COI hearing over, OSU releases letters and returns BcS money

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As expected, Ohio State’s appearance in front of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions produced nothing in the way of hard news regarding the allegations and potential sanctions the Buckeyes are facing.  It did, however, produce a couple of interesting tidbits that were released around the time the hearing took place.

First, however, the mundane.  OSU officials, including athletic director Gene Smith and former head coach Jim Tressel, were questioned by members of the committee for, by most accounts, nearly four hours in Indianapolis Friday morning and into early afternoon.  No decisions were made on the sanctions OSU self-imposed earlier this year; that’s expected to come in 6-12 weeks.

Following the hearing, no one from the Ohio State side would speak to the media, although Tressel released a statement talking around his appearance and apologizing once again to Buckeye Nation.

“I had an open and constructive exchange with the committee on infractions. They were well prepared and will now go about their work in deliberations. Again, I would like to apologize to the Buckeye nation, most especially to the players, staff and fans who remain so dear to me.”

Now, on to news containing a little more meat than that particular bone.

Earlier this week, Pat Forde of ESPN.com caused a mini-maelstrom by reporting that Ohio State had received a letter from the NCAA stating that the investigation into the football program was still ongoing.  The school responded by releasing a statement denying there were any new allegations.  Based on the release of two letters by the university today, they both appear to be technically correct.  Somewhat.

The first letter, addressed to OSU president E. Gordon Gee, contained “an updated list of documents comprising the record of the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions.”  There was no specific mention of an ongoing investigation in that letter.  However, that letter did reference a document titled “Letter from Director of Enforcement Stephanie Hannah regarding the status of the investigation” and was dated July 14, 2011.  That was the second letter, and it was also released by the university today.

In that letter, Hannah writes that, after a previous email on the situation had been sent, ” an amended notice of allegations containing one additional violation related to the first allegation was issued to the involved parties” — the involved parties being OSU and Tressel, among others, as the unspecified new “violation” likely pertained in some way to the former coach; that assumption’s gleaned from Hannah writing that the coach’s attorney “understood that the continuing investigation could potentially lead to additional allegations involving Mr. Tressel.”

Hannah goes on to write that it is still possible to move forward with the Aug. 12 hearing despite the one additional violation, although she notes that “additional review is necessary” and that “the investigation remains open.”  As the investigation remains open per the NCAA, Hannah advised OSU what could happen if further allegations are proven.

The institution understands and agrees that additional allegations may result from the ongoing inquiry and that the violations set forth in the current notice of allegations may form the partial basis for a failure to monitor of lack of institutional control when viewed in light of any additional violations. The institution also understands that if new violations are discovered, a second hearing may be necessary.

In addition to the release of the two previously unseen letters, the school also announced that they would be returning their share of the BcS money they received for playing in the Sugar Bowl.  As any money received from BcS bowl games is split in the Big Ten, OSU will be returning roughly $338,000.  We’re assuming that means they will be returning it to the conference, although that’s unclear right now.

So, thus far, Tressel’s decision to launch a one-man cover-up and lie about knowledge of potential violations has cost the university more than $1.1 million — $300K-plus in BcS money, more than $800K for the NCAA investigation — and that total doesn’t even include the immeasurable harm to the university’s reputation.

Second App State assistant added to Eli Drinkwitz’s Mizzou staff

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For the second time Thursday, Eli Drinkwitz has added an assistant to his new Missouri coaching staff. And, for the second time, it’s a member of his old Appalachian State.

First, Charlie Harbison was announced as a defensive assistant whose specific duties will be spelled out later. Next, it’s Erik Link being the second confirmed addition as part of Drinkwitz’s 10-man on-field staff.

Unlike Harbison, though, Link’s role has already been defined — special teams coordinator. That’s the same job Link held with the Mountaineers in 2019, his first and only season with the Sun Belt Conference school.

“Erik is a man of high character with a background in teaching and coaching,” said Drinkwitz in a statement. “His special teams units are detailed and very sound, and his guys play hard. They focus on effort, execution and high energy.”

Link was the special teams coordinator at Louisiana Tech in 2018, his first season as an on-field assistant at the FBS level. In 2011-12, he was the special teams coordinator at FCS Montana State.

In two separate stints at Auburn, he served as a quality control assistant (2010) and special teams/offensive analyst (2013-15).

Lane Kiffin adds two to first Ole Miss staff, including OC Jeff Lebby

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The Lane Train is wasting little time rolling out members of his first coaching staff in Oxford.

