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O’Brien’s agent says Penn State talk ‘off-base’

Bill O'Brien AP

Apparently what we have here is a case of premature speculation.

Multiple reports surfaced Sunday connecting New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien to the Penn State vacancy, with one going so far as to state that “only contract details need to be finalized” before O’Brien was named as Joe Paterno’s permanent successor.  The head of PSU’s search committee, athletic director David Joyner, refuted the reports earlier today.

This evening, O’Brien’s agent has done the same, saying that his client’s dream is to be an NFL head coach.

“Any imminent contract signing or agreement (with Penn State) is just off-base,” Joe Linta told Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald. “The most important thing for him is to win the Super Bowl. But if someone is going to be interested in him in the NFL, it’s going to happen this week. He could be going somewhere else, he could be returning to the Patriots. But we’ll wait and find out if someone is interested in him and seeks permission to talk with him.”

Not only is a contract not imminent, but Rapoport writes that “there has been no contact and no negotiations” between the two sides.

While this certainly doesn’t mean O’Brien won’t be the Nittany Lions’ next head coach, the brakes have been sufficiently tapped on the O’Brien-to-Penn State talk.

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SEC to boost penalties for field rushing violations

Alabama v Mississippi

There are many things in football that fans love but players and coaches hate. Games marred by excess rain or snow come to mind. But top of the list is field rushing.

Rushing the field is one of the many things that separates college football from its professional counterpart. It’s an entirely collegial activity, the state of being so overjoyed by your men in pads that you don’t know what to do with yourself. If you’ve ever been to a game where a field was rushed, I can guarantee you’ll never forget it.

But it’s also incredibly dangerous for players and coaches – especially those on the losing side. And according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the SEC plans to up the fines it levies on schools whose fans violate its field-rushing rules.

“It’s an attempt to change behavior,” outgoing commissioner Mike Slive said from the league’s spring meetings in Destin, Fla. “I think we have changed it considerably, but there are still times when it happens. I think our folks felt the current fine structure is not sufficiently large enough to be a quality deterrent.”

At present, the SEC doles out $5,000 fines for a first offense, $25,000 for a second offense and $50,000 for each violation thereafter within a three-year period.

Slive wasn’t sure exactly how the penalty structure would change, but said the league would reach a consensus during this week’s meetings. The guess here is that the $5,000 fine goes out the window and the three-year snapshot is expanded to five or six.

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UCLA losing DB Jalen Ortiz to transfer

John Harris, Jalen Ortiz

Not surprisingly, we have yet another departure on the transfer train to feature.

The latest to see its roster pared is UCLA, Jalen Ortiz announcing Tuesday that he has decided to leave the Bruins and continue his collegiate playing career at an undetermined location.  The cornerback made what was a very gracious announcement on the same social media website that all the cool kids these days are doing such things:  Twitter.

A three-star member of UCLA’s 2013 recruiting class, Ortiz was rated as the No. 27 “athlete” in the country and the No. 8 player at any position in the state of Arizona.  In addition to UCLA, Ortiz held offers from, among others, Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Boise State, BYU, Utah and Washington.

Ortiz spent his first season with the Bruins as a wide receiver, but moved to the defensive secondary for the 2014 season.  He played in 26 games the past two seasons — mainly on special teams — and caught four passes for 27 yards as a true freshman.

After sitting out the 2015 season if he ends up at another FBS program, Ortiz would then have two seasons of eligibility remaining.

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Nine cities bid to host 2018-20 title games

CFP Trophy AP

We don’t know yet which cities will play host to the College Football Playoff title games after the one following the 2016 season is played in Glendale, Ariz.  We do know, though, the pool out of which the host cities will be selected.

Wednesday, it was revealed that nine cities had placed bids to play hosts to the CFP championship games in 2018 (following the 2017 season), 2019 (2018 season) and 2020 (2019 season). Those cities include, in alphabetical order so as not to offend anyone, Atlanta, Charlotte, Detroit, Houston, Miami, Minneapolis, New Orleans, San Antonio and Santa Clara.

All eight of those cities had previously had reports (HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE) attaching them to the bidding process for the upcoming games. Arlington, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, New Orleans, New York City, Orlando and Pasadena had also been mentioned as possibilities, although cities such as Arlington, Indy, Jax, NYC, Orlando and Pasadena all publicly decided against a run at this set of games.

Houston and Santa Clara were the only communities to bid on all three games.  Charlotte, New Orleans and San Antonio bid on two games apiece, the 2019 and 2020 games. The breakdown of the other cities and the years in which they’re interested are as follows:

2018: Atlanta; Houston; Miami/South Florida; Santa Clara.
2019: Charlotte; Detroit; Houston; New Orleans; San Antonio; Santa Clara.
2020: Charlotte; Houston; Minneapolis; New Orleans; San Antonio; Santa Clara.

