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Former Texas A&M linebacker alleges recruiting, practice violations by Jimbo Fisher’s staff

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Former Texas A&M linebacker Santino Marchiol revealed in June he intended to transfer to Arizona. The Aggies had hired a new coach, Jimbo Fisher, and the coach who recruited him, Kevin Sumlin, was now in Tucson. Marichol enrolled at Texas A&M in January of 2017 and redshirted his first season in College Station, meaning to make the move to Arizona, he’d have to sacrifice a season of eligibility unless the NCAA granted him a waiver.

And as Dan Wolken of USA Today details, Marichol tried a perhaps unprecedented path to gain immediate eligibility at Arizona: by alleging NCAA violations at his old school. According to Marichol, he was handed hundreds of dollars in cash by Aggies assistant Bradley Dale Peveto to host recruits on official visits:

On two separate weekends this spring, Marchiol told USA TODAY Sports, he was given hundreds of dollars in cash by linebackers coach Bradley Dale Peveto to entertain prospects on unofficial visits. Those recruiting visits occurred, he said, following the April 14 spring game with Zach Edwards, a three-star linebacker from Starkville, Mississippi, and the second weekend in June with four-star linebacker Christian Harris (now a Texas A&M verbal commitment) and Nakobe Dean from Horn Lake, Mississippi, ranked as the No. 1 inside linebacker in the country by Rivals.com.

While NCAA rules at the time allowed schools to give a student host $40 a day to entertain recruits during official visits, prospects must pay their own expenses for unofficial visits, meaning any money provided by coaches would be an NCAA rules violation. Recruits are allowed to take up to five all-expenses-paid official visits each, but many also add unofficial visits to see other schools or make additional visits to a favorite school. News accounts of the visits that Marchiol discussed indicate all were unofficial.

Marchiol describes being taken aback after the spring game when Peveto pulled him into a bathroom near the coaches’ offices and handed him $300.

“There were coaches having meetings in the other office, and he said, here, come in the bathroom real quick because he’d just asked me to host the recruit,” Marchiol said. “So I went in the bathroom and it was just me and him in there, and he’s like, ‘Take this, if you need any more just text me and make sure they have a good time.’ ”

On the second occasion, Marchiol said, the money exchange took place in the bathroom at Razzoo’s Cajun Cafe in College Station, a restaurant where the team frequently takes recruits to eat. Marchiol said he received $400 in cash from Peveto and  that a teammate Marchiol identified in his waiver request was handed another $300 during the exchange.

“You know how you tip people in Vegas? He had the cash in his hand and he like handed it to us like, here (with a handshake),” Marchiol said.

But that wasn’t the only way in which current Aggies coaches have skirted NCAA rules, according to Marichol. Over this summer, Aggies defensive coordinator Mike Elko directed players to spend time at the football facility working on football activities far beyond the allowable levels as permitted by the NCAA.

When Texas A&M’s players returned after Memorial Day weekend, defensive coordinator Mike Elko brought his players into a meeting and made clear what he expected of them: “He said, ‘We’re going to have a lot of meetings and practices that aren’t technically required, but you guys have to be here because you’re way behind. We need to win,’ ” Marchiol said. 

Marichol said players were required to be at the facility from 9 a.m. until “well after” 6:30 p.m. four days a week through the summer and that coaches observed and instructed their 7-on-7 practices, with Elko demonstrating proper technique and alignment, as would be typical of a fall or spring practice but disallowed in the summer by NCAA bylaws.

Finally, Marichol said Aggies trainers mishandled an ankle injury he suffered in June.

Marchiol said he believes he was pushed to play through the injury because of a belief coaches frequently shared loudly with the players: The Aggies program had been like a country club under Sumlin. In fact, he said, everything in the message of Fisher and his assistants had been themed to demand more toughness, from the duration of workouts to the language coaches used on the field to players being told outright that highly rated recruits were coming to replace them.

Marichol is being represented by Thomas Mars, an Arkansas-based lawyer who represented Houston Nutt in his suit against Ole Miss. The NCAA does not comment on current or potential cases. A Texas A&M spokesperson said: “Texas A&M Athletics takes these allegations seriously, and we are reviewing the situation with the NCAA and the SEC Office.”

The Aggies open their first season under Fisher on Sept. 1 against Northwestern State (8:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network).

SEC releases 2019 schedule

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We’re only a quarter of the way into the 2018 season, but who wants to break down the SEC’s 2019 schedule?

Okay, we’re not going to do that, because that would be insane, a waste of time, and an insane waste of time. But we will note that it has been released, and the full thing can be found here.

Considering the SEC refuses to budge from its inane 6-1-1 scheduling model, really the only thing to note is the one (1) rotating crossover game each team plays. The league rotates the home and away venues, and all the East teams will be at home in 2019:

  • Alabama at South Carolina (Sept. 14)
  • LSU at Vanderbilt (Sept. 21)
  • Auburn at Florida (Oct. 5)
  • Arkansas at Kentucky (Oct. 12)
  • Ole Miss at Missouri (Oct. 12)
  • Mississippi State at Tennessee (Oct. 12)
  • Texas A&M at Georgia (Nov. 23)

A few other observations, in no particular order:

– Texas A&M makes visits to Clemson (Sept. 7) and Georgia, in addition to playing its regular SEC West schedule. The Aggies are slated to play half of the current AP Top 10 in 2019.

