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Attorney: decision on Georgia transfer QB Justin Fields’ immediate eligibility at Ohio State should be made by February

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It shouldn’t take much longer to find out whether one of Ohio State’s most hyped additions will see the field in 2019.

Jan. 5, and after weeks and weeks worth of speculation, it was confirmed that not only would Justin Fields be transferring from Georgia, but that OSU would be his landing spot.  While Fields would normally have to sit out the 2019 season to satisfy NCAA bylaws, the quarterback has retained the services of Tom Mars, the Arkansas-based lawyer who has become the go-to attorney for players in waiver cases — including Michigan’s Shea Patterson, a transfer from Ole Miss, last year — in an attempt to play immediately.

As the basis of his appeal, it was believed that Fields would use the racist slur directed at him by a since-dismissed UGA baseball player during this past season combined with the new NCAA transfer rules enacted in April — “immediate eligibility may be provided to a transfer student-athlete, provided… the transfer is due to mitigating circumstances that are outside the student-athlete’s control and directly impact the health, safety and well-being of the student-athlete” — to secure the ability to play in 2019.  In a Toledo Blade report, it was confirmed that will indeed be the tack Fields/Mars takes, albeit with a twist:

Fields was one of the highest-rated shortstop recruits in the country and is considered a professional baseball prospect. But he wasn’t comfortable joining the Georgia baseball team because of the slurs directed toward him, a source said.

A potential fly in the ointment for Fields is that his sister is a star softball player who had committed to play the sport at UGA, and maintained that commitment by signing with the Bulldogs despite the racial incident involving her brother — the incident happened in October, she signed the next month.  However, given what’s at the crux of Fields’ appeal, it’s highly unlikely that UGA, which can object to or support the waiver request, or the NCAA will want to die on that particular hill.

Regardless, Mars expects a decision from the NCAA on Fields’ appeal by February.

“Unlike the situation with the Ole Miss transfers, the process of obtaining a waiver for Justin isn’t going to drag on for months,” Mars told the Blade‘s Kyle Rowland. “This is a high priority for Coach [Ryan] Day, and it’s my top priority at the moment. I’m confident the process will move quickly and that the NCAA will be able to make a decision on OSU’s waiver request much sooner than most people might think.”

Fields was rated by 247Sports.com as the No. 1 player regardless of position in the Class of 2018.  He spent his true freshman season as the primary backup to sophomore starter Jake Fromm, completing 27-of-39 passes for 328 yards and four touchdowns.  He also ran the ball 42 times for 266 yards and scored another four touchdowns on the ground.

If the appeal is successful, it’s likely Fields will enter spring practice — or by the time they exit it — as the odds-on favorite to replace Dwayne Haskins under center for the Buckeyes.

Missouri WR Kam Scott steps into transfer portal

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One of Missouri’s top wide receivers from 2019 could be on the move. Kam Scott has reportedly entered the NCAA transfer portal, allowing him to begin evaluating potential transfer options for the upcoming season.

By entering the transfer portal, Scott is now free to have contact with any other college football program interested in recruiting him. Scott is also free to pull his name out of the portal and remain at Missouri, but Missouri is no longer obligated to hold his scholarship. If Scott does transfer to another FBS program, he will be required to sit out the 2020 season due to NCAA transfer rules. Of course, a potential relaxed waiver process could make a path to immediate eligibility in 2020 a realistic possibility if the NCAA does approve a new waiver process.

Scott caught 17 passes for 328 yards in 11 games last season for the Tigers. He was Missouri’s third-leading receiver in 2019 behind Jonathan Nance and Tyler Badie.

Penn State and Paterno family resolve their issues

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It seems there is peace between Penn State University and the family of former head coach Joe Paterno. Or, at the very least, the two can go their separate ways without any more hostile feelings.

On Friday, the Penn State Board of Trustees announced the university and the Paterno family have reached a resolution on their ongoing issues. The Paterno family has agreed to drop all outstanding claims against the university and Penn State will cover some Paterno family expenses.

“The University recognizes and takes great pride in the many contributions made by Joe Paterno, not just to the football program, but to the academic advancement of this institution and to countless charitable causes in the community as well,” a statement from Mark Dambly, Penn State Board of Trustees chair, said. “We are pleased that the Paterno family has indicated that they will not support public or private advocacy efforts to revisit the past, through further review or release of investigative materials, or otherwise.”