Officially confirmed as Ole Miss’ head coach Saturday, Lane Kiffin on Thursday unveiled the first two members of his on-field staff — offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby and offensive assistant Kevin Smith.

While Smith wasn’t given an official title, he spent the past three seasons as Kiffin’s running backs coach at FAU. That was the 43-year-old Smith’s first on-field role at any level of football as he had spent the previous three seasons at his alma mater UCF as both a coaching intern and quality control coach.

Smith, a consensus All-American as a running back at UCF, played five years for the NFL’s Detroit Lions and one season in the Canadian Football League.

Lebby, coincidentally enough, spent the past two seasons at UCF, the first as quarterbacks coach before being promoted to coordinator following the 2018 season. Prior to that, he was an assistant at Baylor for five years, primarily as running backs coach.

Lebby’s father-in-law is disgraced former Baylor head coach Art Briles. His brother-in-law is Kendal Briles, who was Kiffin’s offensive coordinator at FAU for one season before leaving for the same job at Houston and then, ultimately, Florida State.

In addition to those on-field hires, Wilson Love was announced as the Rebels’ head strength & conditioning coach. Like Smith, Love was a part of Kiffin’s Owls program the past three years.

LSU, Ohio State headline 130th Walter Camp All-American team

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Both No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Ohio State showed out well during the Home Depot College Football Awards Show Thursday night. Not surprisingly, both football programs did the same on one of the most prestigious teams in the sport as well.

Earlier tonight, the Walter Camp Football Foundation released its 2019 All-American teams, the 130th such squad recognized by the organization. LSU and Wisconsin led all schools with three first-team selections, while Ohio State led the way overall with five first- and second-team honorees (two on the first team, three on the second). LSU ended up with four overall, while Clemson had three (two first team, one second).

LSU and OSU were also one-two at the quarterback position, with Joe Burrow, also named the Camp Player of the Year, earning first-team honors and Justin Fields being the second-team selection.

Conference-wise, the Big Ten’s 15 selections on both teams led the way, followed by the SEC’s 13 and Pac-12’s seven. All told, eight of the 10 FBS conferences are represented — the Sun Belt’s Arkansas State (wide receiver Omar Bayless) claimed its first-ever Camp All-American — while 32 different schools claimed spots on one of the two teams. Two of those schools, Florida Atlantic (tight end Harrison Bryant) and Boise State (defensive end Curtis Weaver), had their first-ever first-team Camp All-Americans.

The AAC and MAC were the only FBS conferences without a player selected.

Individually, two players repeated as first-team All-Americans — Wisconsin running back and Doak Walker Award winner Jonathan Taylor, LSU safety and Jim Thorpe Award winner Grant Delpit. Taylor is actually a three-time Camp All-American as he was named to the second team as a true freshman in 2017.

Delpit’s teammate, defensive back Derek Stingley Jr., is the only freshman among the 51 All-Americans.

Mike Norvell brings Memphis DC Adam Fuller to Florida State

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Wednesday, Mike Norvell confirmed the identity of his offensive coordinator at Florida State. A day later, it was the coordinator on the other side of the ball who was identified.

In what amounts to a reunion after a very brief time apart, Norvell announced Thursday that, as had been speculated, Adam Fuller has been hired as Florida State’s defensive coordinator. Fuller spent the 2019 season in the same position for Norvell at Memphis.

“We are so very excited about the addition of Adam Fuller to the Florida State football family,” Norvell said. “Adam is one of the top defensive minds in college football and has been a part of developing some of the most productive defensive units in the nation throughout his career. Coach Fuller will bring an aggressive and detailed approach to our Seminole defense. It will put our great student-athletes in a position to showcase all their skills and talents while being developed at the highest level.

“Adam has recruited the state of Florida, specifically the Tampa area, throughout his career, which will assist in fostering relationships throughout the state. I am excited to see him elevate our Florida State defense back to one of the nation’s elite.”

Memphis was Fuller’s second coordinating job at the FBS level. The first came at Marshall the year before.

“My family and I are very excited to join the Seminole program,” Fuller said. “The history and tradition of Florida State’s defense brings a major responsibility. I look forward to embracing the pride that comes along with that.”

Fuller and offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham are the second and third FSU staff additions for Norvell. The first was Odell Haggins, who served as the Seminoles’ interim head coach after Willie Taggart was fired and was quickly retained by the new head coach.