Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ballad of the LSU QBs

By: @LivingCrimson

LSU Miles clockIt’s game week in Tuscaloosa with Alabama facing earnest but overmatched Kent State, Nick Saban’s alma mater. Both teams will be ready to go, and Bryant-Denny is always a good place to be.

LSU is not so lucky in its season opener. The Tigers (ranked No. 4 in the AP and Coaches Poll) will take on the Oregon Ducks (No. 3 in both polls) in Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas. By now, everyone is aware that several key players will be missing from both the LSU and Oregon lineups. For the backstory, Pete Thamel at the New York Times has an informative article.

It’s not like the quarterback play at LSU has been stellar for the last three years anyway. The starting signal caller has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns in two of those years. Beleaguered Jarrett Lee will start the Oregon game and at least a few more games this season, depending on the disposition of Jordan Jefferson’s legal issues. With Jefferson out, Lee is the only LSU quarterback with SEC game experience. Zach Mettenberger is a JUCO transfer and the remaining players in the stable are freshmen.

Of course, this situation cannot be overlooked for its proper SEC-rival snark value, and good motivation for my very first video ever. Featuring Les Miles, Jarrett Lee, Jordan Jefferson and Zach Mettenberger. As the luck turns…

Roll Tide!

Source credit for some photos to TigerDroppings.com. The music is “Doom Despair and Agony on Me” by Matt Granz and can be downloaded at icompositions.com. The original HeeHaw version is the inspiration.

You can follow me on Twitter @LivingCrimson

Aggies play SEC “anticipation” game like pros, bolt Big XII

SCROLL DOWN FOR UPDATE

image Texas A&M is learning fast.

According to a report in the San Antonio Express-News, an announcement regarding the Aggies widely expected defection to the Southeastern Conference could come as early as today, but certainly no later than… next week.

The collective groans of SEC fans can be heard from Gainesville to Fayetteville.

Clearly however, Big XII schools aren’t accustomed to the intense glare of media scrutiny applied by the media covering the SEC. SEC fans are among the most voracious consumers of news regarding their teams, their league and goings-on that might affect them. We want our news like we want our football and if somebody gets off the turf looking through their helmet earhole, so be it.

The Express-News report from Brent Zwernmann shows A&M was thrown for a loop when the New York Times’ Pete Thamel reported that the school had notified the league that it was ready to begin the divorce proceedings:


“While we appreciate the tremendous interest in Texas A&M's conference exploration, it is not our intent to provide a play-by-play of complex discussions in the media,” university spokesman Jason Cook said in a statement. “The proliferation of social media — as well as the pressure for reporters to be ‘first' — has certainly fueled the rumors and speculation of what our next steps may be.”


Understandable. The school isn’t interesting in allowing the negotiations to be live blogged by the media, bloggers or Twitter users. But indicating that the league or the school has an imminent announcement that could come today or certainly no later than next week…  Why, that’s just SEC homer greatness, isn’t it?

Exit Question: It’s one thing to wish avoid sharing details and playing the anticipation game. It’s quite another to lawyer up, play hardball and refuse to release any information at all. Which is what the conference appears to be doing, according to this report from Bryan Fischer of CBSSports.com. How’s that going to play with the SEC media bloodhounds?

UPDATE: Boom. Here’s the announcement. Texas A&M is now a free agent.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Coach Saban’s process for the Depth Chart

By: @LivingCrimson

Depth Chart Houndstooth 8-29-11We can now share the actual evaluations used by Alabama’s coaching staff to determine if each player has proved *@!# yet. Revealed to us by a highly placed insider who felt Bama fans should understand the intensity of this year’s team. He swears what you are about to read is totally true – cross his heart and hope to walk all the way to the Superdome carrying the defensive line on his back.

Most likely to cause at least one major internal organ to actually fly out of a player's body:
Courtney Upshaw

His hits border on felonious assault, in a good way:
Mark Barron

The only player who can run his own interference:
Trent Richardson

Most likely to play the game like somebody just hit his mother with a two-by-four:
William Vlachos

The player who understands best that the will to win is closely linked with extreme contact:
Barrett Jones

Most likely to injure the cheerleaders on the sidelines by tossing around opposing players:
Cyrus Kouandjio

The player with the best imitation of a bulldozer:
DJ Fluker

His firm belief is that when it comes to football, God is prejudiced towards big and fast:
Jesse Williams

His hits show up on seismic graphs:
Nico Johnson

Most likely to exhibit speed and strength – least likely to register pain:
DeQuan Menzie

He knows that prayer works best when you don’t let the quarterback get hit:
Chance Warmack

If hitting is wrong, he doesn’t want to be right:
Jerrell Harris

The game isn’t over until he sees the teary-whites of their eyes:
Robert Lester

He was big when he was little – now he can take on the entire Big10, at once, and beat them like a drum:
Michael Williams

His bangs are self-aware and do not believe in timeouts:
A.J. McCarron

He just wraps his arms around the whole backfield and peels them one by one until he gets to the ball carrier. Him, he keeps.
Josh Chapman

He follows the motto “if winning isn’t everything, then why do they keep score?”
Phillip Sims

It’s better to give a lick than receive one:
Anthony Steen

The only player who can throw a pass to himself:
Marquis Maze

Able to leap tall defenders in a single bound. Look, up in the sky! It’s:
DeAndrew White

He would never set out to hurt anybody unless it’s really important, like a first, second, third or fourth down:
Brad Smelley

Some people think football is a matter of life and death. He knows it’s much more serious than that:
C.J. Mosley

I feel like I'm the best, but you're not going to get me to say that:
Dre Kirkpatrick

There’s no substitute for guts…and I’m here to steal their’s:
Damion Square

The road to New Orleans goes through their quarterback:
Dont’a Hightower

Congratulations to all the players who met Coach Saban’s rigorous standards and will face Kent State on Saturday.  Roll Tide!

Wallpaper depth chart here. Interactive depth chart at TideSports.

Sports Illustrated to welcome Paul Finebaum (amid controversy)

image According to his official Twitter feed, Paul Finebaum, host of the nationally syndicated Paul Finebaum Radio Network, is set to debut his first column for the venerable Sports Illustrated magazine on Thursday.

There’s no questioning Finebaum’s journalism credentials. He joined the Birmingham Post-Herald more than 30 years ago and worked as an investigative reporter and a columnist. He also had a twice weekly (later weekly) column in the Mobile Press-Register for nearly 10 years, discontinuing it in 2010.

It looks like the writing bug has bitten him again.

