Questions arise over Jameis Winston autograph authentication

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Another Jameis Winston story that doesn’t involve the game football?  Yep, another Jameis Winston story that doesn’t involve the game of football.

Lost amidst the ongoing saga that is the oft-delayed student code of conduct hearing is one involving the Florida State quarterback’s penmanship.  Specifically, allegations that Winston had placed his Herbie Hancock on a thousand or more pieces of memorabilia in exchange for money, which, as Georgia’s Todd Gurley can attest, is a violation of antiquated and archaic NCAA bylaws.

Conducting its own investigation, FSU released a statement in mid-October which read, in part that “[a]t this time we have no information indicating that he accepted payment for items reported to bear his signature.” One memorabilia service, James Spence Authentication, has more than 1,000 items purported to be signed by Winston on its website. JSA has authenticated that the items were signed by Winston, although that authentication is now coming under significant scrutiny.

From an ESPNOutside the Lines” report:

Five sources who spoke to “Outside the Lines” on the condition of anonymity said that James Spence Authentication got the items only after competitor PSA/DNA backed out of the February signing with Winston. PSA/DNA did so after being told that it couldn’t witness the quarterback signing the items in person, sources said.

OTL reported that “the submissions [available on JSA’s website] came from individuals who all got their items from a single signing arranged by a Florida memorabilia dealer named Donnie Burkhalter.”  The alleged signing took place in Tallahassee this past February, with at least five autograph wholesalers paying Burkhalter between $30 to $40 per Winston autograph, OTL reported.

Burkhalter in the past has denied that he paid Winston for the autographs.  JSA stands behind its authentication process.

The alleged connection between Winston and Burkhalter stems from the latter’s relationship with former Florida State and current Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman. Tony Fleming, Freeman’s agent, confirmed to OTL that Freeman approached Winston about doing a signing with Burkhalter, but the current Seminole QB said no.

It’s further alleged that Burkhalter and some of the autograph wholesalers had set up hotel rooms — plural — full of memorabilia for Winston to sign. However, sources told OTL that Winston didn’t show as planned. Instead, OTL wrote, “Burkhalter told those in attendance that Winston had decided he couldn’t do a signing in the hotel room and instead preferred to do it in an apartment.” It was at that point when a fishy situation really began to reek.

So, sources said, Burkhalter loaded the Florida State items into his truck and returned later with the items signed, telling those waiting back at the hotel that he had to give the batch of items to a person who then got the items signed inside the apartment.

Burkhalter again denied most of the allegations, with the memorabilia dealer telling OTL “that he has gotten items signed by Winston but has never compensated him.”

“He said he never told anyone that Freeman set up an autograph signing and doesn’t recall setting up items in a hotel for a Winston signing,” OTL wrote, adding that Burkhalter “said February was a long time ago, but he didn’t get anything close to 1,000 pieces signed by Winston for anyone.”

Suffice to say, whether the signatures on the 1,000 or more items on JSA’s website are indeed Winston’s has been called into question by autograph experts contacted by OTL.

One, Rich Albersheim of Albersheim’s Historical Memorabilia and Autographs in Las Vegas, said it would be tough to determine authenticity because he wasn’t comfortable with the lack of verified Winston representations or exemplars in the marketplace.

The other, Ron Keurajian, a Baseball Hall of Fame autograph specialist, said that in his opinion, “These Winston autographs from the supposed signing are done by more than one hand. His authentic signature is very unstructured, which makes it harder to authenticate, but there are many here that actually are structured very well.”

In completely unrelated news, perhaps one day the NCAA will remove its head from the sand and/or its rectum and allow “student-athletes” to profit off the very images that its member institutions use to rake in billions.  Is a financial trust that can be tapped into after eligibility has expired too much to ask?

Todd Graham announces titles, responsibilities for first Hawaii coaching staff

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A little over four weeks after he was hired as the next Hawaii football head coach, Todd Graham‘s first staff is complete.

Wednesday night, Hawaii football announced both the titles and positional dutied for Graham’s 10-man on-field coaching staff.  As previously confirmed, G.J. Kinne will serve as the Rainbow Warriors’ offensive coordinator.  Kinne, who was Graham’s former quarterback at Tulsa, will also serve as quarterbacks coach.

Victor Santa Cruz will be the defensive coordinator for Hawaii football.  On top of that, he will coach outside linebackers for the Mountain West Conference program.  On top of that, Santa Cruz will carry the title of associate head coach.

Below are the titles for the other eight position coaches:

  • Dan Phillips — Defensive Line
  • Tony Hull — Inside Receivers
  • Jacob Yoro — Linebackers
  • Brandon Graham — Running Backs
  • Sam Bennett — Offensive Line
  • Abe Elimimian — Cornerbacks
  • Brennan Marion — Wide Receivers
  • Laiu Moeakiola — Safeties

Six of those eight position coaches will also hold additional responsibilities:

  • Hull — Co-Offensive Coordinator
  • Yoro — Co-Defensive Coordinator
  • Phillips — Special Teams Coordinator
  • Graham — Passing-Game Coordinator
  • Bennett — Running-Game Coordinator
  • Elimimian — Recruiting Coordinator

Graham was introduced as the Hawaii football program’s 24th head coach last month.  The 55-year-old Graham has been a head coach at four different FBS schools:

  • Arizona State (2012-17)
  • Pitt (2011)
  • Tulsa (2007-10)
  • Rice (2006)

Graham has posted a 95-61 record at those stops.  His teams have played in 10 bowl games in 12 seasons, winning five of those postseason appearances.  He’s also won three divisional titles.

After being fired by Arizona State in November of 2017, Graham has been out of coaching ever since.  He was mentioned as a candidate for the Kansas job that ultimately went to Les Miles.

