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College Football Hall of Fame damaged amidst protests in Atlanta overnight

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In the wake of the murder of George Floyd, protests have erupted across the country.  Overnight, those protests hit the home for college football history.

A peaceful protest in Atlanta Friday turned violent later in the night as many numerous businesses in the city were vandalized and looted.  According to myriad media outlets, one of those that suffered damage was the College Football Hall of Fame.

Fortunately, one of the reports stated, “none of the artifacts or history memorabilia was damaged… just the glass in front of the store.” One report, though, described the hall as being “destroyed.”

“First and foremost, our hearts go out to the friends and family of George Floyd,” College Football Hall of Fame CEO Kimberly Beaudin said in a statement. “We support the peaceful protests that honor his memory but unfortunately they deteriorated into chaos and disorder. We are heartbroken to see the damage to our city and the Hall of Fame. As our Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said, we are better than this, better than this as a city, and better than this as a country.

“In the coming days and weeks, we’ll work to pick up the pieces, to build back the sacred walls that housed memories and honored those who played the game many of whom fought these same injustices throughout their storied careers.”

College coaches speak out following death of George Floyd

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The despicable, abhorrent, unconscionable murder of George Floyd has touched myriad aspects of our society.  College football is no different.

Monday night, 46-year-old George Floyd died after a Minneapolis Police Department officer took a knee on the man’s neck.  For several minutes.  Floyd was a black man.  The police officer is a white man.

“I can’t breathe, please, the knee in my neck. I can’t move … my neck … I’m through, I’m through.”

Four police officers connected to the death of Floyd were fired.  The white officer who murdered Floyd, Derek Chauvin, has since been charged in the black man’s death.  The 19-year veteran of the force is facing one count each of of third-degree murder and manslaughter.

Wednesday, the University of Minnesota significantly distanced itself from the Minneapolis Police Department.  The MPD assisted the university for large events, including Minnesota football games.

In the days since, college football coaches have decried the fatal brutality.  On the Rich Eisen Show Thursday, Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh spoke about the “horrendous… outrageous” murder (my words, not the coach’s) of George Floyd.

On Twitter in the ensuing days, Harbaugh’s colleagues at the collegiate level — including one ex-coach who is now an athletic director — have used their platform to decry the senseless murder of George Floyd.

Some of them, including Ole Miss’ Lane Kiffin (HERE), Florida State’s Mike Norvell (HERE), Tulsa’s Philip Montgomery (HERE), Troy’s Chip Lindsey (HERE) and UTSA’s Jeff Traylor (HERE), retweeted the powerful words of Tony Dungy.

Others sent out their own messages.

 

Stanford transfer RB Trevor Speights officially commits to Notre Dame

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Once again, Notre Dame has added a Power Five football player.  And this one has been decidedly expected.

In early JanuaryTrevor Speights became one of more than a dozen Stanford players who had entered the NCAA transfer database. A month later, it was reported that Notre Dame football was viewed as the front-runner early on in the process.

In an update earlier this week, Speights confirmed that Notre Dame is still very much in play.  As is, oddly enough, Rice.

Thursday night, Speights confirmed that, yes, he is moving on to the Notre Dame football team.

“I am thankful for my time at Stanford and for everyone who has helped me while I was there,” the back wrote on Twitter. “It has been an opportunity of a lifetime to be able to pursue my dreams on and off the field. I’m thankful to have had great teammates whom I have created lifelong bonds with.  I look forward to what y’all do in the future. I will miss y’all! …

“Thank you to everyone who has helped me throughout this difficult process.  It has been a long month, but I am grateful to have the support system in place to come to a big decision like this one.”

Speights, incidentally, will head to South Bend as a graduate transfer.

Familiarity certainly played a role in the decision.

Lance Taylor was the running backs coach at Stanford before taking the same job with Notre Dame football in January of last year.  He was Speights’ position coach and helped recruit him to the Cardinal.

Speights was a three-star 2016 signee.  After rushing for 363 yards and a touchdown on 95 carries in 2017-18, Speights didn’t record a carry in 2019.

