Tag:Adam Jacobi
Posted on: August 23, 2011 2:15 am
Edited on: August 23, 2011 2:22 am
 

Russell Wilson named co-captain, starting QB

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Russell Wilson's ascension to the top of Wisconsin's depth chart is officially complete. The senior quarterback, a ballyhooed transfer from North Carolina State, was officially named Wisconsin's starting quarterback in the depth chart sent out by the football program on Monday evening.

Wilson's designation comes a day after another commendation from the program, when Wilson was named one of four co-captains by his teammates. As noted by Wisconsin RapidReporter Tamira Madsen, the other co-captains are FS Aaron Henry, DL Patrick Butrym and Bradie Ewing. All four captains are seniors.

It's remarkable what a godsend Wilson has been for the program already. Wilson probably isn't going to approach his highest levels of production from his time at NC State -- the 379 straight pass attempts without an interception probably aren't going to happen again, nor is Wilson likely to throw for the 260 yards per game he averaged over the last two years for the Wolfpack. Wisconsin didn't need that heavy production from Scott Tolzein last season, and it probably won't ask the same of Wilson either -- especially since it's Wilson's first and only season with the program.

No, Wilson's real value for the Badgers comes from the simple fact that he's a healthy, experienced quarterback. Wisconsin's quarterback depth took a big hit this offseason when talented backup Curt Phillips suffered a setback in his ACL tear recovery; he's out for the second straight season. Jon Budmayr, who was projected to start before Wilson showed up and is currently second on Wisconsin's depth chart at QB, is experiencing such extensive nerve problems in his right arm that he's experiencing numbness and may require season-ending surgery. Past those two, Wisconsin has senior mop-up man Nate Tice (yes, son of Mike Tice) and a handful of freshmen. Without Wilson, the Badgers' quarterback situation would be in dire straits.

The news about the captaincy, then, is even better for the Badgers. It's one thing to depend on Wilson as a starting quarterback out of sheer necessity, as is pretty much the case for Wisconsin. It's another that Wilson has apparently taken to his role so well that his teammates have imbued him with leadership status. Sure, you want that from a starting senior quarterback, but you also want said senior quarterback to have spent years, not just months, developing relationships with his teammates, so for Wilson to be at this level already, either everything has to have gone well or the Badgers are insane and acting against their best interests. So it's probably much more the former and not the latter.

All of which is to say, the Russell Wilson Era has officially begun. It's only going to be a season long, but it's probably going to be one heck of a season. 

Posted on: August 22, 2011 4:52 am
 

Nevin Shapiro tried to land Houston Nutt in 2006

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Former Miami head coach Randy Shannon isn't listed in the exhaustive Yahoo! Sports report* on Nevin Shapiro's extensive expose on impermissble player benefits, unlike the numerous assistants and contemporaries of his. That's not by accident; Shannon is by-the-book to a fault, and it's ironically that disdain for shenanigans that led to the Miami fanbase abandoning the 'Canes by the droves in the weeks preceding Shannon's firing after the 2010 season.

Imagine then, if you will, an alternate reality where instead of straight-laced Shannon running the Miami program, the head coach is current Arkansas coach Houston Nutt. Heads are now exploding nationwide. And according to the Orlando Sentinel, it came closer to happening than you would expect:

As the Sentinel reported late Sunday, Nevin Shapiro was personally involved in trying to recruit Nutt to coach the Hurricanes -- and his contact with the coach preceded several discussions between Nutt and university brass:

According to Nutt’s cell phone records obtained by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette through the Freedom of Information Act, Nutt spoke with Shapiro, in addition to UM assistant AD Tony Hernandez.

According to records, Nutt called Shapiro at 10:17 a.m. on Dec. 7, 2006 and the call lasted 30 minutes. Nutt then hung up and called his agent, Jimmy Sexton, before contacting Shapiro again that same day. Nutt also called Hernandez four times in a span of four hours that day.

That alternate reality almost came true! The theoretical NCAA violations are almost certainly even worse, aren't they? That's not an attack specifically on Nutt, who was head coach of Ole Miss at the time of the report, but Shannon brought a deep and abiding respect for the University of Miami and the rules it (ostensibly) operates under, and Insert Any Big-Name Coach With No Miami Ties Here almost certainly wouldn't bring that same approach. Get that same coach from the SEC, and the rules are going to get bent beyond recognition, like so many flat sheets of paper turned into origami swans.

