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UT’s Dooley To Coach From Press Box After Hip Surgery

An MRI on Friday revealed why Derek Dooley had been feeling pain for several months — he had a fracture in his hip and needed immediate surgery.  That surgery came yesterday.  And because of it, Dooley’s fracture may be a bad break for a second reason.

Heading into what’s possibly the most important game of his career Saturday night in Starkville, the coach will miss practice today and could miss practice again tomorrow.  He’ll also have to coach Saturday night’s game against Mississippi State from the press box.

For a team desperate for a win, the Vols will now have to deal with not having their head coach on the sideline with them.

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Gameday Links: Arkansas At Auburn, Mississippi State At Kentucky

Arkansas at Auburn

1. Both teams badly need a win.

2. “This contest has been referred to a pillow fight.”

3. “Largely unnoticed nationally, Arkansas and Auburn built an entertaining divisional rivalry over the course of the last decade…”

4. One of these things will happen today. Arkansas hasn’t been 1-5 or worse since 1958.  Auburn hasn’t started 1-4 since 1998.

Mississippi State At Kentucky

5. With two freshmen quarterbacks expected to play, how can the Wildcats upset the Bulldogs?

6. Expect to see plenty of no-huddle sets from UK.

7. Watch the first down matchup between the MSU offense and the Kentucky defense – UK giving up 5.5 yards per play on first down.

8. MSU has never won four straight against Kentucky – but that could happen today.

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MSU Coach, Players Claim They Deciphered AU’s Signals At The Line (Big Whoop)

In a day and age when everyone’s dying to find a good scandal, the following will get a whole lot of play in the press and on blogs and on messageboards: Mississippi State apparently figured out some of Auburn quarterback Kiehl Frazier’s playcalls during MSU’s 28-10 win over the Tigers on Saturday.

Egads.

According to The Dispatch newspaper of Columbus, Starkville and The Golden Triangle — long name for a small paper — Bulldog co-defensive coordinator Geoff Collins said, “it makes our job as coaches so much easier when (MSU senior linebacker) Cam Lawrence is signaling over his head every time they were calling a pass.”

Matthew Stevens of The Dispatch writes that Lawrence and sophomore linebacker Matt Wells deciphered Frazier’s calls by the end of the first quarter.  Senior defensive back Corey Broomfield added: “We do a great job of preparing and we knew what the play was before they ever ran them.  That’s not a joke.  We knew what they were doing, where the ball was going and who was getting it before the ball was snapped.”

And Lawrence said after the game on Saturday:

 

“My teammates and I got into (Frazier’s) head and that’s one thing I’m going to do every game if you’re on offense against me.  He would call out the signals and I’d tell everybody what the play was and he’d get that confused look in his face.”  

 

Now, that sounds like just a little bit of an exaggeration, but whether it is or isn’t Auburn will need to look into it.  When informed of the barking Dogs’ comments, Gene Chizik simply said: “I’m not aware.  We can rectify that problem.”

So is this cheating?  Did State steal their victory on Saturday?  The answer is yes… if you know absolutely nothing about football.  Or sports for that matter.

Teams have been stealing signals and signs for as long as games have been played.  Football and baseball.  College and pro.  With binoculars, microphones, still cameras and video tapes.  It happens.  A thumbs-up to State for picking up on what Auburn was doing.  A thumbs-down for being dumb enough — what was State’s co-defensive coordinator thinking? — to tell every future opponent that the Dogs like to steal signals.  You can bet teams will now shake up their checks, audibles and hand signals before facing MSU from here on out.

The bigger issue is that Chizik, Frazier and new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler don’t need to be giving their fans any more reasons for doubt.  And having a system in place that the other team supposedly decodes in 15 minutes probably doesn’t inspire confidence in AU supporters.

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For MSU, It’s De’Vinner Of Their Discontent

Byron De’Vinner just keeps saying more and more and more.

The Tennessee-based former 7-on-7 coach of current Mississippi State freshman Will Redmond is on the stump.  He’s talking more than Obama and Romney combined.  And everyone he speaks to seems to get a little more information out of him.

