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Urban Meyer: Ohio State looking into legal action over report

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With its reputation battered earlier this year because of the Zach Smith imbroglio, Ohio State has come out swinging at a new report that surfaced Tuesday morning involving the former wide receivers coach.

In a story posted by college football reporter Brett McMurphy to WatchStadium.com, the father of former OSU wide receiver Trevon Grimes claimed that Smith called his son a “bitch ass [N-word]” during practice in late September of last year.  In the report, McMurphy intimated that head coach Urban Meyer attempted to cover-up the incident by flying down to Grimes’ home in Florida in October of 2017 and promising the player OSU would allow him to transfer anywhere if he didn’t go public with the allegations; conversely, OSU officials claimed that the trip was made solely to support the player and his mother, who was going through a serious health issue at the time.

Appearing on Tuesday’s Big Ten coaches’ teleconference hours after the report surfaced, Meyer described himself as “irate” when he first learned of the allegations made in the report. The head coach called the report “the most preposterous thing” he’s witnessed during his time as a college football coach.

Additionally, Meyer stated that legal action is an option he and the university are considering.

Current and former Buckeyes football players spent Tuesday morning lashing out at the report, claiming there is no racism in the OSU program.  In very strong statements, both OSU president Michael Drake and athletic director Gene Smith vehemently defended Meyer, with the former calling the allegations of racism “outrageous and false” and the latter labeling the accusations “unequivocally false.”

Current, former Buckeyes, OSU officials blast report of racially-charged incident involving Zach Smith

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Regardless of how hard they try, Ohio State simply can’t distance itself from Zach Smith.

According to a report from college football reporter Brett McMurphy, the father of Trevon Grimes claims that his son, a former Ohio State wide receiver, was the victim of a racial epithet lobbed at him by former OSU receivers coach Zach Smith.  Specifically, LeBron Grimes claimed, Smith called his son a “bitch ass [N-word]” during a late September practice in 2017.

Grimes declined to answer questions about the allegations, telling McMurphy “I have no comment on that.” However, three of Grimes’ current Florida teammates — the receiver transferred from the Buckeyes in October of last year and landed with the Gators two months later — claimed that Smith directed the N-word at Grimes.  Those players were not identified as they spoke to McMurphy on the condition of anonymity.

“I’ve never said [the N-word] in my entire life. I’ve never been in a fight with a player in my life. Never. That never happened,” Zach Smith stated.

“If my ex-husband is the person spreading these rumors, everyone should know that neither I nor TreVon have any contact with him whatsoever,” Leah Grimes, Trevon Grimes’ mother and LeBron Grimes’ ex-wife, said in a portion of a statement. “He knows nothing about my health and nothing about TreVon’s transfer to UF. He is an abuser and the worst kind of role model, and he is no longer in TreVon’s life.”

In McMurphy’s report, it’s also alleged that Urban Meyer had essentially covered up the incident and swept it under the rug.  In very strongly-worded statements, both OSU president Michael Drake and athletic director Gene Smith refuted the report and said they stand behind their head football coach.

“The accusations made today by Brett McMurphy regarding our coach and the reasons for the transfer of Trevon Grimes are unequivocally false,” Smith said. “Urban Meyer embraces diversity and would absolutely never support an environment of racism. It simply isn’t tolerated here. And as an African-American, football player and collegiate administrator, I personally can say that our coaches, student-athletes and support staff know there is no place for any such behavior within our programs, at The Ohio State University or anywhere.”

Additionally, numerous current and former Buckeye football players — most of whom said nary a word when Smith’s domestic issues surfaced — took to Twitter to very vociferously dispute allegations made in the report that something racial occurred between Smith and Grimes.

The tweet from Martell, incidentally, was retweeted by Trevon Grimes, who, through a UF spokesperson, told McMurphy for his story to “not believe anything [LeBron Grimes] tells you” as he has not seen or talked to his father in more than two years.

Biletnikoff Award semifinalists are heavy on Big 12 receivers

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College football’s award season is coming soon, which means various individual awards are trimming down their massive watch lists to much smaller lists of semifinalists, and soon finalists. The Biletnikoff Award, which honors the nation’s best receiver regardless of position, released its list of 11 semifinalists for its award this season. As expected, some of the nation’s leading receivers managed to make the cut midway through November.

The list of semifinalists includes some of the top receivers from the Big 12 with Oklahoma’s Marquise Brown, West Virginia’s David Sills V, Oklahoma State’s Tylan Wallace, and Texas Tech’s Antoine Wesley are among the 11 semifinalists for the award. Wesley leads the nation in average receiving yards per game with 134.7 ypg. Wallace is not far behind with 128.2 ypg. Those two are among the seven receivers who have already eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark this season.

UMass receiver Andy Isabella, who leads the nation with 1,479 receiving yards was also named a semifinalist for the award. Hawaii’s John Ursua, the nation’s leader in receiving touchdowns (15) also made the cut.

The SEC’s top two receivers, A.J. Brown of Ole Miss (SEC-leading 1,047 receiving yards) and Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy (SEC-leading 10 touchdowns and second-most receiving yards, 925 yards). Arizona State’s N'Keal Harry, among the Pac-12 leaders in receiving yards and touchdowns, is joined by Stanford’s JJ Arcega-Whiteside as the Pac-12’s semifinalists.

