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Part One Of SI’s “Dirty Game” Investigation Into Miles’ Oklahoma State Program Isn’t Pretty

screen-captureBad news first: current LSU head coach Les Miles is mentioned prominently in Sports Illustrated’s new expose on the Oklahoma State football program.

Worse news?  Today’s post at SI.com is the first installment in a five-part series.  So get ready for more and more dirt, LSU fans.

According to SI writers George Dohrman and Thayer Evans (alert the Tiger conspiracy theorists), Miles opened the door to boosters when he arrived in Stillwater in 2001.  Soon, “boosters were permitted in the locker room; they were often on team flights and bus trips; they turned up at the training table.”  After Oklahoma State’s win over Oklahoma in ’01, it’s alleged that OSU boosters were allowed into the Cowboys’ locker room after the game and that they “approached key players and slipped cash into their hands.”  One ex-player told the magazine, “We are talking about $500 handshakes.”

Miles — as SI.com points out — denies that players were paid and he claims “he gave boosters less access to the program, not more.”

Former OSU and Miles assistant Joe DeForest is charged with directly paying Cowboy players as part of a bonus system designed to reward good play.  Miles said Saturday night, “I don’t know of any improprieties while I was coaching there.”

Now, there will likely be no NCAA sanctions for any of this.  It’s outside the statute of limitations (though the NCAA has a funny way of picking and choosing what’s inside and outside it’s time limits).  The concern for Miles is that some enterprising Louisiana-based sportswriter starts snooping around to see if more boosters arrived on the LSU scene when Miles took over.

After today’s look-see into OSU’s alleged bonus system, booster payouts, coach payouts, and “bogus jobs,” SI will dive into academic fraud, drug use, and the use of hostesses to lure in Cowboy recruits with sex.  According to the magazine, Oklahoma State’s hostess program tripled in size under Miles.

If you listen closely, you can hear LSU beatwriters flipping through old media guides to see if LSU’s hostess program has grown since Miles arrived in Baton Rouge.

Not to provide too much cover for Miles here, but if you think there’s a football program in the country where some boosters don’t provide cash, where some players aren’t given bogus jobs, where hostesses don’t have sex with recruits, and where some athletes aren’t using drugs… you’re living a fantasy world.

People who know me often ask, “How can you not be a fan of a college football team?”  My response is always the same — If you spent the day touring a hot dog factory, you’re not going to order a hot dog for lunch.  There’s a lot of dirt out there.  Everywhere.  Some programs are dirtier than others and we may well find that Oklahoma State under Miles falls into that category.  But sex and drugs and boosters?  Sorry, that’s just the seedy underside of the game.

And, yes, it’s happening at your favorite school, too.

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Sports Illustrated To Detail Alleged Cheating At Oklahoma State… Dating Back To The Les Miles Era

les-miles-osu-hatOh, great.  Another potential scandal.

In case you missed it over the weekend, The Oklahoman newspaper reports that an upcoming Sports Illustrated report “will detail a wide range of corruption in the Oklahoma State football program dating back to the Les Miles era.”  The report states that SI will allege academic fraud, players being paid by assistant coaches or overpaid for work by boosters, as well as “an OSU hostess program that provided sex for recruits.”

Wait.  What?  You mean colleges have large hostess groups — not host groups, mind you — in order to use sex to lure in recruits?  Shocking.

Sports Illustrated’s report will come in series form and is scheduled to being “within a few days.”  That way Oklahoma State and LSU fans will get to experience day after day of misery, rather than getting it all over with at once.

OSU president Burns Hargis — how come no college president is ever named Rocko or Big Tony… it’s always a Burns or a Porter — released the following statement:

 

“Oklahoma State University is deeply troubled by these claims.  We will investigate the accuracy of the allegations and take all appropriate action.  We do not condone or tolerate improper conduct in our athletic programs.  OSU requires everyone affiliated with the university to follow the rules and adhere to the highest ethical standards.”