NCAA extends recruiting dead period through July 31; The Association will also allow strength coaches to ‘virtually observe voluntary physical workouts’

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Not surprisingly, the NCAA has reset its recruiting trail policies.  Again.

As the coronavirus pandemic effectively shuttered the sports world, the NCAA announced in mid-March that it was putting a halt to all in-person recruiting until at least April 15.  Last month, that dead period was extended through May 31.  This month, another extension took us to June 30.

As we close in on the month of June, another extension is official.  As expected, the NCAA announced Wednesday evening that the recruiting dead period has been extended through July 31.  That means all in-person recruiting activities — either on-campus or elsewhere — are prohibited.

The latest edict impacts all sports, not just football.

“The extension maintains consistent recruiting rules for all sports and allows coaches to focus on the student-athletes who may be returning to campus,” said Division I Council Coordination Committee chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Pennsylvania, said in a statement. “The committee is committed to reviewing the dead period again in late June or early July.”

One potential effect of all of these dead-period extension bans?  It could force The Association to, for one year, temporarily get rid of the December Early Signing Period.

The NCAA earlier this month also announced that football programs could begin bringing players back to campus for voluntary workouts starting June 1.  In the dead-period release, The Association also updated its tack on that front:

Additionally, the committee decided to allow strength and conditioning coaches to virtually observe voluntary physical workouts for health and safety purposes but only if requested by the student-athlete. The measure goes into effect June 1. The strength and conditioning coach will be allowed to observe the workouts and discuss items related to voluntary workouts but not direct or conduct the workout.

The decision was supported by the Committee on Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports Prevention and Performance Subcommittee. The subcommittee encouraged schools that decide to allow their strength and conditioning coaches to observe voluntary workouts to proactively consider the school’s overarching responsibility to protect the health of and provide a safe environment for each student-athlete. More specifically, the subcommittee stressed that schools should plan for how the strength and conditioning coach should respond if they observe an unsafe workout environment or in the event that a medical emergency occurs during a voluntary session.

The committee will continue to explore the opportunity for strength and conditioning coaches to conduct voluntary workouts virtually, as they do during in-person, on-campus voluntary workouts.

WATCH: Ex-Notre Dame WR Corey Robinson tackles ‘voluntary’ aspect to return of on-campus workouts

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The NCAA confirmed May 20 that it would allow student-athletes, including college football players, to return to campus for workouts.  Voluntary workouts.

As we wrote at the time, the NCAA made sure to stress that the on-campus activities are voluntary.

“Voluntary on-campus athletics activity must be initiated by the student-athlete. Coaches may not be present unless a sport-specific safety exception allows it, and activity cannot be directed by a coach or reported back to a coach.”

This past week, one former college football player tackled the voluntary aspect of the return of workouts.  And, yes, used air quotes around the word “voluntary.”

“We’re talking all things college football-related.  This kind of seems, like, normal, to be completely honest with you,” ex-Notre Dame wide receiver Corey Robinson said on NBCSports.com. “Normally, I’m pretty sure we had to be back on campus June 1 anyways.  And all the summer activities beyond weight-room activities were all ‘voluntary’ and led by us.  They weren’t led by the coaches, the coaches couldn’t be on the field for seven-on-seven or any type of wide receiver-quarterback drills.  So, this looks very normal to me.

“I think that when it comes to voluntary, we had a saying back in the day called ‘mandatory optional.’ And I think that’s what this is. You’re going to have people wondering, ‘oh, the SEC is coming back June 1*, but then the Big Ten is thinking about June 8.’ People are gonna look for any edge they can get.  I feel like I’d be pressured into wanting to play or wanting not to play.

“That’s going to be a really sticky situation.”

(*For clarity, the SEC subsequently announced that schools could allow college football players to start returning to campus for voluntary workouts June 8.  A handful of Big Ten schools will return at the same time.  The Big 12, meanwhile, likely won’t allow a return until mid- or late June.  Neither the ACC nor the Pac-12 has announced its plans, although that could very well change this week.)