For backstory: The NCAA is looking closely at Memphis.  The NCAA is also looking closely at Mississippi State’s recruitment of Redmond, a Memphis native.  MSU receivers coach Angelo Mirando resigned abruptly just before the season.  NCAA investigators spoke with Redmond’s coaches at Memphis’ East High School who apparently pointed a finger at De’Vinner.  De’Vinner attempted to clear his name by calling into a syndicated Magnolia State radio show on Tuesday and saying that he witnessed a booster give Redmond what amounted to a $200 handshake.  Then De’Vinner opened up further to Yahoo! Sports.

Now, there’s more.  De’Vinner told Nashville radio station WGFX-FM yesterday that “there’s more to this than a $100 or $200 handshake.” 

Then last night, ESPN reported that De’Vinner told the network that now-disassociated State booster Robert Denton Herring provided illegal benefits to “five or six” Bulldog athletes.  ESPN’s Joe Schad — Dan Mullen’s gotta love that — was told that juco defensive lineman Denico Autry was one of those who received improper gifts.  “Robert Denton Herring loves State,” De’Vinner told Schad.  “And he was going to do whatever he could to help State.”  In addtion, De’Vinner said Herring wanted him to help steer other recruits of Georgia, LSU and Alabama in MSU’s direction.  De’Vinner claims he would not.

Want more?  Okay.  De’Vinner also spoke with the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal yesterday and he told that paper that Redmond was offered $6,000 by Herring to “shut down” his recruitment and commit to the Bulldogs.  He did say that Redmond “never took it… that’s my understanding, he didn’t.”  But he then added: “I can’t say if he did or didn’t, because I didn’t see it.”

And apparently State wasn’t the only school willing to pay cash for Redmond.  According to De’Vinner, another BCS school offered $60,000 for his services.

While others might have been interested in his player, De’Vinner only interviewed for a job at Mississippi State (so far as he’s admitted).  He told The Jackson Clarion-Ledger that “the interview was supposed to be a formality to pretty much get Will (to sign).”  There’s more:

 

“But after I interviewed it shocked them, because of the way I sold myself, and it went from being a formality to they wanted to hire me.  Compliance wasn’t sure because I didn’t have any experience in the position, and so did the athletic director (Scott Stricklin).”

 

Meanwhile, when asked about the situation yesterday, Mullen said, “The NCAA is doing their work on that and we’re not commenting on any of that stuff at this time.”

Naturally, the more De’Vinner speaks, the more mud is being slung back in his direction.  From year-old quotes from a Tennessee high school coach — “He attaches himself like a leech, then starts sucking your blood.” — to his own issues trying to land a coaching job at Tennessee high school past season — “… he had some licensing issues…” — The Tennessean reports that De’Vinner is seen by some as a saint, by others as a sinner.

One person mixed up in one of De’Vinner’s claims to Yahoo! Sports has already emailed The Clarion-Ledger to say that the 7-on-7 coach’s story regarding him is bogus:

 

“I have spoken with MSU compliance and the NCAA.  They have asked that I remain silent until all the details are sorted out.  The story is inaccurate.” 

 

That story concerned Herring arranging for De’Vinner to receive free lodging and food while accompanying Redmond to Starkville on a recruiting visit.

Oh, almost forgot this one.  De’Vinner also told The Clarion-Ledger that he recently spoke to Herring and that the ex-MSU booster wanted him “to keep quiet.”  Ya think?

So what do we know?

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De’Vinner Opens Up Further About Redmond And MSU Booster

Byron De’Vinner called into a syndicated radio show in Mississippi yesterday to clear his name.  In doing so, he also said that a Mississippi State booster — who’s been disassociated from the school — had paid at least $200 to Bulldog freshman defensive back Will Redmond.  (Redmond, for the record, has not played this season.)

Now De’Vinner has opened up to Yahoo! Sports and Pat Forde claiming that the MSU booster “made cash payments to a recruit and arranged for complimentary lodging and meals for De’Vinner, who was Redmond’s 7-on-7 coach.  He even provided hotel bills and other documentation to Yahoo! Sports to attempt to prove his claims:

 

“In an interview with Y! Sports, Nashville-based seven-on-seven coach Byron De’Vinner – recipient of the lodging and meals – explained in detail how former Mississippi State booster Robert Denton Herring broke multiple NCAA rules in 2011 and ’12 in an effort to land Memphis East High School defensive back Will Redmond.