 

The Oklahoman also reports:

 

*  OSU has been told that 85% of the alleged events took place between 2001 and 2007.  (The NCAA’s statute of limitations is four years.)

*  Sports Illustrated told the school that there are no eligibility or NCAA concerns regarding current staff or players.

*  West Virginia University has already launched its own investigation into Mountaineer assistant coach Joe DeForest who will be accused of running a bounty/bonus program.  DeForest is in his second year at WVU.

 

Miles responded to a question about the piece on Saturday saying:

 

“I don’t know of any improprieties while I was the coach there.  I can tell you this: We have always done things right.  I really enjoyed my time at Oklahoma State.  I felt like I met a lot of wonderful people and we made our football team better.  We worked hard.  It has never been a place where you needed to cheat to have success.”

 

Yes, because recruits take one look around Stillwater and then mutter to themselves dumbstruck, “Heaven.”

Miles was the coach at OSU from 2001 to 2004.  While it doesn’t appear that any NCAA sanctions will befall the Cowboy program, Miles could find NCAA investigators paying a bit more attention to his Tiger program moving forward.

But if this one goes as all other scandals go, we can already predict the next few steps.  Miles will again deny any improprieties (likely using words, phrases or sentence structures that no one else in the 21st century uses).  Eventually he’ll choke off the story by saying he’s already answered questions on the topic.  LSU fans will claim that Sports Illustrated is nothing more than a tabloid with poor investigative journalists and an itch to damage Miles and the LSU program.  We’ll write about the story on MrSEC.com when it comes out and Tiger fans will attack us for even mentioning it (as it will prove that we’re part of the media cabal that’s working overtime to take down the Bayou Bengals).

And then some other school or player will named as part of another scandal, at which point we’ll all repeat this cycle.

As noted above — Oh, great.  Another potential scandal.

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Does A&M’s Manziel Have A “Get Out Of Jail Free” Card? Let’s Look At The Rule Book

gfx - honest opinionYou know the NCAA rule book is confusing when multiple people looking at the same situation and the same set of rules all arrive at different conclusions.  And that’s just what’s happening when it comes to Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and the NCAA’s investigation into his many, many signed and numbered autographs.

Bruce Feldman of CBSSports.com recently reached out to the assistant professor of sports administration at Ohio University.  Dr. David Ridpath, according to Feldman, is “an expert on NCAA and compliance issues.”  So what’s Dr. Ridpath’s take on the current Manziel mess?

Asked specifically about the Cam Newton loophole — which has supposedly been closed by a new rule — in relation to Manziel’s high school friend and sorta/kinda manager, Nate Fitch, Dr. Ridpath sees an escape route for the elusive QB:

 

“I think this is the get out of jail free card — if there is no evidence pointing to Johnny’s knowledge and/or actual evidence of payment or perks, then this may all be a moot point.  If I am A&M, I am praying to a higher authority this works out — and frankly the NCAA is hoping the same thing.  Johnny may know, but if Fitch takes the bullet or truly acted on his own without any knowledge from Manziel than I think we have a simple eligibility restoration process and he misses zero games.

If there was some or even overt knowledge, I think the NCAA invokes the “Sugar Bowl” rule and figures out a way to let him play or just miss one or two games.  The NCAA wants no part of this and is desperately hanging on to amateurism and they are losing grip every day.

If Johnny is suspended for a length of time — the impact would be huge, but there might be a larger victory in that we can finally decide to let players capitalize on their own marketing utility and restrictions like this are silly.  No one cares if he or the OSU players profited off their likeness — we will still watch A&M versus Alabama.  That’s the bottom line — but in the present A&M has to deal with the crazy system we have and if they can pawn it off on Fitch or someone else — this might be Johnny Football’s greatest escape.

Also — in defense of the NCAA — they cannot win regardless of what is decided, but it is the world we live in.”

