Columbus photog on Terrelle Pryor: ‘I haven’t given him a dollar’

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Even as the career of Terrelle Pryor at Ohio State came to an abrupt end earlier this week, the soap opera that was the quarterback’s three years in Columbus continues unabated.

A former, unnamed friend of Pryor alleged on an ESPN Outside the Lines report Tuesday, the same day Pryor announced he was giving up his final season of eligibility, that he had witnessed Dennis Talbot paying Pryor anywhere between $20,000 and $40,000 in 2009-10 in exchange for Pryor’s signature on various pieces of OSU memorabilia.  In an interview with the Cleveland Plain Dealer Thursday, the Columbus photographer/purported memorabilia maven vehemently denied that he had paid anything to the player, let alone an amount the five-figure numbers thrown out by OTL.

“They are potentially destroying people’s lives,” Talbott told Doug Lesmerises of the Plain Dealer over the phone. “It’s not true. I haven’t given him a dollar. I haven’t given him anything perceived as an improper benefit.”

In an interview Thursday on Sirius/XM in which he hinted at possible legal action against ESPN for what he described as a “bogus” report, Pryor’s attorney, Larry James, said that he knew Talbott but that the “part-time photographer… is not a deep-pocket player.”

“This is out of his league, he doesn’t have that kind of cash,” James said yesterday. “He is not one of those dealers that one would say ‘Dennis has the ability to negotiate the buying and selling of memorabilia that Terrelle has signed.’  No, Dennis was a part-time photographer that knew a lot of the players, guy around town, most of us knew him.  He was basically harmless, he is no big deal, and he definitely did not have the wherewithal to do that kind of stuff.”

Talbott concurred with James’ assessment of him as a small-time player.

“I don’t have the wherewithal to do that,” Talbott told the paper. “I just don’t. …

“I have never made it a secret that Terrelle and I have a relationship. I’d like for people to show a picture of me pulling out my wallet or putting something on my tab. These things don’t exist. People say things that aren’t accurate.”

The dogged and tireless Brooks of SportsByBrooks.com, who reported earlier in the week that checks with Talbott’s name on them had been deposited into Pryor’s bank account, reported early Friday morning that a now-defunct, unregistered-in-the-state-of-Ohio website called varsityomem.com had been selling signed OSU memorabilia — including Pryor items — going back several years.  A “Varsity O Memorabilia” Facebook page, last updated two months ago Brooks writes, “features some of the product procured by Talbott over the years from dozens of Buckeye football and basketball players.”  According to Brooks, Talbott was the only registered owner of the varsityomem.com website.

Additionally, the Plain Dealer reported that Pryor and another unnamed Buckeye football player had in the past played golf on at least five occasions with Talbott at a Columbus-area country club.  Because of Talbott’s membership at the club, Pryor and the unnamed player were permitted to play for free, which would constitute impermissible benefits and an NCAA violation.

That’s not exactly the way Talbot sees it, however.

Talbott said he did not golf with the players that many times, adding, “Even if I golfed with him, it’s not an NCAA violation.” Talbott said he never paid for any players to golf with him.

Finally, and something that may or may not be apropos of anything, Talbott drives around in a Buckeyes-themed vehicle with vanity plates that read… wait for it… “T PRYOR”.

Now, I don’t know the extent of Talbott’s relationship with Pryor or if any NCAA violations were committed because of the relationship, but I do know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that a 40-year-old, grown-ass man willingly driving around with a college football player’s name on his license plates pegs and obliterates the “creepy” meter.

Adam Schefter: ‘strong conviction’ among people in the sport there will be college football this season

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It appears a pair of highly-criticized college football coaches have some company. Anonymous company, but company nonetheless.

Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy was roundly criticized when he argued that college coaches should get back to the business of football May 1, with players following shortly thereafter. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney took numerous shots when he very boldly claimed there’s no doubt the college football season would start on time.

OSU was forced to publicly address the kerfuffle kicked up by Gundy. An unapologetic Swinney, meanwhile, defended his faith-based opinion.

Thursday, however, an ESPN NFL insider offered additional optimism. In a tweet, Adam Schefter wrote that “there is a ‘strong conviction’ there will be college football this season.”

Below is the full text of Schefter’s tweet:

Speaking to people in and around college football this week, there is “strong conviction” there will be college football this season. Uncertainty about when – multiple scenarios being debated – but they sound certain there still will be college football this season.

As is the case will of these types of opinions, though, there’s no timeline attached to it.  Nor should there be, at least at this point.

At this point, it’s decidedly uncertain when the 2020 college football season will start. Or if it will even start, despite Schefter’s positive missive. There’s chatter that it could start in October, although one Bay Area health official doesn’t expect sports to return until at least Thanksgiving. January has been floated as a possibility as well. So has the spring of next year.

