COI hearing over, OSU releases letters and returns BcS money

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As expected, Ohio State’s appearance in front of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions produced nothing in the way of hard news regarding the allegations and potential sanctions the Buckeyes are facing.  It did, however, produce a couple of interesting tidbits that were released around the time the hearing took place.

First, however, the mundane.  OSU officials, including athletic director Gene Smith and former head coach Jim Tressel, were questioned by members of the committee for, by most accounts, nearly four hours in Indianapolis Friday morning and into early afternoon.  No decisions were made on the sanctions OSU self-imposed earlier this year; that’s expected to come in 6-12 weeks.

Following the hearing, no one from the Ohio State side would speak to the media, although Tressel released a statement talking around his appearance and apologizing once again to Buckeye Nation.

“I had an open and constructive exchange with the committee on infractions. They were well prepared and will now go about their work in deliberations. Again, I would like to apologize to the Buckeye nation, most especially to the players, staff and fans who remain so dear to me.”

Now, on to news containing a little more meat than that particular bone.

Earlier this week, Pat Forde of ESPN.com caused a mini-maelstrom by reporting that Ohio State had received a letter from the NCAA stating that the investigation into the football program was still ongoing.  The school responded by releasing a statement denying there were any new allegations.  Based on the release of two letters by the university today, they both appear to be technically correct.  Somewhat.

The first letter, addressed to OSU president E. Gordon Gee, contained “an updated list of documents comprising the record of the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions.”  There was no specific mention of an ongoing investigation in that letter.  However, that letter did reference a document titled “Letter from Director of Enforcement Stephanie Hannah regarding the status of the investigation” and was dated July 14, 2011.  That was the second letter, and it was also released by the university today.

In that letter, Hannah writes that, after a previous email on the situation had been sent, ” an amended notice of allegations containing one additional violation related to the first allegation was issued to the involved parties” — the involved parties being OSU and Tressel, among others, as the unspecified new “violation” likely pertained in some way to the former coach; that assumption’s gleaned from Hannah writing that the coach’s attorney “understood that the continuing investigation could potentially lead to additional allegations involving Mr. Tressel.”

Hannah goes on to write that it is still possible to move forward with the Aug. 12 hearing despite the one additional violation, although she notes that “additional review is necessary” and that “the investigation remains open.”  As the investigation remains open per the NCAA, Hannah advised OSU what could happen if further allegations are proven.

The institution understands and agrees that additional allegations may result from the ongoing inquiry and that the violations set forth in the current notice of allegations may form the partial basis for a failure to monitor of lack of institutional control when viewed in light of any additional violations. The institution also understands that if new violations are discovered, a second hearing may be necessary.

In addition to the release of the two previously unseen letters, the school also announced that they would be returning their share of the BcS money they received for playing in the Sugar Bowl.  As any money received from BcS bowl games is split in the Big Ten, OSU will be returning roughly $338,000.  We’re assuming that means they will be returning it to the conference, although that’s unclear right now.

So, thus far, Tressel’s decision to launch a one-man cover-up and lie about knowledge of potential violations has cost the university more than $1.1 million — $300K-plus in BcS money, more than $800K for the NCAA investigation — and that total doesn’t even include the immeasurable harm to the university’s reputation.

Ex-Michigan LB who directed threatening tweets at Jim Harbaugh says he’s ‘being harassed by police… being told I’m mentally ill’

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And the disturbing trainwreck continues.

Elysee Mbem-Bosse sent out a string of alarming and threatening tweets last Monday night that seemed to be directed at U-M head football coach Jim Harbaugh.  Even as U-M’s athletic director expressed concern for a player who left the football program in mid-November, the University of Michigan Police Department had already confirmed that they had launched an investigation into the social-media threats; the man the tweets were directed at subsequently called them “a serious matter.”

In a tweet posted Sunday morning, Mbem-Bosse “apologize[d] fully” for his social-media missteps, writing that “I take full responsibility for the tweets i (sic) made regarding the safety of Coach Harbaugh.” The former linebacker, though, went on to accuse the university’s police department of harassing him and telling him he’s “mentally ill without proper evaluation.”

The latter accusation came a day after the football player posted a photo of a form in which it shows that a psychiatrist personally examined Mbem-Bosse at the University of Michigan Health System for 35 minutes on Friday, April 19, of this year. That psychiatrist determined that Mbem-Bosse is mentally ill, meaning he “has a substantial disorder of thoughts or mood that significantly impairs judgment, behavior, capacity to recognize reality, or ability to cope with the ordinary demands of life.”

Mbem-Bosse tweeted the photo of the form to Harbaugh’s Twitter account, describing the determination made by the university’s doctor as “Mafia work.” “[U]nbelievable the extent men will go [to] just to cover up their mistakes and flaws,” Mbem-Bosse wrote, presumably alluding to Harbaugh, whose grandfather was born in Sicily and moved to Italy as a young child, dismissing the player back in November amidst what Mbem-Bosse has described as a family crisis.

