Bradley: didn’t watch Sandusky interview, hasn’t seen JoePa since firing

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Given the child-sex abuse charges facing Jerry Sandusky and the controversy that’s erupted over how Penn State handled — or mishandled — the situation, it’s very easy to forget that the Nittany Lions are in the thick of the hunt for a spot in the inaugural Big Ten title game.  In fact, if Penn State wins out, they will represent the Leaders division in early December.

As hard as it is given the scandal that’s blanketed Happy Valley, interim head coach Tom Bradley is attempting to focus on what matters most to the players who had nothing to do with what’s going on off the field: this weekend’s game in Columbus.

It’s still Ohio State-Penn State,” Bradley said during what had been Joe Paterno‘s weekly meeting with the media. “I just want to emphasize, this is all about the players. It’s all about their team and all about our team … It’s going to be an exciting game, we’re both fighting for the title so there’s a lot of on the line. It will be very spirited matchup regardless of what’s going on outside.”

Of course, there was no avoiding everything else going on in and around the football program.

Sandusky, as you’ve no doubt heard or seen by now, conducted his first extensive interview since being arrested and charged with 40 counts relating to the sexual abuse of children.  Bradley was asked if he watched his former coaching contemporary further indict himself on national television.

“I’m not going to go there. I was watching Ohio State last night and I’ve got more important things right now,” Bradley said, also declining to answer questions about his past relationship with the alleged pedophile.

Bradley was also asked about his relationship with Paterno, who was fired six days ago in the midst of the controversy.  Bradley, who had been a member of Paterno’s staff for more than three decades, said he has not seen JoePa since the firing, and has only had one phone conversation since the board announced their decision last Wednesday.  And, apparently, that’s the way the coaching legend wants it.

“If I called him today, he’s going to ask me why I’m calling,” Bradley said. “He knows the importance of this. He’s been through this. … He knows the responsibility we have to Penn State, the players, the parents, their high school coaches. We made a commitment and we’re going to follow through with that.

“As I told the players, the expectations are the expectation. They have not changed. They know the ramifications of the way we’re heading here and the way we do things. I made it clear, if you step out of line I am going to come down fast and hard … They all know that.”

Bradley also hit on other issues, including…

— The future of assistant coach Mike McQueary, now on administrative leave: “I can’t answer that question due to what’s going on with the university and the ongoing investigation and things.”

— The Big Ten’s decision to take Paterno’s name off the conference’s championship trophy: “I just think it another part of a tragedy that’s occurring.”

— Any safety concerns he may have taking his football team into another city this weekend: “No, not at all.  We’ve been contacted by Ohio State.  I talked to Luke Fickell, [he] called me the other day; we’ve been assured there will be no problems.

— Any talk of Penn State not going to a bowl game: “That’s never come up.  I talked to [interim PSU president] Dr. [Rodney] Erickson, he’s talked to [Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney.] We have been assured that is not the case for the bowl game.”

 

 

Third ex-Vandy football player sentenced to 15 years for rape

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A third former Vanderbilt football player will spend a sizable portion of his adult life behind bars.

In June of this year, Brandon Banks was found guilty on one count each of aggravated rape and aggravated sexual battery related to a 2013 gang rape of an unconscious woman. Friday, Banks was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

In July of last year, one of Banks’ former teammates, Cory Batey, was sentenced to 15 years after being found guilty of aggravated rape. Four months later, another former Vandy football player, Brandon Vandenburg, was sentenced to 17 years after being found guilty of the same charge as Batey. The judge gave Vandenburg a longer sentence than Batey because the former was the leader in the attack and betrayed the woman’s trust.

Banks, Vandenburg, Batey and another ex-Vandy football player, Jaborian ‘Tip’ McKenziewere initially charged Aug. 9, 2013, with five counts of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery each after a police investigation determined that the four had raped an unconscious woman.

On June 28 of 2013, Vanderbilt announced that four unnamed players had been indefinitely suspended amid reports that the players were connected to an alleged sex crimes case.  The next day, Vandy officials further clarified the players’ statuses, releasing a statement announcing the dismissals of the four.  That release further added that none of the four will be permitted to return to campus without permission from the office of student conduct and academic integrity.

McKenzie has pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.  He has agreed to testify against his former teammates in exchange for what he hopes is a lighter sentence.

Georgia Tech dismisses leading rusher Dedrick Mills

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I believe this one would qualify as a significant development.

In a very brief press release, Georgia Tech announced Friday afternoon that Dedrick Mills has been dismissed by Paul Johnson from the football team.  The only reason given was an unspecified violation of Tech athletics department rules.

The head coach is expected to meet with the media following practice later on this afternoon.

Regardless of the specific reason for the dismissal, Mills’ departure serves as yet another blow for the run-heavy Yellow Jackets.

Last season, Mills’ 771 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns led all Tech ball carriers.  169 of those yards came in the bowl win over Kentucky.  Mills put up all of those numbers as a true freshman despite being suspended on two different occasions for a total of three games.

Mills’ dismissal is the second huge blow to their 2017 running game as Marcus Marshall, who was second on the team last season with 624 yards, announced in late November that he would be transferring from Tech.  Less than a month later, he moved on to James Madison.

With those twin departures, Clinton Lynch‘s 415 yards last season makes him the team’s leading returning rusher.

LOOK: Notre Dame unveils alternate uniforms honoring Knute Rockne’s legacy

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As you may know, I’m hardly a fan of the alternate uniform craze.  These, though, I can very easily get behind.

Notre Dame on Friday released images of new uniforms the Fighting Irish will wear for their Nov. 18 game against Navy.  From helmet to shoes, the new duds will serve as a head-to-toe tribute to the legendary Knute Rockne.

The players will all have the name “ROCKNE” emblazoned on the backs of their jerseys, while the helmets replicate the leather ones of Rockne’s era.  The cleats also will pay homage to the era in which Rockne, also a former player at the school, coached the Fighting Irish to five national championships from 1918-1930.  In those 13 seasons, the Irish lost just 12 games under Rockne.

Additionally, the sleeves will be adorned with the words from one of Rockne’s most famous speeches.



Penn State OKs James Franklin’s new deal, reportedly worth nearly $6 million annually

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James Franklin is now in some very heady financial company.

Friday morning, Penn State’s Board of Trustees Committee on Compensation, as expected, unanimously approved an amended contract for their head football coach.  While no details were released — that’s expected to happen later today — it’s believed the amended deal will extend through the 2023 season.  Franklin’s old contract ran through 2019.

Additionally, Bruce Feldman of SI.com is reporting that the new six-year deal will average $5.8 million annually.  What Franklin’s compensation for 2017 and beyond will, again, be divulged later on today.

The average of $5.8 million a year would make him the fourth-highest-paid coach in college football, behind only Alabama’s Nick Saban and a pair of fellow Big Ten coaches — Ohio State’s Urban Meyer and Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh.

Set to enter his fourth season with the Nittany Lions, Franklin has an overall record of 25-15 at the school.  After a pair of 7-6 seasons to begin his tenure, 2016 was a breakout one for the program as they went 11-3 and won the Big Ten championship for the first time since 2008.

Expectations are extremely high coming off that breakout season as the Nittany Lions are ranked sixth in the preseason coaches’ poll.