Ex-Buckeyes not biting tongues on Tressel situation

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With reports surfacing Monday that Ohio State had, as expected, received their “notice of allegations” from the NCAA, and even as it contained no “new” information, the Jim Tressel “situation” seemed to get that much more real for Ohio State.

In appearances throughout the day yesterday on various ESPN platforms, a trio of high-profile ex-Buckeyes got down to straight real talk when it came to the current head coach at tOSU.  And, to their credit, they refused to bite their tongue when it came to their former school.

Perhaps the strongest words came from former OSU running back Robert Smith, who heavily intimated that he doesn’t see this ending any other way than The Vest losing his job.

“Quite frankly … the information may be there, but I haven’t heard anything that in my estimation wouldn’t lead to his firing,” Smith said by way of the Detroit Free Press.

While not going as far as Smith, former quarterback Kirk Herbstreit, the most polarizing ex-Buckeye amongst the TV talking heads, “think[s] it would be very difficult moving forward with Jim Tressel” as OSU’s head coach, even as the school appears to be solidly behind Tressel at this point in time.  And even as Buckeye Nation is “blindly” supporting the institution and coach.

The Ohio State fan base is blindly just supporting Ohio State and Jim Tressel,” Herbstreit said. “It’s almost gotten to the point where he beat Michigan, he wins 10 games, he goes to BCS bowl games and they’ll support him no matter what he does as far as the fan base. If this would have happened to John Cooper, not only would they have fired him, they would have actually lined him up at a firing squad and fired him.”

Herbstreit, who created a stir earlier this year when he revealed that he was forced to move his family from Columbus to Tennessee due to a “relentless… 5 to 10 percent of the [OSU] fan base”, on the one hand believes that “people are being a little unfair to (Tressel’s) character”.  On the other hand, Herbstreit notes that “the bottom line is he broke the rules by the NCAA” and that such a situation makes it “very difficult after you do that to go into the future homes of recruits and try to recruit and try to say, ‘Hey, we’re going to do things the right way’ when you have this in your background.”

For ex-OSU linebacker/bad ass in perpetuity Chris Spielman, the recruiting issue is not really an issue at all, despite all that’s gone down in regards to The Vest over the past few months.

“If my son’s ever good enough to play for Ohio State, I want him to play for Jim Tressel,” Spielman said.

That said, even Spielman, who acknowledges a close relationship with Tressel, can see that a well-deserved hammer from the NCAA is coming.

“I think if you’re a true fan of Jim Tressel and a true fan of Ohio State, you understand that there has to be action taken against his mistakes that he’s made,” Spielman said. “He’s admitted he’s made mistakes and I think … the NCAA’s going to come down hard. I don’t think you can have a coach who knowingly put ineligible players on the field and you’re not going to take those games from them last year. …

“I think his intent was pure, but his actions justify the punishment that’s coming his way.”

Just what that punishment will ultimately be remains to be seen.  Will the NCAA be satisfied with the self-imposed five-game suspension and $250,000 fine?  Or, because of Tressel’s blatant dishonesty and outright lying, will the NCAA make an example of Tressel and turn him into the coaching equivalent of Dez Bryant?

Those were the same questions the NCAA was facing when it came to Bruce Pearl before Tennessee took the decision out of their hands by firing their men’s basketball coach.  We still say that, barring any negative future revelations, OSU will not go the UT route.  Then again, out of the 120 Div. 1-A head football coaches, we would’ve thought Tressel would’ve come in right around No. 120 on the list of coaches who would’ve participated in a cover-up, let alone be the mastermind behind it.

Auburn wide receiver Kyle Davis potentially out for spring

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Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn was optimistic about wide receiver Kyle Davis returning to the team at some point this spring, but the tune has changed regarding his future. Malzahn is now saying Davis may be out for the remainder of Auburn’s spring practices due to personal reasons.

“Kyle Davis is still taking care of some personal business,” Malzahn said, according to SEC Country. “I’m not for sure if he’s going to be back before the end of the spring. He will be back for the fall, just taking a little bit longer than we initially thought.”

It was just a few weeks ago Malzahn said Davis was going to be out for the start of spring practices, which are now close to half over. For now, the plan is simply to have him return over the summer in preparation for the fall.

In the meantime, Malzahn confirmed John Franklin III is working primarily as a wide receiver, which had previously been suspected to be the case.

Penn State announces three captains for 2017 season

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With Penn State just about to get started with spring football practices, head coach James Franklin wasted no time in naming his captains for the 2017 season. Quarterback Trace McSorley, linebacker Jason Cabinda, and safety Nick Scott have been voted captains by their peers on the team.

“These three young men have been leaders in our program, on and off the field,” Franklin said in a released statement. “They live our four core values and act with the program’s best interest in mind. Our team is in good hands with these guys!”

