Terrelle Pryor cleared in probe of loaner cars

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You just can’t make this stuff up.  Well, you could, but it would be so unbelievable it wouldn’t be worth the effort.

Terrelle Pryor was one of five Ohio State players suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season for receiving impermissible benefits.  As it turns out, that case wasn’t the only off-field issue facing the quarterback.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, Pryor was pulled over for traffic violations three times in the past three years.  In each case, Pryor was driving a vehicle registered in the name of a car salesman or a car dealership where the salesman worked.

Ohio State, which was aware of only two of the incidents, told the Dispatch that they investigated the loaner vehicles and the compliance department determined that nothing untoward had occurred.  As for the other traffic stop that they weren’t aware of, the school said they will investigate that one to ensure that no NCAA bylaws were broken.

Reportedly, all three times Pryor was pulled over in the loaner vehicles, his vehicle was in the shop for repairs or he was simply out for a test drive.  One of the incidents occurred in October of 2008 and involved a 2004 GMC Denali.  The other two occurred within a week of each other this past March when Pryor was driving a 2009 Dodge.  The former vehicle was registered in the name of Aaron Kniffin, while the latter was registered to Auto Direct of Columbus.  Kniffin was employed by that dealership at the time Pryor was pulled over driving the Dodge.

Ohio State knew about Pryor’s use of the car while he had the engine in his own car replaced this past spring and was assured that every customer receives a loaner when extended repairs like that are necessary, Archie said.

Pryor told The Dispatch last night that he borrowed cars from the dealership only when his own was in for repairs and that he spoke with Kniffin only in those instances. As for the SUV he borrowed in 2008, Pryor said, “I wanted advice from some of my family and friends I trusted to see if it would be a good vehicle for me to maybe buy.”

Test driving or borrowing a car is not in itself a violation of NCAA rules. However, use of a car because of an athlete’s status could be considered an improper benefit.

Ohio State became aware of the possibility of NCAA violations when they received an anonymous letter this past July, which stated that members of the football program were trading autographs in exchange for the use of cars.  Of course, part of the probe that ended with the five-game suspensions involved the players receiving tattoos from a Columbus tattoo parlor in exchange for autographs and/or memorabilia.

About two dozen autographed jerseys hang inside Auto Direct’s office, including those from Pryor, running back Daniel Herron and receiver DeVier Posey. A number of autographs have been scribbled on the walls.

Pryor said he doesn’t remember the circumstances of him signing his jersey, but “I sign a lot of stuff for Buckeye fans – I don’t like to turn down fans. But I don’t do it to get any favors or discounts.

Pryor announced earlier this week that he would be returning for his senior season despite the suspension that will knock him out for nearly half the regular season.  Based on the reports coming out of Columbus involving Pryor, we’re not certain whether we should be offering our congratulations or condolences on that development.

Michigan RB declares Wolverines actually beat Ohio State last year

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No. 9 Ohio State heads to No. 24 Michigan on Saturday (noon ET, FOX) looking to protect its 5-game winning streak against That Team Up North. According to Michigan running back Karan Higdon, though, it’s Michigan that’s looking to protect its claim over the scoreboard.

Higdon surely remembers last year’s game well. He was there, after all, carrying three times for five yards. However, it was actually Ohio State who won the game, 30-27 in double overtime. The game was incredibly close, as the score indicates. Michigan would have won if not for a pair of Wilton Speight disasters at the goal line, the first an interception that Malik Hooker returned for a touchdown to give Ohio State a 7-3 lead and the second a goal line fumble that ruined Michigan’s chance to take a 17-7 lead.

As we know, Ohio State fought back to win by this much. How much? Jim Harbaugh shows us below.

Higdon figures to have a much greater impact on this year’s game. He’s the Wolverines leading rusher 874 yards and 10 touchdowns, and ran for 200 yards and two touchdowns on just 16 carries in Michigan’s most recent home game, a 33-10 win over Minnesota.

Here’s hoping, for his sake, that he can have an impact on an actual Michigan victory this time around.

Finalists announced for a number of individual awards

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The final week of the regular season is upon us. Heck, some teams still have two games to play between now and bowl season. Still, it’s awards season in college football, and the petty matter of actual games won’t get in the way of the pageantry.

