Donna Shalala

Miami reportedly files motion to dismiss NCAA case

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Given the developments in the Miami situation over the past couple of months, this was anticipated.

Per CBSSportsDennis Dodd, Miami has in fact filed a motion to dismiss the NCAA’s case against its athletics program. The Miami Herald reported earlier this week that UM could file such a motion, with the Associated Press reporting similarly Friday afternoon.

It’s an interesting, and according to Dodd, unprecedented move considering the charges UM is facing. While Miami is a private institution and not required to release its Notice of Allegations — it’s not believed the school will reveal the details of its motion to dismiss either — it’s been reported that the program is facing a lack of institutional control charge.

The AP reported earlier today that the NCAA is alleging Miami officials looked the other way when presented with evidence that former booster Nevin Shapiro provided impermissible benefits to athletes.

From the AP story:

“The NCAA… has asked Miami to detail whether or not it hired a private investigator to look into Shapiro’s business dealings between 2002 and 2005, records of a meeting between at least one athletics department official and Shapiro in 2003, and the findings of a study the school conducted with regard to Shapiro in 2006.

Miami has also been asked to provide copies of certain email exchanges that were about Shapiro, including one from 2008 that was sent to at least one member of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s staff.

If there’s record that Miami turned a blind eye to Shapiro, the Hurricanes could be in serious trouble.

But Miami could have a compelling argument that there’s simply not enough usable evidence for the NCAA to have a legitimate case. The Herald‘s report on Wednesday claimed NCAA’s director of enforcement, Stephanie Hannah, continued to work with Shapiro’s attorney, Maria Elena Perez, to obtain information through depositions that would aid the UM investigation.

While that would be another blemish for the NCAA because it shows a continuation of unethical practices started by Hannah’s predecessor, Ameen Najjar, it’s not nearly as bad as the allegation that NCAA investigators lied to interview subjects in order to gain information.

Hannah’s working relationship with Perez reportedly did not result in any information the NCAA could use in its investigation and Perez’s previous depositions were ultimately thrown out of the NOA. However, if NCAA investigators lied to interview subjects, that information would have to be tossed as well.

Dodd writes that Miami “will include new information regarding the NCAA’s conduct” in the motion. Whether that new information corroborates the Herald‘s report or adds to it isn’t clear. Consequently, how much information, if any, the NCAA would have to scrap is unknown.

There could eventually be a discussion of whether the NCAA should proceed with the case at all, but in the meantime, expect it to go on as planned. As NCAA guru John Infante wrote this week: “Improperly obtained evidence should be removed and the rest of the case should go forward.”

Miami thinks, as it has all along, that it should not face any additional sanctions beyond the ones self-imposed over the past couple of years. But even if Miami could get its case dismissed, all signs indicate that might not happen until after the program files an official response to its NOA.

It’s been no secret Miami planned to fight the NCAA on its NOA. Add in the numerous missteps the NCAA has taken in investigating UM and the Hurricanes certainly have ammo. Just don’t expect that fight to be over tomorrow.

Washington State coach Mike Leach fires a shot at the SEC

EUGENE, OR - OCTOBER 19: Head coach Mike Leach of the Washington State Cougars looks on from the sidelines during the second quarter of the game against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium on October 19, 2013 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
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Washington State coach Mike Leach is known across the country as one of college football’s most interesting characters, rambling on from time-to-time about everything from pirates to the history of Geronimo. The latest subject the quirky head coach has turned his sights on? The big ol’ SEC.

The Jackson Clarion-Ledger spoke to Leach recently as part of a profile on new Ole Miss offensive coordinator Phil Longo, and let’s just say the Air Raid guru of the Palouse didn’t hold back when discussing the state of offenses in the league widely considered to be the best in the sport.

“I’ve got bad news for all these levels people,” Leach said. “Your level isn’t special, your conference isn’t special. All this different level this, different level that. That’s crazy.

 

“This is a great time to be in the SEC, everybody’s got the same offense: run right, run left, play action. And they tease themselves  and say we threw it four more times a game this year than we did last year.”

