Report: OSU trio given $200 each at charity event

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The only reason given by Ohio State when it ruled three players — junior running back Jordan Hall, sophomore defensive back Corey Brown, and junior defensive back Travis Howard — ineligible for the opener was that they had been found to have received less than $300 each in impermissible benefits at a charity event earlier this year.

Shortly thereafter speculation began as to the reasons behind the suspensions, up to and including the players merely being guilty of accepting gift bags that were being passed out to everyone at the charity event.  Unless those gift bags were also rumored to have contained pictures of dead presidents that can be folded and put into a wallet, that simply wasn’t the case.

Instead, the Columbus Dispatch, citing documents they obtained pertaining to the investigation, is reporting that Hall, Brown and Howard each received $200 in cash at the charity event in Cleveland.

(Writer’s note: what can I say; we’re generous in this area of the state.)

In the self-report obtained by the Dispatch, two of the players stated that they thought they were being paid for working at the event.  The third stated that he received the money from a teammate — there were two other current Buckeyes at the event, but it was found they did not receive any impermissible benefits — but wasn’t sure why.

It was also unclear exactly which individual or individuals were responsible for giving the three players a total of $600.

One player told investigators he received the cash from a former OSU player while another indicated he received payment from a person who is “a representative of athletics interests.” Both names were redacted by Ohio State attorneys.

The two players who did not receive money observed someone carrying several envelopes during the event. However, the identity of that individual was also redacted by Ohio State attorneys.

According to the self-report, it was unclear whether the person who gave the money did so in his role as a representative of the charity or acting alone. The source of the money is also unclear.

(Writer’s note: why is it that the players’ names are released in a very public manner and allowed to become the object of scorn and/or ridicule in these types of situations, yet at the same time the facilitators of these impermissible benefits have their names redacted?)

All three players were reinstated by the NCAA earlier this week and will be available to play this weekend against Toledo.  Hall and Howard had been listed as starters on the Buckeyes’ depth chart before their suspensions, but head coach Luke Fickell said each player would have to earn back their starting jobs.

Georgia football coaches all getting well-deserved raises

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File this one under stories that should have been expected from a mile away. The football staff at Georgia, following up on an SEC title and appearance in the College Football Playoff national championship game, are getting bumps in pay. As a whole, the assistant coaching staff under head coach Kirby Smart will be paid roughly $2 million more than the staff received a year ago, according to a report from Seth Emerson of Dawg Nation.

Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker will see the biggest pay raise with of $900,000 to bump his total pay up to $1.5 million. That would make him one of the top assistant coaches in assistant coaching salaries. Based off last year’s USA Today salary database, Tucker would be the fifth highest-paid assistant coach, and that may even be higher now given some of the offseason changes in the assistant coaching pool. Last year, four assistant coaches received a total pay of at least $1.5 million, and three of them were in the SEC (LSU’s Dave Arranda and Matt Canada, and Texas A&M’s John Chavis; Clemson’s Brent Venables was the outlier).

Keeping in line with another growing trend when it comes to power conference programs and how much money is budgeted for the football staff, Georgia will give strength and conditioning coordinator Scott Sinclair a $150,000 raise from his previous contract of $300,000.

What has not been finalized, publicly at least, is what the future holds for the contract of Smart. After a wildly successful season, Smart is expected to receive a raise as well as Georgia continues to build something special under his leadership after just two seasons. Smart was paid a base salary of $3.75 million last year, according to USA Today’s salary database, which made him the 9th highest-paid coach in the SEC in 2017. That is fair, considering Smart was a first-time head coach and other coaches in the conference had more head coaching experience, but Smart has quickly proven himself among his peers in the conference and is likely to move up the SEC coaching salary ranking quite quickly. Nick Saban (Alabama) and now Jimbo Fisher (Texas A&M) may still be on another playing field in terms of salary, but Smart should manage to move up closer to the high-end of the SEC salary spectrum.

Purdue raises $388,000 in beer and wine sales at football games

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Around the nation, college football attendance took a downward trend, but the Big Ten was the rare conference to see an increase in attendance. At Purdue, not only did more fans attend games in the first season under new head coach Jeff Brohm, but Purdue saw a revenue surplus fueled by the expanded sale of alcoholic beverages at football games.

