Tag:Jerry Hinnen
Posted on: August 24, 2011 3:27 pm
Edited on: August 24, 2011 3:33 pm
 

COI: "Evidence insufficient" for Vol violations

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The NCAA Committee on Infractions has released its findings from the organization's investigation into Tennessee athletics and former Volunteer head coach Lane Kiffin. And as reported yesterday, neither Kiffin nor the Tennessee football program will face any additional sanctions as a result of the investigation.

But that doesn't mean either Kiffin or the Vols didn't draw the notice of the COI. The report had this to say:

While the investigation included allegations of major violations in the football program, the committee concluded that the evidence was insufficient to support findings of major violations.

However, the committee stated it was "troubled by the number and nature of the secondary infractions by the football coaching staff during its one-year tenure at the institution."

The football staff committed 12 secondary violations over 10 months, all of which were related to recruiting.

The full public report from the COI added this condemnation as well:

Some of the violations received nationwide publicity and brought the football program into public controversy. This is not a record of which to be proud.

Clearly, the COI is not a happy body when it comes to Kiffin's tenure in Knoxville. But without the major violation to hang its punishin' hat on, apparently sanctions weren't an option. For a breakdown of some of the violations contained in the report, check our Tennessee RapidReports. (We were under the impression that suspensions were now on the table for serial secondary violators, but perhaps not.)

So happy body or not, it's nothing but good news for Kiffin, who had this to say: "I’m pleased that the NCAA based its decision on the facts and not on perception."

As for the perception the NCAA has lost its teeth since the USC penalties, however, expect that one to be as pervasive as ever.

For reaction on the show-cause order against Bruce Pearl and the rest of the Vol hoops fallout, stay tuned our sister blog Eye on College Basketball.

Posted on: August 24, 2011 12:28 pm
Edited on: August 24, 2011 2:41 pm
 

WR Duron Carter still not practicing at Alabama

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Typically, when you've got a roster like Alabama's -- which is to hoarded talent what a bomb shelter is to canned food -- the transcript issues of a single JUCO transfer aren't that big a deal.

But in the particular case of the Tide's 2011 receiving corps and former Coffeyville C.C.-by-way-of-Ohio State wideout Duron Carter, those issues may prove to be a very big deal indeed. Despite expectations that the transcript snafu would be resolved (and he would be approved for practice) shortly after the start of fall camp, Carter is still nowhere to be seen as he waits for academic clearance.

"We still don't know," Nick Saban said Tuesday regarding Carter's status. "Until we get the information back on Duron Carter, which I haven't heard anything on compliance (Tuesday), we do have a few more days to be able to get this done."

Carter is the the son of NFL receiving legend Cris Carter (who more than one wag has observed has been at Tide practice more than Duron has), and still boasts the kind of talent that made him a top-15 receiver in his 2009 class. (He's pictured at right in the 2009 Under Armour All-American game.) If Carter and Alabama can "get this done" before the start of the season, there's still plenty of time to make the kind of immediate impact many Tide fans expect. (It's not just the Crimson faithful carrying high expectations, either; Phil Steele named Carter preseason second-team All-SEC.)

But the longer Carter's absence drags out, the less and less likely that immediate impact becomes. Not only does it look more and more possible the issue could swallow his 2011 season whole, but as a first-year player in Tuscaloosa, Carter needed every minute of practice time he could get. Even if the opener against Kent State gives him some leeway before the Tide's schedule really gets going, Carter projects to be so far behind the curve it may be weeks before he's ready to become a full-on contributor.

Again: at any other position, this likely wouldn't be an issue. But after Julio Jones's early departure for the NFL, the receiving corps is the one area where the Tide could use some immediate help. Seniors Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks were both productive last season, combining for 70 receptions and better than 1,000 yards, but neither represented the kind of vertical home-run threat that Jones was or that many expect Carter to be. (It doesn't help, either, that top tight end Preston Dial has graduated, leaving behind no TE with more than eight receptions to his name a year ago.)

With Maze and Hanks around (not to mention redshirt freshman DeAndrew White, whose praises Saban has suprisingly sung throughout camp), the Tide receiving unit is still going to be well above average, Carter or no Carter. But with a first-year starter under center that may need all the help from those receivers he can get, making another national title run could require something better than simply "above average."

