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PJ Fleck the latest coach to take a COVID-19 pay cut

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PJ Fleck was set to make $4.6 million in 2020. This much we know: That will not be the case. How much the Minnesota head coach will sacrifice remains to be seen.

Fleck held a conference call with reporters on Thursday that left both the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press (see below tweet) with the impression he, along with the head coaches of the Gophers’ men’s and women’s basketball teams, would be furloughed. The Star-Tribune reported Fleck would sit out one week between now and June 30, and one week’s pay would equal a roughly $88,000 pay cut.

However, Minnesota spokesman Paul Rovnak reached out to CFT to state Fleck will not be furloughed, but he will take a voluntary pay cut. The size of that cut was not known at press time.

Either way, Fleck is part of a growing list of college coaches to sacrifice pay as their employer looks to plug holes in its budget.

Heading into his fourth season at Minnesota, Fleck carries a 23-15 record. He led the Gophers to an 11-2 season in 2019, capped by a victory over Auburn in the Outback Bowl and the program’s first AP Top 10 finish since 1962.

Trainer implicated in abuse scandal by former team doctor remains employed by Michigan

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Penn State had Jerry Sandusky. Michigan State had Larry Nassar. Ohio State had Richard Strauss. And now, it’s becoming increasingly, sadly clear that Michigan was aware it had a monster of its own in its midst and failed to stop him.

Dan Murphy reported for ESPN on Friday that Michigan’s current head athletic trainer Paul Schmidt knew of and joked about sexual abuse allegedly committed by Wolverines football team doctor Robert Anderson.

According to court documents obtained by Murphy, two anonymous Michigan football players testified that Schmidt and a second employee named “Murph” regularly told players to go see Anderson knowing full well of his reputation.

Anderson, who died in 2008, has been accused of sexually assaulting patients by performing unnecessary rectal exams and “excessive” fondling of patients’ genitals.

“It was always just, like, hey, go see Dr. A. Go drop your drawers. I specifically remember Schmidty’s laugh about it,” one of the players said. “Like I can see him doing it. Murph was a little more quiet. I definitely remember Schmidty laughin’ and cacklin’ about it.”

More than 300 individuals have retained legal representation in regards to Anderson’s alleged abuse, as the University of Michigan, its board of regents and Anderson’s estate brace for a barrage of lawsuits.

“The University of Michigan failed them,” attorney Mick Grewal said in a news release Friday morning. “Failed to protect them, failed to stop an alleged serial predator. We represent and have spoken with over 100 survivors, including professional and collegiate football players, wrestlers, golfers, hockey players, pilots, and people from all walks of life and the pattern is the same. Over the last 4 decades, multiple employees at the University, including Assistant AD Paul Schmidt could have stopped Anderson.”

The Detroit News reported in February that Anderson was fired for sexual abuse by the U of M’s University Health Service in 1979, but continued working for the athletics department for another 24 years.

“The university has confidence in the independent investigation now underway by the WilmerHale law firm,” university spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said Friday morning. “This firm has deep expertise to conduct a thorough and unflinching review of the facts — wherever they may lead.”

In the meantime, Murphy reported that Schmidt remains employed by Michigan. Schmidt has been at Michigan since 1986 and currently carries the title of assistant AD, head athletic trainer and rehabilitation specialist.

Texas leads all state in first-round picks, but Longhorns and Aggies shut out

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Thirty-two players were taken in last night’s NFL draft first round, says Captain Obvious. While we know LSU won the night in terms of schools, and the SEC in terms of conferences, the state of Texas was the winner in terms of high-school prospects.