The move comes at a very interesting time, indeed. Finebaum’s radio show has been a focal point of controversy in recent weeks. USA Today Sports Analyst Danny Sheridan has appeared three times since the kickoff of SEC Media Days last month, claiming to have direct knowledge from a source inside the NCAA that the league’s enforcement staff has identified the financier, “bag man” and a witness in connection with allegations that former Auburn Quarterback Cam Newton’s father received cash in return for his son’s signature. Sheridan has refused to divulge the name(s) of the persons he’s been told were involved.

Sheridan’s comments on Finebaum’s show and a Friday appearance with Danny Sheridan on ESPN’s Outside the Lines has sparked a tit-for-tat public relations battle between Sheridan and the NCAA.

Finebaum is also in the midst of a heated, ugly legal battle with WJOX parent company, Citadel Broadcasting over a contract dispute. And, we also learned this week that Cox Media Group is launching a new 24-hour sports talk radio station in the Birmingham market. The new station, 97.3 The Zone, will feature content from Yahoo! Sports Radio and include the popular Tim Brando Show.

Since Brando’s show will compete with WJOX’s morning lineup, WJOX has forbidden Finebaum from having Brando make his regular Monday appearances on Finebaum’s show. Brando explains here and again, here.

As an outside observer (I live on the Gulf Coast), it appears that Finebaum has outgrown WJOX and the station’s ownership is behaving like a spoiled little boy whose sandbox has been invaded by a bigger kid.

There is—obviously—a great deal of speculation that Sheridan has shared whatever information he has with Finebaum. Sheridan has also used the likelihood of litigation against him as the reason why he won’t name names. Some have argued that as an employee of USA Today, Sheridan enjoys protection against litigation as a journalist. However, most serious legal analysts dispute that notion since Sheridan doesn’t file news reports or produce content that a reasonable observer would consider “journalism.” Finebaum however, is a bona fide journalist and would enjoy complete protection, so you can probably guess what the exit question is…

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UPDATED: Texas A&M sends “Dear John” Letter to Big XII

SCROLL DOWN FOR UPDATE

image According to the New York Times’ Pete Thamel, Texas A&M has formally transmitted a “Dear John” letter to the Big XII, all but assuring that the Aggies will be playing football in the SEC at some point in the very near future.

Thamel notes the $15 million (estimated) alimony exit fee and the Southeastern Conference’s marriage proposal formal invitation to join the league, which requires approval of nine of the 12 existing conference members. These are potential stumbling blocks but does anyone seriously expect these to prevent the move? Surely A&M already knows they have the votes in Birmingham, and that $15 million is scratch with their humungous endowment.

If all goes according to plan, the SEC’s 13th member could be playing an SEC schedule in the 2012 season. Assuming the SEC is unable to recruit a running mate for the Aggies to round out a 14-team conference and balance the schedule, Thamel also notes that the math of putting together the slate of matchups could be tricky.

In case you missed it, my friend the Bandit Ref has “The Break Up Talk” cartoon. Bandit Ref and K1ngCrimson are the rogues responsible for Houndstoothmen.com, the startup site with cartoons, lampoons and other silly SEC stuff.

Exit Question: It doesn’t matter whether the SEC gets a 14th team to round out the schedule or not. The only question remaining is how many teams get bye weeks before playing Alabama in the 2012 schedule.

UPDATE: Thamel now says the communication between Texas A&M and the Big XII was via telephone, not a letter, and that his earlier information was incorrect. Still, who thinks this is not only a matter of time?

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Game Week: Updated SEC Hot Seat Rankings

With the craziest offseason in memory now only a few days away from a merciful end, it’s time to update the SEC Coaches’ Hot Seat Rankings.  As was the case back in May, some coaches are predictably safe, others are quite warm, and at least one with the prospect of a core breach and complete meltdown. A lot has happened since these were first published. LSU and Tennessee have both received weaksauce penalties for relatively minor recruiting violations. LSU also saw a group of players—including starting QB Jordan Jefferson—get involved with an off-campus incident that led to arrests and suspensions. Preseason incidents also affected Ole Miss, Florida and Auburn, but none of these are going to change the ratings much.

Our Scale: 1—Ice Cold to 10—Nuclear.

This a completely subjective analysis, and it is not meant to illustrate how much danger one coach is in vis-a-vis one of the others. Mark Richt’s status at Georgia has no impact on either Muschamp or Dooley. Houston Nutt’s has no impact on Dan Mullen, and vice versa. It’s all about past performance, perceived ability to be competitive in the country’s toughest league and whether fans, alumni and administrations think the prospect for future competitiveness warrants action.

So, in alphabetical order: 

imageAlabama; Nick Saban. One of the three safest coaches in the conference. Saban has put Alabama back at the top of everyone’s national championship short lists and with good reason. Back-to-back-to-back recruiting classes have the Crimson Tide absolutely loaded from sideline to sideline, on both sides of the ball, two and sometimes three steps deep. He has won 35 games in three years, with two SEC West Titles, two undefeated regular seasons, an SEC Championship and the program’s league-leading 13th National Championship. His defensive philosophy is akin to unleashing 11 ferocious lions upon the hapless martyrs of opposing offenses and his pro-style offense is geared towards attracting and developing NFL-caliber players. Saban is going nowhere anytime soon. He’s a 1. 

imageArkansas; Bobby Petrino.  The Razorbacks showed flashes of offensive brilliance in 2010 but lacked the killer instinct shown by West rivals. Part of that was youth and lack of depth. Petrino arrived to a team that Houston Nutt didn’t leave well stocked with top-drawer talent. By getting his own guys in place and coaching them up, Petrino is improving Arkansas’ threat to break through the SEC West logjam. As long as they continue to recruit well and improve, there will be more BCS Bowl appearances and a legitimate shot at some trophy case hardware. Knile Davis’ horrific season ending ankle injury hurts the hogs ground game, but is that likely to be a season changer? Probably not. He’s a 2, but the SEC West is brutal and making steady improvement is a hard row to hoe. 

imageAuburn; Gene Chizik. Another 2, because Auburn fans may grow restless down the stretch of a scary schedule. Graduation, defections to the NFL and early dismissals of six players from the 2010 team have decapitated the team’s senior leadership structure and true freshmen have real shots at starting roles. That never bodes well in this league.  To his credit, Chizik has surrounded himself with a very good staff and has recruited top-drawer talent. But that talent is awfully young. I know it sounds crazy to rank the coach of the defending champions anything other that an Ice Cold 1, but the 2011 schedule really is brutal and to think there won’t be grumbling is to fail to understand the football culture in this state. The flies in the ointment for Chizik are the myriad of NCAA investigations into the program. If those result in allegations of major rules violations, things warm up, and warm up quickly. 

