Report: Washington DL coach Tosh Lupoi under investigation for possible NCAA rules violation

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Washington defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi is under investigation by both Washington and USC (his prospective employer) for allegedly paying for online classes and tutoring for a recruit, the Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday.

The allegations involve defensive lineman Andrew Basham, who signed with the Huskies last February but failed to qualify academically. If the allegations are found to be true, Lupoi would be guilty of a major NCAA violation, which could also result in trouble for his former boss, current USC coach Steve Sarkisian.

Mike Davis, a throwing coach who helped Basham win a state shotput title, told The Times that Tosh Lupoi, Washington’s defensive line coach, gave him $3,000 to cover private tutoring for Basham through a test preparation company. Davis said he also received $1,500 from Lupoi to reimburse Basham’s father for online classes Andrew could use to raise his grade-point average.

NCAA rules prohibit universities from paying for a prospect’s academic services. Head coaches are required to “promote an atmosphere of compliance” and are held responsible for the actions of assistant coaches and administrators who report, directly or indirectly, to them.

Be sure to read the whole story as it details the sneaky ways Lupoi passed cash to Davis.

Lupoi got his start at Cal, where he played in the early 2000s before coaching under Jeff Tedford. He earned a reputation as a great recruiter, bringing to Berkeley such national recruits as Keenan Allen and Chris Martin. He was then hired away to Washington by Sarksian in 2012 and had a hand in getting 5-star recruit Shaq Thompson to switch his commitment from the Bears to the Huskies. While he’s respected for his ability to relate to recruits, he’s long been suspected in recruiting circles of playing fast and loose with NCAA rules.

Now that Sarkisian has been hired by USC, the thought was that Lupoi might join him on staff. However, the USC compliance office is unlikely to let that happen now — “less than zero” is how a source from USC characterized those chances to the Times reporter.

If these allegations have any credence, it would mean major egg on the face of Trojans athletic director Pat Haden, who crowed about Sarkisian being “a good fit” for USC when he announced the hire a couple weeks ago. With USC still in the throes of NCAA probation, hiring a coach who himself hired an assistant who passed around cash to recruits and their coaches would not be a good thing, especially if Sarkisian is found to be culpable for failing to promote an atmosphere at Washington that respects NCAA rules.

It’s not easy to create a mess for two programs at once, but Lupoi appears to be well on his way.

Photo courtesy of Washington athletics.

Nick Saban, on QB controversy: ‘there isn’t one’

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Consider The Nicktator perturbed.  Again.

Jalen Hurts (pictured, right) helped lead Alabama to the national championship game as a true freshman last season and is seemingly the Crimson Tide’s unquestioned starter as we trudge toward summer.  Five-star 2017 signee Tua Tagovailoa (pictured, left), however, had an impressive first spring in Tuscaloosa, capped off with an excellent showing in the annual A-Day game this past weekend.

The true freshman passed for 315 yards and three touchdowns in what amounted to a glorified scrimmage, while the incumbent threw for 301 yards and a pair of scores.  Hurts also tossed the lone interception between the two on the day.

Tagovailoa’s showing throughout the 15 spring practice sessions had led some to wonder whether there could be a quarterback controversy brewing at ‘Bama.  According to Nick Saban, that’s just the media being the media.

“Jalen Hurts played a lot of good football for us last year, and he’s certainly made a lot of progress this spring,” the head coach said by way of al.com. “Even though all of you in the press are trying to make a quarterback controversy out of nothing, which is what you’re doing right now, there isn’t one.”

LOOK: Jim Harbaugh hooks Pope Francis up with Michigan helmet, pair of Jordans

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There’s a series of words I’d never imagined I’d string together in a headline.

As you may have heard, Jim Harbaugh has taken his Michigan football team to Italy for an offseason European vacation.  As part of the trip, the team is in the Vatican City today and took in the Pope’s Wednesday address to the masses in St. Peter’s Square — the players and athletic director Warde Manuel sat amongst the crowd while the head coach and his wife were seated on the same stage as Pope Francis.

Following the address, and after a wait of nearly a half-hour, Harbaugh was able to meet with and speak to His Holiness.  The coach didn’t come empty-handed, either, as Pope Francis was gifted with a Michigan football helmet and a pair of Air Jordans.  Michigan-themed, of course.

“This is as good as it gets,” Harbaugh said according to mlive.com after his meeting with the pope. “This has been the experience of my lifetime.”

Tulane turns to Jonathan Banks as starter at QB

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Last season, there was just one FBS team — Army and its triple-option (967) — that passed for fewer yards than Tulane’s 1,360.  Tulane’s team passing efficiency rating of 93.12 was 128th of the 128 teams at this level of football.  Their completion percentage of 42.2 was, again, 128th in the FBS.  Their 5.3 yards per attempt was… 127th.

This season, the Green Wave’s passing hopes in a run-heavy offense will likely land on the shoulders of a junior college transfer.

Throughout the spring, Jonathan Banks had taken the majority of reps with the first-team offense.  Tuesday, Willie Fritz confirmed that Banks will be his starter under center heading into summer camp and, presumably, for the program’s season opener against Grambling at home Sept. 2.

At least for now, Banks has staked his claim to the job after a competition that included Glen Cuiellette and Jonathan Brantley, the starter and backup, respectively, last season.

“He did a good job this spring picking things up,” the head coach said according to nola.com. “We evaluated practices 1 through 15 and I thought, for a guy coming into a new situation, he did a very good job. He provides us with both a passing and a running threat, which in our offense you need to have.

“We’re excited about his development.”

Drew O’Bryan leaves Western Kentucky, drops down to FCS level

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Another day, another FBS player has transitioned away from his first college football home.

On his personal Twitter account recently, Drew O’Bryan acknowledged his decision to transfer from Western Kentucky. Additionally, he announced his next destination for good measure — Eastern Kentucky.

The linebacker said he made the decision “[a]fter talking with my family and many prayers.”

As EKU plays at the Football Championship Subdivision level, O’Bryan will be eligible to play immediately for the Colonels in 2017.

O’Bryan was a two-star member of WKU’s 2016 recruiting class, rated as the No. 18 player at any position in the state of Kentucky. He took a redshirt as a true freshman.