Nebraska ‘to put matter to rest’ with no Pelini punishment

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And, upon further reflection, $!#&-gate has come to an end.  Well, at least in the eyes of the university it has.

In a joint statement attributed to Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman and athletic director Shawn Eichorst, the school announced that head football coach Bo Pelini will not be punished for a profanity-laced tirade directed at fans that was surreptitiously recorded over two years ago and released earlier this week.

In the statement, it was revealed that the existence of the recording was made known to then-AD Tom Osborne over a year ago, and that the situation had been addressed with Pelini at that time.  Since then, the statement read, [w]e have observed, and many others have commented, that Coach Pelini’s demeanor has significantly improved since the time of this incident.”

Here is the text of NU’s statement, in its entirety:

“The comments made by Head Football Coach Bo Pelini in 2011, published Monday, are unfortunate and deeply concerning to us, as they would be to anyone who loves this university. Our coaches, staff and student-athletes must be held to a high standard and Coach Pelini’s remarks were unfair to the legions of Nebraska fans and not what we expect from a representative of this university. Former Director of Athletics Tom Osborne became aware of these comments and the existence of a recording more than a year ago, and addressed the matter with Coach Pelini. We have observed, and many others have commented, that Coach Pelini’s demeanor has significantly improved since the time of this incident. Coach Pelini has given us his assurance that he understands the seriousness and inappropriateness of his comments. We believe he is sincere in his apology and in his regret. We are prepared to put the matter to rest. Our football student-athletes, coaches and staff deserve all of our support and we know the Nebraska faithful will be there for them.”

UPDATED 4:56 p.m. ET: Nebraska has sent out a statement from legendary former head coach and athletic director Tom Osborne.

Here is that statement, in its entirety as well:

“I was asked for comments concerning the recent incident involving Coach Pelini by members of the press and felt that it was inappropriate to respond until University officials had reviewed the situation.

“After the comments were made public on Monday, I informed the Chancellor and Director of Athletics that I had become aware of the tape involving Coach Pelini last fall, about a year after the Ohio State game in 2011 when the comments were recorded. After I had listened to the tape I visited with Coach Pelini about it and expressed my concerns. Bo had not heard the tape at that time. I visited with all my coaches regularly about their conduct and language throughout my tenure as Athletic Director.

“While the comments were certainly not good, I realized that Bo had gone through an emotional week and an emotional game and was in a setting where he thought his comments were entirely private. I visited with Bo on a weekly basis and did not find that his attitude toward the fans or the press as expressed by those comments were at all in keeping with what I knew his true attitude to be. He understands that the most important asset the Athletic Department has is the amazing fan support that we enjoy.

“Bo’s academic record with the football team has been the best in my recollection. The behavior of his players has been excellent for the most part, he has won three divisional championships and had one of the best win-loss records in college football for the past five years. I recognize that there have occasionally been controversies but I have seen a willingness to change, reflect and improve in Bo over the years. I am very hopeful that the players, coaches and fans will pull together as unity of purpose has been one of our major assets over the last 50 years.”

QB controversy in Tuscaloosa? Freshman Tua Tagovailoa impresses at Alabama spring game

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Alabama’s annual A-Day spring game took place at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday and those tuning in to the Crimson team’s last minute 27-24 win over the White team had to be especially impressed with the Tide’s explosive offense under new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.

In particular that comes at the quarterback position, where there might be more of a controversy at the spot than first thought. Incumbent Jalen Hurts was very sharp on his downfield passes but his strong outing (301 yards, two touchdowns, one interception) was overshadowed by true freshman Tua Tagovailoa, who simply stole the show down in Tuscaloosa.

The early enrollee signal-caller from Hawaii jumped onto the scene in the first half of the game and wound up completing 17 passes for 313 yards, three touchdowns and an interception while working with both the first- and second-team offenses. You could normally dismiss numbers put up against a team’s second-string defense, this is Alabama we’re talking about so you know it’s coming against numerous future All-SEC players.

Tagovailoa did throw a pick-six in the second quarter but that was mostly because linebacker Terrell Hall made an unbelievable play on a swing pass to snatch the ball out of the air and run it all the way back to the opposite end zone. Freshman tailback Najee Harris (70 yards rushing) as well as stud wide receivers Calvin Ridley, Robert Foster and Jerry Jeudy (134 yards, two scores) also stood out on Saturday.

