Associated Press

Air Force to review end-zone prayers following advocacy group complaint

31 Comments

The worlds of sports and religion are colliding yet again, this time at one of the nation’s service academies.

According to the Air Force Times, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), which the paper describes as a group that opposes proselytizing in the military, has filed an official complaint with the Air Force Academy regarding its football program. Specifically, the group has taken issue with members of the academy’s football team’s pregame tradition of kneeling in the end zone prior to and after games, holding hands and praying.

“This end zone praying is just another territorial conquest of the religious Christian right,” MRFF founder and president Mikey Weinstein said. “This stands in a long line of conservative Christian acts like this.”

Because of the complaint, the academy is conducting a review of the situation.

“The Air Force Academy Inspector General opened a third-party complaint and referred the issue to the athletic department for an informal inquiry,” an Air Force spokesperson said in an email. “Friday morning we received an opposing viewpoint requesting cadets continue to be afforded the right to pray. Thus, we are being prudent and deliberate in our review of this issue.

The players are not being required, compelled or forced to pray by any program or academy official. Rather, according to the academy’s official stance, they do it of their own volition.

The MRFF currently represents what the Times describes as 144 Air Force Academy cadets, faculty and staff. Included in that number are five current members of the Falcons football team. The group that represents the football players has no confidence that the academy can conduct an unbiased review into their complaints.

“Allowing the Air Force Academy to investigate itself — this is simply the fox investigating the hen-house,” Weinstein said. “We expect that we’ll get nothing positive out of this and we’ll continue to take a look at whether our clients could possibly get ‘John’ and ‘Jane Doe’ protections to go into federal court to seek an injunction.”

The academy maintains that it is “attentive to all religious freedom concerns” and looks to create “an environment in which people can realize their highest potential regardless of personal religious or other beliefs.”

Ole Miss transfer Breon Dixon confirms mutual parting with Nebraska

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Maybe the third time will be a charm for Breon Dixon?

First reported by Rivals.com, Dixon “will not be with the [Nebraska] program going forward.” Citing a source with knowledge of the situation, the Omaha World-Herald subsequently confirmed the initial report, writing that the linebacker “is off the team.”

Neither media outlet provided specifics as to the reason or reasons behind the apparent parting of ways.

Thus far, the football program has not yet addressed the reports, although the player did as he stated in a Twitter post that indicated a mutual parting of ways.

Dixon began his collegiate playing career at Ole Miss, but transferred to Nebraska in January of 2018 in the aftermath of NCAA sanctions levied on the SEC school.  Because of those sanctions, Dixon was granted immediate eligibility with the Cornhuskers.

After playing in four games this past season, Dixon, a four-star 2017 signee, was able to take advantage of the new redshirt rule that preserved a year of eligibility.

Georgia transfer Luke Ford denied waiver for immediate eligibility at Illinois by NCAA, will appeal

Getty Images
1 Comment

If nothing else, the NCAA’s inconsistency is ridiculously and maddeningly consistent.

The dawning of a new morning yesterday brought word that Coastal Carolina transfer Brock Hoffman‘s appeal for immediate eligibility at Virginia Tech was denied because, one, Blacksburg is five miles outside of the NCAA-mandate 100-mile radius from the lineman’s home and, two, his mom’s health is improving two years removed from brain surgery that left her with myriad ongoing issues.  Fast-forward a few hours the same day and Luke Ford, a transfer from Georgia, took to Twitter to announce that his appeal for immediate eligibility at Illinois has been shot down by the NCAA as well.

The main reason for Ford, a native of Carterville, Ill., transferring to the Fighting Illini was so that the tight end could be closer to his ailing grandfather; a portion of the NCAA’s denial indicated that a grandparent is not part of the nuclear family as mandated by The Association’s bylaws.  Additionally, Ford’s home is nearly twice the distance allowed by the same governing body’s rules.

Ford will informally appeal the NCAA’s initial denial of a waiver before, if necessary, moving on to what would be a formal and final appeal.

“We’re all disappointed Luke Ford’s waiver request for immediate eligibility was denied,” a statement from the university began. “There is an appeal process that we intend to help Luke explore.”

The NCAA should be applauded for becoming much less restrictive when it comes to transfers and granting waivers of late to players whose sole motivation for a move was a better shot at immediate playing time (hello, Tate Martell and Justin Fields, for example); they can, though, do much, much, much better, especially as it pertains to cases such as Ford and Hoffman that involve nothing more than simple human decency.

Clemson confirms RB Tavien Feaster enters transfer database

Getty Images
2 Comments

Clemson has, more than likely, seen its depth in a talented backfield take a hit.

With rumors swirling earlier in the day, Clemson confirmed Wednesday evening that Tavien Feaster has entered the NCAA transfer database and is looking to leave the Tigers.  The running back will graduate from the university in August and intends to “continue his college career somewhere else,” Dabo Swinney said in a portion of a statement released by the football program.

Feaster could always pull his name from the portal and remain with the Tigers, although that doesn’t seem likely at this point.

“We appreciate Tavien for everything he brought to Clemson University and our program and we wish him nothing but the best moving forward,” the head coach said in closing out his statement.

Feaster will apparently finish the Clemson portion of his playing career with 1,330 career rushing yards and 15 touchdowns on 222 carries, as well as 183 receiving yards and one touchdown on 23 receptions.  The Spartanburg, SC, native started 11 of the 41 games in which he appeared for the Tigers.

As a grad transfer, Feaster would be eligible to play immediately at another FBS school.  The upcoming season will be the back’s final year of eligibility.

Nick Saban back at work 48 hours after hip surgery, already putting walker and cane through ‘The Process’

Getty Images
5 Comments

There’s no stopping Nick Saban. Certainly not a new hip.

The Alabama head coach, as some around the program no doubt expected, is not taking it easy at all after undergoing right hip replacement surgery on Monday. In fact, not 48 hours later he’s back in business at his office in Tuscaloosa.

Saban is supposed to spend the next 6-8 weeks recovering from the surgery but the 67-year-old does not appear to be sticking by that timetable for getting back to full strength.

“I had one day on the walker… Now I’m on the cane. I’ll probably throw that (SOB) away tomorrow,” Saban told TideSports.com. “I think in two weeks, I will be 100 percent.

“They won’t let me play golf for six weeks for some reason, but I am going to try and get that reduced.”

Ahh yes, even Saban’s rehab is getting put through the rigors of his famous ‘Process.’