The winning bids are expected to be announced later this year, likely during the 2015 season.

The first CFP championship game was held this past January at the home of the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Tex.  The cities of Tampa, Fla., and Glendale, Ariz., will host the title games following the 2015 and 2016 seasons, respectively.

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Rutgers CB, accomplice netted $20 in alleged armed robbery

Kevin Snyder, L.J. Liston

Well, Bonnie & Clod, hope it is was worth it. Allegedly.

Over the weekend, Rutgers cornerback Darian Dailey, along with another male, was arrested in Florida and charged with robbery with a firearm. According to the victim, it was Dailey’s accomplice, Trazelle Johnson, who pointed what he thought to be a handgun at him.

And the financial haul Dailey (pictured, No. 33) and Johnson came away with? $20. Total.

As detailed by the nj.com, here’s what led up to the twin arrests:

Dailey, who was driving a black Dodge registered to his mother, and Johnson, the passenger, stopped the car directly in front of an 18-year-old who was riding his bicycle home from work just before 2 a.m. on Sunday, according to the warrant. Police said Johnson got out of the car with his face covered by a cloth and pointed what appeared to be a black semi-automatic handgun at the victim and asked, “What you got?”

After the victim said he had $20, Johnson said, “Hand it over,” according to the warrant. Dailey, 19, stood behind Johnson, 19, near the rear of vehicle during the exchange. Dailey and Johnson then got back into the car and drove away, according to the warrant.

The victim copied the car’s tag number and the vehicle was located by Manatee County Deputies a short time later. A black pellet gun (without red tip) was in plain view in the vehicle, according to the warrant.

The 19-year-old Dailey, who was home in Bradenton, Fla., when the incident happened, and Johnson were both held in lieu of $150,000 bonds. The former posted his bail Monday morning and was released, while the latter remains jailed.

In a statement released Sunday, head coach Kyle Flood said that [w]”e are aware of the situation and are gathering facts,” adding “[o]nce those facts are gathered, we will take the appropriate action.”

A two-star member of the Scarlet Knights’ 2014 recruiting class, Dailey took a redshirt as a true freshman. He’ll be expected to compete for playing time come summer camp — provided he can extract his cranium from his rectum, that is.

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Amidst controversy, Dabo Swinney cancels planned appearance

Florida State v Clemson Getty Images

Quite the ruckus was kicked up earlier this week when a report surfaced that Dabo Swinney is scheduled to appear June 2 at a fundraiser for the Palmetto Family Council, an organization described as being “dedicated to fighting against equality for the LGBT community and same-sex couples.”  Swinney was greeted by criticism in some corners and support in others who consider the PFC a pro-traditional marriage group.

A day later, the former corner prompted the Clemson head coach to blink.

In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, Swinney announced that he has decided to cancel his appearance with the group.  In the statement, Swinney claimed he has “no association” with the PFC and that he “had no idea that I was being invited into a political controversy.”

Below is Swinney’s statement, in its entirety:

“I was recently selected by the Palmetto Family Council, an organization with which I have no association, as their ‘South Carolina Family Champion of 2015′ and was invited to receive this recognition at an event sponsored by the group on June 2. I had no idea that I was being invited into a political controversy. It was my understanding that the nomination and election for this award was based on the work done by our “All In Foundation” and the difference it is making in our community. My acceptance of this award was to be on behalf of all the volunteers that make our foundation a success. The work of our foundation is intended to build a better community and be a positive influence.

“Recently, my scheduled participation in this event has been perceived incorrectly as an endorsement of certain viewpoints and has entered the political arena. I have been out of town since last Thursday and am disappointed that this has become a distraction for me, my team and many others. I have been and continue to be very open about my personal beliefs. However, I do not inject those beliefs or the work of the foundation into the political process.

“I appreciate the recognition of my and the foundation’s efforts. However, after much thought, in order to avoid a distraction for the team and the entire football program, I’ve decided it is in the best interests of all involved that I not attend the event on June 2.”

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BC’s leading returning receiver won’t be, well, returning

New Era Pinstripe Bowl - Boston College v Penn State Getty Images

Ground-and-pound Boston College exited spring light on production in what constitutes its passing “attack.”  Entering the summer workout phase, that part of the offense has taken a substantial and unexpected hit.

A school spokesperson confirmed to accsports.com Wednesday that wide receiver-turned-tight end Dan Crimmins is no longer on the Eagles football team.  No reason was given for the abrupt departure or if it was forced or voluntary, and the school has yet to confirm the move.