Leach, who coached in the league at Kentucky, also added some other, more colorful language to describe his impression of the SEC and the offenses teams run. While he did play at Auburn with the Cougars a few years ago, he clearly hasn’t kept up with the way things are trending down south as even pro-style stalwarts like Alabama and Arkansas are using more and more tempo and spread principles on a weekly basis.

Either way, let’s hope the Washington State athletic director is already making calls to schedule an SEC opponent in the coming years. If nothing else, any future appearance by Leach on the Paul Finebaum Show should be must-see entertainment.

Willie Taggart completes Oregon coaching staff with familiar face from USF

TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 26: South Florida Bulls head coach Willie Taggart during the third quarter at Raymond James Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Jason Behnken / Getty Images)
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It probably took a little longer than most to dot the I’s and cross the T’s, but Willie Taggart has completed his coaching staff at Oregon and the latest addition is a familiar face.

The school announced Thursday afternoon that Raymond Woodie would be taking over as the Ducks’ new special teams coordinator, having previously spent the past four seasons at USF with Taggart and three more before that together at Western Kentucky.

Woodie most recently served as the Bulls’ defensive coordinator this past season but has been a linebackers coach dating back to 2012. He is regarded by many to be a quality recruiter with good ties to the state of Florida in particular and has also coached the defensive line. While his title makes him responsible for the third phase of the game for Oregon, he figures to also help out new defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt in some fashion as well.

The announcement is a bit of positive news for Taggart and the Ducks this week after a considerable bit of bad press for the program stemming from the revelation that multiple Oregon players wound up in the hospital following offseason workouts. New strength coach Irele Oderinde (who also came over from USF) was eventually suspended for one month without pay by the school as a result..

Despite Auburn interest, Texas A&M OC Noel Mazzone staying put in College Station

COLLEGE STATION, TX - OCTOBER 14:  The Texas A&M Aggies offense huddles against the Missouri Tigers at Kyle Field on October 14, 2006 in College Station, Texas. Texas A&M won 25-19. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Gus Malzahn’s quest to find a new offensive coordinator has zigged and zagged in the past few days since the surprising departure of Rhett Lashlee to UConn. One place it will not be going however, is to a fellow SEC West school.

Brent Zwerneman of the Houston Chronicle reports that despite some interest in Texas A&M offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone, the Aggies’ coach is staying put in College Station.

Mazzone arrived at A&M prior to this past season from UCLA and found early success with the Aggies and transfer quarterback Trevor Knight before a late slide in 2016. Travis Haney of 247Sports reported earlier Thursday that he could be considered the leader in the search to replace Lashlee, but it appears that will not be the case.

The longtime coaching veteran’s name being linked to Auburn isn’t too surprising considering he was the OC there from 1999-2001 but Mazzone’s hefty salary and likely high buyout figure provided some big obstacles if he wanted to reunite with the school.

Instead, it’s on to the next one for Malzahn and company.

Jim Harbaugh, Michigan coaches ride go-karts with five-star recruit in Georgia

ANN ARBOR, MI - OCTOBER 17:  Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Michigan Wolverines reacts during the college football game against the Michigan State Spartans at Michigan Stadium on October 17, 2015 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Spartans defeated the Wolverines 27-23.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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National Signing Day is just around the corner and that means a flurry of in-home visits by coaches across the country trying to lock up the next class of impact players for their program.

We’ve seen plenty of unique attempts by coaches to impress prospects over the years as a result, from often used cookie cakes to sleepovers and limo rides. When it comes to this subject though, few have been as creative as Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh. This week, he certainly cemented that reputation.

According to the Detroit News, Harbaugh and several Wolverines coaches took an in-home visit with five-star defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon out of Leesburg, Georgia and went bowling with the recruit’s family before finally racing go-karts together.

And even better, there’s video via ESPN:

Solomon is also strongly considering Alabama and Georgia in addition to Michigan, but something says neither Nick Saban or Kirby Smart will be heading to the race track with the big defensive tackle on their visit. You have to love recruiting either way.