Nuclear Explosion

Is a Miami death penalty the NCAA’s only option?

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Roughly 16 years after SMU was hit with the infamous “death penalty” that crippled their football program for nearly a quarter of a century, then-Florida president John Lombardi said that the NCAA would do anything it could going forward to avoid sentencing another school to a similar fate.

“SMU taught the committee that the death penalty is too much like the nuclear bomb,” Lombardi said in 2002. “It’s like what happened after we dropped the [atomic] bomb in World War II. The results were so catastrophic that now we’ll do anything to avoid dropping another one.”

A decade later, thanks to an explosive exposé by Yahoo! sports, the nuclear option appears to be back on the table, and it could force the NCAA to play the football version of Harry Truman once again.

The level of malfeasance alleged in the investigative piece by convicted felon Nevin Shapiro is truly staggering and is only rivaled in recent times by the infamous SMU scandal, when the Mustangs were Pony Express’d back to the football dark ages in the mid-eighties.  Shapiro, who once had a players lounge named in his honor at the Coral Gables school, alleges he gave impermissible benefits that by his estimation totaled in the millions and millions of dollars to more than five dozen Hurricane football players — including a dozen current ones — over an eight-year period beginning in 2001.

Cash, prostitutes, jewelry, clothing, electronics, yachts, mansions, strip club junkets and, in one instance, an abortion.  You name it, Shapiro alleges he provided it for many, many a Hurricane player.

Perhaps most damning is the Yahoo! report claims four former football assistants as well as three football support staff members had direct knowledge of or participated in the violating of multiple NCAA rules, including sending high school recruits to Shapiro’s multi-million dollar mansion or accompanying Shapiro and recruits to strip clubs.  Shapiro’s physical confrontation with UM’s head of compliance in the press box of a 2007 game wrought a background check by the university, which revealed he was the co-owner of a sports representation agency.  Still, the university did nothing.

Juxtapose those Miami allegations against the SMU case two-and-a-half-decades ago and, more recently, USC.

Already banned from bowl games in 1985 and 1986 as well as any television appearances for the latter year due to recruiting violations committed by boosters and at least one assistant, SMU was found in 1986 by the NCAA to have created a slush fund — which paid football players upwards of $700 a month — that was controlled by a booster and sanctioned by officials from the athletic department all the way through the school’s Board of Governors.  For that, the NCAA canceled the Mustangs 1987 season — the school canceled the 1988 season as well due to lack of players — banned the school from bowl games and television appearances through the 1989 season, as well as stripping them of nearly 60 football scholarships over a four-year period.

At first blush, the situation in Miami appears to be the work of a lone rogue booster who inexplicably flew underneath the school’s radar — allegedly — for eight years.  SMU’s case was an organized, systematic pay-for-play scandal involving multiple layers of individuals both inside the athletic department and out, even bleeding into the political arena.

Is that enough of a difference to keep the NCAA from pressing the nuclear button and leveling The U football program?

If it’s looked at through a prism of blacks and whites, the allegations leveled against Miami are the worst to hit major college football since SMU in the mid-eighties and would appear to deserve something that approaches the same level of sanctions.  As the NCAA has shown since slapping near-historic sanctions on USC, though, the NCAA seems to work with varying shades of gray that only they can see.  And comprehend.

To illustrate that very point, the Trojans were stripped of 30 scholarships over a three-year period and banned from appearing in bowl games for two after the NCAA found one player — Reggie Bush — and/or his family had received in the neighborhood of $300,000 from two would-be sports marketers/felons while he was a running back at the school.  One USC assistant — not four as alleged in the Yahoo! Miami piece, or multiple members of the institution as found in the SMU case — and one two-minute phone conversation led to the sanctions that have set the Trojans football program back at least a couple of years if not more.