Freshman star Rondale Moore of Purdue is the only player from a Big Ten school named a semifinalist for the award. Among the power conferences, the Big Ten has the longest drought of Biletnikoff Award winners with Braylon Edwards of Michigan being the last Big Ten player to win the award in 2004. The Big 12 has dominated the award over the past decade with seven Biletnikoff Award winners since 2007 including the last three years (Corey Coleman of Baylor in 2015, Dede Westbrook of Oklahoma in 2016, and James Washington of Oklahoma State in 2017) and two back-to-back winners (Michael Crabtree of Texas Tech in 2007-2008 and Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State in 2010 and 2011).

This list of 11 semifinalists will be trimmed down to three finalists on Nov. 19. The 2018 Biletnikoff Award will be presented on Dec. 6 at The Home Depot College Football Awards Presentation on ESPN.

RB D’Andre Swift leaves mark on Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry as No. 5 Georgia downs No. 24 Auburn

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Hanging around in a relatively close two-score game, No. 24 Auburn still harbored hope of pulling off yet another comeback in SEC play and winning the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry early in the fourth quarter.

Tailback D’Andre Swift however, had other ideas.

The speedy sophomore from above the Mason-Dixon Line left his indelible mark on one of the sport’s best rivalries by dashing 77 yards to pay dirt between the hedges to help No. 5 Georgia secure a 27-10 victory on Saturday night and make the improving Bulldogs look even more dangerous ahead of their showdown with Alabama in a few weeks.

Swift, who hails from Philadelphia, was a dynamic threat in all phases of the game and finished with 186 yards rushing (and that one TD run) to go along with a team-high four catches and 43 yards receiving. His incredible, weaving runs may have been the highlight of the night for the Bulldogs offense but fellow back Elijah Holyfield wasn’t too shabby at all himself as a guy who had no issues running between the tackles on his way to 93 yards on the ground.

Both players’ efforts kept the clock moving and took plenty of pressure off quarterback Jake Fromm, who had another efficient night with 193 yards passing, two scores and an interception. His two touchdown throws in particular were pretty impressive in their own right, one on a short toss across the field to Tyler Simmons and another just before halftime — on fourth down, no less — to a streaking Terry Godwinwho took it 38 yards to the house.

Even backup QB Justin Fields got into the game and was allowed, much to the crowd’s delight in Athens, to throw the ball a bit against a good defense and completed two passes for 20 yards.

Things were close for much of the first half between the two rivals but the Tigers offense never could hit another gear to make things interesting. Signal-caller Jarrett Stidham threw for only 163 yards, starting quick but fading as the game wore on. Fellow member of the backfield JaTarvious Whitlow was actually the one to throw for a touchdown but running the ball proved to be a problem all around for Gus Malzhan’s crew as the team couldn’t muster much offense at all after the first quarter.

The game, let’s face it, didn’t mean a ton in the grand scheme of things. UGA has already locked up the SEC East Division title and a rematch against Alabama, while Auburn is only playing spoiler down the stretch in the middle of another disappointing campaign on the Plains. The Bulldogs remain in running for another College Football Playoff bid with just one loss though and should continue to sit just outside the top four as they play out the string of the regular season.

Perhaps the bigger question the team might have answered on Saturday night though, was that with Swift coming along and others stepping up on both sides the ball, this Georgia team continues to improve with each passing week and are looking like a stiff test for the top-ranked Tide at Mercedes-Benz Stadium once again in a few weeks.

No. 5 Georgia out in front of No. 24 Auburn between the hedges at halftime

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No. 5 Georgia and No. 24 Auburn split their two meetings last season in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry but the rubber match in Athens this year might be a one-sided affair as the Bulldogs used a big third quarter to take a 20-10 lead into the locker room at halftime of a fun one between the hedges.

Tigers QB Jarrett Stidham threw for 108 yards in a solid performance for him given the hostile conditions (though JaTarvious Whitlow wound up with a touchdown throw off a trick play). That the signal-caller did it without getting sacked and without much a run game (27 yards total for Gus Malzhan’s squad) was a testament to just how sharp he was early. Senior Ryan Davis was not surprisingly on the other end of six of those passes (50 yards) and became the program’s all-time leader in career receptions early in the first quarter as a result.

Perhaps the biggest moment of the game for the visitors came on defense however. While that unit was quite stout in the first half against a team that can throw a number of playmakers at you, they did suffer a big loss when Big Kat Bryant was ejected for targeting on a third down play in a second quarter. The fairly obvious call on a hit to quarterback Jake Fromm will no doubt have lingering effects on the team as they allowed another long drive on their next defensive possession.

Speaking of which, while the Bulldogs could move the ball between the 20’s, their red zone offense left much to be desired with three trips inside the 10 yard line resulting in just one touchdown. Fromm was 10-of-13 with 148 yards and tossed a beautiful throw across the field to Tyler Simmons in the end zone for a touchdown. The quarterback added another scoring toss when he found a streaking Terry Godwin on fourth down, who promptly took it 38 yards to the house just before the halftime break.

Georgia’s tailbacks were also heavily involved in the first half, as is typical, with Elijah Holyfield recording 50 yards rushing while D’Andre Swift was a typical multipurpose threat with 53 yards on the ground and 33 more through the air.

Both games last season were actually somewhat close at the break before one of the two sides pulled away starting in the third quarter. We’ll see if that is the case once again in 2018 or if Georgia was already starting to assert their dominance in the second quarter and will keep things rolling from there.