Still, it's worth noting that Shapiro's influence did not get Nutt the Miami job. Not only that, Miami hired the most anti-Shapiro coach fathomable, and Shapiro was so angry at the Hurricanes' new adherence to the rules that he tried to pick a fight with Miami's director of compliance during a bowl game. If anything saves the program during the impending NCAA bloodshed, it's the fact that in the middle of Shapiro's influence on the program, it ignored Shapiro's contact with an in-demand coach that flirted with multiple BCS programs before eventually landing at Arkansas, where Nutt has since led the program to a BCS bowl game.

So imagining Houston Nutt as the Miami coach post-Larry Coker is nothing more than a thought exercise, because absent some evidence that not even Yahoo! could conjure up -- and lord knows they tried -- there's nothing the NCAA can point to that would suggest the Miami administrators valued anything about Shapiro or Nutt over what Shannon and his compliance-centric approach offered the program. That's small comfort for a football program trying to distance itself from the excesses of Shapiro and his well-documented interaction with the team, but it's also a fact that just might save the Hurricanes' program from the death penalty.


*For the record, Shapiro's lawyer, Maria Elena Perez, said in a phone interview that she believed Shannon had direct knowledge of Shapiro's dealings, but even her statement was phrased in a way that it wasn't entirely credible; it seems much more likely that Perez misremembered the facts than that Yahoo!'s 11-month investigation missed or omitted evidence that Shannon was directly involved, doesn't it? 

Posted on: August 19, 2011 3:31 pm
Edited on: August 19, 2011 3:42 pm
 

The new Iowa-ISU trophy is the absolute worst

Posted by Adam Jacobi

The Iowa-Iowa State rivalry is not one of college football's greatest. Despite being intrastate rivals, the two teams have met on the gridiron just 55 times, including a scant 36 games in the last 90 years. Still, the rivalry's been going strong with annual games since the late '70s, and despite rarely having national significance, it's a point of great pride and contention in the state of Iowa.

The one thing the rivalry didn't have was a cool trophy; here's a look at the previous iteration, called the Cy-Hawk Trophy. Not that great. Little artistic merit. It doesn't show, it tells. It looks like a reclamation project from a high school shop class.

So wisely, the trophy was shelved permanently during the offseason when the sponsor was ceded from grocery chain Hy-Vee to the Iowa Corn lobby. On Friday, the new trophy commissioned by Iowa Corn was unveiled, and via Hawkeye Nation, it's... oh no.



Yes, that's a guy with a basket of corn that he's showing to his wife and two kids. It's a corn farmer and his family. And their corn. That's the football trophy. This is a literal thing that is happening.

I would say that this is the inherent danger of letting a local agriculture lobby have free reign to brand a football game -- the whole "look at how wonderful and wholesome we are" schtick -- but that's hardly an industry-wide problem. Aside from Iowa and corn, the only other state with an identity so closely tied to a local farm product is Idaho and potatoes, and look at what unfettered genius the Idaho Potato Bowl brought to the proverbial table last month:



That is not only a baked potato football, it is a baked potato football decorated with sour cream and chives! And lest you think that kind of brilliance can't make its way to the confluence of corn and football, as one Iowa writer's wife pointed out, why not have the football peeled open at the top with a corn cob under it? That would be thousands of times better than holding up a trophy of a family and their basket of corn (which, frankly, is less than you can grow in a typical Iowan front yard). Footballs need to be made of food more often! This is a perfect opportunity and they just blew it! Argh argh argh argh argh

Between the Legends, Leaders, Heroes Game, and now the Iowa Corn Trophy, it seems an awful lot like the Big Ten is distancing itself from what football is all about -- namely football players, football teams, and the football itself. Let's see a little more of that and a lot less of this effort to turn the conference into a bad Norman Rockwell painting.
Posted on: August 17, 2011 4:48 pm
 

Donna Shalala issues statement on Shapiro report

Posted by Adam Jacobi 

Miami president Donna Shalala is not having a pleasant couple of days recently. Her school has been besieged by the Yahoo! Sports report of former booster (and convicted embezzler) Nevin Shapiro detailing the litany of NCAA violations committed with the football and basketball teams. Even Shapiro's attorney doesn't think Shalala knew about the violations as they were being committed, but the picture of Shalala grinning at a $50,000 check (of Ponzi-earned money, as it would turn out) presented to her and basketball coach Frank Haith at a fundraiser is now one of the most indelible images of the scandal.

