NCAA gives ultimatum to ex-Miami players to talk about Shapiro allegations

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Over the summer, the NCAA took unprecedented steps by giving president Mark Emmert the proverbial keys to Penn State’s fate in the aftermath of the Freeh Report on the university’s (in)action against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. Now, and as it relates to the ongoing investigation of Miami’s athletic program, the Association is yet again going a more unconventional, although not unprecedented, route.

According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, the NCAA has mailed letters to former Hurricane players who allegedly committed NCAA violations by accepting impermissible benefits from Shapiro with a clear ultimatum: either talk or non-response will be considered an admission of involvement. Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports was later able to confirm the letters had been sent. Former players must respond by this Friday, Nov. 23 and that’s Black Friday OMG double meaning!

Here’s one letter Jackson was able to obtain (sent to a player’s attorney):

“The purpose of this letter is to apprise you that the NCAA enforcement staff is requesting to schedule an interview with your clients regarding their knowledge of or involvement in possible NCAA violations concerning the University of Miami, Florida, football program.

“Interviewing your clients is important in order for the enforcement staff to conduct a thorough investigation, and both the staff and the institution request you and your clients’ cooperation in this matter. However, at this time, all attempts to schedule and execute interviews with [blank] have been unsuccessful. As a result, this letter serves as a formal and final request by the NCAA enforcement staff for interviews with [blank] to be completed by Nov. 23, 2012.

“If we do not hear back from you or your clients by that time, the staff will consider the non-response as your client’s admission of involvement in NCAA violations. You may contact me at [blank] in order to arrange this interview. Your assistance in this matter is appreciated.”

Sincerely,

Molly Richman,

Assistant Director of Enforcement

A few things here. The NCAA does not have jurisdiction over former athletes, meaning it can’t penalize them personally. The only football players the NCAA can punish are the ones who played for Miami at the time of the investigation. The NCAA’s statute of limitations goes back four years, but does not apply when dealing with what are determined to be “willful violators.”

Shapiro, a former UM booster who is now serving jail time for his role in a Ponzi scheme, alleges that he began providing benefits to players as far back as the early 2000’s. Charles Robinson‘s Yahoo! Sports report identified 72 current and players who received benefits. Eight UM players were ruled ineligible for at least one game last season for accepting gifts from Shapiro.

We’ve linked to NCAA expert John Infante of the Bylaw Blog before, and here’s his take on the situation. According to the NCAA’s Legislative Services Database, “The Committee on Infractions shall base its findings on information presented to it that it determines to be credible, persuasive and of a kind on which reasonably prudent persons rely in the conduct of serious affairs.”

The questions are what evidence does the NCAA have so far, and if the response from former players is silence, are the Shapiro allegations credible enough by themselves to be used against Miami?

Granted, it’s damn-near impossible to think the NCAA has less evidence than what Robinson reported last year. However, this investigation has been going on for a while and the letters indicate the NCAA is still having trouble corroborating all the parts of Shapiro’s story.  So, the NCAA’s enforcement staff is prepared to move forward with a case with the evidence available because, hey, #YOLO #amirite?

It’s amazing that silence from former players could end up costing Miami, but unless the NCAA is able to punish past individuals, these are the kind of steps that will be taken.

Ohio State fires back at Michigan DE Chase Winovich for calling 62-39 loss ‘a mirage’

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If Chase Winovich and Breckyn Hager happen to run into each other at any point during the 2019 NFL Draft process, the two will have a lot to talk about. Both players are defensive ends. Both are known for the long blond locks that flow out of the backs of their helmets. Both are not afraid to run their mouths, and because of those last two items, both are players their rivals love to hate.

Hager, who famously refused to cut his hair until Texas won a Big 12 championship, famously proclaimed that Oklahoma “sucks” and “has no defense” before being forced to apologize by the Big 12. Squaring off against Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game with a chance to cut his hair in the face of a bitter rival, Hager recorded one solo tackle in a 39-27 loss. He since deleted his Twitter account.

That brings us to Winovich.

The Michigan defensive end famously proclaimed the Wolverines were on a revenge tour and called Michigan State “little brother” after the maize and blue beat the green and white for the third time in 11 years in October.

Heading into the ultimate game on Michigan’s revenge tour, the Wolverines… flopped. Ohio State rolled up 567 yards on Michigan’s top-ranked defense in a 62-39 blowout.

