Matt Schilz, Sharrif Floyd

Florida DT’s adoption by former booster raises eyebrows, but where’s the incentive?

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Impermissible benefits have become a numbing part of the NCAA’s role in college football (and college athletics in general), but what happens when a player who’s received impermissible benefits is adopted by someone who’s already been disassociated from a program for giving them out?

You get Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and his adoptive family,  Kevin and Tiffany Lahn.

Floyd, a junior defensive tackle for the Gators, was suspended two games and forced to repay nearly $3,000 in benefits he received last year “for living expenses, transportation and other expenses” by “an individual not associated with the university.” Turns out, that individual was Lahn, according to a story from the USA Today.

“After his suspension, Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd was adopted, at age 20, by the man who provided those benefits,” the paper writes.

Lahn, a vice president of a commercial real estate company, was actually disassociated from South Carolina in April of this year for his role in providing benefits to Gamecocks student-athletes. South Carolina was hit with three years probation, as well as scholarship and recruiting restrictions as part of the NCAA’s punishment.

Given that bit of information, the USA Today pondered if Lahn’s adoption of Floyd “could be a loophole used in the future to provide benefits for elite athletes.” You can read the entire story HERE — it really is a solid write-up by Rachel George — but we thought about the possibility of an impermissible benefits loophole too. Basically, the NCAA answered the question for us:

John Infante, a former assistant compliance director at Colorado State and Loyola Marymount and author of the Bylaw Blog, says the NCAA likely wouldn’t want to get involved in assessing the legitimacy of adoptions and trying to determine whether they have been done to formalize an existing relationship or to find a way around the rules to provide benefits.

“It’s between a rock and a hard place, because, on one hand, you let this go, if you’re saying this is the one thing we’re not going to touch — parents and legal guardians — well then you’ve established a way around the rules where AAU coaches, runners, agents, boosters just adopt kids and start providing for them,” he says. “You can basically do whatever you want.”

NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn says examinations are made on a case-by-case basis. “If a student-athlete is adopted, from that point forward the individual would be treated as any other parent,” Osburn said in an e-mail.

We’ve criticized the NCAA often here at CFT, but if the Association doesn’t look too deep into Floyd’s arrangement you won’t hear a peep from us about it. Yes, it’s possible that the Lahn family is using adoption as a loophole to provide Floyd with what the NCAA would normally consider to be impermissible benefits, but is it likely? When you really think about it, doesn’t that sound like a high risk, low reward situation?

Let’s assume for argument’s sake there is an ulterior motive on the part of the Lahn family:  that they hope by giving Floyd lavish gifts they’ll be rewarded with a hefty return on investment later when Floyd, considered to be a high draft prospect, is signing his pro contract. For one, that’s a lot of finger and toe crossing. Floyd could get hurt, fizzle out or blow his money Vince Young style by buying his entire team “Death by Chocolate” at the Cheesecake Factory five days a week for three years.

Even if the Lahn family networks Floyd with a top agent — that would be an NCAA violation — that’s not going to prevent an athlete from a “broken and poor family” from knowing how to manage his finances, which may or may not involve them. And all in the name of providing permissible benefits?

Secondly, the Lahn family is clearly well-off. They have a 6,500-square-foot home on a golf course, they take trips to Miami and they gave Floyd a Ford Explorer as a gift. Nobody’s eating Top Ramen and hot dogs in the Lahn household — not that there’s anything wrong with that part of a balanced diet. And guess what? Floyd isn’t the only college athlete eating from the silver spoon his family provides. He might be in the minority, but he’s not on an island.

But putting business decisions aside, sometimes you just have to consider the process of adopting a kid of any age.

“There’s no ulterior motive on either part. It was just that they bonded really well,” Steve Gordon, a close friend of both Floyd and Lahn, told the paper. “(Adoption is) a huge load. You can’t do it for an ulterior motive other than that you actually have love and concern for the kid and their well-being.”

Well, you can, it just has to be one hell of a good motive. For the Lahn family, it would appear adding a member to their family is good enough.

Greg Ward Jr., to Heisman voters: ‘Psssttt, I’m still here, don’t forget’

Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr. (1) runs past Connecticut defensive lineman Folorunso Fatukasi, left, en route to a 30-yard touchdown in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
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Deservedly so, most of the Heisman focus these first four-plus weeks of the 2016 season has been squarely on Lamar Jackson and the stunningly phenomenal season the Louisville quarterback is putting together. There are others, though, who merit mention.

Case in point? Greg Ward Jr.

In No. 6 Houston’s Thursday night 42-14 romp over UConn, the quarterback completed just over 84 percent of his passes for 389 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for 65 yards and two scores for good measure. The win was the Cougars’ eighth in a row, with the last loss coming Nov. 21 of last year to… these very same Huskies.

On at least one occasion in avenging the loss, though, Ward Jr.’s sterling completion percentage got a little help from one of his receiving friends.

