In one of the most shocking developments yet in Sports Illustrated‘s expose’ on the Oklahoma State football program, the magazine has revealed that college football players are very similar to the student population at large: they (gasp!) like weed.
OK, that’s a bit flippant as the latest piece’s central focus slants toward the lax nature of the OSU football program when it came to the “drug culture” among football players in Stillwater. And there are cursory mentions of cocaine use. By and large, though, we’re talking about weed, man. Weed. Not meth. Not crack. We’re talking about weed.
Regardless, here are some of the highlights (get it? Highlights?) from part three of SI’s five-part series on OSU football:
- SI leads with the story of Bo Bowling, the former OSU wide receiver initially charged with, among other things, felony possession of marijuana with intent to distribute in February of 2009 and was subsequently suspended indefinitely. He was allowed to return to the team in May of 2010 — missing an entire season — after the felony was reduced to a misdemeanor. SI took issue with the manner in which head coach Mike Gundy dealt with Bowling, writing that “[t]here was no internal investigation to ascertain whether Bowling’s alleged drug dealing involved teammates or if the steroids in his home indicated wider issues of performance-enhancing drugs on the team.”
- Directly from the report: “Three former players admitted to SI that they dealt marijuana while members of the 2001, ’04 and ’06 teams. Players from seven other seasons between 2001 and ’12 were accused by teammates (or, in the case of Bowling, by police) of also dealing drugs, meaning the program hosted an alleged or admitted drug dealer in 10 of the last 12 seasons.”
- There was a so-called “Weed Circle,” which consisted of “stars or top prospects” who had tested positive for marijuana but were not subject to penalties from the school, provided they performed on the field and attended these “counseling sessions” off of it. “We all smoked and pissed hot, but the coaches were like, As long as you’re performing, we’ll send you to [the Weed Circle],” Thomas Wright, cornerback from 2002-04, was quoted as saying.
- Former defensive back Andrew Alexander claimed that he had never tried marijuana prior to his arrival in Stillwater, but essentially became a pothead so that he could fit in with all of his teammates who were smoking weed.
- Former defensive end William Bell claimed he made $300-$400 a week selling weed. Another unamed ex-Cowboy told SI he made $100 a week selling it to teammates and others.
- Bell and Thomas Wright (2002-04) claimed they and other teammates smoked weed prior to football games. The same two players also claimed they witnessed teammates snorting cocaine.
- Multiple claims of assistant coaches under both Les Miles and Mike Gundy openly joking about a player’s drug use. Included is an anecdote for running back Seymore Shaw (2002-04) about his offensive coordinator: “Gundy, at the time the team’s offensive coordinator, would walk past him in practice and, when Shaw was in the training room, put his fingers to his lips and laughingly pantomime taking a drag off a joint.”
- Speaking of humor, one player allegedly drank bleach in an attempt to rid his body of weed ahead of a drug test.
As was the case with the first two installments in the series, the third piece is already coming under fire. Actually, it came under fire before it even hit the Internet.
Early on in part three, ex-linebacker Donnell Williams declared that “drugs were everywhere” around the OSU football program. In an interview with an Oklahoma City television station before the latest release, however, Williams claimed the following:
Williams told me Evans wanted to know who used and sold drugs but that his only answer was, “drugs are everywhere,” as in the world, not the football program. He said that was the only thing he said about drugs.
“Evans” is Thayer Evans, the SI writer who contributed to the expose’ and who has come under arguably even more fire for his tactics than OSU football has for its alleged actions.
For those who even care anymore, part four will be released tomorrow morning and will deal with young people having sex. So there’s that, which is nice.
Nebraska and Arkansas have met just once on the field, in the 1965 Cotton Bowl. But the Huskers and Hogs have now met twice in the only college athletics competition more cutthroat than the actual games — hiring coaches.
Arkansas famously held off Nebraska for Houston Nutt‘s services in 2004 (before you scoff, Nutt led the Hogs to the 2006 SEC West title, and Nebraska wound up hiring Bill Callahan) and now the Cornhuskers have returned the favor.
