Ohio State hit with ‘notice of allegations’ by NCAA

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The saga that is the Ohio State football program continues Monday morning, with word that the NCAA has sent a “notice of allegations” to president E. Gordon Gee.

The Columbus Dispatch is reporting that the NCAA sent the notice Friday, and in it charges that head coach Jim Tressel is “guilty of ethical misconduct when he knowingly provided false information to the NCAA in certifying that he knew of no potential violations by his players and failed to inform OSU officials.”  That charge stems from Tressel signing an NCAA Certificate of Compliance form last September, which states that he had reported any known violations; the previous April, Tressel had been informed via email that at least two of his players had likely received impermissible benefits.

Tressel did not disclose that information to the university, and did not acknowledge knowing of the potential violations until confronted with emails discovered this past January.

“It was reported that Jim Tressel, head football coach, failed to deport himself in accordance with the honesty and integrity normally associated with the conduct and administration of intercollegiate athletics and violated ethical-conduct legislation,” the notice read.

As for what type of punishment the school could be facing, the paper writes that Ohio State “is potentially facing the most severe NCAA penalties to its storied football program”.  Those sanctions could include loss of scholarships, a bowl ban and/or stripping of all 2010 wins.  The latter penalty would be for using ineligible players for the entire regular season.  The Sugar Bowl win over Arkansas would likely stand, however, as the NCAA had already restored the eligibility of the five players it had found guilty of receiving impermissible benefits.

The Buckeye Five, which includes quarterback Terrelle Pryor, will be suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season, and there will be no additional sanctions against the players, the NCAA wrote in their notice to the school.

While OSU was not cited for “failure to monitor” or “failure of institutional control”, the NCAA warned in the notice of allegations that they may consider Ohio State a repeat offender.  That finding would be based on former OSU quarterback Troy Smith taking $500 from a booster as well as former men’s basketball head coach Jim O’Brien giving $6,000 to a recruit.

In addition to the bowl ban and scholarship loss, the Dispatch reports that the entire coaching staff could be suspended if OSU is found to be repeat offenders.

Ohio State is scheduled to appear before the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions Aug. 12, and the final decision on what sanctions, if any, above Tressel’s five-game suspension and $250,000 fine will be levied will likely come down somewhere around the midpoint of the 2011 season.

Alabama QB Jalen Hurts uses photo of Clemson celebrating title win as motivational phone background

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Nick Saban said last week that the loss to Clemson in the the national championship game earlier this year is one that he’ll never get over, although he didn’t go so far as to compare it to a death in the family. One playing member of Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide team is taking to steps to ensure that he never forgets, either.

Jalen Hurts was the Tide’s talented true freshman starting quarterback who helped lead ‘Bama into the title game and, with a 30-yard touchdown run with just over two minutes left, gave his team a 31-28 lead. That lead was short-lived, however, as Deshaun Watson led his Tigers on an epic 88-yard drive that was capped by his two-yard touchdown pass with just one tick left on the clock for the 35-31 win.

The stunning last-second loss is something that Hurts makes a conscious effort to remind himself of daily as the rising sophomore, as the background on his smartphone, has a picture of Clemson players celebrating their win.

“We’re obviously all on our phones all the time,” Hurts said according to al.com after this past weekend’s spring game. “Every time I unlock it, it’s kind of a reminder. It kind of humbles me and keeps me motivated. …

“It’s not a grudge at all. It’s just something that keeps it on the back of your shoulder like, yeah, it’s still there. Remember why you’re doing it because at the end of the day, the goal for this team is to win the national championship.

Father of former Florida State WR Travis Rudolph killed in accidental shooting

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The father of Florida State wide receiver Travis Rudolph was killed Friday in an accidental shooting, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on Monday.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Darryl Rudolph was working on repairs inside a West Palm Beach, Fla., when a gun accidentally fired in an adjacent room, hitting him in the back/neck area. He was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 55 years old.

The younger Rudolph was Florida State’s leading receiver over the past two seasons before becoming an early-entrant into this week’s NFL Draft. He gained viral notoriety after a photo snapped of him sitting at lunch with an autistic elementary school student hit Facebook.

“When I used to coach and help other kids with football, basketball and sports, Travis was small but he used to pay attention to what I was doing,” the elder Rudolph said in an interview with ESPN last year. “I told them get your education. You can be the best athlete in the world, but without an education, you’re not going very far. That’s what Travis followed through on.”

LSU QB Danny Etling undergoes back surgery

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LSU quarterback Danny Etling has undergone surgery to relieve back pain, the program announced Monday.

“Danny had a minor back procedure this morning and everything went alright,” head coach Ed Orgeron said in a statement (and not in an Arrested Development way).

Etling has played through back pain for months, according to Ross Dellenger from The Advocate, and this procedure should remove that pain.

In a possibly related story, Etling went 4-of-11 for 53 yards in LSU’s spring game.

A transfer from Purdue, Etling appeared in 11 games for the Tigers last season, completing 160-of-269 passes (59.5 percent) for 2,123 yards (7.9 yards per attempt) with 11 touchdowns against five interceptions.

Etling’s recovery from Monday’s procedure is expected to be a short one.

Willie Taggart defends Oregon’s offseason workouts in interview

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Things got off to a rocky start for new Oregon head coach Willie Taggart. Among the issues Taggart was forced to deal with soon after accepting the job of head coach at Oregon was players falling ill during and after offseason workouts.

Three Ducks were hospitalized in January to treat symptoms of rhabdomyolysis, a product of overworking leading to soft tissue and possible kidney damage. Oregon suspended strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde following the hospital treatments to players, and questions about his certification were thrust under a microscope. Despite the unfortunate situation in Eugene, Taggart has defended his program’s workout routine in an interview with Stewart Mandel of FOXSports.com.

“We know we didn’t do anything to try to hurt our kids. We’d done [the same program] everywhere we’ve been and never had a problem,” Taggart explained in the interview. “I think our guys just overworked themselves and didn’t hydrate. … They were trying to impress the new coaches.”

It seems Taggart has been trying to raise the bar at Oregon and find a way to make his new players tougher overall. That is a common strategy for a new coach in a new program, so Taggart’s mission is not unique in that sense.

Maybe it was just a tough physical transition in the approach to workouts after years of Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich running the show. Will this all pay off in the end? Taggart sure hopes so.