Winovich’s response to that loss? Rather than follow the lead of his doppleganger, he went in the other direction.

“I would say to any recruit or any potential guy who sees what happened in the Ohio State game and is persuaded against coming to Michigan because of that, I would say that alone is a mirage,” Winovich said following Michigan’s team awards ceremony on Sunday, via the Detroit Free Press. “And you should not be fooled. What we’ve built here and what we’ll continue to build is a powerhouse. That’s the Michigan I’m leaving. A Michigan that’s competitive in its trajectory.

“The sky’s the limit.”

Much like Hager, Winovich believes in himself and his team, sometimes too much. Like when he gives Ohio State the fodder to create this.

Aren’t rivalries healthy and constructive?

Manny Diaz reportedly in line to be the next Temple head coach

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The four men that revived and then carried Temple football through this decade have all been first-time head coaches. It seems like we’re close to making it five-for-five.

Yahoo‘s Pete Thamel reported on Tuesday that Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz is close to becoming the next head coach with Temple. His report was since followed with confirmations from a number of other outlets.

In his third season with the Hurricanes, Diaz has successfully revived his stock after he was fired mid-season at Texas in 2013. Amid a disappointing 7-5 season that began with a top-10 ranking, Diaz’s defense ranks No. 2 nationally in total defense and in or around the top 15 in every major statistical category. Prior to this season, Diaz’s defense led the way as Miami won its first 10 games and rose to No. 2 in the College Football Playoff poll in November.

In addition to Miami and Texas, the 44-year-old has also coordinated defenses for Mississippi State, Middle Tennessee and Louisiana Tech.

The Temple job has become an attractive one for coaches, as first-timers have proven they can go to Philadelphia, win for a couple years and then move on to a Power 5 job. That’s what Al Golden did (to Miami). And Steve Addazio (Boston College), Matt Rhule (Baylor) and Geoff Collins, who got the Georgia Tech job after going 15-10 in two seasons.

In fact, one has to wonder if the Machiavellian play for Diaz, a Miami native and the son of a former Miami mayor of the same name, is to take the Temple job, watch the Mark Richt regime implode from afar without him around to run the defense, and then return as head coach in 2020 or 2021.

Devin Singletary motors from FAU into NFL draft pool

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For the second time today, a highly-productive running back has decided to ply his wares in the NFL.

Via Twitter, Devin Singletary announced that, as expected, he will be leaving Florida Atlantic early in order to enter his name into the 2019 NFL Draft pool. “I hope I left a lasting impression on The University, football program, and the entire community,” Singletary wrote.

Singletary has rushed for 1,000-plus yards in each of the last three seasons, including a career-high 1,920 in 2017.  He’s also been an absolute scoring machine, totaling 66 rushing touchdowns in his career.

Those touchdowns, 54 of which came the past two years, put Singletary sixth on the NCAA’s all-time list in that category.

Ben Hicks, three-year starter at QB at SMU, to transfer from Mustangs

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The past three seasons, Ben Hicks has been SMU’s starting quarterback.  Thanks to a surprising development, he won’t get the opportunity to make it a fourth next season.

In an interview with 247Sports.com, Hicks confirmed that he has informed head coach Sonny Dykes and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee of his decision to transfer from the Mustangs.  The redshirt junior has one season of eligibility remaining, which he can use at another FBS program next year as a graduate transfer.

As for why he pulled the trigger on a decision to transfer?

“Looking for a new opportunity, new growth,” Hicks told the website. “Just a chance to really start fresh in my last year and move forward with the rest of my life, whether that be football or whether that be finding out where I’m at.

“The decision was obviously very difficult because I’ve been extremely fortunate to play a lot of football here and meet great friends. I’ve always had a great support staff so the decision was very difficult. You got to make some tough decisions sometimes and this was one I felt like I needed to make.”

Hicks will leave the Mustangs as its leader in a significant number of major statistical categories, including passing yards (9,081) and passing touchdowns (71).  Conversely, he also threw 34 interceptions and completed just over 56 percent of his passes.

With Hicks’ departure, the Mustangs are now left with four scholarship quarterbacks, all either true or redshirt freshman, on the roster — William Brown, Derek Green, Jacob Oehrlein and Austin Upshaw.  Brown, who served as Hicks’ primary backup, completed 53-of-85 passes for 625 yards, seven touchdowns and an interception.  Upshaw attempted a pair of passes this past season.