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.

Former LSU QB Brandon Harris announces commitment to UNC

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Former LSU quarterback Brandon Harris has found himself a new home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Harris announced via Facebook and Twitter he has chosen to commit to North Carolina.

“Obviously, it has been an important time for me, looking for a great situation and another opportunity to grow as a young man and as a student as well as a football player,” Harris said in his statement. “After my [official] visit this weekend to the University of North Carolina, I’m going to get that opportunity. With that being said, I’m fully committed to UNC this upcoming year and I look forward to the opportunity to play for coach [Larry Fedora] and UNC.”

Harris will be eligible to play for UNC immediately this fall after graduating from LSU this summer, and the timing may not be better for Harris. UNC is losing its starting quarterback (Mitch Trubisky) to the NFL and has a wide open spot to fill in the starting lineup as a result. But the job will not automatically go to Harris upon his arrival at UNC after missing out on spring practices at North Carolina.

Harris played in just four games last season, in which he passed for 139 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions. Since the season-opener against Wisconsin, Harris was reduced to backup duty and did not play in any of LSU’s seven final games of the 2016 season, including the bowl game against Louisville. Harris announced his decision to transfer in February, which was pretty much expected given how last season played out amid a coaching change.

Report: Foot injury puts Georgia WR Riley Ridley on sideline for spring

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Georgia wide receiver Riley Ridley has not been practicing this spring, but it has nothing to do with his offseason misdemeanor from a couple of weeks ago. Instead, a foot injury appears to have sidelined Ridley for the spring.

According to a report from Gridiron Now, Ridley has been out due to the foot injury. When the foot injury occurred is not reported. Even if his foot was not injured, it remains unknown if Ridley would be participating int he spring, at least at this point. Georgia head coach Kirby Smart has said Ridley will be internally disciplined for his misdemeanor pot possession from earlier this month.

“He’ll receive discipline,” Smart said. “We are very disappointed in his decision. We do not condone that behavior. I think Riley is going to learn a valuable lesson from this mistake.”

When Ridley may be available again remains unknown, as does what exactly the punishment to him will be from Smart. A one-game suspension is the expected result for Ridley according to the university’s student-athlete handbook.

USF DB Hassan Childs in stable condition after overnight shooting incident

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USF defensive back Hassan Childs was injured in a shooting incident overnight. Fortunately, Childs is currently said to be in stable condition, according to USF.

“We are deeply concerned that an incident occurred overnight in which one of our guys, Hassan Childs, was injured in a shooting,” a statement from USF head coach Charlie Strong said. “Thankfully, Hassan is in stable condition and being well cared for, and no one else was injured. There is an ongoing investigation of the incident and we are in the process of gathering further information.”

The shooting took place off campus, but details about the incident have not been reported.

Childs played in eight games for the Bulls last year. He recorded 16 tackles and returned two punts for three yards in a backup role.

Turner Field on schedule to be ready for Georgia State season opener

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The Atlanta Braves opened the doors to their brand new baseball stadium over the weekend to fans as the baseball team gets ready to open the 2017 season in their new digs. Meanwhile, at the old home of the Braves, Georgia State University is moving along according to schedule in downsizing and renovating Turner Field to serve as the permanent home of the football program. So far, so good, as the university fully anticipates the stadium will be ready to go for the season opener on August 31 against Tennessee State.

The job that’s being done is incredible,” Athletic Director Charlie Cobb told 11Alive. “Each and every time I walk in, I see something new being done.”

Renovation and construction at Turner Field got started in February. The entire project will be done in phases as the university plans to develop around thew football stadium for an expanding university. As far as the stadium goes, the seating capacity will be retrofitted to hold a capacity of 23,000 fans. That will be the first phase of the master plan, with a second phase to complete building the rest of the stadium and add additional seating for fans.

“We plan on doing some unique things capturing the history of the stadium, but also creating a football facility that speaks to Georgia State,” Cobb said. “One of the stories we want to tell is the fact that it went from being an Olympic venue, to the home of the Braves, and now to the home of Georgia State. I think we can write that third chapter.”

Georgia State previously played its home games in the Georgia Dome, the now former home of the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL. The Falcons are also moving into a new football stadium this season. The Falcons’ new home at Mercedes-Benz Stadium will also welcome some college football action to the stadium this season with the annual Chick-fil-A Kickoff will move to the new stadium from the Georgia Dome. This year’s Chick-fil-A Kickoff features Alabama and Florida State on September 2 and Georgia Tech and Tennessee on September 4. The SEC Championship Game and the Peach Bowl will also be hosted in the new stadium and the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship Game will be played there on January 8, 2018.

Georgia State may have their new home, but perhaps one day they will get to play in the new stadium too.