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As Its Investigation Winds Down, NCAA Officials Meet With A&M’s Manziel

Ya know, it was kinda nice not having to write about Johnny Manziel for a couple of days.  Oh, well.  At least this particular Manziel story appears to be drawing to a close.

Houston-based reporter John Lopez tweeted this morning:

 

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Meanwhile, ESPN’s Travis Haney reports today that Texas A&M’s quarterback spent “a large chunk of Sunday” with NCAA investigators who questioned Manziel about allegations that he received money from autograph brokers for his signature.  ESPN’s source says the meetings lasted six hours.  (Six hours?  One wonders if investigators used the rack or the Iron Maiden on the kid.)

ESPN’s report states:

 

“It was unclear whether the NCAA was satisfied with the initial meeting with Manziel or iff it would require additional time with the redshirt sophomore.  Texas A&M’s season begins Saturday, at home against Rice.”

 

Oh, yes, that.  The Aggies’ game this weekend.  So far the school’s coaches have not cut back on Manziel’s practice time which strongly suggests they plan to play their star against the Owls.  That’s not a shock.  Late last week, the chancellor of the A&M system went on the offensive throwing a little mud at ESPN’s reporting and at least one of the autograph brokers who had told the network cash had been an issue with Manziel.  In addition, John Sharp loudly declared Manziel innocent, though he also admitted he hadn’t actually spoken with the player.

Last evening, a Manziel-related gag order was dropped upon the entire football program by Texas A&M athletic director Eric Hyman:

 

“The focus of our coaches and student-athletes is solely on preparing for Rice this Saturday, and in the best interests of Texas A&M and the 100-plus student-athletes on the team.  I have instructed Coach (Kevin) Sumlin, his staff and our student-athletes to refrain from commenting on or answering questions regarding the status of our starting quarterback, Johnny Manziel.”

 

An interesting choice of words, no?  “Our starting quarterback.”  Sounds like there’s very little question that Manziel will start on Saturday.  In fact, that line sounds downright defiant, which many an Aggie fan will love.  I arrive at that conclusion because I’ve received emailed notice of a new pro-Manziel/anti-ESPN column from at least 20 angry folks in maroon in white.  (Apparently I am Joe Schad’s keeper.)

The SBNation site GoodBullHunting.com posted a story over the weekend titled “Schad’s Sources and the Narrative Problem.”  The writer of said column is someone known as “TelcoAg.”  According to the site he is a father of two, a telecom engineer, a “mathlete,” an introvert, “Aggie Class of ’06″ and — this is important — he hates olives.  None of that is to suggest that “TelcoAg” isn’t a sharp guy and a fine sleuth, but as someone who actually signs his name to what he writes — and gets tons o’ hate mail because of it — I’m a little skeptical of the deductions this writer arrives at in his piece.

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As The NCAA Investigation Turns: The Skinny On MSU

On Sunday, Mississippi State receivers coach Angelo Mirando abruptly resigned less than two weeks before the Bulldogs’ opener.  Yesterday afternoon, the school confirmed that the NCAA has been investigating a “potential recruiting irregularity” at State.  Head coach Dan Mullen said: “That’s been going for the last several months.  I’m not able to comment on any of that.”

2+2=4, right?  Mirando is at the heart of the NCAA’s investigation, correct?

Maybe.

According to Joe Schad of ESPN and John Martin and Kyle Veazey of The Memphis Commercial-Appeal, the NCAA is looking into the recruitment of receiver-turned-defensive back Will Redmond who signed with State in February.  The NCAA has been taking a closer look at Memphis in recent months, and the player’s former coach at Memphis East High School has admitted that NCAA official spoke to him. 

But Marcus Wimberly wouldn’t detail to The Commercial-Appeal what the NCAA had asked him or if they’d spoken about Redmond at all:

 

“It was nothing specific.  I guess that’s when they were starting in the area.  Just general questions.”

 

Wimberly is the third person connected to Memphis high school football who has admitted to speaking with the NCAA since signing day.  (More on this front later.)

But Wimberly did tell ESPN’s Schad that Redmond was part of the conversation:

 

“I told them as far as I was concerned his recruitment was on the up and up.  Who knows what they’re looking for.  Will chose his school because he felt most comfortable and it was close to home.”

