Category Archives: SEC Football

Neck and neck

The funniest thing about Ron Higgins’ latest Golden Handcuffs piece is that he had to change the title at the last minute because of the four arrests of Auburn players for marijuana possession Saturday night.  How do I know?  Check the title of the linked article and compare it to the article’s URL.

This race has the potential to be a real barn burner.  Heh.

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Filed under Crime and Punishment, SEC Football

Tunsil lawyers up.

If for some strange reason you were wondering if Laremy Tunsil’s shocking burst of honesty was actually going to lead the NCAA’s investigation of Ole Miss somewhere, you can stop now.  Tunsil’s attorney assured everyone this weekend that those social media images posted on draft night were “taken out of context” and “once it is found out what this is all about, it will be much to do about nothing.”

Yeah, that’s worth a chuckle, but the real message there is that you won’t hear any more coming from Tunsil’s direction.

 

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Filed under SEC Football, The NCAA

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

“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.)

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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

Sankey’s gonna Sankey.

Oh, puh-leeze.

The SEC reacted to Thursday’s news by releasing a statement in which commissioner Greg Sankey both re-affirmed the conference’s position and the fact that its schools would now be free to join in the satellite camps.

“While we are disappointed with the NCAA governance process result, we respect the Board of Directors’ decision and are confident SEC football programs will continue to be highly effective in their recruiting efforts,” Sankey said. “We continue to believe football recruiting is primarily an activity best-focused in high schools during the established recruiting calendar, which has provided opportunities for football prospective student-athletes from all across the country to obtain broad national access and exposure but with appropriate guidance from high school coaches, teachers and advisors that focuses on both their academic and athletic opportunities as they decide where they will play college football.

“SEC coaches will be allowed to engage in summer camps as a result of Conference legislation approved during the 2015 SEC Spring Meetings.”

If you really believe your approach to satellite camps is best for all concerned, then why lift the ban?

That was a rhetorical question, in case you’re wondering.

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Filed under It's All Just Made Up And Flagellant, Recruiting, SEC Football

“Once all the pieces are in place”? Whatever you say, man.

Let me just state for the record that if this dude is correct in his projection about Georgia’s offensive line, you can put me down for a 10-win season right now.

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Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football

This does not compute.

Kevin Scarbinsky dares suggest that Verne Lundquist, Charles Barkley’s “the nicest man in the world”, might be the most hated figure in the SEC.

Uh, dude, here’s a hint:  when’s the last time you heard anyone refer to the SEC Commissioner as “Uncle Greg”?  And let’s not even get started on Saban’s nicknames.  Or Lane Kiffin’s, for that matter.

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Filed under Media Punditry/Foibles, SEC Football