OSU vacates ’10 wins, doesn’t self-impose bowl ban, scholarship losses

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Ohio State released its response to the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations Friday and it’s, to say the least, an interesting tack the university has chosen to take.

In the response, OSU “acknowledges that this case is major due to the ethical conduct citation” in regards to former head coach Jim Tressel, but it “believes that little institutional responsibility exists for the preferential treatment violation in allegation #1”, which involves the players and impermissible benefits they received as well as — and this will be the crux of their argument in front of the NCAA in August — distancing themselves from allegation #2, which involves unethical conduct on the part of Tressel.

“While the University recognizes that the institution must take responsibility for its employee’s actions with respect to Allegation #2, the responsibility is upon Tressel,” the report read.

“No other institutional personnel were aware of the preferential treatment violations, and Tressel had an obligation to report the potential violation to the appropriate institutional officials.”

As a result, OSU has self-imposed the following sanctions on its football program, which the NCAA can sign-off on or add to:

a. Vacate all victories during the 2010 football season, including the 2011 Allstate Sugar Bowl;
b. Vacate the 2010 Big Ten Conference Football Championship (co-champions);
c. Imposed a two-year probationary period effective July 8, 2011;
d. Withhold four current student-athletes named in Allegation #1 from the first five games of the 2011 football season (additionally, one student-athlete who would have been withheld for five games has departed the institution to pursue a professional football career);
e. Withhold one student-athlete named in Allegation #1 from the first game of the 2011 football season and withhold another student-athlete named in Allegation #1 from those number of games resulting from the decision of the SAR Staff; and
f. Sought and accepted the resignation of Tressel on May 30, 2011

The punitive actions mentioned in “d” and “e” have been known for months, while “f” was revealed by athletic director Gene Smith during an interview that appeared in the Columbus Dispatch today.  What’s most interesting, however, is what’s not contained in the punitive actions self-imposed by the school, namely no bowl ban and no loss of scholarships.

Based on the message sent by the NCAA to USC around this time last year, it’s hard to fathom that the OSU football program will be permitted to skate without one or both of those sanctions being slapped on the program by the time all of the NCAA dust clears.

In addition to the punitive measures, the university has also instituted, or will institute, several corrective actions, including an increase in the number of full-time compliance officials from six to eight; waiting until a player’s eligibility has expired to issue institutional awards, including the storied “gold pants”; and further educate both players and Columbus-area businesses on preferential treatment.

Add it all up, and OSU firmly believes that the sanctions they imposed on themselves should be enough and asks that the NCAA take no further action while once again stressing their lone-wolf characterization of Tressel.

Regarding Tressel’s penalties, the institution’s analysis was that Tressel’s penalties should reflect the seriousness of the position in which he placed both himself and the University. One of his penalties was suspension for the first five games of the 2011 season, which was the same as the student-athletes’ penalties. The University also intended to prohibit all of his off-campus recruiting activities for one year, which reflected the seriousness of Tressel’s failure to report. The University eventually determined that it was in the best interest of the University and Tressel for Tressel to resign, and he agreed to do so.

In summary, the University believes that the corrective and punitive actions are appropriate and negate any competitive advantage gained by the institution as a result of these violations. The University asks the Committee on Infractions to accept these penalties and take no further action.

Ohio State is schedule to appear before the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions on Aug. 12, with a decision from The Association expected at some point during the 2011 regular season.  After some initial uncertainty, it was reported today that Tressel will appear in front of the COI.

For OSU’s full response, click HERE.

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.