Category Archives: NCAA Football

AP Photo.  LM Otero

Ole Miss vs NCAA: Compare Penalties in the SEC

There is a simple reality we must face as fans of a small market school in a monster college football conference. The rules don’t always apply equally to every school.  Some teams get a pass from the NCAA and some teams pay the price.

(See this article in the next edition of REBEL NATION Magazine!)

If you are on a championship pace and making the conference a lot of money, potential violations and investigations can get put on the shelf or minimized. If your star QB is signing autographs for cash or his daddy is shopping your services to the highest bidder, sometimes the SEC will turn a blind eye for the good of the whole.  And if boosters get real wild, the SEC can always pound on MSU or Ole Miss to make an example for Alabama and LSU.

That should teach ‘em a lesson!

Here is a look back in time at egregious rules violations that never seemed to get any traction from the NCAA investigators.

Compared to these cases, I expect Ole Miss to only lose 7-8 scholarships in their upcoming meeting with the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions.

2004 LSU’s Academic Scandal

Nick Saban gets embroiled in a systematic grade changing scheme unveiled by a University instructor.

The LSU football team academic culture was “appalling” and “like Romper Room” stated the LSU professor in sworn testimony.

Backed up by graduate students and academic advisors, the academic fraud included plagiarized papers, un-enrolled students showing up to take notes and players that often slept in class.

Current NCAA president Mark Emmert, then LSU Chancellor, went to bat for the coach he hired; the coach that made him the highest paid University President at the time. He also went to bat for his own career as he was on an upward trajectory to Indianapolis.

Emmert “investigated” the claims of the academic staff and per USA Today, Emmert found only five minor isolated problems, resulting in self-imposed penalties of two lost scholarships in football.

LSU’s 82 page report on the investigations said, “the allegations were largely unfounded.”

The NCAA accepted Emmert’s investigation and declined to even place LSU on probation.

The academic staff sued the University after being wrongfully terminated.

Under oath, a witness in the case stated the LSU investigation was “whitewashed” to minimize the damage. They interviewed the people they wanted to.  It was typical damage control.”

The attorney for the plaintiffs said academic fraud is systemic at LSU. The University settled with the two women for over $110,000 each according to the USA Today article. (“Digging into the past of NCAA president Mark Emmert”, April 2, 2013, Brent Schrotenboer)

The SEC and LSU was rewarded soon after with a national championship in Baton Rouge in 2004.

2011 Auburn’s Golden Child

Cam Newton is a once in a generational type QB that was forced out at Florida as a freshman due to his possession of stolen property. Even with his questionable background, he was a highly valued “free agent” looking for a place to play for the 2010 season.

Cam’s dad Cecil Newton took the opportunity to shop his son’s eligibility to the highest bidder.

According to investigation documents in the Associated Press article, Mississippi State booster Kenny Rogers worked with Cecil to solicit between $120,000 to $180,000 from MSU for the services of Cam Newton.

(“Auburn releases Cam Newton Docs,” November 5, 2011 AP Reports)

Cam eventually chose to play at Auburn University and according to Auburn University, they were never propositioned for payments.

Auburn’s argument against NCAA penalties for Cam’s illegal recruitment to the NCAA was Kenny Rogers was not a legal agent for Cam. They allege the player never had a written or verbal agreement for Rogers or his dad to act on his behalf.  Rogers was allegedly not paid for his role in the pay for play scheme.

The NCAA investigation found Rogers and Cecil did approach other schools for Cam’s services, specifically Oklahoma and Kansas State.

During the 13 month investigation that coincided with an undefeated season for Auburn and was headed for a Heisman trophy and another national championship for the SEC, the NCAA’s Academic and Membership affairs staff declared Cam Newton ineligible to play on November 30, 2010.

Surprisingly, the NCAA reversed this decision and allowed Cam to play in the SEC championship game the very next day.

The NCAA’s paper thin excuse was Cam didn’t know his father was doing anything nefarious and they couldn’t find any contact between Auburn and Rogers or Cecil during the recruitment.

There were never any penalties for Cam Newton’s recruitment. Cam never missed a game and no other schools were investigated for the proven pay for play plan.

Alabama. (Multiple years over multiple coaches)

Alabama is dirty. That is not an opinion, it’s just a statement of fact.

Even though the Crimson Tide is the most penalized school in the SEC’s history, much of their actual penalties are far smaller than the actual violations. (“NCAA Ruling Indicates a Turning Tide,” June 11, 2009 Ivan Maisel)

1993. Gene Stalling’s hides the fact that corner Antonio Langham has an agent during the Tides sixth AP national championship season. The NCAA Committee on Infractions ruled Alabama would lose 26 scholarships and serve a three-year probation. (The actual penalties handed down were 17 and 2).

2000.  A University of Alabama booster agreed to pay Memphis defensive Tackle Albert Means $200,000. The investigation was only broken when Means’ former high school coach came clean with a Memphis newspaper reporter. The NCAA committee stated Alabama was facing the death penalty.  The school actually received 5 years probation, a two-year bowl ban and lost 21 scholarships.

