Jim Tressell

COI hearing over, OSU releases letters and returns BcS money


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.

Win over Grambling approved, Cal officially becomes bowl eligible

Jared Goff
Associated Press
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Earlier today we had the report that Cal, they of the normally bowl-eligible six wins on the season, were not actually bowl eligible. The hang up was due to some NCAA red tape on how many scholarships Grambling, a 73-14 victim to the Bears on opening Saturday, had actually awarded this year.

Why the number of scholarships awarded by an opponent of a 6-5 team could determine what glorified exhibition said 6-5 could or could not play is a matter for another time, but the fact is it mattered.

But according to a report from Kevin Gemmell of ESPN.com, the Bears received approval to count the win toward their total, meaning Sonny Dykes and company will go bowling for the first time since 2011.

“We have conferred with both Grambling and the NCAA,” Cal spokesman Wes Mallette told ESPN. “As anticipated, Grambling has confirmed their football program has met the 90 percent financial aid requirement over the rolling two-year average. Therefore, Cal football’s win over Grambling counts toward bowl eligibility. Cal football is bowl eligible.”

The Bears have a chance to become bowl eligible the old fashioned way with a win over Arizona State Saturday in Berkeley.


Tulane reportedly set to fire head coach Curtis Johnson

Curtis Johnson
Associated Press
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The end of the college football regular season brings with it bowl bids, conference championship entries and rivalry games. Along the way, though, come end-of-season firings. So many end of-season firings.

According to a report from Dan Wolken of USA Today Wednesday night, the first one is already on the books. Or at least close to it.

Wolken reports Tulane is set to part ways with head coach Curtis Johnson following the Green Wave’s Friday finale against Tulsa “barring a last-minute change of direction.”

Johnson is 15-33 in nearly four complete seasons at Tulane, reaching a high point of a 7-6 mark wtih a New Orleans Bowl appearance in 2013 but winning two, three and three games in his other three campaigns.

If and when the move becomes official, Tulane will become the 15th FBS school to change head coaches this season, matching the total number of changes during the 2014-15 cycle.

Wolken reports Tulane will hire a new athletics director within the next week, and once that hiring is complete the school will then embark on hiring Johnson’s replacement.

Reports: Michigan DC D.J. Durkin a “strong candidate” for Maryland vacancy

D.J. Durkin
Associated Press

Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin has emerged a “strong candidate” for the Maryland job, according to reports from Yahoo‘s Pat Forde and Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman Wednesday.

“Durkin, 37, met recently with Maryland officials, sources said,” Forde wrote. “No job offer was made, but the interview went well, sources said.”

Added Feldman:

Durkin is in his first season as Michigan’s defensive coordinator, helping the 9-2 Wolverines jump from 14th to third nationally in yards per play allowed (4.77 to 4.15) and 27th to sixth in scoring defense (22.4 to 14.9).

Prior to working on Jim Harbaugh‘s staff, Durkin served as Will Muschamp‘s defensive coordinator at Florida for two years, and as his special teams coordinator for two years before that. He previously worked at Stanford, Bowling Green (his alma mater) and Notre Dame.

Should he be offered and accept the job, Durkin would immediately become Big Ten East rivals with his mentor Harbaugh.

“This week is so important to our guys, my 100% focus is on this game and our players — that’s what this profession is all about. You’ve got to make sure you’re taking care of the job you have week in and week out. It’s a tough task, especially with this team we have this week,” Durkin told the Detroit Free Press when asked about the reports.

“My goal is to get the best game plan possible together for Ohio State and have our guys go play well. To answer rumors or speculation right now and put something to it, my total focus is 100% on Ohio State and nothing else.”

Illini to decide on fate of interim head coach Bill Cubit by Sunday

Bill Cubit
Associated Press
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Illinois will decide whether or not to retain interim head coach Bill Cubit for the full-time job by Sunday, interim AD Paul Kowalczyk told WSKJ-FM Wednesday.

“We need to make that call and figure out which way we’re going for everyone’s sake,” Kowalczyk said, via the Chicago Tribune. “For me, it’s posthaste.”

Illinois closes its regular season Saturday against No. 16 Northwestern in Champaign. The Illini are 5-6 on the year and, for what it’s worth, Cubit desperately wants the job.

Also worth noting: the athletics department is operating under a total state of dysfunction in the wake of AD Mike Thomas‘s firing.

From 670 The Score in Chicago on Wednesday:

Sources tell 670 The Score that as overwhelmed university officials are dithering and providing little guidance, the group of trustees, boosters and alums left to run things can’t yet agree on much.  Some want to hire a search firm with a spotty recent track record, others want to form their own search committee, while another faction thinks they need to act faster by using their own contacts to target specific AD and coaching candidates right now and just get moving.

Any support for retaining Bill Cubit is getting strong push-back from those who don’t believe he wasn’t aware of Tim Beckman’s aberrant behavior, and from some who feel strongly about making a more dynamic hire.

For those keeping score at home: Illinois is dealing with a power vacuum of trustees, boosters and alums battling for control while an interim chancellor and interim athletics director work to reach a resolution on an interim football coach.

And the coaching carousel starts spinning in full four days from now.