McClover speaks to NCAA, won’t name names

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In the wake of allegations made during a much-villified-ballyhooed HBO special by Stanley McClover, as well as three other ex-Auburn players, that they were paid cash by alumni/boosters before and during their time on The Plains, it was assumed and widely expected the NCAA would want to have a discussion with McClover regarding his claims.

That was indeed the case, although the NCAA, in essence, wasted a couple of hours of their lives that they’ll never get back.

McClover confirmed to the Sun Sentinel that he spoke to an NCAA investigator for two hours shortly after the airing of the HBO special Wednesday. And, despite publicly decrying the money handshakes and backpacks stuffed with cash, McClover declined to name any of the individuals he claims were responsible for impermissibly greasing his palms while he was a member of the Auburn football program.

In explaining his reasoning behind not fingering the supposed culprits, the paid crusader decided to step up on his soapbox and deliver an impassioned speech about some bizarro “greater good”.

“I told [the NCAA investigator] I’m not doing it for that,” McClover told the paper about naming names. “I didn’t give her anything. She wasn’t mad. I think she respected where I was coming from. I told her I don’t want to get all caught up in that. That’s another way to cover up the truth, to talk about this money. Let’s talk about what it’s doing to these kids. They don’t want to talk about that.

“I told her, ‘You and me need to be talking about how to change the NCAA system.’ I told her I’m trying to help her change. I’m an athlete. I went through it. Let’s work together and see how we can better the situation.”

Of course, at least a small part of the way to change the system, to ensure other similarly-skilled athletes aren’t put through the same set of horrors McClover endured would be to name names so those individuals could be exposed and kept away from the program.  Most certainly those anonymous individuals who McClover accused of handing him thousands of dollars in cash are still lurking in the bushes of the Auburn football program; name them, and begin the process of a change you so crave.  Apparently, however, that particular tack isn’t in line with whatever agenda prompted McClover to come forward and air his grievances nationally in the first place.

If your going to talk, why not talk? Don’t half-ass it; spill it all and lay everything out onto the table, especially with the people who may be able to most affect the change you supposedly desire. Going public with charges that may or may not be true is the easy part.  If you’re so concerned about the future, so concerned about what happened to you not happening to someone else, take any and all steps necessary even as continuing down your chosen path may be more difficult the further you go.

Unless, of course, you were simply talking out of your backside in the first place.

McClover’s right about one thing, though; something needs tweaked in a system that, apparently, allows these money handshakes to continue unfettered, starting with adding personnel to the woefully-understaffed investigative arm of the NCAA. However, it’s going to take a bigger man to prompt change than the one more than willing to lob an accusatory, verbal grenade into a crowd of people, then cower amidst the carnage of the initial blast when it comes time to deliver specifics — specifics that could greatly aid your “crusade”.

Division II, Division III and NAIA title games set while FCS heads into semifinals

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Outside of a thrilling Army-Navy game and the Heisman ceremony, it was an empty Saturday at the highest level of college football.

But no so at the lower levels.

The divisional playoffs are cranked into high gear. Let’s take a brief look at where everything stands in each division.

FCS

Top-seeded and defending champion James Madison needed a last-second field goal to survive visiting Weber State, 31-28, on Friday night, while No. 5 seed South Dakota State routed New Hampshire, 55-14.

On the other side of the bracket, No. 2 seed and winner of five of the last six national titles North Dakota State walloped Wofford, 42-10 in Fargo. No. 6 seed Sam Houston State outlasted upstart Kennesaw State, 34-27, to send the Bearkats into their fifth semifinal game in the last seven years.

Semifinals: No. 5 South Dakota State at No. 1 James Madison — 4:30 p.m. ET Saturday, ESPNU; No. 6 Sam Houston State at No. 2 North Dakota State — 8 p.m. ET Friday, ESPN2.

Division II

No. 4 seed West Florida traveled north and upset top-seeded Indiana (Pa.), 27-17 on Saturday, to send the Argonauts into their first championship game. No. 2 seed Texas A&M-Commerce fended off the option attack of No. 3 Harding (Ark.), 31-17, putting the Lions in their first title game as well.

National championship: No. 2 Texas A&M-Commerce vs. No. 4 West Florida — 6 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN2 at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kan.

Division III

In a similar dynamic to FCS, the defending champion is on a collision course with the traditional champion. In the first semifinal, defending champion Mary Hardin-Baylor (Texas) blanked Brockport (N.Y.), 24-0. The Crusaders will make their third trip to the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl, looking to win their second title.

