Michigan AD: Brady Hoke the right leader for Michigan

24 Comments

Things have not exactly gone to plan for Michigan in the Brady Hoke era, but as the 2013 season draws to a close job security is not going to be an issue in Ann arbor for head coach Brady Hoke. At least, that is if you believe what athletics director Dave Brandon had to say in a lengthy blog entry on Michigan’s athletics website Wednesday.

“Brady Hoke is our coach and will be leading our football program well into the future,” Brandon opened his post in definitive fashion. “There is no question about it… Anyone making efforts to stir up a coaching controversy at Michigan is ill-informed and is likely promoting a personal agenda that is not in the best interest of Michigan Football.”

Hoke took over a mess of a situation at Michigan following current Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez.  Hoke quickly turned Michigan around in year one on the job by taking the 2011 Wolverines to the Sugar Bowl as a BCS at-large. Since then though things have take steps backward instead of forward when it comes to wins. Michigan won 11 games including the Sugar Bowl in the 2011 season, then won eight games and lost the Outback Bowl last season. On Saturday the Wolverines hope to get back to eight wins with an upset win over undefeated Ohio State. Michigan may be trending downward, an argument supported by the fact one of Michigan’s top commits in the Class of 2014, Jabril Peppers, has stated he will make other official visits in the off-season before announcing his decision.

Michigan’s transition to a more pro-style offense this season has not produced the kind of results expected by many before the year. the Wolverines have also struggled on the road (UConn, Penn State, Michigan State) and in big games, including last year’s match-ups against Alabama and Ohio State. Michigan has recruited well under Hoke but in year three as head coach it appears as though that talent is falling short of full potential in some areas. Brandon says there is no room for excuses at Michigan.

“We don’t make excuses at Michigan when we fail to reach our goals, and we never will,” Brandon said. “When we don’t meet those expectations there’s disappointment — and that starts with Brady, the coaches, players and everyone else that represents our football program. If you saw how hard everyone inside Schembechler Hall works every day, you would understand why they are disappointed.”

There have been times when an AD will come out and show a sign of support for the head coach they are responsible for hiring. That is what we see here at Michigan. Brandon has to say these things about Hoke and his staff, because his job could ultimately be on the line if it backfires. Hoke’s contract does not expire until 2016, so it would be unlikely Michigan makes any change at head coach. It would cost Michigan over $2 million to buy out his contract this off-season.

Considering Brandon did not want to pay to send Michigan’s marching band to Arlington, Texas last season for the week one match-up with Alabama, it would be a financial shock if he made a decision to buy out Hoke’s contract at this point in time.

Of course, if Hoke can lead Michigan to a win over Ohio State this weekend, all of the talk about a hot seat will vanish for a while.

Alabama reportedly in talks to play Miami in 2021 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Mark Richt may no longer be in the SEC but he still might have to go toe-to-toe with Nick Saban one more time in Atlanta.

The Tuscaloosa News is reporting that Alabama is in negotiations to return to Atlanta for the 2021 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game and play none other than Miami for a compelling matchup between two powerhouse programs and do quite a bit to stir up nostalgia for some of a different era in college football. As is the case for the future high-profile season openers as part of the series, the contest is set to be played at the new Mercedes Benz Stadium.

Playing in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game is nothing new for the Crimson Tide, as they open this year against Florida State in Week 1 and are scheduled to return to Atlanta in 2019 to take on Duke as well. The school has typically opened their season in such high-profile neutral site games but don’t have anything on the books for such a matchup starting in 2020.

Miami is also coming around to the idea of starting out the year at a big time NFL stadium for their opener and have set dates at AT&T Stadium in Arlington (against LSU) for 2018 and against in-state rival Florida in Orlando for the 2019 campaign. Adding Alabama to the slate in 2021 will just about lock up their non-conference schedule for that year, with home games against Appalachian State and Michigan State also on the docket.

Should the series eventually be confirmed (and there’s little reason to think it won’t), it will certainly be a welcome clash between two national title-winning programs. The pair last met on the field in the 1993 Sugar Bowl, when No. 2 Alabama topped No. 1 Miami 34-13 to deliver Gene Stallings and the Tide a national championship. The two current head coaches also have a bit of a history playing against each other when Richt was coaching at Georgia and staged a thrilling SEC title game in Atlanta back in 2012 that eventually sent the Tide on their way to another championship.

Hopefully everybody is still around when the time comes in 2021 because matchups like Miami and Alabama don’t seem to happen all that often.

