Alabama may be latest school entangled in growing player-agent scandal

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Along with a couple of other web entities, we reported over the weekend that the tentacles of an investigation involving players’ relationships with agents that began in North Carolina and branched out to South Carolina could ultimately grab hold of additional schools in the coming days and weeks.

With that as a backdrop… hello defending national champion Alabama!  And less than 24 hours before the start of the SEC’s media days, no less.

According to Mark Schlabach and Ivan Maisel of ESPN.com, Alabama officials are investigating the presence of Tide defensive lineman Marcel Dareus at an agent’s party in South Beach earlier this year.  Multiple sources told the website that the school is attempting to ascertain whether any NCAA rules were broken on Dareus’ trip to Miami.

Tide head coach Nick Saban confirmed the probe, saying that “our compliance people are looking into it.”

NCAA investigators have interviewed several members of the North Carolina football program in the past several days, as well as South Carolina tight end Weslye Saunders, in regard to trips to South Florida and who exactly paid for flights, hotels and other expenses.

This is all on top of former Florida offensive lineman Maurkice Pouncey — who was expected to release a statement Tuesday but will wait until his former coach Urban Meyer speaks at the conference’s media day Wednesday — reportedly receiving $100,000 from the runner of an unnamed agent before the Gators’ Sugar Bowl win this past January.

All of the agent brouhaha has Saban ready to go medieval on his former stomping grounds and bar NFL teams from stepping foot onto campuses if the league and the NFLPA can’t get the agents under control.

“What the NFL Players Association and the NFL need to do is if any agent breaks a rule and causes ineligibility for a player, they should suspend his [agent’s] license for a year or two,” Saban said. “I’m about ready for college football to say, ‘Let’s just throw the NFL out. Don’t let them evaluate players. Don’t let them talk to players. Let them do it at the combine.’ If they are not going to help us, why should we help them?

“Right now, agents are screwing it up. They are taking the eligibility of players. It’s not right that those players do the wrong thing. We have a great education process here. We have a full-time worker who meets with players and their families and does everything else.”

Even if he’s merely saber-rattling when it comes to banning NFL clubs, Saban is 100-percent correct; something needs to be done as it pertains to player agents and their contact with student-athletes.

Either the NCAA needs to pay players so that the benefits currently being offered to X number of players isn’t as tempting — ain’t happening — or the NCAA and their member institutions need to put into place draconian rules that will in some way possibly help ensure that the few bad apples who give all agents a bad name are kept away — as much as humanly possible, anyway — until the players have exhausted their eligibility or declared for the NFL draft.

There’s simply no middle ground in this situation; either engage in an all-out war against all player agents or pay the players.  One of the two.

Or, like my dad always told me: give an agent an inch, and he’ll pay somebody to take a mile.

Jim Grobe says he called for a punt from Baylor 24-yard line but headset went dead

WACO, TX - SEPTEMBER 02:  Interim head coach Jim Grobe of the Baylor Bears during play against the Northwestern State Demons at McLane Stadium on September 2, 2016 in Waco, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
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With a lead in a tight game against Oklahoma State on Saturday night in Waco, Baylor head coach Jim Grobe appeared to make one of the most ridiculous coaching decisions witnessed in a while when Baylor lined up to go for a first down on fourth and one from its own 24-yard line in the third quarter. After the game, Grobe said he was calling for a punt but a headset malfunction meant nobody heard his call.

That’s because Grobe accidentally turned off his headset.

“All season it seems like when our defense has our backs against the wall we play better, so I figured I’ll just spot them on the 20,” Grobe said in a laughing manner after the game. He was fortunate to be able to laugh it off, because that could have been a game-changing play.

The communications issue did not harm Baylor — the defense stuffed Oklahoma State on a fourth down play at the one-yard line and the offense moved 99 yards for a touchdown — but that is simply something that can never happen, and a head coach needs to find a way to step in and make sure his team is not going for it on a textbook punting situation. Oklahoma State could have settled for taking three free points with a short field goal kick, which would have trimmed the Baylor lead down to just one point at the time, but Mike Gundy went for the lead and a touchdown.