And that, in turn, may require Carter.



Posted on: August 23, 2011 5:36 pm
 

Updating the SEC quarterback races

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

With lots of movement on the SEC quarterback front the last few days, now seems a good time to update the entire league's worth of races, team-by-team. Here's the latest, in alphabetical order:

ALABAMA: The Tide's season opener against Kent State is just 11 days away, but Nick Saban hasn't given any more indication towards his staff's decision between A.J. McCarron and Phillip Sims than he did when spring practice opened. In fact, his last comment on the situation was to say that one of them might play a position other than qurterback. McCarron remains the slightest of favorites due to his extra year of experience, but the closer the opener grows, the more likely it becomes that Saban makes good on his April threat to platoon the two. And given that not even the most catastrophic of quarterback outings could submarine the Tide against the overmatched Golden Flashes, it might make some sense to use the opener as one final audition for both.

ARKANSAS: Believe it or not, the Hogs still don't have an official starting quarterback, as Bobby Petrino has refused to name Tyler Wilson the starter over sophomore Brandon Mitchell. That's despite the fact that anyone not directly related to Mitchell believes the job is 100 percent Wilson's and the junior has been lighting the practice fields up all camp. This one appears to be a formality designed to keep the carrot in front of Mitchell for as long as possible, but stranger things have happened, we guess.

AUBURN: As you probably know, junior Barrett Trotter has been named Cam Newton's successor, with redshirt sophomore Clint Moseley the backup and true freshman Kiehl Frazier third-string. But Gus Malzahn hasn't ruled out using Frazier in some capacity, and gave the four-star recruit every snap in last weekend's scrimmage. A late-season appearance might be in the cards, particularly if Trotter struggles.

FLORIDA: No controversy here: John Brantley has been the unquestioned starter since fall camp broke, with both coaches and players seeming to go out of their way to praise the much-maligned senior and downgrade the chances of five-star freshman Jeff Driskel. "John’s our starter, and he’s our quarterback, and I don’t have any anticipation of (Driskel playing)," Will Muschamp said when discussing the Gators' opener against Florida Atlantic. Driskel has, nonetheless, won the backup's role.

GEORGIA:
The Bulldogs don't have any drama, with Aaron Murray the unquestioned starter and sophomore Hutson Mason the established backup ahead of true freshman Christian LeMay. Mason has had an up-and-down fall camp, though, with some reportedly sharp practices offset by outings like one four-interception practice he called "my worst day ever — in football, period."

KENTUCKY: Morgan Newton
has long since been anointed the Wildcat starter, but Kentucky may need him to stay healthy even more than the Bulldogs' need the same for Murray. Newton and the Wildcat coaches have both had ample praise for backup Maxwell Smith's ability to pick up the offense after just one spring camp and one fall practice ... but the reason Smith's had just one of each is because he's a true freshman, and not a particularly highly-regarded one (according to recruiting experts) at that.

LSU:
Now here's some drama. Much to many Tiger fans' chagrin, as of this moment not even the threat of a second-degree battery arrest is enough to move the gauge-needle on Jordan Jefferson's starting job away from "likely." Now here's the even more depressing news for those bayou residents hoping strong-armed JUCO (and former Georgia backup) Zach Mettenberger would assume the top spot: Mettenberger still hasn't even supplanted Jarrett Lee as the Tigers' backup. According to Lee himself, Jefferson is still running with the "ones" in practice, Lee the twos, and Mettenberger is left with whatever reps Lee doesn't take. If Jefferson does miss the opener against Oregon, it will now be quite the shock if Mettenberger gets the call over Lee, who does say he's had the best camp of his long career.

MISSISSIPPI STATE: 
We know that Chris Relf will be the Bulldog' starter. The question is: will backup Tyler Russell borrow any of Relf's snaps, as he did early in 2010 as the designated pocket quarterback? The consensus seems to be that he won't, with third-stringer Dylan Favre (yes, the nephew of that other Favre) reportedly closer to Russell than Russell is to Relf. Dan Mullen hasn't entirely ruled out a return to a quarterback rotation, but we'll be surprised if we see Russell in the event of anything other than a Relf injury.

