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Father of LSU football player reportedly received $180K in stolen money from booster

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The NCAA is already circling the LSU basketball program and now they might have cause to look deeper into the football program after an explosive case has surfaced involving a six-figure sum that was embezzled by a local booster.

According to the Baton Rouge Business ReportJohn Paul Funes pleaded guilty this week to embezzling anywhere between half a million and $800,000 from a local charity, Our Lady of the Lake Foundation (OLOL). While that would not normally crossover into the realm of athletics, Funes apparently directed some $180,000 to James Alexander, who is the father of former Tigers offensive lineman Vadal Alexander:

Four sources have confirmed for Daily Report that Alexander’s father, James Alexander, was the recipient of the $180,000, who is referenced in the court documents only as “Individual C.” James Alexander is a self-employed entrepreneur who lives in the Atlanta area, according to his LinkedIn and Facebook pages. Multiple attempts to reach him and Vadal Alexander, who went on to play in the NFL, most recently for the Oakland Raiders, were unsuccessful.

Funes also gave money to another (former) LSU player but the report in question is more pressing for Tigers officials given that Vadal Alexander was still on the team at the time his father received the payment, a potential NCAA violation.

“LSU was made aware of specific allegations by OLOL officials in late 2018 and made that information immediately available to the NCAA. As this is an ongoing inquiry, LSU will have no further comment,” LSU Senior Associate Athletic Director Robert Munson said in a statement.

Former Tigers head coach Les Miles also denied knowing about the payments. Funes faces up to two decades in prison after pleading guilty to one count of money laundering and one count of wire fraud.

Alabama’s LaBryan Ray undergoes surgery, could return for LSU game

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On the LaBryan Ray front, there was a negative development that surfaced Wednesday as well as a potentially promising one as well.

Nick Saban confirmed earlier this week that LaBryan suffered an unspecified foot/ankle injury in Alabama’s Week 3 win over South Carolina and would be sidelined indefinitely.  A couple of days later, al.com is reporting that the junior defensive end has undergone surgery to repair the unspecified damage and will be sidelined “for a significant period of time.”

However, the same website, citing sources, writes that “there is a chance the junior could return later in the season and maybe even in time for the Crimson Tide’s game against LSU in early November.”

Such a timeline would mean LaBryan would miss, at the very least, the next five games.  That stretch includes conference home dates against Ole Miss (Sept. 28), Tennessee (Oct. 19) and Arkansas (Oct. 26) as well as a road trip to College Station Oct. 12 to face No. 17 Texas A&M.  Following a bye weekend after the Arkansas game, Alabama plays host to No. 4 LSU Nov. 9.

Obviously, he’ll miss this weekend’ game against Southern Miss as well.

Ray, a five-star 2017 signee, saw his true freshman season truncated by a foot injury.  After being named third-team preseason All-SEC over the summer, Ray had nine tackles and a sack prior to his injury.

Bob Davie expects to return to sidelines for New Mexico-Liberty game

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He’s not there quite yet, but Bob Davie is nearing a return to the sidelines.

Tuesday, New Mexico confirmed that offensive line coach/running-game coordinator Saga Tuitele will once again serve as acting head coach and be in charge of game management for this weekend’s matchup with in-state rival New Mexico State. Separately, head coach Bob Davie revealed that, barring an unexpected setback, he should resume coaching duties for the Sept. 28 game against Liberty, whose head football coach went through his own health issues over the past month as well.

Shortly after New Mexico beat Sam Houston State in its season opener, it was reported that Davie had experienced some type of “heart trouble” and was taken to a local hospital for treatment.  Shortly thereafter, UNM athletic director Eddie Nunez released a statement in which he confirmed that Davie “was taken to the hospital as a result of what appeared to be a serious medical incident” and asked “that you keep the Davie family in your prayers.”

Subsequent updates from the school indicated that Davie was doing well and is expected to make a full recovery, although not well enough to make the trip back to South Bend for the Week 3 game against Notre Dame.

Earlier this month, Davie stated that he was “not being too dramatic by saying [medical personnel] saved my life and my family will forever be appreciative.”

