Missouri Tennessee Football

OU, DGB face long, uphill climb in winning waiver claim

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As you no doubt have heard by now, Oklahoma shocked most observers by announcing that it had added erstwhile Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham.

It was thought by many that Green-Beckham would be forced to sit out the 2014 season and then, if he decided against an early jump to the NFL next January, suit up for the Sooners in 2015. While that’s still the likely course for both the player and the program, the two sides are looking into immediate eligibility.

Both ESPN.com‘s Joe Schad and FOXSports.com‘s Bruce Feldman reported that a hardship waiver would be pursued that, if approved, would grant Green-Beckham immediate eligibility. Feldman went so far as to tweet that “[t]here is a shot that Dorial Green-Beckham could be eligible for an NCAA waiver to play this YR & I am told #OU will pursue that process.”

We might, though, want to tap the brakes on the optimism.

More than likely, OU and Green-Beckham will appeal for what’s described as a run-off waiver. In a post made earlier this year, John Infante of the Bylaw Blog explained the little-known waiver:

In September 2012, the NCAA Division I Subcommittee for Legislative Relief adopted guidelines for waivers based on an assertion that the student-athlete was “run off” by their previous institution. The NCAA staff is directed to grant relief in cases where an athlete is ineligible for the one-time transfer exception due to playing a sport which does not have the exception or because it is their second (or more) transfer between four-year schools. The institution filing the waiver on behalf of the student-athlete has to include the following documentation:

— Documentation demonstrating that the student-athlete would not have had the opportunity to return to the previous institution’s team for reasons outside the control of the student-athlete.
— A written statement from the applicant institution that the student-athlete is in good academic standing and meets all progress-toward-degree requirements at applicant institution.
— A written statement from the student-athlete’s previous institution indicating that the previous institution supports the request.

And therein lies the issue with this particular tack. Green-Beckham was dismissed from the football team at Missouri following three run-ins with the law and a pair of suspensions. In other words, his dismissal was due to his actions and was entirely within the control of the student-athlete.

Infante did note that there would be a way around that aspect of this particular waiver, but it would involve Mizzou stretching the truth and bending reality:

But the run-off waiver will be a tough sell. Green-Beckham was dismissed from the football team back in April. The comments from Missouri combined with the fact that Green-Beckham was suspended indefinitely just before he was dismissed make it unlikely that his inability to play for Missouri this coming season was “for reasons outside the control of the student-athlete.” Missouri would have to explain away those statements show that Green-Beckham was dismissed not for disciplinary reasons, but because he essentially was not good enough.

If Missouri decided to do that, produced the required documentation, and supported the waiver, I doubt the NCAA would question it. But that might be asking too much from Missouri especially if his dismissal from the team was in fact due to disciplinary reasons. And if he was dismissed from the university in addition to the football team, that would trump whatever Missouri’s athletic department might say.

OU and Green-Beckham are well within their rights to massage the system in an effort to get a very talented player on the field immediately, but this appears to be nothing more than a Hail Mary from their own one-yard line.

Arizona signee My-King Johnson set to become FBS’ first active openly gay scholarship player

TUCSON, AZ - NOVEMBER 25:  Head coach Rich Rodriguez of the Arizona Wildcats watches from the sidelines during the Territorial Cup college football game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Arizona Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Arizona signee My-King Johnson probably caught most Wildcats’ fans attention with his impressive name when it was listed among the 23 signees for the football program on National Signing Day.

The 6-3, 225 pound defensive end’s name is set to become a little more well known however.

In a story on Saturday in the Arizona Daily Star, Johnson confirmed that he would become the first active openly gay scholarship player in FBS when he enrolls over the summer down in Tucson.

“I do feel like when I say that, it can put a target on my back,” Johnson told the paper about going public with his sexuality. “But whatever.”

Johnson is far from the only gay athlete to play major college football but does appear to be one of the first to go public on the matter prior to suiting up for a major program. Missouri’s Michael Sam came out once he entered the NFL Draft. Just up the road in Tempe, where Johnson went to high school, Arizona State walk-on Chip Sarafin told his teammates in 2014.

From the Daily Star:

When Johnson told UA assistant Vince Amey about his sexuality while being recruited, the coach’s reaction — “We want you to be a Wildcat” — was exactly what he wanted to hear.

