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

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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.

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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.”

Baker Mayfield, what derailed Sooners’ 2014 season? ‘I blame Katy Perry’

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Well, that explains it.

Oklahoma began the 2014 season a perfect 4-0 and was ranked fourth in the country before heading into Fort Worth for a showdown with No. 25 TCU. ESPN‘s College GameDay was in Oxford for the huge Alabama-Ole Miss matchup, with Katy Perry serving as that weekend’s epic guest picker.

At one point during the show, the pop singer famously — or infamously if you’re an OU fan — very seductively hit on Trevor Knight, telling the Sooners’ starting quarterback to “call her.”

Knight waited four months before publicly acknowledging the offer. Coincidentally or not, OU, including the 37-33 loss to TCU, went on to finish out the 2014 season on a 4-5 skid, including a 40-6 pasting at the hands of Clemson in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Knight missed three of those nine games because of injury, throwing nine interceptions in the six games he did play in after throwing three in his first four pre-Perry flirtation.

Monday, Baker Mayfield, the Sooners’ current starting quarterback who was a transfer from Texas Tech during that 2014 season, was asked what OU’s downfall that year was.

I blame Katy Perry,” the 2017 Heisman front-runner said.

Way to go Katy. Or Trevor, for not immediately following up with a call and triggering the jinx that killed OU’s season.

That said, I’m fairly certain neither the call for action or the inaction to the call for a call had anything to do with the Sooners’ collapse that season.  A defense that gave up more than 30 points in each of the losses, as well as once in one of the wins, though, is certainly a prime and more realistic suspect when it comes to laying blame for the collapse.

One final note: Katy Perry is easily Top 3 when it comes to all-time GameDay guest pickers.  And that’s not up for debate.

Nation’s No. 1 recruit in 2015 granted release from Auburn

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One of the top players in the Class of 2015 will reportedly ply his football wares elsewhere.

As reported by 247Sports.com‘s Brandon Marcello and subsequently confirmed by al.com, Byron Cowart requested a release from his Auburn scholarship at some point Monday.  Tuesday morning, the former reported, that release was granted.

There’s no word yet on what stipulations were attached to the release, or the reasons behind the original request.

Regardless of the why, there’s little doubt the defensive lineman’s on-field play failed to live up to his recruiting pedigree.

A consensus five-star signee, Cowart was rated by Rivals.com as the No. 1 player in the Class of 2014 while 247Sports.com had Florida product as the No. 3 player overall on its composite board.  In 26 career games, Cowart was credited with 15 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss.  He was one of four Tigers arrested for marijuana possession in May of last year.

This past spring, Cowart was moved from end to tackle in an attempt to jumpstart his career.  In three games at his new position this season, he had three tackles and half a tackle for loss in three games.

‘Highly questionable’ Florida CB Duke Dawson plays vs. Kentucky

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Duke Dawson suffered a head injury in Florida’s wild win over Tennessee in Week 3.  On his personal Twitter account, the Gators’ most veteran cornerback indicated that he will play in Week 4 against Kentucky despite the injury.

Dawson’s head coach, though, tapped the brakes on that notion.

Jim McElwain has, at least for now, labeled the fifth-year senior as “highly questionable” for the matchup against the unbeaten Wildcats in Lexington. The door, though, is not completely closed.

We’ll see where that is as we go throughout the week,” the head coach said.

Dawson started seven of the 12 games in which he played last season. He returned an interception for a touchdown in the season-opening loss to Michigan, then had a key interception in the win over rival Florida.

Lamar Jackson leapfrogged by Baker Mayfield as Bovada’s Heisman favorite

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So much for that wagering momentum, I guess.

Entering the 2017 season as not only the reigning winner but also as seemingly an afterthought, a pair of scintillating performances to open the year pushed Lamar Jackson to the head of Bovada.lv‘s Heisman Trophy pack.  Coming off a 26-point Week 3 loss to now-No. 2 Clemson in which he totaled nearly 400 yards of offense and three touchdowns, the Louisville quarterback has seen his odds lengthen a bit from 7/4 a week ago to 11/2 in Bovada‘s latest Heisman release.

Bovada’s new betting front-runner?  Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, who went from 4/1 to 7/4.  Sam Darnold, 6/1, also saw his odds shorten slightly to a Jackson-match 11/2.

Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph, 10/1 in the previous odds release, is now at 9/1, same as the holding-steady-from-a-week-ago Penn State running back Saquon Barkley.

There’s also, interestingly, one true freshman on the board: J.K. Dobbins.  The Ohio State running back went from off the board to 40/1 odds.  His starting quarterback, J.T. Barrett, saw his odds go from 25/1 to 33/1.

Below is the latest set of 2017 Heisman Trophy odds, again courtesy of Bovada.lv.