– While not SEC games, notable SEC non-conference games in addition to Texas A&M at Clemson on Sept. 7: Alabama vs. Duke in Atlanta (Aug. 31), Auburn vs. Oregon in Dallas (Aug. 31), Florida vs. Miami in Orlando (Aug. 31), Ole Miss at Memphis (Aug. 31), South Carolina vs. North Carolina in Charlotte (Aug. 31), BYU at Tennessee (Sept. 7), West Virginia at Missouri (Sept. 7), LSU at Texas (Sept. 7), Vanderbilt at Purdue (Sept. 7) and Notre Dame at Georgia (Sept. 21).

– Missouri plays five consecutive home games from Sept. 7 through Oct. 12. The Tigers open at Wyoming on Aug. 31 and will not leave Columbia again until an Oct. 19 trip to Vanderbilt.

– Georgia plays five games in November: vs. Florida in Jacksonville, vs. Missouri, at Auburn, vs. Texas A&M and at Georgia Tech.

– Florida plays a four-game stretch that includes Auburn, LSU, South Carolina and Georgia (after a bye), the final three away from Gainesville.

– Alabama continues to catch breaks from the scheduling department. The Tide play Texas A&M and LSU after byes and Auburn after playing Western Carolina.

– As such, every team across college football will have two byes in 2019, as there are 14 Saturdays between Labor Day weekend and the first Saturday in December instead of 13.

The SEC Championship will be Dec. 7 in Atlanta.

South Alabama’s season-opening starting QB, Cole Gavin, arrested for being drunk in public

NCAA FOOTBALL: DEC 30 Arizona Bowl - South Alabama v Air Force
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Yet again, it’s time for an in-season resetting of the “Days Without An Arrest” ticker.

The latest to trigger a move back to double zeroes is Cole Gavin, with the South Alabama quarterback arrested early Friday on a charge of public intoxication. No details of what led up to the arrest and charges have been divulged.

The football program has, though, confirmed that Gavin has been indefinitely suspended from the team as a result of the arrest.

Last season, Gavin started seven games as he split time with Dallas Davis, who transferred to UAB this past offseason. Gavin started the season opener as well against Louisiana Tech before giving way to backup Evan Orth, who started the Week 2 loss to Oklahoma State.

For the season, Gavin is 10-of-22 passing for 64 yards, one touchdown and a pair of interceptions. Gavin didn’t play in the Week 3 win over Texas State, a game that kicked off a little over 24 hours after his arrest.

A year ago, Gavin had the same number of touchdowns as interceptions (seven) as well as 1,490 yards as he completed under 53 percent of his 232 passes.

Brian Polendey’s season-ending surgery leaves Miami with the two healthy scholarship TEs

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Already a concern entering the season, Miami’s depth at the tight end position has been chipped away yet again.

The U announced Tuesday that Brian Polendey (pictured, No. 88) suffered an unspecified injury to his right knee and be sidelined for the remainder of the 2018 season.  The release didn’t state how the injury occurred.

The sophomore will undergo surgery on an unspecified date to repair the damage.

Polendey, a three-star 2017 signee, played in six games as a true freshman.  He caught his first career pass, for 14 yards, in a 77-0 win over FCS Savannah State in Week 2.

In early August, Michael Irvin II suffered an MCL injury in his right knee and will be out for up to four months.  The injuries sustained by Irvin II and Polendey leave the Hurricanes with just two healthy scholarship tight ends — Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory, who are both true freshmen.

Jordan’s two receiving touchdowns are tied for the team lead, while his seven receptions are tied for second.

Arkansas pulls trigger on another change at QB

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 01 Eastern Illinois at Arkansas
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With Arkansas set to open up SEC play this coming weekend, Chad Morris has made a change under center for the Razorbacks.  Again.

The first-year head coach confirmed Monday that Ty Storey will start at quarterback this Saturday against No. 9 Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium.  Storey will replace Cole Kelley, who started the Week 1 win over FCS Eastern Illinois as well as the Week 3 loss to North Texas.

Storey had also replaced Kelley as the starter for the Week 2 loss to Colorado State.

“Regardless of the practice, regardless of the way things go,” Morris said of the decision to move back to Storey, “I wanted him to know straight up from [Sunday] that, ‘Look, we’re going to go with you, and let’s respond. Now instead of putting you in to where you’re in a tough situation with the momentum not in our favor, how would you respond?’”

This season, Storey has completed 17 of his 30 passes for 297 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.  In his other start, the first of his career, Storey went just five-of-13 for 36 yards and both of his picks before being yanked in favor of Kelley.

Through three games, the Razorbacks are 100th nationally in team pass efficiency (119.46).  Only one of the 129 teams at the FBS level (New Mexico State, nine) have thrown more interceptions than Arkansas’ eight.