Updated: Al Golden responds to Yahoo! Sports report

24 Comments

Updated 9:58 p.m. ET: In response to Robinson’s story, Al Golden has released the following statement:

“I have been a college football coach for more than 18 years and I am proud of–and I stand by–my record of compliance over that span. As my colleagues and players on all of my teams can attest, I believe strongly in doing things the right way with the best of intentions. The inferences and suggestions in the Yahoo! Sports story that my conduct was anything but ethical are simply false.  I, like all of us at UM, have cooperated fully with the joint NCAA-UM inquiry and will continue to do so, so that our program and our University can move forward.

“Because the process is on-going, I am unable to address any specifics or answer questions on the matter.”

—————————-

In a shorter but nevertheless astounding investigation, Robinson goes for The U’s jugular by reporting that members of coach Al Golden‘s staff actively used a man by the name of Sean “Pee Wee” Allen, a former equipment manager described as a “onetime right-hand man of convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro”, to secretly violate NCAA recruiting rules from December, 2010 (shortly after Golden was hired), to summer, 2011.

Below is a piece of the report, which you can read in its entirety HERE:

The latest issues involving Allen are twofold – his having provided improper benefits to players dating back to early in his career at Miami; and his continued improper contact with Miami recruits, which allegedly lasted through his final days working for the Hurricanes in the summer of 2011.

One former Hurricanes staffer told Yahoo! Sports that Allen was used specifically by members of Golden’s staff as an “off-the-books” recruiter. As part of those duties, the staffer said Allen kept tabs on Miami-area kids, including making calls about their recruitment, and on some occasions, supplying improper transportation to and from campus that aided Miami in its efforts to gain a commitment from some prospects.

NCAA rules stipulate that anyone who improperly “assisted in providing benefits to enrolled student-athletes or their families” triggers the association’s booster clause under bylaw 13.02.14. Allen said in federal testimony in connection with Shapiro’s bankruptcy case that he provided improper benefits to players as far back as the mid-2000s. The NCAA’s rules also state that equipment managers such as Allen cannot engage in recruiting calls or assist in off-campus recruiting unless they are designated and counted as an assistant coach under Bylaw 11.7.

What’s more is that Golden reportedly knew about Allen’s improper contact with area recruits, which included Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and Florida State running back Devonta Freeman. In fact, Robinson’s newest report points out that Allen was aided by former assistant Aubrey Hill, and current assistant coach Micheal Barrow.

Allen left Miami in August of last year after being named in Robinson’s original report on Miami. He has since been a focal point for the NCAA.

That same month, Golden told reporters he was only recently made aware of the NCAA’s interest in the program. He signed an extension with the school last November.

Shapiro, a former UM booster, was the cornerstone of Robinson’s report in 2011. Shapiro claimed he provided millions of dollars in impermissible benefits to Hurricane athletes. As of earlier this month, the NCAA was still visiting Miami to check up on compliance practices. 

ACC media days begin on Sunday too. I would bet a large portion of my savings — which, thankfully, isn’t much — that Golden will be asked about Robinson’s report.

Double or nothing: he says something to the degree of “no comment.”

Illinois boots three players charged with home invasion and robbery

Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Illinois head coach Lovie Smith has dismissed three players charged with home invasion and robbery. Offensive linemen Darta Lee and Howard Watkins and tight end Zarrian Holcombe have all been dismissed from the program, according to a statement.

Lee and Holcombe were previously suspended by Smith for violations of team rules. Watkins had also been indefinitely suspended following the initial allegations. All three players claimed the incident that led to the charges was nothing more than an innocent prank, but the authorities and Smith didn’t seem willing to buy that claim.

Each player faces a mandatory prison sentence of 4-15 years on each count against them if found guilty.

Report: Conference USA to air at least 15 football games on Twitter in 2017

2 Comments

Conference USA is in a position where it needs to think outside the box and look to stay ahead of the curve in a changing TV landscape. It appears to be ready to air games on Twitter in 2017.

A report from The Virginian-Pilot says broadcast company STADIUM will air at least 15 football games involving Conference USA teams this fall. STADIUM is the result of a recent merger between the American Sports Network, 120 Sports and Silver Chalice (which also owns Campus Insiders and the online ACC Digital Network). The ASN had owned the broadcast rights to Conference USA games through the end of the 2017-2018 sports season that will carry over to the STADIUM deal (allowing for Conference USA basketball games to be aired on Twitter as well). It was announced earlier this month STADIUM intended to broadcast Conference USA games on Twitter, but it was unknown how many games might make it to the networking service. STADIUM reportedly has an interest in continuing to air Conference USA contests beyond the next athletic season.

Conference USA still has broadcast deals with ESPN and CBS Sports in effect as well, so don’t expect the premiere matchups in the conference to be aired on Twitter. However, by sharing the games online, Conference USA is hoping to reach a wide-spread audience and have the opportunity to be a trending topic. It could work, as Twitter would make sure the game is given a steady feed to allow for a pleasant viewing experience and fan interaction in real time.

Conference USA saw TV revenue take a big hit over the last year. Last summer, Conference USA’s television revenue reportedly dropped to just $2.8 million for the entire conference following realignment changes. Finding a home on a streaming platform now would be key for the conference’s future stability.

Alabama DC Jeremy Pruitt named son after former Tide linebackers Reuben Foster and Ryan Anderson

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
1 Comment

It is not at all uncommon for children born in the state of Alabama to be named after Alabama football legends, but it is not every day you see a child of an Alabama coach receives a name inspired by former Alabama football players.

Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt announced the birth of his new son, Flynt Anderson-Foster Pruitt, on Twitter. Alabama fans will likely already know the connection to the new child’s name, as used the last names of two former Alabama football players to create the middle name of Anderson-Foster; Ryan Anderson and Reuben Foster.

Maybe this is more common than I’m aware of, but regardless of how often a coach names a child after former players, this is a testament to the relationship the Pruitt family established with both former Alabama linebackers. And now there will be a bond for years to come between the coach and his family and Anderson and Foster.

Helmet sticker to Al.com.

Wisconsin’s season tickets for 100th anniversary of Camp Randall are a thing of beauty

Photo by Tom Lynn/Getty Images
2 Comments

The Wisconsin Badgers are gearing up for their 100th season playing home football game sin Camp Randall Stadium. As part of the season-long celebration, Wisconsin put some brilliant artistic detail into their season tickets for the 2017 season.

Each ticket to a home Wisconsin game is designed like a retro-style program. These are beautifully done and mimic the style of a program cover from decades past. I’m particularly fond of the program cover for the Purdue game, which features Wisconsin’s Bucky floating in space with a ship with the Purdue logo nearby. Is that a space train? The Band Day program for the game against Florida Atlantic also looks fantastic.

These tickets will surely be must-have collectibles for Wisconsin fans. If Wisconsin wants to make a few extra bucks, then blowing up these images and selling them as posters may be a good decision as well. And I wouldn’t put it past Wisconsin to suit up in a retro-style uniform for at least home game this season in Madison.