AJ McCarron: ‘I was never an Alabama fan’

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As AJ McCarron was born, raised and went to high school in the state of Alabama, and lived less than three hours or so from the Tuscaloosa campus, one could easily assume that the Tide’s starting quarterback would have grown up as a fan of the state’s flagship football program.  Or, at the very least, have some idea about the storied history of the football program for which he plays.

On each of those counts, one would be wrong.

Speaking at the BCS championship game media day Saturday morning, McCarron was asked by a reporter in attendance about legendary Tide head coach Bear Bryant.  McCarron’s response, while refreshingly honest, likely left many of Finebaum’s finest choking on their breakfast grits.

I was never an Alabama fan,” the second-year starter said. “I don’t know the history, at all.”

While that may be a jarring admission for some to read or hear, it’s not at all surprising.  For one, McCarron has never been shy in admitting that he “grew up a big Miami Hurricanes fan” and that he aspired to be a quarterback at The U one day.  Two, and I can speak from very personal experience, the past — whether it involves sports, politics or history in general — is not high on the to-do lists of a lot (most?) of kids these days.

Alabama fans, though, can take heart in knowing they’re not alone if they’re thinking that the young man who’s on the verge of a second straight BCS title ring may have been a little “off” growing up.

“I just remember thinking ‘You freak, we’re Alabama fans,'” McCarron’s mom, Dee Dee Bonner, told the Sun-Sentinel in an interview this week when asked about her son’s early non-Tide fandom. “‘What are you talking about?’ Because we raised him to be an Alabama fan.”

Raised that way or not, he is now, and is one of the big reasons why the Tide has a chance at an unprecedented third BCS title in four years.  That alone atones for any “youthful indiscretions” on McCarron’s part.

Suspended Michigan State staffer receives another contract extension

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Michigan State has added another one-month extension to the contract of suspended football staffer Curtis Blackwell as the school continues to investigate several sexual assaults involving the Spartans.

A schools spokesman confirmed the extension to the Detroit Free Press on Friday.

The move comes on the heels of a previous one-month contract extension for Blackwell that came at the end of March. His official title is that of the team’s director of college advancement and performance and he was hired by head coach Mark Dantonio back in 2013 after running a number of major recruiting camps in the region.

Blackwell was originally suspended back in February as the school and police began multiple investigations related to sexual assaults. According to reports, one Michigan State staff member had an arrest warrant issued for obstructing an investigation but he was never publicly identified by the school.

Probes into the matter, including a Title IX investigation, remain ongoing in East Lansing. The football team recently wrapped up practice missing over a dozen players in the spring game so it appears this wide-ranging scandal that has embroiled the Spartans is not going to be over anytime soon.

Ex-USC coach finally lands court date with NCAA over Reggie Bush case

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After years and years of meandering through the court system, former USC running backs coach Todd McNair finally has his day in court with the NCAA.

ESPN is reporting that the two parties will meet in Los Angeles County Superior Court on April 18, 2018. The trial will finally get underway next year after nearly a decade of appeals on both sides.

McNair was the Trojans’ running backs coach during the glory days under Pete Carroll and responsible for coaching or recruiting many of the team’s top players. He was one of the few links to the program that the NCAA cited when determining that former star Reggie Bush received extra benefits, later leading to brutal sanctions back in 2010. McNair was given a one-year show-cause as a result of the Committee on Infractions findings and never coached again after the school let his contract expire shortly thereafter.

That wasn’t the end of the story however, as McNair later filed a defamation lawsuit against the NCAA in which he accused the association of violating protocol and showing bias against himself and the program in order to level unprecedented sanctions. Documents in the case have continued to seep out that have given credence to McNair’s case and the NCAA’s lawyers have fought bitterly at every turn in order to prevent the trial from actually getting underway.

Those efforts were unsuccessful however and it appears an already nasty legal battle is still not over. It remains to be seen if the trial will even happen, as a settlement could eventually take place between now and next April. If it does indeed go in front of a jury though, it just might be one of the most fascinating insights into one of the biggest NCAA scandals of the past few decades.

Biletnikoff Award semifinalist Jonathan Giles announces transfer from Texas Tech

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Thursday may have been a high point for the Texas Tech football program upon learning that former quarterback Patrick Mahomes was taken in the top 10 of the 2017 NFL Draft.

On Friday afternoon though, the Red Raiders dipped right back down as star wide receiver Jonathan Giles took to Twitter to announce that he was leaving the program and transferring out of Lubbock.

Giles was a Biletnikoff Award semifinalist a season ago after catching 69 passes for 1,158 yards and 13 touchdowns. Those numbers led the team in each category despite trailing off a bit down the stretch as Tech missed out on a bowl game.

Playing time could have been a big factor in the decision to leave the program as both Cameron Batson and Keke Coutee emerged as the top receiving targets and Giles was relegated to second-team status coming out of spring practice.

Tech’s Air Raid system and NFL quarterbacks had a lot to do with Giles’ big numbers but it’s fairly rare to see such highly touted and productive wideouts hit the transfer markets. While the decision probably isn’t what some Red Raiders fans wanted to hear on Friday, the receiver probably won’t be lacking for options when it comes to his next stop.

Pitt dismisses senior defensive tackle for disciplinary reasons

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Bad news in college football is typically reserved for Friday and it appears the Pitt Panthers just got a taste of some.

Per Pittsburgh Tribune-Review beat writer Jerry DiPaola, head coach Pat Narduzzi has dismissed starting defensive tackle Jeremiah Taleni for disciplinary reasons.

Taleni emerged as a starter down the stretch for the Panthers and will be a big loss up front for the team as they already have to replace the stellar production from the soon-to-be-drafted Ejuan Price.

No further comments were given when the school confirmed the news so it might be a while before we find out what led to Taleni’s dismissal and whether he plays college football at all next season.