Let’s dive right in.

Bednarik Award (best defensive player)
Bradley Chubb, NC State
Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
Roquan Smith, Georgia

Biletnikoff Award (best wide receiver)
Michael Gallup, Colorado State
David Sills V, West Virginia
James Washington, Oklahoma State

Bronko Nagurski Trophy (best defensive player)
Bradley Chubb, NC State
Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
Josey Jewell, Iowa
Ed Oliver, Houston
Roquan Smith, Georgia

Butkus Award (best linebacker)
Devin Bush, Michigan
Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech
T.J. Edwards, Wisconsin
Dorian O’Daniel, Clemson
Roquan Smith, Georgia

Davey O’Brien Award (best quarterback)
J.T. Barrett, Ohio State
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State

Doak Walker Award (best running back)
Saquon Barkley, Penn State
Bryce Love, Stanford
Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin

Jim Thorpe Award (best defensive back)
DeShon Elliott, Texas
Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
Josh Jackson, Iowa

John Mackey Award (best tight end)
Mark Andrews, Oklahoma
Troy Fumagalli, Wisconsin
Mike Geisicki, Penn State

Lou Groza Award (best kicker)
Daniel Carlson, Auburn
Dominik Eberle, Utah State
Matt Gay, Utah

Maxwell Award (best overall player)
Saquon Barkley, Penn State
Bryce Love, Stanford
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma

Outland Trophy (best interior player)
Orlando Brown, Oklahoma
Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame
Ed Oliver, Houston

Ray Guy Award (best punter)
Michael Dickson, Texas
J.K. Scott, Alabama
Mitch Wishnowsky, Utah

Wuerffel Trophy (best community servant)
Blaise Taylor, Arkansas State
Courtney Love, Kentucky
Drue Tranquill, Notre Dame

Winners will be announced at the Home Depot College Football Awards show in Atlanta, Thursday, Dec. 7 on ESPN.

Kentucky loses TE C.J. Conrad to foot injury

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Kentucky tight end C.J. Conrad has been lost for the season to a lisfranc injury in his left foot, head coach Mark Stoops announced Monday. He will undergo surgery to correct the issue on Tuesday.

Though he caught just 16 passes for 286 yards and four touchdowns on the season, Conrad was Kentucky’s leading receiver this season. The junior caught one 17-yard pass in Big Blue’s 41-38 defeat of Louisville last season.

With Conrad, a junior, out, Kentucky will turn to senior Greg Hart and/or sophomore Justin Rigg at tight end, though the Louisville Courier-Journal notes that both have battled injuries of late.

Kentucky will close the season against Louisville in Lexington on Saturday (noon ET, SEC Network) and in a to-be-determined bowl game.

Joey Jones steps down as South Alabama head coach

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There’s never a good time to lose a football game 52-0, but even by that scale it’s an especially bad thing to lose 52-0 in a game you had to win to keep your bowl hopes alive to a team so disgusted by its own season that it fired its head coach a month ago.

That’s what South Alabama did on Saturday in dropping a 52-0 decision to Georgia Southern, giving the Eagles their first win of the season.

And on Monday, South Alabama announced head coach Joey Jones will resign following the Jaguars’ Dec. 2 finale at New Mexico State.

“There comes a time in every program where there is a need for change.  For this program that I love so much, that time is now,” Jones said in a statement.  “One of the proudest days of my professional life was being the named the first head coach at South Alabama.  Today is difficult, but it is the right step for me, my family and for this football program.”

Jones is the only head coach South Alabama has ever known, hired Feb. 15, 2008. He led the Jags for three seasons as an FCS Independent before joining the Sun Belt in 2012, taking the club to bowl games in 2014 and 2016.

The loss Saturday dropped the program to 4-7 this season, ending hopes of returning to a bowl game for the first time in the program’s short history.

“Joey Jones is the father of our football program.  He, his wife Elise and his entire family put their arms around the program and committed to its establishment and growth,” said AD Dr. Joel Erdmann.  “He has placed South Alabama Football on strong footing, which is something he and his family can be very proud of and we sincerely appreciate.  His good, hard work and commitment will forever be recognized.”