Beach Bash”. The gymnastic meet will bring more than 500 participants and their families to the 90,000-square-foot, multi-use facility located due east of the Tanger Outlet Mall.
The 16 natural grass fields at the FSTC will also be busy with the Publix Super Cup. The youth soccer tournament has grown so large that it has been divided into two weekends, the first for girls and the second for boys. This weekend has 107 teams registered, 20 percent more than 2016.
In addition to the youth action, the women’s soccer teams from Embry Riddle University and Lee University will play Sunday at 2 p.m. at the championship stadium.
“This is what we were built for,” FSTC Interim Director David Thompson said of the schedule. “We have been playing on the fields for over a year now, and we’re finally getting the chance to pair that success with all our Event Center has to offer. We are now, truly, a sports tourism destination.”
Walk to battle cancer
During September, supporters from across the nation come together for the St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer events that observe Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. These raise money to assist the patients of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where families never receive a bill. The local race is Saturday, Sept. 23, at the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park. Check-in will be at 7 a.m., followed by the opening ceremony at 8 a.m.
“We’ll have a Kids Zone with face paint, bubbles, color sheets and St. Jude swag,” organizer Maya Constantine said. “There will be a DJ playing music during the run. Our hospitality tent will be open with snacks and drinks. Gulf Coast Ducks will be doing discounted tickets for those who show their bib when they purchase a ticket.”
Registration is $10 and includes a T-shirt. Participants may sign up in advance at stjude.org/walkrun, or at the park the day of the race.