Updated: Miles says reports of player drug use are ‘way left of center’

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Uh-oh.

Not exactly unfamiliar with off-field issues this year, the top-ranked LSU Tigers could be faced with the most devastating of distractions ahead of their SEC West showdown with Auburn this weekend.

Both Randy Rosetta of TigersSportsDigest.com and the Daily Reveille are reporting that cornerback Tyrann Mathieu and running back Spencer Ware could/will be facing suspensions for Saturday’s game against the Tigers.  The Daily Reveille, the school’s student newspaper, reports that the suspensions would be for failed drug tests.  Rosetta tweets that as many as three LSU starters could be suspended for the game; the identity of the third player was not identified by Rosetta, but the Associated Press is reporting that it is cornerback Tharold Simon.  Simon is listed as the backup to Mathieu on the latest LSU depth chart.

While the one-game suspension is bad enough, the situation could get a lot worse for the Tigers as the student paper writes that the one-game suspensions could turn into multi-game suspensions.  Such a development could place the players’ availability for the huge showdown with Alabama Nov. 5 in jeopardy.

Attempts by CFT to reach the school for comment on the reported development have been unsuccessful.  Head coach Les Miles has a regularly scheduled press conference at 7 p.m. ET Wednesday; we’re assuming these reports will come up during the course of the evening.

The loss of Mathieu and Ware would be a tremendous blow to the Tigers, although more so in two weeks in Tuscaloosa than this weekend in Death Valley.  Mathieu is one of the top defensive players in the country and has been mentioned as a potential Heisman candidate.  Ware leads the team in rushing with 512 yards.

UPDATED 2:59 p.m. ET: A school official who requested his name not be used would neither confirm nor deny to CFT — even off-the-record — that players had been suspended for failing drug tests.  The official said such issues are handled internally and “will be addressed at the proper time by the proper individuals.”

UPDATED 3:42 p.m. ET: “Coach Miles is handling it as an internal issue, within the team and university, but we cannot comment further at this time,” said LSU sports information director Michael Bonnette.

UPDATED 7:31 p.m. ET: In his regularly scheduled press conference, Miles would not directly address the reports that three players have been suspended for failing a drug test, nor confirm the names of those involved, but did say the allegations were “left of center“.

“There’s a process I’ve got to go through and I’m not going to short-cut and once there’s information to share, I will,” Miles said. “It’s not information I’m going to respond to. I think this is the right way to go.

“I expect my team to take the field ably manned.”

Report: Oregon State paying search firm up to $200k to find new head football coach

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We’re all in the wrong business.

Earlier this month, Gary Andersen abruptly stepped down as Oregon State’s head football coach.  While cornerbacks coach Cory Hall was named interim head coach, the football program is on the hunt for a permanent replacement.

To aid in that search, OSU has hired the search firm of DH International, Inc.  And, according to information obtained by The Oregonian, that Chicago-based company could potentially get paid for its efforts.

DHR International, Inc. will conduct the search for a fee that “shall not exceed $200,000,” although Oregon State redacted the value of each fee installment in its response to a public records request.

The newspaper also wrote that “[athletic director Rick] Barnes… previously worked with DHR International when finding a new athletic director when he left Pitt for OSU.” It was DH International that also recommended Barnes for the Pitt job.

Alabama WR Donnie Lee Jr. charged with domestic violence, dismissed

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That didn’t take long.  At all.

According to WBRC-TV in Tuscaloosa, Donnie Lee Jr. was arrested early Thursday morning on one count of third-degree domestic violence.  It’s alleged that a verbal confrontation turned physical and resulted in his girlfriend sustaining unspecified injuries.

From the television station’s report:

Police responded to a domestic call in the 900 block of 12th Street around 1 a.m.

The arrest report states there was a verbal disagreement between Lee and a female he was dating. The disagreement resulted in a physical altercation and caused injuries.

Lee is — or was — a senior walk-on for the Crimson Tide.  He suffered a torn ACL during summer camp earlier this year, making it an easy decision for the football program to dismiss him from the team, which they did shortly after word of the situation surfaced.

“Donnie Lee Jr., a walk-on who has not been participating in team activities since a knee injury in August, has been dismissed from our football team and is no longer part of our program,” a statement from head coach Nick Saban began. “This behavior will not be tolerated from anyone and is not representative of our football program.”

Phil Fulmer can feel Butch Jones’ hot-seat pain

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With each passing week, the heat underneath Butch Jones‘ coaching seat only intensifies. One former Tennessee head coach, for what it’s worth, can feel the pain of a man who many feel will join him in the ex-UT coach’s club sooner rather than later.

Phil Fulmer, who played his college football for the Vols, was the head coach at his alma mater from 1992 to 2008, finishing with a 152-52 record, nine double-digit win seasons, two conference championships, six division titles and one national championship. Despite that success, Fulmer was fired following a 5-7 2008 season.

Butch Jones, in the midst of his fifth season at the school, has a 33-24 overall record and a 14-21 mark in SEC play, including an 0-3 start this season. The Vols have yet to place higher than tied for second in the SEC East under Jones, one of myriad factors that have him facing the firing squad at season’s end, if not before.

Asked this week about the storm of criticism enveloping the beleaguered coach, the former coach commiserated with one of his Rocky Top predecessors.

“I understand exactly where he is,” Fulmer told the Citizen Tribune of Morristown, Tenn. “It’s a tough time for him. …

“Nobody ever promised anybody that every day is going to be good. Everybody has difficulties, it’s just that in athletics, and particularly at a place like Tennessee, it is so exposed.”

When asked about quality replacements should the trigger be pulled on Jones, Fulmer told the paper “I wouldn’t begin to go there.”

“There’s so much football to be played and that’s not my responsibility anyway,” Fulmer said, adding, “My hope is that the players will run out, and make a good year out of it.”

For the record, the Vols are 56-51 and are on their third head coach since Fulmer was fired. That’s the worst 10-year stretch, winning percentage-wise, for the football program since the early 1900s.

Florida loses starting DE to season-ending hip surgery

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The injury-plagued career of Jordan Sherit (pictured, right) has come to an end because of, you guessed it, another injury.

Sherit suffered an injury in last Saturday’s loss to Texas A&M that dropped Florida 1½ games behind Georgia in the SEC’s East division.  Wednesday, Jim McElwain confirmed that the starting defensive end will miss the remainder of the year after undergoing season-ending hip surgery because of the injury sustained in that game.

As this is the lineman’s final season of eligibility, the collegiate portion of his playing career is over as well.

It’s a bad deal, man,” the head coach said of the situation.

Sherit’s 2.5 sacks are currently second on the Gators, while his five tackles for loss are tied for third.  The redshirt senior missed a handful of games in the 2014 and 2016 seasons because of a variety of injuries.  He also missed the last half of his senior season of high school because of a torn ACL