NCAA requests scouting services documents from Oregon

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As a direct result of a pair of stories that surfaced within minutes of each Thursday evening, the NCAA is now in the process of scrutinizing Oregon’s relationships with a pair of scouting services, the school announced in a press release Friday.

According to the release, Oregon “contacted the Pacific-10 Conference Friday morning regarding scouting services that specialize in the identification of potential student-athletes.”  As a result of the conversation with the conference, “the athletics department has been asked by the NCAA to provide documents related to the purchase of services provided by scouting agencies contracted by the school’s football program.”

“We have been asked to provide a series of documents by the NCAA and intend to fully cooperate,” athletic director Rob Mullens said in a statement. “I reiterate that it is our belief that the purchase of such services is within the allowable NCAA guidelines.”

At issue is not necessarily the scouting services themselves, but whether any recruits were steered to the school by the services.  In particular, intense scrutiny has fallen on Will Lyles of Complete Scouting Services in Houston, and his relationship with high-profile UO signees.

Lyles was paid $25,000 by Oregon, ostensibly for the recruiting package offered through his scouting service, in March of 2010.  That payment came the month after Lache Seastrunk, who has a close relationship with Lyles, signed a Letter of Intent with the Ducks.  Lyles also has a close relationship with Ducks running back LaMichael James; last December, Lyles was a guest of James at a college football awards show, and described himself as the 2010 Heisman runner-up’s trainer and advisor.

Also contained in Friday night’s release was the pertinent NCAA bylaw that allows schools to pay for scouting services, provided said services meet several requirements.

NCAA Bylaw 13.14.3 states that an “institution may subscribe to a recruiting or scouting service involving prospective student-athletes, provided the institution does not purchase more than one annual subscription to a particular service and the service:  (Adopted:
1/1/02, Revised:  1/16/10)

(a)  Is made available to all institutions desiring to subscribe and at the same fee rate for all subscribers;

(b)  Publicly identifies all applicable rates;

(c)  Disseminates information (e.g., reports, profiles) about prospective student-athletes at least four times per calendar year;

(d)  Publicly identifies the geographical scope of the service (e.g., local, regional, national) and reflects broad-based coverage of the geographical area in the information it disseminates;

(e)  Provides individual analysis beyond demographic information or rankings for each prospective student-athlete in the information it disseminates; (Revised:  4/13/10)

(f)   Provides access to samples or previews of the information it disseminates before purchase of a subscription; and

(g) Provides video that is restricted to regularly scheduled (regular-season) high school, preparatory school or two-year college contests and for which the institution made no prior arrangements for recording.  (Note:  This provision is applicable only if the
subscription includes video services.)

Earlier today, Oregon released to The Oregonian purchase orders pertaining to a pair of scouting services utilized by the school last year — the aforementioned Complete Scouting Services and New Level Athletics.  Those documents can be seen HERE and HERE.

Scott Frost wants Nebraska football roster to grow to 150 players or more in 2018

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In the days before you were limited to 85 scholarship players, it was not totally uncommon to see teams stock their rosters full of players and wind up in the triple-digits with close to 200 players on a team. Even after the NCAA mandated a limit of 85 scholarships, roster sizes were still not that much smaller when you factored in walk-ons and others on a squad.

It appears Scott Frost wants to get back to those sort of days in Lincoln and is apparently pushing the school to help him expand the Cornhuskers roster right into the 150 range.

“I’d like to accommodate (Frost’s) desire” to expand the roster, athletic director Bill Moos said this week in an interview with Rivals’ HuskerOnline. “But we do have that issue with Title IX” along with locker room facilities challenges, organized practice schedules, and other daily management nuts and bolts to sort through.

“Nebraska has been known for having a lot of players on the team…a lot of walk-ons. I’d like to get back to that,” Frost had said on Signing Day earlier in the month. “The best thing Coach (Tom) Osborne did was have everybody practice… and part of that is what led to the development of players and helped walk-ons and young players get better faster and get on the field and help the team. I think that’s an asset that Nebraska can have if we’re willing to expand the roster.”

HuskerOnline details some of the compliance and budgetary challenges that going to 150 would entail but it certainly sounds like the school is making the effort to beef the numbers up. The Cornhuskers are well known in college football history for their walk-on program and roughly 10-15 walk-ons per class would apparently help them land right around Frost’s ideal roster size after factoring in the 85 full-scholarship players he would recruit.

