Jim Tressel hit with two-game suspension, $250K fine

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Less than 24 hours after a report emerged that levied fairly significant allegations against Ohio State’s Jim Tressel, the school has announced that their head football coach is indeed guilty of committing a major NCAA violation.  And is facing a rather substantial initial punishment from the school, with further sanctions from the NCAA looming as a very real possibility.

In a press conference Tuesday evening, athletic director Gene Smith confirmed that Tressel has been suspended for the first two games of the 2011 season and fined $250,000 for failing to take action when notified last April that his players may have received impermissible benefits.  Tressel received the information regarding his players via email from an attorney connected to a federal drug investigation.

Those emails were discovered Jan. 13 of 2011 during an unrelated search by the school.

“Coach Tressel,” OSU’s report to the NCAA reads, ”received emails from an attorney that provided specific information about two-student athletes selling memorabilia to a local tattoo parlor owner.  These emails also indicated  that one student-athlete may have received free and/or discounted services at a tattoo parlor.  Although Coach Tressel had the information, he did not inform institutional officials.”

Tressel was subsequently informed by the same individual that two student-athletes — it’s unclear from the report whether they are the same two student-athletes referred to earlier — were selling their championship rings.  The email correspondence between Tressel and the attorney continued after the initial conversation, with the last email found to have been sent by Tressel on June 6.

“I am sorry and disappointed this happened. At the time the situation occurred, I thought I was doing the right thing,” Tressel said. “I understand my responsibility to represent Ohio State and the game of football. I apologize to any and all of the people I have let down. I will grow from this experience.”

Tressel was found by OSU to have violated NCAA Bylaw 10.1, failing “to follow the institution’s protocol for reporting of violations by not informing compliance or other institutional administrators of the information he received beginning in April 2010.”

The internal investigation found that Tressel had at least three opportunities “to provide information relative to the NCAA violation reported in December but failed to do so.”

i. Signed the NCAA Certificate of Compliance Form on September 13, 2010, indicated he has reported any knowledge of possible violations to the institutions;
ii. Did not report the information in the emails or his knowledge of potential violations to the institution in early December 2010 when he initially learned from University officials on or around December 9 that information had been received from the Department of Justice regarding student-athletes potentially violating NCAA legislation for selling memorabilia and receiving discounted services; and
iii. Did not report the information in the emails or his knowledge of potential violations on December 16, 2010, when asked by institutional officials about his knowledge of the student-athletes’ involvement in these activities.  More specifically, while conducting its inquiry, institutional officials interviewed the six involved student-athletes.  Following the interviews, University officials informally questioned Coach Tressel about his knowledge of this information.  When Coach Tressel was asked if he had been contacted about this matter or knew anything about it, he replied that while he had received a tip about general rumors pertaining to certain of his players, that information had not been specific, and it pertained to their off-field choices.  He implied that the tip related to the social decisions/choices being made by certain student-athletes.  He added he did not recall from whom he received the tip.  he also stated that he did not know that any items had been seized.

“I am disappointed that we find ourselves in this situation. I want to thank the NCAA for being responsive and working collaboratively with us on this case. We ask Buckeye Nation to be patient as we resolve this matter and we thank them for all the support that they provide to our programs,” said Athletics Director Gene Smith.  “I think everyone knows how I feel about Jim Tressel. There is no better coach at developing young people than Jim.”

As part of the suspension, which will be for home games against Akron and Toledo, Tressel will be precluded from participating in any game-day activities, being in the facilities where the games are played during game day, or having any contact with members of his coaching staff while the games are ongoing.  Additionally, Tressel will be publicly reprimanded and must issue a public apology.

These sanctions were levied by the school, and are separate from any penalties that may be imposed down the road by the NCAA.

Also, to clear up some of the speculation, Smith also shot down rumors that Tressel would resign or be dismissed, stating that, while they’re disappointed that they’re in this situation, Tressel is his football coach and they trust him implicitly.  Tressel was asked if he ever thought of resigning.

“No,” the coach said.

USC beats out Alabama, LSU, others for four-star RB Brandon Campbell

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Facing a must-win season — if the season is even playedClay Helton has added a talented piece to his future USC roster.  If he’s still the Trojans’ head coach come next year, of course.

On his personal Twitter account Saturday night, Brandon Campbell announced that he has committed to playing for Helton and his USC football program. According to 247Sports.com, the running back opted for USC over a list of finalists that included Alabama, LSU, Penn State and TCU.

That same site noted that Florida was also a consideration until Reynolds dropped the Gators this past week.

Campbell is a four-star 2021 prospect. He is rated as the No. 22 back in the country. The Katy, Tex., product is also the No. 49 player in the state regardless of position.