Whether the coaching staff’s decision to have Crimmins switch positions this spring played any role in the development, if it was indeed voluntary, is unknown.

What is known is that, if it holds, it’s a significant loss for BC.  Last season, Crimmins was second on the team in receptions (25) and receiving yards (305).  With Josh Bordner‘s departure, Crimmins was set to be the Eagles’ leading returning receiver.

That honor now falls to Sherman Alston, who went 16-175 in 2014.

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No FBS teams facing APR-related postseason bans this year

Louisville v Wichita State Getty Images

Around this time every year, people pretend to know precisely how the Academic Performance Report (APR) is calculated — and then pretend to care about the results.

In the NCAA system for measuring academic progress toward graduation, a school’s sports programs must each maintain at least a .930 APR (out of a possible 1.000) over a four-year period in order to maintain eligibility for postseason play in their respective sports.  A two-year score of .940 or above would also allow a program to be eligible for postseason competition if it was below .930 for the four-year period.

Last May, Idaho and UNLV were banned from postseason play in football because of their scores below the .930 benchmark, although the Rebels had their bowl eligibility reinstated after what was described as “score adjustments.”  Additionally, Oklahoma State was docked practice time because it failed to reach the minimum threshold.  The Cowboys avoided a postseason ban because its two-year average was half a point above the .940 standard.

Fast-forward 12 months, and no FBS programs are facing postseason ineligibility because of APR scores (link HERE), which this year are based on performances from the 2010-11 academic year through 2013-2014.  In fact, there are no FBS programs at any of the three levels of penalties in the NCAA’s APR structure, which is explained below:

Level One penalties focus on practice restrictions, allowing teams to use that time to focus on academics. Teams facing this penalty lose four hours and one day of practice time per week in season, replaced with academic activities. This year, 13 teams face this level of penalty.

Level Two penalties include the Level One penalty and a reduction of four hours of practice time out of season replaced with academic activities. This level also includes the elimination of the nonchampionship season or spring football. Teams without nonchampionship seasons face a reduced number of contests. This year, 11 teams fall in this category.

Level Three penalties include all Level One and Two penalties, plus a menu of potential additional penalties. These can include scholarship reductions; additional practice and contest restrictions; coach-specific penalties (including game and recruiting restrictions); restricted access to practice for incoming students who fall below certain academic standards; restricted membership; and potential multi-year bans on postseason competition. In 2014-15, four teams face this level of penalty.

There are five FCS programs slapped with postseason ineligibility for the 2015 season: Alabama State, Florida A&M, Gardner-Webb, Savannah State and Tennessee State.

Not surprisingly, Oklahoma State has the lowest APR of all Power Five programs at .934.  That is, though, an improvement over the previous four-year period that cost the Cowboys practice time.

UPDATED 2:22 p.m. ET: While not listed in the NCAA’s release on the list of football teams facing postseason bans, Idaho’s APR was once again well under the .930 threshold.  It’s unclear why the Vandals did not make the list of penalized teams, although we’ve reached out to both the school and The Association for clarification.

UPDATED 3:43 p.m. ET: Thew following is from a press release sent out by the Wisconsin sports information department.

The Wisconsin football team’s multiyear Academic Progress Rate of 998 is the top mark of all FBS teams in the country according to the NCAA’s release on Wednesday. The Badgers lead a top five that includes Northwestern (992), Duke (992), Michigan (990) and Stanford (987).

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Freeze: It’s time to turn a full-go Laquon Treadwell loose

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwy3zgy1mzy1nzrjzjrjmmi0zwu4nmq0yjlmngu1nje5 AP

When last we left Laquon Treadwell‘s recovery from a gruesome lower-leg injury, the wide receiver was expected to be ready for not only the start of camp but the beginning of summer workouts as well.

With Memorial Day, the unofficial holiday kickoff to the summer, in the rear-view mirror, there’s no more holding the reins back on Treadwell’s recovery.

At the SEC’s annual spring meetings in Destin Tuesday, Hugh Freeze was asked about Treadwell’s rehab progression. As far as the Ole Miss head coach is concerned, there are no limitations on the receiver moving forward.

“He desires to get back and even be better than he was,” Freeze said. “It’s a bit hard to keep him patient. It’s time to turn him loose, though. …

“We could have let him do some things in the spring besides some routes on there and all those things, but we didn’t. He’s ready to probably go and run and jump and catch balls to that he has his confidence come fall camp. He’s full-go now.”

