Maurice Clarett comes 'home' to Ohio State


I can guarantee you that’s a headline I never thought I would’ve typed in my lifetime.

But that’s indeed the case as Maurice Clarett has returned to his old stomping grounds, albeit as one of tens of thousands of students that litter the Ohio State campus instead of a revered-turned-reviled football star.

The former Buckeyes running back and hero of the school’s last national championship is enrolled at OSU, taking his first classes of the summer session Monday with a listed major of Consumer and Family Finances.

Clarett released a statement through the university in which he sounded both contrite and just wanting to get on with his life.

This is a surreal feeling to be back at Ohio State in such a supportive environment. I have looked forward to being back in school and I’m doing my best to fit in with other students. I don’t want to be distraction or nuisance to the football team or to students on campus.”

Monday was likely one of the the first times Clarett has stepped foot back on the Columbus campus since being ruled ineligible in 2003 for receiving illegal benefits.  Shortly thereafter, the now-26-year-old Clarett — after a failed 2004 lawsuit that, if successful, would’ve allowed him to circumvent league rules and enter the draft before he’d been out of high school for three years — was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the third round of the 2005 NFL draft.  After being cut by the Broncos before ever seeing a preseason or regular-season NFL field, Clarett’s personal life began to unravel and spiral out of control.

On New Year’s Day of 2006, Clarett was being sought by police and ultimately charged with aggravated robbery; eight months later, he was arrested yet again following a police chase and subsequently charged with, among other offenses, carrying a concealed weapon without a permit.  Both of those incidents occurred in the city of Columbus.

In September of that year, Clarett was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison, with the possibility of early release halfway through the sentence.  In April of this year, Clarett was indeed granted early release, but was ordered to a Columbus halfway house for six months.  Again, in Columbus.

So, one of the most self-entitled players in the history of college football has come full circle, attempting to get a mess of a life under control as he exits prison and embarks on the rest of his days on this earth.

In a blog family and friends helped him maintain while in prison as he had no Internet access, Clarett — in the final posting that appeared in August of last year — placed the onus for his troubles squarely where they belong.  On himself.

“One thing that really frustrates me is that I have not been relevant to my family for the past four summers. That puts a chip on my shoulder. I have no one to blame but myself. The thoughts just put me in a zone like no other. It puts me in my “One and only” mode. I know that there is no way for me to make up for lost time but hopefully my actions in the future will help them to forget all that’s taken place in the past. I never thought I’d once again be in the position of thinking how am I going to get out of this rut. I think that the longer I wait the more serious I become. I think it’s because I have a good understanding on what it means to be physically free.”

I have no one to blame but myself.

If Clarett can wrap his arms around that ideal and truly live it — as opposed to his pre-prison life, which consisted of various coddlers ranging from hangers-on to family to members of the OSU athletic department and football program enabling at nearly every turn — maybe he can flip the script on this sad tale and become a productive member of society.

Good luck, Maurice.  Don’t blow this chance sitting in your lap.

Wazzu’s Gabe Marks suffers gruesome injury as UW becomes bowl-eligible with Apple Cup win

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Washington State came into Saturday’s Apple Cup without prolific quarterback Luke Falk because of injury.  They’ve now exited it without Falk’s top target because of the same issue.

Late in the fourth quarter of No. 20 Wazzu’s 45-10 loss to Washington, Gabe Marks was on the receiving end of a five-yard pass from first-time starter Peyton Bender.  The wide receiver was also on the receiving end of an awkward tackle that bent his ankle in a way that God never intended and left him with what could very well be broken bones in the leg.

Marks was carted off the field and did not return.  There has been no update on the specific nature of the injury, although it appears that it may be serious enough to keep the junior from playing in the Cougars’ bowl game.

Coming into Week 13, Marks was fourth in the nation with 92 receptions and, with 1,067, is one of 19 players who have gone past 1,000 yards receiving.

And, to add scoreboard insult to literal injury, Marks’ fumble was returned by the Huskies for a touchdown.  That was the second of three defensive touchdowns for UW, with the third coming on Wazzu’s very next play from scrimmage on a pick-six.

The win pushed the Huskies to 6-6 and into a bowl in the second season under Chris Petersen.  The head coach just yesterday was awarded a two-year contract extension.

No. 4 Iowa puts finishing touches on first-ever 12-0 regular season

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In a season full of firsts, Iowa added yet another notch to its football history belt in Lincoln Friday.

Thanks in large part to its defense — and Tommy Armstrong Jr.‘s arm punts — Iowa was able to stake itself to a 14-10 halftime lead and then held on for a 28-17 win.  The Hawkeyes had previously gone unbeaten and untied in a season twice (1921,1922) and went unbeaten in its first two seasons of competition (1899, 1900).  The 12 wins is also a school record, breaking the mark of 11 previously held by head coach Kirk Ferentz‘s 2002 and 2009 squads.

