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.

Florida’s statement on Jim McElwain’s death-threat claim is interesting, to say the least

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Maybe it’s nothing, maybe it’s something.  Regardless, it’s something that bears watching.

Losers of two in a row and off to a 3-3 start to the season,  Florida has underperformed and underwhelmed to say the least.  So much so, in fact, that head coach Jim McElwain indicated Monday that he, his family, his coaching staff and players have been subjected to death threats by unknown individuals.

The head coach went into no detail publicly regarding the nature of the threats.  Apparently, it was the same privately when discussing the situation with his employer.

OK then.

Again, it could be in the same neighborhood as naked shark humping — nothing. Bears watching, though, as one very outspoken member of the Florida media is very much already doing publicly about a situation that was apparently reported to the media before it was reported to the police or even the university.

LOOK: Arizona State to wear Pat Tillman-themed uniforms

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Pat Tillman is essentially the Knute Rockne of Arizona State football, the central figure that will be as important to the program 100 years from now as he is today. And while Notre Dame will wear Rockne-themed uniforms later this season, so, too, will Arizona State.

The program revealed Tillman-centric uniforms on Monday for their Nov. 4 game with Colorado, based on the uniform Tillman wore as a member of the U.S. Army while fighting in Afghanistan.

Tillman played linebacker at Arizona State from 1994-97 (he was named the Pac-10’s Defensive Player of the Year as a senior) and then spent four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals before the events of 9/11 inspired him to join the U.S. Army. He was a member of the Army Rangers before he was killed in action in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004, at age 27.

Arizona State unveiled a Tillman statue at Sun Devil Stadium at its season-opening win over New Mexico State.

“Pat spent his whole life trying to be the best person he could possibly be,” Kevin Tillman, Pat’s brother, said at the unveiling. “He didn’t focus on money, he didn’t focus on fame, he didn’t focus on a pretty statue. It was, ‘How can I make myself a better person in all these different facets of my life?’ And ASU gave him an opportunity to do that.”

Jim McElwain says family, players have received death threats over 3-3 start

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Florida has lost two in a row and is off to a 3-3 start, and that streak will probably reach three on Saturday after the Gators meet No. 3 Georgia. While everyone knows SEC fans are passionate about their football, some have taken Florida’s struggles too far.

How far? By threatening to kill the players and coaches.

“I think it’s a pretty good lesson for the way things are,” head coach Jim McElwain said, via Only Gators. “There’s a lot of hate in this world and a lot of anger. And yet, it’s freedom to show it. The hard part is, obviously, when it’s threats against your own players, death threats to your families, the ill will that’s brought upon out there. And yet, I think it’s really one of those deals that really is a pretty good testament to what’s going on out there nationally. There’s a lot of angry people, and in this business, we’re the ones you take the shots at. And that’s the way it is.”

In my experience, it seems people lodging death threats are far more serious about the threat part than the, uh, other. But that’s easy for me to say, I’ve never received one.

Report: Sam Darnold expected to return to USC in 2018

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Sam Darnold was appointed the No. 1 pick of the 2018 NFL Draft on the second day of 2017. As a redshirt freshman, Darnold torched Penn State to the tune of 33-of-53 passing for 453 yards with five touchdowns and one interception in a 52-49 Rose Bowl win.

One problem, though. Darnold hasn’t played like a No. 1 pick this season.

While he hasn’t been the most disappointing player on what’s turning out to be a disappointing USC team, Darnold has posted pedestrian numbers (for him): hitting 63.5 percent of his passes for an even eight yards per attempt with 17 touchdowns against 10 interceptions. He ranks 38th nationally in passing efficiency. This puts him, coincidentally, one spot ahead of former USC quarterback Max Browne.

On Monday, NFL Draft analyst Benjamin Allbright shared a report that Darnold is expected to return to USC next season.

Considering Ronald Jones could return next season and that Stephen Carr is just a freshman, the prospect of Darnold returning in 2018 has to take the sting out of a lost 2017 for Trojans fans.