After handing the Trojans some of the stiffest sanctions since SMU was obliterated from the football map, Paul Dee, chair of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions, said the following when it comes to a school’s responsibility for dealing with outside influences on student-athletes:

“The real issue here is if you have high‑profile players, your enforcement staff has to monitor those students at a higher level. It’s extraordinarily important that the people that are likely to be receiving these kinds of interactions from people outside the institution are also those same people who are going to provide a reward somewhere down the road. So high‑profile players demand high‑profile compliance.”

Dee was the athletic director at the University of Miami during the time Shapiro was allegedly lavishing his student-athletes with gifts, cash and services.

Regardless of whether it’s too much like the nuclear bomb, and the catastrophic results Lombardi referred to be damned, the NCAA needs to drop another one on the Miami football program if they have any real desire to truly change the culture as they’ve openly professed in recent months.  What would that entail when it comes to the ‘Canes?  Miami’s situation — if the allegations are proven, it should be noted — would seem to fall somewhere between SMU and USC, but leaning decidedly toward the former side in terms of severity.

Leaning enough to warrant sanctions similar to what SMU received?  Certainly this trumps Bush’s financial masterpiece, setting the bar for sanctions to come in somewhere well above what USC received.  If that involves something close to the death penalty, so be it; at some point, there have to be significant repercussions for programs that don’t demand high-profile compliance for high-profile players.

One way or the other, though, the NCAA needs to take their hands out from under their backsides and show that what they’re spewing publicly aren’t merely words lacking any kind of meaningful action behind them.  One SMU is too many.  Two of them calls for a significant change to the structure of collegiate athletics.

And a sweeping change to the hypocrisy that Dee’s involvement on both sides fully displays.

A&M assistant throws hissy fit after five-star QB decommits

LONDON - DECEMBER 09:  In this photo illustration a baby suckles a dummy whilst resting in her cot on December 09, 2005 in London, England. A recent US study has shown that cot deaths can be reduced by 90 percent if a baby sleeps with a dummy.  (Photo illustration by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)
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Somebody needs a nap.  Or his binky.  Or both.

Quite the imbroglio was kicked up on the recruiting trail late Wednesday night when five-star 2017 quarterback Tate Martell announced that he had decided to decommit from Texas A&M and reopen his recruitment.  Martell, who had once committed to Washington as an eighth grader, made the decision after a recent trip to Ohio State, although he has yet to commit to the Buckeyes or anyone else for that matter.

While big news for A&M and its next recruiting class, Martell’s decommitment likely would’ve been given its 15 minutes of fame and then everyone would’ve moved on… and then Aaron Moorehead happened.

Moorehead is A&M’s wide receivers coach who apparently didn’t appreciate Martell’s “disloyalty” as, six minutes after the quarterback posted his tweet, the assistant threw a Twitter hissy fit.

“Scared for this next group of kids. There is no accountability and no sense of positivity when it comes to adversity. #selfish #allaboutme,” the coach wrote in a tweet that has since been deleted. Moorehead then attempted to cram the toothpaste back into the tube, but stepped even further into it with a subsequent tweet.

“People talk about leadership and this generation flip flops like its nothing. That’s a real issue. My dad would have whipped my ass,” another deleted tweet read.

Loyalty and flip-flop talk from a coach who abruptly left Virginia Tech for the same job at A&M? That’s rich.

They say you reap what you sow, though, and…

That would be Mannie Netherly, a four-star wide receiver who had been committed to the Aggies, with the key word there being “had” as the Texas high school recruit decommitted as well. But wait, there’s more.

“I would like to say thank you to TAMU & fans but due to some tweets subtweeted towards my brother, I will no longer be looking at A&M,” Tyjon Lindsey wrote in a tweet that, yes, has since been deleted. Lindsey is a five-star receiver who had been considering A&M, with the key word there being “had.”  Again.

Reaping and sowing, y’all.  Reaping and sowing.

UPDATED 11:31 p.m. ET: Right around the time I was hitting “publish” on this post, Moorehead posted an apology on his Twitter account.