De’Vinner said he also told his story to NCAA enforcement representatives, who have been investigating the allegations jointly with Mississippi State’s compliance department over the course of several months. In July the school sent Herring, who lives in Roswell, Ga., a letter informing him that he had been disassociated from the athletic program for “impermissible contact” with a recruit. In August, Bulldogs assistant coach Angelo Mirando resigned for what the school termed “unforeseen personal issues,” but sources told Y! Sports that his resignation was because of the NCAA inquiry. De’Vinner said Mirando introduced Redmond to Herring, but that the coach and booster both wanted De’Vinner “to take the fall” for their relationship.

Vanessa Brown, Redmond’s mother, declined comment to Yahoo! Sports Wednesday morning. Attempts to reach Herring and Mirando were unsuccessful. Herring has not cooperated with investigators from both the NCAA and Mississippi State.”

 

It gets worse for State as De’Vinner also claimed that fellow Memphis prospect Sheldon Dawson — who signed with Georgia — was questioned by the NCAA about MSU’s recruitment of him.  Also, “a source with knowledge of the investigation said the NCAA contacted nearly a dozen players who were recruited by Mississippi State.”

If those “nearly a dozen” players weren’t offered illegal benefits, no problem.  But the fact that the NCAA has spoken with that many MSU recruits should be worrisome to folks in Starkville.

On the positive side, De’Vinner told Yahoo! Sports that he believed Mirando to be the only State coach who was aware of Herring’s actions.  Herring had not previously been named as the booster in question.

De’Vinner also admitted to receiving clothes and gear from several schools other than MSU:

 

“If me getting gear from schools when I work a camp is a violation, then everything’s a violation. … Do I have a relationship with coaches at virtually every school?  Yeah, I do.

I’m the scapegoat for everything that’s going on. … I’m telling the truth.”

 

Whether De’Vinner is telling the truth or not, the more he talks, the more all those coaches he has a relationship with are puckering up a bit.

Forde’s piece is a long one and we’ve only given you a taste of it.  Click above to read the piece in its entirety.

Update: De’Vinner tells the Clarion-Ledger in a phone interview this morning that Herring attempted to persuade “at least 10″ recruits to attend MSU.

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WOW Morning Headlines 9/12/12

Notre Dame to join ACC and ACC to raise exit fees… nixing rumors of ACC schools joining SEC
LB Chase Vasser and CB Sanders Commings come off of suspension at Georgia
Former 7-on-7 coach says MSU booster paid at least $200 to freshman DB Will Redmond
Auburn’s Gene Chizik won’t discuss whether NCAA is investigating recruitment of former Tiger Jovon Robinson
Both Auburn and MSU investigations are part of NCAA crackdown on Memphis-area recruiting
SEC suspends Ole Miss DB Trae Elston one game for targeting a defenseless UTEP receiver last Saturday
ESPN’s “College GameDay” to broadcast from Circle Park before Florida’s game at Tennessee this weekend
Keep up with all your SEC news at MrSEC.com and twitter.com/mrsec

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7-On-7 Coach Says MSU Player Was Paid $200 By Booster

Uh-oh.

Nashville-based 7-on-7 football coach Byron De’Vinner — a key figure in the NCAA’s ongoing look at Memphis area recruiting — told the syndicated Mississippi radio show “Head To Head” that he witnessed a “handshake” between a Mississippi State booster and Bulldog freshman defensive back Will Redmond.  When the shake was complete, Redmond — then an MSU recruit — had about $200 in his hand.  And ex-receivers coach Angelo Mirando was aware of the payment.

For the backstory on Redmond, De’Vinner — who promised to come clean with what he knew of the NCAA investigation in late-August — and Mirando — who resigned abruptly right before the season started — click right here.  The guys at the “Head to Head” show have also posted a July letter in which MSU disassociated itself from a booster.   You can also listen to the full 12-minute interview with De’Vinner right here.

