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Report: Maryland informed of possible toxic football culture long before death of Jordan McNair

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The Maryland football program is currently being investigated for allegations of running what has been described as a toxic football program, an allegation made in a blistering ESPN profile in August that led to the suspension of head coach D.J. Durkin. The investigation is expected to wrap up as early as today, but new details from a new report from the Washington Post claim Maryland officials had been warned about a possible toxic culture as early as December 2016. That would have been about a year and a half before the passing of former Maryland football player Jordan McNair, whose death has sparked concern about how the program has been operating.

The report from the Washington Post outlines the possible schedule to release the findings of its investigation, noting the report will likely be presented to the board of regents at the next scheduled meeting, on October 19. The report also updates the previous reports about when the investigation may conclude, saying it is expected to be finalized on Monday.

The report is expected to include information received from interviews with former players and their families. One anonymous mother of a former player provided a copy of a letter submitted to Maryland officials in December 2016, pointing out concerns about a “calamitous culture and abusive behaviors in the football program.” The letter was reportedly sent to Maryland President Wallace D. Loh‘s office and other officials, including former athletic director Kevin Anderson and medical administrators and the compliance office.

From the Washington Post report, quoting the anonymous letter;

It was perhaps prescient, saying: “The fact that he allows his coaches to psychologically, physically, and emotionally abuse the athletes is paving the way for a multi-million dollar civil lawsuit against the school and the coaches, alleging assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress.”

“Are any of you aware or do you even care about the number of student athletes suffering from severe emotional distress because of the abusive actions of Coach Durkin?” it asked. “His actions are extreme and outrageous; intentional and reckless, and the sole cause of the emotional distress.”

It is unknown if this letter was reviewed by those currently conducting and organizing the investigation into the allegations of a toxic culture at Maryland.

The report goes on to provide details about how Durbin was accused of running the program, including the formation of a “Champions Club” for preferred players that was designed to be an incentive for competing within the program, but how those players in the club were treated compared to how those who were not could be seen as simply being divisive.

“If you were in that, you were treated with bags of gear, great food, massages,” one ex-player said. “Meanwhile, people not in the Champions Club were fed hot dogs and beans. They wanted to make a point. You were either loved or hated. If they didn’t like you, you were mentally and verbally abused by Coach Court and Coach Durkin.”

The details of other allegations of a toxic program only go on and one, including alleged fat-shaming by pouring treats on players having a bad weigh-in and having videos of violent images and animals killing each other playing in the training rooms to create a predator mentality.

You can read the full report HERE. In the meantime, we continue to wait for Maryland to close the books on this investigation and learn what the fallout may be. Durkin remains on administrative leave while Maryland’s football season continues.

Ed Orgeron, wife Kelly divorcing after 23 years of marriage

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Coming off a high on it, Ed Orgeron is hitting a low off the field.

According to multiple media outlets in the area, Ed Orgeron filed a petition for divorce from his wife of 23 years, Kelly Orgeron.  The petition was filed by Ed Orgeron Feb. 26, two days after the LSU head coach stated in the petition that the couple had separated.

The separation came five days after the couple’s 23rd anniversary.  It also came a little over two months after LSU claimed its first national championship since 2007.

From the Baton Rouge Advocate:

Orgeron states he is entitled to have the exclusive use and occupancy of the former matrimonial domicile in Baton Rouge, and he has no objection to Kelly Orgeron being granted exclusive use and occupancy of a home in Mandeville, “until such time as the community property is settled either by conventional agreement or judicial partition.”

Orgeron and his wife have twin sons, Parker and Cody.   Those two were born a year after the couple was married.  Tyler Spotts-Orgeron, a son from Kelly’s previous marriage, was an offensive analyst for Orgeron this past season.

Two weeks after LSU beat Clemson in the College Football Playoff championship game, Ed Orgeron agreed to a six-year, $42 million contract extension.  The new deal netted the coach a $3 million raise.

UTEP punter Mitchell Crawford set to transfer to Michigan State

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There is yet another development on the punting front for Michigan State.

