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, 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.

Kentucky QB Patrick Towles to transfer

Patrick Towles

Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles will transfer, he announced in an Instagram post Sunday afternoon.

Towles leaves school as Kentucky’s sixth-most prolific passer, completing 427-of-759 passes for 5,099 yards with 24 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.

Once compared to Ben Roethlisberger, Towles’ career peeked in a 2014 game with then-No. 1 Mississippi State, as he completed 24-of-43 passes for 390 yards with two touchdowns in a 45-31 loss to the Bulldogs.

But Kentucky stumbled down the stretch, starting 5-1 and finishing 5-7, and Towles stumbled through a 2015 campaign in which he threw nine touchdowns against 14 interceptions.

He’d been passed by freshman Drew Barker by the end of the season, and threw only four passes in a loss to Louisville on Saturday.

A junior, Towles will complete his political science degree in December and be eligible for immediate playing time at a new destination in 2016.

Penn State fires offensive coordinator John Donovan

Penn State football practice, Sept 9, 2015

Penn State has fired offensive coordinator John Donovan, the program announced Sunday.

“I have tremendous respect for John and the work he has put in the last five years,” head coach James Franklin said in a statement. “I wish him and his family nothing but the best in the future.”

Donovan originally hooked up with Franklin when the two were at Maryland, then coordinated his offenses at Vanderbilt and later Penn State.

Despite playing with what many project to be a future first-round pick in quarterback Christian Hackenberg, Penn State ranked 101st nationally in scoring, 108th in total offense and 80th in yards per play.

Penn State dropped its final three games of the regular season and averaged only 14.6 points in its five losses.

Purdue retains head coach Darrell Hazell, fires both coordinators

Markell Jones
AP Photo

It’s never a good thing when a head coach has to fire both of his coordinators on the same day. Of course, it’s never a good thing to be 6-30, either.

Both are realities at Purdue, as the Boilers announced Sunday head coach Darrell Hazell will return for a fourth season in 2016, but offensive coordinator John Shoop, defensive coordinator Greg Hudson and defensive line coach Rubin Carter will not.

“I appreciate the efforts of each of those guys over the last three years,” Hazell said in a statement. “They are quality men who are well respected by their players and their peers, and I am disappointed that things didn’t work out better. But I believe that in order to turn around this program, we need to make some significant changes and move in a different direction at those positions.”

Purdue, 2-10 in 2015, ranked 115th nationally in yards per play and 112th in yards per play allowed.

Virginia Tech announces Justin Fuente as head coach; Bud Foster to stay on as DC

Associated Press

Justin Fuente is officially Virginia Tech’s new head coach. A day after reports linked the two parties, the Hokies made the match official by announcing the 39-year-old as their new head coach on Sunday afternoon.

“Justin is a very impressive individual who also happens to be one of the brightest offensive minds in college football,” Virginia Tech AD Whit Babcock said in a statement. “He elevated Memphis to unprecedented heights. His recruiting philosophy is progressive and comprehensive. Coach Fuente has displayed tremendous talent in evaluating players and developing young men as they strive to reach their full potential. Simply put, Coach Fuente exudes all the qualities that Hokies hold near and dear. We are excited to officially welcome Justin Fuente as the leader of the Virginia Tech football program.”

Fuente went 26-23 in four years as Memphis’s head coach, but his success runs far beyond a simple won-loss record. After going 7-17 in his first two seasons, Fuente guided the Tigers to a 19-6 mark in 2014-15, which included a 15-game winning streak, a No. 13 national ranking and a win over rival Ole Miss within that run.

Simply put, it was the absolute peak of modern Memphis football.

And now Fuente is tasked with taking Virginia Tech to new heights. The Hokies dominated the ACC throughout much of the 2000’s, taking conference crowns in 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2010. But as Florida State and Clemson have risen, Virginia Tech has fallen.

After posting 13 top-25 finishes in 14 seasons, the Hokies are set to conclude their fourth straight campaign outside the national rankings, going just 16-16 in ACC play over that span.

The offensive numbers state exactly why Fuente was hired, and what he must do in Blacksburg; Memphis ranks seventh nationally in scoring offense and eighth in passing efficiency, while Virginia Tech sits at 64th and 59th, respectively.

The cupboard is not bare, though. Virginia Tech is in the midst of a 23-year bowl streak, and Fuente has already secured one key commitment — longtime defensive coordinator Bud Foster has agreed to stay on staff.

“I’ve been privileged to work for a legendary coach who always did it the right way,” Foster said. “I enjoyed that chapter and the success we’ve had, however, I am equally excited for the next chapter and working for Justin. Justin and I share a vision for the future of our program. After spending time together, I’m convinced he’s the right person to continue building on the standard we’ve established at Virginia Tech. I’m truly looking forward to working with him and supporting him.”

Clearly, Babcock and the VT brass believe, a Fuente offense and a Foster defense are what the Hokies need to catch Clemson and Florida State.

Now it’s Fuente’s job to make that happen.