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USC Coach Martin Fights The Unwinnable Fight

South Carolina’s Frank Martin is asking for it. 

The new Gamecock basketball coach has granted a release to 6-9 sophomore Damontre Harris who wishes to transfer.  So far, so good.  But he’s not going to let him transfer to NC State.  And he’s going to take some heat for that stance.

Just ask Derek Dooley at Tennessee who tried to ban DeAnthony Arnett from transferring to Michigan or Michigan State.  Or ask Maryland coach Randy Edsall who tried to ban a number of transfers from jumping to Vanderbilt.  They learned that the court of public opinion usually comes down on the side of the teenager, not the millionaire coach and his multi-million dollar sports program.

In this case — as was also the case with Dooley and Edsall who both eventually buckled — it’s believed some tampering has occurred.  You see, ex-South Carolina assistant Orlando Early is now at NCSU.  Harris’ high school coach, Heath Vandevender, says he thinks that’s the issue:

“Frank told Tre that (Carolina AD) Eric Hyman would not release him to NC State… My opinion would be that Eric feels that Orlando tampered in some way with Tre.

That’s just simply not true.  If that’s his reasoning, then that’s not very good. … I just think the whole thing is ridiculous.”

We agree.  In this case, Harris has seen the coach he signed to play for — Darrin Horn — fired.  He’s seen fellow starter Anthony Gill be granted an unrestricted release to transfer.  And he’s now learned that fellow starter Bruce Ellington will once again play football and miss the start of USC’s hoops season.

There are a lot of things going on there and none are within Harris’ control.

“I know they struggled last year, but there’s a chance for them to struggle even more (next season),” said Vandevender, trying to explain why Harris wants out.

If Harris wanted to transfer inside the SEC, that would be one issue.  But NC State is in the ACC.  And surprisingly USC has apparently put no restrictions on other SEC institutions.  (Harris’ high school coach said Florida and Georgia have contacted him about his ex-player’s services already.) 

So it’s better to face Harris inside the conference than allow him to go outside it? 

Martin’s position is understandable.  He — and Hyman — don’t want other school’s coaches poaching their Gamecock players.

But coaches rarely win these types of PR battles.  When the smoke clears, it’s still a millionaire coach at a mega-institution blocking the options and impacting the future of a kid.

Martin and Hyman had better be prepared to have this used against them on the recruiting trail… unless they cave like so many other coaches and schools have before them.

Better to cave now and get it over with.

Sidenote – The Tulsa World reports today that Jordan Clarkson — the Golden Hurricane’s leading scorer last season — has been “granted permission to contact a limited number of schools.”  Of eight schools requested by the player as possible transfer destinations only Colorado, TCU and Vanderbilt have been given new coach Danny Manning’s seal of approval.

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VU’s Franklin Defends Actions In Maryland Transfer Case

Maryland coach Randy Edsall isn’t going to allow three ex-players to transfer to Vanderbilt because — he’s hinted — ex-Maryland assistant James Franklin has been in contact with the players.  Franklin says that’s not the case, sort of:


“I don’t like innuendos and comments being made about tampering and things like that.  You guys know me. I’m the type of guy, I’m going to have relationships with my players. I hope to have relationships with the guys that play for me for the rest of my life.

But the fact that people would make accusations that we tampered or did this or did that, again, I’m just going to defend our program and defend our character and how we do things. But I think it’s ridiculous to think that I’m not going to have relationships with these kids after I leave places.”


So Franklin, speaking to Nashville radio station WGFX-FM, said that he doesn’t like innuendos and that he defends his program.  He did not say that he hadn’t been in contact with the players, including quarterback Danny O’Brien.  In fact, Franklin suggested that he talks to a lot of ex-players:


“When I left (Kansas) State for Maryland I talked to (quarterback) Josh Freeman every week.  I still talk to Josh. Josh flew in for (Franklin’s 40th) birthday party. I’m the type of guy, I’m going to have relationships with my players.”


Vanderbilt de facto AD David Williams cited NCAA rules and said that he is “pretty certain that our coaching staff has not reached out and had that type of (recruiting) contact” with the Maryland players looking to transfer.

Now, let’s face facts.  If Franklin admits that he talks to ex-players and did not specifically deny speaking to O’Brien or others this time around, it’s no wonder Edsall believes he tampered.  Heck, he probably did.  And that’s no knock on Franklin for that kind of stuff happens.

However, after popping off about kids not being “men of honor” and “men of integrity” for decommitting from Vanderbilt, Franklin hardly holds the moral high ground on this front.  And having seen his temper and his willingness to shoot from the hip this past year — a trait Commodore fans love him for — it’s safe to assume Franklin would be the one complaining if some other school’s coach had maintained communication with one of his Vandy players.

