Monthly Archives: April 2016

When you’re Jimmy Sexton, it pays to have friends in high places.

See a college football player smoking marijuana with the help of a gas mask isn’t particularly shocking… at least not as shocking as discovering that Jimmy Sexton isn’t perfect.

An assistant for Jimmy Sexton, the most powerful agent in football, stood face to face with a client, Laremy Tunsil, the 6-foot-5, 310-pound offensive lineman from the University of Mississippi, in a crowded media room in the Auditorium Theatre at Roosevelt University on Thursday night.

Tunsil had just been selected by the Miami Dolphins with the 13th pick in the first round of the N.F.L. draft. But he was also suddenly at the center of one of the biggest calamities in draft history. Sexton’s assistant, Amy Milam, prepped Tunsil for the onslaught he was about to experience. Sweat was pouring off his brow as soon as reporters began lobbing questions.

After a couple of minutes of questioning, Milam, maybe a foot shorter than Tunsil, quickly barged forward, declared the interview over and pushed him to the door.

The N.F.L. draft, the league’s glitziest showpiece after the Super Bowl, has long produced cringe-worthy drama when highly regarded players arepassed over. The farther someone’s stock falls on draft night, with millions of TV viewers watching, the greater the spectacle.

But what happened on Thursday night was an “Are you watching this?” misadventure for the league akin to Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” in the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show — but in the social-media age.

And this time, the wardrobe involved a bong attached to a gas mask.

Even so, Sexton’s dark cloud wound up having a silver lining.

The draft often serves as a demonstration of Sexton’s formidable status in the sport as his clients are paraded across the podium to greet the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, and to hold up their new team’s jersey. On Thursday, those celebratory images were overtaken by a player in a gas mask.

Sexton has a stable of college and pro clients including Alabama Coach Nick Saban, Florida State Coach Jimbo Fisher, the former Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

His ties to the Dolphins are particularly deep. He helped arrange Saban’s abrupt departure from the Dolphins to the Crimson Tide in 2007, and herepresents the former executives Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland, as well as the former coach Tony Sparano and the Dolphins’ current coach, Adam Gase, who was hired in January.

The team’s executive vice president of football operations, Mike Tannenbaum, has a strong relationship with Sexton…

Man, you just can’t keep a super-agent down.

You can already hear Jimmy’s next sales pitch, can’t you:  “Hey, if I can manage to get Tunsil a $12 million contract an hour after he’s caught bonging pot with a gas mask, imagine what I can get for you!”

Don’t forget this man is Kirby Smart’s agent.  Greg McGarity may need a gas mask of his own in the next round of contract negotiations.

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Filed under Jimmy Sexton is the Nick Saban of agents and is Nick Saban's agent

If you’re not stretching the boundaries, you ain’t tryin’.

Andy Staples suggests a unique defense Ole Miss could resort to if the Tunsil situation gets sticky:

No one from Ole Miss is talking beyond a generic statement released early Friday morning. Athletic director Ross Bjork has not responded to text messages from SI.com. But if Ole Miss officials were thinking ahead, they could have used a federal court ruling from the previous year to justify giving Tunsil money above tuition, room and board. On Aug. 8, 2014, Judge Claudia Wilken ruled against the NCAA in a case brought by former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon. One of the stipulations in Wilken’s ruling was that schools were no longer allowed to make rules that capped scholarships below the actual cost-of-attendance figure the schools reported to the federal government. This meant that schools could offer the difference between tuition, room and board and the actual cost of attendance as a cash stipend. In the case of Ole Miss, that amount is $4,500. But here’s the catch. Schools didn’t start offering those stipends until the 2015–16 school year. Yet because they had to comply with the federal court ruling, they could provide up to that amount for an athlete using the NCAA’s Student Assistance Fund. This is a pool of cash—which also has its roots in a federal lawsuit—available to schools to use when players face a sudden need. The usual example here is the cost of traveling home to a family member’s funeral. Recently, schools have also used this fund to purchase disability and/or loss-of-value insurance policies for their best football and basketball players.

In the 2014–15 academic year, when those texts were allegedly sent, a school could have used money from the SAF to pay a player up to the difference between his scholarship and the actual cost of attendance. In that case, Ole Miss could have given Tunsil up to $4,500. This window closed when the Rebels began to offer cost-of-attendance stipends, but it was open during the dates in question, according to people with knowledge of the NCAA’s compliance interpretations at the time.

This explanation would only be accepted if Ole Miss documented all payments to Tunsil as such when they happened. SEC schools are required to log all their SAF disbursements with the conference office. If there’s a record of those payments to Tunsil, voila. The Rebels were simply complying with the court’s ruling. This wouldn’t satisfy rival fans and coaches who thirst for NCAA-related blood to be spilled in Oxford, but it would keep the wolves at bay in this particular instance.  [Emphasis added.]

Admittedly, the odds on that are slight, at best.  But, damn, would that raise more than a few eyebrows if Freeze were really thinking that far ahead?  I suspect even Jim Harbaugh would tip his cap to that kind of envelope pushing.