In all, offense ruled the day as the two quarterbacks combined for over 600 yards through the air. That probably won’t make reviewing film with Nick Saban all that pleasant for members of the secondary next week but was probably good news to most fans after lackluster performances down the stretch to end last season.

Either way, everybody should probably start brushing up on how to pronounce Tagovailoa even if he doesn’t ultimately unseat Hurts as the starter because the young QB has lived up to the early billing by recruiting analysts.

Baylor freshman tailback Abram Smith out for the season with spring ACL tear

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Baylor kicked off the first spring game of the Matt Rhule era on Saturday and wrapped things up with a 65-39 Gold team victory over the Green squad that included a pretty impressive touchdown catch from former basketball player Ish Wainright.

The news wasn’t all rosy in Waco however as after the game Rhule announced that freshman running back Abram Smith would be lost for the 2017 season after suffering an ACL tear in the Bears’ first spring practice.

Smith wasn’t being counted on as being a starter this season but his loss is a fairly big blow to the team’s depth at the position. Returnees JaMycal Hasty and Terence Williams already missed parts of the spring game due to injuries on Saturday, leaving just senior Wyatt Schrepfer to take most of the carries late in the contest.

All three figure to be good to go by the time fall camp rolls around but there’s not much behind them with Smith being lost for the year. A three-star recruit coming out of high school, the early enrollee likely would have seen some snaps in 2017 but will instead have to spend it redshirting on the bench.

Brian Kelly takes the blame for Notre Dame’s struggles last season

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Notre Dame wrapped up spring football with the Irish’s annual spring game on NBC Sports Network on Saturday afternoon in South Bend and front and center was not surprisingly head coach Brian Kelly.

While fans of the team were probably most interested in how quarterback Brandon Wimbush looked, Kelly did go into detail about what the offseason has been like after last year’s disappointing 4-8 campaign. While the coach has been known to be a bit defensive when it comes to the team’s struggles, he did open up during a sit-down interview and was transparent in taking the blame for the way 2016 went.

“When you have a losing season, you have to look at yourself first,” Kelly told NBC Sports’ Jac Collinsworth. “I’ve always felt like there isn’t a bad football team but there is bad leadership and I don’t think I provided the kind of leadership (last year). It starts with yourself.”

Kelly goes on to discuss the significant changes to the Irish coaching staff, how this team is very much a work in progress and how Wimbush is handling taking over as the starting signal-caller.

The Gold team ended up winning the spring game 27-14 over the Blue team behind a strong defensive performance. If Saturday’s outing was any indication, Notre Dame should be much improved this upcoming season and that seems to start from the top on down.

SEC commissioner confirms graduate transfer rule changes will be discussed at spring meetings

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We’re still over a month away from the SEC’s annual spring meetings down in Destin, Fla. but one item we might be able to confirm is on the agenda will be the graduate transfer rules for the conference.

It’s a hot topic around the league and particularly so at Florida, which is in the mix to land Notre Dame graduate transfer Malik Zaire but can’t officially take him due to restrictions from the conference office.

That may change however, as SEC commissioner Greg Sankey confirmed in a radio interview on Friday with ESPN Gainesville.

“It will come up,” Sankey said, according to SECCountry.com. “I do think we need to look where we’ve been restrictive in the past because of the absence of national rules and look at reducing some of those restrictions. I’m one who would position it as interest in freeing things up without just removing every restraint, because I think the restraints have been healthy for us.”

At the heart of the issue is a rule that limits schools from taking additional graduate transfers if previous graduate transfers failed to meet academic requirements after enrolling. The move was designed to prevent a number of situations where players would transfer over just to play and not really go through coursework at their new school.

Other NCAA conferences have failed to follow the SEC’s lead in this area however and now the league is being put at a bit of a disadvantage on the graduate transfer market. This is particularly an issue with the Gators this offseason but it seems as though there will be quite the discussion down in Destin among athletic directors and head coaches about changing the rules to be on more of a level playing field with other conferences on this front.