 

Schad’s mention of Redmond’s name drew the ire of Mullen, who said that Redmond is still with the team:

 

“Yeah, he’s practicing.  I would try to get a little more reliable source than Joe Schad.  (Laughing)  I’m supposed to be coaching at State College (Penn State), I guess, right now, too, according to Joe Schad last year.  Wasn’t that the case?”

 

Schad also once authored an ESPN piece that claimed Cam Newton spoke to two MSU recruiters about a pay-for-play plan prior to Newton’s signing with Auburn.  In it he wrote that Newton had told one State recruiter that his father, Cecil, had picked AU because “the money was too much.”  From there, it didn’t take long for some to suggest that Megan Mullen — the coach’s wife who was very close to Newton — was the person who’d been told “the money was too much.”

So Mullen probably dislikes Schad for more than just job rumors he posted online.

Now Schad reports that Mirando — who claimed he was stepping down because of “unforeseen personal issues” — is involved in the NCAA’s probe.  Can you say, “Friction?”

As for the NCAA, spokesperson Stacey Osburn told The Jackson Clarion-Ledger:

 

“We are nearing the end of this examination, and it is our intent to provide additional details when it is complete.”

 

MSU also put out an official statement that practically mirrored that of the NCAA:

 

“Over the last several months, Mississippi State has worked in cooperation with the NCAA to examine a potential recruiting irregularity.  We are nearing the end of this examination, and it is our intent to provide additional details when it is complete.”

 

That’s reason for concern for Bulldog fans.  When the NCAA snoops around a program and finds nothing, it usually just goes away.  Providing “additional details” suggests the NCAA has found some type of wrongdoing… tiny, small, big, major, etc.  What other details would they provide?

Now, back to the three people associated with Memphis high school football who’ve spoken to the NCAA.  One of those men is Byron De’Vinner who was Redmond’s 7-on-7 coach.  Reportedly, De’Vinner: “questioned the methods and pointed fingers to the staff at Memphis East High who, he said, are directing NCAA investigators to him because they do not like him.  He’s also worried about Redmond’s future.”

You’ve heard us talk about De’Vinner on this site recently.  Just eight days ago in fact.  That’s because he’s also been tied to the Jovon Robinson situation at Auburn.  Robinson has been ruled ineligible at AU after a guidance counselor at Memphis Wooddale High School admitted to doctoring his high school transcript.

De’Vinner was contacted by The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal and asked if he had any connection to Mirando, the former MSU assistant.  His response?  “I don’t even want to talk about all that stuff.  I’m sorry.”

But with his phone likely ringing out of control, it appears De’Vinner has tired of being connected to NCAA investigations.  He texted several media outlets last night and claimed he would “clear my name and go public.”  “I plan to tell the facts,” he texted… stating that he might hold a press conference today or tomorrow.

Meanwhile The Dispatch newspaper of Columbus, Starkville and The Golden Triangle area of Mississippi is reporting:

 

“…the investigation, at least in part, involves an automobile purchased for MSU freshman defensive back Will Redmond.  The Ford Mustang was purchased before Redmond signed with MSU this February from a used car dealership in his hometown of Memphis, Tenn.”

 

So what do we know for sure?

That the NCAA is probing Memphis.  That the names Auburn and Mississippi State are once again being tied to scandals and investigations, as was the case during the Newton fiasco.  That Mullen doesn’t like Schad.  And that De’Vinner doesn’t like the coaches at Memphis East High School.  Or having his own name dragged through the mud.

Got all that?

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Petrino Won’t Appeal Firing At Arkansas

Upon his dismissal at Arkansas, Bobby Petrino released a statement suggesting their might be a time and a place to refute AD Jeff Long’s decision to show him the door.  Chancellor G. David Gearhart released a brief, bias-less statement saying that a clause in Petrino’s contract made it possible that the ex-coach could bring his case to him and that he might have to rule on whether or not Petrino deserved the boot Long gave him.

According to Joe Schad of ESPN, the coach won’t exercise his right to appeal:


“Petrino has accepted responsibility for his actions and resulting termination, the source said.”


