Updated: Al Golden responds to Yahoo! Sports report

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Updated 9:58 p.m. ET: In response to Robinson’s story, Al Golden has released the following statement:

“I have been a college football coach for more than 18 years and I am proud of–and I stand by–my record of compliance over that span. As my colleagues and players on all of my teams can attest, I believe strongly in doing things the right way with the best of intentions. The inferences and suggestions in the Yahoo! Sports story that my conduct was anything but ethical are simply false.  I, like all of us at UM, have cooperated fully with the joint NCAA-UM inquiry and will continue to do so, so that our program and our University can move forward.

“Because the process is on-going, I am unable to address any specifics or answer questions on the matter.”

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In a shorter but nevertheless astounding investigation, Robinson goes for The U’s jugular by reporting that members of coach Al Golden‘s staff actively used a man by the name of Sean “Pee Wee” Allen, a former equipment manager described as a “onetime right-hand man of convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro”, to secretly violate NCAA recruiting rules from December, 2010 (shortly after Golden was hired), to summer, 2011.

Below is a piece of the report, which you can read in its entirety HERE:

The latest issues involving Allen are twofold – his having provided improper benefits to players dating back to early in his career at Miami; and his continued improper contact with Miami recruits, which allegedly lasted through his final days working for the Hurricanes in the summer of 2011.

One former Hurricanes staffer told Yahoo! Sports that Allen was used specifically by members of Golden’s staff as an “off-the-books” recruiter. As part of those duties, the staffer said Allen kept tabs on Miami-area kids, including making calls about their recruitment, and on some occasions, supplying improper transportation to and from campus that aided Miami in its efforts to gain a commitment from some prospects.

NCAA rules stipulate that anyone who improperly “assisted in providing benefits to enrolled student-athletes or their families” triggers the association’s booster clause under bylaw 13.02.14. Allen said in federal testimony in connection with Shapiro’s bankruptcy case that he provided improper benefits to players as far back as the mid-2000s. The NCAA’s rules also state that equipment managers such as Allen cannot engage in recruiting calls or assist in off-campus recruiting unless they are designated and counted as an assistant coach under Bylaw 11.7.

What’s more is that Golden reportedly knew about Allen’s improper contact with area recruits, which included Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and Florida State running back Devonta Freeman. In fact, Robinson’s newest report points out that Allen was aided by former assistant Aubrey Hill, and current assistant coach Micheal Barrow.

Allen left Miami in August of last year after being named in Robinson’s original report on Miami. He has since been a focal point for the NCAA.

That same month, Golden told reporters he was only recently made aware of the NCAA’s interest in the program. He signed an extension with the school last November.

Shapiro, a former UM booster, was the cornerstone of Robinson’s report in 2011. Shapiro claimed he provided millions of dollars in impermissible benefits to Hurricane athletes. As of earlier this month, the NCAA was still visiting Miami to check up on compliance practices. 

ACC media days begin on Sunday too. I would bet a large portion of my savings — which, thankfully, isn’t much — that Golden will be asked about Robinson’s report.

Double or nothing: he says something to the degree of “no comment.”

Charles Woodson says Michigan isn’t putting an emphasis on Ohio State game like they should

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Since retiring from the NFL, Charles Woodson has become increasingly vocal about his alma mater. Not only has the Michigan alum shouted out his love for the Wolverines, he’s also not shy in calling out the team after a few years of sub-par results — particularly when it comes to the game against their heated rival Ohio State.

You can add another chapter for Woodson in that matter over the weekend as the Heisman Trophy winner did not mince words in calling out how ‘The Game’ is being treated by some in Ann Arbor.

“You know what, to be quite honest, I really feel like in recent years there hasn’t been the emphasis I’m used to being put on that game,” Woodson told the Detroit Free Press on Saturday. “Every game has been put on the same level as that game. That’s not the way we were brought up. Not the way we were raised around here.

“We had no shame in saying (we were going to beat Ohio State). And every time I watch our teams in recent years, it’s ‘oh, it’s another game.’ It’s not.”

