SI OSU Cover

Texas assistant named in SI’s OSU report

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As expected, Sports Illustrated released the first of a five-part series Tuesday morning detailing allegations of improprieties in the Oklahoma State football program dating back to 2001, Les Miles‘ first year as Cowboys’ head coach.

While the details released thus far are from stunning at this level of college football — envelopes stuffed with cash handed to players by boosters, so-called $100 handshakes, jobs that involved little or no work in exchange for above-market wages — there was one piece of new information contained in the opening salvo that could leave a pair of programs outside of Stillwater taking at least a cursory look into one of its current/former assistants.

According to the report, Larry Porter, along with current WVU assistant Joe DeForest, took part in in the systematic payment of cash to players that would be considered NCAA violations.  Porter was the running backs coach at OSU during Les Miles’ three years at the school, then followed Miles to LSU for another five years.

He’s in his first year as running backs coach at Texas.  From the report:

DeForest and assistant Larry Porter, who was running backs coach from 2002 to ’04, also made straight payments to players. Girtman says that when he arrived in Stillwater in the summer of 2003, DeForest handed him a debit card with $5,000 on it, which was periodically refilled. Ricky Coxeff, a cornerback in 2003 and ’04, says he waited in the car on several occasions as Williams and Bell visited DeForest at his home and then returned with cash. Shaw says that Porter gave him $100 “four or five times,” telling him to use the money to get something to eat. Several weeks before the start of fall camp in ’03, Carter says that Porter gave him “a couple hundred bucks” in the locker room so that incoming freshmen Coxeff and defensive lineman Xavier Lawson-Kennedy could stay at Carter’s apartment — before they were allowed under NCAA rules to begin receiving room and board. Lawson–Kennedy confirms that he and Coxeff stayed at Carter’s apartment.

Porter has denied the allegations contained in the story, telling SI in a statement that “I’ve been made aware of the accusations, and I’m disappointed because they are all absolutely not true. None of that ever happened.”

While Porter’s name being attached to alleged impermissible benefits was a new angle to the story, it’s DeForest and his reputation, though, that continues to be battered.

Brad Girtman, who played for OSU from 2003-04, told SI that DeForest himself set the scale for alleged payments: quarterback hurries were worth $50, a tackle between $75 to $100 and a sack from $200 to $250.  Rodrick Johnson, a linebacker/defensive lineman from 2004-07, stated that DeForest, OSU’s special teams coordinator as well as cornerbacks coach, set the scale at between $100 and $500 for big plays on special teams.

Girtman also claims that DeForest gave him a list with the names and phone numbers of boosters on it, telling him “[i]f you need anything, call this guy” as he pointed to one name in particular.  It was also alleged by at least one former player that DeForest paid players to do odd jobs around his house; the players, it’s alleged, did nothing and were paid “$400, $500, $600” by the coach.

DeForest has denied any and all wrongdoing.

“I have never paid a player for on-field performance,” DeForest’s statement began. “I have been coaching college football for almost 24 years, and I have built a reputation of being one of the best special teams coordinators and college recruiters in the country based on hard work and integrity.”

DeForest’s current employer, WVU, has already publicly stated that they are looking into the allegations to find what if any alleged misconduct may have been brought over to the Mountaineers.

The problem for Oklahoma State, though, is the fact that, after Miles left for LSU following the 2004 season, DeForest remained as part of Mike Gundy‘s new coaching staff and stayed at the school through 2011.  While most of the allegations occurred during Miles’ time in Stillwater, players have claimed that the payment program continued through at least 2011, DeForest’s last year at the school.

“They figure if a player shines and you pat him on the back in an obtainable way, he’s going to do whatever he can to keep getting that paper,”  Javius Townsend, a redshirt offensive lineman during the 2010 season, was quoted as saying.

The NCAA’s statute of limitations is four years; with the allegations levied against DeForest having come as recently as two years ago, the NCAA will certainly take an interest in that aspect of the report.  Along with WVU, both LSU and Texas and their respective compliance departments will also likely conduct their own investigations due to Porter’s alleged payments to players.

It should be noted that neither Miles nor OSU mega-booster T. Boone Pickens have been accused of any wrongdoing.  Well, at least not yet; the second part of the series, expected to focus on widespread academic misconduct, will be released at the same time tomorrow morning.

 

UPDATED 11:21 a.m. ET: Texas was notified of Porter’s alleged involvement in the payment of players last Wednesday.  In response, athletic director DeLoss Dodds released a statement.

“After questioning him on Thursday concerning those allegations, we do not have any issues with him at this time.”

Arizona signee My-King Johnson set to become FBS’ first active openly gay scholarship player

TUCSON, AZ - NOVEMBER 25:  Head coach Rich Rodriguez of the Arizona Wildcats watches from the sidelines during the Territorial Cup college football game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Arizona Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Arizona signee My-King Johnson probably caught most Wildcats’ fans attention with his impressive name when it was listed among the 23 signees for the football program on National Signing Day.

The 6-3, 225 pound defensive end’s name is set to become a little more well known however.

In a story on Saturday in the Arizona Daily Star, Johnson confirmed that he would become the first active openly gay scholarship player in FBS when he enrolls over the summer down in Tucson.

