The curious case of a 2012 recruit and Jerry Sandusky

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Of all the stories that have surfaced in the week since the grand jury’s presentment of a 40-count indictment on Jerry Sandusky, this one is right up there with the most mind-boggling.

In an interview with WYFF-TV in Greenville, South Carolina high school linebacker Adam Ah Ching claims that Sandusky visited him earlier this year during spring football drills.  That alleged visit from Sandusky came months after the Greer High School senior claimed to have received recruiting letters from Penn State, presumably from Mike McQueary, the Nittany Lions wide receivers coach/recruiting coordinator who is now on paid administrative leave.

“[Sandusky] came to my last spring game going into my senior season. He liked how I moved, laterally, and how gifted I am,” Ah Ching said in regards to the man who was charged with sexually abusing eight children a week ago today.

Ah Ching’s high school coach, Will Young, told the TV station that “he is not aware anyone representing Penn State attended a spring game.” On his Twitter account Friday evening, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review‘s Joe Starkey tweeted that “Greer H.S. athletic director Travis Perry strongly denies that Sandusky was ever at Adam Ah Ching’s practice or games.”  The station writes Ah Ching stands by his story, that Sandusky was in the stands for the spring game at his high school.

Penn State has not returned emails requesting comment on what official or unofficial involvement, if any, Sandusky may have had with this recruit specifically or recruiting in general over the past several years.

The Associated Press subsequently reported that “Sandusky attended a football camp for Polynesian players in Utah over the summer and urged all in attendance to play for Paterno.”  Ah Ching was in attendance at that camp, which included coaches from 30 universities representing, among other conferences, the ACC, Big East and Pac-12.

Ah Ching said during the TV interview that after the scandal broke, he scratched the Nittany Lions off the list of schools he’s considering — he’s reportedly received offers from BYU, Colorado, Georgia Tech, Oregon State, UCLA, and Utah — and added that other recruits are doing the same (which is not necessarily the recruiting reality, incidentally).

“It’s very devastating to have a top-tiered program and have them drop like that,” said Ah Ching. “That really did play a big impact on where I wanted to go.”

For his part, Ah Ching’s father agrees with what his son thinks is a decision to take Penn State out of consideration.

“Do you want to be associated with the mess that’s still going to come down the road here?” Otto Ah Ching said during the interview.

It should be noted that we can find no information that Ah Ching was being recruited, heavily or otherwise, by Penn State other than recruiting letters, with that information coming from the player himself.  It should be further noted that there is no credible evidence whatsoever that any contact Sandusky may have had with Ah Ching came under the direction of the Nittany Lions football program.

Sandusky wrapping himself in the Penn State name, though, would not exactly qualify as a shocking development given his emeritus status at the university since leaving the football program in an an official capacity in the late nineties.

The State of Pennsylvania’s investigation into Sandusky’s alleged rapes of multiple children, including at least one that occurred on the campus, began in 2009.  School officials, including then-head coach Joe Paterno and in-limbo athletic director Tim Curley, testified in front of a grand jury in January regarding the allegations.

Sandusky had maintained an office in the Lasch football building and use of any facility on the Penn State campus since his retirement in 1999.  Three days after his arrest, it was reported that he was seen working out in the football facility’s weight room multiple times in the week leading up to the multi-count indictment.  He was finally banned from the campus after being charged.

In 2007, five years after being witnessed by McQueary sodomizing a 10-year-old boy, Sandusky was “selected to be the featured speaker at the commencement ceremony for Penn State’s College of Health and Human Development”, Starkey was quoted as relaying during a radio interview this week.

(Tip O’ the Cap: Charleston City PaperSportsByBrooks)

Report: Steve Spurrier Jr. leaving WKU for job at Wazzu

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With coaching holes throughout his Washington State staff to fill thanks to significant offseason poaching, Mike Leach has added a very famous college football surname.  Reportedly.

According to the Bowling Green Daily News, Steve Spurrier Jr. is leaving Western Kentucky to take a job under Leach at Wazzu.  The son of College Football Hall of Famer Steve Spurrier just completed his first season as the Hilltoppers’ quarterbacks coach.  He also held the title of assistant head coach under Mike Sanford.

It’s unclear what specific title Spurrier Jr. will hold at Wazzu.

Prior to his one season at WKU, and one season as an off-field staffer at Oklahoma, Spurrier Jr. had been an assistant on his father’s South Carolina staff for 11 seasons.  During his time with the Gamecocks, he served at various points as wide receivers coach (2005-15), passing-game coordinator (2009-11) and co-offensive coordinator (2012-15).

Spurrier Jr., who played wide receiver at Duke, has also spent time during his coaching career as receivers coach at Oklahoma (1999-2001) and with the Washington Redskins (2002-03).

Ex-Texas All-Big 12 defensive tackle takes DL coaching job at Baylor

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Baylor’s latest coaching addition is a very familiar name in the state of Texas.