McSorley took over the offense as Penn State’s starting quarterback in 2016. A bit of a mystery to most entering the season after being the backup to Christian Hackenberg, McSorley ended his 2016 season with a Big Ten-leading 3,614 passing yards and 29 touchdown passes with eight interceptions and played a key role in guiding Penn State to a late run to a Big Ten championship and an appearance in the Rose Bowl. He enters the 2017 season as one of the top quarterbacks returning to the Big Ten, along with Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett.

Cabinda, an All-Big Ten third team player in 2016, was Penn State’s third-leading tackler last season with 81 tackles. He accumulated that many tackles despite missing five games due to injury. He is slated to be the leader in the middle of the Penn State defense with a starting role already locked down and will look to help guide some younger linebackers stepping into key roles in the defense this upcoming season, such as Manny Bowen and Koa Farmer.

Scott has been a special teams leader for Penn State and is expected to continue to lead the special teams effort once again this season.

New Arkansas house bill will allow some concealed guns at football games

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Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has signed a bill regarding a person’s ability to carry a concealed handgun into various buildings at a public university or college into state law. However, House Bill 1249 will not allow all legal gun owners to carry a gun to a football game in the state of Arkansas.

Football games will be considered a “sensitive area,” which require enhanced training in order to be allowed to carry a gun into a football stadium. The law supposedly trumps any provisions already in place to prevent guns from being allowed on the premises.

“The enhanced level of training is very important, and I am convinced the public will be more safe,” Governor Hutchinson said. “This bill, in my view, reflects the view of the general assembly.”

The bill has received praise from Arkansas Republican state representative Charlie Collins and the NRA.

While the bill has now become an act in the state, it will not go into effect until January 2018, so guns will still not be allowed in football games where Arkansas, Arkansas State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, or Central Arkansas during the 2017 season.

The news of the new Arkansas state law comes on the same day the SEC has just unveiled a new clear bag policy for football games in the 2017 season. How the SEC handles this latest state law within its footprint remains to be seen (as well as the Sun Belt Conference). The bigger question will be where the SEC stands on this law considered the law is designed to overrule any stadium policies. The way the law is written, the SEC may not be able to do much to stand in the way, but the conference has those clear bag policies hammered down, rest assured.

Kentucky hands Mark Stoops a two-year contract extension

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After guiding Kentucky through its best season in nearly a decade, Mark Stoops has been rewarded.

Kentucky announced Wednesday afternoon that Stoops’ contract has been extended by two years.  The head coach’s previous deal had been set to run through June 30, 2020; the extension pushes that date out to June 30, 2020.

Stoops will earn $3.5 million in 2017, with the new contract calling for annual $250,000 raises.  In the last year of the contract extension, and barring any additional tweaking, Stoops could earn $4.75 million.

Additionally, if the Wildcats win at least seven games but no more than nine in a season, the contract automatically extends by one year.  If the team wins 10-plus games, it extends by two years. “Stoops will continue to receive $250,000 for each win beginning with the seventh win of each season and $50,000 per semester in which the team grade-point average is 2.75 or higher,” the release stated.

Participation in an SEC-affiliated bowl will net Stoops a $100,000 bonus, provided the Wildcats win at least six games that season.  There’s also a $50,000 bonus for earning a spot in a non-SEC bowl game, with the same six-win threshold.  Last season, UK qualified for a bowl game for the first time under Stoops and the first time under anyone since 2010.

“The last four years have been a grind for Mark and his staff, but he has never wavered in his commitment to building Kentucky football into a consistent winner,” a statement from athletic director Mitch Barnhart began. “While the work isn’t close to finished, we believe Mark is the coach to take us there. We are thankful to Mark and Chantel for all they have done to this point and we look forward to our program’s bright future under his leadership.”

The Wildcats’ 7-6 record last season was the program’s best since hitting the same mark in the last season under Rich Brooks in 2009.  The first three seasons with Stoops in control, UK posted a 12-24 mark.

In SEC play, they are just 8-24 since 2013, although they were 4-4 in conference play this past season.  The Wildcats have finished seventh (2013), sixth (2014), tied-fourth (2015) and tied-second (2016) in league play with Stoops as head coach.

“I want to thank Dr. (Eli) Capilouto, Mitch Barnhart and the Board of Trustees for their continued support,” Stoops said. “When we came here, doing a rebuild in a challenging situation, I said that full support from everyone involved was imperative and we have always received that. We needed great commitment, we’ve had great commitment and we’re continuing to get great commitment.”

If Stoops is fired by UK, he’s entitled to receive 75 percent of the remaining guaranteed compensation on the contract.  If Stoops leaves of his own accord, he’d owe the university $1 million regardless of how many years are left on the deal.