Campbell is the fifth commitment for USC this cycle. He’s the third four-star recruit to verbal. Quarterback Jake Garcia is the only five-star commit.

With the commitment, USC now holds the No. 2 class, behind Oregon, in the Pac-12 on the 247Sports.com composite. Overall, the Trojans are 13th nationally according to that same metric.

USC and Oregon, incidentally, are the only Pac-12 schools in the Top 20 currently. The Big Ten far and away leads all conferences with eight Top 20 classes currently, followed by the SEC’s four, ACC’s three and Big 12’s two. Football-independent Notre Dame (No. 6) is in the group as well.

Washington announces death of former player, coach Jim Lambright

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Jim Lambright spent nearly his entire adult life in Husky purple and gold, and the Lambright family announced Sunday that that life has ended.

“I’m deeply saddened by the news of Coach Lambright’s passing,” Washington AD Jennifer Cohen said in a statement. “Coach Lambright is synonymous with Husky football and he gave so much to this program both as a player and coach. My love for the University of Washington was sparked during Coach’s tenure on our football staff and I’m grateful for the impact he had on so many. I’d like to extend heartfelt condolences to his family, former players, teammates and coaches.”

An Everett, Wash., native, Lambright was an all-conference defensive end for the Huskies from 1962-64. He then moved into coaching as an assistant at Fife High School in Tacoma and then at Shoreline Community College north of Seattle.

His former coach Jim Owens called Lambright home in 1969, and he remained on Washington’s staff for the next 30 years.

Future Hall of Fame coach Don James retained Lambright in 1975 and promoted him to defensive coordinator in 1978, where he helped the Washington win six Pac-8/Pac-10 championships, three Rose Bowls and a share of the 1991 national championship.

Lambright was promoted to head coach upon James’ retirement in 1993, where he went 44-25-1 with a share of the Pac-10 title in 1995 and AP top-20 finishes in 1996 and ’97. He was relieved of duties after the 1998 season in favor of Rick Neuheisel.

“Coach Lambright was a legend at the UW, particularly when it came to playing the kind of physical, aggressive defense that his teams were known for,” said Washington head coach Jimmy Lake. “He was always supportive of the program that he loved so much. His impact on Husky football will not be forgotten.”

Lambright is survived by his daughter Kris, son Eric and two grandchildren. He was 77 years old. Cause of death was not revealed.

Patriarch of Hebert family dies of coronavirus complications

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Bobby Hebert, Sr., died Saturday due to complications of COVID-19, the family has announced. He was 81 years old.

Bobby, Sr., was the patriarch of the Hebert clan, a prominent football family in Louisiana.

Bobby Hebert, Jr., played quarterback at Northwestern State in the early 1980s — he was a teammate of Ed Orgeron‘s — before becoming the most decorated player in USFL history and a 12-year quarterback for the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons.

Bobby’s grandson, T-Bob Hebert, played center at LSU from 2007-11. He was a redshirt on the Tigers’ 2007 title team and started on the 2011 LSU team that won that season’s SEC title and reached the BCS National Championship.

Bobby, Jr., is now an afternoon host for WWL-AM sports radio in New Orleans, and T-Bob hosts mornings for the ESPN Radio affiliate in Baton Rouge.

“You can be tough and the virus can still overwhelm you,” Bobby, Jr., said on WWL on Friday.

“I’m kinda numb and shocked. You get numb and then sometimes you don’t want to accept reality and what you are dealing with.”

Through tears, Hebert, Jr., described his father as a “fighter” who survived colon cancer, multiple strokes and a birth defect that required open-heart surgery.

Former LSU WR Orlando McDaniel dies from coronavirus complications

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Former LSU wide receiver Orlando McDaniel has died from complications related to COVID-19, according to LSU track and field coach Dennis Shaver.

Shaver told WBRZ McDaniel fell ill after traveling to Washington, D.C., to visit a family member.

A Shreveport native, McDaniel played wide receiver for LSU from 1978-81. He caught 64 passes for 1,184 yards and three touchdowns over his career in addition to winning an SEC championship and a runner-up finish at the NCAA championships as a 110-meter hurdler.

He was a second-round pick of the Denver Broncos in 1982 and played in three career games.

McDaniel, who was 59 and not 89, founded a youth track club in North Texas after finishing his playing career.

“He was such a tremendous athlete in both sports, but the love he had for track and field was really special,” Shaver told WBRZ. “We’re fortunate that people like him get involved with our youth.

“He was one of the most important people in our sport. He had to persuade youth to spend their summers doing something productive. Orlando had essentially dedicated his life to it. They’d come to summer meets and have two busloads full of people. It was a real impressive group of people. He’s sorely going to be missed.”