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) 

Illinois boots three players charged with home invasion and robbery

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Illinois head coach Lovie Smith has dismissed three players charged with home invasion and robbery. Offensive linemen Darta Lee and Howard Watkins and tight end Zarrian Holcombe have all been dismissed from the program, according to a statement.

Lee and Holcombe were previously suspended by Smith for violations of team rules. Watkins had also been indefinitely suspended following the initial allegations. All three players claimed the incident that led to the charges was nothing more than an innocent prank, but the authorities and Smith didn’t seem willing to buy that claim.

Each player faces a mandatory prison sentence of 4-15 years on each count against them if found guilty.

Report: Conference USA to air at least 15 football games on Twitter in 2017

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Conference USA is in a position where it needs to think outside the box and look to stay ahead of the curve in a changing TV landscape. It appears to be ready to air games on Twitter in 2017.

A report from The Virginian-Pilot says broadcast company STADIUM will air at least 15 football games involving Conference USA teams this fall. STADIUM is the result of a recent merger between the American Sports Network, 120 Sports and Silver Chalice (which also owns Campus Insiders and the online ACC Digital Network). The ASN had owned the broadcast rights to Conference USA games through the end of the 2017-2018 sports season that will carry over to the STADIUM deal (allowing for Conference USA basketball games to be aired on Twitter as well). It was announced earlier this month STADIUM intended to broadcast Conference USA games on Twitter, but it was unknown how many games might make it to the networking service. STADIUM reportedly has an interest in continuing to air Conference USA contests beyond the next athletic season.

Conference USA still has broadcast deals with ESPN and CBS Sports in effect as well, so don’t expect the premiere matchups in the conference to be aired on Twitter. However, by sharing the games online, Conference USA is hoping to reach a wide-spread audience and have the opportunity to be a trending topic. It could work, as Twitter would make sure the game is given a steady feed to allow for a pleasant viewing experience and fan interaction in real time.

Conference USA saw TV revenue take a big hit over the last year. Last summer, Conference USA’s television revenue reportedly dropped to just $2.8 million for the entire conference following realignment changes. Finding a home on a streaming platform now would be key for the conference’s future stability.

Alabama DC Jeremy Pruitt named son after former Tide linebackers Reuben Foster and Ryan Anderson

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It is not at all uncommon for children born in the state of Alabama to be named after Alabama football legends, but it is not every day you see a child of an Alabama coach receives a name inspired by former Alabama football players.

Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt announced the birth of his new son, Flynt Anderson-Foster Pruitt, on Twitter. Alabama fans will likely already know the connection to the new child’s name, as used the last names of two former Alabama football players to create the middle name of Anderson-Foster; Ryan Anderson and Reuben Foster.

Maybe this is more common than I’m aware of, but regardless of how often a coach names a child after former players, this is a testament to the relationship the Pruitt family established with both former Alabama linebackers. And now there will be a bond for years to come between the coach and his family and Anderson and Foster.

Helmet sticker to Al.com.

Wisconsin’s season tickets for 100th anniversary of Camp Randall are a thing of beauty

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The Wisconsin Badgers are gearing up for their 100th season playing home football game sin Camp Randall Stadium. As part of the season-long celebration, Wisconsin put some brilliant artistic detail into their season tickets for the 2017 season.

Each ticket to a home Wisconsin game is designed like a retro-style program. These are beautifully done and mimic the style of a program cover from decades past. I’m particularly fond of the program cover for the Purdue game, which features Wisconsin’s Bucky floating in space with a ship with the Purdue logo nearby. Is that a space train? The Band Day program for the game against Florida Atlantic also looks fantastic.

These tickets will surely be must-have collectibles for Wisconsin fans. If Wisconsin wants to make a few extra bucks, then blowing up these images and selling them as posters may be a good decision as well. And I wouldn’t put it past Wisconsin to suit up in a retro-style uniform for at least home game this season in Madison.