Treadwell sustained a dislocated ankle and broken fibula as he was set to cross the goal line for what would’ve been the game-winning score in the early-November loss to Auburn.

Through nine games, Treadwell was easily the Rebels’ leading receiver, with his 48 receptions for 632 yards and five touchdowns tops on the team. Despite missing the last four games, Treadwell still led the team in receptions.

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Newly-certified Austin bowl won’t be played this season

Too Many Bowls

For those who feel there are waaayyy too many postseason games, you can now rejoice.  A little. And for a little while.

Earlier this month it was reported that three new bowl games had received certification from the NCAA for the 2015 season: Austin, Tucson and Orlando.  Combined with the 39 bowls from last year — that number includes the College Football Playoff championship game — there were to be a record 42 bowls for the 2015 season.

The key word there is were, though, as one of those newly-certified postseason matchups has decided to delay its debut.

The fact that the Austin Bowl was sans a sponsor likely played at least some role in the decision to push the postseason pause button. The game, though, is expected to be played following the 2016 season.

“We applaud their courage to explore it and have the courage to step back and make sure they had it right,” said Wright Waters, executive director of the Football Bowl Association, in a statement. “They can come back in a year to organize and reach out to key individuals in the community. It will be better in every way a year from now.”

In that inaugural game, teams from the AAC and Sun Belt are expected to square off.

The other two newly-certified games have sponsors: the Cure Bowl (Orlando) and Arizona Bowl (Tucson). The former will also feature an AAC-SBC matchup, while the latter will see teams from Conference USA and the Mountain West competing.

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Jimbo says FSU will have QB competition, not controversy

150527_MaguireGolsonSplit Getty Images

Exiting spring practice, Sean Maguire was the odds-on favorite to replace Jameis Winston under center for Florida State in 2015.  With the addition of Notre Dame transfer Everett Golson earlier this month, however, the Seminoles will find themselves with a somewhat unexpected quarterback competition when summer camp kicks off a couple of months down the road.

And, according to head coach Jimbo Fisher, he’s not going to allow that competition devolve into another “c” word.

“Controversy and competition is two different things. It’s competition,” Fisher told Ralph Russo of the Associated Press. “And players on the team, when a guy is a competitor and he does well — whether it’s Sean, it’s Everett, it’s De’Andre [Johnson], it’s J.J. [Consentino], it’s Deondre Francois — whoever is on our team, they’ll follow the guys who play the best, respond the best and lead them the best.”

Golson certainly has an edge over Maguire when it comes to the experience department, starting for the Irish for the better part of the 2012 and 2014 seasons, with an academic suspension sandwiched in between. Golson, though, struggled turning the ball over last season — while he threw for nearly 3,500 yards and accounted for a combined 37 touchdowns (29 passing, eight rushing),

Some have (wrongly) assumed that Golson will be handed the starting job. Fisher has stated that Golson was never promised the starting job during his recruitment. He also went out of his way to ensure Maguire that both he and the new addition to the roster will be given an equal shot at winning the job.

“I just wanted to be honest with him and explain to him my thought process as the head coach,” Fisher said. “I’m open with all of our players like that. There’s never going to be anything I’m doing behind your back.

“He took it very well. He asked, is it really an open competition? I said yes it is. He knows I’ve never lied to him or any of our players.”

The Seminoles will begin summer camp in early August. Fisher and his coaching staff will likely want to name Winston’s successor somewhere in the middle of that month, giving the starter 2-3 weeks of solo No. 1 work ahead of the Sept. 5 opener against Texas State.

Perhaps the best news for whoever wins the job? FSU opens the season with back-to-back home games against non-Power Five schools — USF to go along with TSU — before traveling to Chestnut Hill Sept. 18 to face Boston College (7-6 last season) in the ACC opener.  There’s also a bye week and an Oct. 3 road trip to Wake Forest (3-9) before the first “real” test of the season: a home game against in-state rival Miami Oct. 10.

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Dabo Swinney takes home coaching award

Dabo Swinney

Suffice to say, this didn’t come from the LGBT community.

At a banquet in Dallas, Tex., Tuesday night, Dabo Swinney was on the receiving end of the 2015 Gene Stallings Award. The presenter of the award was a very familiar face for the Clemson head coach: his former Tigers offensive coordinator Chad Morris, who was named as the head coach at SMU this past December.

According to the release, “[t]he Stallings Award was created to honor college football head coaches who are also humanitarians and strive to promote healthy, vibrant communities through charitable and community service efforts.”

“I am Incredibly honored to receive the Stallings Award,” said Swinney in quotes distributed by the school. “Coach Stallings was my mentor for seven great years. The lessons I learned from him and the example he was to me as a father, husband and as a giver to the community definitely shaped me as a young man.