The latest virtuoso performance, which included his third 300-yard passing game of the season, pushed Ward Jr. to 1,503 yards of offense (1,325 passing, 178 rushing) and 13 total touchdowns (eight passing, five rushing) in four games while also battling a lingering shoulder issue. For comparison’s sake, and you know we’re not alone in doing so, Jackson will enter Week 5 with a statistical ledger that’s straight from a teenager’s video game: 1,856 yards of total offense and a ridiculous 25 total touchdowns in his four games.

While it’s still quite a ways down the road, Ward’s Cougars and Jackson’s Cardinals will square off in what’s shaping up to be a monumental mid-November Thursday night game that could go a long way in determining not only the Heisman race, but helping to shape the playoff picture as well.  In between, voters, don’t forget about the kid from Houston.

Report: Wisconsin linebacker Vince Biegel undergoes surgery, out as long as a month

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 30:  Sojourn Shelton #8 of the Wisconsin Badgers, Vince Biegel #47 of the Wisconsin Badgers, T.J. Edwards #53 of the Wisconsin Badgers react to a interception during the second half of a game against the USC Trojans in the National University Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium on December 30, 2015 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Just in time for their toughest stretch of the season, No. 8 Wisconsin may be without one of the team’s most important defensive players.

Badgers linebacker Vince Biegel is set to miss the next several weeks after undergoing surgery to insert a screw in his cracked foot.

“He’s been playing on it for the last couple weeks, and it was bothering him a little bit,” Biegel’s father Rocky told ESPN. “He had X-rays last night and confirmed it was cracked. He either plays on it, and then if he breaks it, then he’s going to be out for eight weeks. Either way, he’s got to have surgery on it. So he can keep playing until it breaks or try to go through the season with it and try to fix it. At any time, he could break it all the way through. It was just a crack and they’re just putting a screw in it. It’s a very, very minor crack.”

No matter how minor it is, losing Biegel for as long as a month is a huge blow to a defense that has been among the best in the country this season. Wisconsin does have a bye week after traveling to No. 4 Michigan on Saturday but also have to play No. 2 Ohio State and division rivals Iowa and Nebraska to close out October.

Biegel has nine tackles on the year and a sack but is among the most experienced players on the team having played in 46 games at Wisconsin, including 32 starts. Redshirt freshman Zack Baun is expected to take his place.

If there is one bright spot for head coach Paul Chryst and defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox however, it’s that the Badgers’ linebacking corp is one of the best in the country. Still, as good as Jack Cichy, T.J. Edwards and T.J. Watt have been this year, they’ll have to step up their games with an imposing schedule coming up.

Houston missing four starters for AAC matchup against UConn

SAN MARCOS, TX - SEPTEMBER 24: Duke Catalon #2 of the Houston Cougars runs against Brandon McDowell #6 of the Texas State Bobcats at Bobcat Stadium on September 24, 2016 in San Marcos, Texas. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
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Houston is looking to avenge their only loss of the 2015 season on Thursday night against Connecticut but the Cougars will have to do so a little short-handed.

According to the Houston Chronicle, the team is down a whopping four starters and a key backup against the Huskies: starting linebackers Tyus Bowser (head injury) and Matthew Adams (coaches’ decision), running back Duke Catalon (head injury), cornerback Brandon Wilson (lower leg) plus backup tight end Alex Leslie (ankle injury).

Catalon has already missed a game this season and is arguably the biggest loss for the team as that will force them to rely on quarterback Greg Ward Jr. (who missed last year’s game) even more against UConn. The transfer from Texas is averaging 4.7 yards a carry on the year and had a big game against Oklahoma in the opener.

Coach Tom Herman and the sixth-ranked Cougars still should be able handle their business at home against a conference foe but the mounting injuries this early in the season are starting to get a little concerning if you’re a Houston fan.

Alabama quarterback Blake Barnett officially withdraws from school

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 05:  Blake Barnett #6 of the Alabama Crimson Tide throws before the Advocare Classic against the Wisconsin Badgers at AT&T Stadium on September 5, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Despite the wishes of Alabama head coach Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide depth chart officially became a little thinner on Thursday.

After nearly a day of speculation, Alabama announced that quarterback Blake Barnett is no longer a part of the Crimson Tide football team.

“We received word this afternoon that Blake Barnett has officially withdrawn from school and is no longer with our program,” Saban said in a statement. “The quarterback position is a very unique position where only one player can play. We are very disappointed any time a player leaves the program who feels he can compete for a starting position elsewhere, rather than here at Alabama. We wish Blake the very best of luck in the future.”

Barnett started the opener against USC and has thrown for 219 yards and two touchdowns on the year. However the redshirt freshman lost the starting job to true freshman Jalen Hurts and has only played sparingly in the first month of the season.

Saban recently said he wanted Barnett to remain with the program but it seems pretty obvious that playing time would be limited as the team’s backup signal-caller and a transfer would be forthcoming. Now it appears the only question is where to for the former five-star recruit, who is a Southern California native and was recruited by nearly everybody coming out of high school.