Butkus Award adds its float to watch list parade

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(Don’t worry folks.  There are only three more of these — Davey O’Brien, Doak Walker, Walter Camp — to go.  Hang in there.  We’ll get through this.)

The Butkus Award Thursday was the latest in a long line of awards/trophies releasing their preseason watch lists for 2011, with 51 linebackers from across the country receiving recognition by the award that annually honors the best player at their position.

Luke Kuechly of Boston College is the only returning finalist, while Dont’a Hightower of Alabama, Sean Spence of Miami (Fla.), Travis Lewis of Oklahoma, Keenan Robinson of Texas and Manti Te’o of Notre Dame are returning semifinalists.

The SEC and ACC topped all conferences with nine nods apiece, followed by the Big 12 with eight and five each for the Big Ten and Pac-12.

As far as individuals schools are concerned, Alabama was tops with three — Hightower, Nico Johnson and Courtney Upshaw.  Florida, Miami, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Southern Miss, TCU, Texas and Wisconsin all had two players apiece named to the list.

The Butkus Award is named in honor of Dick Butkus, the former Illinois and Chicago Bears linebacking great.  The 51 players on the initial watch list represent the number Butkus wore throughout his Hall of Fame career.

Semi-finalists will be named October 24, finalists November 22, and winners will be notified on or before December 7.  Last year’s winner was Texas A&M’s Von Miller.

Here is the complete list of 2011 preseason Butkus watch listers:

Dont’a Hightower, Alabama
Nico Johnson, Alabama
Courtney Upshaw, Alabama
Vontaze Burflict, Arizona State
Jerry Franklin,Arkansas
Luke Kuechly, Boston College
Dwayne Woods, Bowling Green University
Mychal Kendricks, Cal
Jon Bostic, Florida
Jelani Jenkins, Florida
Nigel Bradham, Florida State
Corey Paredes, Hawaii
Tyler Nielsen, Iowa
Jake Knott, Iowa State
Arthur Brown, Kansas State
Danny Trevathan, Kentucky
Ryan Baker, LSU
Kenny Tate, Maryland
Ramon Buchanan, Miami (Fla.)
Sean Spence, Miami (Fla.)
Zaviar Gooden, Missouri
Lavonte David, Nebraska
James-Michael Johnson, Nevada
Carmen Messina, New Mexico
Zach Brown, North Carolina
Kevin Reddick, North Carolina
Audie Cole, North Carolina State
Darius Fleming, Notre Dame
Manti Te’o, Notre Dame
Travis Lewis, Oklahoma
Tom Wort, Oklahoma
Josh Kaddu, Oregon
Michael Mauti, Penn State
Max Gruder, Pittsburgh
Miles Burris, San Diego State
Jamie Collins, Southern Miss.
Korey Williams, Southern Miss.
Shayne Skov, Stanford
Tanner Brock, TCU
Tank Carder, TCU
Tahir Whitehead, Temple
Emmanuel Acho, Texas
Keenan Robinson, Texas
Garrick Williams, Texas A&M
Marvin Burdette, UAB
Chris Galippo, USC
Bobby Wagner, Utah State
Chris Marve, Vanderbilt
Bruce Taylor, Virginia Tech
Chris Borland, Wisconsin
Mike Taylor, Wisconsin

Victim of alleged WKU football attack plans to file charges

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A former Western Kentucky fraternity member says he was attacked by a group of Hilltoppers football players and plans to file charges.

Jerald Armfield, an alum of WKU’s Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, told WBKO-TV he was caught in an ongoing feud between the fraternity and the football team:

“I went to the house in the best interest of the fraternity and Western as a whole to prevent any type of violence from occurring. We got up there and realized they were all hiding behind garbage cans, trees, and buildings.”

“I never in my wildest dreams thought they would attack me in the manner that they did. They all started surrounding me. One of them threw a rock at me. It was within a few seconds that one of them punched me in the face.”

“I fell down. I was kicked several times. The whole time they were beating me, I was begging them to stop, telling them I wasn’t here the night before, I had nothing to to do with it, like please stop, please stop, and they didn’t.”

