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Amidst turbulent offseason, Mark Dantonio releases statement

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To say that the Michigan State football program, coming off a three-win season on the field that was its worst in more than 20 years, is having a rough offseason off of it wouldn’t do it justice.

Earlier this monthThiyo Lukusa, the projected starter at right tackle, announced that he was leaving not only the football team but the sport, citing a loss of love and passion for the game.  Not long after, Jon Reschke, a likely starter at linebacker, announced his decision to transfer from the Spartans after making “an insensitive and totally regrettable comment involving a former teammate.”

Most notably — and disturbingly — three unidentified football players as well as a football staffer were suspended amidst sexual assault allegations, with tandem police and Title IX investigations casting a cloud over the program.

Noticeably absent amidst that maelstrom? Head coach Mark Dantonio, who has not permitted reporters to cover spring practice sessions that kicked off this past weekend and didn’t conduct a press conference previewing the spring agenda as had been the case every other year he’d been on the job since taking control in late November of 2006.  In fact, the coach hadn’t spoken publicly since National Signing Day the first part of the month.

Tuesday, that changed somewhat as Dantonio released a statement through the university which, in part, states that his program  is “extremely concerned about” the allegations and they are “taking [them] very seriously.” “When the time is appropriate, I will be able to answer questions regarding our program and discuss our team,” the coach said, adding, “At this point in time, we have to respect the process of the investigations for everyone involved.”

Below is the text of Dantonio’s statement, in its entirety.

With spring practice beginning last weekend and preparation for a new season underway, I feel it’s important to reinforce the core values and beliefs that have built and defined this program during my time at MSU.

“Since arriving here 11 years ago, my passion has been to lead a program that fosters a culture of integrity, respect and accountability, both on and off the field. That will never change. I have high standards for the program and expect all of our players and staff to conduct themselves in a manner that reflects the values and principles of Michigan State University. Our goal is to develop young men of character who graduate and make a positive impact on society.

“Regarding the ongoing investigations taking place within our program, the allegations are something we’re extremely concerned about and taking very seriously. We took immediate action by suspending those involved as soon as we were notified of the situation. Our action is separate from the ongoing criminal and administrative investigations. Those processes will determine if a crime has been committed and also if any university policy has been violated.

“(Athletic director) Mark Hollis and the university administration have set forth expectations for this program that I fully support, and we have gone to great lengths to consistently educate all members of the football program on our standards of conduct. I expect all members of the football program to live up to those standards, and I’m doing everything necessary to help throughout this difficult process.

“When the time is appropriate, I will be able to answer questions regarding our program and discuss our team. At this point in time, we have to respect the process of the investigations for everyone involved.

Louisville, USF announce future three-game series

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This is one we would’ve liked to have seen when Lamar Jackson and Quinton Flowers would’ve been taking the field.

Be that as it may, Louisville and USF announced Thursday morning that the football programs have reached an agreement on a future three-game series.  The Cardinals will travel to South Florida for Sept. 21, 2024, for the middle game of the series.  The Bulls will head to Papa John’s Stadium Sept. 24, 2022, and Sept. 19, 2026.

“The USF and Louisville programs have featured some of the most exciting players in college football over the last few seasons,” USF athletic director Mark Harlan said in a statement. “We are excited to have Louisville returning to Raymond James Stadium and to add a three-game series with an exciting, top-level opponent with which we share a great deal of history.”

Tne two schools have met in football 11 times previously, most coming when both were members of the now-defunct Big East conference. They first played in 2003, with the last matchup coming in 2013.

The Cardinals hold a 6-5 lead in the mini-series.

Baker Mayfield named winner of 2017 Manning Award

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Baker Mayfield‘s collegiate career may be over, but he’s not finished collecting some hardware from this level.

Thursday, the Allstate Sugar Bowl announced that Mayfield has been named as the winner of the 2017 Manning Award.  The award, named in honor of the quarterbacking Mannings — ArchiePeyton and Eli — is the only one to take into account a quarterback’s performance in the postseason.

“I would like to thank the Allstate Sugar Bowl for creating this award in our family’s name 14 years ago,” said Archie Manning in a statement. “It is an honor to have our name associated with the top quarterback in the nation each year. I would also like to congratulate Baker Mayfield, who capped a tremendous career with an outstanding senior season to earn this honor. To say he took a different path to success would be an understatement. I doubt there’s ever been a player who walked on to two different teams and reached this level of success.”

The 2017 Heisman Trophy winner won this honor over a field of finalists that included J.T. Barrett (Ohio State), Kelly Bryant (Clemson), Sam Darnold (USC), Jalen Hurts (Alabama), Lamar Jackson (Louisville), Trace McSorley (Penn State), McKenzie Milton (UCF), Mason Rudolph (Oklahoma State), Jarrett Stidham (Auburn) and Khalil Tate (Arizona).

Clemson’s Deshaun Watson had been the winner of the last two Manning Awards.

Report: Death of Bill Snyder’s grandson being investigated as suicide

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The situation in Manhattan is tragic enough.  This latest development merely serves to add to the sorrow.

Kansas State confirmed in a statement Thursday morning that the grandson of legendary head football coach Bill Snyder and longtime K-State assistant Sean Snyder, 22-year-old Matthew Snyder, passed away unexpectedly Wednesday afternoon.  While details are scant, USA Today Sports is reporting that Snyder’s death is being investigated as a suicide.

A police spokesperson told the Kansas City Star that the young man’s passing is being classified as an “unintended death,” an umbrella under which suicide falls.

“Right now it is still being classified as an unintended death,” the spokesperson told the Star. “A suicide does fall under that category, but at this time ‘unintended death’ is the language that we are using until we can further investigate.”

Emergency personnel were called to Snyder’s residence in Manhattan yesterday afternoon on an unspecified medical call.  The address of the house to which the first responders were called is listed as being owned by Sean Snyder and his wife.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Snyder family during this very difficult time,” a statement from KSU athletic director Gene Taylor read. “We are deeply saddened to learn of this news and ask that the family’s privacy continue to be respected. Sean, Wanda, and the entire Snyder family are greatly appreciative of the outpouring of support displayed by the K-State Family as they cope with this tragedy.”

In wake of Tyler Hilinski’s suicide, Drew Bledsoe sends powerful message to men

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As Washington State continues to come to grips with tragedy, there are those connected to the program who are hoping, even pleading, that something good can come out of the pain.

Tyler Hilinski‘s body was found Tuesday evening at his residence, dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot to the head.  As those close to Hilinski mourn the sudden death of the 21-year-old redshirt sophomore quarterback, some, including teammate John Bledsoe, took to social media to express their grief.

Bledsoe is a freshman quarterback at Wazzu who is also the son of Cougar great Drew Bledsoe. On his Instagram account Wednesday, the elder Bledsoe, who acknowledged that he didn’t know Hilinski well, sent out a heartfelt message imploring men “to learn to TALK about how we are feeling.”

“If we sprain an ankle we go see a doctor,” Bledsoe wrote. “If we’re struggling emotionally we have to learn to treat it the same way.”

Everybody needs help at some point.  Male or female, if you’ve gotten to that point, reach out for the help.  As Bledsoe stated, it’s not a sign of weakness it’s the ultimate sign of strength.  Talk to a family member, friend, co-worker, clergy, anyone.  If you’re too embarrassed to talk to someone you know, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is just a phone call away at 1-800-273-8255.

Just talk to someone.  Whether you believe it at the time or not, your life is worth it.