Other than confirming that an investigation had been initiated, there has been no update from the university’s police department on the probe’s status.

Baylor lands commitment from player born without femurs

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Plenty of programs landed commitments on Saturday, but none like the one Baylor got from a Plano West (Texas) athlete.

Ricardo Benitez agreed to continue his football career at Baylor, which is remarkable since he never should have had a career in the first place. Benitez was born with a condition called Femur Hypoplasia Bilateral, which means he does not have femurs in his legs.

“Doctors told my parents I had a condition called Femur Hypoplasia Bilateral and it might be best to stop the pregnancy,” Benitez told MaxPreps last year. “They said I had a hole in my heart, would be in a wheelchair the rest of my life and never play sports. But my parents saw me as a gift from God and went on with the pregnancy. I crawled until I was two and didn’t start running until I was five.”

Benitez stands 4-foot-2, dresses out with his Wolves team every week and runs routs just like everyone else. Here he is at an SMU camp last year.

Benitez also camped with Baylor last summer and committed to the Bears on Saturday. “I played four years of high school football, and cherished every second of it. When the season ended I knew I was not done being a football player,” Benitez wrote in a Twitter post. “I did not know where, but God did. I received a call from Coach Brown at Baylor University. After a long process, and with tears in my eyes, I can finally announce I will be given the chance to go to college, and play football at Baylor University.”

(Helmet Sticker: Dr. Saturday)

Sam Ehlinger, Shane Buechele exit spring ball still vying for Texas QB job

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For 16 months now, Tom Herman has waited for one of his quarterbacks to take the bull by the horns. And for 16 months, the bull still hops freely around the ring.

Junior Shane Buechele and sophomore Sam Ehlinger quarterback opposite teams in Saturday night’s Orange-White game, and exited the spring the same way they began it: to be the guy who quarterbacks the Orange and White on Sept. 1 at Maryland. Ehlinger was 13-of-22 for 151 yards while Buechele hit 12-of-21 throws for 130 yards and a score; Ehlinger’s White team won the game, 23-13.

On the balance, Herman indicated that whoever ultimately wins the job will be the guy who can make plays without turning the ball over.

“At quarterback, when you hold the ball in this game, you have the hopes and dreams, goals, aspirations, everything of your teammates, of your loved ones in your hands,” Herman said. “When you think about it that way, you tend to be a lot more is cautious with it. Now that being said, from day one of spring ball, I told the QBs, experiment, rip it in there, man. Try to fit it in tight windows,
because I want you to have that confidence when you do. They’re never going to get yelled at for an interception in the spring that is, ‘Coach, I was trying to fit it in and I just missed on a couple inches’ or whatever. Now, if he does something really dumb, if he tries to throw an out route into a cloud corner or something like that and that gets picked, yeah, he’s going to hear about it. But I think building
confidence in your abilities and in the spring is important.”

Ehlinger would be the clear-cut quarterback if not for a handful of late-game mistakes in his true freshman season. He fumbled the ball away in double overtime of the USC loss, threw an end zone interception to clinch an overtime loss to Oklahoma State and tossed an across-his-body interception to allow Texas Tech to come from behind and beat Texas in November.

Whoever does win the job will wind up approaching the job the same way: throw the ball to Collin Johnson and Lil'Jordan Humphrey as often as possible. Johnson caught six passes for 91 yards and a touchdown, while Humphrey hauled in a game-high seven balls for 100 yards and rushed four times for 14 yards and two touchdowns.

Brandon Wimbush exits spring as Notre Dame’s starting QB

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Brandon Wimbush entered the 2017 season as Notre Dame’s starter, but ceded control of the job over what can fairly be described as a rough junior season. He connected on just 49.5 percent of his throws for 6.8 yards per attempt on the year — numbers that ranked 92nd and 79th nationally, respectively — and was even worse down the stretch. He hit just 14-of-36 throws for for 298 yards with two touchdowns and two picks over the Irish’s final two games, a loss to Stanford and a Citrus Bowl win over LSU.

Enter Ian Book, a redshirt freshman who carried the Irish to that Citrus Bowl win, connecting on 14-of-19 throws for 164 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

Heading into the spring, the quarterback job was open between the rising senior and the rising sophomore. But, spurred by a strong spring game, Wimbush heads into the summer as the starter. Wimbush was the game MVP after connecting on 19-of-33 passes for 341 yards with two touchdowns to lead the offense to a 47-44 win over the defense.

Afterward, Brian Kelly said Wimbush wasn’t guaranteed to take the first snap in the Irish’s opener against Michigan, but that things were indeed trending in that direction.

“It’s pretty clear that Brandon went out and got a chance to go with the first group and Ian played with the second group,” Kelly said Saturday. “That’s not etched in stone, but that’s the way they’ve been trending. I don’t think there was anything today that changed that… It’s 1A and 1B.”