BU confirmed Wednesday evening that Frank Okam has been added to Matt Rhule‘s coaching staff.  Okam, who was a Freshman All-American and two-time All-Big 12 defensive tackle at Texas from 2004-07, will coach the Bears’ defensive line.

“Frank is a living embodiment of everything the young men in our program should want to accomplish,” the head coach said in a statement. “He’s a college graduate, an All-American, a Big 12 champion, a national champion, a NFL draft pick and then he continued life after football earning his master’s degree from Rice and is now one of the top young football coaches in the country.

“We are excited to have Coach Okam on staff and for him to mentor our defensive line group and help take them to the next level.”

The 32-year-old Okam, who went to high school in Dallas, spent the past four seasons at Rice, the last two as the Owls’ line coach.  This will mark Okam’s first coaching job at a Power Five program.

Longtime ESPN play-by-play man Mike Patrick announces retirement

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ESPN’s roster of college football play-by-play announcers suffered a high number of attrition of late. Brent Musburger retired. Brad Nessler replaced Verne Lundquist at CBS. Sean McDonough moved to Monday Night Football. Now the dean of ESPN’s Saturday voices is going away, too.

Mike Patrick announced his retirement on Wednesday, ending a 32-year run that began in 1982, three years after the network launched.

“It’s wonderful to reflect on how I’ve done exactly what I wanted to do with my life,” Patrick said. “At the same time, I’ve had the great pleasure of working with some of the very best people I’ve ever known, both on the air and behind the scenes. While I’m not sure exactly what’s next for me, I’m looking forward to continuing my journey with new life experiences.”

His biggest assignment came as the voice of ESPN’s Sunday Night Football from 1987 until the package moved to NBC after the 2005 season, but outside of that he was one of the Worldwide Leader’s leading college sports voices. He was the lead voice on the network’s ACC basketball package, he called the Women’s Final Four for a decade and a half, and he was a leading voice on the College World Series and served as the play-by-play man for ESPN’s Thursday night and Saturday night packages, before ESPN turned its Saturday primetime window into the top package owned by the network.

You may remember this moment.

ESPN will say goodbye to Patrick through a pre-recorded tribute voiced by Rece Davis airing throughout the day on SportsCenter and a tribute during the network’s coverage of the Louisville vs. Duke basketball game tonight (9 p.m. ET).

Heisman winner Chris Weinke hired as Tennessee’s running backs coach

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It can be argued that the only reason Tennessee has a national championship is because of Chris Weinke. As we know, the Vols claimed the 1998 national championship by defeating Florida State in the 1999 Fiesta Bowl, the first national championship game of the BCS era. Tennessee won that game, 23-16, thanks in large part to a pick-six thrown by Marcus Outzen, a third-string quarterback forced into action due to an injury by the two signal callers ahead of him on the depth chart.

Here’s how a Sports Illustrated article described Weinke and that FSU team in its 1999 preview issue:

Don’t think of 1999 as a new season for Florida State, think of it as the resumption of an old one. Before quarterback Chris Weinke was dumped on his head and suffered a season-ending ruptured disk in his neck in a 45-14 win over Virginia last Nov. 7, no team in the country was playing better than the Seminoles, who had bounced back from an early-season defeat at North Carolina State. So how cruel was this? Upset losses suffered by Ohio State, UCLA and Kansas State sent 11-1 Florida State to the national title game in the Fiesta Bowl, but without its best quarterback. The Seminoles and backup signal-caller Marcus Outzen struggled on offense and lost to Tennessee.

Nevertheless, Tennessee won that season’s title, Weinke would lead Florida State to the 1999 national title and take the Heisman Trophy a year after that. The past is the past.

But now the past is the present, as the former Florida State quarterback on Wednesday was announced as Tennessee’s running backs coach.

“I’m excited to have Chris Weinke on our staff to coach running backs,” Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt said in a statement. “He has played the game at the highest level and what he has accomplished on the field speaks for itself. He is also an outstanding coach and teacher of the game, coaching in the NFL, in college this past season and at the high school level. He has a great eye for talent and knows the game on the offensive side of the ball as well as anybody I’ve been around. He will be a great fit for our Tennessee program.”

Weinke entered the NFL as a 26-year-old and lasted seven seasons with the Panthers and 49ers before moving into coaching. He first worked as a trainer at IMG Academy, then moved onto coaching the high school program, where he went 19-2 as head coach and offensive coordinator. From there he deposited a stint as the Los Angeles Rams’ quarterbacks coach before spending the 2017 season as an offensive analyst at Alabama, where he hooked up with Pruitt.

Weinke will be charged with re-building the Vols’ backfield after losing John Kelly to an early entry into the NFL draft. Rising sophomore Ty Chandler is Tennessee’s leading returning rusher, carrying 71 times for 305 yards and two touchdowns in 2017.