HBO report: Auburn players got paid; OSU recruiting target plied with sex

47 Comments

Given the self-made pickle Jim Tressel finds himself in, and the basketball team’s loss in the NCAA tournament as a No. 1 seed, it’s not been the best of months for two of the Ohio State University’s flagship athletic programs.  And, apparently, the negativity surrounding the school is set to continue.

Wednesday night, the HBO show Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, a release from the cable network states, departs from its traditional format to present a special hour-long edition dedicated to the state of college sports in America.  Basically, the show will delve into the sticky issue of whether college athletes — football players in particular — should be paid, as well as delving “into the controversial and complex subject of premium college-bound athletes receiving benefits that are prohibited by the NCAA.”

Oh, and sex.

The New York Daily News reports that former college football player Stanley McClover will also appear on the show, and reveals that he received not just cash but (gasp!) sexual services during a recruiting visit to Ohio State.  McClover ultimately signed with Auburn, so we don’t know if that says more about quality of the school on The Plains or about the quality of the services (allegedly) rendered at the Columbus school.

And, while we’re on the subject of the HBO show, here are a couple of “teasers” that will give you an idea of what tomorrow’ night’s program will entail.

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

 

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

 

UPDATED 8:14 p.m. ET: Our buddy at SportsByBrooks.com has obtained an advanced copy of the hour-long program and, suffice to say, it does not paint Auburn University in a very positive light.  Four ex-Tigers claim during the course of the program that there was a “systematic pay-to-play” scheme in place during and after the recruiting process in which they were given thousands upon thousands of dollars by people — including alumni and boosters — purporting to be associated with the school.

Apparently, the key phrase that will be woven throughout the piece will be “money handshake”.

Based on Brooks’ transcription, which can be viewed in its entirety right HERE, there are some very explosive and damning charges that will be leveled against Auburn.  McClover, for example, claimed that he was given $4,000 after a four-sack game against archrival Alabama.  As noted by the Birmingham News, the accusations made by McClover, as well as Troy Reddick, fall outside of the NCAA’ s standard statute of limitations of five years.  The claims made by Chaz Ramsey and Raven Gray, however, allegedly occurred inside of that five-year window.

What will be most interesting to see, however, is what type of public response, if any, the school gives to the accusations.  And if the NCAA issues any sort of statement as well.

UPDATED 9:19 p.m. ET: We would be remiss if we didn’t note the fact that LSU and Michigan State were also accused by at least one member of the Auburn quartet of giving money during the recruiting process.

UPDATED 10:46 p.m. ET: Auburn responded — sort of — to the allegations made by the four players during the program.

“Auburn Athletics respectfully declines to comment on these alleged claims apparently made by a few former football players. Compliance with all NCAA and Southeastern Conference rules is a major emphasis and top priority for all of our athletic programs at Auburn University.”

QB controversy in Tuscaloosa? Freshman Tua Tagovailoa impresses at Alabama spring game

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Alabama’s annual A-Day spring game took place at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday and those tuning in to the Crimson team’s last minute 27-24 win over the White team had to be especially impressed with the Tide’s explosive offense under new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.

In particular that comes at the quarterback position, where there might be more of a controversy at the spot than first thought. Incumbent Jalen Hurts was very sharp on his downfield passes but his strong outing (301 yards, two touchdowns, one interception) was overshadowed by true freshman Tua Tagovailoa, who simply stole the show down in Tuscaloosa.

The early enrollee signal-caller from Hawaii jumped onto the scene in the first half of the game and wound up completing 17 passes for 313 yards, three touchdowns and an interception while working with both the first- and second-team offenses. You could normally dismiss numbers put up against a team’s second-string defense, this is Alabama we’re talking about so you know it’s coming against numerous future All-SEC players.

Tagovailoa did throw a pick-six in the second quarter but that was mostly because linebacker Terrell Hall made an unbelievable play on a swing pass to snatch the ball out of the air and run it all the way back to the opposite end zone. Freshman tailback Najee Harris (70 yards rushing) as well as stud wide receivers Calvin Ridley, Robert Foster and Jerry Jeudy (134 yards, two scores) also stood out on Saturday.