 

So we’ve got a rule book.  That rule book has a new rule to prevent family members or handlers from acting as agents for athletes and asking for cash.  Yet the NCAA — because no one wants to bench Johnny Football — is going to ignore that rule and let him play anyway?

If Dr. Ridpath is correct — and he probably is — this NCAA ruling will be just as much of a sham as its rulings in the Cam Newton, Tattoo-gate, and Penn State scandals.

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UF’s Muschamp Not Happy With Ohio State

muschamp angryFlorida coach Will Muschamp might not have former Gator coach and current Ohio State coach Urban Meyer on his Christmas card list this year.  According to Al.com, Muschamp referenced the fact that OSU reportedly turned in Florida for a recent NCAA infraction:

 

“We appreciate (them) making sure we comply with NCAA rules.  They certainly know about NCAA rules.”

 

USA Today provided a longer quote on the same subject: “In both situations were were turned in by Ohio.  We didn’t do anything wrong.  The University of Florida didn’t do anything wrong.  And so we appreciated our friend from Ohio making sure we’re compliant with NCAA rules.  They certainly know a little bit about that subject.”

Zing.  Ohio, huh?

Here’s a warning for Meyer and the Buckeyes: Don’t make Will Muschamp angry.  You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.

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Okie State’s Gundy Almost Took UT’s Job… Over Scheduling

mike-gundy-mug-osuWhen Tennessee chased Mike Gundy for its then-vacant head coaching position in December, the word leaked from Stillwater than Oklahoma State’s coach was upset about how tough his non-conference schedules were becoming.  Most thought that an alum of OSU who’d had much success at OSU would not leave OSU over scheduling issues.

In the end, he did not.  But he almost did.  At least according to Gundy in an interview with CBSSports.com.  And indeed, it was tied in large part to the schedules his AD was lining up.

“At some point, that’s where we thought we were going to go,” Gundy said of Tennessee.  But eventually the Cowboys’ coach decided to stay put — despite a UT courtship that included governor of the Volunteer State.  He also worked things out with athletic director Mike Holder.

“What head coach and AD Agree on everything?  They might not say it, but Mike and I do,” Gundy said of Holder.

According to Gundy’s comments, he was closer to taking the Tennessee job than many had actually thought.  Good thing for new Vol coach Butch Jones that Gundy (and Louisville’s Charlie Strong) decided to pass on the opportunity to coach in the SEC East.

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Reports: Jones To Join Rebels’ Staff From Oklahoma State

mrsec-breaking-newsAccording to multiple reports, Oklahoma State secondary coach Jason Jones is about to join Hugh Freeze’s staff at Ole Miss.  Jones would replace defensive backs coach Wesley McGriff who left the Rebels for a spot on the New Orleans Saints’ staff a week ago.

Jones has been at OSU under Mike Gundy since 2008.  He was a two-year starter at safety for Alabama in the late-90s.

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Report: “Arkansas Has Found Its Man In Mike Gundy”

Thomas Murphy of The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette believes Arkansas AD Jeff Long has finally found his man.  And he is a man.  He’s 40 (and then some):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gundy has a career mark of 66-35 at Oklahoma State, his alma mater.  He built the Cowboys from a four-win team in 2005 to 12-1 last season before falling back to 7-5 this year.

If he leaves OSU for Arkansas, Long will have succeeded in landing a “name” coach for his program.

 

UPDATE – Now here’s one you don’t see everyday.  While Murphy is tweeting that Gundy’s the guy and others are saying he could be introduced tomorrow, longtime Arkansas Democrat-Gazette columnist Wally Hall nixes his co-worker’s claim with this tweet:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you needed further proof that coaching searches are impossible to follow in the ridiculous age of Twitter, you don’t get much better than this.

If the announcement is to come today, then it sounds like Hall’s in the camp of folks who believe Boise State’s Chris Petersen is moving to Arkansas.

Oh, to just take a Xanax and wake up when all this nonsense is over.