Armfield said between nine and 10 people ultimately attacked him; it isn’t known for sure how many of that group are on the football team, though the program’s involvement in the incident is being investigated.

“We are aware of the allegations involving a few members of our football team,” the program said in the statement when word of the altercation broke three weeks ago. “We are cooperating fully with the authorities. However, at this time, we have not received a police report and cannot provide further comment.”

While the status of the investigation is currently unknown, Armfield told WBKO he would like it to end with multiple charges. “I made it very clear that night when the police arrived on the scene that I wanted charges pressed,” he said. “As far as I know a detective from Bowling Green Police Department has it. As it stands right now, I still want charges pressed. They need to be held accountable for what they did not only as citizens but as students at Western.”

Baylor moves to dismiss lawsuit claiming 52 rapes over 3-year period

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Baylor has filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit claiming 31 football players committed 52 rapes over a 3-year period from 2011-14. The school is citing the expiration of the statute of limitations and that the allegations do not meet the level of “deliberate indifference,” according to the Waco Tribune-Herald.

The suit was initially filed in late January who anonymously claimed she was raped by then-Bears football players Tre'Von Armstead and Shaymichael Chatman in 2013. Armstead and Chatman have both been indicted for that incident. Armstead was arrested earlier this month in Las Vegas in charges of resisting arrest in addition to the 2013 case.

Baylor also challenged the suit’s claim of a widespread culture of sexual violence, including claims the Baylor Bruins hostess program was encouraged to sleep with recruits in order to entice them to Baylor.

“Baylor does not agree with or concede the accuracy of plaintiff’s 146-paragraph complaint and its immaterial and inflammatory assertions,” the motion states.

Former offensive coordinator Kendal Briles told a recruit, according to the suit, “Do you like white women? Because we have a lot of them at Baylor and they love football players.”

 

Mark Dantonio breaks silence to reveal additional player suspensions

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Mark Dantonio broke his silence Tuesday to talk about all the things he couldn’t talk about.

Speaking publicly for the first time since National Signing Day, Dantonio said more players have been suspended in addition to the three players and one staff member already suspended in connection with an ongoing sexual assault investigation. There are actually three investigations ongoing — a criminal probe, a Title IX investigation and an outside evaluation of the football program.

How many additional  players were suspended in conjunction with the investigations? Dantonio couldn’t say.

When were they suspended? Dantonio couldn’t say.

When were the original three players suspended? Dantonio couldn’t say.

How, one may wonder, has Michigan State managed to keep the suspended players’ identities secret despite spring practice now being a full month old? Easy: the Spartans have essentially shielded a black cloak around the entire program. The media hasn’t been allowed to watch practice. No depth charts or rosters have been released. No photos or videos have been produced. The content on @MSU_Football has vaguely referred to the ongoing spring practices by referencing the April 1 spring game, but all other tweets have centered around Michigan State’s involvement in the NFL Draft or the basketball Spartans’ NCAA Tournament berth. The program didn’t even comment on two players’ announced transfers throughout the offseason.

Dantonio even deemed it “trivial” to discuss Michigan State’s quarterback derby. The one piece of actual Spartans football news Dantonio revealed? Linebacker Drake Martinez, he of the one tackle in two appearances last season, has transferred.

Greg Sankey releases statement against Arkansas guns-at-sporting events law

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The state of Arkansas has passed a law that allows concealed-carry handguns on publicly-owned property, which would include college sporting events.

Since it was realized immediately upon the bill’s announcement what a terrible, horrendous idea allowing lubed-up sports fans to bring handguns with them to the game would be, the law was quickly amended to exclude college sporting events.

But on Tuesday, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey released a statement arguing for Razorbacks events to be exempted from the law.

To date, Arkansas AD Jeff Long and head football coach Bret Bielema have yet to comment on the law, and Sankey’s statement today is likely coordinated with that — pushing the buck upwards while not crossing those in the Natural State that may be in favor of the bill.