Playing games with no fans has also been tossed around. More than one prominent athletic director, though, has tossed cold water on such a plan. Fan-less games would very likely be an absolute, utter Hail Mary of a last resort to salvage some semblance of a season.

We’ve said myriad times before and we’ll continue to say it: The only certainty in all of this is that everyone involved in the sport will go to extreme lengths to ensure that a season is played in some form or fashion. Head coaches, though, will be far down on the list of people who will determine when a season starts. Or even if it does.

Justin Fields takes veiled shot at ex rival Tate Martell

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Justin Fields hasn’t said much about Tate Martell since enrolling at Ohio State. Actions speak louder than words, after all, and 51 touchdowns says plenty all on its own. But that doesn’t mean he’s forgotten.

Martell, of course, was an Ohio State quarterback before Fields, and all but challenged Fields’ manhood to come in and try to take the job Martell viewed was his.

“[W]ord of advice: don’t swing and miss… especially not your second time,” Martell tweeted on Dec. 22, 2018.

“Why would I leave for somebody who hasn’t put a single second into this program yet?” Martell later said. “I’ve put two years of working my ass off into something that I’ve been praying for and dreaming of my whole life. To just run from somebody that hasn’t put a single second into workouts or anything like that and doesn’t know what the program is all about, there’s not a chance.”

Two weeks later, Martell was in the transfer portal.

So, yes, Fields hasn’t said much, because he hasn’t had to. Fields led Ohio State to a Big Ten title and a College Football Playoff berth in 2019; Martell led Miami to seven passing yards.

But, on Tuesday, Fields reminded Martell that he still remembers that since-deleted tweet.

Fields won the battle with Martell a long time ago. Won it before it even began, actually. But Tuesday’s tweet was a nice victory lap, 15 and a half months in the making.

Louisville assesses pay cuts for all head coaches, senior athletics staff

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On Thursday, Louisville followed Iowa State’s lead in implementing pay cuts for all 21 of its head coaches plus its senior athletics department staff.

AD Vince Tyra told WDRB the cuts are necessary to make up for $2.1 million in lost revenue from the canceled ACC and NCAA tournaments, plus anticipated losses from the football season.

“We’re looking at everything,” Tyra said. “There’s nothing that’s not on the table to me. You have to (look at every expense). When I got into this job (in 2017) I had no idea I was going to have to use my business skills as much as I have.”

WDRB reported Louisville’s four highest-paid coaches agreed to salary cuts on Friday. The head coaches plus Tyra and 12 senior staffers will say goodbye to 10 percent of their salaries. For head Cardinal football coach Scott Satterfield, that means a drop of $325,000 from his $3.25 million salary.

Tyra will slash $85,000 off his $850,000 salary. He’ll also forgo bonuses due to him both this and next June.

Tyra also said the department is looking to cut its budget by bussing to games eight hours or fewer from campus, which figures to affect other sports more than football. Peering ahead to Louisville’s 2020 schedule, that could mean bus trips to Clemson on Sept. 12 (a 7-hour drive, per Google Maps), Virginia on Nov. 7 (7 hours, 30 minutes) and Notre Dame on Nov. 21 (4 hours), though that may prove to be one of those things where Tyra is talking to other U of L head coaches more than Satterfield.

Louisville is implementing such efforts to avoid cutting any of its 21 sports. One aspect not helping see-saw the budget in the right direction, according to Tyra: the $14 million buyout the school owes Bobby Petrino.

Colorado State losing LB Trey Sutton to transfer portal

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If you had Colorado State as the next participant in the spinning of “Ye Olde College Football Transfer Portal Wheel of Future Fortune,” collect your winnings. Which is essentially a cyber pat on ye olde back.  Congrats?

As most of the cool transfers are doing these days, Trey Sutton utilized Twitter to announce he’s made the first move in leaving the Colorado State football team by entering his name into the NCAA transfer database. The linebacker stated that he will be leaving the Rams as a graduate transfer.

That means Sutton would be eligible to play immediately at another FBS school immediately in 2020. He also claims he will have another season of eligibility he could use in 2021 as well.

That, of course, means he was granted a sixth season of eligibility at some point by the NCAA.

Sutton was a three-star member of the Colorado State football Class of 2016. The Florida product took a redshirt for his true freshman season.

After playing in four games in 2017, Sutton saw action in a career-high 12 the following year. He started three of those contests. Those were the only starts of his collegiate career thus far.

Interestingly, Sutton didn’t see the field at all in 2019.

Colorado State will be under new leadership this fall as Steve Addazio was hired as the program’s new head football coach. Addazio replaces Mike Bobo, who was fired earlier that month.