Meanwhile, the Associated Press obtained some of the text messages that had not been deleted from Petrino’s phone.  Those transcripts show a man who after his suspension was — quite naturally — worried sick that he might lose his $3.5 million-per-year job with the Razorbacks.  And according to one text message exchange with an assistant AD at the school, it appears that UA was looking for a way to keep him:


Assistant AD Chris Wyrick:  “Coach, I know I sometimes aggravate you, but PLEASE listen to me.  Does Jeff (Long) know EVERYTHING from your standpoint??”

Petrino:  “Yes I believe he does.  Is the mood to fire me or to keep me???”

Wyrick:  “I can’t honestly speak to (Long’s) pulse on that, but my gut is he wants it to work.  You have done the job and most feel like you are due a mulligan.”


If Petrino had simply carried on an inappropriate relationship, he might just have gotten that mulligan.  But Long’s investigation into the matter found that Petrino had hired Jessica Dorrell into his department over 158 other candidates in a faster then normal fashion.  He’d also given Dorrell a gift of $20,000. 

In other words, he’d opened the University of Arkansas up to a number of lawsuits from a number of people.

So much for the mulligan.  And with his decision not to appeal — even though his chances of winning some form of buyout were slim to begin with — so much for Petrino at Arkansas.

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Report: Arkansas Has Fired Bobby Petrino

Arkansas has fired football coach Bobby Petrino, according to Chris Low and Joe Schad of ESPN.

The school has called a press conference for tonight at 8:15 eastern time, at which point athletic director Jeff Long is expected to announce Petrino will not return to Arkansas.

Long held an impromptu press conference late Thursday night after learning Petrino had failed to inform his boss that football program employee Jessica Dorrell had been a passenger during his April 1 motorcycle accident. Petrino later admitted to having a “previous inappropriate relationship” with a woman. The Associated Press reported Monday what had been widely assumed – that relationship was with Dorrell.

Long was unable to answer many questions in detail on Thursday night. Expect him to have a much greater explanation this time.

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Writer: Newton Will Eventually Be Declared Ineligible

Clay Travis of Fanhouse.com is a sports blogger, an author of books and a talk radio host.  He also happens to be a law school grad.  So when he goes thumbing through the NCAA rule book, I tend to pay attention.

Now no one knows for sure what has or hasn’t taken place regarding Cam Newton’s recruitment, but if you believe the sources who’ve come forward so far, then it’s only a matter of time before the NCAA declares Newton ineligIble.  At least that’s Travis’ opinion:


“The relevant NCAA statute governing a prospective athlete is as follows (quoting from the NCAA rulebook):

10.1 Unethical Conduct

Unethical conduct by a prospective or enrolled student-athlete or a current or former institutional staff member (e.g., coach, professor, tutor, teaching assistant, student manager, student trainer) may include, but is not limited to, the following:

(c) Knowing involvement in offering or providing a prospective or an enrolled student-athlete an improper inducement or extra benefit or improper financial aid;

Violations of 10.1 are enforced as follows:

10.4 Disciplinary Action

Prospective or enrolled student-athletes found in violation of the provisions of this regulation shall be ineligible for further intercollegiate competition, subject to appeal to the Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement for restoration of eligibility.”


Travis believes Auburn’s defense will be a three-parter:

1.  Cam Newton was unaware of his father’s actions (I still want to know more about Joe Schad’s source for ESPN who said the player spoke on the phone of Auburn offering “too much money”)

2.  Newton didn’t attend MSU… where his father had solicited money

3.  No cash ever changed hands for Newton to sign with Auburn

But before you shout, “Hell, yeah,” Auburn fans, take note of Travis’ response to this defense.


“It’s not a bad defense given how woeful Auburn’s options are, but it’s a desperate one that is doomed to fail.  Why?  Because if accepted, the defense would open up a hole in the NCAA rulebook that you could drive a Brink’s truck full of cash through.  If the NCAA accepts this defense to its bylaws, it would mean that any recruit’s family was free to shake down the schools that were recruiting him so long as the family claimed the recruit was unaware of it and the player didn’t end up attending the school.”


Granted this is just one man’s opinion — and it’s a lengthy one – but it is the viewpoint of a man with an eye trained for legalese.

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