Sports Illustrated has a long-form article out today about a minor league baseball player-turned-autograph fraudster and the criminal case therein. And part of that article dovetails onto the college football page.
As the excerpt explains below, the fraudster, Cliff Panezich, and his associate Adam Bollinger paid Alabama football standouts cornerback Marquis Johnson, defensive tackle Terrence Cody and cornerback Rod Woodson for autographs, while quarterback Greg McElroy, tight end Colin Peek and running back Ali Sharrief signed for free.
Panezich and Bollinger arrived in Tuscaloosa during winter break, when the football team wasn’t practicing, so finding players required improvisation. The first member of the Crimson Tide they say they encountered—and asked to sign, outside of a dorm—was cornerback Marquis Johnson. The two collectors had 40-odd white-paneled footballs, each emblazoned with Alabama’s logo, laid out in the rear bed of their SUV, and “[Johnson] signed a few,” Panezich says. “[He] talked about getting paid to do the rest. . . . We paid him up front and . . . he recruited everybody else to come and sign. He’d go into the dorm, grab a couple guys—$20, $30, $40, depending on who the player was—and they’d all come sign 40 team items.”
Panezich says Johnson was paid roughly $200, but “not everyone took money. [Defensive tackle] Terrence Cody was probably the biggest. He got paid to sign all the team stuff—and then we heard he was interested in making some more money. So he came out and signed a bunch of mini helmets that he inscribed, like 2X ALL-AMERICAN, or 2 BLOCKED FGS AGAINST TENNESSEE, very specific stuff.” Panezich recalls that they paid Cody around $400 total. (SI obtained cellphone video from Panezich that shows Johnson, fellow cornerback Rod Woodson and tight end Colin Peek autographing items; Panezich says that Peek, as well as running back Ali Sharrief and QB Greg McElroy, signed but declined compensation in order to comply with NCAA rules. Cody, through his agent, declined to comment. Says Johnson: “I never got paid. I don’t know [Panezich].” Woodson could not be reached for comment. When asked if the school had knowledge of the signings, an Alabama spokesman said, in part, “As part of our comprehensive compliance and education program, we routinely review all situations of potential concern and address matters such as these with all of our student-athletes.”)
The alleged signings took place in the break between the Crimson Tide’s SEC Championship victory over Florida and its BCS National Championship defeat of Texas.
Considering that the alleged NCAA violations occurred eight years ago, and that Johnny Manziel was suspended for all of one half for taking money for thousands of autographs during his career, the Tide’s 2009 national championship seems safe from here.
Earlier this month, Randy Edsall lost one of his assistant coaches to the NFL. This week, he’s turned to one from the FCS ranks as a replacement.
UConn announced Monday the hiring of Eddie Allen as the Huskies’ new special teams coordinator. Allen comes to Storrs after spending the past three seasons in the same role at Delaware.
The hire fills a hole a created by the departure of Chris White, who has been named as the tight ends coach for the Detroit Lions.
“Eddie’s aggressive approach to special teams was exactly what I was looking for in our special teams coordinator,” a statement from the head coach began. “His teams have shown the ability to block kicks and be very fundamentally sound in the core four units involving special teams. He has delivered very good results as a special teams coordinator in all the places he has worked.”
Prior to Delaware, Allen spent six seasons as the special teams coordinator at Rhode Island. He was a football staffer for Greg Schiano at Rutgers (2005-07) before that.
This will mark Allen’s first on-field job at the FBS level.
“I am extremely excited to join Coach Edsall’s staff,” the New Jersey native said in his statement. “Being from the Northeast, I have followed the program closely through the years and I am looking forward to getting around our players and doing my part in the future of success of the program.”
And now we know a little bit more of the rest of the story.
Just a short time ago, Miami announced that defensive line Craig Kuligowski was leaving the football program after two years to pursue unspecified opportunities elsewhere. Subsequent to that announcement, Bruce Feldman of SI.com tweeted that Nick Saban and Tuscaloosa could be the assistant’s ultimate destination.
Kuligowski and Saban have a previous connection as the former played defensive line under the latter at Toledo in 1990. Saban is searching for a replacement to Karl Dunbar, the Crimson Tide’s defensive line coach who left for a job with the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier this month.
Other names floated as possibilities have included former FAU head coach Charlie Partridge and former UA assistant and current South Carolina line coach Lance Thompson.
At one point it appeared that Mark Richt had dodged a coaching-departure bullet. In the end, however, his Miami staff has been hit.
Reports surfaced earlier in the day Monday the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had interviewed UM defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski for the same job. Not long after the initial speculation first appeared, the NFL club confirmed that it had hired someone other than Kuligowski for the position.
Tonight, however, the Hurricanes announced in a press release that Kuligowski “is leaving the program to pursue other opportunities.” What and where specifically that opportunity is wasn’t divulged by the football program.
Kuligowski had spent the past two seasons with the Hurricanes and is widely considered one of the top line coaches in the country.
Are you ready for some good news? Kansas and Washington State are (finally, FINALLY!) going to meet on the gridiron.
Are you ready for some bad news? You’re going to have to wait nearly a decade to see it.
The Jayhawks and Cougars have agreed to a home-and-home series in 2027-28, according to documents obtained by FBSchedules. Washington State is set to host the first game on Sept. 11, 2027, with Kansas returning the favor on Sept. 9, 2028. The programs have met 10 times previously, but not since 1977. Kansas holds a 7-2 all-time advantage.
Washington State is also set to visit Boise State in 2027, but does not have any other games lined up for ’28. Kansas does not have any other agreements for either season.
Interestingly, Wazzu’s Kansas home-and-home is sandwiched around a home-and-home with Kansas State in 2026 and ’29. Washington State has not faced a Big 12 opponent since a 65-17 loss at Oklahoma State to open the 2010 season.
Kansas, who also has future games with Rutgers, Boston College, Duke and Illinois on the docket, has not squared off with a Pac-12 foe — not counting former Big 12 bunk mate Colorado — since a 41-17 loss to UCLA on Sept. 8, 2001.