Bret Bielema, Barry Alvarez

Update: Meyer statement: ‘We will… recruit with relentless effort’

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UPDATED 3:47 p.m. ET: Following a previously scheduled meeting Friday in Chicago, Urban Meyer released a statement addressing the recruiting flap that’s developed throughout the week.  Here’s the statement, in its entirety:

“I was pleased to take part in a productive, regularly scheduled meeting of the Big Ten Conference coaches today in Chicago. We had an opportunity to discuss a number of issues with each other and conference staff, including those that have arisen this week. It should be noted that my coaching staff is in full compliance with our recruiting efforts, and no one on this staff did anything illegal or unethical. We will continue to comply with NCAA rules and recruit with relentless effort, especially the great state of Ohio.

______________________________

 “I want to thank Commissioner Delany for his insight and leadership, and at this point we all look forward to moving past this week and getting ready for the start of spring football.”

Instead of worrying about what’s going on at another Big Ten school, Bret Bielema might want to consider getting on the same page as his boss.

At least twice in the past three days, the Wisconsin head coach has used the word “illegal” when talking about the recruiting practices of Urban Meyer and his new coaching staff.  Former UW head coach and current athletic director Barry Alvarez, who knows a thing or two about surviving on the recruiting trail, addressed the accusations made by his football coach with ESPN.com‘s Joe Schad and seemed to subtly take Bielema to task for going with a public airing of his grievances.

It’s dangerous to point fingers and make accusations,” Alvarez said. “I actually think recruiting is tamer now that it was at one point in time.”

As for the issue of continuing to recruit a player until he’s signed a Letter of Intent, Alvarez said all is fair in the recruiting game.

“Recruiting is recruiting until they sign,” Alvarez told Schad. “If we had somebody who changed their mind and came to us, that’s OK. Urban [Meyer] was very aggressive but there is no pact within the conference not to continue to recruit. It’s open season until they sign.”

Again, it might be time for the two to get in the same book — or the same library — let alone the same page.

And, yes, we’re well aware of the fact that Bielema could, or probably is, referring to something other than flipping verbally committed recruits with his accusations against Meyer.  If that’s the case, stop making blanket, non-specific accusations and spill what illegal tactics are being utilized by a rival coach.  Short of that, shut up about it publicly and keep your grievances where they should be — behind closed doors and resolved through proper conference channels.

In essence, that’s exactly what OSU athletic director Gene Smith said in a statement released by the university early this afternoon, which makes me leery about the stance I took in the previous paragraph.  Be that as it may, Smith chided those who have made “negative references” about his new head coach.

“I am disappointed that negative references have been made about our football coaches, and particularly head coach Urban Meyer regarding recruiting. In our league appropriate protocol, if you have concerns, is to share those concerns with your Athletic Director (AD). Then your AD will make the determination on the appropriate communication from that point forward. The ADs in our league are professionals and communicate with each other extremely well. Urban Meyer and his staff have had a compliance conscience since they have arrived.”

(Writer’s note: I’d like to personally thank Mr. Smith for lobbing up the “compliance conscience” softball for our commenters to take a few whacks at.  Appreciate it Gene!!!)

For some reason, though, I don’t think this is the last we’ve heard of this issue; Bielema and Meyer are expected to be in attendance at a “voluntary” conference for Big Ten coaches in the very near future, affording Jim Delany the opportunity to have a Slive-like come-to-Jesus discussion with at least two of the coaches in the conference.

Kentucky OC Eddie Gran gets contract extension and raise

LEXINGTON, KY - AUGUST 30:  The Kentucky Wildcats take the field before the game against the Tennessee- Martin Skyhawks at Commonwealth Stadium on August 30, 2014 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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After making some changes to the coaching staff this offseason, Kentucky is locking in offensive coordinator Eddie Gran for the next few seasons. Kentucky has signed Gran to a contract extension good through the 2019 season, according to The Courier-Journal.

According to the reported contract extension, Gran will be paid $825,000 in the 2017 season and will be given a $25,000 raise each of the next two seasons. A buyout cost of $150,000 per years is also added to the contract should he leave for another job during that span. Gran was originally under contract through the 2018 season, so his new deal tacks on an extra year in Lexington. The extended contract also bumps Gran’s pay by $175,000 compared to his previous contract.

Kentucky may have finished the 2017 season ranked 9th in the SEC in total scoring, but the Wildcats bumped up their average points per game by roughly six points in 2016 compared to the 2015 season. Kentucky also had the SEC’s third-most productive rushing attack with an average of 234.15 rushing yards per game and 30 rushing touchdowns. Only Auburn and Alabama had better averages and touchdown totals (and Alabama had two more games to pad the stats).

Kentucky has room to improve in the passing game after finishing the 2016 season ranked 13th in passing offense in the 14-team SEC. Kentucky also had an SEC-high 28 turnovers lost in 2016, with 16 fumbles and 12 interceptions thrown.