imageFlorida; Will Muschamp. A scion of the Saban Line. He’s in his first year. He comes with a stellar resume. 1, easy. Former coach Urban Meyer left the team stocked with top-caliber talent. Muschamp is already showing great leadership in meting out swift, sure discipline, the only thing that Meyer’s tenure seemed to fall short on. Muschamp should have the Gators right back in the thick of the SEC East race, and his team will make it tough for anyone other than the Gators to return to Atlanta in December in his very first year. Which may not bode well for…

imageGeorgia; Mark Richt. One of the most well regarded coaches in the league by sportswriters and his peers. But Georgia seems to be slipping out of the top tier of the league. In five years, Georgia is 23-16 in the SEC and 13-12 against the SEC East. 1-4 against Florida. Those are Jim Donnan-type numbers. Richt’s saving grace is that he’s the only coach in UGA history to have four straight 10-win seasons. He’s won two SEC Titles and been BCS bowling. One has to wonder that if the Bulldogs aren’t in Atlanta this December, UGA decides to make a change. We’re moving this up to an 8. Georgia has a tough season-opening challenge in Boise State’s visit to the Dome in Atlanta, followed by a tough matchup against 2010 SEC East Champ, South Carolina. Lose both of those and a core breach is imminent. 

imageKentucky; Joker Phillips. Another one of the league’s most highly regarded football coaches, Phillips is only in his second year as Head Coach of his alma mater. His commitment to academics, team discipline and athletics plays well, and his inaugural 2010 team made a bowl game. As long as the Wildcats don’t embarrass Kentucky fans and keep them busy in the run-up to basketball season, Phillips is probably in for a long tenure in Lexington. If he manages to get the ‘cats to the level of contending for the SEC East title, he’ll get a statue. 2, here. 

imageLSU; Les Miles. Tiger fans are notoriously impatient. There are three reasons why they shouldn’t grumble at the Mad Hatter. He wins football games. His kids usually stay out of trouble and he absolutely owns the fertile recruiting grounds of Louisiana. What more could you ask for in a good football coach? National Title? Check. SEC Title? Check. Crazy endings to big games? Check. He’s always going to deliver good entertainment and good football.  The incident regarding Jordan Jefferson’s brawl and felony arrest are an embarrassment, but not a job threatening one. Having highly-regarding Steve Kragthorpe step down due to a bout with Parkinson’s disease is another reason for LSU fans to give Miles a break in 2011. LSU could lose four games this year (Oregon, Alabama, Arkansas and Florida or West Virginia) and Miles will still be back in 2012. He’s a 3.

imageMississippi State; Dan Mullen. The third of the three safest coaches in the league, rated at 1. Mullen is steadily building a good program in the middle of nowhere, Mississippi. The man appears to be an offensive genius and may well have been the reason for Urban Meyer’s uncanny run of victories that led to two crystal trophies.

Mississippi State seems to have found their man. The only question is, if he keeps winning, can they afford to keep him? 

imageOle Miss; Houston Nutt. The hottest seat in the league at 9 and rising. Ole Miss is a dumpster fire of a football program. You follow Ed “Yaw Yaw” Orgeron with the biggest snake oil salesman in the conference? The school is being sued by the family of a kid who died during conditioning drills. Players have been arrested and kicked off the team. Offseason injuries and commentary indicate an overall lack of discipline and commitment to offseason workouts. Despite winning the oversigning National Championship two years ago by accepting National Letters of Intent from like, 448 players or something, the 2011 squad will have only 73 players on scholarship. Ole Miss will be lucky to win one game in the SEC. The only thing that could possibly save Nutt’s job would be their first ever trip to Atlanta, and that just ain’t happening. 

imageSouth Carolina; Steve Spurrier. An easy 1 here, but Spurrier is the type of coach that, if he doesn’t think he’s getting it done, would step aside before USC made a move. Not to worry, though. South Carolina’s first ever visit to Atlanta under Spurrier and upset of defending national champion Alabama has Gamecock fans more than willing to give him all the time he wants to figure out when he should retire. A very good 2011 recruiting class is gravy, too.  Spurrier has given the program many firsts—first ever visit to Atlanta, first ever win over a #1 ranked team, back-to-back wins over Clemson. There are more goals to come and Spurrier has all the time he wants to go after them.

imageTennessee; Derek Dooley. Another scion of the Saban Line, with all of the character and motivational skills needed to be a successful head football coach, Dooley may still not quite be ready for big time football in the SEC. He’s recruited well. He seems to have control over a program that Lane Kiffin was letting run wild. But his resume was thin before he arrived at Rocky Top. He rates a 4. He’s almost certainly safe to return in 2012, barring a complete meltdown of a 2011 season. I think there’s enough room in the schedule to prevent that from happening. Win any two of the first three SEC matchups and the seat goes ice cold. 

imageVanderbilt; James Franklin. Another 1. He’s yet to coach a down of SEC football, and Vandy’s long tradition of being the only SEC school with ACC quality football seems a perfect fit for Maryland’s former offensive coordinator. This was probably a better marriage for the Commodores than it will be for Franklin. He might field competitive teams, but the only thing they’ll be competing for is staying ahead of Ole Miss, at least for the 2011 season. If the guy can recruit at the national level and compete with Stanford and Notre Dame for prospects, maybe he’s the guy that gets the Commodores up to SEC caliber play on the field.

There you have it—a league of relative extremes with few in the middle. Saban, Muschamp, Mullen and Spurrier are the safest. They are followed closely by Franklin, Miles, Chizik, Petrino and Phillips. All of these guys are lead pipe locks to return for the 2012 season. The hottest seat in the league is that of Nutt, with Richt also possibly facing some music at the end of 2011.

Dooley is the league’s only real question mark, but he’s better than even odds to come back.

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

AUburgeddon: The NCAA blew it with Sheridan statement

image Sometimes, in the heat of an angry moment, it’s best to step back, take a deep breath and think things through before lashing out at the source of your frustration. That’s what the NCAA should have done last Friday following the appearance of USA Today Sports Analyst Danny Sheridan’s with Paul Finebaum on ESPN’s Outside the Lines.

Sheridan was on the show to discuss comments he’d made during earlier appearances on the Paul Finebaum Radio Network, in which he said that sources “inside the NCAA” had given him the name of the person they believed was responsible for payment to Cecil Newton during Auburn’s recruitment of the eventual Heisman Trophy and National Championship winning Quarterback, Cam Newton.