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Filed under SEC Football, The NCAA

Never saw that fifty-sixth year coming.

Groo takes a walk through Bill Connelly’s ongoing historical series of S&P+ ratings (Bill’s now gone all the way back to 1990, I believe) and makes an argument in 2001 for Brian VanGorder being a step down from Gary Gibbs.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

The curious case of Bo Davis’ departure

I made the assumption from the initial whispering that Davis was shown the door because of some serious violation on the recruiting front.  I assumed serious because Davis was a coach that Saban liked enough to bring back to Alabama a second time and you don’t give the boot to someone you obviously value without some real justification.  I also assumed serious because, as Barrett Sallee mentioned, when Trooper Taylor and Curtis Luper became the subjects of a NCAA probe, they were merely pulled off the recruiting trail as a starter.

Sounds bad, right?  However, Kevin Scarbinsky suggests another possibility.

The departure of Davis would be curious enough if it weren’t preceded by a Thursday evening report from TideSports.com that Davis was headed out the door “over an inquiry into possible recruiting violations.”

A person familiar with the situation told AL.com it did concern a potential recruiting violation, which may not have been serious in nature, but Davis was not cooperative with the school when questioned about it. It appears that lack of cooperation led to his departure.

You don’t suggest to Nick Saban that you don’t have time for his shit and live to tell about it, in other words.

Now, sure, the possibility exists that the two aren’t mutually exclusive events, but as Scarbinsky hints that whatever recruiting faux pas Davis committed wasn’t a capital offense, it’s hard to say that’s the case.

I only mention this because it’s only natural to think Smart thinks highly of Davis, and if there isn’t any baggage coming along, well…

6 Comments

Filed under Nick Saban Rules, Recruiting

Laremy Tunsil in an election year: you knew somebody would have to go there.

And that somebody is Chris Christie, pandering away.

Christie saw the video of offensive tackle prospect Laremy Tunsil apparently smoking marijuana sometime in the past through a gas mask bong, which apparently got him really, really high.

“It’s unbelievable,” Christie said. “Because the bong hits aren’t enough. Give me the gas mask too. It’s incredible. I can’t take my eyes off it. It’s unbelievable.”

For Christie the former U.S. attorney and a devout guardian of both Rutgers football and American ideals of justice, Tunsil’s actions are a grave problem.

And the governor has a strong take on what to do about it, via BuzzFeed’s Christopher Massie:

“When I was a prosecutor, I would’ve gone in and cuffed this guy,” Christie said. “I would’ve been all over it.”

That would have been fun to watch.  When’s the last time Christie cuffed somebody bigger than him?

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Filed under Political Wankery

Making bank.

Now here’s a chart to hit recruits over the head with.

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Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NFL Is Your Friend.

If Paul Johnson really were a genius…

… he’d be on the phone to Kirby Smart suggesting something similar to this.

Let’s face it – it’s not as if the schools are chasing the same talent on offense.  And Tech could make a good living off of Georgia’s leftovers.

The hard part is selling Kirby on what’s in it for him.  Free passes to Dragon*Con maybe?

8 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Georgia Tech Football, Recruiting

Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out, son.

As farewells go, this is pretty much the textbook definition of perfunctory.

Translation:  of all the assistant coaches I’ve known, he’s certainly one of them… although ask me in a couple of years, and I may not even be able to say I really knew him.

Now if you’ll excuse Nick, he has to go wash his hands of the whole thing.  May be a while.

14 Comments

Filed under Nick Saban Rules

Envy and jealousy, snitches get stitches edition

Jon Solomon nails Todd McShay with this:

Let’s stop with the narrative, as put forward by ESPN’s Todd McShay, that Tunsil sold out his Ole Miss coaches by supposedly telling the truth to the media. This thinking sums up what’s wrong with the negative stigma created by the NCAA about amateurism. In McShay’s mind, it’s better to lie publicly than to be honest when caught about getting paid. Only in college sports is this line of thinking acceptable. The NFL couldn’t care less about Tunsil getting paid.

It’s time for my obligatory reminder that news of college players getting paid under the table is neither shocking nor worth taking a moral high ground. This happens far more often than people want to believe — imagine if the federal government ever went after tax evasion for these under-the-table payments — yet fans keep passionately watching the college games whenever a story like this comes out.

I get the “NCAA rules are NCAA rules” aspect to this, as Solomon does in his next paragraph, but that’s Ole Miss’ problem.  As far as Tunsil goes, it’s not like he committed a crime.  Outside of the folks left at the school who have to clean up the inconvenient mess they helped make, ultimately nobody cares but McShay.  Well played, Mr. Solomon.

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Filed under Envy and Jealousy

“I have no way of handling surprise amounts.”

Somehow, I don’t think Hugh Freeze will be extending the same gracious invitation to the world today.

In what has to be a first, last night there was some actual real-time drama that took place during an NFL Draft show.

An anonymous hacker used the night of the NFL draft to try to take down Laremy Tunsil and the Ole Miss football program.

