Updated: NCAA says Miami ‘grasping at straws’ to get case dismissed, ‘offended’ by remarks

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Earlier this month, a portion of the NCAA’s response to Miami’s motion to dismiss its infractions case was passed along via CBSSports.com. Now, more blurbs from that response to the Committee on Infractions have been revealed through CBSSports and the Associated Press.

The NCAA’s enforcement staff claims, among other things, that Miami is “grasping at straws” to discredit members of the enforcement team, and that it is “offended” (LULZ!!!1!1!!) by remarks in the motion.

(Updated: You can read the entire 42-page document HERE)

“In the enforcement staff’s view, the motions to dismiss are largely based on assumptions, false accusations, misleading statements and meritless claims about the enforcement staff and its investigation. For the reasons set forth below, the enforcement staff requests that the Committee on Infractions deny the motions,” Interim Vice President of Enforcement Jonathan Duncan wrote.

Specifically, the enforcement staff fires back at UM’s assertion that it was “wronged” by the fact that former athletic director Paul Dee, now deceased, was never interviewed.

“Though the enforcement staff did not interview Dee prior to his untimely passing, it was not due to oversight or inattention,” the response reads. “In this case, the enforcement staff planned to and did conduct interviews relating to institutional control issues in June 2012, approximately three weeks after Dee’s passing. Because Dee’s death was unexpected, the enforcement staff could not have predicted that he would not be available for an interview in June 2012. Had the institution or enforcement staff known of Dee’s condition or impending death, the enforcement staff would have exhausted all reasonable efforts to preserve Dee’s testimony.”

The response also comes to the defense of members of the enforcement team, including investigators Brynna Barnhart and Stephanie Hannah. 

“… Overall, the enforcement staff believes that the institution is again grasping at straws in an attempt to disqualify members of the enforcement team with the most knowledge about the case. Not only are these personal attacks based on no evidence that would support the removal of Barnhart and Hannah from the case, they are also not a basis for dismissal of the case in its entirety.”

However, the Miami Herald reported last month that, according to the law firm that conducted the NCAA’s external review of the investigation, Hannah didn’t know her work with Nevin Shapiro‘s attorney, started by her predecessor, Ameen Najjar, was previously given the no-go from the NCAA’s legal team.

“Ms. Hannah assumed there was nothing amiss about the arrangement [with Maria Elena Perez] and that it had been completely blessed prior to her involvement in the case,” Ken Wainstein of the Cadwalader law firm previously told the Herald in an email.

There’s more, but the point is clear: the NCAA made its apology and is now back on its moral high horse. And, in all likelihood, the case will move toward a June hearing with the COI.

But the only thing offensive about this case is the NCAA’s use of the word “offensive”, showing once again how little self-awareness college athletics’ governing body has.

Miami jumps Clemson, Wisconsin remains No. 5 in latest CFP rankings

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The third-to-last edition of the College Football Playoff rankings were released Tuesday night, and the only changes in the top 12 came at spot No. 2, where Miami jumped Clemson ahead of the pair’s ACC title clash on Dec. 2.

USC remained the highest-ranked Pac-12 team at No. 11, dimming any hopes the Pac-12 could back-door its way into the top four should chaos reign elsewhere. The Trojans were one spot ahead of TCU and two spots ahead of the Pac-12’s second-highest ranked team in Washington State. Central Florida again led all Group of 5 teams at No. 15.

Virginia Tech re-joined the rankings at No. 25, one spot behind the debut rankings for South Carolina.

The top 25:

1. Alabama
2. Miami
3. Clemson
4. Oklahoma
5. Wisconsin
6. Auburn
7. Georgia
8. Notre Dame
9. Ohio State
10. Penn State
11. USC
12. TCU
13. Washington State
14. Mississippi State
15. Central Florida
16. Michigan State
17. Washington
18. LSU
19. Oklahoma State
20. Memphis
21. Stanford
22. Northwestern
23. Boise State
24. South Carolina
25. Virginia Tech

Report: LSU victory would not save Kevin Sumlin’s job

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Kevin Sumlin said Tuesday afternoon he expects to be Texas A&M’s head coach in 2018. A report Tuesday night says otherwise.

