Cody Hoffman

Reports: BYU investigating impermissible benefits

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While details are scant, it appears another, some would say unexpected, football program could find itself — as neutered as they are — in the NCAA crosshairs.

First reported by Scott Garrard of 1280 the Zone in Salt Lake City and subsequently confirmed by ESPN.com‘s Brett McMurphy, the BYU athletic department is investigating allegations that Cougar football players were on the receiving end of impermissible benefits.  No specific players have been connected to the allegations, although one former staff member — Duane Busby, who left as Director of Football Operations in late March after 19 years with the program — has been mentioned in connection to what’s for now merely speculation.

That speculation includes the unnamed players receiving, the SBNation.com website Vanquish the Foe writes, “free or discounted housing, iPads, and free meals.” The Salt Lake Tribune wrote that Busby “provided heavily discounted or rent-free housing, free meals and other gifts to selected players he favored, mostly offensive players and skill players.”

The only statement from the school on the developments is that “BYU is aware of the allegations and has been conducting a thorough review of the matter.”

The next step will be for BYU, at the conclusion of its internal probe, to send those findings, along with any self-imposed sanctions, to the NCAA.  What The Association decides to do will depend on what’s contained in the report.

UPDATED 6:09 p.m. ET: From the Provo Daily Herald, addressing former BYU wide receiver Cody Hoffman:

On 1280 the Zone radio station, Scott Garrard played a clip with an interview with Cody Hoffman’s manager, Sam Leaf, in which Leaf confirmed that Hoffman had been contacted “a couple of months ago” by BYU and asked to come in to answer some questions about possible improper benefits being given to certain players.

Leaf said Hoffman refused, saying he was focused on moving on to the NFL. Leaf said he was confident that Hoffman had not received anything illegal but Leaf had no comment when asked if Hoffman had heard of others who were involved.

Washington closes Sarkisian era with a bowl win over BYU in Fight Hunger Bowl

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The Huskies closed the book on the Steve Sarkisian era with a bowl victory, but it was interim head coach Marques Tuiasosopo who will go down in the books getting credit for the win. Sarkisian left the program to accept a job with USC, leaving the Huskies before the bowl game. Bishop Sankey rushed for 95 yards and two touchdowns to earn Fight Hunger Bowl MVP honors as the Huskies pulled away for a 31-16 victory over BYU.

Washington’s running back fueled the offensive coring but the Huskies also had John Ross return a kickoff 100-yards after BYU tied the game in the first half and Keith Price, despite being banged up at times, added 123 passing yards and a touchdown. The Huskies defense also came through with a big stop deep in their own territory following a Price interception to set up BYU. Robertson Daniel picked off an errant throw by Price and returned it to the Washington 29-yard line with the Huskies leading 28-16 in the third quarter.BYU could do nothing with the opportunity as Washington forced a tree-and-out, highlighted by a critical sack by Cody Hoffman, which set up a 44-yard field goal attempt by Justin Sorensen. Sorensen kicked three of his four field goal attempts successfully, but his miss following the three-and-out seemed to change the momentum of the game. BYU was shutout in the second half while Washington tacked on ten more points for the victory.

Now all eyes are set on what happens next for Washington. Former Boise State head coach Chris Petersen is now in complete control of the football program and the future looks very bright for the Huskies with him at the helm. Given the talent on the team Petersen will be inheriting and the facilities and resources available the optimism is high for Washington to start feeding off of the success of the last few seasons under Sarkisian and build more of a legitimate Pac 12 North contender under Petersen. Oregon’s and Stanford’s place at the top of the division may be threatened by Washington if Petersen can build the kind of winning program he was able to do at Boise State.

Washington will open the Petersen era with a favorable schedule in 2014. The Huskies open the year at Hawaii and three straight home games in non-conference play against Eastern Washington, Illinois and Georgia State. A 4-0 start should absolutely be expected out of the gate. The Huskies will also get Arizona State, Stanford and UCLA at home but must travel to Oregon in Pac 12 play.

As for BYU, the schedule will be a little easier in 2014 after a challenging 2013 season. The 2014 season will include a trip to Texas in week two, which will be quite a revenge game for the Longhorns after getting tanked in Provo this season. The schedule also includes road games at UCF and Boise State. The Cougars should be able to pull together another winning season with what will be in front of them in 2014, and the formula will remain familiar with a heavy dose of the running game and a strong defense.

The Fifth Quarter: Week 11 Rewind

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As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.

THUMBS UP

SPOILER ALERT!
If you don’t want to see what the Top Five BCS rankings will look like when they are released Sunday, close your eyes and scroll down for approximately three seconds starting… now.

With that out of the way, and based on intense, extensive research that involved common sense when adding dominating wins by Alabama, Florida State and Baylor to Ohio State’s bye to Oregon’s loss at Stanford, the BCS rankings for Week 11 of the 2013 season will fall as follows:

1. Alabama
2. Florida State
3. Ohio State
4. Stanford
5. Baylor

There’s very little chance the latest rankings will look any different from what’s above, which is exactly as it was a week ago.  The computers might like Baylor a little more on the strength of its win over Oklahoma, but will likely do the same for Stanford on the strength of its win over No. 2 Oregon.  The gap between those two and Ohio State is too great for either to traverse in one week; another week or two and that could very well change.

