NCAA once again defends itself in handling of Penn State sanctions

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The NCAA may have rescinded the sanctions levied on Penn State three summers ago, but it continues to defend the way it responded to the Jerry Sandusky scandal in State College. In court documents filed Wednesday in the Paterno family lawsuit, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports the NCAA says the Sandusky scandal “fell squarely within” its authority and stated the crimes involved showed “a profound lack of institutional integrity and institutional control.”

The NCAA is standing by the findings of the Louis Freeh Report, which was adopted by the NCAA in place of its own investigation of Penn State. The NCAA has claimed time and time again the findings in the Freeh Report were more thorough and concise than any investigation the NCAA would have been capable of putting together, although the integrity of Freeh himself has come under scrutiny on multiple occasions as well.

In April NCAA President Mark Emmert admitted he could have handled the Penn State situation a little differently, but he has also defending the NCAA’s involvement and need to respond to everything that occurred on Penn State’s campus and around the football program.

The NCAA slammed Penn State with a four-year postseason ban, a significant reduction in scholarships, a hefty $60 million fine and vacated 112 wins of which 11 were credited to the late Joe Paterno. Those sanctions were handed down in the summer of 2012, following the publication and release of the Louis Freeh Report. Since issuing the sanctions, the NCAA partially restored scholarships following positive annual reviews from George Mitchell. Last September the NCAA lifted the final two years of the postseason ban, allowing Penn State the opportunity to play in the Pinstripe Bowl last December. In January the NCAA lifted the remainder of the sanction terms and restored all vacated victories, although an agreement was made for Penn State to continue paying off the $60 million to go toward child abuse awareness.

Sandusky was found guilty of 45 counts related to child sexual abuse and is serving 30-60 years in prison.

Mississippi State RB Kylin Hill declares for draft, will play in Music City Bowl vs. Louisville

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There’s good news and bad news on the early-entry front for Mississippi State.

The bad? As expected, Kylin Hill announced via Twitter Thursday that, “after much prayer and discussion with my family… I will be forgoing my final season of eligibility and entering my name in the 2020 NFL Draft.”

The good? Hill confirmed that he will be playing in the Music City Bowl matchup versus Louisville Dec. 30.

Hill led the Bulldogs and the SEC this past season with 1,347 yards rushing and 10 rushing touchdowns on 235 carries.  He added 17 catches for 174 yards and another touchdown coming out of the backfield.

For his career, Hill totaled 2,474 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground, and another 473 and five through the air.

Joe Burrow wins Associated Press Player of the Year in a landslide

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Come Saturday evening, when the results coming out of New York City are made official, I suspect this won’t be the first time we string the words “Joe Burrow” and “wins in a landslide” in the same sentence.

The Associated Press Thursday announced its College Football Player of the Year and, to the surprise of no one, Burrow claimed yet another piece of postseason hardware.  There were 53 media members who voted for the AP award; 50 of them cast first-place votes for Burrow, helping give the LSU quarterback a total of 156 points.

The senior, who is now viewed by some as the likely No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, currently leads the nation in passing touchdowns with 48 and completion percentage at 77.9 percent; right now, the completion percentage would be an FBS record, surpassing the 76.7 percent put up by Texas’ Colt McCoy in 2008.  The Ohio State transfer is also second in the nation in passing yards (4,715) and passing efficiency (201.5).

Speaking of Ohio State, a pair of Buckeyes, defensive end Chase Young and quarterback Justin Fields, finished well behind Burrow in the voting.  Young, who was the only other player to receive first-place votes, totaled 29 points while Fields totaled 43.  Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts was fourth in the voting.

All four of those players mentioned, incidentally, were named as Heisman Trophy finalists earlier this week.

New USF HC Jeff Scott lands commitment from ex-South Carolina RB

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After a season away, Lavonte Valentine is back at the FBS level.

By way of his personal Twitter account Wednesday, Valentine announced that he has decided to transfer to South Florida and continue his collegiate playing career with the Bulls.  As Valentine, whose transfer from South Carolina was confirmed in August of this year, comes to USF from the NAIA level, he will be eligible to play immediately in 2020.

The move comes a couple of days after Clemson offensive coordinator Jeff Scott was named as the football program’s next head coach.

Coming out of high school in Melbourne, Fla., Valentine was a three-star member of South Carolina’s 2018 recruiting class, rated as the No. 18 all-purpose running back in the country.  In part because of a torn ACL suffered his senior season of high school that caused him to miss spring practice and fall behind on the depth chart, Valentine took a redshirt for his true freshman season.

Valentine did, though, run track for USC this past spring, and he told The State that he will run track and play football at USF.

Eli Drinkwitz adds Charlie Harbison to first Mizzou staff

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Not surprisingly, Eli Drinkwitz‘s first coaching staff in Columbia is taking on a bit of a Boone feel to it.

Although it has yet to be confirmed, Drinkwitz is expected to add Appalachian State special teams coordinator Erik Link in the same capacity at Missouri.  What has been confirmed, though, is that Drinkwitz has brought Charlie Harbison along with him to the Tigers, a release from the football program announced.

Right now, Harbison will carry the official title of Associate Head Coach/Defense; his specific duties will be spelled out later.

“Charlie brings a wealth of experience with him to the defensive side of the football, having coached at the highest levels including the SEC and the NFL,” said Drinkwitz in a statement. “He’s an outstanding man of character who knows what it means to mentor players both in football and in life.”

Harbison spent one season with Drinkwitz at App State, where he served as the Mountaineers’ cornerbacks coach.  He was also the Sun Belt school’s associated head coach.

Previously, Harbison has spent time as the defensive coordinator or co-defensive coordinator at three Power Five programs — Auburn (2013-14), Clemson (2009-12) and Mississippi State (2008).  He’s also was the cornerbacks coach at Alabama from 1998-2000.

In addition to bringing in coaches that worked on his staff at App State, he’s expected to retain at least three of Barry Odom‘s former assistants, including defensive coordinator/safeties coach Ryan Walters, defensive line coach Brick Haley, and defensive backs coach David Gibbs. Those retentions have yet to be officially announced.