NCAA rules eight Hurricanes must sit at least one game

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Al Golden said earlier this week that he was hoping to hear from the NCAA by Thursday regarding the eligibility of a number of his football players.  Golden indeed got his wish, although it’s likely not the answer he was hoping for.

The NCAA ruled Wednesday that eight Hurricane football players must sit at least one game this season.  The players had been declared ineligible by the school late last week.

The most recognizable name on the list of eight is quarterback Jacory Harris, who is one of five players who will be forced to sit out the opener.  The NCAA alleged that Harris received more than $140 in benefits from meals, entertainment, transportation and nightclub cover charges.

The stiffest sanctions were levied on defensive end Olivier Vernon, who will be forced to sit the first six games of the year.  The NCAA found that the lineman had received $1,200 in impermissible benefits during his recruitment from former UM booster and convicted felon Nevin Shapiro.  In their statement, the NCAA alleged that those recruitment benefits included meals, transportation, access to Shapiro’s game suite, drinks, as well as cover charges at two different nightclubs, among others.

Safety Ray-Ray Armstrong and tight end Dyron Dye were each suspended for the first four games for impermissible benefits they received during their recruitment.  Armstrong received approximately $788 in extra benefits from Shapiro and athletics personnel during his recruitment. Dye received approximately $738. These  benefits for both players included five nights of impermissible lodging from institutional staff during their unofficial visits, transportation, multiple meals, and entertainment at a gentleman’s club.

Defensive lineman Marcus Forston, linebacker Sean Spence, defensive lineman Adewale Ojomo and wide receiver Travis Benjamin were each suspended for one game apiece.  From the release:

Forston received more than $400 in extra benefits from Shapiro and athletic personnel, including athletic equipment, meals, nightclub cover charges and entertainment at a gentleman’s club. Spence received approximately $275 in benefits, including meals, transportation, as well as cover charges and entertainment at a gentleman’s club. Ojomo received $240 in extra benefits, including a meal and nightclub cover charges. Benjamin received more than $150 in extra benefits, including meals and entertainment.

All of the players must make restitution as a condition of their reinstatement.

Harris, Vernon, Armstrong, Forston, Spence, Ojomo and Benjamin were all listed as starters or co-starters on the Hurricanes’ most recent depth chart.  All seven will miss at least the opener Monday against Maryland.

“The NCAA has informed the University of Miami of their decisions regarding the reinstatement of eight student-athletes who were declared ineligible by the University last week,” Miami athletics director Shawn Eichorst said in a statement. “The student-athletes involved have acknowledged receiving improper benefits and will now be responsible for restitution and, in some cases, the student-athletes will also serve game suspensions. They understand that their actions demand consequences.

“This university has the highest standards in all of our academic and athletic endeavors.  We will remain steadfast in our commitment to continue to build winning programs with the utmost of integrity.  We will be more vigilant in our compliance and continue to work with the NCAA on the joint investigation to determine the facts.

“We appreciate the diligence and understanding of the NCAA staff and its handling of the student-athlete eligibility issues in an expeditious manner. I would also like to thank Coach [Al] Golden and his staff for their professionalism and leadership over the past few weeks.”

It should be noted that the NCAA’s decision on the player’s eligibility is separate from their broader investigation into the allegations levied against Miami’s football program and any sanctions that could be slapped on the school.

In the school’s release on the development, it was noted that Brandon McGee, JoJo Nicholas, Micanor Regis and Vaughn Telemaque “have been cleared by the NCAA to participate in all competition though each must make repayment in the amount of less than $100 for receiving impermissible benefits”, as well as Marcus Robinson being cleared of any NCAA violations and will not face any penalties.

 

Arizona State, Mississippi State ink home-and-home

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Arizona State and Mississippi State on Tuesday announced a home-and-home series to be played in 2024-25. Arizona State will host the first game in Tempe on Sept. 7, 2024, and the clubs will meet in Starkville on Sept. 6, 2025.

The Sun Devils and Bulldogs have never met previously.

The Arizona State trip is not Mississippi State’s only upcoming trek from the Deep South to the Southwest. The Bulldogs also lined up a visit to Arizona in 2020 and Texas Tech in 2029. Mississippi State will open the 2024 season against Eastern Kentucky and visit Southern Miss the week after its Arizona State visit, on Sept. 14. The Bulldogs have no other games lined up in 2025 as of yet, according to FBSchedules.

Likewise, Mississippi State is not the Sun Devils’ lone upcoming SEC opponent. Arizona State has a home-and-home with LSU on the docket for 2026-28, per FBSchedules. The Mississippi State games complete both of the Sun Devils’ non-conference schedules for these respective seasons. Arizona State opens with Wyoming and visits Texas State in 2024, and hosts Northern Arizona and Texas State in 2025.

UCLA lands Texas Tech graduate transfer OL Justin Murphy

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Help is on the way for Chip Kelly‘s offensive line. One graduate transfer offensive lineman has the Bruins on his list, but another has already pulled the trigger for UCLA.

Texas Tech graduate transfer Justin Murphy on Tuesday committed to UCLA in a post on his Twitter account.

A native of Belton, Texas, Murphy signed with Texas Tech in 2014 and made four starts at right guard as a redshirt freshman. He again started four games at right guard in ’15 before moving out to tackle, where he started another four games. But after battling a series of knee injuries, Murphy announced in the middle of the 2016 season he had medically retired from the game.

After sitting out 2017, Murphy announced in March he planned to make a comeback.

UCLA remarkably started the same offensive linemen in all 13 games last season, but tackle Kolton Miller entered the NFL draft, guard Najoee Toran and center Scott Quessenberry graduated.

Toledo posts, then deletes, tweet offering to change mascot to Shrek

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There are plenty of annoying trends on Twitter, but perhaps the worst is the “I’ll do X if this gets retweeted X-thousand amount of times.” I blame Wendy’s.

But blanket policies are never a good way to go through life, and an exception was made on Tuesday when Toledo offered to change its mascot from a rocket to Shrek with 500,000 retweets.

Sadly, some dreams are simply too beautiful to live in this fallen world, and the tweet was outed to be a hoax. “We are definitely not changing the school mascot to Shrek,” Toledo media relations specialist Christine Billau told USA Today. “The tweet was meant to be fun, but it caused too much of a distraction.”

Meanwhile, Bowling Green gleefully hopped on the dog pile with both elbows pointed out.

UMass grad transfer lineman narrows choices to Auburn, UCLA, USC

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It’s not yet known to where Jack Driscoll will transfer, but the field has been significantly narrowed.

Earlier this offseason, Driscoll decided to transfer from UMass.  Tuesday, the offensive tackle confirmed to Rivals.com that he’s down to three schools as a potential landing spot — Auburn, UCLA and USC.

Neither football program will have to wait long for a decision as Driscoll expects to make an announcement Wednesday.  Driscoll had taken an official visit to all three of the campuses prior to whittling down his transfer to-do list.

“It will come down to one of those three schools,” the lineman told AuburnSports.com. “I feel like all three of the schools would be a good fit.”

Driscoll will graduate from UMass early next month, and will be eligible to play immediately in 2018 at whichever program he selects.  The upcoming season will be the first of two years of eligibility the 6-5, 294-pound lineman has remaining.

After starting eight games as a redshirt freshman in 2016, with most of those starts coming at left guard, he started all 12 games in 2017.  All of those starts this past season came at right tackle for the football-independent Minutemen. He was named to Phil Steele’s All-Independent first team while he earned second-team All-Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) honors for good measure.