Nebraska hired Bob Diaco as its defensive coordinator this week, nabbing the former Connecticut head coach and Notre Dame defensive coordinator after he’d finished an interview with Arkansas. Sean Callahan of Husker Online explains from here:
Head coach Mike Riley said they stopped Diaco’s plane in the air on his way back from Arkansas and got him to fly to Lincoln last Thursday from Chicago. Riley said from there, they weren’t letting Diaco leave Lincoln until he accepted the job.
The money didn’t hurt. Nebraska handed Diaco a 2-year contract worth $1.7 million in total, making him the highest-paid assistant in program history.
Auburn does not have an offensive coordinator yet, which is odd. The Tigers have an explosive offense with a lot of returning parts. They have Jarrett Stidham coming in to play quarterback. They have a boatload of money. And they have a boatload of money.
According to a report from James Crepea of AL.com, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn and “people with influence over the program” can’t agree on who should replace Rhett Lashlee.
Malzahn is said to prefer Florida Atlantic offensive coordinator Kendal Briles, Arizona State offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey and NC State offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz. Lindsey and Drinkwitz worked for Malzahn previously, and Malzahn has built a working relationship with the Briles family — Stidham and running back Kam Martin transferred from Waco to Auburn, and Art Briles visited a Tigers practice this season.
But Auburn donors, Crepea writes, have nixed those choices, saying Briles is too inexperienced and Lindsey and Drinkwitz are too close to Malzahn.
Instead, donors preferred Texas A&M offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone (who has already been crossed off the list) or Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich (ditto). Mark Helfrich does not seem like a viable option at this time.
With less than two weeks until National Signing Day, the urgency to bring someone to the South Plains only grows stronger.
Undeterred by recent NCAA legislation, Jim Harbaugh is reportedly going international.
As noted by the Detroit Free Press, a post on Rivals affiliate TheWolverine.com reports that Michigan is planning to spend the final week of football spring practice in Rome, Italy. The team would not only practice several times on Italian soil, but would allow the team to visit the sights in the area and even leave players in Europe to study abroad for a semester.
The move would no doubt ruffle even more feathers in the football and NCAA communities after Harbaugh famously took the Wolverines to the IMG Academy down in Florida for spring practice last March. That prompted recent legislation that was passed at the NCAA convention in Nashville this week — a Harbaugh Rule if you will — that prohibited off-campus practice during a vacation period outside of a playing season.
While it would seem that would rule out trips away from Ann Arbor for spring football practices, it appears the Michigan athletic department is going to push forward by exploiting a slight loophole in the language of the rule. While vacation periods may be off limits like spring break, it appears the Wolverines would be looking to leave town at the end of April, which would be after the semester ends and does not fall into any scheduled vacation time.
We’ll see if anything becomes of this report and if Michigan indeed announces such an unprecedented trip. While foreign tours are common in sports like basketball at the NCAA levels, it really hasn’t happened in football aside from occasional games overseas so it will be interesting to see if this becomes a trend, or is just another case of Harbaugh being Harbaugh.
Winning a New Year’s Six bowl and outperforming nearly every preseason expectation typically results in a nice boost to a head coach’s bank account and that is the case at Wisconsin this year.
The Badgers announced on Friday that the school’s athletic board had extended head football coach Paul Chryst another year, running through January 31, 2022. Additional contract terms such as a potential raise or incentives were not announced, meaning this was likely just tacking another year onto the former Wisconsin quarterback’s original deal in Madison.
The move isn’t new for the program, which pulled the same extension almost to the day a year ago after Chryst led the Badgers to a 10-3 year in 2015 that was capped off with a Holiday Bowl victory over USC. The coach one-upped that performance in 2016, winning the Big Ten West title and getting selected for the Cotton Bowl, which the team won over previously undefeated Western Michigan.
Chryst’s original contract he signed two years ago was for a term of five seasons through 2020. He originally made around $2.3 million a year but should be hitting the $2.5 million mark heading into 2017 with various increases incorporated.