“Every day I think about Coach Stallings or apply one of the lessons of life that he taught me. There are a lot of awards out there, but this is one that I will cherish forever because of the man it is named for. I just want to say thank you for this great honor and for the opportunity to have my name associated with The Stallings Award.”

Swinney began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Alabama in 1993. Stallings was the Tide’s head coach at the time.

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LSU suspends Tiger lineman arrested on felony charge

Jevonte Domond

That certainly didn’t take very long.

It was reported Tuesday that reserve LSU offensive lineman Jevonte Domond was arrested and charged with a felony following a domestic violence incident Monday. A short time after the reports surfaced — specifically, Domond was charged with battery and domestic abuse — LSU confirmed that Domond has been indefinitely suspended by head coach Les Miles.

“I’m not familiar with the specifics. I knew right away when this incident occurred. I’m trying to get the specifics,” Miles said according to the Baton Rouge Advocate. “He’s suspended from the team. It’s a crime that we cannot condone and behavior that we will not tolerate.”

And, before you ask, no, I have no idea if a team vote will be conducted to determine the player’s future with the Tigers.

If the accusations are proven correct, though, Domond might have a lot more to worry about than a spot on a football roster.

The alleged victim, Domond’s fiancée, accused the lineman of strangling her as she stood over the crib of the couple’s child. She further alleged that he slammed her on a couch before, after she pepper sprayed him twice to no avail, he followed her to the police station.

Domond, who denied the charges, claims the alleged victim pulled a knife on him earlier in the day; she admitted to such a move, although it was claimed to be in self-defense. There’s also reportedly a witness to the incident.

Domond played in one game last season after signing with the Tigers from the JUCO ranks in the Class of 2014.

(Photo credit: LSU athletics)

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VIDEO: Former Ohio State walk-on creates Heisman hype video for Ezekiel Elliott

Ezekiel Elliott

Ezekiel Elliott rushed 273 times for 1,878 yards with 18 touchdowns last season. Emeka Onyejekwe did not. Elliott was the MVP of Ohio State’s national championship run last winter. Onyejekwe was not. Elliott is the anointed Heisman Trophy front-runner heading into the fall. Onyejekwe is… not.

But there is one way the former Buckeyes walk-on has contributed to the cause. He gave Elliott his own hype video.

“I loved what he stood for, loved his family,” Onyejekwe, known as Mekka Don, told ESPN.com Tuesday. “The Heisman odds came out from one of the Vegas sports books and he was No. 1, so I wanted to do something for him. With him being named the front-runner after the season he had, that’s a big deal.”

Mekka Don cleared his plans to surprise Elliott with a hype video with the running back’s parents and then went to work.

The end result is what you see below, titled “Zeke.”

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Reports: Early enrollee Florida TE already planning a transfer

Florida v Tennessee Getty Images

Daniel Imatorbhebhe hasn’t played a college down yet. Heck, he shouldn’t even be out of high school. But the three-star prospect is already planning to transfer.

Florida’s Scout site first reported the news Tuesday, which was then corroborated by InAllKindsOfWeather.com and AlligatorArmy.com.

The return of injured starter Jake McGee plus a glut of depth at the position are the listed reasons for the Suwanee, Ga., native’s departure.

Imatorbhebhe is the second player to transfer this spring, following quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg.

Imatorbhebhe’s younger brother, Josh, was also pledged to join Daniel at Florida but recently decommitted for USC.

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Incoming SEC commish: Ban satellite camps… or else

Florida v Alabama

The SEC has descended upon Destin, Fla., for its annual spring meetings, and day one of the beach-side festivities have centered primarily around one topic: satellite camps.

The practice of holding a camp outside one’s campus has been around for a few years now, but the debate has metastasized this spring, thanks in large part to new Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh. The Big Ten, Pac-12 and Big 12 are for them, while the ACC and SEC ban the practice within their conferences. Naturally, they’d like other conferences to do the same… even though the other three have no practical reason to do so.

Well, here’s a reason. As incoming SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said Tuesday evening: if the satellite camp rule isn’t banned, the SEC will be forced to jump in.

The reason the SEC enacted a ban in the first place, of course, is to protect its coaching staffs from themselves. Otherwise LSU, for example, would hold camps in Tuscaloosa, Oxford, College Station, etc. Depending on how the legislation Mike Slive promised Tuesday to present turns out, the SEC may now be forced to jump in.

Elsewhere in league governance, the SEC will require its members to have a conference-supplied independent medical observer at all games on its campuses this fall.

One step backward, one step forward.

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