Getty Images

NCAA slaps Missouri football with postseason ban

8 Comments

Think Kelly Bryant might be having some second thoughts right about now?

In early December, it was confirmed that Bryant, the ballyhooed quarterback transfer from Clemson, had landed at Missouri and would use his final season of football eligibility with the Tigers.  Nearly two months later, the NCAA announced Thursday that it has imposed steep sanctions on three Mizzou sports programs, including football.

Included in those sanctions on the football program is a postseason ban for the 2019 season.  That means not only would the Tigers be barred from a bowl game, but they would also likely be excluded from the College Football Playoff and the SEC championship game should they qualify for either/both.

While the official release states “[a] 2019-20 postseason ban for the football program” has been enacted, it’s believed that the ban is for the 2019 season only, although we’re attempting to get clarification on that aspect.

Additionally, the football program was hit with a five-percent reduction in scholarships for the 2019-20 academic year as well as recruiting restrictions during the same timeframe.  Those include:

  • A seven-week ban on unofficial visits.
  • A 12.5 percent reduction in official visits.
  • A seven-week ban on recruiting communications.
  • A seven-week ban on all off-campus recruiting contacts and evaluations.
  • A 12.5 percent reduction in recruiting-person or evaluation days.

The sanctions stem from a former Mizzou tutor who the NCAA found violated “ethical conduct, academic misconduct and academic extra benefits rules when she completed academic work for 12 student-athletes.” From the NCAA’s findings:

The committee found the tutor completed math coursework from other schools for six of the student-athletes. In one instance, she completed an entire course for a football student-athlete. Missouri did not review the conduct under its honor code, but rather gave the information to the two involved schools. One of the schools found academic misconduct occurred in the case of four student-athletes who took the course at the non-NCAA school. The second school – Adams State, a Division II school – could not determine whether the conduct violated its academic misconduct policy because it did not have enough information to prove violations occurred.

The tutor also assisted two football student-athletes’ completion of Missouri’s math placement exam. Missouri requires all students take the exam to determine whether they must complete a remedial math course before enrolling in college algebra. The instructions on the exam state that the test be taken alone and without assistance, but the tutor remained in the room and assisted both student-athletes with the test questions. Missouri determined both student-athletes violated its honor code.

It’s unclear whether Missouri will appeal the sanctions, although, if they, do, it’s near-certainty they will cite the NCAA’s handling of the North Carolina academic imbroglio as the basis for having the punitive measures lessened.

The NCAA actually touched on the differences between the Mizzou and UNC cases, essentially stating that the latter stood behind what many considered to be bogus courses while the former admitted wrongdoing. From the NCAA’s Public Infractions Decision, which can be read in its entirety by clicking HERE.

The conduct at issue in this case is also distinguishable from the COI’s decision in University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2017). Among other differences, UNC stood by the courses and the grades it awarded student-athletes. In support of that position, UNC asserted that although courses were created and graded by an office secretary, student-athletes completed their own work. Here, by contrast, Missouri acknowledged that the tutor completed student-athletes’ work and, in most instances, this conduct violated its honor code.

In other words, to paraphrase the late, great Jerry Tarkanian, the NCAA was so mad at North Carolina that they gave Missouri a postseason ban.

Maryland hires George Helow to Mike Locksley’s staff

Maryland Terrapins football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The lone hole on Mike Locksley‘s Maryland Terrapins football staff has been filled.

In late December, John Papuchis left the Maryland Terrapins football program to take a job with Mike Norvell at Florida State.  Exactly four weeks later, Locksley has landed Papuchis’ replacement, with the addition of George Helow officially announced by the school.

Helow will serve as Maryland’s special teams coordinator.  He’ll also coach the Terps’ inside linebackers.

Helow spent the past four seasons at Colorado State.  The first two were as a defensive quality control coach and graduate assistant.  The last two were spent as safeties coach.

The 2018-19 seasons were Helow’s first as an on-field assistant at the collegiate level.

In addition to the Mountain West Conference school, he has also been a football staffer at:

  • Georgia, defensive quality control assistant (2014-15)
  • Florida State, defensive graduate assistant (2013)
  • Alabama, defensive intern (2012)

Helow played his college football at Ole Miss from 2006-10.  Most of his action during his 38 games played came on special teams.

Todd Graham named as Hawaii’s next head coach

Hawaii Rainbow Warriors football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors football program has afforded a wayward coach a means to return to the sidelines.

