Jim Tressel, E. Gordon Gee

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) 

Temple adds recent NFL assistant, long-time college coach

MIAMI - 2009:  George DeLeone of the Miami Dolphins poses for his 2009 NFL headshot at photo day in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by NFL Photos)
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With the Cleveland Browns (again) changing regimes, George DeLeone found himself on the outside of the coaching profession looking in.  A couple of weeks later, DeLeone is back on the inside, and in a familiar locale at that.

While the school has yet to officially confirm it, the Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting that DeLeone has been added to Matt Rhule‘s coaching staff at Temple.  Bruce Feldman of FOXSports.com subsequently confirmed the report.

According to both outlets, DeLeone will serve as the Owls’ running-game coordinator.

The past two seasons, DeLeone worked as an assistant line coach with the Browns.  Prior to that, however, the vast majority of his 46-year coaching career had been spent at the collegiate level.  And a sizable chunk of that time was spent in the Northeast.

DeLeone’s first FBS job came at Rutgers from 1980-83.  Two different stints at Syracuse (1985-96, 1998-2004) were sandwiched between his the job at the NFL level with the Miami Dolphins (1997).  Temple was his home from 2006-07, and then UConn from 2011-13 before the Browns called.

Demoted by BC, Todd Fitch takes over as LaTech’s OC

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 19:  Head coach Skip Holtz of the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs objects to a call during the first half of the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl against the Arkansas State Red Wolves at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 19, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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A promotion in 2015 was quickly followed by a demotion a year later for Todd Fitch.  Not long after the latter went down, Fitch left town for a fresh start to his coaching career.

Friday, Skip Holtz announced that Fitch has been hired as his offensive coordinator at Louisiana Tech.  Additionally, Fitch will serve as the wide receivers coach for the Bulldogs.

Fitch had spent the past three seasons at Boston College, first as receivers coach and passing-game coordinator in 2013-14 before being promoted to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2015.  However, BC head coach Steve Addazio announced in mid-January that he had hired Scott Loeffler as his coordinator, effectively demoting Fitch back to receivers coach.

Three weeks later, Fitch headed south.

“I am excited to be joining a staff that is part of growing something special,” Fitch said. “This coaching staff has laid the groundwork for a program that has already done some great things and is building a foundation for future success. I am excited for the opportunity to be on a staff with Skip Holtz again and to keep growing this program.”

In addition to BC, Fitch had also been a coordinator at East Carolina and USF. Holtz was the head coach at both of those stops.

San Jose State QB Malik Watson latest to take grad transfer route

SAN JOSE, CA - NOVEMBER 29:  The San Jose State Spartans marching band plays their fight song against the Fresno State Bulldogs in the second quarter on November 29, 2013 at Spartan Stadium in San Jose, California.  The Spartans won 62-52.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
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Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a college football player has decided to ply his final season of college football wares elsewhere.

The latest to take that tack is Malik Watson, who announced via Twitter that he has “decided that I will not be returning to San Jose State for my senior and will be seeking elsewhere to pursue my dream.”  As Watson will graduate from SJSU this May, he will be eligible to play immediately in 2016 if he lands at another FBS school and enrolls in a grad program not offered at his former school.

Watson added that, as he awaits a new destination, he “will continue to train with my private QB coach in this meantime.”

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A California high school product who was born in Hawaii, Watson transferred from the junior college ranks to SJSU in 2014. After redshirting that first year, the 6-3, 208-pound Watson played in two games as the No. 3 quarterback on the depth chart.

In that time, Watson completed 9-of-15 passes for 59 yards and an interception. Of the 15 attempts, 14 came in the Week 3 loss to Oregon State.

Illini grad transfer T.J. Neal to visit WVU, Auburn

LINCOLN, NE - SEPTEMPER 27: Linebacker T.J. Neal #52 of the Illinois Fighting Illini arches of running back Ameer Abdullah #8 of the Nebraska Cornhuskersduring their game at Memorial Stadium on September 27, 2014 in Lincoln, Nebraska.  (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
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T.J. Neal does not yet know where he will continue his collegiate career, but it appears the linebacker has significantly narrowed the field.

A little less than two weeks ago, Neal, after being told by the coaching staff that they were planning to move him from middle to strongside linebacker, decided to transfer out of the Illinois football program.  As he will be a graduate transfer upon earning his degree in May, Neal will be eligible to play at another FBS program in 2016.

Enter West Virginia and Auburn, two teams which have been in contact with Neal and vice versa.  According to al.com, Neal will visit Morgantown this coming Monday, then head to The Plains a week later.

Upon the announcement of an impending departure, Illini head coach Bill Cubit said the Pennsylvania native “was talking about playing closer to home.”  Even as a move to Auburn would be the exact opposite of that, Neal seems genuinely excited over the prospects.

“Being able to play down there in Alabama, it’s like a dream come true,” Neal told Brandon Marcello of al.com. “From my high school, I never thought I’d play at a big-time school like Auburn. To have a chance now, it’s exciting to play against some of the top players in the country.”

According to blueandgoldsports.com, Penn State and Pittsburgh are/were also in play. It’s unclear if he’s visited or plans to visit those schools in his home state, although it was originally thought that the Nittany Lions could be high on Neal’s to-do list.

Not only is Neal a native of McKeesport, Pa., but Tim Banks, the Illini’s co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach the past four seasons, left in December to become the Nittany Lions’ coordinator.  PSU has also seen a pair of linebackers, Troy Reeder and Gary Wooten Jr., transfer out this month, meaning the opportunity for a starting job would certainly be on the table.

Regardless, Neal expects to make a decision shortly after the Feb. 15 visit to Auburn. He would then enroll in his new school of choice shortly after his graduation from Illinois.

Neal was a two-year starter for the Illini who finished second on the team in tackles (109) this past season.  He was named honorable mention All-Big Ten for his play in 2015.