OLE MISS:
We touched on this earlier today in the wake of Randall Mackey's arrest and "likely" suspension for the Rebels' season opener, but it appears Barry Brunetti -- always the narrow favorite to win the starting job coming out of spring practice -- is now the most likely candidate to begin Ole Miss's 2011 season under center. But will he stay there? The Rebel coaching staff seems genuine in their repeated statements that none of their three candidates has separated himself from the other two, and former Houston Nutt doghouse resident Zack Stoudt offers a stronger-armed passing element that both Brunetti and Mackey lack. Unless Brunetti shines out of the gate, expect Stoudt to get a serious look at some point. And if Mackey avoids the doghouse himself, the same could go for him, too.

SOUTH CAROLINA:
Steve Spurrier promised a legitimate quarterback battle back at SEC Media Days, but whatever slim chance Connor Shaw actually had of unseating Stephen Garcia, it likely evaporated last week when Shaw injured his thumb and missed three practices. Never say never with Spurrier, but it will likely take some truly egregious play on Garcia's part (or another off-field incident) for Shaw to see any meaningful playing time.

TENNESSEE: Tyler Bray hasn't always pleased his coaches or put his best foot forward this fall, but he appears to have done plenty enough to hold off Matt Simms, who sounds as if he's resigned himself to being the backup. All the same, having Montana as an opening-week tune-up should be an excellent opportunity for Bray to make sure the Vols' two-headed QB wounds of 2010 don't reopen.

VANDERBILT:
The biggest news for Vandy's quarterbacks this week won't actually have any impact until 2012, when newly official Wyoming transfer Austyn Carta-Samuels becomes eligible. Until then, Vandy will make do with either senior Larry Smith or junior Jordan Rogers, who together directed an offensive performance at Saturday's scrimmage one disappointed Vanderbilt blog described as "Vanderbilt-like." It may take more than one season (or the arrival of Carta-Samuels, who spearheaded the Cowboys' bowl run in 2009) for James Franklin to get the 'Dores' long-simmering quarterback woes ironed out.


Posted on: August 23, 2011 3:54 pm
Edited on: September 2, 2011 1:45 pm
 

PODCAST: September's must-watch games

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The football gods be praised, we're now just one pigskin-free Saturday away from the start of the season. And this September promises to be even more thrilling than most, with megatilts like LSU-Oregon, Oklahoma-Florida State and Boise State-Georgia all on tap.

CBSSports.com's Adam Aizer and Bryan Fischer got together Wednesday to discuss those games and several other mouth-watering September matchups in this edition of the College Football Podcast.

To listen, just click below, download the mp3 version, or open up the popout player for easier browsing. You can also subscribe to the CFB Podcast on iTunes. Enjoy:

Posted on: August 23, 2011 1:21 pm
Edited on: August 23, 2011 11:17 pm
 

No charges filed in LSU meeting with police

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The four LSU players involved in last Friday's Baton Rouge bar fight have met with police, CBS affiliate WAFB has reported, and no criminal charges have yet been filed.

Starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson -- along with Jarvis Landry, Josh Johns, and Chris Davenport -- visited the Louisiana State Police Headquarters Tuesday in order to meet with investigators. According to both players' attorney Nathan Fisher and police, no arrests were made at the meeting nor charges filed.

"There were no charges promised and no charges not promised," Fisher told the Times-Picayune. "After today, I think they have some more investigating to do."

Batron Rouge police chief DeWayne White spoke to the media Friday afternoon, saying that one victim had suffered three broken vertebrae and that it was BRPD's "hope and aim" to gather enough evidence to make arrests in the case. But that point has not arrived yet, and White warned that that point might not arrive immediately.

"Until we're able to sift through the evidence, sift through the statements and arrive at the truth, that may take some time," White said. "Will we give fast results? We will not, because it doesn't work like that."

White confirmed that BRPD had obtained video from the scene outside Shady's bar, but that it does not show the fight itself. He added that the investigation has been further hampered by conflicting reports and a lack of "objective" witnesses.

