Colorado St. players involved in ‘savage beating’ of students suspended


A disturbing incident which took place over the weekend has resulted in three players being at least temporarily removed from the Colorado State football program.

The players — junior defensive end Nordly Capi (pictured), junior linebacker Mike Orakpo and junior defensive end Colton Paulhus — were allegedly involved in the “savage beating“, as the Fort Collins Coloradoan described it, of four freshman CSU students at a party late Friday night.  The alleged victims were left with various injuries, from chipped teeth to eyes nearly swollen shut to cuts and bruises to one having a boot print left on his back from where he was allegedly assaulted by one of the football players.

Two of the alleged victims, 19-year-old John ‘JD’ Haley and 20-year-old Donny Gocha, spoke to the Coloradoan and relayed their version of how the events that night transpired.

They say they were leaving a party at LaPorte and Shields about midnight on Friday when an SUV loaded with fellow students drove past, its occupants yelling homophobic insults. When Gocha responded with the same insult, the SUV screeched to a halt and several men piled out, Haley said.

“You could just tell they were looking for a fight,” Haley said. “They just started beating the back of Donny’s head in.”

Haley said he and their other two friends tried to protect Gocha while the much larger men kicked and punched him.

“I covered Donny’s head with my body,” Haley said. “We were all scared for his life. It froze me. You can’t really put into words how disturbing it was. My only thought was to protect his head.”

Haley added that “[i]t wasn’t really much of a fight. It was basically just a beating.  I’ve never seen anyone so mad, so violent. The kid was on a rampage.” Haley did not reveal which football-playing “kid” to which he was referring.

In a Facebook posting that was subsequently deleted, offensive lineman Trey Cassidy acknowledged that unnamed teammates were involved in the alleged beating, in essence apologizing for their actions and lamenting the fact that the entire program will be portrayed in a harsh light because of the actions of a few.

“Well first off, I want to apologize for what my teammates have done to three students last night. I just talked to the students who were assaulted. I hang out in their hall regularly and do not believe that there is any hostility between us,” Cassidy wrote Saturday on a Facebook group where Haley had posted photos of his injuries. “I figured everyone else should know that not everyone on the team are like these athletes that get into fights every other weekend. But it is this select few … that get the rest of us labeled as a group, you would assume that everyone on campus would realize this. But let’s face reality people, some people are going to label the entire team as hot headed people that can’t be trusted.”

“A group of football players jumped a few students, I am not allowed to really get into it but I can say they are currently suspended.”

Capi, who led the Mountain West Conference in sacks last season, and Orakpo, the younger brother of former Texas standout Brian Orakpo and the Rams’ third-leading tackler in 2011, were also involved in a physical altercation around St. Patrick’s Day this year.  No charges were ever filed in that incident, nor have any been filed (yet) as a result of this latest situation.

First-year head coach Jim McElwain announced Saturday that three players had been indefinitely suspended by the program.  While again not releasing the specific names of the players, and perhaps in response to the calls for all three players to be permanently dismissed from the program, McElwain released a statement Monday afternoon.  Here it is, in its entirety:

“At this point, the three players reported to be involved in the incident over the weekend are indefinitely suspended from the football program. That means they are effectively no longer part of this team and will not take part in any football-related activity. We do not condone in any way, shape or form this type of behavior. It is completely unacceptable.

“I understand people want me to remove them from the team immediately. But until the investigation concludes and due process takes its course, suspending them indefinitely is the strongest action I can take.

“The vast majority of players in this program are good kids. They work hard and they do the right thing. They understand that this type of behavior will not be tolerated.”

Once the police investigation is completed, that report will be the basis for an internal investigation, which will determine what if any permanent sanctions will be levied on any or all of the players allegedly involved.

North Carolina formally announces hiring of ex-Tennessee RBs coach Robert Gillespie

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The latest addition to Larry Fedora‘s North Carolina coaching staff has been confirmed.

Following up on reports that surfaced earlier this month. UNC announced Wednesday that Fedora has hired Robert Gillespie. While not confirmed by the football program in the release, it’s expected Gillespie will serve as the Tar Heels running backs coach, a position he’s held for most of his coaching career.