In all, offense ruled the day as the two quarterbacks combined for over 600 yards through the air. That probably won’t make reviewing film with Nick Saban all that pleasant for members of the secondary next week but was probably good news to most fans after lackluster performances down the stretch to end last season.

Either way, everybody should probably start brushing up on how to pronounce Tagovailoa even if he doesn’t ultimately unseat Hurts as the starter because the young QB has lived up to the early billing by recruiting analysts.

Baylor freshman tailback Abram Smith out for the season with spring ACL tear

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Baylor kicked off the first spring game of the Matt Rhule era on Saturday and wrapped things up with a 65-39 Gold team victory over the Green squad that included a pretty impressive touchdown catch from former basketball player Ish Wainright.

The news wasn’t all rosy in Waco however as after the game Rhule announced that freshman running back Abram Smith would be lost for the 2017 season after suffering an ACL tear in the Bears’ first spring practice.

Smith wasn’t being counted on as being a starter this season but his loss is a fairly big blow to the team’s depth at the position. Returnees JaMycal Hasty and Terence Williams already missed parts of the spring game due to injuries on Saturday, leaving just senior Wyatt Schrepfer to take most of the carries late in the contest.

All three figure to be good to go by the time fall camp rolls around but there’s not much behind them with Smith being lost for the year. A three-star recruit coming out of high school, the early enrollee likely would have seen some snaps in 2017 but will instead have to spend it redshirting on the bench.

Brian Kelly takes the blame for Notre Dame’s struggles last season

1 Comment

Notre Dame wrapped up spring football with the Irish’s annual spring game on NBC Sports Network on Saturday afternoon in South Bend and front and center was not surprisingly head coach Brian Kelly.

While fans of the team were probably most interested in how quarterback Brandon Wimbush looked, Kelly did go into detail about what the offseason has been like after last year’s disappointing 4-8 campaign. While the coach has been known to be a bit defensive when it comes to the team’s struggles, he did open up during a sit-down interview and was transparent in taking the blame for the way 2016 went.

“When you have a losing season, you have to look at yourself first,” Kelly told NBC Sports’ Jac Collinsworth. “I’ve always felt like there isn’t a bad football team but there is bad leadership and I don’t think I provided the kind of leadership (last year). It starts with yourself.”

Kelly goes on to discuss the significant changes to the Irish coaching staff, how this team is very much a work in progress and how Wimbush is handling taking over as the starting signal-caller.

The Gold team ended up winning the spring game 27-14 over the Blue team behind a strong defensive performance. If Saturday’s outing was any indication, Notre Dame should be much improved this upcoming season and that seems to start from the top on down.

SEC commissioner confirms graduate transfer rule changes will be discussed at spring meetings

Getty Images
2 Comments

We’re still over a month away from the SEC’s annual spring meetings down in Destin, Fla. but one item we might be able to confirm is on the agenda will be the graduate transfer rules for the conference.

It’s a hot topic around the league and particularly so at Florida, which is in the mix to land Notre Dame graduate transfer Malik Zaire but can’t officially take him due to restrictions from the conference office.

That may change however, as SEC commissioner Greg Sankey confirmed in a radio interview on Friday with ESPN Gainesville.

“It will come up,” Sankey said, according to SECCountry.com. “I do think we need to look where we’ve been restrictive in the past because of the absence of national rules and look at reducing some of those restrictions. I’m one who would position it as interest in freeing things up without just removing every restraint, because I think the restraints have been healthy for us.”

At the heart of the issue is a rule that limits schools from taking additional graduate transfers if previous graduate transfers failed to meet academic requirements after enrolling. The move was designed to prevent a number of situations where players would transfer over just to play and not really go through coursework at their new school.

Other NCAA conferences have failed to follow the SEC’s lead in this area however and now the league is being put at a bit of a disadvantage on the graduate transfer market. This is particularly an issue with the Gators this offseason but it seems as though there will be quite the discussion down in Destin among athletic directors and head coaches about changing the rules to be on more of a level playing field with other conferences on this front.