Aso Pogi

Ex-Oklahoma State players continue assailing SI report

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As expected, the backlash against Sports Illustrated‘s expose on the Oklahoma State football program has been swift, relentless and quite vocal.

OSU mega-booster T. Boone Pickens expressed disappointment in the “sensational allegations” leveled by SI against the program to which he’s donated hundreds of millions of dollars, intimating that the credibility of the writers is more in question than the OSU of today.  Former players by the dozen took to social media and the press to defend a program they were part of, claiming to a man that there was nothing to the allegations in the first in a series of reports alleging illicit payments to multiple players.

One of those who spoke up was former Oklahoma State quarterback Aso Pogi, who was one of several sources quoted by name in the SI piece.  In the article, it’s claimed by Pogi himself that he and a teammate lived at the ranch of an OSU booster rent-free one summer.  In a subsequent radio interview, however, an incredulous Pogi claimed that he was misquoted and his statements were taken out of context by the writers.

Just straight-up,” Pogi said when asked during a radio interview yesterday if he was asked leading questions by the writers or “straight-up” misquoted. “For example, the quote I said that, ‘Wow, it’s a big deal, because I was the starting quarterback,’ that was in reference to, as he was quoting off all of the allegations, I was repeating it back to him. So he would make allegations about OSU about football players and I’m sitting there just kind of like, ‘Wow, this is crazy. You mean this was going on?’

“So I’m just basically repeating what he’s saying, and then I said, ‘Man, that would have been a big deal, because I was the starting quarterback.’ That is the way it was actually being said. And then he took that quote and said, ‘It’s a big deal, because I was the starting quarterback.'”

Pogi also claimed during the course of the radio interview that he never personally witnessed any player being paid by a coach or booster for his performance on the football field. “There was none of this stuff going on… none of that was going on in my time, never saw anything like it,” Pogi said in a transcript provided by the Daily Oklahoman.

Continuing a theme from former players, Pogi also alluded to “low-character guys” who gave on-the-record quotes.  Tulsa World wrote that “[o]f the 12 former players who either pointed fingers or admitted guilt, nine either were kicked out of school, dismissed from the program, transferred for playing time issues or just quit. Of those, several had criminal records.”

That’s just a small sampling of the backlash against George Dohrmann and Thayer Evans, the SI writers whose names are attached to the series.  Evans in particular has been then subject of an intense backlash — see Whitlock, Jason — although Dohrmann, thanks to his piece a couple of years back on the Ohio State football program, hasn’t been spared public scrutiny.  Dohrmann defended the investigative work that he and Evans did to the Daily Oklahoman, telling the paper that he found the players the two spoke to be “[v[ery credible, or we wouldn’t write these things.”

As to Pogi’s claims that he was misquoted, Dohrmann stated that all of the interviews went through several layers of editorial review before the green light was given.

“All those people who say they’ve been misquoted, their conversations were recorded,” Dohrmann said. “I’ve heard them, editors here have heard them, lawyers here have heard them. We are absolutely comfortable that they were quoted accurately.”

The back and forth between the two sides of the issue will continue today, with Part 2 being released in short order.

Ole Miss QB Ryan Buchanan opts to quit football

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - NOVEMBER 22:  Ryan Buchanan #9 of the Ole Miss Rebels throws a pass in the fourth quarter of a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Razorback Stadium on November 22, 2014 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  The Razorbacks defeated the Rebels 30-0.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
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Ole Miss had already lost one quarterback to a transfer the past couple of months.  Now, the Rebels are losing another via different means but essentially for the same reason.

In an interview with Scout.com, Ryan Buchanan confirmed that not only is he leaving the Ole Miss football team, but he’s leaving the sport, period.  Buchanan’s decision to step away from the game is actually the culmination of a process that began midway through a 2015 season that would see the Rebels win 10 games and a Sugar Bowl title.

“I came to the conclusion a few months ago that football would not be my future and it was time to start applying myself 100% to my future,” he said. “It’s time for me to find my passion beyond football.”

Buchanan, who said he briefly flirted with transferring to another school, informed head coach Hugh Freeze and his position coach, Dan Werner, of his decision a couple of weeks ago.

If Buchanan had decided to return to Oxford, he would’ve been no better than third on the depth chart. All-SEC quarterback Chad Kelly is firmly entrenched as the starter, while five-star 2015 signee and future at the position Shea Patterson is poised to be Kelly’s backup for a season before taking over the reins in 2017. There’s also no guarantee that the sophomore could beat out redshirt freshman Jason Pellerin for the No. 3 spot.