There is absolutely no chance, either, that Florida State leapfrogs Alabama.  None, zip, nada, zilch, even if there might be some validity to such a shuffling of the top-two positions on the part of the human component.

Feel-good Gophers
For the first time in 40 years, and after the 24-10 win over Penn State, Minnesota has won four consecutive Big Ten games.  At 8-2 overall, the Gophers have already recorded the most wins by the program since they went 10-3 in 2003; with one more win, they will have won more than eight games in a single season for just the second time since 1905.  At 4-2 in conference play, and with a win over 4-1 Nebraska already in their hip pockets, they still maintain an outside shot of a Legends crown with a regular-season finale against 5-0 and division leader Michigan State.  Add in the fact that their beloved head coach, Jerry Kill, continues to bravely battle epilepsy and the seizures associated with it, and the Gophers have suddenly become one of the feel-good stories of the 2013 season.  How good does that feel?  Allow Kill to demonstrate:

Jerry Kill Dance

Awesome.  Simply awesome.

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The Fifth Quarter: Week 9 Rewind

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As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.

WINNERS

Alabama vs. Oregon: Tale of the Tape
Seeing as Alabama and Oregon play in different conferences on essentially opposite sides of the country, there’s very little concrete data available to compare the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country.  With Tennessee on both of their schedules this season?  Yeah, the comparisons were going to be inevitable.  Back on Sept. 14 in Eugene, the Ducks led the Vols 38-7 at halftime; Oct. 26 in Tuscaloosa, the Tide led the Vols 35-0 after two quarters of play.  The final scores were 59-14 for the former, 45-10 for the latter.  The Ducks totaled 687 yards of offense while holding the Vols to 316; the Tide gave up 322 while gaining 479.

If special teams is your thing, Oregon was forced to punt three times while Alabama punted just twice.

The conclusion?  There is none, of course, other than UT was whipped six weeks apart by two very, very, very good football teams who could possibly square off in early January if they continue their winning ways.  That said, feel free to use the numbers to further whatever agenda you may be wanting to push.  Enjoy!

Brutus the Bully
With the three teams ahead of them in the BCS standings winning by a combined score of 136-41, Ohio State needed a statement game, something they’ve lacked throughout 2013.  Unfortunately for Penn State, that’s exactly what OSU went out and did.  The Buckeyes bullied the Nittany Lions in the first half, jumping out to a 42-7 before cruising to a 63-14 win.  Winning in this fashion won’t necessarily help Ohio State, though; they’re not leapfrogging Alabama, Oregon or Florida State anytime soon as long as those three teams keep winning.  Rather, such an impressive performance will likely keep the likes of Baylor from passing them in the polls and, thus, the BCS standings later on tonight.  That said, it’s still hard to wrap my head around the fact that Ohio State could conceivably carry a 25-game winning streak into early January… and be on the outside looking in when it comes to the BCS title game.  Again.

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BYU goes bowling, clinches Fight Hunger Bowl bid with Boise State win

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For the first time in program history, BYU defeated Boise State. The Cougars topped the Broncos by a score of 37-20 Friday night in Provo. Taysom Hill passed for 339 yards, three touchdowns and rushed for 69 yards and another touchdown in the victory. With the win, BYU automatically qualifies to fill their previously arranged spot in the Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco, so BYU is the first team to officially be going bowling this season.

BYU was in control from start to finish in this game, taking advantage of a more talented and deeper roster than a Boise State team that is in a bit of a rebuilding mode. BYU has put together some impressive wins this season and that is worth recalling. Aside from their blowout win over Texas and how they played against Boise State, BYU has played well in victories over Utah State (without Chuckie Keeton), Georgia Tech and previously undefeated Houston. If not for a the horrendous weather conditions in the season opener against Virginia, BYU has looked the part of a program worthy of consideration for a BCS at-large, in the same boat as Fresno State and Northern Illinois. You could even make an argument BYU has put together a better profile than Fresno State or Northern Illinois, but if nothing else we know BYU will be playing in the Fight Hunger Bowl. BYU will take on a team from the Pac 12 in the San Francisco-based bowl game played in the home of baseball’s San Francisco Giants.

Boise State is certainly not the same program they were in recent years. In addition to being without injured starting quarterback Joe Southwick, the Broncos lack the same kind of defensive talent they had during their BCS runs in recent seasons. Fortunately for the Broncos, the loss to BYU means nothing for the fate of this season. Boise State will still be sitting at the top of the Mountain West Conference’s Mountain Division after Saturday’s college football action, and the Broncos will still be in control of their potential path to a conference championship game. Having already lost two games this season, any shot at a BCS spot was lost a while ago, but a chance to play for the conference championship is still their’s to lose in their division.

Boise State’s Dillon Lukehart was ejected for a hit on BYU’s Cody Hoffman on a catch that looked like it would be good for a touchdown. But the hit jarred the football loose and a video review upheld the ejection. Because there was helmet to helmet contact, there was little to dispute with this particular targeting call. With the ejection taking place in the second half of the game, Lukehart will have to sit out the first half of Boise State’s game next week at Colorado State.