It’s official: NCAA accepts Vols’ self-imposed sanctions

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It was reported Tuesday that the NCAA Committee on Infractions would release its report on Tennessee and that no additional sanctions would be levied against either the football program or its former head coach, Lane Kiffin

As it turns, that was absolutely correct, although along with that positive outcome came some sharp words for Kiffin and his assistants.

From the NCAA’s report specifically addressing the football portion of the issues in the UT athletic department (our emphasis added):

In the sport of football, it was alleged that major violations occurred in the conduct of the program, including recruiting activities undertaken by student interns. The committee concluded that the evidence was insufficient to support findings of major violations. However, the committee was troubled by the number and nature of the secondary infractions by the football coaching staff during its one-year tenure at the institution. From January 2009 through October 2009 the staff committed 12 violations, all connected to recruiting. Some of the violations received nationwide publicity and brought the football program into public controversy. This is not a record of which to be proud. Nevertheless, because the violations individually were secondary and most were isolated, the committee, in the end, determined not to make a finding of a major violation.

“I’m very grateful to the NCAA, the Committee on Infractions and its chairman, Dennis Thomas, for a very fair and thorough process,” Kiffin said in a statement. “I’m also very grateful that we were able to accurately and fairly present the facts in our case and that no action was taken against us. I’m pleased that the NCAA based its decision on the facts and not on perception. I’m also very grateful that the Tennessee football program was cleared of any wrongdoing.

“As I have said before, we always have been committed to following NCAA rules and bylaws both at Tennessee and now at USC, and we always will be. Now that this has reached its conclusion, I am looking forward to continuing to prepare our team for the upcoming season.”

To review, the Notice of Allegations sent to UT in February charged Kiffin with a “failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the football program and failure to monitor the activities regarding compliance of several assistant coaches.”  The charges stemmed in part from UT recruiting hostesses having impermissible contact with potential recruits, as well as at least one assistant, David Reaves — a Kiffin assistant and the current USC head coach’s brother-in-law — making improper contact with recruits.

Again, those major violations alleged in the NOA were reduced to a string of secondary violations by the COI.

The COI also accepted the school’s self-imposed sanctions that included two years of probation — that probation will run from August 24, 2011, through August 23,  2013 — for the entire athletic department; reducing from 10 to five the number of coaches who can make phone calls to prospective recruits during the first day of the November 2011 contact period; and, during this past spring’s contact period, UT had its permissible recruiting days reduced from 168 to 162.

“It is time for the University of Tennessee to put this behind us and look forward,” said Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek in a statement. “The NCAA commented very positively about our cooperation. We have worked hard to make things right and that has been accepted by the Committee. We have great coaches and great student-athletes, and now it’s time to go out there and compete.”

Jerry Kill joins Virginia Tech support staff

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Jerry Kill stepped down as Minnesota’s head coach in the middle of the 2015 season, but he’s remained active as ever in “retirement.”

He spent 2016 as an assistant AD at Kansas State, returned to coaching as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Rutgers in 2017, but, after the same epileptic seizures that chased him out of coaching followed him to Piscataway, Kill stepped down after just one season. He was quickly scooped up as the athletics director at Southern Illinois, but now Kill is returning again to coaching — sort of.

Virginia Tech on Monday announced Kill as the new assistant to the head coach for Justin Fuente. In this newly-created role, Kill will use his experience to assist Fuente with “a myriad of duties.”

“Jerry Kill will serve as a tremendous resource for our football program,” Fuente said. “Coach Kill possesses over three decades of expertise and will be great addition to our staff. In addition to over 20 years of experience as collegiate and high school head coach, he’s served as a coordinator on both sides of the ball. He can dissect the game from virtually every angle and will be able to provide his unique perspective on everything from recruiting, to personnel and facilities. ”

“While it was a difficult decision to leave so many wonderful friends and colleagues at Southern Illinois, I am thrilled for the opportunity to join Coach Fuente and his staff at Virginia Tech,” Kill said. “I’ve long appreciated and admired Justin as a coach and teacher of the game. I respect his penchant for identifying talent and helping young men reach their potential. He has assembled a fabulous coaching staff and roster of talented players at Virginia Tech. I can’t wait to help the Hokies in any way I can.”

Kill will join the Virginia Tech staff effective immediately. He went 152-99 as a head coach at five different schools from 1994-2015.

 

Pac-12 admits refs botched Arizona State-Michigan State ending

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No. 24 Arizona State beat Michigan State 10-7 on Saturday, a win that was preserved by a 12-men-on-the-field penalty that wiped away a game-tying field goal for the Spartans. Matt Coghlin‘s second attempt, this one from 47 yards, sailed wide right, allowing the Sun Devils to hold on for the win.

But it turns out there should have been a second penalty called.

The Pac-12 has announced its officials missed a penalty on Arizona State on Coghlin’s second, missed attempt.

“An Arizona State defensive player took a running start and leapt over the kicking team’s line in an attempt to block the kick. In the process, he leapt into the frame of the body of an opponent. The penalty would have been 15 yards from the previous spot and an automatic first down.

In this case, it would have been administered as half the distance to the goal and Michigan State would have been provided one untimed down.”

That penalty would have moved the Spartans up to the Arizona State 14-yard line, giving Coghlin a third attempt from just 31 yards out.

The Pac-12 provided no word on what, if any, internal accountability the officiating crew that missed such a crucial penalty will face.

 

Chip Kelly won’t make QB change despite UCLA offensive woes

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Chip Kelly revolutionized college football back when he was at Oregon, becoming so successful that not one but three NFL teams tried or succeeded in hiring him.

Kelly’s return to the sidelines in the college game however… could be going better. UCLA was blown out of the water on Saturday night at the Rose Bowl by No. 5 Oklahoma and the Bruins offense is actually among the worst in all of FBS.

They’re dead last in yards per play, second to last in total offense and No. 127 in scoring offense. Oh and sophomore quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson is No. 99 nationally in passer rating.

Despite those numbers, it appears Kelly isn’t contemplating a new face behind center as the team moves into Pac-12 play.

“We didn’t,” Kelly said when asked by the LA Times whether he thought of making a change at quarterback on Saturday. “…we felt confident in Dorian.”

To be fair, Thompson-Robinson did seem a little improved against the Sooners than he did in his first two starts of 2019 against Cincinnati and San Diego State. But those numbers speak for themselves with road trips to Washington State and Arizona coming up for the 0-3 side from Westwood.

Pony Up! SMU off to best start since 1984 at 3-0

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TCU may have moved into the top 25 of the AP Poll this week after dispatching Purdue on Saturday but upcoming opponent SMU is off to an equally hot start coming into Week 4 after topping Texas State.

In fact, it’s a historic one down in Dallas.

As the school noted recently, the 3-0 start to the 2019 campaign is the Mustangs’ best since… 1984. That’s just after the Pony Express days on the Hilltop and right before the program got hammered by the NCAA for major violations.

Sonny Dykes’ tenure got off to a rough start after going 5-7 last season but the team looks much improved thanks in part to the play of Texas transfer QB Shane Buechele.

We’ll see if the two can keep things rolling against the rival Horned Frogs but the AAC might just have another intriguing team in the mix after such a hot start by SMU.