Clearly, Shalala had to say something, and here is the statement her office issued Wednesday, in full.

August 17, 2011

To the University Community:

Since its founding more than 85 years ago, the University of Miami has stood for excellence in higher education in every endeavor, every degree, and every student. Our more than 15,000 students, on three campuses in 11 schools and colleges, and over 150,000 alumni expect our core values to remain steadfast and true in times of extraordinary achievement as well as those rare times when those values are called into question.

As a member of the University family, I am upset, disheartened, and saddened by the recent allegations leveled against some current and past student-athletes and members of our Athletic Department. Make no mistake—I regard these allegations with the utmost of seriousness and understand the concern of so many of you. We will vigorously pursue the truth, wherever that path may lead, and I have insisted upon complete, honest, and transparent cooperation with the NCAA from our staff and students. Our counsel is working jointly with the NCAA Enforcement Division in a thorough and meticulous investigation, which will require our patience.

I am in daily communication with our Board of Trustees, Executive Committee, Director of Athletics, and counsel, and will continue to work closely with the leaders of our University.

To our students, parents, faculty, alumni, and supporters—I encourage you to have patience as the process progresses; to have confidence in knowing that we are doing everything possible to discover the truth; to have faith in the many outstanding student-athletes and coaches who represent the University; and to have pride in what our University has accomplished and aspires to be. 

Posted on: August 16, 2011 7:12 pm
 

RB Stephfon Green expected to leave Penn State

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Penn State's backfield appears to be one back lighter as it heads into the 2011 season. Stephfon Green, the speedy senior tailback from New York, is not practicing with the Nittany Lions, and according to the Penn State RapidReports, his career with the program may be over.

RB Stephfon Green is no longer on the team and is unlikely to return. “Stephfon’s had some problems with me, and I think right now it’s for the benefit of everybody that he backs away right now,” [Joe Paterno] said.

If this is the case and Green is done, this is a bit of a blow for the Nittany Lions. Green's never been as productive as he was in 2008 (579 yards, 105 carries, four touchdowns), and the combination of injuries and the continued presence of now-departed Evan Royster helped keep Green's stats low the next two seasons. Green was also behind true sophomore Silas Redd in Penn State's depth chart this season. 

Still, even as a top backup, Green would have provided a great deal of value to the team; he's one of the fastest running backs in college football, and a game plan with Green seeing 20-30% of the carries would have given Penn State the kind of versatility that it wouldn't see otherwise. That may not be sufficient for Green, especially if Paterno's readily admitting that the two have "had some problems," but there's no way to be sure that playing time is at the root of whatever disputes are taking place until someone elaborates further.

In the meantime, then, let's admire Green at his best, circa Michigan-PSU '08, incinerating would-be tacklers and displaying his all-too-underutilized ability to score from anywhere on the field:

Hard to imagine a kid who can move like that would only score eight touchdowns in three years, isn't it?

Posted on: August 16, 2011 6:26 pm
Edited on: August 17, 2011 2:33 am
 

Report: Miami coaches knew of massive violations

Posted by Chip Patterson and Adam Jacobi

Former Miami booster and indicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro provided thousands of dollars in impermissible benefits to "at least 72 student-athletes" between 2002 and 2010, according to a Yahoo! Sports report.

The investigation included over 100 hours of jailhouse interviews with Shapiro, along with financial records and corroboration from several sources - including former Miami players - to support the claims. Among the most alarming details to the program include seven former coaches and three athletic support staff who either witnessed, had knowledge of, or even participated in Shapiro committing all kinds of NCAA violations. The report details the life of a rampant rule-breaker who was never told to stop.

"At a cost that Shapiro estimates in the millions of dollars, he said his benefits to athletes included but were not limited to: cash, prostitutes, entertainment in his multimillion-dollar homes and yacht, paid trips to high-end restaurants and nightclubs, jewelry, bounties for on-field play (including bounties for injuring opposing players), travel and on one occasion, an abortion," Robinson writes.

