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Kristian Fulton’s lawyer: ‘Optimistic’ decision on reduction of LSU CB’s two-year suspension is coming soon

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At some point in the next couple of weeks, LSU could find out, once and for all, whether one of the most talented members of its defensive secondary will be available for the upcoming season.

In mid-March, it was confirmed that Kristian Fulton is in the midst of serving a two-year suspension levied by the NCAA, which stemmed from his alleged tampering with a drug-test sample in the early months of 2017. The suspension has already cost the cornerback the entire 2017 season, and could also sideline him for all of 2018 as well.

Fulton’s family had previously retained outside counsel, who then asked the NCAA for reconsideration of the two-year suspension. Tuesday, that counsel, Alabama-based lawyer Don Jackson, confirmed to the New Orleans Times-Picayune that “a ‘request for reconsideration based on new evidence’ was officially filed with the NCAA a few weeks ago and an answer could come in 2-3 weeks, possibly sooner.”

It’s alleged by the NCAA that a testing administrator witnessed Fulton pouring some type of substance into his urine sample during a drug test. It appears Fulton’s lawyer isn’t challenging that allegation; rather, he’s questioning the rule — 3.4 of The Association’s Drug-Testing protocol, to be specific — that was applied by the NCAA.

From the Times-Picayune‘s report:

The rule states, “A student-athlete who is involved in a case of clearly observed tampering with an NCAA drug-test sample, as documented per NCAA drug-testing protocol by a drug-testing crew member, shall be charged with the loss of a minimum of two seasons of competition in all sports and shall remain ineligible for all regular-season and postseason competition during the time period ending two calendar years (730 days) from the date of the tampering.”

Jackson feels that Fulton violated rule 3.3 which says, “a student-athlete will be in breach of protocol and treated as if there was a positive test for a banned substance other than a street/illicit drug as denied in Bylaw 31.2.3 if the student-athlete:

* refuses to sign the notification form or custody and control form;

* fails to arrive at the collection station without justification as determined by Drug-Free Sport;

* fails to provide a urine specimen according to protocol;

* leaves the collection station without authorization from the certified collector before providing a specimen according to protocol; or

* attempts to alter the integrity of the collection process.”

Under rule 3.3, Fulton would not have been suspended if he tested positive for a street drug and would have only been suspended for a year if he would have tested positive for any performance-enhancing drugs, which means he’d be eligible now if he tested positive for either substance.

If the reconsideration is successful and the last few months of the two-year ban are dropped, Jackson could resume on-field activities with the Tigers at some point during summer camp, perhaps even from the start of camp if it’s the earlier portion of the 2-3 week timeline laid out by the attorney.

Fulton, a five-star 2016 signee, played in three games as a true freshman. If the reconsideration is denied, it would leave Fulton with one season of collegiate eligibility he could use in 2019. He could also make himself available for the 2019 NFL draft, regardless of the outcome.

Mack Brown hires Army’s Jay Bateman as defensive coordinator

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Mack Brown 2.0 has his defensive coordinator hire, and it’s a good one.

North Carolina on Sunday announced Army defensive coordinator Jay Bateman as the Heels’ new defensive coordinator and safeties coach.

“Jay Bateman is an outstanding football coach and I’m thrilled he is joining our staff,” Brown said in a statement. “He is a great teacher of the game, a brilliant defensive play caller, and an excellent recruiter with many ties to North Carolina and this region, including strong relationships with North Carolina high school coaches. Sally and I are excited to welcome Jay, Heather and their two children to the Carolina football family.”

Bateman spent the past five seasons as the Black Knights’ defensive coordinator, helping engineer one of the most impressive turnarounds of the decade. Army has ranked among the top 10 nationally in total defense in two of the past three seasons.

(It should be noted that Bateman’s units benefit heavily from the triple option offense, which Brown is unlikely to duplicate. Army has defended 615 plays this season, 85 fewest than the next-closest team that has played 12 games this year. In fact, Army is 57 plays ahead of Southern Miss, who finished its year playing only 11 games. On a yards per play basis, Bateman’s defense is tied for 69th.)