“We are excited to welcome Robert and his family to Chapel Hill,” Fedora said in a statement. “He has a well-earned reputation as a great offensive coach and recruiter, and he has a wealth of experience working with running backs at a very high level. We are happy to have him join our staff as we get into the bulk of spring practice.”

Gillespie fills the hole created by the departure of Gunter Brewer, who left as the Tar Heels’ wide receivers coach for a job with the Philadelphia Eagles earlier this month. It’s expected that Luke Paschall, currently the running backs coach, will assume Brewer’s role with receivers.

Gillespie, a former Florida running back, spent the past five seasons as the running backs coach at Tennessee. He was originally retained by new UT head coach Jeremy Pruitt before parting ways with the football program shortly after National Signing Day.

In addition to UT, Gillespie has spent time on coaching staffs at South Carolina (2006-08), Oklahoma State (2009-10) and West Virginia (2011-12). He was the running backs coach at each of those stops.

Report: Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa’s thumb injury ‘just a sprain’

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It appears Alabama can breathe a sigh of relief on the injury front.

Tuesday, after the reigning national champions had put the finishing touches on its first practice of the spring, Nick Saban confirmed that quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had suffered an unspecified injury to the thumb on his LEFT (throwing) hand.  It was expected that the quarterback would travel to Birmingham for further evaluation of the injury.

While there’s been nothing official yet from the football program or head coach,, citing unnamed sources, writes that the injury “is believed to just be a sprain and he should be able to return to practice in at least a limited capacity at some point soon.”

Until then, Jalen Hurts will take the majority of the reps as the Crimson Tide continues its march through their 15 spring practice sessions.

The rising true junior Hurts, who has started every game but one the past two seasons, and the rising true sophomore Tagovailoa, the national championship game hero who replaced Hurts at halftime of the overtime win, are engaged in a competition for the starting job that, barring a post-spring transfer, is expected to extend into summer camp.  That said, most observers outside of the UA football program fully expect Tagovailoa, because of his proficiency in the passing game relative to Hurts, to earn the job at some point before the Tide opens the defense of their title against Louisville in Orlando Sept. 1.

John Calipari takes page out of Nick Saban’s playbook by warning of (rat) poison

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One’s a dot, two’s a line and three’s a trend as the old adage go and it appears rat poison for college players is now a burgeoning trend.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday ahead of Kentucky’s NCAA tournament game against Kansas State, Wildcats coach John Calipari took a page straight out of Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin’s playbook by warning his team of drinking the media “poison” the past few days.

“My challenge is making sure these kids don’t drink that poison. That poison being we have an easy road. There are no easy roads in this tournament,” said Calipari. “If they drink that poison, we’ll be done Thursday. If they don’t drink the poison, it’ll be a dog fight Thursday — let’s see what happens. Sometimes you wonder why they’re (the media) trying to paint that picture with my team — probably because they’re young and they know they don’t know better.”

Ok then.

At least the term Calipari is using isn’t out of thin air given that Saban infamously ranted on his team buying into the media’s discussion of being a good team as “rat poison” last season. For the record though, the rant by the basketball coach was prompted by a question that didn’t at all involve Kentucky having an easy path to the Final Four but was rather about team and individual goals.

It’s not often you think of Saban as a trendsetter but it seems he was certainly ahead of the curve when it came to labeling media talk as poison.

Harbaugh hits primetime again as Michigan announces spring game under the lights

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Jim Harbaugh is already getting a series on Amazon Prime but now the Michigan head coach is also getting the primetime treatment.

The Wolverines announced on Tuesday that the annual spring game would take place under the lights at Michigan Stadium this year and would be televised live in primetime on the Big Ten Network.

Gates will open to the game two hours prior to kickoff and the maize and blue faithful may try to do their best to get to Ann Arbor early because the school is going to screen an episode of the Amazon series  “All or Nothing: The Michigan Wolverines” prior to the game. This will be the second time in three years that the school will go under the lights to play their spring game at night but obviously the first time there’s a documentary series that will be screened prior to the Wolverines taking the field.

The game may be worth tuning in for to see Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson in action with his new team after arriving in the offseason. The NCAA still has not ruled on whether he will be immediately eligible in 2018 but he is expected to go through spring drills with the team either way, starting this week when practices begin on Friday.