Michigan kicker Brendan Gibbons was separated, or expelled, from the University of Michigan on December 20, 2013 as a result of an investigation in to an alleged sexual misconduct incident from 2009. This may shed some light on his status on the football team in the final few games of the 2013 season, but it also raises some others.
According to a report by Michigan Daily, revised university policies related to sexual misconduct on campus led to review of various allegations, including the case regarding Gibbons that had previously run its course. This ultimately led to the school’s decision to remove Gibbons from the university last December.
Michigan head coach Brady Hoke was named the head coach in Ann arbor after the Gibbons investigation had run its course during the Rich Rodriguez era. As far as he was concerned, Gibbons was eligible and available to play for the Wolverines without question. His handling of the re-opened investigation though is raising some questions from Michigan fans. If Hoke had been made aware of the re-opened investigation, which is a somewhat safe assumption, he certainly made no attempts to address it with the media.
On December 23, three days after the decision to remove Gibbons from the university was made official, Hoke only mentioned that his kicker did not travel with the team to Tempe, Arizona for the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl against Kansas State. The issue shared by Hoke was Gibbons was dealing with a family matter. If Gibbons had been separated from the university, Hoke would have likely been made aware of that decision and appears to have hidden that piece of information when given an opportunity to address it. A simple violation of team rules is all that would have been needed and is the typical coach explanation when a player is in some sort of trouble. This certainly would have qualified as a violation of team rules.
Questions about Hoke’s handling of Gibbons during the regular season also are now fair to question given the information provided now. In the regular season finale against rival Ohio State, on November 30, Gibbons sat out of the game due to what was reported as a muscle injury. The injury supposedly happened earlier in the week. Given the timing, it is possible the university re-opened their investigation in to the Gibbons sexual misconduct case. Under those circumstances it is fairly typical to have a player removed from the team until the investigation comes to a conclusion.
We do not know for sure what exactly Hoke knew or was told, but if the head coach was kept out of the loop on this sort of case it is fair to ask why.
It’s hard to believe that prior to last season, UAB didn’t have a football team for two years. As successful as the Blazers re-launch in the sport has been though, the next step for the program to truly be competitive in the sports landscape might have just happened on the desk of the governor this week.
AL.com notes that Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a new tax law for Jefferson County that would provide a significant sum of money for a new UAB football stadium as well as other improvements to the sprawling Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC) that already houses the arena for the program’s basketball teams.
Though there has been no contractual commitment to build the stadium just yet, the passing of the tax bill to provide some of the revenues needed is one of the first steps local leaders were hoping for. Current plans have the authorities responsible looking at building a 45,000-55,000 seat stadium for UAB football at an estimated cost of $175 million. The school is expected to chip in nearly $4 million a year toward the cost in lease payments.
It’s unclear as to the exact site of the potential stadium but it is expected to be in the downtown area somewhere near the current BJCC complex. It goes without saying that any new stadium, even an off campus such as this one, would be a massive upgrade from the Blazers current home Legion Field.
With the new law out of the way, the next steps appear to reside with local authorities to finalize plans and firmly commit to building the new venue. Construction on the new stadium is expected to begin in December of 2018 once the final green light is given.
Needless to say, UAB football is not only back but it certainly appears better than ever given this recent bit of news.
Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne seems to have shifted the Crimson Tide’s scheduling philosophy from having big neutral site openers for the football team to instead scheduling opponents the team has recently beat for a national title.
Following up their earlier report that said Alabama is looking to set up a home-and-home with historic power Notre Dame, the Tuscaloosa News says the school is also in discussions with Texas for a similar arrangement.
“I’ll say that we are exploring some home-and-homes,” a very coy Byrne told the paper.
The Irish lost to Nick Saban and the Tide in the 2012 BCS National Championship Game while the Longhorns fell out at the Rose Bowl to Alabama in the 2009 title game. The program is currently set to open with Louisville in Orlando for their 2018 opener while Duke (in 2019) and Miami (in 2021) are scheduled for games against the Tide in Atlanta. Outside of those three games and a handful of others against Group of Five opponents though, the schedule is otherwise wide open.
Texas is a different story on that front though as the Longhorns have games at Maryland and home against USC for the upcoming campaign and future dates with LSU (2019, 2020), Arkansas (2021), Ohio State (2022, 2023) and Michigan (2024, 2027). There is room for a home-and-home in 2025 and 2026 however.
Given this flurry of scheduling news and what looks to be a big change in philosophy, it seems like a home-and-home with Clemson is next up on the docket for Byrne and Saban to get done and really make beat-you-for-the-title-schedule-you-later thing an actual thing.
Tough news out of Western New York and it has nothing to do with basketball.
Syracuse quarterback Rex Culpepper posted on Instagram Friday that cancer has spread to his abdomen following surgery but it is treatable and he is expected to return to the field after undergoing chemotherapy.
Culpepper did see action last season and completed 45 passes for 518 yards and two touchdowns. The redshirt sophomore is once again expected to back up Eric Dungey once he returns to the team.
It goes without saying that the entire college football community is wishing the Orange signal-caller the best of luck and look forward to seeing him back out at the Carrier Dome next season.
Two of the most successful programs in all of college football may be set to renew their rivalry on the gridiron.
In a tidbit that can make every fan of the sport giddy with excitement, the Tuscaloosa News is reporting that Alabama is negotiating with Notre Dame about a potential home-and-home series in football. Nick Saban‘s program is also apparently pursuing a home-and-home with another big name as well in a somewhat stark scheduling philosophy change from the school after years of big neutral site games at places like AT&T Stadium in Texas and Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
“I’ll say that we are exploring some home-and-homes,” Crimson Tide athletic director Greg Byrne told the paper.
That’s not exactly denying the story…
Of course the Tide and Irish have a lengthy history in the sport, famously playing back in the 1970’s during several key bowl games and most recently contesting the 2012 BCS National Championship Game against each other (which both sides probably can’t forget about in two very different ways). Amazingly, Alabama has only played two home-and-home series since Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa and let’s just say that a trip to Duke isn’t exactly the same as going to South Bend.
As for the Irish, they’ve shown an increased appetite toward playing SEC teams in recent years. Notre Dame hosted Georgia last season and has also recently added Arkansas and Texas A&M to the docket in future years. Given how schedules are locked in so far in advance it seems doubtful we’ll be able to stage a rematch between Saban and Brian Kelly but, either way, these two programs getting together is a welcome bit of offseason news.