Updated: players reiterate dedication to Penn State

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Now that the NCAA has drastically loosened its transfer restrictions for Penn State free agents football players, the mad dash to fill positions of need on rosters around college football has begun in earnest.

Some players will inevitably decide to pursue other opportunities, as coach Bill O’Brien noted on ESPN’s “Mike and Mike” Wednesday morning. And they should be allowed to do so without any criticism whatsoever. Players choose a school for different reasons. If it was to compete for a national championship, they’re not going to get that chance with the Nittany Lions.

But some Penn State players have decided they will stick with the program, at least for today. Roughly 25 of those players gathered for a group statement right around the time O’Brien was making the ESPN rounds. Speaking on behalf of the group was senior running back Michael Zordich and senior linebacker Michael Mauti.

You can watch video of the announcement HERE, or read it in its entirety below:

This team is sticking together. We aren’t going anywhere. And we could not be more proud to be Penn Staters now. We look at this as a great opportunity to have the ability to bring back not only a team but an entire university.

This team has taken on more adversity than any team has faced in history which is a testament to our commitment to our teams character, our fans, and our university. One man didn’t build this program and one man sure as hell cannot tear it down. This program was built on the backs of the thousands of great men who put on the Penn State uniform. Today it is no different.

No sanction or politician can tear this team apart. No one can take away what this university means to us. We will stick together and create our own legacy. Our loyalty lies only with our teammates, coaches, fans and families. No one else.

It’s not going to be easy but we know that we have acquired the strength that we have overcome and we will embrace our anger and burn it as fuel this season.

We can’t wait for September 1 and to be back in Beaver Stadium and playing for Penn State in front of the best fans in the nation. We ask everyone to come out, show the support, wear your colors proudly and show that adversity makes the Penn State nation tougher and stronger.

Not among the group was running back Silas Redd. Redd was scheduled to appear at Big Ten media days, but now word is coming that no players from PSU will. 

It’s been rumored Redd might transfer to USC.

Additionally, starting quarterback Matt McGloin tweeted the following statement yesterday:

“If I have learned anything from this game, it is: “tough times don’t last, tough people do.” This program has been through some hard times. I and many others, have stayed here out of love for this university; its academic programs, teammates, our wonderful fans and tremendous student body. We, as student-athletes, are being punished for going to class, graduating, being involved in the community and playing football. Even though these penalties are extremely harsh, I am a Nittany Lion and will remain one. I believe in the core values I have learned in this program. It is not Nittany Lion Football. It is Nittany Lion family. I encourage all players, recruits, and supporters to stay committed to the greatest football program in America. Scholarships and bowl games cannot destroy the fabric of our family. Coach O’Brien and his staff will lead us through this difficult time. All I ask is for the fans to continue to believe in us. WE ARE!”

College Football Hall of Fame adds title sponsor

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The College Football Hall of Fame is no longer the College Football Hall of Fame. Well, it is, but it isn’t.

It’s still a massive museum dedicated to honoring our nation’s greatest sport, but it will no longer be known by that name. The Atlanta-based Hall has added a title sponsor, and it’s the same corporation that sponsors everything else college football within Atlanta, from the Peach Bowl to Paul Johnson‘s sock drawer (presumably) — Chick-fil-A.

The new name and logo was unveiled Thursday.

As of press time, there was no word on if the first 100,000 CFT readers will receive a free 12-pack of nuggets upon entry.

Report: Cannabis oil not the reason C.J. Harris denied walk-on opportunity at Auburn

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A major brouhaha broke out on social media last last week when it was reported that C.J. Harris was denied by the NCAA an opportunity to walk-on at Auburn because of his prescription for cannabis oil, which he uses to prevent epileptic seizures. Harris claims to be seizure free since January 2017 thanks to the medication.

“After Auburn coaches and staff took a second look at his medical records, they told Harris’ father Curtis that his son could not compete in NCAA athletics while he was taking cannabis oil,” reported WGXA-TV, which broke the story.

“You’re taking something away from a kid who’s worked so hard in his life to get there,” Curtis Harris, the player’s father, said. “And you’re just taking it away because he’s taking a medication that’s helping with his disability.”