“The last eight years have been difficult, made more so by the opinions in the Freeh Report, which my family and I believe was deeply flawed, reached unsupported conclusions about Joe and unjustly criticized the culture of Penn State,” a statement from Sue Paterno, the wife of Joe Paterno, said. “The University has made clear that Mr. Freeh’s opinions about Joe were never endorsed by Penn State. By confirming this position and reaching this understanding, the leadership of Penn State has acted in the best interests of the University, and for this I am grateful.”

The Paterno family has taken public aim at the Freeh Report, a report commissioned by the Board of Trustees following the fallout of the Jerry Sandusky scandal that rocked the university and community in 2011, which ultimately led to the dismissal of Joe Paterno as head coach of the Penn State football program and landed the program on hefty NCAA sanctions (which were later removed in part due to the Paterno family fighting the NCAA in court). Given the Paterno family’s long-time association with the university and the tension that arose with Paterno amid the Sandusky scandal, there were plenty of bitter feelings to go around.

As both the university and Paterno family stated, the real victims in this tragedy have been the ones truly suffering, and the hope is the university and Paterno family putting their differences aside can help keep the focus on what is really important in all of this.

And no, we’re not talking about the whereabouts of the Paterno statue.

Butch Jones getting a new job title at Alabama

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Former Cincinnati and Tennessee head coach Butch Jones is moving up the ranks on the Alabama football staff. Jones will be promoted from analyst to special assistant to the head coach, according to a report from Al.com.

Jones joined the Alabama program in 2018 as an offensive analyst after his tenure at Tennessee ended in 2017. As a number of Alabama assistants and analysts tend to be, Jones has been a candidate for some potential jobs on the market since arriving at Alabama. the 2020 season will be Jones’ third with the Crimson Tide, as his name will likely continue to circulate the coaching rumor mill once the coaching carousel picks up again. With a new title at Alabama, it is expected jones will not be a candidate for the vacancy at Colorado.

What jones will do as the special assistant to the head coach, Nick Saban, can be pretty broad, but it will certainly be more than simply getting coffee (although the image of Jones as a coffee boy sounds entertaining). Jones will assist Saban in many parts of the operation of the program, taking some of the load off Saban’s shoulders where needed.

Just remember that Jones is not the assistant head coach, but he is the assistant TO the head coach. But if there is an Alabama spin-off of “The Office” in production, we’d certainly like to see it.

 

Ted Gilmore leaves Wisconsin for job at Michigan State

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Mel Tucker has continued to quickly assemble his first Michigan State football coaching staff.

Friday, MSU announced the addition of Ted Gilmore to Tucker’s first staff in East Lansing.  The 25-year veteran of the profession will serve as the Spartans’ tight ends coach.

“Coach Gilmore is a great teacher and excellent motivator who brings high energy,” said the new Michigan State football head coach in a statement. “He’s a proven developer of players and a very effective recruiter. He’s a true difference-maker.”

Gilmore comes to the Michigan State football program armed with recent and extensive experience in the Big Ten.  The past five seasons, Gilmore worked at Wisconsin as wide receivers coach.  From 2017-19, he carried the added title of passing-game coordinator for the Badgers.  From 2005-10, Gilmore was the receivers coach at Nebraska.  The last three seasons with the Cornhuskers, he was also the assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator.

In between those two stints, he worked as the receivers coach at USC (2011) and the NFL’s Oakland Raiders (2012-14).

Gilmore has also served as the receivers coach at Colorado (2003-04), Purdue (2001-02), Houston (2000) and Wyoming (1997-98).  In 1999, Gilmore was the tight ends coach at Kansas.  He played his college football at Wyoming, and began his coaching career at his alma mater as a graduate assistant (1994-96).

The hiring of Gilmore is the seventh officially announced by the Michigan State football program.

This past weekend, it was confirmed that Ron Burton and Mike Tressel would be retained.  Shortly thereafter, Chris Kapilovic officially followed Tucker to MSU from Colorado.  Wednesday, former first-team All-Big Ten wide receiver Courtney Hawkins returned to East Lansing to coach the same position he played for the Spartans.  A day later, Jay Johnson was confirmed as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach and Harlon Barnett was brought back as defensive backs coach.