Police spokesman Donald Stone reaffirmed, however, what he had stated Monday: that he expects both simple and second-degree battery charges -- the latter a felony -- to be filed "when the case is concluded." Stone has confirmed that the parties injured in the fight "have expressed a desire that those responsible for their injuries be arrested."

According to several alleged witnesses who spoke to WAFB, one of those players was Jefferson. But with Tuesday's meeting having come and gone without an arrest and a report from TigerSportsDigest that the senior QB was not in fact involved with the brawl, things have begun to look up for him.

Some information used in this post was originally reported by the Associated Press.
Posted on: August 23, 2011 11:45 am
Edited on: August 23, 2011 12:49 pm
 

Ole Miss QB Randall Mackey arrested, suspended

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

If you're locked in a down-to-the-wire battle for a starting quarterback job in the SEC, the last thing you'll want to do is get in some kind of off-field hot water that gives your coaches an excuse to look elsewhere. The last thing. Right?

Apparently Ole Miss's Randall Mackey didn't get the memo. The Clarion-Ledger is reporting that Mackey was involved in a fight at a local bar/music venue and arrested by Oxford police. He was charged with disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor, and released.

Houston Nutt then announced today that Mackey would "likely" be suspended for the Rebels' season opener against BYU.

On the scale of 1 to serious, an arrest for disorderly conduct following what seems to be a minor fracas falls somewhere in the 2-to-2.5 range, we're thinking; a Jordan Jefferson situation, this is not. But unlike Jefferson, Mackey had no margin for error where his efforts to win a starting job were concerned. His coaches have said multiple times this offseason that West Virginia transfer Barry Brunetti would take the first snap if the season "began today," and fellow former JUCO Zack Stoudt has brought a pocket-passing game that Mackey can't match.

After a Saturday scrimmage in which all three candidates had their positive and negative moments, Nutt was still playing coy about who he would ultimately name the starter--and it's entirely possible the Rebels could settle on a rotation once Mackey returns from suspension. (If we had to lay down a wager on the starter, we'd stick with Brunetti, the player whose skill set most closely resembles that of 2010 starter Jeremiah Masoli and who is now a heavy favorite to get the start against the Cougars.)

However you slice it, though, Mackey clearly already had a substantial challenge earning the No. 1 nod, and proving his leadership qualities -- or lack thereof -- by getting arrested hasn't done a thing to help him meet it.
Posted on: August 22, 2011 3:39 pm
Edited on: August 23, 2011 11:46 am
 

Dooley: Leonard Little what Vols are "all about"

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

We're not going to condemn Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley for having former Volunteer Leonard Little speak to his team at practice yesterday. We don't know what Little said or didn't say to the Vols. We don't know what messages he may or may not have delivered.

What we know is that Dooley said this about Little's visit, per the Knoxville News-Sentinel:

"Leonard's got his picture on the wall, he was an All-American, he was a part of one of those banners in there," Dooley said. "That's what we're playing for. He's a guy who lived it, he breathed it.

"I think he lost about four games in his career and then he went on to be a great NFL player. So, he represents everything to me that Tennessee is all about. The more guys like that come back, I love it when they get in front of the team."

What we also know is that in October 1998, Little left a birthday party drunk, ran a red light, and crashed into the vehicle of a woman named Susan Gutweiler. Gutweiler died, leaving behind a husband and 15-year-old son. Little registered a blood-alcohol level of .19 and was setenced to probation. Six years later, Little was pulled over for doing 78 in a 55-miles-per-hour zone. He failed his roadside sobriety tests and was arrested and charged with DWI again. (He was later acquitted of the DWI but sentence to two morey ears' probation for speeding.)

Again, for emphasis: who Dooley asks to speak at his practices is entirely his business. We're not criticizing the decision to have Little speak to his team, whatever he might have had to say (or, maybe, because of what he might have had to say).

But we feel compelled to say this: neither Little's presence at practice nor his achievements on the field required Dooley to offer this level of unqualified praise.

Every college football coach -- Dooley very much included -- is fond of saying that what a football player does off the field is just as important as what he does on it. But when Dooley tells us Little "represents everything that Tennessee is all about" in spite of his notorious criminal record, when he tells us what's truly important is how many games Little won in Knoxville and how successful his pro career was, it's obvious just how empty that lip service is.

