SI’s latest details drug use at OSU

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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.

Former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Banks found guilty of rape

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Former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Banks was convicted by a jury on Friday for rape of a female Vanderbilt student. Following 15 hours of jury deliberations, the verdict of guilty on one count of aggravated rape and one count of aggravated sexual battery was in.

”He’s shocked but understands that this is only the first part of this process, there’s a lot more to do from here on,” Banks’ lawyer, Mark Scruggs, said after the verdict. ”We have some really good issues to raise.”

Part of Banks’ defense was built on succumbing to peer pressure, suggesting he feared he may be beaten up by teammates if he did not participate in the scandalous activity. The jury, having reviewed videos and photos from the incident, some of which were shot by Banks, determined that was not a viable defense.

”Making fun of another person is not right, but we know it happens,” Assistant District Attorney Roger Moore said in closing arguments, according to the Associated Press. ”But it doesn’t give you a legal defense to commit a crime, particularly not an aggravated rape, an aggravated sexual battery. I mean if that’s the case, then we’d have the ‘football team defense.”’

Banks will serve a minimum of 15 years in prison. One count of aggravated rape has a minimum sentence of 15 years.

Other former Vanderbilt players had previously been convicted for their roles in the 2013 rape. Cory Batey was found guilty of aggravated rape and sentenced to 15-25 years in prison in April 2016. Brandon Vandenbeurg was found guilty and sentenced to 17 years in prison.

California’s state-funded travel ban to discriminating states raises mild football scheduling concerns

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The state of California is banning state-funded travel to the states of Texas, Alabama, Kentucky, and South Dakota. Those states are added to the previous state-funded travel bans that included Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Tennessee due to what California lawmakers say are laws that allow for discrimination against gay and transgender people.

So what does this have to do with college football? My colleague, Bryan, notes this latest decision from the state means scheduling any potential road games for a handful of schools just got a tad trickier.

This development poses a couple of issues for some California schools to address moving forward.

San Jose State is the school affected by this latest news right off the bat. San Jose State has a road game scheduled at Texas on September 9 this season. San Jose State may have to rely on some of that guaranteed money from Texas to cover the expenses, which would put a dent in the total takeaway from playing the game in the first place.

Cal is also scheduled to play at North Carolina on September 2. Cal also plays at TCU in 2021 and at Auburn in 2024. If the ban is still in operation at those times, then Cal will have to budget ahead of time to tackle the expenses. UCLA will play at Memphis on September 19.

The state-funded travel ban to these states may not be an issue for the postseason, as bowl game expenses tend to be carried by the conference and their revenue shares.

Fresno State has a road game at Texas A&M scheduled in 2020. San Diego State has no future scheduling hassles to worry about for the time being.

When ‘physically, mentally ready,’ door wide open for Keyshawn Johnson Jr.’s return to Nebraska

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Keyshawn Johnson Jr. has yet to play a down for Nebraska, but, if it’s up to Mike Riley, he will at some point down the road.

Earlier this month, the son of former USC great Keyshawn Johnson was cited for marijuana possession and possession of drug paraphernalia.  This past week, the younger Johnson decided to take a leave of absence, with his father stating that his son needed some time to “mature” and will not play for the Cornhuskers in 2017.

Left open at the time was the question of whether Johnson Jr. would ever play for the ‘Huskers, period.  Friday, Riley left the door wide open for a return.

“We’re disappointed that he’s not here with us right now today,” the head coach said according to the Lincoln Journal-Star. “I think there’s kind of a wellness factor for Keyshawn going home. We talked to him about the possibility of maybe enrolling part time and taking care of his progress toward his degree, and also getting in great shape.

“And we opened the door for return, which is just kind of left open that we’ll deal with at the time that he is physically and mentally ready to do that.”

A three-star 2017 signee who was an early enrollee and participated in spring practice, the younger Johnson had been expected to be an immediate contributor for the Cornhuskers this season.

Ex-K-State WR involved in release imbroglio transfers to Appalachian State

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After public pressure helped get him out of the Little Apple, Corey Sutton is going to resume his collegiate playing career on the East Coast.

On his personal Twitter account Friday night, Sutton (pictured, No. 12) announced that he is “[b]lessed to say I will be continuing my collegiate career at Appalachian State University.” The rising sophomore will have to sit out the 2017 season because of arcane and one-sided NCAA transfer rules.

Beginning in 2018, he’ll have three seasons of eligibility remaining.

The move comes three weeks or so after a very noisy exit from his first college football home.

In early June, the transferring wide receiver revealed in an interview that Kansas State had denied a release to all 35 schools he requested, including FCS and Div. II programs.  Bill Snyder both confirmed the accuracy of Sutton’s accounting of events and defended his decision, then inexplicably ratcheted up the public rhetoric by revealing Sutton had failed a pair of drug tests.

Facing a maelstrom of criticism, Snyder subsequently apologized publicly while the football program granted Sutton a “full release” from his scholarship that still restricted him from transferring to any Big 12 school or one that’s on K-State’s future schedule while he still has eligibility. It’s unclear if the Sun Belt Mountaineers were on Sutton’s original list of 35 schools that was denied by the university.

In his lone season with the Wildcats, Sutton played in 11 games, catching four passes for 54 yards. Sutton came to K-State as a three-star 2016 signee after playing his high school football in North Carolina.