Gran joined the Kentucky program last year after a three-year stint at Cincinnati as offensive coordinator. Gran has previously been an assistant at Florida State, Tennessee, Auburn, and Ole Miss as well.

Nebraska WR coach Keith Williams sentenced to 30 days in jail for August DUI

LINCOLN, NE - SEPTEMBER 22: A cheerleader waves a flag after the Nebraska Cornhuskers score against the Idaho State Bengals during their game at Memorial Stadium on September 22, 2012 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska won 73-7. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
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Nebraska wide receivers coach Keith Williams pled no contest to charges from a DUI incident last August. On Wednesday, he received his sentence from a county judge and learned he would be sentenced to 30 days in jail and three years of probation.

According to The Lincoln Journal-Star, Williams was also fined $1,000 for his latest DUI charge. Williams has until March 3 to apply for house arrest, although prosecutors made a push for Williams to serve his time behind bars after not being locked up for two prior DUI charges.

Nebraska opens spring football practices on March 4. If he is ruled eligible for house arrest, that would allow Williams to continue coaching in the spring. Otherwise, he could have to miss at least some of Nebraska’s spring practices depending on when his jail sentence would begin.

Williams was pulled over for driving under the influence last August with a BAC above .15. Further complicating things was the fact Williams also had two previous convictions for DUI. Nebraska head coach Mike Riley suspended Williams without pay through the end of August and was prohibited from coaching in Nebraska’s first four games of the 2016 season.

Michigan adds former Hawaii defensive cooridnator Kevin Lempa as defensive analyst

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Former Hawaii defensive coordinator Kevin Lempa has landed in Ann arbor with a new job. Michigan announced Lempa has joined the staff as a senior defensive analyst under Jim Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Don Brown.

“Kevin is a great addition to our football program and defensive staff,” said Harbaugh in a released statement. “He adds a wealth of experience and knowledge on the defensive side of the ball, and Kevin’s working relationship with Coach (Don) Brown will be a big asset for our team.”

“I am very excited and honored to become part of Coach Harbaugh’s staff,” Lempa said in his released statement. “I am also fired up to be working with Coach Brown again.”

Lempa resigned from his position with the Hawaii program following the 2016 season. He previously served as a defensive backs coach at Boston College from 2013 through 2015, when Brown was the defensive coordinator of the Eagles.

As a defensive analyst, Lempa will not have any hands-on instruction with the Michigan roster but will assist in film breakdown and other orders of business in preparing Michigan’s game plan.

NCAA charges Ole Miss of lack of institutional control; Rebels self-impose 2017 postseason ban

FILE - In this Oct. 19, 2013, file photo, Mississippi football coach Hugh Freeze leads his team to the field prior to their NCAA college football game against LSU  in Oxford, Miss. Mississippi has aspirations of competing for SEC titles. No. 11 Ole Miss (4-0, 1-0) plays No. 3 Alabama (4-0, 1-0) on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014,  in its biggest home game in more than a decade.  (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)
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The Ole Miss Rebels will not be going to a postseason game in 2017 after the university opted to self-impose a one-year postseason ban. The decision came as a result of an updated notice of allegations received from the NCAA as part of an expanded investigation. The school has charged the program and university of a lack of institutional control.

Ole Miss Chancellor Jeff Vitter, athletics director Ross Bjork and football coach Hugh Freeze provided an update on the latest regarding its NCAA investigation with a video.

In addition to the 2017 postseason ban, Ole Miss will forfeit all annual postseason revenue (reportedly to be about $7 million).

The latest notice of allegations included eight potential violations from the football program, including setting up hunting trips for a student-athlete on private land owned by a booster, providing housing for recruits and boosters providing food to student-athletes enrolled at another institution and more. Freeze was charged with violating head coach responsibility legislation. As expected, Ole Miss will contest the latest allegations levied against the university and football program that are deemed not supported by evidence.

The latest allegations:

  1. Prospective student-athlete went hunting on private land owned by booster, arranged by football program (Level III)
  2. Former staff member arranged for lodging and transportation for prospective student-athlete enrolled at another institution (Level I)
  3. Same former staff member knowingly committed recruiting violations and provided false information to enforcement staff (Level I)
  4. Same former staff member initiated and facilitated two boosters having contact with a recruit (Level I)
  5. A different former staff member arranged for friend of a recruit and two recruits to receive merchandise from a store owned by a booster amounting to $2,800 (Level I)
  6. Freeze had impermissible in-person, off-campus contact with a recruit (Level III)
  7. Booster provided money, food and drinks to a recruit and his companions at booster-owned restaurant on two to three occasions (Level I)
  8. Freeze violated head coach responsibility legislation
  9. Scope and nature of violations demonstrate university lacked institutional control and failed to monitor conduct and administration of athletics program (Level I)

Ole Miss has 90 days to appeal.