In the days after Nick Rolovich left to replace Mike Leach at Washington StateRobert Anae‘s name had been mentioned prominently as a potential successor.  Tuesday, however, the Virginia offensive coordinator announced in a statement that he has withdrawn his name from consideration for the job as the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors football head coach.

Just prior to that, it was reported by The Athletic‘s Bruce Feldman that Todd Graham is getting consideration for the job.  Very late Tuesday night, Hawaii confirmed that Graham has been hired as the school’s 24th head coach.

Graham will be introduced at a Wednesday afternoon press conference.

The 55-year-old Graham has been a head coach at four different FBS schools:

  • Arizona State (2012-17)
  • Pitt (2011)
  • Tulsa (2007-10)
  • Rice (2006)

Graham has posted a 95-61 record at those stops.  His teams have played in 10 bowl games in 12 seasons, winning five of those postseason appearances.  He’s also won three divisional titles.

After being fired by Arizona State in November of 2017, Graham has been out of coaching.  He was mentioned as a candidate for the Kansas job that ultimately went to Les Miles.

Duke hires veteran offensive line coach Greg Frey

Duke Blue Devils football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Two weeks after losing an assistant, the Duke Blue Devils football program has filled the lone hole on David Cutcliffe‘s coaching staff.

Jan. 8, Jim Bridge abruptly resigned as Duke’s offensive line coach; two days later, it was announced that he had taken the same job at Memphis.  Tuesday, Cutcliffe officially dipped into the veteran coaching ranks, hiring Greg Frey as Bridge’s replacement.

“We’re thrilled to have Coach Frey join our staff,” Cutcliffe said in a statement. “It isn’t often you have the opportunity to add an individual who, within the landscape of college football, played at the highest level, has coached at the highest level and comes with 20-plus years of experience on the sideline. Coach Frey’s coaching and mentoring abilities are inspiring, and he will have an immediate and positive impact on the young men in our program. We look forward to welcoming Greg, his wife Andrea and children into our football family.”

Frey has previously coached offensive lines at:

  • Florida State, line coach (2018)
  • Michigan, tackles/tight ends coach, running-game coordinator (2017)
  • Indiana, line coach (2011-16)
  • Michigan, line coach (2008-10)
  • West Virginia, line coach (2007)
  • USF, line coach (2000-06)

In 2017, Frey was the tackles/tight end coach as well as running-game coordinator at Michigan. Frey comes to Duke after a one-season stint (2019) at Florida as a quality control analyst.

“As you go through life and build your family and your career, who you surround yourself with becomes very important,” Frey said. “What attracted me so much to Duke University was the faith, the family and the football, as well as the way Coach Cutcliffe runs his program. As we move forward, we want to be at the forefront of building the culture and championship level play that Duke expects. I’m excited to get started and can’t wait to go.”

Virginia Tech confirms addition of Rutgers transfer RB Raheem Blackshear

Virginia Tech football
Getty Images
1 Comment

A talented new addition to the Virginia Tech football roster is officially official.

After playing in the first four games of the 2019 season at Rutgers, Raheem Blackshear, a team captain, opted to sideline himself for the remainder of the campaign in order to preserve a year of eligibility. Three months later, Blackshear indicated on Twitter that he has decided to leave RU and continue his playing career with the Virginia Tech football program.

Two weeks after that social media announcement, the Hokies confirmed via Twitter that the running back is signed, sealed and delivered.

In addition to Virginia Tech, Blackshear had also considered a transfer to Temple.  A return to Rutgers for the back was in play as well.

It’s expected that Blackshear, a redshirt sophomore, will seek a waiver that would allow him to play immediately for the Hokies in 2020. If that appeal is denied, he would be left with one season of eligibility he could use in 2021.

A three-star 2017 signee, Blackshear ran for 238 yards as a true freshman. The next season, he led the Scarlet Knights in rushing with 586 yards.

Blackshear could also be a significant asset in the Hokies’ passing game.

In addition to being the leading rusher in 2018, Blackshear also led the team in receptions (44), receiving yards (367) and receiving touchdowns (two). Despite playing in just four games this past season, he was second on the Scarlet Knights with 29 receptions (the leader, Bo Melton, ended up with 30) and 310 yards (Melton had 427). His two receiving touchdowns were tied with Melton for the team lead as well.