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Mark Dantonio gives cautious statement of support to MSU president Lou Anna Simon amid Larry Nassar scandal

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The Larry Nassar case has quickly become college sports’s biggest, ugliest scandal since the Jerry Sandusky fiasco at the early part of this decade. The longtime professor at MSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine and sports physician for the Spartans (he also held the same job for USA Gymnastics) has been accused of a long, systematic career of sexually assaulting young women while on the job for Michigan State — and not only that, but that Michigan State higher-ups were aware of Nassar’s behavior and did nothing.

Nassar’s trial — he pleaded guilty to more than 100 counts of sexual abuse of girls and young women — is in the sentencing phase now, where victim after victim has come forward to recount their abuse at his hands. You’ve probably seen Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman‘s testimony by now.

Michigan State’s Board of Trustees announced Friday that Lou Anna Simon would remain on as school president despite the school’s reported knowledge of Nassar’s crimes and the school being named alongside Nassar in a civil lawsuit. The Nassar scandal has cost Michigan State $10 million and counting thus far.

“As part of the Board’s oversight authority, we will retain independent external assistance to support our responsibilities to the university community and the public at large,” the board said in a statement to the Detroit Free Press. “We continue to believe President Simon is the right leader for the university and she has our support.”

Though one Trustee has since called for president Lou Anna Simon‘s immediate resignation, she remains in place today. Which means Mark Dantonio has to talk about her.

As one of the two highest-profile employees — sitting alongside men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo — on the Michigan State payroll, Dantonio’s support or lack thereof of the school president matters.

And as of now, Dantonio supports Simon.

Speaking at the Michigan high school coach’s clinic in Lansing last week, Dantonio gave this cautious, begrudging statement. Via the Detroit Free Press:

“Well, obviously our hearts go out to the victims in this case. It’s a very, very difficult situation for them. It’s awful. I guess with that said, in 11 years of dealing with President Simon on so many different occasions and in so many different areas, I’ve always found her to be very reflective, very calm in the storm, very on-point. And I’ve always appreciated that about her. She’s much like a head coach. In my little world that I’m in – and I can’t control things at times – I would say she is in a very difficult and delicate situation. I really don’t think that I’m even qualified to talk on it, but I can only speak to my involvement with her and how she’s handled very difficult situations. I think she’s led from that perspective with Mark Dantonio and our football team.”

Though calling for your boss’s firing when the school’s board of trustees would be beyond the norms of the industry, one can imagine how much a call for Simon’s firing by the head coach of the football team would sway public opinion.

Report: Bryan Harsin, Boise State closing in on contract amendment

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Bryan Harsin and Boise State are closing in on a contract amendment to keep the coach in Broncos colors moving forward, according to a report from the Idaho Statesman.

The amendment has already been agreed upon by both sides and now just needs approval by the Idaho State Board of Education, which should come Thursday.

The new deal isn’t necessarily an extension, it just adds on terms to his existing one — which runs through the next five years and automatically extends by one year each time the Broncos win eight games. And it isn’t a raise, either. His salary is set to remain at $1.65 million this season and $1.75 million next.

But it does add a bunch of new clauses.

First of all, it would add a buyout on Harsin’s end for the first time in his five seasons as Boise State’s head coach. Should the coach leave for another school between now and Jan. 10, he would owe $300,000 to Boise State. The figure drops $50,000 each year thereafter.

Additionally, the amendment includes a slew of new incentives, including $10,000 for beating BYU and an extra five grand for doing so in Provo. Boise State hosts BYU on Nov. 3.

The amendment also allows Harsin to double-dip on his bonuses. For example, he could receive $75,000 for winning a Mountain West championship and $35,000 for taking Boise State to a bowl game. Under his existing contract, Harsin could only take the conference title bonus. On top of that, Harsin will also receive a $25,000 for winning six conference games, which then doubles to $50,000 for seven MW wins and $100,000 for eight.

Finally, the amendment changes the language on Harsin’s pool for his 10 assistant coaches. Previously, Harsin could allot up to $2.2 million for his 10 assistants; now the school must provide at least that amount.