In Gundy’s defense, knowing how potent Baylor is on offense, going for the touchdown made sense in that situation. It is the obvious case of hindsight being 20/20, although it was just the third quarter, and not the fourth.

Arizona freshman RB JJ Taylor breaks left ankle

TUCSON, AZ - SEPTEMBER 24:  Running back J.J. Taylor #23 of the Arizona Wildcats rushes the football against the Washington Huskies during the first quarter of the college football game at Arizona Stadium on September 24, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
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One of the bright spots for Arizona in the first month of the season had been freshman running back JJ Taylor. Unfortunately for he and Arizona, he will be missing some serious playing time after suffering a broken ankle Saturday night against Washington.

Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez announced after an overtime loss against Washington that Taylor broke his left ankle. Before having to leave the game with an injury, Taylor had rushed for 97 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries against Washington. It is expected Taylor could miss the next six to eight weeks of action, which could effectively end his season.

Ironically, Taylor was showing off his ability to break ankles earlier in the game…

Arsonist sets fire to Toomer’s Corner oak after Auburn win

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Auburn fans celebrated a wild victory against SEC West rival LSU last night the way they always do, by rolling the oaks at Toomer’s Corner with toilet paper. It is a tradition that goes back decades, which makes the oaks a target for some. On Saturday night, one of the trees at Toomer’s Corner went up in flames after somebody lit the dangling toilet paper on fire.

It would appear there is some video footage that captures the arsonist in action, although it is difficult to tell exactly who is the one doing the crime.

Fortunately, it seems the one responsible for lighting the tree on fire may have been apprehended and spent the night in jail.

Second-half dominance powers No. 10 A&M past No. 17 Arkansas, 45-24

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 24:  Trevor Knight #8 of the Texas A&M Aggies runs for a touchdown against the Arkansas Razorbacks in the second quarter at AT&T Stadium on September 24, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
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No. 10 Texas A&M grabbed a late touchdown run from quarterback Trevor Knight in the first half and shut down No. 17 Arkansas in the second half of a 45-24 victory in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The Aggies shut down the Razorbacks in the second half and scored 28 points on offense to improve to 4-0 and head into October thinking about making a run at the SEC West title (and potentially for real this time).

With the game tied at 17-17, Arkansas put together a draining 89-yard drive on 19 plays, but it was the Texas A&M defense that held strong down by the goal line. Just as they had done twice in the first half, Texas A&M prevented Arkansas from punching the football across the goal line, this time with a fourth-down stand. Two plays later, Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight unloaded a deep ball to Josh Reynolds racing down the right sideline. The ball was placed perfectly for Reynolds and he let his speed take care of the rest on a 92-yard touchdown drive. It was quite the momentum swing and the Aggies did not look back.

Texas A&M scored a touchdown after forcing Arkansas to punt on the ensuing possession and took advantage of a short field from the 15-yard line after an Arkansas fumble. Trayveon Williams did the honors on the first touchdown with a 33-yard scamper and Christian Kirk got his hands on a pass from Knight after the Razorbacks’ fumble.

Four games into the season and there appears to be enough evidence to suggest this Texas A&M defense has improved, and that helps make Texas A&M a formidable player in the SEC West moving forward. Is it ready to take down Alabama? Probably not, but the Aggies have the look of the second-best team in the SEC behind the defending national champions. Arkansas still has the potential to play spoiler with anyone on their schedule though, including Alabama.

Knight was a machine for the Aggies, ending his night with 225 passing yards, two passing touchdowns, a game-high 157 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. Arkansas quarterback passed for 371 yards and two scores, but took a beating all night.

Texas A&M is 4-0 for the third straight season under Kevin Sumlin. The last time Texas A&M went 4-0 in three straight seasons was 1939-1941. It is also the third straight undefeated September for Texas A&M, which was last achieved from 1997 through 1999. The hot seat talk has been nowhere to be heard in College Station this season.

Arkansas gets a likely breather next week when they return home to host Alcorn State. A home game against Alabama looms after that. Texas A&M will stay in SEC play next week when they head to South Carolina. The Gamecocks are coming off a 17-10 loss at Kentucky.