It’s also the fifth 10-win season in Ferentz’s 17 seasons in Iowa City.  And, as was the case in the other four, it was a sturdy defense and low-risk offense that’s led the way to this perfect season.

While the Cornhuskers managed 433 yards of offense, the defense allowed just 20 points, with seven of those greatly aided by a muffed first-half punt.  NU ran 83 plays, meaning they averaged a little over five yards per play.

The Hawkeyes’ offense, meanwhile, ran just 44 plays in putting up 250 yards of offense.  Leading the way was Jordan Canzeri, who accounted for over half that yardage with 140 on the ground.  Canzeri also accounted for two of the Hawkeyes’ three offensive touchdowns, with the other coming off the arm of quarterback C.J. Beathard.

Amazingly, Iowa didn’t convert a single third down in nine attempts, while Nebraska converted seven of 16.  The most important stat, though was the Hawkeyes’ 4-1 edge in the turnover battle.

Armstrong Jr. tossed four interceptions, giving him a nation-leading 16 on the season.  He did throw for 296 yards in a loss that dropped the Cornhuskers to 5-7 and, in all likelihood, a bowl-less 2015 postseason.  While they could still go bowling if 80 teams don’t reach the six-win mark, they’ll likely stay home for the postseason for just the third time in the last 47 years (2004, 2007) in the first season under Mike Riley.

Iowa had previously wrapped up the Big Ten West division and a spot in the conference championship game.  UI will face Michigan State if the Spartans beat Penn State, or the winner of the Ohio State-Michigan game should MSU falter.

A win over any of those three opponents would all but assure the Hawkeyes of one of the four spot in the second edition of the College Football Playoff.

UW RB Corey Clement reportedly won’t travel for Badgers-Gophers

MADISON, WI - NOVEMBER 21: Running back Corey Clement #6 of the Wisconsin Badgers is tackled by Nate Hall #32 of the Northwestern Wildcats on November 21, 2015 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Tom Lynn/Getty Images)
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An off-field incident will reportedly sideline Corey Clement for what’s expected to be his final regular season game in a Wisconsin uniform.

Earlier this week, the running back was charged with two counts of disorderly conduct following an incident earlier this month.  The initial details had Clement attempting to break up a fight between the security guard at his off-campus residence and a group of individuals, which proved to be a false narrative as Clement was found to have thrown the first punch.

Because of the charges, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting, Clement will not travel with his teammates for Saturday’s game against Minnesota.  There’s no word on his status for the Badgers’ bowl game.

This has essentially been a lost season for Clement, who came into the the year as one of a handful of Heisman favorites.

The junior struggled in the season-opening loss to Alabama because of an injury that was later determined to be a sports hernia.  He missed the next seven games, came back for one game late last month (115 yards, three touchdowns in win over Rutgers), but then aggravated the injury and missed the Nov. 7 Maryland game as well.  He played in last weekend’s loss to Northwestern, but was held to just 24 yards on 10 carries.

For the season, Clement has rushed for 155 yards and four touchdowns on 29 carries, one year after 949 yards and nine touchdowns as Heisman runner-up Melvin Gordon‘s primary backup.

WKU to host S. Miss/LaTech winner in C-USA title game

BOWLING GREEN, KY - NOVEMBER 27: Brandon Doughty #12 of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers looks to pass against the Marshall Thundering Herd in the second half of the game at L.T. Smith Stadium on November 27, 2015 in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The Hilltoppers defeated the Herd 49-28. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Not only is one-half of Conference USA’s championship game set, but so is the location.

East division members Western Kentucky and Marshall came into their game Friday afternoon at 7-0 and 6-1 in conference play, respectively, with the contest essentially serving as a play-in game to the league’s title game.  On the strength of Brandon Doughty‘s 370 yards passing and five touchdowns, the Hilltoppers played their way in and staked a claim to the division title with a dominating 49-28 win over the Herd.

The Hilltoppers became the first C-USA team to finish undefeated in league play since Houston in 2011. WKU is the seventh team to go unbeaten in league play in C-USA’s 20 football seasons.

WKU is in just its second season in Conference USA, and will be playing for its first conference title in Bowling Green as the win wrapped up home-field advantage for the Hilltoppers.

The opponent will be determined Saturday afternoon. West leaders Southern Miss and Louisiana Tech, both 6-1, will square off Saturday in Ruston, with the winner moving on to face WKU next Saturday. Tech lost to Marshall in its first-ever title game appearance last season, while USM is looking to get back to the game for the first time since 2011 and the third time overall.