Perhaps not so surprisingly, those tied to a story about SEC players accepting impermissible benefits has stirred a bit of controversy. Nobody wants to be tied to controversy of course, so it is also not a surprise those indicted in the report are either not focusing on the story right now or coming out and telling a different side of the story.
John Phillips is one of the agents reported to have been connected to former Alabama player Luther Davis, who allegedly served as a middleman between agents and a handful of college football players around the SEC. Phillips has a bit of a sketchy background, having admitted to editing a video of Gus Malzahn‘s wife in 2011. Phillips has stated his quotes used in the story were taken out of context. He also released a statement suggesting the information in the report is “erroneous and out of context.”
The following statement was first shared by AL.com.
I have cooperated and will continue to cooperate with those wanting information about any former relationship with Luther Davis to my days, largely back in 2009, as an NFL Contract Advisor. I will not be commenting to media until any such investigation concludes so as not to interfere with any such investigation. I spoke to Alabama in May about some of these issues and continue to. I have also presented some of it to the NFLPA.
I find the report to be erroneous and out of context. The writer of the story chose not return my call from September 10, choosing to go to press without getting further comment from me. We live in an age of reckless reporting and media wanting to put justice or facts aside for a quick, hasty story. It’s unfortunate.
Luther and I worked on a book in which I interviewed 14 former members of Alabama football teams about a host of issues. That book is in the editing process, as I have over 60 hours of recordings and books of notes. It truly changed the way I think about amateur athletics. My office has also issued cash or checks to Javier Arenas, Baron Huber, Cory Reamer, Brandon Deaderick, Brian Selman, Leigh Tiffin, Terry Grant, Michael Johnson, Preston Dial, Eryk Anders and others- all post eligibility.
DJ Fluker has never, in any way, been compensated by me. I am no longer a NFL Agent. I have not had a player signed to a NFL contract in years. Seeing chaplains asking for money, assistant coaches asking for money through representatives, and the like, quickly ruined any delusions I had that there was room for me in the business.
I have no further comment. Please respect that and know I am and will do everything I can to cooperate with any investigation.
There was some movement on the coaching staff front for Lovie Smith Friday.
Illinois announced earlier today that Gill Byrd has been hired by Smith as the Fighting Illini’s safeties coach. Byrd will also hold the title of passing-game coordinator.
“I’m very pleased to have Gill Byrd join the Illini coaching staff,” said Smith in a statement. “We’ve spent several seasons together in the NFL and I envision Gill bringing a great combination of knowledge and enthusiasm to our program. He will be a terrific influence on the young men he coaches, and, as good a coach as he is, he is probably an even better person.”
Byrd, who played his college football at San Jose State, has spent the past 19 seasons at the NFL level, coaching defensive backs during stops with the St. Louis Rams, Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and, most recently, with the Buffalo Bills last season. This will mark Byrd’s first-ever job at any level of college football.
In addition to the hiring of Byrd, the football program also confirmed that Hardy Nickerson has been given the additional title of assistant head coach. Nickerson has served as the Illini’s defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for each of the past two seasons.
Everything’s bigger in Texas — including the raises.
The Austin American-Statesman reports that the University of Texas System Board of Regents are set to approve several athletics-related contracts next week, headlined by athletic director Chris Del Conte’s multi-million dollar six-year deal and a hefty raise for Longhorns defensive coordinator Todd Orlando.
Orlando, who joined Tom Herman when he came over from Houston prior to last season, was already one of 15 assistants who were making over $1 million in 2017. He was courted by several programs this offseason however and the cost to retain him on the 40 Acres didn’t come cheap as his amended contract is set to pay him a reported $1.7 million as part of a new four-year deal.
Also on tap for the board? The Statesman notes that new offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator Herb Hand has a three-year contract awaiting approval worth nearly $640,000 annually.
While all those new contracts do add up for the Longhorns, it’s not like the burnt orange can’t afford it all as one of a handful of programs who topped $200 million in revenue last year.
CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd recently stopped in College Station to do a deep dive on one of college football’s biggest storylines: Jimbo Fisher’s $75 million move from Florida State to Texas A&M.
While the money — some $90 million for the Aggies when all is said and done — is one of the more eye-catching parts of the story that are broken down, the comments from some at the school probably won’t go unnoticed by those in Fisher’s former conference.
“I’m not going to put words in Jimbo’s mouth, but there are resource issues in the ACC versus the SEC,” Texas A&M athletic director Scott Woodward told CBS Sports, answering part of the question as to why the national title-winning head coach made the move from one of the sport’s blue-bloods to one of the oft-labeled “sleeping giants.”
We’re guessing those in ACC territory will not take kindly to those comments and note that some schools in the league have no problem raising cash, such as Clemson when it comes to their new football facility that has everything from mini-golf to sleep specialists. They also would probably point out that the conference has just as many national titles in the past five years as the SEC does too.
Still, when you look at the larger picture, there’s little question that the SEC is ahead of the ACC when it comes to revenues as a whole and the slow pace of facilities upgrades in Tallahassee was one of the many public grumbles that Fisher made known about before leaving FSU.
Something says all those ACC-SEC football games in 2018 will see Woodward’s comments brought up again — especially when Clemson heads to College Station to play Texas A&M in Week 2.
UCF has won another trophy for last season and this is one they can very proudly display in the school trophy case.
That’s because recent Knights linebacker Shaquem Griffin was named the winner of the inaugural Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award during a ceremony in the Dallas area on Thursday night. Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph were also finalists for the new award.
Griffin was one of the best players in college football for UCF despite the fact that his left hand was amputated when he was younger because of a congenital condition called amniotic band syndrome. A tenacious pass rusher, he was the AAC’s defensive player of the year in 2016 and was recently named the defensive MVP of the Peach Bowl as his team capped off a perfect season.
The award honors “exemplary leadership” on and off the field from a Division I college football player and was presented by Witten’s foundation. The former Tennessee star and All-Pro tight end with the Dallas Cowboys started the award last year and serves somewhat as the college version of the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award.