Those statements led to the NCAA enforcement staff requesting an interview with Sheridan last week, an interview that both Sheridan and the NCAA have confirmed. But in the heat of anger, the NCAA released the following statement a few hours after the OTL segment ended. I’ll explain later why I believe that move was a mistake, but here’s the statement again:


Danny Sheridan continues to make vague, unsubstantiated claims without backing them up with proof. Contrary to his claims of having an inside source with details on the Auburn investigation, the NCAA has not provided information to Sheridan or anyone else.  As a matter of due diligence, the NCAA spoke with Sheridan this week to determine if he had any facts pertaining to the investigation. Sheridan, however, did not provide any information to the enforcement staff and certainly did not provide a name. Instead, he unsuccessfully attempted to gather information for his own use.


Sheridan’s detractors seized on the statement as a crushing blow to Sheridan’s credibility. No one’s mind will be changed by what I write here about Sheridan’s credibility and there don’t seem to be any fence sitters on that matter.

The Mobile Press-Register’s Randy Kennedy then reported on Sheridan’s response to the NCAA statement with an equally terse retort:


"The NCAA statement about me is total propaganda and an absolute misrepresentation of the facts. For the record, I do have sources at the NCAA and that's why the organization has chosen to shoot the messenger.

"The NCAA called me through my attorney and requested an interview. I spoke with two NCAA investigators last Wednesday for almost an hour. I was consistent with them as I have been with the media and the public in refusing to divulge my sources.

"I also politely declined to share the name of the individual I have been told gave money to Cecil Newton. For the NCAA to claim I did anything else is specious, deceitful, disingenuous and completely false. I will be happy to take a polygraph test on these specific issues and challenge them to do so as well."


No one’s mind will be changed by what I write here about the NCAA’s credibility and there don’t seem to be any fence sitters on that matter, either. But if you’re keeping score, right now it stands Sheridan 1, NCAA 0.

The NCAA statement is the league’s first on-the-record acknowledgement that there is an active and ongoing enforcement investigation of Auburn University. No ifs, ands or buts about it. The statement doesn’t mention any other schools and it doesn’t limit the scope of the NCAA’s probe of the school to just the Newton case. Kevin Scarbinsky of the Birmingham News notes today that there are at least two other matters being probed by the league, and sourced media reports described an additional matter being looked into down in South Florida as late as June. IBCR has confirmed at least one other matter that was being looked into in Montgomery just last month.

So why was it a mistake for the NCAA to issue that statement? Anyone who’s familiar with the anatomy of an enforcement investigation knows that the league does not publicly comment on ongoing investigations as a matter of NCAA policy. The statement itself—including the key phrase “Auburn investigation”—is a violation of that policy and it has opened the door to a response from the Auburn Defense Team. The school can now publicly demand that the league either issue a Notice of Inquiry or drop the matter, because it is the league—not the school—that has violated a policy intended to protect the integrity of the investigation.

For all intents and purposes, the six-month clock between official notification of an investigation and delivery of a Notice of Allegations (or termination letter) started Friday afternoon. It’s anybody’s guess as to whether the school and its legal team forces this to a head, but it sure seems like an opportunity to push the issue.

imageThe question is, would the school get the outcome it wants?

Exit Question (and answer): Why score it Sheridan 1, NCAA 0? Because Sheridan has forced the hand of the league. He got someone in a position of high authority in the NCAA to lose their cool and step beyond the bounds of the league’s longstanding veil of silence policy.

Whether you believe him or not, you must give him credit for moving the chains on a story that has been closely followed by fans and media in the state, the region and the country for the last 10 months. The story is far from over and the outcome remains in doubt. It’s sure been a source of free blogging here at IBCR.

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sheridan responds: Statement regarding NCAA statement

Tit for tat. Shot for shot.

The bizarre story gets even more bizarre, day by day.

Here is Danny Sheridan’s statement—responding to the NCAA’s statement yesterday—regarding the Cam Newton recruitment and the NCAA’s Auburn investigation.


"The NCAA statement about me is total propaganda and an absolute misrepresentation of the facts. For the record, I do have sources at the NCAA and that's why the organization has chosen to shoot the messenger.

"The NCAA called me through my attorney and requested an interview. I spoke with two NCAA investigators last Wednesday for almost an hour. I was consistent with them as I have been with the media and the public in refusing to divulge my sources.

"I also politely declined to share the name of the individual I have been told gave money to Cecil Newton. For the NCAA to claim I did anything else is specious, deceitful, disingenuous and completely false. I will be happy to take a polygraph test on these specific issues and challenge them to do so as well."


I frankly think the NCAA screwed up with yesterday’s statement, in which it not only copped to the fact that there is an active and ongoing investigation, it’s an “Auburn investigation.” That’s the first time we’ve seen an official statement from the league that they are knee deep in the process of investigating the 2010 National Champs.

What’s interesting is that when Paul Finebaum asked Sheridan whether he had knowledge of whether the school was being investigated for matters other than the Newton story, Sheridan’s attorney would not let him answer. It makes you go “hmmm.”

What’s also interesting to me is that the Mobile Press-Register’s Randy Kennedy has been reporting al.com’s coverage of this story. Kennedy is no wet-behind-the-ears beat writer or sports reporter. He’s the Sports Editor for one of the largest daily newspapers on the Gulf Coast.

But he’s always been a newshound at heart and he appears to be having fun doing his job.

Exit Question: Randy, when are you going to get Twitter?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Danny Sheridan to NCAA: “I’m not telling you $#!@, but what you got for me, bro?”

image The already bizarre story of Danny Sheridan and the Bagman has incredibly become even more bizarre. 

Sheridan made appearances on the Time Brando Show on Yahoo! Sports Radio and ESPN’s Outside the Lines today, in which he attempted to defend himself from media and fan attacks by claiming that he was told by sources inside the NCAA who the Bagman was in the Cam Newton case.

The NCAA has issued a terse, one-paragraph statement in response to Sheridan’s claims:


Danny Sheridan continues to make vague, unsubstantiated claims without backing them up with proof. Contrary to his claims of having an inside source with details on the Auburn investigation, the NCAA has not provided information to Sheridan or anyone else.  As a matter of due diligence, the NCAA spoke with Sheridan this week to determine if he had any facts pertaining to the investigation. Sheridan, however, did not provide any information to the enforcement staff and certainly did not provide a name. Instead, he unsuccessfully attempted to gather information for his own use.


Translation:

Sheridan: “Hell no, I’m not giving the name of my source to you. But what other information can you provide me?”

NCAA: “We’re done. Get your azz outta here.”

This is bizarre on another level, too. The NCAA won’t comment publicly on any ongoing investigation. Except when it does. And in this case, it simply confirms what we already know—yes, there is an ongoing and apparently active investigation.

