Report: Five schools, including 'Bama, Gators, illegally contacted USC frosh

12 Comments

Uh-oh.

USC running back Dillon Baxter was quite the sensation on the field during spring practice, drawing comparisons to Reggie Bush in the process.  Today, he’s creating quite the stir off the field.  Kinda like Bush, actually, but in a much different regard for his football program.

According to a series of tweets from ESPN.com‘s Joe Schad, Baxter informed his school’s compliance department — they have one of those there? — that five schools illegally contacted him on June 10.  The same day USC was slapped with heavy NCAA sanctions, incidentally.

Those five schools?  Fresno State (???), Oregon, Washington and — the two biggest fish in this developing story — Alabama and Florida.

(I can hear Lane Kiffin snickering from here.  Was that an “FU Urban'”I heard off in the distance, too…)

Bryan Fischer of USC’s Rivals.com site reports that, when a player from a school under a bowl ban is looking to transfer, “[the] athlete’s institution must be notified of the recruitment and may establish reasonable restrictions.”  Fischer notes that the permission does not need to be in writing but needs to be made in some form, and that could be the issue in this situation.

As noted in an earlier post, because of the two-year bowl ban facing USC, juniors and seniors are fair game to be coached by any Div. 1-A school, with the exception of the Pac-10.  Incoming freshman are poachable, but only with the restrictions noted by Fisher.

USC has asked the Pac-10 to contact those schools accused of allegedly illegally contacting Baxter.

Shortly after the Schad’s report came out, a Florida spokesperson denied any impropriety to the Orlando Sentinel.  Neither Alabama nor any of the other schools named have issued denials as of this posting.

Given the fact that Alabama is currently on probation for their textbook scandal, expect their response — when it comes — to be very emphatic.

Obviously, we’ll have much more on this situation later on tonight and tomorrow morning.

UPDATED 10:41 p.m. ET: Oregon head coach Chip Kelly, by way of the Eugene Register-Guard, has responded to the accusations:

“No one at Oregon has talked or spoken with Dillon Baxter since his official visit in January.”

UPDATED 11:33 p.m. ET: USC director of compliance Matt Billings fired off a letter to Pac-10 Associate Commissioner for Governance and Enforcement Ron Barkersay that three times real fast.  While real drunk — requesting some conference intervention, and here’s a portion of that missive:

“I just met with [Baxter] and he told me that he received phone calls from five institutions [June 10th]. All of the institutions asked if he was interested in transferring from USC due to the NCAA decision. Would you please speak with these schools to remind them they cannot speak to this student athlete?”

NCAA President Mark Emmert received nearly $500,000 raise in 2016

Getty Images
1 Comment

Being everybody’s favorite punching bag in college athletics at least pays well.

USA Today is reporting that NCAA President Mark Emmert received a nearly half million dollar raise in 2016 and take home pay in line with LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda.

NCAA President Mark Emmert’s total compensation grew by nearly $500,000 during the 2016 calendar year to more than $2.4 million, according to the association’s new federal tax return.

Emmert’s base salary of $2,078,075 represented a 42% increase over his base salary for 2015, or just over $615,000.

Emmert’s contract runs through 2020 and also contains a one-year option. He made around $1.9 million in 2015 with a base salary of just over $1.4 million.

“The Board of Governors’ Executive Committee determines NCAA executive salaries,” association spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said in a statement to the paper. “Members of the committee are university and college presidents from all three divisions. To assist its efforts, the Executive Committee uses an independent third party. This third party undertakes market surveys to ensure salaries of NCAA executives are similar to other comparable executive positions.”

Indeed, Emmert’s salary is somewhat in line with what the Power Five commissioners make but trails all the SEC’s Greg Sankey when it comes to the total. We’re guessing a similar story will play out next year around this time given how revenues for the association continue to shoot up.

USA Today also says that the NCAA’s tax return list a whopping nine executives who had total compensation of more than $450,000 in 2016.

Washington State coach Mike Leach not going quietly after Twitter spat, continues to blast reporter

Getty Images
1 Comment

Washington State head coach Mike Leach has apparently never heard the old saying that you never argue with somebody who buys ink by the barrel. Of course, going the conventional route has never really been the coach’s M.O. so it probably isn’t too surprising to see him keep up with war of words with USA Today columnist Dan Wolken on Friday either.

