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.

Kevin Stepherson one of four dismissed by Notre Dame

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At least in South Bend, Kevin Stepherson‘s freefall is complete.

According to 247Sports.com, Stepherson, along with three other Notre Dame football players — sophomore running backs CJ Holmes and Deon McIntosh as well as junior defensive tackle Brandon Tiassum — have been dismissed from the Fighting Irish program.  No specific reason or reasons for the dismissals were given.

Stepherson was one of four Irish players who were suspended for the team’s Citrus Bowl matchup with LSU, with the wide receiver’s suspension stemming from a handful of off-field issues.

Dec. 15, Stepherson was arrested for shoplifting.  The day before that arrest, Stepherson was pulled over on a traffic stop and charged with marijuana possession, driving without a valid license and speeding (he was clocked doing 80 in a 60 mph zone). To make matters worse, at the time of his twin arrests the receiver was already on probation for a marijuana-related arrest in August of 2016.

Adding to the off-field issues, Stepherson was suspended for the first four games of the 2017 season for reasons unrelated to the arrest in August of 2016.

At the time of the second suspension, Stepherson led the Fighting Irish in receiving touchdowns with five and yards per catch at 18.9 despite missing one-third of the regular season because of the first suspension.  His 19 receptions and 359 receiving yards were both good for third on the team.

Another of the players who were dismissed, Holmes, was arrested along with Stepherson in the shoplifting incident.  Holmes ran for 32 yards on eight carries this season.

McIntosh was the fourth of the four players suspended for the bowl game.  At the time of his suspension, McIntosh was third on the team in rushing with 368 yards and five touchdowns.

Tiassum played very sparsely this past season, and wasn’t looking at much more playing time in 2018.

West Virginia, Pitt to renew Backyard Brawl in 2022 opener

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For those waiting for the renewal of the Backyard Brawl, we now know exactly how long you have to wait. The schools announced Tuesday that the Pitt-West Virginia rivalry will again be played on Sept. 3, 2022, in the season opener for both sides. The schools previously announced a four-game series from 2022-25, but the first matchup was set for Sept. 17, 2022.

The games in even numbered years will be held in Pittsburgh, while odd numbered games will switch to Morgantown.

Pitt and WVU last met on Nov. 25, 2011, a 21-20 Mountaineers win in Morgantown. West Virginia has won the last three meetings and 14 of the last 21, but Pitt holds a 61-40-3 all-time advantage in a series that dates back to 1895. Between 1929 and 1951, the Panthers and Mountaineers met annually, with West Virginia winning just once.

Pitt will complete its own rivalry renewal with Penn State over the next two seasons; the Panthers host the Nittany Lions on Sept. 8 of this coming season, and will visit Beaver Stadium on Sept. 14, 2019. Pitt hosts Notre Dame in 2020 and visits Tennessee in ’21. With today’s adjustment, Pitt is now set to open the 2022 season with back-to-back home games with West Virginia and Tennessee. Pitt is also set to visit both West Virginia and Notre Dame in 2023, and will face the Mountaineers and Irish again in 2025.

West Virginia opens this coming season with Tennessee in Charlotte, and visits NC State two weeks later. The Mountaineers visit Missouri and host NC State in 2019. WVU is set to double-up with Power 5 non-conference opponents every year through 2024: vs. Florida State (at Atlanta) and vs. Maryland in 2020, at Maryland and vs. Virginia Tech in 2021, at Pittsburgh and at Virginia Tech in 2022, at Penn State and vs. Pitt in 2023, and vs. Penn State and at Pitt in 2024.

Oklahoma AD Joe Castiglione reportedly set to join CFP selection committee

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The College Football Playoff is set to replace six selection committee members before next season, and the first one is in. Oklahoma AD Joe Castiglione will join the committee, according to ESPN’s Heather Dinich.

Castiglione will replace Texas Tech AD Kirby Hocutt, who also served as the committee’s chairman.

This will be the third selection committee on which Castiglione has served, finishing the Big Three trifecta after he worked on the baseball and men’s basketball committees. He will be on the committee for the 2018, ’19 and ’20 seasons.

Castiglione will be forced to recusal himself from any discussions involving Oklahoma, a 2015 and 2017 participant in the College Football Playoff. Ohio State AD Gene Smith and Clemson AD Dan Radakovich also did the same regarding their programs. Radakovich is also set to cycle off the committee this year, along with former Arkansas AD Jeff Long, former NCAA executive Tom Jernstedt, former Stanford, Notre Dame and Washington head coach Tyrone Willingham and former USA Today reporter Steve Wieberg.

Iowa State QB Kyle Kempt petitioning for extra year of eligibility

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Iowa State quarterback Kyle Kempt was a senior in 2017. If it’s up to him, he’ll be a senior again in 2018.

Kempt is attempting to apply the “run off” rule to gain an extra year of eligibility, in which the NCAA grants additional years to players who are “run off” from their original four-year schools. He signed with Oregon State out of Massillon, Ohio, but did not play in his two seasons there. “They told me I wasn’t going to play there,” Kempt said last month, according to the Des Moines Register.

Kempt spent the 2015 season at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas before joining the squad at Iowa State. He was the Cyclones’ Scout Team Player of the Year in 2016 before bursting on the scene this season, famously hitting 18-of-24 passes for 343 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions in a 38-31 win at No. 3 Oklahoma. He had not thrown a single major college pass before that. Kempt finished the year hitting 66.3 percent of his throws for 1,787 yards with 15 touchdowns against three interceptions.

Iowa State closed the year at 8-5 with a win over No. 25 Memphis in the Liberty Bowl. It was Iowa State’s best season since 2000.

“It’s a really fluid situation right now,” Campbell told the Register. “The percentages continue to go back and forth — yes, we think Kyle will be back, no we don’t think he’ll be back, and yes he will.

“It’s a little unsettling, but we have to prepare as if Kyle wouldn’t be coming back.”

If Kempt is not back, Iowa State would go through the odd transition of losing three experienced quarterbacks in a single season. Quarterback-turned-linebacker Joel Lanning graduated and Jacob Park was released from his scholarship. The next most experienced quarterback returning is rising sophomore Zeb Noland, a Watkinsville, Ga., native who threw 66 passes and started one game in 2017.