A four-star member of the Rebels’ 2013 recruiting class, Buchanan was rated as the No. 19 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 3 player at any position in the state of Mississippi.  After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, Buchanan attempted 22 passes and served as Ole Miss’ holder on kick attempts in 2014.  This past season, he attempted 13 passes, two of which went for touchdowns.

In early December, DeVante Kincade, a three-star recruit in Buchanan’s class, announced his decision to transfer from the Rebels.

Arkansas loses RBs coach to NFL for second straight year

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - SEPTEMBER 5:  Head Coach Bret Bielema of the Arkansas Razorbacks talks with a official during a game against the UTEP Miners at Razorback Stadium on September 5, 2015 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  The Razorbacks defeated the Miners 48-13.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
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Whatever the reason, the big boy league of football has taken a shining to one particular position on Bret Bielema‘s Arkansas coaching staff.

On Instagram Friday night, Jemal Singleton confirmed that he will be leaving Bielema’s football program.  While he didn’t specify it in his post, the running backs coach will be leaving for the same job with the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts.

The 40-year-old Singleton had spent just one season coaching that same position with the Razorbacks.

A photo posted by coachsings (@coachsings) on Feb 5, 2016 at 5:23pm PST

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This marks the second straight year that Bielema will be forced to replace a running backs coach to the NFL.  Almost a year to the day, Joel Thomas left Fayetteville for the same position with the New Orleans Saints.

Thomas owed the university $50,000 as part of his buyout last year; Singleton will owe $100,000, per the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.  If Singleton had waited until Feb. 16, that buyout figure would’ve been halved.

Unlike the post right before this one, there were signs of an impending on and around National Signing Day earlier this week.

He was notably absent from a signing day event at Walton Arena on Wednesday, and he did not attend another event to discuss the signing class Thursday in Little Rock, fueling speculation he was being courted by another program.

Singleton’s job with the Colts will be the Air Force graduate’s first at the NFL level.

Nebraska ‘parts ways’ with DL coach Hank Hughes

LINCOLN, NE - SEPTEMBER 5: Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Mike Riley points out a missed call during their game against the Brigham Young Cougars at Memorial Stadium on September 5, 2015 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
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Surprisingly, Mike Riley has a self-made hole on his Nebraska coaching staff.

In a move that wasn’t on most if any radars, Hank Hughes will not return in 2016 as NU’s defensive line coach, Riley revealed Friday.  No reason was given for the the departure of the assistant.

“I want to thank Hank for his hard work and contributions to our football program over the past year,” Riley said in a statement. “We continue to build our program with the pursuit of championships always at the forefront of everything we do, and we will look for a great coach, teacher and recruiter to enhance our defense.”

Regardless of the reason or reasons — and the fact that Riley made certain to note that a replacement would be “a great coach, teacher and recruiter” points to at least a couple — it wasn’t an expected development. From the Lincoln Journal Star:

There was no sign of such a move Thursday night, with Hughes present at the Big Red Bash that celebrated the 2016 recruiting class.

Hughes had just completed his first season with the Cornhuskers. Additionally, it was his first season as an assistant on a Riley-led coaching staff.

As the Journal Star notes, Hughes was in the midst of a two-year deal that was to pay him $300,000 annually.

Surgery will KO UGA LB Roquan Smith for spring

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 12:  Darrius Sims #6 of the Vanderbilt Commodores is tackled by Johnathan Abram #25, Natrez Patrick #6, and Roquan Smith #3 of the Georgia Bulldogs during the first half at Vanderbilt Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
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If Roquan Smith is to win a starting linebacking job as some project, he’ll have to do so coming from behind.

Georgia confirmed in a press release Friday that the linebacker underwent successful surgery last month to repair a damaged wrist.  As a result, Smith (pictured, No. 3) will be sideline for all of the 15 spring practice sessions that will commence next month.

The good news is that, according to UGA director of sports medicine Ron Courson, “[a] full recovery is anticipated and he [is] expected to fully participate in summer workouts.” Additionally, there should be no limitations placed on Smith’s participation in summer camp that will kick off the beginning of August.

Smith was a four-star member of the Bulldogs’ 2015 recruiting class, rated as the No. 6 outside linebacker in the country; the No. 9 player at any position in the state of Georgia; and the No. 77 recruit overall according to Rivals.com. He was one of the highest-rated players in UGA’s class.

As a true freshman, Smith played in 12 games. He was named as one of the football program’s five Newcomers of the Year following the 2015 season.