The 64-year-old Davie is in his eighth season as the head coach at New Mexico. He was also the head coach at Notre Dame from 1997-2001 before taking what turned out to be a decade-long sabbatical from the coaching profession. The Fighting Irish went 35-25 during Davie’s tenure, including losses in all three bowl appearances.

Davie served as the Irish’s defensive coordinator from 1994-96 before taking over for the retiring Lou Holtz.

At UNM, Davie has gone 34-55 in seven-plus seasons.

Nick Saban: ‘If there was one thing professionally that I would do over again, it would’ve been not to leave LSU’

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It was announced Tuesday that Alabama head coach Nick Saban has been selected as one of eight 2020 inductees into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. Saban, of course, coached at LSU for five seasons, the minimum number of years to make either a coach or player eligible for the state’s Hall of Fame.

Suffice to say, Saban’s departure from LSU to the NFL’s Miami Dolphins following the 2004 season wasn’t exactly well-received and left many in the Pelican State none too pleased with the coach — his first return to Baton Rouge, Saban’s image was burned in effigy in November of 2008.

Despite such venting, Glenn Guilbeau of the USA Today Network writes, Saban has claimed that his biggest professional regret is leaving LSU for the NFL.

“As it turns out, what I learned from that experience in hindsight was, it was a huge mistake to leave college football,” Saban told Guilbeau during an interview earlier this year. “And I know a lot of LSU fans think I left for whatever reasons, but I left because I wanted to be a pro coach, or thought I wanted to be a pro coach. We loved LSU. We worked hard to build the program. If there was one thing professionally that I would do over again, it would’ve been not to leave LSU.”

During his two seasons in the NFL, the Dolphins went 15-17 under Saban. There has been a school of thought over the years, although it’s subsided of late, that Saban, who’ll turn 68 in late October, would want to return to the NFL to clean up some unfinished business and attempt to erase what’s the only blight on a Hall of Fame coaching career.

Based on the comments already posted above and these below, I think it’s (still) safe to say that professional football door is unofficially closed.

Saban said then-athletic director Skip Bertman, who was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 2002, tried to convince him to stay, and he has never forgotten what he said.

“I remember Richard Gill and Skip and I meeting in Skip’s office,” Saban said. “And I was really torn about it. And Skip said, ‘You’ve just got to decide what you want your legacy to be. You want it to be as a college coach? Or do you want to try to make a name for yourself as a NFL coach?’ And I really wanted to be a college coach, but I had it in the back of my mind all the time that the ultimate thing that you could accomplish in the profession was to be a head coach in the NFL. Don’t ask me why. But that was just kind of there. And I thought, probably because of Wayne Huizenga (the late Dolphins’ owner) that was the right one. He was a pretty good recruiter.

Saban will officially be inducted into the state’s Hall of Fame June 27 of next year, for those looking to mark their calendars.

Michigan State loses third left tackle to injury

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If you’re playing on the left side of the offensive line for Michigan State, invest in some industrial-strength bubble wrap immediately.

Cole Chewins and A.J. Arcuri exited summer camp as MSU’s starting and No. 2 left tackles, respectively; the former has missed three games because of a back injury while the latter is dealing with a foot injury that has sidelined him since the start of the season as well.  With those two down, interior lineman Kevin Jarvis moved outside and had started all three games this year thus far.

That streak will end, however, as Jarvis suffered a knee injury in the controversial loss to Arizona State this past Saturday. It’s believed Jarvis will be sidelined for at least six weeks, which would mean a late-October, early-November return.

Jarvis, who missed three games last season because of an injury to the same knee, started seven games at right guard in 2018.  The year before as a true freshman, he started the last 10 games of the season at the same position en route to earning honorable mention All-Big Ten honors.

As for Chewins and Arcuri, they have already been ruled out for MSU’s Week 4 game against Northwestern that serves as the Spartans’ Big Ten opener.  It’s possible at least one of those could return in Week 5.

With that trio sidelined, Tyler Higby will get the starting nod against the Wildcats.  The senior started three games at left tackle last season.