The 2015 season may not start off with a bit of controversy off the field for Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood. NJ.com reports today Flood is being investigated for impermissible contact with a university faculty member over the status of one of his players. The report suggests Flood could ultimately face a suspension, or perhaps even be fired, although that is purely speculation at this point in time. Either way, it sure makes it sound serious.
Per NJ.com‘s Keith Sargeant, the investigation at Rutgers is centered on an email from Flood’s personal email account to a faculty member of Rutgers’ arts school. The player in question is reportedly cornerback Nadir Barnwell, a junior. Barnwell reportedly faces academic ineligibility for the upcoming season. Depending on the outcome of the investigation, the punishment Flood could face ranges from a public reprimand to a termination of his contract with the university. If the worst-case scenario plays out, Flood could potentially be out of a job before the start of the season, as the investigation is expected to be wrapped up in short order.
Rutgers prohibits coaches from having direct contact with instructors of student-athletes, which is why Rutgers is investigating this manner. At this point there is no word on whether the NCAA or Big Ten have taken a look to see what is happening, although it would be wise to assume each will monitor the situation closely and weigh in if needed.
UPDATE (1:40 p.m.): Flood has now responded to the story, suggesting the accusations insult his integrity. His comments, via NJ.com;
“Let me start by saying I’m disappointed at the tone of the article that (associate athletic director for media relations/football) Hasim (Phillips) showed me this morning. I’ve been the head coach now, this is going into my fourth season, and I’ve had a lot of interaction with the teachers on our campus. I think that that article not only insults my integrity, but insults the integrity of our faculty. I’ve come to realize that our faculty here at Rutgers is beyond reproach and I have a tremendous amount of respect for them.
“Our faculty are part of our program. Just as recently as the other day, we had two faculty members at our practice. Now, any correspondence that I had with a professor in regard to a student-athlete would really be of this nature: One, to be in support of whatever decision that faculty member made, and two, to inquire as to whether or not there would be an opportunity to earn a better grade. Now, this practice is not unusual at Rutgers. Many students all over campus receive what are called ‘T grades’ doing work outside of when the class ends that semester to earn a better grade.”
It appears Alabama can breathe a sigh of relief on the injury front.
Tuesday, after the reigning national champions had put the finishing touches on its first practice of the spring, Nick Saban confirmed that quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had suffered an unspecified injury to the thumb on his LEFT (throwing) hand. It was expected that the quarterback would travel to Birmingham for further evaluation of the injury.
While there’s been nothing official yet from the football program or head coach, al.com, citing unnamed sources, writes that the injury “is believed to just be a sprain and he should be able to return to practice in at least a limited capacity at some point soon.”
Until then, Jalen Hurts will take the majority of the reps as the Crimson Tide continues its march through their 15 spring practice sessions.
The rising true junior Hurts, who has started every game but one the past two seasons, and the rising true sophomore Tagovailoa, the national championship game hero who replaced Hurts at halftime of the overtime win, are engaged in a competition for the starting job that, barring a post-spring transfer, is expected to extend into summer camp. That said, most observers outside of the UA football program fully expect Tagovailoa, because of his proficiency in the passing game relative to Hurts, to earn the job at some point before the Tide opens the defense of their title against Louisville in Orlando Sept. 1.
One’s a dot, two’s a line and three’s a trend as the old adage go and it appears rat poison for college players is now a burgeoning trend.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday ahead of Kentucky’s NCAA tournament game against Kansas State, Wildcats coach John Calipari took a page straight out of Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin’s playbook by warning his team of drinking the media “poison” the past few days.
“My challenge is making sure these kids don’t drink that poison. That poison being we have an easy road. There are no easy roads in this tournament,” said Calipari. “If they drink that poison, we’ll be done Thursday. If they don’t drink the poison, it’ll be a dog fight Thursday — let’s see what happens. Sometimes you wonder why they’re (the media) trying to paint that picture with my team — probably because they’re young and they know they don’t know better.”
At least the term Calipari is using isn’t out of thin air given that Saban infamously ranted on his team buying into the media’s discussion of being a good team as “rat poison” last season. For the record though, the rant by the basketball coach was prompted by a question that didn’t at all involve Kentucky having an easy path to the Final Four but was rather about team and individual goals.
It’s not often you think of Saban as a trendsetter but it seems he was certainly ahead of the curve when it came to labeling media talk as poison.
Jim Harbaugh is already getting a series on Amazon Prime but now the Michigan head coach is also getting the primetime treatment.
The Wolverines announced on Tuesday that the annual spring game would take place under the lights at Michigan Stadium this year and would be televised live in primetime on the Big Ten Network.
Gates will open to the game two hours prior to kickoff and the maize and blue faithful may try to do their best to get to Ann Arbor early because the school is going to screen an episode of the Amazon series “All or Nothing: The Michigan Wolverines” prior to the game. This will be the second time in three years that the school will go under the lights to play their spring game at night but obviously the first time there’s a documentary series that will be screened prior to the Wolverines taking the field.
The game may be worth tuning in for to see Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson in action with his new team after arriving in the offseason. The NCAA still has not ruled on whether he will be immediately eligible in 2018 but he is expected to go through spring drills with the team either way, starting this week when practices begin on Friday.
Prior to the arrival of current head coach Chris Creighton, Eastern Michigan football was annually one of the programs people wondered about at the FBS level due to low attendance, bad records and a gray field being one of the few notable aspects about the program. After all, the Eagles have won just one MAC title in the decades they’ve been in the league and went to only their second ever bowl game back in 2016.
While the fortunes of the team have become more positive in recent seasons, the topic of cutting football altogether or dropping down to the FCS ranks was brought up again in Ypsilanti this week after the school made the decision to cut four sports from the athletic department for budgetary reasons. While some might think EMU could continue slashing and eventually reach the football team, it appears that is thankfully not on the table.
“Football is not being cut,” said athletic director Scott Wetherbee, according to MLive.com. “No. 1, because I had a directive from our board of regents and the president, and we all agree we want to stay in the Mid-American Conference and we want to be a FBS Division I football team.
“It wasn’t even an option to look at that.”
That should settle that.
Wetherbee went on to said that the school receives several million dollars from just being a member of the MAC and having a football team is certainly a key part in remaining in the league. Money is a touchy subject around the university when it comes to athletics as just last year Eastern Michigan students campaigned against a $35 million football facility.
Despite the opposition and the most recent budget cuts though, it seems the school’s leadership is firmly behind Creighton and the Eagles remaining a part of life at EMU.