A friend told me today: “If the 2020 version of me called from the future and told me how this would end, I’m not sure I could believe it.”

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Confirmed: Paul Finebaum in nasty dispute with Citadel Broadcasting

image On August 8, 2010, IBCR first reported here on a lawsuit filed by sports talk radio host Paul Finebaum against his employer, Citadel Broadcasting Co., the parent company of WJOX in Birmingham. WJOX hosts the Paul Finebaum Radio Network, a nationally syndicated radio show. The suit was filed in the Northern District of Alabama US District Court.

Capstone Report has followed the story as well, filing a report here and most recently, here yesterday.

As noted in the IBCR post of August 8, the case had been sealed by the Court, preventing public access to case filings. Capstone Report learned that a request had been filed by a third party to unseal the case and that the Court was expected to rule on the motion yesterday:


The Birmingham Business Journal has asked a federal court judge to unseal the lawsuit filed by Paul Finebaum against WJOX owner Citadel.

According to a Business Journal report, “The Birmingham Business Journal has filed a request with the court to unseal the case, and a court official said the judge would issue a ruling on issues in that motion Thursday. However, it was not clear if any other judgments related to the case would be rendered and the BBJ has not been notified of a ruling as of 12:30 p.m.”


At 2:20 pm CDT yesterday, the Court ruled that there was no reason to keep the case under seal and ordered it opened, but gave the parties until noon today to file redacted documents and remove confidential financial and other sensitive information.

According to court documents obtained by IBCR, Finebaum alleges negligence, conversion (a civil tort of theft of property), wantonness (action taken with reckless disregard for the consequences), fraudulent misrepresentation and suppression. The defendants deny the claims and accuse the plaintiff of negligence himself and failure to exercise due diligence.

Adding to the drama of a nasty legal dispute are strong rumors circulating among broadcast industry insiders that Finebaum seeks an exit to his 2007 contract with Citadel and has reached an agreement in principle to move PFRN to WNCB 97.3 FM. That station, said to be struggling under the “New Country” music format, is owned by Cox Radio Interactive of Atlanta, Georgia and has already taken steps to move to a sports radio format.

Capstone Report also found yesterday that Eli Gold—the Alabama Football Radio play-by-play announcer—has reached a deal with Cox to host a radio show on 97.3 beginning next Wednesday.

WJOX has been a longtime market heavyweight in Birmingham sports radio and is an ESPN Radio affiliate. Recently, WNSP in Mobile, Alabama bolted from ESPN Radio as programming quality remained flat and uninteresting to southern sports fans. WNSP subsequently joined Sporting News Radio, which was recently combined with Yahoo! Sports to create Yahoo! Sports Radio. Speculation among industry insiders is that Birmingham’s 97.3 may be making the move to Yahoo! and adding PFRN to its lineup would represent a significant challenge to WJOX’s reign in the Magic City.

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Houndstooth Hitmen: Two funny guys with too much time on their hands

Launching today, the Houndstooth Hitmen promise to give us lots of laughs with topical cartoons lampooning sports figures. @banditref has already established himself as a humorist, famously applying for the University of Tennessee Athletic Director’s position and producing some crazy-funny animated cartoons. @K1ngCrimson has established himself as a talented photoshop artist with gutbusting farks that poke fun at… well, everybody.

Given the name of their site, you can pretty much guess their first target.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

UPDATED: Bad week for Tennessee – what else could go wrong?

image On Tuesday, legendary Women’s Basketball Coach Pat Summit announced that she had been diagnosed with a case of early onset dementia, but would rely on her assistants and staff as she attempts to coach at least one more year. The outpouring of support and well-wishing was national and sincere, but a long and storied chapter in Tennesee history looks to be coming to end (and far too soon).

Also on Tuesday, former Men’s Basketball Coach Bruce Pearl was informed by the NCAA that the league’s Committee on Infractions was handing him a multi-year show cause penalty for his role in a major infractions case involving improper recruiting.

On Wednesday, Football Coach Derek Dooley announced that Junior Safety Janzen Jackson had been dismissed from the team. Jackson’s career at UT had been troubled from the get-go, but he was arguably the team’s most talented player and his dismissal is expected to have significant consequences for the Vols’ 2011 season outlook.

What else could go wrong?

Accompanying the notice from the NCAA was something to the effect of “oh, by the way. We’re handing down our public report and sticking you with sanctions on the Pearl and Lane Kiffin cases.”

A press conference is likely later today.

Exit Question: Where is Roy Kramer when ya need him?

UPDATE: Maybe he’s on the Committee on Infractions. ESPN’s Andy Katz explains that UT has already seen the Committee’s report and that the Committee has accepted the school’s self-imposed penalties.

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Sheridan lawyer confirms contact by NCAA

image The Mobile Press-Register reported today that Vince Kilborn, attorney for USA Today football analyst Danny Sheridan, confirms that the NCAA has contacted them and requested an interview. The report comes from the Press-Register Sports Editor Randy Kennedy.

"I can confirm that an NCAA representative called me Monday and asked to speak to my client about the whole Cam Newton matter," Kilborn said yesterday.

Two weeks ago today, Sheridan appeared on the Paul Finebaum Radio Network after saying that he’d discovered, through NCAA sources, that league investigators had identified a “bag man” who helped recruit former Auburn Quarterback Cam Newton. However, Sheridan famously failed to reveal the name of the individual, citing “advice of counsel.” The football analyst had twice appeared on the Finebaum show regarding the Newton case. The first was an interview during SEC Media Days in Birmingham, Ala. last July. The second was a week later, in which Sheridan made the claim regarding the alleged “bag man.”

His refusal to name the individual touched off a firestorm of criticism.

"I let them know that if they wished to talk to me, I will talk to them on or off the record about subjects of mutual interest."

While Kennedy says that the “NCAA has never implicated or even confirmed” that Auburn is a target of their investigation, anyone with more than a brick for a brain understands that the 2010 National Champion is squarely in their sights. The New York Times reported in July on a famous exchange between the Head Enforcer and Auburn Coach Gene Chizik, wherein the latter was told “ask not for whom the bell tolls” and we’ll let you know when we stop tollin’.

Still, it remains unclear what Sheridan could offer the NCAA that it doesn’t already have. Sheridan says his sources for the “bag man” are insiders at the league itself. Surely NCAA President Mark Emmert doesn’t expect Sheridan to out his source and cost someone their job—that was the very reason why he refused to reveal the name two weeks ago in the Finebaum interview.

