Jay Jacobs

Auburn completes internal review of recent allegations

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Auburn has officially come back with a counterpunch to Selena Roberts‘ recent Roopstigo story detailing allegations of, among other things, academic fraud and impermissible benefits in the Tigers’ football program.

In an open letter released Monday morning, AU athletic director Jay Jacobs detailed the results of an internal investigation into the multiple claims made in Roberts’ story, primarily from former player Mike McNeil.

“In response to an article published by Roopstigo.com earlier this month, we have reviewed the allegations of academic fraud made in the story,” Jacobs wrote. “Even though many of the sources interviewed for the article criticized the reporter for misquoting or misrepresenting them as soon as the story appeared, the allegations were serious enough to prompt an internal review.”

You can read the entire letter HERE. Additionally, and in a separate document which you can also see HERE, Auburn goes point-for-point with the allegations made in the report. Among the retorts made by the university include:

  • A denial of academic fraud. The Roopstigo report states, citing three AU players, that as many as nine players, including running back Michael Dyer, were ineligible for the 2011 BCS championship game, yet were made eligible. AU claims  internal reviews by both the university and internal auditing “found no evidence that improper grade changes occurred. In fact, six players were deemed academically ineligible for the game and did not travel with the team to Arizona.” As for Dyer, AU says the former running back passed 15 credit hours in the fall semester with a 2.8 GPA. 
  • A denial of academic fraud concerning McNeil, who claims his Computer 1000 class grade was changed from an F to a C. Auburn’s response says McNeil’s grade was changed — after documented excused absences for medical reasons were shown to his professor.
  • The allegation that McNeil gave $500 to recruit Dre Kirkpatrick on an official visit; Auburn says Kirkpatrick never came to the school on an official visit. Kirkpatrick also denied receiving money.
  • Regarding the communication between McNeil’s family and Auburn after McNeil’s arrest in 2011, Auburn say phone records show multiple conversations between McNeil’s family and the school between March 11, 2011, and April 1, 2011.
  • Regarding the allegation that Auburn obstructed McNeil’s transfer from the school, AU claims McNeil did not properly withdraw and was therefore academically ineligible per NCAA rules.
  • AU also takes on the allegations of massive recreational drug use, later reported by ESPN. Per the investigation, three players tested positive for marijuana between Aug., 2010 and Feb. 2011, out of 231 separate tests. Following the 2011 BCS championship, seven players tested positive for synthetic marijuana. But, as previously stated by AU, synthetic marijuana was not added to the university’s list of banned substances until later that year.

Former Tigers coach Gene Chizik and assistant Will Muschamp have already issued separate denials on their alleged involvement in the allegations.

Less than a week after the Roopstigo story went live, McNeil pleaded guilty to robbery stemming from an incident in 2011 which also involved other former AU players. In Roberts’ story, McNeil’s attorney maintained that his client was innocent and was willing to go to trial to prove so.

Updated 12:21 p.m. ET: Roberts has responded to Auburn’s release of its internal investigation. In a statement to the Opelika-Auburn News, Roberts said “I found the response to be self-revealing on Auburn’s part. As I continue to report out a separate story for a later date, I will address some of the issues Auburn raised.”

So, yeah. Get ready for more rounds of this.

Maryland adds Tyler Bowen to staff as OL coach, reassigns Dave Borbely to off-the-field role

STATE COLLEGE, PA - OCTOBER 08: Head coach DJ Durkin of the Maryland Terrapins reacts in the first quarter against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium on October 8, 2016 in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Spring practice is just around the corner but Maryland coach D.J. Durkin is still tinkering with his coaching staff.

The school announced on Saturday afternoon that Fordham offensive line coach/offensive coordinator Tyler Bowen is joining the Terps as the team’s new OL coach. Bowen is no stranger to the program, having played for the school for three years before becoming a student assistant coach for then-head coach Ralph Friedgen in 2010. He also served as a graduate assistant with the Terps for two seasons.

That’s not the only move being made by Durkin however, as former offensive line coach Dave Borbely is remaining in College Park. According to the school’s release, the coaching veteran will remain on the staff — but in an off-the-field role as Special Assistant to the Head Coach.

Adding Bowen as an on-field coach is the bigger news for the program though. With current Maryland OC Walt Bell still calling plays, the two should be an interesting mix and give the Terps two bright young offensive minds to lead that side of the ball as the team tries to build on a surprising turnaround season from 2016.

Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield arrested in Arkansas

DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 10:  Baker Mayfield #6 of the Oklahoma Sooners walks off the field after a 24-17 loss against the Texas Longhorns during the 2015 AT&T Red River Showdown at Cotton Bowl on October 10, 2015 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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They always say a quiet offseason is a good offseason in college football. That appears as though it will not be the case for  Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops this year however.