Woodson has already guaranteed a victory over the Buckeyes this spring at a commencement speech he gave to UM graduates and has been vocal about the program getting back to the position he had it in back in the late 1990’s when they were winning titles and — most importantly — beating Ohio State. The Wolverines have never beaten Urban Meyer since he arrived in Columbus and have just two wins in the series in the past 15 tries. Jim Harbaugh, who is certainly familiar with beating OSU as a player, is 0-3 against the Buckeyes as head coach.

It goes without saying that the team is very much aware of the current six-game losing streak they have against their chief rival and, given everything that has gone on this offseason, could be in their best position in years to get a win when the two meet in Columbus this November. However, Woodson might be getting a text message or phone call from Harbaugh to tone down the rhetoric just a tad given that he’s writing a check the players will have to cash.

Certainly everybody in Ann Arbor knows how big ‘The Game’ is to the school and will be emphasizing a win this year more than ever even without the extra push from one of the all-time greats in maize and blue.

WATCH: Paralyzed Georgetown football player walks across the stage at graduation

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You probably have never heard of TY Williams the football player but what the former Georgetown linebacker did this weekend at the school will surely bring a tear to your eyes.

Williams injured his spinal cord in a game back in September 2015 and suffered a fractured vertebra that left him partially paralyzed. Despite that, he followed up years of rehab on the injury to walk across the stage at the Hoyas’ graduation ceremony on Saturday to receive his degree from the university.

Boy, it sure is a little dusty up in here after watching that. Congrats to Williams and his family on an incredible achievement.

Ohio State led nation for total fan attendance in 2017, Michigan tops in average attendance at home

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In some not exactly breaking news, there are a lot of Ohio State fans out there. Not to be left out, their rivals to the North have quite a few people following the team in maize and blue too.

The National Football Foundation released an interesting set of facts and figures last week that was designed to call attention to just how popular the sport of college football is across the country. The whole list is worth a look if you’re interested in all the little details about the 2017 season but a few of the big highlights are:

  • Ohio State led the nation for total fan attendance, attracting 1,254,160 spectators to all of their games in 2017, including home, away, neutral and postseason tilts. Eleven other teams eclipsed the million mark in 2017: Georgia (1,246,201), Alabama (1,228,376), Auburn, Penn State, Michigan, LSU, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Clemson and Texas.
  • Michigan led all FBS schools again with an average attendance of 111,589 fans per home game in 2017. Three other schools also averaged more than 100,000 fans per game: Ohio State (107,495), Penn State (106,707) and Alabama (101,722). The Wolverines have led the nation in home attendance for 41 of the past 43 seasons.
  • The SEC led all FBS conferences in attendance for the 20th straight year, averaging 75,074 fans per game or a total of 7,357,228 in 2017, followed by the Big Ten (66,227), Big 12 (56,852), Pac-12 (49,601) and the ACC (48,442).
  • The overall attendance for NCAA football games across all divisions (FBS, FCS, Division II and Division III) drew 47,622,196 fans at home games, neutral-site games and postseason games in 2017. The number represents a 3.3 percent drop from the 2016 season.

There’s a bunch more in there from the NFF on everything from TV ratings to fan interest and a bunch of other nuggets. Needless to say, college football is pretty popular around the country and we at CFTalk certainly wouldn’t have it any other way.

LB Andrew Ward becomes latest Nebraska player to announce plans to transfer out

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Everybody figured that Scott Frost’s arrival with a new way of doing things in Lincoln would prompt a few transfers out of the program but the latest name to leave Nebraska is on the defensive side of the ball as linebacker Andrew Ward became the latest name to announce a transfer after just a year with the Cornhuskers.

As Ward mentions in his post, he was originally recruited to the school by the prior coaching staff under Mike Riley. He redshirted as a freshman in 2017 and seemed to fall down the pecking order at his position during spring practice. Originally from Michigan, the linebacker was rated as a three-star coming out of high school according to 247Sports and held offers from Penn State and Virginia Tech among others.

Ward adds to the growing list of roster turnover this offseason for the Cornhuskers. Also on Saturday it was confirmed that center Michael Decker was retiring from football, while wideout Kenyan Williams, fullback Ben Miles, quarterback Patrick O’Brien, and receiver Zack Darlington all announced intentions to leave the program.