Sumlin will be fired in the day or days following Saturday’s game with No. 20 LSU, win or lose, according to a report from the Houston Chronicle. The Aggies are 0-5 against LSU under Sumlin and double-digit underdogs for Saturday’s game in Baton Rouge. The Chronicle‘s report is not the first to proclaim Sumlin’s future firing, but it is the most definitive.

Sumlin is 7-4 (4-3 SEC) this season and 51-25 overall, a mark that ranks in the top-third of the SEC since joining the league in 2012 — but Sumlin is not paid to deliver top-third results. His program failed to live up to the standard set in that debut campaign, with an 11-2 mark, a win in Tuscaloosa, a Cotton Bowl blowout of Oklahoma and a Heisman Trophy for Johnny Manziel.

The Chronicle reported that Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher will be A&M’s top target to replace Sumlin.

Nebraska AD Bill Moos wants to keep Huskers-Hawkeyes on Black Friday

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It was the 21-17 loss to Northern Illinois that pushed Shawn Eichorst out the door, but I wonder if it wasn’t a news item on the Tuesday before that game that convinced Nebraska stakeholders to replace their athletics director. The Big Ten released its 2020-21 football schedules on Sept. 12, four days ahead of Nebraska-NIU, and they featured Nebraska concluding each season against Minnesota — on a Saturday.

For a program that shed all of its traditions in leaving the Big 12 for the Big Ten, losing the Black Friday finale was the final cut of the string that connected the current program to any vestige of its past. Eichorst didn’t get Nebraska, and allowing the Black Friday game to be lost proved it. Or so it seemed.

Bill Moos is Nebraska’s AD now, and he’d like to see things remain as they are: with the Black Friday finale, and against Iowa.

“I’m going to really push to establish Iowa as being our rival,” Moos said the Husker Sports Nightly radio show, via the Lincoln Journal-Star. “We came into the Big Ten and we need a rivalry game, and I’ve already been to the Big Ten and talked to them about that so hopefully we can keep that Black Friday game and have that be Iowa each year.”

Nebraska still has two more games against Iowa scheduled after this season, and the Huskers and Hawkeyes have met in each of Nebraska’s six previous Big Ten seasons. The series is deadlocked at 3-3 over that span. (Nebraska led 26-12-3 before joining the Big Ten.)

Though the Nebraska-Minnesota games are on the schedule as of now, there’s really no reason the Big Ten can’t change its schedules for 2020 and ’21 to preserve this tradition. And it should.

Big 12 issues public reprimands to Baker Mayfield, Kansas captains

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The Crotch Grab Seen ‘Round the World has found a way to remain in the news cycle, now 72 hours after it happened.

Oklahoma announced Monday that Baker Mayfield will not serve as a team captain and will now start for the No. 4 Sooners against West Virginia on Saturday, and earlier Tuesday Kansas announced that the players who refused to shake Mayfield’s hand will not serve as captains for its own finale against No. 13 Oklahoma State.

But if those mostly-empty gestures weren’t enough to get the players’ attention, surely this will do it: a public reprimand from the conference office.

The Big 12 issued this reprimand to Mayfield for violating the conference’s Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct rules. Said commissioner Bob Bowlsby:

“Mr. Mayfield’s actions are unacceptable and should not be tolerated. I am grateful for the efficient management of this matter by the coaches and administration of the University of Oklahoma.  Baker Mayfield is a truly outstanding competitor and I generally appreciate his style of play and the manner in which he competes. However, the behavior he exhibited on the sideline during the Oklahoma-Kansas game was inappropriate and contrary to our sportsmanship policies.”

And here’s Bowlsby’s slap on the wrist to Kansas captains Joe Dineen, Dorance Armstrong Jr., Jeremiah Booker, and Daniel Wise:

“The refusal of these student-athletes to shake an opponent’s hand during the pre-game ceremony is contrary to tradition and inconsistent with common courtesy. The pre-game handshake among team captains is symbolic of good sportsmanship.  This breach of protocol is not in keeping with the standards of the Big 12 Conference.  I am grateful for the work of the Kansas administration and coaches to resolve this matter.”

The Big 12 noted that this was actually the fifth sportsmanship reprimand it has issued in its history. So there’s that.

Perhaps we can all move on now.