One former Miami player, running back Tyrone Moss, told Yahoo! Sports he accepted $1,000 from Shapiro around the time he was entering college. "Hell yeah, I recruited a lot of kids for Miami," Shapiro told Yahoo! Sports. "With access to the clubs, access to the strip joints. My house. My boat. We're talking about high school football players. Not anybody can just get into the clubs or strip joints. Who is going to pay for it and make it happen? That was me."

The University of Miami has not commented specifically on the allegations made by Shapiro, as is generally the policy of schools under NCAA investigation, except to say that Shapiro was not as forthcoming to the school and to the NCAA as he was to Yahoo! Sports.

“When Shapiro made his allegations nearly a year ago, he and his attorneys refused to provide any facts to the university,” Miami associate for communications Chris Freet said. “We notified the NCAA enforcement officials of these allegations. We are fully cooperating with the NCAA and are conducting a joint investigation. We take these matters very seriously.”

Shapiro was once one of Miami's most prominent boosters, donating hundreds of thousands of dollars (and committing $250,000 more) to the football program, and presenting head basketball coach Frank Haith (now of Missouri) and current Miami president Donna Shalala with a check for $50,000 -- earmarked for the basketball program -- at one fundraiser. Shapiro alleges that his donations were was enough for Miami's brass to look the other way on the litany of violations he was perpetrating because they were so desperate for donations.

In fact, not only did Miami officials cast a blind eye to Shapiro, they embraced him as a booster, naming a student lounge after him and letting him lead the team onto its home field before games -- twice. In fact, former Miami athletic director Paul Dee maintained as of Tuesday that Miami "didn't have any suspicion that he was doing anything like this. He didn't do anything to cause concern." Dee is the former chair of the NCAA Committee on Infractions, having served the maximum allowable nine-year term as chair. 

Miami report fallout

Shapiro said he gave money, cars, yacht trips, jewelry, televisions and other gifts to a long list of notable former Hurricanes including Vince Wilfork, Jon Beason, Antrel Rolle, Devin Hester, Willis McGahee and the late Sean Taylor.

The potential fall-out from this report could be devastating to the Miami athletic department. Miami's football program was hit with serious sanctions in 1995. Many thought that the program would be protected by any allegations because of the NCAA's four-year statute of limitations. However, under NCAA bylaw 36.2.3 an investigation can expand beyond the statute if information reveals that in individual tied to a university has engaged in "a pattern of willful violations" over a sustained period beyond the previous four years.

One of the most damning aspects of the report was that while Shapiro was a booster for the Hurricanes, he was also acting as a runner for a sports agency -- Axcess Sports & Entertainment -- that he also owned a minority share of. Shapiro's partner in that agency, former NFL agent and current UFL commissioner Michael Huyghue, vehemently denied Shapiro's charges to the Associated Press.

"It's just fantasy," Huyghue said. "He never had any role in my company. He didn't have the acumen to represent players."

Yahoo! Sports reported that Axcess signee Vince Wilfork received $50,000 and a pair of Cadillac Escalades from Shapiro on behalf of the agency, however, and that Hester recognized Shapiro as a runner (though Hester did not name which agent).

Among the litany of gifts and incentives that Shapiro lavished on the Hurricanes included a $5,000 bounty on rival quarterbacks Chris Rix of Florida State and Tim Tebow of Florida. Neither quarterback was knocked out of a game against Miami, but Shapiro said Rix was targeted several time by Miami defenders.

“We pounded the (expletive) out of [Rix],” Shapiro said. “Watch the tape of those games. You’ll see so many big hits on him. Guys were all going after that $5,000 in cash. [Jon Vilma] tried to kill him – just crushed him – a couple of times trying to get that $5,000. And he almost got it, too.” 

Vilma, a current member of the New Orleans Saints, did not comment to Yahoo! Sports.

Now, Shapiro's prediction of the "death penalty" for Miami -- an entire season's cancellation, which is punishment only meted out by the NCAA once, to flagrant and repeat offenders Southern Methodist, in 1987 -- will probably not come true. Robinson even said as much in an interview on ESPN on Tuesday night, saying the idea isn't "reasonable or possible with any program anymore."