In the other semifinal, Mount Union (Ohio) overcame a 21-10 deficit to beat Wisconsin-Oshkosh, 43-40. The Purple Raiders will play in their 20th Stagg Bowl — all of them coming since 1993, and 19 of them since ’96 — with a shot at their 13th national championship. However, Mount Union has won just — “just” — two national championships since 2009.

National championship: Mary Hardin-Baylor (Texas) vs. Mount Union (Ohio) — 7 p.m. ET Friday on ESPN at Salem Stadium in Salem Va.

NAIA

The NAIA was off this weekend, taking a break in between last week’s semifinals and Saturday’s national championship. Defending champion Saint Francis (Ind.) out-gunned previously-undefeated Morningside (Iowa) 43-36 in the first semifinal, while Reinhardt (Ga.) held off undefeated Southern Oregon, 37-34 in double overtime.

National championship: Saint Francis (Ind.) vs. Reinhardt (Ga.) — 6 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN3 at Municipal Stadium in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Minnesota lands commitment from 6-foot-8, 395-pound offensive tackle

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P.J. Fleck is going to need a bigger boat.

Minnesota has landed a commitment from the largest recruit on record, as 6-foot-8, 395-pound offensive tackle Daniel Faalele has committed to the Gophers. Faalele made the announcement on his Twitter page on Saturday night.

A 3-star recruit, Faalele is rated as the No. 29 offensive tackle in the country, according to 247Sports. He listed 20 offers, including from the likes of Alabama, Georgia, Michigan and LSU.

As the story goes, Faalele did not find football; football found him. He was discovered by a recruiter from Hawaii working out at a gym in his native Melbourne, Australia. He attended a Michigan satellite camp in Australia and played this season — his first season in pads — at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.

In making the trip from the Land Down Under to the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Faalele will be joined by a pair of IMG Academy teammates in offensive lineman Curtis Dunlap, Jr., and quarterback Zack Annexstad, who also committed to Minnesota on Saturday.

Those pledges now give Minnesota the 26th best recruiting class in the country and the sixth best in the Big Ten — but the No. 1 class in the Big Ten West — in the 247Sports Composite rankings.

Minnesota’s class may not be the best in the country, but it’s among the biggest — both in size (the Gophers have 25 pledges thus far) and stature.

Texas A&M suspends DT Zaycoven Henderson amid felony gun charges

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Texas A&M defensive tackle Zaycoven Henderson was suspended amid multiple felony charges on Saturday.

As detailed by Ben Baby of the Dallas Morning News, witnesses say Henderson pointed a rifle at one person outside College Station’s Campus Village Apartments and threatened to kill two others and allegedly threw the gun out of a fleeing car as police arrived on the scene. The car was later tracked down by College Station officers, who discovered marijuana in the car.

He was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, tampering with evidence and marijuana possession. The first charge is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in a prison. The second is a third-degree felony and the third is a misdemeanor.

He was booked into the Brazos County (Texas) jail at 9 a.m. on Sunday morning.

Texas A&M has suspended Henderson indefinitely, which really only lasts one game as the senior from Longview, Texas, was set to close his Aggies career in the Belk Bowl against Wake Forest on Dec. 29 (1 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Henderson made 35 tackles with five TFLs and 2.5 sacks in 12 starts this season. He was honored as a member of Texas A&M’s senior class at the annual team banquet earlier this weekend.

UCLA reportedly hires Paul Rhoads as defensive backs coach

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Chip Kelly has reportedly hired one of the most respected men in the business to his staff. According to a report from Sports Illustrated‘s Bruce Feldman, Paul Rhoads is on his way to Westwood to coach UCLA’s defensive backs.

Rhoads spent the past two seasons at Arkansas, the first as defensive backs coach and the second as defensive coordinator in addition to his duties with the secondary. He’s best known, of course, for his 7-year run as the head coach at Iowa State, where he took the Cyclones to three bowl games and created this viral moment before any of us knew what “going viral” went.

In addition to Arkansas, Rhoads also owns defensive experience at Auburn, Pittsburgh, Iowa State, Pacific, Ohio State and Utah State.

UCLA finished last season ranked 74th in pass efficiency defense, yielding a 57.1 percent completion rate for 7.3 yards per attempt with seven interceptions against 18 touchdowns.