 

UPDATE II – And here’s the latest from Murphy as he walks back from what he tweeted earlier:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And on and on it goes.

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Arkansas Could Add Okie State Hoops Transfer

Arkansas appears to be on the verge of adding a former Oklahoma State guard to its roster for next season.  Fred Gulley transferred from OSU at midterm and has enrolled at UA in the hopes of joining Mike Anderson’s squad.

“I am going to continue playing basketball,” Gulley said.  “And I am going to continue playing here.” Currently, Gulley is waiting for NCAA clearance.  Asked if he’d added someone to his team, Anderson said yesterday, “Not that I know of.  Unless you know something I don’t know.”

If/when the NCAA — and Anderson — clear Gulley to join the Hogs, he’ll still have to wait a year to play due to NCAA transfer rules.  By moving at midterm, he would become eligible at Arkansas at next year’s midpoint. 

Gulley is a redshirt sophomore who started 26 games at Oklahoma State, averaging 18 minutes per game (and 4.0 points per game).  He is a former two-time Gatorade Player of the Year in Arkansas.

Cowboys coach Travis Ford said of Gulley in December: “Everybody wants 30 minutes and wants to be the guy.  I understand that.”

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New Hog Coach Johnson Happy To Hop On Board

Taver Johnson is an Ohio native.  He’s played football in Ohio and for the great part of his career he’s coached football in Ohio.  But he’s more than happy to be moving from Ohio to Arkansas now.

The ex-Ohio State assistant was hired as the Razorbacks’ linebackers coach and assistant head coach last week.  He says it was fellow former OSU coach Paul Haynes — now UA’s defensive coordinator — who convinced him to trade in his scarlet attire for cardinal:


“Once he got here, I could hear the excitement in his voice.  Coach Haynes is a mild-mannered guy.  So once he gets excited you know it’s something really good…

It was a difficult decision, obviously being an Ohioan and my family being there and things like that.  But the opportunity here with Coach (Bobby) Petrino and Arkansas… like I told the players (Monday) night, the way this train is rolling, it’s going pretty fast and, tell you what, we didn’t mind hopping on board.”


While Johnson coached cornerbacks at Ohio State from 2007 to this past season, he did coach linebackers from 2000 through 2003 at Miami (Ohio).

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So Much For The Rumors, Meyer Introduces Family At Ohio State

There are two things that are said about 99% of the college football and college basketball coaches in the country — they’re having an affair or they drink too much.

Whenever a coach leaves a school, jilted fans — who get their info from an “insider” or “big booster” — always say “Coach left because his wife gave him an ultimatum” or “Coach left because the school was tired of his drinking.”  It happens so often that those of us who cover multiple schools usually roll our eyes as soon as someone starts down that path.

I can tell you that I don’t believe a single one of these negative rumors about coaches when I hear them or have them emailed to the MrSEC.com inbox.  Not when I see ‘em on Twitter or messageboards. 

When it comes to rumors, there have been many surrounding Urban Meyer’s departure from Florida.  Many, many, many.  His health is bad, NCAA investigations are on deck, and worse.  One recent one bit of gossip making the rounds had the coach’s family telling him to get lost, that they weren’t going to be moving to Columbus with him.

Well, maybe they were just putting on a good show, but Meyer’s whole family was in Columbus yesterday.  His wife and his progeny.  They were on hand to be introduced to a cheering Ohio State crowd at a Buckeye basketball game.





Believe and pass rumors and gossip if you like.  Just know that Coach X in your hometown isn’t the only one “insiders” claim to be boozing it up or messing around with a coed or a secretary.  That’s said about coaches all across America… just as soon as they leave or another job.  And the stories are always ridiculously similar.

That’s why this writer doesn’t buy it when he hears such chatter.  It’s ugly and it’s nonsense 99.9% of the time.

After all, the Meyers sure looked happy in Columbus yesterday just as they did on the day Papa Urban was introduced as OSU’s new coach back in November.

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