Les Miles denies improprieties during time at Okla. St.

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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.

This Memorial Day, take time to remember

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(Reprinted and reposted with permission for an eighth straight year from, well, me.)

You have to admit that, despite the ongoing partisan slap-fights and political in-fighting and every other really crappy thing going on, we have a pretty damn good life, living in these United States of America.  It’s a far-from-perfect country, but, dammit, it’s ours.  Ours because our own have and will continue to shed their blood in the ultimate sacrifice.  Gave and will continue to give their lives, their hopes, their dreams so that we — and our children and our children’s children and their children — may live and realize ours and theirs.

As you go about your day today, doing whatever it is that you do on Memorial Day, take a second or two or sixty — or more — to reflect on what exactly this day is all about.

Please.  Just take a moment.  Take a moment to God bless those who have given so much.

God bless those who have paid the ultimate price for the freedom we enjoy day-in and day-out.

God bless those hundreds of thousands of millions who’ve lost fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters in the ultimate sacrifice paid forward to every single one of us, for our freedoms.

And thank you — thank you, thank you, thank you with every fiber of my being — to those who continue serving this country and keep this great nation safe.

And, again, God bless families torn apart and made lesser by the heartbreaking losses, hellish and unthinkable holes in the soul that allow us to do whatever the hell it is we want to on this day and every other day of the year…

Iowa linebacker announces transfer

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Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz has been known to have a program that could play some solid defense more often than not, but the depth at linebacker just got a bit more shallow this Memorial Day weekend. Redshirt sophomore Anthony Garbutt has announced he is leaving the program.

“After prayer, consulting with my family and Coach Ferentz, I have made the decision to leave the University of Iowa,” Garbutt announced in a statement on Twitter. “I am thankful for my years as a Hawkeye and will continue to support the franchise.”

Garbutt went on to announce he will make a decision after going through a recruiting process. No timeline for his decision was announced.

Garbutt still has three more years of eligibility remaining, although he has already burned one redshirt year after joining the Class of 2015 at Iowa. If he transfers to another FBS program, he will have to sit out the upcoming 2017 season and lose a year of eligibility in the process. He would be available to play immediately this fall if he transfers to a lower division football program.

Report: Navy’s football stadium will host NHL outdoor game between Caps and Leafs

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The NHL has enjoyed the success of their growing number of outdoor games. What started out as an attempt to steal the New Years Day spotlight from the college football bowl season has grown to include additional outdoor games around the country in February and March as part of the league’s Stadium Series. With an abundance of outdoor games, finding new venues to host the outdoor games offers new opportunities to showcase a wide range of stadiums. Navy is now set to get in on the NHL outdoor fun.

The Associated Press reports Navy’s Navy-Marine Corp Memorial Stadium will be used for one game in the NHL’s Stadium Series on March 3, 2018. The Washington Capitals will “host” the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 34,000-seat venue in Annapolis, Maryland. A formal announcement is expected to be made on Monday, Memorial Day. It’s also the same day the NHL kicks off the Stanley Cup Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators and commissioner Gary Bettman gives his annual state of the league address.

The New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres were previously slated to play in the NHL Winter Classic in Citi Field, home of baseball’s New York Mets.

Heinz Field, the home of the Pitt Panthers, was used to host the 2011 Winter Classic between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals, becoming the first college football stadium to host an outdoor NHL game. Of course, Heinz Field is also home to the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers, so this college stadium host came with an asterisk. Heinz Field hosted a Stadium Series game this past February between the Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers.

Michigan’s Michigan Stadium hosted the Winter Classic in 2014 between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs. TCF Bank Stadium, home of the Minnesota Golden Gophers, hosted a game in the NHL’s Stadium Series in 2016 between the Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks.

There are still a good handful of stadiums worth considering for future NHL outdoor games, especially in the Big Ten. Penn State’s Beaver Stadium has long been suspected of being a potential target for an outdoor game, but any plans involving Beaver Stadium may have to wait until after the stadium’s facilities are upgraded as part of the school’s upcoming athletics department renovation. Ohio State’s Ohio Stadium could also be an attractive candidate for an outdoor game in the future as well.

A couple other venues for possible Stadium Series game sin the future should include the Los Angeles Coliseum and the Rose Bowl. The NHL has already played an outdoor game in Dodger Stadium, back in 2014, so the league is not afraid to play outside in LA (and Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara hosted a game in 2015). If they return, playing in either historic stadium would seem to make sense, although it is possible the NHL would prefer to wait until the new home of the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams and Chargers is completed before making a trip to LA again.

Alabama DB Tony Brown has chance to prove he’s fastest NCAA athlete in nation

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Forget the 40-yard dash. Alabama defensive back Tony Brown is setting his focus on the 100-meter dash.

Brown, a track star in addition to being a fixture on the Alabama defense, qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in the 100-meter dash after finishing in the top 10 at the NCAA East Regional at Kentucky. Brown is a two-time All-American on the track.

Let this serve as another example of the caliber of athletes Nick Saban is bringing in to his program. Recruiting analysts have been noting for years the importance of recruiting athletes with skills in more than one sport, and Alabama has that with Brown. Brown was one of the nation’s top hurdlers in high school, and that success on the track has continued in Tuscaloosa.

Brown brings the pain on the football field too, of course. Just ask former Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams what kind of damage Brown can bring.

Helmet sticker to Gridiron Now.