Report: drug testing has doubled in Charlie Strong’s first year

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Projected starting offensive tackle Kennedy Estelle was dismissed by the Texas football program earlier this week, reportedly for failing to live up to the terms of a substance abuse rehab program.  Based on the most recent report, that should come as no surprise if true.

Citing data obtained in an open records request, Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman reported Wednesday that, in the first eight months of Charlie Strong‘s tenure with the Longhorns, 188 drug tests have been administered to an unknown number of UT football players.  The only known is that every member of the football team was tested in March.

For comparison’s sake, an average of 104 tests per year were administered between 2010-13 when Mack Brown was the head coach.

The tests under Strong are broken down thusly by the American Statesman, which notes athletes can be tested at any time for any reason:

A total of 104 drug tests were administered from March 19-28, according to university records. Then on April 11, another 18 players were tested. Two tests were administered on April 30, and one more came on May 3. Players were tested during the summer, as 15 tests were administered on July 19. Two players were tested on Aug. 11, right in the middle of training camp as the players and coaches were living together in the dorms.

Seven more came on Aug. 22 and another seven players were tested the day before the season opener against North Texas, according to records. Brown usually tested players in the spring and mid-October, but never during training camp or before the season opener, records indicate.

Strictly as it relates to marijuana, there’s a four-strikes-and-you’re-out policy at UT. The first positive nets counseling, while the second and third positives result in suspensions of 10 percent of a sport’s regular-season games (one game for football) and 50 percent (six games) respectively. The fourth earns a student-athlete a dismissal.

This year, $8,775 has been spent on drug testing.  That number ranged from $5,100 to $6,500 the previous four years.   Then again, when you can (reportedly) offer a $10o million-plus financial package to a head coach at another school or the unlimited use of a private jet to another, a couple of hundred extra pee cups probably won’t make a dent in the budget.

“If we get information that leads us to believe there is cause to test, then we will certainly do that,” Allen Hardin, who oversees UT’s sports medicine and drug testing program, told the paper, indicating that this isn’t just a short-term “scare tactic” on Strong’s part but rather the head coach putting actions behind his five core values.

“He puts [the core values] on the wall and [the perception is] it’s like a new thing, like somebody wrote the Bible,” UT defensive coordinator Vance Bedford said earlier this month. “Well … teach a woman with respect. If you have a son, won’t you teach him that? I never had a gun. My mom never let me have a gun. My wife surely won’t let me have a gun. What’s wrong with that? No drugs. What’s wrong with that? Don’t steal. What’s wrong with that? What’s big about those core values? It’s the same thing every parent out there teaches.”

In other words, current and future Longhorn football players, it might be wise to follow this sage and timeless advice when it comes to the pharmaceutical aspect of the Strong’s Top Five…

 

Matthew Baldwin’s decision leaves Ohio State with two scholarship QBs

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And then there were two.

Seeing the Justin Fields writing on the wall, Tate Martell transferred from Ohio State in mid-January and ultimately landed at Miami.  Three months later, another OSU signal-caller, Matthew Baldwin, confirmed on Twitter Thursday night that he too has decided to take his leave of the Buckeyes and place his name into the NCAA transfer database.

“[S]pring was a tough time for me personally. My family and I have prayed and talked a lot about where I belong and what is best for me,” Baldwin wrote as part of a very classy Twitter post revealing his decision. “In the end, we feel like it’d be better for me to step away from Ohio State.”

A four-star member of OSU’s 2018 recruiting class, Baldwin was rated as the No. 12 pro-style quarterback in the country coming out of high school in Austin, Texas.  Baldwin didn’t play a down for the Buckeyes as he continued his rehab from an ACL injury he suffered late in his high school career at Lake Travis.

With the twin departures of Baldwin and Martell, OSU is now down to two scholarship quarterbacks — the Georgia transfer Fields (HERE) and West Virginia transfer Chris Chugunov (HERE).  Fields was widely expected to be the Buckeyes’ starter under center in the 2019 opener; Baldwin’s decision ensures that, barring injury, that will indeed be the case.

Arkansas to add former Notre Dame OL Luke Jones

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A week and a half after word broke Luke Jones was intending to leave Notre Dame comes the announcement Jones is going to be playing closer to home. The Arkansas native announced with a message on Twitter he is coming home to play for the Arkansas Razorbacks.

“I would like to thank the University of Note Dame for giving me the opportunity to pursue my dream of playing college football,” Jones said in a brief message on his Twitter account. “However, I have decided to transfer and play football for the University of Arkansas. I will be enrolling in the summer and am excited for this new chapter in my life!”

Jones spent a brief moment with the Notre Dame program as he was a member of the Class of 2018 in South Bend. Prior to committing to the Fighting Irish, Jones had been committed to the Arkansas football program in his recruiting process, but Notre Dame emerged victorious in the recruiting game during a coaching change with the Razorbacks.

Jones will be required to sit out the 2019 season under standard NCAA transfer rules, although those seem to be more like guidelines these days, so we’ll wait to see if there is a chance Jones gets to jump into the mix in the offensive line for the Razorbacks this fall.

Ex-Pitt TE Tyler Sear announces transfer to Temple

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Tight end Tyler Sear is hopping on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and heading from one metropolitan corner of the state to the next. Sear announced on his Twitter account on Thursday he is transferring from Pitt to Temple.

The Class of 2017 recruit of the Panthers left the program last October for what was simply described as personal reasons. It was unknown if the leave of absence was a short-term or long-term plan as the decisions about the status were being kept close to the vest within the Pitt program.

Sear did battle some injury concerns during his time at Pitt that prevented him from potentially reaching his full potential for the Panthers. He caught two passes for nine yards last season prior to his stepping away from the team.

Perhaps a clean slate with a new program will do Sear good as he steps in to try contributing with the Owls in the AAC. Sear will have to sit out the 2019 season due to standard NCAA transfer rules, unless an exception is granted by the NCAA. It is unknown if a waiver will be filed by Sear and Temple for immediate eligibility.

Sear has not used a redshirt year yet so he could burn that in 2019 while waiting to get back on the field if he is forced to sit out the 2019 season. That ould leave Sear with two years of eligibility remaining beginning with the 2020 season.

Michigan CB Myles Sims enters transfer portal

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Add another name to the growing list of players entering the transfer portal. This time it is Michigan cornerback Myles Sims. According to a report from 247 Sports, the former four-star prospect in Michigan’s Class of 2018 is evaluating his options.

Any player who adds his name to the transfer portal is allowed to make contact with potential programs of interest, but it does not automatically mean that player is gone for god. Sims will have the option of pulling his name out of the portal in the event he decides to stay in Ann Arbor. How quickly Sims will make any decision one way or the other remains to be seen.

Sims did not see the field last season for Michigan so he can use the 2018 season as his redshirt year. That gives the former four-star recruit four years of eligibility remaining, although he will likely have to burn one year of eligibility by sitting out the upcoming 2019 season.

Standard NCAA transfer rules require a player to sit out a full season before being ruled eligible to play again, although exceptions have been made a bit more frequently over the past year. Whether or not Sims will have the chance to play right away this fall will have to wait to be determined when he decides what his plans will be moving forward.