Registered sex offender creates recruiting stir at Ohio State

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There are some words you’d never think would be strung together to create a headline on a college football blog. The above is Exhibit A for that sentiment.  And B and C and a couple other letters as well

In one of the more bizarrely creepy — or creepily bizarre, if you prefer — stories of this or any other offseason, a registered sex offender in the state of Kentucky has apparently cost Ohio State a highly-touted recruit, at least for the moment.

At OSU’s spring game April 21, Pennsylvania high school linebacker Alex Anzalone, a four-star player in the Class of 2013 and the No. 16 outside LB in the country according to Rivals.com, verbally committed to the Buckeyes.  The night of that spring game, Anzalone, along with several recruits visiting the campus, posed for pictures with Charles Waugh, a 31-year-old “man” and the registered sex offender in question.

Shortly after those pictures were taken, Waugh, who in 2008 pleaded guilty to five counts of possession of matter portraying sexual performances by minors, posted them to his various social media accounts as well as sending messages to the recruits via Twitter.  At some point in the ensuing two weeks, Anzalone became aware of Waugh’s past and was “creeped out” per his father, leading to his decommitment at the urging of his dad.

On Friday, as the controversy began to grow, OSU released a statement addressing the issue.

“The issue surrounding the individual from Kentucky is being treated by the Department of Athletics as a student-athlete welfare issue. When the University became aware that this individual had been seen in pictures – taken in public places – with student-athletes, proactive precautions were taken and the Department of Athletics alerted more than 1,000 Ohio State student-athletes about this person. The email message also reminded them of the negative implications that can be realized through simple associations on social networking sites. This individual is not associated with Ohio State. He is not a booster. He has not engaged in any activities on behalf of the University. The Department of Athletics will continue to monitor this issue and it will remain proactive in its efforts with regard to precautions for its student-athletes.”

Along with the statement, an email sent from OSU’s compliance department to student-athletes warning them of Waugh contained a mugshot of the individual as well as links to informational sites about how to block Twitter and Facebook users, the Daily Lantern, the OSU student newspaper which originally broke the story, wrote.

Even as Anzalone’s father urged his son to backtrack on his verbal commitment to the Buckeyes, the father also wanted to make it clear that he does not blame the OSU football program or the coaching staff for his son’s on-campus encounter with the convicted sex offender.

Ohio State had no idea that this guy was a perv,” Dr. Sal Anzalone told ESPN.com. “They were totally unaware. Let’s make that very clear. That’s not Ohio State.

“But Alex was creeped out by him. He thought something was wrong. Alex wasn’t going to get hurt. Alex could knock him out. But the point is, this creep shouldn’t be near recruits.”

With his recruitment reopen, Anzalone will once again consider USC, Penn State, Notre Dame, Florida and Stanford, with the latter two perceived as the current front-runners.  Oh, and there’s one more school Anzalone will consider: Ohio State.

That’s right.  The elder Anzalone left the door open for a a second verbal commitment to the Columbus school by his son.

“It’s a possibility,” Sal Anzalone said. “Things change. You can’t hold them responsible for other people’s behavior.”

(Photo credit: Kentucky State Police Sex Offender Registry website)

LOOK: Nebraska, adidas unveil uniforms honoring ’97 Cornhuskers team

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One of the greatest teams in the football program’s storied history is getting its sartorial due.

Nebraska and its apparel partner, adidas, announced Thursday a new alternate uniform that will pay homage to the 1997 Cornhuskers football team.  The uniforms will be worn for the Oct. 7 game against Wisconsin at Memorial Stadium.

From the release:

Centered around a one-to-one recreation of the mesh jerseys worn during the 1990’s, adidas designers were able to recreate the visual aesthetic and texture of the traditional numbers by utilizing a new framis screen-printing technique that also allows for flexibility and movement. Additional detailing for the retro look includes the classic white pants and the traditional white Cornhuskers helmet that features a classic red “N” logo on the sides and accented with player numbers featured in red the back of the helmet.

The new Primeknit Husker ‘97 alternative uniform is at the forefront of design and innovation, providing players the perfect blend of style and technology for elite performance. Made with a cutting-edge, proprietary yarn blend that increases durability and abrasion resistance, Primeknit is the premier compression uniform system, featuring the latest generation of adidas TECHFIT technology. Primeknit helps keep players cool and increases range of motion, giving athletes an unrivaled level of comfort and allowing them to perform at their highest levels. The jersey’s padlock system secures tension over the shoulder pads, while the bodymap fit adheres to the player, making it difficult for opponents to grab, hold or tackle.

