New book to allege major Miami violations; NCAA on standby

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Far enough removed from the roaring eighties and nineties to make it seem like they were nothing but strangely entertaining visitors from a distant planet, the Miami Hurricanes have done a remarkable job over the past few years reshaping their off-field image, even as they have yet to come even remotely close to duplicating the on-field success of the halcyon days of the football program.

For all of the flak Randy Shannon has taken for his won-loss record, his police record and the way his players conduct themselves both on and off the field have been a stark contrast to Jimmy Johnson‘s ‘Canes.  Now, after all of the polishing done to the brand by Shannon and company, it appears someone with both a connection to the program and a sordid past is looking to tarnish what’s been gradually built over the years.

Former UM booster and convicted criminal Nevin Shapiro, the Miami Herald writes, is writing a book about the UM football program in which he alleges former Canes players committed major NCAA violations.

Shapiro spoke to the Herald from a jail in New Jersey, where he is awaiting sentencing next month on a $900 million Ponzi scheme that reportedly left upwards of 60 victims with losses totaling $80 million.  While Shapiro refused to go into the violations contained in the first draft of a book titled The Real U: 2001 to 2010: Inside the Eye of the Hurricane, he did identify players such as Jon Beason, Devin Hester, Antrel Rolle, Randy Phillips, Robert Marve and Kyle Wright as former ‘Canes he was close with.

Additionally, Shapiro claimed he was close with with Clint Hurtt, Miami’s former recruiting coordinator and assistant coach who left for a job at Louisville this offseason.

Shapiro has been lauded by as recently as five months ago for a $150,000 contribution he made for the university.  Now, the businessman is looking to tear down something he was once a part of, due in part to what seems like hurt feelings brought on by players blowing him off once they left The U for the NFL.

“This will be a tell-all book from a fan and booster perspective,” said Shapiro, who did not attend UM. But why write a book that will hurt UM?

“I want to make the average fan aware of what really exists under that uniform,” he said. “They might be great players, but they’re certainly not great people. I’m speaking of no less than 100 former players.” 

Shapiro, 41, is angry because “once the players became pros, they turned their back on me. It made me feel like a used friend.” He was motivated by “heartbreak and disappointment on behalf of the university, which I considered to be an extended part of my family.”

The NCAA is aware that allegations are forthcoming from Shapiro, but will not decide whether an investigation will be launched until they get their hands on the specific claims Shapiro will make.  “When reasonably reliable information has been obtained indicating intentional violations may have occurred, the enforcement staff will undertake a review of the information in order to determine the credibility,” NCAA spokesperson Stacey Osburn said when asked if they would act on the claims of a person serving time.

Shapiro hopes to have his book published by December.  Until then, it appears a shadow will be looming over a football program that, according to some, are on the verge of bursting back onto the national title chase scene this season.

Way to cast a pall, Shapiro.  Nice going.

NC State board approves new deal for Dave Doeren

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In late November, after rejecting overtures from Tennessee in order to remain at North Carolina State, Dave Doeren agreed to a new contract with the university, pending the board rubber-stamping the agreement. This past week, that rubber met the stamp.

NC State confirmed that, on Thursday, the system’s Board of Trustees formally approved the new five-year deal for Doeren. The head coach’s new contract will now keep him with the Wolfpack through Dec. 31, 2022.

“We are on an exciting upward trajectory in football under the leadership of Coach Doeren,” said NC State athletic director Debbie Yow said in a statement. “He has assembled a terrifically talented coaching staff, as well, and that continuity and stability has been important to our current student-athletes and recruits.

“We are pleased that Dave will continue to lead NC State football, playing in one of the most challenging divisions in college football, the Atlantic Division of the ACC.”

In five seasons with the Wolfpack, the 46-year-old Doeren has compiled a 34-30 record, including a 15-25 mark in ACC play. The 2017 season was his best of the five, with a 9-4 overall mark that saw NC State finish in second place in the Atlantic after divisional finishes of seventh, fifth, fourth and tied-fourth the first four.

Under Doeren, the Wolfpack has played in a bowl game each of the last four seasons, posting a 3-1 mark in the postseason.

Nebraska clinches spring game attendance crown, Georgia pushes past Alabama

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Georgia got its revenge on Alabama on Saturday, I guess. Months after letting a lead slip away in the national championship game, Georgia wiggled past Alabama in the spring game attendance standings on Saturday but the Dawgs still had to settle for second place overall. A record crowd at Nebraska led to the Cornhusker faithful having the highest attendance for a spring game this season.

