Brendan Gibbons

Feds probing Michigan’s response to 2009 rape allegations

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A story that Michigan hopes will quickly fade into the background simply won’t.  If anything, it continues to do nothing but grow in size and scope.

According to the Detroit News, an arm of the United State Department of Education, the Office for Civil Rights, has launched an investigation into the university’s handling of and response to an alleged rape in 2009.  The victim in the alleged rape was a UM student while the alleged attacker was former Wolverines kicker Brendan Gibbons.

While Gibbons was arrested in connection to the alleged rape, he was never formally charged.

Two formal complaints filed with the Department of Education prompted the investigation.  Thus far, the timeline of the university’s response to the alleged incident has raised questions as to the handling of the situation. with some hinting of a coverup on behalf of the storied football program.  Head coach Brady Hoke released a statement earlier this month defending the “character… integrity” of the program and the university, but questions still remain as to why it took four years for Gibbons to be expelled.

According to the Michigan Daily report, revised university policies related to sexual misconduct on campus led to review of various allegations, including the case involving Gibbons. This revised policy ultimately led to the school’s decision to expel Gibbons.

Nov. 20 of last year, Gibbons was informed via a letter from the university that it had been determined there is a “preponderance of evidence” to suggest he committed sexual misconduct.  Three days later, Gibbons played in Michigan’s three-point loss to Iowa.  Gibbons did not play in the regular-season finale against Ohio State due to what was described as a muscle pull.  Hoke announced Dec. 23 that Gibbons would not travel with the team for the Wolverines’ Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl game against Kansas State due to a family matter.

Three days prior to Hoke’s revelation, Gibbons was notified by the school that he had been expelled.  Questions of when Hoke and the football program became aware of the issue surrounding Gibbons have swirled of late, although Hoke, when asked that question directly, cited privacy laws in declining to answer.  In his statement defending the UM athletic department, Hoke said that “while I would like to be more forthcoming, I can’t provide any details due to federal privacy laws and University policies.”

One of the complaints that prompted the DOE probe came from blogger Douglas Smith, who received the following response from the federal agency:

“[The Office for Civil Rights] has determined it is appropriate to proceed to investigation on the following issue: that the university failed to promptly and equitably respond to complaints, reports and/or incidents of sexual violence of which it had notice, and, as a result, students were subjected to a sexually hostile environment.”

For its part, the university said in a statement that it is proud of its policy in regards to matters such as these and that it is fully cooperating with the DOE.

“We’re very proud of our student sexual misconduct policy, our prevention efforts and our programs to support survivors of sexual misconduct,” UM spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said according to the Press. “We will fully cooperate with the Department of Education and we believe that a review of our policy, programs and investigations will conclude that the University of Michigan is doing what it should in this important area.”

UCLA takes advantage of Stanford miscues to lead 10-3 at halftime

PASADENA, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Head coach Jim Mora of the UCLA Bruins greets his players after a fourth quarter touchdown against the UNLV Rebels at the Rose Bowl on September 10, 2016 in Pasadena, California.  UCLA won 42-21.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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UCLA did their best to battle their demons when facing off against league rival Stanford in the first half on Saturday night at the Rose Bowl.

The Bruins took advantage of two Cardinal turnovers and converted both into scores as they took a 10-3 lead into the locker room.

Quarterback Josh Rosen was 7-of-11 for 77 yards for UCLA and tossed a beautiful strike into the hands of Nate Iese for the game’s only touchdown.

Stanford superstar Christian McCaffrey was mostly held in check by his standards: 13 yards receiving and just 59 yards rushing on 10 carries. The story of the Stanford offense came at quarterback however, as starter Ryan Burns tossed an interception and was replaced on the next series by backup Keller Chryst. Burns later returned to action but it could be a short leash for the signal-caller if things don’t pick up in the second half.