Last night, I made some impromptu comments on social media out of frustration and out of a true love for Texas A&M Football.  I want to apologize to all of the young men in high school who work so hard to achieve their dreams of playing college football & I wish them all well wherever they end up.  I would also like to apologize to Coach Sumlin and the Aggie Family for not representing our university the right way.  I need to do better & I will.

Former K-State S Kaleb Prewett appears headed to Mizzou

MANHATTAN, KS - NOVEMBER 05:  Wide receiver Jay Lee #4 of the Baylor Bears catches a pass as defensive back Kaleb Prewett #4 of the Kansas State Wildcats defends during the game at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium on November 5, 2015 in Manhattan, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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In early February, Bill Snyder confirmed that Kaleb Prewett was no longer a member of the Kansas State football team.  Fastforward three months, and it appears the former Big 12 defensive back has found himself a new home at a former former Big 12 school.

While the school has yet to announce it, Prewett’s Twitter profile now indicates that he is a member of the Missouri Tigers. “Former Kansas State safety. Current Mizzou safety,” the bio now reads.

A couple of tweets from the former Missouri high school player seemed to hint at the development as well.

Prewett started eight of the first nine games at free safety, with the only game he missed being due to a concussion. He lost his job for the final three games, however, and then was kept away from K-State’s bowl game because of an alcohol-related arrest.

Prewett, a three-star 2014 recruit, played in six games as a true freshman.

Barring the unforeseen, Prewett will be forced to sit out the 2016 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules. The defensive back would then have two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2017.

Little-used Vols TE Neiko Creamer to transfer, look elsewhere for playing time

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Failing to make much of a dent during his first two-plus years in Knoxville, Neiko Creamer has decided to ply his football wares elsewhere.

Wednesday evening, UT head coach Butch Jones confirmed that Creamer has decided to leave the Volunteers football program and will transfer out.  According to Jones, he and his staff will help the tight end find the right fit at a new home.

No reason was given for Creamer’s decision to look elsewhere, although the opportunity for more playing time would be a good place to start.

A three-star member of UT’s 2014 recruiting class, Creamer, whose father, Andre, played for the Vols in the eighties, was rated as the No. 18 player at any position in the state of Maryland.  After redshirting as a true freshman, and working as both a linebacker and tight end, Creamer played in one game during the 2015 season.

Former Bowling Green lineman settles concussion lawsuit for $700K

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 4: The Bowling Green Falcons enters the field prior to the start of the game against the Northern Illinois Huskies on December 4, 2015 during the MAC Championship at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
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A former Bowling Green football player who claimed he suffered permanent brain damage has settled a lawsuit with the university.

According to the Toledo Blade, Cody Silk will receive a $712,500 settlement in the agreement reached between himself and BGSU.  As part of the agreement, the university did not admit fault and the former offensive lineman agreed that he would not pursue any further damage claims.

Silk had filed his suit in 2013, claiming “that BGSU coaches and medical staff failed to withhold him from practices after he suffered repeated concussions.”  Silk claimed that he had suffered two concussions in 2010, but was cleared by the football program’s medical staff to return to full-contact status in practice; shortly thereafter, he suffered a third concussion.

The lineman subsequently parted ways with the team, lost his scholarship and dropped out of school.

The settlement came after Silk’s attorneys had asked the Ohio Court of Claims to reconsider their initial rejection.  From the Columbus Dispatch:

 The court initially rejected Silk’s claims, finding Silk signed a release of liability to play football in which he assumed the risk of possible injury. He refiled the claim last year. A state attorney claimed Silk was exaggerating and overreporting his symptoms, but the settlement will keep the case from going to trial.

In their motion for reconsideration, Silks’ representation contended, the Blade wrote, “the release [of liability] didn’t cover ‘wanton and willful misconduct,’ which he alleged BGSU’s conduct was.”