Bateman spent 2006-10 as the defensive coordinator at Elon and has been such a recruiting mainstay on Tobacco Road that he was considered an early candidate for the Charlotte head coaching job.

With the hire, Tommy Thigpen will now shift from co-defensive coordinator/safeties coach to linebackers coach.

Matt Campbell signs contract extension at Iowa State

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Now that we know Matt Campbell will not succeed Urban Meyer as Ohio State’s next head coach, Iowa State is getting down to business of keeping the 39-year-old in Ames for as long as possible.

Campbell signed a new 6-year, $22.5 million contract after last season’s 8-5 campaign that saw Iowa State register wins over then-No. 3 Oklahoma and then-No. 4 TCU, but the school wasn’t done investing in him.

On Sunday, Iowa State announced Campbell has signed an extension keeping him in Cyclone colors through 2024. While this extension doesn’t include a raise for Campbell — last year’s deal boosted his salary from $2.1 million to $3.5 million immediately — it does carry an additional $1 million for his assistants.

In addition to the $1 million Iowa State also committed last year, the school has now committed an extra $3.4 million annually to keeping Campbell and his assistants over the past 13 months.

“Coach Campbell and I had a great end-of-the-year meeting Friday and during our visit we mutually agreed to extend his contract to 2024 and further demonstrate Coach Campbell and the University’s commitment to one another,” Iowa State AD Jamie Pollard said in a statement. “I couldn’t be more excited for our current players, fans and recruits to receive this great news.”

Iowa State’s assistant pool was $2.982 million in 2018 according to the USA Today salary database, putting the Cyclones 49th in the country. Adding another million would boost the Cyclones to 27th, based on 2018 figures.

Ranked No. 24 in the final College Football Playoff poll, Iowa State concluded the regular season at 8-4 and in third place in the Big 12. The Cyclones’ six conference wins are the most in the program’s 23-year history of Big 12 membership, and this year’s club was the closest Iowa State team to reaching the Big 12 Championship since the 2005 team that came within a game from winning their first (and only) Big 12 North title.

The Cyclones will finish Campbell’s third season against No. 13 Washington State in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Dec. 28.

Alabama flips 5-star safety from Michigan

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Tua Tagovailoa may have come in second in the Heisman race, but Saturday was still a winning night for Alabama.

While he was in New York with his quarterback, Nick Saban‘s recruiting machine was still humming at full capacity as the Crimson Tide managed to flip 5-star safety Dax Hill from Michigan.

A Tulsa native and the younger brother of Oklahoma State running back Justice Hill, Hill is the No. 8 overall player and the top safety in the 2019 class, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.

“This was a tough decision for me and my family but I have decided to de-commit from the University of Michigan and flip my commitment to the University of Alabama!!” Hill wrote in a Twitter post.

With Hill’s commitment, Alabama’s 24-man class has increased its lead for the No. 1 ranking in the 247Sports Composite team rankings. Alabama has a 25-point lead over Texas A&M for the top spot with a week and a half before the early signing period.

Hill’s loss means Michigan’s 23-man class now ranks 11th nationally and second in the Big Ten.

UTSA QB Bryce Rivers announces transfer

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Go ahead and add another quarterback to the transfer market.

UTSA quarterback Bryce Rivers announced his intent to transfer on Saturday night. “After long talks with close friends and family, I think it is in my best interest to transfer from UTSA,” Rivers wrote in a note posted to his Twitter account.

A San Antonio native, Rivers backed up senior starter Dalton Sturm in 2017, appearing in just three games and throwing eight passes. He competed with junior Cordale Grundy for the starting role heading into 2018 but lost that battle.

By appearing in just three games, Rivers could use this season as a redshirt and play elsewhere as a redshirt junior in 2020.