Auburn can’t find the end zone but does pull off the upset over No. 18 LSU

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 24:  Danny Etling #16 of the LSU Tigers is pressured by Jeff Holland #4 of the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 24, 2016 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Heading into Saturday’s matchup between the Tigers of Auburn and the Tigers of LSU, all anybody in SEC country could talk about was job status of the two head coaches and if — or when — they would be fired.

Call it the Buyout Bowl or the Hot Seat Shootout if you must, but it was Auburn’s Gus Malzahn who emerged victorious in a 18-13 win that was the furthest thing from an offensive showcase but perfectly encapsulated the whacky careers of both coaches in the final seconds.

LSU had a chance to win the game in the final seconds after mounting an impressive drive 60 yard drive into the red zone. After quarterback Danny Etling got off a pass to Malachi Dupre on the 10 yard line on third and 16, the Tigers hustled up to the line but were called for an illegal shift on the ensuing play.

With just one second left on the clock after officials reviewed things, Etling appeared to throw a remarkable game-winning touchdown pass to the back of the end zone. That set off a crazy celebration on the LSU sideline given that they had apparently won the game in the most Les Miles-esque of fashions.

But it was not meant to be.

Officials reviewed the play and said LSU did not in fact get the play off and Auburn escaped with the win thanks to six Daniel Carlson field goals. It was the Tigers first home win in seven tries over a Power Five opponent and snapped a streak of six straight losses at home to SEC teams.

The win certainly buys Malzhan a bit of a cooler hot seat come Sunday morning but does no favors to that of Miles’ seat. The veteran LSU head coach was nearly axed after last season but returned, and then promptly lost the team’s opener to Wisconsin to hear even more calls for his firing.

Those calls will surely intensify again after Saturday’s wild night on the Plains in what could prove to be the beginning of the end for at least one head coach in the SEC West.

Jim Harbaugh thinks Jeremy Clark’s injury is ‘a season-ender’

EAST LANSING, MI - OCTOBER 25: Jarrod Wilson #22 and Jeremy Clark #34 of the Michigan Wolverines watch the action from the sidelines during the fourth quarter of the game at Spartan Stadium on October 25 , 2014 in East Lansing, Michigan. The Spartans defeated the Wolverines 35-11. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
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Jeremy Clark started the first three games of the 2016 season for Michigan because All-American Jourdan Lewis was battling through some nagging injuries.

Lewis (pictured, No. 34) returned to the lineup Saturday against Penn State, but, unfortunately, it appears his replacement has been lost for a substantial period of time.  In fact, after the beatdown of the Nittany Lions, head coach Jim Harbaugh didn’t shy away from the fact that the senior cornerback is likely gone for the remainder of the year with a torn ACL.

“Sad right now about Jeremy Clark, I don’t think we’re going to be able to dodge a bullet on that one. That’s got everyone in the locker room a little sad right now,” Harbaugh said. “We think it’s a season-ender, we think it’s an ACL. We’ll know more tonight.”

A fifth-year senior, whether Clark would qualify for a sixth season is decidedly unclear.

While Clark stepped aside for the return of Lewis, he would’ve been a consideration for the starter at the corner position opposite the All=Big Ten performer.  At the very least, he likely would’ve served as the nickel corner.

Prior to this season, Clark had made 13 starts for the Wolverines.

WATCH: Woman blocks football with her face at LSU-Auburn game

AUBURN, AL - AUGUST 30:  Nova the eagle buzzes the crowd while flying into Jordan Hare Stadium before the game between the Auburn Tigers and the Arkansas Razorbacks on August 30, 2014 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
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They say that a picture is worth a 1,000 words.  This vine, then, is worth 1,000 times a picture.  Or a million.

I. Can’t. Stop. Laughing.

Must.  Stop.  Watching.

Can’t.

And, for those like myself concerned about the women’s well-being, she took to Twitter on a couple of occasions to confirm that, yes, she is indeed alright.

One more thing, for those who question my laughing at another’s misfortune: I laugh, and will continue to laugh way too much and way too hard at the video below every single time I see it. The cute little girl doing the face plant? My then-six-year-old daughter.