First, some background. Leach originally shared a video of a President Obama speech on Sunday that was misleadingly edited under the ruse of creating discussion about the government and proceeded to argue with people about it for several hours on Twitter. While he eventually removed the tweet in question, the fact that a head coach at a public university would share such a doctored video caused many to wonder what he was thinking in the first place. One of those people was Wolken, who penned a column the next day that was critical of Leach and noted that incidents just like this one is a good reason why despite plenty of wins, bigger schools won’t come close to hiring him.

That, apparently, touched a bit of a nerve.

Speaking to the Seattle Times on Friday, Leach didn’t exactly back down or try to calm the waters. Here’s just a taste from a lengthy Q&A he did with Times columnist Matt Calkins:

Yeah, they expect less bias because I think he’s 100 percent biased. Anyway, I think he does a horrible job and doesn’t know what he’s talking about. It doesn’t matter what anybody says, he’s just gonna distort the thing. He’ll probably be selling Big Gulps here in a couple years. I don’t know. As I think about it, I ought to let all that take its course.

Calkins: Who did you talk to about Dan (a sixth-year USA Today veteran whose response can be found here)? You said people don’t respect him; is that something someone just told you?

Leach: I just randomly … we’ve already talked about that guy more than he deserves. But I don’t know, maybe you know him, maybe you like him a lot. You might have gone to high school together. Maybe you had slumber parties as children and watched superhero films. I don’t know, but that’s my general impression. And his work certainly measures up to some of those unlofty expectations.

Let’s just say there’s a lot more in that Times piece that you can unpack as well.

While saying Wolken would be working at a 7-11 in the future is a funny line, this entire spat seems to further prove the original column’s point. While Leach’s quirky personality has plenty of endearing qualities, somebody at Washington State should probably tell the coach that this thing has gone on long enough and this is not how the Cougs want to be making headlines in what has otherwise been a quiet offseason.

Still, let’s all hope Wolken makes his way out to Los Angeles next month for Pac-12 Media Days because fireworks might be just one of the few things we can all expect.

Previously ruled out, Trey Woods could play for Wyoming in 2018

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Hold the phone on at least one purported personnel loss for Wyoming.

In late May, it was reported that Cowboys running back Trey Woods would miss the entire 2018 season because of an unspecified shoulder injury. A little over three weeks later, the prognosis from Craig Bohl has gotten significantly more optimistic.

“There’s an opportunity he may be back,” the head coach told the Casper Star-Tribune. “Initially, we thought that he for sure would be out for the year, and he may be back. …

“He has had surgery, and so we’re just waiting on his recovery. He’s a little bit ahead of where we thought he’d be. He certainly won’t be ready the first game, but as the season goes along, we feel like he’ll be ready to go.”

Wyoming kicks off the 2018 season at New Mexico State Aug. 25, then follows that opener up by hosting Washington State (Sept. 1) and Wofford (Sept. 15) in between a trip to Missouri (Sept. 8). Coming off a bye, Wyoming will then open up Mountain West Conference play Sept. 29 with a home game against defending conference champion Boise State.

As a true freshman last season, Woods, a two-star 2017 signee, led the Cowboys in rushing with 474 yards. he ran for a career-high 135 yards in a late-September win over Hawaii.

Oklahoma first school to have Top-10 picks in NFL, MLB, NBA drafts in same year since… Texas in 2006

Getty Images
3 Comments

It’s déjà vu all over again for the Big 12.

In late April, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield was selected first-overall in the 2018 NFL draft. In early June, Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray was taken with the No. 9 pick of the 2018 Major League Baseball draft. Thursday night, Oklahoma basketball quarterback Trae Young — some people call his position in that sport a point guard, but whatever — was selected by the Dallas Mavericks with the No. 5 pick of the 2018 NBA draft.

All of that draft action over the last two months gives the Sooners three Top-10 picks in those three sports in the same calendar year, the first time that’s happened since… OU’s Red River Shootout rivals pulled off the exact same draft trifecta more than a decade ago.

Young was the third player taken by the Tennessee Titans in that year’s draft, while Huff was grabbed at No. 7 overall by the Oakland Raiders. Stubbs, meanwhile, was the No. 8 pick of the Cincinnati Reds while the Chicago Bulls used the No. 2 overall pick on Aldridge.

So there’s that do-it-again for the Big 12, which is nice.