A total of seven players who played their high school ball in the Lone Star State heard their name called last night. They were:

No. 3: Ohio State CB Jeff Okudah, Detroit Lions — Grand Prairie, Texas
No. 17: Oklahoma WR CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys — Richmond, Texas
No. 20: LSU OLB K'Lavon Chaisson, Jacksonville Jaguars — Houston, Texas
No.  21: TCU WR Jalen Reagor, Philadelphia Eagles — Waxahachie, Texas
No. 23: Oklahoma LB Kenneth Murray, Los Angeles Chargers — Missouri City, Texas
No. 27: Texas Tech LB Jordyn Brooks, Seattle Seahawks — Houston, Texas
No. 31: TCU CB Jeff Gladney, Minnesota Vikings — New Boston, Texas

As you’ve no doubt noticed, none of those guys carry Texas or Texas A&M next to their name.

There are reasons for this. As the class of 2017 was making its college decisions, UT was transitioning between Charlie Strong and Tom Herman, and Kevin Sumlin was on his long, slow descent out of College Station.

Texas A&M took a 28-man class that rated 13th in the country, led by 4-star linebacker Anthony Hines and filled with a lot of guys who won’t hear their names called during the draft this year or next. UT signed a 17-man class that placed 25th; 4-star quarterback Sam Ehlinger and 3-star offensive tackle Sam Cosmi will almost certainly be drafted next year.

Okudah was a 5-star prospect who held offers from everyone in the country but was part of a Buckeye exodus joined by 5-star linebacker Baron Browning and 4-star running back JK Dobbins.

Texas was in the hunt for Chaisson down to the end, but the Houston prospect (obviously) picked LSU. Experts said Lamb favored Texas early in the process but Strong was late with an offer.

No one else in the group garnered serious interest from the future first-rounders, to both schools’ regret.

Arizona president says fall football ‘increasingly unlikely’

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As time continues its slow march forward, it’s become increasingly clear that a 2020 football season will happen in some form. At the same time, the window to get the season played as scheduled gets narrower by the day.

The latest blow to a fall 2020 season came in the form of an interview Arizona president Dr. Robert Robbins (not pictured) gave to KVOI-AM in Tucson.

“I’m really concerned about whether we’re going to be playing football in the fall,” Robbins told the radio station, via ESPN. “My sense, right now, I just don’t see that happening.”

If you’d like to take the glass half-full view of Robbins’ comment, it’s in the phrases “in the fall” and “right now.”

The upshot here is Robbins cannot be accused of being some egghead academic who could use the coronavirus pandemic as coverage to take out pent up frustration with athletics that he never could have otherwise done in normal times. Robbins played quarterback in high school, nearly walked on to Ole Miss, and is one of the Wildcats’ most visible supporters.

“What I’ve been hearing more of is that maybe doing something combining both basketball and football for the spring, so January-February 2021, and try to play both of them,” Robbins said. “There will be all kind of implications for television viewing and confusion. I don’t know. We just don’t have any answers right now.”

Again, the operative phrase sentence in that paragraph is the last one.

But as each day passes without a miracle treatment or a dramatic leveling off of cases, a spring football season becomes that much more likely.

Report: South Carolina to hire ex-NC State aide Des Kitchings

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Des Kitchings is set to join the South Carolina football staff, according to a report Thursday from Gamecock Central.

Kitchings spent the past eight years at NC State, primarily coaching running backs, though he spent 2019 as the Wolfpack’s co-offensive coordinator. He became the odd man out in Dave Doeren‘s game of musical chairs upon the hiring of Tim Beck as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Will Muschamp will now play his own game of musical chairs on his offensive staff. He hired ex-Colorado State head coach Mike Bobo to coordinate the offense and coach the quarterbacks, which will cause Bobby Bentley to move elsewhere. Bryan McClendon coordinated the offense and coached wide receivers last year, but he’s off to Oregon with Bobo now running the offense.

With Kitchings on staff to coach running backs, per the report, Bentley could move back to tight ends and Joe Cox, who joined Bobo from Colorado State and was hired to coach tight ends, could shift to wide receivers, the position he coached in Fort Collins.

A South Carolina hiring is a homecoming for Kitchings, who grew up in the Palmetto State and is a member of the Furman athletics hall of fame.