As noted last week, this bizarre case gets even more bizarre with each turn.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Charles Robinson notes Bama compliance efforts in radio interview

image Yahoo! Sports Radio’s Tim Brando Show interviewed Charles Robinson, the lead investigative reporter on last week’s thermonuclear blast on the Miami Hurricanes and convicted Ponzi schemer/UM booster Nevin Shapiro.

Nicknamed by his colleagues the “Angel of Death,” having Robinson and his crew check in at the local Homewood Suites strikes fear in the heart of fanbases, compliance officers and coaches alike.

You can listen to the 10-1/2 minute segment here.

Robinson spends the first few minutes of the interview explaining how he’d corrected a Miami Herald report that cast doubt on one of his on-the-record sources, Tyrone Moss. Moss claimed he’d never spoken with Robinson and never went on the record. Moss must have forgotten that Robinson taped the interview…

Brando then asked Robinson about how he saw the NCAA investigation moving forward. Robinson noted that players who were involved in the Miami case had transferred to other programs were retaining eligibility, despite being involved in violations of NCAA rules. Robinson believes this is an indication that these players have been reached out to by the NCAA and, as a result of their cooperation are allowed to remain eligible and play with their new teams.

He makes note of the North Carolina case that blew up last summer that cost several players their amateur status, got coach Butch Davis fired, and will likely leave UNC in a world of probation hurt. But at about 5:05 into the exchange, Robinon says the following:


… Let me point one guy out in particular: Marcel Dareus was a player at Alabama deeply involved in several things with Marvin Austin and other guys in terms of these trips. Marcel Dareus was only nicked for two games. And the reason for that was what was called mitigating circumstances. Essentially, Marcel Dareus cooperated with the NCAA investigation he was then enabled to retain a large portion of his eligibility.


Robinson is using the Dareus case example to explain how the former Miami players and recruits were able to retain eligibility. When the NCAA or compliance officials reach out to student-athletes in the course of an investigation and the players cooperate fully, mitigating circumstances allow them to retain their amateur status.

Robinson goes on to explain how landmark cases like the Ohio State Tattoogate scandal motivate other universities take a look at their own programs and correct potential problems of a similar nature. Beginning at about 7:35:


A good example is look at how Alabama dealt with this individual from T-Town Menswear. They stepped out. They said, “hey, we have guys around this guy. He’s a shop owner. They excommunicated this guy from the program. And it happened right at the time when Ohio State was going through their whole mess with the memorabilia stuff and the Jim Tressel issues.


This is exactly the logic laid out here last Tuesday. Players that cooperate with investigations are given the chance to retain their eligibility and remain with their teams, and institutions that are proactive in compliance efforts aren’t on the NCAA radar screen.

Exit Question: Was that giant cracking sound caused by thousands of rival fans’ ankles breaking as they jumped off of the “Charles Robinson is investigating Alabama!” bandwagon?

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Monday, August 22, 2011

And you thought the poisoning of the oaks was bad (fixed link)

THE BIRTH OF A CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT A CLASS B FELONY

SCROLL DOWN for update.

Maybe the critics are right. Maybe the Iron Bowl rivalry has gotten too far out of hand. Or, maybe we have yet another example of a fanbase that produced Corky Frost, Stump Thrower, Mark Green and Operation Red Dog.

The image below is a screenshot of a thread on The Bunker, AuburnSports.com’s premium message board. It’s a big file and takes a few seconds to download, so be patient. The screenshot is evidence that a few wacked out Auburn fans are giving birth to a criminal conspiracy to commit aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Click the image for the full resolution view. Then scroll past the image for our observations.

AuburnSports.com Conspiracy

The “fun” begins when Wyatt4Auburn says:

“I think the easiest way to get to the bottom of this is to send someone from the Bunker to tuscaloosa undercover to just drive around until they spot Richardson in his SUV and get into a little fender-bender with him. Any volunteers?”

image

It gets even more interesting when Prowlin Tiger 99 says:

“Well, we sent AuburnProud to Huntsville to give Ingram a little going away present. Anyone have a high mileage truck or SUV with a sturdy brushguard looking for adventure?”

image 

We thought Mark Ingram was involved in a garden variety traffic accident. But Prowlin Tiger 99 seems to have information not known to police officers investigating the crash. And here’s AuburnProud’s fanpage at Rivals.com:

image

image

Note in the news report from al.com that Ingram was involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler. The kind of rig that AuburnProud drives. And the accident was in Huntsville, where AuburnProud lives.

What Harvey Updyke is alleged to have done in poisoning the oaks at Toomer’s Corner was a horrible, horrible deed. But nothing Updyke could have done would have put someone in jeopardy of physical harm. Here, we have one individual expressing knowledge of a crime and several other individuals in the process of hatching a conspiracy to repeat the act.

And yes, these are crimes.


Alabama Code Section 13A-4-3

Criminal conspiracy generally.

(a) A person is guilty of criminal conspiracy if, with the intent that conduct constituting an offense be performed, he agrees with one or more persons to engage in or cause the performance of such conduct, and any one or more of such persons does an overt act to effect an objective of the agreement.

(b) If a person knows or should know that one with whom he agrees has in turn agreed or will agree with another to effect the same criminal objective, he shall be deemed to have agreed with such other person, whether or not he knows the other's identity.

(c) A person is not liable under this section if, under circumstances manifesting a voluntary and complete renunciation of his criminal purpose, he gave a timely and adequate warning to law enforcement authorities or made a substantial effort to prevent the enforcement of the criminal conduct contemplated by the conspiracy. Renunciation by one conspirator, however, does not affect the liability of another conspirator who does not join in the abandonment of the conspiratorial objective. The burden of injecting the issue of renunciation is on the defendant, but this does not shift the burden of proof.

(d) It is no defense to a prosecution for criminal conspiracy that:

(1) The person, or persons, with whom defendant is alleged to have conspired has been acquitted, has not been prosecuted or convicted, has been convicted of a different offense or is immune from prosecution, or

(2) The person, or persons, with whom defendant conspired could not be guilty of the conspiracy or the object crime because of lack of mental responsibility or culpability, or other legal incapacity or defense, or

(3) The defendant belongs to a class of persons who by definition are legally incapable in an individual capacity of committing the offense that is the object of the conspiracy.

(e) A conspirator is not liable under this section if, had the criminal conduct contemplated by the conspiracy actually been performed, he would be immune from liability under the law defining the offense or as an accomplice under Section 13A-2-24.

Section 13A-6-20

Assault in the first degree.