UPDATE: Asked by the News-Sentinel about the post above, Dooley clarified his statements regarding Little:
"He epitomizes Vol for Life, because the program doesn't give up on you. He even offered to come talk to our team, and I'm going to get him to come talk to our team, about where he was at that low point and how he came out of it.

"I think it's something to be proud of, I really do. Not the mistake he made, but I think it's a realization that we all make mistakes, our players are going to make mistakes, but the key is when you make them, how do you respond? ... I think he's a great representative, not because of what he did but because of how he handled it. That's what life is all about to me ... 

Today was really just about how he felt he became a great player and what's important about becoming a good player. It was right before practice, it wasn't the time to go into his story, but we're going to have that moment when it's the right time."
To which we would respond: more power to him, and to Little. If the present Vols can learn anything at all from Little's background, then hopefully some positive can come out of the horrific negatives in Little's past. As we said above: the complaint registered here was never about Little's presence at practice.

The complaint was exclusively in regards to Dooley's comments, which ignored Little's "story" entirely in favor of listing his (apparently far more important) football accomplishments. And though we still wince at Dooley casually labeling the death of Susan Gutweiler a mere "mistake," the fuller context of Little's importance to the team does soften those previous remarks. We would suggest that next time, Dooley provide that context to begin with.


Posted on: August 22, 2011 1:49 am
Edited on: August 22, 2011 2:14 am
 

Witnesses tell TV Jefferson kicked man in head

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Looks can, of course, be deceiving. But there's no question things currently look bad for Jordan Jefferson.

LSU's senior starting quarterback will, at least, not be arrested Monday following his involvement in Friday morning's Baton Rouge bar fight; a scheduled meeting between police, Jefferson, and three other Bayou Bengal players (Jarvis Landry, Josh Johns and Chris Davenport) has been delayed until Tuesday, at the request of the attorney of the four players.

But that attorney has not ruled out an arrest at that time, and if police believe it is still "likely" they book one of the "individuals associated with the fight" (as officer Donald Stone said Sunday), that player could well be Jefferson.

According to a Stone statement late Sunday, police were told by "multiple witnesses" that one of the football players involved in the fight had kicked another individual in the head -- though Stone declined to specify which football player the witnesses had named. The victim was eventually taken to the hospital.

But despite Stone's reticence, witnesses speaking to television station WAFB -- with one notable exception -- were willing and able to name Jefferson as the player who'd delivered the kick to the head. The description of the incident, according to the WAFB report (emphasis added):
Several people who claim to have witnessed the incident tell 9NEWS that around 2 a.m. Friday, a young man driving a truck blew his horn to get a group of people blocking the driveway to move out of the way at Shady's Bar on East Boyd Ave.  That's when they say a group of people pulled the driver out of the truck and began beating him.  That's when they say a Marine who had just returned from training ran to assist the driver and was beaten and thrown to the ground.  Multiple people who claim to have witnessed the incident tell 9NEWS LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson then kicked the Marine in the head. 

One young man who gave those same details to WAFB 9NEWS also told the same details to Baton Rouge Police.
It's very much worth noting that that account isn't the only one of the incident; "at least one witness" told WAFB that Jefferson was not involved in the fracas and never threw a punch.

But putting the proverbial 2 and 2 together seems to equal trouble for Jefferson all the same. We know that witnesses have already told police that a football player kicked someone in the head. We know that several alleged witnesses -- at least one of which has also repeated that account to the police -- have told WAFB that it was Jefferson kicking that someone in the head. And we know police felt secure enough in their initial round of interviews to call a second-degree battery arrest "likely."

Does all of that add up to the arrest that might keep Jefferson out of the epic season opener against Oregon? Not yet, it sure doesn't. Jefferson's attorney has suggested that police have yet to speak to witnesses that might have differing accounts of the incident, and it's entirely possible that either the player-in-question isn't Jefferson or that police won't bother with an arrest for whatever reason.

What we can say for certain is this: whatever the eventual fallout, the events of last Friday morning aren't going to do any shred of good for LSU, or Jordan Jefferson.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com