So much for that plan.
In mid-June, Pat Swilling Jr., the son of Georgia Tech and NFL standout Pat Swilling, revealed that he planned to walk-on to the Tulsa football team. Swilling was no ordinary walk-on, though, as he had recently completed his four years of eligibility as a Golden Hurricane basketball player. There was the also the suspension that cost him the final 11 games of his collegiate career, a suspension born out of allegations of rape.
Earlier this week, Swilling took to Twitter to explain that the NCAA denied his appeal for a waiver that would’ve permitted him to play football in 2014.
Under normal circumstances, a player in one sport who has not used his redshirt season can use a loophole in NCAA bylaws to play an “extra” season in another sport. However, Swilling had incomplete grades for the spring semester that have been attributed to the rape investigation.
No charges were ever filed against Swilling, and a protective order that had been issued against him was dropped in April. However, on Monday, the alleged victim filed a federal lawsuit against the university, with Tulsa World writing that the suit states “TU was negligent and failed to protect a female student’s rights under federal Title IX laws by not properly investigating multiple rape allegations against Swilling.”
Swilling fired back at his accuser in a letter, calling her a “cleat chaser” and denying any type of sexual assault took place.
“I have been verbally abused, harassed, constantly sent harsh things on social media and even received death threats on multiple occasions. While I understand the backlash, your opinions of myself have been created by reading material that portrays me in a negative light. Nothing written has been in my favor and nothing negating my accuser’s stories has been written either.”
Player safety in football has never been more important, or emphasized. Changes to the rules may help reduce harm to players but every manufacturer of football equipment is working to make sure players wearing their gear are protected as best as possible as well.
Jim Wegener, of Montana, hopes his modification to the football helmet will catch on. Wegener created a special safety latch that prevents a player’s helmet from popping off unless properly unlocked. The idea here being that a helmet will remain on a player at all times when a hard enough collision would normally knock the helmet loose, leaving the player’s head exposed. Wegener watched his modified helmet on TV last week and was pleased with the initial results.
“Cody Green, the quarterback for Tulsa, was wearing one of my inventions and not once did his helmet come off,” Wegener told the Los Angeles Times. “The first time he tried to pull it off, he couldn’t. He had to do it the right way. We hope this thing is going to prevent a lot of injuries out there.”
Tulsa is just one of many college football programs using the safety latch. Colorado State, Kansas State, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Penn State, Ole Miss and Baylor are just a handful of schools using the helmet safety latch, according to Wegener’s website, HelmetSafetyLatch.com.
Is the latch a cure-all for avoiding injuries to the head? Of course not, but it is certainly a start.
Meandering our way through the offseason, a single one-liner at a time…
— Apparently, CFT received a mention in USC’s 2013 Football Media Guide based on this post from November of 2011.
— Out of Denard Robinson‘s shadow, Devin Gardner looking to live up to the hype as Michigan’s new quarterback.
— Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Johnny Manziel’s private coach, George Whitfield Jr., is making a name for himself.
— The Tampa Bay Times maintains that USF still serves as the model for college football startups.
— Pittsburgh expecting even bigger things from All-American candidate Aaron Donald.
— Michigan State coaches can’t stop raving about new starting cornerback Trae Waynes.
— Oft-injured Kansas running back Brandon Bourbon feeling as strong and confident as ever.
— The Mumme returns to SMU… as the playcalling offensive coordinator?
— Second-year head coach Garrick McGee will be relying on UAB’s senior leadership this fall.
— Michigan State plans to allocate about $4 million to its football program from outside the athletic department.
— Former Utah and current Miami Dolphin lineman Paul Soliai has donated $250,000 for the Utes’ new football center, which will fund the Paul and LeTasha Soliai Player Lounge.
— “Treating him like a family member” helped South Carolina land linebacker David Johnson.
Cody Green has cemented himself as Tulsa’s starting quarterback, but the depth chart behind Green has gone through some shuffling this spring. Now, one backup signal caller has decided to leave the program.
Golden Hurricane coach Bill Blankenship confirmed to the Tulsa World that quarterback Kalen Henderson will transfer. Although it’s not official, the World writes that Henderson is considering Nicholls State as a possible destination.
Though he’s appeared in 11 games over the past two seasons, starting one last year in a win over Rice, his completion percentage is around 32 percent and he’s thrown for more career interceptions (six) than touchdowns (four). Henderson slid down the depth chart this spring when he was placed behind redshirt freshman Dane Evans.
Tulsa has depth at the QB position, though not much experience behind Green.
Nearly two weeks ago Tulsa announced that the NCAA had denied Bryan Burnham‘s bid for a sixth season of eligibility but would be filing an appeal on that decision.
Unfortunately, the second answer was the same as the first.
In a press release, Tulsa announced it had been informed today that Burnham has been denied a sixth season of eligibility by the NCAA Division I Appeals Committee. Burnham missed all of his true freshman season in 2008 with what was described as an illness, then missed all but one game in 2012 due to a torn ACL.
No reason for the denial was given, although it’s obvious the football program does not agree with either decision.
“This is not the response we had hoped to receive from the NCAA. We’re extremely disappointed, but we’re more disappointed for Bryan than us. The fact that he only played three quarters in 2012 is upsetting because he prepared so hard for his senior season,” said head coach Bill Blankenship. “Even since the injury, Bryan has done everything needed to get himself in shape for an opportunity to join his teammates on the field.”
Burnham played in 25 games during his Tulsa career, starting 14 of those contests. He led the team in 2011 with 54 receptions for 850 yards and nine touchdowns.
“It is a disappointment. The reason I wanted to come back and play again was for my teammates,” said Burnham. “I appreciate everything TU has done for me, not only in trying to secure a sixth year, but through my entire career. I am ready to move on now.”
Burnham has already received a degree in History, and is working on a second degree in organizational studies.
(Photo credit: Tulsa athletics)