Following his appearance on the radio show (congrats to those guys, as I’ve been on with them many times), De’Vinner confirmed to The Jackson Clarion-Ledger that he had indeed been the man on the show.  While on the air he said:

 

“Will Redmond is a kid that was basically taken advantage of by a booster and by an assistant coach…

(After refusing to name the booster, De’Vinner said) But did I physically see inappropriate benefits?  Yes, I did…

I saw where the booster sent him a jacket through the mail and you know, things of that nature.  He lined up an official visit and lined up other things inappropriately.”

 

De’Vinner denied that the booster bought a 2010 Ford Mustang for Redmond, which was the topic of another story posted by The Dispatch newspaper of Columbus, Starkville and The Golden Triangle last month.

De’Vinner — who coached Redmond in 7-0n-7 ball — said that he interviewed for a job in the Mississippi State athletic department in January.  Hmmm.  Just before signing day when Redmond inked with State.  What an interesting time for an interview.

De’Vinner says that he is a friend of Redmond’s family, but in his attempt to clear his own name he certainly seems to be putting the player’s career in jeopardy (if it weren’t already in jeopardy).  Some will no doubt claim that De’Vinner is simply getting back at MSU because he was not hired by State after his January interview.

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Quick Links To The NCAA’s Investigation Into Mississippi State

Heading out the door and I don’t have time to break Mississippi State’s situation down as I had hoped.  My apologies.  So instead, here’s a quickie overview of the situation via links:

 

1.  Jerry Hinnen of CBSSports.com put together a good overview of the situation yesterday afternoon.

2.  Kyle Veazey of The Memphis Commercial Appeal says everyone the NCAA is chatting with in Memphis is apparently being asked about MSU’s football program.

3.  Brad Locke of The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal focuses on the Bulldog booster who’s been disassociated from State’s program.

4.  Brandon Marcello of The Jackson Clarion-Ledger does likewise.

5.  David Murray of Dawgs’Bite — the Scout site covering MSU — looks at the four pages of documents released by the school yesterday.

6.  Last week, we also linked you to word from Matt Stevens of The Columbus Dispatch that the NCAA is focusing in on a car purchased for Bulldog freshman Will Redmond.

 

Bottom line: This isn’t looking good for MSU.

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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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MSU WR Coach Mirando Resigns Two Weeks Before Opener

With less than two weeks to go before a season-opener there are many things a fan doesn’t want to hear:

 

* A star player has been injured in practice.

* A star player has been arrested out on the town.

* A star player is going to drug rehab (LSU).

* A freshman has been ruled ineligible by the NCAA (many, with Auburn being the latest).

 

One thing that doesn’t go through a fan’s mind is the possibility that an assistant coach might up and quit.  But that’s just what Mississippi State fans are coming to grips with today.  Receivers coach Angelo Mirando resigned his position on Dan Mullen’s staff yesterday… with the Bulldogs just 13 — now 12 — days away from their opener with Jackson State.

A statement was released by MSU yesterday.  In it, Mirando cited “unforeseen personal issues” as his reason for departing:

 

“I have enjoyed my time at Mississippi State as a graduate assistant and as an assistant coach.  I have made friends that will last a lifetime; however, due to unforeseen personal issues, I believe it is in my best interest to resign from Mississippi State.  I want to stress that these issues are personal.  I look forward to pursuing other opportunities in the future.  Finally, I want to thank my friend and mentor Dan Mullen for giving me this chance.”

 

Odd?  You bet. And when a team spokesperson was asked if legal or family issues brought about the resignation, the response was simply: “Personal reasons.”

Here’s Mullen’s portion of the statement regarding the exit of a coach who moved up from the GA ranks just last year:

 

“We appreciate Angelo and the work he did, and wish him the best in wherever the future takes him.  We’ll take some time to evaluate what our next steps will be with that staff position, but I’m confident in our veteran group of wide receivers and know they’ll be focused and ready to go Sept. 1.”

 

A last-minute curveball like this would be a hit to any team, but it could be particularly troublesome for State.  The Bulldogs — with Tyler Russell at quarterback — are expected to become a pass-first team in 2012.  But, on the bright side, the Bulldogs will be lead by four seniors at the wideout position, so if anyone’s going to be able to deal with a twist like this, they should be able to.

On the recruiting front, Mirando had five receivers committed to MSU as of last night.

Stay tuned…

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