And yet it might be. For perhaps the first time since that fateful day in February 1987, the notion of a "death penalty" is now at least a remote possibility. For Miami, that means some of the NCAA's strongest sanctions are likely in store, so even if the worst-case scenario doesn't come true, the once-storied program will probably be damaged for years and years to come.  

AP Sports Writers Steven Wine, Eric Olson, Cliff Brunt and RB Fallstrom contributed to this story.

Posted on: August 16, 2011 5:01 pm
Edited on: August 16, 2011 7:13 pm
 

Jim Tressel visits Browns, wants to coach again

Posted by Adam Jacobi

One would assume that Jim Tressel's days of coaching college football are pretty well over; he's the man at the center of an NCAA investigation at Ohio State, and he'll probably have a substantial show-cause penalty attached to his NCAA status after the Committee on Infractions metes out its punishment. For a 58-year-old coach, the prospect of not being allowed to coach college football for multiple years (with the show-cause penalty acting as a de facto ban) is tantamount to forced retirement -- or at the very least a significant and permanent step down in the level of jobs available. 

Ah, but there's that other league out there, the NFL, one that doesn't concern itself with trivialities like eligibility requirements or the permissibility of gifts, and which certainly wouldn't turn down a coach with a history of NCAA trouble. That, then, is probably why Tressel -- alongside old rival Lloyd Carr, the former Michigan head coach -- attended a Cleveland Browns practice on Tuesday.

Tressel and Carr merely observed the practice instead of interacting with the players, with Tressel telling reporters he was attending as a fan (he and Carr were invited guests of the Browns, to be precise) but the coaching itch is hardly gone. When asked by a reporter if he wanted to coach again, Tressel responded, “I hope so. I’m taking it one day at a time.”

While it would be interesting to see Tressel's transition from college football to the pro game, history says Tressel's chances as a head coach aren't particularly promising. Tressel's success at Ohio State stemmed from his ability to maintain an on-field talent superiority in nearly every game the Buckeyes played, and then Tressel's ability to exert said superiority as well as possible. That may sound like a backhanded compliment, but it's not; recruiting is almost inarguably the biggest predictor of success in college football, especially over larger and larger samples of time, and both Tressel's recruiting rankings and coaching record bear that fact out.

In the NFL, however, the head coach has significantly less control over the quality of player he's given relative to his opponents, if for no other reaosn than the parity that free agency and salary caps build into the labor system. Further, with Tressel 16 months away from his 60th birthday, the time demand of being an NFL head coach will only become even more of an unsustainable burden relative to his more youthful counterparts.

All of which is to say, it is exceedingly unlikely that Tressel will come close to replicating his OSU-era levels of success in the NFL. If the man still wants to coach, though, he ought to coach, sweater vest and all.

Posted on: August 16, 2011 1:09 am
Edited on: August 16, 2011 1:14 am
 

Bubba Starling spurns Nebraska, signs with Royals

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Nebraska's brief flirtation with Kansas City-area wunderkind quarterback/baseball prospect Bubba Starling came to an end late Monday night, as Starling came to terms with the Kansas City Royals. According to Nebraska RapidReporter Brandon Vogel, negotiations between Starling and Kansas City went down to the last hour of the August 15 deadline imposed on MLB draft picks; Starling was the fifth overall pick of the draft

Starling had been on campus at Nebraska since July attending classes, but he never reported to practice, and Nebraska left him off its 105-man practice roster when it convened last week. This was a mutually agreed-upon decision, though, and even Peter Gammons' potentially damaging report that Pelini had lost his temper and threatened Starling didn't really jibe with the larger pattern of supportive behavior displayed by Pelini and the rest of the Nebraska staff in their handling of the Starling situation.

Here's what Pelini had to say in a statement issued after Starling's signing:

"Everyone associated with our football program at Nebraska wishes Bubba nothing but the best in his future with the Kansas City Royals organization," Pelini said. "I know this decision has been very difficult for Bubba and his family, as it would be for anyone in his position. In the end, Bubba was in a win-win situation regardless of his choice, and we respect the decision he has made. I personally will root for Bubba in every game except when he plays against the Indians!"  

Starling's deal is worth $7.5 million over three years. It's pretty hard to pass up that kind of money for the comparatively scant benefits college football offers its student-athletes.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com