Interestingly, going to 150 would allow the program to pass Michigan for the Big Ten’s biggest roster. The Wolverines under Jim Harbaugh are reportedly sitting at around 135 players after the 2017 season while most of the other conference’s schools are mostly around the 120 mark with a few exceptions. Title IX is not surprisingly the biggest obstacle for teams but it seems like some can manage things with no issue.

Frost was hired this offseason to help take Nebraska back to their perch atop college football and it seems like he is certainly attempting to do that in more ways than one when it comes to Big Red.

Purdue hires Utah State’s Mark Tommerdahl as special teams and tight ends coach

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Jeff Brohm is bringing in longtime coaching veteran Mark Tommerdahl to fill out his staff and serve as Purdue’s special teams and tight ends coach.

The Boilermakers announced the move on Saturday afternoon as Tommerdahl heads to West Lafayette after spending just a season at Utah State where he also coached running backs and ran the Aggies’ special teams. While his stay in Logan was brief, Tommerdahl has been all over the country in 34 years as a coach and is highly regarded for his work in the kicking game.

Tommerdahl has plenty of prior Power Five coaching experience and spent four seasons with Sonny Dykes at Cal where he coached three different position groups and served as assistant head coach. Prior to that he also had stops at Louisiana Tech, Texas A&M, Alabama, TCU and several other schools.

The move to bring in Tommerdahl fills the spot on the Boilermakers’ staff that was left when former Houston coach Tony Levine left after one season with the school to pursue opportunities outside of the coaching profession. Brohm’s 10th assistant Kevin Wolthausen was also given special teams responsibilities when he was elevated to a full-time role so it’s possible the team is really beefing up their emphasis on the third phases of the game with the two new coaches splitting duties when it comes to special teams.

Either way, after a surprising 2017 season that ended with a bowl game victory it’s pretty clear that Brohm is not just sitting back when it comes to his coaching staff and is bringing in some veteran names to help the team take the next step in 2018.

Iowa State OC Tom Manning reportedly leaving Ames for Indianapolis Colts staff

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After one of the most successful seasons in recent memory at Iowa State, it appears head coach Matt Campbell will not be able to keep the band together for another run.

Campbell confirmed to The Des Moines Register on Saturday morning that offensive coordinator Tom Manning was leaving Ames and will be taking a job in the NFL. The paper later was able to confirm that the team in question will be the Indianapolis Colts for a spot on Frank Reich’s new staff. ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg says Manning will be the team’s tight ends coach.

“I’m really happy and proud of him,” Campbell told the Register.

Manning has been with Campbell for years and the two actually played (and coached) together at famed D-III power Mount Union in the early 2000’s. Both were on the same staff at Toledo and Manning served as offensive line coach both there and at Iowa State. As offensive coordinator in 2017 he guided the Cyclones to a bit of an offensive renaissance despite relying on backup quarterback Kyle Kempt for most of the season, helping the team produce the third most points per game in school history while ranking in the top five in both total yards and passing.

ISU memorably upset Oklahoma in Norman and capped off an eight-win campaign in the Liberty Bowl with a victory over a ranked Memphis team.

The move leaves two openings on Campbell’s staff for 2018 but the Register notes that graduate assistant Jeff Myers is a possibility for the offensive line job and special teams analyst Joe Houston could be the team’s potential 10th assistant coach.

Rutgers offensive line went curling and it was no Miracurl on Ice

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The Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang are almost over but one of the best moments to happen over in South Korea came early Saturday morning stateside as Team USA completed an improbable run toward a gold medal in curling. John Shuster and company wound up capturing America’s first ever Olympic curling gold medal and fittingly won by beating the No. 1 ranked team in the world from Sweden in what is now being dubbed the Miracurl on Ice.

It’s no stretch to say that curling is not just enjoying its quadrennial moment in the spotlight but is genuinely seeing interest in the sport peak in places from coast-to-coast. That even includes the bustling winter sports capital of… Piscataway.

Rutgers offensive line apparently tried their hands at curling for the first time earlier this week and The Players’ Tribune sent along a camera to see how they did against a local club.

Let’s just say that the Scarlet Knights should stick to football. That said, a Big Ten curling tournament should definitely be in the works ASAP.

Either way, congrats to Team USA on the gold medal and let’s hope their victory tour includes teaching offensive lines far and wide how to bring the, ahem, hammer.