Last year, Bryce Baringer placed his name into the NCAA transfer database. As we noted this week, Baringer pulled his name out of the portal, an indication that the punter has decided to remain as part of the Michigan State football team.

Around the same time, MSU released an updated roster. Conspicuously absent was the name of Jack Bouwmeester. A Michigan State official subsequently confirmed that Bouwmeester has returned to his native Australia. No reason was given for that development. It’s unclear at this point whether the move is permanent or temporary.

Whether related or not to Bouwmeester’s departure, Mitchell Crawford confirmed Tuesday to mlive.com that he has received a scholarship offer from Michigan State. Crawford, also an Aussie, would be leaving UTEP as a graduate transfer. That would allow him to use his final year of eligibility with the Spartans.

In two seasons with the Miners, Crawford averaged 39.7 yards on his 134 punts. Of those, 29 landed inside the 20-yard line. In 2018, the Queensland native earned honorable mention All-Conference USA honors.

Baringer began his collegiate career at Illinois. After taking a redshirt as a true freshman in 2017, Baringer transferred to Michigan State prior to the start of the 2018 season. Because of injuries that year to the two punters ahead of him on the depth chart, Baringer played in four games. In that action, he averaged 32.4 yards on 15 punts. Four of those punts landed inside the 20-yard line.

Baringer and Crawford are now two of four punters currently on the Michigan State roster. The others are redshirt junior walk-on Tyler Hunt and redshirt freshman walk-on Evan Morris. Hunt was the second of the two punters injured during that 2018 season. Hunt, who replaced the injured starter Jake Hartbarger that year, started five games, punting 36 times for an average of 40.1 yards per.

Oregon State’s defensive lineman Conner Warick enters transfer portal

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Oregon State, step on up as the subject of the next installment of “The Days of Our Portal Lives.”

According to 247Sports.com, Conner Warick has taken the first step in leaving Oregon State by entering his name into the transfer database. An Oregon State football official subsequently confirmed that the defensive lineman is in the portal.

Now, for what’s seemingly becoming a daily disclaimer when it comes to transfers.

As we’ve stated myriad times in the past, a player can remove his name from the portal and remain at the same school. At this point, though, other programs are permitted to contact a player without receiving permission from his current football program.

NCAA bylaws also permit schools to pull a portal entrant’s scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered it.

Coming out of high school, Warick was a three-star signee as part of the Class of 2018 for Oregon State. He was rated as the No. 25 player regardless of position in the state of Washington.

In his two seasons at OSU, Warick didn’t make an appearance for the Beavers. The search for a better shot at playing time triggered the lineman’s decision.

Oregon State is coming off a five-win 2019 campaign in Jonathan Smith‘s second season as head football coach. That marked the program’s most wins since hitting that same number in 2014 in Mike Riley’s last season. Earlier this offseason, it was reported that OSU is working on a contract extension for Smith, who has gone 7-17 in his two seasons.

Ex-Houston safety Earl Foster killed in shooting

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Houston is the latest college football program to be hit with a tragedy involving a current or former player.

Citing a source with knowledge of the situation, Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle has reported that Earl Foster (pictured, right) was killed in an East Houston shooting Tuesday night. According to the report, Foster was found dead outside of a gas station.

Duarte also wrote that “[a] female companion was transported to a local hospital in critical condition.”

The shooting reportedly happened somewhere other than the gas station. “The vehicle arrived at the gas station and asked for help,” the report stated.

As of this posting, no arrests have been made. The shooting remains under investigation by the Houston Police Department.

Foster, a three-star prospect coming out of Lamar High School in Houston, was a safety for the Houston football team from 2012-15. He appeared in 49 games for the Cougars. All of his action came in a reserve role or on special teams.

The Houston football program expressed sadness over Foster’s death.

Craig Naivar, who was Foster’s position coach in 2015, posted on Twitter his sadness over the development.

“The relationships & bonds built thru competition, the grind & fellowship last forever,” the new USC safeties coach wrote. Very saddened today to hear of the loss of one of our brothers. Please keep Earl & his family close you your hearts, in your thoughts & prayers, Love you buddy.”