E. Gordon Gee: Ohio State is ‘poster child for compliance’

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Within a year, nine different football players were suspended for at least a game for receiving impermissible benefits at Ohio State.

Say what you will about the severity of the violations — that’s a different discussion entirely — but the NCAA’s rulebook is what it is. When you boil it down to its simplest form, OSU athletes broke rules (two did it on more than one occasion) and now have to deal with the consequences of their actions.

These are failures of individuals, not a systemic failure of compliance,” athletic director Gene Smith said following the one-game suspension of running back Boom Herron, receiver DeVier Posey and lineman Marcus Hall for accepting wages greater than hours worked at a summer job ”It’s not 30 (players).”

It doesn’t have to be. The job of Ohio State’s compliance department, as it is with all compliance departments, is to educate and monitor athletes, staff and situations to the best of its ability. The objective is to minimize the risk of a violation; if one occurs, compliance works to rectify it as soon as possible.

So, yes, the fact that Ohio State has had multiple sets of violations over the past year that included both of the aforementioned parties (plus an incident with a booster) shows there has been a systematic failure of compliance with the football program. Inexcusably, Smith and Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee don’t see it that way.

We are the poster child for compliance, and whenever we discover a possible infraction, we resolve and report it to the NCAA, no matter how minor the violation,” Gee said. “That’s what we have done here.”

From what we know about the NCAA’s approval of Ohio State’s self-inflicted sanctions, it would appear former coach Jim Tressel was the only Ohio State employee who knew of impermissible benefits received by his players last year. If compliance doesn’t know of a violation, then they can’t do anything about it. So when Gee says Ohio State’s compliance department does its job when it discovers an infraction, there aren’t many reasons to believe that isn’t true.

But what baffles me to near speechlessness  is the arrogance, the “it’s them, not us” tone when Smith speaks of the faults of individuals, or when Gee boasts his school’s compliance department as a model by which others should follow.

If you’ve ever seen Eddie Murphy‘s stand-up “Raw”, then you know the joke. The wife catches the cheating husband walking out of his mistress’ house, and upon confronting him, the husband says calmly, “wasn’t me.”

“But I saw you coming out…”

“Wasn’t me.”

Except this isn’t a joke. This is a real problem and Ohio State’s brass needs to address it as such. This is not to pin Ohio State’s NCAA woes solely on the institution. In fact, and this is merely my opinion, violations like the ones at Ohio State almost certainly occur at every school at every level of college athletics. It takes a booster to come up with the cash and an athlete controls his or her own ability to take it, or refuse it; compliance can only explain what someone can and cannot do.

Whatever Ohio State is explaining, though, clearly isn’t breaching the surface. The athletes have disobeyed, a coach has disobeyed and a booster has disobeyed. To say Ohio State’s compliance department didn’t do its job isn’t truly accurate, but it has failed across the board, and both Smith and Gee need relay the message as such.

If OSU’s compliance is as great as Gee says it is then I pity every other compliance department in college athletics because it sure as hell isn’t all puppies and rainbows right now.

Still, Gee would have us believe that he is Chip Diller of “Animal House”, and that all is well.

“I think we are blessed to have an extraordinarily talented athletic director who has proven his mettle through an extraordinarily tough time,” Gee said.

If he thinks we’re that dumb, then there truly is a joke in all of this.

And it’s on him.

(Tip of the cap: Columbus Dispatch) 

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.”

Hot mic appears to catch Nick Saban criticizing Jalen Hurts

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There’s nothing newsworthy about a coach criticizing a player. That’s a large part of the job description, especially when that coach is Nick Saban. But to hear Saban criticize this specific player for this specific reason, well, the context of the situation screams newsworthiness.

During Alabama’s spring game on Saturday, ESPN microphones caught Saban apparently criticizing the throwing ability of Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts as the junior took off on a scramble. “Two years,” Saban says. “I mean, the third-team quarterback can move  the team right down the field throwing the ball.”

That comment comes amid two noteworthy developments in the Tide’s quarterback room. First, Hurts had an opportunity to take the bull by the horns on Saturday with Tua Tagovailoa nursing an injured left hand, but redshirt freshman quarterback Mac Jones was named the game’s MVP. (For what it’s worth, Jones went against the second-team defense while Hurts faced the starters.)

And second, Hurts’s father in no uncertain terms said this week that his son will transfer if he’s not the starter this fall.

Coach Saban’s job is to do what’s best for his team. I have no problem with that,” Averion Hurts said. “My job is to do what’s best for Jalen—and make no mistake, Jalen is a quarterback, and he wants to play quarterback. He loves Alabama, loves Coach Saban and everything about that place. But he wants to play, and he will play…”

Averion stops mid-sentence because the idea of his son not playing for Alabama isn’t one he takes lightly. What if Jalen doesn’t win the job, he is asked?

He shakes his head slowly, answers begrudgingly. “Well, he’d be the biggest free agent in college football history.”

For what it’s worth, Saban praised Hurts while also criticizing his performance in Saturday’s spring game:

“I was not disappointed in the way Jalen played,” Saban said in his post-game press conference. “We have some guys that can rush, and even though we were rushing four guys most of the time, there was way too much pressure in the pocket for the quarterback to be able to operate like we would like. Jalen made some good plays and throws, and I’m sure if you were to talk to him he would say, ‘I wish there were things I did better and can improve on.’”

Colorado State adds Rice grad transfer V.J. Banks

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Rice’s loss has turned into a fellow Group of Five football program’s gain.

Saturday, Colorado State announced that V.J. Banks has transferred to the university and will play for Mike Bobo‘s Rams. As the cornerback will be coming to Fort Collins as a graduate transfer, he’ll be eligible to play immediately in 2018. The upcoming season will serve as Banks’ final year of eligibility.

Banks had announced on Twitter in late January that he had decided to transfer from the Owls.

Banks started 22 of the 36 games in which he played for the Owls, including 11 starts in 2016 and nine in 2015. The defensive back started the first two games of the 2017 season before an unspecified leg injury sidelined him for the remainder of the year.

For the Rice portion of his collegiate playing career, Banks totaled 75 tackles (one for loss), seven passes defensed, two interceptions and a forced fumble. He also returned seven punts for 30 yards (4.3 yards per return).

NC State board approves new deal for Dave Doeren

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In late November, after rejecting overtures from Tennessee in order to remain at North Carolina State, Dave Doeren agreed to a new contract with the university, pending the board rubber-stamping the agreement. This past week, that rubber met the stamp.

NC State confirmed that, on Thursday, the system’s Board of Trustees formally approved the new five-year deal for Doeren. The head coach’s new contract will now keep him with the Wolfpack through Dec. 31, 2022.

“We are on an exciting upward trajectory in football under the leadership of Coach Doeren,” said NC State athletic director Debbie Yow said in a statement. “He has assembled a terrifically talented coaching staff, as well, and that continuity and stability has been important to our current student-athletes and recruits.

“We are pleased that Dave will continue to lead NC State football, playing in one of the most challenging divisions in college football, the Atlantic Division of the ACC.”

In five seasons with the Wolfpack, the 46-year-old Doeren has compiled a 34-30 record, including a 15-25 mark in ACC play. The 2017 season was his best of the five, with a 9-4 overall mark that saw NC State finish in second place in the Atlantic after divisional finishes of seventh, fifth, fourth and tied-fourth the first four.

Under Doeren, the Wolfpack has played in a bowl game each of the last four seasons, posting a 3-1 mark in the postseason.