Moments before the draft began a video of Tunsil smoking out of a bong fashioned out of a gas mask was posted onto his Twitter account. When it had done its damage, moving Tunsil out of the top 10 entirely and to the Miami Dolphins on No. 13, the hacker started on Tunsil’s Instagram account.

There they posted screenshots of alleged text messages between Tunsil and John Miller, assistant athletic director for football operations, in which Tunsil asks for money to pay rent and also for his mother’s $305 electric and water bill. In reference to the former, Miller makes a reference to “Barney.” Barner (sic) Farrar is Ole Miss’ assistant athletic director for high school and junior colleges.

“I made a mistake,” Tunsil said in a press conference. “That happened.”

Pressed if that meant he had taken money from a coach, Tunsil said, ‘I’d have to say yeah.’

I’d have to say that’s not good.  And I’d have to say this sure must have been awkward:

Coach Hugh Freeze was in the green room with Tunsil and fellow NFL first-round picks from Ole Miss, Laquon Treadwell (23rd overall to the Minnesota Vikings) and Robert Nkemdiche (29th overall to the Arizona Cardinals).

Talk about your “Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?” moment.

No comment was forthcoming from the usually chatty freeze.  As for the school,

Ole Miss released a statement late Thursday night that said it was aware of the reports and, “Like we do whenever an allegation is brought to our attention or a potential violation is self-discovered, we will aggressively investigate and fully cooperate with the NCAA and the SEC.”

Yeah, sure.

A few thoughts on the situation:

  • It’s easy to mock Tunsil, I suppose, but as a Georgia fan who suffered through the Green and Gurley debacles, I don’t have the heart to do so, especially in the case of a kid who was by most accounts NFL-ready after his freshman year having to beg for table scraps to keep the water on for his mom.  In a fairer world, none of these kids would have ever had a problem with bending NCAA amateurism rules for a few bucks.
  • On the other hand, given Freeze’s previous sanctimony on the subject, Ole Miss deserves all the questioning and finger-pointing that is being and will continue to be directed its way.
  • What in the world was Jimmy Sexton thinking, letting Tunsil speak to the media last night?
  • All of that being said, and even with the NCAA already being in Oxford Town looking over the operation, so to speak, we’re a long way from seeing the hammer drop.  First off, while Tunsil said plenty last night, the NCAA can’t compel him to say any more, or provide any other information.  He’s in the NFL now, so he’s not touchable.  Miller and Ferrar are probably going to be scapegoated and cut loose at the earliest possible time, likely to be painted as rogue actors in this play.  That leaves Ross Bjork, the AD, to tap dance around institutional control claims, but to date he’s proved himself to be fairly adept.  Certainly he’s no Greg McGarity.
  • What’s the over/under on the number of FOIA requests that hit Ole Miss today?  And is that higher or lower than the number of times rival coaches use this as an issue with which to hammer Freeze on the recruiting trail?
  • Back to Tunsil – if you’re interested in whether he has a claim against the person who hacked his accounts and publicized what he posted, you might want to read this.
  • You know who’s relieved about this story dropping last night?  Nick Saban, who saw his own bad story – one that should have been a huge one last night and today – buried under Tunsil’s.  (Think there’s any chance Sexton suggested the timing?  Eh, nah.)

*************************************************************************

UPDATE:  The NFL thinks Ole Miss has a “culture”.  Not in a good sense…

The hot rumor as Thursday approached was that the several teams, including the Chargers at No. 3, coveted Notre Dame tackle Ronnie Stanley over Tunsil. Multiple sources told The MMQB that Tunsil’s off-field behavior was becoming increasingly worrisome and reason for some teams to remove him from their draft boards altogether. Much of it had to do with the culture at Mississippi, sources say. The football program was served in January with notice of allegations of a number of NCAA violations. Last season Tunsil was suspended seven games for receiving impermissible benefits, and at the combine in February teammate Robert Nkemdiche said Tunsil had been with him when Nkemdiche fell out a hotel window. Then, two days before the draft, Tunsil’s stepfather filed a lawsuit against him for “intentional infliction of emotional distress,” stemming from a dispute last June. For a player pegged as a potential No. 1 pick, there were enough problems surrounding Tunsil to turn some teams away.

And this is, hands down, the best summary of the surreal evening:

Asked again if there had been an exchange of money, Tunsil then responded matter-of-factly, “I have to say yeah.” A further question about whether he’d met with the NCAA was being posed when Milam appeared from behind a curtain, cutting the session short. “He’s got no more comments. Thank you guys so much,” she said, tapping the offensive lineman on the shoulder, whisking him away and leaving media as baffled as Tunsil apparently had been.

“There’s no way I heard that correctly,” a reporter in the front row said. “There’s no f—ing way that just happened.”

Just a reminder that Jimmy Sexton, who, by the way you shouldn’t forget, represents both Tunsil and Freeze, didn’t exactly have a good night.

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Filed under SEC Football, Social Media Is The Devil's Playground, The NCAA