When Hugh Freeze was fired last month by Ole Miss, most thought that the troubling patterns the school discovered were mostly focused on the coach’s calls to what were later revealed to be escort services. As it turns out, that may not be the extent of the cell phone records that landed the coach in hot water.
USA Today dug a little deeper in Freeze’s phone calls and discovered that he had at least 200 conversations with Lee Harris, a now-disassociated booster at the school who is a central figure in the ongoing NCAA case surrounding extra benefits for recruits and players. Per the report:
“The phone calls included the period in which Harris became a part of the NCAA’s investigation into Ole Miss and continued before and after his interview with the NCAA on Nov. 16, 2016, in which he provided information that was determined to be false.
Freeze was not named or deemed culpable in the specific NCAA allegation related to Harris, and it is not publicly known what the two men discussed in the calls. According to Freeze’s attorney, W.G. Watkins, Freeze and Harris met by “happenstance” sitting next to each other at church at some point after Harris’ alleged violations occurred, formed a relationship and played golf together. Watkins said Freeze never discussed the NCAA case with Harris, which would potentially be a violation of bylaw 10.1 relating to unethical conduct.”
Harris was one of several boosters included in the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations against the Rebels and was alleged by enforcement staffers to have provided free food and cash to linebacker Leo Lewis when he was being recruited by Ole Miss. Lewis eventually signed with in-state rival Mississippi State and later provided information to investigators as part of the case.
Though the phone calls are hardly a smoking gun for either Freeze or the school, the sheer volume of calls between the head coach and a booster who is alleged to have committed NCAA violations certainly raises a big eyebrow in Indianapolis and around the rest of the SEC. The fact that the calls took place on the coach’s cell phone also raises the question as to just how closely school compliance staff was monitoring their coach and whether he attempted to influence the investigation in any way by speaking about it with Harris.
Such points are bound to come up and need clear answers when Ole Miss goes in front of the NCAA Committee on Infractions for a hearing scheduled for Sept. 11th.
College GameDay was in Times Square on Saturday and decided to do the most New York thing possible: respond to a Mike Francessa rant.
Francessa ripped Penn State head coach James Franklin, calling him a “horses’s ass,” for trying to prevent a field goal to preserve the Nittany Lions’ 56-0 blanking of Georgia State last week. To respond, ESPN didn’t talk to Franklin, but instead asked comedian (and Penn State graduate) Keegan-Michael Key to speak for him.
This is not the first time Key has leverages his resemblance to Franklin for comedic purposes.
Nevertheless, Franklin addressed the bit to close his post-game press conference following Penn State’s 21-19 escape of Iowa in an answer that toed the line between seriousness and wry sarcasm.
Boston College will be without wide receiver Charlie Callinan for “an extended period of time,” the program announced just before the Eagles’ date with Clemson on Saturday.
Callinan suffered a foot injury. The nature of the injury was not disclosed.
A senior from Westfield, N.J., Callinan was one of the most experienced players on the roster with 41 career appearances and 31 starts under his belt. He is the third BC player with at least 30 career games to be lost for an extended period of time this season.
Callinan posted the best game of his career in what may go down as the final game of his career, hauling in seven catches for 89 yards and two touchdowns in a 49-20 loss to Notre Dame a week ago.
Without him in the lineup, BC passed for 141 yards on 34 attempts in a 34-7 loss to the second-ranked Tigers.
Saquon Barkley is incredible. The Penn State running back is every bit a deserving Heisman front-runner, what with his 66 carries for 518 yards and four touchdowns, his team-leading 23 grabs for 335 yards and two touchdowns, and his 22.86-yard average on seven kickoff returns. This isn’t a criticism of him.
But I want to introduce an idea to you right now, and I want you to take a deep breath first: it’s possible Barkley is not having the best season of any running back in college football. At least not to this point.
Take a look at Stanford’s Bryce Love‘s first four games:
- 13 carries for 180 yards and a touchdown in a 62-7 destruction of Rice
- 17 carries for 160 yards and a touchdown in a 42-24 loss to USC
- 13 carries for 184 yards and two scores in a 20-17 loss to San Diego State
- 30 carries for 263 yards and a touchdown in last night’s 58-34 defeat of UCLA
Add it all up and you get 73 carries for 787 yards and five touchdowns, which not only means Love leads the nation in rushing yards per game — he leads the nation in rushing while averaging 10.78 yards per carry.
Love not only leads the nation in total rushing yards, he not only leads the nation in rushing yards per game, he leads the nation in yards per carry for all players anywhere in the neighborhood his carry total. Four players rank ahead of Love in yards per carry thus far, and those three players have toted the rock 76 times — combined.
The next closest player on the yards per carry rankings with at least 70 rushes is San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny, who averages 7.87 yards on 91 carries. That’s an incredible number, and still 27 percent lower than Love’s average.
Stanford may not win enough for Love to join Barkley in the Heisman conversation, but right now it appears the two running back spots on every All-American team are locked up until further notice.
Big wins over ranked opponents pushed Georgia and TCU into the top 10 of the latest Associated Press poll, released Sunday. Voters were apparently more impressed with Georgia’s 31-3 whipping of then-No. 17 Mississippi State in Athens than they were of TCU’s 44-31 upset of then-No. 6 Oklahoma State in Stillwater. Georgia moved up four spots while TCU jumped seven, but the Bulldogs remained ahead of the Frogs by two spots, No. 7 to No. 9.
Elsewhere, Washington creeped forward one spot, Washington State and Louisville nudged forward two, and South Florida, San Diego State and Utah leaped three spots forward. Notre Dame and West Virginia returned to this week’s poll at Nos. 22 and 23, replacing upset losers Florida State and Oregon. Unlike the Coaches’ Poll, voters remembered that Mississippi State hammered LSU by 30 points just eight days ago, keeping the Bulldogs one spot ahead of the Bayou Bengals.
The full poll:
- Alabama — 1,515 total points (52 first-place votes)
- Clemson — 1,458 (2)
- Oklahoma — 1,397 (1)
- Penn State — 1,304
- USC — 1,247
- Washington — 1,188
- Georgia — 1,136
- Michigan — 1,088
- TCU — 1,028
- Wisconsin — 1,023
- Ohio State — 1,016
- Virginia Tech — 828
- Auburn — 701
- Miami — 693
- Oklahoma State — 665
- Washington State — 551
- Louisville — 502
- South Florida — 406
- San Diego State — 365
- Utah — 356
- Florida — 342
- Notre Dame — 246
- West Virginia — 212
- Mississippi State — 148
- LSU — 92