(a) A person commits the crime of assault in the first degree if:

(1) With intent to cause serious physical injury to another person, he causes serious physical injury to any person by means of a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument; or

(2) With intent to disfigure another person seriously and permanently, or to destroy, amputate or disable permanently a member or organ of his body, he causes such an injury to any person; or

(3) Under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, he recklessly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to another person, and thereby causes serious physical injury to any person; or

(4) In the course of and in furtherance of the commission or attempted commission of arson in the first degree, burglary in the first or second degree, escape in the first degree, kidnapping in the first degree, rape in the first degree, robbery in any degree, sodomy in the first degree or any other felony clearly dangerous to human life, or of immediate flight therefrom, he causes a serious physical injury to another person; or

(5) While driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance or any combination thereof in violation of Section 32-5A-191 he causes serious bodily injury to the person of another with a motor vehicle.

(b) Assault in the first degree is a Class B felony.


The screenshots have been forwarded to the appropriate authorities.

Note that the conspirators can escape prosecution by renouncing the conspiracy and giving adequate warning to the target(s) of their nefarious plot.

Tick, tock.

UPDATE: Thanks to readers who emailed me this article, indicating that AuburnProud is likely off the hook on the Ingram incident.

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Twitter Meltdown: John Saunders says “Auburn” and “probation,” hilarity ensues

I missed the segment (dammit) but at some point on the air this morning, ESPN’s John Saunders said something like the following:


"Both teams in the 2011 BCS Championship Game are under probation."


Saunders clearly misspoke—I’m sure he meant that both teams from the championship game were under investigation, not probation. But the reaction from the Auburn fambly was as swift as it was predictable. Here is just a sample of the Tweets send to @JohnReporters, John Saunders Twitter account.

Enjoy!

itshodgey @johnreporters Why the Hell did you say Auburn is on probation, when there not.

rpp4au @johnreporters you actually presented the BCS trophy to Chizik after the NC game and you think Auburn is on probation? RETRACTION NOW!

BadAUrabbit @johnreporters How can anyone trust your reporting when you tell blatant lies about Oregon and Auburn? #notonprobation

blaketrotter @johnreporters Do you not care at all about facts or the truth. Auburn is not on probation. Show some journalistic integrity. #Pathetic

DyeHardAU @Patr1ckL @johnreporters not forgotten! Sounds like an anti-AU agenda

DixieCrippler @johnreporters really, what a puppet. You sit there and lie. What a joke you are JS, no backbone and fat. Do something with yourself ....

DyeHardAU Auburn should DEMAND a retraction from @johnreporters. AU is not on probation John!!!

Patr1ckL And @johnreporters no one has forgotten your anti-Auburn rant from a few years ago when you had to issue a public apology #tatertot

BobbyofHomewood I told @johnreporters when he joined Twitter that he had 2 apologize to Auburn University years ago.He denied.He's gonna have to do it again

theWoodWDE How does @johnreporters even have job making ridiculous false statements like #Auburn is on probation??? I demand on air apology!

charliewemyss ESPN "ethics" on display again. @johnreporters #JohnSaundersLiar

aujrob If @johnreporters keeps working at it, he can be as unreliable as @schadjoe #JohnSaundersLiar #ReachForTheStars

AshevilleGuy @johnreporters That's a pretty serious slip, don't you think?

BobbyofHomewood @johnreporters make sure U retract this onair next week.Only Twitter isn't good enough. @SeanCablinasian @ChrisVernonShow #JohnSaundersLied

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Updated Preseason Top 25: Comparing the Coaches, AP and Phil Steele

By @LivingCrimson

Many people don’t pay attention to preseason polls, considering them useless until real football has been played on the field. We’ll hazard a guess that those naysayers may be from conferences other than the SEC. To paraphrase Coach Bear Bryant, “What the heck’s the matter with you people? Don't y'all take your football seriously?” Here in the warm, friendly South, we enjoy seeing our teams dominating the polls like they whoop up on opposing teams on the gridiron.

So without further ado … oh wait, a little ado. Just a humble reminder why SEC teams are the best of friends with preseason polls: the SEC is undefeated in national championship games in the modern BCS era (7-0), and five different SEC teams have won the last five national titles.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Joe DiMaggio's hitting streak is a record that may never be broken.

[The SEC's five straight national championships] is in that same category.

Mike Slive, SEC Commissioner

_____________________________________________________________________________________

The SEC finished 2010 with ONE-HALF its 12 teams in the final Top 25 of both the Coaches Poll and AP Poll. Seven SEC teams go into the 2011 season ranked in the consensus preseason polls; eight SEC teams are ranked in the preseason Coaches Poll and AP Poll.

Now back to our regularly scheduled excuses from naysayers. How accurate are preseason polls, anyway? Phil Steele was the most accurate preseason predictions 2000-2009 -- usually naming the right teams if not always in the correct order -- and is here used as the measuring stick against the Coaches Poll and AP Poll. For a complete preseason rankings comparison see College Football Poll, or for the just the major polls see ESPN.

Phil Steele’s Top 25 preseason poll gives great details on each team with a two-page in-depth breakdown of projected starters, schedule, stats and recent history. However, Steele’s poll is published in June and is not as up-to-date on recent transfers, injuries, etc. (he does update players lost on his website). (Click on Phil Steele team names below to review the 2-page PDF on each team.)

The Coaches Poll counts as one-third of the final BCS standings (an explanation is here), so its preseason Top 25 lays the framework for the entire season. The football rankings are compiled by the USA TODAY Board of Coaches made up of 59 head coaches at Division I FBS institutions. All coaches are members of the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA).

The Associated Press (AP) Top 25 Poll rankings are compiled by polling 60 sportswriters (older version here) across the nation. Each first place vote is given 25 points, each second place vote 24 points, down to 1 point for a 25th place vote. Ballots of the voting members in the AP Poll are made public. The AP Poll is no longer used in calculating BCS standings.

Phil-Steele-header_thumb  Coaches-Poll-topper-472x150_thumbAP poll logo

Phil Steele Top 25
6/23/11

Coaches Poll Top 25
8/4/11

AP Top 25
8/20/11

1. Alabama 1. Oklahoma 1. Oklahoma
2. Oklahoma 2. Alabama 2. Alabama
3. Boise State 3. Oregon 3. Oregon
4. Oregon 4. LSU 4. LSU
5. Virginia Tech 5. Florida State 5. Boise State
6. Notre Dame 6. Stanford 6. Florida State
7. LSU 7. Boise State 7. Stanford
8. Texas A&M 8. Oklahoma State 8. Texas A&M
9. Georgia 9. Texas A&M 9. Oklahoma State
10. Florida State 10. Wisconsin 10. Nebraska
11. TCU 11. Nebraska 11. Wisconsin
12. Nebraska 12. South Carolina 12. South Carolina
13. Arkansas 13. Virginia Tech 13. Virginia Tech
14. South Carolina 14. Arkansas 14. TCU
15. Ohio State 15. TCU 15. Arkansas
16. Stanford 16. Ohio State 16. Notre Dame
17. USC 17. Michigan State 17. Michigan State
18. Texas 18. Notre Dame 18. Ohio State
19. Oklahoma State 19. Auburn 19. Georgia
20. Southern Miss 20. Mississippi State 20. Mississippi State
21. Houston 21. Missouri 21. Missouri
22. Arizona State 22. Georgia 22. Florida
23. Wisconsin 23. Florida 23. Auburn
24. Penn State 24. Texas 24. West Virginia
25. USF 25. Penn State 25. USC

Auburn, Florida, Michigan State, Mississippi State, and Missouri are the teams included in the Coaches Poll and AP, and missing from Phil Steele’s Top 25.

