Saturday notebook

September 03, 2006

Just visiting

Florida's 1996 national championship team held its 10-year reunion yesterday before No. 7 Florida opened the season against Southern Mississippi. Former coach Steve Spurrier mingled with nearly 100 players, assistant coaches and staff members.

Then he made his first public appearance in Gainesville since disappointing Florida fans with news he was leaving for the NFL. He dashed their hopes again in 2004, when he withdrew his name from consideration to replace fired coach Ron Zook and signed a long-term contract at South Carolina.

"I've got all my emotions for South Carolina," said Spurrier, who will return to Gainesville with his Gamecocks on Nov. 11. "I'll reminisce a little bit. It'll be nice, but for these guys, it's Florida all the way. I'm in a little different situation."

Summer remodeling

Alabama's Bryant-Denny Stadium, which seats 92,138 , is now the nation's fifth-largest on-campus stadium. Outside, a new plaza features statues of former national championship coaches including Paul "Bear" Bryant.

Iowa unveiled $86.8 million in renovations at Kinnick Stadium. The makeover included a new press box and luxury suites, new scoreboards and a statue of Nile Kinnick, Iowa's only Heisman Trophy winner.

Texas Tech unveiled its new FieldTurf surface to fans -- Tech was one of the last schools in the country with AstroTurf. Also missing was the running track that used to encircle the field.

Meanwhile, Nebraska added 6,500 seats to Memorial Stadium as part of a $50 million facilities project, and yesterday's attendance of 85,181 was a stadium record.

Random numbers

Joe Paterno opened his 41st season at Penn State with his 355th win. He is 34-7 in season openers. ... Iowa has won 19 of its past 20 home games.

33 in their hearts

NBA star and LSU graduate Shaquille O'Neal was honored during halftime and given a No. 33 football jersey, the same number he wore with the Tigers basketball team.

HEISMAN STOCK

RISING

Ted Ginn Jr., Ohio State WR: 4 catches for 123 yards and 2 TDs, four kick returns for 69 yards

FALLING

Marshawn Lynch, California RB: 12 carries for 74 yards.

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