But according to Brandon Marcello of Auburn Undercover, the story is more complicated than that. A source told Marcello that it was Auburn’s doctors, and not NCAA rules, that will prevent Harris from suiting up for the Tigers. Writes Marcello:

Auburn’s team physician did not clear Harris due to the pre-existing medical conditions, a source close to the Auburn football program said. The Auburn medical staff was concerned about the epilepsy and wanted to protect his well being in a full-contact sport that could lead to head trauma, the source said.

That information will not stop people from ripping on the NCAA, however, largely because it’s fun to rip on the NCAA.

But the Harris situation is a flashpoint in a larger cultural issue. Public opinion on marijuana is changing — 61 percent of Americans believe it should be legal, according to a Pew Research poll in January, an increase from 57 percent in 2017 and a massive leap from the 31 percent who thought the same in 2000 — and cannabis is already legal for purchase on a medical basis in 29 states. And the opinion of Auburn’s doctors doesn’t change the fact Harris would still be ineligible under current NCAA rules.

However, the NCAA’s Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports has discussed “medical marijuana and CBD products at recent meetings” and will do so again at its next gathering in June, according to SB Nation. The Harris situation — and the subsequent public reaction — should be a a topic of conversation.

 

Two Illinois players charged with theft for relocating deer sculpture

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A pair of Illinois players have been charged with theft between $500 and $10,000 after taking a sculpture from a Champaign park and relocating it to the top of their apartment building.

Jimmy Marchese, a junior linebacker, and Drew Murtaugh, a sophomore linebacker, told police they were walking home on the night of April 29 and saw a sculpture of a running deer, titled “Startled,” lying on the ground and took it home, placing the sculpture on the roof of their apartment. The Champaign Park District pleaded for the sculpture’s return on Facebook, and an anonymous tip led the authorities to Marchese and Murtaugh.

“Startled” has since been reinstalled at Champaign’s Scott Park, where the $5,000 sculpture will require touch-up work by the artist who created it.

“We had to have the artist come and do some work on it. We think we got it worked out to where it would be a lot harder for anyone to take it out again,” Champaign Park District director Joe DeLuce told the Champaign News Gazette.

The Illini pair has already appeared in court for a probable-cause hearing, and are due back on June 12. They face penalties ranging from probation to five years in prison.

Illinois spokesman Kent Brown told the News Gazette that head coach Lovie Smith is aware of the incident but has taken no action.

Marchese, a native of Vernon Hills, Ill., played in all 12 games in 2017 with two starts, and was named to the Academic All-Big Ten team. Murtaugh, hailing from Crystal Lake, Ill., did not letter as a redshirt freshman in 2017, but joined his partner in petty crime as an Academic All-Big Ten honoree.

 

Georgia DB Tray Bishop arrested on felony charge for alleged recording of sexual act

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Georgia freshman defensive back DetravionTray” Bishop was arrested on Wednesday on charges of felony eavesdropping/surveillance. The charges stem from an incident from this past fall, according to a report from Chip Towers of DawgNation.com. Bishop, who promptly turned himself over to the authorities after a warrant for his arrest was issued, has already been released from a county jail on a $5,700 bond.

The arrest follows an investigation by University of Georgia police responded to a complaint filed by a woman in April. The woman claimed Bishop recorded a sexual act between the two without her consent back in November.

“The complainant wished to report that there was a student going around showing people a sex tape of her … without her consent,” the police report said, according to the DawgNation report. “… A subsequent investigation into this incident led us into determining that the crime of unlawful eavesdropping occurred on [Nov. 5]. The investigation showed that Detravion Bishop had recorded [victim’s name] inside his dorm room without her permission and without her knowledge.”

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart has responded to the situation, expressing concern over the circumstances Bishop is caught up in.

“We are investigating the matter and it’s important that we gather all information relevant to the situation before we determine what policies may come into play,” Smart said in his statement. “Then we can take appropriate action if necessary.”

Bishop was a three-star recruit in Georgia’s Class of 2017, according to his Rivals profile. Bishop red-shirted last season.