Les Miles

Les Miles denies improprieties during time at Okla. St.


During the midst of a nearly full slate of games Saturday, reports surfaced (of course), that Sports Illustrated would be releasing a report this coming week alleging improprieties in the Oklahoma State football program dating back to Les Miles time as head coach a decade ago.

As for specific allegations that will be raised in the piece, the Daily Oklahoman writes that the magazine’s claims, based on interviews with former players, coaches and staff members, will include “academic fraud, players being paid for performance by an assistant coach or overpaid by boosters for jobs, and an OSU hostess program that provided sex for recruits.”  OSU, the paper reports, is likely to bring in an outside investigator to ensure it’s in compliance with NCAA standards.

The school has already notified both the Big 12 and the NCAA of the pending developments.

“Oklahoma State University is deeply troubled by these claims. We will investigate the accuracy of the allegations and take all appropriate action,” said OSU President Burns Hargis in a statement. “We do not condone or tolerate improper conduct in our athletic programs. OSU requires everyone affiliated with the university to follow the rules and adhere to the highest ethical standards.”

The good news for the OSU football program, aside from than the negative publicity, is the fact that the allegations involve no current players or coaches.  The vast majority of the alleged improprieties — 85 percent a source told the Oklahoman — occurred between 2001-07; the NCAA’s statute of limitations is four years.

Current LSU head coach Les Miles held the same job with the Cowboys from 2001-04 before leaving for the Tigers.  Asked about any improprieties during his time in Stillwater, Miles, as expected, vehemently denied any such things occurred on his watch.

I don’t know of any improprieties while I was coaching there,” Miles said after LSU’s win over UAB Saturday night. “We always did things right. …

“Oklahoma State has never been a place where you needed to cheat to have success.”

A former Mike Gundy assistant, though, could have some NCAA issues in his future.

* Coaches and boosters paying athletes, including violations ranging from paying for jobs not performed, overpaying for jobs and strictly paying players for performance.

Former OSU assistant coach Joe DeForest is accused of running a bonus program – paying players for specific plays – as recently as 2011.

DeForest is currently the associate head coach and special teams coordinator at West Virginia.  He was an assistant at OSU from 2001-11, and stayed on staff when Gundy took over for Miles in 2005.

WVU athletic director Oliver Luck stated that the assistant has denied the allegations raised by Sports Illustrated, but allowed that “it is the right thing to do to look into the matter and review practices here.”  Luck also acknowledged that WVU has been in contact with the NCAA.

Win over Grambling approved, Cal officially becomes bowl eligible

Jared Goff
Associated Press
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Earlier today we had the report that Cal, they of the normally bowl-eligible six wins on the season, were not actually bowl eligible. The hang up was due to some NCAA red tape on how many scholarships Grambling, a 73-14 victim to the Bears on opening Saturday, had actually awarded this year.

Why the number of scholarships awarded by an opponent of a 6-5 team could determine what glorified exhibition said 6-5 could or could not play is a matter for another time, but the fact is it mattered.

But according to a report from Kevin Gemmell of ESPN.com, the Bears received approval to count the win toward their total, meaning Sonny Dykes and company will go bowling for the first time since 2011.

“We have conferred with both Grambling and the NCAA,” Cal spokesman Wes Mallette told ESPN. “As anticipated, Grambling has confirmed their football program has met the 90 percent financial aid requirement over the rolling two-year average. Therefore, Cal football’s win over Grambling counts toward bowl eligibility. Cal football is bowl eligible.”

The Bears have a chance to become bowl eligible the old fashioned way with a win over Arizona State Saturday in Berkeley.


Tulane reportedly set to fire head coach Curtis Johnson

Curtis Johnson
Associated Press
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The end of the college football regular season brings with it bowl bids, conference championship entries and rivalry games. Along the way, though, come end-of-season firings. So many end of-season firings.

According to a report from Dan Wolken of USA Today Wednesday night, the first one is already on the books. Or at least close to it.

Wolken reports Tulane is set to part ways with head coach Curtis Johnson following the Green Wave’s Friday finale against Tulsa “barring a last-minute change of direction.”

Johnson is 15-33 in nearly four complete seasons at Tulane, reaching a high point of a 7-6 mark wtih a New Orleans Bowl appearance in 2013 but winning two, three and three games in his other three campaigns.

If and when the move becomes official, Tulane will become the 15th FBS school to change head coaches this season, matching the total number of changes during the 2014-15 cycle.

Wolken reports Tulane will hire a new athletics director within the next week, and once that hiring is complete the school will then embark on hiring Johnson’s replacement.

Reports: Michigan DC D.J. Durkin a “strong candidate” for Maryland vacancy

D.J. Durkin
Associated Press

Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin has emerged a “strong candidate” for the Maryland job, according to reports from Yahoo‘s Pat Forde and Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman Wednesday.

“Durkin, 37, met recently with Maryland officials, sources said,” Forde wrote. “No job offer was made, but the interview went well, sources said.”

Added Feldman:

Durkin is in his first season as Michigan’s defensive coordinator, helping the 9-2 Wolverines jump from 14th to third nationally in yards per play allowed (4.77 to 4.15) and 27th to sixth in scoring defense (22.4 to 14.9).

Prior to working on Jim Harbaugh‘s staff, Durkin served as Will Muschamp‘s defensive coordinator at Florida for two years, and as his special teams coordinator for two years before that. He previously worked at Stanford, Bowling Green (his alma mater) and Notre Dame.

Should he be offered and accept the job, Durkin would immediately become Big Ten East rivals with his mentor Harbaugh.

“This week is so important to our guys, my 100% focus is on this game and our players — that’s what this profession is all about. You’ve got to make sure you’re taking care of the job you have week in and week out. It’s a tough task, especially with this team we have this week,” Durkin told the Detroit Free Press when asked about the reports.

“My goal is to get the best game plan possible together for Ohio State and have our guys go play well. To answer rumors or speculation right now and put something to it, my total focus is 100% on Ohio State and nothing else.”

Illini to decide on fate of interim head coach Bill Cubit by Sunday

Bill Cubit
Associated Press

Illinois will decide whether or not to retain interim head coach Bill Cubit for the full-time job by Sunday, interim AD Paul Kowalczyk told WSKJ-FM Wednesday.

“We need to make that call and figure out which way we’re going for everyone’s sake,” Kowalczyk said, via the Chicago Tribune. “For me, it’s posthaste.”

Illinois closes its regular season Saturday against No. 16 Northwestern in Champaign. The Illini are 5-6 on the year and, for what it’s worth, Cubit desperately wants the job.

Also worth noting: the athletics department is operating under a total state of dysfunction in the wake of AD Mike Thomas‘s firing.

From 670 The Score in Chicago on Wednesday:

Sources tell 670 The Score that as overwhelmed university officials are dithering and providing little guidance, the group of trustees, boosters and alums left to run things can’t yet agree on much.  Some want to hire a search firm with a spotty recent track record, others want to form their own search committee, while another faction thinks they need to act faster by using their own contacts to target specific AD and coaching candidates right now and just get moving.

Any support for retaining Bill Cubit is getting strong push-back from those who don’t believe he wasn’t aware of Tim Beckman’s aberrant behavior, and from some who feel strongly about making a more dynamic hire.

For those keeping score at home: Illinois is dealing with a power vacuum of trustees, boosters and alums battling for control while an interim chancellor and interim athletics director work to reach a resolution on an interim football coach.

And the coaching carousel starts spinning in full four days from now.