2009. Alabama’s free textbook program for athletes was uncovered. A systematic buy back program that benefited Alabama’s athletes in every sport that helped put cash in their pockets. The NCAA uncovered 201 players had received benefits in 15 different sports. In this case no scholarship reductions were imposed by the NCAA.

2011.  Alabama player signs an agent during another National Championship run. According to Yahoo Sports , at least $33,755 was given to Alabama offensive tackle by a sports agent to recruit for his business once he became a professional football player. The only problem, DJ Fluker was still in college.

(“Documents, Text Messages Reveal Impermissible Benefits to Five SEC Players,” Sept. 11, 2013, Rand Getlin)

Sports agent Luther Davis had contact with five SEC players in the 2011-2012 seasons, also given cash, transportation and goods to UT QB Tyler Bray, UT defensive end Maurice Couch and Mississippi State’s Fletcher Cox and Chad Bumphis.

Yahoo sports received the documents from NFL sources and were authenticated through Western Union, bank statements, airplane receipts and other financial sources.

To date, the NCAA has not levied any penalties against these schools for the illegal agent contact.

The NCAA soon investigated Tennessee and MSU for other violations that resulted in probation through the 2015 seasons but Alabama seems to have been overlooked.

The Sammy Curse!

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There’s alot of superstitions in sports. With the Madden Curse being one of the most infamous ones. Well here’s a lesser known and a newer one. The Sammy Curse.

What is the Curse and how did this start

This is more of a gambling thing. But the history of this is scary consistent and has a history dating back to 3 years ago. With the 2012 Florida State Seminoles team.

The knock I had on them were that they were playing a very weak schedule and blowing teams away were a result of this. They would soon take Auburn to the woodshed after a slow start.

Following years 

This would again happen to me in the following year with my own Ohio State in 2014-15. In the beginning of the year following a rough performance against Navy and then the following week Iagainst VT where we lost at home. I wrote us off along with the rest of the nation.

They would soon improve the offensive line which was my biggest knock on them and become the best team in the nation at the right time. With a 3rd string Quarterback.

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This year I wasn’t a big fan of Alabama and Clemson. Both not only went to the playoff. But won their semi final games convincingly.

This March Madness. I said one of the most overrated teams were Oklahoma and Villanova. In this year’s starting a weak era of college hoops.  But they both made the final four. Now with all those being said. Teams I bought high on. Only one of them are remaining and that’s UNC.

I promise you guys I watch sports. Whether it’s a 3 year strand of bad luck or a real curse. It is what it is.

Until next time. I’ll see you guys later!

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Dabo Swinney and Hugh Freeze: Christian College Coaches Under Fire

No matter your personal beliefs, America’s founding values allow us to worship and share our individual faith. It was so important to our founding fathers, it was the first amendment to the Constitution that makes up the Bill of Rights.

Our nation was founded in part due to the persecution and harassment of English people that refused to follow the “Church of England.” Catholics and other traditional protestants were labeled as traitors and criminal laws were enacted against Puritan worship services.

So, religious persecution is nothing new in the world and it continues even today. Even in the world of college football.

Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney will be facing off against the Alabama Crimson Tide on January 11th with the national title on the line.

While both Coach Swinney and Saban are obviously great football coaches, Clemson’s Swinney expresses a personal faith that has put a bullseye on his back.

The Freedom From Religon Foundation has threatned lawsuit against Clemson due to Swinney’s out spoken Christianity.

According to the “Foundation,” Swinney has promoted a culture in the program that promotes Christianity and violates constitutional guidelines of the separation of church and state as stipulated in the Establishment Clause of the first amendment.

The Foundation is essentially saying that Swinney’s personal views as a high profile employee of the University borders on the official views of the University.

This is not a new fight or discussion. While the concept of a separation of Church and State is not expressly written in those exact words that was the intent of founding father Thomas Jefferson as a way to more easily explain the first amendment.

The key argument on both sides of this age old battle is do the kids or staff under Swinney’s control have the freedom to worship or not worship in their own personal way? And does Swinney’s faith and his expression of that faith somehow infringe on those under his control?

While I won’t be able to settle that argument here in this article, I do want to make the point that Swinney does have the personal constitutional right to express his faith. His right to do so should be supported by all Americans who enjoy the same right.

In the Deep South, high school football coaches are notorious for preaching in the locker room and using bible verses and biblical narratives in their motivational speeches.

If you have ever played high school football you probably had at least one coach like that and certainly in Mississippi, that is the rule rather than the exception.

But for some reason the idea of a college coach using these same lessons and stories of faith and struggle and perservance is seen as heresy or even hypocritical.

Ole Miss’ Coach Hugh Freeze is one of those preacher type high school coaches that happened to make the quantum leap to become a SEC head coach.

Photo by Kevin Cox - Getty Images

Photo by Kevin Cox – Getty Images

Freeze coached at Briarcrest Christian School in Memphis for 13 years and is the son of one of those preacher type head coaches as Danny Freeze coached at Independence and Senatobia High schools in Mississippi. The younger Freeze no doubt grew up in that environment, learning from his father and other coaches and continues that model.

