Penn State Abuse

Penn State tries to return to normalcy in first fall practice


There’s no question about it. Penn State, as a football program and an institution, will never be the same. Not after the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

The Mark Emmert-levied sanctions against the program in response to the Freeh report? Those hurt, but eventually the Nittany Lions will recover from the scholarship losses (10 initial, 20 overall for four years) and postseason ban (also four years). Bill O’Brien will have plenty of time to weather that storm, but his immediate focus has been on keeping the team together.

He hasn’t been able to keep some players from leaving. Running back Silas Redd is gone to USC and receiver Justin Brown is expected to transfer to Oklahoma. Quarterback Rob Bolden has been out since being demoted to third-string and ended up transferring to LSU. In all, nine players have taken advantage of the NCAA’s specially amended transfer policies, according to the Associated Press.

But when you consider the potential damage, the numbers aren’t all that bad. Penn State reports Monday morning that 109 football players reported to the first fall practice, just over 92 percent of the roster as of July 23. Of those, only 70 are scholarship players though.

O’Brien said he was “very confident” that the players he does have will stick around. He may not fully believe that, but that’s what he has to say in August to keep this team going. There has to be some sense of confidence.

The sanctions have been handed down, and agree with them or not, all Penn State can do at this point is try to move forward as best it can. Emmert could have denied Penn State a football team this year, but he didn’t, so play on.

The first step in doing so was practicing as a team today.

Starting LB C.J. Johnson reveals surgery on social media, Ole Miss confirms

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Ole Miss will be without a starting piece of its defensive puzzle for an extended period of time, both the player and the school revealed Tuesday.

With rumors swirling about his condition, C.J. Johnson confirmed on his personal Twitter account late this morning that he will be undergoing surgery at some point in the not-too-distant future.  The linebacker sustained an injury to his left knee in last Saturday’s loss to Florida and did not return to the contest.

Subsequent to that posting, Ole Miss confirmed that Johnson underwent surgery earlier in the day to repair a torn meniscus in his knee.  The procedure and rehab will sideline Johnson for a period of 4-6 weeks.

At the low-end of the prognosis, Johnson would miss the next four games — New Mexico State, Memphis, Texas A&M, Auburn — and return for the Nov. 7 game against Arkansas.  The high-end would have him sidelined until the regular-season finale against Mississippi State.

Johnson had started all five games at middle linebacker for the Rebels.  He started 26 games at defensive end the past three years before moving to linebacker.

Butch Jones labels rumor of ‘physical altercation’ with Vols player ‘absolutely ridiculous’

ATHENS, GA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Head coach Butch Jones of the Tennessee Volunteers yells at Marquez North #8 during the game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium on September 27, 2014 in Athens, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Already in the crosshairs for his 2-3 team’s late-game failures, Butch Jones now finds himself under increasing scrutiny for something that allegedly happened a couple of months ago.

The website, which features such respected journalists Tony Barnhart and Mike Huguenin among others, reported earlier today that the Tennessee head coach was involved in what was described as a “physical altercation” with senior offensive lineman Mack Crowder during summer camp this past August.  The source close to the program added that practice film that day captured the alleged incident, although it’s unclear if that tapes still exists.

From the site’s report:

The incident occurred during fall camp, about the time that news started to come out about a few offensive linemen who were considering stepping away from the program. Crowder walked off the practice field one day and missed a day or two of practice, and Brett Kendrick and Dylan Wiesman were said to be contemplating their futures. Sources say the players’ actions stemmed from an incident between Jones and Crowder.

The website also made a Freedom of Information request seeking any correspondence between the university and the Crowder family be turned over, but writes that UT “administrators said any sort of letter or correspondence that may or may not have happened was covered under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.”

Monday, Jones labeled what began as message-board speculation that he had struck one of his Vols players as “absolutely ridiculous.” The Knoxville News Sentinel contacted Crowder’s father, with the paper writing that “he had no comment and did not want to give validation to message boards.”

At least publicly, the university has yet to address the allegations.  Jones will get yet another chance to address the speculation with the media in the very near future.