According to booking information and a preliminary police report released by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in Arkansas, Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield was arrested early Saturday morning and charged with public intoxication, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and fleeing the scene.

The report also states that Mayfield was booked at 8:21 a.m. CT on Saturday morning and released at 11:07 a.m. A preliminary hearing on the case has been scheduled for 8 a.m. in Fayetteville District Court on Monday.

Mayfield has been a star for Oklahoma the past two seasons in leading the team to back-to-back Big 12 titles. He was a Heisman Trophy finalist a season ago and is expected to be a front-runner for the award in 2017 as a senior.

An Oklahoma statement on the matter said they are aware of the matter but are still gathering information. The Sooners are set to begin spring practice on March 21st and open the season against UTEP before traveling to Ohio State the second week of the year for what is likely a top five showdown.

UMass hires Ed Pinkham as defensive coordinator

HADLEY, MA - SEPTEMBER 17:  The Massachusetts Minutemen run onto the field prior to the game against the FIU Golden Panthers at Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium on September 17, 2016 in Hadley, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
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After floundering on defense the past three years, UMass’ change at the top on that side of the ball is official.

The football program, via a press release, announced Saturday that Mark Whipple has signed off on Ed Pinkham as his new defensive coordinator.  Pinkham replaces Tom Masella, who was ousted last month after three years on the job.

Whipple and Pinkham have a previous working relationship, serving on the same staff at New Hampshire in the late eighties.

“I’ve known Ed since we worked together at UNH,” Whipple said in a statement. “I have tremendous respect for his approach and how his defenses have always played. He brings a wealth of knowledge at the FBS level. He’s an outstanding recruiter and great leader of young men. I couldn’t be more excited about the future of our program as we head into winter conditioning and spring practice.”

Pinkham had spent the past three seasons as the coordinator at Western Michigan.  Last season, the Broncos finished 16th nationally in scoring defense at 19.5 points per game.

The Minutemen in 2016 were 108th in the same category at 35.5 points per game.  The previous two seasons, they were 93rd (31.4) and 105th (33.0).

“I’m extremely excited to be back in New England and renewing relationships with coaches I’ve worked with in the past at previous stops,” Pinkham said. “I coached against UMass so I’m aware of the strong football tradition that exists here. I’m excited to play a role in achieving the goals that we set as a staff and as a program.”

Pinkham has also served as the coordinator at Rutgers (2009-10) and as secondary coach at Minnesota (1989-91) during a coaching career that began in 1975.

‘Insensitive, regrettable comment’ leads Jon Reschke to transfer from Michigan State

EAST LANSING, MI - NOVEMBER 28: Christian Hackenberg #14 of the Penn State Nittany Lions passes while under pressure from Jon Reschke #33 of the Michigan State Spartans in the first half of the game at Spartan Stadium on November 28, 2015 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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An offseason of discontent continues in East Lansing, with another likely starter leaving Michigan State amidst head-scratching circumstances.

In a statement, Jon Reschke announced that he has decided to transfer out of the Spartans football program.  The reason? “Over a month ago, in an argument and a brief moment of anger, I lost control of my emotions and made an insensitive and totally regrettable comment involving a former teammate,” the linebacker wrote.

Just what that comment was and to who it was directed was not detailed.  Below is Reschke’s statement, in its entirety.

Over a month ago, in an argument and a brief moment of anger, I lost control of my emotions and made an insensitive and totally regrettable comment involving a former teammate. In so doing, I have hurt and offended countless number of people, and for that, I am deeply sorry. If I could take my comment back, I would do so in a second.

“I have addressed my teammates and coaches and while many understand my actions were totally uncharacteristic of who I am, the hurt still lingers. Therefore, after discussions with coach Dantonio and other members of the staff, we have mutually decided that I will complete my degree and seek the opportunity of a graduate transfer for my final year of football.

“To the entire Spartan Nation, to all of my teammates past and present, to coach Dantonio and the entire coaching staff, to all the trainers, managers and administrators – I offer my sincere apology and I thank you for the greatest four years of my life. I will always cherish the friendships, the memories and the journey. There is no doubt in my mind that the Spartan Dawgs will rise up and again return to being one of the strongest programs in college football. Forever Go Green, God Bless.

After starting all 14 games for the Spartans in 2015, Reschke started two of the first three this past season before an ankle injury knocked him out for the remainder of the year.  The junior missed the season opener because of another injury.

He had been expected to reassume his starting role this coming season prior to the off-field incident.

Earlier this monthThiyo Lukusa, the projected starter at right tackle, announced that he was leaving not only the football team but the sport, citing a loss of love and passion for the game.  Additionally, three unidentified football players as well as a football staffer were suspended amidst sexual assault allegations.