“I do feel like when I say that, it can put a target on my back,” Johnson told the paper about going public with his sexuality. “But whatever.”

Johnson is far from the only gay athlete to play major college football but does appear to be one of the first to go public on the matter prior to suiting up for a major program. Missouri’s Michael Sam came out once he entered the NFL Draft. Just up the road in Tempe, where Johnson went to high school, Arizona State walk-on Chip Sarafin told his teammates in 2014.

From the Daily Star:

When Johnson told UA assistant Vince Amey about his sexuality while being recruited, the coach’s reaction — “We want you to be a Wildcat” — was exactly what he wanted to hear.

Johnson picked the Wildcats despite offers from numerous FBS programs, including many in the Pac-12. Perhaps coincidentally, he really jumped on the radar of the coaching staff when he sacked quarterback Rhett Rodriguez, an Arizona signee himself (and the son of head coach Rich Rodriguez), three times in a high school game.

It certainly seems as though Johnson is very comfortable telling his story to a wider audience than just his teammates and coaches by doing the interview with the Daily Star and the environment down in Tucson has been very welcoming to all the new attention that it will bring. As the Wildcats begin spring practice this month, chances are the coaching staff is probably just as excited about the prospect of Johnson making an instant impact on defense this fall after seeing plenty of issues on that side of the ball during a 3-9 campaign in 2016.

Central Michigan AD taking same position at Arizona

TUCSON, AZ - NOVEMBER 25:  Wide receiver Samajie Grant #10 of the Arizona Wildcats celebrates after scoring on a two yard rushing touchdown against the Arizona State Sun Devils during the fourth quarter of the Territorial Cup college football game at Arizona Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Arizona has its replacement for former athletic director Greg Byrne.

Central Michigan AD Dave Heeke is set to take the same position in Tucson with the Wildcats, the school announced Saturday afternoon.

“I couldn’t be more excited to be part of the Arizona Athletics family. It is truly an honor to be named the new Vice President for Athletics and have the opportunity to return to the prestigious Pac-12 Conference,” Heeke said in a release. “I want to thank Dr. Hart and those involved with the search process for their confidence in my ability to lead one of the premiere athletics departments in the country. This program is about excellence and we will continue to focus on achieving at the very highest level athletically and academically, while creating the finest experience in the country for our student-athletes.

Heeke has been in Mount Pleasant since early 2006 and found plenty of success with the MAC school across numerous sports. In football, he notably hired Butch Jones to replace Brian Kelly when the latter left for Cincinnati and has seen the Chippewas make a bowl game eight times during his tenure.

While he is a Michigan native, he’s no stranger to the way things operate out West having spent 18 years at Oregon. While he held a variety of roles in Eugene, he eventually became a senior associate athletic director with the Ducks before departing for CMU.

Arizona had a vacancy in their athletic leadership ever since Byrne left to become Alabama’s AD not long after the national title game in January.

UTEP’s Theron Aych named new receivers coach at Arizona

TUCSON, AZ - SEPTEMBER 10:  Wide receiver Trey Griffey #5 of the Arizona Wildcats catches the ball in front of defensive back Jaterious Pouncey #48 of the Grambling State Tigers for a 34 yard touchdown in the third quarter at Arizona Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
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Spring practice is already underway in Tucson but it took until the end of this week for Arizona to finally have a complete offensive coaching staff.

The Wildcats announced on Saturday that Theron Aych would be taking over as the team’s new receivers coach, filling a vacancy created when Tony Dews left for West Virginia.

Aych helped provide a nice boost to the Miners’ passing game in his one season in El Paso and spent five seasons at Division II Angelo State prior to that. He served as the offensive coordinator and assistant head coach with the Rams during his five-year stint before moving up to the FBS level.

The Pac-12 is no new experience for Aych though, as he served as a graduate assistant at Washington over a decade ago.

Aych should have his work cut out for him this spring with the team featuring plenty of young players at the receiver position while also dealing with the loss of standouts like Trey Griffey and reliable veteran Nate Phillips both gone.

Colorado rounds out new defensive staff with hire of former Purdue DC Ross Els

EUGENE, OR - NOVEMBER 22:  Head coach Mike MacIntyre of the Colorado Buffaloes looks on prior to the game against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium on November 22, 2014 in Eugene, Oregon. The Ducks defeated the Buffaloes 44-10.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
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Just in the nick of time, Mike MacIntyre has rounded out his new defensive staff for the 2017 season.

The Buffaloes announced on Friday evening that former Purdue defensive coordinator Ross Els would be joining the program and serving as inside linebackers coach. The release notes that Els’ paperwork was completed in time for him to join the team for their second practice of spring ball.

“Coach Ross Els brings a lot of energy,” MacIntyre said.  “He has great experience as a coordinator, positions coach and special teams coach, and we’re really excited about having his expertise in those phases in our program.”

Els adds plenty of experience to Boulder, having coached linebackers at New Mexico State, Ohio and Nebraska. In addition, he was the Boilermakers’ defensive coordinator  and safeties coach last season.

The move completes the staff for the Buffs after seeing a number of coaches depart to Oregon with former coordinator Jim Leavitt.