The Husker ‘97 theme continues on the TECHFIT compression baselayer with the “Huskers” wordmark prominently place on the chest and accented with traditional stripes on the sleeves to help replicate the look that old school jerseys. Additionally, the theme carries onto the black adizero 5-Star 5.0 gloves, featuring a white oversized graphic of the “Huskers” moniker. The adizero 5-Star 5.0 gloves feature 4-way stretch mesh for compression fit and GripTack for consistent control in all weather conditions. To complete the homage, the team will don all black adidas adizero and FREAK cleats.

The 1997 Cornhuskers went 13-0, completing that undefeated national championship season with a 25-point win over No. 3 Tennessee.  Nebraska beat their 13 opponents that season by an average of 30 points per game.

Tha year was also Tom Osborne’s last as head coach.

QB brother of Joe Flacco transfers from Western Michigan to Rutgers

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That certainly didn’t take long.

Last week, reports surfaced that Tom Flacco, brother of Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, was no longer a part of the Western Michigan football program.  Thursday, the Pardon My Take podcast was the first to report that Flacco is transferring to Rutgers. Nj.com, among others, subsequently confirmed the initial report.

The move, which hasn’t been confirmed by RU, serves as a homecoming for Flacco as the quarterback played his high school football in Voorhees, NJ.

Flacco will be forced to sit out the 2017 season to satisfy NCAA transfer bylaws.  Beginning with the 2018 season, he will then have two years of eligibility remaining.

A two-star 2015 signee, Flacco played in 13 games the past two seasons for the Broncos.  As a true freshman, he completed 10-of-12 passes for 188 yards and a touchdown while adding 266 yards and two scores on the ground.  Last season, he attempted just one pass — an incompletion — and rushed for 74 yards, which included a career-long 55-yarder.

Ex-Alabama DL O.J. Smith tweets transfer to Minnesota

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After leaving one Power Five program, O.J. Smith has landed on his feet at another.

On his personal Twitter and Instagram accounts late Thursday morning, Smith announced that he is “Officially Family Of The University Of Minnisota !!!!” While the lineman says his move is official, the Gophers have yet to announce his addition to the roster.

If/when it comes to fruition, Smith will have to sit out the 2017 season, and will then have one year of eligibility to use in 2018.

Smith had announced in early June that he would be transferring from Alabama.

A three-star member of the Crimson Tide’s 2014 recruiting class, Smith was rated by 247Sports.com as the No. 18 player at any position in the state of Louisiana.  The defensive tackle redshirted his true freshman because of an injury suffered in summer camp.

The past two seasons, he’s played in a combined two games and was credited with one tackle in each of those contests.

Protests growing over Michael Vick’s impending induction into Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame

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One new addition to Virginia Tech’s Sports Hall of Fame is causing a bit of controversy and consternation and angst.

On July 11, it was announced that Michael Vick would be one of five inductees into the university’s Hall of Fame.  There is little doubt that, on the field, Vick was one of the greatest players in the history of Hokies football and, for that, he deserves a spot.

Off the field, some would argue, precludes him from such an honor.  After leaving Blacksburg, Vick served 19 months in a federal prison after being convicted on dogfighting charges.

As noted by the Roanoke Times,  there are two different online petitions on change.org (HERE and HERE) at the moment that are pushing for the university to reverse its inclusion of Vick as part of this year’s class.  As of this posting, nearly 100,000 individuals combined have signed the petitions, one of which notes that one of the school’s own criteria for inclusion is “[m]ust be of good character and reputation/not have been a source of embarrassment to the university in any way.”

“The College unequivocally opposes honoring an individual whose past actions contradict our values and the cornerstone of our mission,” a Facebook statement from Dr. Cyril Clarke, dean of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, began. “Over the course of several days, I have communicated with President [Timothy] Sands and other campus administrators to express our disappointment and opposition to this decision. I continue to be in conversations with the president regarding this issue.”

In response to the burgeoning brouhaha, the university released a statement defending Vick’s induction that includes shining a light on the former Hokies quarterback’s post-conviction actions.

Mr. Vick’s induction into the university’s sports Hall of Fame acknowledges his tremendous achievements as a student athlete — who some will say was the greatest in the history of the university. We understand that there are those who do not and will never agree with this decision.

“In considering Mr. Vick’s nomination to our sports Hall of Fame, the criminal activities in which he engaged, his subsequent conviction and time he served for his crime were also considered, and it was informed by the remorse he has shown since that conviction, the work he is currently engaged in to advance animal welfare issues, as well as his efforts to help our current student athletes, based on lessons he’s learned in his own life, make positive choices as they begin their adult lives. This in no way condones the actions for which he was convicted. The university remains dedicated to the protection of animal health and welfare and embodies great care and compassion for all living animals.

Vick’s third-place finish in the voting for the 1999 Heisman Trophy is the highest ever for a Hokie.

The 2017 class, including Vick (for now), are scheduled to be inducted at a Sept. 22 ceremony. A day later, the same group will be honored at halftime of the football game vs. Old Dominion.