Harsin is 46-14 as Boise State’s head coach (27-8 in MW play) with two conference championships, including a 4-2 overall mark this year

 

SEC will not levee punishments for Florida, Vanderbilt brouhaha

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The game between No. 11 Florida and Vanderbilt was exciting enough on its own. The Commodores jumped to a 21-3 lead but couldn’t hold it, and the Gators rallied for a 37-27 win, their 14th consecutive in Nashville. But the action when the clock was running was not the most entertaining thing to happen at Vanderbilt Stadium on Saturday. Not even close.

After Florida’s James Houston IV laid a de-cleating block — for which he was flagged for targeting and ejected from the game — upon Vanderbilt’s Dare Odeyingbo, who remained on the turf long after the hit. That drew Vandy head coach Derek Mason and defensive line coach C.J. Ah You to check on their player. While at midfield, someone from the Florida sideline said something to Mason, Mason said something back, and all of a sudden grown men were being restrained by other grown men.

Asked by ESPN’s Tom Luginbill at halftime what was said, Florida head coach Dan Mullen said the conversation would have to be referred to SEC commissioner Greg Sankey and coordinator of football officials Steve Shaw.

But by the time the game ended, Mason and Mullen had calmed down, and the two head coaches exchanged a warm, lengthy embrace at midfield.

That hug-it-out mentality extended to their respective post-game press conferences.

“Derek’s a great, really close friend of mine,” Mullen said. “And I think, our sideline, we’ve got to make sure we’re cleaner in that situation and he probably thinks the same thing.”

On Monday, SEC spokesman Herb Vincent told The Tennessean that no punishment would be handed down to either side for the altercation, citing the cooler heads each side displayed after the game.

“Unsportsmanlike conduct penalties were appropriately administered on the field by the officials,” Vincent told the paper. “Any discussion about decorum among the coaches will be handled privately between the conference office and the participating institutions. Both coaches appeared to put this issue behind them in their post-game midfield meeting and post-game comments.”

UConn releases update on hospitalized LB Eli Thomas

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On Wednesday, Connecticut linebacker Eli Thomas was rushed to a hospital before a team-wide weightlifting session. The school did not say why Thomas was hospitalized, only that he was in stable condition. UConn said in a release that it “will not share additional details at this time.”

Now, five days later, the school has revealed that Thomas suffered a stroke and that he is “making good progress” toward recovery.

“Thank you all for your love and well wishes for Eli,” Mary Beth Turner, Thomas’s mother, said. “TO say we are stunned by this turn of events is an understatement! A strong, healthy, 22-year-old man having a stroke is not anything we anticipated. However, Eli will fight back as he has with every challenge that has come his way with ‘Eli Style.'”

Turner’s statement begs the question why this healthy 22-year-old suffered a stroke. That detail was not revealed Monday, perhaps because it is not known at this time.

“Every day, you just never know what can happen,” UConn coach Randy Edsall. “Things like this are just very unfortunate. It’s one of those things where [you take it] one day at a time and do the very best you can every day because you just never know what can happen.”

A redshirt junior from Elmira, N.Y., Thomas first played at Lackawanna Community College in Scranton, Pa., before arriving at UConn in 2017. He sat out last season while rehabbing an ACL injury and collected 11 tackles, one TFL and one sack in four games as a linebacker and defensive end this season. He injured his neck in a Sept. 22 loss to Syracuse and missed the Huskies’ losses to Cincinnati and Memphis.

Thomas figures to miss UConn’s trip to No. 21 South Florida on Saturday as well.

Ole Miss loses WR D.K. Metcalf for the season

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Ole Miss has lost standout wide receiver D.K. Metcalf for the season to a neck injury sustained during the Rebels’ win over Arkansas on Saturday. Rebels head coach Matt Luke made the announcement on Monday.

“(Metcalf) hurt his neck, and it’s worse than we originally thought,” Luke said. “He’ll be done for the season. Long-term, he’ll bounce back and he’ll be fine. We’ll make sure he gets the very best care.”

A sophomore from Oxford, Miss., Metcalf paired with junior A.J. Brown to give Ole Miss one of the best passing attacks in the SEC. While Brown leads the club in catches (50) and yards (650), Metcalf is the Rebels’ big play threat, hauling in 26 catches for 569 yards and a team-high five touchdowns. His 21.88 yards per reception average trails only Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy among all players with at least 25 grabs.

Metcalf posted two games of at least 100 receiving yards and a touchdown grab this season and provided Ole Miss’s only points in a 62-7 loss to No. 1 Alabama earlier this year, hauling in a 75-yard touchdown grab to open the scoring.