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NCAA announces additional penalties from Lane Kiffin ‘era’ with Vols


Lowlights of Lane Kiffin‘s one year in Knoxville keep coming back to bite Tennessee right in the keister.

The NCAA’s Committee on Infractions announced in a release Friday additional penalties levied against Tennessee dating back to recruiting violations committed by former Vols assistant Willie Mack Garza. Per the release, those penalties include:

  • A two-year extension of the probation issued during the 2011 infractions case
  • A reduction in official visits from 51 to 47 for the 2012-13 academic year
  • A reduction in evaluation days during the spring 2012 evaluation period (completed)
  • No complementary tickets to prospective student-athletes during unofficial visits for the first two conference games of the 2013 season

The university met with the COI last month for an expedited penalty hearing on an agreed upon summary disposition report submitted this past June.

“We will finally close the chapter on the prior actions of members of a previous football coaching staff,” UT athletic director Dave Hart said in a statement. “We have significantly strengthened our culture of compliance at Tennessee and will continue to do so. We disagree with additional penalties for a matter we believed should have been part of the previous case. We will now move forward.”

Garza left Tennessee to take an assistant coaching job at USC under Kiffin. He’s since resigned from that position in the wake of more allegations connecting him to scouting service owner Willie Lyles. As a surprise to absolutely no one, Tennessee’s additional penalties come courtesy of the relationship Garza had with Lyles.

According to the release, “In the facts agreed upon by the University, the NCAA and Garza, during the summer of 2009, Garza reimbursed Will Lyles, an individual associated with prospect Lache Seastrunk, for airfare and hotel expenses associated with an unofficial visit for Seastrunk and his mother to the University. Because Lyles arranged the trip for Seastrunk, the NCAA classified him as a booster of the University.”

Seastrunk and Lyles have been connected to possible NCAA violations at Oregon. Seastrunk has since transferred to Baylor.

Was Washington loss the beginning of the end of the Steve Sarkisian era at USC?

Steve Sarkisian

Steve Sarkisian’s win totals in his six previous seasons are both a positive and a negative.

On one hand, he resurrected a moribund Washington program that went 0-12 under Ty Willingham in 2008 and took them to four consecutive bowl games from 2010-2013. He won nine games his last year in Seattle, then led a talented-yet-thin USC team to a nine-win season and AP No. 20 finish in 2014.

Those are good accomplishments. But the flip side of the argument is Sarkisian has never won double-digit games in a season, something that’s a necessity to keep one’s job at USC. The Trojans’ 17-12 loss to Washington last night — at home, no less — means the road to 10 wins and a Pac-12 title will be awfully difficult.

And worse yet, there are plenty of arguments to be made Sarkisian doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt and a little more time in Los Angeles to turn things around (#SarkAfterDark, his drunken rant at a booster event, certainly doesn’t help). The reaction from national media to last night’s loss looked like this:

Mandel, in his column, argued USC is right where it was two years ago with Lane Kiffin as its coach. And there’s this embarrassing thought, that looks more and more like a truth, for Pat Haden:

This one, however, was the most damning by far for many reasons, most notably that it came at the hands of Sarkisian’s old team. The sense among many Washington fans nearly two years ago was that the Huskies managed to upgrade coaches when the school lured Chris Petersen from Boise State upon Sarkisian’s departure to USC.

They were right.

USA Today’s Dan Wolken similarly wrote that USC needs to drop Sarkisian and bring in Chip Kelly from the Philadelphia Eagles.

This is the state of USC, and it may not get better. The Trojans start a brutal three-game stretch next Saturday at Notre Dame in primetime, then welcome Utah to Los Angeles the next week. A Halloween trip to Berkeley to face Jared Goff and Cal finishes it up. There’s a very real chance USC, for all its talent and all its hype, limps into November with a 4-4 or 3-5 record.

Sarkisian will have to engineer and sustain a major turnaround in these coming weeks, otherwise he’ll give Haden all the ammo he needs to unceremoniously jettison him after two years.

Starting Navy S Kwazel Bertrand undergoes surgery, likely out for season

Kwazel Bertrand, Jacobi Owens
Associated Press
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Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.

Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.

And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.

“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”

Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.