Auburn Tigers quarterback Cam Newton kisses the championship trophy after his team beat the Oregon Ducks in the NCAA BCS National Championship college football game in Glendale, Arizona

SEC to tweak way violations are reported to NCAA


If you recall, prior (no pun intended) to the fiasco that’s already forced the resignation of Ohio State’s esteemed head coach and is threatening to envelope the entire football program, there was the Cam Newton imbroglio that threatened to derail Auburn’s run to a national title.

Briefly, for background purposes, Mississippi State was made aware, through an intermediary, that Newton’s signature on a Letter of Intent was available in exchange for $180,000, payable to Newton’s father Cecil.  MSU coaches/alumni were informed of this “offer” in November of 2009, and MSU officials informed the SEC of the pay-for-play scheme in January of the following year — interestingly, only after Newton opted for the Tigers over the Bulldogs.  Shortly after alerting the SEC of a potential issue, the conference requested additional information on the situation from MSU.  Because of what the school described as a heavy workload in the compliance department on non-football matters, the information requested by the SEC was not handed over for another six months, at some point during the month of July.

That delay led to the perception that the SEC and/or Auburn and/or the NCAA were dragging their collective feet due to the historic season Newton was in the midst of.  The SEC in particular was roundly criticized, a fact that apparently stuck in the craw of commissioner Mike Slive.  And, as it turns out, has led to some minor changes in how potential violations are handled.

Speaking to the media in the midst of the SEC’s spring meetings Tuesday, Slive said that the conference has met with the NCAA regarding the “timing issue” and, while not getting into any specifics, allowed that the way they do business will be tweaked in the future.

“We’ve reached an accommodation as to the kinds of issues they (the NCAA) have had in mind, and what they want to know, when they want to know,” Slive said according to the Birmingham News. “Those are relatively simple things for us to accommodate. There may be certain issues that they want to know about earlier than others. We have no problem reaching that accommodation.”

Slive also acknowledged discussions with MSU in regards to the way the entire Newton episode played out in the first half of 2010.

Slive said the SEC has since had appropriate dialogue with Mississippi State “and we’re at a comfortable place with them now.” Mississippi State Athletics Director Scott Stricklin said the school was not penalized by the SEC.

“I think what happened last year is an opportunity for us to reassess and make sure that we’re where we all need to be as far as working within the league guidelines,” Stricklin said. “I’ve said all along, we had integrity in the way we managed the recruitment of the young man.”

Said Slive: “Everybody in our league knows exactly what we expect of them. We’re very comfortable with that. We’re very comfortable with our relationship with the NCAA. We’ve always been that way.”

Incidentally, and for those who were curious, there are still open and ongoing investigations involving Newton’s recruitment as well as Auburn’s recruiting practices.  And an NCAA look into Tiger Prowl.  And allegations made by four former players on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.

Starting Navy S Kwazel Bertrand undergoes surgery, likely out for season

Kwazel Bertrand, Jacobi Owens
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Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.

Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.

And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.

“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”

Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.

Unitas Award whittles watch list in half down to 15

FORT WORTH, TX - OCTOBER 03:  Trevone Boykin #2 of the TCU Horned Frogs looks for an open receiver against the Texas Longhorns in the second quarter at Amon G. Carter Stadium on October 3, 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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You know how I know we’re gradually creeping up on the end of another regular season?  Watch lists are being whittled.

The first major honor to do so is the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, which is given out annually to the best quarterback who is a college senior or fourth-year junior.  The preseason watch list was 30 quarterbacks strong; the newest list has been cut in half to 15.

The most recent list includes one of the top Heisman contenders (TCU’s Trevone Boykin) and the top two nationally in passing yards (Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson, Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty), as well as a quarterback who’s closing in on the all-time FBS record for rushing touchdowns (Navy’s Keenan Reynolds).

The Pac-12 leads all conferences with three watch listers, followed by two each from the AAC, ACC and Big Ten.  The SEC has as many players (one, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott) as the FCS (North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz).

Last year’s winner was Marcus Mariota of Oregon.

Trevone Boykin, TCU
Jacoby Brissett, NC State
Connor Cook, Michigan State
Brandon Doughty, WKU
Everett Golson, Florida State
Kevin Hogan, Stanford
Matt Johnson, Bowling Green
Cody Kessler, USC
Paxton Lynch, Memphis
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Keenan Reynolds, Navy
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana
Carson Wentz, N. Dakota State
Marquise Williams, North Carolina
Travis Wilson, Utah