For Freeze, his faith is more than a model, it is even more important than football itself. He has said that football is just the platform, the opportunity, to impact the lives of people in the program.  Freeze said in a Washington Post article in 2014 that, “When my life comes to an end, how much does that scoreboard really matter?”

Given the fact that Freeze hold many of the same thoughts we all do as football fans in the South, why does his words cause so much concern.

I am willing to bet if anyone else said that same sentence, you would absolutely agree. But because a college football coach says it, there is some hidden sinister agenda behind his words.

As you would expect, rival fan bases and blog posts highlight this minority opinion.

Sage writer “DawgSmack” posts this gem from Maroon and White Nation that says Hugh Freeze’s Gospel is actually a Gospel of Hate.

The manager of MSU fan blog 3rdand57 had some interesting twitter posts recently that I think really highlights this thought that somehow big time college football coaches are not allowed or are incapable of having “core values” without lying or fabricating their faith.

beastman freeze faith invert

I understand rival fans are irrational but wow, when you stand back from a distance, it is really disheartening that fellow Christians can stand by and toss accusations like this without recognizing that we all struggle with faith.

We all fall short of the ideal. We are all hypocrites in that way and saying someone else is not perfect is holding a football coach up to a weirdly high standard that they wouldn’t hold themselves to.

Will Hugh Freeze make mistakes in his life, of course. Will God help Dabo Swinney beat the “evil” Nick Saban Alabama empire?  I hope my God has more to do on that Monday.

We need to stand with other men who are brave enough to take a stand and in the heat of the national media spotlight make their beliefs known.  Why would anyone work for a boss that only cares about winning and winning only?

Because at the end of our days, the scoreboard and the color of our jacket wont matter.

You don’t have to be a fan of Ole Miss or Clemson to appreciate men like Hugh Freeze and Dabo Swinney.

LJ Scott - Joe Robbins Getty Images

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF PREVIEW: Michigan State Spartans

Two years ago, Michigan State took down Ohio State and QB Braxton Miller in the Big 10 Championship 34-24, ruining Ohio State’s BCS National Championship hopes and allowing Auburn to sneak in.

After winning the 2013 Rose Bowl over Stanford, MSU would fail to reach the same mark in 2014, losing the conference championship and watched as Ohio State make it to the first College Football Playoff.

SEASON IN A SNAPSHOT

This season, Michigan State had with one thing on their mind; Revenge. They had the schedule to do it too.  Playing Oregon at home without Mariota, saw the Spartans win 31-28 after holding off a late rally by Vernon Davis.

Then a late season game against Ohio State, on the road.  The odds were already stacked against them and Connor Cook wasn’t able to play that game due to a shoulder injury.  MSU was able to overcome the injury and beat Ohio State 17-14.

In the conference championship against an undefeated Iowa, Sparty’s one loss team won a tough game, 16-13. With 14:49 left on the clock and down by 4 points, MSU milked the clock to inside the last minute before punching it in with freshman RB L.J. Scott to secure a spot in the CFP.

TEAM STRENGTHS

This team with a healthy Connor Cook can use the play action better than anyone in the nation and the pass rush is a force to be reckoned with.

TEAM WEAKNESSES

The pass defense of the Spartans are not on par with the other CFP teams and if Cook is banged up, the offense suffers as well.

PLAYOFF FORECAST

This team can look very average at times and has had trouble scoring points, as in the Nebraska loss. But if they get in a rhythm they have shown they can be as good as Ohio State was last year.

I personally think they can win it all due to the depth at running back and at wide out.

Well that’s all for the CFP previews! Stay tuned for the National Championship preview!

Photo via Brody Schmidt - AP

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF PREVIEW: Oklahoma Sooners

Oklahoma’s winding road to the College Football Playoff starts two years ago, when OU put a beat down on Alabama in the Sugar Bowl 45-31.

2014 turned out to be a disappointment, as they put up a 8-5 record. Trevor Knight would transfer out of the program and Texas Tech transfer Baker Mayfield would take over the starting job for 2015.

SEASON IN A SNAPSHOT

Oklahoma came in to this year with lowered expectations, but after an early come-from-behind win against Tennessee, Boomer Sooner soon became a favorite again.  A middle of the season loss to Texas looked like the end of title dreams as they would have to catch fire to get back in the CFP discussion.

And catch fire they did, beating Baylor impressively 44-34, TCU 30-29 and Oklahoma State 58-23 to win the Big 12. At the end of the season they looked like the best team, not just in the Big 12 but in the nation.

TEAM STRENGTHS

The Sooners rely on a heavy passing attack like most Big 12 teams, but this team can also run the ball with Samaje Perine and others. QB Baker Mayfield was a Heisman contender and is no joke.  As for the defense, they were one of the best run defenses in the Big 12.

TEAM WEAKNESSES

Although they have looked like a juggernaut, you could poke holes in the defense. Like Oregon, they use a bend-but-don’t-break type defense, and in all those major wins I mentioned, the opposition did score over 20 points.

PLAYOFF FORECAST

I have the Sooners going to the title and potentially winning it all. But the question is how will the defense hold up and can their offense move in the CFP like they did in the Big 12.

Coming up later today will be the last of the CFP team previews with the Michigan State Spartans. See ya’ll later!