Nebraska set a school record on Saturday with 86,818 fans attending the spring game in Lincoln, the first under new head coach Scott Frost. It was the first time Nebraska recorded a crowd over 80,000 during the past five years. Nebraska surged to the top of the Big Ten spring attendance standings as well, and stayed comfortably ahead after Penn State recorded an estimated 71,000 fans at its spring game on Saturday. Ohio State had led the Big Ten the previous three years but stadium renovations limited Ohio State to 79,000 available seats this year at Ohio Stadium, and weather and schedule adjustments to the spring game resulted in a crowd of 47,803 for Ohio State’s spring game.

The SEC once again dominated spring game attendance numbers this year. With LSU and Mississippi State numbers still pending, the SEC has five schools in the top 10 in spring game attendance as of today; Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, and Texas A&M. As a conference, the SEC eclipsed the 400,000-fan mark for the fourth time in the last five years. Although the Big Ten is typically the second best conference in cumulative spring game attendance, the conference’s number took a big dip this season thanks to weather issues across the conference. Still, the number pulled in by Nebraska, Penn State, and Ohio State helped keep the Big Ten in second place ahead of the ACC.

Keep in mind spring game attendance is treated differently by every school, and the numbers often include estimates so the accuracy can be questioned. Even though there are still a handful of spring games left, none will rival the numbers put up today.

The updated top 10 is listed below, and a full database of spring game attendance can be found here (complete with conference breakdowns and a five-year record of spring game attendance figures by school).

2018 Spring Game Attendance Top 10

  1. Nebraska – 86,818
  2. Georgia – 82,184
  3. Alabama – 74,732
  4. Penn State – 71,000
  5. Tennessee – 65,098
  6. Florida State – 60,934
  7. Clemson – 55,000
  8. Florida – 53,015
  9. Oklahoma – 52,102
  10. Texas A&M – 48,129

Jeremy Pruitt felt some Tennessee players ‘flat out quit’ in spring game

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New Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruit has a message to his players and Tennessee fans. If you are going to enter Neyland Stadium, you better be prepared to work.

Following Tennessee’s spring game in Knoxville, Pruitt reflected on his first spring game as head coach with the media and he was not about to let anyone off the hook for a mediocre performance in the spring game. One thing you never want to hear from a head coach is that some of his players seemingly quit. That was the case for Pruitt today, without naming any specific players.

Even fans received some gripes from the new head coach.

Tennessee estimated a total of 65,098 fans came out to watch the Tennessee spring game, which is an impressive total and right around the average Tennessee typically draws for the spring game. But the crowd buzz must not have impressed Pruitt, who could be setting the tone for the fans in the fall in hopes they turn things up a bit once the games actually matter.

The same message is now being sent to the entire team. Pruitt has a high standard in mind, which is to be expected after being an assistant at Alabama. Was Pruitt truly this displeased with his team’s effort in the spring game? Or was he simply trying to play things down in order to let his players know there will be no room for poor efforts?

Jalen Hurts speculation about to run wild after shaky spring game at Alabama

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If Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts was looking to build a case for taking the starting job for the Crimson Tide in 2018, he may have to rely on more than his performance in the spring game. Hurts turned in a sub-par performance in Alabama’s spring game on Saturday afternoon, leaving the door wide open for some speculation about his future as Alabama’s spring comes to a close.

Hurts completed 19 of his 37 pass attempts for 195 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. He also was sacked seven times. With Tua Tagovailoa out of action due to injury, Hurts was outperformed by redshirt freshman Mac Jones, who completed 23 of 35 passes for 289 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Jones was also intercepted once and was sacked six times. Of the two quarterbacks, Jones had the more inspiring performance.

Rumors speculating Hurts may end up looking to transfer will only continue to ignore following this spring, especially with Tagovailoa going into the offseason as the new hero in town after guiding Alabama back in the national championship game. It should be worth noting, however, a transfer for Hurts is not guaranteed to happen. That won’t stop fans and media from figuring out what will be next for Hurts.

Hurts’ dad recently suggested his son would be college football’s biggest free agent on the transfer market if he ended up losing the quarterback battle in Tuscaloosa. That may be a slight exaggeration, but there is no question Hurts would have plenty of potential and skill to offer any program he would potentially move to if he decides to leave Alabama. Alabama head coach Nick Saban tried to cool the tension by suggesting there is no reason to be concerned about the whole situation.

But this is Alabama we’re talking about. The Hurts watch is now in full force in Tuscaloosa, whether Saban likes it or not.