Freeze ‘disappointed’ in ‘unwarranted allegations’ against Ole Miss players

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As expected, Ole Miss is firmly standing behind its men.

Wednesday, reports surfaced that a handful of Rebel football players were named in a $2 million civil lawsuit, which stemmed from an alleged beating at a frat party around this time last year.  Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork subsequently released a statement defending the players, saying “the proper authorities investigated the matter and could find no evidence of wrong-doing.”  The players’ head coach followed in his boss’ footsteps, saying that Robert and Denzel Nkemdiche, the two most prominent players named in the suit, have the team’s full support.

“Having spoken with our players after the event occurred and reviewed the incident report,” Hugh Freeze‘s statement began, “we are disappointed these unwarranted allegations are being directed at Denzel and Robert, and they have the full support of our team as they fight this matter.”

The names of the other five football players who are a part of the civil suit have not been named, at least publicly.  Bo Wallace and Alex Kamara were included in the police report, although it’s unknown if either are named in the lawsuit.  The former was the Rebels’ starting quarterback in every game as a senior in 2013, the latter a defensive back who will be a sophomore in 2014.

While the Ole Miss police department investigated the incident that occurred in mid-February of 2013, no arrests were ever made or charges filed.  UPD Captain Michael Harmon told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger shortly after the legal action went public that no one, including the plaintiff in the lawsuit, could positively identify any of the attackers.

The attack left the alleged victim, who according to the suit was coming to the aid of friend, unconscious after being stomped in the head.  Matthew Baird, the alleged victim and plaintiff in the lawsuit, was treated for multiple injuries.  Baird is seeking $1 million in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages in the suit that was filed late last week.

Robert Nkemdiche, a freshman All-American defensive end last season, took to Twitter Wednesday night to brush off the accusations.

The defensive lineman’s brother, All-SEC linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche, was arrested this past weekend on charges of disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct and failure to comply.  He was indefinitely suspended by the football program following that legal run-in.

Officially official: Alabama and USC will meet again at AT&T Stadium for 2020 opener

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If at first you don’t succeed, try again, right?

That must be the thinking in Los Angeles as both USC and Alabama officially confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that the two college football powerhouses would open the 2020 season at AT&T Stadium in the AdvoCare Classic.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to open another season at the AdvoCare Classic in 2020,” Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban said in a statement. “Our team and our fans have always enjoyed playing in North Texas and AT&T Stadium is a fantastic competitive environment. This event has always been first class with the intensity of a bowl game. We are also pleased to have the chance to once again face USC, and we look forward to a great game.”

The pair met in the same game to open the 2016 season in an affair best known for who didn’t start at quarterback for both teams in what wound up as a 52-6 shellacking of the Trojans by the Tide. Notably, Max Browne started for USC at quarterback while Sam Darnold watched on as the backup and Blake Barnett took the first snaps for Alabama before eventually giving way to Jalen Hurts. Both Barnett and Browne wound up transferring from the schools while Hurts and Darnold guided the teams to New Year’s Six bowl games.

This will be the ninth game between the two schools (should they not meet in a bowl the next two seasons), which was perhaps most famously played back in the 1970’s when Bear Bryant and John McKay famously ruled the sidelines for both sides. Alabama leads USC 6-2 in the wins department, with the most recent coming in that opener two years ago.

The move will be the centerpiece of the Tide’s non-conference slate in 2020, with Georgia State and Kent State also on the docket in Tuscaloosa. USC now has their 2020 non-conference schedule done with home games against New Mexico and their yearly contest with Notre Dame rounding things out.

LSU and Miami are slated to play in the AdvoCare Classic game later this year on Sept. 1st to open the season while Auburn and Oregon will meet in the game to start off the 2019 campaign.

NCAA releases latest APR data, which means bonus money for many coaches

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It’s APR — academic progress rate — day around the NCAA which means a bunch of schools are celebrating how well their teams did in the classroom. While many programs are doing a fist pump over hitting certain thresholds, there are a number of head coaches who are picking up a nice check as the result of players staying eligible.

Like, six-figures worth of cold hard cash thanks to their players showing up to class and taking tests.

USA Today’s Steve Berkowitz knows coaches contracts better than anybody and has been tweeting out some of the bonus money that various coaches are getting as a result of APR scores. While a few amounts are somewhat modest, a few others are collecting a very, very nice check.

Lunch is on Paul Johnson today!

Northwestern led all football programs with a multi-year APR rate of 997, followed closely in the FBS ranks by Air Force, Vanderbilt and Duke among others. The overall average score for football teams across Division I ticked up two points to 964 for the 2016-17 school year. Student-athletes receive points for both staying eligible and staying in school, with a formula then determining the program’s single-year and multi-year scores.

Teams can be ruled ineligible for postseason play if their score is too low but only one program suffered that fate (Morgan State of the MEAC). Grambling also was hit with a Level One penalty for their APR score, which includes a reduction in practice time for the upcoming season. The lowest multi-year APR score for a FBS program belonged to Florida State with a 941.

Former WR Keith Mumphery sues Michigan State over handling of his dismissal

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Michigan State is dealing with yet another lawsuit over an alleged sexual assault but this time it has nothing to do with the growing Larry Nassar scandal at the school.

The Detroit Free Press reports that a federal lawsuit has been filed against the university by former Spartans wide receiver Keith Mumphery, alleging that he was “permanently dismissed from Michigan State based on false allegations of sexual misconduct and sexual exploitation by a female Michigan State student.”

“The disciplinary process and ultimate finding were motivated by an anti-male and anti-athlete discriminatory bias against,” the suit added.

Mumphery was a fifth round pick in 2015 by the Houston Texans but was cut by the franchise prior to the 2017 season after the Free Press published details regarding the alleged sexual assault case. It was later revealed that Mumphery was banned from going on campus in East Lansing until 2019 by the university as part of the disciplinary process, which began with the alleged incident back in March of 2015.

The Free Press notes that the female student at the center of the case has also sued Michigan State in federal court but tells a much different story than Mumphery does about the alleged incident and subsequent actions by the university.

Needless to say, it’s been a trying few months for the Spartans given all that has gone on at the school and you can now add this matter to the growing list of things that MSU will have to deal with.

Report: Gasparilla Bowl moving from Tropicana Field to Raymond James Stadium

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The bowl game named after a pirate is moving to a pirate ship. No, seriously.

In an ‘only in college football’ type of move, former ESPN reporter Brett McMurphy is reporting that the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl is moving from St. Petersburg’s Tropicana Field (home of MLB’s Rays) to Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium (home of the NFL’s Bucs).

The move is being framed as being a way to boost attendance for the game after several years of lackluster crowds at the rather remote baseball stadium in the Tampa area. Raymond James is no stranger to hosting bowl games, serving as the home of the Outback Bowl as well as hosting the national title game in 2017 between Clemson and Alabama.

The Gasparilla Bowl is owned and operated by ESPN and will pit teams from the American against a squad from either the ACC or Conference USA on December 20th.