USC is serving an NCAA bowl ban and is not eligible to receive votes in the Coaches Poll.

Arizona State, Houston, Southern Miss, USF are the teams included in Steele’s list and not included in the Top 25 of the Coaches Poll. However, Arizona State did receive enough votes to be ranked #26, Houston would be #37, USF would be #38, and Southern Miss would be #42.

West Virginia is included in the AP Poll and not included in Phil Steele’s list or the Coaches Poll. Similar to the Coaches Poll, Arizona State, Houston, Southern Miss and USF are included in Phil Steele but not included in the AP Poll. Arizona State received enough votes to be ranked #28, Southern Miss #31 and Houston #36. Penn State is included in both the Coaches Poll and Phil Steele but missing from the AP Poll, although it received enough votes to be ranked #27.

For those truly interested in preseason polls, a new surfeit of information can be found in Phil Steele’s newest AP Top 10 Projection Results. And for us SEC diehards, a visual reminder why our fanbases are so excited every year when September finally arrives.

Let the real poll mania begin. Only two weekends until football!  S-E-C!

TaylorGang4Evr -- Jul 8, 2011

On Twitter @LivingCrimson

Miami case shows NCAA investigations benefit from federal involvement

image It’s one of the most often repeated statements regarding NCAA enforcement investigations: “The NCAA doesn’t have subpoena power.” While it’s true that the NCAA can’t force someone to cooperate with their investigations when the individual is not directly connected to or employed by the institution, they can compel current student-athletes, coaches and administrators to comply and cooperate.

The Department of Justice can—under pain of a federal prison sentence—interview anyone and the only thing stopping them from dragging the truth out of witnesses or the accused are the Fifth Amendment protections against self incrimination.

Their involvement often breaks a case wide open and makes enforcement’s job easier. Violations that would never have seen the light of day are dragged out and documented when the power of subpoena is in play.

A news report from NBC Miami explains that the investigators who uncovered the Ponzi scheme run by Miami Hurricanes booster Nevin Shapiro have been in contact with school officials and plan to interview current and former student-athletes as well.


Gil Childers, who was a part of the New Jersey prosecution team that investigated Shapiro's $930 million Ponzi scheme, told NBC Miami that the recent allegations that have surfaced about UM were not new news to him and that Shapiro's connections to the university were not that hard to find.

"We did reach out to the university and that did include some people who were directly involved in the Athletic Department," Childers said.

Shapiro recently alleged that he provided improper benefits to 72 current and former UM student athletes, mostly football players. The NCAA has initiated an investigation into the claims, which could result in major violations and stiff punishment for the Hurricanes.

Many have speculated that Shapiro is flipping on the U so he can have his 20-year prison sentence reduced. That might not necessarily be the case.

"A lot of what is in the media, while it may be a revelation to the public, it is not a revelation to the government," he said.

He also said they were ready to call in former and current players to bolster their case against Shapiro.


This is not the first time that an NCAA investigation has included the involvement of the federal government. Both the Michigan Fab Five and Northwestern cases from the 1990’s and earlly 2000’s were the results of federal probes into criminal wrongdoing. Most recently, a federal probe into a tattoo shop owner led to the Ohio State Tattoogate scandal. Last November, federal agents interviewed at least one figure in the ongoing Cam Newton recruitment investigation, and were said to be interested in Auburn booster Milton McGregor.

Not all NCAA violations constitute a federal crime, but it’s difficult to come up with an instance where someone connected to a member school committed a crime and didn’t violate NCAA rules. And while the federal government isn’t required to cooperate with NCAA enforcement staff, case history shows that they do so, anyway.

"When they get involved, the NCAA's job becomes a lot easier," Jim Delany, Big Ten commissioner, said in a USA Today article. "We're not talking about freedom of information. We're talking about subpoena power. If you lie to an FBI agent, you are violating the law. You can go to jail if you are caught doing that."

If a member school is in violation of NCAA by-laws, the blood must run cold when Yahoo! Sports’ Charles Robinson has left a voicemail message seeking an interview. But getting a call from an FBI agent may well be the kiss of death.

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Mark Emmert to Danny Sheridan: Gimme a call sometime

Scroll down for update.

image On a Friday broadcast heard on SiriusXM 91, NCAA President Mark Emmert was asked about Danny Sheridan’s recent comments on the Paul Finebaum Radio Network. As you may have heard, Sheridan appeared on PFRN Wednesday to discuss the ongoing NCAA investigation into the recruitment of former Auburn Quarterback Cam Newton. Sheridan appeared on the show as scheduled but under advice of counsel, declined to reveal the name of “the bagman.” But Sheridan also claims that his source is inside the NCAA.

Sheridan made waves at SEC Media Days when he told PFRN that the NCAA had identified at least one key figure in the case—the much ballyhooed “bagman.”

Here’s the audio clip of the conversation between show host Jack Arute and President Emmert:

Arute brings up an important point echoed throughout mainstream sports journalism—how troubling is it, given the firewall that is supposed to exist between the gambling world and the governing body of college athletics, that someone with so many ties to sports wagering has an “inside source?” My sense is that Emmert either ignored that aspect of the matter or he doesn’t get it.

Another key takeaway—what does it say about the state of affairs in college sports if the President of the NCAA is asking a famous sports odds analyst to give him a call sometime? Does he expect Sheridan’s information to somehow corroborate what enforcement already has?

Exit question: Is it just me, or does Emmert sound like Newt Gingrich?

This bizarre story keeps getting more bizarre with every turn.

UPDATE: Danny Sheridan tweeted a statement in response to President Emmert’s comments.

“My response to NCAA president Mark Emmert comments today: I very much appreciate what President Emmert said today. I would be willing to meet with him at his convenience and discuss items of mutual importance.”

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