Starting East Carolina DE Chance Purvis arrested on felony kidnapping charge, suspended

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For the second time this month, this time by way of a member of the East Carolina football program, a college football player is facing some serious off-field allegations.

According to 247Sports.com, Chance Purvis was arrested Tuesday and charged with one count each of second-degree kidnapping and breaking/entering with intent to terrorize or injure.  Both of those charges are felonies.

No details of what led to the arrest and charges have been released thus far.

As a result of the arrest, though, the redshirt junior defensive end has been suspended by East Carolina football head coach Mike Houston.

“We are aware of the situation concerning Chance Purvis and consider these charges as very serious and completely unacceptable,” a statement from the coach began. “Chance has been suspended from all football-related activities until further notice. We will continue to monitor the situation, but since this is a legal matter, any additional comment on our part would be inappropriate at this time.”

Purvis didn’t play at all his first two seasons with East Carolina football.  In 2018, the lineman played in 10 games, starting one of those contests.  This past season, Purvis started all 12 games for the Pirates.  He was second on the team in tackles for loss (12) and sacks (four).

Depending on how the off-field situation plays out, Purvis would be the only returning starting lineman on the defensive side of the ball for East Carolina football in 2020.

Purvis is actually the second East Carolina football player arrested this year.  Last month, Cortez Herrin was arrested on one felony count of possession with the intent to sell or distribute.  He’s also facing a misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana paraphernalia.

When healthy, Herrin has been a part-time or full-time starter at left guard for ECU the past three seasons.

In 2018, Houston started all 12 games for the Pirates.  He made five starts in 2017 as well.  A knee injury in 2019 helped limit him to five starts.

Michigan State investigating allegations of NCAA violations committed under Mark Dantonio

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Mark Dantonio may have retired as the Michigan State football head coach, but his impact on the program will continue. On and off the field.

In May of 2017, Michigan State confirmed that the university had “parted ways” with Curtis Blackwell after opting not to renew the football staffer’s contract.  Blackwell, whose official title with the program was director of college advancement and performance, was suspended with pay February 9 of that year, the same day three unidentified Spartan football players were suspended in connection to sexual assault allegations.  While Blackwell was a part of the police investigations into the allegations, he was not accused of participating in the alleged sexual assault but rather failing to disclose information he knew about the incident.

In a lawsuit filed in November of 2018, which named Dantonio, among others, as a defendant, Blackwell alleged that his employment contract was violated when it wasn’t renewed by the university. According to recent court filings connected to that ongoing suit, Blackwell and his attornies are also alleging that NCAA violations were committed by Dantonio.

From ESPN.com:

The mother of current Notre Dame defensive end Daelin Hayes said in an affidavit that Blackwell attended an in-home visit at their house in Michigan along with former head coach Dantonio and assistant coaches Harlon Barnett and Mike Tressel. LaKeshia Neal, Hayes’ mother, also provided a photo of the coaches and Blackwell on that visit.

The NCAA has reached out to Hayes to ask about the incident, a source said. Per NCAA rules, Blackwell was not allowed to be part of off-campus recruiting during that time at Michigan State because he was not one of the program’s on-field coaches.

In documents filed two weeks ago, Blackwell alleged that Dantonio helped arrange jobs for the parents of an unnamed, high-profile recruit as well. The day after those documents were submitted, Dantonio abruptly announced his resignation.

Dantonio has claimed that the allegations had nothing to do with his decision to step down. One of Dantonio’s lawyers labeled the claims as “false, scandalous, and wholly unsupported accusations.”

As a result of the allegations made by Blackwell, the university — and the NCAA — is in the process of investigating the claims.

“We are aware of the allegations made by Curtis Blackwell as part of his litigation,” an MSU spokesperson stated. “As with any allegation concerning NCAA compliance, MSU is investigating and working with the NCAA and Big Ten. We have fully complied with our self-reporting obligations to the NCAA throughout this case.”

Feb. 12, Colorado’s Mel Tucker was hired by Michigan State football to replace Dantonio. As part of Tucker’s six-year contract, there is a clause that protects the new coach should Michigan State football be sanctioned by the NCAA for the actions of the previous coaching staff. The language of the deal calls for an additional year to be added to the length of the contract “as of the date the sanction takes effect or, if such sanction lasts more than one year, the six-year term will be extended to match the length of the sanction period.”

Colorado QB Blake Stenstrom heading to transfer portal

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Citing “circumstances beyond his control,” Colorado quarterback Blake Stenstrom has announced he is entering the transfer portal.

“[Due] to recent events and circumstances beyond my control, I have made the difficult decision that it is time for a new chapter in my football journey,” Stenstromg said in a statement posted to his Twitter account on Wednesday afternoon.”

While Stenstromg doesn’t say exactly what those circumstances beyond his control are, it could very well be the second head coaching and staff change in Boulder in the past two years. Stenstrom originally signed in Colorado’s Class of 2018 for former Buffs head coach Mike MacIntyre. MacIntyre was relieved as head coach in 2018 and replaced by Mel Tucker. But after just one season in Boulder, Tucker has already moved on to become the new head coach at Michigan State. A third head coach and an entirely new staff in as many years makes for a tough situation for any college football player.

By entering the transfer portal, Stenstrom is free to have contact with any college football program. As is the case for all players entering the transfer portal, Stenstom may also withdraw his name from the portal at any time and remain at Colorado.

Stenstrom appeared in four games in 2019, in which he attempted three pass attempts and completed one for 12 yards. He was intercepted on one of his two other attempts. Stenstrom will have to sit out the 2020 season if he ends up transferring to another FBS program. After sitting out the 2020 season, Stenstrom will have two years of eligibility remaining. Of course, that could change very soon with the NCAA moving toward making it easier for players to have immediate eligibility with an approved waiver in their favor.