HBO report: Auburn players got paid; OSU recruiting target plied with sex

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Given the self-made pickle Jim Tressel finds himself in, and the basketball team’s loss in the NCAA tournament as a No. 1 seed, it’s not been the best of months for two of the Ohio State University’s flagship athletic programs.  And, apparently, the negativity surrounding the school is set to continue.

Wednesday night, the HBO show Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, a release from the cable network states, departs from its traditional format to present a special hour-long edition dedicated to the state of college sports in America.  Basically, the show will delve into the sticky issue of whether college athletes — football players in particular — should be paid, as well as delving “into the controversial and complex subject of premium college-bound athletes receiving benefits that are prohibited by the NCAA.”

Oh, and sex.

The New York Daily News reports that former college football player Stanley McClover will also appear on the show, and reveals that he received not just cash but (gasp!) sexual services during a recruiting visit to Ohio State.  McClover ultimately signed with Auburn, so we don’t know if that says more about quality of the school on The Plains or about the quality of the services (allegedly) rendered at the Columbus school.

And, while we’re on the subject of the HBO show, here are a couple of “teasers” that will give you an idea of what tomorrow’ night’s program will entail.

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UPDATED 8:14 p.m. ET: Our buddy at SportsByBrooks.com has obtained an advanced copy of the hour-long program and, suffice to say, it does not paint Auburn University in a very positive light.  Four ex-Tigers claim during the course of the program that there was a “systematic pay-to-play” scheme in place during and after the recruiting process in which they were given thousands upon thousands of dollars by people — including alumni and boosters — purporting to be associated with the school.

Apparently, the key phrase that will be woven throughout the piece will be “money handshake”.

Based on Brooks’ transcription, which can be viewed in its entirety right HERE, there are some very explosive and damning charges that will be leveled against Auburn.  McClover, for example, claimed that he was given $4,000 after a four-sack game against archrival Alabama.  As noted by the Birmingham News, the accusations made by McClover, as well as Troy Reddick, fall outside of the NCAA’ s standard statute of limitations of five years.  The claims made by Chaz Ramsey and Raven Gray, however, allegedly occurred inside of that five-year window.

What will be most interesting to see, however, is what type of public response, if any, the school gives to the accusations.  And if the NCAA issues any sort of statement as well.

UPDATED 9:19 p.m. ET: We would be remiss if we didn’t note the fact that LSU and Michigan State were also accused by at least one member of the Auburn quartet of giving money during the recruiting process.

UPDATED 10:46 p.m. ET: Auburn responded — sort of — to the allegations made by the four players during the program.

“Auburn Athletics respectfully declines to comment on these alleged claims apparently made by a few former football players. Compliance with all NCAA and Southeastern Conference rules is a major emphasis and top priority for all of our athletic programs at Auburn University.”

Dabo Swinney, Hunter Johnson address QB’s transfer

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Clemson has officially bid adieu to a highly-touted member of its 2017 recruiting class.

Earlier in the day Monday, reports surfaced that Hunter Johnson had decided to transfer from the Tigers, with a couple of Big Ten schools already listed as potential landing spots. Not long after that news made the rounds, Dabo Swinney acknowledged the reports, calling the quarterback “one of the best young men I’ve ever coached” in sending his former player his well-wishes.

“While it is always disappointing to lose a great person and a great player, I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to work with Hunter and watch him grow and develop over the last year and a half,” the full statement attributed to the head coach began. “Hunter is one of the best young men I have ever coached and has a very bright future ahead of him.

“I wish him all the best as he decides on his destination.”

Johnson himself issued his own statement through the school’s sports information department addressing the development.

“I want to thank Coach Swinney and the Clemson family for giving me the opportunity to be a part of something special,” said Johnson. “I’ve met some amazing people who I will forever call family. I am a better man and a better football player because of my time spent at Clemson. Go Tigers!”

The composite board on 247Sports.com had Johnson rated as the No. 2 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 30 player at any position for the Class of 2017. As a true freshman, Johnson completed 21 of his 27 passes for 234 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in seven appearances.

It’s believed that Johnson, who will have to sit out the 2018 season but would then have three years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2019, is eyeing Northwestern or Purdue as potential transfer destinations.

Former USC assistant coach Todd McNair loses defamation lawsuit vs. NCAA

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By a vote of 9-3, former USC running backs coach Todd McNair has lost his defamation lawsuit against the NCAA. Following six days of deliberation, the verdict brings to a close the Reggie Bush scandal that began more than a decade ago, a scandal that saw the Trojans lose their 2004 BCS national championship and Bush be stripped of his 2005 Heisman Trophy.

McNair sued the NCAA after it found him guilty of unethical conduct while Bush received impermissible benefits. He was given a 1-year show-cause penalty, and has not worked since his contract expired in the summer of 2010.

McNair sought $27 million in damages from the NCAA.

McNair’s attorney Bruce Broilett told ESPN his team was “very disappointed … disappointed in the result. Assessing the situation and considering our next steps.”

David Beaty releases statement on firing of KU AD Sheahon Zenger

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Kansas fired athletics director Sheahon Zenger earlier today. If the move was immediately greeted as a vote of no-confidence in Zenger’s ability to find and hire the next Jayhawks football coach — and, thus, a vote of no-confidence in the David Beaty era — that’s because it pretty much is.

“But Athletics continues to face a number of challenges, and progress in key areas has been elusive. To achieve the level of success we need and expect, I have determined a change in leadership is necessary,” KU chancellor Douglas Girod said in his statement announcing Zenger’s firing.

The playbook is well documented by now: to replace the head coach, you must first replace the AD who hired the head coach, and the replacement will then hire the new head coach. We’ve seen it play out at a number of places, most recently Nebraska, where Bill Moos was brought in to replace Shawn Eichorst, and Moos promptly fired Mike Riley and hired Scott Frost.

Beaty is a well-liked coach, but college football is a results business and a 3-33 record speaks for itself. Beaty surely knows that score better than anyone.

Hours after the news went public, Beaty released a statement of his own on Monday afternoon.

As if the 3-33 mark wasn’t obvious enough, the beginning of the end of the Beaty era likely came on Monday.

Alabama (still) a massive favorite over Louisville, other Week 1 lines

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It’s been about four months since we checked in on the Week 1 betting lines in college football, highlighted by Alabama’s installation as a massive favorite for its date with Louisville in Orlando.

And in the four months since, the public has clearly lost faith in the Nick Saban Football Machine.

After starting as a 29.5-point favorite, Alabama has been downgraded… to a 28.5-point favorite, according to lines released by Bet Online.

Other lines of note:

  • UCF (-20.5) at Connecticut
  • Northwestern (+4.5) at Purdue
  • Colorado (-6) vs. Colorado State (at Denver)
  • San Diego State (+14.5) at Stanford
  • Florida Atlantic (+23) at Oklahoma
  • Oregon State (+38) at Ohio State
  • Texas (-10.5) at Maryland
  • Boise State (-10.5) at Troy
  • Arizona (-14) vs. BYU (at Phoenix)
  • Auburn (-3.5) vs. Washington (at Atlanta)
  • Ole Miss (-1.5) vs. Texas Tech (at Houston)
  • West Virginia (-7) vs. Tennessee (at Charlotte)
  • North Carolina (+6) at California
  • Michigan (+2) at Notre Dame
  • Alabama (-28.5) vs. Louisville (at Orlando)
  • Miami (-3) vs. LSU (at Dallas)
  • Virginia Tech (+6.5) at Florida State

Check out the entire list of lines here.