And for the record, O’Brien’s high school coach has said that he expects the quarterback’s family will appeal Edsall’s ruling so their son can indeed transfer to Vanderbilt to play for his old Maryland coordinator.  The one who continues to have relationships with his ex-players.

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Edsall Talks About Barring Terp Transfers To Vandy

Maryland coach Randy Edsall isn’t going to allow three ex-Terrapin football players — quarterback Danny O’Brien, O-lineman Max Garcia and linebacker Mario Rowson — to transfer to Vanderbilt.  They can pay their own way if they want to go to Vandy.  They can appeal the coach’s decision.  But he’s not going to give them a pass to go to VU, any ACC school, or any school on the Terps’ upcoming schedule.

Yesterday, we suggested that Edsall likely felt O’Brien in particular had contacted ex-Maryland offensive coordinator and current Commodore coach James Franklin about a move to Nashville’s West End.  Now Edsall himself has opened up about the stipulations he placed on the players and indeed it sounds like he thinks there might have been some tampering:


“We had stipulations in there, the same schools for all three of them.  And so neither of the three were treated any differently than the other guys. And again, I’m not gonna get into the names or anything like that [of] the schools that we put on there, because as we talked to the players, it was a situation where we said that we would keep that amongst ourselves.

But usually what’ll end up happening is there’s gonna be schools on there that you might compete against, or if there’s things that you feel might have taken place, you might put schools on that list. So we have that prerogative, to put those schools on the list. The players have the prerogative that if they want to appeal that, that they can appeal that as well.”


The most-important line: “… or if there’s things that you feel might have taken place.”  This kind of hanky-panky is nothing new.  No player will transfer from School X to School Y without having some knowledge of what his role on his new team might be.  In this case, Edsall must feel that Franklin went a bit too far in chatting with his former Maryland protege.

But this is a PR battle Edsall can’t win.  Ultimately, he’s not going to be playing Vandy.  Maryland fans will back him, but the rest of the populace will view him as being too punitive toward three kids he didn’t recruit to College Park in the first place.  And he doesn’t help his cause by providing generic statements like this: “I think there’s always a feeling that ‘Hey, we have the right to do what we need to do, and the player has the right to do what he needs to do, in terms of the appeal process.’  And you know, that’s how it goes.”

O’Brien has been mentioned in connection with a number of other schools — Ole Miss and Wisconsin among them.  Garcia — a Georgia native — is being pursued by UGA, Florida, and South Carolina.  There’s no clear word on Rowson’s plans.

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Maryland Tries To Block 3 Players From Transferring To Vandy

Maryland coach Randy Edsall is allowing three players to transfer from his program: quarterback Danny O’Brien, offensive lineman Max Garcia and linebacker Mario Rowson.  Initial speculation focused on Vanderbilt — especially in the case of O’Brien — being a potential landing spot.  But Edsall doesn’t want that to happen.

According to The Washington Post, the three players will not be cleared to transfer to Vandy, where former Maryland offensive coordinator James Franklin is quickly turning things around.  Obviously, Vanderbilt is not in the ACC and the Commodores are not going to be on the Terrapins’ schedule anytime soon.  So why the ban on Vandy?  It’s likely Edsall believes Franklin has done some tampering.

Franklin was close to O’Brien and according to The Post, the coach and his then coach-in-waiting status were major reasons the signal-caller inked with Maryland.  In cases like this, it’s not unusual for coaches to assume that word has gone back and forth between player and potential new coach with regards to opportunities and roster spots.  Unfortunately for Edsall, coaches who drop stipulations on transferring players without providing a reason usually lose the ensuing PR battle.  (He should call Tennessee’s Derek Dooley on that one.)

It’s possible that O’Brien can appeal the no-Vandy clause in his release.  It’s also possible that he could enroll at Vandy as a graduate student  – he’s set to graduate from Maryland this spring — without the benefit of a scholarship, but that would be quite pricey.

O’Brien is a native of North Carolina, but Edsall has ix-nayed ACC schools as options as well.  Ole Miss is one of several other schools that have been mentioned as possible landing zone for O’Brien.

The quarterback threw for 1,648 yards, 7 touchdowns and 10 interceptions last year in College Park.

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Arkansas’ McGee In Play For UConn Job

According to several online and television reports, Connecticut officials plan to speak with Arkansas offensive coordinator Garrick McGee about their head coaching vacancy.  McGee just finished his first season as the Hogs’ coordinator.  He has been UA’s quarterbacks coach for three seasons.

McGee was recently given the biggest raise among Bobby Petrino’s assistants… from $300,000 a year to $336,000.

McGee is in the running for Randy Edsall’s old job along with Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley and former Miami offensive coordinator Mark Whipple.

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