Phone records show Hugh Freeze had over 200 calls with Ole Miss booster in NCAA case

Getty Images
2 Comments

When Hugh Freeze was fired last month by Ole Miss, most thought that the troubling patterns the school discovered were mostly focused on the coach’s calls to what were later revealed to be escort services. As it turns out, that may not be the extent of the cell phone records that landed the coach in hot water.

USA Today dug a little deeper in Freeze’s phone calls and discovered that he had at least 200 conversations with Lee Harris, a now-disassociated booster at the school who is a central figure in the ongoing NCAA case surrounding extra benefits for recruits and players. Per the report:

“The phone calls included the period in which Harris became a part of the NCAA’s investigation into Ole Miss and continued before and after his interview with the NCAA on Nov. 16, 2016, in which he provided information that was determined to be false.

Freeze was not named or deemed culpable in the specific NCAA allegation related to Harris, and it is not publicly known what the two men discussed in the calls. According to Freeze’s attorney, W.G. Watkins, Freeze and Harris met by “happenstance” sitting next to each other at church at some point after Harris’ alleged violations occurred, formed a relationship and played golf together. Watkins said Freeze never discussed the NCAA case with Harris, which would potentially be a violation of bylaw 10.1 relating to unethical conduct.”

Harris was one of several boosters included in the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations against the Rebels and was alleged by enforcement staffers to have provided free food and cash to linebacker Leo Lewis when he was being recruited by Ole Miss. Lewis eventually signed with in-state rival Mississippi State and later provided information to investigators as part of the case.

Though the phone calls are hardly a smoking gun for either Freeze or the school, the sheer volume of calls between the head coach and a booster who is alleged to have committed NCAA violations certainly raises a big eyebrow in Indianapolis and around the rest of the SEC. The fact that the calls took place on the coach’s cell phone also raises the question as to just how closely school compliance staff was monitoring their coach and whether he attempted to influence the investigation in any way by speaking about it with Harris.

Such points are bound to come up and need clear answers when Ole Miss goes in front of the NCAA Committee on Infractions for a hearing scheduled for Sept. 11th.

Third ex-Vandy football player sentenced to 15 years for rape

Getty Images
1 Comment

A third former Vanderbilt football player will spend a sizable portion of his adult life behind bars.

In June of this year, Brandon Banks was found guilty on one count each of aggravated rape and aggravated sexual battery related to a 2013 gang rape of an unconscious woman. Friday, Banks was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

In July of last year, one of Banks’ former teammates, Cory Batey, was sentenced to 15 years after being found guilty of aggravated rape. Four months later, another former Vandy football player, Brandon Vandenburg, was sentenced to 17 years after being found guilty of the same charge as Batey. The judge gave Vandenburg a longer sentence than Batey because the former was the leader in the attack and betrayed the woman’s trust.

Banks, Vandenburg, Batey and another ex-Vandy football player, Jaborian ‘Tip’ McKenziewere initially charged Aug. 9, 2013, with five counts of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery each after a police investigation determined that the four had raped an unconscious woman.

On June 28 of 2013, Vanderbilt announced that four unnamed players had been indefinitely suspended amid reports that the players were connected to an alleged sex crimes case.  The next day, Vandy officials further clarified the players’ statuses, releasing a statement announcing the dismissals of the four.  That release further added that none of the four will be permitted to return to campus without permission from the office of student conduct and academic integrity.

McKenzie has pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.  He has agreed to testify against his former teammates in exchange for what he hopes is a lighter sentence.

Georgia Tech dismisses leading rusher Dedrick Mills

Getty Images
1 Comment

I believe this one would qualify as a significant development.

In a very brief press release, Georgia Tech announced Friday afternoon that Dedrick Mills has been dismissed by Paul Johnson from the football team.  The only reason given was an unspecified violation of Tech athletics department rules.

The head coach is expected to meet with the media following practice later on this afternoon.

Regardless of the specific reason for the dismissal, Mills’ departure serves as yet another blow for the run-heavy Yellow Jackets.

Last season, Mills’ 771 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns led all Tech ball carriers.  169 of those yards came in the bowl win over Kentucky.  Mills put up all of those numbers as a true freshman despite being suspended on two different occasions for a total of three games.

Mills’ dismissal is the second huge blow to their 2017 running game as Marcus Marshall, who was second on the team last season with 624 yards, announced in late November that he would be transferring from Tech.  Less than a month later, he moved on to James Madison.

With those twin departures, Clinton Lynch‘s 415 yards last season makes him the team’s leading returning rusher.