Alabama releases statement on D.J. Pettway’s return

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Wednesday was the first day players from the junior college level were permitted to sign with FBS programs.  In a surprising twist to some, both D.J. Pettway and Eastern Mississippi Community College announced that the defensive lineman had signed with Alabama.

Last February, Pettway was one of three Tide football players arrested and charged with robbery in connection to the beating of a UA student.  All three players were dismissed two weeks after the incident surfaced publicly, with a fourth player dismissed after he was charged with using a debit card stolen in the attack.

While most football programs were busy announcing its JUCO signings Wednesday, Alabama had been strangely silent on Pettway’s return.  Until now.

This afternoon, the Tide confirmed that Pettway was one of two JUCO players signed earlier in the week.  Shortly after that release, a statement attributed to UA athletic director Bill Battle was sent out to the Tuscaloosa News (vaguely) addressing Pettway’s addition to both the roster and the university.

“One of our primary points of emphasis in college athletics is to make every effort to help develop the total person. As part of the University community, there is an obligation on the part of the student-athlete, the University and the Athletics Department in helping each person that represents us to reach their potential. On occasion, there are special circumstances that arise, particularly when a young person takes the first steps on their own to earn the privilege of attending our University. We treat every disciplinary case with care and sensitivity to all involved and we respect the University’s procedures regarding punishment and readmission. We understand our responsibility, not only to the University and the student-athletes, but also to our community and our state.”

So, there’s that.

As for the questions of how Pettway could return after being charged with a pair of felonies and his exact role in the incident, the News writes that “[t]he degree of Pettway’s involvement remains unknown, however he was charged with two counts of second-degree robbery. Due to his youthful offender status, the outcome of the case remains unknown.”

For what it’s worth, Pettway’s coach at EMCC, Jordan Lesleyraved to al.com earlier this week about the player and person he had come to know during the lineman’s brief stint at the school.

“Not an ounce of trouble, not any issue off the field, in the classroom, campus, whatever. Not one single mishap. A lot of times, kids will go a couple different ways with it. A lot of times, it’s somebody else’s fault. … The first time I talked to him, he said, ‘Coach, I made a mistake. That’s really not me. I made a mistake. I’m going to learn from it. I’ve hurt a lot of people in my life and I’ve hurt the University of Alabama. I’ve hurt myself. What do I need to do?’

“When he said that, I knew what kind of kid I was dealing with. If he ever needed me, I was there for him. Watching him grow a little bit as a player but a lot as a man was a really good experience for me. I enjoyed being around him every day. He’ll be fine. He’s going to do some great things.”

Texas set to give DC Todd Orlando new contract with raise to $1.7 million a year

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Everything’s bigger in Texas — including the raises.

The Austin American-Statesman reports that the University of Texas System Board of Regents are set to approve several athletics-related contracts next week, headlined by athletic director Chris Del Conte’s multi-million dollar six-year deal and a hefty raise for Longhorns defensive coordinator Todd Orlando.

Orlando, who joined Tom Herman when he came over from Houston prior to last season, was already one of 15 assistants who were making over $1 million in 2017. He was courted by several programs this offseason however and the cost to retain him on the 40 Acres didn’t come cheap as his amended contract is set to pay him a reported $1.7 million as part of a new four-year deal.

Also on tap for the board? The Statesman notes that new offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator Herb Hand has a three-year contract awaiting approval worth nearly $640,000 annually.

While all those new contracts do add up for the Longhorns, it’s not like the burnt orange can’t afford it all as one of a handful of programs who topped $200 million in revenue last year.

Texas A&M athletic director: “There are resource issues in the ACC versus the SEC.”

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CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd recently stopped in College Station to do a deep dive on one of college football’s biggest storylinesJimbo Fisher’s $75 million move from Florida State to Texas A&M.

While the money — some $90 million for the Aggies when all is said and done — is one of the more eye-catching parts of the story that are broken down, the comments from some at the school probably won’t go unnoticed by those in Fisher’s former conference.

“I’m not going to put words in Jimbo’s mouth, but there are resource issues in the ACC versus the SEC,” Texas A&M athletic director Scott Woodward told CBS Sports, answering part of the question as to why the national title-winning head coach made the move from one of the sport’s blue-bloods to one of the oft-labeled “sleeping giants.”

We’re guessing those in ACC territory will not take kindly to those comments and note that some schools in the league have no problem raising cash, such as Clemson when it comes to their new football facility that has everything from mini-golf to sleep specialists. They also would probably point out that the conference has just as many national titles in the past five years as the SEC does too.

Still, when you look at the larger picture, there’s little question that the SEC is ahead of the ACC when it comes to revenues as a whole and the slow pace of facilities upgrades in Tallahassee was one of the many public grumbles that Fisher made known about before leaving FSU.

Something says all those ACC-SEC football games in 2018 will see Woodward’s comments brought up again — especially when Clemson heads to College Station to play Texas A&M in Week 2.

UCF’s Shaquem Griffin wins inaugural Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award

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UCF has won another trophy for last season and this is one they can very proudly display in the school trophy case.

That’s because recent Knights linebacker Shaquem Griffin was named the winner of the inaugural Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award during a ceremony in the Dallas area on Thursday night. Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph were also finalists for the new award.

Griffin was one of the best players in college football for UCF despite the fact that his left hand was amputated when he was younger because of a congenital condition called amniotic band syndrome. A tenacious pass rusher, he was the AAC’s defensive player of the year in 2016 and was recently named the defensive MVP of the Peach Bowl as his team capped off a perfect season.

The award honors “exemplary leadership” on and off the field from a Division I college football player and was presented by Witten’s foundation. The former Tennessee star and All-Pro tight end with the Dallas Cowboys started the award last year and serves somewhat as the college version of the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award.

HBO releases new trailer for Joe Paterno movie starring Al Pacino

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We’re inching closer to the release date of HBO’s Paterno about former Penn State head coach Joe Paterno and his story in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal. Emotions already run high in State College whenever this subject is brought up and that seems like it will be the case again after today as the worst scandal in college sports history is relived and brought vividly to life on cable TV.

This is something that is happening however and HBO released a new, official trailer for the film on Friday that gives us an extended look at both Al Pacino in the title role and a bit more on some of the plot lines that are being brought to the silver screen.

In addition to starring Pacino, Barry Levinson is directing the movie, Riley Keough plays reporter Sara Ganim, Kathy Baker is Sue Paterno and Darren Goldstein was cast as former Nittany Lions coach-turned-whistleblower Mike McQuearyAs you can see in the trailer above, the film is mostly centered on what Paterno did or did not know about Sandusky — the team’s defensive coordinator who was found guilty on 45 of 48 child-sex abuse charges in June of 2012 and is currently serving a prison sentence of at least 30 years.

Paterno premieres April 7th on HBO.