According to The Journal & Courier, Purdue athletic department recorded $567,000 in gross revenue, of which $388,000 was generated from the sale of beer and wine last fall at football games in Ross-Ade Stadium. It was the first time alcohol sales had been expanded to the entire football stadium, as opposed to limited offerings in premium sections of the stadium.

“In general, it was very positive and it added to the game day experience. Fans responded to it,” athletic director Mike Bobinski said. “We’ve talked to our concessionaire group (Levy Restaurants) about how we can improve the operation so we don’t create bottlenecks and long lines that cause people to miss extended periods of the game. It was a really good start.”

The success of expanded alcoholic beverages at football games at Purdue continues a growing trend of alcoholic sales at athletic events around the country and will only help to encourage other schools to explore similar options if they have not already. Ten schools in the Big Ten already offer alcohol sales to fans at football games, but Purdue is just one of four to currently offer the sales throughout the majority of their football stadium.

The games that saw the most amount of money spent on alcohol at a Purdue home football game were the Michigan and Indiana games, with $88,341 and $98,223 spent on alcohol, respectively. Bottoms up, indeed.

The other chunk of revenue that helped pad Purdue’s budget sheet was a season-opening game in Indianapolis against Louisville. The game was played in Lucas Oil Stadium, the home of the Indianapolis Colts, and each school received a check for $805,267.

Alabama a potential landing spot for Rice grad transfer Preston Gordon

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Yet another Rice graduate transfer lineman is drawing interest from an SEC school.

Preston Gordon confirmed to al.com this week that he has had “some preliminary contact” with Alabama as a potential landing spot. Last month, the defensive tackle decided to take the graduate transfer route out of Rice.

As the Crimson Tide, which is also in play for a grad transfer quarterback, lost three linemen to the NFL and signed just two in the Class of 2018, a move to Tuscaloosa could make sense for both parties.

“If Alabama were interested, that’s a top-tier program and I would definitely be interested,” Gordon told the website. “As a D-lineman, that’s where it’s at, so it would definitely be high, high interest.”

Gordon has already received an offer from Texas Tech after visiting Lubbock, and has taken a trip to Kansas as well. The lineman also told the site that he has spoken with Syracuse, TCU, Tulane and UConn.

The last three seasons, Gordon started 28 games for the Owls, including all 12 in 2017. In 2016, Gordon tied for the team lead in sacks with 3.5, while his 6.5 tackles for loss led all interior linemen on the squad. This past season, he was third on the team in tackles for loss with 4.5.

Gordon’s former teammate and the Owls’ starting left tackle the past three seasons, Calvin Anderson, has drawn interest from Auburn as a graduate transfer and has already visited the Tigers. It’s believed that Michigan and Texas are the frontrunners, although Texas A&M has entered the mix for Anderson as well.

K-State confirms changes to Bill Snyder’s defensive staff

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The shakeup on the defensive side of Bill Snyder‘s Kansas State coaching staff is officially official.

Friday evening, K-State confirmed that defensive coordinator Tom Hayes has decided to step down from his post and retire. Hayes had spent the past six seasons as the Wildcats’ coordinator, and ends a coaching career that spans more than four decades.

As had previously been reported, the football program also confirmed in the same release that Brian Norwood has been hired as Hayes’ replacement. Norwood had spent the past three seasons as co-defensive coordinator/safeties coach/associate head coach.

The official titles Norwood, who also had previous stops in the Big 12 at Baylor and Texas Tech, will hold at KSU are co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach.

Holding the title of defensive coordinator will be Blake Seiler, who was promoted to the job after serving as linebackers coach for the Wildcats this past season. Prior to that, Seiler, who played his college football at K-State, coached defensive ends at his alma mater from 2013-16.

“We are very fortunate to have coaches like Blake Seiler, who is well prepared to step into the coordinator role,” Snyder said in a statement. “Blake is a bright young man, quick learner, hard worker and well-received and trusted by our players. He helped coordinate our defense this past year with emphasis on our run defense. Blake is highly respected by our staff and players for his values as well as his passionate teaching. …

“I am so very pleased to have Brian Norwood join our staff as our secondary coach and co-defensive coordinator. He comes to us highly recommended by many coaches who I highly respect. Brian is truly a K-State type of person. He is a caring, loyal, genuine, disciplined, hard-working and responsible person with the highest value system – a great family man and a man of faith. We are honored to have he and his wonderful wife Tiffiney, along with his children, join our Wildcat family.”