Johnson picked the Wildcats despite offers from numerous FBS programs, including many in the Pac-12. Perhaps coincidentally, he really jumped on the radar of the coaching staff when he sacked quarterback Rhett Rodriguez, an Arizona signee himself (and the son of head coach Rich Rodriguez), three times in a high school game.

It certainly seems as though Johnson is very comfortable telling his story to a wider audience than just his teammates and coaches by doing the interview with the Daily Star and the environment down in Tucson has been very welcoming to all the new attention that it will bring. As the Wildcats begin spring practice this month, chances are the coaching staff is probably just as excited about the prospect of Johnson making an instant impact on defense this fall after seeing plenty of issues on that side of the ball during a 3-9 campaign in 2016.

Central Michigan AD taking same position at Arizona

TUCSON, AZ - NOVEMBER 25:  Wide receiver Samajie Grant #10 of the Arizona Wildcats celebrates after scoring on a two yard rushing touchdown against the Arizona State Sun Devils during the fourth quarter of the Territorial Cup college football game at Arizona Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Arizona has its replacement for former athletic director Greg Byrne.

Central Michigan AD Dave Heeke is set to take the same position in Tucson with the Wildcats, the school announced Saturday afternoon.

“I couldn’t be more excited to be part of the Arizona Athletics family. It is truly an honor to be named the new Vice President for Athletics and have the opportunity to return to the prestigious Pac-12 Conference,” Heeke said in a release. “I want to thank Dr. Hart and those involved with the search process for their confidence in my ability to lead one of the premiere athletics departments in the country. This program is about excellence and we will continue to focus on achieving at the very highest level athletically and academically, while creating the finest experience in the country for our student-athletes.

Heeke has been in Mount Pleasant since early 2006 and found plenty of success with the MAC school across numerous sports. In football, he notably hired Butch Jones to replace Brian Kelly when the latter left for Cincinnati and has seen the Chippewas make a bowl game eight times during his tenure.

While he is a Michigan native, he’s no stranger to the way things operate out West having spent 18 years at Oregon. While he held a variety of roles in Eugene, he eventually became a senior associate athletic director with the Ducks before departing for CMU.

Arizona had a vacancy in their athletic leadership ever since Byrne left to become Alabama’s AD not long after the national title game in January.

UTEP’s Theron Aych named new receivers coach at Arizona

TUCSON, AZ - SEPTEMBER 10:  Wide receiver Trey Griffey #5 of the Arizona Wildcats catches the ball in front of defensive back Jaterious Pouncey #48 of the Grambling State Tigers for a 34 yard touchdown in the third quarter at Arizona Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
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Spring practice is already underway in Tucson but it took until the end of this week for Arizona to finally have a complete offensive coaching staff.

The Wildcats announced on Saturday that Theron Aych would be taking over as the team’s new receivers coach, filling a vacancy created when Tony Dews left for West Virginia.

Aych helped provide a nice boost to the Miners’ passing game in his one season in El Paso and spent five seasons at Division II Angelo State prior to that. He served as the offensive coordinator and assistant head coach with the Rams during his five-year stint before moving up to the FBS level.

The Pac-12 is no new experience for Aych though, as he served as a graduate assistant at Washington over a decade ago.

Aych should have his work cut out for him this spring with the team featuring plenty of young players at the receiver position while also dealing with the loss of standouts like Trey Griffey and reliable veteran Nate Phillips both gone.

Colorado rounds out new defensive staff with hire of former Purdue DC Ross Els

EUGENE, OR - NOVEMBER 22:  Head coach Mike MacIntyre of the Colorado Buffaloes looks on prior to the game against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium on November 22, 2014 in Eugene, Oregon. The Ducks defeated the Buffaloes 44-10.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
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Just in the nick of time, Mike MacIntyre has rounded out his new defensive staff for the 2017 season.

The Buffaloes announced on Friday evening that former Purdue defensive coordinator Ross Els would be joining the program and serving as inside linebackers coach. The release notes that Els’ paperwork was completed in time for him to join the team for their second practice of spring ball.

“Coach Ross Els brings a lot of energy,” MacIntyre said.  “He has great experience as a coordinator, positions coach and special teams coach, and we’re really excited about having his expertise in those phases in our program.”

Els adds plenty of experience to Boulder, having coached linebackers at New Mexico State, Ohio and Nebraska. In addition, he was the Boilermakers’ defensive coordinator  and safeties coach last season.

The move completes the staff for the Buffs after seeing a number of coaches depart to Oregon with former coordinator Jim Leavitt.